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Troubleshooting Your Vehicle (DIY)


If you don’t see your question, please call us.  We’re happy to help troubleshoot!

My car is:

Overheating: Pull over ASAP when it’s safe to do so.  Your car could be low on antifreeze, have an improper mix of antifreeze to water, or have a faulty radiator.  There could also be other engine problems causing your car to overheat (lack of oil, lubricant, etc.).  Don’t check your antifreeze fluid level while the engine is hot, wait at least an hour.  If the fluid is low, in a pinch you can use water to top it off until you can get home, to the nearest auto parts store, or the nearest auto shop, at which time the radiator will need to be drained, then filled with the proper mix of antifreeze for your specific car.  IMPORTANT – USE THE ANTIFREEZE DESIGNATED FOR YOUR SPECIFIC AUTOMOBILE.  There are many different types.

Having trouble starting: Check your gas gauge and your fluid levels.  Your car  needs to be at the right level of all fluids to run properly and reduce wear and tear on your engine.  A great way to ensure this is to have your oil changed at a shop that checks all of your fluids as a courtesy every time.  (We always check your fluids, every time we change your oil.)  If your fluids are fine, and you have plenty of gas, check your battery and your battery cables.  Faulty battery cables, a dying battery, and/or worn spark plugs and wires can often cause difficulty in starting.  The closest auto parts store can help you in buying replacements for these, will have the tools to install them (often you can rent them free), and are often able to pull up the diagrams to show you how to change them out.

Making buzzing noises when I turn the key: Possible bad starter (or broken gears) or ignition.  This may be an intermittent problem.  Call us anytime, and we’ll replace that annoying buzzing with the sound of a purring engine!

Not doing anything when I turn the key: Check your battery first – it could be dead, or a battery cable/lead may be loose.  If so, you should be able to get a jump start after making sure the cables are tight.   Head to the nearest auto parts store if possible, and ask them to check your cables and battery (free!).  If your cables or battery are bad, this is the perfect (and inexpensive) place to replace them.

Vibrating: This could be as easy as a wheel weight falling off, making your car vibrate as it drives.  Have your tires rotated and balanced, especially if you paid for the free rotations/balancing when you bought your tires.  (Always keep this paperwork handy in your glove box.)  Next, ensure that your power steering and transmission fluids are at the “full” marks.  IMPORTANT – USE THE PROPER FLUIDS DESIGNATED FOR YOUR SPECIFIC AUTOMOBILE – they vary with manufacturer and engine type.  Vibration could also be a sign of wheel bearings going out, especially if the vibration increases with speed.  This is more serious, and needs to be checked within a few days of noticing the vibration.  There are other possible causes, including transmission problems or power steering issues.  Just call us anytime – we’ll get it diagnosed and get your car back to tip-top running shape in no time.

Making noises when I turn the wheel:  First check your power steering fluid.  If it’s low, fill just until the “full” line.  If it is still stuttering or making squealing noises wen you turn the wheel, this is usually an indication of a faulty power steering pump.  Bring it on in, and we’ll replace it for you and get you back on the road safely.

Making squeaking/weird noises/smelling like burned rubber when I brake: Brakes are wet, overheated, or the brake pads are worn out.  If it’s possible that your brakes are wet (puddles, lots of rain, etc.) or overheated (braking a lot down steep mountain passes, canyons, etc.) pull over as soon as it’s safe and wait for 30-60 minutes.  Find a Starbucks and enjoy yourself!  Your car will be ready to drive before your know it.  If instead they are making squeaking or squealing noises when you brake, set an appointment with us, and we’ll get your vehicle in right away to replace your brakes.

Making clunking sounds: If this happens during shifting, there could be transmission issues or computer sensors that are going out.  Other clunking noises are never good.  Please call us to check it out, this is often a serious issue.

Shifting roughly and/or jerking during shifting:   Possible transmission issues or computer sensors that are going out.  Check your transmission fluid level – this is the only fluid you check while your car is running.  Make sure it is at the proper level.  If you are still having issues, please call us right away.  We answer the phone 24/7, and we will get your vehicle in as soon as possible.  Transmission problems are often serious, and you don’t want to be stranded.

Using a lot of oil:  Are you noticing black smoke coming out of your exhaust?  This is a sure sign that your car is using the oil, vs. leaking it.  Put a large piece of cardboard under your car when you park it for the night.  If there is an oil stain on the cardboard in the morning, your car is leaking oil (or possibly other fluids?).  It is hard to tell where it might be coming from without putting your car on a lift at the shop.  Make sure you keep your oil filled to the right level (“full” on the dip stick), double check to be sure you are using the right type of oil for your vehicle, and get it in as soon as you can to find out where that pesky leak is.  It could be minor, it could be serious, but oil leaks are never something to ignore.  Often it is just a seal that needs to be replaced.  Feel free to call us when you have time, we’ll set up that appointment to figure it out and fix it, and even give you a courtesy lift back to home or work!

“Check Engine” light is on: Unless your car starts smoking or stalls completely, don’t panic.  First pull over and check your gas cap.  A loose gas cap is often the cause.  If the “check engine” light is still on, head to the nearest auto parts store and ask them to run a diagnostic check (free).  This will tell you what’s wrong through a series of codes.  Otehr  common causes are: faulty oxygen sensor, failed catalytic converter, faulty mass airflow sensor, and bad spark plugs and/or wires.

“Check Engine” light is blinking: Pull over as soon as you are safe – this is a serious issue that needs to be checked.  Do not continue to drive the car – pull over and call a tow truck.  Feel free to call us as soon as you are safe, too.  We’ll answer the phone, no matter the day or time.  We can recommend a reliable tow truck, and set an appointment to get your car in quickly to get you back on the road as soon as possible.

Displaying “Idiot” lights: Depends on which light is lit up – call us, we’ll troubleshoot it on the phone with you, and if we can’t solve it over the phone, we’ll set an appointment right away to get it fixed.

Not shifting beyond 1st or 2nd gear: Possible transmission problems and/or a faulty computer sensor


Clutch Service Wholesale & Lucky Kustoms