There’s more salt on your car than on a Snyder pretzel. More sand than on Daytona Beach. But when should you wash your car in the winter?
The American Automobile Association (AAA) encourages car owners to regularly wash their vehicles because of the severe damage road salt and ice melter chemicals can have on your car. So, washing is more than just about making your car look good (which doesn’t even last very long in winter, frankly). Road salt can corrode the underside of your vehicle and especially damage sensitive brake lines.
When it’s dirty.
You want to get rid of salt residue and deposits that can cause rust. Waiting too long to wash can let the salt start to corrode the metal, experts say. This is why you need to get the undercarriage washed often. It’s the part of the car that gets the most exposure to road salt, so why not make sure it’s taken care of all winter? You can’t rustproof brake lines as you can the frame of the vehicle, so they’re vulnerable.
When it’s warm enough.
If you do it in frigid temperatures, that’s when we see doors handles and locks freezing, use 30 degrees as a good gauge.
Tips for reducing corrosion from salt.
Dry your car thoroughly after washing. That helps prevent salt from sticking as you drive away from the car wash. Wax your car just before salt season begins, and during the winter as needed. That also reduces the amount of salt that sticks to the body. Keep in mind that washing your car repeatedly is good for your car’s finish because it removes road grime and salt, but it can also beat up your car’s clear coat and paint over time. Make sure you get your car waxed before things get really bad, and then get it waxed again during the winter at least once more. What this does is create a barrier so repeated washes aren’t as damaging.
Keep all of the above tips in mind this winter, and your precious vehicle will be far better off in the short, as well as the long run.
All good things come to an end. This past Saturday was our last Auto Talk Radio show on Wood Radio. Along with our partners on the show, we’ve had a great time answering your auto questions every Saturday am.
If you were a faithful listener, we’ll give you a few audio links to enjoy. If you had no idea this was going on every Saturday at 7 am, we think you’ll enjoy listening too.
We started this program when Pat O’Neill was running the shop, then his grandson Shaun O’Neill (pictured here) took the show over weekly. We think you’ll like the music too!
WOOD Radio welcomes our new hosts of Auto Talk…Pat O’Neill and Al Schwinkendorf. Pat and Al bring decades of experience to the WOOD Saturday morning’s experts lineup. Both O’Neill and Schwinkendorf are ASE Certified Automotive experts and they bring their vast knowledge and experience to the area’s ONLY one hour, live call-in show. From Audis to Z-28s, Pat and Al help WOOD listeners fine tune their cars, trucks, vans & SUVs. If you’ve got a question about how to supercharge your four-wheeled wonder or if you’ve been hearing something unusual coming from underneath your vehicle’s hood. Circa 1980
Millions of Americans recognize that dogs are wonderful companions and often bring their favorite furry friend along on road trips, day trips, and day-to-day errands. However, in a vehicle, this can mean added distractions for the driver and added dangers for all passengers, including pets.
Drivers Distracted by Dogs, Many Don’t Realize It
According to a survey sponsored by AAA, 29 percent of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving; however, 65 percent have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog:
Unrestrained Dogs Dangerous to Driver, Passenger and Man’s Best Friend
An overwhelming 84 percent of survey respondents stated that they have driven with their pets on a variety of car trips. However, only 16 percent use any form of pet restraint system when driving with their dog.
The use of a pet restraint system can aid in limiting distractions and help protect your pet:
AAA recommends that pet owners restrain their pet inside the vehicle not only to avoid distraction but to protect the animal and other passengers in a crash. So, each and every time you travel with your dog, just as you put on your seat belt when you hit the road, be sure you do the same for your canine companion.
1 Whining and Clunking
This may seem fairly obvious, but those are often the symptoms we ignore the most. When your car starts making noises it shouldn’t be making, it’s time to get it checked out. When this happens, don’t wait to bring it in. Fix it as soon as possible before any further damage occurs.
2 Lack of Response
Your transmission was designed so that you can switch gears instantaneously. So when there is a delayed response and it doesn’t immediately do what you want it to, you guessed it. It’s time for a checkup.
3 Burning Smell
The smell of something burning is never a good sign when it’s coming from your car. The cause could be any number of things, but it’s most commonly the overheating of the transmission fluid. Don’t panic when this happens, just get it checked out as soon as possible.
4 Leaking Fluid
Fluid, where it shouldn’t be, is one of the easiest symptoms to spot. The best way to find where the leak is coming from is to lay down a few pieces of cardboard when the car is parked. Then slide out the pieces to see just where your car is leaking. Be sure to share this information with the mechanic or service professional when you take it in to be resolved.
5 Grinding Gears
This symptom manifests itself differently for manual and automatic transmissions. For manual transmissions, when you change gears and you hear or feel a sense of grinding; it may mean that you have just worn out the clutch and you need to replace it. But it can also mean that one of the transmission’s synchronizers is worn out and damaged. For automatic transmissions, a rough shift rather than an unnoticeable one could be caused by a few things. Take it into a professional to diagnose, like O’Neill Auto & Transmission Service.
6 Noisy in Neutral
A bumping sound doesn’t necessarily evoke signs of caution or trouble unless it happens when your car is in neutral. Don’t worry though; this problem can sometimes be easily fixed by replacing the transmission fluid. If however, you continue to hear noises coming from your transmission while it’s in neutral, take it in to see what’s up.
7 Dashboard Lights
“SERVICE ENGINE SOON” Aren’t those the last words you want to see when you get into your car?
This sign on your dashboard could mean all sorts of things and should definitely not be ignored. There are sensors placed throughout your car’s engine that can pick up the slightest of problems. Don’t procrastinate when you see this; get your car inspected as soon as you can. A trusted and professional diagnostic shop will be able to educate you on your auto’s needs, and your options for repair.
1. Clean the inside and outside of your car every month. Seriously.
Why It’s Important: Keeping your car clean is like keeping your room clean, except everyone can see your car and gauge how dirty (or clean) you are.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: An unclean car will eventually attract dirt and grime that can damage your interior and exterior, and probably won’t earn you any extra props from that person you like.
2. Change your oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles and use a reliable brand.
Why It’s Important: Every car maker has different things to say when it comes to oil, but most experts agree that it’s good to change it out regularly. If you’re confused on what to use, most cars work well with synthetic oil, and it’s usually easier to get your oil replaced at a shop versus doing it yourself.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: Your car needs oil to lubricate your engine and stop detergents, so make sure you follow these steps to check your oil every other month or so. If your car doesn’t have fresh oil, dirt will build up and eventually kill your engine, which will cost thousands of dollars and your happiness.
3. Check your tire pressure every month and rotate your tires every 7,500 miles.
Why It’s Important: Incorrect tire pressure can lead to a ton of problems, including poor breaking, instability, less gas mileage, and of course, a flat tire, so check your tire pressure with a gauge. Also, rotate your tires often to make sure that they wear evenly, making sure you get the most before replacing them.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: Replacing your tires will cost anywhere from $350 to $700, while a tire pressure gauge and rotation cost about $10 and $50, respectively. If your tires need to be rotated, simply take them into a dealer or auto body shop.
4. Get your brake pads replaced every 25,000 miles or sooner if your brakes are wearing down.
Why It’s Important: It’s always a good idea to have your brakes checked out every so often by a professional, as a nasty grinding noise can bring an unpleasant worry.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: Neglecting your brake pads will eventually lead to your brake rotors failing, leading to a $300 to $600 replacement and at worst, an emergency you don’t want to deal with.
5. If you’re not going to drive your car for a while, make sure it’s properly stored.
Why It’s Important: If you’re going to be away for a bit, make sure your car is covered, clean, topped off with gas, and started every so often to keep the battery fresh. If no one’s around to drive or start your car, you can buy a battery tender which stops a discharge.
6. Change your air filter every 30,000 miles or every year.
Why It’s Important: Think of your auto’s air filter like your lungs: It’s important you keep them clean and healthy so that you breathe easier and harmful things don’t affect your breathing. For a car, a dirty air filter will hurt your acceleration and make your car less efficient, making an inspection and new air filter every so often important.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: Your car isn’t going to explode from a dirty air filter, but it’s possible that leaving one in can cause your engine to fail and damage your combustion chamber. Spend 15 minutes to pop a new air filter in and you’ll forget why you worried in the first place.
10. Save your car maintenance receipts to make future repairs much easier.
Why It’s Important: When you take your auto into a shop for a checkup mechanics will often ask you about the last time you changed your oil or rotated your tires, so it’s good to keep receipts from past work. Also, having those receipts will help you get more money for your car if you ever decide to sell, acting as proof that you took care of it.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: Not being able to prove that you’ve taken care of your car with work can knock you out of a warranty, leaving you with a tremendously costly repair at almost any dealer you go to. If you have trouble keeping receipts, at least snap a photo with your phone to have some proof.
11. Ask an expert about car trouble when you’re not sure yourself.
Why It’s Important: Cars are just as complex as they are wonderful, and you shouldn’t ever force your way into fixing a problem if you don’t know exactly what’s wrong. When in doubt, take your car into O’Neill Auto & Transmission Service to see what’s going on and save yourself the trouble and frustration.
The Cost Of Not Doing It: Sometimes, attempting to fix one thing by yourself can lead to breaking more things, which just makes it a mess for you and your mechanic. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be the person hitching a ride to work in a tow truck because you poured antifreeze directly into your engine.
portions from BuzzFeed
Your car broke down, and now you’re faced with a high repair bill. It’s not the first time this has happened, and you’re getting tired of pouring money into an aging machine. A new car would be nice, but is that the smartest decision? Would you be better off fixing your current ride, or is it really time to buy another one? There’s no clear-cut answer to these questions, but we can show the pros and cons for each option to help you make a more informed decision.
The Costs of Wear and Tear
Even if you’ve taken good care of your car, some high-priced repairs are unavoidable, sometimes due to excessive wear or time itself. Rubber belts and hoses dry out and crack, metal on rotors warp or wear too thin, and electrical parts stop working. Wear-and-tear items such as axle boots, belts, and brake rotors will eventually need to be replaced. The timing belt has long been a big-ticket item on high-mileage cars. On many cars, it needs to be replaced at around 100,000 miles. Dealership service advisers will often recommend replacing the water pump and the other drive belts in the car at this point. This “timing belt package” can cost between $600 and $1,000. Repairs such as this begin to surface between 90,000 and 120,000 miles.
Arguments for Fixing Up
Buying a new car may not be right for you, for budgetary or other reasons.
It is almost always less expensive to repair a car than buy a new one.
Although something as severe as a blown motor or a failed transmission may run you big bucks, such repairs still don’t cost as much as buying a new car. The repair $ may make a nice down payment, but then there are the monthly payments to consider. You can perhaps purchase a used car for that much, but just keep in mind that another used car could come with its own set of issues.
Insurance and registration fees will be higher on a new car. A new car typically loses an estimated 22 percent of its value in the first year. Your car has already taken that depreciation hit.
You really need the car to last a while longer. Let’s say you were planning on getting a new car in a year or two, but it broke down earlier than expected. Repairing it now will help you stay on the road and keep you from making a hasty new car purchase. It will also give you more time to save up and get your finances in order.
You have a sentimental attachment to your car. Maybe it was your first car, a gift from a loved one, or a dream car you finally were able to purchase. For you, buying a new car would mean giving up an old friend. This is not the strongest argument for fixing it up, but it’s a real one.
Arguments for Buying a New Car
You swore you wouldn’t put another penny into your old car after that last repair. But buying a new car seems like an intimidating prospect. Here are a few reasons why buying a new car might be the way to go.
You don’t want to fret about future breakdowns. Old cars can be unpredictable. Repairing a single problem with an older car doesn’t guarantee that another breakdown won’t happen with another part or system. If you buy a new car, its warranty means you’ll have at least three years (and often far longer) before you have to worry about paying for any major repairs.
Even buying a more reliable used car, such as a certified pre-owned vehicle, is enough to bring back some peace of mind. O’Neill Auto & Transmission Service offers a full diagnostic review service before you buy your “new to you” vehicle.
You’re tired of the constant trips to the repair shop. Some things don’t get fixed the first time around, while others seem to need constant attention. Either way, trips to the mechanic are costing you too much money and time away from work or family.
You’re fed up with your old car. Perhaps it’s so beat that it embarrasses you. It rattles like crazy. Or you have to bang on the A/C to get it working. All these are reasons to move one. Take a look at your budget and make an honest assessment of your financial situation. Let the Edmunds suite of auto calculators do the math for you.
You want something safer. New cars have modern safety equipment. Features such as automatic emergency braking, backup cameras, and blind-spot monitoring are increasingly becoming standard fare on new vehicles.
When Is It Time to Buy Another Car?
Here are a few scenarios in which we’d opt for buying another vehicle:
Extend the Life of Your Car
If you are not yet faced with making the tough decision to fix up or trade in your vehicle, there are steps you can take to prevent or avoid costly repairs.
Get your new car maintained at its proper intervals to avoid problems and breakdowns. Use our maintenance guide to learn the recommended service intervals for your vehicle. Maintaining a much older car means paying close attention to items that commonly break down. We recommend finding a good, reliable local mechanic as a less expensive alternative to a dealership service department.
If you’re experiencing issues with your car and don’t know whether things are likely to get worse, look for advice on message boards and forums for the make and model of your car. Other people have probably been down this road before you. You can get a preview from them of the problems associated with your vehicle as it ages.
Don’t Let the Clunker Decide for You
You know your needs and your car’s history better than anyone else, so use these tips as a guide. Buying a new car might seem like the easy way out of a high repair bill, but depending on your circumstances, it may not be the best financial decision.
On the other hand, a car that’s teetering on the edge of oblivion can keep you awake at night. It’s better to part with that car on your terms rather than waiting for it to break down at exactly the wrong time. If you make the decision while the car still has some value, you can sell it or trade it in, turning the cash into a down payment on your next car. If you also can take advantage of the incentives and rebates being offered on new cars today, you may find that a new car is within reach. And it’s hard to put a price tag on the peace of mind that a new vehicle can bring.
Above all, your safety and the safety of your family and passengers is our #1 priority at O’Neill auto & Transmission Service. We are happy to give you our educated mechanical opinion, give us a call at 616-949-1230.
Courtesy of Edmunds.com
Besides checking the weather, it’s important to have O’Neill Auto & Transmission Service check the condition of the following vehicle systems before heading out on the road:
In an emergency situation, in addition to a full tank of gas and fresh antifreeze, the National Safety Council recommends having these with you at all times:
Winter road trips – even short ones – are a great way to celebrate with family and friends. Being prepared can ensure a safe and happy time is had by all.
Taking care of your car or truck’s transmission is important for its long-term health. But all too often, car owners misunderstand the basic maintenance that’s needed to keep a gearbox running smoothly.
Do You Need to Have the Transmission Fluid Changed?
The simple answer is yes. But service intervals for new vehicles can exceed 100,000 miles before this needs to be done. Getting the fluid replaced is certainly going to cost you less than replacing a transmission that has been left in the lurch by skimping on service requirements. Failing to properly maintain your car’s transmission could leave you stranded and with a big repair bill.
Other than regular service, your transmission might be due for some important repairs—or have an extended warranty—because of a past recall.
How Often Do You Need to Have the Transmission Fluid Changed?
The best advice is to know your car and the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals. It’s worth noting that intervals for changing transmission fluid vary widely. For some cars and trucks, it can range from as little as 30,000 miles to more than 100,000 miles. Some new vehicles, especially those fitted with automatic gearboxes, have transmissions that are almost sealed shut, with fluid that’s meant to last the lifetime of the car. It is worth noting that even on these units though, a drain plug is provided for servicing.
Most CVTs (continuously variable transmissions) need inspections and/or fluid changes. We advise owners to refer to the owner’s manual for specific guidance and to keep records of related services. You can always give us a call at O’Neill auto & Transmission Service, we would be happy to advise you.
Remember that unlike engine oil, transmission fluid should never burn off. And a tell-tale sign of a transmission leak is a puddle of red liquid on the ground, usually under the middle or front of the car.
Should Your Mechanic Flush the Transmission Fluid?
First, it’s helpful to understand the role transmission fluid plays in a car’s operation. Transmission fluid helps keep mechanical components cool and lubricated, whether the gearbox is automatic or manual. Over time, the transmission’s interior components wear down, and tiny particles contaminate the fluid. This could potentially lead to damage.
Getting rid of this dirty fluid makes sense, right? If it’s called for in the service manual, go ahead and let your mechanic do the job. There is also a distinction between simply draining and refilling a transmission vs. power-flushing the system.
Does a Manual Transmission Need Fluid, Too?
Yes, even a manual needs transmission fluid. The type of fluid can vary from car to car, however. Some manuals require conventional engine oil, and others function best with automatic transmission fluid. So make sure you’re putting in the fluid that’s specified for your car.
How Do You Know Whether the Transmission Fluid Needs to Be Changed?
Checking transmission fluid isn’t always easy. In many cases, it’s necessary to have a mechanic put your car on a lift for examination. Some cars have a transmission dipstick or reservoir in the engine bay, so check under the hood first. Even though fluid levels might look fine, it could be more difficult to discern whether there are pollutants or small metal particles in the fluid.
Separating transmission maintenance from breakdowns is trickier. In a malfunctioning automatic, gearshifts might become more abrupt and occur at awkward intervals. For a car with a manual gearbox, the feel and action of the gear lever could become stiffer and balkier in regular daily operation. These types of problems probably indicate an issue with the gearbox itself. If you experience any of them, let your mechanic know right away.
Is Changing the Transmission Fluid an Easy DIY Job?
It can be a complicated and messy task for the average car owner. Accessing the transmission can require ramps, jack stands, or a lift. Many modern cars have transmissions that are basically sealed tight or require a dealer’s service computer to read temperature or other parameters, making them all but impossible to work on for the average do-it-yourselfer. Trust our transmission professionals, we’ve been handling transmission issues since 1960!
In part by Consumer Reports
New transmissions are not available from the dealer or any other source; they are only used in the production of new cars and trucks. When you purchase a transmission from the dealer you are getting one that is remanufactured. This is an important consideration when looking at the cost of the transmission.
A rebuilt transmission is one where the transmission is disassembled and inspected, worn or damaged parts are replaced (generally referred to as “hard parts”) and then reassembled to factory specifications. Along with aftermarket companies such as Transgo and Sonnax, we fix “hereditary” or problematic issues that are part of the auto models as they arrive in the market. Just about every make and model out there has some inherent issues that can be rectified while rebuilding the transmission. The term “rebuilt” is generally used in a shop setting where the customer’s transmission is removed from the car, rebuilt and then reinstalled. It is a custom process performed by a specialist. Other terms you may hear that have the same meaning are “refurbished, reconditioned or overhauled”, they have the same meaning.
ATRA’s Golden Rule warranty helps to ensure that our customers receive the best product possible when purchasing
a rebuilt transmission from O’Neill Auto & Transmission Service.
A remanufactured transmission (commonly referred to as a “reman”) is the same as a rebuilt transmission except that the work is done in a factory setting. There are two common practices used in remanufacturing. One uses a team of workers skilled in a specific area of the repair. One person does the teardown and inspection, one person does the cleaning, several people will assemble and restore certain components and a final person will assemble the transmission.
The other uses a single person skilled at rebuilding a specific transmission or family of transmissions. There’ll be a Ford specialist, a GM specialist, a Chrysler specialist and so on. In this instance, they’ll rebuild an entire transmission from start to finish. In both instances, the transmission is then tested on a dynamometer and then shipped to a retail outlet for sale (include dealerships).
A repaired transmission is one where a specific component is replaced or fixed. For example, if an input shaft broke or a solenoid failed those parts can be replaced without rebuilding the entire transmission. This includes instances were a transmission may have a leak. During the inspection, it’s learned that the internal components still have a lot of mileage left in them. In this case, just the external seals would be replaced in order to resolve the leaking problem. Generally speaking, with a repair, only the component that is replaced would be warranted. This can be problematic in that you may spend a significant amount of money on a repair and later have something in the transmission fail that is unrelated to the repair. It’s cost effective but does have an element of risk.
Another possibility today is to have a used transmission installed. Used transmissions have become a viable option because insurance companies will often total a car simply because the airbags deployed from a relatively minor accident. The rest of the car may be in terrific condition, with very low mileage.
A used transmission may cost hundreds less than a rebuild but in most cases, they come with a lesser warranty, so there is a trade-off.
Keep in mind that not every option may be practical for you. A lot depends on the type of car you have, the mileage, the type of failure, and more. Your technician will be happy to diagnose your car’s problem and discuss the transmission repair options that are available to you.
by Jody Wierenga, Corporate VP
in cooperation with ATRA
Once upon a time cars were simple: If the transmission didn’t shift right, you probably had a transmission problem. You took your car to the transmission shop and they fixed it. Simple, right?
As with most stories that begin this way, times have changed. Today, when your car’s transmission isn’t shifting right, well, it could be the transmission, but there’s just as good a chance that it’s something else… something seemingly unrelated to the transmission.
For example, You’re driving down the highway. The converter clutch locks up, right on time. Then, suddenly, the car begins to lurch and buck. Bad converter clutch, right?
Maybe. Maybe not. It could also be a problem in the converter clutch solenoid or the solenoid control circuit, opening and closing erratically. Then again, you could have a bad spark plug.
Wait, a bad spark plug? How would that cause the car to buck when the converter clutch comes on?
Actually, the situation is more common than you’d think. When the computer applies the converter clutch, it also leans out the air/fuel mixture, because it thinks you’re approaching cruise levels. And, with the transmission locked to the engine, the converter clutch increases the load on the engine, while eliminating any cushion between the two.
So, if a spark plug is worn, the extra load, combined with the leaner mixture can degrade the spark, causing an intermittent misfire. And since there’s no cushion between the engine and transmission, you feel every misfire through the entire car. Replacing the spark plugs eliminates the misfire, and improves the car’s performance.
This is just one example of how a seemingly unrelated condition can appear to be a transmission problem.
How can you identify the actual cause of the problem? You can’t. Not yourself, anyway. This is where an experienced technician comes in. The technician knows where to look for problems of this nature, and is equipped to isolate and pinpoint the root cause of those problems.
It’s also why you need to expect to pay for diagnosing those problems. Because very often, finding the source of that buck or slip is the most demanding part of the job. And in the case of the faulty spark plug, the diagnosis is what takes the most time. It just doesn’t make sense to expect the technician to supply his knowledge and experience without getting paid.
It’s also another reason why it’s so important to let our shop know exactly what you’re experiencing, without trying to diagnose the problem yourself. If you brought that car into the shop and asked for a transmission repair, you might have found yourself paying for work you didn’t really need. Because if the technician doesn’t know there’s a problem, he won’t be able to diagnose it for you.
As your local ATRA Member shop, O’Neill Auto & Transmission Service is equipped with all of the tools, training, and technical support necessary to identify the root cause of your car’s problems, and will be happy to help identify and correct those problems as quickly and inexpensively as possible. You just want to meet us halfway, by explaining the condition instead of trying to diagnose it yourself.
From the AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION REBUILDERS ASSOCIATION