Mechanic Speak / Drivability Info

Have you ever felt like you and your auto repair professional do not speak the same language? Is it a clunk or a clank? A whir or a whine? Is it jerking or is it hesitating? When we drive our automobile, we use our senses - sight, smell, hearing, and feel. When something starts to go wrong, one of our senses will usually detect something different. Problems usually occur in two different ways, they either do it continually or intermittently. If something happens and it does it continually, then it probably requires immediate attention. Take your car to your service provider immediately before more damage is incurred. If you do not have a service provider that you trust, then bring it to the CARdoctors® of the Antelope Valley at 226 West Avenue I. The second type of problem, the intermittent one, is more difficult to find. If the technician cannot duplicate the problem, then he cannot verify if it is fixed or may not be able to find it.

When you notice a problem with your automobile, you can save valuable time by finding out what it is doing, when it is doing it, where it is doing it, and under what conditions. This can be done while you are driving it. It is very helpful to be able to duplicate the problem for your service provider. The next most important thing to do is learn how to describe what the car is doing using the same language as your service provider. We are going to list things that are often noticed by using your senses while driving. We will describe it as you would notice it and give a word a service advisor or technician would use to describe it. Then you and your service provider can "talk the same language". Use the following terminology to either fill out the drivability worksheet or to talk to your service provider.

SMELL

GASOLINE
Smell of gasoline like when filling your gas tank.

ANTI-FREEZE/COOLANT
Sweet, musty, steamy smell. Usually accompanied by under hood steam or slimy film on inside of windshield.

ELECTRICAL
Acrid smell, like burnt toast or burnt plastic.

OVERHEATING ENGINE
Hot, metallicy odor usually joined by anti-freeze/coolant smell.

EMISSIONS
Heavy and continuous sulfur smell, like rotten eggs.

BURNING OIL
Heavy, thick smell possibly joined by smoke from under hood or car.

OVERHEATED BRAKES OR CLUTCH
Burning material smell, like burning rubber.

SOUNDS - HEARING

KNOCK
Like knock on door.

CLICK
Retractable ballpoint pen.

BOOM
Thunder clap in the distance; Space Shuttle landing.

RUMBLE
Rolling thunder; bowling ball rolling slowly down alley.

ROAR
Lion; waterfall.

SPIT
Drops of water hitting very hot skillet.

WHINE
Mosquito; dentist drill.

CLUNK
Like closing a heavy door.

RATTLE
Rock bouncing around in a can; baby's rattle.

GRIND
Electric can opener; garbage disposal.

HISS
Tea pot just before it whistles; sound of snake.

GROWL
Mad dog!

SQUEAK
Sneakers on wood floor; noisy door; bedsprings.

WHISTLE
Tea kettle boiling; toy whistle.

VISUAL - SIGHT

AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION LEAK
Usually red, could be brown if burnt, definitely oily.

GEAR OIL - MANUAL TRANS OR AXLE
Light brown to black, heavy and thick in consistency.

WATER
Clear, evaporates - usually no stains.

WHITE SMOKE
Billowy, lingering smoke, could have bluish tinge.

ABNORMAL GAUGE READINGS
A gauge on instrument panel that reads different than usual.

ANTI-FREEZE/COOLANT
Light and thin, usually leaves stains - could be green, yellow, purple, orange, or pink - could even be rusty!

POWER STEERING LEAK
Could be red, clear, or brown if contaminated, definitely oily.

ENGINE OIL LEAK
Usually dark, definitely oily feeling.

BLACK SMOKE
Usually out tailpipe - dark and black.

STEAM
White smoke that dissipates quickly.

WARNING LIGHTS
Lights on instrument panel that come on or flicker.

HANDLING - FEEL

WANDERS
Vehicle feels like it wants to go where it wants when trying to drive straight - requires frequent steering corrections to maintain direction.

SHIMMY
Rapid side-to-side motion felt in steering wheel.

PULLS
Vehicle moves left or right when steering wheel is released.

BOTTOMING OUT
Suspension moves to end of travel. Heavy thud felt - like a clunk but more suppressed.

HARD STEERING
Hard to turn steering wheel, especially when parking.

SINKING BRAKE PEDAL
Vehicle starts to brake then eases up and pedal must be pushed more. Sometimes sinks while sitting at a light.

PULL OR GRAB
Used to define feel when braking. Vehicle moves left or right when braking. Pull is more gradual; grab is more defined and wants to move steering wheel in direction of pull.

VIBRATION
Shakes - can happen at any speed.

BOUNCY
Takes a long time for up and down motion to stop after going over bump or dip.

EXCESSIVE PLAY IN STEERING WHEEL
Must turn steering wheel excessively before vehicle responds.

LOW BRAKE PEDAL
Pedal must be pushed unusually far before brakes engage.

BRAKES FADE
Must push harder on pedal to have same braking effect. Severe cases can cause vehicle to not stop - felt especially on long down hill runs.

PERFORMANCE - FEEL

PINGING
Sharp, rapid, metallic knocking noise with engine running usually worse on acceleration.

MISSFIRE
Jerking sensation felt when driving - can be mild or feel like it is cutting out when severe. Sputtering out tailpipe when idling.

HESITATES
Momentary lack of response when stepping on gas pedal, may cause engine to stall.

DEISELING
Engine continues to run after ignition is turned off. Engine usually shakes and can make knocking noise.
ROUGH IDLE OR ROUGH RUN
Engine runs unevenly, shakes.

SLUGGISH
Less power or slower response than normal, won't accelerate as fast as normal. Loses excessive speed up hills.

CUTS OUT
Temporary loss of power, feels like engine quits at sharp irregular intervals - usually worse under heavy load.

SURGES
Engine or vehicle speeds up and slows down with no change in gas pedal.

STALLS
Engine stops running, can happen at idle or while driving.

Wow! What a lot of stuff! Thank you for your patience. If you accurately fill out this worksheet and bring it in to the CARdoctors® of the Antelope Valley when you are experiencing a problem, we will take 10% off the labor (up to $50!)