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Oil Change Intervals

  • Engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
    • The additive package in oil starts breaking down after 3,000 miles.
    • Oil consumption can increase after this interval.
    • Sludge starts to build up in the oil passages after this interval.
    • Short trips (less than 2 miles) tend to break down oil more quickly.
    • Extended oil change intervals can make oil seals fail prematurely.
    • This interval should be adhered to even when using synthetic oil.
    • Use only name brand oils.
    • Use the manufacturer’s recommended weight, 10W30 for example.
Oil Leaks

All oil leaks are caused by two conditions:

  • Worn Oil Seals
  • Excess Crankcase Pressure

Worn oil seals are caused by age and/or high mileage and not adhering to proper oil change intervals, (3,000 miles).

Excess crankcase pressure is a direct result of a restricted positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) system. All engines develop crankcase pressure and all engines have a means of maintaining proper levels.

  • Volvo’s PCV system is unusually sensitive to plugging up.
  • The system should be serviced every 30,000 miles. More often on higher mileage cars.
  • The PCV system MUST always exert a vacuum on the crankcase.
  • We use a tool to determine whether the system needs to be serviced.
  • In extreme circumstances where the system cannot achieve a vacuum after being serviced then the engine must be rebuilt.
  • A plugged PCV system can cause a turbocharger to consume oil.

Repairing oil leaks:

  • All oil leaks can be repaired successfully as long as the PCV system functions correctly.
  • Oil leaks on the top of the engine are addressed first. (valve cover, distributor)
  • Oil leaks on the front of the engine are addressed second. (front engine seals)
  • Oil leaks on the sides of the engine are addressed third. (breather box)
  • Oil leaks at the rear of the engine are addressed last. (rear engine seal).

Brake problems can occur in these areas: 

  1. Warped brake rotors are caused by sustained high heat – constant braking without letting up on the brake pedal and/or improperly torqing the wheels.
    • It can also be caused by machining the front rotors down to the legal minimum thickness (the less mass there is to the brake rotor the greater tendency to warp)
    • The symptom is the steering wheel will move side to side and the brake pedal will pulsate.
    • If the rear brake rotors are warped the vibration will be felt through the whole car.
    • Brake rotors should always be machined when replacing brake pads.
    • Front brake rotors should be replaced if they approach minimum thickness after machining.
  2. Squealing brakes are usually caused by an audible vibration set up by the brake pad.
    • This can be caused by the material in the brake pad reacting to the brake rotor.
    • It can also be a result of misalignment of the brake caliper to the brake rotor.
    • Squealing can occur if the brake pads were replaced but the rotors were not machined.
  3. A soft or spongy brake pedal can mean that air has been introduced into the brake fluid. (Air can be compressed but brake fluid can’t)
    • It can also be a caliper problem (frozen pistons or loose caliper mounting).
  4. Uneven brake pad wear can be caused by the pistons in a caliper on one side (left or right) being frozen and not retracting when you let off the brakes.
    • It can also be a caliper that is frozen and not moving properly when the brakes are applied.
  5. Car pulls left or right when braking is usually caused by a frozen brake caliper. (e.g. pulls left, right caliper is frozen)
    • This symptom is only evident with the front brakes.
  6. The brake failure light on always indicates a problem with the brake hydraulics, an external brake fluid leak or a problem with the brake master cylinder. (see Instruments and Warning lights )
  7. Brake dust on front wheels is brake pad material and is virtually unavoidable.
    • I have not found a brake pad yet that is dust free without side effects.
  8. Grinding usually indicates that the brake pad material has worn off and the metal backing plate is contacting the rotor. There is no warning before this symptom occurs.

How often should the car be tested?

  • Every 2 years
  • The car should be tested before the year/month indicated on your license plate.
  • You can have the test performed 3 months prior to the end of the month on the plate.

Which years are eligible?

  • 1974 and older cars are not required to take the test.
  • 1975 to 1980 cars take the simple test (idle and 2500 RPM).
  • 1981 to 1995 are tested on a dynamometer (rollers) by DEQ staff. (enhanced test)
  • 1996 to present are hooked up to DEQ’s computer and checked electronically.

What is the Simple Test? (1975-1980)

  • In the test lane you will be instructed to let the engine idle and then be instructed to hold the RPM at 2500 until the test is completed.

What is the Enhanced Test? (1981-1995)

  • You will be instructed to stop the car in the lane, transmission in PARK, air conditioning off and handbrake on.
  • You will be instructed to leave the car and go to the waiting room.
  • A DEQ staff member will run the car on a dynamometer to simulate driving conditions.
  • A series of 4 traces (0-30-0 MPH) will be driven.
  • The emission levels on all 4 traces will be averaged to give a final result.

What is the OBD2 test? (1996 – present)

  • You will be instructed to stop the car in the lane and go to the waiting room.
  • The car will be connected to the DEQ computer through the diagnostic test connector. It will read the car computer’s memory to see if all emission values are met.
  • The car will pass with 2 or less “not ready” flags up. The car will fail with 3 or more “not ready” flags up.
  • A “not ready” flag indicates that that portion of the emission control system is out of operating limits.
  • There are as many as 12 “readiness” flags depending on the make of car.

What if my car fails the OBD2 test?

  • If the failure is due the check engine light being on, the problem will have to be repaired and the light turned off before retesting.
  • If the car fails on OBD2, a complex drive cycle (a set sequence of driving conditions that must be done in a specific order) must be performed in order for the car to pass the test.
  • You may be told that if you drive the car for a few days it will run this drive cycle on it’s own. This is not true. If your battery goes dead or the check engine light comes on and then is reset, the car will not pass DEQ until a drive cycle is performed.

What will automatically fail a car?

  • If the CHECK ENGINE light is on.
  • If the BRAKE FAILURE light is on.
  • If the exhaust is excessively loud or has major holes in it.
  • If there is visible blue or white smoke coming from the tailpipe.
  • If the drive tires are unsafe. (steel cord showing etc.)

Handy Hints

  • Make sure that the engine is completely warmed up.
  • Leave the engine running in line while you wait.
  • If you bring your completed registration form you will be able to get your tags at that time if the car passes the test.

One stop shopping

  • If we are servicing your car and you need to take the DEQ test we will run the car through for you.
  • If the car is in for the DEQ test only, we will run it through as often as it takes to pass. This is obviously with your approval of necessary repairs.
  • We will get your tags and install them if you include your completed registration with the car.