auto repair service Madison WI

4822 Pflaum Rd,
Madison, WI 53718

ASE Certified Mechanic in Madison WI
Vehicle Noises and Performance Issues Solved Here

Whatever your vehicle’s problem, we’ve seen it, heard it, and fixed it.

Is your car knocking, screeching, squealing, clicking, or stuttering? Is it losing power? Is your check engine light on? We’ve got it. This is what we do.

We’ve been solving vehicle problems for Madison area customers for decades, so you can be confident that we can get your car running right again. Please schedule an appointment if you need any assistance, or call us at (608) 240-9000 if the issue is urgent.

In the meantime, here are some tips for common noises and issues. Before diving in, keep in mind:

  1. Descriptions of car problems are subjective. What you call knocking (potentially severe), we might call ticking (often not severe). This page isn’t meant to be a diagnostic tool.
  2. We’re not alarmists, but there are potentially severe issues, and we have seen customer engines be irreparably damaged by some of these, so we want to save you potentially thousands of dollars by encouraging caution when appropriate.

Severe Issues

If you’re encountering these, take the extra precaution of not driving your vehicle again until it’s looked at. Give us a call, and we’ll get it towed. We will inform the tow truck driver of what they need to know (such as, in some cases, NOT starting the car).

  • Loud knocking. This can be a sign of catastrophic failure of your main bearings or connecting rod bearings.
  • Screeching or squealing. This can be caused by belts, bearings, alternator, tensioner, idler pulley, or power steering.
  • Car remains in second gear, leading to slow startup. Some transmission problems may trigger a safety mode that keeps your vehicle in second gear. This prevents the vehicle from operating at normal speeds, and it may feel like the vehicle doesn’t have much power. This is intentional to prevent further damage and to encourage you to bring the vehicle to a service facility as soon as possible.
  • Oil light is on solid. This usually indicates imminent catastrophe. Stop immediately; do not run the vehicle. Tow truck needed. (Some of these are false alarms, but the stakes are too high to take a chance.)
  • Check Engine light is blinking. The engine computer has detected that fuel isn’t being burned properly, which can result in the catalytic converter becoming extremely hot—possibly hot enough to start a fire in some cases. Shut off the vehicle as soon as practical.

Moderate Issues

  • Hesitation, stuttering, or loss of power. These symptoms can have various causes, ranging from moderate to severe. It could indicate a clutch problem, transmission problem, internal engine failure leading to possible catalytic converter damage, etc. If ignored, costs of repair can increase, so we recommend getting the car looked at very soon if you’re experiencing these symptoms.
  • Check Engine light is on (solid). There are hundreds of issues that can trigger the check engine light. Please don’t ignore it. Schedule an appointment, and we’ll read the codes at no charge. See more about how we help you when you have a lit check engine light.

Less Severe Issues

  • Ticking. This is likely valve train related, and can be caused by dirty oil or being behind on maintenance. Sometimes changing the oil and putting in an additive that helps dissolve carbon and/or varnish can mitigate this problem. Usually if the sound is not getting louder, the vehicle can be operated for extended periods—maybe even the rest of its normal life—without a problem. But if it is getting louder, it indicates something is coming loose inside the engine and will need attention.
  • Oil light is flickering. Check the oil.
    • If the oil level is low, add 1 quart at a time until it reaches the full mark, and then monitor the oil level regularly to ensure the engine isn’t consuming or leaking too much oil.
    • If the oil level is not low but the oil light is flickering, this is a low oil pressure issue that should not be ignored. You can drive the vehicle some, but it should be seen by a mechanic as soon as practical. If the problem is caught in time, it’s very possible to avoid damage.

Don’t See Your Issue?

This page lists just a few common symptoms, but we can solve whatever issue you have.

Dave from dave's auto
I’ve been taking my car to Dave’s Auto for years. Dave and his staff are always friendly, helpful, and informative. It’s hard to find a mechanic you can really trust, and Dave’s Auto is 100% the real deal! Thanks Dave!

– Jennifer T. (via AutoVitals)

2 Easy Ways to Schedule Your Appointment

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Our ASE certified technicians use top-of-the-line equipment and the latest databases to find the problem and the right solution, right away.


The right solution keeps you safe, makes sense for your long-term vehicle plans, & fits your current finances. We inform; you decide.


We treat customers like friends & family, providing an excellent experience. We're on a first-name basis with you and your car.






Dave’s Auto Service is like no other repair shop that I have gone to. They were very clear with the problems my car had and gave a detailed description along with pictures to make me fully understand the necessary repairs. This is an excellent repair shop that I will continue to go to for any future repairs.

Dave's Auto Service

4822 Pflaum Road
Madison, WI 53718