Know Your Car



The chances of a drive belt failure rise dramatically after four years or 36,000 miles for V-belts and 50,000 miles for serpentine belts


What Is It?


Your car’s belts and hoses are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems, and the engine. Don’t take these routine replacement intervals for granted because a failure has the potential to be catastrophic.


What Does It Do?


The timing belt keeps the crankshaft and camshaft mechanically synchronized to maintain engine timing. Whether serpentine, V-belt, or fan belt (the belts on the outside of the engine), they all transmit power from the front of the engine to accessories that need to be driven, such as the air conditioning, the charging system, and fans. Radiator and heat hoses carry coolant to and from the engine, radiator, and heater core.


Typical Wear And Tear


Key items that affect the replacement interval for belts and hoses:

  • Vehicle age
  • Mileage
  • Belt tension
  • Electrolytic corrosion
  • Oil contamination
  • Failed hose clamps



  •  Squeaking noise from under the hood during start up or operation
  • Coolant Leaks
  • Dashboard light will illuminate
  • A/C system may fail
  • Engine Overheating

The belts and hoses most frequently used are:

  1. Serpentine belt
  2. Heater hoses
  3. Lower radiator hose
  4. Drive belt (V-belt)
  5. Upper radiator hose
  6. Timing belt



Have your car’s brake system inspected annually, even if you don’t suspect any problems!


What Is It?


Your car’s brake system is its most critical safety system and you should check it immediately if you suspect any problems. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation under a wide variety of conditions.


What Does It Do?


When you push the brake pedal, the force generates hydraulic pressure in the master cylinder. This pressure flows through the hydraulic lines and hoses to the wheel cylinders and calipers, forcing the shoes against the drums (drum brakes) and the pads against the rotors (disc brakes). The resulting friction slows the vehicle and is relative to the amount of force applied at the brake pedal.


Typical Wear and Tear 

Brakes are a normal wear and tear item for any car and eventually they’re going to need replacement. Avoid letting your brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which usually means accelerating expensive rotor or drum replacement.

Several factors that affect wear include:

  • Driving habits
  • Operating conditions
  • Vehicle type
  • The quality of brake lining material



  •  Car pulls to one side during braking
  • Brake pedal pulsates when you apply the brakes
  • Pedal feels “mushy”
  • Noise when you step on the brake pedal
  • Repeatedly need to add brake fluid o the master cylinder

Your car's braking system includes:

  1. ABS modulator/wheel speed sensors
  2. Pads
  3. Rotors
  4. Brake calipers (disc brakes)
  5. Master cylinder
  6. Hydraulic lines and hoses
  7. Shoes
  8. Wheel cylinders (drum brakes)
  9. Bearings, seals, or hub units



 Good fuel economy, performance, and low emissions are all interrelated for an efficiently-operating engine.

What Is It?

Your car’s emission system keeps the engine running cleanly and efficiently in all sorts of operating conditions. If your car’s engine isn’t performing up to par or the “Check Engine” light does on, have it inspected immediately. Failure to do so can reduce your mileage per gallon of fuel or cause your vehicle to pollute.


What Does It Do?


Your car’s emission system controls the emissions, exhaust and pollutants using an array of sensors, computerized engine controls and the exhaust components. The emission system substantially reduces harmful gases such as carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and prevents harmful gasoline vapors from escaping the fuel tank.


Typical Wear and Tear

Some factors affecting the emission system include:

  • Driving and atmospheric conditions
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle age
  • Type of spark plug electrode material
  • Maintenance history
  • Poor spark
  • Bad fuel
  • Damaged or worn sensors

Your car's emission system consists of:

  1. Catalytic converter and exhaust components
  2. EGR valve and related components
  3. PCV valve
  4. Evaporative system
  5. Oxygen sensor
  6. Sensors
  7. Gas cap





When a car or truck suffers major engine damage, the first reaction of most vehicle owners is to buy a new or used car or truck. This makes sense in some cases, but often, it isn’t necessary. Repowering your car or truck’s worn out engine with a rebuilt/remanufactured engine can also be considerably less expensive than buying a new or used car.

A rebuilt engine is one that is remanufactured to prescribed standards and specifications by highly-skilled machinists using state-of-the-art equipment and components. During this process, many of the new components installed meet or exceed the original equipment performance standards. Frequently, rebuilt engines are superior to new car engines because better parts are used, or design changes in parts correct problems with the original engine. Rebuilt/remanufactured engines are dependable, reliable, and backed by warranty programs.

A rebuilt engine gets better gas mileage than a worn-out engine and emits fewer pollutants. Engine repowering also saves energy related to processing discarded engines and cars.

The savings from engine repowering is notable when compared to the prices of new cars and trucks. A rebuilt/remanufactured engine purchased and installed at an average cost of $2,500-$3,500 is a sound and attractive investment. Typically, a professionally rebuilt engine comes with a one-year or 12,000 mile warranty but some of these warranties can be as long as 36 months or 36,000 miles.




What Is It?


The engine cooling system affects your car’s overall dependability and engine longevity. Cooling systems have advanced over the years with new coolant formulations and new radiator designs and materials. If you suspect a problem with your cooling system, you should check it immediately.


What Does It Do?


The key parts of the cooling system remove heat from the engine and automatic transmission and dissipate heat to the air outside. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat then returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated.  The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep it consistent for efficient engine operation.


Typical Wear and Tear 

Factors that affect the replacement of cooling system parts include:

  • Driving habits
  • Operating conditions
  • Type of vehicle
  • Type of coolant
  • Frequency of regular maintenance such as coolant changes


  • Overheating
  • Sweet Smell
  • Leaks
  • Repeatedly need to add fluid

Your car's cooling system consists of:

  1. Heater core
  2. Water pump
  3. Cooling fan
  4. Coolant reservoir
  5. Radiator
  6. Thermostat
  7. Hoses



Carbon monoxide from your car’s exhaust is odorless, colorless – and lethal. If you have any suspicions of a leak, have it checked out at once.


What Is It?


Your car’s exhaust system has come a long way from the old days of exhaust pipes and mufflers. Today, the exhaust system is safety and emissions control rolled into one. Have your car’s exhaust system inspected regularly and check it immediately if you suspect any problems.


What Does It Do? 

The exhaust system routes dangerous exhaust gas from the engine out and away from the car to keep from affecting the occupants. Next, the exhaust system reduces exhaust noise from the engine. The catalytic converter reduces the level of harmful pollutants in the exhaust. Finally, the oxygen sensors mounted in the exhaust system monitor the level of exhaust gases to maintain efficient engine operation and to monitor the converter’s operation.


Typical Wear and Tear


Maintain a safe car with regular exhaust system checks. Factors the affect replacement requirements include:

  • Driving habits (short trips take their toll on exhaust system life)
  • Road conditions (salt, road spray, bumps)
  • Vehicle type
  • Age of exhaust system parts



  • Loud moise
  • Rattling noise when starting accelerating or braking


Your car’s exhaust system consists of:

  1. One of more mufflers
  2. One of more oxygen (O2) sensors
  3. One or more catalytic converters
  4. Exhaust pipe




Your car’s engine can use more than 10,000 gallons of air for every gallon of fuel burned, so it’s easy to see how big a job the air filter has.


What Is It?


Your car’s filters are important to the longevity of your car and interior comfort. Maximize your car investment by replacing filters regularly.


What Does It Do?


The oil filter traps contaminants allowing the oil to flow through the engine unrestricted. The fuel filter separates harmful contaminants that may cause problems with carburetors or intricate fuel injectors. The air filter traps dirt particles, which can cause damage to engine cylinders, walls, pistons, and piston rings. The air filter also plays a role in keeping contaminants off the airflow sensor (in fuel-injected cars). The cabin filter helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a car’s ventilation system.


Typical Wear and Tear 

Filters are normal wear items that require regular checks and replacement. Factors that affect replacement intervals include:

  • Mileage
  • Driving habits
  • Driving and road conditions
  • Type of filter
  • Vehicle type




  • Poor gas mileage
  • Hesitation while accelerating
  • Musty odor in the cabin


Your vehicle’s filters most likely include:

  1. Cabin filter
  2. Air filter
  3. Automatic transmission filter
  4. Oil filter
  5. Fuel filter




What Is It?


Your car’s fuel system works with the rest of the engine control system to deliver the best performance with the lowest emissions. Check your car’s fuel system regularly or immediately if you sell gas or suspect a problem.


What Does It Do?


The fuel system transfers fuel from the fuel tank and pass it through a fuel filter for cleaning before it arrives at the injectors. A pressure regulator controls fuel pressure to ensure good engine performance under a variety of speed and load conditions. Fuel injectors, when activated; spray a metered amount of fuel into the engine. Some vehicles use a return line system to return unused fuel back to the tank.


It’s best to check your car’s fuel filter at every oil change and replace it every two years or 24,000 miles


Typical Wear and Tear

Intervals for fuel system maintenance may be influenced by:

Fuel Quality

Vehicle age


Operating conditions

Maintenance history



  • Clogged or worm fuel injectors
  • Poor fuel economy
  • Vehicle won’t start
  • “Check Engine” light is illuminated
  • Your car's fuel system includes:
  1. Pressure regulator
  2. Fuel injectors
  3. Lines/hoses
  4. Fuel filter
  5. Fuel tank
  6. One or more fuel pumps




What Is It?


Your car’s starting and charging systems, and the battery help ensure dependable vehicle operation whenever you drive your car and in all sorts of driving conditions. Make sure to check these systems regularly.


What Does It Do?


The battery stores electrical energy and the started converts that energy into mechanical force to turn the engine for starting. The alternator produces electric current to replace what the starter used during start-up and to support electrical loads when the engine is running. An ignition module turns the low-voltage supply to the ignition coil on and off, and the coil produces the high voltage for the ignition system. This creates a spark at the spark plugs and ignites the air/fuel mixture in the engine. A belt transmits power from the front of the engine to the alternator’s pulley, along with other accessories.  


You should test your battery every fall. If your car’s battery is three years old or older, consider replacing it for less chance of failure increases.


Typical Wear And Tear 

Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple trip back and forth to work. Other factories include:

  • Driving and weather conditions
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle Age
  • Excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems




  • Headlights and interior lights dim
  • “Check Engine” and/or battery light may come on
  • Accessories fail to operate


Your car’s starting, charging and battery system consists of:

  1. Spark plug wires
  2. Spark plugs
  3. Belts
  4. Alternator
  5. Starter
  6. Battery
  7. Ignition coil(s)
  8. Ignition module




What Is It?


Like your car’s brake system, the steering and suspension systems are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Have your car’s steering and suspension systems checked regularly, at least once a year and usually with a wheel alignment.


What Does It Do?


The suspension maintains the relationship between the wheels and the frame or unibody. The suspension system interacts with the steering system to provide vehicle control. When working properly, the suspension system helps absorb the energy from road irregularities such as potholes and helps to maintain vehicle stability. The steering system transmits your input from the steering wheel to the steering gear and other steering components to control the car’s direction.


Improper ride height of your car can impact alignment angles and cause premature wear of some steering and suspension parts.


Typical Wear and Tear 

Over time, steering and suspension components wear out and require replacement. Regular checks are critical to maintain a safe car. Factors that affect wear include:

  • Driving habits
  • Operating conditions
  • Vehicle type
  • Type of steering and suspension system
  • Frequency of regular maintenance such as chassis lubrication and wheel alignment



  •  Pulling
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Noise and vibration while cornering
  • Loss of control


The key components in your car’s steering and suspension systems include:


  1. Shocks and/or struts
  2. Steering knuckle
  3. Ball joints
  4. Steering rack/box
  5. Bearings, seals or hub units
  6. Tie rod ends
  • Other main parts of the steering and suspension system include springs, pitman arm and idler arm.




 What Is It?


The transmission works with the engine to provide power to your car’s wheels. Whether automatic or manual, the transmission plays a major role in the overall dependability of your car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.


What Does It Do?


A transmission/transaxle keeps the engine’s output optimally matched to the speed and load conditions. The torque converter, connected to the automatic transmission/transaxle input shaft, connects, multiplies and interrupts the flow of engine torque into the transmission. Universal joints connect to the driveshaft to transmit output power from the transmission to the rear axle on rear-wheel-drive cars. Universal joints also allow the driveshaft to work at an angle. Automatic transmission fluid services a multitude of purposes. It cleans cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish buildup and continually protects the transmission. There are several different types of automatic transmission fluid. Reference your owner’s manual for how they should be used.


Typical Wear and Tear 

  • Wear and tear on the transmission can be influenced by:
  • Driving habits
  • Towing or excessive loads
  • Operating conditions
  • Condition of the transmission fluid
  • Frequency of regular maintenance



  • Slipping
  • Hesitation
  • Bucking
  • Grinding gears
  • Difficulty shifting

The transmission in your car includes:

  1. Transmission fluid
  2. Automatic transmission/transaxle, or manual transmission transaxle
  3. Universal joint
  • Some vehicles with all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive will also use a transfer case after the transmission