Friday, December 30, 2011

Diagnosing a Smell

Often a customer will come in concerned that there vehicle has a peculiar smell. There are many different possibilities when it comes to smells in cars, from the cabin air filter that has become a rats new home, to an engine that's overheating.

This customer came in concerned that her car was in fact overheating, as the smell was only noticeable after 10 miles of driving. Her exact words were that it smelled "hot." However, no warning lights were illuminated, and the temperature was right in the normal range.

After test driving for 10 miles, the smell was noticeable at a stoplight. When back at the shop, we put the car on one of our lifts to examine from below.

 This is part of the exhaust just behind the transmission. The black that you see is transmission fluid that has been burning against the exhaust. You can see more of the oil on the cross member above the exhaust as well, showing that the leak had been present for quite some time.
 This photo shows transmission fluid actively dripping from the transmission pan gasket, just in front of the exhaust in the photo above.
What is inside the transmission pan.
After we replaced the pan gasket and exchanged the transmission fluid, the leaking ceased. However, as there was still oil on the exhaust, it will take some time before it is able to burn completely off, so the smell will not be gone for a while longer, even though the source of the problem has been repaired. 

We often find smells traced back to oil, whether it's from a leaking valve cover gasket allowing engine oil to drip onto the exhaust manifold, or as above, where transmission fluid was burning on the exhaust.  If you consistently smell something strange, acrid, or worrisome, don't hesitate to bring your car by so we can check that out for you.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Severe Engine Noise

Today a customer called concerned with a loud noise she was hearing in her car. The car then stalled several times on the way to our shop. This is what we heard when the car arrived.
This noise is not reassuring and indicates an internal engine failure. To help diagnose this we took the oil filter apart to see if there was any metal particles trapped in the filter element. The following pictures show what we found.

Bearing material on the filter
 Bearing material inside the filter casing
Even more bearing material in the filter element itself

This is a significant amount of metal and shows a bearing failure within the engine.  There are several parts with several bearings each within the engine, including the camshaft and crankshaft. These bearings separate the metal parts reducing friction and wear.  The sound we hear in the video above is caused by the parts within the engine banging into each other as the bearings that separate them fail.

The oil filter's function is to remove the crud and metal that may be found within oil. By keeping these particles in the filter itself and not allowing them to flow throughout the motor we short circuit the failures that would otherwise occur and increase the longevity of the engine.

This particular vehicle had 220,000 miles on the engine, and its failure was not due to poor maintenance or abuse, but simply due to age.

Making Your Vehicle Last With Regular Service in Redding

Making Your Vehicle Last A lot of people in California have older vehicles. They’re good commuters, grocery-getters or toy-haulers. They enjoy the fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their vehicles for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

There are plenty of people in Redding whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own cars on the road.

A common denominator is that they never skip an oil change. That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that can damage your engine. Enough said.

There’s another reason why the scheduled oil change is so important. It’s simple – a Bryant Automotive professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your personal Bryant Auto technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.

Your Redding service technician will also visually inspect the vehicle for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth. And your Redding service advisor will be able to remind you of other services that the factory recommends you get done.

Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to the dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.

Of course, good maintenance costs money, but it’s far cheaper than new car payments.
Give us a call to schedule your next oil change today. You can find us online at Bryant Automotive, or you can find us in Redding, California 96002 at 2354 Churn Creek Rd. Or simply give us a call at 530.222.3313. At Bryant Automotive we install quality NAPA replacement parts. To learn more about NAPA AutoCare, visit

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It’s News To Me – What To Do When You Buy Used In Redding

It's New To Me - What To Do When You Buy Used In Flagstaff
Redding auto owners sell cars for a lot of different reasons. Maybe they just want something new or maybe they’re selling the car because it has a problem or two. So how do you know what you’re getting into when you sign the papers for a used car in CA?
When a car comes into Bryant Automotive in Redding with maintenance records, we can see if the factory maintenance schedule has been followed.
If it doesn’t come with records car buyers have to assume the worst. How many Redding people who are turning in a leased vehicle at 36,000 miles will perform the transmission service recommended at 35,000?
So what do you do? At Bryant Automotive, we suggest getting on track with the maintenance schedule and staying on track. Lacking evidence to the contrary, assume it needs an oil change. The thorough Bryant Automotive inspection that comes with a full service oil change will reveal basic problems.
Be sure to bring up any specific concerns with your Bryant Automotive service consultant. When buying an older used vehicle in Redding, there’s more to be concerned with because there’s been more time for things to go wrong. A used vehicle inspection at Bryant Automotive is a good idea: the peace of mind is well worth the money.
In addition to the scheduled maintenance items, look for uneven wear on the tires. That could be a symptom of an alignment problem, worn shocks, or some other suspension issue. Listen for unusual sounds and pay attention to strange odors. Keep track of any problems you have when driving so you can consult with your thoughtful service advisor at Bryant Automotive in Redding.
If you just bought a used car in the Redding area, give us a call at 530.222.3313.
Manager Dan Bryant
Bryant Automotive
2354 Churn Creek Rd
Redding, CA 86002

Monday, December 12, 2011

Running Compression Test

Normal Running Compression

Most people have heard of a compression test. A compression test can give a service technician a good picture of the internal health of an engine. In this post I will tell you about a little used type of compression test that can give a little more insight to the internal interaction between your pistons, valves and camshafts.

    We need to have compression inside the engine to squeeze the gas and air mixture to such a state that only a spark (from the spark plug) will start the burning process. This burning process is what pushes the piston down into the cylinder to power your vehicle. A misfire is what occurs when the burning process does not take place.
A regular compression test is performed without the engine running (just cranking the engine over). When regular compression, fuel & air mixture and spark are OK but the engine is still misfiring I want to perform a running compression test. As the name implies, a running compression test is performed with the engine running.

Cylinder With Compression Loss

In this example the running compression peaks out at around 75 lbs. The engine being tested is misfiring on this cylinder. The actual compression reading is not compared to other engines but to another cylinder on the same engine. On the good cylinder running compression is around 100 lbs. Our conclusion is that this engine will require tear down and inspection to address an internal pumping problem.

Why it is important to check your Cabin Air Filter

Cabin Air Filter
This morning we were greeted with a typical complaint: The fan motor makes noise. This usually is due to the blower motor or squirrel cage being broken or loose. On this car however, another culprit was to blame.
What a typical Blower Motor "Squirrel Cage" looks like
The Cabin Air Filter is a relatively new addition to automotive heating and air conditioning. It is positioned upstream of the blower motor/squirrel cage (pictured above) and functions to limit environmental agents form entering the cabin of a vehicle. Gone are the days when leaves or other detritus would blow out of your air vents.  Because of it's position in the system, the cabin air filter often gets plugged, whether its just dust from back roads, pine needles, leaves, or small sticks.  Rarely do we see a situation as we did today.  A rat or mouse evidently found the cabin air filter to be quite comfy and decided to use it for a bed. The noise the customer was hearing was from the walnut shells in the photo above, that the rat had dropped into the squirrel cage.  Besides the shells, the filter was also contaminated with feces and urine.  While this is not a common occurrence it high lights the need to periodically check and replace the cabin air filter

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fuel Siphoning

Fuel Siphoning was a major concern for vehicle owners during the Oil and Energy Crises of the '70s and early '80s. While it has remained a concern it was never again as much of a fear as it was then. In addition, manufacturers developed anti-siphoning mechanisms in the fuel fillers of newer vehicles, decreasing the frequency siphoning would be attempted. 

That being said, with the current economic climate, fuel siphoning may be a rising concern. While we do not see this type of damage frequently, it does occur. Today we saw two vehicles from a local school district which had the fuel filler necks sliced open overnight and an unknown amount of fuel siphoned off.  So if you notice that your fuel level mysteriously decreased overnight, keep this in mind as if you are unaware and attempt to fill your fuel tank you will have gas leaking from your car!

Courtesy Inspections


At Bryant Automotive we offer a FREE Courtesy Inspection with every service.  Along with State Mandated Tire Pressure inspection, we always inspect the following:
  • Lights
    • We check the driving lights for illumination as well as proper functioning (This includes, headlights, Turn Signals, Brake Lights and Tail Lights)
  • Engine Oil Level
  • Drive Belt Condition
  • Hoses (Heater, Radiator and Power Steering)
  • Battery Cables and Terminals
  • Tire Condition
-Dan Bryant, Owner/Manager