Some Frequently Asked Questions
Saturdays, 6-8 AM, Talk Radio 950, KPRC
When I pull up to a stop my engine stalls
Most cars today have an idle speed control motor. This computer controlled gizmo responds to changing engine loads to control idle speed. If the idle control motor responds to slowly the engine will stall. The slow response can be caused by a worn motor or by dirt accumulation in the air passages. We recommend cleaning the idle air circuit every 15,000 miles.
My check engine or service engine soon light is on
Don't panic. If the light is on steady, not flashing, it indicates a problem that will effect emissions by 1.5 times the EPA standard. This needs to be addressed, but is not a crisis. If the light is flashing you have a more serious problem that need immediate attention. A flashing light indicates a problem bad enough to damage the engine if you continue to drive.
My brake warning light is on
Most cars have 2 brake warning lights, one red and one amber. The amber light warns if the anti-lock brake system has a problem. When this light is on the anti-lock (ABS) system is not working. To diagnose this complex system you will have to have it checked by a professional with the proper computer to talk to your car. The other light is a red light that warns if the conventional braking system has a fault. This is not to be ignored. Low brake fluid is the most common culprit when this light is on, but several other things that can reduce your braking ability may cause it. Keep in mind that if your brake fluid is low enough to turn the warning light on your brake pads are probably worn to the point of needing service or replacement.
I feel a vibration in my car at about 60 mph.
But it goes away at about 75.
This is usually caused by a tire out of balance. Get your tires checked and re-balanced. We recommend that tires are rotated every second oil change and re-balanced every other rotation.
I smell a "sweet" odor after I park my car.
There is a particular odor that comes from antifreeze (coolant) as it evaporates off a hot engine. Often a small coolant leak will seep enough coolant out onto the hot engine surface to evaporate and cause an odor without producing a visible puddle under the car.
A leak in the radiator or cooling system can prove fatal to your engine, have it pressure tested as soon as possible.
My air-conditioning is not cold enough
When an air-conditioning system gets low on freon charge the cooling efficiency will deteriorate. Most late model cars have a small capacity for the freon charge and being as low as ½ pound will have a significant effect on your comfort in hot weather. It is alright to have the system "topped off" once, but if it becomes necessary to recharge the system again the compressor oil level will need to be checked. As the freon leaks out of the A/C it carries the oil with it and can result in an expensive compressor failure if not properly serviced.
I think I need a wheel alignment
Wheel alignment will not cause your car to shake. The normal indicators of a wheel alignment problem are a steering pull and tire wear. If the car drifts to one side when the steering wheel is release it can mean a caster adjustment is needed. If the tires wear unevenly you need to look at the camber or toe in adjustments. We recommend having the alignment checked once a year, or every 4th oil change.
Have questions about your car?
Email The Car Counselor