Causes of a Failed Emissions Test

Causes of a Failed Emissions Test Sundance Automotive DenverToday, the car experts at Sundance Automotive in Westminster want to cover the causes of a failed emissions test. This assessment checks for pollutants produced by the engine of a car. When a vehicle fails the test, it can be a source of frustration and even worry. We get a number of questions from stressed out customers who bring their vehicles in after failing this important test. However, knowing the common causes can help you better understand what may need to be done to get your vehicle to pass the emissions test.

Emissions Test Basics

Generally, in an emissions test, there are three different vehicle inspections that could point to a wide variety of causes of a failed emissions test.

  • The Acceleration Simulation (ASM) checks for dangerous gases like carbon monoxide.
  • The On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) monitors the performance and status of the emission control equipment and the ignition system.
  • The Two-Speed Idle (TSI) tests emission gases on older vehicles (those vehicles from 1995 or before).

Gas Analyzers

There are five gases that are monitored during emissions tests: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon, oxygen, and nitrogen oxides. A gas analyzer is put in a vehicle’s tailpipe to measure the emission of these gases. There are also portable gas analyzers which use infrared to measure the temperatures of the various gases. Additionally, diesel analyzers are used to monitor emissions for diesel engines.

DLC Scanner

The Diagnostic Link Connector (DLC) Scanner works with a Diagnostic Link Connector monitor. Sometimes a vehicle needs to be driven a distance in order for all the monitors of the DLC Scanner to work properly. This means that a car owner will be asked to drive an additional distance before returning so that the DLC Scanner can work properly.

Additionally, the DLC will check if the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) light is on or off. The MIL light is a signal warning for problems and malfunctions in the engine so it is very important that it be in proper working order and good condition. The MIL light uses the Check Engine Light (or other warning light) to help determine the engine’s status. Usually, the MIL light is turned on when the vehicle’s engine is causing issues that result in excessive emissions. The DLC Scanner also gets any fault codes that the vehicle currently has.

Emission Standards in the US

The US has different standards for each gas that is being monitored. Here are the levels that are used in your car’s emissions standards tests.

  • Hydrocarbons—In the atmosphere, hydrocarbons react to the nitrogen oxide and sunlight. The combination produces ozone. On the ground, ozone is a part of smog which is one of the worst offenders of air pollution. Smog can cause breathing problems, damage lungs, irritate eyes, and has even been found to cause cancer.

The amount of hydrocarbons from a passenger car that is a transitional low emission vehicle (TLEV) must be less than .156 g/mi. An ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV) must have a level that is lower than .055 g/mi.

  • Nitrogen oxide—When oxygen and nitrogen combine a high pressure, nitrogen oxide is formed. Engines can be very high producers of nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide is the primary cause of acid rain. The maximum nitrogen oxide level for emissions is .6 g/mi for a TLEV and .3 g/mi for a ULEV.
  • Carbon monoxide—When fuel is not completely oxidized to carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide forms. Carbon monoxide is toxic to human beings and it is one of the primary emissions from vehicles. The maximum amount of carbon monoxide for a TLEV is 4.2 g/mi and for a ULEV the maximum amount is 2.1 g/mi.
  • Carbon dioxide—This gas is one of the main greenhouse gases that contribute to the increase in the earth’s overall temperature.
  • Additional emissions—Some of the emissions are created by evaporation that occurs at higher temperatures. For example, gas vapors are vented at higher temperatures. For emissions testing, the emissions of gas vapors must be less than 2.0 g/test hour.
  • Additional standards—Each state has additional standards that must be met for emissions tests.

Common Failure Reasons

There are several causes of a failed emissions test. Here are a few of the more common reasons. If you need to have an emissions test or need a repair to pass your emissions test, contact us at Sundance Automotive in Westminster to make an appointment.

  • Fuel metering specification. Your vehicle could have a faulty computerized engine control, fuel injections unit, or carburetor that can cause your vehicle’s fuel metering to not meet specifications.
  • Faulty oxygen sensor. A faulty oxygen sensor is very common and can lead to other problems such as higher emissions, overheating, and loss of acceleration.
  • Defective ignition system. Generally, this means your car is emitting high amounts of hydrocarbons. It can be an indication of defective spark plug wires, worn out spark plugs, a worn distributor cap, or an ignition-timing problem.
  • Vacuum leaks. The MAP sensor not working properly can lead to a leak and be one of the causes of a failed emissions test.
  • Rich fuel mixture. A rich air/fuel mixture can be caused by a number of issues such as leaky injectors or excessive fuel pressure. This will cause high carbon monoxide levels as well as high carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Malfunction in the air injection system. This system reduces the emissions of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The air injection system forces air into an engine’s exhaust. If this system is not working properly, the vehicle can emit large amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
  • Faulty evaporative emission control system. The evaporative emission control or EVAP system prevents gasoline vapors from being released into the atmosphere. Leaks in system hoses and vents are common reasons for this system to be problematic. It could also be related to a defective purge valve or a faulty gas cap.

Hopefully, now that you know the causes of a failed emissions test, you’ll be better prepared and a little less worried if and when your car experiences an issue. Most importantly, you can always bring it to Sundance Automotive in Westminster to get the repairs handled by the pros. Contact us today for your appointment and we’ll make sure your car aces the test next time around.

Does a Nail Puncture Require New Tires?

Does a Nail Puncture Require New Tires Sundance Automotive DenverNew tires can be expensive, so does a nail puncture require new tires? Here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, the first step in answering this question for you is to perform an assessment. We’ll look at where the puncture is and how much damage has been caused before determining next steps. If a new tire is needed, you can trust our shop to give you a great price for quality tires and installation.

The Nail Location

If you’re wondering does a nail puncture require new tires, it’s all about location. Unfortunately, if a screw or nail has punctured the sidewall, you will need new tires. These types of punctures simply cannot be repaired. If the nail or screw is along the shoulder of the tire, that also will require a replacement. However, if the center of the tread is where the nail or screw entered, you are in luck, and we can provide tire repair services.

Exceptions that will typically require tire replacement:

  • Cuts, slices, or larger punctures, regardless of location
  • If your tire has been patched at some other time
  • Any tire that no longer has a tread depth of at least 2/32”

Leaking Puncture

If the puncture is slowly leaking or if it is not yet leaking at all, you should be able to drive it to the shop to get your tire repaired. If the air is quickly escaping, then driving on the tire is not recommended. You could wind up creating all new problems.

Put your hand on the area that is punctured and feel for air. You can also spray soapy water on the puncture. If it bubbles, air is escaping. You may even hear the air leaking. If you can hear the air escaping, you should not drive any further on the tire. Additionally, if your car has a tire pressure monitor, you may be able to see how quickly air is escaping by watching the monitor. Do not drive until you’ve performed an assessment and only found a slow leak.

Flat Tires

If your wheel appears to be resting on the fold or if your tire is clearly flat from a puncture, do not drive on it. If you drive on a completely flat tire, it will be damaged internally and the tire will need to be replaced regardless of where the puncture is. If you have a spare tire, you should change it before proceeding to a repair shop or tire store.

Your vehicle may be equipped with “run flat” tires. Run-flat tires are intended to support the weight of your car when your tire is flat or punctured. With a run-flat tire, you may not even realize that your tire has lost all its pressure. The sidewalls of run-flat tires have been reinforced so that the tire’s internal structures are not quickly ruined while driving with a flat tire. You can drive around 50 miles at a maximum of 50 mph, depending on your run flat tire. It is best to check the specifications on your tire to know for sure.

When You Can’t Drive on a Tire
  • Donuts or Space-Saver Tires

Donut tires or space-saver tires are much like run flats. They are not designed to travel very long distances. In general, an average space-saver tire or donut will also travel 50 miles at 50 mph. Just make sure you get to Sundance for tire repair or replacement services.

  • Spare Tires

Full-size spares are just like your normal tires so they can be driven any needed distance. You will still want to get the original tire replaced as soon as possible because it will not wear at the same rate as your regular tires. This can eventually lead to unsafe handling while driving your vehicle.

A Few Items to Note if You Have Tire Trouble

Not a DIY Project

Tire repair involves fixing the hole from the inside, as well as the outside. The wheel must be taken from the vehicle and the tire must be removed from the wheel. The process also involves special tools, so tire repair should be left to professionals. If you have a tire puncture that needs repair, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can get the repair done and get you back on your way.


General vehicle warranties do not cover your tires. There are third parties that sell tire specific warranties. If you purchased one of these warranties, be sure to have proof of your coverage with you. New cars also offer tire insurance and warranties and insurance may be available to you when you purchase new tires.

Be Prepared

It is always best to be prepared for life’s little annoyances and a flat tire from a nail or screw can be quite frustrating. It is best to be prepared for such an event. First, it is important to know whether you have a spare, a replacement tire, or a run-flat. Finding out when you experience an issue can be a huge inconvenience.

Additionally, some cars have an air pump that may also be able to pump a fix-a-flat chemical. These chemicals have expiration dates and will not work on larger holes. Also, if left in your tire for an extended period, these chemicals can damage your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) if you have one on your vehicle. If you know what you have with you ahead of an emergency, you will be better prepared for an actual emergency.

If your car is not equipped with a spare, you may want to carry one for such a situation. It is also good to understand how to use the equipment that is included with your car. Additionally, everyone should know how to change a tire in emergency situations, particularly, if you get stuck in a location without cell service. Though less and less common, there are many locations where you may not be able to get roadside assistance due to a lack of service or due to your location. It is important to prepare for a variety of situations.

Does a nail puncture require new tires? It all really depends. But if you need your tires repaired, contact us at Sundance Automotive in Westminster for your tire repair needs.

Understanding Your Shocks and Struts

Understanding Your Shocks and Struts Sundance Automotive DenverHere at Sundance Automotive in Westminster, we think understanding your shocks and struts is important to the overall care of your vehicle. Shocks and struts ensure that your ride is smooth and that your vehicle has greater stability. Here’s a guide to help you know more about your shocks and struts and to know when they are starting to fail.

What are They?

When your vehicle rides over a rough surface, your shocks and struts absorb the impact and dampen the effect of potholes and bumps. They prevent excessive bouncing, which is unsafe and can change the way a vehicle handles. Shocks and struts keep your vehicle on the ground by helping the tires stay on the road, which keeps everyone safer. This is why you need to replace your shocks and struts when they start to fail.

How are Shocks Different from Struts?

Understanding your shocks and struts starts with knowing more about each component.

  • Shocks are simple cylindrical parts that help absorb impact from your vehicle’s leaf springs. Their sole function is to keep your car from bouncing. Shocks are usually found in the front suspension while struts are usually in the rear.
  • Struts are a part of a complete suspension system and are encased in a complicated coil mechanism system. The struts absorb the shock from coils springs.

People use the terms shocks and struts interchangeably, but really the two parts are quite different. Trucks will frequently have shocks in both the front and rear suspension systems. Shocks are generally less expensive and simpler to replace. Struts can be much more complicated to replace.

If you want to get your shocks and struts checked, call us at Sundance Automotive. We will check out your shocks and struts for you and get them replaced quickly so that your vehicle doesn’t develop other issues and you can drive without safety concerns.

Signs of Failure

When it comes to understanding your shocks and struts, it’s important that you recognize a problem early so that you have an opportunity to get your car to a mechanic before there is real trouble. Here are a few indications to look out for:

  • Bottoming Out: If the rear end of the vehicle hits the pavement when the vehicle hits a rough spot, it is an indication that your rear shocks or struts are failing. If your car does this when you have extra weight in the trunk or extra people in the back seat, this is also a sign your shocks or struts may need replacement.             

Bottoming out can cause other problems for your vehicle if you fail to replace the shocks or struts. It can damage the body of your car, while further damage continues to the shocks and struts.

  • Forward Plunge: If your vehicle plunges forward when you come to a stop, this is another sign that your shocks or struts may be worn. This happens because your shocks or struts are not absorbing enough to help keep the weight of your car from traveling forward when you come to a stop.

The effect is hard on your brakes and is also a driving hazard. The forward plunge makes your vehicle more difficult to handle and steer. If you avoid caring for this issue promptly, you may find you will need to replace your brake pads as well.

  • Rock and Roll: If your vehicle rolls or rocks side to side when you turn corners, your shocks or struts may be to blame. You may notice that taking fast curves or turns is becoming more difficult as a result.

This is a potential hazard because the weight of your car could cause your wheels to leave the ground. This could, in turn, cause your car to roll. This is why you should have your shocks or struts replaced as soon as possible. Understanding your shocks and struts, as well as issues like this, are key to your driving safety.

  • Bumpy Ride: If riding in your vehicle seems particularly bouncy or bumpy, you may have a shock or strut problem. Rough roads and surfaces will feel bumpier while riding over them because the vibrations are not being absorbed. Additionally, your car will seem louder and your car will have decreased handling and tire performance. 
  • Unpredictable Handling: If your shocks or struts are failing you may find that you vehicle pitches unpredictably. Again, it is a good idea to get them checked out and replaced immediately. 
  • Poor Steering: If you notice that your steering is stiffer or noisier, this is another sign of a shock or strut problem.

You or your mechanic can check your shocks and struts for leaking. They can also be checked for visible damage. Unusual wear patterns on your tires can also be a sign that your shocks or struts may have issues. A tire cupping wear problem, for example, can be a wear pattern that indicates shocks or struts as the root issue.

Generally, shocks and struts may start to exhibit some of the above signs and symptoms around 50,000-60,000 miles. Depending on the type of driving you do and the general road conditions you experience, you may need to replace them sooner. Additionally, they may last longer if driving conditions are generally easier. Understanding your shocks and struts will help you better determine when to bring your car or truck for repairs.

Don’t Do It Yourself

While shocks are fairly easy to replace, you may think you could take care of the strut replacement as well. This is not a job that is generally recommended for a do-it-yourself job. The spring that encases the strut requires special machine compression to perform any repairs or replacement. Trying to do this yourself, with the wrong equipment especially, can result in serious injury.

Understanding your shocks and struts is an excellent way to better understand caring for your vehicle. If you need to have your shocks and struts inspected, repaired or replaced, contact us here at Sundance Automotive in Westminster. We can take good care of your vehicle, so you are safe when you are on the road.

Signs You Need Transmission Repair Services

Signs You Need Transmission Repair Services Sundance Automotive DenverAt Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood, we understand how important it is to know the signs you need transmission repair services. Transmission trouble can be a big stress for a car owner. These issues can be highly complex, inconvenient and sometimes expensive. The best way to prevent having to deal with a major transmission problem is to give your vehicle proper maintenance regularly. If you’ve had your vehicle a long time though, you should expect to eventually have trouble with your transmission that will require repair.

Here are a few signs you need transmission repair services.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light is generally the first indicator of a problem that has already occurred or has started to develop in your vehicle. Though the check engine light can mean that something relatively small has gone wrong (maybe you left the gas cap off), it can also point to something much, much bigger.

No matter the reason, you should never ignore your check engine light because if a larger issue is left unchecked, it could end up costing you a much larger amount of money. The check engine light is attached to your vehicle’s on board-computer which monitors sensors throughout your car. A number of these sensors monitor your transmission. These sensors pick up trouble as soon as they begin to occur, so again, never ignore a check engine light.

Whining, Clunking, Humming

Transmission noises can be difficult to identify, but they can often be described as humming, buzzing, clunking, or humming. If you hear such noises that you have never heard before, it is a good idea to get it checked out. Unusual noises are usually a sign of a problem. Even if it turns out to be a noise related to something else, it is probably something in your transmission that needs attention.

Grinding or Shaking

You should not hear grinding while driving your car and your car should not jerk or shake. All of these issues are signs you need transmission repair services.

If you have a manual transmission and you hear grinding when you shift, that noise is a sign that you have probable transmission trouble on your hands, though it could also indicate a problem with your clutch.

With an automatic transmission, you are more likely to hear and feel the car experience difficulty getting into gear when you first start to drive. As it gets worse, you may notice shaking. In any case, this is never something to ignore. If you are experiencing this problem, can contact us here at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood. We can track down the problem and get your vehicle back to running smoothly.

Noise in Neutral

If you hear a bumping noise while your vehicle is in neutral, your vehicle may have low or dirty transmission fluid. Such a noise can also be an indication that some parts of the transmission may be worn such as the reverse idler gear, bearings, or gear teeth. Topping off the transmission fluid will solve the problem only if the issue is related to low fluid. You may need to have the fluid changed or you may have a much larger transmission issue.


If the car pauses when shifting, there is often a clutch issue, but if your car isn’t shifting smoothly, it could be one of the signs you need transmission repair services.

Leaking or Low Fluid

Leaking fluid should never be ignored and a transmission fluid leak is a sure sign of transmission trouble. Do not neglect this problem and be sure to take care of it quickly. An unattended leak can cause irreparable damage to your transmission meaning you may need to replace it entirely. Leaking transmission fluid is easy to spot. Normally, transmission fluid is bright red, clear, and has a slightly sweet smell when everything is working properly. Fluid that is darker or that smells burnt is in need of replacement.

Car Can’t Get into Gear

Trouble with your transmission fluids can be a source of trouble and cause a vehicle to have trouble going into a gear. You should check the transmission fluid level to be sure that this is not the source of the issue. The source of the issue could also be the clutch linkage, the computer system, or the shift cables.

Burning Smell

If you notice a burning smell, you need to do something right away. First be sure that nothing is actually on fire. If there is no fire, the smell could be transmission fluid that is overheating. Dirty, sludge-like fluid is not going to cool your car’s engine nor is it going to lubricate very well. A car that is allowed to run on dirty transmission fluid will have an engine problem eventually. This is one of the reasons vehicle maintenance is so important.

Draggy Clutch

If the clutch on your manual transmission seems to be dragging, this could be a sign that the flywheel and clutch disc are not disengaging when the clutch is pressed. When the clutch is spinning, changing gears can be hard and sometimes impossible. This problem is frequently accompanied by a grinding noise.

Gear Slipping

Manual transmissions are supposed to stay in gear until your shift, while the computer does this for you in vehicles with automatic transmissions. If the transmission is slipping in or out of gear, you need to bring it to a mechanic right away. A vehicle in this condition can be very dangerous to drive and can cause you to get in an accident. The problem is likely broken or worn gear linkage. Get this fixed right away because you could be in a situation where you have no power to your wheels and this kind of situation can end catastrophically.

If your vehicle is exhibiting signs you need transmission repair services, contact us here at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood. We can get your transmission back to humming smoothly and working right so that you are safe on the road.

Prolong Your Car’s Life with One Simple Service

prolong your car’s life with one simple serviceDid you know that you can prolong your car’s life with one simple service? It is so easy that we at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood wanted to share it with you. It may come as a surprise, but an oil change is hands down the easiest way to keep your car running longer and performing better.

It’s estimated that over 20% of car owners have low and/or dirty engine oil. A year’s worth of oil changes could cost on average around $120. Not changing your oil regularly could result in an expensive repair – want to guess how much it costs to replace a car’s engine? It’s not cheap, which is why regular oil and filter changes are the most important maintenance step in your vehicle’s overall care.

So, oil changes. How do you prolong your car’s life with one simple service? Let’s take a closer look at your vehicle and the role oil plays in its engine.

Engine Lubrication

An engine has a number of moving parts that work together at high rates of speed: pistons, valves, cylinders, rods, and more. The movement and speed create intense heat. Oil is the lubrication that keeps the heat from wearing down all the parts of your vehicle’s engine in very short order.  Keeping your oil at the recommended fill volume and with the recommended grade and weight of oil helps your car’s engine in working order.

Engine Components Stay Cool

Without lubrication, the various engine components create friction, which in turn creates heat. Clean oil in the right amounts helps reduce friction and keeps all your engine components cooler than they would otherwise be. This is why it is important to change your oil regularly.

Removes Dirt and Sludge

Dirt can be deadly to your engine. Over time, dirt reduces the life of your engine and can cause corrosion. The oil in your engine can also turn to sludge if left unchanged and unattended. Routine oil changes not only remove the dirt but greatly reduce the chances of sludge running through your engine’s parts.

Better Gas Mileage

Poor engine lubrication increases your fuel usage. Routine oil changes with the proper kind of oil can improve your gas mileage by up to 2%. That sounds like a really small amount, but over a year, appropriate oil changes could save you a decent amount of gas – every gallon counts, right?

Your Vehicle Lasts Longer

Routine maintenance, like regular oil changes, is the best and cheapest way to increase the life of your vehicle. Routine car maintenance will save you time, money, and inconvenience. It can also increase the amount of money you can get for your car when you decide to resell it. Knowing that a car has been serviced regularly points to a level of care that buyers appreciate. Regular oil changes will keep your engine from working too hard which will help you from having engine trouble later.

It is pretty impressive that you can prolong your car’s life with one simple service. Performing oil changes yourself is not always easy or convenient. If you don’t have the time or want the hassle of changing your oil yourself, come see us at Sundance Automotive for an oil change. We’ll help extend the life of your car and its engine.

How to Tell if You Need New Tires

How to Tell if You Need New TiresAt Sundance Automotive in Lakewood, we’re big on safety and want you to know how to tell if you need new tires. With snowy winters, rainy springs and everything in between here in the Denver metro area, your vehicle needs to be in tip top shape. Worn tires can put you at risk for more than an inconvenient flat. They can put you at risk for a blowout, reduced stopping time due to less traction, even an accident.

When Do You Need New Tires?

A tire has exceeded its useful life when it is at 2/32 of an inch or less. If you don’t have a tire tread depth gauge, it can be hard to tell how much tread you have left, but there is a great trick you can use if you don’t have a gauge available.

All you need is a penny. Take a penny and place it with Lincoln’s head pointed down toward the tire. If Lincoln’s head remains uncovered by your tread, you have less than the minimum 2/32 of an inch of tread remaining. Be sure to check multiple places, just in case you have hit a low spot. If most of your measurements are too low, you need to replace your tires right away.

More Than the Tread

Sometimes the tread on your tire may be fine, but the tire is worn out anyway. Here are a few other issues to look for when it comes to how to tell if you need new tires. 

  • Bulging: Sometimes when you hit a pothole or curb, a bulge can occur. A bulge occurs when air has leaked between the inner liner of the tire and the outer fabric and/or rubber, forming an air pocket at the weak spot. This can be a result of impact or it can be a manufacturing defect. Bulging tires should be replaced right away
  • Weathering: Your tires are under constant exposure to all the elements and because your tires are made of rubber, they can only withstand so much exposure before the rubber begins to break down. If your tires looked cracked on the sidewalls or between the tread blocks, your tires are weathered enough to need immediate replacement.
  • Separated tire: When the cords or belts of a tire separate, you may feel like your slow driving speed is a bit lumpy. At higher speeds, you may feel some vibration. It is possible to have a separated tire but not notice. Regular balancing of your tires will alert you to this problem and allow you to replace the tire right away, which is recommended.
  • A leak: A slow leak or a small hole may be patched without issue, but larger holes cannot be safely patched and you will need a new tire.

Now that you know how to tell if you need new tires, call us at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood if you need your tires repaired or replaced. We can take care of your tires so that you’re always safe and never stranded on the side of the road.

The Basics of Your Vehicle’s Cooling System

the basics of your vehicle’s cooling systemHere at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood, we find it is helpful if you know the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system. Cooling systems are more likely to fail than any other mechanical system in your vehicle and yet, many owners pay very little attention to their cooling systems. Unfortunately, the main reason this system fails is neglect and failure to give the system the attention it needs. We hope the more you understand about the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system, the more you will follow the guidelines for preventative care to extend the life of your car.

It’s All About the Heat

Most car owners don’t realize that your engine can produce approximately 4,500 degrees of heat. The heat is so hot, that if not cooled, the pistons would be hot enough that the metal could melt, adhering itself to the inside on the cylinders. The engine would be ruined and a new one would cost you thousands of dollars. To stop this from happening, the water pump in your vehicle runs coolant through various passages to cool your engine and absorb the heat produced. At some point, your water pump will need to be replaced along with some of the belts associated with it. This cost is minimal in comparison to needing to repair the damage done from your engine seizing as a result of not caring for your cooling system.

And Yet, Freezing Can Be a Problem

The coolant in your vehicle serves many purposes. It is a mixture of ethylene glycol and water and is also commonly known as antifreeze. Antifreeze prevents freezing as the name implies. If there is not enough coolant in your system and your vehicle is sitting in particularly cold temperatures, you may experience freezing. Because liquid generally expands when it freezes, the force can be strong enough to crack the engine block. This is not a problem you want to experience. It can be quite expensive to fix. Always make sure your antifreeze or coolant is checked regularly to avoid issues. Your coolant should also be changed on a regular basis.

Your Thermostat is Important

The thermostat is a key component in your cooling system. It controls the flow of coolant based on the temperature of your engine. Sometimes, issues with your cooling system may point to a problem with your thermostat. A faulty thermostat can cause your engine to run too hot or too cold. Sometimes the thermostat fails while in an open position. This means coolant is flowing freely without any regulation and causes the engine to run too cold. On the other hand, the thermostat may fail while in the closed position. This means that no coolant may be flowing through and will cause your engine to overheat in short order. Functioning thermostats are key to a properly running cooling system.

Know about Your Hoses

Hoses keep everything flowing in your cooling system. Unfortunately, the hoses are rubber and over time they may develop cracks. Leaking hoses will cause problems with your cooling system because it will change the rate of flow of your fluid. Your hoses should be regularly checked for cracks and leaks to spot trouble before it becomes a more serious issue.

The Fan Belt

The fan belt drives the water pump and much like the hoses, it can crack or even break. Without a fan belt, no coolant runs through your system and your engine will quickly overheat. These belts are built to last, especially newer ones. Follow the recommendations for checking your fan belt in your owner’s manual. Regular inspections should spot trouble, which will allow you to get the belt replaced in advance of it actually breaking.

Remember Your Radiator Cap

One of the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system is a small and simple part. Your radiator cap is easy to overlook as a source of trouble. Your radiator cap helps control pressure in your radiator system. There is a spring-loaded plunger in the cap, which diverts coolant when the pressure is too high. Sometimes, the spring-loaded plunger gets stuck or jammed. If there is an issue with the cap, your temperature gauge will read normally but you may hear a boiling sound. Coolant may leak from the cap (though if you recently had the coolant filled this may occur as a result of overfilling the coolant). If you ever need to remove your radiator cap, do it only when your engine is completely cooled, otherwise, a rush of boiling fluid will spurt out and cause some very serious burns.

If the Needle is Moving to Red

If your engine temperature is reading more towards the red, there are a couple things you can do. Turn off your air conditioner or even run your heater on high. Turning off the air conditioner will lighten the strain on your engine. Running your heater allows your car to pull additional heat from the engine. Either of these or both may allow you to get to a place, like Sundance Automotive in Lakewood to get your car checked out. If the needle is actually in the red, you may need to pull over.

Regular Checks of Your Cooling System

To avoid serious problems, it is best to have your cooling system checked on a regular basis. If you check your system when you get your oil changed, this will get your cooling system checked on a regular enough basis to spot trouble before you have a serious problem on your hands.

Knowing the basics of your vehicle’s cooling system will hopefully help you understand the importance of paying attention to the system and all its components. If you want to get your cooling system checked over or if you are having issues with your cooling system or one of its components, come see us here at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood. We will take care of your vehicle’s cooling system and make sure your vehicle takes care of you while you are on the road.

Why is My Car Making that Noise?

Why is My Car Making that Noise?At Sundance Automotive in Lakewood, a common question we get here is, why is my car making that noise? Every car makes noise while operating such as the low hum of the wheels on the road, the slight squeak of the dashboard as pieces rub together, and more. Those harmless notes become background for everyone after a while. There are some noises though that are definitely out of the ordinary and are an indication that something is wrong.

It is important to pay attention (maybe turn down the stereo) and know when your car is making new noises or abnormal ones. Identifying the noise will help you track down the problem. Here are a few problematic car noises.

Clunking When Braking

If you step on the brake and a clunking noise occurs, this is a sign of an issue with your brakes. It could be an indicator that a brake caliper is damaged, missing, or improperly mounted. It could also be an issue with the related hardware of the brake.

Noise While Turning a Corner

If you hear odd noises while turning a corner, then the problem may be an indication of issues with the steering linkage. For example, the steering linkage may need lubrication. It may also need replacement.

Flapping Noise

If you hear a flapping noise while driving, there is a possibility that something is interfering with the fan. It could also be related to a belt disintegrating or a flat tire.

Grinding Noise While Shifting

With a manual transmission, if there is a grinding noise when you shift, this is likely a problem with the clutch. The clutch may be worn or may need to be adjusted. Grinding may also be an indication of a deeper issue within the transmission.

Sizzling or Hissing Under the Hood

If you hear sizzling or hissing immediately following turning off the vehicle, there is probably a leak. It could be coolant or possibly oil that is dripping on a heated portion of the engine. It is also possible that a vacuum line has a leak. This sound can also be an indicator that your engine is overheating.

Knocking Noise from the Engine

While many people understand that using a higher-octane fuel than your vehicle requires, produces no actual benefits to the running of your vehicle, some people fail to realize that using a lower than needed octane will likely produce a knocking noise from the engine. When it comes to fuel, oil, and air pressure, it is important to follow the owner’s manual closely.

Loud Bang

If your car makes a small explosive noise from the rear, your car has likely backfired. This occurs when the air to fuel ratio is wrong. It can also be an indication of a problem with your catalytic converter.

Why is my car making that noise? Hopefully, you have a better understanding of what problems are frequently associated with the above problem noises. If you have a noise related issue, call us at Sundance Automotive so we can help get your car back to its less noisy-self.

If Your Car is Overheating, Here’s What to Do Next

If Your Car is Overheating, Here's What to Do NextAs you’re driving down the road, if your car is overheating, here’s what to do next (besides come see us at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood). Before we give you the run down on what to do when your vehicle overheats, let’s go over some basics.

Maintaining Your Cooling Systems in Advance

Your cooling system is one of the most important components to keeping your engine running well and avoiding overheating. There are four major parts to your cooling system: thermostat, water pump, radiator, and coolant.

  • Thermostat: This regulates the coolant. Coolant is required when the engine is no longer running cool enough and it keeps the engine temperature at an ideal level. If the thermostat is not functioning properly, it may not read the temperature incorrectly and fail to send coolant to the engine at the right time. This could cause your engine to overheat.
  • Water Pump: The water pump is responsible for moving coolant through the engine from the radiator. Early signs of water pump failure include smelling coolant while driving or seeing coolant puddles where your car has been parked.
  • Radiator: The radiator consists of a series of channels. Coolant is cooled down while running through these channels. Be sure to check the hoses running in and out of the radiator. These hoses can become brittle and begin to leak and may need to be replaced. Also, your radiator should be inspected every so often to ensure that it doesn’t need to be flushed.
  • Coolant: Coolant consists of Ethylene glycol and water. The ethylene glycol is what lubricates all the moving parts of your car as it moves through and is also what stops the water from freezing (making it an anti-freeze solution).

When Your Car is Overheating

First, pull over and turn off the engine. Allow the car to cool and wait for the temperature gauge to read cool before opening the hood. Find the tank for your coolant (antifreeze). Use your owner’s manual to help you and then check the coolant level.

Be sure the radiator cap has cooled before carefully using a cloth to remove it. Beware of any steam. If you do not wait for cooling of the car and the cap, there will be a lot of pressure created and liquid may spray out.

If you are in need of additional coolant, pour enough in to bring it up to the required level. Examine both the upper and lower radiator hoses for leaks and cracks. Attempt to restart your engine and slowly return to driving. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge and pull over as soon as the gauge crosses the optimal level and repeat the full process if necessary. If possible, you may want to have your car towed to your local shop immediately.

So, if your car is overheating, here’s what to do next: come see us at Sundance Automotive in Lakewood and we well get your car fixed up and get you on your way.

Alternator Problems and Repair

Alternator Problems and RepairGiven that we see a number of alternator issues at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood, we want to share some information on alternator problems and repair that would be helpful to you as a vehicle owner. Issues with an alternator are common enough that at some point during the life of your vehicle, it will probably need a replacement. The alternator is part of your car’s charging system, which is essential to the workings of all things electric in your car. If it’s not working properly or fails, you will likely find yourself stranded on the side of the road.

Basics of How Your Alternator Works

The alternator helps maintain the battery of your car. Essentially, the alternator uses the engine’s power to create electricity then sends it to the battery to keep the battery charged.

The engine’s power arrives at the alternator via the serpentine belt, also known as the engine drive belt. Because of this, it is important to keep the belt tight and running well. This is also why you should replace this belt as soon as a new one is needed. Most people don’t realize that your car uses a great deal of electrical power: windshield wipers, lights, the radio, and other parts rely on and use a lot of electricity, especially when combined. If all these things are operating at the same time, it would drain the battery in your car fast. The alternator stops the battery from being run down and keeps it fully charged at all times.

Signs Your Alternator Might Have a Problem

It can be hard to diagnose an alternator problem without any tools. Problems with the battery are very similar to problems with the alternator and vice versa: for example, the car doesn’t start, your battery goes dead, the battery light goes on and the serpentine belt squeals. Other signs include: having to jump-start your car frequently and dimming lights while operating the vehicle. These are the most common signs that you might have an alternator problem or a potential battery problem. It is important to take care of this quickly because it can create problems and failures with other systems in your car.

Check Your Alternator Voltage

To confirm that the issue is a faulty alternator and not the battery, you will need to use a digital voltohmmeter or DVOM. The DVOM is also called a voltmeter. This tool will allow you to check quickly and easily to find out how much voltage your alternator is putting out.

  • The first step is turning your engine off. You will need to restart your vehicle later for another test, but for now, it needs to stay off.
  • The red lead of your voltmeter should be placed on the positive post of your battery and the black lead should be placed on the negative post.
  • Set your voltmeter to read DC volts if it is not already at this setting. The reading should be above 12.65 volts. This reading would confirm that the battery is fully charged. If the reading is less than 12.65 volts, then either your battery or alternator has an issue.
  • Next, take the leads off and start your car. Then, return the leads to the appropriate posts on your battery, being careful not to catch the leads on the serpentine belt or any other engine part. If you get a 13.5 to14.5-voltt range, then the alternator is probably not the issue. It is possible that the alternator is intermittently bad. That does happen on occasion, in which case, you would need to perform the test several times. If the volt range is consistently good, then you have a battery problem and it is time to get your battery tested.


Repairing a Defective Alternator

You can bring your vehicle and alternator into a repair shop, such as Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood, or you can perform the repair yourself if you have a bit of knowledge about your and car repairs in general. While swapping out your alternator for a new one isn’t very difficult, putting the serpentine belt on correctly definitely requires a diagram to ensure you replace it right. If it isn’t replaced just right, you’ll continue to experience issues with your electrical system, even damage or destroy the belt.

Diagnostic and repair information for your specific vehicle is imperative to alternator repair, as well as maintaining, troubleshooting, and fixing your vehicle yourself. To get the diagnostic and repair details specific to the year, make and model of your vehicle, ALLDATAdiy is a good online resource that will help you locate information for your vehicle. It’s also less expensive than buying a factory manual. Additionally, the site offers detailed diagrams and step-by-step instructions that are more thorough than what is available in most printed manuals.

To replace your alternator:

  • First, you need to disconnect the battery.
  • Next, take out the serpentine belt (be sure you have that diagram).
  • Finally, loosen and remove the bolts for the alternator and take off the wiring connectors.
  • To reinstall the new alternator, connect the wiring to the alternator and replace the bolts holding the alternator in place.
  • Follow the serpentine belt diagram carefully to replace the serpentine belt. Double check that the belt is put in place correctly.
  • Finally, reconnect the battery.


Alternatively, if you decide to have an auto-repair shop perform alternator repair, it is generally not one of the more expensive repairs and does not take very much time.

Ultimately, knowing more about how the alternator in your vehicle works in conjunction with the battery will help you understand better how to troubleshoot issues with your electrical system. Knowing more about alternator problems and repair will also help you determine if this is a project you want to undertake yourself or if it is something you would rather leave to the experts at Sundance Automotive Repair in Lakewood. If you decide to bring it to us, you can rest assured that we’ll provide quality work at a fair and honest price.

Contact us today to schedule your appointment.