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A tune up is a combination of services that may include work like changing the vehicle’s spark plugs, air filters, fuel filter, oil and oil filter, windshield wipers, brake pads, and any other routine maintenance that your vehicle is ready for. The goal of a tune up is to restore engine performance and return the vehicle to a “like new” condition, or as close to as possible.
Engine Oil and Filter Changes
Engine oil is one of the most important and fundamental components to your vehicle’s engine. Without it, the engine will seize up within a few moments. It is vital that you keep clean oil, and the right type of oil, in your engine at all times. Oil filters will also need to be changed every time the engine oil is replaced, to ensure that the new oil stays as clean as possible for as long as possible.
Cabin and Engine Air Filter Changes
Most vehicles are equipped with two air filters that need to be changed regularly. The engine air filter ensures that any dust, dirt, debris, and bugs are removed from the air before being sucked into the engine. This minimizes engine wear and improves oil life. Cabin air filters keep the same airborne particulates from coming into the cabin, helping to improve passenger air quality and reduce allergens.
Tire Pressure and Tread Inspection
Both tire pressure and tread wear patterns can tell you most of what you need to know about your vehicle’s wheels. Tire pressure should be checked monthly, and expect to have to add air every 2-3 months. Slow leaks my show themselves within a couple of weeks. At that time, check the tread on your tires to make sure it is deep enough and wearing evenly. Uneven tread wear patterns indicate a larger issue with the wheels or suspension.
Due to the uneven weight distribution of most vehicles, tires under the engine tend to wear down faster than tires under the trunk, bed, or cargo compartment of the vehicle. This of course is dependent on what type of vehicle you own and what type of work the vehicle does. Tire rotations ensure that all of the tires share that extra work evenly, and allow you to get a longer lifespan out of those tires before they need to be replaced.
Brake and Brake Fluid Inspections
Brakes are the number one safety feature on your vehicle. The system in general does not need extensive maintenance. However, it is important to know what condition your brakes are in and when you need to be ready to service them next. With or without signs of a braking issue, make sure the pads have sufficient braking materials and that the brake fluid is full and in good condition.
Fluid Level and Condition Inspections
A fluid level check includes inspecting all of the accessible fluids on the vehicle. Technicians are looking for proper fluid levels, leaks, dirty fluids or floating debris, and other common signs of more serious issues. Fluid discoloration, fluids mixing, or bad smells are all indicators of a problem. Fluid inspections typically include the oil, power steering fluid, coolant, brake fluid, washer fluid, and transmission fluid (if accessible).
Air Conditioning Refrigerant Maintenance
Vehicle air conditioners rely on a refrigerant used to cool air passing through the system before entering the cabin. The system relies on that refrigerant to be properly pressurized and in good condition. Refrigerant can eventually break down, leak, and need to be recharged. Due to environmental concerns, it is critical to ensure that refrigerant doesn’t leak into the atmosphere. With the right equipment, it will be vacuumed out, properly disposed of, and new fresh refrigerant pumped into its place.
Spark Plug Replacements
Spark plugs will eventually wear down over time, some types wearing down faster than others. This causes the gap in the spark plug where the spark occurs to widen, and the spark to become weaker. Eventually it will throw off the combustion cycle and cause the engine to run inefficiently. Spark plus are typically easy to visually inspect, making it a quick checkup that can make a dramatic difference.
Vehicles are required by law to have certain safety features in order to be street legal. A safety inspection goes over those components to make sure the vehicle is up to common safety standards. A safety inspection typically includes exterior lights, tires, wiper blades, mirrors, seat belts, horn, brakes, and sometimes steering and suspension components.
Windshield Wiper Replacements and Washer Fluid Top-Off
Checking the windshield wipers and washer fluid is quick and easy to do. Washer fluid can be quickly topped off and the system tested. Meanwhile, the wipers will be checked to ensure they are not leaving excess streaks, missing sections of the glass, and that they are properly sized. Poorly functioning wiper blades can be dangerous for you and the other drivers around you, and there is no reason to be caught off guard.
Drive Belt Replacements
Drive belts will eventually stretch, causing excess slack in the drive belt system. They can also wear down and start to fray, crack, slip, or break off completely. A trained eye can identify a bad drive belt quickly, letting you know its time for a replacement before it snaps and causes more serious issues.
Many moving components under the vehicle require grease to reduce friction and noise. Every year this grease starts to break down and collect dirt. Lubricating the chassis involves inspecting these components and injecting new grease inside of them. These components often include the CV joints, tie-rod ends, ball joints, and U joints.
Differential Fluid Replacement
Most modern vehicles rely on a differential to send power from the transmission to the wheels. These differentials, or transfer cases, require oil inside that allows the gears to turn seamlessly. Over time this fluid wears down and needs to be replaced in order for your drivetrain to work efficiently.
Engine Diagnostics and Repair
Warning Light Diagnostics
When an engine warning light illuminates, there is a reason. Regardless if it is serious or a simply warning, it is important to find out what the light is trying to tell you. Only then can you tell if the vehicle is truly safe to drive, whether or not you are experiencing other symptoms. All newer vehicles have electronic diagnostic programming that makes checking these warning light quick and simple.
Engine Oil Diagnostics, Leak Repairs, and Pressure Testing
Engine oil is such a vital part of your engine, that any issues with your oil system are reason to be worried. From oil pumps, to oil coolers, to oil lines, there are quite a few issues that can arise. Engine oil diagnostics include testing oil pumps, finding leaks, testing oil pressure, and diagnosing oil warning lights.
Oil Pump Replacements
Oil pumps disperse oil to various places throughout the engine every moment the engine is running. The system relies on a steady pressure of oil for both the larger engine components and for small, intricate components to work correctly. This pressure is provided by the pump, and the engine will eventually fail without it. Replace your oil pump the moment you know it is not working correctly to prevent any engine damage or further problems.
Throttle Body Maintenance and Repairs
A vehicle’s throttle body is responsible for controlling air flow into the engine. When it gets dirty, the throttle itself functions less effectively and the sensors can give false readings. Maintenance may include cleaning the throttle, replacing intake air sensors, or replacing the entire throttle body.
Intake Manifold Gasket Replacements
Separating the intake manifold from the cylinder heads is a small but important gasket that ensures an airtight seal. The gasket will eventually degrade over time and need to be replaced. Accessing the gasket can be time consuming due to its location, and every engine is a little different. Have the right team on your side when it comes to detailed repairs like replacing intake manifold gaskets.
Exhaust Manifold Gasket Replacements
The exhaust manifold gasket seals the gap between the exhaust port and the exhaust manifold. Just like the other gaskets on your vehicle, it eventually breaks down and starts to deteriorate. It will need to be replaced in order for the sensors and other exhaust components to work correctly.
Engine Smoke Diagnostics
Smoke from the engine compartment or exhaust can be a sign of a serious issue and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. The color and smell of the smoke can indicate what is burning, and from there further diagnostic testing and inspections can be performed. Smoke can indicate issues like a coolant or oil leak, a blown head gasket, issues with the cylinders or piston rings, and several other major issues.
Engine Noise Diagnostics
When your vehicle’s engine starts to make a new noise, there’s cause for concern. The large number of moving components inside that are designed to move together seamlessly, and when they don’t the noises can be unnerving. Identifying the noise can be difficult, particularly when the sounds are intermittent. A trained ear can tell the difference between detonation issues, piston slap, valvetrain noise, and other similar sounds, and be able to relate them to any other potential symptoms.
Cylinder Compression Testing
Cylinder compression testing is a process used to identify weak points in the vehicle’s piston rings, valves, and valve seats. Depending on the results of the compression testing, a technician can pinpoint what is causing running issues with the engine. They can then determine what needs to be done in order to correct any problems.
Engine Vacuum Testing
Testing and engine’s vacuum allows a technician to identify issues with the valve train, ignition system, piston rings, timing, intake manifold, misfires, and exhaust issues. With a vacuum gauge properly installed, the engine is observed under a variety of conditions in order to pinpoint weak spots within the engine. From there, further testing and repairs can be made.
Loss of Power Testing
When your engine feels sluggish and like it has lost power, it can be attributed to anything from a bad sensor, to an ignition problem, to a cooling system problem. Without any other symptoms or warning lights, it can be extremely hard to find the problem. A wide range of tests may need to be run in order to locate the issue. A trained technician knows where to start and how to narrow down the potential problems until a repair can be made.
Cooling System Repairs
Coolant System Flush and Fill
Keeping your cooling system working well is key to a long-lasting engine. While keeping the coolant full is a good first step, the cooling system will eventually pick up debris and the antifreeze will start to degrade. The old coolant will need to be drained, the system flushed out with cleaner and/or water, and fresh coolant put in its place.
Coolant Hose Inspections and Replacements
The cooling system’s hoses play a vital role in transferring hot coolant to the radiator and cooler coolant back into the engine. Due to the heat they are subjected to from the engine, they can become dry and brittle, or develop holes and cracks. This can lead to a coolant leak and potentially overheating the engine. Luckily, most hoses are relatively easy to replace and inexpensive.
The thermostat in your vehicle is responsible for allowing the right amount of coolant through the engine in order to properly regulate engine temperatures. A failed thermostat can cause the engine to overheat, not heat up enough, and cause poor engine performance. Drivers most commonly notice quick fluctuations on their temperature gauge or rapid overheating when their thermostats fail.
Your engine suffers when the radiator isn’t able to remove enough heat at a fast rate. Bent fins, clogged coolant passages, or a cracked radiator can all cause a ripple effect that inevitably leads to your engine overheating. While there are ways to improve a radiator’s performance, often the only real solution is to replace it entirely.
Radiator Cap Testing and Replacement
The cooling system in your car is pressurized, and that pressure is regulated by the radiator cap. If your cooling system is struggling, there is a chance the radiator cap isn’t venting enough pressure or is venting too much pressure. Either way, the cap can be tested and simply exchanged with a properly rated replacement if needed.
Recovery Tank Replacement
The coolant recovery tank is there to catch excess coolant as the system builds pressure and expands. When the coolant starts to reach its boiling point, the pressure is relieved by allowing coolant to flow into the overflow tank. When the system cools back down, coolant is sucked back into the radiator. If this tank is broken or cracked, it will need to be replaced or you will likely start to lose coolant. Some tanks are also pressurized, in which the pressure-regulating cap will need to be tested as well.
Water Pump Replacement
Water pumps can fail for several reasons, but the end results are always the same. A lack of coolant flowing steadily through the engine will lead to overheating and all of the mechanical issues that come with it. Drivers can expect to replace their water pump on average every 70,000 miles, but it is always recommended to abide by manufacture service schedules. Replacing the water pump should be done with precision to ensure the gasket is properly sealed and the pump is primed before use.
Cooling Fan Testing and Maintenance
The engine cooling fans have a very simple, yet important, job of keeping air moving over the radiator. It takes a combination of switches, relays, motors, sensors, and programming to get the cooling fans to turn on when they are needed, and to conserve power when they are not needed. If your vehicle is overheating or the fans are not responding as they should, testing can pinpoint the component or sensor at fault.
Heater Core Testing and Maintenance
Your vehicle’s heating system relies on the heater core to warm the air coming into the cabin. The heater core becomes filled with hot coolant coming from the engine before being sent to the radiator. Most often the heater core becomes damaged or cracked causing the vehicle to lose coolant. Heater cores may also become clogged and need to be flushed out. If the heater core is unrepairable, it will need to be replaced.
Engine Temperature Sensor Replacement
The engine temperature sensor plays a large role in how the vehicle’s computer maintains engine speed. When the vehicle registers as cold, timing is advanced to produce more power. As the engine warms up, the timing is slowed down to normal operating speeds. A failed temperature sensor may trigger warning lights, cause the vehicle to consumer more fuel, and you may notice an overall lack of power. The sensor cannot be repaired, and will need to be replaced.
Exhaust System Maintenance and Repair
Muffler Maintenance and Repairs
As the engine intakes air and fuel, it produces exhaust and extremely loud noises. Your exhaust system helps move those fumes away from the driver and dampen the sounds. Mufflers are required by law in most cities, as a way to maintain a peaceful environment. A muffler can fail several ways, including internally causing excess engine noise. A cracked muffler can cause both engine performance issues and the smell of an exhaust leak. Small issues with a muffler can be repaired, while major issues will require a replacement.
Catalytic Converter Maintenance and Repairs
Catalytic converters are filled with a “catalyst” material that turns harmful exhaust fumes into nontoxic vapor. This catalyst material can break down due to heat, and even melt together in extreme cases. Catalytic converters cannot be repaired a large majority of the time, and will need to be replaced. A clogged catalytic converter may cause a variety of engine problems most often resulting in a sluggish performance. It can also cause a chain reaction with other engine components and the oxygen sensors.
Oxygen Sensor Diagnostics and Replacements
Bad oxygen sensors most often result in a check engine light, poor engine performance, and are most noticeable during idle. Oxygen sensors report the level of unburned oxygen in the exhaust, telling the computer how efficiently it is running so that it can adjust timing and other configurations. Oxygen sensors must be replaced if and when they do fail.
Exhaust Restriction Testing and Diagnostics
An unrestricted exhaust system is key for the engine being able to do what it needs to do. Damaged pipes, a clogged catalytic converter, or other similar issue can restrict exhaust flow and cause a variety of symptoms. The first step is to perform a visual inspection and check for any obvious signs of an issue. From there a technician will go through and check individual components for clogging or restrictions. If nothing is found, vacuum testing can also be performed.
Battery Testing and Replacements
When your vehicle struggles to start, the first step is to test the battery. This can be done while the battery is still installed in the vehicle or after it has been removed. There are two main ways to test a battery. Battery load testers and electronic testers will both determine if a battery is fit enough to function properly and if it is starting to weaken. If this is the case, it must be replaced. Always invest in a quality battery, as it is a very simple yet important component for your vehicle.
Fuse and Relay Testing and Replacements
Fuses are designed to protect your vehicle’s electronic systems. In the case of a power surge or electrical issue, the fuse will “pop” cutting off electrical power to the component it is protecting. Otherwise, the vehicle’s computers and other more intricate electronic components would be at risk. Relays on the other hand are electromagnetic switches designed to keep power away from certain components until it is needed. Luckily, fuses and relays are very easy to change out and are designed to be replaced quickly.
Alternator Testing and Replacements
Once your vehicle has started, all of the electronics on board run off of the power generated by the alternator. A poorly functioning alternator can cause numerous electrical problems, issues with engine performance, low battery performance, stalling, and most noticeably dim headlights. A failing alternator will put excess stress on the battery, and will eventually cause it to need to be replaced as well. If you suspect your alternator is going bad, have it tested right away.
Starter Testing and Replacements
The vehicle’s starter may only be used for a second or two at a time, but it is solely responsible for physically turning the vehicle’s crankshaft in order to get the engine started. It is a heavy job done by a small motor. Without it, the vehicle will not be going anywhere. If your vehicle is struggling to start, you will want to have the starter tested before it fails completely. Slow cranking when turning your key is the first sign of an issue.
Radio and Instrument Cluster Diagnostics and Repairs
Dashboards hold a majority of the electronics in our vehicles. Between the instrument cluster and the radio or infotainment system, most of the controls and switches are within an arm’s reach of the driver. From fuses, to wiring harnesses, to individual components, issues with these systems tend to need electrical testing. With the right tools and the right knowledge, issues with any single one of these integrated systems can be pinpointed and repaired.
Wiring Harness Replacements
In order to keep wiring from the many electrical components on a vehicle organized, the wiring is designed in a harness that is strategically mapped throughout the vehicle. When a vehicle gets water damage, is subjected to extreme heat, or has another form of significant body damage, the entire wiring harness may need to be replaced entirely. It is one of the only ways to ensure that every wire is clean, dry, and tight.
Ignition System Testing and Maintenance
After fuel and air has been pulled into the engine, a spark plug ignites the mixture in order to create the explosions that power your vehicle. This spark is dependent on a strategically designed ignition system that is timed very precisely. Misfires, combustion issues, and overall poor engine performance can all be caused by ignition system errors. Finding and repairing the component that is to blame can take time and various types of testing, but will dramatically improve the engine’s performance.
Pulsing Brake Diagnostics
The feeling of pulsating brakes is hard to deny. When the brakes feel like they are shaking and vibrating rather than applying pressure smoothly, you can feel it all over the car and up the brake pedal. This is caused by uneven braking surfaces, most commonly due to warped brake rotors. However, it is why the rotors are warped that matters. Hard stops, extreme heat, and poor wheel mounting can all contribute to uneven rotor wear.
Noisy Brake Inspections
Noisy brakes can be attributed to anything from nonharmful brake dust to brake failure. Consistent brake squeaking or squealing is typically a sign that your brake pads are starting to wear down and need to be replaced soon. Brake grinding can be a sign of serious mechanical failure, or the brake pads being completely worn out. Often a test drive and a visual inspection are enough to pinpoint the issue and make repairs.
Brake Fluid Flush
Hydraulic brake fluid is the key component in the braking system, which allows you to stop your vehicle with a small amount of effort. Brake fluid is extremely hygroscopic, which means that it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Over time, this causes the brake fluid to lose its hydraulic characteristics. Other contaminants, including air, can also enter the system when the fluid reservoir cap is off or if there is a leak. Regardless, the system will need to be flushed out and filled with fresh brake fluid.
Master Cylinder Repairs and replacements
The brake master cylinder helps turn the push of a pedal into hydraulic force. Over time, seals on the moving components inside will wear down. Some models have replaceable seals, which means the master cylinder can be repaired. More serious damage or an unserviceable master cylinder will require that a new one be installed. Master cylinder repairs are also accompanied by a brake fluid flush, since the hydraulic system is opened and exposed to the air.
Brake Pad Replacements
Brake pads are designed to wear down over time. Every time you stop a small amount of brake pad material is worn down, much like when you use an eraser. Harder stops lead to more wear, as does city driving and stop-and-go traffic. While some last longer than others, your vehicle will eventually need new brake pads.
Brake Booster Replacements
The brake booster works along with the brake pedal and master cylinder to create a large amount of hydraulic power from pressing the brake pedal. When your brakes get harder to push and the vehicle takes longer to stop, it is likely that you have a failing brake booster. The booster will have to be replaced in order to restore full braking abilities.
Brake Caliper Maintenance and Replacements
Calipers hold the brake pads and let them to move back and forth when the brakes are applied. The grease that allows brake calipers to move without friction can collect dirt and debris. This can eventually cause your brake pads to wear unevenly and cause the caliper to stick in a closed position pushing the brake pads against the rotor. If the caliper is in good condition, the pistons and grease can be replaced inside. Otherwise, the caliper will need to be replaced and new pads installed.
Brake Rotor Machining and Replacement
Attached to the wheel hub is a brake rotor, which your brakes grab onto in order to stop the wheels from rolling. The rotor is designed to be perfectly flat, so that the perfectly flat brake pads press evenly on the rotor. Hard stops, hot temperatures, and even over-tightened lug nuts can lead to warped rotors. If the rotors are thick enough, they can be resurfaced so they are flat and work like normal. If the rotors are worn beyond manufacture specifications, they will need to be replaced.
Drum Brake Adjustments and Repairs
As drum brakes wear down, they need to be adjusted in order to restore full braking abilities. The further a brake shoe wears down, the further the shoes have to travel in order to make contact with the brake drum. Adjustments compensate for that extra space, increasing stopping power and making the brakes feel tighter to the driver. While brake drums are more uncommon amongst new models, they are still found on many older vehicles.
Brake Line Replacements
Brake lines carry hydraulic brake fluid from the master cylinder to each brake on each wheel. The lines must be air-tight, and are perfectly designed to work in unison as a system. Any damage to a brake line, including a leak, can cause major safety concerns and compromise the system. Brake lines that are in good condition can be repaired, while more serious damage may warrant replacing the entire line.
Parking Brake Adjustments
A majority of parking brakes are cable activated. The movement of a pedal or handle physically activates the brakes. Those cables, or lines, can become stretched and loose. This will leave you with a parking brake that does not completely engage or does not engage at all. If there is no major damage, the cable can be tightened up and adjusted to restore the parking brake.
Emergency Brake Diagnostics and Repairs
Your emergency brake, or parking brake, acts as a secondary way to apply the brakes when you are parked on a hill or in the case of an emergency. It is considered a safety device that has the potential to keep you and your car out of harms way. Mechanical parking brakes, as opposed to new electric parking brakes, are relatively simple systems. Having your parking brake repaired will ensure that you have that backup safety feature in place when you need it most.
ABS Diagnostics and Maintenance
All modern cars are equipped with an anti-lock braking system that keeps the wheels from locking up and helps to maintain traction on slippery surfaces. The system includes several wheel speed sensors and brake system sensors, all of which must be working for ABS to be active. If the ABS warning light is on, electronic diagnostics must be run in order to pinpoint what part of the system is malfunctioning. Further testing can be done from there if needed.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Heater Diagnostics and Repairs
The heater in your car can make a huge difference in your comfort when on the road, and even be a life saving feature in extreme weather. When the heater fails, it may be an issue with the heater core, blower motor, or a sign of a problem with the cooling system. Once the issue has been correctly diagnosed, repairs can be made to resolve the issues.
Blower Motor Repairs and Service
A vehicle’s air conditioner and heater both utilize the same blower motor to move air into the cabin. If the blower motor fails to turn on and circulate air, or fails to respond to different fan speeds, then the motor or its switch may have failed. Testing can pinpoint exactly what has gone wrong and determine what needs to be done to resolve the problem.
A/C Refrigerant Recovery and Replacement
Air conditioning refrigerant will degrade over time and your AC will lose its cooling effects. Eventually, the AC system will need to be recharged with new refrigerant. The best way to do this is with a recovery and recharge machine, which will properly collect old refrigerant and replace it with new. This not only is the most effective way to clear out all of the old refrigerant, but it also collects the old refrigerant which is toxic and bad for the environment. This way it can be properly disposed of.
Older vehicles use a different type of refrigerant than modern AC systems. This refrigerant is a more aggressive chemical that is harmful and has been outlawed. It can be hard to get and the older systems are rarely repaired. Most vehicles can be retrofitted with a new system in order to bring the system up to date. AC retrofitting includes removing the old AC system and putting a modern one in its place.
A/C Compressor Service and Repairs
The AC compressor is powered off of the engine’s drive belt, and is responsible for pressurizing the system. Your car’s AC will not be able to cool the air coming into the cabin without a properly functioning compressor. Some components of the compressor, such as the clutch and pulley, can be replaced in order to restore function. However, the compressor may eventually need to be replaced entirely in order for you to enjoy air conditioning while on the road.
Evaporator Diagnostics and Replacements
An evaporator or evaporator core cools the air coming into your car when you turn on the AC. It works very similarly to the radiator, in that warm air passes over the core and is chilled before entering the cabin. The evaporator is a relatively common place to develop leaks, which will keep the system from working properly. Signs of a leaking evaporator include the AC only being intermittently cold, blowing warm air, or the smell AC refrigerant. When this happens, the evaporator will have to be replaced.
Orifice Tube and Expansion Valve Maintenance
Both orifice tubes and expansion valves work in similar ways to reduce the amount of refrigerant entering the evaporator core in order to regulate the AC system’s pressures. These very small passages can easily become clogged, and will reduce the AC system’s ability to cool. While some can be cleaned, it is most often practical to simply replace it. It is also often recommended to replace the orifice tube or expansion valve if the compressor fails, as the inner compressor oil may have leaked into the system.
Suspension and Steering
Power Steering Pump Replacement
The power steering pump helps you steer with a fraction of the effort it would take without the hydraulic assistance it provides. It is powered off of the engine, which is why it is harder to steer when the vehicle is not running. The power steering pump is a common place for leaks. Most often it makes a whining sound while turning if its struggling to run or the power steering fluid is low. Losing power steering while driving can be dangerous for you and the other drivers on the road. Any signs of power steering issues should be diagnosed as soon as possible.
Suspension Noise Inspection and Diagnostics
A car’s suspension plays a huge role in supporting the vehicle on its wheels, and allowing the driver to control it. If your car makes excess noise as it goes over bumps and rough roads, it is a sign that the suspension components are starting to wear down. Creaking, popping, squeaking, or grinding can all be signs of an issue, and it is important to know how serious that issue is. Certain suspension issues can cause very dangerous driving conditions, particularly at high speeds.
Steering Noise and Vibration Diagnostics and Repairs
The steering components in your car are intricately designed to keep you in control. When these components get damaged or wear down, they need to be adjusted and repaired in order to maintain that control. Steering noises and vibrations are the most noticeable signs of an issue, and they should not be ignored as the problems will only continue to get worse.
Ball Joint Inspection and Maintenance
Worn down ball joints cause a series of issues including uneven tire wear, clunking noises from the suspension, excess vibrations, and steering wandering. Some ball joints can be maintained and refilled with grease, while others will need to be replaced. Ball joint issues will also put stress on other steering and suspension components, causing these other parts to wear down faster. It is extremely beneficial to the entire system to get your ball joints serviced at the recommended manufacture service interval.
CV Joint Inspections and Replacements
CV joints serve as critical connections points from the transmission to the axle and from the axle to the wheels. They allow the wheels to steer and rotate, while still providing rotational power from the transmission. The most common issue is a cracked CV joint boot and leaking grease. These cracks also allow dirt and road debris to get into the joint and further deteriorate and dry it out.
Axle Shaft and Assembly Inspections and Repairs
Axle and CV axle problems can start out as clicking while turning, turn into a metallic clunking, and eventually end in an inoperable car. It is particularly dangerous for an axle to fail while the car is moving. Every vehicle manufacture will utilize a slightly different style of axle, depending on the overall design of the drivetrain. Replacing and repairing axles can vary in complexity, and it is important to repair them before they fail completely.
Shock and Strut Inspections and Service
Shocks and struts are under constant pressure and take a large amount of force away from the driver and the body of the vehicle so you have a smooth and comfortable ride. These components will eventually need to be serviced, if they are serviceable, or replaced entirely. Symptoms of a failing shock or strut include creaking sounds, excess bouncing, body sway, tire cupping, or any obvious signs of physical damage.
Bushing Inspections and Maintenance
Bushings are small rubber and plastic buffers that are placed throughout the suspension in order to minimize vibration, excess movement, and stabilize the connections between components. The rubber will eventually stretch out, start to crack, and become brittle enough to not perform its function. These bushings can be removed and replaced in order to properly support the suspension components they assist.
Stabilizer Bar Inspections and Replacements
Stabilizer bars, or sway bars, are used to limit the body of the vehicle from rolling when in a turn. They dramatically reduce the chance of a rollover, particularly at high speeds. A worn stabilizer bar will allow the vehicle to “roll” too far to one side during a turn, and can even break if put under enough stress. Problems with the stabilizer bar can be both visually seen and felt while driving. Bushings may appear worn, there may be too much body roll during turns, and you may notice clicking while driving over bumps.
Control Arm and Bushing Repairs
The control arm, also known as an A-arm, is responsible for suspending and holding the wheel. It attaches the wheel hub while allowing it to pivot as you steer and roll over bumps. The control arm typically wears down around its bushings, giving it excess play and resulting in vibrations, clunking, and wheel wondering. Depending on the extend of the damage, the bushings may be serviceable on their own, or the whole control arm may need to be replaced.
Leaf Spring Maintenance
Leaf springs help support the weight of a vehicle, and are typically found on the back ends of trucks and SUVs. These springs are made of long flat pieces of metal that are curved and stacked so that they bend slightly backwards when compensating for bumps. The metal itself can wear down and the springs can become weak. The bushings holding them in place can also wear down. You may notice the springs flattening out and the rear end sagging, or you may notice that one side sits lower than the other. The springs will have to be replaced in pairs.
Wheels and Tires
Flat Tire Repairs
Flat tires are debilitating and tend to happen at the worst time. Not all flat tires need to be replaced, and tires that are punctured with a single hole can be repaired. With a plug and a patch, the hole can be filled and the tire reinstalled. It is a quick fix that can get you back on the road in a matter of minutes.
As your steering and suspension components wear down, the wheels start to fall out of line and the steering will become compromised. The vehicle may pull to one side or another, the tires may wear unevenly, and you may notice the steering wheel resting off center. A wheel alignment adjusts your wheels to compensate for this wear and restore the flat and centered position of the wheels.
New Tire Installation
Installing new tire is faster and easier when you have the right tools at hand. If you are needing new tires, there are a few considerations to make. First and foremost, you want to make sure to purchase new tires that are the right size. Secondly, you want to buy tires that are suitable to the driving conditions you plan on facing. If needed, it is also appropriate to rotate your tires when installing new ones.
Due to the uneven weight distribution on most vehicles, it is important to rotate your tires so that you get an equal lifespan out of each. Tires under the engine and under the driver tend to carry the most weight most often, and will wear down the fastest. Rotating the tires ensures that the extra weight is shared amongst the tires.
Wheel Bearing Diagnostics and Maintenance
Wheel bearings allow the wheels to spin freely, giving them frictionless movement and reducing the amount of work it takes to move the vehicle. Wheel bearings can lose their inner grease, causing the ball bearings inside to collect dirt and dry up. This puts extra stress on the transmission, hub assembly, and the axles. Eventually, the wheel can complete seize up. Wheel bearings that are serviceable can be repacked with grease, while others are designed to be replaced as a unit.
Tire Inflation and Pressure Regulation
All tires naturally lose air just, as a balloon does when given enough time. The average car will lose around 3 psi of pressure every month. Even without a damaged or leaking tire, they will need to be reflated every 2-3 months to maintain tire life and fuel mileage. Nitrogen filled tires, usually marked with green valve stem caps, will not naturally lose air as quickly. This is because nitrogen is a larger molecule that can’t escape the tire as easily. Nitrogen filled tires may need to be checked twice a year.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Diagnostics and Repairs
Most newer cars come stock with a tire pressure monitoring system that lets you know when your tires are running low. Because each tire has its own sensor located on the outside of the wheel, they are prone to being hit by road debris, ice, water, and hit on curbs. Issues with the tire pressure monitoring system will usually trigger a check engine light. Diagnostic testing can be done to pinpoint which sensor is having an issue, and further testing can determine if it needs to be replaced and reprogrammed.
As a tire wears down, it does not always wear down evenly. Tiny variations in the rim and tire’s tread can cause the wheel to spin in an uneven rotation. This can lead to bumpy driving conditions, vibrations while driving at higher speeds, and reduced fuel economy. Balancing tires is a simply procedure that ensures the wheel’s weight is balanced all the way around by adding small clamp-on weights to the rim. The older a vehicle and its tires get, the more often you will need to rebalance your wheels.
A new set of rims doesn’t get you very far without the right tires. Once you have chosen the right tires, mounting them on the rims is a very simple and easy procedure if you have the right tools. A wheel mounting machine reduces tire mounting time down to a few seconds, and ensures that the rim stays scratch free the entire time.
Fluid Leak Repairs
Transmissions, regardless if they are manual or automatic, will not shift without the right amount of transmission fluid or gear oil. Locating the source of a transmission fluid leak is the first step. The transmission fluid pan, transmission lines, and transmission fluid coolers can all be a source of a leak. Any leaks in the system should be taken seriously and repaired as soon as they are located.
Transmission Fluid Flushes and Fluid Changes
In addition to its other key roles, transmission fluid is designed to clean the transmission and keep the gears and components inside lubricated. Heat and contamination will eventually start to break down the fluid and cause it to be less effective. You may notice the transmission slipping, grinding, and delayed shifting if the fluid gets dirty enough. The transmission fluid will need to be drained and refilled, along with the installation of a new transmission fluid filter.
Clutch Diagnostics and Maintenance
Having a manual transmission gives you a whole new driving experience, but the clutch will need to be replaced. You will most likely start to notice signs of needing a new clutch when you press in the clutch pedal and change gears. The pedal may feel spongy, travel further, vibrate, stick when pressed. The gears may also be harder to change, and you may notice deeper noises coming from the transmission.
Torque Converter Flushing and Replacements
A torque converter has several intricate components inside that must all work together in order for an automatic transmission to work correctly. Shuddering, excess transmission heat, slipping, and excess noise can all be signs that the torque converter needs attention. The transmission fluid inside can be flushed out when a full transmission fluid flush is performed. This can help prolong the lifespan of the torque converter. However, once it has started to fail, it will need to be replaced.
Transmission Rebuilds and Replacements
Transmissions can fail for a variety of reasons. They may lose single gears or become completely incapable of moving the vehicle. When a transmission fails there are two options, rebuild it or replace it. The type of damage and the extent of that damage both play a large role in which option is best. Both automatic transmissions and manual transmissions can be rebuilt, but it is often more cost effective to put in a new one if possible.