How to Tell if Your Brakes Are Bad

Identifying Common Brake Problems

Squeaking, Squealing, Grinding, Shaking

Your brakes need to be fixed.

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

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

Brake Pads

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

Rotors

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

image of mechanic working on brake disc and caliperSticking Caliper

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

Emergency Brake Engagement

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

Brake Light

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

Smoking Brakes

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

Leaks

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

AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Brake Services

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

 

Find an AAMCO Minnesota Transmission & Auto Repair Center Near You

 
AAMCO 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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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 Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty at AAMCO Minneapolis, MN. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO. 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 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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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 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

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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.

Write a Review

AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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Call Now Set Appointment

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

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty at AAMCO Minneapolis, MN. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO. 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 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.

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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

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

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

How to Tell if Your Brakes Are Bad

Identifying Common Brake Problems Squeaking, Squealing, Grinding, Shaking Your brakes need to be fixed. As many car owners know, when issues with the brake system arise, they present themselves in a multitude of ways. Over your vehicle’s lifespan, you will likely experience a number or different issues specifically related to the brakes. While these repairs

Posted in Blog, Brakes, Services, Total Car Care | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Front-Wheel Drive or Rear-Wheel Drive

Know the Differences Between FWD and RWD The 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

Posted in Blog, How-To Tips & Tricks, Practical Information & Advice, Services | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 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

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 Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty at AAMCO Minneapolis, MN. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO. 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 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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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.

Pre-Purchase Used Car Inspection

Check before you write that check.

Before you spend your hard-earned money on that used car, have it inspected by a certified mechanic. To protect yourself in a private party transaction, or even if you’re buying from a car dealership, experts agree that used cars must be inspected before final purchase negotiation. The ordinary car buyer really can’t do it to the degree that a certified, independent third party mechanic can. If the inspection is done right, a good mechanic can tell you if you’re buying a good, reliable car or an unsafe, bucket of bolts that will cost you even more money once you drive it away.

Where do I start and what do I do?Image of smiling AAMCO mechanic

First things first – do your research and be ready with knowledge.

Before setting an appointment with the seller, research vehicle safety reports for the different makes and models you’re interested in. Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds are established authorities that publish owner surveys and reviews. They are good sources of information on vehicles and their performance records. Before you ever go shopping, on the lot or online, decide what type of vehicle you want and what models you will look at.

Check for Recalls and Defects

You’ll need the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for this level of research. Check all four of the federal government’s databases (http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov) for recalls, service bulletins, safety investigations and owner complaints on the make and model of the vehicle you are interested in. Service bulletins are notices that automobile manufacturers send out to dealerships to warn them about problems that have been discovered in vehicles and how to fix them. The only way to know if your vehicle was repaired for the problem already is to check with your local dealer’s service department and get a vehicle repair history from them.

Get an online vehicle history report.

If you’ve found the specific car you want to buy, it’s easy to get some additional important information on it from online services like CarFax and AutoCheck.

Tell the seller you intend to have the car inspected.

With planning and foresight, the inspection process can go smoothly and quickly, setting the stage for a good purchase or save you a lot of time and trouble. You’re the one with the money, so it’s your call. Most sellers will let you take the car to a mechanic for an inspection. If they are hesitant, you can propose to have a mobile inspection done at their location. If the seller balks at the idea of an inspection altogether, then you should wonder what they are hiding and whether this whole purchase process is in your own best interest. Don’t be scared to walk away.

Set up a test drive route.

The car should be taken for a test-drive over a predetermined route that includes level stretches of highway, city and stop-and-go traffic, as well as hills to detect engine performance issues. Uneven bumpy roads, or even speedbumps, are good for detecting suspension problems.

Bring a copilot.

Take someone you trust with you, not just the seller. This person can lend a second set of eyes and ears, and even a nose, to not only help detect problems, but help filter any sales pitches or talk to gloss over potential problems with the car. This person should also be a notetaker during the test drive. Have them write down any and all observations – things that seem wrong, such as strange noises, odd behavior of the car such as pulling to one side, vibrations, shuddering, lag in acceleration. Beyond performance of the vehicle, are there any unusual smells? Is there cosmetic damage inside or outside the car? Basically, anything that seems odd to you should be noted so you can present your findings to the mechanic when you take the car for inspection.

Go to a trusted mechanic for the inspection.image - Mechanic and customer looking at exhaust system under car on lift

Have the inspection performed by a mechanic you’re familiar with – not just a relative or friend, but a professional mechanic who knows cars and works on them. A trained inspector will know what to look for and can perform the inspection in a defined amount of time, providing a comprehensive report for you on the key findings.

How much does a pre-purchase inspection cost?

A pre-purchase inspection is a small price to pay for the peace of mind you will get out of it. Do you really want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a car you know nothing about? Add to that the risk of the car being a lemon and costing you a fortune in repairs after you buy it. When you finally hand over your money, you should be confident that you’re getting a good, reliable car at an honest price. AAMCO Minnesota shops are independently owned and operated, and may vary in their fees for pre-purchase inspection, but you can rest assured that AAMCO Minnesota’s multi-point diagnostics and inspection will get the job done.

Aside from a verified checklist, the benefits you experience from an AAMCO Minnesota used car pre-purchase inspection are nearly priceless.

  • Protecting yourself from buying a used vehicle that may need costly repairs
  • Ensuring the vehicle is safe and reliable for the safety of yourself and loved ones
  • Paying the right price
  • Knowing the vehicle won’t break down in the near future
  • Verification of the equipment and options on the vehicle

Other benefits of an inspection include:

  • Reveals hidden problems with the engine, frame, and body.
  • Alerts mechanic to engine codes that can indicate larger engine problems.
  • Reveals previous repair work done on the car.

What Does a Pre-Purchase Inspection Cover?

Inspection of a used car before you buy it – a pre-purchase inspection – includes important mechanical checks that should be performed by a professional mechanic. When you bring the car to your local AAMCO Minnesota auto mechanic, we’ll run our multi-point inspection diagnostics that include:

Vehicle Performance Multi-Point Inspection

  • Transmission & Clutch
  • Engine Performance
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Shock Absorbers
  • Heater & Air Conditioning
  • Instruments & Controls
  • Headlights & Foglights
  • Brake & Back-up Lights
  • Interior & Warning Lights
  • Turn Signals & Flashers

Under Hood Multi-Point Inspection

  • Fluid Level & Condition
  • Drive Belt
  • Battery
  • Starter
  • Charging System & Alternator
  • Idle Speed
  • Engine
  • Intake System
  • Fuel Delivery System
  • Ignition System
  • Computer Systems
  • Cooling System

Under Car Multi-Point Inspection

  • Steering & Front Suspension
  • Brakes
  • Rear Suspension
  • Engine Mounts
  • Transmission Mounts
  • Engine Seals
  • Transmission Seals
  • Clutch & Transmission Linkage
  • Driveshaft
  • U-Joints
  • Drive Axles
  • CV Joints
  • Exhaust System
  • Rear Axle

AAMCO Minnesota is Here for You

From auto inspection to repairs and maintenance, we’re here to help.

While no inspection is guaranteed to find every flaw in a used car, an experienced, trained mechanic can help you avoid serious and costly problems. An AAMCO pre-purchase inspection is good insurance and peace of mind when buying a used car.

AAMCO Minnesota is Here for You

From auto inspection to repairs and maintenance, we’re here to help.

While no inspection is guaranteed to find every flaw in a used car, an experienced, trained mechanic can help you avoid serious and costly problems. An AAMCO pre-purchase inspection is good insurance and peace of mind when buying a used car. 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.

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What Happens if You Skip Oil Change

 

What Happens When You Skip Oil Changes?

The much-repeated saying is that you should get your oil changed every 3,000 miles or three months. On modern cars that use synthetic oil, the limit is much higher. Skipping those oil changes, no matter how frequently (or infrequently) your owner’s manual says they are needed, is a recipe for trouble. Going a long time between oil changes (thousands of miles past the due date) is like playing with fire.

Engine Oil Checkup

Here’s why oil is the lifeblood of your car…

image - mechanic laying under car draining oil into a pan.In order to help them diagnose what is ailing you, a doctor will have you go to the lab to have blood drawn and analyzed. The lab will run it through a bevy of tests to determine how you compare to a baseline on certain things, and what might seem out of the ordinary. Basically, the condition of your blood gives the doctor clues to your overall health, as well as to more specific things.

Engine oil can be analyzed and used in the same way to help diagnose problems, or explain trouble symptoms, with your car. For instance, high concentrations of iron indicate that steel engine parts, such as the camshaft and cylinder liners, are not properly lubricated and wearing out. Metal content collects in the oil, and the oil filter eventually becomes overwhelmed and incapable of filtering the metal out of the oil. Traces of other metals in the oil can indicate the need for an oil change – and possibly other repairs. Chrome indicates ring or gasket wear. Aluminum is from pistons and bearings. Silicon might be dirt, and means the air filtration system should be checked.

Of course, you should not wait so long that such an analysis of the oil is what it takes for you to realize your car is in desperate need of an oil change. With the evolution of engines, the general rule today is every 3,000 to 10,000 miles.

Oil Lubricates and Cleans the Engine

What does engine oil do and where does it go?

Oil is a lubricant and prevents metal engine parts from coming into contact with each other. If parts do come into unintended contact, the engine can overheat and eventually the metal parts wear out, break, or even melt. Oil contains detergents that lift out contaminants and carry them to your oil filter, where the dirt is filtered out of the oil.

What Happens When You Skip Oil Changes Pouring oil into the engine is one thing, but do you know where it goes or what parts actually get lubricated? Check out this image that shows the parts and areas of the engine that the oil runs through, lubricates, and protects.

Oil eventually wears out and needs to be changed.

Oil is subject to consistently high temperatures and breaks down over time. Sludge can form throughout the engine, making it difficult for oil to flow between moving metal parts. Viscosity modifiers also break down over time, which makes the oil thinner and less effective at lubricating moving parts at high temperatures. Also, metal, dirt, and other particulates build up in the oil, much of which is too small to be captured by the filter. Over time, detergents and additives meant to combat the contaminants and dirt will break down become less able to protect the engine. The oil becomes abrasive and speeds up wear on vital parts and systems, and shortens the life of the engine.

Get an Oil Change

You can prevent all of this by – you guessed it – flushing out the crud with an oil change. If you don’t change your oil and oil filter, eventually the filter will stop working and dirt will accumulate in the engine, contaminate the oil, and compromise its ability to lubricate and clean. Over time, even the best oil will lose its lubricating and cleansing qualities. Because of all the dirt and abrasive crud in the oil, metal engine parts will experience severe wear, risking failure and potential damage to the engine. Eventually, the whole engine will seize up and stop working, maybe even catch fire.

Conventional Oil or Synthetic?image - engine oil pouring out of bottle

The next big question is what kind of oil should you use? AAMCO Minnesota can help you make the right choice. Check out this great infographic to help you understand the different kinds of oil and which to use in your engine.

Come to AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Maintenance & Repairs

Now that you know the importance of regular oil changes, it’s probably a good idea to come by your locally owned and operated AAMCO Minnesota Transmission and Car Repair Center for an oil and filter change or a multi-point inspection. Whatever you drive, you can count on AAMCO Minnesota Transmission and Total Car Care to service and repair your automobile.

If you have questions about your car’s engine, oil changes, or about car repair and maintenance, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Stop by or call a local AAMCO Minnesota repair shop for a Multi Point Vehicle Courtesy Check for your transmission and related systems. We’ll winterize your car and get you ready for the cold, snowy winter driving months ahead. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from brakes to factory recommended maintenance.

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Take the Fear Out of Transmission Repair

Daydreaming on Your Cell Phone While Rubbernecking

Watch this video and learn why there is only one place to go – AAMCO. We’re the transmission experts with over 50 years of experience rebuilding and replacing transmissions, and all their 800 pieces. We’ve fixed over 40 million transmissions – way more than our competitors. And we offer a lifetime warranty. Because we have the skill to fix an 800-piece transmission, we can easily fix the rest of your car – brakes, shocks, mufflers, even your engine. Lots of things can make your engine light come on. Today it can be hard to tell what’s wrong with your car, especially if it’s your transmission. Our technicians are trained to keep up with the complex engineering of today’s cars. So, next time something goes wrong with your transmission or any other part of your car, bring it to your local AAMCO.