To all our valued customers:

Many businesses in our city are presently closed due to the mandatory shelter in place ordinance and it has recently been extended. Auto repair services like Thom's are classified as an Essential Business thus allowing us to to be open and available to perform the needed services on our clients vehicles . We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure proper sanitation practices in our work area and the office, as well as disinfecting the interior of your vehicles upon arrival and completion of work. We have created a No Contact drop area outside of the waiting room; payment can be accomplished via credit card over the phone. We understand that finances are being stretched at this time, but reliable vehicles are a necessity, if funding is an issue we have various option available upon request.For those sheltering in place and would prefer vehicle pick up and delivery, we are able to accommodate you within a five mile range of the shop. These are trying and uncertain times for everyone and we want all of our clients to remain healthy and safe and know you can call on us for support during you times of need.

Articles:

When Your Air Bag Light Comes On (Illuminated Air Bag Light)

There are some dashboard lights you should pay more attention to than others.  One is the air bag light.  If it's on and your vehicle is in an accident, your air bags probably won't do their job. Automakers began installing air bags in the late 1990's since they were mandatory in the United States, and manufacturers have included them in Canadian vehicles as well.  Safety experts say using a seat belt in combination with an air bag gives passengers the best chance of surviving a crash and minimizing serious injury. The air bag warning light takes a few different forms.  Some look like a picture of a belted passenger with an inflated air bag from a side view.  Or there may be a warning light that says something like "Air Bag," "SRS" (for supplemental restraint system), "Airbag Deactivated" or "Air Bag Off." Different things cause the air bag light to come on.  Your vehicle may have been in an accident during which, while the air bags didn't inflate, crash s ... read more

Hitting the Brakes in CHICAGO

Safety should always be an element of your vehicle care. So even if you don't care about how your vehicle looks, you should practice preventive maintenance to protect yourself — and other CHICAGO drivers — on the road. And good safety starts with good brakes.Brakes need a regular inspection. There are  parts that wear out or wear down, and it's best to replace them before you have serious problems. Of course, if you are having trouble with your brakes, NOW is the time to fix them. If your brake warning light is on, that's a good sign that you need your brakes checked. You can also tell something is wrong with your brakes by the feel of the pedal or unusual sounds while braking. If the brake pedal is low, feels spongy when you press it or is hard to push, that indicates a problem with your brakes. If you hear squealing, grinding or clunking noises when you brake, that can also indicate serious problems. If vibrations accompany ... read more

Categories:

Brakes

CHICAGO Customer Detective Work

One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Thom's Four Wheel Drive in CHICAGO is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.Cars in Illinois are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So, it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.Let us at Thom's Four Wheel Drive introduce you to something we'll call 'Customer Detective Work' –  helping your technician find clues to what's wrong.We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me; You come in to Thom's Four Wheel Drive and your car is making a funny sound... Q: Where's the sound? A: Around the right front wheel. Q: What kind of soun ... read more

Gas Smell! (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

If you've ever walked into your garage and noticed it smelled like gasoline, pay attention. Gasoline can be dangerous, both from the health problems fumes can cause and the fire danger gasoline presents.  There are many things that can cause a vehicle to give off a gasoline odor.  One of the easiest to track down is the gas cap.  It could be missing or it doesn't seal well any more (they do wear out).  That can also cause the Check Engine light to light up, so those are clues to tell your service advisor when you take it in for diagnosis. Another thing that can cause the Check Engine light to come on and produce a gasoline smell is the fuel filler neck. It's the part that goes from the place you put your fuel in to the gas tank. Over time, these can wear out and fail (they're made out of rubber or metal).  They can leak gasoline, too. It's always a good idea to check the garage floor for any gasoline puddles.  Note the location of the puddle in relation to ... read more

Not Too Hot and Not Too Cold (Temperature Gauge)

You know your body temperature is supposed to be 98.6 degrees F, 37 degrees C.  Your vehicle has a normal temperature, too, and if you pay attention to it, that can save you some big headaches down the road. Many vehicles have a temperature gauge on the dash that takes the temperature of the engine's coolant.  Some have a thermometer symbol, some read C-H (cold to hot). Many will have a red zone that shows when water temperature is getting into the danger zone.  Others are digital and have a red warning light that signals overheating.  And some vehicles have a light that goes on when the engine temperature is out of the normal range. If your vehicle has a gauge, pay attention to it.  If you need help locating it, ask one of our Thom's Four Wheel Drive experts to give you a quick explanation.  Chances are when the vehicle has been running for 15 minutes or more, the temperature gauge will settle into its own "normal" zone, often just below the midway point ... read more

Fuel Saving Tip: CHICAGO Tune Up

Have you ever gone to listen to an orchestra? The musicians take the stage early and tune their instruments. Each individual instrument must be in tune, but the critical thing is for the entire orchestra to be in tune with each other. That's why they tune up together.Now this is no surprise; I'm going to relate the orchestra to your vehicle. Your engine has many component systems that each need to be working properly. And the components need to be working in sync, all timed up together in order for the engine to work efficiently.We call this... (ta-da) a tune-up. When an orchestra's out of tune you get a bad concert. When your vehicle's out of tune you get bad performance and bad fuel economy.So check your owner's manual for recommended tune-up intervals. Or ask your CHICAGO service advisor at Thom's Four Wheel Drive what he thinks....Just be careful not to say you want to make beautiful music together – that kinda makes us uncomfortable. Th ... read more

Categories:

Fuel System

Passing the Test (How to Prevent Emissions Test Failure)

Vehicle emission testing has become ubiquitous in North America and for a good reason.  Clean air quality is important for the environment and all of us.  Since vehicle emissions are among the main causes of air pollution, emission testing can alert you to problems in your vehicle than can be fixed so it won't needlessly pollute. Emissions tests are looking for certain toxic gases internal combustion engines produce, such as nitrogen oxide, particulate matter, non-methane organic gases and formaldehyde.  Emissions control systems reduce these gases if they are working properly.  The best way to minimize pollution is to keep those vehicle systems working properly, and periodic inspection and maintenance is the key.  So if you want to make sure your vehicle will pass an emissions test, it helps to know what might go wrong. Let's start on the easy one.  Your gas cap could be loose, allowing vapors to escape into the atmosphere.  The most common solution ... read more

It's About Time: Following Service Intervals at Thom's Four Wheel Drive

There are a lot of things in life that CHICAGO residents have to do on a regular basis. We wash dishes every day, do our laundry and mow our lawns every week, and pay the bills every month. We should go to our CHICAGO dentist twice a year and see our doctor for a check-up once a year. When we don't stay on schedule with these routines, it can lead to embarrassing, painful or expensive consequences. Scheduled maintenance is also part of good vehicle care. CHICAGO drivers should take their vehicles in regularly for a good check-up. But many folks struggle to remember or actually even ignore this auto advice. When it comes to our vehicles, we're more likely to listen to, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it,” than, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yet it is the second adage that is the more applicable one.Regular brushing treatments prevent cavities. Filling a cavity prevents a more painful ... read more

Categories:

Inspection

See the Light (Automatic High Beam Dimmers)

It's happened to all of us.  We're driving down a highway at night and over a crest appears a car with its high beams blazing.  You are momentarily blinded, hoping the other driver will switch them to their low beam setting and restore your vision. Not only do we not appreciate being blinded, face it; we don’t want to be that other driver, either.  You know, the one who forgets to turn down their high beams. Why do we want high beams in the first place? They can improve safety when used correctly, giving drivers more reaction time since they can see farther down the road.  But research has found many drivers either don't use them or, when they do, they frequently forget to switch to low beams.  Enter the automatic high-beam dimmer. The quest for the perfect one began back in the 1950s, General Motors invented something it called the "Autronic Eye." It was a phototube which sat on the dashboard and turned down your beams when it saw other headlights.  ... read more

Categories:

Headlamps

Protecting Your Vehicle from Theft in CHICAGO, Illinois

Every car in CHICAGO, Illinois, is at risk for theft. So it's up to us to make our cars a less appealing target and more of a challenge – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a layered approach to protecting vehicles: Common sense Visible and audible devices Immobilizing devices Tracking devices Let's review each of these. One is common sense; you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen in Illinois where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it's against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.And don't leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. CHICAGO drivers would be wise to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end ... read more

Categories:

Automotive News
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