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  1. #1
    CPS Advocate
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    Visit to the mechanic questions?

    I'm getting a 'tune up' for my birthday(well its a little late) and should be taking it tomorrow to get an idea of what needs fixing and replacing.
    Here is what I need help with. Ive had this same car for years and its barely needed work so I know nothing about what to expect or ask about.
    Here are the stats on my car: It is an 03 toyota corolla sport bought in march of 02(03 model). It has the basics and nothing more, no ABS or any of the 'fancier' thing lol! It has 49,777 miles on it
    Ive kept up the oil, breaks, and tires. Ive also had a new battery put in this past fall and a new ?battery wire? because of a corossion problem with the old battery. I had 2 accidents back in 02, but they werent serious enough to cause any frame or engine damage that I know of, they caused a lot of cosmetic damage but didnt set off the airbags(they were both straight on frontal crashes). I dont know if that is relevant but I want to be sure I cover everything.
    The issues Im currently having are: it is jerky when I put my foot on the gas, like when you are running out of gas only it has a full tank... and the ride is bouncy even on a smooth road. Im also not getting as good of gas milage as I use to. I use to get 30-40 and now Im getting 22-26.

    So I know this is a carseat site but some of you guys(and gals) seem to know a lot about car mechanics as well and some of you have been through more vehicles than I have so more experience with them.

    What should I look for from the mechanic? what should I ask about or point out? I want to get it fully tuned up so it is running like new again.
    “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes...
    That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away AND you have their shoes.”

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  3. #2
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    Re: Visit to the mechanic questions?

    make sure they plug in their code reader and getting a reading of any stored codes in the car's OBD (on-board diagnostics) computer. if there are any defective engine components (other than wear items like spark plugs), a code should get tripped and stored in the computer. when gas consumption goes way up on a modern car it is usually caused by one of the many sensors involved in fuel and air monitoring, spark timing, and other good stuff . also, the hesitant acceleration also sounds like a sensor of some sort can be bad. could also be work spark plugs, if they have never been replaced. has the check engine light ever come on?

    as for the bouncy ride, the simplest thing to check is to make sure your tires are at the correct pressure. overinflation can cause a bouncy ride. so can a bad wheel alignment. the tire pressure is free to check, the alignment is about $50. but aside from those cheap possibilities, usually what causes a bouncy ride is worn shock absorbers (or struts, in most newer cars). struts are always replaced in pairs, front or rear (they can be pricey...few hundred bucks). there can also be a worn suspension or steering part, but that would usually cause a symptom like a rattle or clunk when you hit a bump, not a bouncy feeling.

    as for normal wear and tear maintenance items, the mechanic should really consult the owner's manual, which should have a maintenance schedule outlining everything that should be replaced and when. have the mechanic replace ONLY those items that are indicated to be replaced by your mileage!!!!! don't let him tell you "oh we also recommend replacing yada yada yada".

    at 50,000 miles, the things that *typically* need to be replaced as normal maintenance on a modern car (less than 10 years old) in addition to routine oil changes are: spark plugs, air filter, distributor cap and rotor, radiator coolant drain and flush, maybe a PCV valve, and if you have an automatic tranny, then also the tranny oil and filter.

    good luck!
    Two girls, 7 and 6. Trek Mountain, Specialized Hotrock, Soma Buena Vista, Bike Friday tandem, and multiple other bikes. Oh, and a Mazda5.

  4. #3
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    Re: Visit to the mechanic questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by southpawboston View Post
    could also be work spark plugs, if they have never been replaced. has the check engine light ever come on?
    could be the plugs, Im pretty sure they have not been replaced. Ive never had a light come on for anything except when I needed to fill my tank(and it comes on when I still have about 4 gallons left in the tank).

    the tire pressure is free to check, the alignment is about $50. but aside from those cheap possibilities
    air pressure is normal(that I know how to check myself) and alignment should be ok- I have an issues with my right front wheel from time to time due to a warp, but it isnt that. I think bouncy is the right term, it feels like Im going over uneven pavement and potholes even when the road is smooth but it isnt a constant feeling, usually first few miles of the trip.

    I dont know if this means anything but Im also hearing a weird high pitch squeek like a loose screw sounds(metal on metal), but it sounds like it is coming from inside the car and it just started like today or something.

    I didnt even think to consult the manual, what is wrong with me? lol!

    Im hoping to get many more years out of this thing so I want to take good care of it, and Ive been bad to it so far Ive done the oil/brakes/tires but havent taken it to a mechanic for anything else. I know when they change my oil they check my fluids and filters and I might have had the filters changed. Also whenever I get my tires rotated they always check my alignment because of the warp. I need them to look at my rotors again though. I just got new breaks and had my rotors turned, and they are squeeling already even though its been maybe 2 months(and Ive driven maybe 4k miles lol!). I dont know what other routine stuff my car wants from me

    umm, if Im babbling Im sorry... Ive been sick for a week now and its killing me! I finally went to the doctor and got some meds... supposedly Im infected lol! If I talk something out before hand it is usually easier for me to remember when I go, so excuse me if Im repetitive.
    “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes...
    That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away AND you have their shoes.”

  5. #4
    CPS Technician tl01's Avatar
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    Re: Visit to the mechanic questions?

    If you've only done oil, brakes, and tires, then you might need to have your coolant and other fluids changed. It might be good to have that changed right before summer anyway.

  6. #5
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus Jeanum's Avatar
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    Re: Visit to the mechanic questions?

    Reduced fuel economy might also be due to a clogged/old fuel filter, just a thought that sprung to mind. Hope the trip to the shop helps and doesn't hit the wallet too hard.
    Regards,
    Jean

    DD1 Age 16, 66" Driver's Ed
    DD2 Age 12, 64" 5 steps

    Click here if you wish to view the full size version of my avatar

  7. #6
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    Re: Visit to the mechanic questions?

    well I think the trip went really well. I told him all my problems and told him to do whatever it needed. He is just a block down from work so I left it there for the day.
    He looked it over and took it out for a few runs around the block then called me with his findings. Said I didnt need new sparks yet, that they were platinum somethings and still had lots of life left. Said he couldnt get it to mimic the jerkiness I was getting, so he would fix what he did find and if it still was doing it to bring it in for an overnight stay. He told me what it did need(new- belt, filters, fluids, front pads and rotors, and battery cable ends or something like that) and then quoted the price and asked for the go ahead. 403.12. OMG I was expecting it to cost WAY more lol! Sears quoted more than that for just my brakes and rotors!(of course I didnt go with them, they just rip you off... but it was all I had to compare to lol!).
    Ive only driven it home so far, but they got it done same day and the ride home was VERY smooth. The brakes felt tight and acceleration was much easier and it was no longer making this high pitched squeal(loose belt).

    It was a great birthday present to ask for it seems like every time my car needs work it is around a present holiday lol! Ive gotten new tires for christmas-twice, new breaks for christmas, and now a tune up for my birthday lol! Everyone thinks Im crazy but Id rather have a smooth running car than jewelry or knick-knacks. Dad treated me to this one, it is his mechanic and I think Ill stick with him. He really impressed me when I asked him if he was sure it didnt need anything more and he replied "Im not one to throw parts at a car and hope it fixes the problem" lol!

    What do you think?
    “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes...
    That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away AND you have their shoes.”

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