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Car problems, mechanics at shop were no help

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New User

Jan 9, 2014, 7:26 AM

Post #1 of 5 (1031 views)
Car problems, mechanics at shop were no help Sign In

I have a 2006 Kia Spectra that has more miles than I'd like, unfortunantly you can only afford what you can afford and I couldn't afford more even with my trade in.

The dealership I bought it from had no idea if the timing belt had ever been changed and it was way past time. I had that and the transmission fluid done at the same time and thought things were okay as the car drove better........ for a while.

The problems are the car is shaking upon breaking, shaking when I'm driving and seems to have shifting/gear changing problems.

I brought it in to get checked out and found out my rotars are warped, that explains the shaking when breaking, and my rear breaks will need to be replaced in the near future. They told me my oil was low, no I did not check it prior I know I should have, but it was past time for an oil change(according to the place that did it last) so I just had them take care of it while I was there. In my previous cars I've went over the "recommened" time to change the oil and had no problems with low oil and I told the guy this. Now the weird part is he told me some cars use oil differently and therefore need it changed on a regular basis and that the low oil was also potentially causing the problems I've been experiencing. Is this at all correct?

So I now know the cause of one of the problems, but not the other 2, shaking when driving and gear changing/shifting problems.

The shaking typically occurs on the highway but can continue onto city streets. If I have to break hard its especially bad after doing so but happens regardless just to a lesser extent. Could this be caused by the rotar problem, as the guy at the shop alluded to? Or is there something else that would be the culprit here? Now I did hit a big pot hole a year ago, big enough to dent my rim. I had that replaced but was not able to get an alignment after, now I've never experienced shaking in my previous cars when they've been in need of an alignment, just them not wanting to go straight.... The shaking can be bad to the extent its more work to keep the car going straight then it should be. They did test drive it, or said they did, and said they didn't experience any shaking, but it doesn't always happen on city roads and they're not close enough to a highway to test it an highway speeds, and yes I did tell them it's mostly on the highway.

The gear changing/shifting problems aren't consistent, meaning I can go a day or more without experiencing anything and then it can happen for a day or more then be fine again. My previous car was a manual so I'm quite familiar with the sounds and affects associated with the need for the gear to change/be changed and because of that I know there is some sort of problem, just not what. It seems to have trouble changing gears at times, like its stuck in the gear its in and this can cause the car to not accelerate properly. I've also had 2 experiences with the car lurching forward, while driving, like a manual does if you don't put the car in neutral prior to taking your foot off the clutch. Is this a transmission problem or could something else be causing it?

The guy that talked to me about what they'd found attributed all of these problems, with the exception of the shaking while breaking, to my car being low on oil, but I'm just not buying that. I want to get this figured out so I can get all the problems corrected, but can't if I don't even know where to start with the 2 unknown problems. The guy at the shop said they'd have to hook it up to a diagnostic to see if any problems are found, but if none are found, what then? They'll tell me nothing is wrong and the problems will continue.

Any ideas what's going on with my car? If you need any clarification please ask, I try to explain things thorougly but don't always succeed.

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

Jan 9, 2014, 8:41 AM

Post #2 of 5 (1019 views)
Re: Car problems, mechanics at shop were no help Sign In

Warped rotors will definately give you a shake when braking, and if bad enough can give you a shake while driving. I had warped out brake drums on the rear of my truck and it not only shook while driving when you hit the brakes it would damn near knock the fillings out of your teeth. That was how it was on the test drive, and once it got home the brakes were gone through before it set foot on the road again. Drives smooth now.

Shaking while driving can occur for many reasons. The already mentioned rotors if bad enough, a bad inner CV joint can do it, bent rims and bad tires. There also may be worn out steering or suspension parts like wheel bearings or ball joints. This needs to be looked at by someone competent who has seen this before, but its usually a quick diagnosis. Since some of these items directly affect your safety you should get it looked at right away.

Some engines when they wear will begin to consume oil either getting past the oil control rings on the pistons or past the valve guides and seals in the head. Many times all that is needed is to keep a good eye on the oil level and it will get a few more miles out of the engine like that. There are also many gaskets and seals that are meant to keep oil inside the engine that can wear out and need replacement. You know this uses oil, don't rely on oil change intervals to be checking it. Check the level every time you put gas in it and keep a few quarts in the car with you. How low was your oil level? Low oil level will not make a car shake, nor will it have anything to do with your transmission shifting. It will keep your engine from going boom though.

The pothole that was able to dent a rim is a bit of a clue for me. You got the rim replaced but were told it couldn't be aligned. I'm guessing they quoted you for the replacement of some parts that were worn and you declined to do them. Because the parts were damaged, there is no way to do an alignment on this. In order to set the alignment the joints and bearings cannot have any play in them and the connecting arms and such cannot be bent. Putting off those repairs might be whats come back to haunt you now.

If you swing by most auto parts store they will scan your car for codes for free. This is NOT a diagnosis, these readers are tools that supply helpful information to people who know how to correctly interpret them and then proceed with diagnostics. But you may find some information there that could help us guide you toward a diagnosis. Get the codes read and post them here for us. We need the exact code numbers, not a generic description. It would be something like P0300, random cylinder misfire or P1870, transmission component slipping, for example.

As to the shifting issue, the cheapest bet might be to go to a trans shop and have them diagnose it. They see this every day and have the right tools to confirm their suspicions. It could be something as simple as a bad solenoid, it could be the trans is on its way out. If they tell you the trans is going at least you know before you dump a bunch of cash into the rest of the car.

Let us know what you find.

New User

Jan 9, 2014, 9:31 AM

Post #3 of 5 (1016 views)
Re: Car problems, mechanics at shop were no help Sign In

So AutoZone or O'Reillys would be able to do the scan you're referring to? I'm sure we have more in or around my city, but those are the only 2 I found on a quick search since I couldn't remember the name of the one down the street from me.

As for the shaking while driving, from what you're saying it sounds like they should have been able to figure out if it was one of the things you mentioned without the need for the diagnositc they'll do if I take it back to them, correct?

It also sounds like they should have just done the diagnostic at the time I was in from to what you said about the oil. I didn't think it would affect the car in regards to the problems it has. They said it didn't register/show on the dipstick when they checked, but like I said I also had neglected to check since I'd never had a problem with prior cars so I don't know if they were telling the truth or fibbing just to get me to do an oil change with them. I'll check it tonight and see where it's at as I'm getting close to the mileage they put for it being changed again. It was checked at Christmas when I mentioned what they said to my sister's fiancee and it was still registering on the dipstick then, a month after it was changed.

I'll have to check around for a transmission shop. I did ask for a quote from one regarding the problems I was having and they gave me a quote of over a thousand, just to check it out, no repairs involved! The shop I did go to would have been $200 something if they'd done the diagnostic but was less since they didn't. We have a firestone auto care in my city, do you know if they'd be good to check this out for me? When I stopped in to ask about my rim last year they had a car they were doing a new transmission on so I would guess they'd be a possible place, I don't know how much they were charging since I didn't ask.

Thank you for the reply, I greatly appreciate it.

Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

Jan 9, 2014, 12:15 PM

Post #4 of 5 (1006 views)
Re: Car problems, mechanics at shop were no help Sign In

Yes, AZ or O'Reilly could scan for generic trouble codes.

If they are actively looking for this shaking issue, they are diagnosing it. If someone advertises that for free they are not likely the caliber of shop you want working on your car. Most diagnotics are billed around 1/2 to one hour of labor.

They could've done the diagnostic when you got your oil changed, but you would've had to agree to the charges first. Like I said, it isn't free. It takes years of training and on the job experience along with a toolset cost ranging from $50,000-100,000 to make a good tech. Every year all the car makers change things up with new technology, new procedures and new designs. We have as much continuing training and new software/ specialty tools to pay for to keep up with that it can surpass the costs a doctor pays.

They said it didn't register/show on the dipstick when they checked, but like I said I also had neglected to check since I'd never had a problem with prior cars so I don't know if they were telling the truth or fibbing just to get me to do an oil change with them.

We don't work that way, and the profit margin on oil changes is pretty much dirt. A tech generates full shop rate when doing repair jobs that have been approved by the customer. Your car isn't by any means new. You need to be checking the oil level yourself. It isn't hard. You know you are losing oil. Driving thousands of miles without checking it when you know you have a leak is going to cost you a motor. If the oil wasn't even on the stick you were the better part of 2 quarts low. This thing only holds 4 quarts or a hair over. Drive around like that and goodbye engine.

It was checked at Christmas when I mentioned what they said to my sister's fiancee and it was still registering on the dipstick then, a month after it was changed.

It was reading on the stick, that doesn't mean it was at the full mark or in the safe zone. Just having a little on the stick you can still get low enough to do damage. Checking this yourself is very simple. It even shows you how in the owner's manual. Also, pretty much any shop would be willing to show you exactly how to do this as a courtesy. I've done it plenty of times. Even taught my girl who didn't even know how to pop the hood when I met her.

Over a grand to check out a problem is definately too much. Maybe they meant that much to pull the trans out and tear it down. Firestone is a basic lube and maintenance shop. They are not transmission specialists. This is what you need. The places that do in-house rebuilding and all they do is transmissions. The trans job you saw at Firestone was them installing a unit built by someone else. Thats called "swing work" or R&R work. Most shops go this route because there is a lot of tooling and training involved to be rebuilding a trans from scratch, and then they are carrying the warranty on it. Most opt to just order a rebuilt unit from someone else and send them the old one on exchange. You then only need a tech who is capable of taking one out and put it back in. That person likely wouldn't know much of anything about how the internals of it function. Stay away from the chain shops, you need a transmission specialist.

New User

Jan 10, 2014, 8:31 AM

Post #5 of 5 (984 views)
Re: Car problems, mechanics at shop were no help Sign In

Okay, checked my oil and it's at the full mark on the dipstick. Since Its been over a month, if I was losing it somewhere wouldn't it have gone down already?

The shop was supposed to be looking into all the problems I brought up here and they gave me a quote that included the diagnostic, which they were supposed to do but they stopped after finding the oil was low. At the time I didn't think that would make a difference with the problems it was in for, but didn't know for sure either.

I am looking for transmission shops now.

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