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Can multiple dashboard lights be from one issue?

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Having a light on your vehicle’s dashboard turn on can catch your attention and even be a bit distracting. Multiple dashboard lights, however, might cause some concern.

The tire pressure light, check engine light, oil pressure warning light, and anti-lock braking system (ABS) light are some of the symbols you may see.

Different meanings are typically associated with each of them, and more than one problem could be behind the alert. But did you know that multiple dashboard lights can stem from one issue?

Multiple dashboard lights, one problem

On specific vehicles, a problem might result in a couple of symptoms or prompt more than one icon to appear on the dashboard.

Certain manufacturers will trigger multiple lights to catch the driver’s attention and encourage them to stop driving.

This would sometimes occur on older Toyotas. If your check engine light came on, so would your traction control light and vehicle stability assist (VSA) light. 

A lot of customers would say they all turned on at the same time. Usually, this meant that the problem was related to the check engine light and led to the other lights illuminating.

For some GMs today, it will say that the stability control is off if your vehicle is experiencing a major engine misfire. The shaking of the vehicle could impact the ABS system.

A problem with a battery or alternator could trigger different lights and many codes. You could get a code or a light for the air bag, ABS and check engine at the same time.

The diagnostic process

Check engine light and TPMS light on a Mitsubishi Outlander.How we resolve dashboard lights varies.

During check engine light diagnostics, our technicians pull codes using a scan tool. These codes act as a starting point. Then, we look up Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) to check for any safety recalls or updated parts. If there are no safety recalls, we perform component testing based on the codes.

Check engine lights are very broad because each system operates differently.

Looking into the ABS light has a similar procedure. However, rather than an Engine Control Unit (ECU), the ABS system has an ABS computer that talks to different systems and collects information.

For the TPMS, there are sensors that read the pressure and have a radio frequency that is sent to the dashboard. When TPMS was first designed, it was much more complicated, very difficult to figure out, and expensive to repair. Now, it’s very simple. Certain vehicles don’t have sensors in their wheels. Instead, they read off the ride height.

Oil pressure sensors have constant power. The light will come on if it loses its ground, which is oil.

Testing the dashboard lights

We have had drivers bring their vehicle in and say that multiple dashboard lights are rooted in one problem. However, we aren’t able to confirm that this is the case until we start looking into it.

The various lights require various types of testing. Every system, manufacturer and monitor differ. To add to the complications, there are also many makes and models.

So, determining why a vehicle has multiple dashboard lights isn’t necessarily a straight path. It can take time and the process could change based on the situation.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Lake Ridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Why is my car AC not working?

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Warmer weather is on its way, and before we know it we will have the A/C system on full blast.

During this transition – where it isn’t too hot or too cold – we recommend confirming that your car’s air conditioning system is working.

If you notice that it isn’t blowing cold air or no air is coming through the vents, have the problem checked out by an auto repair shop.

Air conditioning condenser.

Air conditioning condenser

Common a/c issues

There are numerous causes behind car AC problems. Among them are several common ones.

You may have a malfunctioning expansion valve or a blocked condenser that needs to be changed. A/c repair might require changing out other bad parts, like the compressor, drier, blower motor, or cabin air filter.

Something could also be wrong with the Electronic Climate Control System, which can be found on newer cars.

The a/c system having low freon is a possibility, as well. This might be a sign of an air conditioning leak. 

As silly as it may sound, user error is another potential reason why you’re having a problem. This article we wrote provides more details about these issues.

Complicated air conditioning problems

Chevy Colorado AC repair.

A/C diagnostics on Chevy Colorado

The reason why a car AC won’t run the way it should can be the result of a deeper problem, such as a bad wire.

A Chevy Colorado we worked on had an intermittent issue. Sometimes the a/c and heat would work, but then it would randomly stop blowing air. Various parts were replaced, including the blower motor, but the problem persisted. We couldn’t pinpoint the cause and eventually it stopped working altogether.

Through diagnostic testing, the technician found that we had bad ground to the blower motor and needed to replace the ground wire.

Other wiring problems are possible, too. You have a control head and signal wires that go to the mode door and temperature door. There’s a separate set of wires that go to the blower motor and resistors for the blower motor.

Problems with the mode and temperature controls could also occur. These can be a bit more complicated and time consuming, because you need to get into the dashboard. They also require technicians with a higher skill level who can perform circuit testing. Sometimes, a scan tool needs to be connected.

Getting your car AC working again

Having an air conditioning problem can be frustrating, especially as the temperatures rise. However, it can take time to determine where the issue lies, especially if it’s a more complicated problem. 

You may need to replace different parts and make a couple of visits to the autoshop before the issue is resolved completely. It might even require leaving your car at the shop for a couple of days so they can delve into the problem further.

Providing as much information as possible – what’s happening (or not happening), when it occurs, issues that seem related, and other repairs that have been performed – can help speed up the process. 

Before long, you should be back on the road, comfortably enjoying all that the spring and summer months have to offer you.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Manassas, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Repeat check engine light on Chevrolet Cruze

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Check engine lights are unique in that they aren’t rooted in one cause. They can indicate a number of problems. 

But what happens if the check engine light keeps coming back on?

If you have a repeat check engine light, you should have it looked at by an auto repair shop or automotive professional.

The driver of a Chevrolet Cruze brought their car to Steve’s Auto Repair to have the problem addressed.

Figuring out the cause of a repeat check engine light

The check engine light was off when our technician started working on the Chevy Cruze. However, he found a stored code of P0017, which indicates that the camshaft and crankshaft aren’t lined up correctly. This problem is common when the timing belts are worn or not installed correctly. They can stretch due to age, and may prompt the code and some running problems.

After removing the upper cover, the technician saw what appeared to be the original belt. It was cracking a bit and there were some small chips on the edge. The Chevrolet Cruze has more than 105,000 miles on it, but it’s recommended that the timing belt and spark plugs on this car be replaced at 97,500 miles. 

The timing belt ensures that the crankshaft and camshaft are operating at the same rate. When the belt should be replaced depends on the vehicle. It may be suggested every 60,0000 miles for some, and every 100,000 for others. The technician noticed that the timing gears were off, which would be enough to set the timing code.

Timing gears for a Chevrolet Cruze off.

Timing gears off.

To prevent potential engine damage that could occur if the belt breaks, we recommended replacing the timing belt. It’s also a good idea to change the camshaft seals and crankshaft front oil seal, and install a new tensioner and idler pulley. New spark plugs are needed, if they haven’t already been replaced.

Putting in a new water pump and having a coolant fluid exchange performed were suggested, as well. Your vehicle should get a coolant fluid flush every 30,000 miles – depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations – if there are thermostat problems, or the radiator or water pump are replaced.

Check engine light causes

As we mentioned earlier, a solid check engine light turns on for many reasons. Here are some of them:

  • Engine sensor issues
  • Loose gas cap
  • Problems with the ignition system
  • Low oil
  • Spark plugs going bad
  • Catalyst system not working correctly
  • Evaporative system issues
  • Engine misfire
  • Circuit malfunctioning
  • Bad ignition coils
  • Coolant system problems

Why you should get your vehicle checked out

Other connected codes can pop up the longer you wait, so we suggest having the light checked sooner rather than later.

If the check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive the vehicle at all. That’s because a blinking light indicates an engine problem. Catalytic converter damage may occur if you don’t have it addressed.

Because the potential culprits vary, diagnostic testing is needed to track down the problem. We start ruling out possibilities by performing a visual inspection and then conducting a code scan.

Our technicians look into common issues with the vehicle they’re working on and check out Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs).

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Manassas, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Shifting problems on a Ford F-150

In Diagnostics, Transmission, Transmission Flush by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Shifting problems can sometimes occur among vehicles with automatic transmissions. This was the reason why a four-door F-150 pickup truck came into our shop the other week.

The technician who was working on it checked the basics and found that the transmission fluid was low by about three quarts. 

He also looked into Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and common problems with these trucks. Through this process, we learned that the seal at the transfer case can go bad, causing the transmission fluid to go into the transfer case. 

A transfer case seal.

Searching for the transmission fluid

We put the vehicle up in the air and – just looking at it – didn’t see any visible leaks for three quarts of transmission fluid to disappear to. 

The technician dug further into the issue to determine what was happening.

As he pulled off the vent hose coming off the transfer case, it started leaking fluid. So, it was probably a day or two before it would have started pushing out of the tube and leaking on the ground.

This is why you shouldn’t go based on outward appearance when performing auto repair. The problem could be hidden behind other parts.

How we solved the problem

This is where the transfer case connects to the transmission on a Ford F-150.

This is where the transfer case connects to the transmission.

So, it was a pretty straightforward fix – we pulled the transfer case off the back of the transmission, replaced the seal, put it back together, and made sure the transmission fluid was topped off. 

A transfer case.

Transfer case

To make sure everything would be good for a while, we put some synthetic transmission fluid in the system and ensured it had the correct amount. Then we performed a flush on the transmission so that it was serviced up and this customer could be on their way again.

Whether you should go ahead and do a transmission fluid flush is based on the mileage and what’s going on with the vehicle.

Transmission fluid exchanges are recommended every 30,000 miles – depending on the vehicle and what the manufacturer suggests. This service cleans out the transmission and enables the component to continue running the way it should. To learn more about transmission fluid exchanges, check out this article we posted.

Certain vehicles may need a transfer case fluid exchange, which extends the transfer case’s lifespan.

Other causes of shifting problems

A bad transfer case seal isn’t the only reason why a vehicle may be experiencing shifting problems.

Trouble switching gears can also be the result of a bad automatic transmission. Other indicators include slipping or a whining noise.

Low fluid or fluid with contaminants in it may result in shifting problems, as well. Keep in mind that fluid doesn’t just go bad. if it has debris in it, that means that something is breaking down within the transmission. 

If the problem is that your car won’t come out of park, there might be something wrong with the shift interlock solenoid (as was the case with a Nissan Altima) or the brake light switch.

There are several possible explanations for why you may be having trouble changing gears. Make sure to have the issue checked out by an automotive professional, so it doesn’t become worse or impact the safety of you and your passengers.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Dale City, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Starting problem on Buick

In Diagnostics by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

The case of a mysterious starting problem has been closed. Like many repairs, the issue required some digging.

Our Woodbridge mechanics recently worked on a Buick Lacrosse that refused to start.

At first, the issue was occurring intermittently. Our customer would turn the key and it may not have “caught” to start the vehicle. 

Eventually, it reached the point that every time the driver would turn the key they could hear the starter trying to engage. However, it just sounded like it was spinning and nothing was happening. So, they had the vehicle towed to Steve’s Auto Repair.

What was causing the starting problem?

When we looked into the starting problem, we found that the teeth on the flywheel were chewed up. For some reason, the bushings in the starter were going bad and bouncing up and down. As they did, they would sometimes chip off the top edge of the flywheel. 

Bad bushing in starter.

Over a period of time, it just kept wearing down and the gap continued to grow bigger. Instead of having one or two teeth chewed up, it became five or six. As the engine stopped, it would be in about the same spot but the starter gear wouldn’t engage the gear on the flywheel.

A good flywheel and a flywheel that was chipped by a bad starter bushing.

In order to replace the flywheel, we needed to take the transmission out. Our technician also changed the starter, which was the original cause of the problem.

A clicking noise when starting a vehicle and a slight grinding sound can be signs that you need a new starter.

What is a car flywheel?

The flywheel is a big disc that is attached to the engine, and the torque converter for the transmission is connected to the flywheel. This partnership between the flywheel, engine and torque converter allows power to transfer from the engine to the transmission.

Some flywheels have slots that help produce the signals for crankshaft position sensors and other computer inputs. This is not the case as much as it used to be, but some cars still may have them.

This Buick has an automatic transmission. The flywheel on a manual transmission is much thicker, because the pressure plate and clutch disc bolt up against the flywheel. 

So, as you push in the clutch it disengages from the flywheel from where the engine is spinning. Then, as you let out on the clutch, it engages the flywheel to help transfer that power from the engine to the manual transmission. Those flywheels are generally much thicker so they are able to take the heat and transfer the power.

Problems to watch out for

If you hear noises that don’t sound right when you’re starting your car – maybe it’s making a bit of a grinding noise – you will want to get it looked at soon. That way you can avoid a costly repair – like removing the transmission to replace the flywheel, rather than just installing a new starter. A repair that could have cost a few hundred dollars is now a couple thousand dollars.

Make sure to also note if your car seems to be having trouble turning over, or if it seems to be cranking more slowly than usual. 

Electronics not working right and the battery light turning on – possible signs of an alternator going bad – are other problems to keep an eye out for.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.