Winter Prep Checklist for Your Car

Prepare Your Car for Winter

Do you have a checklist? Here’s one that’s easy and won’t cost a lot.

image of infographic winterize your car checklist - Check and fill fluids, Check battery, Check tires and brakes, Replace windshield wipers, Coolant system flushSeems like autumn just rolled in and now it’s about to roll on out. Winter’s great frozen air horn roars as it rumbles down on us. Start preparing for the long, cold, wet months ahead. One of the most important things – but often the last thing on people’s lists – to prep for winter is your car. Minnesota winters are not for the faint of heart, and Mother Nature will take any chance she gets to remind you who’s boss. The elements and random mishaps can combine to create situations that in winter have the potential to become dangerous or deadly very quickly. Don’t leave things to chance – there are many things you can do to prepare for a Minnesota winter. Here are a few things to check on your car to be sure you’re ready and don’t get stranded on that frozen road less travelled.

  • Check and fill fluids
  • Check battery
  • Check tires and brakes
  • Replace windshield wipers
  • Coolant system flush

✔ Check all fluids and flush the cooling system.

The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended, but check your car owner’s manual for specific recommendations.

Overheating in engine is the most common cause of mechanical breakdown, summer or winter. Coolant (also called anti-freeze) protects your engine from freezing just as much as it protects from overheating. Coolant’s effectiveness can diminish over time, causing the radiator to rust and corrode. The cooling system can also become blocked with crud from oil, grease, scale, material decomposition, and other contaminants. So we highly recommend getting your cooling system serviced and checked at least once a year. What better time than right before winter!

✔ Have your battery checked with professional equipment.

A weak battery will only get worse and die in cold weather, possibly leaving you stranded. AAMCO battery service and diagnostics can determine the status and reliability of your battery. In most cases, the battery does not give warning signs before it fails. A battery three years old or older should be checked – and probably replaced.

✔ Check your tires & brakes.

Tires and brakes don’t last forever. Check your tires for proper inflation, tread depthInsert a penny into the tire tread with Lincoln's head down. If you can see the top part of his head or forehead, your tires are wearing out., and abnormal wear. If your alignment is off or suspension system is worn out or having problems, your tires will wear out faster and unevenly.

Have your brakes checked for wear – rotors, calipers, pads, pistons. Have the whole system checked to avoid any safety issues. Reliable brakes won’t help you stop faster on ice, but will help you maintain control of your car through winter conditions, such as slush or snowpack.

✔ Replace windshield wipers.

Don’t just check your windshield wipers – replace them. Unless you just replaced the blades a month or two ago, just put on new ones and know that you’re ready for whatever the weather or traffic throw at your windshield. Be sure to keep a jug of windshield wiper fluid in your trunk.

✔ Get a tune-up.

A tune-up is a good idea, especially if you haven’t had your car serviced in a while. It’s a cost-effective way to cover the bases and find anything that might cause problems when you least need them. Some basic fixes and maintenance steps can be done in a tune-up that will give you some peace of mind in the winter months.

  • Installation of new spark plugs
  • Idle speed adjustment, timing, choke, throttle linkage, spark plug wires, distributor cap
  • Comprehensive performance check for any drivability issues or computer system trouble codes.
  • 36-point Vehicle Courtesy Check to ensure critical systems are in good working order.

Other Things to Check

✔ Check heater, defroster, and A/C.

A car’s heater core is a radiator-like system that heats the cabin of your car. Hot coolant from the vehicle’s engine is passed through a pipe that winds around the core. Fins attached to the core tube serve to increase surface area to facilitate the transfer of heat to air. The air is forced over the fins by a fan and passed into the passenger compartment, keeping you nice and toasty warm.

Along with this system is the defroster and the air conditioning. Both of these systems are key to keeping the interior of your car fog-free, as well as mitigate ice and frost buildup on the exterior of the windows. If the air conditioning is not functioning properly, it won’t be able to perform one of its key functions – dehumidify the passenger cabin.

✔ Check and replace filters, such as oil, air, fuel, transmission, and positive crankcase ventilation (PCV).

What the heck are all these filters and where did they come from all of a sudden? All of these filters are important and should be checked or replaced as part of a regular maintenance schedule.

AAMCO Minnesota Can Help You Get Your Car Ready for Any Season

Take it easy and take your car to AAMCO Minnesota. We’ve got easy locations in and around the Twin Cities that will help you get ready for the arrival of big rig Winter.

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Call, drop by, or book an appointment online with your friendly local Minnesota AAMCO mechanics. We’ve got service centers in

 

 

 
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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Beware of Flood-Damaged Cars

What’s a Flood-Damaged Car?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a car has been in a flood or hurricane.

With all the storms and floods, water-damaged cars will be flooding the used car market.

Resale of water-damaged cars passed off as OK used cars is on the rise.

Learn the warning signs and hazards of buying a flood-damaged car.

image of car submerged in flood water on town street.When you’re shopping for a used car, how do you avoid the ones that have been in floods or hurricanes? Water wrecks cars in many ways. Most vehicles involved in water disasters are declared a total loss by insurance companies. Water-damaged cars are difficult and expensive to repair – some damages can’t be repaired at all. Water damage severely limits a car’s reliability and lifespan, but it’s easy to hide the damage from most people, because who’s really thinking about water damage when they’re looking at a car?

There are expected to be almost a million vehicles damaged as a result of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Many of these cars are being resold, either legitimately or not. If you’re in the market for a used car, you need to know what to look for and avoid being suckered into buying a nice looking car that will cost you thousands in repairs because it was under water at some point in the past.

A car damaged by water can cost you more money in the long run.

There are things you can do and look for in your own inspection of the vehicle.

Check the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Even if the paperwork says the car is legit and its history is clean, it might be forged. For a fee you can check the vehicle identification number (VIN) with a service like CarFax. It’s easy and just might save you a lot of trouble and money. The car’s VIN is usually located on an aluminum plate bolted on the dash, or on the inside of the door, secured to the frame of the car. If you can’t find the VIN anywhere, and the seller doesn’t have or know it, it’s a sure sign you should look elsewhere for the used car of your dreams.

A  VIN check report will indicate the car has been suffered damage with terms like “flood”, “salvage”, “rebuilt”, or “loss.” Keep in mind that if the seller or previous owner didn’t have the car insured in the first place – especially at the time the damage was done – then any damage might not have been reported, which means it is not in any records database and the car will appear “clean.” That’s why the next few things you can do are important.

Have a professional mechanic inspect the car.

Sure, the car looks great, the price is right, and the seller is motivated. You want to buy! First things first. Tell the seller you’re going to have the car inspected by a mechanic. If he shows any resistance, protests, or wants his mechanic to look at it, walk away. It’s your money and the seller is probably hiding something about the car.

RelatedAAMCO Used Car Pre-Purchase Inspection

Test drive the car thoroughly.

Take the car for a test drive. Don’t be afraid to not only drive it like you would drive it, but push it a little and test it in as many conditions as you can – city, highway, hills, curves, fast, slow, idling. Listen for strange sounds and be aware of vibrations, steering problems, shaking, squealing, grinding, or any other odd noises and behavior that a solid, well-maintained car should not have. Run the car’s AC and heat full blast. Test everything, especially electrical – radio included. Don’t blow the speakers, but be aware that they sometimes short out, so they can be an indicator of something wrong in the electrical system. One or two odd things might be OK (it’s a used car, after all); but when there are a number of other issues, it could mean water damage. Heck, even if not water damaged, a car with lots of issues should be avoided (unless you’re looking for a fixer upper).

How else can you tell if the car you want is water damaged?

image of graphical rendering car waterEducate yourself. If you’re looking to buy a used car anytime soon, be aware that there will probably be many more flood-damaged cars on the market in the coming months, or even years. There will always be storms, and there are things you can watch for when looking at used cars, especially if you are in or the car is from a storm-ravaged region. Water is a force of nature. It can damage or destroy anything. A water-damaged car exhibits trouble in its main systems, as well as in certain cosmetic areas.

What’s that smell?

Flooded cars oftentimes smell musty or moldy.

Water or liquid stains on the upholstery can happen even without a flood, but it’s difficult to dry the entire interior of a car after it’s been blitzed by water. You might have to get close to the carpet or the seats, but if you sniff deeply and get a hint of mildew or some other scent that reminds you of not-so-fresh water, the car has probably been through a few feet of the wet stuff (and who knows how clean that water was to begin with!). There is no air freshener on the planet that will get rid of those smells. Conversely, if the car smells like it was doused in air freshener, there is a good chance the seller is trying to cover up an odor – and probably much more.

Mold and mildew are difficult to detect and remove, especially in a car. If you somehow end up with a car that’s got a mold problem, you’ll most likely end up just having to live with it. It’s an unpleasant odor that might come and go, be less or worse depending on the weather and temperature. Short of tearing out the interior carpeting, seats, upholstery, and heading, you might be stuck with this car for a long time.

Why does the car have rust, yet it’s so new looking?

Rust and corrosion indicate possible deeper issues.

Take the time to get a good look under the car and under the hood. Look closely at things like battery connections, gas caps, inside door frames, and in wheel wells. Dirt, mud, or excess crud in odd places should be red flags. In extreme cases, you might even notice a water stain or line along the doors and panels, inside or out.

The car’s electrical system can tell you a lot, so test it.

Electrical problems are common, and oftentimes difficult to diagnose and fix.

The electrical system is one of the most costly systems to be affected by water. Check the headlights, turn signals, brake lights, reverse and license plate lights – and don’t forget the interior lights like the overhead, glove box, trunk, hood. If any dashboard lights or instruments are not working, there might be a larger electrical issue. If the car has power windows and locks, check every single one on the driver side main console and the individual door controls.

Related: AAMCO Electrical System Service

The car’s performance will show signs of trouble – but when?

Engine, transmission, exhaust, electrical – these systems and more should be checked.

Engine problems will definitely occur in water-damaged cars. Unfortunately, performance issues might not be discovered until you’ve had the car for a little while, but the potential can be detected if a thorough inspection is done prior to purchase. An engine that was once waterlogged will show its true colors eventually. Hard starting, chugging and stalling, shaking and strange noises that no engine should make – it will all come out in the wash. Water in oil lines and gas tanks is difficult and costly to fix, and most likely will cause problems for years to come. There are things that you might not discover until you’ve purchased the car, but a thorough inspection and doing your own due diligence will reduce your risk of buying a soggy lemon.

AAMCO Minnesota Can Help

image of happy female driver leaning out window showing thumbs up.It’s important to pay special attention to anything unusual or that you would not expect as you go through these steps. Take notes and schedule a pre-purchase inspection with your local AAMCO Minnesota certified mechanics to thoroughly check the car you’re interested in buying. If you’ve already bought the car and you need help diagnosing a problem, or need repairs, schedule an appointment online or call your local Minnesota AAMCO.

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Call, drop by, or book an appointment online with your friendly local Minnesota AAMCO mechanics. We’ve got service centers in Minneapolis, West St. Paul, Fridley, Hopkins, and Maplewood.

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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.

Visit Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

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

 

   

Reasons Your Car Won’t Start

There are many reasons your car won’t start.

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

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

Starting with the starter…

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Transmission Problems Caused by Battery Corrosion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out of gas?

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

Cold weather and ethanol can cause problems.

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

Your car might just need a tune-up.

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

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

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

Find Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

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

 

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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

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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Signs Your Suspension Needs Repair

Is It Time for a New Suspension or Just Repairs?

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

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

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

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Suspension

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

Car Ride is Not Smooth

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

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

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

Car is Difficult to Steer

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

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

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

Car Drifts or Pulls to One Side

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

The first thing you can do is check your tires.

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

Have the alignment checked.

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

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

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

Car Sits Low or Nose Dives

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

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

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

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

Related: Reasons Why Your Ride is Bumpy and Rough

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

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

Find Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

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

 

 
AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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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.

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

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When to Get a Transmission Fluid Flush – Infographic

How often should you flush your transmission fluid?

Preventative maintenance can prevent costly repairs.

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

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