1. I hear a strange sound. What could the problem be?

Strange sounds tend to be sidelined in the bustle and din of our roads, and by the car stereo playing in the background. However, if the problem persists, the car will make its condition known every time you take a corner or ride over a bump. Some easily recognizable sounds are

► Strange clicking while taking a turn from the front wheels means that the front shaft is about to fall apart. Get it fixed before it actually does.
► A fan-belt squeal means that another one is needed.
► Rhythmic clicks from the wheel indicate faulty bearings at worst or just large pebbles stuck in the tread pattern at the best.
► A change in engine tone usually indicates engine overheating, especially if you have been driving at constant speeds for a long time. Stopping or varying the engine speed should be enough if there is no severe problem. Otherwise, let the car cool down and then check radiator and water levels.
► Backfiring while normal driving means serious problems and should be properly investigated. Promptly.
► Engine knocks means that it is time to get into a lower gear. If it persists, however, it is time to get your engine and engine oil checked.

2. I smell something strange. What could the problem be?

► Smoky smells are of various kinds. Electrical smoky smells are the most dangerous and it is advisable to shut down, open the bonnet, disconnect the batteries and seek professional help. Other smoky smells may occur when the sound or heat proof lining inside the engine space burns. Trace the cause.
► Fuel smells occurs either when the fuel tank venting gets choked or if there has been an overflow.
► Sometimes, oil or exhaust smells from the engine occur. This maybe caused either due to too much engine oil, or if the engine oil has grown old and is burning, or if it has been overheated.
► Musty odors indicate the existence of some trapped water, usually under the carpet. This will ruin the carpet and also speed up corrosion. The proper solution would be to remove the carpets and dry both the carpet and the floor.
► A typical sweetish smell emanates when varnish is being burnt which occurs when your dynamo or alternator is about to pack up and would, usually be accompanied by flickering lights.
► Burning rubber smells tend to come when you drive with your brakes on. Overheated tires may also be the cause.

Strange smells are an early warning signal that need to be heeded if much more time and money are to be saved later on.

3. What Can Make an Engine Overheat?

Overheating is caused by anything that leads to a loss of coolant, prevents the cooling system from getting rid of heat, or causes excess heat in the engine itself:

► Coolant leaks (water pump, radiator, heater core, hoses, freeze plugs, head gasket, engine internal).
► Cooling system clogged (deposits built up in radiator or in engine due to maintenance neglect or use of hard water). Use a cleaner, then reverse flush system to clean it out. A badly clogged radiator may need to be rodded out or replaced.
► Weak radiator cap (does not hold rated pressure and allows coolant to boilover). Pressure test the cape to check it out.
► Thermostat stuck shut (replace).
► Inoperative electric cooling fan (check fan motor, relay and temperature switch for correct operation).
► Bad fan clutch (replace if slipping, leaking or loose).
► Missing fan shroud (reduces cooling efficiency of fan).
► Slipping fan belt (tighten or replace).
► Too low or too high a concentration of antifreeze (should be 50/50 for best cooling).
► Bad water pump impeller eroded or loose - replace pump).
► Debris in radiator (remove bugs and dirt).
► Collapsed radiator hose (check lower hose).
► Late ignition timing (reset to specs.)
► Restricted exhaust system (check intake vacuum readings and inspect converter, muffler and pipes).
► Radiator and/or fan undersized for application

4. What Should Be Included In A Complete Brake Job?

A complete brake job should restore a vehicle's brake system and braking performance to good-as-new condition. Anything less would be an incomplete brake job. Brake components that should be replaced will obviously depend upon the age, mileage and wear. A complete brake job should begin with a thorough inspection of the entire brake system; lining condition, rotors and drums, calipers and wheel cylinders, brake hardware, hoses, lines and master cylinder.

5. How Often Should Belts and Hoses Be Replaced?

Most hose manufacturers recommend replacing hoses every four years. With V-belts, every three years or 36,000 miles. The incidence of failure rises sharply after the forth year for hoses and third year for belts. A typical serpentine belt lifespan is about five years or 50,000 miles. Serpentine belts are thinner and more flexible than V-belts. They run cooler and last longer, but they cost about twice as much to replace.

6. Are There Any Special Signs I Should Look For When Purchasing A Used Car?

Have the car checked out. If you do not have a car checked out by a professional you are making a big mistake. The cost is very minor and we always give a buyer more ammunition for bringing the price down. Money spent on checking out a used car is well spent.

7. My Car Is Making A Pinging Sound. What Does It Mean?

Most likely, a pinging sound coming from your engine indicates timing problems. Sometimes pinging is caused by poor quality or low octane fuel. Pinging can cause damage. We strongly advise that to have your car checked out by a professional to determine whether it's causing damage.

8. Do I really Have to Rotate My Tires?

It is advisable on some cars, but not on others. Factors which may indicate whether tire rotation is necessary are independent suspension, radial tires as well as other factors. To be sure, ask your auto professional.

9. How Often Should My Car Receive a Tune-up?

Most cars require regularly scheduled tune-ups yearly and require major maintenance at 60,000 miles.

10. Do I have to Go To The Dealership For Regularly Scheduled Maintenance?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Your new car warranty can be applied to any independent automotive shop. We often hear dealership horror stories where customers have to keep going back to the dealer time after time to complete a simple repair. Why waste time and money! At Alpha Auto Repair, we have qualified, trained technicians that listen to you and most importantly, GET THE JOB RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!

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