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The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you’ll be able to head off vehicle problems. You can detect many common vehicle problems by using your senses: eyeballing the area around your vehicle, listening for strange noises, sensing a difference in the way your vehicle handles, or even noticing unusual odors.
Small stains or an occasional drop of fluid under your vehicle may not mean much. But wet spots deserve attention; check puddles immediately.
You can identify fluids by their color and consistency:
Yellowish green, pastel blue or florescent orange colors indicate an overheated engine or an antifreeze leak caused by a bad hose, water pump or leaking radiator.
A dark brown or black oily fluid means the engine is leaking oil. A bad seal or gasket could cause the leak.
A red oily spot indicates a transmission or power-steering fluid leak.
A puddle of clear water usually is no problem. It may be normal condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioner.
Some vehicle problems are right under your nose. You can detect them by their odor:
The smell of burned toast — a light, sharp odor — often signals an electrical short and burning insulation. To be safe, try not to drive the vehicle until the problem is diagnosed.
The smell of rotten eggs — a continuous burning-sulphur smell — usually indicates a problem in the catalytic converter or other emission control devices. Don’t delay diagnosis and repair.
A thick acrid odor usually means burning oil. Look for sign of a leak.
The smell of gasoline vapors after a failed start may mean you have flooded the engine. Wait a few minutes before trying again. If the odor persists, chances are there’s a leak in the fuel system — a potentially dangerous problem that needs immediate attention.
Burning resin or an acrid chemical odor may signal overheated brakes or clutch. Check the parking brake. Stop. Allow the brakes to cool after repeated hard braking on mountain roads. Light smoke coming from a wheel indicates a stuck brake. The vehicle should be towed for repair.
A sweet, steamy odor indicates a coolant leak. If the temperature gauge or warning light does not indicate overheating, drive carefully to the nearest service station, keeping an eye on your gauges. If the odor is accompanied by a hot, metallic scent and steam from under the hood, your engine has overheated. Pull over immediately. Continued driving could cause severe engine damage. The vehicle should be towed for repair.
Difficult handling, a rough ride, vibration and poor performance are symptoms you can feel. They almost always indicate a problem.
Misaligned front wheels and/or worn steering components, such as the idler or ball joint, can cause wandering or difficulty steering in a straight line.
Pulling — the vehicle’s tendency to steer to the left or right — can be caused by something as routine as under-inflated tires, or as serious as a damaged or misaligned front end.
Ride and Handling
Worn shock absorbers or other suspension components — or improper tire inflation — can contribute to poor cornering.
While there is no hard and fast rule about when to replace shock absorbers or struts, try this test: bounce the vehicle up and down hard at each wheel and then let go. See how many times the vehicle bounces. Weak shocks will allow the vehicle to bounce twice or more.
Springs do not normally wear out and do not need replacement unless one corner of the vehicle is lower than the others. Overloading your vehicle can damage the springs.
Balance tires properly. An unbalanced or improperly balanced tire causes a vehicle to vibrate and may wear steering and suspension components prematurely.
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“The Home Of Honest and Friendly Service”
Knowing how your vehicle works and how to identify common car problems is a good beginning. It’s also important to know how to select a good technician, the kinds of questions to ask, and know your consumer rights when it comes to auto repairs.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the American Automobile Association (AAA), and the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), this kind of information about your automobile may help you keep a lid on mechanical mistakes.
What should I look for when choosing a repair shop?
Ask for recommendations from friends, family, and other people you trust. Look for an auto repair shop before you need one to avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision.
Shop around by telephone for the best deal, and compare warranty policies on repairs.
Ask to see current licenses if state or local law requires repair shops to be licensed or registered. Also, your state Attorney General’s office or local consumer protection agency may know whether there’s a record of complaints about a particular repair shop.
Make sure the shop will honor your vehicle’s warranty.
Look for shops that display various certifications — like an Automotive Service Excellence seal. Certification indicates that some or all of the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certifications are current, but remember that certification alone is no guarantee of good or honest work.
Ask if the technician or shop has experience working on auto repairs for the same make or model vehicle as yours.
Unlocking the Mystery
Before you arrange to have any work performed, ask how the shop prices its work. Some shops charge a flat rate for labor on auto repairs. This published rate is based on an independent or manufacturer’s estimate of the time required to complete repairs. Others charge on the basis of the actual time the technician worked on the repair.
If you need expensive or complicated auto repairs, or if you have questions about recommended work, consider getting a second opinion.
Find out if there will be a diagnostic charge if you decide to have the work performed elsewhere. Many auto repair shops charge for diagnostic time. Shops that do only diagnostic work and do not sell parts or repairs may be able to give you an objective opinion about which auto repairs are necessary.
If you decide to get the work done, ask for a written estimate.
What should a written estimate include?
It should identify the condition to be repaired, the parts needed, and the anticipated labor charge. Make sure you get a signed copy.
It should state that the shop will contact you for approval before they do any work exceeding a specified amount of time or money. State law may require this.
What should I know about the vehicle parts to be repaired or replaced?
Automotive Parts are classified as:
New — These parts generally are made to original manufacturer’s specifications, either by the vehicle manufacturer or an independent company. Your state may require repair shops to tell you if non-original equipment will be used in the repair. Prices and quality of these parts vary.
Re manufactured, rebuilt, and reconditioned — These terms generally mean the same thing: parts have been restored to a sound working condition. Many manufacturers offer a warranty
covering replacement parts, but not the labor to install them.
Salvage — These are used parts taken from another vehicle without alteration. Salvage parts may be the only source for certain items, though their reliability is seldom guaranteed.
What do I need after the work is done?
Get a completed vehicle repair order describing the work done. It should list each repair, parts supplied, the cost of each part, labor charges, and the vehicle’s odometer reading when you brought the vehicle in as well as when the repair order was completed. Ask for all replaced parts. Your State law may require this.
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Comfort Auto & Body Repair
2653 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland Oregon 97212