Ponder Auto Repair Johnson City

We work on all types of Cars, Trucks, & SUV's,
all makes and models

Serving Johnson City since 1982

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September 18, 2017

Fix Your Car Heater Before the Cool Weather

Fix Your Car Heater Before the Cool WeatherAt Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City, we know it won’t be long before coats come out, and you come in to let us fix your car heater before the cool weather arrives. No one wants to drive in that morning traffic in a cold car. For fall and winter auto maintenance and repair, we’re here to help. Stop by before you find yourself wearing full outdoor gear inside your car.

Besides creating a miserable drive, a broken car heater causes other problems, too. If your windshield is icy or foggy, without your heater working it can’t blow warm air on the windshield to clear it and that is a serious hazard when you are driving. In addition, if your car should break down, not having a heater that works could be dangerous if you are stranded.

Very simply, a heating system works when the vehicle gets heat from the car engine’s coolant system. So, when the engine reaches its operating temperature which is controlled by the thermostat, it heats up the coolant and water mixture. This mixture goes through hoses and valves and into the heating core, which is sort of like a radiator. Then a blower fan pushes the warm air from the heating core into the filter and then into your car.

If you bring your vehicle to Ponder Auto Repair we’ll help you maintain your heating system by checking hoses, belts and keeping the coolant clean and filled. If you are experiencing heating problems, we will find out what’s wrong and fix your car heater before the cool weather arrives.

Now, your heating system is actually more complicated than you might think. Here are several reasons your heater may not be working.


Rust particles or other coolant contaminants may be blocking the heating core. This stops the air from circulating in the cabin. In addition, either a decrease in the coolant level or a leak in the coolant system can cause the heater not to work because of the low antifreeze and water levels in the radiator. This tends to be a very common problem. Coolant doesn’t evaporate on its own, so when it’s low you know you have a problem. You could just add some coolant but it won’t fix the bigger problem, and chronically low or empty coolant will damage your engine.

A leak may mean there is a loose hose clamp, or it may indicate a more serious problem like a leaking engine cylinder head gasket. Either way, come on in and get it checked out.

Other Component Issues

  • The heater may not work because the blower fan isn’t working.
  • A bad thermostat can prevent the engine from warming up.
  • The heater core that moves warm air into your car could be malfunctioning.

As you can see, there are several parts that make up the heating system and that means there are many different things that can go wrong. If your heater is giving you troubles, we will find the problem and fix your car heater before the cool weather gets here. But even if it’s working, it is best to periodically have our mechanics at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City check out the heater to make sure everything looks okay. By properly maintaining your vehicle’s heating and cooling system, you can help prevent a heater failure.

August 14, 2017

Is it the Battery, Starter or Alternator?

Is it the Battery, Starter or AlternatorOkay, so your car won’t start but what’s wrong? Is it the battery, starter or alternator? Our technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City can figure it out and fix it. The reliability of your vehicle is so crucial to everything you do. When you bring it to us, you’ll know the work we do is always done right the first time.

The battery, starter and charging systems, including the alternator, work together in your car so sometimes it’s not easy to tell right away which one may be malfunctioning. So, let’s take a look how the battery, alternator, and starter function and how to tell which one is causing the problem with your car.

The Starter

Your car’s starter does exactly that, it starts the engine. The battery sends the starter a jolt of electricity. Your car’s starter component takes the electricity and uses it to turn the engine over. Now the engine is started.

What happens when the starter doesn’t work?

  • You will hear a clicking sound when you turn the key
  • The engine won’t turn over, but the dash lights will still be lit
  • Trying to jump start your vehicle won’t get the engine to turn on

The Battery

You should replace your car battery about every four to five years. It just can’t hold a charge for much longer than that. When you drive, the battery is being recharged by the car’s alternator. But the battery’s internal metal parts begin to corrode, which reduces its ability to hold a charge. A good battery is important because it provides the power to the starter and your vehicle’s electrical system.

What happens when the battery doesn’t work?

  • When you try to start the car, you will hear a low whining sound
  • Sometimes a jump start will get the engine going but as soon as you turn off the engine again, it won’t start back up. This means the alternator is doing what it is supposed to, keep the battery going once it has started, but the battery isn’t able to hold a charge.

The Alternator

If everything is working except the alternator, the battery will still lose its charge because the alternator can’t keep it charged.

What happens when the alternator doesn’t work?

  • Right before your alternator fails, you might hear a growling sound
  • As your alternator overheats, you may notice a smell of burning rubber or hot wires
  • Sometimes your headlights or your dash lights flicker or get extra dim or bright
  • Your gauges may act weird
  • When you jump start your car and it starts, but the engine quickly dies then it is probably the alternator that is not working

When your car won’t start, you try to figure out is it the battery, starter or alternator can be an easy call once you know how everything works. You can also bring it into our ASE-certified technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City. We will figure out which component is causing the trouble and repair it. That way, you can be confident that your car will start and not leave you stranded.

July 14, 2017

Do Your Brakes Need to Be Replaced?

Do Your Brakes Need to Be ReplacedIt’s important to know the signs of your brakes wearing out, so you will know, do your brakes need to be replaced? At Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City, our technicians can also check them out for you and get them quickly replaced if needed. Good brakes are important for your safety and knowing the signs of bad brakes can prevent potential damage and injury.

Eventually, your vehicle’s brake pads will wear out and you will need to replace them. If you wait, the metal parts of the brakes will grind against the rotor and carve grooves in the surface. If it gets to that point, we will try to smooth it out on a lathe. But sometimes the grooves are just too deep or rotor gets warped or cracked. At that point, you’ll need to have them replaced.

Our technicians at Ponder Auto Repair will examine the mechanical sliding and mounting portions of your brake system. If the brake pistons are sticking, you might need to get them replaced. It might be cheaper to replace the entire caliper than to rebuild the piston.

How often brakes should be replaced depends on the brake material, as well as your driving habits, environment, brake pad hardness, and the materials that make up the brake rotor and brake pads.

Keep Track of Your Mileage

Most brake pads will need to be replaced after around 50,000 miles, but others should be replaced after 25,000, and still others 70,000 miles. Your owner’s manual will tell you your car’s specific needs.

Get Your Brakes Checked

A regular brake check is on your car's maintenance schedule. To stay safe, you should have your brakes checked regularly. We are happy to do it. Have our technicians check your brake pads whenever you get your tires rotated or your oil changed. Our ASE-certified technicians can diagnose any problems there might be and repair them. Replacing your brake pads on time can keep you safe and prevent more damage from happening.

Warning Signs

As a driver, you need to know the warning signs that your brakes need replacement. There are certain things you should pay attention to, including:

  • The brake pads will make a squealing or scraping noise when they are getting thin.
  • The brake pedal feels spongy or slow to respond.
  • It takes longer to stop.
  • The dashboard brake light is orange, showing that there is a problem with your anti-lock brakes (ABS).
  • The dashboard brake light is red, meaning there is a system imbalance.
  • If it is jittery when you brake, the rotors might be warped.

Do your brakes need to be replaced? If you know the warning signs, you can work with our service experts at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City to inspect and replace your brakes when it’s necessary. Our team of skilled and personable ASE-Certified Auto Mechanics provide brake system repairs, including service for your pads and drums. We care about your safety and will take great care of your car – and you!

June 12, 2017

How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 2

How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 2To keep your car running strong for longer, Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City presents How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 2.

Like we mentioned in our previous article, many of us are driving our cars longer and racking up big miles. So how do you get more from your vehicle? According to a Kiplinger article, there are a number of maintenance items that should be taken care of like changing the transmission fluid or getting oil changes on time using synthetic oil. Let’s take a closer look.

Fewer Short Trips

Your car will last longer if you can avoid driving it short distances because the engine doesn’t have a chance to reach operating temperature. We are talking about trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures or less than ten miles in freezing temperatures.

Because water is a byproduct of engine combustion, it can get into your car’s oil and exhaust system every time the engine runs. When the car first starts, there is more fuel mixed in to get it running. When you take a longer trip the engine gets hot and boils the unburned fuel out of the oil, your engine, and your exhaust. That doesn’t happen on a short trip but instead, the oil, water, and fuel in the crankcase eventually turn into a noxious sludge.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil changes cost more but it is much better for your engine and may prevent costly repair bills down the road. More car manufacturers are recommending synthetic oil, particularly in performance models. To handle the higher thermal stress in turbocharged or supercharged engines, you may want to consider using synthetic oil.

Transmission Fluid

Don’t forget to change the transmission fluid and filter. Check with our technicians about your specific car but generally, you should replace the transmission fluid at least by 100,000 miles. If you still have your owner’s manual, you can usually find your manufacturer’s recommended mileage for this type of service.

Clean Your Car

It’s important to keep your car clean, inside and particularly out. If you regularly wash the road salts and other environmental substances off the car’s exterior and undercarriage it will prevent corrosion and keep the paint looking good. While you’re washing it, look for any problems, like cracked lenses in your headlights.

Bearings, Bushings, and Belts

We can help you replace the tires, brake pads, timing and accessory belts, and shock absorbers. In addition, you should replace the suspension bearings and bushings that isolate your suspension from the rest of the car and dampen noise in order to protect the tires and the alignment. If you are replacing your shocks and struts, go ahead and have all the bushings done at the same time. It’s also important to replace timing belts and the water pump.

Because people are driving their cars longer, it’s important to follow our tips covered here in How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 2. This includes avoiding short trips, using synthetic oil, changing the transmission fluid, keeping your car clean, and replacing the bearing, bushings, and belts. And our technicians at Ponder Auto Repair in Johnson City can help you with the entire checklist. Our philosophy is customer care, customer awareness, and customer education.

May 10, 2017

How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 1

How to Maximize the Life of Your Car, Part 1Since 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.

Regular Maintenance

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.

Strange Odors

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.

Visual Inspection

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.


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