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What Makes a Head Gasket Go Bad? Tempe Arizona

Failed Head Gasket 5--7-15If you’re wondering what it is that causes a cylinder head gasket to fail it could only be for one reason: You have a car with a blown head gasket. Bummer. Expensive too. At least it’s not terminal.

Let’s start off by explaining what a gasket does. If you have a container of some kind and it has a couple of parts that need to seal together so that whatever is inside doesn’t leak out you need a gasket between those parts so they’ll seal. Next time you open a jar look inside the lid. Around the edge you’ll see a rubber ring, that’s a gasket. The weather strip around your door is also a gasket, intended to keep the outside elements out and the nice comfortable inside air in.

Now, the engine in your car is made up of a bunch of parts and there are a number of gaskets used to keep the various fluids (including air) inside where they belong. The gaskets that have the toughest job are the cylinder head gaskets that go at the business end of the engine, between the engine block and the….Cylinder Heads! The engine block is a large chunky piece of metal, often iron, that contains the pistons and crankshaft. The cylinder head is a much smaller piece of metal, usually aluminum nowadays, that contains the combustion chambers and valves. There’s a ton of heat generated in these two, particularly in the head. If you remember your high school physics you’ll know that heat makes things expand, things like your block and heads, then they contract as they cool. This expansion and contraction causes there to be a little bit of movement between the heads and the block. In all modern engines that I’m aware of the gaskets have been engineered in such a way that this small amount of movement doesn’t have any effect on its’ ability to seal, though there were a few engines that had some real problems in the ‘90s.

Overheating is the biggest cause of head gasket failure. The engine block, being the more robust part and not having exhaust gasses routed through it, deals with this heat better than the heads. The heads can get so hot that they warp, expand to a point that they can’t return to their normal shape. When that happens there’ll be spots where the head gasket isn’t held as tightly as it needs to be and it will fail, leaking coolant, compression or both.

Sometimes the cause of failure will be corrosion. Poorly maintained coolant will allow corrosion to eat away at the head or block and eventually tunnel around the head gasket. A lot of times the owner is unaware of the problem until there’s enough of a coolant leak to overheat the engine. Then, see paragraph above.

The key to keeping this from happening to you is maintenance. If hoses are replaced before they fail they won’t blow out. If someone is keeping an eye on your radiator and water pump the chances of dramatic failure decrease. If your coolant is properly maintained it can’t erode your engine. We would like to provide that service to you.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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How Can I tell if my U-Joint is Failing? Tempe Arizona

Drive Shaft U-Joint 4-28-15_0Seems like I just posted an article about this…Hum, that’s right! I just did one about CV axles! CV joints in your drive axles and u-joints on your drive shaft perform pretty much the same function in that they allow a change in the angle of the shaft while still letting it transfer the torque from your transmission to your drive wheels. The symptoms of u-joint failure are very much like CV joint failure.

When U joints begin to wear, one of the first signs you’ll notice is vibration. A joint that has developed excess play can rattle at slow speeds and vibrate at highway speeds. The vibration at first might be slight and difficult to pinpoint, but it will become worse, usually within a few hundred miles.

If you suspect your U joint might be going bad, find an empty parking lot and turn the wheel all the way to the right or the left and slowly drive in a circle. Most of the time, if your U joint has worn to the point of being loose you’ll be able to hear a clicking noise with each rotation of the drive shaft. I should tell you that you’ll probably only hear the noise if the car is in gear and under a little bit of power. If you have a manual transmission, don’t push the clutch in because you won’t hear the noise.

If you have a way to jack up your car and put it on stands you can visually inspect your drive shaft. With your car safely on stands and in neutral with the parking brake off, slide under your car on your back and twist the drive shaft one way then back while watching the U joints. They should rotate with the drive shaft with no play or sloppiness.

If you are unsure about the condition of your U joints, bring your car in for inspection. If a worn U joint catastrophically fails at highway speeds, the drive shaft can rotate violently out of control and cause major damage to the under body of your vehicle. If the front U joint snaps, the one directly behind the transmission, it is possible for the drive shaft to penetrate the roadway or into a pot hole and flip your car end over end as proven in the television show called “Myth Busters.” That’s not the way you want to wind up in a You Tube video. If you suspect your U joints are going bad, play it safe and have them inspected right away.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance

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How Can I Tell a Bad Wheel Bearing? Tempe Arizona

Hub Assy 5-04-15Wheel bearings usually last a very long time, even if they’re abused (Ask me how I know) but sooner or later, like everything, they’re going to fail. The best thing you can do if you have a suspicion that you have a failing wheel bearing is take it to the shop where we can put the car on a lift and check it, but there are signs you can see yourself before the bearing totally gives up. These indicators vary in severity and can be pretty subtle. Be careful, if you don’t catch a failing bearing in time the result could be some serious damage that could make your car dangerous to drive. Once a bearing begins to fail it wears at an increasing rate, the worse it get the faster it gets worse and the harder you drive or the more load you put on it the faster it’ll wear.

Usually you’ll notice some kind of noise first. Here is a short list of noises that could indicate a worn or failing wheel bearing.

Snapping, clicking or popping.
This can indicate a worn or damaged outer CV-joint. However, it also can be related to excessive bearing endplay, usually associated with inadequate bearing pre-load. This noise is typically heard when cornering or making sharp turns.

Grinding when the vehicle is in motion.
Usually this means there is mechanical damage in a wheel bearing. The noise is normally heard when turning or when there is a shift in load.

Humming, rumbling or growling.
These noises are normally associated with tire or drivetrain components. If it’s related to your wheel bearings you’ll hear the noise or vibration when driving in a straight line, but it’ll get louder when you turn the steering wheel slightly to the left or right. Typically, the side opposite the rumbling is the defective side.

Pulling when brakes are applied.
This isn’t normally associated with bearing failure, but it can be sometimes. Usually this is because of a defective brake caliper, worn brakes or rotors. However, severe looseness related to a bearing can also cause excessive runout, which may cause the brakes to pulsate or pull.

ABS failure, which could be internal or external to the bearing or hub bearing assembly.
In extreme cases, internal and external sensors can be damaged by a worn bearing. This is because as the bearing fails it can wreck sensors that are mounted very close to other parts inside or outside the bearing.

Like I said at the beginning, if you think you may have a bad wheel bearing take it in to your local mechanic and have him put your car on a lift. Once on a lift it’s easy to check all four wheels and either give it a clean bill of health or make repairs. I mean, if your suspicions are that strong, take it in and find out for sure.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Tempe Arizona. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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Power Windows Won’t Work Tempe Arizona

Happy Driver 3-16-15_1Help! Help! Help! My window won’t move!

Well, just calm down, it’s not that big a problem. Let me get a little more information from you and we’ll see if we can’t get you back on the road of automotive bliss. We’re not gonna deal with any power probes or volt meters, just check the easy stuff.

First, tell me if it seems as though the window has been going up and down more slowly over that last few months, maybe making a little noise. ‘Cause if that’s the case there’s a good possibility that what you have there is a bad drive motor for your power window. Sometimes the motor can be replaced by itself, sometimes you gotta replace the whole regulator assembly.

What’s that? Did you say that everything was working just fine then POOF! nothing? Slow down and don’t get so excited, we don’t have a catastrophe of any kind here. Are we talkin’ about just one window or all of them? If all the windows stopped working all at the same time the very first thing I’d wanna check would be the fuse. The fuse for this system just barely carries enough amperage to run all the windows at the same time and after the drive motors get a few years on them they can draw enough power to pop a fuse if more than one is being worked at the same time. If that fuse is OK then it could be the master switch there at the drivers’ seat. If you get a bad connection there it’s possible for all the windows to stop workin’.

Nope? Just one? OK then, if it’s not the drivers’ door window, can the window be operated from any of the other switches? I ask that because window switches fail all the time and they’re a cheap and easy fix. Try workin’ it from the drivers master switch. If that works, dynamite, you probably just have a bad switch at the door. I should warn you though that there are other things that can cause a window not to work. Heck, on some of the newest cars there are computers controlling them. At that point all bets are off. Unless you have some pretty special equipment to get in to those computers you’re just outta luck.

Oh! It IS the drivers’ window that’s giving you grief! OK then, that gets a little more complicated ‘cause you sure aren’t gonna operate that window from any of the other seats, are you? Might be best at this point to take it to a shop and let somebody with the knowhow and experience deal with it. What you need to do is find a way to get power to the drive motor for that window and make sure it works. That’s not too tough if you have a power probe and know how to use it but if you don’t it’s bit, uh, tricky.

Don’t know if this helped much but I hope it did.

From your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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My Car Window Fell Off the Track Tempe Arizon

Window Regulator 5-30-15So one beautiful day the birds are singing, the sun is shining, your wife shows you how much she loves you and you know work will be smooth. It’ll be a grand day! Out to your car you go to begin your trip to work but when you close the door, THUNK! the window falls down inside. Curses! You hit the switch to raise the window but no joy, just a crunching sound. More curses! How will you lock up the car? You can’t very well leave it in the parking lot with the window open. What happened anyway and how do you fix it?

You, good buddy, have a broken window regulator. Happens all the time, usually the drivers’ door window first ‘cause that’s the one that gets used the most. Window regulators that use a cable to operate the system are the most common anymore and that crunching sound you heard was the broken cable wadding itself up. Some window regulators used a rack type mechanism but those seldom fail. A lot of folks think that the window simply fell off the track but that’s never it. The only fix is to replace the regulator and I know a shop that would be overjoyed to do the job. The replacement usually runs in the neighborhood of $200.

Now if your window has simply stopped working that’s another story. There are a few things that can cause that and I’ll write about them in another article.

From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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How Can I Tell If My U-Joint Is Going Bad? Tempe Arizona

Drive Shaft U-Joint 4-28-15Seems like I just posted an article about this…Hum, that’s right! I just did one about CV axles! CV joints in your drive axles and u-joints on your drive shaft perform pretty much the same function in that they allow a change in the angle of the shaft while still letting it transfer the torque from your transmission to your drive wheels. The symptoms of u-joint failure are very much like CV joint failure.

When U joints begin to wear, one of the first signs you’ll notice is vibration. A joint that has developed excess play can rattle at slow speeds and vibrate at highway speeds. The vibration at first might be slight and difficult to pinpoint, but it will become worse, usually within a few hundred miles.

If you suspect your U joint might be going bad, find an empty parking lot and turn the wheel all the way to the right or the left and slowly drive in a circle. Most of the time, if your U joint has worn to the point of being loose you’ll be able to hear a clicking noise with each rotation of the drive shaft. I should tell you that you’ll probably only hear the noise if the car is in gear and under a little bit of power. If you have a manual transmission, don’t push the clutch in because you won’t hear the noise.

If you have a way to jack up your car and put it on stands you can visually inspect your drive shaft. With your car safely on stands and in neutral with the parking brake off, slide under your car on your back and twist the drive shaft one way then back while watching the U joints. They should rotate with the drive shaft with no play or sloppiness.

If you are unsure about the condition of your U joints, bring your car in for inspection. If a worn U joint catastrophically fails at highway speeds, the drive shaft can rotate violently out of control and cause major damage to the under body of your vehicle. If the front U joint snaps, the one directly behind the transmission, it is possible for the drive shaft to penetrate the roadway or into a pot hole and flip your car end over end as proven in the television show called “Myth Busters.” That’s not the way you want to wind up in a You Tube video. If you suspect your U joints are going bad, play it safe and have them inspected right away.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call Your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance

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How Can I Tell if My Axle is Going Bad? Tempe Arizona

CV Axles 4-28-15Drive axles go bad. The trick is to know when they’re about to give up on you. There are symptoms that will indicate that the drive axle in going bad.

Noise
A clicking noise when driving, especially when cornering, is typical of a drive axle that needs to be replaced. It’s usually not hard to hear, unless you drive with loud music playing or really noisy friends/kids. When you hear it you need to get to a shop ‘cause you’re about to have an “unfortunate incident”.

Vibration
Vibration in the wheel when driving is another symptom of a bad drive axle. Vibration can be caused by a number of different problems, an axle is just one of them. Whenever you have weird vibrations in your car you should have them checked out. None of them are good but most of them are benign. If there’s noise and vibration when cornering it might just indicate a problem in the CV joint, which is the most common axle problem and needs to be dealt with promptly. Where the axle is in very bad condition it will feel as if you’re driving a vehicle with a warped wheel.

Movement
With the vehicle jacked up and supported, and move the drive axle up and down. There should be no excessive movement (that is ½ inch or more). This can happen especially when the vehicle has a great deal of mileage on the clock, typically more than 100,000 miles.

Hope this helps. If you have any questions please call your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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Car Air Conditioning Won’t Work Tempe Arizona

Where to Check for AC Leaks 4-27-17So, your car air conditioning won’t work? Huh, tough it out! That’s what I say. You think the pioneers had air conditioning in their wagons? No they didn’t! The whole city of Phoenix was built by people without air conditioning though I imagine they didn’t spend a lot of time in close proximity to each other in enclosed spaces. That’s when folks could overcome hardship, not at all like today. We’ve gotten soft I tell ya!

Nevertheless, I suppose if you insist on working indoors and enjoy the company of other people, air conditioning in your car does assume a certain importance. If yours isn’t working, here are a couple of things you can look for.

First off, is there any air blowing at all? If the blower’s not working then how would you know if the rest of the AC system was working? C’mon! You knew that! Sometimes the blower will work at only one speed for some time than stop altogether. In a case like that it’s probably a resistor. The blower motor can burn out too but you’ll usually hear a bunch of noise before it fails completely. That noise and the smell of burning wire is pretty much a clue that you have a problem and where to look.

Next, does the AC blow hot or just kinda cool? If it’s a little cool then you’re most likely just low on refrigerant, if it’s hot it could be completely out of refrigerant or there might be a mechanical failure of some kind. In those situations where the system is just a bit low you can recharge it to get you by for a while. Auto parts stores sell kits to do just that though I recommend against them. Those kits are imprecise and won’t do anything to help you find the leak (If it’s low, there’s a leak) but what the heck, it’s cheap. If the AC just blows hot then it could be that the system is just real low on refrigerant, the compressor has surrendered its spirit, the heater blend door is stuck, a faulty sensor or maybe the computer isn’t telling the compressor to come on. If recharging the system doesn’t get ‘er done, take it to the shop. For the love of Pete, whatever you do don’t use a stop-leak product. That stuff is death to a system.

Another trick your AC might pull is blowing through the floor vents or the defroster rather than the dash vents where you want it. Happens a lot. What you’re experiencing there is a mode door failure. That isn’t really something most back-yard mechanics want to deal with ‘cause it often means pulling half the interior out of the car to repair. Let me suggest an outfit that would be more than happy to take that burden from you.

I hope this provided some useful information. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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How Can I Tell if my Wheel Cylinders are Leaking? Tempe Arizona

Wheel Cylinder 4-17-15The majority of cars in the road today use disc brakes on the front wheels and drums brakes on the rear. The hydraulic part of drum brake actually at the wheel is called a wheel cylinder. When you push your brake pedal you’re pressing on a piston in an item called the brake master cylinder that makes pressure in the brake system. That pressure forces another set of pistons in the wheel cylinders out against the brake shoes, they push on the drums and, hopefully, you come to a stop.

Here’s a shocker: Any moving part wears. The pistons in your wheel cylinders have seals on them that wear as they move. If your brake fluid gets contaminated by moisture they can corrode (That’s one of the reasons why brake fluid flushes are occasionally recommended), making the surface rough and accelerating wear.

So, how do you tell if the wheel cylinders are leaking? The first thing you might notice is the brake pedal slowly dropping to the floor when you press on it, but that can also be caused by a worn master cylinder. If you find yourself having to refill the brake fluid reservoir more than about once a year and you don’t see any fluid at the back of the master cylinder then you may well have a leaky wheel cylinder. Look under the car at the back of the wheels toward the center, it shouldn’t look wet. If it does, get to your repair shop and have it checked out. It could be something else but that’s the first visual proof a driver would have of leaking cylinders.

A couple times a year you should have your repair shop do a wheels-off brake inspection. As part of that inspection the technician will look at your wheel cylinders for early signs of problems and tell you about the needed repair. Once the cylinder stars leaking you’ll probably have brake fluid on your brake shoes and they’ll need to be replaced as well. So catch it early and avoid the extra expense.

From your local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance

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How Can I Tell if my Brake Master Cylinder is Failing? Tempe Arizona

Rear ender 4-16-15You know, it’s great to be able to go. But it’s vital to be able to stop. All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe does a lot of work on brake systems. I’m pretty sure it’s the most common “major” repair any car needs. There are a few components to your cars’ brakes like the brake pads or shoes, wheel cylinders and brake calipers but if I had to pick single part that you absolutely can’t do without I think I’d pick the brake master cylinder. The master cylinder and its reservoir hold brake fluid to operate your brakes. When you push on the brake pedal you’re pressing on a piston inside the master cylinder, that provides the pressure that pushes your brake pads or shoes against the rotors or drums. When the master cylinder fails there isn’t enough pressure for the brakes to work as they should. The guy making a sudden stop in front of you thinks that having your brakes working properly is a really good idea.

Symptoms
A lot of times the first sign of problems with the brake master cylinder is wetness or oil at the back side of the cylinder against the brake vacuum booster. Since most folks don’t get under the hood of their car very often it’s important that you be sure whoever services your car is keeping an eye open for this sort of thing. If the leak goes on for too long it can allow brake fluid to get in to the vacuum booster and damage the diaphragm.
Your sitting at a stop holding the brake pedal down and you can feel it slowly drifting toward the floor. That’s another major symptom of failure in the brake hydraulic system, usually it’s the master cylinder. Also, if you’re having to press your brake pedal farther down than usual, you may have worn seals or there may be air getting in to the master cylinder.

If your brake pedal depresses on its own, you might have a vent port blockage within the cylinder that prevents heated brake fluid from expanding and thus applying pressure to the brake lines.
From your Local Mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care Tempe. Complete Auto Repair and Maintenance.

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