Automotive Repair in Fullerton Auto Repair in Fullerton

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Do You Know How To Change A Tire Without Help?

Changing a TireDo you know how to change a tire without help? Many drivers are confident that they can, yet when the moment comes they are unsure how to start. Are you sure you know how to change a tire? Do you know where the wheel removal tools are? Is there a spare in your vehicle? What about the lifting device? What about that special lug nut that acts as an anti-theft deterrent? Most importantly, do you know how to do it safely?

Practice Changing a Tire Before a Flat Happens

Don’t get stranded on the side of the road! If you ever need to go over the basics or double-check to make sure you know what you need to do in an emergency, start with the owner’s manual or look at the spare tire procedure label in the trunk area. If you’ve never changed to a spare tire, try it sometime on your day off. Practicing will give you the confidence and skills to do it if your tire goes flat while you’re driving.

To begin, find all the necessary tools and make sure you’re doing it somewhere safe. If you are stranded on the side of the road and need to change a tire, try to maneuver your vehicle to a safe spot. Make sure the spare is easily accessible and check the air on your spare tire once in a while – if your spare has to be used you want to make sure it is safe to drive on.

Still not sure how to change?

Just let us know. We’ll be happy to show you what you might need to do in an emergency. By the way, one of the biggest challenges we face at our shop is locating where the special wheel nut socket (or lug nut socket) is located on cars that have a security style lug nut. Some folks keep them at home where they are safe. Not helpful if you have to remove the wheel! To ensure that you can change your tire if needed, keep the special wheel nut socket in your vehicle.

Last thought about changing a tire: If you do not feel capable or comfortable about changing a tire, consider a service club like AAA or check with your insurance company to add a roadside assistance plan. They usually are very reasonably priced and can make a bad situation a lot easier!

What Is A Differential?

DifferentialHave you heard, “You need to change your car’s differential oil”? You may have thought to yourself, “What is a differential?” Often auto technicians or service advisors use words to describe components and services for vehicles that many people have never heard of. If you ever have questions, please ask! We’re happy to explain what parts we’re talking about and describe in detail the services needed.

So what is a differential?

Most drivers don’t know, but it’s a critical component of keeping your car running smoothly. It’s the mechanism either at the rear of a traditional powertrain design or in the transaxle where it’s also known as the “final drive” in a front wheel drive vehicle.

The differential is a device that divides the engine torque two ways, allowing each output to spin at a different speed. This allows your vehicle’s tires to move at different speeds, particularly while turning. Think about making a right-hand turn. The outside wheels (the left-hand side) need to spin faster than the inside wheels (the right-hand side) to cover the same distance. Without a functional differential, your tires would hop and skip every time you tried to make a turn.

A differential can be found in every modern car and truck. Four wheel drive vehicles usually have an additional differential, to allow both left and right wheels, as well as front and back, to spin at different speeds. This allows for greater traction, more control while turning, and smoother driving in extreme conditions like steep hills, snow, or rocky terrain.

Maintaining my Differential, do I really need to?

The differential is crucial to keeping your car running well. Differential systems usually have a special fluid that should be serviced per the manufacturer’s preventative maintenance schedule, usually every 30k or 60k miles. The gears of the differential need to be kept lubricated for optimal performance – this will improve your driving experience and extend the life of your differential mechanism. If you often drive in extreme conditions (such as towing or off-roading), your differential fluid will need to be changed more often. Not sure when the last time your differential oil was changed? Wondering if it’s time? Just ask your service provider at Fisk Automotive if it’s due. The more you know!

When Is It Time for New Brake Pads?

New Brake PadsBrake pads and shoes are known as “friction material” because they are what provide the necessary friction to stop a vehicle. They’re often the main focus when it comes to brake maintenance, but if the brake pads have around 2-3mm left in remaining friction, it’s time to be pro-active and have them replaced to optimize performance and prevent damage to other components. Brake shoes if equipped on your model are suggested at 2mm or less remaining friction.

Brake shoes are generally part of the rear brakes unless it’s a very old car where they were used all around until disc brakes were introduced. The brake shoes sit inside the brake drums. When you press on your brake pedal, this pushes fluid to the wheel cylinder. This expands the brake shoes to contact the brake drum. The friction between the brake shoe and the brake drum is what slows your vehicle down. But the brakes shoes also help to hold the car in place especially on a grade. When you pull, or push on your emergency brake, they expand out and contact the drum to lock the car in place.

Brake pads and brake shoes have a steel backing and have a specialized friction material riveted or bonded to the metal part of the pad or shoe. Brake pads and shoes work together to help stop your vehicle.

Why should I be pro-active and have my brake pads replaced?

Worn brake pads can lead to more costly repairs, such as damaged rotors or calipers. Brake pads are what give your vehicle the ability to make immediate stops, and avoid collision. This means that worn brake pads can increase your chance of an incident, since your vehicle may no longer have the ability to make confident or abrupt stop. Brakes are one of the most important safety mechanisms on your vehicle.

What are the warning signs that it is time for new brake pads?

To help avoid the dangers of a brake system failure, here are some warning signs that it is time for new brake pads:

  • You hear screeching, grinding, squealing, rubbing, or other abnormal noises.
  • You feel vibration and pulsation in your steering wheel or in the pedal itself.
  • Brake pads appear thin, or less than 2 mm thick.
  • You find yourself pressing the pedal down farther to brake.
  • Your brake warning light comes on.
  • The ABS may be on.

If you notice any of these signals occur in your vehicle, it’s time to give your friends at Fisk Automotive a call.

Did you know that brake fluid is a service item?

Brake fluid is often neglected when vehicles are serviced. Brake fluid can be and should be tested to make sure it is not damaging or contaminating the other parts of the hydraulic brake system. Brake fluid over time becomes contaminated with moisture and that is the worst thing for any component coming into contact with the brake fluid. Get your brake fluid tested today at Fisk Auto to make sure your brake system is protected.

It’s important to remember that simply replacing your brake pads every once in a while isn’t enough to maintain your vehicle’s safety and stopping performance. Always have the entire braking system checked, cleaned or serviced regularly. We are more than happy to help you with your brake repair, or brake maintenance needs.

Cooling System

Cooling SystemDid you know a cooling system not operating correctly can turn on the check engine light, create poor fuel mileage, or worse, it can overheat the engine. Your cooling system might be a lesser-known component of your car, unlike the motor, transmission, and other large systems, but it’s a very important part of your vehicle.

Conventional engines produce a controlled explosions as the spark plugs ignite fuel inside each cylinder to propel the vehicle down the road. These explosions heat up the engine considerably (which is why the hood of your car is warm when you stop the vehicle). The cooling system runs liquid coolant in a hose through the engine passages, picking up the heat from the engine. The heated coolant is sent to the radiator, where the fluid is cooled as air passes over the fins. The water pump returns the coolant to the engine to absorb more heat. The coolant system is composed of several parts – the radiator, water pump, cooling fan, hoses, and thermostat – all working to regulate the temperature of your engine to keep the car running. Without a cooling system, your car would overheat and the engine would burn out very quickly.

Signs of Trouble

Do you know that you cooling system may need attention from time to time? It’s usually inspected during a scheduled service at our shop, but if you sense the engine may be running warm or you see a leak (puddling of a green, red or orange fluid), it may require a deeper inspection.

If you know how, release the hood, prop it up and take a look around. Notice any hoses that seeping? Coolant tends to have a “wet” look about it. If there has been a leak over a long time, hoses, connections or even the water pump can develop a “crust” where the coolant has been leaking. Do they seem they are too hard or too soft when squeezing them? Also, your nose may tell you if there is a problem if you detect the odor of “hot coolant”. Even if there is a small leak, a sweet type of odor may be the first sign of a cooling system issue.

Always have a professional look at the vehicle if you notice any signs of trouble from your cooling system. You can always trust the professional team at Fisk Automotive!

Warm Weather Is Coming!

Car OverheatingWarm weather is coming soon. As the temperature creeps up, it’s vital not to underestimate how extreme heat can affect your car. No it’s not summer yet, but by the time it rolls around, it’s a good idea to be prepared. With the extreme temperatures Southern California can experience during the year, no one wants to be stuck on the side of the road in a broken down vehicle. One important way to keep your car running smoothly at its best is to check the coolant levels, and for that matter all liquid levels.

Keep Your Car Hydrated

The cooling system is responsible for keeping your engine cool. Ensuring that the coolant is kept full and checking over the system when it’s in for service is crucial to keeping your engine running. Today’s modern coolants can last a long time (up to 100,000 miles!) but it should still be checked and changed when necessary. As long as you’re under the hood, it’s always a good idea to make sure all your fluids are at the proper levels, since improper fluid levels can impact your engine’s ability to cool itself. Heat is one of the major factors in battery breakdown and failure! In addition to coolant, be sure to check:

  • Oil
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Brake fluid

Any of these checks can be performed during regular maintenance, but if there is a specific concern, let your service professional know when you stop in.

Last, did you know the cooling system works hand in hand with A/C system? Always make sure you’re A/C system is ready for summer weather by having it checked, especially if it’s not performing properly. If the A/C isn’t blasting like it used to, it could be that the refrigerant level is low or another issue.

As always, make sure your car’s being looked after by a trained professional so that your car’s always staying cool (under the hood and inside the cabin!) when it needs to be.

Is Your Serpentine Belt Ready for a Replacement?

Is Your Serpentine Belt Ready for a Replacement?First of all, what is a serpentine belt? It’s not an accessory to keep up your pants, it’s a crucial part of your car’s functionality! It powers several components that are vital to your car’s drivability, transporting power to systems that make your car run. This includes the power steering pump, air conditioning, alternator, and water pump. Without power, these systems can’t run your vehicle.

Know When To Replace Your Belt

The serpentine belt can continue to function – and thus the systems it runs – can continue to work even when the belt is fraying. However, driving with a worn belt is taunting fate. Most serpentine belts are only good for 60,000-100,000 miles. Once the belt breaks, your vehicle loses multiple functions and is quickly becomes impossible to drive. If you see that your belt is missing large chunks, is loose, or is well-worn with tears, it’s a sign that it may be time to replace the serpentine belt.

It’s important to fix or replace your serpentine belt as needed, because a broken one can cause serious issues to your vehicle’s systems. Since the serpentine belt helps the alternator, water pump, air conditioning compressor, and other components run, a broken belt can harm these systems. Worse case scenario, a broken belt can cause damage your engine. Save your car from a potential breakdown and yourself from a large repair bill by ensuring that your serpentine belt is replaced when needed.

Are you unsure where to look for the belt, or you want a professional opinion? The mechanics at Fisk Automotive can help! Bring your car by for an inspection by our experienced auto technicians. We will check for worrisome cracks and worn grooves in your serpentine belt. We will be able to tell you whether it’s time for a replacement, or how long you can put off the repair. Get honest, professional, and friendly car advice from your local car repair shop.

Should I Trade In My Car or Repair It?

The question of whether you should shell out for car repairs or buy a brand new car is sort of like the question of the chicken or the egg — do you spend less money more often over a period of time, or lots of money all at once? However, it’s more complicated than that. Let us explain.

The truth is that there’s no true answer to this question, because your particular answer will depend on a number of factors that are unique to you and your car. Generally speaking, it’s almost always better for your budget to repair a car rather than buy new. It’s highly unlikely that repairs will outpace the cost of a new ride unless your car is either very old or very run down. If you’re wondering about the breakdown of repairs versus buying new, we’ll go into more detail below.

Even large repairs cost less than a new car.

Your eyes may bug a little at a repair bill in the thousands, but repairs of that scale don’t happen very often and they’re still only a fraction of the cost of buying new. Sure, you may be able to use that same chunk of cash as a down payment, but that’s not the entire cost of the car. You’ll still be paying your monthly fee until it’s paid off unless you can drop enough cash to buy the car outright. If your current car is paid off and still functional, it’s more cost-effective to take the repairs.

Insurance and registration costs will be higher when you buy new.

That’s how the cookie crumbles, as the saying goes. New cars have new bells and whistles, but they also come with other costs that you don’t see on the price tag. When you buy new, you can expect to see a sizeable hike in your yearly fees. It’s something to consider before signing a contract.

A new car’s value will drop almost immediately.

If you think you’re driving off the lot with a car worth as much as you paid for it, you’re unfortunately wrong. From the moment you take your shiny new ride home, it starts to depreciate in value. In the first year alone, most cars lose over 20% of their value. With a car you already own, you don’t have to worry about depreciation because it’s already factored into the current value of the car.

Keeping a car longer is more cost-effective than buying new every few years.

This seems like a no-brainer, but our media really pushes the idea that you should be trading in your car for a new model every few years. Driving your car for longer, like 6 years or more, before getting a new one means you’re getting more value out of your current ride and not constantly beholden to car payments. Once you see that extra cash in your account every month, it’ll be hard to let it go. So don’t!

Now, of course there are valid reasons to drop the old and bring in the new. If you have safety concerns from an older car, you may be ready to upgrade to a safer model. If your family has expanded and you need more room, your tiny coupe may have to go. In the rare cases where repairs are actually exceeding the value of the car, that’s another factor to consider. As we mentioned above, there’s no 100% right answer, so you have to do what’s right for you.

Fisk Auto is always here to answer your questions or even help you see whether repairs are better for your budget. Just give us a call anytime!

How to Find the Best Auto Repair Shop in Your Area

Would you like to know how to find the best auto repair shop in your area? If yes, here are a few tips in locating the best local auto repair shop to you, even if you are not located in lovely Fullerton, California, home to Fisk Automotive.

Ask friends, family, and co-workers for referrals

This is one of the best ways to find the best auto repair shop in your area. Ask someone you trust, and usually they are happy to tell you if they are pleased with their auto repair shop.

Ask other owners of your vehicle’s make and model

Do you drive a Honda? Ask other Honda owners where they go for auto repair. Ask them about the auto repair shop’s pricing, service levels, speed, efficiency, etc. You’ll quickly determine if there is a specialty auto repair shop in your area for your make of vehicle.

For those who like to see 5-star reviews, Yelp! is a major referral site. All you have to do is go to and type in the type of service and the city you’re searching for. Make sure to read as many reviews as possible, and see if there is a majority of 5-star reviews with an occasional 1-star review, or if an auto repair shop has too many 3-star reviews. You can see how Fisk Automotive looks on Yelp here. is a widely respected review site, used by many repair shops. Demandforce is a third party review site and they will often seek out reviews from the clients of auto repair shops very soon after their vehicle has been serviced. These reviews are fresh and quite often highlight if the auto shop has a high customer satisfaction ranking. For example, you can see how people reviewed Fisk Automotive via Demandforce here.

Google search your keywords, plus the city you’re in

If you want to find out if an auto repair shop specializes in certain repairs and services, try going on Google and doing a search for the specific keywords, plus the city you’re interested in. For example, “auto repair wifi baltimore” will let you know if any Baltimore area repair shops offer wi-fi in their waiting room. Any number of keywords and cities will create a varied list of auto repair shops that match your criteria.

To be quite honest, we hope you will always hear terrific personal referrals and see great reviews for Fisk Automotive in Fullerton. With our 9 time ASE “Blue Seal of Excellence” certification, rest assured you will always have a quality certified technician servicing your vehicle when you come into Fisk Automotive. For priority scheduling, call our Fullerton location at 714-526-3303 to schedule an appointment.

Service Your Car – Proper Tune-Up Checklist

Whether you are a person who likes to service your car yourself, or you prefer to take it into Fisk Automotive for regular tune-up service, it’s always good to know what items are on a proper tune-up checklist.

For starters, each foreign and domestic vehicle has tune-up checklist variations, but for the most part, the standard tune-up checklist includes the following:

  • Check all belts for signs of wear, fray, or cracks.
  • Check hoses for leaks or bulges.
  • Check engine and underneath the vehicle for signs of leaks.
  • Make sure heater and air conditioning is working properly.
  • Check windshield wipers and all other wipers, including headlight wipers and rear window wipers.
  • Check headlights — both low and high beams.
  • Check fog / driving lights.
  • Check turn signal lights and controls.
  • Check brake lights and tail lights.
  • Check hazard lights.
  • Check reverse lights.
  • Check door locks.
  • Inspect windows and windshield for dings and cracks.
  • Check to make sure windows properly roll up and down.
  • Check radio and speakers.
  • Check horn.
  • Check the tires to make certain there is enough tread, they’re in good condition, and are properly inflated.
  • Check coolant levels.
  • Check oil levels.
  • Check transmission fluid levels.
  • Check power steering fluid levels.
  • Check brake fluid levels.
  • Check window washer fluid levels.
  • Take a test drive drive and listen for any pings, knocks, scraping noises.
  • Check exhaust to for excessive odor.

The next time you’re in Fullerton and you want us to service your car give your vehicle a tune-up, the Fisk Automotive team would be delighted to assist. For priority scheduling, call our Fullerton location at 714-526-3303 to schedule an appointment. We are conveniently located at 820 West Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832-1615.

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