Battery Care and Troubleshooting

Some tips for taking care of your battery.

Image of a mechanic using a multi-meter to check the voltage of a car 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 things is something not so little if it fails – the battery. Because the battery powers all the lights and accessories in your car, you need to make sure it’s ready for the long, hard job of powering through winter. Here is a quick breakdown of tips for you to make sure your battery is good condition as we roll into cold weather.

Related: Minnesota’s Best Car Battery Service

Signs your car battery is about to die.

Car batteries usually last two to five years, depending on quality, operating conditions, and condition of the vehicle.

There are a few simple warning signs that will tell you it’s time for a new battery.
Long crank times in any kind of weather.

If your car takes longer to start than usual, especially if the battery has not been replaced in more than three years, this is a sign that the battery is wearing out. If the engine has to crank excessively in order to start, the battery should be checked. Keep in mind that cold weather affects the battery and its ability to perform, so it’s fairly normal for your car to start with difficulty in the wintertime. Everything slows down in the cold, including electric current. It is also hard to vaporize gasoline, and oil thickens up when it’s cold. Batteries put out only half their normal power when the temperature is freezing – so be patient, but be aware. If your car “cold cranks” in warmer weather, it’s a good time to change the battery.

Engine cranks, but won’t start.

The engine cranks, but won’t turn over. This a pretty solid sign that the battery is dying or already dead. You could get a jump start, but you’ll just need another one when you turn off the car. Driving around town, going from jump to jump might be a unique way to meet people, but let’s face it – it’s no way to spend a weekend. Get a jump and get a new battery.

image of jumper cables attached to car battery terminals.Too many jump starts will kill a battery.

Jump starting a battery too much will kill it. It’s hard on a battery when you basically shock back into action. If you have to jump start your car more than three times in a week, it’s time to replace the battery. One thing you can try that will get you through the interim is get the jump, then let the engine run for 30 minutes so the alternator can recharge the battery. Once this is done, shut off the car, wait two or three minutes, then try to start the car again. If it starts, turn it off, wait another couple minutes, then start it again. If it consistently starts, you probably won’t be stranded wherever you go next – but that doesn’t mean your battery is good to go. Your next stop really should be to get a new battery.

Engine won’t crank, won’t start, and there are no lights.

This is a pretty sure sign the battery is dead. Again, you could get a jump, but the battery has left the building – or the engine compartment, as it were. Something to consider in this situation is there might be a combined issue with the alternator, because that’s the part that keeps the battery charged. If the engine won’t crank, but you do have lights and other functions, then there could be other problems in the car’s electrical system or other areas of the engine. Some issues might be a bad ignition switch, a failed starter or solenoid (which usually causes a check engine light), or a poor electrical connection somewhere in the ignition system. Electrical problems should be properly diagnosed and fixed by a mechanic.

Your car starts fine one day, then does not start at all the next day.

There two battery-related issues that might cause your car to start intermittently or unreliably.

Battery terminals are loose, broken, or corroded.

A visual check usually will reveal if there is any corrosion or other problems with the battery terminals. You should check for tightness of cables, as well. If there is corrosion or the terminals are damaged, the battery will not perform at its best.

Parasitic draw on the battery is slowly draining its power.

Sometimes there is a condition somewhere in the electrical system called a “parasitic draw” that drains the battery of its power slowly, usually overnight. A certified mechanic can help diagnose, find, and fix this problem. If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll need a multimeter with amp capabilities up to 20 amps (A) and down to 200 milliamps (mA), and a fuse checker.

Simple battery maintenance will save you a lot of trouble.

  • Visual inspection to check for corrosion around the battery terminals. Look for a white powdery chalk-like substance. Corrosion affects electrical conduction. Clean the terminal with a wire brush. Never ever put baking soda on a battery to clean it. Coat it with grease before reconnecting the battery. The grease prevents further corrosion and improves electrical conduction.
  • Check the battery cables, as they are usually a prime cause of battery issues and are easy to check.
  • Make sure the cables are attached securely to the terminals and are not frayed, damaged, or falling apart. They should not wiggle or move around if they are properly tightened.
  • On older batteries with access to the cells, you can add distilled water to help the battery keep a charge.
  • Keeping a clean engine compartment in general prevents a lot of dirt and crud from covering the battery and collecting around the battery terminals, and possibly compromising its performance. It also makes overall engine maintenance and troubleshooting easier and less messy – and mechanic’s job a little easier if you have to bring your car in for a diagnosis.

SAFETY NOTES: Proceed with caution when performing maintenance on a battery. The sulfuric acid in batteries is highly corrosive and can burn your skin and eat holes in your clothes. There is even a slight danger of explosion. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Wear gloves and eye protection. Never lean over the battery when charging or testing it, or when jump-starting the engine. Keep a solution of water and baking soda handy in case battery acid gets on your clothes or skin. This mixture can neutralize the acid.

Related: Tips for Affordable Car Maintenance

image with text - Car Battery DiagnosticsAAMCO Minnesota Can Diagnose & Fix Battery Problems  

AAMCO Minnesota locations in Minneapolis, West St. Paul, Fridley, Hopkins, and Maplewood provide expert battery services that include diagnostics and testing. Based on the diagnosis, your Minnesota AAMCO mechanic will recommend the battery service that’s right for you, replacing only the components that are needed. 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 notice any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, or suspect that there could be issues with your electrical system, 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.

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.

 

 

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

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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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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.

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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 of Bad Fuel Injectors

Is It Time for New Fuel Injectors?

A fuel injector is part of your vehicle’s fuel system. Fuel injectors are the component that spray the fuel into the engine. These are controlled by the vehicle’s engine computer (ECM), which controls how it sprays fuel into the engine, following purposely timed intervals and patterns that help optimize the engine’s efficiency and overall performance.image of used, dirty, fuel injectors.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Fuel Injector

There are many things to look for to determine if your fuel injector is failing in some way or needs to be replaced. Since these are a part of the fuel system, it’s important to watch for these symptoms to determine if the fuel injector is bad or failing.

Engine Performance Issues

Often, when a fuel injector is clogged or starting to fail, you will experience engine performance issues. These types of issues can include everything from engine performance issues to strange smells – all of which your local Minnesota AAMCO auto repair center can diagnose.

Check Engine Light Comes On

A bad fuel injector can cause too much or not enough fuel to be delivered into the engine – this will cause the Check Engine light on the car to turn on, indicating an issue. Your trusted Minnesota AAMCO auto repair center can help decipher your check engine light and figure out what issues need to be addressed.

Vehicle Won’t Start or Struggles When Starting

If the fuel injector is not delivering enough fuel to the engine system, this can cause the car to struggle when trying to turn over or not turn over at all (just cranks with no result). This can also cause the engine to stall due to the air-fuel ratio not being correct.

Vehicle Misfires

This can occur if your engine is not receiving enough fuel from the fuel injector – which stems from fuel injectors being clogged and dirty.

Poor Idle

You will notice a rough or choppy engine idle when the car is not moving. It might even feel like the engine it going to stall every time you stop. This can be caused by the fuel not being properly injected to the engine cylinder.

Engine doesn’t Reach Its Full RPM

If too much fuel is being injected into the engine, this can cause the engine to surge. This will make it feel like your car is jumping forward quickly but struggling to fully take off. You may also notice a loss in power or acceleration. 

Smell of Fuel

Another symptom of a failing or leaking fuel injector is a fuel odor. Because fuel injectors hold high amounts of pressure, and over time they can begin to leak around the seal at the tip of the injector or nozzle. A leak from either of these areas can affect engine performance – most noticeably fuel efficiency – and will give off the smell of gasoline. If you begin to smell gas fumes, you should take your car into a mechanic as soon as possible to avoid any further damage or safety hazards.

Related: Some Causes of Smells Coming From Your Car

AAMCO Can Help with Your Fuel Injector Repairs & Replacements

image of new, clean fuel injectors ready to be installed.Because fuel injectors are one of the main components for an engine being able to run – by providing fuel to the engine – they are extremely important to the overall functionality and performance of your vehicle. If you start noticing any of the previously mentioned symptoms, or suspect that there could be some issues with your fuel injectors or any part of the fuel system, schedule an appointment with a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem and provide next steps for how to fix it. 

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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Tips for Affordable Car Maintenance

Save Money & Time With These Easy Tips

Maintaining your car so it is safe and reliable doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

image of car speeding around bend on country road with sun shining through trees.

Having a car can be fun, and it definitely makes life easier, but when it starts to malfunction or break down, it can be a costly hassle and a safety issue. Your car can cost a lot of money if you don’t run a regular maintenance schedule. Making sure that maintenance is affordable and easy is important in our go-go-go world. Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure your car is running smoothly and safely, without breaking the bank. Here are some handy tips and information on some simple, affordable things you can do to help your car run better and last longer. Grab a coupon and save some money with these local Minnesota AAMCO specials.

Get to know your car – read the owner’s manual.

Read and pay attention to the owner’s manual for your car. Don’t have one? Check with your local dealership or go online – there might be a PDF version you can grab, load to your phone and have with you at all times. No matter what car you drive, the regular maintenance schedule should be spelled out in the manual. Old myths like “Change your oil every 3,000 miles,” will go right out the driver’s side window. Of course, if the manual says you should change the oil every 3,000 miles, then do it – but we bet it doesn’t say that.

You’ll discover how often your manufacturer recommends to change the oil for best performance and reliability, as well as even what kind of oil to use. Your owner’s manual will also enlighten you on many other aspects of your car and the things that should be regularly maintained – such as the all-important transmission fluid, filters, timing belts, hoses, battery, lights, and fuel types. All of this information is available in the car’s owner’s manual.

If you’re part of the TLDR crowd, then just consider this: you’re throwing away good money by not taking care of your car, and to do things right you have to educate yourself. Most car owners know how important it is to know at least a little about their cars, but even if you’re not interested in how your car works you should know a little about it, otherwise you run the risk of being taken for a ride with some shady mechanic (more on that later). Knowing some simple things, like the right kind of oil to use, for example, can save you trouble in the long run. Even knowing what kind of fuel is best for your car is really important and can save you a lot of headaches – and money – if you just know. Doing the wrong thing or treating your car poorly might run the risk of voiding your warranty or even worse – causing damage that requires expensive repairs.

Sure, these days we can just pick up our smart phones and holler questions at it and get quick answers. Good, solid answers that provide you useful information that helps you make good decisions can be hard to come by, though – even in this day of information access (and overload). If you want to know more about your car or are concerned about its performance, or why it’s making weird noises. why your ride is bumpy even on smooth roads, or if you know you need repairs, call your local Minnesota AAMCO auto maintenance and repair center.

Check and Change Your Oil

Old story, been handed down from campfire to Facebook – but oil is vital to the successful operation and long life of your car’s engine. Checking the oil is a good habit to get into. Even if you think everything is fine, it’s a good idea to check it when you stop to get gas. It’s easier than it sounds. Pop the hood (you do know where the hood release lever in your car is, right?), grab some paper towels (usually found with the windshield squeegee around the gas pump), pull the dipstick, wipe it, put it back in, pull it back out, and see where the oil meets the fill line. If it doesn’t meet the fill line, it’s low. Repeat the steps and check again, but if it’s still low you should take your car in for a checkup to find any potential leaks or areas that might be eating or burning oil.image-hand-of-mechanic-holding-white-rag-with-oil-dipstick

Also pay attention to the color of the oil. It should be golden and clear. If it’s dark brown, a change is in the near future. If it’s black and/or thick and gooey, it should be changed as soon possible – don’t wait! Modern cars will tell you with an electronic warning light when it’s time for that regularly scheduled oil change you read about in the owner’s manual. Keep in mind that checking the oil after the car has been running might not give you the most accurate read on level. You’ll want to double check once the car has had a chance to cool down and sit a while. This gives the oil a chance to recollect in the oil reservoir, which will give you a more accurate read on its level – and you can get a better read on the color, too.

Go beyond oil and learn how to check other important fluids in your car.

Even if you don’t know how to change your antifreeze, power steering, transmission, or even your wiper fluid, you should learn how to check them and which ones to top off, which ones to have changed by a mechanic. Wiper fluid – don’t let someone charge you for this, unless it’s part of a larger package deal. That is so simple, it’s painful to think of paying to have it done.

For many fluids you can see the tank level directly, but most have gauges or dipsticks that help you check the levels. Even if your owner’s manual doesn’t provide much information or guidance about checking things such as your transmission fluid or coolant, don’t be afraid to educate yourself. Go online and find answers, or just open the hood and look around. See if you can find the right tank, cap, or dipstick (they’re usually labeled to some extent). If you’re running low, add more fi you can, or schedule a maintenance appointment with your trusted mechanic. If you notice a leak of some sort, definitely take your car in for diagnosis and repair.

Check the battery and make sure it’s clean and good to go.

Check the battery for signs of corrosion, and generally keep it clean and clear of debris. Make sure any terminal convers are secure and clean, and clean the terminals if necessary. Most batteries these days don’t require much manual maintenance, but you should know where the batter is and check it from time to time, usually along with the oil. This will help you ensure it’s not leaking and there is no corrosion or crud building up on the contacts. If there is, clean them with a battery cleaning brush. The brush doesn’t cost much and it’s a quick, easy thing to do. Also consider getting a simple battery tester or jump starter. Using these, you can monitor your battery and know when it needs to be replaced before it leaves you stranded. You’ll never have to call or wait for roadside assistance.

Get your timing and serpentine belts replaced when necessary.

image of engine with serpentine belt

The engine timing belt is usually replaced every 60,000 miles or so, and the serpentine belt about every 40,000 miles. Again, your owner’s manual is the authority on this. These are really important parts that can make or break the engine. If you don’t have the owner’s manual, look online to get this important information, or call your local Minnesota AAMCO. If you’re just not sure, or know that it’s been a long time (or never) since you last even thought about that serpent timey belt or whatever it’s called, schedule an appointment and ask your mechanic to inspect all belts and hoses and replace them if necessary. You just don’t want to let them fail. It is not only a matter of having a safe and reliable car, but if you wait and those belts do fail, your car will break down, possibly leave you stranded or in an unsafe place – and leave you with costly towing (if your mechanic doesn’t do it for free within a certain mile radius). It can also damage other engine parts and systems, making repairs even more expensive.

Rotate and balance your tires, check the alignment.

Tire rotation and balancing is often overlooked by drivers. It does take time, you always have to battle a long line, and it’s just never convenient (when is any car-related maintenance or repair convenient?). Once again, your trusty owner’s manual will tell you how often to rotate the tires. It’s important to make sure your tires wear evenly and your car drives smoothly, not only because your fuel efficiency is directly affected by these factors, but your safety is, too. The saying that you’ve got a lot riding on your tires is true! You can make your tires last a lot longer by having them rotated and balanced. Along with that, your alignment is just as important. If you’re fighting to keep your car driving straight or having trouble safely navigating curves and turns, it’s time for an alignment. Alignment also affects the wear of your tires. Bad alignment will cause serious wear and tear on your tires, risking flats and, even worse, blow outs which can be dangerous or deadly high speed.

Change the spark plugs.

If the spark plugs are worn out or covered in crud, your engine is not running efficiently. This alone can cost you a lot of money in fuel, and it can lead to a breakdown. This might be a little more technical than you’re comfortable with, but in many cases checking and replacing the spark plugs is not that difficult. If it’s something you just don’t want to do – especially if it’s complicated for your vehicle, just follow the recommendation in the owner’s guide. Take your car to your trusted mechanic and get those spark plugs changed on time – usually around 30,000 miles for standard copper spark plugs, but it can vary.

Find a Reputable Repair Shop with Certified Mechanics

Finding a mechanic you trust is important, and sometimes not easy. It can take time, and might involve some trial and error, as well as, unfortunately, some money in the process. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a mechanic who is honest, trustworthy, tells you like it is, and doesn’t do any repair work that is unnecessary – and definitely not until you give the OK.image of smiling AAMCO mechanic tipping his hat.

AAMCO Minnesota is your one-stop for affordable local auto maintenance and repair.

AAMCO represents a national family of trust and expertise with over 50 years of transmission repair and automotive repair and maintenance experience. At AAMCO Minnesota, our mission is to provide the best auto repair and maintenance in Minnesota. With several locations to serve you, including the Twin Cities, we are your go-to locally owned and operated automotive repair shops. Our certified mechanics have years of knowledge and experience to provide expert diagnosis, repairs and maintenance on nearly all makes and models of cars. With nearly 50 years in business, you can count on your local Minnesota AAMCO center to provide expert transmission repair, brake service, tune-ups, oil and filter changes, electrical system repair, battery service, fluid services and much more for your car, truck, or SUV.

Find Your Locally Owned & Operated AAMCO Minnesota Auto Repair Center

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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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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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.

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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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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.

Some Causes of Smells Coming From Your Car

5 Things Your Nose Can Tell You About Your Car

Besides that new car smell, there are fairly few odors you experience in or around your car that are pleasant. Your nose knows when something is foul or amiss. Some smells are pretty telltale of a certain condition, while others might present a little more mystery in need of investigation. Here are five odors that are indicators of potential problems with your car.

Hot or Burned Oil

The smell of hot or burned motor oil could mean that a gasket or seal is failing. This lets engine oil leak onto hot engine parts. Additionally, a leaky transmission seal can cause oil to spray all over the engine, including the manifold. These hot engine parts burn off the oil, creating bluish white smoke that wafts from under the hood.

The first thing you should do is check the oil to make sure it is at the correct level and that it’s clean. Small leaks often become bigger leaks, so check under the car, on the pavement where you park, and around the engine for signs of leaks. If your car is running low on oil, the engine can overheat and burn whatever oil is remaining.

If the burned oil smell is coming from the tailpipe (bluish white smoke), it is a symptom of oil leaking into the combustion chamber, which means it is getting into your exhaust system. The oil is burned in the combustion process with the air and fuel mixture, and pushed out through the exhaust system. The exhaust system is one of the hottest systems in your car, dealing with the noxious byproducts and fumes of the internal combustion engine banging away under the hood. If oil leaks into the either the combustion or exhaust system, it is going to be burned. This is usually a sign of an old, worn out engine in need of some serious repair and regular maintenance.

GasolineAAMCO Minnesota Vehicle Bad Smells

If you smell gasoline, like when it’s pumped at the gas station, inside or outside the car, you should take special care to identify the source. It is likely a sign of a gas leak in the fuel line or fuel injection system (if your car has one). A leak in the fuel tank vent hose oftentimes is the culprit behind gasoline odors inside the car, especially after filling the gas tank. At worst, there could be a leak in the gas tank itself.

In older pre-1980’s cars, the smell of gasoline can occur after the car has been turned off due to fuel afterboil. This is often normal and results when a small amount of gasoline continues to burn in the carburetor after the engine is shut down.

Any persistent smell of gasoline, either in the car or outside of the car such as in the garage, should be taken seriously. Any smell of gas fumes can indicate a fire hazard, so it should be checked immediately.

SyrupAAMCO Minnesota Bad Smelling Car

If you detect the scent of maple syrup, it probably means there is a leak in the cooling system. Cooling fluid is leaking onto hot engine parts and being burned away. If there is a leak in the cooling system, you need to check the coolant fluid level, check for leaks in the engine compartment and on the pavement in the areas you park (such as driveway or garage). Left unchecked and repaired, you will risk overheating the engine and causing major damage.

A syrup smell could also mean the engine coolant is boiling after you have turned off the engine. This is due to the inability of the cooling system to dissipate engine heat, so the engine remains extremely hot for an extended time even after it has stopped. If you decide to investigate, wait until the engine has cooled off! Never remove the radiator cap while the engine is running or is still hot. It will cause a massive blow off of superheated fluid that could cause serious injury.

Rotten Eggs or Sulfur

This wonderful stench means your car is in need of a checkup and that the catalytic converter is having some serious issues. The catalytic converter is in the car’s exhaust system and is supposed to convert noxious hydrogen sulfide to sulfur dioxide in the exhaust fumes before they exit the tailpipe. If this is not happening, it means that your engine needs more than just a tune-up, and the catalytic converter could completely overheat and fail, leading to costly repairs.

Burned PaperBad Smelling Exhaust Fumes

If you smell something like burned paper, it could meant that your clutch is overheating. If you’re riding the clutch pedal, it creates excess friction between the clutch facing and slips. The material between these surfaces is made of a paper compound, which gives it its familiar smell.

The smell of burning paper could also mean your brakes are overheating. Riding your brakes, such as when coming down a hill or mountain, creates unnecessary friction and excess heat on your brake pads. You might also have a seized up brake piston, resulting in a “dragging brake.” Or it could be that you just left your parking brake on. In some cars it is easy to forget and actually drive with the handbrake still engaged.

 

AAMCO Minnesota Can Help Sniff Out and Fix Problems With Your Car

We realize that in order for one to understand some of this, you must know what the “smells like” really smells like. If you’ve never had maple syrup – get thee to a pancake house now – you’ll likely not know what to sniff for. Whatever the smell, if it’s not new car or the scent of that air freshener you just bought to battle the gym socks and mildew in your car’s air filtration and circulation system, then you should come to AAMCO Minnesota for a multi-point diagnostic inspection.

Visit an AAMCO Minnesota transmission repair and total car care center near you. When issues arise and you need affordable, honest auto repair, schedule an appointment with your locally owned and operated AAMCO Minnesota transmission and auto repair center.

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Minnesota is a great resource for expert automotive repair and maintenance information. Feel free to call or visit your local AAMCO Minnesota transmission and total car care center.

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Sounds Your Car Makes When It Needs Repairs

My Car Rolls When I Put it in Park

Reasons Your Ride is Bumpy and Rough

Signs Your Battery Needs to Be Replaced

image of brand new car battery.Slow Engine Crank

It takes a lot of power to get your car started, and all that power is produced by the battery. Once the car is started, the alternator keeps the car battery going by replacing the power used to start the engine and run your vehicle’s electronic accessories. When you put the key in your car’s ignition and turn it, the battery alone starts the engine. If the battery is weakening, you may notice that the engine turns over slower than usual. It’s important that you pick up on that warning sign, you may be stranded if it takes more than one crank to get the engine to fire. If the engine does not crank at all, the vehicle will often just make a rapid clicking sound, this indicates that the available power is too low to crank the engine. Bring the battery in and have it check at your Local AAMCO.

Issues with electrical components

In addition to powering the engine, the car battery also needs to produce enough power to operate the other electrical components in your vehicle. Modern cars have many electronic accessories including power windows, power seats, radio, windshield wipers, dashboard lights, headlights and more. All of which require electricity supplied from your vehicle’s battery.

If you start to notice that your electronic components are not operating like they used to, this may be a sign that the battery is wearing out. You may want to check for power loss due to dirty battery terminals. If it appears clean, it might be time for a battery replacement. Pay special attention to when you use more than one component at a time. For example, if you switch on the radio while using the headlights and the headlights go dim, the battery might not be as young as it once was.

Dashboard Warning Lightimage of closeup on dashboard battery warning light.

Most cars have a dashboard warning light, usually in the shape of a battery. This will illuminate if the battery is not being replenished properly or if there is an internal problem with the battery. Like the Check Engine light, the battery warning light might also mean that something is wrong with the alternator or some other part of the electrical system. If the light comes on, the best course of action would be to have your vehicle’s electrical system inspected by your local AAMCO.

Swollen Battery Case

When a car battery is exposed to excessive amounts of heat or cold, the flat sides of the battery case may swell or bulge. If for example the battery sits in a vehicle that is not driven for some time in the winter, the battery may freeze. Freezing and swelling from excess heat often results in an electrically “dead” battery that cannot be recovered and will require replacement.

Old Age

On average, a car battery lasts about five years. This average lifespan will fluctuate depending on extreme temperature exposure, number of deep discharges and whether it goes through full charge cycles. That being said, five years is how much life most batteries have so once you hit the 4-year mark, it might not be a bad idea to get it tested by your local AAMCO to see how much life it has left. If you are not sure how old the battery is, you should be able to find the manufacture date on the battery case.image of mechanic's hands attaching jumper cables to car battery.

Weird Smell

When a battery has been frozen, overcharged or is shorted internally its case may vent gas. If you happen to detect a rotten egg scent under the hood of your vehicle, have your battery inspected as soon as possible because in addition to possibly needing a replacement battery, the sulfuric acid can eat away at other engine parts, causing corrosion, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.

 

If you are experiencing any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your local AAMCO

CLICK HERE to read more about the battery services that AAMCO offers.

Come to AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Repairs & Maintenance

You need an experienced automotive technician who can diagnose the problem and honestly tell you what needs to be done when something is wrong with your car.

If you have questions about your car’s exhaust, engine, transmission, repair or maintenance needs, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Stop by or call a local AAMCO Minnesota repair shop for a Multi Point Vehicle Inspection of your transmission and related systems. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from brakes and oil changes to factory recommended maintenance and full transmission replacements.

 

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Take the Fear Out of Transmission Repair

What is a Torque Converter?

Find a Location Near You

AAMCO Minnesota Transmission shops are locally owned and operated.

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

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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.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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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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