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How Do You Know if A Car Thermostat is Bad?

A car panel with temperature adjustments.

Understanding the Role of the Car Thermostat

The thermostat is a small but crucial component in your car’s cooling system. It regulates the flow of coolant to maintain the engine’s optimal operating temperature. When the thermostat malfunctions, it can lead to serious engine problems and costly repairs. In this blog post, we’ll explore the signs of a bad car thermostat, how to diagnose the issue, and the importance of timely repairs.

The car thermostat is a valve that controls the flow of coolant between the engine and the radiator. It ensures that the engine warms up quickly and maintains a stable operating temperature. When the engine is cold, the thermostat stays closed, allowing the engine to reach its optimal temperature faster. Once the engine is warm, the thermostat opens to allow coolant to circulate, preventing overheating.

Common Symptoms of a Bad Thermostat

Recognizing the symptoms of a bad thermostat can help you address the issue before it leads to more significant problems. Here are some common signs to watch for:

Overheating Engine

One of the most apparent signs of a bad thermostat is an overheating engine. If the thermostat is stuck closed, coolant cannot circulate, causing the engine temperature to rise rapidly. You might notice the temperature gauge moving into the red zone or receive a warning light on the dashboard. An overheating engine can lead to severe damage, so it’s crucial to address this issue immediately.

Engine Running Cold

Conversely, if the thermostat is stuck open, the engine may run too cold. This can result in poor fuel efficiency, increased emissions, and a lack of heat from the car’s heater. An engine that never reaches its optimal temperature will also experience increased wear and tear over time, potentially shortening its lifespan.

Fluctuating Temperature Gauge

A faulty thermostat can cause erratic temperature readings on your dashboard gauge. You might see the needle rapidly moving between hot and cold or fluctuating without a clear pattern. This inconsistency indicates that the thermostat is not regulating the coolant flow correctly, leading to unstable engine temperatures.

Poor Engine Performance

A malfunctioning thermostat can impact overall engine performance. If your car feels sluggish, lacks power, or you notice a decrease in fuel efficiency, the thermostat could be the culprit. The engine’s performance is optimized at specific temperatures, and a bad thermostat disrupts this balance, affecting fuel combustion and efficiency.

Coolant Leaks

If you notice coolant leaking under your car, it could be a sign of a thermostat problem. A stuck thermostat can cause pressure to build up in the cooling system, leading to leaks at the thermostat housing or other weak points. Inspect the area around the thermostat and the cooling system for signs of leakage.

Diagnosing a Bad Thermostat

If you suspect your car’s thermostat is bad, there are a few diagnostic steps you can take to confirm the issue:

Visual Inspection

Start with a visual inspection of the thermostat housing and surrounding area. Look for signs of leaks, corrosion, or damage. Ensure that the thermostat housing is securely attached and that there are no visible cracks or breaks.

Check the Coolant Level

Ensure that the coolant level in your radiator and reservoir is adequate. Low coolant levels can cause overheating and similar symptoms to a bad thermostat. If the coolant level is low, top it up and monitor the temperature gauge. If the problem persists, the thermostat may be the issue.

Feel the Radiator Hoses

With the engine running and warmed up, carefully feel the upper and lower radiator hoses. Both hoses should feel warm if the thermostat is functioning correctly. If the upper hose is hot and the lower hose is cold, the thermostat may be stuck closed. If both hoses remain cold, the thermostat might be stuck open.

Test the Thermostat

For a more definitive diagnosis, you can test the thermostat by removing it and placing it in a pot of boiling water. A functioning thermostat should open at its designated temperature, typically between 180-195°F (82-91°C). If the thermostat remains closed or fails to open fully, it needs to be replaced.

The Importance of Timely Repairs

Addressing a faulty thermostat promptly is essential to prevent more severe engine damage. A malfunctioning thermostat can lead to overheating, which can cause the head gasket to fail, warp the cylinder head, or damage the engine block. These repairs are significantly more expensive and time-consuming than replacing a thermostat.

Preventive Maintenance Tips

Regular maintenance of your car’s cooling system can help prevent thermostat issues and extend the life of your engine. Here are some tips:

  • Regular Coolant Flushes: Replace the coolant according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations to prevent corrosion and debris buildup.
  • Inspect Hoses and Belts: Check the condition of radiator hoses and drive belts for signs of wear or damage.
  • Monitor Temperature Gauge: Keep an eye on the temperature gauge for any unusual readings.
  • Schedule Routine Inspections: Have your cooling system inspected regularly by a professional mechanic.

Conclusion: Don’t Ignore the Signs

A bad car thermostat can lead to significant engine problems if not addressed promptly. By recognizing the symptoms and taking proactive steps to diagnose and repair the issue, you can protect your engine and ensure optimal performance. If you suspect your thermostat is malfunctioning, consult with a professional mechanic to get it repaired or replaced. Regular maintenance and timely attention to your cooling system can save you from costly repairs and keep your car running smoothly.

At German Performance, we specialize in diagnosing and repairing cooling system issues, including thermostat problems. Contact us today at 805-466-3236 to schedule an inspection for your car thermostat replacement in Atascadero, CA.

Car Transmission Issues: Symptoms and Solutions

mechanic working beneath the hood of a car

Signs That Your Transmission May Need Attention

Car transmission issues can range from minor inconveniences to major problems that can render your vehicle inoperable. Recognizing the symptoms of transmission problems early on and addressing them promptly can help prevent costly repairs and ensure the continued smooth operation of your vehicle. Here are some common symptoms of transmission issues and potential solutions:

Slipping Gears: One of the most common signs of transmission problems is when your vehicle’s gears slip unexpectedly. This can manifest as a delay in acceleration, a noticeable jerk or hesitation when shifting gears, or a sensation that the engine is revving but the vehicle is not gaining speed as expected. Slipping gears could be caused by low transmission fluid, worn clutch plates, or other internal mechanical issues.

Solution: Check the transmission fluid level and condition. If it’s low or dirty, it may need to be topped up or replaced. However, if the slipping persists, it’s best to have a professional mechanic inspect the transmission for any internal damage or wear that may require repair or replacement.

Transmission Fluid Leaks: If you notice red or brown fluid pooling underneath your vehicle, it could indicate a transmission fluid leak. Transmission fluid is crucial for lubricating and cooling the transmission components, and a leak can lead to overheating, friction, and eventual damage to the transmission.

Solution: Identify the source of the leak and repair it promptly. Common areas for leaks include the transmission pan gasket, transmission cooler lines, seals, and torque converter. Once the leak is repaired, ensure that the transmission fluid level is topped up to the correct level.

Strange Noises: Unusual noises coming from the transmission or when shifting gears, such as grinding, whining, humming, or clunking sounds, can indicate internal damage, worn bearings, or insufficient lubrication.

Solution: Have a professional mechanic inspect the transmission to diagnose the source of the noise. Depending on the cause, the solution may involve replacing worn components, adjusting linkage, or performing a transmission fluid flush and filter replacement.

Delayed Engagement or Harsh Shifting: If your vehicle hesitates before shifting into gear, shifts abruptly, or experiences harsh or jerky shifting, it could be a sign of transmission trouble. This could be caused by issues with the transmission fluid, solenoids, valve body, or clutch.

Solution: Check the transmission fluid level and condition. If it’s low or contaminated, it may need to be flushed and replaced. Additionally, have a professional mechanic diagnose the problem to determine if any components need to be repaired or replaced.

Call German Performance for Transmission Repair in Atascadero, CA

Even if you don’t notice any of the above signs, check engine lights are an easy way to tell when your car is in need of attention. Modern vehicles are equipped with onboard diagnostic systems that can detect transmission issues and illuminate warning lights on the dashboard, such as the “Check Engine” light or a specific transmission warning light. Ignoring these warning lights could lead to further damage and costly repairs.

Solution: If a warning light illuminates on the dashboard, have the vehicle’s onboard diagnostic system scanned for trouble codes to identify the specific issue. Once the problem is diagnosed, take appropriate action to address it, whether it’s topping up transmission fluid, replacing faulty sensors, or repairing internal components.

Recognizing the symptoms of transmission issues, such as slipping gears, fluid leaks, strange noises, delayed engagement, harsh shifting, or dashboard warning lights, and addressing them promptly can help prevent costly repairs and ensure the continued reliability and performance of your vehicle. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic to diagnose the problem and determine the appropriate course of action. Call 805-466-3236 to schedule your appointment today.

Can You Drive After a Broken Brake Line?

brake line

Build Brake Line Awareness

There are more cars on the road today than ever before. And it seems like the driving style of people is getting more aggressive, careless, and dangerous. With that in mind, you want to keep your car’s brake system in top condition. This includes the brake pads, brake cylinder, master cylinder, calipers, and brake line

How does the brake system on a car work? 

All of the components we mentioned, and a few others, have an important role in how your car stops when the brakes are applied. The general working process includes the following steps: 

  • When pressure is applied to the brake pedal, hydraulic fluid is transmitted to the caliber cylinder.
  • A piston is depressed in the master brake cylinder that forces fluid through the brake pipes and eventually through the brake lines.
  • The fluid then disperses to caliber cylinders to each wheel, filling them, which then forces the pistons out so they then apply the brakes.
  • Fluid pressure is then distributed around the system.
  • The combined surface of all the slave pistons is larger than that of the master cylinder piston.
  • Subsequently, the master piston travels and moves the caliber pistons a small fraction of an inch needed for the brakes to be applied. 
  • This system allows a force to be applied by the brakes.

How important is the brake line? 

From all those steps, and there are more if we were to get down to the exact details, one component was only mentioned once: the brake line. However, it is an extremely important component and without it, the entire brake system could fail. 

How does the brake line work?

The brake line is a thin, flexible tube that transfers the pressure from the master cylinder to the wheel cylinders, and then onto the brake calipers are each wheel. A brake line may be rubber or a rubber/synthetic combination.

How common is brake line failure?

With all of the components and the entire process, is brake line failure that common? There are movies and television shows where somebody cuts the brake line on a car and then the next person to drive the car comes to an exciting stop or wrecks the car. 

If you’ve ever applied pressure on your brakes they didn’t respond, you know the terrifying feeling. Fortunately, cutting the brake line is for dramatics, and in real life, brake line failure isn’t that common. Actually, only about 5% of all car crashes are linked to failure of the brake line, that is approximately 300,000 crashes annually.

How do I know if I broke a brake line?

There are a couple of ways to know if your car’s brake lines are broken. One is visibility, but not a way that most drivers won’t notice if you don’t do a visual check of your car before getting in. That would be a puddle of reddish fluid under your car at any of the wheels or under the engine compartment. 

And then there is the physical indicator that one of the components of your brake system isn’t working, including the possibility of the brake line being broken. As you press on the brake pedal, if it feels soft or spongy, this is an indication that there is air in the brake system, coming through the brake line. 

Can I fix my own brake lines?

If you’re a ‘driveway’ or ‘shade tree’ mechanic, somebody who is extremely familiar with the mechanics of a car,  and you have all the equipment and tools needed, yes, you can replace your own brake lines.  But repairing them isn’t recommended unless it is done by a professional mechanic. A mechanic that is experienced and trained, may be able to splice the broken brake line with a new piece. 

 How long does it take to replace the brake line?

The brake line is routed differently on all vehicles, and a professional mechanic who has all the proper equipment and tools can typically replace brake lines within two hours or less. Repairing the brake line with the splicing method can typically be done within two hours as well. 

How much does it cost to fix brake lines?

The cost of a brake line repair or replacement job can vary between garages and depending on the year, make, and model of the car. If the brake line is the only problem, the cost is typically under $500.00.  However, a mechanic will inspect the entire brake system and if they find other issues, that cost could increase the cost upwards of $1,000. 

In Conclusion – Bring It To A Halt! 

If there is anything you’re going to neglect on your car, it should never be the brake system, including the brake lines! Keeping you, your family, and other passengers, as well as those around you, a healthy brake system is extremely important. If you need brake line repair in Atascadero, CA, please give us a call now at 805-466-3236.

How Do I Know When a Car Battery Needs Replacing?

Car battery

Have You Had Your Battery Checked?

It isn’t unusual to see drivers getting car battery service during the winter in and around the Atascadero, California area. From getting them jump-started to replacing them, the winter seems to see a lot of that happening. Believe it or not, the hot summers are worse on a car battery!  

How do you know if a car battery needs replacing or just recharged?

The last thing anyone wants is a car that won’t start because of a battery.  Depending on the day and time, it can be very inconvenient and it could leave you in an unsafe situation. If you’re experiencing any of the following, take your car to a mechanic for a car battery service: 

  • Life Assessment 

The average lifetime for a car battery is between 3 and 5 years, depending on some factors: 

  • Temperature
  • Time
  • Vibration
  • The Cost

Car batteries are not cheap, but there are less expensive replacement batteries based on the brand and type of battery. A base type of car battery can cost a little over $100 and can reach $250 or more. There are factors to consider when buying a replacement car battery. Services a battery is expected to perform are to provide power to the lights, radio, air/heat blower motor, and more. The more ‘gadgets’ your car has, the bigger the battery it will need.

  • Dim Headlights

A pretty sure indication that you need to get professional car battery service is when you notice the headlights dim while the car sits idling, then brighten back up as you accelerate. The technician will test your battery and the alternator, it could be either/or both. 

  • Slow Cranking

If it takes a few turning times the key for your car to start, or it sounds reluctant, you may need to have a car battery service technician check it out. It isn’t always a battery issue, it may be the alternator, starter, or bad wiring. An experienced technician will know how to check all possibilities and pinpoint the problem. 

  • Flicking Dashboard Lights 

As we’ve mentioned before, there are many car battery services expected by a car owner, like all of the electrical components, including the dashboard and all the interior lights. If you notice any of the light flickering, it is possibly the battery. Have a car battery service inspect the battery before you find yourself stranded! 

  • Slow Rolling Windows

This is only a problem if your car has electric windows, which most cars on the road do today. If they are slow to roll up and down, it may be the battery, but there are issues inside the door that could be the problem too. Have a professional car battery service inspect the situation and they can pinpoint the problem.

  • Excessive Corrosion 

Once a month or so, open the hood and take a look under there. If you see a powdery blue or white substance on the terminal connections, it could indicate the battery is nearing its end of life. Often, this can be cleaned off by a car battery service technician, and you’ll have many more miles left to go. By not cleaning them, the battery can’t charge the electrical system sufficiently. 

  • The Battery Age

The average lifespan of a car battery is between 3 and 5 years with 4 years being the most common. That lifespan can be shortened by several factors, like your driving habits, the distance you drive, and the weather. Each time you have the oil change, it is recommended to have car battery service performed too. 

What shortens a car’s battery lifespan?

There are things you can do (or not do) that will minimize the need for car battery service and lengthen the lifespan of your car’s battery:

1. Limit Extreme Temperatures Changes

You can’t control Mother Nature, but you can park your car where isn’t exposed to extreme cold or heat. Both of these can shorten the life of a car battery. When possible, park your car in the carport, a garage, or anywhere that can protect the car from freezing temps or strong UV rays. 

2. Securely Fasten The Battery

Any abrupt motions like quick starts, fast turns, and sudden stops can cause a battery to come loose and allow it to move around and vibrate. This puts a strain on the battery and affects the power it provides the electrical components. 

3. Not Driving The Car 

When a car sits undriven for too long, the battery will lose its charge. r garage for months on end, the battery will slowly lose its charge. If you’re going to be away for some time, leaving the car sitting, have someone periodically start the car and let it run for 10-15 minutes. 

4. Limit The Power Use 

Making sure the lights are off when you kill the car is important, but you don’t need to sit with the engine off and listen to the radio. These are things that will drain the car battery service. 

Staying Powered Up! 

Minimize the amount of times you help a fellow motorist by jump-starting their car. And avoid doing anything that drains your car battery completely. Each time a battery is allowed to go completely drained, it damages the cells inside and shortens the lifespan. If you need car battery service in Atascadero, CA, call us today at 805-466-3236!

Can a Starter Be Repaired?

An Engine's Starter

What to do When Your Starter Goes Out

Well, we know a car won’t go anywhere without gasoline. And it won’t go far if there isn’t any oil in the engine or fluid in the transmission. But what do we know about the starter? In fact, what is a starter, and when it quits working, is starter repair possible, or does it have to be replaced?  Read on for more information about the starter on a vehicle. 

So, what is a starter? 

The starter is a starting gear that engages the flywheel when the key is turned in the ignition. As the engine rotates, it delivers power to the rest of the engine, allowing it to rotate. The engine then sucks air and fuel into the cylinders which starts the combustion process for the engine to run. 

The starter converts electrical energy it gets from the battery into mechanical energy. So, our next question may be, “What happens when the starter isn’t working?”, and “Is starter repair possible?”. Let’s answer the first question with a pretty simple answer: Nothing. Nothing will happen if the start is broken. The engine won’t turn over, or it may be better known as “My car won’t start!”. 

If the starter on your car has quit working,  and they will do that without any warning, you’ll know it by the dreaded sound of clicking. Sometimes, a non-working starter will grind or have a whirring sound.

Is there a way to diagnose a starter problem?

Here are 5 symptoms that you may be needing a starter repair or replacement: 


A common symptom of possibly needing starter repair or replacement is odd sounds, like the clicking sound we mentioned above. However, a starter can quit working without that indication and when you go to start your car, you get nothing more than a grinding or whirring sound.


… but the car isn’t starting! If the dashboard lights or headlights come on, but the engine doesn’t start, it could be the battery, or you may need a starter repair or replacement service.


If the engine won’t rev up, like the battery is dead, even after jumpstarting it, you should call your mechanic. There is a good chance that you’ll need starter repair or replacement, or it may be something more serious. 


There are many things that can cause a car to smoke, and because the starter is part of the electrical system, fuses can blow and circuits can short out. If you keep trying to get your car to start after it’s just clicking, you could cause it to overheat and start smoking. 


On a rear-wheel drive car, the starter is located on the passenger side of the engine, just under the exhaust manifold. If the car is a front-wheel driver, it is located above the transmission on the driver’s side. Some may be below the exhaust manifold.  If your starter isn’t kicking in, check the starter to see if it appears to be oil-soaked. Even a few drops can cause you to need to start repair or replacement. 

What are the parts of a starter?

There are many components and parts inside the starter. Before anyone can begin a start repair job, they need to be familiar with these components and parts. This is typically referred to as a rebuilt starter.  Those parts consist of: 

  • Armature
  • Commutator
  • Brushes
  • Solenoid
  • Plunger
  • Lever Fork
  • Pinion
  • Field Coils

Often a start repair is nothing more than replacing the solenoid or a relay. On the starter, there are two coiled wires inside the solenoid that are wrapped around a flexible core. The solenoid closes the electrical connection and connects the battery and the starter motor together. The other parts inside a starter will require a rebuild or a starter repair by a trained mechanic. 

Can a starter solenoid be tested to determine if that is the problem? 

Here are some possible indicators that all the starter repair job needs is a new solenoid: 

  1. If nothing happens when you engage the ignition, it may be just the solenoid.  
  2. You get one click when you engage the ignition, it is usually the solenoid has gone bad, not requiring a full starter repair job. 
  3. Repeated clicking is typical of a dead battery, but it could be a faulty solenoid failing to make electrical contact inside the starter. 
  4. This may seem odd, but a bad solenoid can allow an engine to start without engaging the ignition. 
  5. If the starter engages and doesn’t disengage after letting go of the key, this is an indication of a bad solenoid. 
A Car With Its Hood Raised

Get Your Motor Running! 

Once you have your starter repaired, gas in the tank, oil in the engine, fluid in the transmission, and air in the tires, you can head out on the highway! Should you have your starter checked on any regular schedule? 

It isn’t part of a typical car maintenance program, but if you’re noticing any issues with the starter, it would be recommended to have it checked before you head out on that road trip! If your car isn’t starting and you need starter repair in Atascadero, CA, set up an appointment today by calling 805-466-3236.

Do You Really Need to Rotate Your Tires?

Tire Rotation

Tire Rotation Is Part of the Maintenance

If you’ll read your owner’s manual for your vehicle, you’ll find several tasks that should be completed for their recommended maintenance schedule. This includes an oil change, checking the coolant level, checking transmission fluid, all the lights, and the tire depth, tire pressure, and tire rotation

Each of these tasks is recommended to be completed within specific mileage intervals. How often should tires be rotated? Tire rotation is usually between 5,000 miles and 7,500 miles, but do you know what tire rotation is and why it is needed?  Read on for more information about this task. 

What is a tire rotation?

In simple terms, tire rotation is the process of switching the front tires with the rear tires, not just back to front. This is also switching them in a crisscross pattern, depending on the vehicle’s drivetrain. For instance, for front-wheel drive, the rear tires are moved to the front and switched from side to side. The front tires, however, are moved to the back on the same side as they are on the front. 

Why is tire rotation so important? 

The drivetrain determines the tire rotation pattern wear and tear of the tires in mind. The tire rotation pattern is based on the following:

  • The roadways today seem to either be under construction or need construction, no matter where you live. Tire rotation will ensure the tires are wearing out at an even rate all the way around. 
  • For a front-wheel-drive vehicle (FWD), the engine’s power is sitting on the front axle and wheels. This extra weight wears the front tires out quicker.  And when it comes to a rear-wheel drive (RWD) vehicle, the opposite is true thus causing the rear tires to wear out faster. 

How does tire rotation affect your driving experience? 

There are several factors in play when it comes to how the tires wear out and tire rotation ensures the tire tread wears out evenly. Other benefits your driving experience will have include: 

  • Improved Road Traction: As tires wear out, they lose tread depth which reduces their traction on the road. This puts you, your passengers, and your car at a safety risk when the roads are icy, wet, and under other hazardous conditions. With routine tire rotation, the tire tread depth wears evenly so the tires have even traction on the roads.  
  • Blowout Prevention: As tires wear, they are more likely to have a blowout, which can result in losing control of the vehicle, creating a dangerous situation. With tire rotation, you can be sure that all 4 tires are wearing out evenly and safely.
  • Better Ride Quality: How can tire rotation improve vehicle performance? When one tire wears out faster than the others, it will affect the quality of the ride. Getting a tire rotation as recommended will ensure a smooth drive and ride every time.  
  • Fuel Efficiency Maintained: Do tires affect the fuel efficiency of a vehicle? Absolutely! Even tread wear all the way around reduces any drag and engine strain, which helps with the vehicle’s fuel economy. 

What are the risks if you don’t get a tire rotation done?

Well, without tire rotations as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer or your mechanic, the benefits we listed above are missed. A recap of what could happen without tire rotation includes: 


As a vehicle move down the road, friction is created between the road and the tires, generating heat. While rubber tires are designed to withstand heat, the tread is important in providing a cool airflow to keep the tires from getting too hot, causing a blowout, tread shredding, or worse. 


Healthy tire tread channels water away from the road surface, so the tires can have a firm grip. Without tire rotation, the tread depth is uneven and allows the tires to skim across any water over the roadway. This can compromise your control of the handling and steering of the car.  


Snow tires have improved traction on the road because the tread is deeper, sharper, and wider. Driving on ice or snow with poor tread depths puts you at risk of your vehicle going into an out-of-control spin.


Without tire rotation, any worn spot on a tire will put more strain on the tire, the spot gets thinner, and running over something that is pointy or sharp can result in a blowout from a punctured tire. 

Do all tires need to be rotated?

Yes, whether you have a 2-wheel, 4-wheel, or all-wheel drive train,  every vehicle should have a tire rotation done according to the vehicle or tire manufacturer’s recommendations. If you purchase a used car and have no idea what the tire rotation should be, refer to your mechanic or tire store.

A Car in a Garage Needing Tire Rotation

When Rubber Hits The Road: What are the signs that tires need to be rotated?

If you notice these three things with your vehicle, it is time to schedule a tire rotation: 

  • Uneven wear of the tread on one or more tires
  • Uneven wear from the back to the front tires
  • Your vehicle has a shimmy or vibrations

Need reliable tire rotation in Atascadero, CA? Set up a service appointment by calling 805-466-3236.

What is a Radiator Flush?

lifting radiator cap

Finding Out About a Radiator Flush

Automobiles are handy to have, they get us from Point A to Point B, and further. But they also require maintenance, like having the tires rotated, the oil changed, and the radiator flushed. And while tire rotation and oil change are self-explanatory, you may wonder what is a radiator flush.

Is a radiator flush necessary?

A radiator flush, which is also referred to as a coolant flush, is a procedure that cleans the cooling system, removing any contaminants like rust and sediment. When a radiator gets too much rust or sediment, it keeps it from flowing which can cause the engine to overheat. It is a level of protection for your engine and all the metal components attached.

A radiator flush removes the prior products that have been added to the radiator, which is needed because they begin to deteriorate after some time. When the coolant has deteriorated, the engine can easily freeze or overheat. 

What is included in a radiator flush?

A radiator flush will consist of the following steps: 

  1. Drain the existing coolant from the radiator.
  2. Add new coolant with a mixture of conditioner if the vehicle specifications recommend it. 
  3. Then the vehicle is started and allowed to run for a period. This allows a new mixture to circulate through the cooling system to clean and loosen any rust, sediment, and other possible contaminants from the radiator channel.
  4. The radiator is drained again to rid the contaminants, rust, and sediment that were loosened. 
  5. The radiator is refilled with a new coolant mixture, typically a 50/50 ration of anti-freeze and water.
lifting radiator cap

How often should I do a radiator flush?

Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation of a basic maintenance schedule, including a radiator flush. If you don’t have the owner’s manual, the typical radiator flush schedule is between 30,000 and 50,000 miles, or every two to five years unless there are issues with the cooling system or engine that may require a radiator flush sooner. 

When do you need a radiator flush?

There are two main issues that indicate your car needs a radiator flush: 

  • On an exceptionally cold or hot day, if your car doesn’t start, check the radiator overflow reservoir. If the level in the overflow reservoir fluctuates, that is an indication the engine isn’t circulating the coolant as it should. Have a radiator flush done immediately. 
  • Another indication is when you notice a sweet-like smell coming from the engine. This is antifreeze spilling over and allowing the car to overheat. Add some coolant and if it needs again after you’ve driven the car, have a radiator flush service done. 

What happens if you don’t flush radiator?

If you’re thinking a radiator flush isn’t that important, or you just want to roll the dice and see what happens, let’s tell you about the possibilities.

 If you are already having issues like a sweet-like odor coming from under the hood, or your car is overheating, those are things that will continue – until they can’t because the engine froze up. And then you’re faced with expensive repairs or a new engine.  

So, let’s pretend you didn’t get the recommended radiator flush and your car dies, and won’t start. What happened? 

The corrosion, rust, sediment, and other contaminants that naturally occur in an engine kept building up. Eventually, the gaskets inside the engine were damaged, allowing water and coolant to leak, which lead to the engine overheating. 

What are the benefits of flushing the radiator, do radiator flushes work?

A radiator flush will give your car several advantages and the four biggest benefits are: 

  • Contaminants and Scale Remove
    The more you drive your car, the more it wears out, and this allows contaminants into the cooling system. That in turn, causes corrosion and rust, and then the cooling system can’t flow like it needs to, and the engine overheats.
  • Water Pump Lubricated
    The coolant that is added to a radiator, you may know as antifreeze, isn’t just colored water with a scent added. It is a lubricant for the water pump. When this lubricant deteriorates, the water pump can’t pump water through the cooling system, then the engine overheats. 
  • Rust Protection
    The additives in the antifreeze also coat the radiator and inside oft engine to prevent it from rusting. 
  • Cooling System Inspection 
    With a professional radiator flush, the technician can provide a comprehensive inspection of the cooling system. This includes pressure checking the entire system for any water leaks. 

At The Finish Line: Is radiator flush harmful?

To a non-mechanic person, a radiator flush can sound hard on an engine, but is it? When done correctly, no, a radiator flush will not harm the engine or cause any problems. It is flushing everything out of the cooling system that could harm the engine! 

German Performance provides assistance with a radiator flush in Atascadero, CA. Call 805-466-3236 to learn more.  

Why is My Car Leaking Oil?

close-up of a mechanic checking the oil level in a car

Getting Oil Leak Repair

Besides having air in the tires and gas in the gas tank, a car needs motor oil to function. And like when the air leaks from the tires and they go flat, when the oil leaks from the motor, it quits working. Just like when a tire leaks oil, you have it repaired. When the engine has an oil leak, getting oil leak repair as quickly as possible is important. 

Is it normal for oil to leak from a car? Or is a car oil leak serious?

A few drops of motor oil under your car may not seem like a big issue, but it can become an expensive problem if an oil leak repair isn’t completed soon. The engine could begin ‘knocking’ which is when the internal metal components are rubbing together without lubrication. The engine can ‘freeze’, which is the result of those components not being lubricated, they quit moving. 

The accumulated oil leak will also degrade the rubber components on your car, creating more repairs, and can be a fire and safety hazard too as you drive down the road. And any of these scenarios can leave you and your passengers breaking down on the side of the road.

Additionally, the oil stains have an impact on the aesthetics of your home and then there are the environmental issues of not getting that oil leak repaired. That motor oil leaking from your car contains a mixture of toxic substances, including arsenic, lead, and zinc that are flaked or shaved off metal from the engine. 

When those oil leaks are washed off with rain or when you water the lawn, those substances seep into the ground and sewage system, making their way to the public water system and waterways. This affects the environment for animals, fish, and plants. By not getting an oil leak repaired, the repercussions are ongoing and even back into the food we eat. 

Where does a car oil leak come from?

There are a few common areas where an oil leak repair may be needed: 

  • Engine gaskets are degrading
  • The oil pan is leaking around the gasket
  • Various seals are improperly installed or worn-out s
  • The oil pan drain plug is defective or missing
  • Valve cover gaskets are worn and deteriorating
  • Oil filter is defective or loose
  • A hole in the oil pan

Why does a vehicle leak oil?

Here are four possible reasons for a car oil leak that need your attention for oil leak repair soon: 

  1. WORN-OUT OIL FILTER: A common problem that requires an oil leak repair is when the oil filter has come loose, when it’s developed a leak, or when it’s degraded and worn out. The oil is needed to filter any contaminants in the oil before they get inside the motor. After thousands of miles, they aren’t filtering as well and become full oil, then start leaking.  It is important to get the oil changed as recommended by the manufacturer or your mechanic is important. 
  2. A BROKEN OR LOOSE FILLER CAP: The filler cap is where oil is poured into the engine and if the cap breaks or comes loose, the oil will run out and onto the ground while the car is parked. Or driving the car with a broken or loose oil cap will allow the oil to blow all over the engine. This is a quick oil leak repair if you don’t wait to long. 
  3. A BROKEN OIL PAN GASKET: A car engine has several gaskets throughout to keep the fluids used where they belong. Those fluids include the coolant, gasoline, and most importantly, the oil. Leak repairs for all these fluids is important to maintain the car’s integrity. 
  4. OVERFILLING OIL: This can be a simple mistake by pouring oil into the reservoir without checking the oil level first. If you have noticed oil puddles but there aren’t any lights on the dashboard, it is probably due to too much engine oil added. An easy oil leak repair is to drain some of the oil out. 

Can a car oil leak be fixed?

Yes, in most cases, an oil leak repair is possible. What kind of repair will depend on how bad the leak is and where it is located, it may be an expensive oil leak repair, but it may be a simple oil leak repair you can do. 

After you have inspected all possible problems and determine it isn’t anything major, like a cracked engine block, it is time to find out what to do with a car oil leak yourself. A few possible oil leak repairs are: 

  • USING AN ADDITIVE: Sometimes a miracle fix for cars is additives. Like those that can stop leaks in tires, there are products on the market that can stop an oil leak. These are products that condition and soften the rubber seals anywhere motor oil goes and can sometimes stop the oil leak. It isn’t always a quick fix; you may have to drive the car for a while for that additive to work into the motor. 
  • FIXING IT WITH TOOLS: If the additive solution doesn’t work at the oil pan, that is an oil leak that needs a new oil pan gasket or maybe the oil pan needs to be replaced. You’ll need to drive your car up a set of ramps, making sure you have help, or jack it up and place it on jack stands. With a few basic hand tools and a torque wrench, you can loosen the bolts holding the oil pan, replace the gasket, and reposition the oil pan, tightening up the bolts. The service manual will provide more information that will tell you how tight the bolts should be when you reposition the oil pan.
  • TIME TO TEST: Now that you feel the oil leak repair is complete and the problem is fixed, it is time to check the oil level. Make sure it has the recommended amount per the manual or the manufacturer’s recommendation. Start the engine and allow it to run for a few minutes. Check the oil while the motor is running and inspect the engine top and bottom for oil leaks. If you don’t find any, you have completed your oil leak repair.

 How much is it to repair an oil leak?

Not the words you want to hear, but it depends. The make, model, type, and year of the vehicle are the first key factors for an oil leak repair.  The next, and maybe most crucial factor is where the leak is located.  You could have an oil leak repaired for under $200 and it could cost up to $1500.00 or more.

close-up of a mechanic pouring oil into a car engine

Before You Hit the Road: Can you drive with an oil leak?

Is it just a small leak, a few drops of oil on the driveway, then yes, a short distance of 10 miles or so to the mechanic shouldn’t create any major damage. With a more severe leak, it is recommended not to drive the car and call for towing service to take it to your mechanic.  

What is tire rotation service?

mechanic removing a tire

Why tire rotation is important?

As you drive to work or out running errands, does your car seem to be driving different, like a vibration when you get up to a certain speed? It may be time for a tire rotation service, but what is that exactly? 

A tire rotation service is periodically having the position of each tires changed. Typically, this means the back tires moved to the front and front to the back in a crisscross pattern. Every car manufacturer will have recommendation how often this should be done with the average being every 5,000 miles. This is usually the same time your car needs the oil changed, so that can make it easier for you to remember. 

Tire rotation service will keep your tires safe as the technician visually inspects them for any damage. The technician will also check the air pressure, the tire tread, and rebalance them if needed. Not only is this keeping your tires safe and your car, it keeps the tire warranty valid too. Other reasons that tire rotation service is important are: 

  • Regular tire rotation service keeps the wear and tear even on all four tires, maximizing their lifespan. Each tire is responsible for a specific position of your vehicle. Typically, the front tires on a front-wheel drive car takes the most friction and torque as you accelerate, brake, and make turns. 
  • Secondly, regular tire rotation service will even the tread depth and wear uniform. This will help with handling and traction on all four tires and improves braking and cornering. 
  • Finally, for an all-wheel-drive vehicle, regular tire rotation service will ease the stress on the drivetrain as the tires are worn evenly. This reduces the strain and wear on other components of the drivetrain. 

How long does a tire rotation take?

The typically, a tire rotation service can be combined with the routine oil change. The entire service will usually be between 30 minutes and an hour. Each car manufacturer has different policies about tire rotation and oil changes, so you may need to make additional trip for one or the other.  If your car warranty has expired and you’ve purchased new tires, the tire rotation service time should be adjusted to follow the tire manufacturer’s recommendation.

Are tire rotation and alignment the same?

No, and the difference between a tire rotation service and a wheel alignment service is significant. Both are important to the lifespan and well-being of the car and the safety of you and your passengers. To clarify the difference of the two:  

  • Tire rotation service is the process of moving the tires to different positions on your vehicle. The purpose of a tire rotation service is to keep the tires from wearing out unevenly because the weight of a car is different between the back and front.  
  • A wheel alignment service is the process of lining up the wheels properly with the steering wheel. When the wheels are in alignment with the steering wheel, it can cause your car to drift from side to side, and over time, the wheels and the tires will need replacing. 

A tire rotation service will save money by improving your car’s fuel efficiency. A wheel alignment service will keep your tires from wearing unevenly and wearing out too fast. 

How often should tires be rotated?

Every car manufacturer has different recommendations for a tire rotation service, with most being every 5,000 miles. Once a car has gone past the manufacturer’s warranty and new tires are installed, when is tire rotation needed?. You should follow the tire manufacturer’s recommendations for tire rotation services. It too is usually every 5,000 miles, but some tire brands may recommend at 10,000 miles.

How do you rotate tires?

Experience mechanics will know how tire rotation is done, which is based on a pattern that is best for the vehicle and the type of tires on the vehicle. It will also depend on it the car is a front wheel drive, a rear wheel drive, or a four-wheel drive and if the tires are directional or non-directional. The tire size can affect the tire rotation service too and what type of spare tire your car is equipped with. 

Will tire rotation stop vibration?

In most cases, yes, a tire rotation service and balancing will stop any vibration you may be experiencing while driving.  If the vibration continues, you should have the tires replaced. The technician that performs your tire rotation service will usually advise you if the tires are too worn for the rotation and balance to be of any help.

tire being removed from a vehicle

At The End Of The Road Where The Rubber Meets the Road 

How much does a tire rotation and balance cost? This will depend on the make and model of the car and where you take your car for the tire rotation service.  A tire rotation alone is usually $50 or less. If you do this in coordination with the routine oil change, the cost can be upward of $75 or more.  

You can take the car to the dealership where you purchased the car, which is the manufacturer’s recommendation, or most oil and lube shops will offer a free tire rotation service with the purchase of an oil change. 

What do you do if your car airbags go off?

close-up of airbag marking on a car

The Importance of Car Airbags

In addition to seatbelts, airbags are an important and required component in cars. The days of letting your passengers fly into the dash or the back of the front seat, which shoves the front seat passenger into the dash, are gone – and for good reason!  So, when the airbags are not functioning, for whatever reason, it is important to have professional airbag repairs or replacements done immediately. 

How do airbags save lives?

The Federal government has researched, studied, and tested airbags for many years. With this, it has been determined that airbags reduce the upper body or head striking the vehicle’s interior, i.e. the dashboard, steering wheel, or windshield, during a crash when used in conjunction with seat belts. 

This is because the airbags inflate when the car has had an impact at a certain speed. At what speed do airbags deploy? The front airbags will typically deploy between 10 and 12 mph for unbelted occupants. For occupants that have their seatbelt fastened and secured, the front airbags will deploy at 16 mph, providing adequate protection in most cases.

When there are airbags in place, the driver and front-seat passenger wear a seat belt, their chance of dying in a head-on collision is reduced by over 25%. Serious injuries are reduced by over 12%.  In the mid-1980s, over 55,000 crashes were examined where airbags were in use and deployed, saving over 300 lives.

How do airbags work? 

The goal of having airbags in our cars today is to slow the forced forward motion of the driver and passenger in case of an impact within a fraction of a second. To make this happen, there are 3 parts to an airbag: 

  • The airbag: A thin, nylon fabric that is folded and packed into the steering wheel or the dashboard. The newer the car, there are airbags packed into the doors and seats on some models. 
  • The sensor: This device signals the airbags to deploy and inflate when there is an impact force that equals running into a brick wall between 10mph and 15 mph.  A mechanical switch flips when there is a massive shift that closes the electrical contact advising the sensors there has been an impact. 
  • The inflation system within the airbags reacts sodium azide with potassium nitrate and produces a nitrogen gas that heats up and inflates the airbag.

How many years do airbags last?

Are airbags like inspection and registration, do airbags expire? For cars made today, the airbags do not expire. If you have an older vehicle, check the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation or schedule an appointment where airbags are installed, or airbag repairs are done and have them check the ones you currently have.        

When airbags come out is a car totaled?

Mechanically, no, deployed airbags won’t automatically mean your car is totaled. However, this can vary between state laws and your auto insurance policy. If your airbags have deployed, you should check your insurance policy and then check with a state auto inspection station. 

Can airbags be replaced, or can airbags be reused?

Yes, in most cases, depending on the cause of the deployment, airbags can be replaced. Airbag repairs are not feasible because they are meant to be deployed once and then be disposed of and replaced. 

When airbags were first introduced, a mechanic was able to reset many airbags. But today, these safety devices must be replaced once they have been deployed, regardless of whether it is the steering wheel airbag, passenger dash airbag, or any of the side panels, front or back. 

How much does it cost to fix airbags?

Replacing an airbag is not cheap. The cost will depend on the make, model, and year of the car and which airbag needs to be replaced.  The average cost is between $1000 and $1500 per airbag.

deployed car airbags after an accident

In Closing 

In September of 1998, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which was originally introduced in 1991 was put into law. This law requires that all cars and light trucks sold within the United States to be equipped with airbags in the front, on both driver and passenger sides.

Today, after a certain year of manufacturing, all vehicles are required to have operating airbags. Repairs or replacements must be made to meet the state’s safety specifications for a vehicle to pass inspection. If you have the airbags in your vehicle repaired or replaced, you must have a certificate from where the work was done stating what was done with the date of the work. Classic cars are exempt from this law because of the impracticality and danger of retrofitting the required control modules, sensors, and other components in cars that were never designed to have airbags. However, there are seatbelts that can be installed in a classic car to give the driver and passengers some additional safety.