Frequently Auto Repair Questions
Custom Deluxe Services Auto Repair Located at
113 Meridian Ave E. Edgewood, WA 98372
Get Your Car Fixed Today - Call (253) 927-2594

Custom Deluxe Services Auto Repair Frequent Questions

Custom Deluxe Services Auto Repair specializes in quality auto repair and State Emission Repair.

What are your hours? top

Our hours - Open 6 days a week Monday 9 AM - 6 PM Saturday 10 AM - 2 PM Sunday Closed

Can I drop off my car after hours?

Yes, we have a key drop next to the front door.

Do you have 24 Hr Towing?

Yes, towing and roadside assistance - Call Bill at (253) 927-2594. You can have your car towed to our lot 24 hrs a day. Just ask and the tow truck driver will be happy to put your keys in our key drop next to the front door.


Absolutely not! There are many laws specifically prohibiting automobile dealers from suggesting or implying that you must return to them for service in order keep your manufacturer warranty. Any qualified independent repair facility can maintain your new vehicle, and your warranty will remain valid. If you've been a long-time customer of a particular shop, and if you're happy and comfortable with the service they provide, then keep going to them. If they spot any problems that should be covered under manufacturer warranty, they will let you know so you can return to your dealer for warranty repairs.

How do I find a good repair facility?

Ask your friends and neighbors who they use. Get recommendations. Visit those shops, and stop in to have a look. Are they busy? Is the shop clean? Are there old, unused cars parked randomly on the property? Are the technicians clean? Are they ASE certified? How were you greeted? Would you be comfortable dealing with them?

Your automobile repair shop is your choice: These answers should help you decide where you would like to have it repaired.

Please have realistic expectations...

Diagnosing a car's faults is not always straightforward. Sometimes there are other problems needing repair that weren't included in the initial estimate.

General service may not be enough to keep an older vehicle in good condition.

Expect your repair costs to increase with the age of your vehicle.

Difficulty in obtaining parts may cause delays.

Help the Repairer Find the Fault

Intermittent issues are often difficult to identify. It is a good idea to jot down notes as problems occur. Then, when you're at the shop, it's better for you to describe the signs and symptoms rather than asking for a specific repair. If possible, go for a test drive to point out the problems.

What is the difference between diagnostics and inspections?

A diagnostic service requires the use of various expensive, sophisticated testing equipment. An inspection is a physical/visual check that does not require the use of sophisticated testing equipment.

What is diagnostics, and why is it not waived if I approve the necessary repair?

A diagnostic service requires the use of various expensive, sophisticated testing equipment. The labor time a technician needs for diagnoses is mutually exclusive of the labor time required to actually fix the problem.

Also, diagnostics are specific to the reported complaint. So, if a customer says the vehicle hesitates at a specific speed, the diagnostic service would not uncover a malfunctioning air conditioning.

What does the 'Check Engine' light mean?

The check engine light or MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp) means that the vehicle computer detects a system not functioning within it's pre-programmed parameters. Many things can trigger the check engine light: A loose fuel cap (computer sees a pressure loss in the fuel system), a vacuum leak, a bad fuel pump, a bad spark plug, a plugged fuel filter, a broken, pinched or disconnected wire, a lazy oxygen sensor, or a malfunctioning coolant temperature sensor.

Don't worry! What were the driving conditions and circumstances when the light first came on? Did it come on shortly after you filled the fuel tank? Did it come on after an extended drive in Arizona's summer heat? These clues can help the technician find the problem quicker saving you some money.

If the MIL is flashing, you need to get to your repair facility ASAP! This indicates that your vehicle's emission control system could soon be damaged.

When the check engine light comes on, make an appointment to have your vehicle tested. A technician will scan the computer for codes that help him find the malfunctioning system and begin the repair process.

I just had my car serviced because the 'check engine' light came on. Shortly after the repair, the light is on again. Did my repair shop make a mistake?

Maybe, but maybe not. The 'check engine' or 'service engine soon' light illuminates for many different reasons (see above question). So, the vehicle must be rechecked to determine the actual cause. If you're concerned, have your service advisor clearly document on your repair ticket the actual codes and reasons found. This way you will know if it should be covered under the original repair warranty or if it is a completely new problem.

What should I know about the parts to be repaired or replaced?

New Parts - These parts are made to the original specifications, either by the manufacturer or an independent company. Your state may require repair shops to tell you if non-original equipment will be used in the repair. Prices and quality of these parts vary.

Remanufactured, Rebuilt and Reconditioned Parts - These terms generally mean the same thing: parts have been restored to a sound working condition. Many manufacturers offer a warranty covering replacement parts, but not the labor to install them.

Used Parts - These are used parts taken from another vehicle without alteration. Used parts may be the only source for certain items, though their reliability is seldom guaranteed.

Regular preventive maintenance improves performance and extends the life of your engine, suspension and power train while preventing unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.

Oil, lube and filter should be changed every 3 months or 3,000 miles to prevent abnormal wear and tear on your engine.

Air Filter should be inspected regularly and changed as necessary to ensure optimal performance of your engine and improved fuel economy.

Fuel injection system should be serviced every 15,000 miles to prevent carbon build-up and deposits that restrict fuel flow and degrade engine performance.

Transmission fluid and filter should be replaced every 30,000 miles to ensure proper lubrication, preventing damage and ensuring smooth performance.

Timing Belts should be changed every 60,000 miles or as recommended by the manufacturer of your vehicle to prevent unexpected failure that can leave you stranded.

Maintenance tune-up should be performed as recommended by the manufacturer of your automobile to ensure longevity, optimal performance of your engine, and improved fuel economy.

What are the consequences of postponing maintenance?

Most parts on your vehicle are interrelated. Ignoring or neglecting even simple routine maintenance, such as changing the oil or checking the coolant, can lead to poor fuel economy, unreliability, or costly breakdowns. It also may invalidate your warranty.

What maintenance guidelines should I follow to avoid costly repairs?

Follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule in your owner's manual for your type of driving.

Tire maintenance:

The correct air pressure, rotating tires regularly, and keeping your tires aligned and in balance improves safety. It also saves you money by extending the life of your tires.

Correct air pressure in each tire ensures safe handling, and uniform wear improves fuel economy.

Rotating tires every 6,000 miles ensures smooth ride, uniform tire wear and allows for inspection of brakes and suspension.

Balancing tires corrects annoying vibrations and prevents irregular tire wear.

Proper alignment ensures safe handling and also prevents irregular tire wear. This should be checked whenever your car is pulling to the left or right.

How do I know if I need a wheel alignment?

You should have the alignment checked if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Excessive or uneven tire wear (provided the tires have been inflated at the proper air pressure)
  • Steering wheel pulls to the left or right (again, first check air pressure in each tire)
  • Steering feels loose or the car wanders on the road
  • If the steering wheel is not centered
  • If you feel any shaking, vibration, or shimmy when driving

How often should the hoses and belts be replaced in my car?

Always follow your manufacturer's recommendations as outlined in the owner's manual. Typically, these items are replaced every 5 years or 50,000 miles. It's best to have these items checked and replaced before the hot weather begins in the summertime.

Why should I replace the spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor?

Spark plugs, wires, distributor caps and rotors break down and fail over time due to exposure to moisture, oil, grease and under hood temperatures that can reach as much as 550 to 700 degrees. Worn spark plugs require higher voltage, forcing the ignition module and coil to produce increasingly higher and higher voltages to overcome the resistance. This breaks down the spark plug wire's insulation, creating an easier path to ground. This causes the ignition module and coil to produce even more voltage, creating even higher temperatures within them. The increased resistance weakens transistors and electrical insulation within modules, coils and computers, resulting in intermittent and premature failure.

If your vehicle has over 60,000 miles and you haven't replaced your spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, you may experience a variety of drivable problems that are often difficult and very costly to diagnose and repair.

How long do spark plugs last?

That really depends upon the type of spark plugs that are in your vehicle. Vehicles 15+ years old are more likely to have standard plugs with approximate life expectancy of 12,000-15,000 miles. Newer model vehicles up to 2000 are usually platinum tipped, lasting approximately 30,000 miles. Some 2001 and newer vehicles come with iridium tipped plugs which could last up to 90,000 miles.

How often should the engine antifreeze/coolant be flushed?

Always follow your manufacturer's recommendations as outlined in the owner's manual. Typically, the cooling system should be flushed out at least once every two years or 30,000 miles. The best time is to have this service performed is in the spring or fall. A flush should never be done as a repair for an overheating problem. A coolant flush after the repair is recommended to clean the entire system and replace it with the proper anti-foaming agents, rust inhibitors, and water pump lubricants.

My vehicle has noticeable or excessive smoke coming out the tail pipe, what does that mean?

If the smoke is gray or black in color, it typically means the vehicle is running rich (too much gasoline and not enough air). If you only experience this when the car is started, it is typically an issue with the settings of the fuel injection system. If you get black smoke all the time, there are additional problems with the fuel injection system that needs to be checked (oxygen sensors, map sensors, fuel injectors, fuel pressure regulators, air filter, etc). If this is allowed to continue, it could cause damage to the catalytic converter as well.

If the smoke is blue, it means the vehicle is burning oil. This can be caused by bad pistons and rings, damaged cylinder walls, or other internal engine damage.

If the smoke is white, it is a sign of a coolant leak or coolant is being forced into the cylinders and burned. Typical causes of white smoke are faulty head gaskets, a cracked head, or a broken cylinder wall.

Should I even try to fix it myself?

Well, how mechanically inclined are you? And what is the problem with the vehicle? If you know how, there are a lot of repairs you can do yourself. You can probably change your own oil. Do make sure to save your receipts because if there's a concern under the manufacturer warranty and you don't have receipts, then you've voided your warranty! Make sure you use quality filters and dispose of your old oil appropriately. (Don't just go out in the desert and dump it: That's about a $10,000 fine!)

If your newer vehicle has a runnability concern, then you probably can't repair it yourself. You have to communicate with the vehicle's ECM (Engine Control Module) to see what system is in need of repair.

If you do decide to fix it yourself, then make sure you follow all necessary safety precautions when working on the vehicle. It's only a car; certainly not worth injuring yourself in an effort to repair!

Heading Off Problems:

The more you know about your vehicle, the more likely you'll be able to prevent or reduce problems. You can detect many common vehicle problems by using your senses: looking for fluid spots, listening for strange noises, noticing unusual odors, or feeling a difference in the way your vehicle handles.

Visual Clues:

Small stains or an occasional drop of fluid under your vehicle may not mean much, but wet spots deserve attention! Check puddles immediately. You can identify fluids by their color and consistency:

Yellowish green, pastel blue, or florescent orange colors indicate an overheated engine or an antifreeze leak caused by a bad hose, water pump, or leaking radiator.

A dark brown or black, oily fluid means the engine is leaking oil. It could be a bad seal or gasket.

A red, oily spot indicates a transmission or power-steering fluid leak.

A puddle of clear water is usually no problem. It may be normal condensation from your vehicle's air conditioner (even during winter months due to the use of the defroster).

Sounds & Audio Clues:

Squeaks, squeals, rattles, rumbles, and other sounds provide valuable clues about problems and maintenance needs. Here are some common noises and what they mean:


A shrill, sharp noise, usually related to engine speed:

  • Loose or worn power steering, fan or air conditioning belt.

A slight sharp noise, related to either engine speed or vehicle speed:

  • Loose wheel cover.
  • Loose or bent fan blade.
  • Stuck valve lifter or low engine oil.

A high-pitched, piercing metallic sound (usually occurs while the vehicle is in motion):

  • Caused by brake wear indicators to let you know it's time for maintenance.

A low-pitched rhythmic sound:

  • Defective exhaust pipe, converter or muffler.
  • Worn universal joint or other drive-line component.

A high-pitched, metallic tapping sound, related to engine speed:

  • Usually caused by using gas with a lower octane rating than recommended. Check your owner's manual for the proper octane rating. If it persists, it could be the engine ignition timing or an emission control system malfunction.
Heavy Knock

A rhythmic pounding sound:

  • Worn crankshaft or connecting rod bearings.
  • Internal Engine Failure
  • Loose transmission torque converter.

A random thumping sound:

  • Loose shock absorber or other suspension component.
  • Loose exhaust pipe or muffler.
Odors & Smells:

Some problems can be detected by their odor:

The smell of burned toast - a light, sharp odor - often signals an electrical short and burning insulation. To be safe, try not to drive the vehicle until the problem is diagnosed.

The smell of rotten eggs - a continuous burning-sulphur smell - usually indicates a problem in the catalytic converter or other emission control devices. Don't delay diagnosis and repair!

A thick acrid odor usually means burning oil. Look for sign of a leak.

The smell of gasoline vapors after a failed start may mean you have flooded the engine. Wait a few minutes before trying again. If the odor persists, there may be a leak in the fuel system - a potentially dangerous problem that needs immediate attention.

Burning resin or an acrid chemical odor may signal overheated brakes or clutch. Check the parking brake. Stop. Allow the brakes to cool after repeated hard braking on mountain roads. Light smoke coming from a wheel indicates a stuck brake. The vehicle should be towed for repair.

A sweet, steamy odor indicates a coolant leak. If the temperature gauge or warning light does not indicate overheating, drive carefully to the nearest service station, keeping an eye on your gauges. If the odor is accompanied by a hot, metallic scent and steam from under the hood, your engine has overheated. Pull over immediately. Continued driving could cause severe engine damage. The vehicle should be towed for repair.

Feels different:

Difficult handling, a rough ride, vibration, and poor performance are symptoms you can feel. They almost always indicate a problem.


Misaligned front wheels and/or worn steering components, such as the idler or ball joint, can cause wandering or difficulty steering in a straight line.

Pulling - the vehicle's tendency to steer to the left or right - can be caused by something as routine as under-inflated tires or as serious as a damaged or misaligned front end.

Ride and Handling:

Worn shock absorbers or other suspension components (or improper tire inflation) can contribute to poor cornering.

While there is no hard and fast rule about when to replace shock absorbers or struts, try this test: bounce the vehicle up and down hard at each wheel, and then let go. Note how many times the vehicle bounces: Weak shocks will allow the vehicle to bounce twice or more.

Springs do not normally wear out and do not need replacement unless one corner of the vehicle is lower than the others. Overloading your vehicle can damage the springs.

Balance tires properly. An unbalanced or improperly balanced tire causes a vehicle to vibrate and may wear steering and suspension components prematurely.


Schedule diagnosis and repair if:

  • The vehicle pulls to one side when the brakes are applied.
  • The brake pedal sinks to the floor when pressure is maintained.
  • You hear or feel scraping or grinding during braking.
  • The "brake" light on the instrument panel is lit.

The following symptoms indicate engine trouble:

  • Difficulty starting the engine.
  • The "check engine" light on the instrument panel is lit.
  • Rough idling or stalling.
  • Poor acceleration.
  • Poor fuel economy.
  • Excessive oil use (more than one quart between changes).
  • Engine continues running after the key is removed.

Poor transmission performance may come from actual component failure or simply a disconnected hose or plugged filter. Make sure the technician checks the simple items first; transmission repairs can be expensive. Some of the most common symptoms of transmission problems are:

  • Abrupt or hard shifts between gears.
  • Delayed or no response when shifting from neutral to drive or reverse.
  • Failure to shift during normal acceleration.
  • Slippage during acceleration. The engine speeds up, but the vehicle does not respond.

Car trouble doesn't always mean major repairs. Here are some common issues and techniques to help you and your technician find and fix problems.


Loose wiring can make your alternator appear defective. Your technician should check for loose connections and perform an output test before replacing the alternator.


Corroded or loose battery terminals can make the battery appear dead or defective. Your technician should clean the terminals and test battery function before replacing the battery.


What appears to be a defective starter could actually be a dead battery or poor connection. Ask your technician to check all connections and test the battery before repairing the starter.


A loud rumbling noise under your vehicle indicates a need for a new muffler or exhaust pipe.

Tune up

The old-fashioned "tune up" may not be relevant to your newer vehicle. Fewer parts, other than belts, spark plugs, hoses and filters, need to be replaced on newer vehicles. Follow the recommendations in your owner's manual.

Buying a used car? Ask the seller...

Why are they selling the vehicle?

  • breaks down often, bought a new car, too expensive, gas guzzler, etc.

Where has the mileage of the car been accrued?

  • city driving, highway driving (best!), off road

What repairs have been done and do they have invoices?

  • Good Record keeping speaks volumes!

What accidents or damage has the vehicle had? Where and how was it repaired?

  • Again, invoices that detail the repair are extremely helpful.

What type of gas have they used?

  • You may not want to purchase a vehicle that requires the most expensive gas available to run properly.

Ask to test drive the vehicle.

  • Be alert to unusual noises, jerking, pulling, & abnormal shifting.

Ask the seller to take the vehicle, or let you take the vehicle, to YOUR MECHANIC for a pre-purchase inspection.

Why should I do a pre-purchase inspection on a car before I buy it?

When purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, it is extremely important to know exactly what you are getting yourself into. You don't want to end up with a lemon and get more than you bargained for. Valley Automotive can provide you with a thorough pre-buy inspection: We check for body damage which may invisible to the untrained eye, covered by bondo and paint. We inspect the vehicle's mechanical soundness by checking the engine, drive train, belts, hoses, and search for oil leaks. Additionally, we do a comprehensive safety check including brake and lights testing, suspension examination, as well as frame examination for damage and wear. No one wants surprises after the purchase of a new used vehicle!

Lower Your Auto Insurance Rates...

If you are like most, you'd love to have lower vehicle insurance costs. Here are a few tips that may increase your savings:

  • Keep your driving record clean. Tickets and accidents only increase your costs.

  • Get the most out of discounts. Many insurers give discounts for safety features like air bags, theft alarms, and anti-lock brakes. Ask your insurer to check if you are getting all the discounts available to you.

  • Towing & labor only pays if you can't drive away from an accident. If you are a member of an auto club, you don't need this coverage.

We will be happy to answer any other questions that you have about your vehicle. We have made a commitment to delivering quality auto repair service at a fair price.

Please call us today at (253) 927-2594

Our Promise to You
We are committed to ...identifying our customers' changing needs by offering effective, economic and innovative solutions...the application of modern technologies ...striving for continued excellence and deliver responsive service and unmatched offer superior products from the finest brand names at very competitive prices ...being responsible for our actions and treating each customer with courtesy.

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Testimonial in Tacoma, WA!

Great Repair Shop! I have been taking my car to Steven & Francine's for eight years now for maintenance, state inspections, and repairs. Their service has always been first rate. Clint, the general service manager, has always been friendly and informative, letting me know what needs to take place to keep my car in top condition. I just got my car back from them and it is running better than ever. For a ten-year old car, that is truly something. I highly recommend Custom Deluxe Services Auto Repair.

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