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 Trouble Shooting Guide > Diagnostics 



 The Auto Yellow Pages  
  And The
"Be Car Care Aware" Campaign

Uploaded with permission of
     the Car Care Council...


  Troubleshooting Guide
    Have a problem!
   "What is It? - What's does it Do?
What Could Happen?
      What to Look For!
      Have It Repaired!

          Auto Services - Diagnostics   
         Auto - Truck - SUV - 4x4
      Find Your Problem! 
   >>> Get it Fixed! 

                    "Just Click The Problem" 

                     Belts & Hoses
                          Brake System
                       Emission System
                       Engine Replacement - Pros and Cons
                       Cooling System
                       Exhaust System
                       Filters & Fluids 
                       Fuel System
                       Lighting & Wipers 
                       Starting-Charging- Battery System
                       Steering & Suspension


 "Checking Regularly for Wear, 'Will Keep You From Being Stranded" 

What is it?
You car’s belts and hoses are essential to the cooling,
air conditioning and charging systems, and the engine.
Don’t take these routine replacement intervals for granted
because they can break down and leave you stranded.

What does it do?
The timing belt keeps the crankshaft and camshaft
mechanically synchronized to maintain engine timing.
Whether serpentine, V-belt or fan belt

(the belts on the outside of the engine),  they all transmit
power from the front of the engine to accessories that need
to be driven, such as the air conditioning, the charging
system and fans. Radiator and heater hoses carry coolant
to and from the engines, radiator and heater core.

Typical Wear and Tear:
Key items that affect the replacement interval for belts and hoses:

  • Vehicle age
    Electrolytic corrosion
    Oil contamination
    Belt tension
    Failed hose clamps


  • Squeaking noise from under the hood during start-up or operation
    Coolant leaks
    Dashboard light will illuminate

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BRAKE SYSTEM  Keeping You Safe:

What is it?
Your car’s brake system is its most critical
safety systemand you should check it
immediately if you suspect any problems.
A properly operating brake system helps
ensure safe vehicle control and  operation
under a wide variety of conditions.

What does it do?
When you push the brake pedal, the force
generates hydraulic pressure in the
master cylinder. This pressure flows through
the hydraulic lines and hoses to the wheel
cylinders and calipers, forcing the shoes against
the drums 
(drum brakes) and the pads against the
(disc brakes). The resulting friction slows
the vehicle and is relative to the amount of force
applied at the brake pedal.

Typical Wear and Tear
Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually
they’re going to need replacement:

Avoid letting your brakes get to the
(“Metal-to-Metal”) point, which usually means
accelerating expensive rotor or drum replacement.
Several factors that affect wear include:

  • Driving habits
    Operating conditions
    Vehicle type
    The quality of brake lining material


  • Car pulls to one side during braking
    Brake pedal pulsates when you apply the
    Brake pedal feels “mushy”
    Noise when you step on the brake pedal
    Repeatedly need to add brake fluid to the
    master cylinder

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EMISSION SYSTEM "Keep Your Car Performs Better"

What is it?
Your car’s emission system keeps the engine
running cleanly and efficiently in all sorts of
operating conditions. If your car’s engine isn’t
performing up to par or the  
(“Check Engine”)
light goes on, have it inspected immediately.
Failure to do so can reduce your mileage per gallon
of fuel or cause your vehicle to pollute.

What does it do?
Your car’s emission system controls
the emissions, exhaust and pollutants using
an array of sensors, computerized engine controls
and the exhaust components.
The emission system substantially reduces harmful
gases such as carbon monoxide
(CO), unburned
(HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx),
and prevents harmful gasoline vapors from escaping
at the fuel tank.

Typical Wear and Tear
Some factors affecting the emission system include:

  • Driving and atmospheric conditions
    Vehicle age
    Type of spark plug electrode material
    Maintenance history
    Poor spark
    Bad fuel
    Damaged or worn sensors

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ENGINE  "Change Your Oil It Will Last Longer"

Rebuilt /Re-manufactured Engine's
When a car or truck suffers major engine damage,
the first reaction of most vehicle
owners is to buy a new or used car or truck.
This makes sense in some cases, but often,
it isn’t necessary. Re-powering your car or truck’s
worn out engine with a rebuilt/re-manufactured
engine can also be considerably less expensive than
buying a new or used car.
A rebuilt engine is one that is re-manufactured to
prescribed standards and specifications by highly-skilled
machinists using state-of-the-art equipment and
components. During this process, many of the new
components installed meet or exceed original equipment
performance standards. Frequently, rebuilt engines are
superior to new car engines because better parts are used,
or design changes in parts correct problems with the
original engine. 
Rebuilt/re-manufactured engines are
dependable, reliable and backed by warranty programs.
A rebuilt engine gets better gas mileage than a worn-out
engine and emits fewer pollutants. Engine re-powering
also saves energy related to processing discarded engines
and cars. The savings from engine re-powering is notable
when compared to the prices of new cars and trucks.
A rebuilt/ re-manufactured engine purchased and installed at
an average cost of
$2500 – $3500 is a sound and attractive
investment. Typically, a professionally rebuilt engine comes
with a one-year or 
12,000-mile warranty but some of these
warranties can be as long as 
36 months or 36,000 miles. 
Check with your local repair shop for information on their
rebuilt engines and warranty programs.

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ENGINE COOLING SYSTEM  "Always Watch Your Temperature Guage"

What is it?
The engine cooling system affects your car’s overall
dependability and engine longevity. Cooling systems
have advanced over the years with new coolant
formulations and new radiator designs and materials.
If you suspect a problem with your cooling system,
you should check it immediately.

What does it do?
The key parts of the cooling system remove
heat from the engine and automatic transmission and
dissipate heat to the air outside. The water pump circulates
coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat and
returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated.
The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep
it consistent for efficient engine operation.

Typical Wear and Tear
Factors that affect the replacement of cooling system parts include:

  • Driving habits
    Operating conditions
    Type of vehicle
    Type of coolant
    Frequency of regular maintenance such as coolant changes


  • Overheating
    Sweet smell
    Repeatedly need to add coolant or water

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EXHAUST SYSTEM   "Exhaust gases our harmful to your health"

What is it?
Your car’s exhaust system has come a long way from
the old days of exhaust pipes and mufflers. Today,
the exhaust system is safety and emissions control rolled into one.
Have your car’s exhaust system inspected regularly and check it i
immediately if you suspect any problems.

What does it do?
The exhaust system routes dangerous exhaust gas from the engine out and away
from the car to keep from affecting the occupants. Next, the exhaust system
reduces exhaust noise from the engine.
The catalytic converter reduces the level of harmful pollutants in the exhaust.
Finally, the oxygen sensors mounted in the exhaust system monitor the level
of exhaust gases to maintain efficient engine operation and to monitor the
converter’s operation.

Typical Wear and Tear
Maintain a safe car with regular exhaust system checks. Factors that affect
replacement requirements include:

  • Driving habits (short trips take their toll on exhaust system life)
    Road conditions (salt, road spray, bumps)
    Vehicle type
    Age of exhaust system parts


  • Loud noise
    Rattling noise when starting, accelerating or braking
    Drowsiness while driving 

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FILTERS AND FLUIDS  "Protects Your Investment"

What is it?
Your car’s filters are important to the longevity
of your car and interior comfort. Maximize your car
investment by replacing filters regularly.

What does it do?
The oil filter traps contaminants, allowing the
oil to flow through the engine unrestricted.
The fuel filter separates harmful contaminants that may cause
problems with carburetors or intricate fuel injectors.
The air filter traps dirt particles, which can cause damage to
engine cylinders, walls, pistons and piston rings.
The air filter also plays a role in keeping contaminants off the
airflow sensor (in fuel-injected cars).
The cabin filter helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases
that may find their way into a car’s ventilation system.

Typical Wear and Tear
Filters are normal wear items that require regular checks and replacement.
Factors that affect replacement intervals include:

  • Mileage
    Driving habits
    Driving and road conditions
    Type of filter
    Vehicle type


  • Poor gas mileage
    Hesitation while accelerating
    Musty odor in the cabin 

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FUEL SYSTEM  "Keeps Your Car Performing Better, Better Gas Mileage

What is it?
You car’s fuel system works with the rest of
the engine control system to deliver the best performance
with the lowest emissions. Check your car’s fuel system regularly
or immediately if you smell gas or suspect a problem.

What does it do?
The fuel system transfers fuel from the fuel tank and passes it through a
fuel filter for cleaning before it arrives at the injectors. A pressure regulator
controls fuel pressure to ensure good engine performance under a variety of
speed and load conditions. Fuel injectors, when activated, spray a metered
amount of fuel into the engine. Some vehicles use a return line system to
return unused fuel back to the tank.

Typical Wear and Tear
Intervals for fuel system maintenance may be influenced by:

  • Fuel quality
    Vehicle age
    Operating conditions
    Maintenance history


  • Clogged or worn fuel injectors
    Poor fuel economy
    Vehicle won’t start
    “Check Engine” light is illuminated 

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LIGHTING AND WIPERS  "They Both Keep You Safe"

What is it?
Lights and wipers play a major role in safe
driving – the chances for accidents increase if you can’t
see or be seen. Some states have laws that require the
headlights to be on with the wipers. If you detect any problems
with your car’s lights or wipers, have them checked out at once.

What does it do?
The wiper system keeps excessive water,
snow or dirt from building up on the windshield and removes
them to maintain clear visibility through the windshield.
The lighting system provides nighttime visibility, signals and
alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments
and the vehicle’s interior.

Typical Wear and Tear
Lights and wipers are normal wear items that require periodic replacement.
Factors affecting replacement intervals include:

  • Operating conditions (winter conditions are tough on wiper blades)
    Frequency of use Material and type of lights and wipers
    Sunny weather – wiper blades can deteriorate faster and need more
    replacement in desert states


  • Chattering or streaking wiper
    Rapid signal blinking
    Dimming lights 

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What is it?
Your car’s starting and charging systems, and
the battery help ensure dependable vehicle operation
whenever you drive your car and in all sorts of driving conditions.
Make sure to check these systems regularly.

What does it do?
The battery stores electrical energy and the
starter converts that energy into mechanical force to turn
the engine for starting. The alternator produces electric current to
replace what the starter used during start-up and to support electrical loads
when the engine is running. An ignition module turns the low-voltage supply
to the ignition coil on and off, and the coil produces the high voltage for the
ignition system. This creates a spark at the spark plugs and ignites
the air/fuel mixture in the engine.
A belt transmits power from the front of the engine to the
alternator’s pulley, along with other accessories.

Typical Wear and Tear
Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on
the starter than a simple trip back and forth to work. Other factors include:

  • Driving and weather conditions
    Vehicle age
    Excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems


  • Headlights and interior lights dim
  • “Check Engine” and/or battery light may come on
  • Accessories fail to operate

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STEERING AND SUSPENSION  " Proper Alignment and Good Tires, Will Keep You Safe"

What is it?
Like your car’s brake system, the steering and
suspension systems are key safety-related systems. Together,
they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Have your car’s
steering and suspension systems checked regularly, at least once a year
and usually with a wheel alignment.

What does it do?
The suspension maintains the relationship
between the wheels and the frame or unibody. The suspension system
interacts with the steering system to provide vehicle control.
When working properly, the suspension system helps absorb the energy from
road irregularities such as pot-holes and helps to maintain vehicle stability.
The steering system transmits your input from the steering wheel to the
steering gear and other steering components to control the car’s direction.

Typical Wear and Tear
Over time, steering and suspension components wear out and require replacement.
Regular checks are critical to maintain a safe car. Factors that affect wear include:

  • Driving habits
    Operating conditions
    Vehicle type
    Type of steering and suspension system
    Frequency of regular maintenance such as chassis lubrication and wheel alignment


  • Pulling
    Uneven tire wear
    Noise and vibration while cornering
    Loss of control

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TRANSMISSION  "Always Have It Serviced, Check Your Owners Manual"

What is it?
The transmission works with the engine to
provide power to you car’s wheels. Whether automatic or manual,
the transmission plays a major role in the overall dependability of your
car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.

What does it do?
A transmission/transaxle keeps the engine’s
output optimally matched to the speed and load conditions.
The torque converter, connected to the automatic transmission
and transaxle input shaft, connects, multiplies and interrupts the
flow of engine torque into the transmission. Universal joints
connect to the driveshaft to transmit output power from the
transmission to the rear axle on rear-wheel-drive cars.
Universal joints also allow the driveshaft to work at an angle.
Automatic transmission fluid serves a multitude of purposes.
It cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure,
inhibits varnish buildup and continually protects the transmission.
There are several different types of automatic transmission fluid.
Reference your owner’s manual for how they should be used.

Typical Wear and Tear
Wear and tear on the transmission can be influenced by:

  • Driving habits
    Towing or excessive loads
    Operating conditions
    Condition of the transmission fluid
    Frequency of regular maintenance


  • Slipping
    Grinding gears
    Difficulty shifting


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    The Automotive Media Group Of Colorado 
     One 2 One Network Media of Colorado
       Brighton, Colorado 80601

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