Teson Automotive

1200 Armstrong Street

Algonquin, Illinois 60102

Mon -Fri  7:30am to 5:30pm

Phone: (847) 658-7700

See map: Google Maps

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Replacing your Timing Belt

Changing your timing belt is NOT optional – but waiting until it breaks to address any issues is. And that is a risk you shouldn’t take.

Most manufacturers recommend changing the timing belt at a specific mileage, usually between 90 and 105 thousand miles. But you should NOT wait until the last possible minute to have your timing belt replaced. Replacing it early can save you thousands of dollars.

If your vehicle is due for a timing belt replacement, or to find out what your manufacturer recommends, call our experts at (847) 658-7700.

Timing Belt ReplacementWith the timing belt, it’s not if it will fail – it’s WHEN. This rubber belt is critical to your vehicle’s performance – and the operation of the auto engine.

The timing belt is a rubber belt with teeth, which travels on pulleys through the engine in your vehicle. The teeth on the belt catch on gears, like on the water pump to regulate the coolant entering the engine.

There are two common reasons that your timing belt would fail:

  1. Age & Miles – As your vehicle travels more miles, the rubber teeth on the timing belt wear down. If worn to the point that the timing belt can no longer grip the gears, it will slip and cause the pistons and valves to pump out of sync. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt between 90 and 105 thousand miles.
  2. Water Pump Seizure – If the water pump in your vehicle seizes, the gear will stop turning and the force will break the timing belt. This is often caused by cooling system failure. If the coolant hasn’t been flushed regularly, your vehicle is at risk of cooling system and water pump failure.

If your vehicle has an interference engine, a broken timing belt could mean thousands of dollars in damage. (The average cost to replace an engine after a blown timing belt can run from $3,000 to $10,000 and higher depending on the vehicle.)

In interference engines, pistons (the large cylinders in the illustration below) move up and down. Above these pistons, there are smaller valves that simultaneously pump up and down. The timing belt controls the operation of both these elements, ensuring that they move in sync so the valves and pistons never meet.Timing Belt Pistons Valves Interference Engine

When the timing belt slips or breaks in an interference engine, the pistons and valves become out of sync – the pistons continue to pump, forcefully hitting (and almost always breaking) the valves.

What should have been routine maintenance, replacing the timing belt in your vehicle, has now become a costly engine repair – replacing the timing belt early can save you THOUSANDS of dollars.

To find out if your vehicle needs a new timing belt or schedule your next appointment, call us at (847) 658-7700.

Even in non-interference engines, a broken timing belt can immediately shut off your vehicles engine, leaving you and your family stranded on the side of the road with a vehicle that can no longer run. By putting off timing belt replacement to save some money now, you’re risking the safety of your family and vehicle – and risking extensive damage that will cost much more.

In this video, the Monday Morning Mechanic reviews the importance of Changing your timing belt EARLY to save BIG BUCKS!

“Changing your timing belt isn’t optional, but waiting until it breaks before you do can cost you thousands. While you’re having it changed, though, you can have several other items addressed at the same time, which can save you a ton of money for labor. While your shop is under the hood replacing the timing belt, have them change the water pump, and the tensioners, and you’ll save a lot in the long run.”

If your vehicle is due for a timing belt replacement, don’t delay! Give our auto repair experts a call at (847) 658-7700 to schedule your service, replace your timing belt, and save yourself from the danger and inconvenience of extensive damage and costly repairs.

3 Cat Litter Auto Myths – True or False?

Kitty litter often makes an appearance in lists for auto emergency kits or winter safety tips – but why is this strange “tool” so popular? What is it for? Does it really work?

Here, we address three “myths” about cat litter to help you stay safe on slick winter roads in Algonquin, IL. Before you find yourself stuck (without cat litter), make sure your car can handle winter conditions – call our team at 847-658-7700.

 Cat Litter_Car EmergencyMyth #1 – Cat litter provides Traction

TRUE! If your vehicle gets stuck in a snow bank or on a slick road, cat litter can help create the traction you need to get out. Pour a little around your tires to give them something to grip as you navigate onto the road. The non-clumping kind works best for extra traction on slick roads.

Myth #2 – Cat Litter Weighs Down your Car

TRUE! As cat owners know, bags of cat litter are heavy. When you’re not stuck in the snow, the weight of cat litter in your trunk can also help improve traction by adding weight to the back end of your vehicle. Especially in trucks and cars that are front heavy, a little extra weight in the rear of your vehicle can help stabilize you, keeping you in control of your vehicle on slick roads.

Cat litter provides traction on slick winter roadsMyth #3 – Cat litter is an alternative to “Ice Melt”

FALSE! Cat litter does NOT act as an “ice melt” for your driveway. While it will provide traction for vehicles and pedestrians on ice, it will not speed up melting of the ice (the way salt ice melt does – salt lowers the freezing point of water to help it melt faster). In fact, as the ice starts to melt, the kitty litter may absorb the moisture, leaving you with slippery, wet clay to sweep away.

Drive safely on the winter roads across Algonquin this season. Don’t forget to pick up some cat litter for your winter auto emergency kit – store a bag in your trunk for weigh and traction on slick roads. To make sure your vehicle is prepared for winter road conditions, schedule an appointment or call 847-658-7700.

Tips for Avoiding Holiday Traffic

From all of us at Teson Automotive, Happy Holidays! This season is one of the busiest for holiday travel. And with unpredictable weather and road conditions in Algonquin, IL, and across the country, long road trips can be stressful.

Before you head out for your holiday road trip this year, bring your vehicle in for a pre-trip inspection. Our ASE Certified technicians will thoroughly inspect your vehicle, fix any issues before they lead to costly repairs, and give you the peace of mind to embark safely on the road.

Here are a few more tips to stay safe and avoid holiday traffic this season:

Holiday traffic can be avoided with a little planning!Plan ahead – If you have the flexibility, avoid traveling on the busiest days. When possible, avoid major highways during rush hour (7:00–10:00 am and 4:00–7:00 pm). Plan your route ahead of time, or use a GPS or smart phone to identify alternative routes.

Stay alert – When driving in heavy traffic or slick winter road conditions, the best thing you can do is pay attention. Avoid distractions like the radio, cell phones, makeup, etc. and focus on the road ahead of you. Staying alert will help you react to changing road conditions faster, stay safe, and avoid unnecessary congestion from distracted drivers.

Know your route – Familiarize yourself with the street names, exit numbers, and alternative routes before heading out. If you’re traveling on a congested highway and know your exit is coming up, think ahead and don’t wait until last opportunity to merge. Merging at the last minute creates bottlenecks, the cause of around 40% of traffic congestion.

Prevent breakdowns –Breakdowns and accidents cause nearly 25% of traffic jams. The best thing you can do for your vehicle before a road trip is to stop by for an inspection, and tend to any threatening issues. If you find yourself in an emergency on a high-traffic road, pull over quickly and completely to avoid further delaying traffic. And if you see an incident on the side of the road, avoid the impulse to slow and watch the commotion – this only further contributes to slow traffic.

Traffic apps – Before you head out, check your favorite source for traffic updates. Google maps now can show real-time traffic conditions, and there are a variety of apps and websites (as well as local radio stations) that provide current traffic reports. Tune-in before you head out, and plan alternative routes as needed.

Check the weather – Rain and snow can contribute to traffic delays. Consider the forecast (you can check at local and national conditions at weather.com) and plan accordingly. If it looks like rain or snow, plan extra time for your commute and check your tire condition before longer trips. Poor traction increases your risk of an accident on slick road).

Be prepared – Prior to long trips, make sure your emergency kit is stocked and packed in your vehicle. Check the tire pressure in your spare tire (you can’t replace a flat tire with a flat spare!) and make sure your jack, lug nut wrench, and tools are in place. A quick check will confirm that you are prepared to handle a flat tire or other auto emergency on the road.

Relax and be courteous – On roads with heavy traffic, a little patience goes a long way. While you may not be able to control the speed of traffic or attentiveness of other drivers, your attitude is in your control. Avoid road rage and be courteous to other drivers. If someone in the next lane is signaling to merge, slow to let them in. These small acts help you to avoid stress and unnecessary bottlenecks.

With a little planning and patience, you can make the best out of holiday traffic. Traffic is uncontrollable, but you can adjust your attention and attitude to avoid contributing to the problem.

For your pre-trip inspection, give us a call at (847) 658-7700 or schedule an appointment. Wishing you a happy holiday season, and safe travels this winter!

Need new tires? Find out with this trick that only costs a penny!


Did you know that you officially need to replace your tires when the tread is below 2/32” thick? And did you know that the distance between the edge of a penny and the top of Lincoln’s head is exactly 2/32”?

Convenient, right?

Whether you’ve put extra miles on your tires with summer road trips or they are simply nearing the end of their life, this quick test will let you know if it is time to consider new tires.

Most tires have “wear bars” that run across the tread pattern. When these become visible, connecting patterns across your tire’s tread, they serve as a warning that your tread is getting bare. But not all tires are designed the same, and sometimes you just need an extra test to know with confidence that it is time to replace your tires.

So for a quick tread check, grab a penny! Place the penny, with Lincoln’s head down and facing you, into the tread of the tire.penny

If all or part of Lincoln’s head is obscured by the tread, your tires still have some life left – but if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tire.

Note: Measure each tire in multiple places – both the inside and outside edge across the tire, and on multiple points around the tire. If your alignment is off, or if you have neglected tire rotation, they may have uneven wear. This also can cause bald spots that mean you need to replace your tires prematurely.

If you don’t have a penny handy, a quarter can also do the trick! The distance between Washington’s head and the edge of a quarter is exactly 4/32” (which also happens to be the recommended thickness for tire tread if you are driving in rain, snow, or icy conditions).

Use the same method, placing the quarter with Washington’s head upside down and facing you in the tread across multiple places on your tire. When you can see all of Washington’s head, you know you will need to replace your tires soon.

You may consider replacing your tires before they reach the 2/32” point. As your tread thins between 4/32” and 2/32” you may start to experience performance issues, especially in wet and slick conditions.

tire

The good news? There are easy steps you can take to extend the life of your tires! Keep your tires properly inflated to reduce extra friction and wear. Rotate your tires regularly to ensure they wear uniformly without creating bald spots.  Have an alignment performed periodically. Treat your tires with care – following these recommended maintenance tips can help them wear evenly so you get more miles out of every dollar! Stop by or schedule an appointment for a tire rotation, alignment, or inspection.

Cooling System Flush – is it really necessary?



Overheating is the most common cause of vehicle breakdowns and internal engine damage. As the heat rises in the summer, our shop sees more and more people coming in after breakdowns due to cooling system failure. But there is an easy answer!

A cooling system flush can keep your engine running smooth and cool even on the hottest days. Regularly changing your coolant, aka antifreeze, can prevent larger problems for your cooling system and engine and keep your family safe on the road!

What is the Cooling System?

Cooling-System

The cooling system is responsible for keeping your vehicle’s engine from overheating. The engine runs best at a high temperature, so the cooling system helps it to heat up quickly then keep the engine at a regular, constant temperature without overheating as it runs. It accomplishes this by transferring heat into the air with the help of coolant, or antifreeze, and the other components of the cooling system.

In most cars, the cooling system works by circulating radiator fluid (the mixture of coolant and water) through parts and pipes in the engine to absorb the heat and cool the engine. A radiator at the end of the system captures and transfers the heat from the fluid into the air.

But my coolant still looks clear, why should I change it?

New coolant usually appears a bright green or a bright red color, as in the picture below.

coolant-fluid-green

As the coolant runs through the engine, rust and contaminants caused by oxidation and corrosion mix in with the fluid. Unfortunately, when you look under the hood to check your fluid, it may still appear clean and clear even though these contaminants rest under the surface, unseen and threatening the life of your engine.

This video from Monday Morning Mechanic shows the striking visual of these hidden contaminants, and the threats they pose: http://mondaymorningmechanic.com/helpful-money-saving-videos/?mmmvideo=38#video

How often should I flush my coolant?

Most manufacturers recommend that you change the radiator fluid (the mixture of antifreeze coolant and water) every 24,000 to 36,000 miles or 24 to 36 months. Depending on your driving habits, you may need to flush your coolant more often – we recommend every 1-2 years.

Be leery of “extended life” coolants that tout 100,000 mile lifespans – even these can accumulate rust and contaminants that threaten your engine life. These impurities could add up and cause bigger problems before you reach the 100,000 mile check.  Even with “extended life” fluids, you should have these coolants checked frequently.

What happens if I don’t?

Failing to change your coolant can take as much as 100,000 miles off the life of your engine, in addition to big problems and expensive repairs.

Coolant flows through your entire engine, leaving behind contaminants. They can collect on the radiator, inside the water pump or thermostat, getting stuck and preventing the components from working appropriately. Plastic components, like the water pump, can wear and break apart. If the water pump breaks, the system won’t be able to move the water and coolant through the engine. Hoses can also react to contaminants, becoming swollen and rusty on the inside even as they appear normal on the outside. With excess heat, belts that control the cooling system and steering will start cracking, eventually breaking and disabling the systems (imagine a steering belt break, not being able to control your vehicle!).

Bottom line – contaminated coolant can lead to cooling system failure, causing your engine to overheat and break down, leaving you stranded on the road!

We assume your family’s safety is at the top of your priority list, so having your coolant flushed or even just checked while it’s still scorching outside, and before it gets cold, should be as well. Avoid expensive engine breakdowns by having your coolant flushed before problems arise. Call us at 847-658-7700 or stop by our shop.

The Dangers of DIY Manual A/C Recharge Kits

Summer is here, and it brought the heat to Algonquin, Il! If your car’s air conditioning isn’t holding up to the temperatures, you may need to have your a/c inspected.

We’ve heard several people talking about DIY manual recharge kits that let you add refrigerant into your system. Many of these kits seem like an easy, “too good to be true” alternative to a full A/C service – that’s because it is too good to be true!


AC DIY rechargeManual Recharge Basics

Manual recharge systems do not evacuate the fluid in your system – instead they add refrigerant on top of your current levels. It’s like adding new oil on top of old oil – topping off fluids does not solve any problems, only temporarily covers up the symptoms. In fact, topping off can even lead to bigger problems and costly repairs!

Leaking refrigerant

Refrigerant does not evaporate, it leaks. If your air conditioning is low on refrigerant, it is leaking refrigerant into the atmosphere. The refrigerant in older vehicles is CFC-12 (also known as Freon), which depletes the ozone layer. This type of refrigerant is no longer manufactured in the United States due to its negative environmental effects. While the environmental impacts of leaking refrigerant are significant, DIY kits pose many more risks to your vehicle.

Contaminants in your system

Not only can refrigerant continue to leak into the atmosphere, but contaminants can leak into your system. Dirt, dust, and grime can build up inside your A/C, plugging up the hoses and pumps necessary to keep your car cool. Even water can wreak havoc in your system!

Manual recharge kits often leave water behind in the lines. When water and refrigerant mix, they will hydrolyze – forming hydrochloric or hydroflouric acids that can deteriorate parts, corrode metal, and fill the system with sludge. This can cause problems much more costly than the few dollars you save purchasing the DIY recharge kit.

Mixing Refrigerantsauto air conditioning

Because there are many types of refrigerant, you may not know if the refrigerant you are adding is the same as the refrigerant currently in your system. Mixing refrigerants can cause dangerous chemical interactions. In addition, mixing refrigerants can cause damage to the compressor or other parts of the air conditioner. If you cannot identify the type of refrigerant in your system, you should evacuate the system and replace with new refrigerant rather than risking “topping off” with the wrong type.

Bigger Problems

Many recharge kits also feature a stop-leak sealer, claiming to fix and prevent leaks. One of two things typically happen with these sealers – either it won’t work at all and you will continue to leak Refrigerant into the atmosphere, or it will stop the leak, as well as the hoses, the compressor, and the pumps in your A/C!  Kits that offer a “stop-leak sealer” may temporarily plug leaks, but can interfere with system components and lead to larger, costly repairs.

If there is a problem in the A/C system, DIY kits will only cover up the symptoms temporarily. Water and contaminants can get into the system, refrigerant can leak out into the environment, and leaks are not repaired. All of these factors can lead to even more problems, and more expensive repairs, for your vehicle.

Leave it to the experts

A/C systems in vehicles require precision – manufacturers determine a specific amount of refrigerant that is correct for your car. When you bring your car into our shop for a recharge, you can trust that your air conditioning will be working properly without the harmful risks associated with the manual DIY kits. To schedule an A/C inspection, recharge, or repair, call us at (847) 658-7700 and keep cool this summer!

How to Handle a Tire Blowout

Drivers in Algonquin encounter many distractions on the road—traffic, cell phones, music, passengers, etc. Even the open road can allow a driver’s mind to wander. If you’re distracted when a tire blowout occurs, your drive can become extremely dangerous. You’ll need to gather yourself quickly and follow the correct maneuvers in order to remain safe while you guide your car to safety. We’ve put together a few tips on how to properly handle a tire blowout so you can get off the road as quickly and safely as possible.

The easiest way to remain safe from a tire blowout is through preventative maintenance. Taking care of your tires can reduce many of these common causes of blowouts.

Causes of tire blowouts:

–          Over/underinflated tires

–          Misaligned tires

–          Overloaded vehicle

–          Sharp objects on the road

 

When a blowout occurs, the vehicle will veer toward the blown out tire regardless of your speed. Most often, blowouts occur at relatively high speeds. A normal reaction of a driver may be to panic; however, the number one rule of dealing with a blowout is to keep calm. You won’t violently spin out of control during a blowout if you handle it correctly.

 

Safely maneuvering during a blowout:

–          DO NOT hit the breaks or turn the steering wheel—an initial reaction of most drivers

–          Briefly press the accelerator to maximize control

–          Firmly grab the steering wheel and stay in your lane

–          When you can safely do so, carefully guide your vehicle to the shoulder or safe location as you begin to decelerate

–          Once you’re at comfortable and safe speed, you can apply the brakes and come to a full stop

–          Turn on your hazard lights

Even if you never experience a tire blowout, it is always beneficial to know what to do. To avoid a tire blowout, come down to Teson Automotive and let our ASE-certified mechanics give your vehicle a thorough inspection. At our auto repair shop, we will do whatever it takes to ensure you’re safe. So stop by or call us at (847) 658-7700 to set up an appointment today!

7 Ways You Can Improve Your MPG This Summer

Summer time in Algonquin is the best season for the outdoorsman and the hardest season for the car owner—rising temperatures means rising gas prices. Here are some tips to keep your wallet happy this summer rather than feeling the pain at the pump.

 

1. The next time you have your oil changed, have the air filter checked.  Replacing a dirty air filter with clean one can save up to 10 percent on fuel costs.

 
2. Check your tire pressure. Filling your tires with the recommend air pressure can increase fuel economy by as much as 3.3 percent.

 
3. Stay up to date with your air filter replacement. A dirty filter can easily decrease your MPG by 1-2 miles. Make sure to have our ASE-certified technicians to check the state of your air filter during your next visit.

 
4. Keep the windows rolled up. If you’re cruising on the highway with the windows down, you will cause an aerodynamic drag that can decrease your fuel economy by 10% because your engine will have to work harder

 
5. Slow down on long trips. Driving at 60 mph instead of 70 can save you 2-4 gallons of gas over the duration of your trip.

 
6. Lighten your load by removing any unnecessary cargo from your vehicle. An extra 100 lbs. can increase fuel consumption by 1-2%. That can add up with the rise in gas prices.

 
7. Use cruise control. It can be tough in the city, but when you hit the open road, cruise control will keep your car at a constant speed and avoid any unnecessary acceleration that can waste gas.

 

 

One of the easiest ways to make sure you maximize your gas mileage is to stay up to date with your preventive maintenance needs.  Our ASE-Certified technicians at Teson Automotive are more than happy inspect your vehicle and help you understand what you can do to you improve your MPGs. Stop by our auto repair shop in Algonquin or call us at (847)-658-7700 to set up an appointment today!