Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair Official Blog

Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair Official Blog

Lookout for These Signs That Your Car's Transmission Needs Service or Repair

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 11/05/18

Your car or truck’s transmission is quite a thing of beauty when it comes to mechanical systems. It’s not simply one auto part, but actually a collection of over 100 pieces that helps your vehicle to accelerate and operate with optimal power at various speeds. Automatic transmissions are even more amazing in a way, since they shift on their own, and a well operating transmission creates smooth driving and solid performance for however you use that vehicle.

When things start to go wrong, however, you won’t have any time to procrastinate. It’s a vital system that is also expensive to repair, but if you act quickly, this is one area of the car where a “stitch in time saves nine” so to speak. Ali’s Bellevue Auto Repair would love to encourage you to call on your trusted auto mechanic shop as soon as you see any bad or peculiar signs with your transmission.

Here are our 6 signs that your transmission may need a closer look, and possibly a transmission repair or servicing by a professional:
  1. You haven’t brought your car to a professional in a while. This is a little bit of a trick---not an actual “sign” but a way of doing things that can help save you from trouble. If you are doing oil changes yourself, or not going to a complete auto repair facility for your oil changes (the most common and frequent service for your car), then you’re not getting eyes on your transmission system regularly. If you bring your car to a “quicky lube”-type place, you’re missing out on the most important reason an auto mechanic wants to do your oil changes: to do regular checks on your vehicle. It’s not a scam, it’s the way to help and keep a close eye on ALL your car’s systems, especially the transmission. If you don’t have a mechanic you can trust, then FIND ONE---catching problems before they start is the best way to save money.
  2. Your transmission is leaking fluid. Any time your car or truck leaves a fluid spot on your driveway, it’s a BIG DEAL. Make sure you do your best to identify what kind of fluid has leaked, and possibly try to locate approximately where it’s dropping down out of your car. To help identify the fluid, try placing a piece of cardboard under the car, at the place where the fluid is dripping. If the fluid seems dark red, bright red, or brown, it’s likely transmission fluid, and usually indicates some sort of malfunction with it. Get this into the shop IMMEDIATELY to catch the issue before it becomes very costly.
  3. The transmission is shifting poorly and has problems of any kind shifting gears. Poor shifting can happen so many ways. Any hesitation when putting the car into gear, falling out of gear while driving or shifting gears for no apparent reason, and also any kind of jerking when shifting gears. Regular servicing can keep these from occurring or could solve a small problem with this. Don’t wait! Report what you’re seeing and feeling from the car to your professional mechanic as soon as you can. If you’re afraid it’s too small an issue to bring it up, at least mention it at your next oil change or regular service. They’ll be able to take a look at the issue.
  4. Grinding sounds or shimmying between gears. If your transmission changing gears makes a grinding sound or a shake/shimmy type movement, you’ve got to have it looked at or repaired immediately. Sometimes you may even have rough noises when idling. Strange sounds always need to be inspected.
  5. A burning or unusual odor coming from the transmission. Transmission fluid should be replaced on a schedule---usually every 30 to 60 thousand miles---check your car’s manual. But, if you smell a burning fluid while getting in or out of the car (usually a sweet-type smell as opposed to burning oil) then suspect something. Burning smells of any kind are not normal for cars, and heat is a killer for most parts under the hood. Get this checked out to make sure it’s not your transmission causing the issue and to get whatever it is corrected.
  6. Your Check Engine Light or Transmission Warning Light is On. Well, this is kind of obvious….or is it? Many people will ignore or procrastinate if things SEEM to be working fine. Don’t fall into this trap. You could be slowly wearing your car’s sensitive mechanics down to the point of needing replacement, as opposed to just fluid changing, adjustment, and smaller repairs.
All of these tips for your transmission care have one thing in common. If you see these signs, DON’T HESITATE and take your vehicle to go see your trusted auto mechanic as soon as you can. You don’t have a mechanic you trust? Then your first step is to FIND ONE! If you live in the Bellevue, Redmond, or Kirkland areas (King County’s Greater Eastside), then Come See Ali’s Bellevue Auto Repair. We’d love to be the one to inspect your vehicle and advise you on where it’s as with the transmission or any of your car’s systems. Thank you for reading!

Six Signs That Your Brakes Need Repair or Servicing

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 05/24/18

It's always going to be the best policy to keep solid track of your car's repairs, servicing, or part replacements. This way you'll know about when you are due for services and other replacement and you don't have to wait for failures or breakdowns to know you need to come see Ali's Bellevue (or your trusted mechanic). With some systems there are NO WARNING signs, so you're going to be best off getting your vehicle to a trusted mechanic that can give you an idea of where everything is at. With your brakes there are some warning signs that can at least alert you to trouble before a costly failure---costly to your wallet AND your safety.

Here are SIX signs that your car's brake system needs a check up, or brake repairs, by a trusted mechanic:

1. The most obvious sign is that your "Brake Warning Light" comes on. It usually is alerting you to low brake fluid as opposed to other wear. If this lights up, you're going to want to get this to a professional ASAP. Low brake fluid can be dangerous and cause your brakes to stop responding altogether, plus it wears your brake system down more quickly.

2. Less Response from Braking is also a key warning sign. This usually comes from low fluid, or an air or fluid leak. Possibly, you've noticed leaking fluid around your car and weren't sure what it was. Well, even if your warning light doesn't come on, a less-responsive braking system is something to get checked out right away.

3. Your Brakes Make a "Squealing" Sound. You may need to roll down your window to hear it clearly, but if your vehicle is making a squealing sound as you brake, then your car needs a brake adjustment, pad replacement, or some sort of brake repair. Waiting will only increase the chances of needing a more costly repair.

4. The Car "Pulls" When You Are Braking. If your car pulls to one side as you are coming to a stop, then it's most likely a problem with your brakes. This might mean your brakes need to be adjusted, that there is a fluid leak, or that they are worn out altogether.

5. The Brakes Are Grinding. A grinding noise coming from your brakes when you step on them is a very bad sign. It usually means your pads are worn down, and when the pads are worn out, it starts to cause brake repair needs prematurely.

6. Your Car Vibrates When You're Braking. It's not normal to experience shaking, pulsing, or any excessive vibration. This can indicate problems with your wheel alignment, but also brake rotor issues. Get it checked out to ensure your safety.

Don't take any chances with your brakes, as they are a HUGE part of driving safely. Whatever brake issue you have, Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair is ready to help from the smallest to the biggest brake system issues. We also handle wheel alignments right here (and not every shop out there does that). Thanks for reading these tips!

Emergency Driving Tips for Tire Separations and Tire Blowouts: What do you do?

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 01/03/18

Often times, we talk about car maintenance and car repair tips, but it usually is all about preventing issues with your car's systems. We thought it might be helpful to address some lesser-known DRIVING tips for emergencies to help prepare YOU as opposed to your car.

Many people bring up how a driver is to handle a slide on road ice, but you rarely hear about how to handle tire malfunctions such as tire separations and tire blowouts. These aren't extremely common, but they DO HAPPEN and on a busy stretch of highway, they probably happen a few times a day. Of course, proper tire care will include many safety measures (such as, proper tire inflation) to help avoid tire blowouts or separations, but once you have an issue it's too late, and here are the methods for handling those if you happen to be behind the wheel.

How to Handle a Tire Blowout While Driving

In the case of a tire blowout, most safe drivers actually have the opposite instinctual reaction from what they SHOULD be doing. There is a shotgun-type blast noise when a tire blows out, and a law-abiding citizen behind the wheel, will usually want to begin slowing down immediately and pulling off of the road. This is incorrect, and with a rear-tire failure a crash could result from trying to turn at high speeds.

If a your tire blows while driving (on the highway these are most important), here are the steps to deal with it:
  1. You actually begin to push the gas pedal and accelerate slightly for a couple of seconds. This actually gives you control of the car and keeps you going straight down your lane, and not contacting other vehicles. After a couple of seconds, you slowly release the gas pedal.
  2. Remember to keep the car straight down the lane you are in, and don't use the brake (or the clutch).
  3. Then allow the car to coast to a slow speed---and it will, due to the drag created by the flat tire. When the car is below 30 mph, which is usually slow enough to be safe, put on your turn signal and turn carefully toward the road's shoulder. It's safer if the shoulder you go toward is on the same side as the blown tire, but this might not always be the easiest thing to do. 
  4. If you must use the brakes, use them lightly at the end to come to a complete stop.
Checking tire pressure will be your best bet to keep this from happening though. Most highway blowouts and tire separations happen when a car is traveling fast, in a straight line on a hot day with an under-inflated tire. But if it happens anyway, you can mentally practice how to handle your car safely.

How to Handle a Tread Separation While Driving

Actually the steps for responding for a tire separation are just about identical:
  1. Accelerate slightly for a couple of seconds. Then slowly release the gas pedal.
  2. Remember to keep the car straight down the lane.
  3. Then allow the car to coast to a slow speed. One difference is that you will likely have to apply brakes lightly in order to achieve a safe, slow speed.
  4. Get to the shoulder with a smooth turn.
Tire separations though, can be more dangerous for a couple of reasons. One reason is that the tread whips around and the underlying steel belt can come loose and rip up your car. But also, in some cases the tread may leave the tire altogether which makes some folks think that the problem is gone. 

An impending separation of the tire begins with an ongoing thumping sound, and will graduate to a slapping sound. The slapping of the ripped tire going away may make a driver think they are safe, but the tire can then blowout more easily, and you also will have lesser grip when you hit the freeway off-ramp. You will want to take similar actions, even if the loud sounds have stopped. Go slow, change the tire, and get assistance.

These aren't "fun" tips, but maybe these have helped you be a little more prepared for highway disaster, if it ever strikes. In the meantime, you can always be safer by having a mechanic you can trust look at your car as often as possible. At Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair shop, we may not FIX tires, but we can definitely inflate them (as we do EVERY time our customers come in), and let you know if we see any problems with them. If you live in the Bellevue area, and this helped you, let us know----and come see us for any auto repair need!

The Top Auto Repairs That Drivers Like To Ignore (but You May Need Badly)!

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 08/04/17

Most blog posts here on the official blog of Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair go over the important services and areas of the car that MUST be tended to. We talk brake repair: the signs of failure, how to keep your brakes lasting longer, etc. We talk about fuel efficiency, exhaust issues, and other basics that come up on a daily basis and they car owners should remain aware of. The "greatest hits" are just that---the most common services and those that make up most of our work as a repair shop. 

There are a few less-routine, less-discussed areas of the car, that are very easy to ignore. These are the type of services that present an issue for us. That's because when we present the customer with our recommendation to have these ignore-able areas repaired or serviced, it's common for them to think that it isn't vital, or that a mechanic shop may be "looking for" things to repair. So, we want to go ahead and discuss these "unmentionable" areas, and we'd like to refer to these as....... 

.....The most neglected services, and the top auto repairs that drivers like to ignore:

1. Shocks and Struts
Shocks and struts help provide your smooth ride by absorbing bumps and dips in the road. The problem with recommending these services, is that you aren't repairing something that is clearly broken. Instead, it's over time that the performance of these parts begins to deteriorate. Many drivers get used to the gradual change, and don't realize just how "bumpy" their ride has gotten. They aren't the cheapest repair, but it truly is necessary and important to your car's performance and health. In fact, they also help you in braking, which means a new set can be important for YOUR health as well. The good news is that most vehicles can go for 50,000 to 100,000 miles without needing a change.

2. The Exhaust System
Now, this portion of the car isn't always easy to ignore because of the oxygen sensors that will alert you when things are acting up. And, if you fail an emissions test, the subject quickly turns to this system and it's components. But, because your muffler and catalytic converters aren't the most apparent parts to a driver, it's easy to forget or be skeptical about paying for these repairs.

Starting at about 100,000 miles to 200,000 miles, the exhaust system and your muffler can become prone to build-ups from deteriorating parts, and also prone to rusting out. Some schools of thought suggest that when you start experiencing issues, you should truly consider getting the catalytic converters, the muffler, and the oxygen sensors overhauled at the same time. It's not cheap, but it can bring the performance of your vehicle to the point of feeling "new again". The exhaust system being clear and efficient also protects from other harmful side effects on fuel efficiency and engine wear and tear.

3. Belts and Hoses
Hoses and Belts aren't the same thing, but we've grouped them together because drivers may approach their repair the same way. The problem is that you MUST trust the recommendation of your auto repair technician, otherwise you may have no true idea of what needs to be done and when. Any good auto repair shop makes sure to check over your car on any service appointment, large or small. Belts and hoses (plus gaskets) are key parts of these checks.

For hoses, we're talking about fluids that could be leaking from gaskets or seals or the hose itself. Some of these leaks are slow and don't initially cause any issue. Putting off a repair can lead to an eventual breakdown though, and could truly harm many more areas of the vehicle. You'll want to take this recommendation.

As far as belts go, putting off a repair is even more risky, especially for your timing belt. If your timing belt breaks, you will ruin your entire engine---very costly! Following your car's manual will give you some idea of when to safely have your belts changed out, but an experienced technician will also be able to spot signs of wear.

Because neither belts nor hoses or leak-issues cause noticeable changes for the driver, they are likely to be procrastinated upon. Unfortunately, the procrastination can lead to larger issues, by wearing down other parts of the car or by creating a major breakdown in the future.

If you do not trust your regular mechanic, then please, find a mechanic you CAN trust. It's probably the biggest tip we can give you. Your trusted adviser in car care will make sure that these commonly-ignored areas are brought to your attention and handled properly. It may cost money to fix these things, but it's also a way to regain performance and keep your car running much more like it did when it was new. If you live in the Bellevue, WA or Greater Eastside areas and need a mechanic you can trust, please give us at Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair a call today.

Your Top-Rated Transmission Shop in The Bellevue/Seattle Area

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 02/11/17

Nothing has changed. Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair is still your home for complete auto care for everything from brakes to oil changes, to engine repair and electrical issues. Special recognition though, has been given for our outstanding work in Transmission Repair. Our shop has been names one of the Best Transmission Repair Shops in Seattle (and Bellevue areas) by group that compiles lists of top service providers in many categories across the country.
Best Transmission Shop Bellevue WA

We've mentioned before that many other shops have to send you to a "transmission specialist", but that we offer transmission repair and servicing right here at Ali's. We feel that it's a huge benefit to our customers, knowing we can take care of ALL their auto care needs. It's that much better to be known as a QUALITY transmission repair shop in the area.

We are honored to be included on this list, but it's actually not all that surprising for us when you consider the criteria that Expertise was judging upon. We thought we'd review their factors and explain why it actually makes a lot of sense for us to be on this list. It may be just a list of transmission repair shops, but we take the same approach on all our work.

Here are the five main categories they used to judge and find the best, and how we stack up:
  • Reputation - Expertise defines this as a "history of delighted customers". For about a decade we've been building our customer base upon the idea that we treat others the way we'd want to be treated, in order to gain our customers' business and their recommendations. Today, those "delighted customers" have come back again and again, and there are plenty of online reviews that speak to that.
  • Credibility - Not only do we have ASE certified technicians, and mechanics that trained at institutions like Wyo Tech, but we also keep up on the latest diagnostic equipment and techniques when it comes to working with transmissions and other areas of your vehicle.
  • Experience - Ali and his technicians have decades of experience repairing the transmissions on many different makes and models of cars and trucks. The Bellevue shop has been serving at it's current location for a decade now, so we know what Bellevue-area folks may face with local weather and conditions. Transmission work requires many years of experience to even diagnose with precision---this is primarily what makes us a great shop to choose for transmission work.
  • Availability - Our auto repair facility is family-owned and family-operated, and this means we treat our customers like we would treat our family as well. You should always feel welcomed at Ali's and it should be apparent that we make every effort to communicate and get your car scheduled and fixed as promptly as we can. Give us a call or stop by and test us---we'll pass the test!
  • Professionalism - Whether you are checking us out online, calling for an appointment, or coming by in-person, Ali and his team use the same professional approach. It's about friendliness, clear diagnosis, straightforward communication of challenges and options, timeliness of service, and leaving our customers with confidence in choosing our shop.
So, it's official and we've been recognized, but you don't have to take Expertise's word for it. For Transmission Repair work or any other car repair, Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair wants you to experience these points for yourself. When you do, it will be very easy to see why we were chosen as one of the best shops around. Also, it will be hard to go anywhere else, once you see how our company can be a trusted adviser with any and all auto care issues you may have. We can't wait to serve you!

The Time To Choose a Good Auto Mechanic is BEFORE You Need One

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 11/01/16

Every day we depend on our car to take us places. When we jump into the car, we want it to run efficiently and work correctly. If your car breaks down and will no longer get you where you need to go, you are dealing with an emergency situation of sorts. You'll need immediate repair to get you back on the road and back to your normal routine. 

When you need time-sensitive help for your vehicle, you certainly can't take a proper amount of time in choosing the best auto repair shop for you. A hasty choice in this field can be costly, as all auto service shops are not created equal. Before you schedule an appointment or take your car into an auto shop, make sure to do your research so that you get the service, repair, expertise, and cost that you are looking for. Below are some tips for selecting the auto repair shop that will work best for you.

Tip #1: Ensure that the auto shop has experience and proper certifications. When a shop or mechanic has extensive experience in auto repairs they are less likely to suggest unnecessary repairs or to repair a part incorrectly. You will also want to inquire if the shop is an ASA member or if their mechanics are ASE certified. ASE certified mechanics have extensive training and set the standard for quality auto repair technicians.

Tip #2: Look for referrals and reviews. When looking for a professional auto service shop that also is affordable, quick and friendly you will want to ask around and look at reviews online through sites like Facebook, Google+ and Yelp. You should also ask friends and neighbors in your area.

Tip #3: Don’t base the decision only on price. The most affordable auto repair business may not be the cheapest.  Pricing isn't the same as a good cost and you may not be getting the most value. Make sure that you do research and compare. Inexperienced and uncertified shops may not make the best repair decisions. 

Tip #4: Visit the auto shop and use them for small maintenance and repairs. This is an excellent strategy as well. Give a shop the opportunity to impress you. Taking your car in for smaller repairs will give you an idea on how well they can handle larger issues. A clean waiting room, friendly staff and attentive service can say a lot about how an auto shop. 

Once you have found an auto shop that works for all your specifications then you will not only want to count on them for the big breakdowns but to keep your car on the road for the long haul. Work with them to conduct the regular recommended maintenance services. At Ali’s we are extensively trained, experienced, an a ASA member and ASE certified. We are the local professionals that are ready to work with you on any repair you need for your car—large or small. If you would like to check out our shop or want to bring your car in give us a call.

My Car Air Conditioning isn't working right. What's wrong?

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 07/26/16

Even though the Puget Sound is not known for extreme heat waves—there are several months where the temperatures reach the upper 70s, 80s, and above; and when the weather gets that hot you will want to make sure that your car can keep you cool. When your car fails to get colder when you have the A/C on, then you may be having issues with your air conditioning system. What are the signs of a problem? And, what could be going wrong? Below we outline the basics of car air conditioning issues.

The most common symptom of auto air conditioning problems is obvious--the car no longer cools when it is supposed to. Since the A/C system is not essential to make the car function you may not have noticed a car air conditioning issue that has developed over time. Many air conditioning system problems are progressive- and they start with one or two symptoms that develop into more. 

In addition to your car no longer cooling your car may be developing a problem if you notice excessive noise. When an air conditioning system is having problems there are a few common couplets that may be causing the glitch.

Another symptom of an impending issue is a foul smell when you turn on your unit. During the winter when the air conditioning is not being used germs can enter your system and grow quickly, leading to a problem. Also watch out for moisture that may have gotten into you’re A/C system which can lead to a breakdown as well. When you have noticed moisture or smells you may be dealing with a growth of germs—this problem can be flushed out of your system if diagnosed and handled on the early end.

Another common issue is a blocking of the air condenser. This is where the air will not cool because of some restriction and in this case you will either need a flush of the system or if the condenser is worn, you may need a new condenser.

If the air condenser is not an issue you may be looking at a refrigerant or air compression malfunction. Low refrigeration or refrigerant leaks can be common when the air conditioning is having problems but those can easily be identified and fixed by a professional. When your vehicle has air compressor issues then the system is not being properly pressurized and the air will not cool. There may be a compressor breakdown that is due to the compressor or just a lack of lubricant—either way an experienced technician will be able to identify the cause of the problem.

No matter the air conditioning issue Ali’s is here to help. With ASE certified technicians and years of experience, we have seen it all and we are ready to answer any questions you may have with your air conditioning issue.  In fact, we are ready to help with any repair to your vehicle.  Thanks for reading our blog!

Seeing Exhaust Smoke? Did you know the color will tell you what is wrong?

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 04/04/16

Do you see smoke billowing out of your car while you drive? When you see an unusual amount of smoke coming from your vehicle's exhaust, it's probably time to bring your car into a professional mechanic for inspection. Your car should emit minimal smoke; an engine producing smoke is a strong indicator of problems or impending issues with your vehicle. 

What type of car problems could be going on? Well, believe it or not, the color of the smoke can give you some clues. Different shades of smoke can represent separate problems within your vehicle; so we have put together a quick reference guide below:

Color of Smoke:
  • Black - A small amount of black smoke produced when your car starts up is normal but if the black smoke keeps being emitted your engine is burning a large amount of fuel. This may be due to a small issue with your air-filter or it can be an indication of a larger problem with the fuel regulator, injector or return.
  • Blue - When you notice an unusual amount of blue smoke your engine is burning oil. When your car is burning oil you may notice that the car is having a difficult time starting. Your engine burns oil when there is a leak into your engine’s combustion chamber. There may be a problem with your valve- either the valve seal or valve guides. Or your car may have damaged piston rings; or damaged cylinder walls.
  • Gray - Gray smoke can also be an indicator of burning oil or your car could be having problems with your transmission fluid or PCV system damage.
  • White - A small amount of thin white smoke is normal- especially if the weather is cold and the smoke dissipates quickly but the thicker white smoke represents car issues. This is usually due to coolant being burned in the combustion chamber. Unfortunately this symptom comes from problems with the engine. A blown or damaged head gasket, a block in the engine or a problem with the cylinder head are the common causes of this type of smoke.
When you see smoke or experience any unusual smells, sights or sounds coming from your vehicle, you will want to get them checked out right away. This helps you to avoid further damage to your car and more costly repairs. Ali’s Bellevue Auto Repair is ready to help you with any car repair, or maintenance that you may need—we even do body work and transmission repair. Give us a call today with your questions or to schedule an appointment to get your car inspected.

Getting Your Car Winter Ready: Tips for You to do and have done by your Auto Service Mechanic

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 12/07/15

As winter closes in it is important to make sure that you are "winterizing" your car and protecting it from the effects of the cold temperatures. When you give your vehicle preventative services and regular maintenance you can help your car to have a longer life with less major breakdowns- helping you to save money. There are also some simple tips that you can do yourself that will help ready your car for the colder weather. Below we have outlined some services that will keep your car running in the freezing climate. 

Some tips for you to handle yourself:

1) Inspect your tire pressure and the tread on the tires. Cold can be hard on your tires causing them to loose air because the pressure has dropped. Making sure your tires are properly inflated during cold weather will extend the life of your tires and also help you get better gas mileage. Along with the pressure be sure to note the tire’s thread. Tires that have excessive wear or are bald can become a hazard on the road putting your car’s handling and your safety at risk. 

2) Check your car’s battery. During colder times your car’s battery is working hard- and if your battery is old or worn it may stop working unexpectedly. Look at the battery to see if it shows signs of ware like rust or corrosion. If it does then you will want to clean the battery and remove the buildup. Or if your battery is more than two years old you may look into replacing it to avoid a sudden stoppage.

3) Ensure that your windshield wipers and defrost system are working properly. If the wiper blades are rusted or not working properly it is time to have them replaced. During the winter weather it is important to make sure that they work to keep you safe with from weather-related obstructions, like sleet, hail or excessive rain, by giving you a clear view of the road. Also during freezing weather you will want to ensure that your defrost system is functioning so that ice can be melted and you can see the road while driving. 

4) Add an emergency kit to your car. This can help you greatly if case of a breakdown. Having extra warm clothing, batteries, flashlights, tire chains, water, and snacks can make all the difference during a crisis situation. 

Professional, preventative maintenance that can help winterize your car: 

1) Address drivability issues and verify that your vehicle is up to date on regular services. If your car is running hard or starting slowly get it checked out as the cold weather may only make the problem worse. Also, when your car has had its regular recommended services and tune-ups then it is less likely to unexpectedly breakdown. Do not hesitate on repairs that you know need to be done. Waiting may cause bigger system breakdowns and overhauls that can be costly.

2) Get your oil changed. Also make sure to get your fluids checked and topped off. We do this every time you get an oil change. Better to get an oil change sooner than you should, as opposed to later than you should or in the dead of winter.

3) Get your brakes checked and fixed. This is the time of year that your brakes MUST BE at their best. Wet roads, icy roads, less hours of daylight, leaves and debris on the roadway, and maybe even snow, will test your brakes unlike any other time of year.

4) Have old filters changed. This can help keep your car’s engine running efficiently and can also keep your car more fuel efficient. It's an option that some folks don't have done with their oil change, but you should insist on it for your last oil change going into winter.

5) Wheel alignment should be checked and you should have that adjusted if needed. It's pretty much the same argument as your brakes above. This is the time of year where you will need your car to be as nimble and controllable as possible.

For everything you need to know about winterizing your vehicle- you can call Ali's or bring you car in. We provide ALL the factory recommended services (and will help keep you within your warranty!) and any other repair that your vehicle may need.  We'll help with any of the services a mechanic should do to get you winter ready, but if you don't know how to check your battery or tires, we'll gladly help you with those things too. Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair (and Ali's Woodinville Auto Repair) has been providing affordable, quality services to Bellevue, Auto Repair in Redmond WA, and the surrounding areas for decades and will work with you for everything your car needs.

Brake Basics: How to keep your brakes in great shape!

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 10/02/15

It is undeniable that one of the most important safety features of your car is your braking system. The brakes help keep you protected on the road- so it is vital that your brakes stay dependable and work properly. Ignoring brake problems can lead to serious safety risks and also more expensive, expansive breakdowns and repairs. Preventative maintenance is key! 

Knowing when to get your brakes inspected, serviced, or repaired can be confusing so we have outlined some beneficial brake tips that will help you avoid a hazardous situation and possibly save you some money. 

Tip 1: Have your brakes regularly checked. If you take your car in for a regular tire rotation—then get your brakes inspected at the same time. Every 6 months to a year, get your brakes looked at by a professional. During the check the different brake components and brake fluid will be inspected. 

Tip 2: If you hear noises while braking- get it professionally inspected. Screeching, grinding, squealing noises are signs of potential brake wear and other brake problems. The well-timed repair of one component of the brakes will help keep your whole system running efficiently.

Tip 3: Watch out for your vehicle’s brake warning light. When it turns on it signifies an issue with the master cylinder, or a leak of brake fluid. Whenever you see a warning light your vehicle is trying to tell you that there is a problem that needs fixing. A professional auto shop will be able to identify the exact issue and get it quickly corrected.

Tip 4: Timely replacement of your brake pads may save your braking system from needing an entire brake job. Every time you drive your vehicle your brakes are enacted and friction is placed on your brake pads. Over time your brake pads will wear down and need to be replaced. If you go too long it will affect other parts of the braking system including the brake drums and rotors causing the need for additional, more costly repairs. 

At Ali’s we are proud to provide brake inspections and services. If it is time to get your brakes checked or have any additional questions about brake life or preventative maintenance that will save you money give us a call at 425-450-9713.

Car Checks for Summer - Plenty of car problems to be avoided!

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 05/21/15

Summer is coming up and it is time to get your car prepared for the season. When thinking about getting your car ready for summer and long before you take those family road trips you will want to take precautions by getting a general maintenance check, and also to protect your vehicle against the possibility of overheating.

Actually, the first thing that you will look to avoid over the summer is overheating your car. Overheating is very dangerous for your vehicle and can lead to major overhauls and costly repairs- such as engine replacement. Car overheating can sometimes be avoided by taking some simple precautions. Your car's cooling system should be completely flushed every 24 months to avoid build-up. 

Old, broken hoses or lack of anti-freeze can lead to overheating by disrupting the cooling of the car's engine. Your coolant and coolant levels need to be regularly monitored-especially over the summer. Make sure your radiator cap is properly tightened and if you are unsure about your coolant levels you can take your car into a facility to get it checked.  It's easy to check the coolant level yourself, but if the level seems to drop easily, you may have other issues, such as a leak. To prevent corrosion you always want to use a coolant with additives, instead of water----a pretty basic tip, but you'd be surprised what some folks try. 

In general, you will also want to do a maintenance of the car systems that are frequently used during the summer. Make sure the car's oil has been regularly changed and it is also recommended that you have your filters, such as your fuel filter, and air filter replaced. Also before the summer begins you may want to get the air conditioning system checked and serviced. If you are experiencing any rough idling with your engine or other driving problems get a general check of your engine and get it corrected professionally. 

The summer is tough on your car internally, but also check other systems like tires, brakes, and lights that may also need to be repaired or changed out. If your windshield wipers are old get them replaced as a dusty, dirty windshield can present a safety hazard. An extra special prep idea is that you can detach and clean your car’s battery and cables and wipe it off. 

Taking on some simple replacements and repairs, as well as being cognizant of your coolant levels, will help your car stay on the road through the heat of the summer months. If you have any additional questions about prepping your car for summer or need any kind of repairs give Ali’s a call today—and enjoy the sun while it is here!

ASE certified in Bellevue WA, why it's so important to have an ASE mechanic!

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 01/07/15

You'll notice we prominently display an "ASE Certified" logo in our shops and on our websites (both here and our Woodinville Auto Service shop). It's posted for a reason, but it's possible that some of the auto repair customers in our area aren't quite clear on the significance of ASE Certification. We'd like to help explain why this is a logo you should look for whether you choose our auto service shops or not.

The ASE is the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. The goal of the ASE and it's certification process is to protect the automotive service consumer, shop owner, and the automotive technician. This non-profit organization has been testing and certifying automotive technicians since 1972, and the effect they've had on the industry is considerable. 

Certification allows shop owners and service customers to better gauge a technicians level of expertise. The ASE aims to certify the automotive technician professional so they can offer tangible proof of their technical knowledge. ASE Certification testing means peace of mind for auto service managers, customers.  If a shop cannot show proof of a technician's certification, you essentially cannot know whether they can effectively take care of you and your vehicle.

Here is an idea of how extensive the testing process is, according to the ASE's official site, 
"In addition to passing an ASE Certification test, automotive technicians must have two years of on the job training or one year of on the job training and a two-year degree in automotive repair to qualify for certification. The exams are not easy. Only two out of every three test-takers pass on their first attempt. To remain ASE certified professionals must be retested every five years to keep up with ever-advancing automotive technology."

ASE Certification was created to help make automotive technicians better, by providing standards of knowledge the industry agrees upon. Research has shown a link between these certified technicians and their accuracy in repairing vehicles as well as longevity in their mechanic positions.

Our company depends on hiring ASE certified technicians, since they are a better and safer choice for our business. You can see why, if we are to provide trusted Auto Service in Bellevue, Mercer Island, and in Woodinville, it is very important that we can back up our expertise. Look for the logo, and know that better technicians will provide you with better automotive service.

Why proper tire inflation is important for your safety and gas mileage

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 08/21/14

In our last post, we talked about why your wheel alignment must be check and maintained for driving safety.  It's also important to get the most out of the life of your tires. The tires themselves, also must be cared for in order to ensure safety, extended tire life, and even fuel efficiency. The number ONE thing you can do, is make sure they are properly inflated.

Proper Tire inflation is essential to safe driving and helps save you money as well. This is an important lesson that you don't want to learn the hard way. We want our valued customers, friends, and neighbors to know how serious under inflation of your tires can be.

Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure. This is because tires are more prone to damage when they are not properly inflated. Also, your car cannot operate up to its true potential if the tires are not working at their best. On average, your fuel costs can increase by 3 to 5 cents per gallon, if your tires are functioning, but under inflated! Losing money on your fuel efficiency though, isn't nearly as costly as what could happen if you blow out a tire due to rapid wear from under inflation. Possible vehicle damage and harm to the driver and passengers should be more than enough to drive home the importance of maintaining your tires. 

What can YOU do to make sure your tires are safe and "road ready"? Correctly checking your tire pressure is a great start. says that "75% of drivers wash their cars monthly while only 1 out of 7 (14%) correctly checks tire pressure. The air pressure should be checked on all tires, including the spare, at least a month." Check the tire pressure, only when the tires are cold. About 1 psi of tire pressure will escape every month under typical use. DO NOT exceed the maximum inflation pressure molded on the sidewall of the tire. Also, on some vehicles front and rear tires may have separate recommended inflation pressures---make sure to double check.  

Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair wants to make sure that your car lasts and that all drivers out there stay as safe as possible. As always, we are glad to be your advisor for all auto service issues, if you should have any questions or need any help with your tire or other vehicle maintenance. 

Whether you are a Bellevue driver that loves long drives on the weekends, or a commuter that makes the big commute into downtown Seattle every day, we offer these tips and our assistance to help keep you safe.

Signs and Dangers of Faulty Car Alignment

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 06/06/14

The car's wheel alignment is important for getting the most out of your tires, but it's also important for your own safety. Bad wheel alignment, or a car that is out of alignment, limits a driver’s ability to control the vehicle. Proper wheel alignment is not only good for control but also good for your fuel efficiency.
Bad wheel alignment, particularly front end alignment, can cause your vehicle to veer to one side when a dangerous situation occurs and you must brake sharply. In addition, faulty wheel alignment can cause your tires to wobble on the pavement, causing premature tire wear. Another problem is the reduction of your gas mileage, since resistance is higher when your wheels are not properly aligned. 

When your wheel alignment properly is correctly set, your vehicle handles more predictably and optimally, making it easier for you to avoid dangerous situations. You get the benefit of loner tire wear and optimal gas mileage.

What are the signs that you may need your alignment handled?
1. Uneven wearing of your tires
2. The vehicle seems to be drifting to one side, even when you think you're driving straight.
3. The steering wheel vibrates more than usual. (this indicates the "wobbling" we referred to).
4. When you're driving straight, your steering wheel isn't centered.

If you notice these signs, bring your car in for an alignment check. On average, you should have your car or truck wheel alignment checked every 6 months to a year for your own safety. Unfortunately, it is easy to knock your car out of proper wheel alignment. As part of your normal driving, areas of your car's suspension may become worn, and springs can be stretched out. A small fender-bender or even driving up onto a curb can disrupt your suspension, knocking some of the highly calibrated components into mis-alignment. Alignment problems don’t get better on their own; they must be diagnosed and corrected. A re-alignment restores these components to their correct measurements, making sure your wheels to sit straight. 

The best auto repair facilities, like Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair, will make sure to check tire pressure, check tire wear, and inspect your current alignment via proper testing. Our shop can also handle larger vehicles than your normal auto repair shop. Big trucks and commercial vehicles of all types get their larger vehicle wheel alignments handled here!

If you're noticing issues with your tires or your car alignment, don't hesitate!  Get your alignment test right away, as it may be one of the most important safety precautions you can take.

Emissions Testing Repairs - Why you should fail the test first!

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 02/11/14

In Bellevue and in King County, you must go through an emissions test every two years. If you have not yet had taken your vehicle through emission testing, but your "check engine" light is on, you SHOULD NOT bring your vehicle to any shop (including ours) just yet. Why? Well, it's part of a process that will allow you to gain a "waiver", in case the repairs you would need are too expensive, or do not allow you to pass the test clearly.

If you have a "check engine" light that is currently on in your car, what you should do is go ahead and put your vehicle through testing and expect it to fail. Then, you're next step is to call and schedule your service with us (especially if you live in the Bellevue WA area, but ANY certified emissions repair shop will do) to have the vehicle's issue diagnosed and corrected right after.

Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair is approved by the State of Washington to repair your vehicle after a failed emission test. If you have failed your emission testing, please, call us and schedule an appointment right away! Preferably before your tabs have expired.

So, the main reason you should go in this particular order and have your vehicle tested first is because any repairs made BEFORE the first test cannot be applied toward the waiver amount ($150). After an initial fail, if you pay that waiver amount (or more) to an approved auto repair company, you are "waived" through (essentially a "pass"), even if you still have a check engine light showing. Ultimately going in this order gives YOU more options for handling your vehicle.

It is probably best to go ahead and get the car fixed and fully address the issue that is causing your engine light to come on.  But, we don't live in a perfect world, so if you need more time to consider options, or if the problem isn't immediately detrimental to your car, this will get you through the test. Then you can get your tabs and at least avoid being pulled over. 

We'd love to have you come into our shop and allow us to be your advisor on the subject. Call and schedule your car for an appointment if you have recently failed your emissions test in Bellevue WA. For this and any other automobile need, Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair is the place for you! 425-450-9713

Pedestrian Safety Tips for Halloween!

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 10/29/13

We love to give out important tips for driving safely and taking great care of your car. Giving help and fixing cars is why we're in the business of Auto Repair in Woodinville WA, and Bellevue WA. 

We also want to share tips on how to be safe when on the road as a pedestrian. It's especially important to think safety when out walking with little ones this week for Halloween, but also on into fall as it gets darker and weather conditions vary here in Bellevue, the eastside, and in the northwest in general.

We would like to help you and yours be safer this Halloween and this fall by going over some safety tips for being a smart pedestrian. We found a great list on another blog (link to it at: ) They also mention that there are more tips like this at . On their site, they group us all together, pedestrians AND drivers as "road users".

Here are some safety tips for pedestrians:

  • Be safe and be seen: make yourself visible to drivers Wear bright/light colored clothing and reflective materials. (Pay attention to your costume on Halloween and be aware that it may make it LESS easy to be seen).
  • Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
  • Cross in a well-lit area at night.
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.
  • Be smart and alert: avoid dangerous behaviors. (Halloween is a fun time, but goofing off in or near a roadway is OUT OF THE QUESTION!)
  • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stay sober; walking while impaired (just like when driving) increases your chance of being struck.
  • Don't assume vehicles will stop; make eye contact with drivers, don't just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, they may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
  • Don't rely solely on pedestrian signals; look before you cross the road.
  • Be alert to engine noise or backup lights on cars when in parking lots and near on-street parking spaces.
  • Be careful at crossings: look before you step
  • Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.
  • Obey traffic signals such as WALK/DON'T WALK signs.
  • Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.

Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair would also like to add that you should be careful to hold hands with children as they cross the street, and even on the sidewalks if the road is very busy. We are a family business, and there is nothing more important than protecting your family and especially young children.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, and we hope you can safely enjoy all of your walks in our Northwest weather this fall.

Timing Belt Replacement - Procrastination is NOT an option

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 08/20/13

Your car's timing belt doesn't look much different from a giant rubber band, but it's oddly vital to the operation of your engine, and thus your vehicle. The timing belt wears over time.  It gets thinner, it starts to get rough on the edges, and even small cracks can appear, but you'll want to replace it LONG before it looks like it might fail or break.

Your car's manual will have a recommended replacement mileage, or window.  Most cars need a timing belt replacement every 50,000 to 90,000 miles. The smart driver will just get it changed on this schedule without trying to check for visible wear or funny sounds. Why? Because unlike some parts of your vehicle, if your timing belt breaks, you car is not only dead in it's tracks, but you will likely have to replace your entire engine. That's a cost of $2,000-$5,000 depending on the engine! Replacing the timing belt costs FAR LESS, and most of the cost is simply the labor intensive disassembly of parts of the car to gain access to the belt.

If you're not sure how long it's been since your last timing belt replacement, a reputable shop like ours at Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair will gladly inspect the belt and let you know if we are seeing any signs of wear, or age.  It's going to be worth your money to err on the side of caution. If you have a mechanic you trust, you shouldn't hesitate if they recommend this repair----it's not one that you can take a change with.

The good news is that we not only replace the belt, but the tensioners, seals, and sprockets that are all part of the belts functionality. This will give you even more assurance for the next 50K-90K miles! We handle hundreds of these per year at our Bellevue Auto Repair shop. You can be confident that we have more than enough experience in doing these jobs correctly, and more efficently than most, which can save you money!

One last bit of advice: Whether you have your Timing Belt Replacement performed at our Bellevue shop, our Woodinville Auto Repair shop, or any other Bellevue Mechanic, you should ask about having your water pump replaced at the same time as your timing belt. Even if it is not leaking at all, it's worth doing NOW while the your mechanic already has access to the area. It will usually only add the cost of the part and a small amount of labor to the job. A good mechanic will recommend that you do this, but just in case they don't, you can simply inquire about this cost-saving measure.

Feel free to have your car in to Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair for your next oil change or servicing, where we will inspect your belt and many other areas of your car as a free part of the service!

Don't Take Chances with Worn or Faulty Brakes.

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 07/01/13

The only safety features on your vehicle that are as important as seat belts are your brakes. Like safety belts, you need to know they'll work BEFORE you need them. Too many people try to avoid brake repair because of the cost. However, considering the consequences of what could happen to you or your loved ones if your brakes fail, it's well worth the expense.

If you suspect it's time for your brakes to be inspected, our trained mechanics can give you peace of mind by performing a thorough inspection. If repairs are necessary, you'll have the confidence of knowing that your car, and more importantly, your safety has continued to be a top priority that you have taken control of. That's really what's important.

However, in addition to expert service and repair, we offer competitive pricing to help you get the most for your money. And, never worry--we won't suggest repairs if there is plenty of "life" left on the brakes.  In fact, we usually check your brake life every time we get your car in here for any service. 

While you're out driving around, here are some warning signs about your brakes that you should note. If you experience any one of these conditions, you should bring your car in for a brake inspection right away.

By the way, we found this great list at:

The main set of tips refers to Looking at your brakes (if you know how) and Listening to them when you brake.

If you look at your brakes and see less than 1/4 inch of pad, you may want to have your brake pads inspected or replaced.

Have you ever heard a high-pitched screeching sound when you applied your brakes? That's a small metal shim, called an indicator, which is giving you an audible warning that you need to replace your brake pads. If you hear it regularly, quickly make an appointment with your mechanic.

Here are some of the other signs you should look out for:

Reduced responsiveness or fading. If your brakes are not as responsive as they should be or if the pedal "sinks" toward the floor, this could be an indication of a leak in the braking system. It could be an air leak (in the brake hose) or a brake fluid leak.

Pulling. If your vehicle "pulls" to one side while braking, it may be a sign that the brake linings are wearing unevenly or that there is foreign matter in the brake fluid. Your vehicle may need a brake adjustment or to have the fluid drained and replaced.

Grinding or growling. This loud metallic sound means that you have worn down the pads completely, most likely beyond replacement. The grinding or growling noise is caused by the two pieces of metal (the disc and the caliper) rubbing together. This can "score," or scratch your rotors, creating an uneven surface. If this happens, do not be surprised if your mechanic tells you that the rotors need to be "turned" (a process that evens out the rotor surface), or even replaced.

Vibration. A vibration or pulsating brake pedal is often a symptom of warped rotors (but can also indicate that your vehicle is out of alignment). The vibration can feel similar to the feedback in the brake pedal during a panic stop in a vehicle equipped with anti-lock brakes.

Auto Tips and news from Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair

by Ali's Bellevue Auto Repair on 05/31/13

Okay, so here it is!  This is our brand new and official BLOG.  Nothing too special here, but we hope to use this blog as a tool to share interesting points about car care, inform you a little more about our shop, and our family-owned and operated business.

We will point out that we DO have a second location and a second website for that location.  You can find that at:  Both of our shops are operated with the same strong principles and dedication to serving customers and their vehicles well, above all else.

The website you are currently looking at may be brand new, but Ali's history with serving Eastside customers is a lengthy one.  This shop alone has building a strong fan base for about a decade, and we hope that kind of consistency and reputation is enough to convince folks to share us with a friend, and others to go ahead and give us a chance to demonstrate our high-level of service.

We encourage you to find us and follow us on facebook (go to: ) and also to check back for news about our company, and tips on how to better understand your vehicle, proper car care, and proper safety!

Thanks for reading!


Auto Repair Mechanic Bellevue WA
Auto Repair Shop in Bellevue WA
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Ali's Auto Service
(425) 450-9713

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