Reasons Your Car Won’t Start

There are many reasons your car won’t start.

There are few things worse than the feeling you get when you put your key in the ignition of your car, turn it, and… nothing. Silence. Probably more aggravating is when your car does make sounds like it’s going to start – it’s trying, it’s turning over, chugging, coughing. It just won’t catch and sputter to life.

Here are a few of the most common causes of your car not starting.

Starting with the starter…

A bad starter might lead you to think that the battery is weak or nearly dead. If the starter pulls more current than the battery has, it will turn slowly and make a “GRR, GRR, GRR” cranking noise, which sounds a lot like a weak or dying battery. If you hear a lot of grinding, that’s the starter, and it might be damaged – either the fly wheel or the teeth should be checked. If the starter doesn’t even respond, its relay or, solenoid might be burned out. The ignition switch could be the culprit, too.

image of jumper cables attached to car battery terminals.Of course, it’s the battery!

That is what many people immediately assume. It is indeed one of the most common causes of a car refusing to start, but a dead battery doesn’t mean a completely bad battery to be thrown away. It just means the battery doesn’t have a charge, and it might be that another component has failed. There are a lot of ways to knock out a battery.

  • Forgetting to turn off the headlights.
  • Door/courtesy light has been left on (door ajar, switch set to on).
  • Defective interior light generally unnoticed – trunk, glovebox.
  • Dirty, corroded battery terminals, or low battery water.
  • A defective, failing charging system that does not recharge the battery (see alternator).

Of course, batteries do get old and start to fail. Most have a life expectancy of about 3 to 5 years, depending on quality and your driving habits and conditions. Batteries have to work harder in cold temperatures, and usually show signs of failing when the weather turns cold.

Related: Transmission Problems Caused by Battery Corrosion

The alternator has failed and nothing is getting any electric love.

If the alternator has died, the battery has not been getting a return on its output and has not been charging. When the car is running, the charging system (alternator, voltage regulator) should recharge the battery and provide sufficient electrical power to the vehicle. The battery then serves merely as a backup. If the vehicle requires more electrical current than the charging system can provide, the battery picks up the slack. This can happen in extremely cold weather, particularly if you’re stuck in traffic and it’s snowing or raining. You’re constantly starting and stopping, brake lights are constantly on, headlights on, heater, defogger (which usually is accomplished through the air conditioning), interior dash lights, devices like smart phones being charged, radio on, possibly integrated wireless, phone, Bluetooth, onboard computer, entertainment, internet/satellite/cell service connections. It all takes electrical power. The alternator has a pretty tough, thankless job. The battery just sits there!

If the starter can crank the engine without a problem, then the battery and alternator are probably fine.

So, the engine cranks fine, but won’t turn over and go.

When you turn the key in the ignition and the engine cranks normally, but won’t catch or fire and start running, this means the battery and alternator are working as they should, and the problem lies elsewhere. If you keep cranking the engine, the battery will eventually run down and need to be recharged. So, what else could be wrong? Determining where or what might require a trip to a mechanic, but here are some things to be aware of.

Image - mechanic fixing fuel pumpThe fuel pump has conked out.

Here’s another component with a dirty, thankless job. The fuel pump sits in the gaseous darkness of the gas tank, pumping fuel the length of the car to the engine. A malfunctioning fuel pump can give different signs of imminent failure: faint whining, chugging or sputtering at high speeds, chugging or lack of power during acceleration, noticeable loss of power and performance, unexpected surging, and of course, an engine that won’t start.

Out of gas?

If the fuel pump is operating properly, then maybe you’re just out of gas. Check the needle on the dash. In some older cars you might have to turn on the ignition for the needle to register, but you shouldn’t have to start the entire engine. Of course, if the battery is dead, then checking the needle is not an option.

Cold weather and ethanol can cause problems.

Sometimes in cold weather, ethanol that is mixed in the gasoline can cause water vapor condensation in the fuel tank or fuel line. In cold weather, this water can freeze and cause blockages in the fuel line. Keep your gas tank at least half full during the winter to avoid this problem.

Your car might just need a tune-up.

It’s easy to forget about more simple, smaller parts and processes that happen in the engine. Spark plugs are a good example of things that often go overlooked. A thorough engine tune-up will address any basic operational issues, including spark plugs, timing, air/fuel mixture, and other things that can affect your car’s ability to start and run reliably.

image of happy female driver leaning out window showing thumbs up.AAMCO Minnesota Can Help Get Your Car Started

If your car won’t start and you want help figuring out what’s wrong and having it fixed right, it’s time to call a mechanic and have it inspected and repaired. If you start noticing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, or suspect that there could be some issues with your engine or other systems that are causing your car to not start, stall, or perform poorly, schedule an appointment with a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem and recommend next steps for repair. It might be that it’s just time for a good tune-up – and at your local AAMCO Minnesota auto and transmission repair center, it won’t cost a lot. We diagnose the problem, tell you what needs to be done, and fix it right. We get you back on the road quickly and safely.

Find Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, book an appointment online to reserve your time, date, and location.

 

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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Signs Your Suspension Needs Repair

Is It Time for a New Suspension or Just Repairs?

image - drawing diagram of automobile suspension suspension, all four wheels.It’s usually easy to tell if your car’s suspension is having issues, but it can be difficult to diagnose the actual cause of the problems. Bad or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods or ball joints can cause costly damage to your vehicle and make it unsafe to drive.

Unfortunately, the suspension is often taken for granted – but it supports the entire weight of your vehicle. Suspensions are more than just about a smooth ride. A worn out suspension affects your ability to control the car, especially when stopping or turning, and can affect performance at different speeds. Pay attention to how your car handles, sounds it makes, and have problems checked immediately as they come up.

We get it – wear and tear happens, it comes with every part of every car. Regular wear and tear also comes with the need for a regular inspection and maintenance plan. Suspension maintenance and repairs are just as important as any other maintenance items, like oil changes or brakes. If you ignore problems with your car and allow them to fester, you will end up with more and more repairs that cost more and more money to fix.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Suspension

There are many things to look for to determine if your suspension system is failing in some way or needs repair. Since the suspension affects so many other systems that influence the control you have over your vehicle, it’s important to be aware of symptoms to determine if individual parts or the system at large is failing.

Car Ride is Not Smooth

There are many reasons your car might not drive smoothly. Aside from the tires, the suspension is usually one of the first suspects when your ride becomes bumpy or rough. When you can feel every bump in the road and it makes your car bounce, it’s time to get your suspension looked at. You can test the suspension yourself by doing the “bounce test.” While the car is parked, put all your weight on the front end and then release. If the car bounces up and down like a kid at a techno concert, the shocks and struts need to be replaced.

Worn out shocks can mean big problems if you don’t get them replaced.

Shock absorbers keep your tires on the road. If they don’t, the car will bounce all over the road and become uncontrollable. Shock absorbers serve to “absorb” the bumps and bounces. When they wear out, you definitely feel it in the performance and controllability of your car. If they fail entirely, your car could be severely damaged.

Car is Difficult to Steer

If your car becomes hard to steer, especially at low speed, something might be wrong with the suspension. Because your steering is linked to the suspension and the two rely on each other to get their respective jobs done, it’s important to pay attention to the steering – it’s the way you control your car.

If something is affecting your control of the car, it could be the suspension or it could be something in the steering system itself.

image of woman driving, having trouble controlling car, passenger in panic, shouting stop.Low power steering fluid, worn or loose belts, worn out control arm bushings could all be part of the problem. Squealing or whining when you turn the wheels of your car is usually a sign that the power steering pump is failing. As you can see, when steering becomes difficult, it’s time to steer your car to a mechanic.

Car Drifts or Pulls to One Side

If your car drifts or pulls to one side as you drive down a straight road, it could be due to any one of a number of reasons – tires, brakes, steering or suspension. It’s a difficult problem to diagnose, but there are things you can do yourself to possibly eliminate the causes and save yourself a trip to the mechanic.

The first thing you can do is check your tires.

Check the tire pressure. An underinflated tire can cause the entire car to ride strangely, including pulling it to one side. If you find yourself constantly fighting your steering wheel, check the tire pressure. Additionally, you’ll experience uneven tire wear all around and decreased gas mileage. If the tires haven’t been rotated regularly, get them rotated. This can be a cost effective solution to an annoying issue.

Have the alignment checked.

If you do a lot of driving on rough roads, or have hit more than one pothole or curb, and you notice some weirdness in the steering, there’s a good chance you need an alignment. A poor alignment will cause uneven tire wear, which then becomes another potential cause of the car drifting or pulling.

If the suspension is damaged, get it fixed to avoid bigger issues.

If your car drifts or pulls, a tie rod, spring, or control arm could be broken. This will cause severe difficulty in steering and affect your ability to control the car beyond just casual drift or pull. Go to a mechanic and have it fixed immediately.

Car Sits Low or Nose Dives

If one corner of the car seems to sit low when it’s parked, this is a sign of a damaged or broken spring.

When driving, you’ll notice a clunking sound when you go over bumps or turn. This is because the damaged or broken spring can’t support the weight of the car. A blown spring will put undue stress on the shock absorber, too, and vice versa. The two work so closely together that if one goes, the other has to compensate. But the spring is primarily responsible for any variations you see in the level sitting of your car.

If your car nose dives, leans back or rolls, the shocks or struts need to be replaced.

Braking transfers the weight of the vehicle to the front, and if the shocks and/or struts are worn out, this will cause the car’s nose to dive or dip down much more than you’re used to. You’ll notice it. Additionally, the car will lean back when you accelerate, as the weight of the car is transferred to the rear. When you take a corner, the car will roll – not roll over, but lean excessively to one side. The car will not be level, but it will lean so one side of the car dips down and the other side rises up, all without the tires leaving the ground.

Related: Reasons Why Your Ride is Bumpy and Rough

image of 3D render of a car suspensionAAMCO Can Help with Your Suspension and Steering Repairs

Because suspension and steering are such important components for the control and safety of your car (and nice, smooth ride) it’s critical to keep them maintained, and get them inspected and repaired if you experience problems. If you start noticing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, or suspect that there could be some issues with any parts of your suspension or steering, schedule an appointment with a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem and recommend next steps for repair.

Find Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, book an appointment online to reserve your time, date, and location.

 

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

Write a Review

AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

Write a Review

AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

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When to Get a Transmission Fluid Flush – Infographic

How often should you flush your transmission fluid?

Preventative maintenance can prevent costly repairs.

It’s a lot cheaper to do some regular maintenance to keep your car running smoothly. Part of your maintenance schedule should include a transmission fluid check and, if needed, a fluid flush. Here’s a handy infographic that tells you what to know.

image - AAMCO Minnesota Infographic of when to get a Transmission Fluid Flush

 

How to Tell if Your Brakes Are Bad

Identifying Common Brake Problems

Squeaking, Squealing, Grinding, Shaking

Your brakes need to be fixed.

An auto mechanic working on disc brakes,  inserting new brake pads in the caliper.As many car owners know, when issues with the brake system arise, they present themselves in a multitude of ways. Over your vehicle’s lifespan, you will likely experience a number or different issues specifically related to the brakes. While these repairs may not always seem to be pressing, problems with the brakes can become dangerous very quickly. Don’t worry! We are going to review some of the most commonly reported problems which require repair.

Paying attention to changes in the way your vehicle drives can indicate brake problems with minimal mechanic experience. We are going to outline some of the most common sounds, smells, and sensations which signal trouble. We will also look at some of the most frequently replaced brake system components.

Brake Pads

It is quite common to replace brake pads, and this is one of the simpler solutions to brake problems. Typically, brake pads are replaced approximately every 50,000 miles (though this really depends on your vehicle make, type, and the type of pads you are using – check your manual for recommendations). Worn pads will cause a metal on metal, grinding sound, and you will notice the braking distance increases. When a brake pad overheats, it causes it to crack, and then they will begin to squeak or squeal. If you’re hearing this sound on a regular basis, it is absolutely time to get them replaced!

Rotors

The surface of rotors must be flat in order to keep contact with the brake pads. Over time, a rotor’s surface will begin to warp due to heat damage, which then causes the vehicle to pulsate or jerk when the brakes are applied. If your rotors are overheated the surface will have a blue or purple hue which hardens the surface preventing the pads from gripping the rotors. Some rotors can be resurfaced (where they physically reshape these discs so that they are smooth and flat again), while others require replacing.

image of mechanic working on brake disc and caliperSticking Caliper

The caliper and caliper brackets hold the brake pads and force them against the rotor to stop the vehicle. When caliper pistons become stuck, the car will begin pulling to one side as the brakes are applied. This will also cause your rotors to overheat and wear down much more quickly. Essentially, one of your brakes is engaged regardless of whether you are driving or stopped. This is much more than just an inconvenience, this can be quite dangerous and should be addressed immediately.

Emergency Brake Engagement

It may seem like more of an issue of attention to detail, but this happens more often than you may think! It is easy to forget when you’ve put your emergency brake on, especially since some modern cars use a button instead of a lever. Leaving your emergency brake on will cause performance issues and damage to the entire system. If you suddenly hear a squeaking or grinding sound, be sure to confirm that your emergency brake is not engaged. 

Brake Light

When the brake light on the dashboard is illuminated, it can indicate that there is a serious issue with the braking system. In many cases, this light points to a problem with the hydraulics and should be inspected and repaired right away. This is not an error light which you should ignore. (This light also indicates that your parking brake is engaged!)

Smoking Brakes

Your brakes should not smoke… Ever. If you are experiencing this, it means that the brake pads have been burned, or that something is leaking onto the brakes. This is a dangerous problem which should be addressed immediately. Any indication of burning should be handled with urgency to prevent further damage and major repairs.

Leaks

If the brake system is leaking, it is usually a sign of a hydraulic issue. If you are able to press the brake pedal all the way to the floor, it can often be traced back to a leak. This type of leak is typically a slow leak where the brake fluid is lost gradually, but this eventually causes the brake system to fail altogether. A puddle of fluid on the ground or a low brake pedal are all symptoms of a leak.

AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Brake Services

Your brake system has a big, important job to do, and should not be taken for granted. Always be aware of the last time work was done on your car’s brakes, and make sure you keep them in top stopping condition! Your vehicle’s manual should provide you a recommended maintenance plan. At AAMCO Minnesota, we have seen it all, and we’ll help you make the best decision regarding solutions to the problems you’ve been encountering. Give us a call, or book an appointment online to get your car back in tiptop shape!

 

Find an AAMCO Minnesota Transmission & Auto Repair Center Near You

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

Write a Review

AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

Write a Review

AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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Front-Wheel Drive or Rear-Wheel Drive

Know the Differences Between FWD and RWD

image-shifting-gears-person-driving-stick-shift-hand-on-shifterThe differences between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive are important factors to consider when buying a car. If you’re buying a new car, there are all kinds of options these days, including all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, traction control, full-time, part-time. The advantages and disadvantages between FWD and RWD are well known, but the most important thing for you to consider is which one is best for you? Beyond that, keep in mind the differences and how they affect your maintenance and repair costs. AAMCO Minnesota has the expertise to service your vehicle from transmission to suspension, brakes, radiator, and exhaust, whether front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel, or four-wheel drive.

Front-wheel drive vehicles have many advantages for consumers and manufacturers.

Performance in the snow is better on FWD vehicles, but…

Front-wheel drive or FWD means the engine power is going directly to the front wheels. This gives the effect of the car being pulled down the road, instead of pushed from the rear. Front-wheel drive cars have developed a reputation for stability and performance in bad weather conditions, particularly snow. It places the weight of the engine over the front drive wheels, which improves traction and responsiveness.

All of this is great, but from a dry-road, performance driving perspective, FWD cars are considered not as good as RWD. Front-wheel drive cars tend to “over steer”, or push wide, when turns are taken too fast. This is because most of the mechanical weight – steering, suspension, engine, etc. – is in front.

FWD means extra interior space.

The front-wheel drive approach also opens the inside of the vehicle, requiring less space along the floor for the transaxle to pass through. Most FWD cars use transversely  mounted engines (mounted crossways), do the transmission doesn’t intrude into the passenger cabin from underneath the vehicle. The need for a big drive-shaft tunnel to transfer power to the rear wheels is eliminated. More interior space offers more opportunities for automakers to develop innovative uses of the passenger cabin, including safety features.

Manufacturing and maintenance costs for FWD are less.

Because all the major functional parts of the car are concentrated around the front of the vehicle, FWD cars have the added advantage of being less complex, easier to service, and cheaper to maintain. For example, the transmission and axle assembly are one unit in a FWD car. The reduced size, weight, and complexity of FWD vehicles also reduces manufacturing time and costs, savings which can be passed onto the buyer. Front-wheel drive cars usually have lower general maintenance costs and are more fuel efficient.

Front-wheel drive is not as rugged and repairs can cost more.

FWD systems overall involve more complex parts that make them more delicate, as automotive durability goes. Half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints are more prone to damage than the more durable solid axle of a RWD vehicle. While a RWD car’s axle might need little service or repair beyond the scheduled checkup and lube, a FWD car will need new CV joints and associated parts on a regular basis (depending on your driving habits). The front brakes might require more frequent servicing, as well, due to the distribution of weight during braking.

Rear-Wheel drive isn’t bad, and it makes sense if you have specific requirements.

Pushing a car through the snow is just more difficult.

Having a rear-wheel drive vehicle means the engine power is on the rear wheels. Trucks and many SUV’s, as well as some cars, use rear-wheel-drive. This means that a driveshaft transmits power from the engine in the front of the vehicle to the wheels at the back which drive, or push, the vehicle. A differential must be used to transfer the power from the driveshaft to the wheels. The differential makes a 90-degree turn so it can get to the wheels. This complexity of two-wheel drive vehicles does not make them any less effective than FWD vehicles – it actually allows for advantages depending on the purpose of the vehicle.

Winter weather can be an issue for RWD vehicles, particularly snow.

image - traffic in winter - slippery, snow-packed road, cars moving slowlyHaving a vehicle with RWD is not the best for winter conditions, as the weight distribution tends to leave them light in the rear, which affects traction. Many modern cars, however, feature stability or traction control that helps overcome slipping and provides added security against loss of traction. Oftentimes you will see pickup trucks with sandbags piled in the cargo beds. This is to add weight over the drive tires to increase traction in winter conditions.

RWD offers better weight distribution for performance and utility needs.

Despite the fact that RWD vehicles are notoriously difficult in inclement weather, particularly in snow or mud, they are usually well-balanced and offer superior acceleration, braking and handling. While a front-wheel drive car has the weight of the engine and transaxle over the front wheels, a rear-wheel drive car distributes the weight of its drivetrain more evenly from front-to-rear. This is a plus for performance oriented driving and drivers. High performance sports cars are predominantly rear-wheel drive and have seen considerable evolution in the technology that makes these RWD systems ideal.

From a utility perspective, a RWD vehicle benefits from having the drive wheels directly under the weight or pressure of a tow connection when towing loads. This enhances the vehicles traction and ability to effectively pull heavy loads, and aids in the distribution of the weight of the load being towed.

RWD vehicles are rugged and sometimes cheaper to repair.

RWD vehicles tend to be utilitarian and more durable, built for hard driving, towing, hauling. An advantage of many RWD vehicles is a solid axle design, which can take a lot of abuse without breaking. A simple example is if you hit a curb or a pothole really hard with a front-wheel drive car, you might damage some expensive parts. FWD cars have some complex parts, which are can be more susceptible to damage in extreme conditions. If you accidentally slam into or run over a curb or hole in the road with a solid axle rear-wheel drive car, it will most likely survive and just keep going. This is why police cars and other service or utility oriented vehicles are mostly RWD.

AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Repair Needs

Regardless of whether your car is front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, your locally owned and operated Minnesota AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care centers can handle all your automotive repair and maintenance needs. See our complete list of services and be sure to get money-saving coupons.

Find Your Locally Owned & Operated AAMCO Minnesota Auto Repair Center

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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Call Now Set Appointment

People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, fill out the form below to reserve your time, date, and location.

 

 


More Automobile Repair & Maintenance Tips & Information

Battery Care and Troubleshooting

Some tips for taking care of your battery. Fall is upon us and it’s time to think about winter preparations. Among the many things on our lists, making sure our cars are in tip-top shape to handle the tough Minnesota winter is a big item with many little things to be done. Among those little

Posted in Battery, Check Engine, Electrical System, Practical Information & Advice, Services, Total Car Care | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Reasons Your Car Won’t Start

There are many reasons your car won’t start. There are few things worse than the feeling you get when you put your key in the ignition of your car, turn it, and… nothing. Silence. Probably more aggravating is when your car does make sounds like it’s going to start – it’s trying, it’s turning over,

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Signs Your Suspension Needs Repair

Is It Time for a New Suspension or Just Repairs? It’s usually easy to tell if your car’s suspension is having issues, but it can be difficult to diagnose the actual cause of the problems. Bad or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods or ball joints can cause costly damage to your vehicle and make it

Posted in Blog, Services, Steering & Suspension, Total Car Care | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Signs of a Damaged Exhaust System

Here are some reasons your exhaust system is acting up.

The exhaust system has a lot of parts that can be damaged.

From the cylinders through the manifold to the catalytic converter and beyond.

image - dual chrome exhaust tailpipeYour car’s exhaust system is a network of connected pipes and parts designed to filter and route emissions from the engine compartment toward the rear of the vehicle. Five primary parts – oxygen sensor, exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, and muffler – are involved. Components are joined together with gaskets, or seals, to minimize leakage. As the engine burns gas to power your car, it emits gases containing water vapor, unburned fuel and acidic contaminants. The catalytic converter filters out most of the pollutants, converting the exhaust to a less toxic byproduct of carbon dioxide and water vapor. The exhaust then passes through the system of pipes, to the muffler, which all work to cool the exhaust and muffle the noise the system would make without all of these pieces in place.

Many of the pipes and fitments, as well as the muffler and key parts of the exhaust system live under your car, probably the worst place to be, second only to where the oil dipstick has to spend most of its life. Being on the underside of the car, these parts of the exhaust system are exposed to all kinds of hazards – road debris, crud, dirt, water, snow, ice, construction materials, old shoes, boxes. You name it. What other stuff have you witnessed discarded or lost on America’s roads? Someone we know once ran over a wood 2×4 on the highway at night. It blew a hole in and did such damage that the whole pipe system had to be replaced. Before being repaired, you could hear his car coming a mile away.

Oxygen Sensor

Road junk and highway hazards aside, there are parts of the engine that rely on and contribute to the exhaust system that are not exposed to the onslaught of the outside world. The engine pistons are in their cylinders, busy making explosions, creating heat, and generating hot, noxious gases. The gases that result from all of this have to be pushed out of the cylinders, processed into environmentally friendly, legally acceptable emissions, and passed through a piping system, and finally out the tailpipe.

All of this starts with the oxygen sensor. Located in or near the manifold, the oxygen sensor sends O2 level readings to the car’s computer, which regulates how much fuel is needed in the engine. This helps determine the best fuel mixture and efficiency. Without a properly functioning oxygen sensor, the computer can’t calculate the air/fuel mixture, which affects the engine’s performance, and this can affect many other systems as a result. For instance, if you smell gasoline as you drive, check the oxygen sensor as soon as possible.

Exhaust Manifold

image of exhaust manifoldThe exhaust manifold sits over the cylinder heads and collects the exhaust gases from each, through exhaust valves, and pushes them through a single pipe to the catalytic converter. It also burns any excess fuel that is not used in the engine. A leak in the exhaust manifold can burn the exhaust valves, which compromises their seals over the cylinders, and impacts the performance of the pistons, hence the engine. If the manifold is cracked or has a leak, the back pressure in the exhaust system will be incorrect, which reduces engine power. Sputtering, sluggishness, and strange noises like ticking or clicking, and other problems are all symptoms of a compromised exhaust manifold. Additionally, a damaged manifold causes slow warm-up time which results in excess fuel consumption, and in turn will cause excess wear on your catalytic converter.

Over time, the constant expansion and contraction of the manifold, caused by the heating and cooling in the engine, can cause the manifold to crack and leak. These leaks permit hot toxic gases to escape, which can damage other components in the engine compartment. A leaking exhaust manifold can also affect engine performance. Some symptoms of a cracked, leaking manifold include:

  • Excess, unfamiliar noise from engine.
  • Low engine performance.
  • Check engine light is on.
  • Smells from the engine compartment – burning, melting.
Catalytic Converter

image of catalytic converter cross sectionThe catalytic converter, even though it is on the underside of the car, sits cozily within its own secure, hard case just behind the engine. Once exhaust gases leave the cylinders and pass through the manifold, they flow into a single pipe toward the catalytic converter. This important piece comes after the exhaust manifold and serves to convert the harmful carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon gases into carbon dioxide and water vapor, making the exhaust safer for the environment.

Some converters also reduce harmful nitrogen oxides. If the odor you are smelling is like rotten eggs, then the catalytic converter is probably failing. The rotten egg smell is because the converter is not breaking down the sulfur pollutants created by the engine. Catalytic converters can’t be repaired – they must be replaced.

Muffler

image of Car Exhaust Pipe isolated on white backgroundThe muffler does exactly what its name implies – it muffles the extreme levels of noise produced by the combustion process (explosions) in the engine and noise throughout the exhaust system. The sounds of the combustion process travel through the system, to the muffler. The muffler is a metal chamber attached to the tailpipe assembly at the rear of the car. It contains a series of baffles that sound must travel though. As the sound traverses the baffles, it dissipates. At the end of the muffler is the resonator, which cancels out the sound waves.

What about that water dripping out of the tailpipe?

If you see liquid dripping out of the tailpipe, don’t panic. It normal and harmless condensation of water vapor This is caused by the exhaust system getting really hot, then cooling down, which causes moisture to collect, or condense, in the muffler and pipes. It then manages to flow and drip out the tailpipe.

Exhaust Leaks

An exhaust leak is dangerous, as the fumes contain carbon monoxide and could potentially get into the cabin of your car. When the exhaust system isn’t working correctly, extra heat flows into the engine. This damages the catalytic converter. The best thing to do is to take your car to a muffler repair shop where they can insert a new section of pipe or component to make sure your exhaust system is tight and leak-proof.

Noises & Performance

A chugging or rhythmic hissing noise could mean a blockage in the exhaust system. Additionally, loud, abnormal sounds will come from the engine area, and/or the tailpipe. If you hear rattling under the car it could mean that the exhaust system has become loose, misaligned, or disconnected. If you hear a loud metallic vibration, it usually means that something is touching the exhaust pipe or that a mounting is loose.

 

Find Your Locally Owned & Operated AAMCO Minnesota Auto Repair Center

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

Write a Review

AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

Write a Review

AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

Previous Next
Page 1 of 1

 

Schedule Your Appointment Today

If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, fill out the form below to reserve your time, date, and location.