Our Current Blog Articles
May 10, 2017
How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 1
Since many of our customers at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City are keeping their cars longer, here’s How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 1. It’s more common now for cars to be reaching the 100,000-mile mark and beyond. Our experts are dedicated to keeping these vehicles running well for their owners. According to a Kiplinger article, there are some things you can do to help get the most out of your car, including regular maintenance and paying attention to any strange sights, sounds or smells.
If you make sure your car receives regular maintenance it will last longer and keep running great even past 100,000 miles. Look at the car manufacturer’s maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual for a list of services you should be doing. Our technicians can help you build a schedule of appropriate car maintenance because there may be some considerations that are not addressed in the owner’s manual dealing with a car that has over 150,000 miles.
A smell coming from your car can tell you a lot. For example, if you check your oil and smell something burned, it could be a sign that your engine is running too lean, which means it is not using enough fuel. If you tell us, we can fix the problem early and possibly save you from a costly expense of rebuilding your engine. If your automatic transmission fluid has a bad, burned smell, please let us know because you may have a problem that needs repair.
You should always do a visual inspection, from the wear on your car tires to the look of things under the hood. Looking the car over for things that need to be fixed can save you time, money, and avoid bigger problems, even dangerous situations in the future. Even if you don’t know anything about cars, one key way to inspect it for issues is to always check for fluid leaks. Some people park on cardboard to see if there are any drips. If so, you should bring the car into the shop for and have any issues takes care of right away.
Listen for Sounds
If you hear sounds you’ve never heard before, like if something is clunking, bumping or squeaking, it is probably a sign that there is a problem. The louder, the more urgent, especially when paired with any drivability issues. Listen to any sounds that are out of the ordinary or indicate something is wrong. Bring it into Ponder Auto Repair and describe the sound. It will give a great clue to our technicians about what might be the problem. We can check it out before you need a tow or the problem becomes more expensive.
At Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City, we're an honest garage with the experience and expertise necessary to take care of your vehicle. We hope this quick guide, How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 1, was helpful. If you want to get the most out of your car, staying up-to-date with regular maintenance can help, so let us create a maintenance schedule that’s specific to your car’s needs. Of course, if anything looks, smells or sounds weird, bring your car in right away so we can take care of any issues and get you back on the road.
April 22, 2017
What Does the Timing Belt Do and How Do I Know There’s a Problem?
We hear it all the time at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City: what does the timing belt do and how do I know there’s a problem? At some point, the rubber timing belt in your vehicle will deteriorate and snap in two or sometimes the belt’s teeth break off. If this happens, your engine won’t work. This can be an expensive tow and repair. We can check your timing belt and replace it before it breaks.
What does the timing belt do?
The timing belt rotates the engine’s cam and crankshaft so that each cylinder fires at the right time. It is located in the front of the engine and your engine needs the timing belt to run.
Your car’s manufacturer offers a recommendation on when you should replace the timing belt. We can also take a look at it for you, but let us know if you see any of the warning signs of a worn out or broken timing belt.
How to Identify when the timing belt has a problem?
A Your Mechanic article explains the common signs include a ticking noise in the engine, the engine won't start, a misfiring engine, or oil leaking in the front of the motor.
Ticking noise in the engine
The timing belt pulley system goes to the engine’s crank and cam shaft. The crankshaft powers the engine’s connecting rods which attach to pistons inside the combustion chamber. The camshaft controls the cylinder head valves and rocker arm assembly, which puts fuel into the combustion chamber and expels the burnt gasses out of the exhaust manifold. If your timing belt is starting to wear out, it can make a ticking noise inside the motor.
Engine won't turn over
If you have a broken timing belt, your engine won’t start. When you try to start the engine, the motor will engage but it won’t turn over. If your timing belt breaks, there may be internal engine damage as well as damage to the cylinder head hardware (pushrods, rocker arms, and valves), damage to crank bearings or the oil pump inside the oil pan.
The misfiring of the engine
Even a worn out timing belt can affect the engine's firing. An engine misfiring can be caused when the belt slips on the camshaft drive and causes one cylinder to open or close earlier than it’s supposed to.
Oil leaking in front of the motor
Often the engine leaks oil from the timing belt cover which is secured by nuts and bolts that can come loose over time. Also, oil will leak when the gasket between the engine block and timing cover wears out, is cracked or wasn’t installed right and is pinched. Oil leaking from the timing belt cover causes the engine to overheat and wear out the timing belt.
You should not ignore a scheduled timing belt replacement. If your timing belt breaks, your engine will likely need to be replaced. So bring your car, truck, or SUV to Ponder Auto Care to get your timing belt checked or replaced.
We know a proper car maintenance schedule requires belt replacement before they break. If your car or truck needs other maintenance, we can check the timing belt at the same time. If you don’t know when the scheduled maintenance on your timing belt is due, we can tell you. So if you wonder what does the timing belt do and how do I know there’s a problem, schedule an appointment with Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City and our experienced ASE-certified technicians can check and replace your timing belt so you don’t have to worry.
March 28, 2017
Spring Cleaning Should Include Car and Truck Repair
If you live in Johnson City, part of your spring cleaning should include car and truck repair at Ponder Auto Repair. We’ve worked on all makes and models of cars, trucks, and SUVs. We have been committed to our customers and our community since 1982. So, as the weather warms up and spring gets you out of the house and doing home repairs, don’t forget to take care of your vehicles.
Car maintenance and repairs should be done after the cold, winter driving. Doing the needed work now can save you more expensive and time-consuming repairs later on. You don’t want to be going to a graduation or summer vacation and have car problems.
Our experienced and friendly technicians are ready to help you tackle your auto maintenance and repair chores. Here are some things you may want to put on your spring cleaning list. Some of these you can do yourself like cleaning the exterior and interior of your car, but the others you should have a professional take care of.
Clean the Outside.
It’s time to clean of winter’s grime by washing the outside of your car. It’s best to use a cleaner made for cars and a coat of wax will help protect the finish. A paste wax is usually the best. Don’t forget to wash your car’s undercarriage and wheel wells to wash away any dirt, chemicals and salt residue.
Clean the Inside.
Don’t forget to clean and wipe down the inside of your car. Go ahead and vacuum the carpet and seats, and scrub any stains. Clean out the trash in the back seat and under the seats. Why not take a remove anything in the truck that you really don’t need?
Inspect the Brakes.
One of the most important things to check is your brakes. Our technicians will make sure your brakes are working correctly. You do not want to take chances on your brakes. If there is a problem we can fix your brakes and get you back on the road safely.
Check Hoses and Belts.
Our technicians can take a look at your vehicle’s hoses and belts, checking for cracks, fraying, soft spots, and connections. If you need, we can replace a hose or belt.
Take Care of Fluids.
We always look at your fluids, like window washer fluid, brake fluid, and automatic transmission fluid. If they need, we top them off.
Swap Out Wiper Blades.
All that winter snow, rain, and slush, your windshield wipers have probably taken a brutal beating. They are not that expensive and very important for your driving vision. We can replace them for you. It’s easy and quick. Take a look at your rear-window blade, too.
Get a Radiator Flush.
We can flush your radiator and add water and coolant.
Check Battery Connections.
Your battery affects many parts of your car. So, we will make sure it works. We will inspect the battery posts and connections to ensure they are clean. If not, we will clean them.
You know how important tires are for your vehicle. Our technicians will check your tires’ air pressure, look for wear or damage, and if you need, check the alignment. Don’t forget to check the air pressure in your spare tire as well.
Get a Tire Rotation.
While we’re on the subject of tires, you should have them rotated every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Tires are expensive and you want to get the best performance and the longest use from them that you can. Rotations ensure even wear and performance.
Yes, the sun is starting to peek out and spring is finally arriving. Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City reminds you that your spring cleaning should include car and truck repair. We are ready to make sure your vehicle is roadworthy for the spring and summer. Contact us for an appointment or swing by the shop and talk to one of our trained technicians.
February 16, 2017
Taking Care of Your Car’s Engine
You depend on your car. So, taking care of your car’s engine is important. Did you know cleaning your engine helps remove build-up residue and protects the engine? It can lengthen your car’s life, make it run cooler, and resist grime. Bring your car to our technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City and we will make sure your engine is clean and in good condition.
If you have a high-mileage car like so many people do, you need to pay attention to your engine by using an engine degreaser to clean it at least twice a year. This will keep your vehicle running better and longer and will protect against wear and tear, and things like salt, tar, snow, and road grit and grime. According to a Cars Direct article, leaving grease in the engine can decrease a car's ability to accelerate rapidly and can lower the maximum speed of the car.
Here is how to clean your engine with degreasers
The engine needs to be turned off and cooled. The air intake must be covered as well as any cracked or frayed electrical wires and all other electronically sensitive areas of the engine. Then the engine degreaser will be applied. Which degreaser will be used depends on your vehicle.
If you have a newer engine (up to 75,000 miles on it), the foamy engine cleaner is usually recommended. The foamy engine cleaner is made to get rid of the dirt and salt by expanding into all of the corners of the engine. You can use the foamy cleaner instead of having to use a brush. This degreaser cleans up hoses and belts, and it doesn’t damage plastic parts.
If your car has 75,000 to 150,000 miles on it, you should use original engine degreaser. The self-emulsifying formulation degreases all types of blocks, manifolds, valve covers, and parts, which will make them easier to work on.
If the engine is really dirty, it might need a heavy-duty gel engine degreaser made for high heat, hardworking engines that have 150,000 miles or more. So, if you have a car with an older engine and a lot of buildup on the engine from harsh environments, the heavy-duty gel degreaser may be the best to use.
After the degreaser is applied, it needs to sit on the engine for ten minutes. Then, to finish up, rinse the engine with water to wash off all the engine degreaser. Let the engine dry. Now the engine is ready for diagnostics or repair.
If the engine is cool, an engine protector can be sprayed on the engine. Let it sit for a little while. Use a rag or shop towel to wipe it, leaving a protective layer that resists dirt and grime and allowing the engine to be cleaned faster and easier. The engine protector gives it a shiny finish.
You change your car oil and you rotate the tires on a regular basis. Now add engine cleaning to the list of periodic essential care for your vehicle. It will ensure your engine runs well and lasts long. Taking care of your car’s engine can also be left to our technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City. We’ll make sure your engine is clean and working great.
January 11, 2017
Alternator Problems and Repair
Your car’s alternator is the charging system that powers your battery and helps control all things electrical. So, for alternator problems and repair, come to Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City. Our technicians are certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), and we’re the only shop in Johnson City to have earned the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence.
Your vehicle uses a lot of electrical power. You’ve got lights, radio, CD players, and windshield wipers just to start. If the car’s battery was the only source of power, it would be depleted pretty quickly. That’s why your car has an alternator. Its job is to keep the car’s battery fully charged.
A recent My Auto Repair Advice article explains how the alternator maintains the battery. The engine drive belt, called the serpentine belt, sends engine power to the alternator. Now the alternator uses this power to generate electricity and send it to the battery. This keeps it fully charged and your car running. So, if your alternator isn’t working, neither is your battery. If you have alternator problems, our technicians will inspect the drive belt as part of our diagnostics.
If you are having alternator problems, your car won’t start, the serpentine belt squeals, your battery dies, or the battery light goes on. But these warning signs can also be signs of other problems, so you need to bring it to Ponder Auto Repair because we have the right diagnostic tools to find out if it is an alternator problem or something else.
We will use a digital volt-ohmmeter or DVOM (aka voltmeter), to measure how much voltage your alternator is putting out. This will allow us to pinpoint if you are having an alternator problem.
Your engine will need to be turned off. Using the voltmeter (set to DC volts) we will put the red lead on the positive side of the battery and the black lead on the negative post of the battery. We want the voltmeter to read above 12.65 volts because that means you have a fully charged battery. If it doesn’t then we need to look at the battery or the alternator as the culprit for causing problems.
Next, we will remove the leads from the battery and try and start your car. We will put the leads back on, avoiding getting them caught in the serpentine belt. With the engine on we will look at the voltage. It should be around the 13.5-14.5-volt range. If it is in this range, then it’s probably not the alternator that’s causing the problem. Alternators can be tricky though and only work sometimes. But if we think it’s not the alternator, then it is probably the battery that is faulty and we will test it to make sure.
But not all vehicles work the same. We have the diagnostic and repair information that is specific to your vehicle. To fix your alternator our expert repair technicians will disconnect your battery, remove the serpentine belt, unbolt the alternator and remove the wiring connectors.
To keep your battery fully charged and your car’s electrical components working, you need your alternator to be functioning correctly. If you have alternator problems and repair needs, come to Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City. Our expert technicians will make sure everything is working so you don’t have to worry.