The Official Blog of Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair

The Official Blog of Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair

Caring for the HEART of your Vehicle: Your Engine.

by Ali's Woodinville on 01/23/19

Complete auto repair shops like Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair work to keep many areas of your vehicle running right. The brake repairs and maintenance we do, help you stay safe and stop clearly and efficiently to avoid collisions and hazards. The electrical system for your car helps you keep windows clear for vision and safety, and helps many of the regulatory systems in you car. A car could not operate well at all with these systems failing, but much like the human heart, a car or truck does not operate AT ALL without a functioning engine.

Here are FIVE TIPS for how a responsible vehicle owner can help to protect their engine, and what to make sure your mechanic does for each tip:

1. Have the Oil Changed (and oil filter changed) ON TIME. It's likely the most common car care tip and the one thing that must be done if nothing else. Have the oil changed, and make sure whoever does it, changes the oil filter as well. The filter is almost as important as the oil change itself. As far as the most common question--How often do I have my oil changed?--the best answer is to check your car's owners manual and then make sure you do it on the early end of that recommendation. Oil changes are a relatively small cost, and getting an oil change from a good mechanic gives them the automatic opportunity to check for all sorts of other issues (like engine leaks for instance---read on!).

2. Keep Your Cooling System Working Well. The car's engine is a HEAT MACHINE as much as anything. It is, after all, an internal COMBUSTION engine, right? The most important support system to the engine is the cooling system. The radiator, thermostat, water pump, and coolant are all areas that are vital to keeping your engine cool. Checking your coolant is something you should try to do yourself regularly. You can add more anti-freeze, as-needed to keep the level above the minimum mark and below the maximum mark. If your mechanic suggests that there are leaks in the reservoir, or a malfunction with the pump for instance, you should not hesitate to get them repaired. If the heat isn't being fended off effectively, it quickly begins to damage the engine and other areas of the vehicle. HEAT IS THE ULTIMATE ENEMY to your engine and many of its components.

3. Get the Air Filter Changed. The car's air filter helps keep particles from getting to your engine and causing damage. Your engine, like your heart, needs fresh air to operate well. Continuous, unrestricted air flow is as important as almost as important as fuel itself. Don't scare your mechanic off from changing this when they see that it is necessary. Usually it can be visually inspected quite easily and the mechanic can even show it to you for confirmation (although you should probably work on finding a mechanic you can actually trust).

4. If Leaks Are Found, Have Them Repaired IMMEDIATELY! First, of course, someone must be CHECKING for leaks. Encourage your mechanic to be thorough and honest about the leaks they may see, either from your engine or from your cooling system. Hoses, gaskets, and seals are all subject to degradation over time, and many times, these leaks begin very slowly---and that's good, because it gives you some time to have them discovered and fixed. Often times though, folks won't see the problem as serious, because it hasn't caused a failure (yet!), or they don't trust the mechanic and think they are being sold a fix they don't need. As always, we suggest you find a mechanic you feel that you can trust, and if you do, take any report of a leak of fluids (or air) in your systems very seriously, and have them take action to repair it immediately!

5. If an "check engine" warning light (or ANY warning light for that matter) comes on, look into it or get it to your mechanic as soon as you can. It seems like something that is obvious, but many people think that if they don't notice an issue with how the car is running, they can take their time. Some folks go for WEEKS before they schedule an appointment for diagnosis. The time you wait could be draining the life out of your engine much faster than normal. It is, after all, TELLING YOU that there's a problem. Most folks are scared that it's ALWAYS a major issue, but it can actually be something kinda small---either way, waiting will only make it worse, not better. 

Just like how you take care of your own heart, you want to take care of the engine, even in small ways. To add to these major tips, you can also do things like taking it easy on start and stop driving when you can, and also it can helpful to fill up your gas tank before it gets below a quarter tank left. If you want a car that lasts longer and works better, start with caring for it's "heart"---the engine---and make sure you have a mechanic that is looking out for you and the long term health of your vehicle!  

(Live in the Woodinville/Bothell/Greater Eastside areas and need a mechanic that will shoot you straight? Call on Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair or Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair and see why folks keep coming back for our diagnosis, recommendations, and services!)

Your Car's Battery: How to Help it Last Longer and Avoid Issues

by Ali's Woodinville on 06/13/18

Summer is a fast approaching and tends to be tough on most of your car's systems, especially since folks tend to be out driving more often and taking more long trips. It's the heat of the Summertime that causes the most complications, and for your battery it's the same, but it usually comes from the need for more electrical components to be utilized.

Turning up the music, pumping up the air conditioning, and plugging in other devices puts strain on the battery and is the reason why car battery issues are just as likely in the Summer as a harsh Winter. Here are some ways to ensure the health of your battery headed into Summer, and also some things to look out for and how to get it checked.

You can help keep your battery running longer by:

1) Driving the car consistently. Running the car regularly keeps its health up in a number of ways, and definitely allows your battery to experience a consistent level of charge. If you have two or more vehicles, make sure one doesn't sit for extended times and gets some regular "work."

2) Keeping from draining the battery by using the car while its off. Make sure to unplug your phone charger cable or any other extra electrical device while the car is off. When you park and turn the engine off, try not to use the radio, or headlights for more than a couple of minutes before getting the car started again. These can lead to premature drainage of the battery life.

3) Making sure the battery is clean and secured properly. Check that it is braced properly and does not lift or wiggle in its spot. There are straps or metal bars in some cars that might even screw down. Make sure it's snug. Also, make sure there isn't grease, dust, or dirt collecting on the battery. Keep it clean.

You might also check if there are any stains or corrosion on the battery. That could be an indication that there is some sort of leak. Definitely check the terminals are fastened correctly and that there isn't any extra corrosion or much white powdery buildup. 

4) Get Regular Maintenance for the Car. Of course we were going to say it, right? Just about any "auto tips" article really means that if you're not sure, get it to a mechanic you can trust. If you're not sure that your mechanic has checked the battery during your oil change or service, feel free to ask specifically about it. We can check the charge rate and test it to find about where it's current battery life is at. Also, regular maintenance for your car and care for your engine helps to prevent overloading the battery in general, which can shorten battery life.

If you notice any funny smells or any weird activity of the battery indicator light, get it to a mechanic as soon as you can. The battery may seem like a small part of the car, but it can cause a breakdown far faster than many other faltering systems can. Check out your battery, and ask a mechanic you trust to check on it too. And if you don't have a mechanic you trust, it's time to find one---like us! If you live in the Bothell, Woodinville, or Kirkland areas, come see Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair. We hope these car battery tips help!

Your Timing Belt, and Why You Cannot Risk It Breaking

by Ali's Woodinville on 01/25/18

With new cars or at least cars you've owned from the time you bought them new, folks usually do a good job in following factory recommendations. When you know the entire history, then following the schedule for services in the manual is a little easier. Usually there is a recommended time to do oil changes, servicing of the whole vehicle, and these include a recommended time to replace the timing belt.

If you are getting close to the scheduled time for timing belt replacement, it's one repair that you should go ahead a be a little early on. More importantly, if you're not sure when you should get your timing belt replaced, and your mechanic tells you it should be done, then GET IT DONE. Many other areas of your car can be procrastinated on (though they shouldn't), but the timing belt is one part that will punish you the most, if it isn't replaced before it may break.

Woodinville Auto Repair Timing Belts
Why is it so important that your timing belt doesn't break? That's because, even though it may seem like a small belt in a large car, it is a vital part of the engine. If it breaks the entire vehicle will be shut down, therefore waiting is not an option. That's a safety issue for you, but a timing belt break will also cause expensive damage to the pistons and more. The timing belt exists for coordination of the engine's functions, not just the open and closing of valves but also controlling the crankshaft and camshaft. It shuts down your whole car if it's not working correctly.

When do you replace your timing belt? There are no particular symptoms to look out for. A mechanic can visually inspect the wear and that can help give you some clue as to whether it was changed at the last recommended interval. If you're unsure about when or if it was ever changed (usually needs to be done every 60K-100K miles), then get it changed at your technicians first sign of concern, and then KEEP TRACK of that mileage, so you'll know ahead of time for the next timing belt replacement.

I know, it's easy for a mechanic to say "just get it replaced", but a break can cost you thousands. In this case, it's going to be VERY important to play it safe. Another helpful tip, is that when you are having a timing belt replaced by a professional (this IS NOT A DO-IT-YOURSELF TYPE JOB), ask about other maintenance needs that can cost less at the time of this invasive procedure. Often times, the car must be taken apart, and the labor can be substantial, but while they are in there, you may ask to have your water pump changed out. Also, they should at least inspect, if not replace, the tensioner and ider pulleys to make sure they stay in good working order for the new belt. A good mechanic will bring up these other parts to you, and it's not like an upsell, it's actually something a good mechanic will to do look out for you!

Here's hoping you never run into trouble with your timing belt, and we hope these tips and explanations have helped. On timing belts, you should trust your mechanic's advice, and if you can't trust the mechanic you go to, FIND A NEW MECHANIC. In the Woodinville, Bothell, and Kirkland areas, we are ready to be your auto repair expert. If you live in the area, call Ali's Woodinville Auto repair today with any questions and to schedule an appointment!

Make Your Brakes Last Longer with These Helpful Tips

by Ali's Woodinville on 07/17/17

We've written about brakes on this blog before, but it was more about the importance of brake checks. We also covered what to look out for, so that you can bring your car in to the brakes checked and serviced or repaired before a more extensive repair is needed. In this post though, we wanted to share some tips or helpful habits for making sure your brakes last as long as they can. Eventually, you will need pad replacements and some repairs, but some simple guidelines can have you avoiding those services for as long as possible.

1. Avoid Stopping from High Speeds

Nothing kills brake life faster than stops from high speeds. Of Course, there are times when you must brake at high speeds, when an unexpected slow down or hazard is in the way. The effects are exponential when it comes to stopping from higher speeds. For instance, stopping from 65 mph actually requires 30% more energy to be dissipated by the brakes. Some of the other strategies below can help to keep this from happening as often.

2. Look Up, Plan Ahead

Planning ahead and practicing great defensive driving can help you prepare for obvious slow-downs and keep your pace more smooth. Your eyes should stay focused on what is happening down the road as well as right in front of you. Stale green lights turning to yellow and also car backups or slowdowns can be seen and you can at least take your foot off of the accelerator early enough to keep your speed lower for your possible stop.

3. Get Good at Coasting

We've already been alluding to it, you will want to coast more before you get to stop signs and stop lights, so you won't need to brake as much, if you aren't going too fast to begin with. Small changes like this to drive more smoothly can actually have a noticeable result.

4. Lose the Extra Weight

No, we're not talking about dieting, we're talking about your carload. It may not seem like much, but if you are carrying a trunk full of stuff you don't need to have with you, then you are making it harder on your brakes. It's also a strain on your tires and your fuel efficiency. Long-term, you must also remember that the overall weight of the vehicle will also affect the brake life---so, choose your next vehicle wisely and keep it as light as you can. Savings will be found in longer lasting brakes.

5. No Left Feet Allowed!

So, this isn't a problem for most drivers, but if you (incorrectly) taught yourself to drive while using your left foot to brake (sometimes or always), then you gotta break that habit. Please, only use your right foot, as it will avoid pushing both pedals simultaneously---which is a fast brake pad killer! On top of that, it can be a safety issue if brake lights are coming on when you're actually accelerating. Do it the right way---No Lefties!

As always, we hope these tips will help you to stay ahead of car issues. If you are in need of inspections or brake repairs, then don't procrastinate. Local auto repair shops like ours will always try to save you money and keep you educated on what needs to be done or how much time you have. If you live in the Woodinville, or Bothell, or Snohomish areas and don't have a mechanic you trust, than we would be happy to have you here at Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair for brake repairs or ANY automotive need!

Motor Oil Leaks are a Problem for You, Your Car, and the Environment

by Ali's Woodinville on 02/01/17

Not many things are more stressful than finding weird oil spots under your parked vehicle. These can come from many places on the car, but no matter where the oil is leaking or spilling from, it's a problem that must be fixed. All cars develop leaks in a few typical areas, but if not taken care of in a reasonable amount of time, they can truly threaten the engine or the entire vehicle's operation. 

Another interesting result of allowing oil leaks to persist, is the impact on our environment. The Pacific Northwest is renown for it's many beautiful lakes, rivers, and streams. Motor oil leaks from vehicle's through are one of the biggest contributors to oil pollution in our oceans and waterways. In an article on National Geographic's website entitled, "3 Surprising Sources of Oil Pollution in the Ocean", they highlight how cars drip oil onto concrete and asphalt from small leaks. There is much less irresponsible dumping of used oil into drains and such (which is a HUGE "no, no"), but as they say in the article, "a lot of cars and trucks contributing to the 'dribble, dribble, dribble' effect of slow leaks that end up on asphalt and contribute to runoff pollution."

You may ask, "What could be wrong with my car, and what should be done about my car's oil leaks?" As usual, we are going to recommend that you find a mechanic you can trust (Like Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair, of course), and get them to examine all of the typical problem areas for oil leaks. And, so you can have some peace of mind, here are the most likely ones that will come up:
  • Valve Gasket - This is the most common issue that causes oil leaks. Older and higher mileage vehicles are especially likely to have issues with this seal joining large sections of your engine. Over time this seal may fail due to sludge buildup and increased pressure.
  • The Oil Filler Cap Missing or Loose - Now you should already be able to check if the cap is missing altogether by taking a simple look under the hood, but it may not be so easy to tell if it's not doing the job and leaking when the car runs. Luckily this is a small and very inexpensive problem.
  • The Oil Drain Plug - The drain plug is at the bottom of the oil pan. It can become worn and the result is pretty easy to spot if this is the culprit.
  • Damage to the Oil Pan - It's a little rarer, but it's possible that the oil pan on the underside of your vehicle could be damaged and result in a leak. It could occur if you ran over something that dented the pan from underneath.

The best way to handle leaks, protect your car, your wallet, and the environment is ALWAYS going to be regular maintenance servicing of your car or truck. Also, get your oil changed ON TIME and it will give a trusted mechanic more opportunities to spot potential problems while they can still be taken care of at a low-cost and least amount of hassle. 

Take care and if you're local, we'd love to see you here at Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair for oil changes, oil leaks, or any auto service/repair need!

Signs and Warnings that Your Car Needs Transmission Repair or Service

by Ali's Woodinville on 10/24/16

Are you having trouble with your car’s transmission? Chances are that at some point your car will need transmission services of some kind—either a small repair, full-servicing, or maybe even a rebuild/replacement. Transmission repair for any type of vehicle can be tricky and complex. If you suspect transmission troubles your car should be inspected by a professional auto shop that has transmission experience, like Ali’s Woodinville. But how do you know if your car issues have to do with the transmission? Below are some indicators that your vehicle is having transmission troubles:

1) Problems with your gears. If your car will not shift into gear, or if it starts slipping out of gear your transmission may be having troubles. As you change gears your car should respond promptly, and when your car shifts it should not be jerky. As soon as you notice gear problems then you will need to get your transmission inspected right away.

2) Strange smells or sounds. If your transmission fluid starts to smell rank or burnt you may have an issue with overheating in the transmission. Also the transmission may be having issues when it starts to make unusual sounds like grinding or buzzing.

3) Fluid leaks or discolored fluid. If you notice excessive leaking or the transmission fluid is cloudy then there may be a problem with your transmission or a leak in your system.

4) The Warning Light is illuminated. When a dashboard is activated in your car it is your vehicle’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Don't get in the habit of ignoring these lights. If you have a transmission or check engine light you will want to pay attention to any other signs that your transmission is having issues.

It is extremely vital that you not ignore transmission problems and to get your transmission repaired right away, as soon as you notice the signs of problems. Having your transmission serviced before it completely brakes down is key and may save you thousands of dollars. If you notice any of the issues outlined above bring in your car to a good transmission shop, like Ali’s Woodinville. We are happy to work with you and inspect your transmission for any issues. If your transmission needs service or repair, there is no better place for you—we are prepared, experienced, and ready to fix the problem. Give us a call today!

ASE Certified Technicians: Make sure you're getting a certified mechanic

by Ali's Woodinville on 05/09/16

When you are choosing an auto repair or auto service company for you and your vehicle, you will want to look at all that a company has to offer. You will want to choose an auto repair and maintenance shop that is conveniently located, cost-effective, provides outstanding customer service and always looks to hire ASE certified repair technicians. What is ASE certification and how is it obtained? ASE certification is far beyond just a blue logo--we have outlined the basics and importance of ASE certification below.
ASE Certified Technicians Woodinville
National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE, sets a high standard of training and knowledge. Technicians have to pass comprehensive, extensive testing and have to have documented on-the-job experience. A technician whom looks to become certified is vouching for their car knowledge and experience and are taking a test that only 66% of test-takers pass. When a company hires ASE certified technicians they are getting auto techs who have experience with correctly handling a wide array of auto services, maintenance and repairs. This requires a deep knowledge of the auto industry and how cars should be maintained and repaired and should provide customers with piece of mind that their car is being repaired correctly.

Having ASE certification helps the customer, and owner or manager of the auto shop gage a technician’s level of expertise. This certification comes from a non-profit organization whom has set industry-leading standards since the 1970s. ASE tests are written by a large panel of experienced auto professionals with a wide-array of varied experience. If you would like further information about ASE or ASE certification click on the link:

Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair is proud to employ ASE certified technicians that will diagnose more accurately and fix your car or truck correctly. We stand behind our quality work, and superior service. If you are you having any issues with your vehicle, or just need regular maintenance or services, give us a call today—we are ready to help you! Family owned and operated, local, and looking to provide affordable auto services—we are the leading auto service provider in Woodinville.

Improve Your Pickup Truck's Fuel Efficiency

by Ali's Woodinville on 02/01/16

No matter what type of vehicle you drive, fuel costs are your most variable on-going expense. We have little control over the cost of fuel, but we can save ourselves money at the pump by using gas effectively. This is especially important for pickups because they tend to be less fuel efficient than cars and other smaller vehicles. Saving yourself some cash on gas can be as simple as following a fuel economy tips. Below we have outlined some easy ways to save money at the pump and to be more efficient about the resources you use.

1) Remove the extra weight. The more your truck is carrying the more fuel it uses while it is running. If you do not need it on or in your pickup take it off—you'll see your gas tank go a bit longer.

2) Maximize your driving efficiency. As with any car; planning out your trips prior to leaving and finding the best routes can help save you gas—and time. Also remember to check the traffic on your selected route before you get stuck in a back-up.

3) Avoid unnecessary speeding and accelerating. As your pickup travels at higher speeds your fuel efficiency goes down because of the increased resistance made by air. Also try to accelerate slowly as quickly revving your engine burns fuel quickly.

4) Choose synthetic oil. Even though synthetic may be slightly more costly at the onset, it reduces the friction of the moving parts helping your engine to perform it’s best.

5) Do not add large tires and keep your tire pressure at the recommended psi. Having larger tires will cost you more money. The bigger tires weigh more than standard tires and thus take more power (and fuel) to make them work properly. Bigger tires also makes your truck less aerodynamic which also leads to a larger fuel usage.

6) Stay away from lift kits. When your pickup’s body sits higher there is more wind resistance as you drive. Lifts may look trendy but they will cause your truck to spend more at the pump. 

When you are looking to make cost-effective decisions with your pickup truck, or any other vehicle that you own, choose Ali’s Woodinville Auto Repair for your regular maintenance and repairs. We are locally based, family owned and have the extensive experience to conduct repairs and maintenance to any type of make or model of vehicle. Give us a call today!

Car Tips for Commuters: Do it better, or At Least Cope With It Better.

by Ali's Woodinville on 10/25/15

Seattle and Bellevue area traffic is known for being treacherous- especially during the commuting times. If you use your car to commute to work every day (especially from the Woodinville and Snohomish areas where we are at) you are among the many folks that are in their cars all the time. The constant use is not only hard on your car but can be a major headache for you. Looking to make your daily commute more manageable? Below are some tips that may save you money, time and keep you from stressing out.
1) See if you can carpool or telecommute a couple of days a week. Even with a one day a week carpool or telecommute you are saving gas, wear on your car and saving yourself some time that you are not driving.

2) Look at the traffic before you leave your home. Being aware of traffic hazards before you start your commute can save you time and gas—as well as stress. If there is a major backup, construction or accident check to see if you can alter your work times for the day or take a different path to work. 

3) Know the alternate routes. Being knowledgeable on the many ways that you can get to your destination will help you easily divert your course when needed. 

4) Avoid getting pulled over by obeying driving laws. Besides, being an incredibly tense situation, getting cited will cost you money and may raise your insurance rates. Try not to speed! It may seem like it will save you time but speeding can end up costing you and could cause a dangerous situation for yourself and other commuters. Drive safely, wear your seat belt, use a hands-free device for your phone— even a small infraction can get you pulled over.

5) Save money on gas. Fill up at gas stations in cities that offer cheaper gas. You can even download a gas price app or look at gas prices online at websites such as GasBuddy or GasPriceWatch.

6) Keep your car regularly maintained. Regular auto service and tune-ups will not only help you avoid major breakdowns but can keep your car running efficiently. Keeping your car serviced will also help you extend the life of your vehicle and minimize the time that your car is broken down.

Following these tips to maximize your commute will make your everyday drive a little less tedious. If you have any questions about other tips to make your drive smoother or other ways that you can take good care of your car to keep it on the road with you give Ali’s Woodinville a call!

Child Car-Safety Tips: Car Safety for your little passengers.

by Ali's Woodinville on 07/19/15

As commuters potential hazards on the roads are something that we have to deal with every day. When you drive a car you are looking to get from one point to another- safely. Safety is especially important when you consider our littlest of passengers. Injuries from motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in kids and babies- and sometimes the severity of these injuries can be avoided. 

We can’t prevent accidents but we can take every precaution to not only keep ourselves. but our child passengers safe in cars as well. Below are tips that will help the little ones stay safe in an emergency situation:

1) Infants should always be in a backwards facing car seat. A rear facing car seat should at least be used until the baby is older than one year old and is over twenty pounds. Check your car seat specifications- some car seats can be rear facing for much longer. 

2) Ensure your infant car seat is installed correctly. If you have questions about installing your car seat read your owner's manual or ask a car seat expert.

3) Have your child in the appropriate sized car or booster seat. Up to about 57 inches tall and 80 pounds your child should be in a booster seat.

4) Ensure the seat belt is securely buckled. Seat belts save lives of both children and adults. They are there to keep the rider secure. If it is not buckled- you are not secure. 

5) Check the position of the seat belt before every ride- and make sure the seat belt is snug. This may not be the most comfortable for the child but in the event of a crash a properly placed seat belt keeps them in place. 

6) Children always ride in the backseat. Kids should not sit in the front seat until they are at least thirteen years old. A child whom sits in the front seat may be thrown into the windshield or onto the dashboard during a crash. A child could also be hurt by force of the air bag inflating.

7) Check the expiration date on the car seat or booster seat- and do not use a seat after it has been involved in a crash. Every seat will have an expiration date because the material can start to wear over time. If the seat is expired- do not use it. 

Children can be our most precious cargo- it is important to protect them because they are not old enough to understand potential risks.  We are Ali’s Woodinville Auto Repair; we are a local, family owned and operated business. If you have any questions about car safety give us a call. You may also want to consult the particular child passenger safety regulations for our state and others.

7 Spring Car Care Tips: Upkeep following the tough winter months.

by Ali's Woodinville on 02/28/15

Spring is almost here! Give your car a “spring cleaning” by helping equip your car for the upcoming season. Below are 7 tips to make sure that your car keeps running and you avoid unnecessary costly repairs down the road. Let's get your car a few much-needed checks after doing such a great job of enduring the tough winter months. As usual, it definitely helps to have an auto service shop that you really trust, to give a professional set of eyes to look over this stuff (we love to help our customers with this kind of thing!).

Tip One: Have your engine and your transmission analyzed to see if any components need servicing. Your engine and transmission keep your car running. Routine checks and fluid changing can prevent costly overhaul down the road. 

Tip Two: Have your hoses and belts inspected. Because of the winter weather you may end up with dry, cracked or worn belts or hoses that need to be serviced or replaced. Replacing damaged belts or hoses before they break is critical. 

Tip Three: Check your tire wear and tire pressure. The cold weather conditions of winter and road salt can cause your tires to be under pressured and your tires worn or bald. Have both of these checked regularly to keep your car running smoothly and safely. 

Tip Four: Have your cooling system checked. Spring is almost here- you want to make sure that your cooling system is ready to go. A cooling system repair, flush or fill can increase your car’s performance. 

Tip Five: Test your wipers, filters, and caps. With the changing seasons your window wipers can rust or dry out- you want to examine them to make sure that they are properly working. Air filters can get dirty and cracked and need replacement. Check your radiator cap and your gas cap to make sure they are tightly secured and ready for the new season. 

Tip Six: Have your brakes examined. All the wet weather can ware on the brake system and create a safety issue. Have a professional verify that you have proper fluid levels as well as well working lines, hoses, and pads. A brake fluid flush is a yearly recommended service that can improve the function of your brakes

Tip Seven: Service your car plugs and battery. During the winter weather your battery and plugs work extra hard and may need to be replaced. Have them tested now before they shut down and cause a costly breakdown. 

Get your car ready for the changing weather today and help keep your car running smoothly and safely into spring and beyond.  Also think about including an emergency kit in your vehicle in case of hazardous situations. The kit should include a warm blanket, gloves, flares, flashlights and chains.

Car Fluids: Check by Yourself, or Have a Pro Do It?

by Ali's Woodinville on 10/17/14

Customers ask us all of the time if they should be checking their fluid levels themselves or if they should just leave this process to us professionals. There is a very EASY answer to the question: BOTH you and your trusted shop (hopefully ours) should be checking these. Every time you bring your car in for ANY kind of service, you certified mechanic should run through and check, and if necessary, top off your fluids.  To be clear, you should definitely know how to do a simple CHECK of all major fluids, but that does not mean that they are all fluids that you should add or correct yourself---That is a different story altogether.

Some of the fluid systems in your car are very easy to understand and it's easy to simply add fluid to the fill line.  Others should not be tampered with, unless you have the proper training. ALL of the fluids though can be checked and noted simply, and if there seems to be an issue with any of them, you need to alert your favorite mechanic.

Which fluids should you do a simple check on every 1-2 months? First, you have to park your car on a flat surface and put the vehicle's emergency brake on (safety first!). Then you can consult this list of fluids, and note which ones you can add fluid to safely on your own. The beauty of our business, is that you don't have to check your fluids yourself quite as often if you just bring your car to us regularly (before something brakes).  We'll always check these for you and save you the hassle!

1. Motor Oil
Well, the most common is your car's motor oil. This is done using the dipstick.  The dipstick needs to be wiped off and re-inserted.  It will give you a pretty clear idea of how much oil is in there, and if it is low. If you've consulted the car's manual, know what kind of oil your car needs, and feel comfortable doing so, you can add oil yourself. If the oil looks too dark, or is WAY too low (which can indicate leaks or that your car is consuming oil), you'll want to get it into the shop to be checked.  If you're getting your oil changed on schedule (every 3,000 miles or so), you'll probably find that your system may not need any added oil and won't be overly dark.

2. Coolant/Antifreeze Reservoir
You can check this reservoir rather easily in most cases. If you have a translucent (see-through) plastic reservoir, as most vehicles do, you can easily not how close to "FULL" your reservoir is.  If you have to check by taking the cap off, then you need to wait until the engine is fully cooled-down.

If this fluid is a little low, you may add more antifreeze if you feel comfortable and follow the directions. You may need to dilute your antifreeze first, depending on which kind you buy.  If your coolant is very low, then you likely have another issue going on.  A leak of some sort may be occurring.  Take the car in to be inspected by a professional. Either way, you'll be glad you did this check yourself!

3. Power Steering Fluid
You can read this through the reservoir wall usually, so it's also an easy check. You may add fluid to the fill line if you are comfortable, but if it's looking oddly low, or you notice a possible issue, just get it to the mechanic. Usually, there is no adjustment necessary, or only a very small one.  Otherwise it may be a bigger problem that needs attention.

4. Windshield Washer Fluid
Okay, this isn't the fourth most important fluid, but it's the last one that you should be adjusting or adding yourself if it is low.  This one is pretty simple. You can usually see the level without taking off the cap, and if it is getting lower---which is normal---you just add more. Washer fluid is something you may take for granted, but seeing clearly while driving is VERY important, so cleaning bugs and grime as you drive is also somewhat important to prepare for. When buying washer fluid, it's a good idea to get one that won't freeze easily in low temperatures.

5. Transmission Fluid
You actually check this with a dipstick as well, but actually this one should be done with the engine running and having warmed. The fluid is usually reddish.  Make note if it is black, brown, or very dark. Transmission fluid is usually done on a designated schedule---Check your manual.  If it is low or looks funny, our advice is to NOT ADD OR CHANGE the fluid yourself. This is one for the pros. If you're in the Woodinville or Snohomish areas, bring it right into us at Ali's Auto Repair in Woodinville!

6. Brake Fluid
Check this one, but don't try to adjust it. You may need to check your manual just to find your brake fluid. You also check this through the walls of your reservoir, and if it is low at all, then it is a cause for concern.  Don't mess with your ability to stop your vehicle, get this one to your local shop PRONTO!

For more detailed instructions and info, please consult your car's manual. Also, it isn't a fluid, but another easy and important area is your car's tire pressure. Keep an even closer eye on that for safety and optimum gas mileage. You can read more about that in this Tire Pressure Check blog post

Thanks for reading and local readers should come see us at our Woodinville shop or our Bellevue Auto Repair shop soon!

Car Air Conditioning Issues and What is Causing Them

by Ali's Woodinville on 06/20/14

Now that the summer is here in the Great Northwest, we thought we'd talk a little about your vehicle's air conditioning and what can be done to service or repair them.

We love our climate-controlled vehicles, don't we? But, what happens when the system is not getting you cool anymore? Something must be done.  Quite simply, the main sign of a problematic car air conditioning system is the fact that it no longer keeps your car cool enough.  In come cases the system may not blow any colder than it does on "vent mode". But, you may also need to consider a repair if it is running too loud or any funny smells are coming from the A/C vent.  Being cold enough is the main sign, but not the ONLY sign that you may have to watch out for.

If you are a "do-it-yourself" kind of person, then yes, there are steps you can take to fix a lack of cooling. In most cases it will take a novice MUCH longer to get the situation solved themselves.  It's better to find a good shop that actually handles this type of work. Not every auto shop is prepared to handle these issues and diagnose what's really going on. Our shop is prepared and we even have specialized equipment that helps us run diagnostics and pinpoint the problem.

So, what could be wrong?  Over time, cars actually may need a "recharge" of the refrigerant.  Newer vehicles us a refrigerant known as R134, and older vehicles use R12, also knows as Freon (Handling R12 actually requires a special license). You can't simply assume that this is the issue.  Sure the refrigerant can "wear out" and no longer keep you cool, but instead, you could be dealing with an faulty system.

On a newer car, it's likely not as simple as changing the refrigerant. In all cases you should make sure that you haven't actually leaked out all of your fluid through a leak in the system.  Checking for leaks is not an easy process, but you must do this first, before messing with changing the refrigerant chemical. A professional will be much more qualified and much more precise at finding the leak source.  This is a bit of a complicated deal for an individual to take on themselves.

Lastly, like any other part of your car, there are components that could fail or break. You have a compressor, a condenser, an expansion valve, and an evaporator included in your air conditioning system. These parts are possible reasons that you aren't keeping cool, or hearing a loud noise.  There is no easy way to pinpoint these issues on your own.

Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair would definitely recommend that you bring you vehicle to a professional that routinely handles automobile air conditioning issues. If you want to try doing something yourself, here is a great article that goes through the system and can help you understand how it works. 

If you have no plans to fix it yourself, feel free to educate yourself (so you know what a good auto shop should be doing), but don't hesitate to get your car to a pro. You should be comfortable in your car. You should be able to keep yourself, your family, and all your passengers enjoying the summer sun, without getting too hot.  Let us (or your local shop, if you don't live near Woodinville WA) help you stay cool!

Brake checks, and why they are so very important!

by Ali's Woodinville on 03/23/14

Many people try to avoid brake repair because of the cost involved. But, when you consider the consequences of what could happen to you or your loved ones if your brakes fail---it is well worth the expense. You should try to understand your car's maintenance schedule, but also note how long it tends to take your car to wear down it's brakes.  If you're unsure, or if you hear the warning signs (we'll list them below), be quick to schedule your car for a brake check.

In fact, when you come to Ali's for any of your other servicing, oil changes, or repairs, we will go ahead and report back to you on the current wear and tear. We always give you an honest report---our customers trust that we actually want them to get as much out of their brake pads as possible. Over time, though, other brake repairs may become necessary. Rest assured that matter what your brake system needs, we are ready to handle it completely.

If you suspect it's time for your brakes to be inspected, our trained mechanics can give you peace of mind by performing a thorough inspection. If repairs are necessary, at least you'll know that you will be getting your car into it's safest condition possible.

What are some of the warning signs that might suggest that your brakes are worn? 

Well, one of the easiest signs to note is a high-pitched screeching sound when you apply your brakes. That's a small metal shim, called an indicator, which is giving you an audible warning that you need to replace your brake pads. If you hear it regularly, quickly make an appointment with your mechanic.

Here are some of the other signs you should look out for (thanks to and it's helpful blog post):

Reduced responsiveness or fading. If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal "sinks" toward the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak (in the brake hose) or a brake fluid leak.

Pulling. If your vehicle "pulls" to one side while braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or that there is foreign matter in the brake fluid. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.

Grinding or growling. This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely, most likely beyond replacement. The grinding or growling noise is caused by the two pieces of metal (the disc and the caliper) rubbing together. This can "score," or scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, do not be surprised if your mechanic tells you that the rotors need to be "turned" (a process that evens out the rotor surface), or even replaced.

Vibration. A vibration or pulsating brake pedal is often a symptom of warped rotors (but can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment). The vibration can feel similar to the feedback in the brake pedal during a panic stop in a vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes

We have been doing Brake Repair in the Woodinville area (Bothell, Kenmore, Snohomish, etc.) for years, and our expertise will show! If drums, discs, or rotors are worn or even damaged, we can take care of it for you. We'll inspect and check on your brake fluid and your hydraulic system.

You don't have to take it to the national service chains or tire stores. Any service offered by the national chains can be taken car of right here at Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair. And, you'll have the added benefit of keeping a service history with us, so we can help you find the best schedule for getting brakes and everything else handled in due time.

If you hear squealing or screeching of any kind, if it has been more than a year, or over 20,000 miles since your last brake check, get your car to Ali's for Brake Repair Woodinville WA trusts and depends on!

Factory Recommended Auto Service at a shop you can Trust!

by Ali's Woodinville on 01/15/14

If you've been looking for a place to get your factory recommended servicing taken care of, then you need to know that you do not have to go to the dealership. Even if your car or truck has a warranty to uphold, you can take your vehicle to Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair. We're prepared to help maintain the warranty on ANY MAKE OR MODEL of car or truck. You DO NOT have to go to the dealership to make sure your 30K, 60K, 90K (etc.) factory recommended service is accomplished.

This regular auto service should be continued even for cars no longer under warranty. Sometimes people refer to this as a "Car Tune-up". Another HUGE benefit of getting all of your servicing and repairs done at one place (preferably our shop) is that we can keep an accurate history for you. Not only can we keep your car under warranty, but we will have a better idea of what things to watch out for with your particular make and model. The ultimate goal is to help you avoid breakdowns and more expensive repair jobs.

Getting your regular maintenance accomplished ON TIME is also very important for all cars and their drivers, whether your car is under warranty or not. When you get into the upper mileages, it generally needs to be done every 30K miles. Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair will be your consultant on all things auto service. As we always say, you need to find a shop you can trust, because it is a great way to allow a good shop like ours to keep your car running very healthfully!

When it comes to your particular vehicle, we will follow YOUR car's recommended servicing schedule and perform all of the checks, adjustments, and replacements that are listed and necessary. If you cannot find your manual---no worries, we can check your schedule and recommended services for you. They may include checks and replacements to a number of items.  We would commonly change your Air filter, run check on the Exhaust System, Brake System, Belts, Hoses, Suspension, and also provide an oil change.

We're happy to be the answer for all Auto Repair Woodinville WA folks need.  And we try to be a great ally to the commuters of our area.  That's right! We perform great Auto Repair Kenmore WA drivers rave about, and Auto Repair Bothell commuters will hop on over to Woodinville for.

Find a good shop you can trust for your Factory Recommended Auto Service.  We think you may have already found that in Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair.  Call to schedule your appointment today!  425-420-1630

Driving in Fall---Two Sides to Being Prepared for the Driving Conditions.

by Ali's Woodinville on 10/03/13

Fall, or autumn if you prefer, is here.....and it brings about changes for the drivers of the Northwest. We looked and found a few lists of tips for Fall driving preparedness, and although they were very complete (see them here: and here: ), there is a general trend to be seen.  Specifically, all of the tips can be categorized into TWO MAIN categories.

Diving safely in Fall conditions (weather, leaves, darkness, school starting again, etc.) has to do with BOTH an ability of the driver to be more aware and take extra measures to be careful on the road, and also preparedness for your vehicle, so that it can handle the rigors of Autumn road travel. 

1) Preparing YOURSELF for Fall Driving.

The Dangers of Fallen Leaves on Roads can be more of a hazard than you realize. Lovetoknow safety writes, "When leaves accumulate on the roadway and become wet, they can get extremely slippery, making the driving conditions similar to driving on ice. If the temperature drops below freezing, the wet leaves will freeze and turn into dangerous icy leaves on the roadway. Besides reducing the car's traction, causing skidding and the possibility of losing control of the vehicle, leaves often cover the painted road markings, making it difficult to know the locations of the lanes."

You also have to adjust for weather conditions, and not just the rain and wet roadways, but also the fog. Icy roads can creep in at night on overpasses and bridges if the temperature sneaks low enough.

Also, you must adjust for the fewer hours of daylight, and the fact that people may still be out and about when it's dark.  Here's a list of tips that takes all of these into account (and it's a bit more simplified than the lists we referenced).

  • Slow down on turns, and make sure you have plenty of "following distance" between you and other cars.
  • Piles of leaves can conceal children walking or playing around them-- be aware of children.
  • Keep your windshield leaf-free.
  • Set headlights to low-beam in fog.
  • Watch your speed on overpasses and bridges in case of ice
  • Watch out for children at bus stops and road crossings--it's already getting dark when small children are leaving school.
  • Take special care and drive much more slowly/carefully on Halloween....the costumes make it even more difficult to see children.

 2) Preparing YOUR CAR for Fall/Autumn driving.

The normal tips are listed below, but along with these you need to make sure that you actually bring your car in to a professional. First, you car may already be due for it's regular servicing. If you're not sure when to do it, it's usually every 30,000 miles (30K, 60K, 90K, etc.), but if you don't know, it's better just to get it done and worry about the schedule after that. OR, you could at least come get your next oil change with us. We will make sure all of the tips and checks below are accomplished FOR YOU!

Your car has to deal with more temperature change in the coming months, and you don't want a lingering issue to be exacerbated by the cold and wet.  Even if it's your tires that need to be changed, our Woodinville auto repair shop will be able to direct you where to go and what to do.

Tips for your car's fall weather maintenance:

  • Get caught up on servicing (30K, 60K, 90K) 
  • Oil changed earlier rather than later
  • Brake Repairs and pad changes earlier rather than later
  • Check that your antifreeze is full
  • Visually inspect your tires, and check pressure.
  • Replace worn windshield wipers.
  • Check your windshield washer fluid and top off
  • Bring your vehicle to Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair to get all of these accomplished at once, and let us handle it for you!

Avoid an overheating car with these tips

by Ali's Woodinville on 08/03/13

It's the middle of a beautiful summer, and although it's cooled off for just a few days here in the Puget Sound, we've got at lease a month of warm-hot weather left.  We want to keep our customers of Woodinville, Bothell, and Kenmore WA "in the know" about what they can do to protect against an overheating vehicle. 

(Yes, we regularly service customers for Auto Repair Kenmore WA and Auto Repair Bothell WA, it's just a short distance to our shop)

We always like to use an outside source, so that you don't have to take our word for it. There is an article at that does a great job of laying out all of the ways you can be safe and avoid car overheat problems. We added some of our own comments in parantheses.

It is such a terrible thing to see a good car need a whole new engine due to the heat, and it's worse knowing that it could have been avoided. Here are tips that could save you thousands of dollars:

1. If your battery is three years old, consider replacing it as a matter of preventive maintenance. Batteries get stressed in extreme temperatures, and the older they get, the more stressed they get.

2. Have your cooling service checked by a mechanic (have it checked by Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair of course!) or the dealer if it has not been looked at in two years. This system is critical to keeping the engine cool and the air conditioning system working right. Let it break for lack of simple maintenance, and it is not cheap to fix or replace.

3. If you are driving, stuck in traffic, the temperature light goes on and you are in the danger zone, turn off the air conditioner immediately and open the windows. If the light stays on, turn the temperature selector to the hottest setting. This will redirect some of the heat that is trapped in the cooling system. If the light stays on, pull over and call road-side assistance. Stop driving. If the light goes off, you should be okay to drive the car to a mechanic. (In fact, any time that you are driving in hot weather and traffic starts to slow, it's a good idea to lay off the air conditioning altogether.  At least make sure to keep a sharp eye on the temperature guage.  It's harder for your car to stay cool at slow speed or at idle.)

4. Make sure you have fresh coolant in your radiator to start the summer, not just water. Have the radiator checked specifically for corrosion. (I don't know why THIS isn't tip number one!  If you notice leaks in the system, or are having trouble keeping enough coolant in there, get your car in to us to have the system examined.  It's well worth the precautionary visit.)

5. Look at your tires. If you have worn or cracked tires, you are asking for big trouble in very hot weather. Not only could you blow the tires, but a blow-out at high speeds could cause you to crash, rollover and possibly hit another vehicle. (Not really an overheating engine tip, but an important HOT WEATHER tip.)

6. If you drive long stretches of road on a summer trip, keep a gallon jug of water somewhere in the car. It could come in handy if you have a radiator leak, or you get stuck waiting for help and need water yourself to feel cool and comfortable. (We could also cover this in a list of emergency items you should always have in your car.....maybe we'll do that in the next blog post!)

Our Woodinville Auto Repair Shop -- Truly Family Operated!

by Ali's Woodinville on 06/22/13

Two years ago this month, KOMO news ran an article about Stephanie Valencia, the daughter of Alirio Valencia, owner of Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair, as well as Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair. Here is the link to the article you can read for yourself:

At the time, Stephanie was working within the Bellevue Shop, but soon after, she was sent to head up the new shop in Woodinville.  Stephanie is never one to "toot her own horn", but all of us who work with her know that she has a unique and special story.  The article outlines the rarity of a female working in a male-dominated profession and even how outnumbered women are in the attendance make up of Wyo Tech -- a well-respected year-long course for auto technicians. Only 20 women out of 3,000 in attendance!

Two other great conclusions are to be drawn from Stephanie's story though.  ONE of them is the concept of "family-owned and operated".  Clearly, Ali and his family have a real passion for auto repair AND great auto service. Ali and Stephanie are not the only relatives within the business, so it's safe to say that there is a commitment to quality auto repair in Woodinville, Bellevue, and surrounding areas like the kind of quality Auto Repair Kenmore and Bothell will come to trust.

The other great point to be made is this: When you bring your car in to Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair, you are often greeted by Stephanie at the front desk. But, you now know that it would be foolish to believe that she is a mere receptionist or service-writer.  Stephanie Valencia will know as much about how to diagnose and fix your vehicle as any of her (or any shop's) technicians----she may even have had to help with her hands that "can get into small spaces" on your vehicle.

Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair---Family owned, family operated, HIGHLY EDUCATED, and very dedicated to serving you and your vehicles!

Summer is coming, get your tune-up done NOW, Woodinville!

by Ali's Woodinville on 05/20/13

Summer is almost here, and yeah, we've sure been flirting with warm, sunny weather all Spring--which is great!  When the nice days really start to string together, you'll want to make sure your car won't slow you down.  That's why May and early June are a great time to get your car looked at. You stand to save a bit of money on fuel if your car is properly functioning, not to mention you can prevent being stuck on a long road trip, by the side of the road in the hot sun.

Most drivers simply don't have an auto repair shop that they trust.  This makes it easier to procrastinate on factory recommended servicing, every 30,000 miles, and also on oil changes, brake checks, etc. Shops like ours at Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair hope to show folks out there that, with proper maintenance, we can save you money.  We might have to see each other and get your car looked at a little more often, but it can save you a ton of money over the big repairs.

As the summer approaches, we'd urge you to get your car into us and see why we've been showing folks that we offer Auto Repair to Woodinville drivers that makes sense.  We will look your car over and make sure that it is caught up on all servicing, and giving you the best fuel efficiency, right down to the air in your tires.

To back us up, we have an article you can link to and read at:  The main idea is that we want to keep your car efficient, and with the long-trip summer driving ahead, now's as important a time as ever to get caught up. If we may, we'll simply quote them, so you know we're not making this stuff up....

"The power necessary to start your car starts with clean gas and air in the cylinders. This is where the combustion takes place which is initiated by the spark plugs. If any part of the combustion system, such as the fuel injectors, air filter, or fuel filter becomes clogged, or if the spark plugs become corroded, engine performance and gas mileage will decrease. Typically, a trained mechanic will check the air and oil filters when you take your vehicle in for a service. To keep your vehicle operating at maximum efficiency, it important that you follow the manufacturers' recommended replacement schedule for fuel filters, PCV valves, and spark plugs.

To sum it up simply; a car tune up along with regular maintenance will help maximize your vehicle's reliability, engine performance, and gas mileage capabilities. It will also give you the peace of mind to know that your car is ready when you are to head out on that long awaited family vacation."

It's true!  We want to get our Kenmore WA Auto Repair customers in tip-top shape for the road ahead.  We want our Bothell Auto service folks to know they can trust us. And, we need the folks looking for a good Woodinville mechanic to know that we will do everything right down to the air in your tires, and noting the condition of your windshield wipers to make sure you know we are looking out for you and your car!

Happy Summer driving.....come see us soon!  ( for an appointment before our schedule fills up!)

Brand New Auto Repair Blog!

by Ali's Woodinville on 04/22/13

There are some new and big things going on here for our Woodinville Auto Repair Shop!  We just launched this brand new site last week, and along with it we've started this new blog, and we have a new twitter account to boot (give us a follow if you can). 

We're gonna use this blog to provide a few good things.  I think you can consider this one of the places that we'll update you on the latest news from our shop, but you can expect some good informative posts about car care.  Altogether, it's worth checking back or at least following us on Facebook or Twitter to make sure you get a look at what we're posting here.  New blog posts will show up on both of those social media accounts.

Our other shop, Ali's BELLEVUE Auto Repair will be changing their site soon as well.  You can find the same great service at both sites, and they will have a blog, facebook page, and twitter account soon as well.  Stay tuned and all of us at Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair thank you for reading, and hope you'll never hesitate to bring your vehicles to us!

Lastly, we've updated our Auto Repair COUPONS PAGE, so head over there and see if there is anything that suits your needs.  Just print these coupons and give us a call to schedule an appointment.  See you soon!

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17802 134th Ave NE
Woodinville, WA  98072
(425) 420-1630
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