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  • 3 Sure Signs You Need Your Suspension Checked

    Mechanic Fixing Car

    At Leale’s Transmission and Auto Repair shop in San Jose, CA, we frequently come into contact with cars that have gotten damaged or wrecked because their suspension system was going out and the owner didn’t get it checked. Your suspension system has many parts that affect your steering, driving, and braking, and if you aren’t aware of the warning signs or choose to ignore them, you’re risking not only your own safety, but the safety of everyone else out on the road. We at Leale’s have developed this list of three sure signs that your suspension needs to be checked, in an effort to prevent more accidents from happening.

    Excessive bouncing

    One of the most noticeable signs of a failing part in your suspension system is how much it bounces or rides rough. Parts of your suspension system are the shocks and springs, which absorb impacts and jolts to prevent a rough road from jarring you too much. If your shocks or a leaf spring are going out, you’ll notice that roads you drive on a regular basis feel bumpier. Your car will also bounce excessively after going over a bump or pothole in the road, continuing to shake for a few seconds after you’ve passed the hole when it should normally stabilize almost immediately.

    Pulling to one side

    Another sign of a failing suspension system that you’ll notice is that your car begins to pull or drift to one side while you’re driving or turning. If it happens only when you’re driving on a straight road, it might not necessarily be your suspension, but it still needs to be checked to make sure. However, if you feel like your car is drifting or pulling to one side when you’re going around a corner, this is almost always a warning sign that your system is worn and no longer able to stabilize your car. Left unaddressed, this can cause your vehicle to roll over or flip when turning, seriously damaging your car—and yourself. This is a serious issue, and you should get this checked as soon as possible to prevent accidents and serious bodily harm.

    Dips when stopping

    The final major, noticeable sign of a failing or worn suspension system is that the nose of your car dips when you stop. This can be a sign that your shocks are going out. Shocks keep your tires on the pavement when you’re driving, which makes it easier and safer for you to steer, as well as helping your car stay stabilized. If you don’t address this issue, it can lead to your car rolling and can make it significantly more difficult to make an emergency stop, leading to accidents and possible bodily harm, potentially serious.

    Your car—and your life—is on the line

    More often than not, people experience these symptoms, find out it’s “just the shocks” or “just the suspension,” and then think that it’s a minor issue only affecting their comfort on the road. In reality, your suspension system ties into major aspects of your vehicle from the steering to the brakes, and if a part of it is worn or broken, it can have serious consequences. You’re more likely to get in an accident, roll your car, or not be able to stop in time, which can total your vehicle and/or put you in the hospital. If your car rides more roughly than normal, is excessively bouncy, dips when stopping, or pulls to one side when turning, you need to get it checked immediately. Have a shop like Leale’s Transmission and Auto Repair diagnose and repair the problem to get you back on the road safely.

    Your life is in your hands. Call a pro today!

  • How To Tell If Your Transmission Is Slipping

    Gear Shift

    If your car isn’t running as smoothly or efficiently as it used to and feels different when you’re driving it, your transmission might be going out. A faulty or slipping transmission is a serious issue that needs to be fixed as soon as possible; otherwise, you could find yourself in an accident or stuck on the side of the road. Some of the causes of a slipping transmission include poor maintenance, burned transmission fluid, clogged transmission filters, broken gears, or clutch issues. We at Leale’s Transmission and Auto Repair in San Jose are always happy to find and fix the issue for you—but first, here are some telltale signs that it is, in fact, a transmission problem.

    Slow to accelerate

    When a transmission is functioning properly, it will shift into first gear while idling. If your transmission is slipping, though, it may not shift correctly, and when you try to give it the gas, your car can take longer to accelerate as it struggles to shift properly into first gear, finally catches, and then lurches forward. While slow acceleration may not always indicate a transmission issue, if it’s coupled with any of the other signs, you should probably get it checked.

    High RPM

    On a normal day when your car is running great, your RPM gauge, or tachometer, should show that your RPMs are generally less than 2,000 when idling and less than 3,500 when accelerating. Each vehicle is different, but you should have an idea of what’s normal for your car, and if it goes above 3,000 or 3,500 RPMs while you’re driving, followed by jerking when the car seems to finally “catch up,” you need to have your transmission checked.

    Inability to reverse

    When a transmission is going out, it’s not uncommon for you to be unable to shift into reverse. Your car might even read that it’s in reverse when you shift, but when you let off the brake or put on the gas, it’ll still roll forward. This can be a serious issue that leaves you stuck in parking spots or your driveway, and it can cause you to hit other cars or objects. If this is happening to your car, it’s definitely the transmission.

    Difficulty shifting gears

    Even if your car is an automatic, you should be somewhat aware of when it’s shifting gears, such as when you stop, when you’re going up a hill, or when you’re accelerating. Shifting into a different gear should be smooth, almost unnoticeable most of the time. A slipping transmission will make your car pause or slow down while driving because it’s having difficulty shifting into the appropriate gear, putting a strain on your engine and transmission.

    Know when to go

    If your car has high RPMs, lurches when you’re driving, has rough shifts into gears, or won’t reverse anymore, it’s definitely time to go get it checked. Slipping transmissions can also be accompanied by loud clanks or knocking noises, a burning smell, and a check engine light. If your car has been acting oddly and you have two or more of these signs, bring it into a shop like Leale’s Transmission and Auto Repair so the issue causing the slipping can be diagnosed and repaired before it gets worse. Your car is important, and we’ll get you back on the road as soon as possible so you can get back to your life.

    Don’t wait for it to worsen. Call Leale’s today!

  • Most Common Repairs Needed To Pass Emissions Tests

    Muffler

    When your car fails an emissions test, it can wreck your life until you get the necessary repairs completed. Not being able to drive can leave you stuck in the house or dependent upon others, neither of which is fun when you’re used to the independence of having your own vehicle. While you should get a printout of the reasons you’ve failed the test so you know what to address, Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service has compiled a list of five of the most common repairs we see that are needed to get your car running clean and back on the road.

    1. Oxygen sensor

    If your oxygen sensor goes out, it can cause a host of problems, including a rich air-fuel mixture. This is a fairly common problem that can lead to a myriad of other problems, including a burned-out catalytic converter and higher toxic emissions. Getting this fixed can cost a couple hundred dollars or even more, depending on your car and the mechanic you take it to.

    2. Spark plugs

    Faulty, worn, or otherwise ineffective spark plugs can lead to increased emissions of gases, easily causing you to fail the emissions test. To replace a spark plug, the part can cost up to $100, and the labor can be another $100 to $200, depending on the shop and the make of your car.

    3. Air filter

    Clogged, missing, or deteriorating air filters can mean the emissions from your car aren’t being filtered the way they should be. This can lead you to fail the emissions test due to high levels of hydrocarbons. This is a relatively simple issue that can be resolved by replacing the air filter, which generally runs no more than $100 for both part and labor.

    4. Catalytic converter

    Your car’s catalytic converter is what changes toxic gases like carbon monoxide into better ones like carbon dioxide, a substance that is easier on the environment and healthier for the general public. If your catalytic converter goes out, so does your chance of passing an emissions test. The average cost for repairing a catalytic converter can be over $1,000 with labor and parts, but the fix is essential to passing the test—and it doesn’t compare to the lost wages and freedom of not being able to drive again.

    5. EVAP system

    The final common repair that is needed is the EVAP system, or Evaporative Emission Control System. This system works to keep gas vapors from leaving your fuel and engine system and going into the environment, and if it stops working, it will definitely make you fail an emissions test. The cost to fix it depends on the problem, as it can be caused by purge valves, vacuum hoses and vents, or faulty gas caps.

    Fix, don’t fail

    While these repairs can all be costly and stressful, they’ll be worth it in the freedom you’ll get back from being able to drive your car. They’ll also help the environment and the health of the public, including your friends and family. Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service handles repairs for failed emissions tests regularly, and we want to make sure you’re prepared to get the necessary fixes done.

    Diagnose and fix your emissions issues at Leale’s.

  • My Check Engine Light Is On; Can I Still Drive My Car?

    Speedometer

    We’ve all been there before: You’re driving down the road, just trying to get where you’re going, when you hear a ding and look down: the dreaded check engine light has come on. You pull over to the shoulder, put on your flashers, and try to figure out what to do next. Can you make it where you’re going? Should you call for a tow, or is it safe to keep driving?

    While a check engine light is definitely not a good sign and needs attention as soon as possible, it doesn’t always mean the car is undrivable until it’s fixed. Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service has the facts on what commonly causes the light to come on—and if it’s still safe to drive your car.

    Common causes of check engine light

    The check engine light coming on can be something as simple as a loose gas cap or something as serious as the engine misfiring. One of the most common causes of the check engine light coming on is simply that your gas tank cap isn’t tightened all the way, especially if you’ve just refueled recently and have a car model that doesn’t have a light specifically to let you know the cap isn’t on. The easiest way to check this, of course, is to get out and check the lid on your gas tank. If it’s loose, tighten it securely, then hop back in and see if the light has gone out.

    If it’s still on, it could be a sensor going out. Oxygen sensors or mass airflow sensors can go out and cause the check engine light to come on. The oxygen sensors measure the amount of unburned O2 in your engine system, and the airflow sensor measures the airflow coming into your engine to gauge how much fuel is needed to run your car.

    Another common reason for the check engine light to ding is if your catalytic converter goes out. This is usually accompanied by a smell, like sulfur or rotten eggs. Your catalytic converter transforms carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide, which is better for the environment.

    The final common cause for your check engine light’s appearance is faulty spark plugs or plug wiring. Spark plugs are what ignite the air and fuel in your engine’s combustion chamber.

    The only sure way to check for these issues, besides the gas cap, is to take your car to a qualified technician who can scan the codes and diagnose the problem.

    So…Can I still drive it or not?

    If your check engine light is steady and not flashing and your car is running smoothly without a noticeable change in performance, you should be able to drive it for a short time, but you still need to get it to the shop as soon as possible. Even if the issue is as minor as a sensor going out, leaving the problem unresolved will lead to further damages, more costly repairs, reduced fuel economy, and strain on your car’s engine system—or worse. If your check engine light is flashing, however, this indicates a more serious problem, and you shouldn’t risk driving the car if you don’t absolutely have to. A mechanic shop like Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service can diagnose the issue and get your car back in working order—and the sooner you take it in, the less expensive the repair is likely to be.

    Let Leale’s scan your check engine light.

  • Is Yelp The Best Way To Find An Auto Repair Shop?

    Woman Typing on Laptop

    Trying to find a new company or product can be a difficult decision if you don’t know who to trust. Studies have shown that 70% of people check online reviews of places and products before they make their final decision, but what site is the best place to look for these reviews? Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service wants to make sure your decision for an auto shop is well-informed and based on trustworthy reviews that aren’t fabricated, so we’ve broken it down for you here.

    Yelp vs. Google

    Yelp and Google are without a doubt two of the most popular review sites people check before buying a product or service—so which is the best place to look for an auto repair shop?

    Some of the benefits of Yelp are that it is the #1 site people like you turn to when looking for reviews, which means it’s also one of the most popular places for people to leave reviews, both good and bad. It doesn’t allow companies to remove negative reviews if they don’t like them, and it has a filter that attempts to weed out falsified reviews left by people who have been pressured into leaving positive reviews or paid to do so. You can also view all the reviews on Yelp without having to be signed in or creating an account.

    Google also allows you to see reviews without being logged in, but it currently allows business owners to “manage” the reviews that are left on their business’s page, meaning they have the power to decide which reviews take priority and are shown to you first. It’s also not as easy to navigate as it is on Yelp, and since most consumers go to Yelp first, Google is less likely to have an abundance of reviews for one place.

    Fake reviews

    One of the main concerns about online reviews found on Yelp is the growing number of fake or dishonest reviews posted. This happens when a business offers discounts or gift cards to consumers if they leave 5-star reviews, or if they hire someone to write fake positive reviews on Yelp for them. It can also occur if a competitor of that company has paid people to post negative reviews to divert business. While this is mostly an issue with restaurants, it can be true for all businesses, including auto repair shops, and since your car’s health is involved in that decision, you want to make sure the reviews you’re reading are honest and trustworthy. Yelp has taken it upon itself to try to filter out fake or misleading reviews and flag businesses that push positive reviews for cash on their site. Their algorithm to filter out dishonest or fake reviews has been improved upon over the years, but it still isn’t perfect, leaving some consumers in doubt.

    Not the best, but not bad

    Overall, more than 90% of the reviews on Yelp are genuine and trustworthy, and Yelp is aware of the fake review problem and is constantly working to weed out the dishonest reviews and tighten its algorithm. The best approach to online reviews for auto repair shops, and anywhere else, is variety. Yelp is a great place to start reading reviews—and you’re likely to find more reviews there than anywhere else—but reading reviews on other sites such as Google or the testimonials on the business’s webpage and Facebook page are good ways to get a sense for the overall communal opinion on a business. Take overly glowing and gloating reviews or overly negative and bashing reviews with a grain of salt, and do research on the company before making your final decision. Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service has reviews on Yelp, Google, and our webpage that we don’t pay for. We encourage you to check them out if you’re considering an auto repair shop in the San Jose, CA, area.

    Yelp, Google, and more—read unbiased reviews for Leale’s.

  • Top 5 Signs You’ve Chosen the Right Auto Repair Shop

    Mechanic Helping Couple

    Your car is one of your most valuable possessions, not only because of the cost but because of the value it has to your family. Whether it’s going on camping trips in your RV, dropping the kids off at school, taking you to work, or traveling across the country, a lot of great memories are made in your vehicle. When it’s time to take care of it, who can you trust?

    Here, Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service in San Jose, CA, gathered the Top 5 signs you’ve chosen the best auto repair shop to take your baby to.

    1. Great reputation

    A number one sign you’ve chosen a great auto repair shop is the reputation they have in your community. Ask your friends and family who they trust with their cars and check out some reviews online to see what people have to say. Word of mouth is a great resource, and if the shop’s website has a testimonials page with a form to submit your story, that shows confidence in their work and allows you to get some feedback from previous customers.

    2. Certifications

    The second thing you should check for are the certifications of the shop’s technicians. Most shops will either proudly display their certifications in their customer waiting lobby or on their website. The ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) seal for technicians is something to keep an eye out for because, while not all reputable shops will have this seal, it’s still a good indication of a professional repair shop. If they don’t have the ASE seal, look for other certifications in specialty areas or for particular manufacturers of vehicles or products. If they’re certified for the brand your car or faulty automotive part is, then you’re probably in good hands.

    3. Guarantees, warranties, and pricing

    A shop that offers service guarantees or warranties is a shop that is confident in their technicians and their work. Not only do guarantees and warranties protect you from shoddy service, but they give you peace of mind that the shop knows what it’s doing. Pricing is another important indicator because you usually get what you pay for—though it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when finding a great auto repair shop. Look for prices that aren’t dirt cheap but are still reasonable, and if the shop offers deals or specials, it means that they’re reliable and popular enough that they can afford to give back to their customersؙ—a good sign of a great shop that you should take advantage of.

    4. Community involvement

    If your shop is involved in the community, it means they care about the people they provide service to and want to give back to the area that they call home. Service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau, civic involvement plaques, and certificates handed out by the community (like “Voted Best Local Auto Shop in 2018”) are pretty good indicators that the shop you’re considering is community-friendly. Such recognition is usually displayed in the lobby or reception area.

    5. Friendly, professional staff

    Finally, you want your shop to make you feel welcome and reassured, not confused, stressed, or in doubt about their service. The shop’s technicians should be able to explain things to you in layman’s terms so you can understand your car’s issues and how they’re going to fix it, without them being demeaning or condescending. They should also be professional and friendly, encouraging you to come back again.

    The big picture

    While it may not be easy to find a shop that has all of these qualities in your area, it’s important to go by your gut instinct. Look for these signs of a good shop, and canvass the lot to see if they’re working on other cars of the same value as yours. If the staff members are unsmiling and the place seems unorganized or overly dirty, you might want to keep looking. Places like Leale’s Transmission & Auto Service, with great service and exceptional value, can be few and far between, but this list of things to look for should help you find the best shop in your area.

    Live in San Jose? Check out Leale’s deals for you.