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  • Gas Smell! (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

    May 22, 2022

    If you've ever walked into your garage and noticed it smelled like gasoline, pay attention. Gasoline can be dangerous, both from the health problems fumes can cause and the fire danger gasoline presents. 

    There are many things that can cause a vehicle to give off a gasoline odor.  One of the easiest to track down is the gas cap.  It could be missing or it doesn't seal well any more (they do wear out).  That can also cause the Check Engine light to light up, so those are clues to tell your service advisor when you take it in for diagnosis.

    Another thing that can cause the Check Engine light to come on and produce a gasoline smell is the fuel filler neck. It's the part that goes from the place you put your fuel in to the gas tank. Over time, these can wear out and fail (they're made out of rubber or metal).  They can leak gasoline, too.

    It's always a good idea to check the garage floor for any gasoline puddles.  Note the location of the puddle in relation to the vehicle. If it's near the back, that's possibly the fuel filler neck or the gas tank leaking.  In the middle of the vehicle? May be fuel lines.  Near the front? Could be fuel injectors (or carburetor if you have one) or fuel pump. 

    There are other causes of gas odors, and you need an expert to figure out the source soon.  Gasoline leaks are nothing to play around with.  Gasoline is flammable, potentially explosive and its fumes can damage your lungs. A trained technician can pinpoint the cause and get your garage back to smelling like a normal garage again.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    A Real "Pane" (Window Maintenance and Repair)

    Apr 3, 2022

    It's pretty frustrating when your driver's window won't work.  You can't get your food at the drive-thru without opening the door, have a tough time using the ATM from your vehicle, can't have that fresh breeze blowing through your hair as you listen to your favorite road tunes.

    Plus, there's a safety factor.  Your windows provide an escape route in case you need to get out and the doors won't work.  Let's take a look at what's going on when your window won't operate.

    Most vehicles these days have power windows.  They have an electric motor in each power window and sometimes those fail.  They often give you a warning that they're on their last legs by making a noise or hesitating, so if you get a sign like that, have a technician check it out. Loss of power can also be due to a blown fuse, a bad switch or faulty wiring.

    All windows have something called a regulator that moves the glass up and down.  They have a lot of moving parts in them which can break, become bent, rust or get out of alignment. The glass moves along a window track guide.  Sometimes if the glass gets out of the track, it won't move up and down the way it's designed to do.

    When you take your vehicle over to a repair facility, a technician can pinpoint the cause of your malfunctioning window.  Often it involves having to remove the door panel to gain access to the components inside.  But when everything's working right, you'll be able to throw that annoying inconvenience right out the window.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    In the Hot Seat (Repair and Maintenance of Seat Heaters)

    Mar 13, 2022

    It's chilly outside. You flip on that switch that looks like a picture of a seat with little heat waves rising from it.  You expect soon you'll feel that warmth but… wait! It's not getting warmer.  Oh no, what's wrong with my seat heater? There could be lots of reasons it's not working, and it could be as simple as a fuse or as major as the heating element itself.  But it's something to leave to a pro to diagnose and repair.

    Let's say it turns out to be a blown fuse.  Simply replacing the fuse may not fix it because there was a reason the fuse blew in the first place.  It's possible the on-off switch has worn out or corroded.  Perhaps the wiring connection isn't completing the circuit (could be corroded or full of dirt) or the voltage reaching the heating element isn't correct. 

    There's a little sensor that keeps track of the seat heater's temperature called the thermistor.  When the seat is hot enough, it will stop the juice from heating it any more.  Sometimes those fail.  But if all of these components are healthy, you may need a new heater element. 

    Those seat-heating elements are made up of wires that get sat on.  A lot.  That can put significant strain on them.  Putting something heavy on the seat can break them. Or, if you put your knees on the seat cushion as you're getting something in a rear seat, that can also damage the element.  Sometimes they can be repaired but often they have to be replaced.  And here is where the technician's expertise comes into play.  That heater element is attached to the seat's fabric and replacing it can be tricky.  It also can require disassembling a lot of the seat to access it. 

    Seat heaters are a wonderful feature and they make your vehicle oh, so much cozier.  So keep them working and enjoy the warmth!

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Got it Covered! (Timing Cover Maintenance)

    Jan 23, 2022

    You may have heard at one time or another about something called a timing belt or timing chain in your engine.  And you may know that if they fail… well, let's just say that there can be some major engine damage.  So obviously, we want our timing belts and chains to be in tip-top shape.

    One part that helps keep them running the way they should is the timing cover.  As you can probably guess, it's something that covers the belt or chain.  The timing cover protects both belts and chains from dirt and road debris.  Timing belts also need to be lubricated so their covers allow them to be lubricated as well.  They have a gasket that insures a good seal for the engine.  If that gasket breaks or develops a leak, then engine oil can escape, and loss of lubrication is never good for an engine component.

    Other symptoms of a failed timing cover are leaking coolant, a metallic sound coming from the front of your engine or your Check Engine light coming on.  You might also notice a drop in power when you're going uphill.

    It's important that your timing cover be in good condition and functioning properly.  Your repair facility will check out that part of your engine to make sure gaskets are in good shape and the cover is doing the job it's meant to do.  Catch that leaking or broken timing cover in time and your engine will thank you for avoiding some serious damage and an expensive repair.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    H20 No! (Driving Through Standing Water)

    Nov 21, 2021

    In a year marked by unusually heavy flooding in North America, drivers are very aware of the possibility they may find themselves driving where water has come over the road.  It can be a daunting and frightening situation.  Flooding waters can move quickly and unpredictably, so you have to keep your wits about you when you encounter that situation.

    Here a sample of one vehicle manufacturer's guidelines on what to do.  First, the vehicle is designed to go through some water, but you must be careful.  Never attempt to drive through water deeper than the bottom of your tires.

    You can get out of your vehicle to check the depth of the water, but you can never be sure that you aren't going to drive into a spot where the road has washed away.  You can't see below the surface of the water, and suddenly you could find yourself in a place where the road drops off unexpectedly.  In swift moving storm runoff, your vehicle could literally be floating away with the current, putting your life and those of your passengers in mortal danger. 

    Never go more than 5mph/8 km/hr when you drive through standing water.  That minimizes the waves you create.  If you DO find yourself in water that is touching your drivetrain components, that water can damage them.  And if you get water in your engine, it can lock up in seconds and stall.  The potential damage can be catastrophic.

    You may have found yourself driving in water deep enough to reach your drivetrain components, and it's essential that you have a technician check the fluids to make sure they haven't been contaminated.  That includes engine oil, transmission and axle.  Driving with fluids contaminated with water can severely damage those components. 

    The bottom line is to avoid driving through water at all if you possibly can.  Check your vehicle's owner's manual to see if there are specific guidelines for driving YOUR vehicle in standing water.  It's information that could save your life.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    In a Fog (Fogged Windows in Cold Weather)

    Oct 3, 2021

    It's bad enough in cold weather when ice and snow block your visibility.  Add to that fog on the inside of your windows and you could be driving blind.  So here are a few tips on how to keep your windows from fogging up when there's a chill in the air.

    You probably know fog is really condensation, when moist, warm air meets a cold surface and turns to liquid.  If your windshield fogs up, you probably turn on your windshield defroster. Most defrosters blow heated air on the windshield glass to warm it up so it won't condense the moisture.  Many also turn on the air conditioning to reduce the moisture. 

    That same strategy can work on the rest of the windows.  First, turn up your heater's temperature setting.  The hotter the air, the more moisture it will hold.  Also, turn off the "recirculating" setting since you want all outside air to come in. Then switch on the air conditioning.  It will remove the moisture from the outside  air that it's blowing inside the cabin.  Try cracking a couple of windows to make it easier for the air to flow. This should do the trick pretty quickly. 

    There's one other thing to try.  Many vehicles have electric heater elements embedded in the rear window glass (the rear window defroster) and in the outside rearview mirror glass. Make sure to turn those on, too; sometimes they're on the same switch.

    For all of these things to work, of course, your vehicle's components have to be maintained so they'll do the things they're designed to do.  And you didn't think it was important to have your air conditioning working in the cold weather months! 

    One final tip.  Keep the insides of your windows CLEAN.  Oil and dirt on the glass give the water molecules something to latch on to.  That ought to clear up this problem.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Why You Have an O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor)

    Sep 26, 2021

    If someone asked you what gas made up the largest portion of the atmosphere, what would you guess? Well, it's not oxygen; it only makes up 20.9 percent.  But since we're talking about oxygen, you should know that your vehicle uses oxygen sensors to make sure your engine is running the way it should.

    The oxygen sensors measure how much oxygen is in your exhaust.  If there's too much, it means there's a problem with the mixture of fuel and air.  The sensor sends signals to computers in your engine and adjusts the mixture so it maximizes performance and efficiency.  It does this constantly. 

    Many vehicles have multiple oxygen sensors.  Some have one close to the engine, another close to the muffler.  Two measurements are better than one since they allow readings to be more accurate.  You may have a vehicle with a dual exhaust, so you'd have twice as many oxygen sensors.

    Your oxygen sensors can fail.  One thing that can damage them is contamination from bad fuel.  The sensors can simply wear out, though they usually last a long time.  It's not unusual for an oxygen sensor to last 100,000 miles/160,000 km. One more thing that can cause an oxygen sensor to fail is residue from an engine that's burning oil.  Plus contaminants from the road like salt can also cause problems. 

    Here are some signs that your oxygen sensors might be failing.

    • The Check Engine light goes on.  In this case, your service facility can plug in a device that will read the code in your engine's computer to see if that's the problem.
    • The engine is running roughly.
    • Black, sooty smoke is coming out of your tailpipe.
    • Your fuel economy is noticeably lower than it used to be.

    Head to your service facility and tell your advisor what symptoms your vehicle is experiencing.  They have the equipment and training to track down the issue.  Note that simply replacing the oxygen sensor is often not enough since it doesn't get to the root of the problem; other repairs may be needed. 

    So make sure your oxygen sensors are working the way they should be.  Oh, and back to the question of what gas makes up most of the Earth's air?  It's nitrogen, which comprises 78 percent of the air we—and our engines—breathe.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Passing the Test (How to Prevent Emissions Test Failure)

    Jun 13, 2021

    Vehicle emission testing has become ubiquitous in North America and for a good reason.  Clean air quality is important for the environment and all of us.  Since vehicle emissions are among the main causes of air pollution, emission testing can alert you to problems in your vehicle than can be fixed so it won't needlessly pollute.

    Emissions tests are looking for certain toxic gases internal combustion engines produce, such as nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, non-methane organic gases and formaldehyde.  Emissions control systems reduce these gases if they are working properly. 

    The best way to minimize pollution is to keep those vehicle systems working properly, and periodic inspection and maintenance is the key.  So if you want to make sure your vehicle will pass an emissions test, it helps to know what might go wrong.

    Let's start on the easy one.  Your gas cap could be loose, allowing vapors to escape into the atmosphere.  The most common solution is to replace it.  Or your air filter may be dirty.  A dirty air filter may push your hydrocarbons pass the acceptable level.

    Now to the more complicated things.  The mixture of fuel and air in your engine may be tilted toward the "too much fuel" side.  That could cause problems for your vehicle's catalytic converter, a device that converts toxic gases from your exhaust into less toxic pollutants.

    Your vehicle has a closed system that prevents fuel tank vapors from escaping into the air; it's called the EVAP system.  A technician can track down problems.

    Vehicle engineers have gone to great lengths to minimize the amount of pollution your vehicle produces.  Your vehicle's manufacturer recommends how frequently those systems need servicing.  Keep those systems in good shape and you're likely to pass emissions tests with flying colors.  Neglect them and you might find your vehicle failing an emissions test.  When that happens, you'll have to get the problems repaired before you can get back on the road.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    The Byte Stuff (Your Vehicle's Computers)

    Jun 6, 2021

    Nobody has to tell you that computers are a part of so many things in our lives.  Smartphones, kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, televisions.  You name it—it has a computer in it.  And your vehicle is no exception.

    The earliest cars relied on the technology of their time, and there was no such thing as a computer.  But now, it's not unusual for a vehicle to have as many as 150 computers in it.

    They perform a variety of functions. An important one is diagnosing your vehicle's problems.  There are various sensors throughout modern vehicles that measure thousands of data points.  When something is not working correctly, they send a signal to another computer that stores that information. The data can be read by someone who has a special computer that plugs into a port in your car.  It displays certain codes that help technicians track down the culprit. 

    But it's not just the diagnostics that are computerized.  Everything from your vehicle's fuel injection to anti-lock brakes is.  Convenience features such as power windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a wi-fi-hot spot, streaming video and navigation are all sophisticated computers.  Then there are the safety features; air bags, traction control, automatic emergency braking and a host of others are all dependent on computers.

    It is important that those computers work correctly because they interface with many of the other computers on board.  To properly diagnose problems with those computers requires training and special equipment. Your service facility has invested considerable resources into both, and they are equipped to properly evaluate and repair and/or replace malfunctioning components. 

    Some lament the days when backyard mechanics could pull out their tools and do their own repairs.  Those days are fast disappearing with the computerization of vehicles.  But look at the bright side.  Your vehicle does so much more, has so many more features and travels far more safely than those past generations drove.  And they're bound to get better and more sophisticated down the road.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com