Information to assist in
the care of your car
I have to go the the dealership for regularly scheduled maintenance?
often should my car receive a tune-up?
I really have to rotate my tires?
car is making a pinging sound. What does it mean?
there any special signs I should look for when purchasing a used car?
often should belts and hoses be replaced?
should be included in a complete brake job?
can make an engine overheat?
smell something strange. What could the problem be?
hear a strange sound. What could the problem be?
Check: battery, tires, brakes, fluid levels (washer
fluid, oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering, etc), fuel filters &
injectors, belts and hoses, spark plugs, alternator, and the lubrication
bearings, ball joints, etc. Always be sure to follow the maintenance
schedule as listed in your car manual.
An Alpha Auto Repair Technician will gladly
help you understand this list and also help you maintain your vehicle.
depends on how you drive. If your car always (or nearly always) gets warmed
up, and you don't drive it very hard and keep the revs down, the
manufacturer's recommendation is probably fine. If, however, you drive it
hard, drive it at high revs, or alternatively, if you only drive it to and
from the supermarket so that it doesn't get up to temperature, then
you may wish to change oil much more often, perhaps at 3000 mile intervals
(given that most manufacturers are now specifying 7500 mile intervals.) If
you don't drive your car much at all (about 7500 miles a year), then you probably
want to change oil every six months anyway. If you are storing a car during
the winter, then change oil before storing it and change oil when you bring
it out of storage.
ABSOLUTELY NOT! Your new car warranty can be applied to any independent
automotive shop. We often hear dealership horror stories where customers
have to keep going back to the dealer time after time to complete a simple
repair. Why waste time and money! At Alpha Auto Repair, we have
qualified, trained technicians that listen to you and most importantly, GET
THE JOB RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!
Most cars require regularly scheduled tune-ups yearly and require major
maintenance at 60,000 miles.
It’s advisable on some cars, but not on others. Factors which may indicate
whether tire rotation is necessary are independent suspension, radial tires
as well as other factors. To be sure, ask your auto professional.
Most likely, a pinging sound coming from your engine indicates timing
problems. Sometimes pinging is caused by poor quality or low octane fuel.
Pinging can cause damage. We strongly advise that to have your car checked
out by a professional to determine whether it’s causing damage.
Have the car checked out. If you do not have a car checked out by a
professional you are making a big mistake. The cost is very minor and we
always give a buyer more ammunition for bringing the price down. Money spent
on checking out a used car is well spent.
Most hose manufacturers recommend replacing hoses every four years. With
V-belts, every three years or 36,000 miles. The incidence of failure rises
sharply after the forth year for hoses and third year for belts. A typical
serpentine belt lifespan is about five years or 50,000 miles. Serpentine
belts are thinner and more flexible than V-belts. They run cooler and last
longer, but they cost about twice as much to replace.
complete brake job should restore a vehicle’s brake system and braking
performance to good-as-new condition. Anything less would be an incomplete
brake job. Brake components that should be replaced will obviously depend
upon the age, mileage and wear. A complete brake job should begin with a
thorough inspection of the entire brake system; lining condition, rotors and
drums, calipers and wheel cylinders, brake hardware, hoses, lines and master
Overheating is caused by anything that leads to a loss of coolant, prevents
the cooling system from getting rid of heat, or causes excess heat in the
Coolant leaks (water pump, radiator, heater core, hoses, freeze plugs,
head gasket, engine internal).
Cooling system clogged (deposits built up in radiator or in engine due to
maintenance neglect or use of hard water). Use a cleaner, then reverse
flush system to clean it out. A badly clogged radiator may need to be
rodded out or replaced.
Weak radiator cap (does not hold rated pressure and allows coolant to
boilover). Pressure test the cape to check it out.
Thermostat stuck shut (replace).
Inoperative electric cooling fan (check fan motor, relay and temperature
switch for correct operation).
Bad fan clutch (replace if slipping, leaking or loose).
Missing fan shroud (reduces cooling efficiency of fan).
Slipping fan belt (tighten or replace).
Too low or too high a concentration of antifreeze (should be 50/50 for
Bad water pump impeller eroded or loose - replace pump).
Debris in radiator (remove bugs and dirt).
Collapsed radiator hose (check lower hose).
Late ignition timing (reset to specs.)
Restricted exhaust system (check intake vacuum readings and inspect
converter, muffler and pipes).
Radiator and/or fan undersized for application (increase cooling power by
installing larger and/or auxiliary cooling fan).
something strange. What could the problem be?
Smoky smells are of various kinds. Electrical smoky smells are the most
dangerous and it is advisable to shut down, open the bonnet, disconnect
the batteries and seek professional help. Other smoky smells may occur
when the sound or heat proof lining inside the engine space burns. Trace
Fuel smells occurs either when the fuel tank venting gets choked or if
there has been an overflow.
Sometimes, oil or exhaust smells from the engine occur. This maybe caused
either due to too much engine oil, or if the engine oil has grown old and
is burning, or if it has been overheated.
Musty odors indicate the existence of some trapped water, usually under
the carpet. This will ruin the carpet and also speed up corrosion. The
proper solution would be to remove the carpets and dry both the carpet and
A typical sweetish smell emanates when varnish is being burnt which occurs
when your dynamo or alternator is about to pack up and would, usually be
accompanied by flickering lights.
Burning rubber smells tend to come when you drive with your brakes on.
Overheated tires may also be the cause.
smells are an early warning signal that need to be heeded if much more time
and money are to be saved later on.
I hear a
strange sound. What could the problem be?
tend to be sidelined in the bustle and din of our roads, and by the car
stereo playing in the background. However, if the problem persists, the car
will make its condition known every time you take a corner or ride over a
bump. Some easily recognizable sounds are
Strange clicking while
taking a turn from the front wheels means that the front shaft is about to
fall apart. Get it fixed before it actually does.
A fan-belt squeal means
that another one is needed.
Rhythmic clicks from the
wheel indicate faulty bearings at worst or just large pebbles stuck in the
tread pattern at the best.
A change in engine tone
usually indicates engine overheating, especially if you have been driving
at constant speeds for a long time. Stopping or varying the engine speed
should be enough if there is no severe problem. Otherwise, let the car
cool down and then check radiator and water levels.
Backfiring while normal
driving means serious problems and should be properly investigated.
Engine knocks means that
it is time to get into a lower gear. If it persists, however, it is time
to get your engine and engine oil checked.
At times, your car give
personal signals which can be
deciphered by only the user. Strange 'hiccups' while driving indicate faulty
fuel which would in turn cause faulty carburetor or fuel injector. If there
is unequal or wrong air pressure in tires, it is evident on braking.
Unexplained shudders in braking indicate problems in suspension or linkages.
Please call or
e-mail Alpha Auto
Repair to assist with any questions or concerns you may have.
(708) 597-2700 ●
Emergency and late hour
appointments upon request
● Closed Christmas Day
● Closed New Years Day