What to do if Your Vehicle Begins to Hydroplane

If you’re familiar with Southwest Florida, you know Summertime equals lots and lots of rain. Which can be very dangerous for anyone on the road. In this blog, we’ll discuss how you can stay safe while driving during the rainy season.

During the first few minutes of rainfall, rain mixes with the oil and forms a film that creates an extra slippery surface on the road. Many drivers don’t appreciate how dangerous driving during this time can truly be. If you’re not on high alert, you greatly increase the odds of skidding across the road.

As rainfall progressively gets harder, it washes the oil off of the road. But as one problem diminishes, another rears its ugly head. Visibility decreases and the amount of standing water increases. Things you can do to stay safe as rainfall increases while driving are:

  • Slow down
  • Avoid puddles by staying in the middle lane
  • Turn off cruise control
  • Maintain MILD pressure on gas and brake

Hydroplaning occurs when your tires encounter more water then they can disperse, so they lose contact with the road and skid along the water’s surface. Learning how to avoid hydroplaning and regaining control if it does happen can help you avoid a devastating scenario.

Yes, hydroplaning can cause you to panic, but don’t lose your concentration:

  • Stay calm and wait for the skidding to stop
  • Ease your foot off the gas
  • Steer in the direction you want the car to go
  • Brake carefully

Accelerating or slamming your brakes can cause your vehicle to lose control.

Before you hit the road this Summer, bring your vehicle into AAMCO of Bonita Springs. We’ll make sure your tires have good tread, make sure your tires are inflated properly, and rotate your tires with every other oil change.

(239) 992-2626

Your “Check Engine Light” And Why You Don’t Want To Ignore It

Have you ever seen your little yellow engine symbol light up? Or, it may say “Service Engine Soon”. Since the 1980s, auto-makers have been installing computers into vehicles to help improve safety and fuel economy. Even the crudest on-board computer was more sophisticated than the computers used on the Apollo rockets that took us to the moon and back.

Fast-forward to the modern car or truck today and you’d be astonished to learn some vehicles have as many as 100 computers (modules, microprocessor-controlled devices, electronic control units, etc.) which manage practically every system on your vehicle. These computers have provided improved fuel economy and safety over the years. Cars and trucks have increased horse-power without sacrificing fuel economy. They also have much improved safety features that are combatting distracted driving, inclement weather and other hazards on our highways and byways.

What do you “do” when you see your light or message come on? There are literally hundreds of reasons why the light can come on due to the multitude of systems being monitored. In other words, we like to say, “you have only one check engine light but there are hundreds of reasons why the “check engine” light may come on”. We often see these lights on during routine maintenance such as oil changes, yet the vehicle drivers seldom mention this. Why? The most obvious reason is because the car seems to be “running fine” so most take the wait and see approach as to when they will notice a decline in performance. Your car or truck may not be exhibiting “symptoms” at this time because the on-board system of all of these computers are always making adjustments and compensating for operation deficiencies so the driver may not “feel” or perceive an issue until something stops working or breaks.

The most common deficiency is loss of fuel economy. The second most common deficiency is the loss of safety. When your light comes on it is very important to inform your service facility so they can prepare to utilize their computer equipment to communicate with your car to learn which system/s are affected. One word of caution; it is not recommended to have local parts retailers retrieve information from your vehicle (even if it’s free) because their equipment is not as sophisticated and thorough as most service facilities’ and their staff is not properly experienced nor trained to advise accordingly.

When the light comes on, this means your car has already monitored the issue long enough to believe it is important enough to illuminate the light or message display center. Most issues are not serious but other issues are. You will not know until you have your system analyzed by a properly skilled technician. Additionally, the coded information retrieved does not spell out the specific repair needed in many cases. There may be required “diagnostics” needed to prove out what’s good and bad along the diagnostic trail to lead to the proper component to repair or replace. Lastly, since you have only one light and literally hundreds of things that can make it light up – if you let it stay illuminated for a “minor” concern then you will never know when a “major” concern may come in since you’re driving around with that thing lit up all day long.

Oh, one last thing; we have even seen cars and trucks roll into AAMCO of Bonita Springs with black electrical type covering up these lights and other warning lights. Obviously, this doesn’t fix anything, and it just makes it more difficult and more expensive to sort through the compounding issues that often leads to multiple failures which then leads to higher repair costs and increased levels of frustration. Remember, your service adviser will help you sort through what needs to be done to help you get you car or truck back on the road as soon as possible.

Conventional vs. Synthetic Engine Oil

Oil is the lifeblood that your car’s engine runs on. As such, it is absolutely imperative that you have your engine oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Since your car’s engine oil is responsible for lubricating all internal engine components, as well as absorbing debris and sending them to the oil filter, a failure to do so will result in potentially catastrophic engine failure.

So, everyone understands how important it is to have your vehicle’s oil changed regularly. Now, we will discuss a topic that many consumers have a tentative grasp of, at best… What is the difference between conventional and synthetic engine oil?

Conventional Engine Oil

Conventional engine oil is made from highly-refined crude oil that is pumped from naturally-occurring reserves that form deep beneath the earth’s surface. Although the refinement process that is involved in the production of conventional engine oil is indeed a rather advanced process, it does not result in molecules that are uniform in both size and shape and oftentimes contains a variety of impurities. The presence of these impurities and the lack of uniformity in regards to the molecules result in a product that is not nearly as efficient at minimizing friction and reducing engine sludge as its synthetic counterpart. That being said, because the production process is much less involved than it is for a full synthetic or a synthetic blend, the price tag is reflective of this. A synthetic oil change will cost approximately 2-3x as much as the exact same service done with conventional oil.

Synthetic Engine Oil

Despite its somewhat misleading name, the vast majority of “synthetic” engine oils are not truly, 100% synthetic. Most synthetic oils utilize some form of petroleum-based base oil. The big difference here is the refinement process is much, much more thorough, resulting in molecules that are consistently uniform in size and shape. Furthermore, the addition of additives and a carrier oil of some sort allows for the even distribution of the aforementioned additives.

There are some varieties of synthetic oil that are actually 100% synthetic. These varieties use artificially made compounds or a fully synthetic oil as the base oil and add man-made compounds and additives to increase the oil’s overall performance. The uniformity of molecules, due to the advanced refinement process, allows for far less friction, a reduction of deposits and better overall function in extreme weather conditions.

At AAMCO of Bonita Springs, our team of expert automotive technicians have years of experience servicing all makes and models, foreign and domestic. We take pride in getting the job done right, the first time around; and strive to make your experience with us as pleasant as possible by consistently providing the most reliable automotive repair services available, at affordable prices, to get you back on the road quickly.
Contact us today! (239) 992-2626

3 Warning Signs That Your Vehicle’s Transmission is Failing

Your transmission is, without a doubt, one of the most important systems in your vehicle; unfortunately, it also one of the most misunderstood. Your vehicle’s transmission system is responsible for the transfer of power from the engine to the drive axle, which in turn converts that power into the torque necessary to rotate your wheels. Simply put, without a transmission system to convert the potential energy that is produced by your engine into useable kinetic energy, your vehicle isn’t going anywhere! In this blog post we will discuss the three tell-tale signs that your vehicle’s transmission is on the verge of failing.

Problems Shifting Gears

Your vehicle’s transmission system is what allows your vehicle to shift gears; as such, if you feel that your vehicle isn’t shifting gears as smoothly as it used to, then chances are your transmission system needs to be serviced. In some cases, the deterioration of your transmission’s ability to shift gears efficiently and properly can be quite obvious, some of the less than subtle indications of shifting issues are:

  • Unexplained shifting of gears
  • A jerking feeling when shifting between gears
  • Falling out of gear while driving
  • A clunking or thud-like sound when shifting gears
  • Vehicle vibrates or shudders when attempting to change gears

Burning Smell

Burning or extremely hot transmission fluid has a very distinct, rather unpleasant odor, similar to that of burning rubber. Transmission fluid is responsible for keeping all the moving components of your transmission system lubricated, and prevents the gears from overheating as a result of excessive friction. Even if you have never seen any pools of leaking fluid underneath your vehicle, if you notice such a hot, burning smell it is often a sign of a leak somewhere in the transmission system that is allowing transmission fluid to drip onto the hot engine or exhaust, or that it may be a sign that your transmission has an internal problem.

Leaking Transmission Fluid

Your vehicle’s transmission is a completely sealed system and should never be leaking fluid. If you’ve noticed unexplained stains in your garage or on your driveway, the best thing to do is to place a piece of cardboard underneath your vehicle to determine exactly what kind of fluid is leaking.

Transmission fluids can vary in color; typically, they range from bright to dark red. However, transmission fluid can also appear dark brown, or even black, due to consistent exposure to extremely high temperatures. Regardless the color of fluid leaking from your vehicle, any active transmission fluid leak is a serious issue that needs to be evaluated by an experienced mechanic as soon as possible.

If your car, truck or commercial fleet vehicle has been exhibiting any of the above symptoms, it’s imperative to bring it into an auto repair shop as soon as possible to prevent any further damage (or even a catastrophic failure) to your vehicle.

At AAMCO of Bonita Springs, our team of expert automotive technicians have years of experience servicing and rebuilding both automatic and manual transmissions. We take pride in getting the job done right, the first time around; and strive to make your experience with us as pleasant as possible by consistently providing the most reliable automotive repair services available, at affordable prices, to get you back on the road quickly.
Contact us today! (239) 992-2626

Why Is My Car’s Air Conditioning Not Blowing Cold Air?

Having a less than effective (or worse yet a non-functioning) air conditioning system in your vehicle can be absolutely miserable, especially in the unpredictable climate of Southwest Florida. If you have noticed that your car’s AC is not blowing as cold as it used to, or if it has completely ceased producing cold air altogether, there are a number of possible causes. In this blog we will discuss the 3 most common reasons why your vehicle’s air conditioning is malfunctioning.

Your AC System Has a Refrigerant Leak

If your vehicle’s AC has stopped blowing cold air the common cause, by far, is that the system is low on refrigerant, as the result of a leak. If your vehicle’s air conditioning system does, indeed, have a leak, simply recharging it will not solve the issue. Although it can be rather difficult to determine the exact location of such a leak, the vast majority of the time the leak is located at AC unit hose connections, such as at the condenser, evaporator or compressor. It is sometimes possible to identify the source of the leak, as there may be an accumulation of an oily substance at a particular connection.

Regardless of whether you believe you have identified the leak’s location, the best solution to your air conditioning woes is to bring it to a professional. An experienced mechanic can evacuate your system of any existing refrigerant and recharge it with a refrigerant that has a special UV dye added to it, allowing for easy identification of the source of the leak.

Bad Compressor

The compressor is responsible for keeping the air in your vehicle’s air condition system moving at all time. If the compressor is not working correctly, your system will be incapable of circulating refrigerant and your AC will never blow cold air. The most common cause of a failed compressor is long, extended periods of non-use. For instance, if your vehicle sits for extended periods of time without being started this lack of use often shocks the system and can cause your compressor to fail when it is finally started again. The best strategy to prevent a compressor failure is to run your air conditioning system for at least 15 minutes about once a month, regardless of the temperature. This helps ensure that the compressor remains fresh, efficient and will help extend its lifespan.

Electrical Issues

Your vehicle’s air conditioning system contains a number of electrical switches, blend doors, controllers, and relays that are essential to the system functioning properly and running at peak performance. There are a multitude of electrical issues that can cause a vehicle’s air conditioning system to malfunction.

Don’t wait until the scorching Florida summer sun returns… If your car, truck or commercial fleet vehicle has begun to experience air conditioning issues, contact AAMCO of Bonita Springs for all your AC system diagnostic testing, maintenance and repair needs. (239) 992-2626

6 Warning Signs That You May Have a Bad Water Pump

There are certainly some parts of your vehicle that do not need to be replaced immediately, once they begin to inevitably fail. Due to the integral role that it plays in regards to cooling your vehicle’s engine, a water pump is definitely NOT one of those parts.

When a water pump fails, your engine becomes unable to cool itself as needed, leading to serious problems that can quickly snowball into a complete engine failure. Although the process of replacing a faulty water pump can be time-consuming and somewhat pricey; it is far preferable to the alternative of having to deal with a cataclysmic, total engine failure. Here are the top 6 warning signs that can help you identify that you have a bad water pump, before it turns into much more serious (and costly repair).

Unhealthy Circulation

The job of your vehicle’s water pump is to move coolant the radiator and around the engine to help eliminate any possible buildups of heat. Your vehicle’s engine is made up of hundreds of closely connected metal parts, moving at an extremely high speed. These parts will, invariably, come into contact with each other and generate quite a large amount of friction and, thusly, produce a high level of heat. When the buildup of this heat is not being properly dissipated by your water pump, the result is fused, warped, melted and broken engine components.


One of the most obvious signs that your vehicle’s water pump is about to fail is a noticeable and consistent coolant leak that appears toward the front end of your vehicle. For example, if you leave your vehicle parked overnight and you notice a puddle of green or orange fluid (depending on which variety of coolant your system uses), it’s likely coming from your water pump.


If your water pump has a slow leak, you may not notice any puddle of coolant underneath your vehicle. However, the coolant will slowly build up around the water pump itself, leaving a large amount of gelatinous gunk. You may also notice coolant trails that travel down from the water pump or even a build up of rust or other corrosion on the water pump’s mounting surface. All of the issues discussed above are symptomatic of a slow leak. Although a slow leak does not mean that your water pump will fail in the immediate future, it will likely create a low-coolant situation that can result in overheating and damaged engine components.


If you notice a whining noise that increases as you accelerate, a loose accessory belt is likely to blame and the fix could be as simple as tightening the belt or replacing the tensioner. If there is a grinding or growling noise coming from the front of your vehicle’s engine, the culprit is almost certainly a bad bearing. There are a number of other bearings on the front of the engine that can fail as well. Your best course of action is to take your vehicle into a mechanic as soon as possible to get a detailed and comprehensive diagnosis of the problem.


After the water pump has already failed, your engine will overheat. If your vehicle has not exhibited any other symptoms of an impending failure, make sure you pay close attention to your “Low Coolant” warning light. If your “Low Coolant” light does turn on, pull over, allow your engine to cool down, add additional coolant as needed as soon as possible and check for a major leak within your system. If this does not remedy the issue, or if you notice your vehicle’s temperature gauge rises above normal levels, pull over immediately and call a tow truck. Continuing to drive your vehicle at an above normal temperature can have devastating consequences.

Smoke or Steam

If you notice smoke or steam coming from your radiator, or from under the hood in general, your engine is running way too hot. Unfortunately, at this point it is likely that your engine has already suffered serious damage as a result of the excessive buildup of heat. Your best course of action is to pull over as soon as possible and call for help.

NOTE: Wait for your engine to cool down prior to attempting to diagnose the problem. The engine’s components and coolant are scalding hot, not to mention that the coolant is part of a pressurized system. Any release of pressure can result in a rapid expulsion of coolant that can cause serious bodily injury.

What is a “21st Century Tune-Up”?

The classic “tune-up” was the quintessential core of routine maintenance in the automotive industry for generations. Traditionally the phrase “tune-up” was a fairly universal term that referred to the routine replacement of a number of crucial components of a vehicle’s ignition system, such as filters, ignition points and spark plugs. It also included a few standard adjustments, or “tuning”, that were made to help the vehicle’s engine run at peak performance levels like ignition timing and adjusting the carburetor’s air-fuel mixture (A/F) and idle speed settings.

In the 1970s and 1980s the demand for lower emissions and better fuel economy lead automotive manufactures to replace a variety of ignition and fuel system parts (specifically ignition points, fuel filters and carburetors) with more efficient electronic alternatives, thus eliminating the need for many aspects of the traditional tune-up. The result was that the once universally understood concept of what a tune-up entailed transformed. This transformation was so dramatic that today, if you were to ask 10 different drivers what their definition of a tune-up is, you’d likely get 10 different answers…there are even a lot of vehicle owners that believe that regular tune-ups are entirely unnecessary on modern vehicles, a common misconception.

Because of just how drastically vehicles have changed over time, the Car Care Council (a national, non-profit organization dedicated to “educating motorists about the importance of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair”) introduced the concept of a 21st Century Tune-Up back in 2005 as part of an effort to re-define and educate motorists on what a tune-up should consist of on a modern vehicle.

A 21st Century Tune-Up of the modern automobile includes a thorough inspection (both visually and with the aid of computerized diagnostic equipment) of the following systems:

  • Battery, Charging and Starting
  • Engine Mechanical
  • Powertrain Control (including onboard diagnostic checks)
  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Emissions

Additionally, be sure to replace your vehicles spark plugs, air filters, fluids and cabin filter as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

From 1965-2005 the processing power of computers increased 1 trillion-fold! This wave of exponential advancements in technology has given way to a steady increase in the number of computerized systems present in vehicles. In fact, the average new car today contains anywhere from 30-100+ highly sophisticated microprocessors that can simultaneously monitor and control everything from a vehicle’s ABS anti-lock brakes and airbags to fuel injection and spark plug firing rates. As impressive as the modern automobile is, in all its technological glory, it is essential to acknowledge that all the technology in the world can’t replace good ol’ fashioned routine maintenance!

As Executive Director of the Car Care Council, Rich White puts it, “There is a misconception that today’s modern vehicles don’t need tune-ups because they never break down, but that simply is not true. If you’re at work and your computer goes down, you can’t get any more work done. It’s the same with your vehicle. If the vehicle isn’t being properly maintained, you’re not going to get where you want to go.”

Taking a Summer Road Trip? Avoid a Breakdown with this Vehicle Checklist!

June 21st was the first day of summer and many of you have planned a summer vacation or weekend getaway. You may be counting down the days until your much needed upcoming trip but if your vacation will consist of a road trip, planning ahead could save you problems along the way.

Make sure the vehicle you will be driving has had a recent oil change, tune-up and tires have been rotated to help avoid a breakdown.

You may not be aware that your vehicle needs repair due to a safety recall but you can check your vehicle for recalls here: https://vinrcl.safercar.gov/vin/

Even if your vehicle has had recent maintenance, use our vehicle safety checklist to help ensure your road trip goes well without unwanted or dangerous incidents.

  • Check your tires for pressure and wear, if your tires look worn, have them changed before leaving on your trip plus make sure your spare tire is properly inflated.
  • Summer heat helps degrade belts and hoses. Check your vehicle’s belts and hoses for cracks or bulges plus check the connections to make sure they are tight. If you find any defects in your belts and hoses, have them changed before your trip.
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in excellent condition. If you see any wear and tear on your wipers or they smear your windshield when in use, buy new ones in preparation for your upcoming trip.
  • Check to make sure all of the fluids in your vehicle are full (ie, for windshield wipers, brakes, oil, power steering, automatic transmission or clutch and coolant).
  • Has your cooling system been serviced lately? If not, you may want to have this done before your trip especially if your coolant has particles floating in it, is clear or rusty looking.
  • Inspect all of the lights on your vehicle (headlights, brake lights, interior lights, turning lights, emergency flashers and trailer lights if you will be pulling a trailer) fix or replace any lights not working properly.
  • Is your a/c system running cool? Before heading out on the road for your vacation have your air conditioning system check and serviced.

Other things to consider when taking a road trip:

  • When stopping at a rest stop and leaving your vehicle, make sure all valuables are out of sight to someone who may be walking past your vehicle while you are in the restroom.
  • If you are traveling with small children, make sure you keep them close by at all times because summer heat can quickly build to life-threatening temperatures in a vehicle that is closed up or even with windows cracked and no a/c on.

Summer vacation is a time for fun and relaxation so don’t let a broken down vehicle put a damper on your road trip by doing some preliminary checks and needed repairs before taking off.

AAMCO of Bonita Springs will gladly check your vehicle and perform any needed repairs. AAMCO of Bonita Springs provides a 24 Months, 24,000 Miles Nationwide Warranty that Covers Parts and Labor on Qualifying Repairs and Services plus excellent customer service.

Schedule an appointment today!

Want to Learn More About Your Vehicle’s Oxygen Sensor?

An oxygen sensor is an emission control component that senses the presence of oxygen in the exhaust stream.

Vehicles are one of the leading causes of air pollution in the world. As a result, government legislation has enacted regulation in many parts of the world to reduce vehicle emissions and increase fuel efficiency.

By more closely controlling a vehicle’s air fuel ratio, fuel efficiency can be increased, while tailpipe emissions are reduced.

The oxygen sensor functions as the eyes and ears for the ECU (engine control unit). Its role is to communicate with the ECU whether a vehicle is running rich or lean. The goal is to have the engine run as close to 14.7 parts of air to 1 part of fuel.

14.7:1 is known as the Stoichiometric Point. At this point, optimum combustion under normal conditions occurs and the least amount of harmful gases are produced.

Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor can fail and some common causes are poisoning from substances such as engine coolant, silicone gasket materials or soot.

If your oxygen sensor is experiencing any of these problems it is usually a sign that there are other mechanical issues with the engine.

Thermal shock from raw fuel or moisture to the exhaust can also cause a sensor heater element to crack.

The root cause of the problem should be addressed along with replacement of the oxygen sensor (if needed).

AAMCO of Bonita Springs is a NAPA Auto and Truck Service Center that specializes in automotive repair and maintenance and offers a Warranty that covers parts and labor on qualifying repairs and services for 24 months/24,000 miles.

It’s a written warranty that is honored at more than 14,000 locations nationwide – more than any other automotive repair brand.

Schedule an appointment today to have your vehicle repaired and/or serviced.


Is your Vehicle at Risk for an Engine Oil Sludge Breakdown?

There is one thing just about every vehicle has in common and that is motor engine oil.

Motor oil is responsible for protecting and keeping your vehicle engine parts lubricated so they run smoothly with better performance.

When your motor oil is first changed it looks nice and clean when checked on the dipstick but after driving around over time, the oil starts to darken. This darker color is from particles the oil picks up from doing its job (protecting and lubricating metal surfaces in the engine).

Today, most motor oils contain a detergent additive which keeps these tiny particles suspended so that the particles do not build up and cause engine sludge. Keep in mind that the motor oil in your vehicle can only suspend so many particles before it will stop doing its job.

This is why it is important to have your vehicle’s motor oil changed on a regular basis. One thing that can happen to your engine from not changing your oil is engine sludge.

Sludge starts to form in your engine as the oil oxidizes and breaks down due to high heat. Engine sludge is a thick gooey tar like substance that can block passages inside of your engine.

Just like clean oil helps keep things in your engine running smoothly, thick dirty oil can cause overheating, poor mileage and reduced performance.

Here are some usual symptoms of oil deposits in your vehicle’s engine:

  • It is harder than usual for your vehicle to start
  • You feel the engine “jerk” as it is running
  • The check engine light comes on
  • The engine gets too hot
  • Check engine oil light comes on

Skipping or waiting long intervals between oil changes can cause engine parts to wear out prematurely and even cause your engine to break down. Regular oil changes are an important part of overall vehicle maintenance.

AAMCO of Bonita Springs will change your vehicle’s oil and perform any other maintenance or repair service your car or truck needs.

They are a NAPA Car and Truck Service Center and offer a Warranty that Covers Parts and Labor on Qualifying Repairs and Services for 24 Months/24,000 Miles.

It’s a written warranty that is honored at more than 14,000 locations nationwide – more than any other automotive repair brand.

Schedule an appointment today and let AAMCO of Bonita Springs check your engine!