Complete Guide to Auto Repairs in Fresno, CA
Every time you start your car, truck, or SUV, you count on it to run as expected and to get you to your destination. In order to be able to do so, your vehicle consists of dozens of different parts and components that all enable a variety of different systems to operate simultaneously.
Unfortunately, these components don’t last forever. During the lifespan of your vehicle, you’ll occasionally run into scenarios in which you need professional auto repair services. Of course, regular preventative maintenance will help extend the lifespan of your vehicle’s systems and prevent the need for expensive car repair in the future.
Having basic knowledge of auto repair and important maintenance services can help you confidently address repair needs as they come up, ensure you have a reliable vehicle for as long as possible, and prevent you from having to spend more time at the auto repair shop than you need to.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about auto repair in Fresno, including the most common repair services, the different types of parts used for auto repair, and how often you should bring your vehicle to your auto mechanic for maintenance service.
Some of the Most Common Auto Repair Services in Fresno
As you drive your vehicle, the main systems that keep it running and keep you comfortable will experience wear and tear. This includes the engine, electrical system, fuel system, transmission system, brake system, suspension system, and A/C system. Naturally, then, your auto repair needs often involve the components within these systems.
Some of the most common car repair needs that an auto mechanic sees daily include:
- Brake repair
- Coolant system repair
- Battery service or replacement
- Transmission repair
- Belt and hose repair
- Suspension repair
- Spark plug replacement
- Head gasket repair
At a reputable and professional Fresno auto repair shop like Goodguys Tires & Auto Repair, the experienced mechanics will be able to properly address any of the above needs that your vehicle may have.
Red Flags That Indicate a Possible Car Repair Need
At this point, you may be wondering what your vehicle may look or feel like when it needs any of the aforementioned repairs. There are some “red flags” to be aware of. Knowing what to look out for will help ensure that issues are addressed quickly with your auto mechanic before things can evolve into larger and more costly problems.
Using your senses is actually a great way to pick up on some common problems:
Usually, one of the first things you’ll notice is that your vehicle feels different when driving. Some things you may feel that could indicate a possible need for auto repair include:
- Difficulty starting the engine, rough idling, or engine stalling: These things are often caused by an issue within the engine in the starting system, fuel system, or charging system.
- Reduced acceleration: Can be caused by overly worn spark plugs, a dirty fuel filter, a clogged air filter, or a bad O2 sensor.
- Rough shifting or a failure to properly shift during acceleration: Usually due to a failing component within the transmission system.
- Vehicle pulls to one side: Can be the result of an underinflated tire, a vehicle alignment issue, a brake issue, or overly worn components in the steering system.
- Unusual vibration in the steering wheel and/or seat: Usually due to a tire imbalance or worn suspension/steering components.
- Brake pedal feels different: A “spongy” feeling brake pedal usually indicates reduced braking power due to a brake problem.
Unusual sounds are common indicators that there may be an issue present that should be inspected:
- High-pitched shrieking when braking: This will usually come from the brake wear indicators when the vehicle is overdue for brake service.
- Loud, sharp squealing: Can be caused by a worn A/C belt, overly worn power steering, or faulty fan.
- Sharp clicking sound that increases as vehicle speed increases: Often caused by a loose or bent fan blade, a stuck valve lifter, or low engine oil.
- Occasional loud clunking: Can be due to a loose exhaust pipe or suspension component.
- Unusual, low rumble: Usually caused by a bad muffler, defective exhaust pipe, or a bad universal joint.
Of course, an illuminated check engine light on the dashboard is a clear indication that there is an issue. But another good habit to get into is regularly looking under your vehicle for any fluid leaks.
Different color fluids point to different possible issues:
- Dark brown or black greasy fluid: Most often caused by an engine oil leak from a bad seal or gasket.
- Bright yellowish-green, fluorescent orange, or light pastel blue watery fluid: Usually means a coolant/antifreeze leak from a leaking radiator, bad hose, or faulty water pump.
- Red oily fluid: Most often from a leak in the transmission or power steering system.
Certain distinct smells can also point to common auto issues, including:
- Burnt, bitter odor: Usually means that the vehicle is leaking oil, or an oil change is long overdue.
- Strong, burnt chemical smell: Usually due to an overheated clutch or brakes. If there is light smoke coming from one of the wheels, then you have a locked-up brake, and the vehicle should be towed in for repair.
- Strong, “burnt toast” smell: Can mean that there is an electrical short and/or the insulation is burning. Do not continue to drive if this happens.
- Constant “rotten eggs” smell: Usually due to a problem in the catalytic converter or another component within the emission control system.
- Sweet, maple syrup-like smell: Most often caused by leaking coolant. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge and, if the engine starts overheating, do not continue to drive.
No one knows as well as you do exactly how your vehicle usually drives. So, if something seems off, bring your vehicle in to be inspected at your closest Goodguys Tires & Auto Repair location today.
Additional Tips About Auto Repair
There’s no dancing around it: auto repair can disrupt your routine. It can create stress, anxiety, and confusion. Here are a few tips that may help:
- Don't always trust kiosks. There are self-serve kiosks that can read the error codes from your vehicle’s computer. Be careful with these! A qualified auto mechanic can read the code and assess exactly what the vehicle needs better than a kiosk can. You don’t want to spend money and time on parts just to find out it wasn’t actually what you needed after all.
- Buy the right car battery. If your battery needs to be replaced, get professional advice first to ensure you get the right one for your climate and driving needs. Costly electrical damage can occur if you buy the wrong type of battery.
- Select the correct antifreeze. There are several different kinds of antifreeze. Make sure you get the right one for your local environment.
- Motor oil for towing. Frequently using your vehicle to tow heavy loads puts different demands on it. Ask your auto mechanic what type of oil is best for that situation.
- Read reviews. Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to select a Fresno auto repair shop. This includes online reviews. Listen to/read the experiences of those who have already used a shop.
- Order of importance. In most cases, when an auto repair shop provides a list of recommended services, it will be in order of priority. Pay attention!
- Communication is key. Clearly communicating any problems about your vehicle or its performance is key to helping your auto mechanic thoroughly assess the situation. So, write down what you have been experiencing and include specific details. This includes things like any odd sounds or smells (and where they are coming from), any illuminated dashboard lights, changes in the vehicle’s operation, and anything else unusual.
- Tidy-up the car interior. Some parts of your vehicle are easier to access from inside the cabin—and it may not surprise you to hear that a vehicle that’s clean inside is easier to work on. So, eliminate clutter from the floorboard and seats before leaving your vehicle at the shop for auto repair.
- Ask Questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions until you understand! Auto repair staff don’t know how much you already know about car repair or the terms they may use. They would rather you ask questions than have a misunderstanding occur.
- Keep your auto repair records. Always keep your paperwork after any repair. Make sure you know where to find it later just in case there’s a problem.
- Buy a tire gauge. Keep this in the vehicle, and know how to use it. Ask your auto mechanic to show you how if you need help.
- Wash your vehicle. Keeping the outside of your vehicle clean matters. Salt air, mud, tree sap, bird droppings, etc., can cause significant damage when left for too long. Washing your vehicle regularly can help prevent damaging long-term effects.
- Review your coverage. Periodically review the coverages, deductibles, and limits of your auto insurance policy. If any of these things need to be changed, it’s best to do so before you need additional coverage after an accident for a large repair.
Auto Parts: New, Remanufactured, and Salvaged
There are several different classifications of auto parts. When you receive an estimate for auto repairs that your vehicle needs, it’s important to understand these classifications. The choice of parts that you make may depend on your budget, the warranty coverage, or their availability. Here’s more information on each type to help you make the best choice:
New Auto Parts (OEM)
These parts are made by either the original vehicle manufacturer or an independent company to the original manufacturer’s specifications and have never been used. They often carry the highest price tag but are usually covered under your warranty. So, make sure you check your vehicle’s warranty before deciding.
To ensure dependable performance, the general recommendation is to go with new auto parts if your vehicle is brand-new or needs a critical part replacement. However, aftermarket parts are also a suitable choice if the part you need has a short shelf life, no matter the age of your vehicle. As long as you get aftermarket parts from a vendor you trust, they can be an affordable alternative to OEM parts.
Talk to your trusted Goodguys auto mechanic for their input on the best choice of parts for your vehicle’s needs.
Remanufactured/Rebuilt/Reconditioned Auto Parts
These parts are used but have been restored to good working condition. The manufacturer usually offers warranty coverage on these parts, but the labor will not be covered.
Salvaged Auto Parts
These are used parts that have been pulled from another vehicle without alteration. They come with no guarantees and uncertain reliability. But, for some repairs, they may be the only option. If the part you need is very expensive when new—such as a catalytic converter or engine—buying used can be a smart choice and save a lot of money. The most reliable source for salvaged parts is an established local auto parts shop. The prices will be reasonable, and they may even offer a warranty on their used parts.
Always ask about a part’s price, warranty, and the return policy. When you are dealing with a reputable parts shop or vendor, the service staff can usually also provide a great deal of information on purchasing parts for your vehicle’s repairs.
Why Preventative Maintenance is So Important
Proper preventative maintenance is vital to ensuring that you always have a reliable and safe vehicle. Following the manufacturer’s suggested service routine is the easiest way to help keep your vehicle running at its best. This includes regular oil change services, brake inspections and services, tire maintenance services, fluid level checks, etc.
It may seem like a big upfront investment, but doing so will prevent larger and more expensive problems down the road—ones that would surely keep your vehicle off the road for a lot longer. Plus, you risk voiding your vehicle’s warranty by not following the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines.
Also, performing preventative maintenance and keeping detailed service records can boost your vehicle’s value when it comes time to sell it or trade it in.
everal decades, as auto technology has evolved, the rule of thumb for oil changes has shifted from every 3,000 miles to 5,000 or even 7,000 miles, depending on the type of oil.
In addition to routine oil changes and tire rotation service, manufacturers usually also recommend the inspection and replacement of certain parts when the vehicle hits the 30,000-mile, 60,000-mile, and 90,000-mile marks. Again, make sure to reference your vehicle’s owner’s manual for its specific recommended maintenance schedule.
When you have your oil change done at a professional auto repair shop, like Goodguys Tires & Auto Repair, the mechanic will also do an in-depth, multi-point vehicle inspection to check fluid levels, filters, and other components, as well as perform a tire rotation (if requested). This inspection will assess the following:
- Brakes and parking brake
- Fluid level check (windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, etc.)
- Belts and hoses
- Horn and lights
- Windshield wiper blades
If any problems are detected during an inspection, you’ll also get a written estimate of the needed repair work. You’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have before proceeding with repairs.
Local Experts You Can Count on When You Need Auto Repair in Fresno
The most important thing to remember is to not ignore your vehicle when it’s driving or performing unusually. To prevent a potentially small issue from quickly turning into an expensive problem, bring your vehicle to your closest auto repair shop as soon as possible. Of course, staying on top of the suggested routine vehicle maintenance will help keep things running well for longer and reduce the chance of problems happening.
Build a working relationship with your auto mechanic. They’ll come to know your vehicle and will keep records of all of the service and repair work done. This is valuable information for any future repairs your vehicle may need. It also builds trust between you and the mechanic/auto repair shop.
When you need auto repair in Fresno and maintenance experts you can trust, you can count on the ASE-certified mechanics here at Goodguys Tires & Auto Repair for all of your vehicle’s needs. We proudly meet the needs of Fresno-area drivers by providing reliable auto repairs, professional vehicle maintenance, and the best customer service experience around, all at prices you can afford.