The Things We See...

March 11th, 2017

Cars from the 1970s and 80s were a whole lot more labor- and maintenance-intensive than today’s vehicles. That doesn’t mean, however, that today’s vehicles are Check Engine Light in Birmingham AL maintenance-free. These are some of the more common failures we see in the service department at Don Duncan’s All American Auto & Tire Centers:

Gaskets: Gaskets, whether they’re rubber, paper or cork, will degrade over time. They dry out and shrink, causing fluid leaks or vacuum leaks that can affect your vehicle’s drivability, power or fuel efficiency.

Ignition coils: Older vehicles had a mechanical distributor, driven by the camshaft, to deliver spark to each cylinder. The distributor was connected to an ignition coil the size of a beer can, which would get current to the plug wires that ran to each cylinder. That’s all dead technology now, with ignition spark controlled by the engine computer and an individual coil on every plug. When these coil-on-plug systems start to fail, though, it can result in a very rough-running vehicle – and the coil-on-plug packs aren’t always real easy to replace.

Oxygen sensor: The O2 sensor is mounted in the exhaust stream (usually in more than one location) and monitors the makeup of the exhaust gases, sending this information back to determine fuel metering. It’s a crucial part of the vehicle’s emission controls, and if it fails it can result in a rich-running condition and poor power and fuel economy. Again, it’s often in a pretty inaccessible spot for the shade-tree mechanic to get to.

Mass Air Flow Sensor: Located at the intake for the fuel system, the MAF sensor helps determine air/fuel ratio. Failing to replace the engine air filter at regular intervals can cause the MAF sensor to fail, and if the MAF sensor goes out it can cause a lot of other problems that can trigger various trouble codes in the engine computer.

These problems, while not too uncommon, can be tricky for the shade-tree mechanic to diagnose and even trickier to repair or replace. Don’t get in over your head on these kinds of issues, or trust your vehicle to an iffy repair shop. Make anappointment with us at Don Duncan’s All-American Auto and Tire Centers!  

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101