New Year’s Car Resolutions for Tacoma Motorists

New Year’s car resolutions, car resolutions

Most New Year’s resolutions concern health and finances. However, we suggest adding a few automotive related goals. After all, you depend on your car for your livelihood when you commute to work or run errands. New Year’s car resolutions keep your car healthy and reliable.

1. Change Your Oil

A routine oil change seems so basic and common sense. Yet, so many people hold off until an engine or transmission issue occurs. This routine auto service only runs around $50, but could prevent thousands of dollars in repairs. Refer to your vehicle’s manual to determine oil change intervals and set a reminder on your mobile phone.

2. Learn How to Change a Tire

This is a street-smart skill that every licensed motorist should know. Yet, 60% of people don’t know how to do it, according to an NBC report. You can google step-by-step instructions for a primer. However, this is one of those things that require hands-on experience. Practice a few times in your garage. Common issues for first-timers include operating the jack, removing the bolts, and pulling out the tire once the bolts are removed.

3. Learn How to Jumpstart a Car

Like changing a tire, this is another skill that many drivers lack hands-on experience in. You should have jumper cables in your car at the very least. We recommend a portable battery booster, so you can jumpstart without requiring a second vehicle. However, we still recommend learning how to jumpstart the traditional way. Remember this: red cable is positive and black cable negative.

Celebrate 2020 With New Year’s Car Resolutions

Auto repairs should be among your resolutions if you’ve been holding off repairs. If your goals for 2020 include a new career, Jones Automotive Clinic has employment opportunities available. Commemorate the start of a new decade with New Year’s car resolutions.

Auto Repair, Maintenance, and Servicing

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Power Steering Flush: What Is It and Do Tacoma Car Owners Require One?

power steering flush

Your car’s power steering system enables you to turn your steering wheel effortlessly, using only a light touch with your hands. Like other components, this system requires fluid to operate. When the fluid goes bad, it may be time for a power steering flush.

What Is a Power Steering Flush?

A power steering flush is not unlike a transmission flush. That is, the power steering fluid is completely removed and replaced with fresh fluid. As the miles rack up, the fluid can accumulate impurities. These include bits of surface metal and rubber from the system. Unlike the engine and transmission, however, the power steering system does not have a filter to remove contaminants. The presence of the impurities can degrade the seals.

An auto service can perform a power steering flush according to your car manual’s recommended intervals or if the fluid turns brownish.

Does My Car Need a Power Steering Flush?

Here’s how to recognize the signs that the power steering is going awry. The most obvious sign is that the steering wheel becomes a lot harder to turn. It feels like you’re getting an arm workout just from navigating the car. You may also hear a squealing noise when you turn the wheel.

If the car is parked, you may notice a fluid leak. This is due to a broken seal; impurities in the fluid, as we mentioned earlier, can degrade the seal.

These symptoms can also point to a faulty power steering pump or a snapped drive belt.

We Perform Power Steering Flushes

Bring your car to Jones Automotive Clinic if you notice any of the signs of a failing power steering system. Our auto repair center can determine if you need a complete flush or if a simple fluid change will suffice. We perform power steering flushes on all models, including retrofitted classic cars.

Power Steering Flush and Fluid Change

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Signs of Driveshaft Failure in Tacoma

driveshaft failure

Can you recognize the signs of a driveshaft failure? Most car owners are unable to do so because they are only semi-familiar with the driveshaft and its function. This is actually one of the vehicle’s most critical yet overlooked components.

What Is a Driveshaft?

The driveshaft is a cylindrical device that links the gearbox and differential. Its role is to transfer power from the engine to the tires. The driveshaft is a critical component, particularly in rear-wheel drive cars. Vehicles ranging from Toyota and Subaru models to more obscure foreign brands almost all have driveshafts.

The driveshaft seldom fails instantaneously. The wear is gradual and accompanied by symptoms. Be alert for the signs of driveshaft failure outlined below.

Intense Vibrations

Cars vibrate for a number of reasons. However, if the vibration feels intense and comes from underneath the car, then a failing driveshaft may be the cause. The problem may lie in the shaft’s bushings or U-joint. If not fixed, the continued vibrations can accelerate wear of nearby drivetrain parts.

Unusual Noises

As mentioned, a worn driveshaft may indicate worn bushings or U-joint. When these parts fail, they can prevent the driveshaft from rotating properly. The end-result is an audible noise that may resemble a scraping, rattling, or squeaking sound. The sounds may especially be heard when the car is at a low speed. Atypical sounds combined with vibrations should be taken seriously and warrant a prompt trip to an auto service provider.

Turning Problems

The car may feel stiff when making a sharp turn or a complete U-turn. You may feel resistance from the tires, as if they refuse to turn. Parking may also feel more difficult, or maneuvering into a tight space.

Don’t Ignore a Failing Driveshaft

A failing driveshaft can affect maneuvering, making it a serious safety liability. Bring your car to Jones Automotive Clinic for auto repairs the minute you recognize the signs of a driveshaft failure.

Driveshaft Diagnosis and Repair

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Signs of a Bad Car Starter in Tacoma

car starter

Is your car having trouble starting? Most people instantly think it’s a battery problem. However, you may also have a bad car starter. Usually, the vehicle will give you some clues that will help you figure out why it won’t start.

Is the Engine Cranking?

Pay attention when you turn the ignition. Is the engine cranking at all? If it’s cranking but not starting, then the problem probably stems from a faulty fuel system or ignition and not the starter. Either way, an auto repair technician will need to run a diagnostics check.

If the starter is the issue, you may hear a noise when turning the key. Pay attention to what you hear. The following noises point to the probable source of the trouble.

Whirring Sound

The car starter has a component called the overrunning clutch that releases the pinion from the flywheel. The starter solenoid then kicks in and engages the flywheel, which provides the engine with kinetic energy. A whirring sound may indicate a worn solenoid.

Grinding Sound

You may also hear a rough grinding noise. This usually indicates a faulty pinion gear with worn teeth. The teeth may be gnashing due to the pinion and flywheel coming out of place. It’s also possible that the starter motor’s mounting bolts may be loose. An auto service will need to determine the exact cause.

Buzzing Sound

If you hear a subtle buzzing sound, then there may be a poor electrical connection. The flow is inadequate and insufficient for supplying power to the solenoid plunger. A bad electrical current is probably due to low battery power.

We Will Fix a Bad Car Starter

We diagnose a faulty starter for all car models, including common manufacturers like Subaru and Toyota. Bring your car to Jones Automotive Clinic if the ignition is acting up. A bad car starter requires professional diagnosis and remediation.

Car Starter Repair and Replacement

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Is Your Car’s AC Blowing Warm Air? AC Maintenance for Tacoma Car Owners

car AC warm, car AC maintenance, car AC malfunction

Summer is winding down; nevertheless, you can still expect a few more weeks of hot weather. You will still need to rely on your AC for the time being. However, many motorists have complained that their car’s AC is blowing warm air. What’s going on with the AC system?

Refrigerant Leak

The AC’s refrigerant may need to be topped off. If the refrigerant level is low, then there is probably a leak. Without enough refrigerant, the AC begins blowing warm air. Unlike other leaks, this does not necessarily manifest in the form of oily puddles under the car. An auto repair technician will need to identify the more subtle signs, such as oil buildup around the AC hose.

Faulty Compressor

The compressor has the all-important task of circulating the refrigerant and shuttling heat from the car’s interior. If the compressor doesn’t operate correctly, the refrigerant can’t do its job. Warm air out of the AC vent is one of the symptoms.

To prevent premature compressor wear, run the AC at least once a month during the off-season. Alternatively, you can simply run the defroster.

Faulty Electrical System

The car’s AC system is far more complex than the average motorist realizes. It has dozens of wires, fuses, and pressure and relay switches. Any of these components can malfunction at any moment due to old age. When this happens, the AC will automatically shut down to prevent further damage. In some instances, it will continue to operate but blow hot and stuffy air. An auto service will need to determine which specific component has worn out.

Car AC Blowing Warm Air? Bring the Car to Us

Bring your car to Jones Automotive Clinic if the AC is failing to cool the cabin. We diagnose and repair AC for all vehicle models, including classic cars and hybrids. The car’s AC blowing warm air is not normal; it’s a sign of a faulty system.

Car Air Conditioning Maintenance

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Engine Overheating Prevention: How to Stop Your Car from Overheating in Tacoma

prevent engine overheating, engine overheating

It’s not just people that feel the brunt of the summer heat. Your car is just as susceptible to a heatwave. So, we see more car breakdowns where the hood seems to be blowing smoke. Preventing engine overheating is crucial for minimizing the chances of a breakdown on a hot summer day. Here’s how:

Check the Coolant and the Radiator

During summer, check the radiator and the coolant reservoir at least once a week. You definitely need to do this before an extended road trip. For the coolant, you don’t even need to remove the cap. Just see whether the fluid is at or above the “full” line.

Switch Off the Air Conditioner

It sounds crazy to switch off the AC inside a hot car cabin. However, this is precisely what you should do if you see the temperature gauge rising above normal levels. This takes some of the load off the engine. You should also turn the blower on full blast. This will suck some of the heat from the engine bay and transfer it into the interior cabin. This will turn the cabin into a sauna, but it will cool the engine a bit.

Pull Over

If the temperature gauge continues to rise, pull over when safe to do so. Open the hood to let out the trapped heat. Keep the hood open for about 20-minutes. When the engine has cooled, pour some water over the radiator.

Even if the car appears to operate normally after this, we suggest that you stop at an auto service. Err on the side of caution with a professional cooling system inspection.

Engine Overheating Prevention Is Crucial This Summer

Bring your car to an auto repair station if you notice the temperature gauge consistently moving up. This applies for all models, from modern to classic cars. Let Jones Automotive Clinic examine your car; engine overheating prevention should include professional diagnosis.

Summer Automotive Inspection

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

How Summer Heat Affects Your Car Battery

car battery heat

People tend to think that the car battery loses its juice during winter. In reality, the battery is prone to dying under any temperature extremes. Today you’ll learn how summer heat affects your car battery, especially how it drains the power.

How Heat Affects a Car Battery

The ideal operating temperature for a battery is about 80-degrees Fahrenheit. The heat from the air helps induce the chemical activity that takes place within the electrolyte solution inside the battery case. Too much heat, however, causes internal corrosion and reduces battery life. It also leads to evaporation of the electrolyte solution.

The effects, though, aren’t immediate, and the battery usually doesn’t die until the following fall. This leads car owners to believe that it’s the cooling temperature that’s responsible. Our auto service sees an uptick of dead batteries in autumn, though we know the damage occurred during the summer heatwave.

How to Preserve Battery Life

Heat affects the battery whether the car is in motion or sitting in the driveway. A few simple modifications will preserve your battery for the long haul.

  • Limit the time the car is parked outdoors or park in the shade whenever possible.
  • Consider investing in a carport if you don’t have a garage. You may need permission from your city to install one on your property.
  • Regularly bring your car to an auto repair station. This is especially the case for older or classic cars. These may have batteries that need to be topped off with fluids.
  • Check the battery for corrosion buildup on the terminals. If corrosion is present, remove it using a towel or brush.

We Check and Service Vehicle Batteries

Heat leads to accelerated wear of certain car parts. Bring your vehicle to Jones Automotive Clinic this summer to check the health of your battery. Heat affects  your car battery in ways that can be detrimental to any automobile model.

Car Battery Checkup and Replacement

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Driving on an Empty Gas Tank in Tacoma: Is It Safe?

Driving with the fuel light on is a no-no. Yet, thousands of motorists find themselves in this situation every year. Why is driving on an empty gas tank dangerous and how does this affect your car? 

empty gas tank

Why People Drive on an Empty Gas Tank

According to one survey, two million drivers indicated they regularly drive with the low-fuel warning light on. The reason? They refrain from stopping at a gas station, hoping the price will go down if they wait a little longer. However, by constantly letting the gas run precariously low, they are causing damage to their car. Ultimately, they end up spending far more for an auto repair shop. 

We advise filling up whenever the fuel gauge reaches the 1/4th mark. Also, don’t solely rely on the fuel gauge to determine fuel levels. Your driving habits determine how many more miles the car can travel. When you reach the point where you need to refuel, we suggest using your smartphone to look for the cheapest gas near your location.

The Dangers of Driving on an Empty Gas Tank

First, you run the risk of running out of fuel in a very inconvenient place, such as the fast lane of the freeway. Secondly, running low on fuel can also be bad for your car. How so? Fuel acts like a coolant by keeping the electric fuel pump motor cool. When gas is low, the pump ends up sucking more air, which creates heat and leads to premature wear.

The gas tank may also contain sediment that sinks to the bottom of the tank. When fuel is low, the pump sucks up the sediment which clogs the fuel filter.

Be Mindful of Fuel Levels

Avoid costly auto service by keeping your fuel level at least 1/4th full. Bring your vehicle to Jones Automotive Clinic for Subaru and Toyota repairs or service of any residential vehicle. Driving on an empty gas tank may cause unnecessary damage.

Residential and Classic Car Maintenance

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Know Your Automotive Repair Rights in Tacoma

automotive repair rights

Chances are that you know less about cars than your local mechanic. With auto repair shops, we know people may have doubts regarding the mechanic’s integrity. Fortunately, automotive repair rights do exist in the state of Washington that shield you from unethical practices.

What Are Your Automotive Repair Rights?

Not every state has such a law in place. Washington has the Auto Repair Act, outlined under the official Washington State Office of the Attorney General. Here are some of the provisions.

Estimates: For in-person services where repairs are expected to surpass $100, you are entitled to a written repair estimate. The technician cannot charge you more than 10% above the estimate without your approval.

Invoicing: The invoice must include a description of the service, along with parts provided. The technician must indicate whether each part is new, used, or a rebuild. The invoice must also include the price of each individual part, along with labor fees for installation.

All automotive-related shops must follow these guidelines. This includes collision repair centers, windshield installers, tire repair services, etc.

The Rights of the Auto Shop

The Auto Repair Act goes both ways, meaning it also grants certain protections to the auto service. The repair shop has the right, for example, to put a lien on your vehicle. In other words, they can legally hold your car until you pay your bill. 

However, even this right is limited. The technician cannot hold your car if charges exceeded 110% of the written estimate. The same is true if the shop failed to post a sign outlining your customer rights.

We Respect Your Rights

At Jones Automotive Clinic, we operate with integrity. This holds true for all repair types, from residential vehicle servicing to classic car repairs. We will never violate your automotive repair rights because we value your trust and patronage.

Trustworthy Automotive Repairs

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

What Happens When You Miss an Oil Change in Tacoma?

miss an oil change

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to get an oil change every 3,000 miles. However, you absolutely need to perform a change according to intervals in your vehicle’s user manual. What are the implications for your vehicle’s engine when you miss an oil change?

Why Motor Oil Is Necessary

Most people have never seen an engine in action. Car engines consist of multiple moving parts that often rubbing against each other. This leads to friction and heat, the latter is detrimental to an engine. Oil acts as lubrication between the moving parts.

What Happens When the Oil Dries Out?

Motor oil eventually degrades due to exposure to the accumulation of metal particles. The oil turns to sludge as particulates begin building up. With its lubrication abilities diminished, the engine experiences excess heat. Parts like the camshaft, bearings, and crankshaft accumulate heat as less oil flows in their direction. The end result? Premature damage and an expensive engine replacement or rebuild.

How to Prevent It

Our auto repair center has repaired countless engines whose damage could have been avoided with a timely oil change. 

Consider this: a conventional oil change costs $25 to $55, or up to $70 if using synthetic oil. Do you know how much an engine rebuild costs? Between $600 and $4,000. We think paying $25 to $75 every few months is heck of a lot better than footing a bill for up to $4,000. 

The takeaway? Whether you drive a common model like Toyota or an exotic brand, all models require an oil change, no exceptions. Neglecting this basic service drastically reduces engine lifespan.

Never Miss an Oil Change

Stop by our auto service for your car’s next scheduled oil change. Jones Automotive Clinic will keep your engine running strong. Miss an oil change at your own risk.

Auto Servicing for all Vehicle Brands

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston