Steve examining an engine.

Will having repair work and factory-recommended servicing at someplace other than a dealer void my warranty?

No.  Work performed by other mechanics and even you, yourself, will not void the manufacturer’s warranty on your vehicle.  For more information, read this pamphlet by the Federal Trade Commission about your warranty and your rights, as a consumer.

The “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” is on. What should I do?

There are two types of service lights on modern vehicles. Some vehicles have a maintenance reminder light to reset after routine service is performed. The other light is M.I.L. (Malfunction Indicator Light) and is turned on when the power train control module detects an open, short, out of range, or rationality problem in the engine control or emissions control system. The primary purpose of this system is to protect the catalytic converter and insure low emissions while offering good driveability. O.B.D. (on board diagnostic) system is capable of capturing transient problems as well as constant problems and setting a code in the computer related to specific system problems. These codes on 96 and newer vehicles are SAE controlled codes and are universal between manufacturers.

It should be pointed out that codes are often glitches that may need regular additional diagnosis. Japanese Auto Service is happy to check and clear codes for no charge, usually on a drive-by basis.

How often should I change my oil?

Every 6 months or 5,000 miles, or as required by the manufacturer.

How often should I change my transmission fluid?

30,000 miles or manufacturer’s recommendation.

What does a timing belt do and why do I need to replace it?

A timing belt rotates the camshaft(s) which opens the valves. It is called a timing belt because it is essential that the timing between the camshaft and crankshift is correct so that the valves will open and close at the correct time. Many times that is not the only responsibility of the timing belt. In many vehicles, it also operates the water pump and oil pump. It is very important to know the condition of your timing belt because the vehicle cannot operate if it breaks. In some cases, severe engine damage can occur.

This part should be replaced at the manufacturer recommended intervals, usually every 60,000 to 105, 000 miles.

What is a C.V.J. (constant velocity joint) and why does it click when turning?

Constant velocity joints are a type of universal joint which allow the drive axles to rotate and transmit torque to the wheels in multiple planes without binding. Typically the protective rubber boot will tear or split and allow the lubricant to escape and allow contaminents to enter the joint. As the rollers in the joint pass over the worn areas in the grooves of the outside housing, they click. The most effective way to fix a worn C.V.J. is replacement with a remanufactured unit.

Why does the steering wheel shake or the brake pedal pulsate when braking, especially at higher speeds or after driving in the mountains and using the brakes a lot?

Brakes work by converting the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle into heat. This energy is absorbed by the brake disc or drum and then dissipated into the air which cools them.

Common causes of disc or drum warpage:

  • excess heat
  • improper wheel lugnut torque
  • warped wheel hubs

Downshifting the transmission (manual and especially automatic) will take some load off the brake system. Resurfacing the disc or drum usually cures the problem if the hubs are in good condition and the wheels are torqued properly.

When I accelerate or upshift my manual transmission, the rpm increases but the vehicle speed does not increase correspondingly.

Sounds like the typical worn out clutch. A clutch uses a friction material lined disc which is splined to the transmission input shaft.