Import Auto News: Volume 4 Car Repair & Car Care Advice For Do-It-Yourselfers

Identifying Your Car's VIN - The Key to Parts Accuracy

To identify the correct part numbers for many types of cars (and avoid time-wasting mistakes), it is often necessary to provide your car's 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

The place of each letter or number in the VIN code reveals important information about where your car was made, when it was made, the type of engine it has, the model or series of the car, the chassis of the car and the production sequence of the vehicle, among other things.

Identifying the exact vehicle year, engine code and production sequence is often necessary when looking up ignition, fuel, emission and engine components because many car manufacturers make production changes (part number changes) mid-year - a particular part listing, for example, may indicate that it only fits cars up to a certain VIN number or build date.

Hence, you can see why AutohausAZ asks that you put this critical piece of information into your car's profile - it certainly cuts down the chances that parts for your car will be misidentified.

Many people ask us where they can locate their VIN. The location, as well as the info provided by the VIN, varies by vehicle make. You will find a useful table in Know Your VIN & Get Exactly the RIGHT Auto Repair Parts Every Time, in Gasoline Alley to help you find this elusive number for each of your cars. (You can also usually find the VIN on your title, car registration or auto insurance policy declarations page.)

By having your VIN on file in your AutohausAZ Vehicle Data profile, you can help alleviate delays in identifying the exact part numbers you need and, of course, avoid mistakes.

Selecting the Right Ignition Wires for Your Car Improves Performance

Your ignition wire set (also called spark plug wire set) plays an important role in keeping your car running smoothly. Today's hotter running engines create extreme underhood temperatures, placing exceptional demands on spark plug wire sets.

Although there are many manufacturers out there making wire sets, AutohausAZ carries Bosch sets for nearly all European car makes. Why? Because they're the best! Bosch has manufactured and supplied superior wire sets for close to a century, since supplying the world's first high-voltage vehicle ignition system in 1902. With experience like this, it's no wonder the name Bosch has always been known for the highest quality.

Bosch superior lifetime performance wire sets consistently deliver the maximum firing energy to the spark plugs in your car and will provide you with:

- Improved gas mileage -
- Quicker and easier starting -
- Smoother idle and acceleration -
- Reduced emissions -

And, when matched with Bosch spark plugs and oxygen sensors, Bosch wire sets deliver optimal lifetime performance to your car!

When you need a spark plug wire set for your car, here are a few of the key comparison points you'll want to check for:

- Stainless Steel Mag Winding:  Delivers maximum voltage to the spark plug for a hotter, more powerful and longer spark, resulting in optimum engine performance while reducing the chance of misfire.

- RFI Absorbent Shielding Material:  Eliminates radio static and prevents interference with on-vehicle computers and cellular phones.

- Kevlar Reinforced Core (OEM Style Copper Core for European cars):  For long life.

- EPDM Inner Insulation:  Stops power-robbing voltage leaks.

- 100% Pure Silicone Jacket:  For superior lifetime protection.

- Snug Fitting OEM-Style Silicone Boots:  Ensures proper fit, function and appearance while providing extreme durability for long life.

- "Snap Lock" Terminals or OEM-Style Connectors:  Tightly crimping the wires to the connectors to exceed OEM standards provides worry-free installation and re-installation.

The higher performance specifications of Bosch spark plug wire sets meet, and often exceed, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) quality. They are, in fact, original equipment on most of the cars on the market today. Best of all, Bosch wire sets carry a lifetime warranty!

If your car is going to need a new ignition wire set soon, you may want to ask AutohausAZ for a quote on the Bosch wire set for your car now while we're still running a special that provides a FREE wire puller with each wire set purchase. But supplies are limited - check it out in the Specials Booth. (Don't forget to ask for the Bosch OEM spark plugs and oxygen sensor at the same time to maximize your car's performance!)

Creating a Monthly Maintenance Checklist For Your Car

The days of the full-service gas station are gone, and modern cars can go 30,000 miles or more without a tune-up. So it's up to you to check under the hood of your car periodically. This simple monthly checklist will alert you to potential problems that can be dealt with before you get stranded or end up paying for expensive repairs.

1. Check all of your fluids and refill any that are low - oil, brake fluid, coolant, windshield washer fluid, power steering fluid (if applicable), hydraulic clutch level (if applicable), automatic transmission fluid (if applicable). Make sure to check your owner's manual for the exact specifications of the fluids you should be using in your car before adding any fluids!

2. Check your car's hoses for cracks, age, loose clamps or leaks. Replace as needed.

3. Check your car's belts for cracks, age and proper tension. Adjust or replace as needed.

4. Visually inspect the engine and under the car for any leaks that need to be investigated.

5. Visually inspect your battery for any corrosion at the cable ends.

6. Check the tire pressure on all tires, including the spare, and visually inspect them for uneven wear, or nails or other sharp objects lodged in the tread.

7. Check your dash lights, headlights, taillights, brake lights, back-up lights and turn signals to make sure they are all in good working order.

8. Start the engine and listen with the hood up (after doing this a few times, you will learn what sounds "normal" for your car).

9. Inspect your wiper blades to ensure they have good contact with your windshield and are not dry or cracked.

Note: For complete step-by-step instructions on the above steps, check out Perform Monthly Car Maintenance & Keep Auto Repair Costs Way Down.

Volkswagen Jetta Battery Problems
Thanks to Lee S. (from his own experience)

I was experiencing battery problems with my Jetta. I went through three batteries (all warranty replacements) when I discovered the problem. The trunk light switch was not being disengaged when the trunk was closed.

As it turns out, the plastic molding in the trunk contains a raised feature that makes contact with the switch to turn the light off when the trunk is closed. Over time these moldings age and break down, causing this problem.

It takes a long time to figure out the problem unless you put an amp meter on the battery. Luckily, VW puts a small notch on the switch itself to permanently disengage the switch. You can still use it manually if you don't want the expense of buying the molding for the trunk. You can also make an appropriate height spacer and epoxy it to the metal portion of the trunk.

NOTE: Need more advice on your car's electrical system? Check out Understanding Your Import Car's Electrical System.

Bass Problems in Audi A Series with Bose System
Thanks to Nathan L. (from his own experience)

Many Audi A Series owners complain that the bass in the sound system is flat and overbearing. The problem stems from Bose using a ported subwoofer system.

To adjust the bass, locate the subwoofer (either in the trunk or rear of wagon models). Cut several pieces of duct tape in varying widths about 4 inches long. Start with the narrowest piece and place it over the port in the subwoofer. Test the system, adjusting the width of the tape until you are happy.

A ported subwoofer system works better with lower amp power than a sealed system, but often too much bass resonates, creating a "muddy" sound. Sealing off a portion of the port prevents some of the bass from escaping the box.

Pressure Bleeding Your Brake System
Thanks to Kamo D. (from his tech career)

I am a certified mechanic and regularly service my cars along with many others. I recommend pressure bleeding your brake system once a year to prevent serious damage to your brake system.

This is done using a device that sends new brake fluid at 10psi of pressure through your brake system replacing and cleaning all of the old fluid in your car. You can tell if you need to pressure bleed if your car's brake fluid is black in the reservoir (97% of old cars have this).

Please ask if you need details. If you have any car mechanic questions, feel free to email me at I will be more than happy to help!

Note: For more information on your car's brake system, check out Brake Repairs Needed? Don't Take Chances with Your Brakes - Repair Them Now.

Cleaning Your Brake Lines and Master Cylinder
Thanks to John J. (from a tech manual)

After flushing your braking system, the lines and master cylinder can be cleaned with alcohol. Simply by pouring in the master cylinder after emptying it and disconnecting the brake lines the alcohol will flow out of lines when depressing brake pedal continuously.

Craftsman Gear Wrenches
Thanks to John H. (from his own experience)

The new Craftsman Gear Wrenches, especially the stubby ones, are great! Try them in tight spots like transmission cooler lines, or especially if you have to change the overdrive solenoid on a Volvo 740 automatic transmission - you can save 20 minutes!

1988 Saab 900 Turbo Problem with Second Gear
Thanks to Jeff V. (from his own experience)

Here are the most common causes that I've encountered for 2nd gear failures on 1988 Saab 900 Turbo A/Ts:

- Forward band accumulator spring broken
- Forward band accumulator o-rings split
- Forward band accumulator adjusting set-screw backed off
- Forward band wedge that attaches between the band & accumulator lever has dislodged and is in the pan

Check these out if you're having problems with 2nd gear in your 1988 Saab 900!

ECU Resets When Adding Performance Parts
Thanks to Sergio P. (from friend passing along to him)

Here's an easy way for you to reprogram your computer when you add parts like headers, air intake, performance muffler, etc.

1. Look for your ECU fuse, which is usually located under the main fuse box under the hood.

2. Turn on your car until is at is normal temperature, then turn it off.

3. Take the ECU fuse out for about 5 minutes.

4. Put the fuse back and turn on your car without touching the gas pedal until it is at its normal idle then shut it down. You're ready to go and you'll get all the horsepower out of your performance parts!

Don't Forget:

Repair articles are added regularly. Come back often to check for new maintenance topics.

These repair tips are designed only as a starting point. Please seek the assistance of a professional mechanic for all repair problems beyond your capabilities.

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