Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. My cars AC stopped working, can I just add Freon to it and fix it? (AC Service Question)

This is a common misconception many people have concerning their car’s air conditioning system, because many believe that if the AC stops working, it must be low on Freon.  Although a low level of Freon due to a leak, can cause the AC to stop working, there are also many other factors than can stop AC functioning.  For example: a locked up compressor, an electrical problem, a bad relay or fuse, etc. can all inhibit AC function while the vehicle is completely full of Freon. 



2. My car keeps blowing a fuse; can I just install a bigger fuse to fix it? (Electrical Service Question)

No, this is commonly done among some people but is NOT a fix and usually causes extreme DAMAGE. The purpose of a fuse is to make sure that a normal level of voltage is being maintained in an electrical based system. When a fuse “blows”, a sudden and prolonged change in voltage has taken place in the system, while the actual “blowing” of the fuse serves as a safety measure to prevent further damage. By installing a larger amp fuse, one is allowing the system to run continually with an existing problem present in the system. By allowing the system to run for a long period of time with an existing issue, more issues are created and significant electrical damage can result.

 

3. Why does my steering wheel vibrate when I press down on the brake pedal? (Brake Question)

The most common cause of a vibration in the steering wheel while braking is caused by warped brake rotors. Brake rotors are not manufactured warped, but are warped by a variety of causes. The most common causes are: worn out brake pads, driving with the brakes on, aggressive driving, and improper torque settings of the lug nuts (applies more to aftermarket wheels). Although there are times when the warping of the rotors can’t be prevented, there are many times that it can. It is IMPORTANT to listen to your brakes; most new brake pads have an incorporated sequel mechanism built into them and make a horrendous noise when they start wearing out. Failure to address this and continue to use the vehicle will end up doing more damage and increase the extent of original damage. If vibration in the wheel is addressed IMMEDIATELY when it starts, generally the rotors can be surfaced (turned) and the purchase of new rotors will not be needed.

 

4. I have heard it’s important to change your car’s timing belt. Why is it so important? (Maintenance Question)

The timing belt is a part on the car that is ALWAYS being used and stressed. With the increase in miles placed upon the vehicle, the probability of a timing belt failure drastically increases as well. Almost all timing belt failures can be prevented, if the timing belt assembly is replaced accordingly with the recommendations of the car manufacturer ( a general rule of thumb is every 60k). A timing belt failure is especially critical in what is known as an “INTERFERENCE” engine”, because the failure of the timing belt causes the engine to be destroyed beyond use. The main reason is that when the belt breaks, the internal parts inside the engine collide with each other with a tremendous amount of pressure and force, ultimately destroying the internal parts. Usually the extent of damage is so significant; the only way to repair the damage is to replace the engine.

 

5. The local parts store scanned my vehicle and I replaced the part that was setting the code, why is my check engine light still on? (Check engine light question)

Although the local parts store can provide useful information when one is repairing their vehicle, they are limited often times with equipment and knowledge needed for a proper diagnoses. Check engine lights can be set for many different reasons, and sometimes the code being set is indeed strictly related to the part it suggests. In this case the check engine light will be turned off. But what if the part replaced doesn’t turn off the check engine light? Believe it or not, this is more often the case seen. The reason is because a car’s onboard diagnostic system (OBD II), is what the name applies........a system. The malfunction of a particular part or component of the system can “trick” the computer into thinking that a certain part is responsible for the light, when indeed it’s not. The failing of a part in the vehicle’s “system” can possibly make another part work beyond levels that it was originally designed to work, and trigger an error code. When the computer is scanned, the overactive part is believed to be the reason of the setting of the code. One can replace the part, to only see that the check engine light is still on due to the same code. This is because the original existing problem, causing the overactivity of the replaced part, was never corrected and the light remains on. The part the customer replaced was never defective to begin with and all they did was buy a part they did not need (generally electrical related parts will not be refunded once installed). Although trouble codes can help in diagnosing and correcting an automobile related problem, they should not be solely relied upon. Proper knowledge and experience, offered by a certified technician, will make sure that only the needed parts go on the owner’s vehicle.

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Fort Smith Automotive is Conveniently Located off of Highway 271 South just West of Whirlpool or Minutes off of Exit 14 on I-540.

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