Our state of the art alignment machine can accommodate most vehicle make and models. It does have some limitation; the maximum length of the vehicle's wheel base that can be aligned is 165 inches and the maximum width of the tires can be 85 inches wide. We also align dual rear wheel vehicles as long as they are withing the aforementioned specifications. It is imperative to align your front wheels when you have any major front end work done. This includes but is not limited to what is listed below. An alignment can be done on your vehicle when you purchase and install new tires. WE DO NOT SELL TIRES!! We recommend you purchase your tires locally at Ricks Tire Service in Quincy, or Pell's Tire Service in Coldwater. A four wheel alignment is needed when you have major front and rear steering and suspension work done; see below for what that could entail. The year, make, and model of the vehicle determines if it needs a four wheel alignment, not all vehicles will require one.
Front Wheel Alignment: The basic steering and suspension system consist of the following: idler arms, ball joints, tie rod ends, pitman arm, stabilizer links, axle shafts, spindles/knuckles, rack and pinion, center link, struts and strut mounts. These are all checked when the wheels of the vehicle are aligned.
Four Wheel Alignment: Aligns all four of the vehicle's wheels. We inspect all of the front and rear suspension parts. Rear end components include: rear struts, strut springs, upper strut mounts, control arm bushings, and radius arm bushings or an adjustment kit.
Adjustment/alignment kits: These make the caster and camber adjustable. Most manufactures do not put them on and some vehicles (depending on the year, make, and model) will need one to adjust the camber and caster in the front and/or rear end. It is additional cost to the part(s) and labor.
ESC (Electronic Steering Control) Reset or ES Stability: Most of the 2008 and newer vehicles have this. The technician has to re-calibrate the steering control module to tell it that the steering wheel it is centered. Your vehicle identification number (VIN) will tell the alignment computer if this is required. There maybe an addition charge to re-calibrate the vehicle's ESC module.
Common signs your vehicle is having steering and suspension issues include but are not limited to the following:
1. Vehicle is pulling to one side when driving.
~ This could be caused by worn shocks, brakes, or your tires.
2. You can feel all of the bumps on the road.
~This could be caused by worn out shock absorbers or struts.
~You would most likely hear a knocking noise when you are driving over the bumps.
3. Sitting low to the road.
~This could be caused by a worn or damaged spring.
~You might also hear a clunking noise when driving over bumps or hitting a deep pothole.
You may even have creaking or squealing.
4. Difficulty steering
5. Vehicle is "nose diving" when accelerating or
squatting backwards when you brake
The rear steering components consists of rear struts or shocks, strut springs, upper strut mounts, control arm bushings, radius arm bushings, trailing arm bushings, sway bar links, and sway bar bushings. These components need to be inspected when there is a suspension issue. Read on to learn more about these components and what they do for your vehicle:
Rear Shocks/ Struts: They are the road force-clamping devices. They absorb the shock of the road/bumps.
Strut Springs: They are the springs that wrap around the struts.
Upper Strut Mounts: They are the mounts that hold the struts to the body.
Control Arm Bushings: They hold the control arm to the body frame.
Radius Arm Bushing: It is the bushing between the radius arm and the body.
Trailing Arm Bushing: Holds the rear lower control arm to the chassis.
Sway Bar Link: Connects the sway bar to the lower control arm.
Sway Bar Bushings: Connects the sway bar to the chassis.
Your vehicle is your second largest investment, which is why you MUST make it a priority to schedule your preventive maintenance services. Its much cheaper to have your transmission serviced than it is to have your transmission replaced. Let that sink in...
Preventative maintenance items can be placed in the budget instead of a total surprise replacement. Here is a list of maintenance items that need to be done on your vehicle to keep it running at its optimal performance levels:
Oil Change: Needs to be performed every 3,000 miles. This service includes greasing all of the fittings, draining the old oil, adding in the new oil, and replacing the oil filter. We inspect all of the fluids (refill as necessary), check the tire pressure, inspect the belts and hoses, and for any leaks. With this service you also receive a complementary service inspection and we will recommend any necessary repairs.
Tire Rotation: Your front tires do the steering, so they wear faster because they are the ones turning first. You need to rotate your rear tires to the front so that they can also get the same wear as the front ones were getting. This gives the tires their optimal performance over their lifespan. It is crucial for all wheel drive vehicles to rotate their tires because if you don't rotate them your tires have more tread left on the rear and less on the front. This puts a bind on the drive shaft and can cause other major costly issues down the road. It is important that you rotate your tires every other oil change, or every 6,000 miles.
Tune Up: Your vehicle needs a tune up every 80,000 - 100,000 miles. Your vehicle will get better gas mileage and will perform at its optimal performance. If you skip on your tune up the vehicle will have poor gas mileage, the engine will not run efficiently, the vehicle may stall, have a hard start, and the vehicle will not run properly.
There are two types of tune ups; a minor and a major.
A minor tune up consists of the following: Remove and replacing the spark plugs, spark plug wires, air filter, and PVC.
A major tune up consists of the following: Remove and replacing the spark plugs, spark plug wires, air filter, PVC, cap and rotor when applicable, fuel filter, and an injection flush and throttle body clean.
A fuel injection flush is a thorough cleaning of the fuel and induction system. The injectors put the fuel into the combustion chamber and the injectors need to stay clean in order to get the correct amount of fuel and air mixture. It is important that the fuel is the correct amount or the vehicle will give low gas mileage, surging, hesitation, low power, and in extreme cases it will cause a misfire and the check engine light will come on. This could cause major drive-ability issues if not flushed.
The throttle body sucks the air into the engine, which is important to have the right amount of air coming into the engine. This helps the gas burn. You need to have this cleaned because it keeps the throttle body plate from sticking from a varnish build up. If you do not clean it, the throttle plate can get a build up around the plate causing stalling, low idle, hesitation, surging, and the check engine light can come on. Also, there will be a build up of varnish on the throttle plate and the intake manifold. The varnish build up will make the gas pedal hard to press down on acceleration.
Diagnosing electrical problems can be as simple as pulling a code and tracing wires to figuring out whats causing the issue, to being extremely complicated and having to trace wires like inspector gadget ... but it can be done. Vehicles these days are equipped with more computer systems than you think. Some have up to 50! These computers, or modules, control components like engines, safety features, etc.
If you are having an electrical issue the first thing a technician does is hook the vehicles control module onto their fancy scan tool. When a code comes onto the screen, they will diagnose what it means and start tracing wires or computer modules to see what needs replaced. People wonder why we charge a price to diagnose an electrical problem. You could very well head down to O'Reilly's or Auto Zone to get your vehicle scanned, but by doing so, the part store will just want to sell you parts to put on your vehicle. There is no guarantee that that part is going to fix the issue you have. Because if it doesn't, you'll just head back to the part store to buy more parts ... because that's exactly what the part store wants you to do ... BUY MORE PARTS FROM THEM!!!
We charge a fee to scan your vehicle because our scan tool is a top of the line OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture), and will point us in the right direction to diagnose the fault so we can repair the wiring or install the right part on the first time and get your vehicle back on the road.
Our brake inspection consists of checking the brake fluid, examining the brake pads for excessive wear, measuring the thickness of the rotors, inspecting the calipers and wheel cylinders to see if they are leaking or malfunctioning, and inspecting the brake hardware for excessive rust or broken springs.
A Basic brake job includes the following: Resurfacing the rotors or drums, replacing the pads or shoes, and cleaning and lubing the caliper slides if needed. The rotors are measured and If they are not within manufacture specifications, they will need to be replaced.
Resurfacing the rotors: The technician measures the thickness of each rotor to make sure it is within manufacture specifications. If it is, he will manually remove each rotor and place them on a brake lathe machine which will smooth out all of the high and low spots. The rotors have high and low spots from general use of the brakes. These high and low spots are what inhibits the brake pads from coming into contact with the rotor like it should. After the high and low spots are smoothed out, the technicians will measure the thickness of the rotor and replace them back on the vehicle. If the rotors cannot be resurfaced we will put new ones on the vehicle.
If the rotors are not resurfaced or replaced there will be pulsation while braking, the vehicle could pull to one side while braking, the steering wheel could be shaky while braking, and the brake pedal can become soft or have excessive travel and uneven brake pad/shoe wear will occur. Therefore, it is very important to have your rotors resurfaced or replaced while having your brakes replaced.
Did you know that maintaining your heating and air conditioning systems is just as important as your scheduled maintenance protocols mentioned above? We take for granted these systems in the car, and when they break it's usually at the most inconvenient time. Your vehicle's heater core is responsible for cooling your car's engine on hot days, and the A/C system plays a vital role during the colder months. If not maintained properly or ignored altogether, this could lead to costly repairs down the road.
Some common issues that would require a proper diagnosing include but are not limited to:
Low air flow or inconsistent temperatures
Puddle of water on the passenger side floor
Fogging on the windshield during defrosting
Growing, squealing, or grinding noises when the A/C or Heat is on
Heating System: Regular maintenance of the system will include the technician inspecting the hoses and belts, and ensuring the antifreeze is clean and filled to the proper levels. Major components of this system are the blower fan, heater core, radiator, and thermostat.
A/C System: Regular maintenance of the system will include the technician inspecting the belts and hoses, the compressor, the heater blower fan and the engine cooling fan, inspect any restrictions in the system, and for proper air flow through the condenser and evaporator.
Coolant/ Radiator Flush: The radiator function is to dissipate the heat from the engine. You would need to have this flushed when dirt, rust, and scale plugs up the tubes that distribute the coolant to the engine. If you do not flush the system the engine could overheat and eventually fail. If the technician cannot flush the system, you may need to replace the vehicle's radiator.
The air conditioning system in your car is comprised of a compressor, condenser, receiver drier, expansion valve and evaporator. If you have ever used a can of compressed air to clean computer components, you will know that the bottle gets very cold in a short amount of time. This is due to the rapid expansion of the compressed gas. The same thing happens in your car’s air conditioning system. Refrigerant (AKA Freon) is compressed in the compressor and turns into a hot gas. In the condenser, this hot gas is cooled to a liquid state and travels to the expansion valve. As the Freon goes through the expansion valve it returns to a low-pressure gas and rapidly cools in the evaporator. A fan blows over the evaporator and cools the air that eventually blows out your vents.
The starting and charging system consists of the battery, alternator, and starter.
Battery: the technician inspects the battery terminals then the battery voltage output. The battery terminals can become loose and/or dirty and corroded from the battery acid preventing a good connection and can severely reduce the lifespan of the battery and the alternator. This is a common no start condition. A weak battery that is not storing enough voltage will cause the alternator to work harder and possibly cause premature alternator failure. Slow start to no start can occur.
Alternator: Should have an output of 14.5 volts for most vehicles and the technician will check it. They test it with a voltage meter to see if it is putting out enough volts. The alternator can become weak over time and can cause a hard start to a no start.
The alternator provides voltage to all of the accessories while the vehicle is running and it keeps the battery charged.
You need to have the alternator checked because a weak alternator can let the battery die, leading to additional costly repairs, and you could be left stranded on the side of the road.
Starter: This is what gets your motor running when you turn the ignition key or when you push the start button. Common issues that you may have with your starter include but are not limited to the following: your vehicle won't start, you have intermittent starting problems, your interior lights dim when you try to start the car, you hear a grinding noise when the car is starting, you hear a whining or whirring sound and the engine doesn't crank, your starter keeps running after the engine is started, you smell a burning smell or see smoke from under the engine, or your starter is soaked with oil. The technician will have to diagnose the vehicle to rule out the battery and charging system as a cause. An issue with the battery could be the issue to the aforementioned problems. The vehicle could also have wiring issues which the technician would have to scan the vehicle for any possible codes. The technician will also test the starter motor, the solenoid, and the starter relay to see if any of these components are not working correctly.