My Car is Leaking What?

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Is there a constant spot on your driveway or garage floor that leaves you wondering what is it and where is it coming from? hope fully this will help …

Engine oil Can look amber in color if it’s new, but usually it’s dark brownish. If you haven’t changed your oil in a million miles it may look like thick black sludge. It will also leave slickness on your fingers that’s hard to get off without soap. Oil can leak from gaskets, seals on the front or rear of an engine, from valve covers or from the oil pan. Sometimes oil can leak from many places at once. If you see a spot make sure to check the oil level and make sure there is enough left in the engine to drive safely.

Transmission fluid Usually looks reddish and has a sheen, some come in other colors and can feel heavier or thinner than oil. If you suspect your transmission is leaking , look at your owner’s manual to see how to check the fluid level – or look it up on YouTube – If you rub the fluid between your fingers and see small flecks of metal it may indicate larger issues than just a leak so make sure to bring your vehicle in and have it checked out.

Power-steering fluid Is usually also reddish, and on some cars it’s the same as the transmission fluid. Check the fluid level in the power-steering reservoir to see if it’s low. Also pay careful attention when your turning corners if you hear a grinding when you turn or the steering wheel becomes hard to turn it’s a good indication the fluid is coming from your power-steering.

Engine coolant It used to be just green, but these days coolant can be, yellow, pink, purple or a lot of other colors, check your overflow tank to see what’s in your radiator. If the tank is empty you’ve found your problem. Coolant feels kind of like slimy water and smells sweet. Leaks can come from the tank, the radiator, the water pump, hoses or a lot of other places but, for your safety, wait until your engine is cold before opening the radiator cap.

Brake fluid Is light brown or almost clear when new, but typically it’s a lot darker. It’s also slick feeling and you need it to stop your car so treat a brake fluid leak as an emergency. Check the brake fluid level the fluid reservoir is normally located under the hood, on the driver’s side of the vehicle, against the back of the engine compartment. If the reservoir is low come in immediately to have the problem fixed. If you the reservoir is empty and you don’t have access to more have your car towed do not drive.

A few drips of fluid on your driveway shouldn’t trigger a panic, especially on an older car. Seepage and minor leaks are common especially on cars that you commute in every day but, any leak can turn into a major issue if the problem is not repaired. Be sure to check all your fluids regularly especially before long trips just to make sure all is well, you can have a leak even if it’s not leaving a spot. Or bring it on by and we would be happy to check it out for you!

Call us at 707-725-6321 or You can also book an appointment online by clicking HERE

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Get your Car Ready for Winter

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Winter is finally upon us after what seemed like an endless summer the weather is cooling, the rain is falling and holiday driving is looming. It can be a hassle to drive long distances even in fair weather, but add in some rain and snow and going over the river and through the woods to Grandmas house can be down right dangerous. Here are some tips to keep your car running great and on the road so you can worry about one less thing this Holiday season.

Get a Tune-up
Schedule needed maintenance that you have been putting off before winter really sets in. Cold weather can magnify existing problems such as hard starting, sluggish performance and rough idling.

Check your Tires
As the temperature falls, so does your tire pressure. Low tire pressure can affect your cars ability to handle properly so make sure to check your tire pressure before going on a trip. Also, consider getting new tires, sliding off the road isn’t the best way to discover your tires are worn out! If you have been waiting to buy tires don’t delay your safety depends on tire traction. Remember it is safest to replace all four tires at once.

Get your Wipers ready
Humboldt’s famous fog and rain will cut down your visibility even more in the winter. You have to replace your wiper blades more often than you may think, even the best blades start to loose their effectiveness in as little as six months of fairly constant use. Streaks or missed spots on your windshield are signs that the blades are ready to be replaced.

Check you Headlights
Make sure your headlights are working properly and the lenses stay clean for optimum visibility. Also, check the condition of your headlights lenses of they are clean, but the plastic looks cloudy or has condensation inside, be sure to bring it in and we can have a look to make sure the lights are not leaking or your lenses may need to be treated so that they are clear again.

Have your Battery tested
It is more difficult for your battery to function in cold weather. Make sure to bring your car in to have the battery volt tested to be sure it is strong enough to last through the winter.

Check your Coolant level
Coolant or antifreeze as the name suggests keeps your engine from freezing in the winter, and while we don’t get many days below freezing here in Humboldt if you are planning travel to even colder destinations make sure your coolant level is full and you don’t have any leaks.

If your not sure about your cars safety or you just want some peace of mind, bring your car in and we can do a 45-point inspection to make sure you are good to go. Call us at 707-725-6321 or You can also book an appointment online by clicking HERE

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Warm Weather Car Maintenance Tips

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As much as we would rather spend our hot spring and summer days swimming or inside in the air conditioning, most of us have many fun things to do or take care of during the hottest months of the year. Scorching temperatures are often responsible for car issues, such as A/C systems on the fritz, steering wheels that feel like they just came out of the oven, or batteries that decide it’s time to check out.

While you can’t change the weather, you can avoid a lot of headaches by heeding the following warm weather vehicle maintenance tips:

Avoid Battery Calamities
While cold weather can cause problems for your vehicle’s battery, hot weather can be equally as brutal. Battery fluid can evaporate during high temperatures, leading to a malfunctioning charging system which can destroy your battery. Before you head out on a long road trip, it’s not a bad idea to have your battery inspected to avoid delays associated with the hassles of dealing with a dead battery.

Keep Your Air Conditioning Chilled Out
If you have service performed on your A/C but it still doesn’t seem cold enough, consider a couple things to get the most out of your system. In a dry climate with low humidity, use the “fresh air” or “fan” setting to allow your A/C system to cool most efficiently. Alternatively, if you live in a climate where humidity is rampant, use your A/C’s “recirculate” setting. This eliminates using the high-moisture outside air and makes it easier for your system to cool the interior of your car down.

Be Vigilant of Your Coolant Levels
When it’s extra warm out, your cooling system works overtime to keep your engine from overheating. This requires a 50:50 mixture of coolant and distilled water. Make sure to never open hot radiator cap as to avoid hot pressurized coolant from spraying out. While this should typically be done once a year, the owner’s manual for your car should provide you with the recommendations of how often it should be done.

Avoid Turning Your Car into an Oven
Parking in the sun can quickly turn your car into an unbearable sauna. This can cause a burning hot steering wheel, a faded interior, and a lot of misery and sweating. Using a sun shade in your windshield blocks direct rays from invading your interior. After being parked in the sun, open your doors for a couple minutes to let the heat out as the glass windows turn your car into a mini greenhouse. Also, leave your windows cracked a tiny bit, or get your windows tinted, to keep temperatures down in your car.

Keep Up on Tire Pressure
High temperatures cause more stress on your tires. Underinflated tires can fail because of more friction due to heat, while overinflated tires can result in uneven tread wear since air expands with heat, possibly leading to a blowout. Read up on your tire’s recommended pressure in your owner’s manual, and use a tire gauge to stay on top of the proper pressure for your tires.

While it may seem like a lot of little things to remember, staying attentive to your car’s needs will save you time and money in the long run. Paying attention to how your car feels, having it serviced regularly, and keeping an eye on your dashboard gauges will alert you to any potential problems that are lurking. A little mindfulness as well as regular visits to a reputable and trustworthy auto repair shop will help keep you safely and comfortably on the road this spring/summer.

The Importance of Timing Belts

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Like every other component in your vehicle, your timing belt will ultimately wear out and need to be replaced. Waiting until yours is broken to get a new timing belt can highly-problematic though; avoiding this scenario is definitely something you want to avoid.

The majority manufacturers recommend that your timing belt be changed out every 95,000 miles or so. Waiting until you reach this mileage mark isn’t advisable though, and being proactive in replacing your timing belt can actually save you a fair amount of money.

Comprised of rubber and high-tension fibers as well as various dense polymers, timing belts are responsible for synchronizing of your crank/camshaft(s) to ensure that your engine’s valves open/close in the proper intervals during the intake/exhaust stroke process. When your timing belt breaks, this causes the engine to shut down – sometimes immediately.

The two most common reasons for a timing belt to fail are age/miles and the seizure of your vehicle’s water pump. If your water pump seizes, key gears turning which creates a force that breaks your timing belt. Cooling system failure, which can stem from not flushing your coolant regularly, is a primary instigator of this problem.

Stripped teeth are also a cause of timing belt failure as having a smooth section on the belt results in drive clog slippage. If your belt isn’t connected properly or if its tension isn’t properly calibrated, it will wear out faster than normal. Foreign rubbing against your timing belt can also lead to premature failure.

If you think you need to have its timing belt replaced or if you have any questions/concerns whatsoever about this or any other component in your vehicle, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 707-725-6321. You can also book an appointment online by clicking HERE. We’re here to help the drivers of Humboldt County stay safely on the road year-round!

Making the (Octane) Grade

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Most car owners in Humboldt County probably don’t put too much thought into what grade of gas they’ll use when they head to the pump – they usually just select whichever type of fuel is the cheapest.

While the least expensive grade is usually the most appealing choice to consumers for obvious reasons, it’s not always the best option for every make/model of vehicle.

The numbers on a given gas pump represent the corresponding fuel’s ability to compress within an engine. The higher a number, the higher its resistance to the compression-ignition process and the more energy it can produce.

Typically, higher performance vehicles will require a fuel with a higher-octane grade (BMWs for example). If you use a grade of fuel that is too low (check your vehicle manual to be sure), you’ll notice a distinct knocking sound in tour gas tank while driving.

Driving around with the wrong grade of fuel can potentially cause damage to your ignition system and lead to improper combustion within your cylinders which is problematic to say the least. You should consult a professional auto repair expert if you encounter this issue.

Using higher-grade fuel than you need to, on the other hand, won’t increase your vehicle’s power as that is derived from the engine as opposed to the gas but it won’t have the negative impact that using too low of an octane would, but you should still stick to the recommended grade when filling up your tank.

In some situations, your vehicle’s needs may change as it gets older as carbon deposits within your cylinders expand and alter your vehicle’s combustion ratio and lead to your having to use a higher-octane grade. You’ll hear a knocking sound if/when this starts to occur but if you keep your vehicle in good shape by having maintenance performed on it regularly you should never encounter this phenomenon.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s fuel needs, be sure call our team of ASE-certified technicians at 707.725.6321!

Exhaust Systems 101

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Your vehicle’s exhaust system is most likely one of those things you don’t think about – or even notice – until something goes wrong.

If your engine was 100% efficient, it would combust every ounce of fuel it’s supplied with and turn all of its gas into power. But because no engine is perfect, leftover fuel is left behind in the form of exhaust.

The exhaust system is made up of your vehicle’s catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, muffler, and pipes – all designed to move the waste from your engine out of the vehicle. Each component in the exhaust system has a specific job and is designed to safely rid dangerous chemicals and fumes from your engine.

Exhaust Components:
Exhaust Manifold – This component connects to the engine and begins the flow of exhaust through the pipes and system components.

Catalytic Converter – Exhaust is, in simplest terms, pollution. The catalytic converter burns off and removes up to 90 percent of the toxins in your engine’s exhaust.

Muffler – The muffler and resonator address engine sound. Most work to reduce the noise to keep your car running as quietly as possible.

Pipes – Once it has journeyed through the above components, exhaust travels through remaining pipes to exit the vehicle. This process also cools the fumes.

Exhaust Maintenance:

Like every system in your vehicle, the pipes and exhaust components undergo wear and tear over time. The harsh chemicals in the exhaust itself can degrade the system’s interior while road debris and corrosion can cause damage to its exterior.

Corrosion or loose connections can sometimes create leaks in your exhaust system. If you have a leak, you’ll likely know right away from warning signs like loud cracking noises or distinct odor emanation.

Be sure to call our team of ASE-certified technicians at 707-725-6321 if you notice any issues with your exhaust system or if you have any other questions/concerns regarding your vehicle’s health!

When Should Spark Plugs be Replaced?

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In order for your gas-powered vehicle to run, it requires proper ignition to start the chain reaction that leads to engine propulsion and the ability to drive. Your ignition system contains several key components, all of which contribute to the process of detonating fuel in order to convert compression into energy and propel your vehicle forward.

One of your ignition system’s most important components is also typically the first to wear out and need to be replaced – spark plugs. Spark plugs are typically comprised of a threaded metal shell and a porcelain insulator which isolates the main body from the central electrode, which may or may not contain a resistor.

During the ignition process, spark plugs collect deposits such as carbon that are detrimental to performing combustion. If gasoline isn’t ignited properly, several negative consequences will come about: your acceleration will be sluggish, your vehicle’s emissions will potentially be environmentally-harmful and your engine can even shut down completely. As such, spark plugs are very important to your vehicle’s health and they should be changed out regularly as part of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.

On average, spark plugs will need to be changed out every 10,000 miles or so but some can last longer depending upon a variety of factors. Your vehicle’s service manual should have more detailed information on the recommended replacement intervals for your spark plugs.

If you have any questions about your vehicle’s ignition system, be sure to call us at 707-725-6321. If you think it’s time to change out your spark plugs or for your vehicle to be inspected, click HERE to schedule an appointment with our ASE-certified technicians!

How Long Can I Drive on a Spare Tire?

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The experience of getting a flat tire is definitely an unpleasant ordeal. In addition to costing you time, money and maybe even a few hairs, it can also be a dangerous exercise as you change your tire and drive on the spare.

Spare tires are not designed to be driven on for an extended period of time so the longer you keep them on your vehicle the greater your risk of causing problems for your suspension, axel etc. become.

The lifespan of your spare tire is dependent upon a variety of factors. Ordinarily, temporary tires comprise only a single layer of polyester (in the sidewall) and a pair of steel belts (in the thread). This makes them much less durable than regular tires which are more advanced in terms of engineering design and are comprised of sophisticated materials like textile, fibers, etc.

Also known as a “space saver”, the tire more commonly referred to as a “donut” is the most widely-used spare tire in America. Small and light, donuts are easy to both store and install, making them ideal for their intended purpose. Generally, you can drive on these spare tires for between 50 and 70 miles, no faster than 55 MPH. Most of the time, this will be good enough to get you to a garage to pick up a patch or a replacement for your regular tire.

Alternatively, certain larger vehicles are able to accommodate full-sized spare tires which are much more stable and durable than space savers. Full-sized spares are also usually much different than the other three tires on your car however, so handling becomes problematic the longer you drive on them.

Regardless of what type of spare tire you have, they are designed to be short-term solutions to your problem and you need to have a proper replacement installed as soon as possible after you get a flat or suffer a blowout. If you go too long on a spare tire, you risk causing damage to key components of your vehicle.

Be sure to call us at 707-725-6321 if you have any other tire-related questions or if you’d like to schedule your vehicle’s next inspection!

Transmission Repair Warning Signs

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Your vehicle’s transmission is vital to its ability to run. Both automatic and manual transmissions ensure that power moves from the engine to the wheels, the basic recipe for propulsion.

In addition to making sure the wheels are moving, transmissions also keep the engine’s RPMs in an optimal range to ensure everything is running smoothly. This is accomplished through a complicated combination of gears and parts that recognize and evaluate changes in speed and adjust accordingly to optimize the vehicle’s energy usage.

If your transmission is not shifting gears properly, your car will not run smoothly; it may buck or even stall while grinding noises will be audible from beneath the vehicle. Smoke may even be emitted depending upon the severity of the issue.

In the event that any of these warning signs appear, you should have your vehicle inspected by a technician ASAP.

Fix Minor Transmission Problems Before They Get Worse
As is the case with the vast majority of auto repairs, transmission repair costs can be lessened if minor problems are tended to before they have a chance to worsen.

Some minor transmission issues that can be brought to your mechanic’s attention include:

– Leaks or stains under the car: Transmission fluid is usually reddish in color, which makes it easier to distinguish from other vehicle fluids. In both front and rear while drive vehicles, transmissions are located beneath the rear. Puddles of red fluid towards the back of your car indicate a potential leak somewhere in the system.
– Noises: If you typically drive with the stereo cranked up, turn it down occasionally and listen to your vehicle. Many auto problems start out simply as unusual noises, but if you’re not sure what your vehicle sounds like normally you may not be able to tell the unusual from the usual. If you hear a distinct whining sound beneath your floorboards, there’s a good chance your transmission may be on the verge of having issues.
– Changes in shifting behavior: Your car should move smoothly between gears regardless of whether you have an automatic or a manual transmission. If you feel a jolt of any kind or the vehicle bucks while shifting, your transmission needs to be checked out.

If you have any questions regarding your transmission be sure to give us a call at 707-725-6321!

Talkin’ ‘Bout the Car Wash, Yeah!

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This may come as bad news for drivers who don’t seem to notice when their cars have collected a thick layer of grime, but a clean car is typically a healthy car. Allowing your car to collect dirt for extended periods of time can cause damage to the car’s finish and even lead to dreaded rust.

On the other side of the car-cleanliness spectrum are the drivers who don’t leave home without a sparkly sheen and streak-free windows. They know that cleaning a car is imperative to keeping the car looking – and running – great, but they may assume that they need to do the work themselves.

The good news for both types of car owner is that automatic car washes do the job well, and in a fraction of the time it would take to do it by hand. The average automatic car wash takes only seven minutes from spray down to blow dry. Whether you typically spend hours cleaning your car yourself, or you don’t mind being able to draw a sad face in thick dust, you can appreciate an occasional seven-minute automatic scrub.

Not only are they fast, automatic car washes are also safer and more efficient than the hose-bucket-driveway method. So many aspects of the DIY system can go awry, causing far more problems than all that hassle is worth. The wrong soap/water mix may leave dirt behind as you wash, leading to tiny scratches in the paint. These tiny bits of dirt, if left behind, can also contribute to rusting.

How much time does it take to wash your entire car’s exterior by hand? Rinse, wash, rinse again… Why spend an hour or more of your valuable downtime doing what an automatic car wash can accomplish just in a few minutes?

Automatic car washes won’t harm your car’s finish; they do a thorough job removing all dirt; and they are time/cost efficient. Many modern automatic car washes are touchless – this means no brushes or scrubbers physically touch your car. Brushes are things of the past! During a touchless wash, water and detergents are sprayed through high-pressure hoses. High-pressure water will not harm your car’s finish.

If you plan on going through an automatic car wash that isn’t touchless, it’s best to confirm that all of the brushes that will come in contact with your car are made of cloth. Cloth is perfectly safe and gentle on car paint, but a few outdated car washes may still use abrasive brushes that could put tiny scratches into the paint of some cars.

After driving through high-powered jets in an automatic car wash, your car will still be wet. Leaving with a clean, but wet, car is fine. We recommend that you skip any post-wash drying service that may be offered. You can’t be sure that the towel being used is completely clean and free of dirt/lint that could potentially mar your car’s finish. That same towel may have picked up dirt from dozens of other cars that day, or could have been dropped on the ground at some point.

When it comes to drying, let the jets do the work. Modern automatic car washes usually finish with powerful, heated air jets. These blow most water off the car – the small amount of water left behind is completely fine.

If you have gone through a car wash that used harsh brushes and later noticed any damage to your car’s finish, come by and our certified specialists can assess the damage, and inspect your vehicle for any other auto repair services you may need. Stop by any time or call us with questions at 707-725-6321.