Is a Head Gasket Worth Fixing?

A Mechanic Works on an Image.

Is a Head Gasket Worth Fixing?

When you don’t take care of a car, like keeping the oil and water in it, and you drive it abusively, it can damage the car. From blowing tires to blowing the head gasket. Repairing it isn’t a quick job, and often requires getting a new engine

What is a Head Gasket?

A head gasket is a basic, but crucial component of your car’s engine.  A car engine is split between the cylinder head and engine block, and the head gasket fits in that split, sealing situated between the cylinder head and the engine block. 

The head gasket seals the two parts together, keeping the process of the internal combustion inside the engine and keeping the different fluids inside the engine from mixing together or leaking out. 

The important role it plays in an engine working properly is why when it is blown, head gasket repair or replacement must be immediate. Otherwise, more damage to the engine can happen. 

Can you drive with a blown head gasket?

It depends on the car engine and how much damage was done when the head gasket blew. Some engines stop functioning as soon as that happens, others may run for another hour to another month. But when the engine needs head gasket repair or replacement, when it stops, it stops. Until you’ve had the head gasket repaired or replaced, you won’t be driving anywhere in that car. 

What causes a head gasket to break?

As you drive a car, if the engine and head consume and spend at different rates, this causes the head gasket to blow because it can’t keep the two parts sealed as we describe above.  Because most engines have an aluminum head on an iron cylinder block, it can make that situation worse.  

Some indications that your car needs the head gasket repaired or replaced are: 


A head gasket repair is necessary when the engine has overheated multiple times. The overheating can be caused by low coolant, clogged radiator, the fan not operating, etc. Once the head gasket is blown, the engine will overheat, and hot exhaust gases leaks, filling the cooling system. The coolant leaks into the engine cylinders, and the mixing of oil and water is disastrous for a car engine. 


When a head gasket fails in this manner, the compressed air, and fuel escape, reducing the compression in the cylinder. You’ll notice the car engine is running rough and has lost power, sounding like you have an exhaust leak. 


This is the most common indicator that your car needs head gasket repair. The oil that is typically brown turns a milky color, something like a chocolate milkshake. This happens when the coolant gets into the oil or vice versa. This doesn’t always indicate a blown head gasket, but it is a common indication. 


A bad head gasket or leaking head gasket will send large clouds of white smoke through the exhaust. This white smoke has a sweet smell which is the antifreeze as it leaks past the head gasket and on the cylinders. The white smoke is the steam from the combustion. 


When a head gasket fails at sealing the oil and water apart from each other, both will begin to leak outside of the engine. This can also be simple leaking pertaining to either the oil or the water, or it can be that head gasket repair is needed. 

Does a blown head gasket mean you need a new engine, or can head gaskets be repaired?

It will depend on how much more you drove the car once the head gasket blew. If you noticed any of the things we listed above and take the car right to a mechanic, it is possible that a head gasket repair job will be all that is needed. A head gasket repair is replacing the gasket. 

Is it better to repair a head gasket or replace the engine?

If you have continued driving the car with a blown head gasket, the head itself could be warped and too much oil and water have mixed. In this case, a head gasket repair or head gasket replacement isn’t going to be sufficient. The entire engine will need to be replaced. 

How Much does it cost to repair a head gasket?

The make and model of the car will have an impact on the cost of a head gasket repair. The range is typically between $1,700 and $2,000 to replace the head gasket, including labor. 

A Head Gasket

At The Starting Line 

Because of the damage that a head gasket can cause to an engine, it is important to be aware of the things we’ve listed. Once you notice any of these things happening, getting to a mechanic immediately is an absolute must!

If you need head gasket repair in Lombard and Wheaton, IL, give J1 Auto Repair a call at 630-932-4427.

Do You Know What To Do If Your Car’s AC Goes Out?

turning the knob of a car air conditioner

Dealing With AC Issues

Science has shown us that the weather patterns are shifting to the east. But when it comes to summer heat and humidity in Illinois, hot is still hot and air conditioning rules, especially when you’re in a hot car!

It has been a long day at work, you make your way to your car in the parking lot, where it has been baking in the hot sun all day. Turn on the air conditioning and nothing! You say to yourself, or maybe scream it out loud, “Why is my car’s air conditioner not working?!”

There could be any of a number of reasons why your car’s AC isn’t working. However, the six most common reasons are: 

#1: Refrigerant Leaked: Refrigerant can leak anywhere within the air conditioning system, making it difficult to determine the exact area, but typically it is leaking from a hose or hose connection. You can tell this by an oily substance coming from a hose or around the connections. This is often repairable adding an air condition sealant to the system. 

#2: Blocked Condenser: Why is the air conditioning in my car not cold? The condenser re-cools hot refrigerant after it is compressed using the air that flows in as you drive down the road. When the condenser is blocked, typically by road debris, this can’t happen, the refrigerant overheats, and the air conditioning blows hot air. Where the condenser is in the front of the car, check for anything that could be blocking it. This could even be debris sucked up the grill. Remove the debris and this should fix your air conditioning. If not, have a technician inspect the system.

#3: Broken Condenser: If the condenser doesn’t appear to be blocked, it may be broken, usually from road debris that has punctured the unit. This will need to be replaced by a technician. 

#4: Electrical Issues: When it comes to car air conditioning, electrical issues can be difficult to diagnose as a problem. A visual check of the wiring will tell you if any wires are damaged or disconnected. If all looks well, then you’ll need a professional diagnosis. 

#5: Cooling Fans Faulty: When the cooling fans aren’t functioning correctly, the condenser isn’t getting cooled, and in time, the air conditioning will begin blowing only hot air.  Again, do a visual inspection for any problems with the fan, like debris sucked up into it, or if there is a cracked blade. It could be a blown fuse, but this is something you’ll need a professional technician to ascertain. 

#6: Bad Compressor: The compressor is what keeps the air conditioning moving. Without the compressor, the refrigerant can’t circulate throughout the system and cool the air. Compressors will freeze up if they aren’t used for a long period of time, like through the winter. It is a recommendation to turn the air conditioning on for short period during the winter to keep the air compressor moving. 

What should I do if my car’s AC blows out hot air?

Do a visual check yourself and make sure nothing has been sucked up to the grill of your car or under the hood around the condenser.  Remove any foreign stuff and try the air conditioning again. 

If there isn’t anything there, check for any oily substance coming from any hoses or connectors. If you see anything, or if the air conditioning still isn’t cooling after removing any debris, take your car into the shop. Do not try to use the air conditioner until you’ve had it inspected.

Can you repair the air conditioning in a car?

If you’ve tried the suggestions we have made and the air conditioning still isn’t working, that doesn’t mean it is gone for good. An experienced technician will have the training and skills to inspect the system and it is possible what they find can be repaired or replaced by the component, not the entire system. 

The cost for car air conditioning repairs will depend on the make, model, and year of the car and the issue the technician determines to be the problem. You can expect a repair to be as little as $100 and as much as $1000, depending on what parts are needed. The condenser and compressor are the most expensive parts to replace. 

How do you know if your car’s air conditioner needs repair?

Well, if the air conditioning isn’t blowing cold, it needs attention. Other indications that your car air conditioning system needs repairs are when there is a funny sound with car’s AC or any funny smell with car’s AC. These aren’t necessarily indications of something expensive to repair, but they are indications that you should have a technician examine the system.

holding a hand up to a car AC vent

Keep Your Cool 

Okay, so, when should you replace your car’s AC? When air conditioning repairs get to be too expensive!  So, what is expensive in air conditioning replacement?  How much does air conditioning replacement cost?  

Replacing the air conditioning system in your car can cost up to $5,000, depending on the make, model, and year of the car. At this point, you need to ask yourself if the car is worth that expense, or is it time to replace the car?

Do I need an oil change for my car?

mechanic providing oil change service

An Important Maintenance Task

To keep your car’s engine functioning properly, it needs basic maintenance. Like the tires need air added from time to time, the engine needs oil added, and sometimes, it needs an oil change service. You may wonder, how long can you go without an oil change?

Every car manufacturer will have a different time frame recommended for their products. The common recommendation is between 5,000 and 7,500 miles for oil change service. Newer cars that use synthetic oil can go 10,000 miles; Some vehicles can even go 15,000 miles between oil change services.

How often do I really need an oil change?

Okay, so that is what car manufacturers are recommending, but what is the truth about the frequency of oil change services? Experts in the car industry used to tell us every 3,000 miles or every 3 months, whichever comes first. However, cars today can travel farther and longer before needing an oil change service. You can do them more frequently if you want, but it isn’t necessary on newer engines. 

However, if you don’t drive your car enough to hit that recommended 5,000 miles, you still need to get an oil change service twice a year. A car needs to be driving so that the engine can burn off any condensation that has accumulated within the engine. Condensation is normal, but it can break the oil down quicker, wearing the engine out faster. 

What happens if you don’t change your oil?

An ounce of prevention, or rather 5 to 6 quarts of oil as prevention, is a must if you value your car! Oil to your car is like blood to our bodies. It keeps the engine lubricated and protects the moving parts in the engine. Regular routine of oil change services may be a few dollars out of your pocket, but the ROI is having your car ready to go when you are. Here is what could happen if you don’t stay with a routine oil change service: 

  • VEHICLE WARRANTY VOIDED: You bought that new car for peace-of-mind, and maybe a bit of ego and vanity. But if you don’t maintain a routine with oil change service and tire rotations, you risk voiding that awesome warranty that came with that new car. 
  • ENGINE PERFORMANCE LACKS: That routine oil change service is how the engine’s internal parts are cleaned. Would you go six to eight months without a bath? No, and your car’s engine shouldn’t either! That oil change is cleaning that dirty sludge that builds up as you drive the car. The more sludge, the harder the engine must work, and the sooner you’re going to have to replace the car. 
  • ENGINE FAILURE: Long periods between oil change service will start causing the engine to overheat, and that can lead to a blown gasket, or worse. 

Will an oil change help my gas mileage?

Absolutely! When the oil change service is postponed, that sludge we mentioned is making the engine work harder. The harder the engine works, the more fuel it takes. With your oil change service, they will usually offer to replace the air filter too, at a cost, and that recommendation should be something you have done too. No, that isn’t just an upsell for the garage, it helps the engine breathe easier and that helps the gas mileage too. 

What are the steps in an oil change?

Changing your own oil isn’t that complicated or difficult; it’s just easier and less messy to let the lube center do it. However, many of us are on tighter budgets these days, so if you can save a few dollars, and not have a professional oil change service, then why not? Follow these steps on how an oil change works and you’ll have mastered one of the necessities of car ownership: 

  • Purchase the oil and oil filter. The local parts store can guide you on the right stuff if you aren’t sure.
  • Pull your car up on ramps so that you can get underneath the car. We recommend having help with the ramp so that you don’t run off the edge or end. 
  • Pull the oil plug and let the oil drain into an old bucket. 
  • Using the oil filter wrench, remove the oil filter. 
  • Insert the new filter, tight but not too tight.
  • Replace the oil plug. 
  • Add the new oil.

What type of oil change do I need?

If your car is 10 years old or less, the manufacturer will have recommendations of what type you should use in your car, and how much. Most cars today are using a synthetic oil, while older cars use a standard oil type. 

What are the three types of oil for cars?

With all the oils you’ll see in the auto parts store, it comes down to these three types: 

  • Synthetic: Chemically engineered to be more consistent and high performing in reducing friction and withstand the sweltering temperatures. It’s recommended for cars that require peak-level performance and allows you to go up to 20,000 miles between oil change services. 
  • Semi-Synthetic: As it sounds, this oil is a combination of the above mentioned synthetic and the conventional oil we’ll discuss next. It has all the attributes the synthetic oil offers for less money. 
  • Conventional: This is the oil your dad and granddad used. It is the least expensive and should only be used in older cars that have simpler engine designs. This type of oil will require oil change services no further apart than 5,000 miles.
oil being added to a car engine

In Closing 

Is there any difference between an oil change vs adding oil? Yes, there are people that ask that, and yes, there is a difference. Adding oil is simply just that – adding oil to what is already in the engine. There is a dipstick that will tell you how much oil is in the engine and at one part of the dipstick, it says “Add Oil”. However, adding a bit of oil now and then still isn’t enough, and you will still need those regular oil changes.

Why is my heater blowing cold air in my car?

man's hand on a car heater vent

Dealing With Cold Air

Ready or not, winter is blowing in from the north and the temperatures are getting cooler. In Illinois, the winters can get brutally cold, so a non-working car heater can make the drive to work miserable. If your heater isn’t working right, now is the time to get that heater repair done. 

Understanding how a car heater works can help to understand what happens to make them quit working. A car heater has some basic components: 

  • The heater core
  • The blower motor/fan
  • Heater hoses
  • A heater control valve
  • The HVAC control panel inside the car

Each of those components interacts with the coolant, the thermostat, the radiator, the heater core, and the water pump. As the engine warms up, it creates heat. Most of the heat will exit through the exhaust system. 

Any remaining build-up that remains inside the engine casting is transferred to the coolant. Once the thermostat opens, the coolant is allowed to cool the system by circulating throughout the engine. This removes the excess heat that did not exit through the exhaust and sends it to the radiator as it circulates through the heater core.

From there, it is distributed into the cabin of the car where it warms the interior as you have the heater controls set, with the fan blowing it through the vents. Car heater repairs can be needed with any of the components that malfunction or totally quit. 

So, what would cause the heater to stop working in a car?

There can be a number of reasons why your car heater is not blowing air. Some of the normal reasons car heaters repairs are needed: 

  • Thermostat is Faulty: One of the most common car heater problems is a faulty thermostat. They become stuck closed or open, making it unable to let the built up heat from the engine flow through as described above. 
  • Low Antifreeze: This is the second-most common issue mechanics find when working on car heater repairs. When the antifreeze level drops too low, the heated fluid can’t get to the heater core, and the cabin of the car won’t warm up. 
  • Faulty Heater Fan: If the blower motor on the fan isn’t working the heated air from the antifreeze isn’t going to be distributed throughout the cabin. 
  • Faulty Blower Motor Resistor: A broken blower motor will not allow the fan speed to work properly, maybe keep it from working at all.
  • Clogged Heater Core: This isn’t as common a heater repair need as the aforementioned items, but debris and particulates that get into the coolant system can clog the heater core. This debris and particles can come from a rusted radiator. The only heater repair for this is to try flushing the radiator or replacing the component. 
  • Leaking Radiator: If the radiator has a leak, it will keep the antifreeze from reaching the heater core and cool the engine. This can cause the engine to overheat and damage it to the point of needing a new engine. 
  • HVAC Controls: Over time the buttons, knobs, or touchscreen can malfunction or quit working. This can keep the heating system from working properly. 
  • Blow Fuses or Faulty Wiring: As with the HVAC controls, the car heater isn’t going to work properly (or not at all) if the wiring is broken or has a short. 

What is a car heater core?

A key part of your car heater working is the heater core. This component looks like the radiator but is smaller. The antifreeze coolant that is in the actual radiator is circulated through the small tubes and radiates heat from the engine throughout the cabin. Heater repairs are often getting the heater core unclogged or replaced. 

Why does my car heater not work when idling?

In most cases, when a car heater isn’t working and is taken to a mechanic, they find the heater repair was nothing more than adding antifreeze coolant to the radiator. As we described earlier, it is the heat from the engine that is needed to make the car heater work.  It needs the antifreeze coolant to move the heat that doesn’t go through the exhaust to the heater core and into the car cabin. 

How much does it cost to fix a heater in a car?

It can vary from make and model of the car and the problem found by the mechanic that performs the heater repair.  For example, the heater core or the radiator may need replacement, or the wiring may need replacement, or you could be dealing with any of the issues we’ve discussed. Most car heater repairs will start around $300 and reach up to $1000. 

temperature control knob in a car

Ending This Article With A Last Question

When your car heater isn’t working, do a Google search for “where to find car heater repair near me” and find an authorized mechanic that knows how to fix the heat in cars of your make and model. If you have a foreign-made car, you will need to take it to a mechanic that specializes in that make. American-made cars are all about the same when it comes to heater repairs. Meanwhile, if you’re in the area and find yourself in need of heater repair, you can always come to us!

My Car’s Heater Isn’t Working – Help!

heating vent and control panel in a car

Getting Your Car Heater Checkup

Boy, it has been a hot summer, hasn’t it? Can you believe fall and winter are around the corner already! What that means is it’s time to make sure your car heater is working NOW, before those temps hit 32 degrees. Just like the heating system in your home, your car heater needs a preliminary winter checkup too. 

With that in mind, we’re going to answer some common questions about car heaters. Some of the questions are basic and some are for those of us that didn’t get that preliminary winter checkup on our car heater. Because if your car heater isn’t working, the ride is going to be miserable and your teeth are going to be chattering, not to mention, it’s hard to drive if you’re shivering! 

Did you know that when the car heater isn’t working correctly, your car can overheat just like it does when the air conditioner isn’t working correctly?  Interesting, huh? So, how does a car heater work? Let’s take a look.

The Facts on Car Heater Operation

A car heater is connected to functions beyond keeping the interior of your car warm. A car heater has two jobs: heating the interior of your car and keeping the engine cool. The key components of a car heater are: 

  • The Heater Core
  • The Blower Motor
  • Heater Hoses
  • The Heater Control Valve
  • The Control Panel

A car heater also interacts with the car’s cooling system, which includes: 

  • The coolant
  • A thermostat
  • The radiator
  • The water pump 

The engine generates heat, and to keep it from overheating, it has to go somewhere, yet keeping the interior of the car on an Illinois winter morning is important.  Most of that generated heat exits through the exhaust system and the remaining heat is transferred into the coolant inside the car’s HVAC system, much the same way it works on your home’s HVAC system. 

As that engine-generated heat leaves the radiator where the coolant is located, it moves to the heater core. The heater core is a heat exchanger and as the heated coolant flows through it, the heater control valve regulates the heat. It is at that point your car heater warms up to the level the HVAC control panel is set, and then it blows out through the vents. 

Why is my car heater not blowing air?

On that first cold Illinois winter morning when the heat doesn’t get warm after a couple of minutes, what is the problem?  Well, there are a few things that could be the problem that is keeping your car heater from heating up: 


It takes an almost exact mixture of antifreeze and water to create an ideal coolant for your car engine. This keeps the engine from freezing up and cracking or overheating in the summer. It ensures the cooling system is absorbing and dissipating the heat from the engine effectively.

During the winter, with the HVAC controls set on heat, some of that excessive engine heat blows into the cabin of your car and through the windshield defroster. Over time, that coolant can get contaminated and not as effective in keeping the engine cool and the heater blowing warm.


The heater core looks like a smaller radiator with fins and narrow tubes. It dissipates that generated heat into the surrounding air as it heats, and the blow fan blows it into the car cabin.

Like the car radiator, the narrow tubes can become clogged or start leaking. This will reduce the coolant flowing through the cooling system. The longer it stays clogged, the better the chance it will contaminate the coolant, and then you have two problems with your car heater. 

You can often tell when the heater core is clogged or not working by a sweet smell inside your car. Other indicators are that the windows won’t defrost and there is moisture, even puddles, on the front floorboard. 


A car’s thermostat is a valve that regulates the coolant flow by opening and closing. While this may sound simple, if the thermostat isn’t functioning right, it can overheat the engine or keep the car heater from heating up. A damaged or malfunctioning thermostat is one that is stuck in one position or the other.


When you turn the car heater up, the heater core grabs heat from the coolant, and then transfers it inside the cabin, giving you that warm air you want. The blower fan is how that air is moved into the cabin and if it isn’t working, then the warm air isn’t getting inside the cabin. This could be because of a blown fuse, loose electrical wiring, or because the blower motor has simply quit working, and your car heater isn’t heating up the inside of your car. 

What do you do when your car heater is blowing cold air?

There are several things that can keep a car heater from blowing warm air as we just discussed. So now you may be asking, “How do I fix the heat in my car?” The following is a list of the most common causes found and suggestions on how to fix them.

The Engine’s Thermostat

My Car’s Heater Won’t Turn Off! You don’t hear that much during the winter, but it can be an uncomfortable problem. This is a valve that controls how the coolant flows to the radiator. When a car is first started, the thermostat stays closed until the engine reaches a certain temperature. Then it opens up and allows the coolant to flow through the radiator to keep the engine from heating up too much. 

When the thermostat goes bad, it will often get stuck either opened or closed. A thermostat stuck open will allow the coolant to keep flowing through, never having time to heat up. If the thermostat is stuck closed, the coolant won’t flow and the engine can overheat, causing a lot of damage fast. Changing the thermostat will fix this problem either way. 

Low Coolant Level

The coolant fluid supports the heating system and when there isn’t enough coolant, the car heating system can’t get what it needs to blow warm air inside your car.  When a car’s coolant level is low, it is usually because there is a coolant leak at one of the connections, hoses, at the radiator, or any of the many other components. Adding coolant to the radiator will usually fix this, maybe only temporary if there is a leak.

Cooling System Has Air Bubbles

If your car heater is blowing cold air, there may be air bubbles in the coolant, keeping the engine-generated heat from transferring to the coolant.  The air bubbles need to be released for the car heater to start working correctly again. This can be done with the following steps: 

  • Set the heating control system to maximum 
  • Remove the radiator cap
  • Add coolant to the radiator’s maximum level
  • Start the car and allow to idle with the radiator cap off
  • Add more coolant if needed after the thermostat opens
  • The air bubble should start leaving the coolant at this point
  • After the car engine is warmed up, replace the radiator cap, and start try the car heater again

Heater Core Issues

Your car heater may be blowing cold because the heater core is stopped up. Remember, the heater core is like a small radiator and if the narrow tubes get a clog, the coolant can’t flow through and warm the car heater. To unclog the heater core, do a manual flush to remove whatever debris is clogging the narrow tubes. If flushing doesn’t fix it, you’ll need to have a new heater core installed. 

Heater Control Issues

Sometimes the problem with a car heater system isn’t internal, but with the heating controls. Over time, the buttons become clogged and stick, or simply break after a lot of use. The best fix for this is to have the buttons replaced. 

Blender Door Jammed

Part of your car heater is the air blowing through the vents. These are controlled by a blender door and if it becomes jammed or stuck, it can’t open to allow the warm air out. Or it becomes stuck open, and the warm air won’t quit coming inside the cabin. The only fix for this car heater issue is to replace the blender door. 

Will a car heater work without an AC compressor?

The air conditioning compressor in your car isn’t just for cool air in the summer. It has other jobs year-round, like keeping the windows defrosted. It also keeps the heat setting controlled. 

How can you tell if you have a bad heater core?

A heater core problem is unique, and not in a way you want to experience. It can actually leak inside your car instead of outside and under your car. A bad heater core can be a messy experience and you’ll know when it is bad or going bad by any of the following: 

1. There is little to no heat in the car 

2. The smell of coolant is inside your car 

3. The windows stay fogged up

4. The floorboard is wet with coolant 

5. The coolant level is low and keeps dropping

6. The engine is running hot

What happens if you don’t replace the heater core?

A faulty heater core will cause the engine to overheat. An overheated engine can do expensive and extensive damage fast. A clogged heater core can cause an engine to overheat because it isn’t getting the right coolant circulation.

close-up of car heater controls

In Closing 

So, maybe you try all the things we’ve suggested, and your car heater still isn’t working right. This means to have a comfortable warm car this winter, you need to take it to a mechanic. How expensive is it to fix a car heater? Well, it isn’t going to be cheap!  One thing we can tell you is that not every mechanic or repair shop will have the same pricing. They have their own labor and overhead expenses to cover. It will also depend on your car’s make, model, and year, as well as what the problem is with the car heater. A rough estimate would be somewhere between $500 and $1000.00. If you’re looking for a true estimate on this kind of job reach out to us today by calling at 630-932-4427.

What happens when you get a transmission rebuild?

Close-up of hands working on a car transmission.

Need-to-Know Transmission Basics

If your car engine is good and the tires are good, then you’re ready to roll on the open roads, right? Not so fast …. What about that transmission? Yes, that big hunk of metal that is kind of under the car and motor. Without it, you’re not going to go anywhere! So, when the transmission isn’t working, you’re left with one question – transmission rebuild or replacement, which is better? 

Is rebuilding a transmission worth it?

Like most things in life, it depends. Questions to be answered whether you should get a transmission rebuild or replacement would be: 

  • How quickly do you need your car ready to drive again? 
  • How old is your car? 
  • How much money do you want to spend? 

What does “transmission rebuild” mean?

Rebuilding a transmission is similar to rebuilding an engine, or anything really. It is an indepth process that requires a lot of hands-on labor. The transmission rebuild steps are tedious and if they aren’t done in the right order and done correctly, it doesn’t do any good. 

How long does a transmission rebuild take?

On average, it can take between three and four days for an automatic transmission rebuild. When you take your car to a transmission shop, they will give you an estimate of money and time to either do a simple transmission repair and send you on your way or a thorough transmission rebuild. The steps for a transmission rebuild include: 

  • Removing the transmission
  • Inspecting the transmission
  • Cleaning the transmission
  • Replacing the “hard” parts of the transmission
  • Reassembling the transmission 
  • Replacing parts along the way, including bands, clutches, gaskets, seals, and more
  • Replacing the transmission in the car
  • Test Drive

How long does a transmission rebuild last?

This is another question that is answered with “it depends”, based on your driving style primarily. An average lifespan for the life of a transmission rebuild is up to 40,000 miles if it was done properly. 

A transmission repair will give you maybe 10,000 miles with normal driving habits, depending on what was repaired. If just the transmission filter and fluid was changed, and you drive to work and back, you can expect another 10,000 miles. If you drive 100 miles a day, up hills, you’ll be lucky to get 5,000 miles. A transmission rebuild gives you a “like new” transmission where all the worn parts and pieces were replaced. 

You can give your transmission rebuild or repair unit a longer life with the following: 

  • Checking the fluid level regularly
  • Changing the filter and fluid regularly
  • No aggressive driving

What are the signs your transmission is going out?

Know the early warning signs when you need to take your car to a transmission shop: 

  1. Refuses to Switch Gears
    If your car is refusing or struggling to change gears, it could be low on fluid, have the wrong fluid, or needs a transmission repair or rebuild. 
  2. Burning Smell
    If you’re noticing a burning smell coming from under your car or under the hood, get to a mechanic ASAP. It could be the engine or transmission is overheated. An overheated transmission will cause the car to overheat the engine too.
  3. Neutral Sounds
    When there are weird sounds coming from the car while in neutral, you have transmission problems. It may be something as easy as adding transmission fluid or as complex and expensive as needed transmission build or repair. 
  4. Gears Slipping
    When a car impulsively slips in and out of a gear while driving, it can be scary –  and dangerous. If you’re experiencing slipping gears, have your mechanic check it out. A simple transmission repair may be all that is needed.
  5. Dragging Clutch
    The clutch is dragging and failing to disengage from the flywheel when pushing in the clutch pedal. A transmission rebuild or repair is needed. 
  6. Leaking Fluid
    A leaking transmission is never a good thing and often means you’ll need transmission repair. However, it could be nothing more than the cap not being put back on tightly. Have your mechanic check it out. 
  7. Check Engine Light
    The check engine light will tell you a lot of things about your car, including the transmission. Have your mechanic inspect the car and determine if it is the transmission and what transmission repair is needed, if any. 
  8. Grinding and Shaking
    This is a common issue with automatic transmission, and occurs when a car is changing gears. A transmission repair could be sufficient, but if bad enough, may need a transmission rebuild. 
  9. Humming Noises
    Clunking, humming, or whining coming from your car in any direction isn’t good, especially when it is the transmission. Have your mechanic inspect the car immediately. 
  10. Unresponsive
    When changing gears, if your car doesn’t respond automatically, it may need transmission repair. However, this may be nothing more than replacing the filter and new fluid. 
Cross section of an automatic transmission.

Wrapping It Up 

What if you can’t find somewhere to get a transmission rebuild done? Maybe you’re wondering, “Can I rebuild a transmission on my own?” If you are a mechanically-inclined person with the space to spread out and keep your parts in a collective manner, yes, you can do your own transmission repair or rebuild. 

However, keep in mind that it has to go back together in the right format, or all your work is for nothing. Additionally, a rebuild kit can cost up to $300 depending on the type of car you have. If you’re interested in having a professional perform your transmission rebuild in Lombard and Wheaton, IL, call J1 Auto Repair at 630-932-4427 today!

Can you drive a car with a bad water pump?

water pump repair

How long do water pumps last?

A car water pump moves water from the radiator, through the motor and then returns it back to the radiator. It repeats this process over and over to make sure the motor stays a constant temperature regardless of the weather. The car water pump is vital to the car’s operating correctly and smoothly. 

A car water pump’s average lifespan is between 60,000 miles and 90,000 miles, the same lifespan as the timing belt. Why did we mention the timing belt in answering this question? Because a car water pump and timing belt will usually go out at the same time. If you’re having one replaced, ask your mechanic to check the other. Maybe they’ll give you a discount to get both of these replaced at the same time. 

Making sure your car has plenty of coolant will help your car water pump last longer. Dirty or inadequate amount of coolant will shorten the life of a car water pump. The quality of the car water pump will have an effect on the longevity too. The better the quality, the longer they last. 

How do you know if your water pump is going bad? 

Don’t wait for you mechanic to tell you that your car water pump is going out. Keep an ear and an eye out for the following and you’ll know that it is time to book an appointment with your mechanic:

  • Coolant Leaking: The car water pump is leaking around one or more of the several gaskets inside the pump.  Those gaskets wear out over time, bet damaged, and then you’ll see coolant dripping or leaking under your car. That fluid will be either a green or red color and will typically be coming out from enter of the car toward the front. 
  • Whining Sound: When the belt that goes around the water gets loose, it begins to slip and with that it begins chirping or whining. As soon as you hear that noise, call your mechanic. It could need a belt replaced or tightened, or it could be the bearings inside the car water pump are bad. In that case, you’ll need a new water pump. 
  • Engine Overheats: Since the main purpose of a car water pump is to keep coolant and water moving through the engine to maintain the temperature, if it isn’t working right, the engine will overheat. This isn’t an issue to ignore and put off until next payday because letting that continue, you’ll do more damage. It can crack the cylinder head, damage the head gaskets, burn the pistons, and more. 

What sound does a bad water pump make?

If your car water pump is going out, it is usually the bearings inside the pump that will be making a grinding, squeaking, or ticking while the car is running. This is happening because the shaft bearings are freezing up or locking up inside the water pump housing when the serpentine or timing belt is putting pressure on the bearings.

This why we stated earlier that if you’re need to get your car water pump replaced, or the belt replaced, have the mechanic check the other. These two components work together. 

Can a water pump go out without leaking?

Yes, a car water pump leaking isn’t always visible. In some cases, there can be a slow coolant leak that isn’t detected under the car, like a water puddle. Other indication that a car water pump is leaking is the around the water pump will have cavities or pitting from slow coolant leaking. This is the sign your mechanic will check when they’re changing the belt, because they know these two things are often going bad at the same time. 

radiator smoking

How long can you drive a car without a water pump?

 To clarify, when a car water pump broken, it doesn’t just “blow up” or quit working. There are weep holes that the coolant and water start leaking from first before it starts around the gaskets. This will appear like a slow drip, which is a good time to change out your car water pump. However, if you need to drive it until pay day, with low mileage and easy driving habit, you could make it a week with a bad water pump. Every car is different, every water pump is different, this isn’t something to count on as an exact. 

If it is summertime and you’re accustomed to having air conditioning in your car, be prepared for the air conditioning to stop when the car water pump quits. A car water pump and ac go hand in hand, and if the water pump isn’t keeping the motor cool, the air conditioner could quit working or cause the motor to get hotter faster. Call 630-932-4427 today for your water pump repair in Lombard and Wheaton, IL.

What would make a check engine light go on?

check engine light

So, how do you diagnose car problems today with the check engine light system?

Today’s cars have warning lights on the dashboard that are activated by a computer. Those warning lights are just that, a warning something is amiss with the car. Before warning lights, cars had gauges, much like the gas gauge, for things like the oil level and temperature.  When the gauge read between a certain range, you knew you needed to do something, but what do the warning lights mean, especially the check engine light

When cars were equipped with gauges, owners and/or mechanics would know precisely what to check to determine what to do.  With a check engine light though, it can mean different things. 

A professional mechanic at an auto diagnostics center will have an engine diagnostics tool to perform a diagnostic scan.  This will help them pinpoint the issue causing the check engine light to come on. 

What is a diagnostic scan?

The basics of a diagnostic scan for cars is to read the codes a car’s computer is “throwing”, in other words, causing the check engine light to come on, sometimes staying on.  It will then automatically record any problem detected and enables the mechanic to diagnosis what is wrong and what needs to be done to fix the problem. 

There are different brands of diagnostic machines, and Bosch engine diagnostic equipment is at the top of the line.  A diagnostic test reads what the  computer system is getting from the computer’s microchips, processor, and sensors, causing the check engine light to come on. 

It then logs the issues or problems that are present. A diagnostic test reveals any existing flaws,  including problems with the exhaust, oil system, transmission, and other components and systems within the engine. While the check engine light is telling you that something is wrong, a diagnostic test will provide an accurate assessment and reading quickly.

After the diagnostic scan, the technician may need to drive the car to test it on the road and they will complete their inspection with visual check of all components. The technician will sometimes perform a  comprehensive analysis on the battery and charging system if the computer diagnostic testing didn’t indicate what is making the check engine light turn on. 

How long does a diagnostic take on a car?

There are different factors that can affect the time it takes for a mechanic to run a diagnostic test on your car.  An hour to ninety minutes is standard, but if the issues are more complicated, some of engine components may need to be removed, taking up to three hours for the testing to be completed. 

How much does it cost for a diagnostic test on a car?

Rates can vary from area to area, and it depends on the make of the car too. A diagnostic testing is usually charged by the hour, not the service, and can start around $100 per hour and go upward to $200 per hour or more. You’re paying for the technician’s experience and knowledge of connecting the diagnostic equipment and ability to read the results that determine why the check engine light came on.  The car’s computer signals that check engine light to illuminate for problems with any of the following areas: 

  • Brakes
  • Cooling system
  • Engine
  • Exhaust system
close up of dash

Is it safe to drive with engine light on?

It depends, but what isn’t safe is to panic when the check engine light comes on. Remaining calm and do a quick assessment by asking yourself the following questions: 

  • Did you recently bet gas? The check engine light could be nothing more than the gas cap is loose. 
  • Was there a jolt or vibration when the check engine light came on? If you’re having trouble controlling the car after the check engine light came on, pull over and call a tow truck. 
  • Was there any strange noises or sounds when the check engine light came on? If yes, again, pull over and call a tow truck. 
  • Is the check engine light flashing? A flashing light is typically something serious and you should not drive any further. 

For engine noise diagnostics, and the check engine light may or may not come on, but instead, it takes the human hearing system.  Some common engine noises and sounds that are telling you to take your car to a mechanic are: 

  • Piston Ring Noises: A clicking noise when you accelerate that can be caused by problems with the rings being broken, or the cylinder walls are worn. To diagnose this problem, each spark plug needs to be removed and engine oil added to each one, then start the engine, let it run for several revolutions. If the noise quietens, then you need the rings replaced in the engine.  The check engine light may come on when this is happening because the engine isn’t getting the oil it needs. 
  • Piston Slapping Sound: This muffled but continuous hollow sound is typically a problem with the wall clearance for the piston, worn cylinders, or the car may be low of oil, which usually will cause the check engine light to illuminate.
  • Crankshaft Knocking Sound: This metallic, heavy, dull sound is when the engine is under load and usually indicates problem with the bearing, main, rod, or thrust. The oil will have metal shavings in it to confirm this is the problem and your car will need professional mechanic service. 

With any of these sounds, or a check engine light issue, getting the service of a professional mechanic is recommended. The longer you let these things go and keep driving, the more damage you could be doing to your car’s engine. Call 630-932-4427 today for your check engine light service in Lombard and Wheaton, IL.

What are the 3 belts in a car?

Internal belt

How long do belts last on a car?

Car belts are often referred to as drive belts by mechanics. Knowing the terminology will help you understanding your mechanic. There are many components and parts to a car and car belts are essential in helping the mechanical parts function. Those mechanical parts and the car belts that help them function are the alternator, water pup, and steering pump. A simple way that the purpose of car belts explained is they distribute power between the different engine components by creating friction between the belt and pulley. 

The cars today don’t have all the car belts that we’ve described above, instead, auto manufacturers design cars now to operate on a single belt. That one belt is called a serpentine belt and it operates all the things we described in the first paragraph. 

How often should the serpentine belt be replaced can vary based on your driving, but the recommended replacement every three years. The serpentine belt in many cars manufactured from 2005 and forward is from EPDM, a rubber compound. Those belts can last for ten years or 150,000 miles, again, depending on your driving style. 

How often should you change your belts on your car?

While replacement of car belts and hoses is based on the age of the car or the mileage on a car, having your car belts checked with each oil change, or more frequent, is recommended. The amount you drive your car and what road and weather conditions you drive through can affect the life of car belts. 

If you drive in the rain a lot, the water can wear car belts down and extreme cold or hot temperatures can affect the lifespan of car belts. Most oil and lube centers check the belts, chains, filters, and hoses automatically as part of their service, but mention it when you take your car in for service. A general rule that mechanics recommend is every 30,000 miles change the V-Belt and every 50,000 miles change the serpentine belt and timing belt if they don’t need changing sooner. 

How do I know if my drive belt is bad

Because cars today only have one belt, the serpentine belt, it is a critical part of car operating. It functions while the car’s engine is running and when it breaks, your car won’t run anymore. Sometimes, there are indications that the belt is getting bad. If you are experiencing any of these things, schedule an appointment with your mechanic ASAP to check your car belts: 

  1. Squealing Noise: A squealing noise under the hood of your car is probably the serpentine belt has gotten misaligned or is slipping. A mechanic can diagnosis this and replace the belt if needed. 
  2. AC and Power Steering Quit: The serpentine belt is one belt versus the many car belts that older cars had. When it is misadjusted, slipping, or broke, essentially, your car is broke. The power steering quits, the air conditioning quits, and the engine isn’t getting cooled anymore. All of this can cause safety issues and even ruin the engine. Preventative maintenance will keep this from happening and that means having the belt checked with each oil change or more frequently. 
  3. Engine Overheats: The serpentine belt provide the fan and water pump power needed to keep the engine cool. When the serpentine belt isn’t working properly, or is broken, the engine will overheat because the water pump isn’t turning. If your car engine is overheating, take your car to the mechanic to have the engine checked. If it isn’t the serpentine belt, then it could be something else and a professional mechanic can advise. 
  4. Cracks and Wear: Whether you have an older car with multiple car belts or you have a newer car with just a serpentine belt, the reason you want to have them inspected is to catch potential problems.  Over time, they begin to crack, chunks get cut out of them, they even begin to separate, and these are things the mechanic will check before it happens, and can replace the belt before your car breaks down and leaves you stranded. 

What happens if a belt breaks while driving?

When car belts break while you’re going down the road, several things can happen. An older car with multiple car belts, the power steering will quit, making it hard to steer and turn your car. A fan belt breaks, your car will overheat. With the newer cars, when the serpentine belt breaks, your engine will overheat, your power steering quits, and your car will stop. 

belts in engine block

Can you drive car with broken belt?

Mechanics are asked all the time if a customer can run car without belts, and if it is an older car, maybe, depends on which of the car belts is broken.  If it is a newer car with a serpentine belt, no. As we have covered, the serpentine belt is essential in a car’s operation. It drives the water pump which is needed to keep an engine from overheating. 

Remember, everything within a  car engine works with precision. This gives you a smooth functioning car to drive and for that to precision to happen, it needs specific timing between the camshaft and crankshaft in order for the pistons and valves to work as intended. 

There is either a timing belt or chain within your car engine that ensure this harmonization is happening at a precise rate and timing. What is the difference between car belts vs chains? The function of a timing chain is the same as a timing belt, with the only difference being that one is metal, and one is rubber.

Cars had timing chains up until the 1960s when car manufacturers designed timing belts, which is now the serpentine belt. Why? A rubber belt runs quieter than a metal chain and cost let to make.  In recent years, some manufacturers have reintroduced the timing chain in some models, and your owner’s manual should define what your specific car has and what routine maintenance needs to happen. Call 630-932-4427 today for your belt repair in Lombard and Wheaton, IL.

Can I Drive With a Broken Fuel Pump?

close up of engine

What is a fuel pump?  

 Your vehicle has an engine and transmission and somehow through mechanical magic, your vehicle goes down the road, as long as you have fuel in the fuel tank. Have you given any thought how the fuel you put in the tank gets to the engine? It is the fuel pump that does that part, and when it quits working, it is either fuel pump repair or replacement. 

typical vehicle engine burns a mixture of air and fuel, with the fuel being  pumped through a hose that runs from the gas tank and is mixed with air in the carburetor. The engine then pulls that mixture and uses it to power the engine. There are mechanical fuel pumps that are attached directly to the engine, and there are electrical fuel pumps that are inside the gas tank.  In most cases, fuel pump repair is possible on a manual unit, however, the electrical fuel pump will need replacing. 

Are fuel pumps necessary?

A fuel pump sends fuel to the engine as we describe above. Without a fuel pump, the engine wouldn’t get a fuel delivery, which is proven when a fuel pump isn’t working. This will either cause your car to stall where it sits or you’ll have poor fuel mileage, an indication that possible fuel pump repair or replacement is necessary. 

How can I start my car with a bad fuel pump?

Yes, there are some methods that allow you to start your vehicle when it has a bad fuel pump, however, keep in mind, these are only for a temporary time. When the fuel pump is failing or has failed, you need to get your car to your mechanic post-haste. 

  • A Fuel Pressure Gauge – You can attach a fuel pressure gauge to the vehicle engine directly. This will allow the vehicle to start so that you can drive it to your mechanic. 
  • A Manual Pressure – By applying manual pressure, you can assist the fuel to pass through the lines and to the engine. 
  • The Engine Heat – The engine overheating due to a faulty fuel pump is possible, but if the car is shut off and cooled, the low temperature can also cause the pump to stall. Maintaining a consistent heat to the engine can allow you to drive the car far enough to reach a repair shop.

A fuel pump can often be located in a challenging location to gain access for fuel pump repair or replacement. Due to the superb technology of today, the location issue is minimized as electronic fuel pumps have become more the standard and last 100,000 miles or more. 

Can a fuel pump go out without warning?

Absolutely!  Fuel pump will fail without any warning, but there are often indications of a bad fuel pump that you may not realize. So, what are the signs of a bad fuel pump? A fuel pump is a much used component in a vehicle, and as such, it gets worn out. We are going to share 6 indications  that should warn you  that your vehicle may need fuel pump repair or replacement: 

  1. No sound when turning on the ignition:  A fuel pump starts before the engine, so, when you turn the key, you should hear the fuel pump engaged with a whirring noise. If you’re not hearing that sound, but your car is starting anyway, you’re probably going to need fuel pump repair or replacement soon. 
  2. Vehicle fails to start: If your vehicle is frequently being hard to start when you turn the ignition on, this is often an indication that a fuel pump repair or replacement could be needed, among other possible issues. Your mechanic will be able to check all components related to a vehicle starting.
  3. Power loss while accelerating: As you accelerate your vehicle, the fuel pump will supply more fuel to the engine. When a fuel pump isn’t doing this, you aren’t able to increase the speed, and will likely lose speed.  
  4. Sputtering at high speeds: A faulty fuel pump will sputter or make sudden jerking motions at high speeds, then lose speed without warning. This can be an indication your vehicle needs fuel pump repair or replacement. 
  5. The vehicle can’t climb hills: If your vehicle is losing power while climbing uphill, this is usually an indication fuel pump repair is needed because it doesn’t supply enough extra fuel needed. 
  6. Frequent stalls: A fuel pump with problems will stop pumping fuel unexpectedly. This will cause your vehicle to stall where it sits and only fuel pump repair or replacement, or a tow truck, is going to get you out of this situation. 

Can you drive with a bad fuel pump?

As we have mentioned, the fuel pump in your vehicles is an important component. If it isn’t working, your vehicle isn’t going to start or move. While a fuel pump can last up to 100,000 miles or more, driving conditions and habits can make a difference on how long they last. To minimize the chance of your vehicle’s fuel pump leaving you stranded, we recommend the following: 

  • Keep the gas tank no less than one-fourth. Constant driving near or on empty will burn out a fuel pump.  
  • Keep fuel pump maintenance up-to-date by having the filters inspected and replaced regularly. 
Fuel injector

How long will it take to replace a fuel pump?

Every vehicle is different, and a fuel pump repair and replacement can vary based on that and if the fuel pump is manual or electrical. It can also be dependent on the mechanic and their knowledge of how to repair a fuel pump. The average time is between four to five hours if the mechanic has the fuel pump or parts or has access to getting one from a supplier or parts house. 

As we have mentioned, the fuel pump isn’t a first thought for most drivers. With this article, we hope that is has brough it to your attention and you’re able to know when you need a fuel pump repair or replacement before you are stranded. Call 630-932-4427 today for your auto repair needs in Lombard and Wheaton, IL.