Ask the Mechanic!

Vehicles come in all makes and models, shapes and sizes, and from different manufacturers, but once you put a significant amount of miles on them, they tend to have many of the same maintenance requirements. Here at Atlantic Tire & Service, we receive daily calls and visits from customers with similar engine issues hoping to understand the cause and best course of action.

Below are the top five most asked questions regarding vehicle maintenance that we receive:

Why won’t my car start?

We talked all about bad battery vs. a bad alternator in a previous post, but if your car won’t start, a dead battery should be first in the line-up of usual suspects. You’d know if it’s the battery by the sounds the car makes when you turn the key in the ignition. If there’s a groaning or ticking, your battery could be dying or already dead. On the other hand, you could have a battery that’s in tip-top shape, but isn’t getting a proper charge from the alternator. Other elements to look out for include a worn accessory drive belt or a malfunctioning starter.

Why is my car leaking?

Fluid leaks are something that should not be ignored. The color of the fluid that is leaking will help to reveal what caused the leak. The majority of fluid leaks customers experience are oil leaks, which are typically caused by degraded engine gaskets, oil pan leaks, or just bad connections.

Allow us to color code for you! A leaking transmission or power steering system leak, which is normally indicated by a red fluid, could be due to a faulty transmission seal. Orange fluid leaks could be caused by rust in your radiator that has caused leaking antifreeze or condensation to appear orange. Yellow fluid is likely radiator coolant. This leak is generally caused by a loose hose clamp or a damaged o-ring. Green fluid leaking is likely antifreeze, which can leak from a vehicle’s water pump, hoses, or radiator when components like hoses and clamps have worn out.

How often do you need an oil change?

Vehicles come in all shapes and sizes, and intervals vary by manufacturer and engines. The common school of thought is to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, but some engines can run for up to 15,000 miles between oil changes. One thing is for certain, you never want to be caught with your check engine light on, so consult your owner’s manual or maintenance schedule to see how often to change the oil in your vehicle, and especially what type of oil to use.

Why is my check engine light on?

Your check engine light turning on could indicate a minor issue with a simple fix or it could be a serious issue that’s causing damage to your engine components. When the check engine light first turns on, check to see if the gas cap is loose or damaged. If the gas cap is missing altogether, you could be losing fuel through evaporation. The check engine light could also be your engine’s way of telling you that one or more parts need replacing, such as the oxygen sensor, mass airflow sensor, catalytic converter, spark plugs, or plug wires.

Why won’t my car accelerate?

This, again, could be caused by several separate issues. The air flow meter, which is attached to the inlet air cleaner, could be clogged or faulty. A malfunctioning oxygen sensor could also be the culprit, as its function is to monitor the exhaust emissions of your vehicle. If this unit is damaged, the engine could be taking in an unreliable air-fuel mixture, causing slow acceleration. With vehicles that have not been serviced properly or in a timely manner, poor acceleration could also be the result of dirty or clogged fuel filters or air filters.

While you may be able to diagnose the root cause of many of these issues, it’s always recommended to have a mechanic take a look under the hood for an expert assessment. If you are having any of these issues or have additional questions bring your vehicle to Atlantic Tire & Service today for a free assessment. We’ll ensure that your vehicle is running smoothly and that you can operate it with ease of mind.