We can take a look under the hood
At Auto Care Plus our goal is to be a full-service automotive care facility. Toward that end, we provide a myriad of maintenance and repair services that are not included in our check-up categories. We hope this clarifies our capabilities; but there’s always a chance we forgot to list something. If you don’t see it, just ask! Chances are, we can address any automotive issues you have.
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MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR
Automotive technicians are often likened to physicians who, upon hearing a list of complaints, set about to form a diagnosis using testing tools and examination techniques. What that means to both the physician and the automotive technician is that each must understand their relevant system in its entirety in order to successfully diagnose and treat the core issue. That is why we are proficient at performing the following maintenance and repair tasks:
- Safety Inspections
- Emissions Testing
- Head Gasket Replacement
- Timing Belts
- Fluid Leak Diagnosis & Repair
- Fuel Pump Diagnosis & Repair
- Alternator Diagnosis & Repair
- Battery Service & Replacement
- Fuel Injector Cleaning & Adjustments
- Engine Repairs
- Clutch Diagnosis, Adjustments, & Repair
- Differential Repairs
- Starter Issues
- Tune Ups
- Fluid storage & replacement (transmission, brake and power steering fluids. Also coolants and engine oil)
- Glass Replacement
Auto Care Plus technicians are committed to finding the most cost-effective solution for your automotive repairs. Our A/C Check tests for leaks, equipment failure, and contamination. In the event that repair is required, our mechanics are schooled in all regulatory requirements concerning refrigerants, parts replacement, and retrofitting.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR VEHICLE’S A/C UNIT
If you open your mouth wide and blow air from your lungs, it will be warm. But if you purse your lips into a tight circle, the air feels cool. This is the simplest example of compression cooling and it is utilized in all refrigeration technology.
Air conditioning units not only pump cool air, they remove super-heated air. Hot air from within the car and around the engine is vented into a compressor that contains refrigerant, (4). Within the compressor, rising temperatures create a rapidly-moving vapor that gets released into a condenser coil after reaching its peak temperature. Here, the “pursed lips” of the small coil, (1), cool the vapor, assisted by the fast-moving air entering at the front of the radiator. At this point, the vapor becomes a liquid; (in the same way that clouds rising into the cold upper atmosphere produce rain). The liquid is then routed through a thermal expansion valve, (2). This valve reduces the pressure, turning a portion back into gas. The remaining liquid returns to the compressor to repeat the cycle, while the gas is directed to the evaporation coil, (3), where it is regulated and filtered before entering the vehicle. The result can be likened to the cool breeze that accompanies a summer storm.
WHY AIR CONDITIONING UNITS FAIL
Leaks comprise more than 80% of all refrigeration issues. The most common leakages occur at the junctions between components; i.e., between the condenser and the coil; the coil and the accumulation unit; the coil and the evaporation coil, etc. Solutions can be as simple as replacing gaskets and hoses.
Working components can also fail. The list below includes all manner of AC designs. Most systems only have three or four parts per unit. Replacement/repair costs vary according to manufacture specs:
- The Compressor
- The Condenser
- The Evaporator
- The Orifice Tube
- The Thermal Expansion Valve
- The Receiver/Dryer
- The Accumulator
Refrigerant issues include system contamination or refrigerant loss. These issues are by far the most expensive to repair. Refrigerant regulations designed to protect the environment both before the turn of the century and since, have dramatically altered the face of refrigeration. In order to utilize current refrigerants, some A/C parts may have to be retrofitted, increasing the cost of repair. Since decontamination consists of flushing and recharging the entire system and replacing its major components, it too can be a costly proposition. Our technicians will walk you through any specialized issues they detect within your A/C system so that together, you can determine the best course of action for you.
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At AutoCare Plus we listen. When your vehicle is simply “not handling right” you may describe steering problems, a thumping noise, a grinding or groaning sound; or your vehicle might be pulling during turns or while breaking. When this occurs, we typically suggest a Suspension and Alignment Check. During this checkup we examine your steering system, tires, suspension, and sometimes your braking system. Our goal is to ensure that you and your passengers feel safe and can enjoy a smooth riding vehicle.
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SUSPENSION AND ALIGNMENT – Diagnosing Steering Issues
Myriads of stationary and moving parts work in tandem to create a smooth, responsive ride. That’s why our educated automotive technicians refrain from diagnosis until after checking the functionality of these systems:
- The Tires Including, (but not limited to), air pressure, remaining life, abnormal wear patterns, tire balance, and alignment.
- Struts or Shocks Including, (but not limited to), seal leaks, lubrication, signs of stress-related wear, boot and bumper health, mounting hardware, bearing plate, etc.
- Springs Including, (but not limited to), mounting brackets, signs of improper contact, spring seat alignment & orientation.
- Steering Gear, (rack & pinion systems or independent steering pumps). Including, (but not limited to), fluid levels, condition of current fluid, gear health, hoses, and pump health.
- The Brake System Although not directly related to suspension, the brake system can affect steering when issues occur while braking. When this is the case, we will suggest a brake check during your suspension checkup.
Our Certified Technicians are extremely adroit at culling out the core issue(s) that are adversely affecting your driving experience. Their recommendations will be based on a sound and thorough assessment of each system on your vehicle.
Our ASE Certified Technicians take Engine & Transmission checks seriously. After eliminating the simple causes for check engine warnings or transmission issues; they move on to the more complex scenarios that might be causing the issues you describe to us.
ENGINE CHECKUP & REPAIR
In spite of the sinking feeling that hits the pit of our stomach when the check engine warning light comes on; many of the causes can be easily-resolved:
- Mileage Milestones. At approximately 80,000 and 160,000 kms, the monitoring system must be reset to allow for greater accumulations of exhaust gasses and slower timing perimeters. These mileage-induced check engine warnings are actually designed to increase longevity and fuel efficiency. (Some manufacturers utilize the service required light for these types of maintenance issues).
- Gas Cap. The gas cap may not be screwed down tight. (The monitoring system detects low pressure in the fuel line).
- Spark Plugs may be misfiring. (The monitoring system detects an irregularity in timing).
- Engine Moisture. Although condensation forms along the pistons during firing, it normally evaporates when the engine reaches operating temperature. However, daily short commutes are often a precursor to collected engine moisture because the vehicle is shut off before the engine achieves this condition.
- Misfiring Engine. When spark plugs are not the issue, the timing belt, valves, or ignition system may be at fault.
- Excessive Pollutant Discharge. (Usually related to an engine or catalytic converter issue).
- Transmission issues. The reason for connecting the check engine light to the transmission is a protective one designed to detect transmission issues before they become evident to the driver. At this stage, utilizing a cleaner to remove varnish or simply topping off fluids and lubrication to mfr specs may be all that is required.
The check engine read-out tells our automotive technicians which of these systems has triggered the warning. It is their job to look for the simplest solution first; and to explore more deeply, when required.
PLEASE REMEMBER: If your check engine light is FLASHING, you should see a mechanic immediately
Other ENGINE-RELATED SERVICES:
In addition to responding to the engine light warning system, our technicians can perform the following engine services for both gas and diesel vehicles
- Tune Ups
- Timing Belt Analysis & Replacement
- Smog & Emissions Testing
- Exhaust System Repairs
- Electrical System Examination & Repairs
- Fuel Injection Servicing
- Belt & Hose Replacement
Regular Transmission Maintenance checkups are designed to assess and repair the following:
- Fluid Related Issues. If the fluid levels are appropriate and the transmission still seems sluggish we will recommend installing a cleaner to suspend varnish and sludge from all moving parts; (including the body, torque converter and lines). We will also recommend using modern high-tech fluids containing conditioners to help alleviate future problems. Fluid Leaks should be addressed immediately. Transmissions without fluid can seize in a very short period of time and repair or replacement costs are extremely expensive.
- Parts Replacement. When the transmission changes gears at abnormal intervals, slips, or shifts roughly, our technicians search for internal parts malfunctions. Even transmission solenoids can cause unforeseen issues and should be replaced quickly.
- Age-Related Issues. Beginning around 125,000 kms, transmission parts simply begin to wear out. Rebuilding or replacing the transmission can increase the life of a vehicle by as much as 160,000 kms. Re-manufactured transmissions, (from the vehicle’s manufacturer), have the highest success rate in these instances.
Transmission Performance UPGRADES:
- Upgraded Solenoids. Getting fluid to all the moving parts of a transmission is an imperative to good performance. After-market solenoids help increase the pressure that delivers transmission fluid to a transmission’s moving parts.
- Torque Converters. The torque system within a vehicle’s transmission is comprised of several clutches. The OEM version of these clutches is usually comprised of standardized parts. Installing additional clutches via the addition of an after-market converter can increase the torque capacity of the transmission. This upgrade is especially valuable for vehicles designed to operate at high-speeds or pull heavy loads.
- Transmission coolers. Normally, the transmission fluid is cooled when it passes through the transmission case. A transmission cooling unit is especially helpful for high-speed or heavy load situations. They are available in normal, medium, or heavy-duty versions.
- Input Shafts. Basically, the driveshaft for the transmission, input shafts that can handle a higher torque without snapping can be advantageous when other performance modifications have been made
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Our Auto Care Plus Technicians are keenly aware of the frustration associated with electrical systems and warning lights. We help vehicle owners understand what these mysterious indicator lights and/or malfunctioning electrical systems mean.
WARNING LIGHTS & ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS
In addition to the check engine light, most modern vehicles offer all sorts of warnings designed to help them address everything from emergency flashers to oil levels. Sometimes, resolution is quick and painless. Other times, it is confusing and frustrating.
The types of systems warning lights are connected to include, (but may not be limited to):
- Fuel Injection Systems
- Ignition Systems
- Battery & Charging System
- Flashers, Headlights, Brake Lights, Door Ajar, Seat Belts
- Power Accessories or Auxiliary Equipment
- Instrument Gauges (oil pressure, etc).
- Heating and AC operation
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, as the case may be); warning lights can malfunction, leading to a frustrating search for the indicated problem when the issues instead, is a malfunctioning electrical component.
Our Certified Technicians have been trained to look for electrical issues when warning lights do not cease after a system proves to be sound. Since the wire harnessing and sub-harnessing systems can be quite complex, we have been trained to recognize which are routed to operating versus internal systems. Additionally, we have diagnosing equipment that helps us trace the source of the electrical malfunction and resolve the underlying issue quickly.
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A Well-Functioning Exhaust System is not only important to vehicle passengers, but in a very real way, to our planet’s environment. One of the surest ways to ensure that your vehicle’s exhaust system is functioning correctly is to run an emissions test. Here at Auto Care Plus we utilize state-of-the art equipment that helps us pinpoint any leaks or equipment failure in your vehicle’s exhaust system.
EXHAUST SYSTEM CHECK-UP AND REPAIR
The exhaust system found in modern vehicles is a technical wonder that monitors and adjusts fuel efficiency and turns harmful gasses and hydrocarbon emissions into harmless water vapour. Its enemy is rust, corrosion, and impact holes. Our check-up includes a physical examination and component testing.
- The Exhaust Manifold emanates from the cylinder head and routes each cylinder’s exhaust into one pipe. Our checkup includes: A physical examination of the attaching hardware and the pipe itself.
- The Oxygen Sensor measures the amount of oxygen present in the manifold pipe and adjusts the fuel mixture for maximum efficiency. Our checkup includes: A physical examination of the component and an efficiency test through the vehicle’s main computer. Symptoms of trouble: Poor gas mileage, rough idling, engine “missing” (irregular timing sounds); a warning light from the emissions control system, (usually the check engine light).
- The Muffler muffles the sound of the engine to acceptable levels using baffles and fiberglass packing. Our checkup includes: A physical examination of the muffler for corrosion, holes, or leaks around the attaching hardware. When noise exists but no leaks exist, we examine the baffles and packing.
- The Exhaust Pipe carries unburned gas fumes to the tail pipe. Our checkup includes: A physical examination of the exhaust and tail pipe to determine if any holes or leaks are occurring.
- The Catalytic Converter converts harmful fumes and hydrocarbons to harmless water vapor and acceptable levels of carbon dioxide. It may also address the presence of nitrogen oxides. Our checkup includes: A physical examination of the converter coupled with an emissions test. Converters can become clogged and at that point, will need replaced. Symptoms of trouble: Heat beneath the floorboard of the vehicle, a sulfur smell while operating, or a heated, (often glowing red), converter.
- Cars that are used primarily for short trips consisting of less than 15 miles often succumb to internal moisture within the exhaust system. This is caused when moisture is not burned off by the engine, (because it never achieves its full operating temperature). Cars utilized in this manner need more-frequent checkups; and our technicians may recommend stainless or aluminum exhaust system products to help ward off corrosion.
- Cars that are exposed to salt products during the winter can preserve the health of their exhaust system, (as well as brakes and other parts), by washing the undercarriage every couple of weeks.
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We take care for your vehicle
Having your Brakes serviced and in good working order is imperative for you and your families safety. That’s why Auto Care Plus technicians are thoroughly versed in the operation of automotive braking systems. Our brake maintenance and repair services and technicians use their expertise to get your vehicle back on the road as quickly and reliable as possible.
BRAKE CHECKS & REPAIR CRITERIA
Our Auto Care Plus brake check is thorough and informative, whether your car has disk or drum brakes:
- Inspect the Master Cylinder. This examination ensures that the master cylinder is not worn or cracked. Symptoms of trouble: Brakes that feel mushy and don’t seem to grab the wheels when stopping.
- Check the Brake Lines. Brake fluids can be lost through leaky brake lines and quickly cause brake failure. Symptoms of trouble: Early symptoms are the same as Master Cylinder trouble; brakes feel mushy and aren’t grabbing properly. If the problem is left untreated, the calipers and master cylinder may also be affected.
- Examine Brake Fluid. Brake fluid should be kept at proper levels. It is important that these levels be checked no less than every six months. Manufacturers also recommend that brake fluids be changed approximately every two years. Symptoms of trouble: An unusual smell associated with excessive braking during traffic jams or when driving down steep hills, that require a large amount of braking.
- Examine Rotors/Drums. Rotors simply wear out around 90,000 kilometers, but heavy stop-and-go driving or driving with bad brake pads can shorten their life expectancy. Symptoms of trouble: Bad rotors can cause severe vibration when coming to a quick stop from speeds higher than 50 km/hr. A physical examination will often reveal deep pitting or grooves along the surface; or a surface worn down to less than the minimum thickness.
- Examine Brake Pads & Shoes. Because they are constantly exposed to friction, brake pads and shoes wear out more quickly than any other brake part. When brake pads and shoes need to be replaced, our technicians will also examine the rotors and calipers to ensure they are not worn. Symptoms of trouble: Whenever greater effort has to be exerted to stop a vehicle, the brakes should be thoroughly checked. Other signs of worn pads may include a pulsing brake pedal, noisy/grinding sound when stoping and/or vibration.
- Examine Brake Calipers. Calipers are designed to last as long as a rotor, but their life expectancy is shortened by exposure to Canadian climates and conditions, ice-melt products, including salt and chemicals, brake fluid leaks, and exposure to engine fluids or oils that occur during leaks or equipment failure. Symptoms of trouble: The most common indicator of caliper trouble is a high-pitched sound emanating from the brake area. Another indication is a thudding sound accompanying the act of braking; an indication that the caliper may have come loose. Pulling while braking or a seized brake also directs technicians to the brake calipers.
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TERMS ASSOCIATED WITH BRAKE-RELATED ISSUES
- Drag. This term is used to describe brakes that not only stick, but sometimes heat up wheels, (causing a burned odor), or affect engine power. This type of brake symptom can be one of the most dangerous, because the situation can quickly reverse, and the vehicle suddenly has no brakes.
- Grab. Breaks that lock or grab tight when barely touched may need lubrication, or they may have contaminated grease within the lining. There might also be broken components that could fail if enough pressure were applied, (such as during emergency braking)
- Pulling. Vehicles may pull sharply to the right or left while braking. This can be caused by an under-inflated tire, or is an indication that brakes either need adjustment or repair.
- Squealing or chattering. Minor braking noises can often be attributed to dirt between the break pad and the rotor, but frequent grinding, chattering, or squealing should be examined immediately.
- Vibrating. Brakes can shake the entire wheel system when rotors are bad or internal components have worked loose. Even the brake pedal or the steering wheel may begin rattling or vibrating. However, these issues are not always brake related. Steering mechanisms, CV joints, or bad tire alignment could also be at fault.