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.

 

 

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

 

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

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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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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

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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

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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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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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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.

 

 


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,

Posted in Battery, Blog, Check Engine, Electrical System, Engine, Total Car Care | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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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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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.

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.