Our Japanese Auto Repair Blog

Why Oil Changes and Fluid Flushes are So Important to Your Car

Fluid flushes are among the most important types of regular maintenance for your car, truck or SUV. The systems in your vehicle rely on specialized liquids to make sure they can continue to function properly, and it’s important to keep the fluids as fresh and clean as possible. Depending on the system, it may need fluids to offer hydraulic assistance, lubrication, or cooling.

 

Why Are Fluid Flushes Important?

Staying on top of your oil changes and fluid flushes will help keep your vehicle operating safely and efficiently by making sure each of the parts has what it needs. This also prevents vehicle breakdowns and part failures that could make your care inoperable because the fluids stop the parts from rubbing excessively and wearing down more quickly. As a result, keeping up with your oil changes and fluid flushes will save you money in the long run and keep your car in peak condition.

Depending on the type of vehicle you own, there may be different guidelines for which types of fluids you need. If you’re not entirely confident about what your vehicle needs, regular checkups at your local auto shop can help you make sure you’re up to date. As a general rule, here are some of the things you should be aware of.

 

Engine Oil

This is the most common type of oil change people think about. Some vehicles use standard engine oil, while others use synthetics or some sort of blend.

Depending on the type in your vehicle, you’ll be able to go about 3,000 miles or possibly a little bit more before oil changes. If you’ve gone over the recommended limit, it might be a good idea to get an engine oil flush so you can remove debris and dirty oil.

 

Transmission Fluid

Most automotive experts recommend getting a transmission fluid and filter change roughly every 25,000 miles. It’s also helpful to check the level and general condition of your transmission fluid more often than that, as frequently as once per month. Since transmissions run so hot, they can break down the fluid quickly.

It’s time for new transmission fluid when it gets too low, is a dark color, or it smells burnt. Waiting too long can cause the fluid to fill up with debris that will require a full transmission flush. Have a professional do this so they can confirm that your transmission is still in good health.

 

Coolant Flushes

Coolant helps your engine stay protected when temperatures are too hot or too cold. Older fluid loses its ability to regulate temperature, which leaves the engine vulnerable to potential damage.

This fluid is also critically important because it can help prevent internal engine parts from getting corroded. Drain and replace it every two years or even more frequently.

 

Brake Fluid

Most people neglect this service until there’s a problem with their braking system. To prevent problems from arising and help your system last longer, we recommend having the brake fluid changed every two or three years.

 

Fluid Changes Near Me

Greg’s Japanese Auto is here to help you with all of your oil changes and fluid flushes. We have locations all over Western Washington, which allows us to offer convenient service for the Puget Sound Region.

Each location has modern equipment and knowledgeable staff, so we’ll be able to help you get the most from your vehicle. We also have specialized expertise with Japanese imports. Contact us today to set your appointment.

Image Credit: Shutterstock By 4 PM production

3 Common Causes for a Shaky Steering Wheel

No driver likes it when their steering wheel starts shaking. This is a sure sign that there’s something going wrong with your vehicle, and it can also make driving unnecessarily stressful and scary. If the road is smooth and your ride still feels jerky, there’s nothing to blame except for the vehicle itself. Waiting for the problem to take care of itself will only make things worse, so we strongly suggest that you take action as soon as possible when you notice that your steering wheel is shaking. 

There are multiple potential causes for a shaking steering wheel, and some of them may even surprise you. Depending on how your car is shaking, it may provide clues that can help a car repair professional resolve the issue. Once you notice the problem, take note of when it gets worse. For example, is it worse at high speeds or low speeds? Is it worse when you’re braking? All of this information can help a mechanic determine the cause of your shaky steering wheel.

 

1. Tires out of Balance

This is the most obvious and the most common reason that you might experience a shaking steering wheel. If your tires are out of alignment or out of balance, they may send shakes through your vehicle and to the steering wheel.

If this is your problem, you aren’t as likely to notice the shaking at lower speeds as you are at high speeds. Shaking from tires that are out of balance is likely to start when you’re going around 50 miles per hour or faster, though it may start to become less noticeable again at higher speeds.

The first thing to check in this situation is whether or not all of your tires are properly inflated. If one or more of your tires is flat, it will create a lack of balance that affects your ability to steer the vehicle properly.

If all the tires are inflated to an appropriate level, the next thing to consider is the tread on the tire. If your tires are worn unevenly, you may be able to get them rotated, or you may have to pay for all new tires. Either way, it will be worth it to have your car drive more smoothly and safely.

If the tires themselves look fine but the problem persists, it could be possible that the issue lies somewhere in between the tires themselves and your steering wheel. For example, your axle could have become bent or otherwise damaged by an accident, and this will prevent the tires and steering wheel from communicating properly through the drivetrain. If you notice sudden jerks in the steering wheel, this could be the problem.

Finally, the actual wheels could be responsible for shakiness resulting from poor control between the steering wheel and the tires. If your steering wheel is wobbling too much, it could be a sign that the wheel bearings, tie rod ends, or ball joints are damaged. To help a mechanic diagnose and resolve this problem, take note of when you’re experiencing the most shake while driving. Is the shaking worse when you’re cornering or when you’re driving straight?

 

2. Problems With Brake Rotors

If your steering wheel shakes a lot while you’re braking, that could mean that your rotors are out of round. In other words, the rotors have started to wear out, lose their shape, and become warped. In this instance, you’re also likely to feel some vibrations through the brake pedal whenever you press your foot down on it. The brakes are an extremely important component of your vehicle since they allow you to stop safely, so it’s important to get this issue looked at as soon as you possibly can.

Even if you just got new brakes installed, vibrations while braking is a sign of a serious problem. It’s possible that the rotors weren’t installed correctly, and an inability for the brake pads to clamp together efficiently is what’s causing the vehicle to vibrate. Take your vehicle to the auto shop as soon as possible, and the mechanics will take a look to determine if your brake rotors need to be resurfaced, replaced, or simply adjusted.

Alternatively, the problem could be because of the brake pads. If the rotor is still in good condition, then it’s time to look at the pads themselves. If the vibration gets worse when you apply the brakes, it means the problem is almost definitely somewhere in the braking system. The rotors and the pads are the most likely culprits, but it’s important to investigate the entire system until the problem can be identified and resolved.

 

3. Worn Suspension Components 

Unlike problems with the tires and brake rotors, it’s also possible for suspension and alignment problems to cause shaking while driving. Shaking as a result of a worn ball joint or tie rod is more common in older vehicles than newer ones, so this deserves some extra consideration if you’ve been driving the same car for a while. 

Basically, the suspension components can become loose and develop play, so you’ll start to notice some pretty severe vibrations once you get your car above 45 miles per hour or so. If that sounds like what’s been happening with your vehicle, it’s best to stop driving the car and take it into a shop as soon as possible to avoid making the problems even more severe.

 

How to Diagnose a Shaking Steering Wheel

While the three causes of a shaky steering wheel listed above are the most common, they’re not the only reasons you could be experiencing this problem. There are a whole range of engine problems that can shake the entire vehicle, but you may just be noticing the shake through the steering wheel. These problems could be with the spark, air introduction, or fuel delivery systems, among other things. If you’ve read the list above and still aren’t sure why your steering wheel is shaking, it’s a good idea to take your car to a professional mechanic as soon as possible.

 

What to Do When Your Steering Wheel Shakes

The best exact course of action will depend on the specific problem, but there’s one general thing you should always do when your steering wheel starts shaking: seek immediate help. The symptoms you’re noticing could be signs of a severe problem that threatens the longevity or safety of your vehicle. Take it to a qualified car mechanic so they can tell you what’s going wrong and what you need to do to fix it.

 

Auto Repairs Western Washington

Here at Greg’s Japanese Auto, we have eight locations all over Western Washington. We only work with Japanese makes and models, so you can count on our specialized experience whenever you have a shaking steering wheel. Our knowledgeable staff will be able to diagnose your issue quickly then take corrective action to extend the life of your vehicle. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Image Credit: Shutterstock By Andrey_Popov

5 Common Reasons Why Your Check Engine Light Is On

It’s one of every car owner’s biggest nightmares– the check engine light has become illuminated in your dash. This is a sure sign of problems under the hood of your car, and it’s hard to know exactly how serious those problems are.

It could be a quick fix, or it could be a problem that leaves you stranded and costs you thousands of dollars unless it’s addressed quickly. Either way, it’s important to get to the bottom of the issue as soon as possible.

Here are 5 of the most common reasons your check engine light might be on.

 

1. Problem With Your Gas Cap

Of all the reasons your check engine light might be on, this one could be the easiest and least expensive to fix. In some vehicles, the check engine light comes on if the gas cap is missing, loose, or damaged.

Without the gas cap creating an appropriate seal for your fuel system, gas fumes can escape from your vehicle into the atmosphere. This evaporation causes you to lose fuel and have to fill up your vehicle more often.

 

2. Oxygen Sensor Malfunction

One of the most common reasons your check engine light may come on is that your oxygen sensor is failing. Your local auto repair shop in Western Washington can replace it for you quickly, which will restore your vehicle’s ability to measure unburned oxygen in its exhaust system.

Until you replace this part, your engine will burn more fuel than it really has to, which will reduce the vehicle’s fuel economy. A new oxygen sensor will also help you prevent damage to your catalytic converter and spark plugs.

 

3. Faulty Spark Plugs

Your spark plugs are responsible for igniting fuel in your vehicle’s combustion chamber. They get their spark from the ignition coil by way of the spark plug wires. A problem with either your spark plug wires or the spark plugs themselves could cause your check engine light to come on.

Ignoring this problem may lead to a clogged catalytic converter, damaged ignition coils, or problems with your oxygen sensor. Healthy spark plugs are also crucial to maintaining your vehicle’s power and fuel economy.

 

4. Bad Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter normally fails after other engine problems have been ignored. If yours isn’t working, your vehicle will run hot, waste fuel, and stop performing as well as it used to.

You also need a functioning catalytic converter to pass an emissions test, since it’s responsible for reducing carbon monoxide emissions.

 

5. Failing Aftermarket Alarm

If you’ve recently had an aftermarket alarm added to your vehicle, that could be the reason your check engine light came on.

A failing product or bad installation can lead to a host of issues including failure to start the engine, a drained battery, and more.

 

Check Engine Light/ Diagnostics

Here at Greg’s Japanese Auto repair shop, we speak your car’s language and know the ins and outs of your vehicle. We specialize in working with these cars from Japan and Korea because we want to be your best bet for imported car service near Seattle.

We have eight locations all over the Puget Sound Region, ranging from Lynnwood all the way down to Puyallup. On the other side of Lake Washington, you can find us in Bellevue, Renton, and Covington. Come visit any of our auto repair locations in Western Washington, and we’ll help you determine exactly why your check engine light is on.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Sheila Shelton

6 Signs That It May Be Time for a Brake Job

The brakes are one of the most important features in your vehicle. They are paramount to remain safe on the road. It is recommended to take your car to a mechanic once every 50,000 miles for a brake job to ensure everything works as it should.

However, if you notice any of the following signs, then you want to bring your vehicle in sooner to have it looked at.


1. Excessively Thin Brake Pads


You can analyze whether you need a brake job by simply looking at the brake pads. They are located between the brake caliper and brake disc. You can see them by peering between the spokes on your car’s wheels.

In the event the pads are any less than 1/4-inch in thickness, then it is a clear indicator they are about to wear down completely. You need to replace the pads before they wear out, or else you will end up with metal scraping against metal, which can significantly damage the brake system.


2. Vibrations in the Brake Pedal


You should know how it feels to apply the brake pedal. If you notice any vibrations coming from it when you press down, then you have a problem. The vibrations are likely accompanied by greater difficulty in slowing down your car, which is dangerous.

A vibrating brake pedal is often a sign the brake pads are too worn out, so when you feel the vibrations, you should physically examine the pads. You should take your vehicle to a mechanic promptly to have the issue addressed.


3. Screeching or Squealing Noises


When you engage the brakes, there should not be any sound coming out. When you start to hear screeching or squealing sounds, it is often the first sign your pads are failing. The sound is most likely coming from a tiny, metallic shim indicator embedded within the pad to let you know there is an issue.

The sound may also come from dust and other debris that has accumulated on the pads. If the noises do not go away after a few uses, then you need a professional’s help.


4. Indicator Lights


Pay attention to your dashboard. When any of the lights illuminate, you need to address the issue right away. These days, some cars even come with an indicator to tell you when it is time to replace the brake pads, which you should follow.

When the light comes on, you should make sure your mechanic replaces the light sensors in addition to the pads.


5. Shaky Steering Wheel


The pads can cause a lot of issues in your vehicle. However, you also want to pay attention to signs of failing brake rotors. As you drive, you may feel shaking coming from the steering wheel.

This is a clear sign your car needs a check-up. Most of the time, the rotors are the culprit. They could be uneven and require repairs from a professional.


6. Leaky Fluid


As you drive off, you may realize your car leaves behind a small puddle. Your first thought maybe that it is motor oil, but it could be something else.

It is possible the puddle consists of brake fluid, which will degrade the system prematurely. In the event you have no clue what the fluid could be, then you want to take your car to a mechanic immediately to assess the situation.

 

Get Your Brake Maintenance on Greg’s Japanese Auto


Any changes to your car’s behavior should be examined. Bring your car over to Greg’s Japanese Auto for routine maintenance to ensure your brakes continue working as they should.

You can contact us to learn more about our services and to set up a time to come in. We would be more than happy to look at your vehicle’s brakes to determine what is causing the problem.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Rommel Canlas

Tips for defogging your car windshield

6 Tips for Defogging Your Windshield

A foggy windshield is more than just annoying. It is a safety hazard because it limits your field of visibility. No matter what the weather is like outside, it is always possible to have fog build up inside your vehicle. The reason fog forms is due to condensation inside the car that hits the windshield, and due to the fact it is lower than the outside temperature, fog develops. Fortunately, there are several ways to get rid of that fog so that you can continue driving safely.

Did You Hear That? 10 Noises Your Car Shouldn’t Be Making

After driving your car for only a few weeks, you should be familiar with all of the little peculiarities that make it special. You know the sound it makes when you first ignite the engine and how it should sound when you accelerate (if it makes any sound at all). To keep your vehicle in excellent working condition, you need to recognize and diagnose issues immediately. Strange sounds often indicate car problems, and you do not want an expensive mechanic’s bill because you failed to act sooner. These are the most common car problems and what they most likely are.

Man driving safely on a rainy day in Downtown Seattle

Driving Tips for Getting Around Downtown Seattle Safely and Efficiently

Seattle is a beautiful, vibrant city with a lot to offer locals and visitors alike. From craft breweries to museums, there is something for everybody. The process of getting to and driving through Seattle can be tricky, due to the usual challenges associated with big city driving, along with some uniquely local difficulties and terrain such as Lake Washington. Use these safe driving tips to help prepare you for your next trip to the city.

Beautiful scene of Seattle's skyline with Moun Rainier in the background

Must-See Spots in Springtime in Seattle

While Seattle retains its Pacific Northwest charms even through the dulled, gray winter months, the warming springtime sun illuminates what makes this coastal city one of the most beautiful in the country. Whether you’re looking to spend time watching salmon slingers downtown, plop down on a sandy beach, or traverse gorgeous odes to the natural world, you’ll be wowed by the best views in Seattle.

Plaes to teach teens to drive near Seattle

Good Places to Help Your Teen Learn How to Drive Around Seattle

If you have an upcoming driver at your house, you might be wondering how to teach your child to drive. While you could head out on I-5, that might not be the best solution for someone who hasn’t been behind the wheel before. It’ll probably take some time to warm up to that kind of traffic. Try some of the following suggestions for starters.

Greg’s Japanese Auto

Tired of auto repair shops that don't understand your car? Want a car mechanic who does? Come to Greg's Japanese Auto.

We only work on Japanese makes and models, and we have the experience and knowhow to give your car the service it deserves. Call us today to schedule your appointment.

Call Us Today

For quality service of your Japanese car model, rely on Greg's Japanese Auto Parts and Service. Call to schedule your appointment today at 1-800-794-7347.