Warning Signs

Warning Signs, Recommendations, and How Doug Can Help

(click on each problem to see recommendation)

ABS BASIC OPERATION

It is a well known fact that if wheels lock under panic braking, then steering control and directional stability is lost, and maximum braking efficiency is not achieved.  Maximum braking efficiency available at each wheel occurs just before the wheel locks.  On a non-ABS system, wheel lock can be avoided by rapid application and release of the brake pedal as practiced by highly skilled drivers who can overcome panic during emergency braking.  This is the basis of the operation of the ABS system.  The brakes are applied and released in extremely quick succession much faster than the most skillful driver.

Acura’s ABS system is sensed electronically at each wheel and reacts several times per second depending on the circumstances at the time of braking. To determine whether or not the wheels are in danger of locking, the ABS system monitors the speeds at which the wheels rotate. When the ABS system senses that one wheel’s resistance to lock-up is lower than the others, it reduces the hydraulic pressure to the brake caliper of that wheel. This allows the wheel on the point of locking to regain traction, and once again rotate at the same speed as the other wheels.  When this occurs the driver will feel a kick back in the brake pedal.  When driving a vehicle with ABS, it is important NOT to pump the pedal.  Let the computer and sensors do all the work for you.

CATALYTIC CONVERTER

The catalytic converter is the single most important emission control device in use today.  When a converter fails to do its job properly, it is my job to determine the reason for the failure, make repairs or replace the converter, and verify that the tailpipe emission levels are again within their limits.

NOISES

Never ignore strange noises. If you drive the car most of the time, and you hear a noise that was not there the last time you drove the car, and it does not sound like it is going away any time soon, you should have someone check it out for you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

O2 SENSORS

The O2 Sensor is one of the most important inputs to the engine management system. The O2 Sensor readings have a direct impact on the engine system’s ability to provide good performance with low emissions. If the sensor fails, the engine management system will not have the necessary feedback data it requires. By understanding this sensor’s operation and testing, I can easily evaluate and troubleshoot O2 Sensor feedback system problems.

OIL CHANGES

Based on my own experience with my personal vehicles, I recommend changing the oil every 3,750 miles or 90 days, whichever comes first. I do not believe in the need for expensive synthetic oil in normal use vehicles that are serviced as mentioned above. Acura even points that out in some of the later owner’s manuals.

OIL LIGHTS

Never drive with an oil light on or flashing.  Quickly pull over and turn off the engine. Checking the oil level will quickly tell you whether you have a low oil situation or an internal oil pressure problem. If the level is low (not showing on the dipstick), that may be why you have a light on.  Correct the level and then restart the engine.  If the light still appears, call a tow truck. If the light stays out, you may drive home or to the nearest full service facility and find out why the oil level was low. Each time the light is on, at that moment, you have no oil pressure, which means that your high revving engine is running with no lubrication.

OVERHEATING

Never drive your vehicle when you know or suspect that your engine is overheating. This is a very expensive decision.  If your temperature gauge is 3/4 or over, pull over and turn off the engine. Do not try to fix it yourself.  Just raising your hood at the wrong time can cause serious injury. If you do not see any steam or coolant boiling out onto the ground, you should be able to allow your engine to cool off 15- 20 minutes, then restart and quickly drive to the nearest phone or service facility while constantly watching the temperature gauge. The safest decision is usually to call a tow truck. Just a minimum amount of overheating can actually ruin your engine and lead to costly repairs. Constantly observing the gauges on your car while driving should be as regular as looking into your mirrors.

TIMING BELTS

If your Acura or Honda is at least five years old or you have 90,000 + miles on your car, you may be past due for a timing belt replacement.  After so many miles or several years of usage, all belts are subject to normal wear and tear.  The timing belt keeps your engine’s camshaft in proper time with your crankshaft. It is also responsible for turning other components like the water pump and oil pump depending on your model. If the timing belt breaks while the engine is running, serious engine damage can occur. One or more of the pistons will usually come in contact with an open valve and this becomes a costly repair. The great news is that it can be avoided by replacing your belts in a timely matter. Shopping for your preventative belt replacement can be very tricky. Several shops and dealerships will try to lure you in over the phone with a very low price for a timing belt job. Then when you arrive, they only explain the extras after they get your timing covers off. I replace the timing belt, balancer shaft belt, all outside drive belts, water pump, and coolant.  All of these items get replaced because they can destroy your new timing belt if any of them fail after the belt is replaced (which I have seen happen over the years). So when price shopping, be sure to compare what you are actually paying for.  Don’t be fooled by those low prices.