Battery Replacement–When Should I Do It?

That’s a good question! All batteries wear out and need to be replaced – but some are replaced before their time.

Look, if your battery is dying and you need a jump-start, it could very well be that you have a bad battery. But drivers should have Douglas Automotive Repair test the battery first to see if it’s actually bad. The problem could be parasitic drain or a bad alternator that’s not properly charging your battery.

And Plainfield drivers in this situation also need to have their alternator checked and tested. A surprisingly high percentage of “bad” alternators brought into Douglas Automotive Repair are actually just fine: the problem is a worn serpentine belt and/or belt tensioner. If the belt is slipping, it’s not spinning the alternator properly so it can’t fully charge the battery.

Hopefully, Plainfield drivers can see that a dead battery can be the result of a chain of events: a worn serpentine belt, a worn belt tensioner, a bad alternator or a bad battery. If you don’t check the belt, tensioner and alternator, you can just end up replacing batteries that are still good. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Douglas Automotive Repair.

That brings us back full circle to when batteries do fail. There’s a chemical cycle that takes place inside your battery: the battery is discharged when you start the vehicle and is recharged by the alternator when you drive. Short trips around the area with frequent stops and starts may mean that your battery is never fully recharged. When a battery isn’t fully charged, parts of the battery harden and are no longer available to “store” electricity. Over time, your battery just can’t hold enough charge for the needs of your vehicle. This is demanding on your alternator as it tries to keep up, causing it to wear out prematurely.

Batteries last longer in colder climates and wear out faster in warmer Illinois climates. We want to remind Plainfield drivers that, on average, 70% of batteries fail within four years. Many Illinois automotive experts recommend replacing your battery every five years. This will reduce the chances of being stranded on a local street with a dead battery as well as prevent undue wear on your alternator.

Give us a call today to take advantage of our free battery test! (See website for further details.)

#automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop #checkyourbattery

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Transmission Service, What Is It and Why Do I Need It?

How can you avoid transmission troubles? Next to your engine, your transmission is the most important component in your vehicle – so you want to do all you can to avoid transmission repairs.

Many drivers may have noticed a trend of engines becoming more and more powerful in recent years. At the same time, fuel economy has been improving in nearly every motor vehicle segment in Illinois. More power and better economy have always been at odds. Some of the improvement in fuel economy has been due to engine design, but most of the increases can be credited to advances in transmission technology.

Every engine has a sweet spot in which it most efficiently makes power. This is often referred to by the technicians as the power band – the optimal engine speed (measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM). The computers that control what gear your automatic transmission is in also try to keep it in the right gear in order to maintain optimal engine speed – whatever your driving conditions may be. Modern automatic transmissions have anywhere between four and ten speeds. The more “speeds” your transmission has, the more time your engine can operate at peak efficiency. Needless to say, transmissions have become more sophisticated.

Transmissions are cooled and lubricated by transmission fluid. This pressurized fluid is directed through small passages to effect gear changes. When transmission fluid gets old and contaminated, the small passages can become plugged, which adversely affects shifts. The dirty fluid circulating in the transmission can eat away at gaskets and seals, causing internal leaks that also hurt shifting. This is why some manufacturers recommend that transmissions be serviced from time to time. The interval varies by vehicle, so check your owner’s manual or check with us about your transmission service recommendations.

Old, contaminated fluid is removed and new fluid is installed. Keeping up with the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule helps prevent internal damage that may result in a transmission rebuild.

Let Douglas Automotive Repair help you extend the life of your vehicle and prevent repairs with recommended preventive maintenance service.

Give us a call today.

#automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop

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Timing Belt Replacement

What does it do, and why should you replace it?

Well, a broken timing belt can lead to one of the most expensive engine repairs drivers will ever face. The good news is that replacing your timing belt on its recommended schedule can help avoid those problems. Here’s a brief overview of what the timing belt does:

Air is drawn into the cylinder of the engine through the intake valves. After the air and fuel mixture is burned, it’s pushed out through the exhaust valves. The timing belt, which is driven by the engine, turns the camshafts which control when the intake and exhaust valves open and close. It is important that the opening and closing of the valves take place at exactly the right time for the engine to run properly.

Beyond that, on some vehicle engines, the valves actually extend into the combustion chamber far enough that they can be hit by the piston as it moves up and down in the cylinder. When everything is timed just right – no problem. When the timing is off, the piston will slam into the valves and cause big damage for drivers.

The timing belt makes sure everything is timed just right. However, the belt does have a useful life. Beyond that it can break or slip – and that’s when the damage can be done. If your vehicle has a timing belt (some have metal timing chains) it will have a recommended interval for replacing it. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or speak with us at Douglas Automotive Repair to make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced: there is a lot at stake.

Now, getting to the timing belt requires a lot of labor so it is service item, but it is certainly less than repairing a damaged engine. If your timing belt drives your water pump, change them both at the same time to save labor costs down the road. Ask us when your timing belt should be changed and get an estimate for what it will cost so you can budget for this service.

Even better, we can send you an email reminder when this service may be due for your vehicle, based on your mileage. Make sure to sign up for our email service to take advantage of this. Visit our website to sign up.

Give us a call today.

#automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop

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Signs You Might Need A Brake Job

Signs of brake problems often fall into one of two categories for  vehicles: making noise or a pulsation in the brake pedal. Let’s start with the noise.

Most brake pads have an audible brake wear indicator. This is a small piece of metal that rubs on your brake rotor when the brake pads are worn to the point they should be replaced. The noise is a chirp or soft squeal. This noise gives drivers enough warning to get their brakes serviced while there is still enough brake pad left to enable you to stop safely.

Drivers who ignore the chirp find that the sound changes to a grinding noise. That is more serious. It means that the friction material on your brake pad is worn away and metal parts of the brake are grinding against the rotor when you press on the brakes. Obviously, this metal-on-metal means that your brakes aren’t stopping very well. It also means that your rotor is being damaged. It may need to be resurfaced or even replaced.

Pedal pulsation is another noticeable sound. When your rotor is not in perfect alignment, it pushes against the brake pads unevenly as you apply the brakes. There could be a number of reasons for this. The rotor and wheel hub may not be mating well, causing the rotor to be spinning out of vertical alignment. This misalignment can be caused by either the rotor or the hub, or a combination of the two. If this persists, the rotor may even start to wear unevenly to the point that its thickness varies, causing an even more noticeable pulsation. This uneven mating of the brake pad and the rotor when braking means less contact and it will reduce braking power.

The team at Douglas Automotive Repair can determine the cause of the misalignment and remedy the problem.

Either unusual brake noise or pedal pulsation are signs that are brake problems. Plainfield motorists should have a tech at Douglas Automotive Repair check their brakes thoroughly and recommend any steps necessary to correct the problem.

A regular brake inspection is on every vehicle’s recommended list. Ask us if it’s time for brake inspection.

Give us a call.

#automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop #gotbrakes

 

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Vehicle Checklist for Back-to-School Carpool Season

School carpool season is back and the non-profit Car Care Council and Douglas Automotive Repair remind drivers to make sure their vehicles are kid-safe and road ready with a five-point checklist:

#BackToSchoolCarpoolChecklist

  1. Check lights and wipers for visibility. With shorter days and inclement weather ahead, make sure lights and wipers function properly so that you can see and be seen.  Check the exterior and interior lights and replace any that are dimming, rapidly blinking or not functioning. Check wiper blades for signs of wear and replace if necessary.
  1. Get an annual brake inspection. The braking system is your car’s most important safety feature. Before carpool season gets in full swing, make sure that your brakes are functioning properly. Schedule a brake inspection and look for warning signs that your vehicle may need brake services, such as an illuminated brake light or screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  2.  Check tires for under inflation or excessive wear. Check tire pressure and refill underinflated tires, including the spare, and look for uneven wear and check tread depth. An easy way to do the latter is by placing a penny head-down in the tread groove. If the tread does not cover Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
  3. Make sure everyone is buckled up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website has important tips on seat belt fit and position. For the younger ones riding along, the site has information about how to install car seats as well as guidelines on selecting a car seat or booster based on your child’s age and size.
  1. Consider a back-up detection device. Consider having a back-up detection device installed that provides rearview video or warning sounds when moving in reverse. While drivers should not rely solely on these devices, they can help to reduce the risk of backover incidents along with following other prevention tips from NHTSA.

Back-to-school time is hectic for most families, but scheduling a complete vehicle inspection is time well spent. Knowing your vehicle was checked by a professional technician will give you peace of mind and make all those trips to school and activities safer and less stressful

Call us today for your back to school inspection!

Stockholm

#backtoschool #automotive #carrepair #localshop

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Winter Tires

Hey Plainfield drivers, let’s talk about winter tires. We’re not talking about all season tires here, but dedicated winter tires.

Modern winter tires do a terrific job for  drivers in a wide range of Illinois winter conditions. First of all, below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, regular tires become hard and inflexible. That means they don’t provide the road grip drivers need. Even if you don’t live somewhere in Illinois with a lot of snow but it still gets below 45 degrees F in the winter, it is easy to understand that you will be safer with winter tires.

In addition, they are specifically designed to more effectively move snow and water. That’s the key to traction on ice, packed snow and wet roads. They use a micro-pore compound that allows the tire to bite into ice and snow. They also use wider grooves that run around the circumference of the tread to expel snow from the tire better. The lugs and grooves on winter tires have a special shape that throws the packed snow out of the tread as the tire turns. The tread is then open when it comes back in contact with the road and can provide good traction for drivers.

Winter tires also have a lot of sipes. Sipes are thin slits in the tread. The edges of the sipes grab ice and packed snow to provide tons of traction for drivers and to expel water and slush out of the tread. Winter tires have a rounder casing to cut into the snow’s surface.

The treads on regular summer tires can actually get packed with snow instead and become very slick. Winter tires offer 25% to 50% more traction for people in cold weather than all-season tires. And when it comes to stopping power, all-season tires take 42% longer to stop than winter tires. Sometimes that’s the difference between getting home safely or spending the night in a snow bank.

Winter tires provide so much more traction for drivers than all-season or summer tires, that there’s a huge difference between the traction at the front and rear ends of the vehicle if you only put winter tires on the drive wheels.

For example: if you take a corner on an icy road and the vehicle rear end starts to slide out, essentially the rear is trying to pass the front because it’s going faster. If you have high traction winter tires only on the front, they are going to be much more effective at transferring cornering grip and stopping power to the front wheels. This will actually cause the rear end to whip out even more.

That’s why tire manufactures instruct Illinois dealers that they must install winter tires on the rear wheels as well whenever they put winter tires on the front end of any vehicle. It’s a major safety concern. At Douglas Automotive Repair, we strongly recommend that winter tires be installed on all four wheels on rear wheel drive vehicles as well. The front tires do most of the steering and braking work – it only makes sense that drivers provide the front end with the best traction possible.

Many modern cars have traction control and anti-lock brakes so drivers may not think it is necessary to have winter tires. But you need traction to accelerate, steer and stop. The tires provide the traction so that the traction control and anti-lock brakes have something to work with.

Look for tires at Douglas Automotive Repair with the symbol of a mountain with a snowflake in it. This means the tire complies with the severe snow standard.

So when the temperatures drop below 45 degrees F, wise drivers will make sure they have a set of four winter tires for maximum performance in snow, packed snow, ice, wet and dry Illinois roads. Your friendly and knowledgeable Douglas Automotive Repair tire professional can help you find the right winter tire for your vehicle and driving needs.

Give us a call today!

#automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop #snowdriving

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Shocks and Struts

Let’s talk shocks and struts.

Shock absorbers and struts last a long time for Plainfield area drivers and wear out pretty slowly for most vehicles. They’re easy to take for granted, but your shocks and struts do a very important job so you need to pay attention to them. They keep your tires on the road; and your tires are what connect your vehicle to the road and allow you to safely handle your car through turns, over bumps and even stop in time.

When your shocks and struts are worn, your tires bounce excessively over bumps. Your vehicle will wallow through corners, your front-end will dive when you stop and your rear-end will squat when you accelerate. All this hurts your ability to control your vehicle. And your ride just isn’t as comfortable.

Worn shocks or struts cause excessive tire wear so drivers will have to replace their tires sooner than they should. Worn shocks and struts also stress other suspension and steering parts, causing them to wear prematurely. Struts are actually a major structural component of the suspension system; there’s a lot riding on them.

Replacing worn shocks and struts saves money in the long run – and of course, you can’t really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers. At Douglas Automotive Repair, we generally recommend replacing shocks and struts at 50,000 miles.

When it’s time for new shocks or struts, we’ve got you covered. At Douglas Automotive Repair we can give you back the ride and handling of a new vehicle. And if you have special needs we can help you there too. We have premium shocks and struts that’ll improve your performance. We can even help you with upgraded, heavy-duty shocks that’ll give you the confidence you need to handle those big towing or hauling jobs.

Experts recommend replacing all four shocks at the same time so that handling is even at each wheel.

If you need new shocks or struts, let Douglas Automotive Repair help you take care of this safety service. You’ll feel better, and you’ll save on tires and other suspension repairs down the road.

Stop by or give us a call today!

#automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop # bouncyride

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