Do I really need to change my transmission fluid?

Transmission Hong Kong Auto Service

The transmission fluid on the left is the color you want to see. The old coffee on the right is the same color as transmission fluid that’s past its prime.

Question: My SUV has about 75,000 miles on it, and when I took it to the dealer for a recall recently, they said I need to change the transmission fluid. Is that really a service I need? If so, why?

Answer: Yes, servicing the transmission is a legitimate maintenance service, one that could save you $3,000 or more on a transmission rebuild. And at your mileage, there’s a good chance your vehicle is due for a transmission fluid change.

Why Should You Change Your Transmission Fluid?

The purpose of a transmission service or flush is to remove the dirty, spent fluid and replace it with clean, new fluid.

Everyday driving, stop-and-go-traffic, extreme temperature swings and towing heavy loads is hard on automatic transmissions. The transmission fluid deteriorates over time, turning from its original bright red to gray, brown or even black as dirt and metal particles from wearing gears contaminate it. When this fluid isn’t flushed regularly or thoroughly, it’s unable to build up sufficient hydraulic pressure to properly shift gears.

Replacing or rebuilding your transmission costs $2,500 or more. But the cost of flushing the transmission fluid and replacing the transmission filter (when applicable) costs $150-$300 and will help keep your vehicle going for thousands and thousands of miles.

What Happens If I Don’t Flush My Transmission Fluid?

Problems with our vehicles tend to arise when we ignore routine service, and in the case of an automatic transmission, this can mean costly repairs.

Transmission warning signs include:

  • Your transmission warning light is on.
  • Your transmission fluid is leaking.
  • The clutch in your manual transmission is slipping.
  • Your transmission won’t shift into gear.
  • Your transmission shifts hard or has a delayed shift into gear.

Let’s again look at the cost of preventing a problem. If you have your transmission fluid flushed every 30,000 miles and a service costs about $150 each time, you’ll spend about $1,000 in preventive maintenance over the course of 200,000 miles.

If you skip this service and your transmission fails, the cost of a late model REBUILT – not new – transmission starts at $2,500. We believe flushing is a no brainer if you plan to keep your vehicle beyond the manufacturer’s warranty.

Can Hong Kong Auto Service Help with a Transmission Repair?

Whether you have an automatic or a manual transmission, our auto repair shop’s ASE-Certified Technicians have the expertise to take care of you and your transmission. If you simply need to service the fluid, we can help. If you have a shifting problem, we can run a full diagnostic test on the transmission—inspecting it for leaks and evaluating the fluid for signs of premature wear or other problems. 

Give Hong Kong Auto Service a call if your transmission warning light is on, your car won’t go into gear or your clutch is whining. The sooner you address the problem, the better off you and your auto repair budget will be.

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What you need to know about your “Low Tire Pressure” warning light

Tire Pressure Warning LightFor those of us who dread long, cold and dreary Chicago winters, the mid-February thaw we had was a sunny and joyful reprieve.

But sudden and extreme swings in the air temperature can also trigger a dashboard warning light that many of us might not recognize: A glowing orange or red “Low Tire Pressure” indicator.

The good news is two-fold: First, your car is doing exactly what it’s supposed to. And second, the fix is about as easy and low cost as it gets.

Low Tire Pressure Light: Here’s What Is Happening

  • All vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2007 are equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Federal law mandated the TPMS for safety reasons, and the system alerts you when the air in one or more of your tires drops beneath a pre-set specification.
  • For every 10 degrees the outside air temperature changes, your tire pressure can fluctuate about 1 psi. If you or your auto shop last set the tire pressure in mid February when it was 68 degrees, guess what it drops to when winter returns and overnight temperatures fall into the 20s? Your tire pressure could be changing 4-5 psi while you’re getting your Zzzzzs. This could lead to a glowing orange greeting from your dashboard in the morning.

What Should You Do?

  • Check and adjust your tire pressure in the morning before you drive more than a few miles and before the heat of the day begins to falsely bump the psi back up. ( offers an in-depth explanation about the sun and daytime temperatures affecting your tire pressure.) But if you’re leaving for work in the dark and cold, the last thing you may want to do is deal with dirty valve stems and coin-operated air machines. If you drive by Hong Kong Auto Service on your way to or from work, we’re here 7 am to 6 pm and would be happy to adjust your tire pressure for you.
  • Consult your owner’s manual for instructions on resetting the Low Tire light. In some vehicles, your TPMS light will turn itself off once you’ve properly inflated the tires and you’ve driven a few miles. In others, you may need to hit a button or go through a menu option to reset the light. If you’re not sure or if your light is persistent, Hong Kong Auto Service can help. Stop by anytime. We’ll make sure the system is operating properly, and we can reset the light for you. In most cases, we can reset the light in just a couple of minutes. In other cases, we may have to go through a series of steps, including meeting specific driving conditions. There may be a nominal fee involved in those instances. But don’t delay because underinflated tires mean lower fuel economy, reduced safety and faster tire wear.

Why is TPMS Necessary?

  • Vehicles driving on tires underinflated by more than 25 percent are three times more likely to be involved in a crash related to tire problems, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • It’s better for gas consumption and tire wear. If you tires do not have enough air pressure, your vehicle will have reduced safety and handling, will use more gas and will wear out the tires faster.
  • TPMS is effective. Another study by NHTSA showed that vehicles with TPMS are 55.6 percent less likely to have a severely underinflated tires than vehicles without TPMS.

Have a question about your tires, TPMS or how to check your tire pressure? Don’t hesitate to call Hong Kong Auto Service at 847-251-0300.

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Buying a used car? 3 money-saving reasons to schedule a pre-purchase inspection

Question: We’re looking for a reliable used vehicle for our daughter, who’s going to be driving this spring. We’re considering cars that are 3-4 years old with 40,000 to 50,000 miles on them. Given that the cars are newer, is there any value in a used vehicle inspection?

used-car-inspection-wilmetteAnswer: Yes, absolutely. Why?

Reason #1: A pre-purchase inspection is cheap insurance.

For $82, one of our ASE-Certified Technicians will inspect the car from bumper to bumper to determine the overall condition of the car, what (if any) auto repairs are needed, and what preventive maintenance is due now or in the near future.

If the car has been neglected or shows signs of hard wear-and-tear, you’ll know before you buy and can save yourself from a costly case of buyer’s remorse.

Reason #2: Knowledge is power.

Our inspection includes suspension, steering gear, tires, brakes, belts, hoses, exhaust, all fluids, and testing of electrical system (battery and alternator). In short, our used car inspection is very thorough.

And you’ll leave Hong Kong Auto Service knowing how much money you’ll need to spend on auto repairs or maintenance right away, within a year and what’s down the road a bit. This can help you decide if the vehicle is the right purchase for you or if you should keep car shopping.

Reason #3: It’s a great negotiating tool.

The vehicle owner or dealer doesn’t want to put money into a car they are trying to sell unless they absolutely have to.

But once you know what maintenance and repairs the vehicle needs, you can use that information to negotiate a better price. You mention that you’re looking at cars with 40,000-50,000 miles on them. At that mileage, many vehicles will often need brakes (usually front), tires and possibly drive belts.

And at 60k, most vehicles are due for several preventive maintenance services that can cost a few hundred to several hundred dollars. Isn’t it worth $82 to have this information before you buy the car?

We wish you the best of luck shopping for that used car, and we’ll be here when you’re ready.

Ready for a used car inspection now? Contact Hong Kong Auto Service at 847-251-0300  or schedule an appointment online.

Posted in Auto repair, Belts, Inspections, Used Car Inspections | Leave a comment

Home remedies for winter woes

Even though it’s been a fairly mild winter to date, you never know when the “snowstorm of the year” will descend upon us. And when it does, we have some automotive home remedies to help cure those snow- and ice-related winter woes.

Quandary #1: Goop-covered headlights

Frosted headlights? Car wax is the cure.

Cure: Car wax

Car wax’s water repellents not only protect painted surfaces, they block snow and road salt from gooping up headlights. Protection can last as long as six weeks.

Quandary #2: Icy, streaky windshields

Cure: Rubbing alcohol

Alcohol thwarts ice from accumulating on wiper blades. Simply saturate a cloth with rubbing alcohol (or ammonia) and wipe down each blade. Prevent streaks and silence squeaks by cleaning blades with a baking soda and water combo.

Quandary #3: Frosted windows

Cure: Vinegar and water

Combine three parts vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle and spray the solution on car windows in the evening. This cure works because vinegar contains acetic acid, which raising water’s melting point and prevents it from freezing.

Quandary #4: Frozen-shut doors

Cure: Silicone spray

Spray a small amount of WD-40, Dry Molly lube or Moovit on a rag or paper towel and rub it along the door’s rubber gasket. Moovit gets a thumbs-up for being environmentally friendly, but cooking spray or furniture polish works just as well.

De-ice a stubborn door lock by coating your key in hand-sanitizing gel.

 Quandary #5: Iced locks

Cure: Hand sanitizer

De-ice a stubborn door lock by coating your key in hand-sanitizing gel. Slowly wiggle the key into the lock, gently turn and then say “open sesame.” A second application might be required to combat thicker ice or extreme cold.

Quandary #6: Spinning tires

Cure: Floor mat

Floor mats can be converted into a handy traction tool if your vehicle becomes stuck in the snow because your tires are spinning endlessly. Here’s what to do: Turn off the vehicle. Stick the rubber side of your floor mats underneath the tires. Turn the vehicle back on and slowly press the gas pedal. The floor mats should generate enough grip for your tires. Repositioning the floor mats might be required for especially icy or challenging situations.

There you have it: Six tips for tackling the winter woes. We’d like to hear about any of your “home remedies” for curing what ails your car during the cold season.

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Top picks: Your favorite car repair articles from last year

Throughout the year, we like to bring you articles about how to save time, money and headaches by taking care of your car. We want to give you the information you need to make the right auto repair decisions for you.

And every January, we like to do a roundup of our clients favorite articles—in case you missed one. So here are our ‘top topics’ from 2016:fuel_cost_calculator

  1. You Can Crack the Dashboard Lights Code: When we start our cars today, the dashboard lights up like a holiday tree. Knowing how to respond properly to a dashboard warning light can mean the difference between getting to your auto repair shop safely and being stranded at the side of the road.
  2. Car Being Haunted by ‘Noise’ Gremlins? Nothing can sully the drive like an annoying creak or non-stop squeal. Take our quiz to find out how to banish these gremlins  from your vehicle.
  3. What Does it Really Cost to Buy a New Car?  Did you get a hefty repair bill for your old car? It can be sssoooo tempting to trade it in for a shiny new car, but at what cost? Here are websites that will help you know what you’re getting into before you buy. wheel-alignment
  4. Wheels & Deals – Cutting Car Ownership Costs: This goes hand-in-hand with the true cost of a new car article. Tips for saving money on gas, insurance and car repairs.
  5. Here’s Our 6-Point Checklist to Get Your Car Ready for Spring: Even though we’re in the icy depths of winter now, your car will want a little TLC when the spring thaw arrives. Here are our pointers for sailing smoothly into spring.


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Why choose Hong Kong Auto Service for an oil change over a quick lube?

Question: A lot of places advertise oil changes for $14.95 or $19.95, and they promise to get me in and out in 15 to 20 minutes. Why should I pay more and wait for about an hour at your auto repair shop?

Adding-Oil-300x224Answer: Great question! It’s one we hear a lot. And I can see how you (and many other consumers) might think all oil changes are created equal. After all, what can be so different about draining and refilling the oil pan and twisting on a new oil filter?

Here are 4 reasons a Hong Kong Auto Service oil change is better than a bargain-priced one:

  1. You can save time by taking a ride in our courtesy shuttle. Whether it’s 10 minutes or 30, why wait at all? Isn’t your time valuable? Let us give you a ride back home or to the office. We’ll take care of your oil change, and you can get on with your day.
  2. We’ll perform a complete safety inspection, not a cursory one. Quick lubes multi-point inspections are often limited to identifying other services they can sell you. They’re not in the business of installing new batteries, so they’ll rarely tell you that your battery isn’t likely to make it through the winter. The same goes with brakes, tires, shocks, struts, leaking gaskets. If your brakes go out while driving or your battery dies, leaving you stranded, you are going to spend extra for that tow truck and your loss of time. But both of these things can easily be prevented by having your car regularly inspected during an oil change at Hong Kong Auto Service.
  3. You have immediate access to a full-service shop. If we find a repair need during our inspection, we can take care of it right then and there. You don’t have to pick up your car, go through the hassle of making an appointment, and take your car into a second shop.  We liken it to an urgent care clinic vs. going to your doctor. The urgent care clinic is going to take care of the immediate need and get you on your way. But if it’s something serious , you’ll need to follow up with your doctor for further testing, medicine, treatment, etc.
  4. We use premium engine oil and high quality oil filters. If  a shop is offering a rock-bottom oil change price, they most likely are using the cheapest oil and oil filters they can find. And while all engine oil meets certain criteria, cheap oil filters do not and cannot filter out dirt and contaminants from your engine the way premium filters to. This is a real problem if you routinely push your oil change interval beyond 3,000 miles.

At Hong Kong Auto Service, we care about the overall health of your car, not just about changing your oil and sending you back out on the road. If you want a thorough inspection and quality oil and filter change performed by career professionals, choose Hong Kong Auto Service for the best value.

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Car gift ideas for the auto enthusiast – or ‘practicalist’ – on your list

Forget the bling, bling this holiday season and opt for some vroom! vroom! You can say “Happy Holidays” with a gift that makes anyone’s daily commute or holiday travels more pleasant, practical or fun.

BMW Performance Driving School Lime Rock Park

BMW Performance Driving School Lime Rock Park

Here are nine gift ideas to give or put on your wish list this holiday season:  

Performance Driving School Experience. Whether the person on your list already owns a high-performance vehicle or just dreams about one, a performance driving course can be a unique gift this season for the auto aficionado. From the legendary Bob Bundurant’s Racing School in Phoenix to BMW’s Performance Driving School in Greenville, S.C. and even a ladies-only option at Barber Motorsports in Birmingham, Ala., the recipient will learn better handling and driving techniques, not to mention have a whole lot of fun. Packages and pricing vary depending on the vehicle and the duration of the class.

Car seat warmers. If your car doesn’t come equipped already, help you or your friend’s tush stay toasty all winter long. There are do-it-yourself kits for the more adventurous on your list, or you can check with your favorite auto repair shop (hint, hint, that’s us!).

Tile key finderFor the absent-minded. Tile aims to reunite the absent-minded you with your frequently misplaced belongings, from the TV remote and car keys to guitars and bikes. You simply attach the tile, a small Bluetooth tag, and use the accompanying app on your phone to track it. Tile does not need to be charged and is supposed to last about a year.

High-tech stocking stuffer. Everyone will be talking about the Bungajungle Neutron 6. The what? The small magnet that secures your smart devices to the dash.Watch the video to learn more.

Grill ornaments. Make a statement with a pewter grill ornament. Put Buddha or an American eagle in the driver’s seat when you hit the road. See all the designs by visiting The Grommet.

Emergency kit. This is the practical gift. Not everyone thinks to carry a roadside emergency kit in their car. Show how much you care for your gift recipient with a gift that will help keep him or her protected in an emergency.

Heated ice scraper. There’s no better luxury than a heated ice scraper when it’s below 32 degrees!

car charm

Trunk organizer. Although not the most exciting gift on our list, it’s get high marks for practicality. Keep that stuff that you throw in the back of your car and your groceries from falling over and rolling all around the trunk.

Car charmer. Okay, we couldn’t resist a little bling. Find a rearview mirror car charmer and many more personalized car accessories at

We wish you happy shopping and happy holidays. We thank you for being a loyal customer and we’re looking forward to assisting you with all your car care needs in 2017.

Happy Holidays from Hong Kong Auto!



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