Car Temperature Gauge in the Red Zone: What’s Happening?

car temperature gauge

A car’s temperature gauge measures how cold or hot the engine is. Did the needle in the gauge all of a sudden move to the red? We probably don’t have to tell you your car is overheating. Why is the car’s temperature gauge in the red zone and what should you do?

Why the Car Temperature Gauge Is in the Red Zone

A healthy car should have a running temperature between 195 and 220 degrees. The needle will also sway back and forth in the middle of the gauge. On hotter days, the needle may yield a higher reading than usual. This is normal and no cause for alarm.

However, if the needle sways into the red zone, then the engine is overheating. The temperature warning light may also light up. Overheating is usually a symptom of an issue with the cooling system. The radiator may be faulty or coolant levels may be low. With some BMW models, the 3 and 5 series in particular, this may also indicate an electronic water pump failure.

Some car owners have also experienced the opposite problem where the needle is pointing unusually close to the cold side. This may indicate a problem with the thermostat.

What Should You Do?

If the needle is in the red zone, do not continue to drive. Pull over and turn off the engine. Even driving for a short distance can cause damage to the engine cylinder block. Pull over when safe to do so and call a tow truck to haul your vehicle to a German auto service.

Bring Your Car to Our German Auto Repair Shop

Schedule an appointment with Northwest Imports or bring your car to our shop pronto if the engine is heating up. When the car’s temperature gauge is in the red zone, you’re experiencing a dangerously high heat buildup.

German Vehicle Checkup

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

Does Car Wheel Size Matter?

car wheel size

Expanding the wheel size is a common car modification. The mod is sought after not just by car enthusiasts but by everyday commuters as well. Why the upgrade? Does bigger wheel size translate to better performance?

What the Study Shows 

The UK auto site Tyre Review put the theory to the test. The tester examined a Volkswagen Golf GTI on a Goodyear test track in France. The vehicle underwent trials using 17-, 18-, and 19-inch wheels.

The results? All three wheel and tire sizes performed nearly the same in both dry and wet road conditions. The tester, however, did note that the bigger, 19-inch, wheels seemed to handle better under dry conditions. Under wet roads, though, he pointed to the 17-inch wheels as offering more reliable handling. Of course, these are subjective opinions, albeit one from a professional tester.

Should You Upgrade Wheel Size?

The decision is entirely yours. Expanding wheel size may actually be beneficial for off-road vehicles. However, to accommodate the larger wheel size, you will also have to incorporate a lift kit to raise the ground clearance. While a more elevated ground clearance and larger wheel size improve off-road handling, the investment is also pricey. Bigger wheels may also slightly decrease gas mileage. 

For non-off-road car owners, expanding tire size is not a good idea because it may affect the speedometer’s accuracy. Instead, we suggest plus sizing, where you increase wheel diameter but keep tire diameter the same by reducing sidewall size. While this may slightly decrease acceleration, it may noticeably improve handling. Consider whether the trade-off is worth it.

We Service Modified Vehicles

Cars that enter our shop may include modified Mercedes, Porsche, and other European models. Modifications or not, bring your car to Northwest Imports. Expanding wheel size is a common upgrade that will remain popular for the foreseeable future.

European Car Repair Services in Austin

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

Why Is My VW Making Rattling Noise?

vw rattling, vw noise

Some owners have reported a rattling sound in their Volkswagen vehicle. Of course, such a sound is always worrisome and can occur in any car. However, we have noticed this trend is particularly common in VWs. Here’s why some VWs make a rattling noise and how to correct the issue.

The Problem

The issue occurs mainly in VW vehicles from model years 2008 to 2013 that are equipped with a 2.0 engine. Owners report a rattle just as they turn the ignition.

In most cases, the issue lies in the timing chain that has too much slack. This causes the chain to jump when you turn the ignition. The engine may even fail to start altogether.

The Primary Cause

The primary cause is often a faulty or broken timing chain tensioner. No one seems to know exactly why these critical components go bad. Surprisingly, VW has not issued a recall for this problem, nor is this issue covered in warranties. The problem can arise regardless of mileage on the vehicle.

Other Causes of Rattling Noise

Of course, rattling may not necessarily be due to a faulty timing chain. Another possible cause is a cracked flywheel or flexplate. When either is cracked, it begins to bend during acceleration.

Also, if you hear rattling while the car is at idle, then you may have a catalytic converter problem. Some people describe the noise as a clattering of metal rather than rattling. 

Regardless of cause, schedule an appointment right away. The problem is serious.

We Diagnose VW Rattling Noises

A rattling sound is not normal in any car, and especially not in German vehicles. Bring your car to Northwest Imports if the sound persists. A rattling noise in a VW indicates serious engine troubles and warrants immediate inspection.

Complete German Vehicle Diagnosis

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

Is It Time to Replace the Ignition Module?

ignition module

You, the driver, just need to turn the key in the ignition, or press the button, to start the car. However, a really complex process takes place under the hood to get the car running. The ignition module is part of the process. If this part wears out, then the engine will fail to turn on.

What Is an Ignition Module?

The ignition module switches the ignition coil on and off. When you engage the ignition, the ignition module signals the coil, which in turn starts the vehicle. You can locate the ignition module inside the wheel-well or firewall. The component resembles an electrical box with a wire harness.

Ignition module failure is not that common, but it does happen occasionally in German automobiles. It’s a bit more prevalent in BMW vehicles and especially the BMW 7-series, at least based on our observation.

Signs of Ignition Module Failure

One of the surest signs of failure is if the vehicle suddenly stalls and fails to restart. This indicates power loss, most likely from worn or corroded electrical wires.

Another indicator is vehicle overheating. If this is due to the ignition module, then the engine will stall. The reading on the temperature gauge will also be abnormally high.

Aside from an overheated engine, the engine might also stutter. You might also notice lower fuel efficiency and strong gas fume odors from the exhaust. 

If you have enough mechanical knowledge, then you can test for ignition module failure yourself using a light timing tester. This inexpensive instrument gauges the output coming from the module.

We Run Tests on the Ignition Module

Schedule an appointment with Northwest Imports if your car suddenly begins to stall or if overheating occurs. We can confirm whether an ignition module replacement is in order or if we’re dealing with another problem altogether.

Ignition Module Diagnosis

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

Three Signs You Need to Replace Your Oil Pump

replace oil pump

You are probably familiar with the 3,000-mile oil change rule—you should actually go by the recommendation on your car’s user manual. Neglecting timely changes can damage the oil pump. In this article you’ll learn how to recognize the signs that you need to replace your vehicle’s oil pump.

1. Clanking Noise

A noise coming from the engine can be a sign of a number of problems. If you hear clanking, accompanied by the check engine light, schedule an appointment with us right away. A clanking sound is usually a sign the hydraulic lifters are experiencing metal friction. This is due to insufficient lubrication, which occurs when a faulty oil pump does not distribute oil adequately.

2. Drop in Oil Pressure

The temperature gauge on the dash might display a higher-than-average reading. The happens when oil is not freely flowing to the various engine parts. A mechanic will need to determine if this is the diagnosis. Low oil pressure can also be due to other issues, such as when a recent oil change uses incompatible oil. Low oil pressure will also result in the engine’s frequently stalling out.

3. Whirring and Whining Noise

Aside from the aforementioned clanking sound, you might also hear a whirring or whining noise. This is actually uncommon because oil pumps typically do not emit noises audible to the human ear. However, once the part goes bad, the sounds might occur, especially while the car is idling. This is a symptom of the deterioration of the pump’s internal gears.

We Repair and Replace Oil Pumps

Our German auto repair service checks the oil pump for most European models, including Mercedes, Audi, and more. Bring your vehicle to Northwest Imports if you notice any out of the ordinary signs. Your car may be in dire need of an oil pump replacement.

Oil Pump Diagnosis and Repairs

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

Signs of Coil Pack Failure

coil pack

The coil pack is an essential component in Volkswagen and Audi vehicles. It’s also a part that car owners almost always overlook since most are unaware that such a component even exists. Learn to recognize the signs of coil pack failure.

What Is a Coil Pack?

A coil pack is also referred to as an engine coil. This is a bundle of spark coils that create the needed electric spark for igniting the fuel and firing the engine. Coil packs are especially common in modern German vehicles with a turbocharged direct injection engine. Coil packs eliminate the need for a distributor. The latter is prone to failure especially when exposed to water. Coil packs also have more longevity, up to 150,000 miles in some models.

Common Coil Pack Failure Symptoms

  • The engine idles roughly or stalls
  • The exhaust pipe emits smoke on an intermittent rather than steady basis
  • The gas warning light comes on despite having plenty of gasoline
  • The RPM drops significantly during acceleration
  • The engine roar sounds louder than usual
  • The check engine light blinks or randomly light on and off

Of course, many of these signs can also be symptoms of other issues. Engine stalling, for instance, is also a common sign of a worn fuel injector or pump. It might also be an indicator of a bad camshaft or be as simple as a dirty air filter. This is why you need to schedule an appointment with an auto service to pinpoint the issue. Even if not a coil pack issue, the symptoms indicate that some kind of problem exists.

We Repair Coil Packs

Bring your car to Northwest Imports if you notice any of the above symptoms. Coil pack problems are very difficult to diagnose for DIYers because the signs overlap with more commonplace problems. We can assess for coil pack failure and take immediate action.

Coil Pack Diagnosis

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

Four Common Reported Problems with the Porsche Boxster

Porsche Boxster problems

The Porsche Boxster is a vehicle that definitely turns heads. Unfortunately, like any other car model, it’s not without its issues. We examine some of the common Porsche Boxster problems many owners have reported over the years. These are the same problems we notice ourselves when working on this particular model. 

1. Oil Seal Failure

Many of the Porsche Boxsters we inspected had premature leaks around the main oil seal. The oil seal itself is not expensive to replace. However, accessing the part is problematic, requiring removal of the exhaust, bumper, transmission, and flywheel. Replacement is not exactly a DIY process.

2. Intermediate Shaft Bearing Failure

Some pre-2005 Boxster models have a single-row bearing for the intermediate shaft. We suggest a checkup of the area during a clutch inspection. Early diagnosis is vital. If the intermediate shaft goes out, then you might need a costly engine rebuild. Some models have a dual-row shaft bearing, which is far sturdier and less prone to premature failure. 

3. Broken Suspension Springs

The 2nd-generation model from 2005–2011 commonly had a broken spring on one side. This is easily noticeable as one corner of the vehicle will sag. You might also notice an out-of-place noise while driving. Immediately schedule an appointment if you notice these oddities. Driving with a broken spring can harm the wheel bearing.

4. Cracked Cylinders

A cracked cylinder is a fairly common Porsche Boxster problem, as is a failed water pump. While commonplace, if you buy a pre-owned Porsche Boxster, then chances are that the previous owner already addressed these issues. As long as you maintain these parts, then they’re capable of handling high mileage. 

We Fix Porsche Boxster Problems

We address common problems for all Porsche models. In fact, Northwest Imports services most German and European brands. The Porsche Boxster problems require immediate attention in order to ensure continued reliable function.

Maintenance for all Porsche Models

Serving Customers in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Wells Branch, Liberty Hill, Jollyville and Anderson Mill

How to Prevent Carbon Buildup in a Direct Injection Engine

 carbon buildup, direct injection engineDirect injection engines are a mainstay in most modern BMW and Audi vehicles. This design feature results in increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions. However, such mechanisms are not without their flaws. Carbon buildup in direct injection engines is a common problem.

How Carbon Buildup Damages Direct Injection Engines

As suggested in its name, fuel is injected directly into the engine cylinder. As you rack up the miles, the fuel burns and carbon accumulates. The problem with direct injection is that it doesn’t allow for detergent additives in the fuel to clean the valve. Carbon buildup then results in engine misfires, which may cause the check engine light to come on.

Carbon accumulation is especially common once the vehicle reaches the 30,000 to 60,000 mile mark. Continue Reading →

Four Common Mercedes Problems to Watch Out For

Mercedes problemsThe Mercedes brand has a long history as a reliable luxury vehicle. However, this doesn’t mean the brand isn’t prone to certain issues. We’ll highlight some common Mercedes problems that our customers have reported over the years.

1. Engine Misfires

With most Mercedes models, the manufacturer recommends changing the spark plugs and ignition coil every 100,000 miles. However, some owners have reported problems with these components well before then. Driving with a misfiring engine can result in damage to the oxygen sensor or catalytic converter.

2. Worn Window Regulators

The window regulators make it possible to lower and close the windows with the press and hold of a button. We have noticed the regulator failing prematurely on Mercedes-Benz C-class and ML-class models. This problem is also fairly common in Audi and BMW models. Continue Reading →

Five Common BMW Problems to Watch Out For

common BMW problemsCertain car models are prone to unique problems; BMW vehicles are no exception. For all its durability, German automotive engineering does have a few recurring problems. We outline these common BMW problems so you can watch for them in your vehicle.

1. Engine Troubles

BMW cars may experience failure due to a specific faulty part. This includes a faulty clutch, fuel pump, injector, and ignition module. If you notice engine stalling or if the check engine light comes on, bring the car to a German auto repair service.

2. Tire Puncture

Several people have reported a flat tire despite relatively new tires. The problem lies in the alloy wheels, which can crack and puncture the tire. Regularly check the alloy wheel for cracks and corrosion. Continue Reading →