AC | Will Not Start |  Sounds/Vibrations Losing Fluids | Something Else | GlossaryParts Life Expectancy | Windshield Wipers

Air Condition Heating

Musty odors  – possible causes;

  • A musty odor in the vents occurs when moisture accumulates in the evaporator core; and or cabin filter. This is more likely to occur with un-garaged vehicles that are not driven often. To eliminate musty smells, spray a canister of disinfectant odor remover into the ventilation system.

AC does not cool properly  – possible causes;

  • Blown fuse – preventing the compressor from turning on. 
  • A clogged expansion valve restricts refrigerant flow to the evaporator; usually, you will see moisture dripping onto the floor inside the cabin.
  • Low Freon caused by a leak in an o-ring seal, hose, or other components. On humid days you may see fog blowing from the vents.
  • Faulty compressor clutch – the compressor is not coming on. If you do not hear a deep click sound when you turn on the ac and everything else is ok, this indicates the clutch may not be working properly.

Heater not blowing warm air  possible causes

  • Coolant level is low – heat is created from engine heat; if there are no major leaks, add coolant to the radiator (after the engine is cool enough to add coolant). NEVER add coolant to a hot engine!
  • Heater core – could be faulty and does not allow coolant to pass through properly. During warmer months this is not an issue, but a faulty heater core can impact your air conditioner’s ability to regulate temperature.
  • Clogged or broken heating controls/thermostats can stop working. The remedy is to replace them.

Air Filter Issues

  • Located in the engine compartment, usually resting to the side or rear of the engine.  If you live in an area where there is a lot of dust and or pollution, such as driving 2 miles daily on a dirt road; changing filters earlier than factory recommendations may be necessary.
  • Signs it is time to replace a filter;
  • A clean filter is an off-white color; if the filter looks dark, it should be replaced.
  • Check engine light is on because the engine is not receiving enough oxygen for the computer to properly adjust the airflow mixture required for the engine to run efficiently.
  • If the vehicle seems to be losing power when accelerating.
  • Black, sooty smoke is seen leaving the exhaust.
  • If you smell gasoline when starting the vehicle; could be a fuel line leak if the smell persists.


Typically located in the engine compartment, but on some higher-end vehicles, it can be located in the trunk or cargo area.

Reputable batteries typically last 3 to 5 years before needing to be replaced.

3 ways to confirm battery may need to be replaced;

  • When starting, if you hear a clicking sound or the vehicle does not respond at all.
  • If the vehicle is off and the horn sounds weak.
  • If the vehicle is off and the windshield wipers move slower than usual.
  • Make sure battery terminals are tight.

(If You have an older vehicle, make sure battery cables are not corroded, frayed, etc).

Many auto parts stores will conduct a free diagnosis of your electrical system to determine if the battery or the alternator is the problem. Still, you will need to jump-start the vehicle to drive it to them.

 To jump-start vehicle

  1. Place the red jumper cable wire on the positive post of your vehicle’s battery first (red to red) with the vehicle off.
  2. Place the red jumper cable wire on the positive post of the donor vehicle’s battery (red to red).
  3. Place black jumper cable on the donor’s car battery’s negative post (black to black).
  4. Place the black jumper cable on your vehicle’s negative post (black to black).
  5. While the donor vehicle’s engine is running, wait at least 30 seconds before starting your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, rev the engine of the donor vehicle a little and try again. After the vehicle starts, remove the cables in the reverse order when disconnecting them.

Run your vehicle for at least 30 minutes after starting it to charge the battery.

If your vehicle shuts off when disconnecting it from the donor vehicle, your alternator may be the problem.

If you are unsuccessful with getting the engine to turn at all, on older vehicles it could be the starter.

Bounces Up & Down

Signs of worn shock absorbers or struts

  1. Instability at highway speeds. Your vehicle never feels completely stable on the highway and is constantly moving up and down. The movement may be slight, but you notice it.
  2. Vehicle “tips” to one side in turns. When taking a sharp turn or an off-ramp, your vehicle leans or “tips” to the outside of the turn and feels wobbly.
  3. The front end dives more than expected during hard braking. You may not notice this until you have to jump hard on the brakes.
  4. Rear-end squat during acceleration. You’ll notice the front end of your vehicle rising while the rear “squats” during hard acceleration.
  5. Tires bouncing excessively. After hitting a bump, you can feel a tire (or tires) reacting or “bouncing” for a time. You may also hear a clunking noise.
  6. Unusual tire wear. Because the tire isn’t being held firmly to the road, the tread wears in a wavy manner instead of evenly.
  7. Leaking fluid on the exterior of shocks or struts. This is a sign that the seals have broken and the internal fluids essential to proper function are escaping.


Should be replaced as soon as possible.


Brakes symptoms and possible causes

When to replace brake pads – new brake pads are  typically between 8-12 millimeters thick and should be replaced once they are down to 3 mm thick.  (When mechanics recommend replacing pads, use this as a guide to determine if its necessary).

  • The brake light is on – try releasing the brake.
  • When brakes applied after driving on a dirt road— Grinding sound is heard. This could be gravel or rock caught in the caliper; if the sound persists over time, it could be the brake pads are worn and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Brake making noise, squealing, squeaking, or grinding noises when stopping. – The brake pads/shoes need to be replaced.

When driving, you hear squeaking. This is usually an indication the brake pad’s are warning you the brakes will need to be replaced soon. Once brakes begin to grind, the disc/drums will need to be resurfaced.

Wobbling, vibration, or scraping when Braking

  • Shaking in the steering wheel or vibration when applying the brakes may indicate at least one uneven/warped brake rotor on the front of the vehicle.
  • Slight vibration felt in the lower portion of the driver’s seat’s back when applying the brakes may indicate an uneven/warped brake rotor in the rear.


Leaking Fluid – symptoms, soft pedal, and leaks on the ground near tires

  • A leak from the master cylinder
  • A leak from a caliper
  • A leak in a hose

Repair as soon as possible

 Pulling to One Side When Braking

  • Brake hose failing and or
  • Caliper failing

Repair as soon as possible

Burning smell while driving

  • Brake not retracting from disc/drum properly; possible cause; the emergency brake is on or riding (keeping your foot) on the brake pedal while driving or mechanical issues. If the emergency brake is off and you are not keeping your foot on the brake pedal, have the vehicle repaired immediately!


Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light is controlled by the automobile’s computer(s)

The check engine light comes on; when the vehicle’s ECU (engine control unit) detects an error code.

Because codes can be caused by any number of errors, it is best to have the vehicle checked.

The most common reasons check engine lights come on are:

  • Loose or missing fuel cap
  • To resolve, turn the engine off, remove the cap and put it back on the fuel intake tightly, and restart the vehicle.
  • PCV valve
  • Spark plug malfunctioning
  • Faulty mass airflow sensor
  • Carbon build up
  • Catalytic converter malfunctioning

Many auto parts stores near you offer free diagnosis of automobiles; appointments are not required.

Inform them your check engine light is on, and they can connect their diagnostic device to your vehicle’s computer and in a few minutes provide the error code and tell you what it means.

Since some errors can lead to severe engine damage, it is always my recommendation to take care of the minor problem before it becomes major.

Electronic Control Unit (ECU) or Power-train Control Unit (PCM)

A bad or failing ECM/PCM may produce any of the following 5 symptoms to alert you of a potential problem.

  1. Check Engine Light Turns On. An illuminated Check Engine Light is one possible symptom of a problem with the ECM
  2. Engine Stalling or Misfiring
  3. Engine Performance Issues
  4. Car Not Starting
  5. Poor Fuel Economy


Transmission Control Unit (TCU)

A bad or failing TCM may produce any of the following 7 symptoms to alert you of a potential problem.

  1. Check Engine Light
  2. Unpredictable Shifting
  3. Problems Shifting Into Higher Gears
  4. Problems Downshifting
  5. Stuck in the Same Gear
  6. Delayed Shifting
  7. Poor Fuel Economy

Engine Losing Oil

Engine Losing Oil

Oil leakage is a sure sign that checking oil levels regularly is important.

Causes of oil leaks:

  • Loose oil plug—it should be tightened immediately to avoid falling off and causing catastrophic damage!
  • Oil filler cap – If you see oil dripping around the oil cap, tighten the cap. If the gasket on the cap is worn, you can purchase another one from a parts store. (DIY)
  • Gasket seal on the oil pan – If dripping a little, although not an urgent repair need, repair as soon as possible.
  • Gasket leaks around valve cover – With this leak, you are more likely to smell oil burning. Not an urgent need for repair, but it is recommended that you repair it as soon as possible.
  • ·Oil cooler lines – if the vehicle has an external oil cooling system.
  • The oil filter is not tightened sufficiently – Have it tightened immediately to avoid falling off and causing catastrophic damage!


Other causes of oil loss: (smoke from exhaust)

  • Carbon build up – more likely to occur in vehicle used for local commutes with higher mileage. (Modest cost)
  • Faulty PCV valve – can lead to more problems over time. (Inexpensive)
  • Internal oil leak – oil consumption is internal. (Expensive)
  • Faulty piston rings – noticeable oil-burning, creating smoke through the exhaust. (Expensive)
  • Blown head gasket – noticeable oil-burning creating smoke through the exhaust. (Expensive)


Engine Overheating

  • Check engine light is on
  • Engine temperature warning light is on
  • Smokes from the exhaust when accelerating (usually a white fog looking smoke)
  • Air condition stops working
  • Coolant boiling over

Possible causes for overheating

  • There is an insufficient coolant level in the system (usually caused by a leak; hose, radiator, water pump).
  • Cooling fan not working – a fuse may be blown and will need to be replaced.
  • Thermostat failed – should be replaced
  • Radiator failed – some can be flushed clean; if not, the radiator will need to be replaced (may have coercion restricting coolant flow and causing leaks).

Overheating an engine too long WILL lead to severe engine damage, so if your vehicle overheats, if too hot can blow gaskets, crack block, and other severe damage, leads to white smoke blowing from exhaust pipe.  Pull over and IMMEDIATELY to avoid damage!

Engine Runs Rough

Engine runs rough

Possible causes;

  • Air condition compressor – typically wear out on older, higher mileage vehicles.  Signs wear bearings are wearing out, at idle the vehicle shakes and stops repeatedly as the compressor cycles on and off caused by resistance to turning which strains the engine. As the engine struggles, the the dash and steering vibrates. Some compressors eventually freeze and can no longer be used.
  • Dirty fuel injectors – Can be minimized by using fuels that have a cleaning agent. If injectors are the cause of rough idling, a mechanic should be able to clean them.
  • Spark plugs, wires, and ignitions coils can lose their ability to efficiently deliver the proper amount of electrical current that ignites the fuel and air mixture for the vehicle to run properly. There is no immediate need to replace in the beginning stages, but it will worsen.
  • Dirty air filter – restricts the airflow to the engine (like wearing a mask), and if it is causing your vehicle to run rough, it should be replaced.
  • Dirty PCV—Although not an urgent threat to the engine, if it is dirty enough it will cause the engine to run rough.
  • EGR valve – exhaust gas recirculation – Causes the engine to use too much fuel; typically will cause the check engine light to come on.
  • Oxygen sensor – Monitors the exhaust’s oxygen content to assist the computer in determining the engine’s right air-fuel combination. Although it is not urgent, it will usually trigger the check engine light.
  • Over time, vacuum leaks as vehicles age, hoses become brittle and break,. This causes air to escape, which leads to insufficient air-fuel mixture. Early-stage is not urgent, but over time small cracks can burst and cause temporary engine failure.

Fuel Consumption Issues

  • Faulty Engine/Engine Issues
  • Clogged air filter
  • Clogged PCV valve
  • Wrong/Incorrect Engine Oil
  • Poor Fuel Quality
  • Using the Air Conditioning all the time
  • Extended idling
  • Worn Out or under inflated tires
  • Poor Maintenance and Short trips
  • Driving in the wrong gear
  • Aggressive driving habits

Hybrid Issues

  • Stop-start isn’t working –  typically this issue is caused when the battery’s ability to store energy has depleted to a level it can not power the vehicle on its own. Although this does not hinder normal operations, the vehicle’s fuel consumption rate will increase.  fuel consumption 

  • Runs rough at idle – is an indication of the Oxygen Sensors is in need of replacing. Both standard and hybrid cars use oxygen sensors to monitor the amount of unburned oxygen that is released through the exhaust which increases fuel consumption. 

  • The engine seems sluggish when accelerating – could be a sign of a failing catalytic ConverterOther signs of catalytic converter failure can include;  excessive heat under the vehicle, dark exhaust smoke, the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs from the exhaust.

  • I smell fuel coming from the rear – can be caused by the evaporative Emissions System. Check Engine Light coming on, raw fuel smell coming from the back of the car, and a collapsed or leaking fuel tank

  • Low Highway Gas Mileage – Hybrid vehicles uniquely capture energy through regenerative braking. When you hit the brakes, energy is released through heat. Unlike standard cars, hybrids use this energy to recharge their batteries to be used again. When hybrid drivers spend a lot of time cruising at highway speed without frequent stopping, the batteries don’t get recharged. This doesn’t harm fuel efficiency, but it doesn’t help it either. Essentially, hybrids cars perform similarly to compact cars on the highway.

Transponder Or Chip Key

  • Transponder keys communicate with the vehicle, sending a signal for the engine to start and other features to work and needs energy to function which requires a battery.
  • If the battery goes dead, that signal is lost and the engine won’t start and other functions will not work.

Push To Start

  • A keyless entry system won’t start the engine unless it detects that your key fob is inside the car. If your key fob has a dead battery, the system likely won’t be able to recognize when the key fob is inside the car and accordingly won’t start the engine.
  • If your key fob is working but your engine won’t crank, your car may have a dead battery. To confirm that this is the problem, use a voltmeter to check the battery voltage. If the battery has less than 12.4 volts, it needs more voltage to start the car. You can either hook it up to a charger or jump-start it from another vehicle.
  • When the key fob and all your car’s parts seem to be in working order, the push-button start system itself may be at fault. Whether there’s a programming issue or a malfunctioning start engine button, you’ll need a trained technician to diagnose and fix problems with the system.
  • If non of the above, check to research other reasons


Engine won’t turn over

  • If the battery is working properly and the engine doesn’t turn over, make sure the vehicle is in park if automatic or the clutch is full disengaged, if stick shift.  If it does not turn, chances are the starter needs to be replaced.
  • If the battery is working properly, but the vehicle seem to start when the engine is cold but not after driving for a while the starter must be replaced.


Noise when starting

  • Clicking, grinding or whirring or grinding sound when starting, the starter should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • If you have to try twice to get the starter to engage, it could be a relay that needs to be replaced.
  • If you hear a grinding sound after the engine starts it could be the relay is stuck and needs to be replaced.

Steering and Handling

Older model automobiles equipped with hydraulic power steering systems may use one of the following ATF transmission fluids: Dexron, Mercon, type F, ATF+4, etc.; Many newer vehicles use a synthetic-based hydraulic fluid that is specifically formulated for power steering use.

Signs a hydraulic power steering system may not be working properly are;

  • Leaks from the pump area sometimes leak to the ground and may burn off on the exhaust manifold, creating a burning smell.
  • When turning and or moving the steering wheel slightly from left to right, you hear a screeching or groaning sound.
  • When turning, you feel intermittent resisting (jerking), noticeable when the vehicle is moving slowly and/or hard to turn, even if tires are fully inflated.

If the reservoir is full and all belts connected to the pump pulley are in good working condition, you have a serious problem that must be resolved immediately!

Hard steering;

  • Low or uneven tire pressure – especially noticeable when turning the wheel when the vehicle is not moving. Refer to your manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and add air to the front tires. While adding air to the front tires, check the rear tires and add air if needed.
  • Power steering fluid low – if the vehicle uses a hydraulic power steering system, add the recommended fluid.
  • If neither of the above solves the problem, see a mechanic immediately.


Electric Power steering issues

  • Steering seems harder to turn in one direction than the other, if the suspension is working properly this can be an alignment issue with the eps may require recalibrating the steering angle sensor, repair immediately
  • Hard to turn as if the vehicle does not have power steering, could possibly be repaired by resetting the system, or a problem with the power steering pump/rack, torque sensor calibration or the ECU, repair immediately
  • Hear strange sounds in the steering wheel, could mean there is a problem with the ECU, repair immediately.


Steering too loose;

Vehicle wanders from side to side, causing you to constantly correct when driving in a straight line. Causes can be:

  • Different tire treads on the front can cause a vehicle to wander from right to left—Uneven tire pressure.
  • If none of the above conditions exist, check tires to see if there is uneven tire wear (page 86). See a mechanic immediately; there could be a loose component in the suspension that can break while driving and cause serious harm!
  • Pulls to the right or left consistently when driving in a straight line -If this occurs all the time, regardless of which lane you are in, and none of the conditions mentioned earlier exists, this could be a sign the front end is out of alignment. This leads to excessive tire wear to the inner or outer tire.
  • A wheel is out of round, is an indication that the tire tread and or belts maybe separating. If this is the problem, avoid high-speed driving because separation at high speeds can be catastrophic; replace the tire immediately.


smoke blue

Smoke in the engine compartment possible causes;

  • Brake hose leaking (fix asap)
  • Oil leak, causing oil to drip onto exhaust manifold
  • Power steering hose leak (fix asap)
  • Radiator hose leak (fix asap) 


When accelerating, possible causes;

  • Bluish smoke coming from the exhaust, PCV valve, inexpensive part; Turbo, valves or rings need overhauling-expensive
  • White smoke water entering exhaust chamber, expensive repair


While Driving

Engine Compartment

Screeching/squealing sounds

  • While accelerating
    • While idling – possible loose serpentine belt;
      • Loose, push on it, if it moves more than an 1/8 inch and is in good condition it can be tightened.   If it is  showing signs of cracking it should be replaced.
    • While driving
      • The serpentine or air condition compressor belt.  To determine if needs to be tighten, press on it, if it moves more than an 1/8 inch and is not  showing signs of cracking can be adjusted; if showing signs of aging, it should be replaced.
      • Worn bearings on;
        • Tension pulley bearing
        •  A/C compressor maybe wearing out, usually engine idles rust as the compressors becomes harder to turn.  A severely worn compressor can seize up and shut the engine down while on.
        • Alternator bearings maybe wearing out.
        • Power steering pump bearings maybe wearing out.  
  • When turning
    • When turning left or right – typically the power steering reservoir is low; add the  recommended fluid.  If the reservoir is full, the belt attached to it is loose or the power steering pump may need to be replaced.

Rattling/Knocking/ Ticking sounds

  • Most modern vehicles will have a light clatter, but if the sound becomes noticeably louder, it could be the engine is low on oil; which can be remedied by adding oil.
  • Rattling and clattering sounds under acceleration could be caused by;
    • Using the wrong fuel for the vehicle
    • The fuel injectors need to cleaning
    • Timing is in correct, which should be resolved.
  • Thuds/thump on initial acceleration –  can be a worn engine or transmission mount, which should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Rattling/knocking that changes with the engine speed possible reasons;
    • Air Condition compressor may need to be replaced
    • Or water pump may need to be replaced
    • Or the power steering pump may need to be replaced
    • Or lifters may need to be adjusted, if the appropriate oil level has been met, rapid ticking increases and decreases with engine speed
    • Rear Wheel drive vehicles; possible the u joint wearing, light rattle sound that increases with tire rotation; also may hear clucking sound when initially accelerating or sudden taking the foot off the gas.
  • If you feel a vibration in the steering wheel, the front wheels may be out of balance, or tire tread (look at tires) and/or belts maybe separating. This causes a bouncing vibration that can be felt in the steering wheel, especially if the steering wheel rocks back and forth at slow speeds. (If you feel a vibration in the lower back of the seat while driving at slower speeds, a rear tire may be experiencing the same). Get it taken care of immediately!
  • Lug nuts are loose, or the rim is damaged.—If lug nuts are loose, tighten them, but a damaged rim will need to be replaced as soon as possible. Failure to repair a damaged rim causing vibrations, especially on the front of the car, can damage the suspension.
  • Vibration while driving, front wheel drive; if you feel no vibration in the steering wheel, it could be the axle needing to be replaced.  


Front-end suspension wear

Clucking – knock, thump or rattling sound when driving over bumps, speed bumps, dirt or brick roads (older higher mileage vehicles)

  • Ball joints
  • Control arm Struts
  • Sway bar
  • Tie rods
  • Axle shaft


Clicking when turning when making a sharp left or right turn indicates a worn CV joint. This should be replaced as soon as possible. If the vehicle has relatively low miles and only one CV joint is damaged, it was probably caused by an object striking and tearing the boot causing the grease to leak out and damage the CV axle. (See life expectancies page 104)

Whining Sound when turning the steering wheel is an indication the power steering fluid is low or the power steering pump is in the beginning stages of failing. 

Wheel Bearing

  • A humming, rumbling, or growling noise increases as you increase speed and decreases as you decrease speed.
  • A clucking/creaking sound when driving over uneven surfaces, or you hear a clucking when hitting a road reflector when changing lanes; additions reasons include worn out suspension parts.
  • Replace as soon as possible
Rear Wheel Drive
  • Constant clicking sound –  sound increases and decreases with speed, is usually a sign the u joint is wearing out.
  • Clucking sound when accelerating or letting off the gas –  is a sign the u joint is wearing out.
  • Replace as soon as possible


 When To Purchase New Tires?

  • A simple tip that will help you to determine if the tread depth is too low. Insert a penny between the treads; if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread wear is too low. This will reduce braking distance and handling, especially on a wet surface. So definitely replace as soon as possible.
  • Tires kept properly inflated can last 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Improper care can reduce the life expectancy to as few as 15,000 miles.


Changing tires

Each manufacturer has a different jack system for safely lifting a vehicle to change a tire, so review their safety precautions for proper placement of the jack.  Changing a tire is a fairly safe procedure as long as you follow certain protocols.  The key things to remember are;

  • Make sure the parking brake is on to ensure absolutely no movement when releasing the lug nuts.
  • Make sure the vehicle is on a level surface to avoid the vehicle from slipping off the jack.
  • If the flat tire occurs on a roadway, pull as far away from the traffic as possible, without the tires on the opposite side being off or right on the edge of the payment.
  • Remove the spare tire and rest it on the bumper before changing tires (faster removal and placement of spare).
  • Loosen the lug nuts slightly while the vehicle is still on the ground, remember, righty tighty, lefty loosey; so rotate the lug nut to the left to loosen the lug nuts. (Jacks provided by manufacturers typically do not have levers long enough to provide leverage;  using a 4-way lug wrench makes it easier to loosen lug nuts, allowing you to lift on the right and push down on the left. 4-way lug wrenches will have 4 different sizes, so find the size for your vehicle by inserting the wrench on to the nuts until there is a snug fit.  The closer you place your hands to the wrench’s outer edges, the more leverage you will have).
  • Make sure the jack is positioned in the factory’s recommended location.
  • Lift the vehicle at least 2 to 3 inches higher than the flat tire’s clearance to give room for the spare to fit.
  • Once the flat tire has been removed, roll it to the back of the vehicle and roll the spare, line the holes in the rim to the studs, and slide the wheel on.
  • To place lug nuts back on, righty tighty. Start by putting a lug nut on the stud closest to the top by turning to the right. Make sure it is just enough to hold the wheel in place, and place the next lug nut on the stud opposite of the first one.
  • Place the remaining lug nuts on and tighten each one until they can’t be turned without major effort.
  • Once all lug nuts are on, starting with the top, turn it as tight as you can. Then go to the nut opposite; repeat this process until all of the nuts are as tight as you can get them (with a 4-way lug, lift on the left and push down on the right).
  • Lower the vehicle to the ground.
  • Place the spare back in the trunk.

Trouble Shooting Tire Wear

  1. Alignment Problem – Tires wearing out faster on the inside or outside is an indication the vehicle’s alignment is off and should be corrected for maximum tire wear.
  2. Camber wear – is when the wheel tilts in or tilts out too much and causes tires to wear in an uneven slant.
  3. Center wear – is caused by over-inflating tires expanding beyond manufacturer recommendation.
  4. Edge-wear or outer-wear on both sides evenly – is caused by under-inflated tires (it is normal over time tires will lose air).
  5. Out of balance – is caused when a tire has not been properly balanced; usually, you will feel a vibration once you reach a certain speed. (Balance weights can fall off hitting a curb or pothole, weight, etc).
  6. Cup wear – (makes noise) results from bent or loose suspension parts. If not repaired, this condition will lead to significant and or catastrophic problems; GET IT FIXED!

Flat tire – If there is plenty of tread on the tire, it can be patched (not plugged) as long as the object did not puncture close to the tire’s outer edge (sidewall). (If the tire passes the penny test, you are not bound to purchasing a new tire, patching is an option).

Using a 4 way lug nut makes it easier to loosen and tighten lug nuts.

To use 4 Way Lug Wrench:

  1. Find the correct lug size.
  2. To loosen, lift on the right side and push down on the lug nut wrench to loosen and unscrew.
  3. To tighten, place lug nuts back on wheels, left up on the left side and press down on the right side.


Transmission leaks are caused by one of the following;

  • Gasket maybe leaking
  • Hose maybe leaking
  • Lines
  • Pump

If any of these conditions exist and there is sufficient fluid in the transmission, see a mechanic immediately!

  • Transmission won’t engage or stay in gear
  • Shifts are delayed or missing gears
  • Shifts are jerky when changing gears
  • Slipping or engine revs and the vehicle does not pick up speed
  • There is a humming in the transmission sitting still or when in gear


Turbo Engines

Turbo Engines

 Signs its in need of service/replacing;

  1. Vehicle has poor acceleration
  2. Gas consumption increases
  3. Excessive blue or black smoke from the exhaust
  4. Siren sound coming from engine compartment
  5. Check engine light comes on
  6. Black smoke from exhaust

Windshield Wiper Blades

Wiper Blades

Some wiper blades last longer than others, depending on the blade’s quality and or how much the wipers are used.

If you live in a rainy and snowy area, blades will wear faster than garage-kept vehicles that are not driven much. Over time, the rubber will dry out so please check for signs of wear or tear periodically.

Wiper blades—when to replace;

  • Streaking – when the rubber has hardened/cracked due to exposure over time leads to streaking. On the windshield
  • Smearing – when the blade edge is no longer sharp, causing water to smear across the glass resulting in cloudy and impaired visibility.
  • Squeaking – when the blades squeak as they move from side to side. (Noticeable in low-quality blades, sometimes when freshly installed)
  • Chattering – when the blades skip and or vibrate across the windshield.
  • Always keep windshield fluid in the reservoir to avoid dry wiping the windshield this can cause scratching.


Purchasing replacement parts

When replacing routine items such as filters, bulbs and wiper blades, you have 4 options, and they are:

All products are built to the manufacturer’s specs and will perform the same as OEM products, with the same life expectancy.

  • Dealerships – sell OEM parts, and most dealerships will ask you for the last 6 or 8 digits of your VIN. They can look up the part in a matter of minutes for you. (Most expensive option)
  • Auto parts stores – sell aftermarket parts; provide them with the year make, model, and engine size of your vehicle, and they will look it up for you. (Cost is less than parts from the dealership)
  • Online – sells aftermarket and OEM parts. The benefit of some online sellers is that if you set up an account and provide the information required for your vehicle, the account will automatically select the correct part. (Cost is less than parts from the dealership and may/may not be comparable to discount retailers)
  • Discount retailer – sell aftermarket parts; using their catalogs or computers, you will have to look up the specific part and find it yourself, but the cost will typically be up to 60% less than a dealership.

Note: Each aftermarket parts manufacturer will generate a different parts number for the same part; so selecting a brand you are satisfied with makes it easier to replace later.

Life Expectancy Of Parts

Variables can alter life expectancies

The timelines listed on the are subject to several conditions, such as accidents, driving conditions, driving style, maintenance, weather, faulty manufacturing, etc.

Air Condition

Recharge 3 years

Ball Joints

70,000 to 150,000 miles


4 to 6 years

Brake Pads

30,000 to 70,000 miles

Cabin Filters

should be changed 15,000 to 30,000

CV Joints

100,000 +/-


200,000+ miles

Fuel Injectors

50 to 150,000 miles

Fuel Pump



 5 years +/- LED bulbs longer


50,000 to 100,000 miles

Interior Lights

6 to 10 hours

Oil Changes

7 +/- miles manufacturer recommended

PCV Valve

50,000 +/-

Power Steering Pumps

100,000+ miles


5 years +/-

Serpentine Belts

60,000 to 100,000 miles

Shock Absorbers

50,000+ miles


40,00 to 60,000 miles or after 10 years


150,000 miles +/-

Transmission Fluid

Should be changed 50,000 +/- miles

Turn Signal Lights

5 years +/- LED bulbs longer

Water Pumps

60,000 to 120,000+

Wheel Bearing

75,000 to 150,000

Wiper Blades

12 months +/-

Glossary of Terms

B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z
  • Aftermarket parts – is any part for a vehicle that is not sourced from the car’s maker. Several companies make parts designed to function the same or even better than the original.
  • Air conditioner controls the temperature of the cabin. These units work in conjunction with a built-in thermostat that detects and monitors temperature and signals the air condition system to continue pumping cool air until the desired temperature is reached. Components of an AC system are:
  • AC Refrigerant – known as Freon. Refrigerant has the ability to change its physical properties during compression, which is crucial to the operation of an air conditioning system.
  • AC Compressor – turns refrigerant into a liquid, which compresses the refrigerant. As the gas is compressed it heats up, at which point it gets sent to the condenser.
  • AC Condenser – is where the refrigerant gets cooled. This component features a section of coils that outside air passes over. This removes the heat from the compressed gas which results in the gas cooling and condensing into a liquid state.
  • AC Accumulator – also referred to as a receiver-drier is a canister in the air conditioning system that absorbs moisture. This allows the air entering your vehicle to have low humidity levels.
  • AC Filter – removes any debris in the air, allowing clean air to continually pass through.
  • AC Expansion valve – restricts refrigerant flow, causing it to change from a liquid at high pressure to a low-pressure mist before it goes into the evaporator.
  • AC Orifice tube – is an alternative to an expansion valve that essentially creates the same refrigerant mist result.
  • AC Evaporator – when the mist flows through the evaporator, a blower motor pushes the air over the evaporator’s cold tubes to create cool air that is sent into the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
  • Alignment or adjustment of the front wheel suspension and steering mechanism of an automobile to keep the tires planted firmly on the ground and pointing in a straight line preventing excessive tire wear.
  • Alternator – is an electrical generator that converts mechanical energy to electrical energy in the form of alternating current to power for all electrical devices in an automobile.
  • Anti Lock Brakes (ABS) – is an anti-skid braking system used on automobiles.  ABS prevents wheels  from locking up during braking, thereby maintaining tire grip when making emergency stops. 
  • Axle –  is a central shaft for a rotating wheel. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to the vehicle, with the wheels rotating around the axle. 
  • Ball joints are spherical bearings that connect the control arms to the steering knuckles to allow up and down and or left to right movement in the suspension.
  • Battery is a rechargeable energy source that provides electric current to the starter motor, which turns the engine over and allows it to start.
  • Brake pads/shoes are composed of steel backing plates with friction material bound to the surface that faces the disc rotor and clamps together on a disc or drums. These expand out to stop and also are used to signal your plans to change direction
  • Brake drums are iron cylinders connected to the spindle for forward or backward rotation when pressing on the brake pedal. The vehicle’s brake shoes are pushed out against the cylinder creating friction to stop the vehicle.
  • Brake rotors are an iron discs connected to a spindle for forward or backward rotation when pressing on the brake pedal; the vehicle’s brake pads are compressed against the rotor creating friction to stop the vehicle.
  • Catalytic converter is used on internal combustion engines and is an exhaust emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants in exhaust gas from an internal combustion engine into less-toxic pollutants by catalyzing a redox reaction.
  • Clutch – works with the transmission and allows the driver to engage and disengage the engine to change gears manually.
  • Combustion chamber is the area within the cylinder where the fuel/air mix and ignites. As the piston compresses the fuel/air mix and makes contact with the Spark Plug, the mixture is combusted and pushed out of the Combustion Chamber in the form of energy
  • Computers
    • ECU – Electronic Control Unit is a small device inside a vehicle that controls one or several electrical systems in that vehicle. It tells electrical systems what to do and how to operate.
    • PCM – Powertrain Control Module is an automobile component used to control the ECU and the TCU.
    • TCU – Transmission Control Unit is a type of ECU used to control automatic, electronic transmissions; to regulate gear shifting.
  • Constant Velocity joints are also known as CV joints. They are used on front-wheel drive automobiles to allow the driveshaft to transmit power through a variable angle that allows them to go straight and turn under power.
  • Constant Velocity Boot – is a ribbed, rubber flexible boot that keeps water and dirt out of the joint and the special grease used to lubricate the joints inside.
  • Control arms – are very important to the front suspension system; because it connects the front wheels to the automobile.
  • Cylinder – The cylinder is the space in which a piston travels. The inner surface of the cylinder is formed from either a thin metallic liner or a surface coating applied to the engine block
  • ECU – Electronic Control Unit is a small device inside a vehicle that controls one or several electrical systems in that vehicle. It tells electrical systems what to do and how to operate.
  • EPS -Electric power steering has an electric motor which controls the vehicle steering like traditional hydraulic power steering pumps.
  • Engine – an internal combustion motor that converts thermal energy to mechanical work to move an automobile.
  • Engine Block – the main body of an internal combustion engine, containing the pistons, lubrication, and cooling ports for which other components are attached to operate an automobile.
  • Evaporative Emissions System – The evaporative emission control (EVAP) system captures gasoline fumes and other emissions produced when fuel evaporates within the gas tank or fuel system. The EVAP system then returns these vapors to the combustion process to keep harmful chemicals from reaching the air when the vehicle is not running.
  • Filter – engine – filters catch incoming dirt and debris and prevent them from getting into the engine, often located in the engine compartment.
  • Filter – cabin – helps prevent pollutants such as pollen and dust from entering the automobiles, often located behind the glove box.
  • FOB – the key f ob
  • Fuel injectors – spray fuel into a vehicle’s engine using electronic controlled valves, capable of accurately opening and closing many times a second through nozzles that distribute fuel evenly for optimum combustion and efficiency. Automobiles generally have one fuel injector per cylinder.
  • Fuel pump – sends fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. In modern cars, fuel pumps are usually electrically powered and located directly on the fuel tank.
  • Fuel Filter – an attachment to the fuel line located between the fuel tank and fuel injection system that filters debris from entering the fuel injection system.
  • Fuse – used to protect the wiring and electrical equipment in automobiles from power surges.
  • Fuses are generally rated for circuits no higher than 32 volts. The rating is based upon the function it is protecting. 
  • Gaskets – a shaped piece or ring of rubber or other material sealing the connection between two surfaces.
  • Hoses – are used in automobiles to move fluids and or air around to cool, lubricate, apply brakes, and/or hydraulics to open and close vents.
    • Fuel (sends gasoline from the gas tank to the engine)
    • Radiator (delivers coolant to and from the engine)
    • Power steering hose (connects power steering pump to steering equipment)
    • Heater (provides coolant to the core)
    • Brake (uses hydraulic fluid to apply pressure to the brake calipers/pistons)
    • Vent hoses (opens and closes interior vents, controls the air to engine components, etc.)
  • Hybrid vehicle – is one that uses two or more distinct types of power; battery and gasoline engine. When using battery power the vehicles use less fuel, creating higher mileage when driving.  
  • Key fob is the small handheld remote control device that controls a remote keyless entry system. When you press the button on your keys
  • Lights – headlights – located at the front of automobiles to provide visibility for nighttime and inclement weather.
  • Lights – blinkers – a light that blinks on and off to signal your intentions.
  • Lights rear – some manufacturers combine braking and signaling into one bulb, especially in older vehicles.
  • Lights – interior – referred to as dome lights or courtesy lights; typically located on the vehicle’s ceiling and come on when people enter or exit the vehicle.
  • Mass airflow sensor – determines the mass of air flowing into the engine’s air intake system to ensure the proper balance of air and fuel for maximum fuel economy.
  • Modules are a series of mini-computers designed to control specific functions and communicate with the vehicle’s ECM or PCM and vary based on how a vehicle is equipped. Some functions (others possible) include;
    • ABS/traction control/stability control module
    • Airbag (SRS) module
    • Alarm module (or chime module) for anti-theft system
    • Alarms
    • Cruise control module (if not integrated within the PCM)
    • Electronic steering module
    • Etc. (all components that send electrical or wireless signals)
    • Fuel pump control module
    • Injector driver module (such as FSD/PMD modules on GM diesel engines)
    • Instrument cluster control module (which may be part of the cluster itself or a separate black box)
    • Keyless entry module
    • Lighting module
    • Power seats
    • Power windows, doors, locks
    • Radio touch screen
    • Remote start/immobilizer module
    • Suspension control module
    • Transfer case module (4WD)
    • Vehicle communication module (such as GM OnStar module)
    • Wiper blades
    • Wiper motor control module
  • Muffler reduce the loudness of the sound created by the engine by acoustically quieting using metallic/glass baffles to cancel out, or muffle, the sound from the vehicle’s exhaust outlet.
  • O Ring – is a gasket with a circular-looped design used to seal two working surfaces in automobiles, to lubricate the engine’s cylinders while keeping oil away from the spark plugs.
  • OEM parts – Original Equipment Manufacturer of replacement parts for automobiles.
  • Oil – is a lubricant that reduces wear on moving parts. Over time oil loses viscosity, which reduces its ability to protect moving parts.

Standard oil weights are

  5w   20 |  5w   30 | 10w   30 | 10w   40 |  5w   30 |   5w   40 | 20w   50

For extended engine life, use the factory recommended oil unless in an older vehicle burning oil and to reduce the amount being burned.

  • Oil weight – is a term used to describe the viscosity of an oil, or how well it flows at a specific temperature; from cold to hot. Each engine works more efficiently with specific weight combinations.
  • Oxygen Sensor – is an electronic device that measures the amount of oxygen (O2) in the gas or liquid being analyzed.
  • PCM – Powertrain Control Module is an automobile component used to control the ECU and the TCU.
  • PCV – Positive Crank Ventilation; a PCV valve controls emissions by taking the gases produced by the crankcase and routes it back into the engine’s combustion chambers to be safely burned without harming the engine or the environment and preventing the crankcase from developing engine-damaging oil sludge.
  • Piston – A piston is a moving component that is contained by a cylinder and is made gas-tight by piston rings that compress air and gas and ignite them to cause motion.
  • Piston ring – A piston ring is a metallic split ring that is attached to the outer diameter of a piston in an internal combustion engine. The main functions of piston rings in engines are: Sealing the combustion chamber so that there is minimal loss of gases to the crankcase and preventing oil from seeping into the combustion chamber.
  • Power steering pump – helps drivers steer vehicles by reducing the steering effort required to turn the steering wheel.
  • Radiator – is a reservoir with a coolant to cool the engine and transmission to prevent overheating.
  • Radiator Fluid – an antifreeze mixture that prevents freezing in the cold and has a higher boiling point to reduce vehicles’ probability of boiling over in extreme heat. It also has an anti-corrosive additive to fight rust in radiators.
  • Serpentine belt – is a single, continuous belt used to drive multiple devices in the engine compartment, such as the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, air pump, etc.
  • Shock Absorbers/Struts – are a part of the suspension. They keep the vehicle’s tires in contact with the road (front and rear), helping to provide optimum grip when cornering and braking.
  • Spark plug – a device that fits each cylinder of a gasoline-powered engine for producing the electric spark for igniting the mixture of gasoline and air that causes engines to run.
  • Starter – is a device that gets its energy from the battery to turn the engine fast enough to start.
  • Spindle – is a part of the suspension system that the hub rests on for the wheel to allow automobiles to roll.
  • Sway bar – is a bar that couples the right and left front wheels to reduce the amount of body roll when vehicles are turning.
  • TCU – Transmission Control Unit is a type of ECU used to control automatic, electronic transmissions; to regulate gear shifting.
  • Thermostat – a small device that sits between the engine and the radiator.  Its job is to block the coolant flow to the radiator until the engine has warmed up to a certain temperature. Once the engine warms up, it opens and closes to regulate the coolant flow to keep the engine operating at optimum temperature.
  • Tie rods – connects a vehicle’s steering rack to the steering arm.
  • Tire is a rubber ring that fits the rim to provide smooth, quiet rotation for forward and backward movement.
  • Timing is when the ignition system and engine are timed so the fuel in a cylinder is at its peak burn just as the piston compresses the fuel vapors to create a spark.
  • Transmission-automatic – a multi-geared device that helps automobiles efficiently move from standing still to moving forward without the driver having to change gears manually.
  • Transmission Fluid (ATF) – is used in vehicles with automatic transmissions. The fluid reduces friction and allows the internal components of the transmission to work efficiently.
  • Transmission Manual – is a transmission operated manually with a gear lever and a clutch pedal to change from one gear to another gear.
  • Transponder Key – keys are keys that have an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip inside the head of the key. 
  • Turbo, is a turbine-driven device attached to the engine that increases an internal combustion engine’s efficiency and power output by forcing extra compressed air into the combustion chamber
  • Universal joint – rear-wheel-drive automobiles, allow the driveshaft to move up and down with the suspension while providing power to the wheels to move an automobile.
  • Valves – are mechanical components used in internal combustion engines to restrict the flow of gas in and out of the combustion chambers or cylinders to create the spark that moves pistons up and down.
  • Vehicle identification (VIN) number – is a unique identifier of one specific vehicle composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) like a fingerprint. Typically located to the front left of the dashboard, where the dash and windshield intersect.
  • Water pump – pumps water through the engine to keep the engine operating at a specific temperature to avoid overheating.
  • Wheel bearings – rest between the spindle located on an axle and a hub that connects the brake rotor or drum for which tires are affixed. When sufficiently lubricated, they reduce friction as the wheel rotates.
  • Wiper blade – a rubber mechanical device that removes water from the windshield.