Musty odors – possible causes;
Musty odors in automobile vents are a sign that water has been settling and not evaporating as it should. This is more likely to occur in vehicles that are not garaged and aren’t driven enough; over, especially during rainy seasons. Moisture rest in the ventilation system and over time begins to smell.
To eliminate musty odors spraying a canister of disinfectant odor remover into the ventilation system is usually all it takes to remove containments causing the system to have the musty odor.
For most vehicles, to disinfect the ventilation system, requires spraying into the cabin filter area, the induction port which is usually located near the floor underneath the dash and through the intake located near the windshield wiper blades.
AC does not cool properly – possible causes;
There are several reasons a vehicles air condition may not work properly and depending on the age of the vehicle as to how costly it will be to correct the problem.
The most common reasons air conditions may fail to work or work properly are; a blown fuse which prevent he compressor from turning on. If it’s a blown fuse, the ac may be working fine today and all of a sudden it is not. Turn the a/c off and turn it on again, if you do not hear a cluck sound or feel the engine slow down a little, replacing the fuse will be the least expensive fix.
A clogged expansion valve restricts refrigerant flow to the evaporator; when this malfunction occurs, usually, you will see moisture dripping on to the floor inside the cabin.
Low Freon caused by a leak in an o-ring seal, hose, or other components. In addition to not cooling as effectively as you are accustomed to, on a humid days you may see fog blowing from the vents when the air condition is on.
If the fuse is good and you do not hear a cluck sound of the clutch turning on, which causes the engine to momentarily slow the compressor clutch maybe the problem. Or, if the clutch has frozen in place this can cause the engine to suddenly shut off when the air condition is turned on. If you are experience this, simply turn the a/c unit off and leave it off, the engine should run as normal.
Perhaps the earliest warning the air condition compressor is in the beginning stage of needing to be replaced is it becomes harder for the engine turn the compressor motor. This is evidenced when at idle the vehicle vibrates and shakes when the compressor turns on and smoothes out when the compressor is not on. Although replacing the compressor may not be urgent the shaking and vibrating can be annoying
Heater not blowing warm air possible causes
When the heater doesn’t work properly it could be one of four reasons;
One the coolant level is low; since the heater system operates from the heat generated by the engine and passes through a heater core to keep the inside cabin warm, insufficient coolant will limit the amount of warm coolant circulating through the heater core.
If there are no major leaks, the remedy to is to add coolant to the radiator, but only after the engine has cooled enough to be safe to add coolant.
Another reason a vehicle may not heat up properly is because the thermostat may be stuck open and not restricting the coolant flow enough for the engine to warm up sufficiently.
A faulty heater core may restrict the coolant’s flow through the core which limits the heating ability of the heater core. A properly working heater core is not as important in the summertime as it is in the winter, but a clogged or malfunctioning heater core will impact the air conditioner’s ability to regulate temperature.
And the 4th reason the a/c or heating may not work properly is because of clogged or broken heating controls which can be replaced. The remedy is to replace them.
Air Filter Tips
Vehicles manufactured after 2000, are more likely to have two filters one to prevent trash from getting into the engine and a cabin filter, to keep cabin air fresh. Each of these filters should be replaced at the manufacture’s recommended change intervals.
However, if you live in an area where there is a lot of dust, pollution the change intervals should be sooner because of increased dirty air.
A dirty engine filter restricts the flow of air to the engine just like a mask restricts the amount of air we breathe and causes the engine to struggle to get the proper amount of air which will cause a decrease in fuel mileage and a loss of engine power.
Signs it is time to replace a filter are;
Even if you are not experiencing problems, you can look at a filter to determine when it’s time to replace it. A clean filter is an off-white color; if the filter looks dark, it should be replaced.
If the air filter is extremely dirty, the engine will experience a loss in power when accelerating; there may be black smoke coming from the exhaust and you may smell gasoline when starting the vehicle, by now the check engine light will probably come on..
Battery is a rechargeable energy source that provides electric current to the starter motor, which turns the engine over fast enough to ignite it. Although reputable batteries typically last 3 to 6 years, there are variables that can shorten the life expectancy such as extremely cold weather, constantly leaving the lights on when the vehicle is off and so forth. When leaving the lights on long enough to drain the batteries’ energy, healthy batteries can be jump started.
When starting the vehicle, if it turns slower than usual and it stops turning and you clicking sound or the vehicle does not respond at all, the battery is in all probability has lost its charge. A quick check to see if it Is the battery, do one or all of the following; blow the horn, does it sound weaker than what you are accustomed to? Or turn on the windshield wipers, are they moving slower than normal?
If one or all of these symptoms occur, your battery has lost its charge and depending on the age of the battery it will need to be replaced.
To determine if the battery needs to be replaced instead of setting up an appoint and having to wait at a mechanic shop and possibly pay them to check, many auto parts stores will conduct a free diagnosis of your electrical system to determine if the battery or the alternator is the problem.
To get the vehicle to a parts store you will need to start the engine by jumpstarting it.
To jump start the engine you will need a set of jumper cables to connect your vehicle to a donor vehicle to use it’s power to energize your battery.
- Making sure your ignition is off; place the red jumper cable wire on the positive post of your vehicle’s battery post first.
- Place the red jumper cable wire on the positive post of the donor vehicle’s battery.
- Place the black jumper cable on the donor’s vehicle’s negative post.
- Place the black jumper cable on your vehicle’s negative post.
- While the donor vehicle’s engine is running, wait at least 30 seconds before starting your vehicle. If it doesn’t start, make sure the cables are properly connected and rev the engine of the donor vehicle a little and try again. After your vehicle starts, remove the cables in the reverse order when disconnecting them.
Run your vehicle for at least 30 minutes after starting it to charge the battery.
If your vehicle shuts off when disconnecting it from the donor vehicle, your alternator may be the problem.
Brakes symptoms and possible causes
When it comes to brakes, one of the things I stress is preventive maintenance. Waiting for the brakes to starting grinding is not when you should think about replacing your brakes.
The trick is knowing when to replace brake pads that are not grinding or causing the vehicle to shake when stopping is one of the biggest mysteries of all and mechanics know that 90% of all of their customers, male and female have no idea of whether their suggestion to replace brake pad is necessary or a suggestion that can increase their pay check.
Keep in mind that the moment you drive a brand new automobile off of the lot, sooner or later you are going to have to replace the brakes and when they say, you might as well do it now, the question that you should ask is what is the thickness of my brake pads?
New brake are typically between 8 to12 millimeters thick and should be replaced once they are down to or less than 3 mms thick.
Brake pads typically last between 30,000 and 70,000 miles. Why the range you ask? Well if you do a lot of stop and go driving pads will wear out faster than they will if the majority of the miles driven are on the highway.
Sooo, if the vehicle has 30,000 miles on the pads and you have 6 millimeters of brake pad left, sooner or later you will have to replace your brake pads, is now the time, probably not because chances are you will be able to travel another 20,000 miles before reaching the 3 millimeter threshold.
Trouble shooting brakes;
- If the brake light remains on, make sure the emergency brake is not engaged.
- If you have been traveling on a dirt road and begin hearing a grinding sound when applying the brakes and you didn’t hear it before, this could be gravel or rock caught in the caliper. The debris typically will fall off but if the sound persists over time, it could be caused by worn brake pads which should be replaced asap
- If you hear a constant squealing, squeaking, or grinding when stopping, these are signs the pads will need to be replaced soon.
When driving, you hear squeaking. Manufactures usually install a warning metal so that once the brake pads wear down to a certain point you will hear a slight squeal sound to serve as a warning that it is time to start thinking about replacing the pads.
When applying the brakes, if you experience wobbling, vibration, or scraping when these are some possible reasons;
- Shaking or vibration in the steering wheel when applying the brakes may be an indication at least one front rotor is uneven or warped and should be resolved as soon as possible.
- Or if you feel a slight vibration in the lower portion of the driver’s seat’s back when applying the brakes this is an indication of an uneven/warped brake rotor in the rear.
Leaking Fluid Early signs of a brake leak can be the brake pedal fells softer than usual and or the pedal travels closer to the floor to stop, which means you must pay close attention to the brake fluid level to make sure it doesn’t run out.
Do not allow the fluid level to go down to low before refilling the reservoir, because air may become trapped in the brake lines and require professional assistance to bleed them to remove the trapped air.
Places in the brake system that fluid may leak for include; the master cylinder, the caliper or one of the hoses.
Repair as soon as possible
Pulling to One Side When Braking
When applying the brakes, if the vehicle pulls to once or the other, rather than stopping in a straight line this could be because of a leak in one hose which has trapped air or the caliper on one side may be failing.
Repair as soon as possible
Burning smell while driving
Brakes, when heated from too many aggressive stops have a unique smell that is different from oil burning from the engine or leaking on to the exhaust manifold. If you can smell them while driving, the cause may be one of the following;
- The brake pads are not retracting from disc/drum properly; possible causes being the emergency brake is on or if you driving with your foot resting on the brake. These two circumstances are easy fixes, simply release the emergency brake and or not hold the brake while driving. Or, there is a malfunction causing the brakes to no contract from the disk or drum.
Check Engine Light
The check engine light is your vehicle’s version of having a fever. When we have a fever, we know something’s not right with our body, right? The check engine light is connected to the vehicle’s ECU (engine control unit) which monitors various activities performed by the vehicle while it is being operated. When it detects a potential problem an error code triggers the check engine light.
Some of the more common reasons the check engine lights come on are:
Loose or missing fuel cap, if the fuel cap is on, to resolve, turn the engine off, remove the cap and put it back on the fuel intake tightly, and restart the vehicle.
- A dirty air filter that is restricting air flow
- A clogged pcv valve
Spark plug malfunctioning, a faulty mass airflow sensor or catalytic converter is malfunctioning
How are you suppose to look at the light and determine the cause you ask: Most auto parts stores will check your vehicle for free. Simply take the vehicle to the nearest auto parts store that provides free diagnostic service and within a few minutes they can connect your vehicle to their diagnostic device and the error code causing the check engine light will come on.
They will tell you if it requires immediate attention or not, but keep in mind, some errors can lead to severe engine damage, so it is always my recommendation to take care of the minor problem before it becomes major.
Engine Losing Oil
In most cases, oil leaks alone are not detrimental to an automobile, if the oil level is kept to a proper operating level; which means replenishing lost oil is essential for avoiding premature engine failure.
There are some fixes that do not require a large cash outlay to resolve and some that, depending on the mileage you may have to decide if it’s worth repairing.
Common causes of oil leaks include;
Loose oil pan plug which should be tightened immediately to avoid it falling off and causing catastrophic damage!
The oil cap, two reasons for oil to escape will be not properly put on and require tightening it or the gasket is worn. This is something you can do yourself by purchasing one from a parts store or national retailer that has an auto parts section.
Gasket seal on the oil pan is leaking; typically you will see a oil drops beneath the vehicle when moving it. Although it does not require urgent repair, the rate of the leak will increase, requiring adding oil more frequently to keep from blowing up the engine.
Gasket leaks around valve cover – leaks around the valve cover gasket are annoying because you are likely to smell oil burning, all the time! Not an urgent need for repair, but it is recommended that you repair it as soon as possible.
Or the oil filter is not tightened sufficiently this is not common, but it happens sometimes when the person changing the oil did not properly tighten the oil filter. If you can reach it, it can actually be tightened by hand. Although not in need of urgent attention, have it tightened as so as possible because it can eventually fall off and cause catastrophic damage to the engine!
Other causes of oil loss:
There are times when the engine is losing oil but there are no puddles on the ground caused by leaks and there are 4 possible reasons;
A faulty PCV valve which is an inexpensive device attached to the engine block and only takes 5 minutes to replace.
- The remaining 4 causes are very expensive and depending on the mileage of the vehicle and your finances you have to determine whether to fix and they are; an internal oil leak, faulty piston rings or a blown head gasket. These three problems are evidenced by black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe.
Engine overheating is the fastest way to destroy an engine waiting for lights to come on gauges to indicate the engine is hot is not an option you should take to determine its time to add coolant to the radiator.
In most cases there will be subtle signs a problem is on the way, with one being the engine is operating at a higher temperature than normal and the other is a different smell coming from the engine compartment.
Signs that it is time to add coolant to your vehicle’s system include;
Check engine light comes on, the engine temperature warning light is on, the air condition stops working, and you see steam rising from the engine and compartment. Ideally, the first time the temperature gauge indicates the engine is running above what it normally runs, you add coolant. If the leak is sudden, as soon as you can pull over safely pull over. There are no do overs if you damage the engine.
Once white smokes starts to exist the exhaust, you have a problem.
Possible causes for overheating will typically be one of the following 4, with the first being;
Insufficient coolant level in the system usually caused by a leak in a hose, radiator, water pump.
The cooling fan is not working properly, possibly because of a blown, which can be replaced in 5 minutes or so..
Thermostat failure, usually caused when the thermostat is stuck in the closed position and is not allowing water to circulate through cooling system.
Or, radiator failure – typically reason, especially in older vehicles where the owner used water and not coolant to keep the radiator full. This causes rust to build up and the corrosion clogs up the radiator. Depending on age and condition of the vehicle, the radiator can be flushed, if not it must be replaced.
Engine runs rough when idling
Over time engines and the parts and pieces that make everything run begin to wear and need replacing; either because of natural aging or because some type of maintenance is required.
Because the aging process is so slow, you may not be aware it is happening, but if you keep track of fuel mileage you will notice a reduction in miles per gallon and when idling, you will experience increased vibration.
- Air condition compressor or clutch is going bad and when the ac unit turns on there is a lot of vibration that can be felt in the steering wheel and or the dash shakes. If this is the case, you will know it’s the compressor because when the compressor is off, the engine runs smoothly.
- Dirty fuel injectors caused by using fuels lacking in sufficient agents too keep the openings clear. Obviously this can be minimized by using fuels that have a cleaning agent and or from time to time adding a cleaning agent to the fuel tank.. If injectors are the cause of rough idling, a mechanic should be able to clean them.
Spark plugs, wires, and ignitions coils can lose their ability to efficiently deliver the proper amount of electrical current that ignites the fuel and air mixture for the vehicle to run properly. There is no immediate need to replace in the beginning stages, but it will worsen.
Dirty air filter – restricts the airflow to the engine (like wearing a mask), and if it is causing your vehicle to run rough, it should be replaced.
Dirty PCV—Although not an urgent threat to the engine, if it is dirty enough it will cause the engine to run rough.
EGR valve – exhaust gas recirculation – Causes the engine to use too much fuel; typically will cause the check engine light to come on.
Oxygen sensor – Monitors the exhaust’s oxygen content to assist the computer in determining the engine’s right air-fuel combination. Although it is not urgent, it will usually trigger the check engine light.
Over time, hoses become brittle and start cracking causing vacuum leaks. When air escapes from the hoses it impacts the efficiency of its purpose and will impact the air-fuel mixture. During the early-stage it is not urgent, but over time small cracks can burst and cause temporary engine failure.
Steering and Handling
Power steering pump – helps drivers steer vehicles by reducing the steering effort required to turn the steering wheel.
Automobiles equipped with hydraulic power steering systems may use one of the following ATF transmission fluid: Dexron, Mercon, type F, ATF+4, etc.; Many newer vehicles use a synthetic-based hydraulic fluid that is specifically formulated for power steering use.
Power steering pumps typically will not suddenly stop working, and many times correcting the problem may only require maintenance, such as if the vehicle seems harder to steer than usual it could be because of one of the following;
- Low or uneven tire pressure – especially noticeable when turning the wheel when the vehicle is not moving. Refer to your manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and add air to the front tires. While adding air to the front tires, check the rear tires and add air if needed.
Power steering is fluid low, which means there may be a leak somewhere in the system, which is evidenced by fluid around and on hoses. Some more serious leaks may lead to fluid dripping to the ground and or leaking on to the engine causing burning fluids smell. Although the need to repair may not be urgent, in the beginning, it will require correcting. But until such time, monitor and replenish fluids to avoid damaging the power steering pump
If neither of these suggestions solve the issue and the pulley is not broken, it is recommended that you see a mechanic if when turning the steering wheel to the left or to the right, you hear a screeching or groaning sound, or there is a constant jerky type of resistance felt in the steering wheel.
Steering too loose;
When driving down a smooth level road and the vehicle drifts from side to side requiring constant correction could be due to;
Different tire treads on the front; two different tread patterns have different levels of grip on the road surface and require constant correction to keep the vehicle moving forward in a straight line. If the tires are the same tread pattern from the same manufacturer, another possibility could be uneven tire pressure. If this is the case, this challenge can be overcome by adding air to the tire that is low.
If none of the above conditions exist, check the front tires to see if there is uneven tire wear such as in this illustration. If so, see a mechanic immediately; there could be a loose component in the suspension that can break while driving and cause you harm!.
If the vehicle pulls to the right or left consistently when driving in a straight line regardless of which lane you are in, and none of the conditions mentioned earlier exists, this could be a sign the front end is out of alignment. This leads to excessive tire wear to the inner or outer tire and should be corrected before putting new tires on the vehicle.
During the early stages of belts separating vehicles will drift to the right or left. Belt separation occurs inside of the and over time the tire will have a tendency to bounce when driving and at high speeds can separate and cause catastrophic damage so at least replace the tire that is separating immediately.
Vibration while driving
If while driving, you feel a vibration in the steering wheel that gets progressively worst the faster you go, the front wheels may be out of balance, or tire tread and/or belts maybe separating. This causes a bouncing vibration that can be felt in the steering wheel and or if the steering wheel rocks back and forth at slow speeds. (If you feel a vibration in the lower back of the seat while driving at slower speeds, a rear tire may be experiencing the same). Get it taken care of immediately!
Another possible cause could be the lug nuts are loose, or the rim is damaged. If the lug nuts are loose, tighten them, but a damaged rim will need to be replaced as soon as possible. Failure to repair a damaged rim causing vibrations, especially on the front of the car, can damage the suspension because of the excessive shaking of components.
Clicking when turning If your vehicle is front wheel driving and you hear a clicking sound when making a sharp turn to the left or to the right this is an indication of a worn CV joint. If you have to turn the radio off and listen hard to hear it, it’s in the cv joint is in the early stage of going out, but if the clicking turns to a clucking this is an indication of advanced wear and you should have it replaced as soon as possible. If the vehicle has relatively low miles and only one CV joint is damaged, it was probably caused by an object striking and tearing the boot. This caused the grease to leak out, causing premature wearing out of the CV axle. If the other CV joint boot is intact, there is no need to replace both CV axles.
When To Purchase New Tires?
When it comes to purchasing tires, perhaps the number one question asked is how do I know when it is time to replace my tires, followed by what tire is best for me to purchase.
Let me start with when to purchase tires; a simple tip to determine when tires should be replaced is how much tread depth is left and this can be answered with a simple check. Insert a penny between the treads of your tires; if you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, the tread wear is low enough to consider replacing the tire or tires.
The front tires typically wear faster than the rear tires for two primary reasons with the majority of the vehicle’s weight to the front and the it is the front tires that steer the vehicle, causing additional wear to the outer edges; so routine rotation of tires is important if you wish to extend the life of your tires.
When tire tread is too low the tire’s ability to provide safety in gripping the road lessons and automobiles cannot stop as quickly as they should and the ability to turn corners safely is significantly diminished, especially in wet driving conditions.
There are certain things you can do to increase the life expectancy of your tires, with the number one being keeping your tires properly inflated. By keeping tires properly inflated and your automobile’s system properly maintained, a reputable tire manufacture’s tire can last between 40 and 50 thousand miles easily.
From time to time, taking a look at your tire wear to determine if you are experiencing any of the conditions;
- Alignment Problems – tires wearing out faster on the inside or outside is an indication the vehicle’s alignment is off and should be corrected for maximum tire wear.
- Camber wear – is when the wheel tilts in or tilts out too much and causes tires to wear in an uneven slant.
- Center wear – is caused by over-inflating tires beyond the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.
- Edge-wear even wear on both sides is caused by under-inflated tires. Because tires lose air over time, it is a good idea to check the tire pressure routinely, even if your vehicle has tire pressure sensors. Sensors light up once tire pressure goes below a certain threshold and this could be 4 to 8 pounds below the recommended pressure, which leads to shortening the life expectancy of your tires.
- Out of balance – is caused when a tire has not been properly balanced; or the balance weight comes off. Usually, you will feel a vibration once you reach a certain speed and should be corrected to avoid premature wear.
- Cup wear – results from bent or loose suspension parts. If not repaired, this condition will lead to significant and or catastrophic problems; GET IT FIXED!
Flat tire A flat tire is something every automobile driver will experience sooner or later, whether you have a service to come out and change it or not. Once the flat tire has been replaced with the spare the question of what to do with the flat tire is a question that needs to be answered; do you repair it or do you replace it?
Using the suggestion earlier for determining whether to replace the tire can be used; if it has plenty of tread, repair it and if not replace it.
The most common cause for a tire failure is running over an object such as a nail. If a tire is punctured in this area of the tread, it can be repaired using a patch; but if the puncture is anywhere else on the tire, repairing it is not an option, so be mindful of this when speaking to tire specialist trying to sell tires.
Should replacing the tire become necessary, if the tire tread is low enough on the paired tire, if possible replace both. New tread and almost worn out tread will impact handling and control. Although mixed matched tires mounted on the rear of a vehicle will not be as impactful to handling as tires mounted to the front, keep this in mind, sooner or later you should rotate the tires to the front to extend the life of the tires.
Should the tire require replacing, it is recommended that it is replaced with a matching tire, or if necessary, replace both tires. Be mindful, if on a budget, it is not necessary to replace 4 tires because one went flat. If the tires on the other axle have plenty of tread wear left, there is no reason to change them.
Using a 4 way lug nut makes it easier to loosen and tighten lug nuts.
To use 4 Way Lug Wrench:
- Find the correct lug size.
- To loosen, lift on the right side and push down on the lug nut wrench to loosen and unscrew.
- To tighten, place lug nuts back on wheels, left up on the left side and press down on the right side.
Next to the engine, the transmission is the second most expensive component of your automobile and like the engine, if kept in good shape should last for many years of trouble free driving.
So, taking care of it and being mindful of signals it is sending can save thousands of dollars just by keeping fluids in it and providing preventive maintenance.
Although transmissions are sealed, from time to time leaks will occur; usually from a leaking gasket, line or pump. The leak is not detrimental to the transmission, but the loss of fluids that will cause the problem
Like with the engine, leaks want go away and should be repaired as soon possible.
Signs that your transmission is in need of attention include;
- The TCM light is on
The transmission won’t engage or stay in gear
Shifts are delayed or missing gears
Shifts are jerky when changing gears
Slipping or engine revs and the vehicle does not pick up speed
If you smell something burning
There is a humming in the transmission
If you hear a humming sound when vehicle is in gear and the pitch changes with the vehicle’s speed.
A turbo, is a turbine-driven device attached to the engine that increases the engine’s efficiency and power output by forcing extra compressed air into the combustion chamber. I mention this to you because many of the symptoms a worn turbo will mimic the same experiences you may have when an engine’s valves and rings are bad.
With that being said, if you experience any of the following fairly quickly and your vehicle has a turbo, the following things could be occurring; poor acceleration, fuel consumption may increase, you see excessive blue or black smoke from the exhaust, you hear a siren sound coming from the engine compartment and or the check engine light comes on.
Wheel bearings are located inside of the hub of the axle of an automobile and allow the wheels to spend freely as automobiles roll up and down the roads.
Wheel bearings use a heavy grease that as long as there are no leaks will last indefinitely and you drive normally, you may never have a problem from them.
Signs that wheel bearings are going bad include; a humming, rumbling, or growling noise that increases and decreases with speed.
A clucking/creaking sound when driving over uneven surfaces or you hear a clucking when hitting a road reflector when changing lanes.
Replace as soon as possible
Some wiper blades last longer than others, depending on the blade’s quality and or how much the wipers are used.
If you live in a rainy and snowy area, blades will wear faster than garage-kept vehicles that are not driven much. Over time, the rubber will dry out so please check for signs of wear or tear periodically.
Wiper blades—when to replace;
- Streaking – when the rubber has hardened/cracked due to exposure over time leads to streaking. On the windshield
- Smearing – when the blade edge is no longer sharp, causing water to smear across the glass resulting in cloudy and impaired visibility.
- Squeaking – when the blades squeak as they move from side to side. (Noticeable in low-quality blades, sometimes when freshly installed)
- Chattering – when the blades skip and or vibrate across the windshield.
- Always keep windshield fluid in the reservoir to avoid dry wiping the windshield this can cause scratching.
Purchasing replacement parts
When replacing routine items such as filters, bulbs and wiper blades, you have 4 options, and they are:
All products are built to the manufacturer’s specs and will perform the same as OEM products, with the same life expectancy.
- Dealerships – sell OEM parts, and most dealerships will ask you for the last 6 or 8 digits of your VIN. They can look up the part in a matter of minutes for you. (Most expensive option)
- Auto parts stores – sell aftermarket parts; provide them with the year make, model, and engine size of your vehicle, and they will look it up for you. (Cost is less than parts from the dealership)
- Online – sells aftermarket and OEM parts. The benefit of some online sellers is that if you set up an account and provide the information required for your vehicle, the account will automatically select the correct part. (Cost is less than parts from the dealership and may/may not be comparable to discount retailers)
- Discount retailer – sell aftermarket parts; using their catalogs or computers, you will have to look up the specific part and find it yourself, but the cost will typically be up to 60% less than a dealership.
Note: Each aftermarket parts manufacturer will generate a different parts number for the same part; so selecting a brand you are satisfied with makes it easier to replace later.