Car Maintenance Tips Part 1

Car Talk

Belts – They Keep Us Moving

What causes failure in belts?  They do over 35 million revolutions a year, are exposed to heat, vibration and contamination.  They twist, and turn, bend and flex.  This produces heat that hardens the rubber that causes the belts to loosen and slip. The rubber then cracks and frays and the internal cords will become brittle and weak. This happens from the inside out so it isn’t visible. Car manufacturers recommend replacing belts every 36,000 miles.


What causes failure in hoses?  Tiny cracks develop in the rubber causing the hoses to split, blister and/or leak.  Contamination from oil and atmospheric ozone can accelerate the process.  Hoses deteriorate on the inside as much as the outside.  They can even look fine on the outside and be totally ruined on the inside.  Small cracks and pinhole leaks weaken hose fibers.  If you squeeze the hose near the clamps or connectors and the ends feel soft and mushy, the hose has been contaminated and needs replacing. Manufacturers recommend replacing hoses every 48,000 miles.

Anti-Aging For Your Car

We seem to be an “anti-aging” society.  Everywhere you look there is some commercial for an anti-aging herb or cream.  They all promise to keep us looking and feeling years younger. Many consumers are proving it is more than possible not only with themselves but their cars too!  They are keeping their cars going 200,000 miles and longer!  How?  By getting their vehicle’s serviced regularly.  Ask us how to keep your car’s youth!

Best Value or Just Cheap?

In today’s economy there are many businesses offering ‘cheap’ prices to get a consumer in the door.  To me, these businesses aren’t offering ‘value.’  Value is when you want to provide the best possible solution for your customers.  Now the best doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive, but it doesn’t always mean the cheapest either.  For example, when you have to replace a part on your vehicle, you want it to be a part that has good quality and a good warranty and you want that part to last you more than a month or two.  We promise value each and every time!

Buyer Beware

By now most of us have had a strange telephone call telling us our “extended auto warranty” is about to expire.  If you are on a no call list at home, they may have reached you on your mobile phone. Some have been very puzzled because they knew they didn’t have an extended warranty.  Some though, assumed it was a call from their dealership, incorrectly as it turned out. Consumer Reports states that whether a service plan is offered by a broker, car dealer, or manufacturer, they recommend skipping it. These ads promoting extended auto warranty may sound good but if they don’t deliver consumers’ have wasted their money.  Don’t become a victim. If you really want an extended warranty plan, read the fine print, do your research and don’t be pressured by a fast-talking salesperson.

Does Your Ride Have A Mind Of Its Own?

We get calls from consumers complaining that their car seems to have a mind of its own.  It wants to bounce and rock and drift and sway.  We know exactly what the problem is when we hear these complaints.  It is either your vehicle’s shocks or struts.  Usually they wear out slowly and you don’t notice that they are aging, then suddenly, it seems like you can’t keep your tires on the road! 

How Are Your Wiper Blades Holding Up?

Wiper blades are one of the most neglected components on vehicles today. Many blades are cracked, split, torn, brittle, worn or otherwise in obvious need of replacement. Others may look okay, but does a lousy job of wiping when put to the test. Ninety percent of all driving decisions are based on a clear unobstructed view of the road, which means good visibility is absolutely essential.  All wiper blade materials fall victim to environmental factors. Exposure to sunlight and ozone causes the rubber to age, even if the wipers aren’t used much. Then when the wipers are needed, they streak and chatter because they’ve taken a set and won’t follow the curvature of the windshield. It can be very annoying as well as dangerous. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months to a year so you are always prepared when you need them.

Important Auto Repair Tips Continued



When The Oil Pressure Light Illuminates

You will almost always see your oil pressure warning light illuminate briefly when you first start your car.  It goes off almost immediately.  If it doesn’t you need to turn off your car and check the engine oil level.  If it is low, add some oil then turn the car back on.  If the light goes off and stays off you are good to go.  If it is still illuminated do not drive the vehicle, turn it off immediately and call us as soon as possible.  This may require a tow.


When The Temperature Light Illuminates

A temperature warning light is telling you that your engine is overheating.  Pull over and turn your car off immediately! Do not check anything yourself until the engine has sat for at least half an hour.  Attempting to remove the radiator cap before then can result in serious steam and water burns.  If you know what you are doing you can remove the cap and check the coolant mixture level when it is safe to do so and add the appropriate 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water. Also be sure to check for leaks.  Internal leaks can only be checked by pressure testing. Unless you are experienced in this area of car repair, it is best to call us!  We will arrange a tow to our shop and get this fixed for you!


When The Brake Light Illuminates

The brake warning light comes on and stays on when you engage the parking or emergency brake.  Check that first!  If you disengage the parking brake and the light goes off, you are fine. It can also mean you have a fluid leak.  This causes your brakes to fail or veer to one side when applied. Get your brake fluid checked as soon as possible. (If you have an ABS or the antilock brake light illuminates and remains on it is telling you there is a problem within this system.)  Though you can drive with this situation, get it checked out as soon as you can because this is a critical system in an emergency or on slick roads. If both the ABS and brake warning light are on and stay on at the same time do not drive the vehicle until it has been looked at by us.


When The Alternator Light Illuminates

If your alternator warning light is on it is most likely telling you that your charging system is not working properly.  You need to get this taken care of sooner rather than later as your battery will die. It could be indicating another problem such as a slipping drive belt but either way, it needs to be checked out as soon as you can.


When The Check Engine Light Illuminates

That orange light used to put fear in the hearts of drivers but now it seems drivers are more than capable of ignoring it mile after mile.  This is because most of the time it is just telling you your gas cap isn’t on tight enough or some other small item.  Of course this small item causes you to waste fuel and pollute the environment so it really isn’t insignificant.  It is always best to have your vehicle looked at as the check engine light means something is wrong and a diagnosis is definitely called for. Whenever a light on your dash illuminates and doesn’t go off after a few seconds you can also refer to your owner’s manual. It generally explains the meaning behind the illumination and if it is safe to continue driving until you can get your vehicle serviced or repaired.  You can always call us at any time as well.  We are here to help!

When Thermostats Go Bad

The vehicles we drive these days are very high tech so when I mentioned that the thermostat is basically operated by the heating and cooling of wax people are shocked.  Thermostats rarely give us problems so I guess most people just don’t think about them.  Its function is to keep the car warm but cool the engine block. Thermostats seldom go bad but when they do, look out!  This occurs when the wax stops working so the valve doesn’t open.  This can happen when:

  • It was damaged in a prior overheating experience
  • Corrosion sets in
  • It just gets old

When one or all of these things happen your vehicle will overheat. Should the valve fail to close, stick in the open position, due to a piece of debris or the breaking of the return spring you have another problem.  This allows coolant to keep flowing through the thermostat.  It will not reach the proper operating temperature when this happens and you might notice the gauge reading lower than normal or the heater not as hot as it used to be.  If the thermostat does stick open you will notice because of poor driveability during cooler weather, you will use more fuel as much as 2 to 3MPG more and the car will spew out more pollutants out the tailpipe than designed.


Why A Vehicle Inspection Is Important

In the automotive service and repair industry we as owners and our staff do our best to keep our customers’ vehicles in excellent condition.  Not only do we want to keep you safe on the highways, we want to keep the others you share the road with safe as well. The majority of our customers want to know that everything is in proper working order.  Every now and then we hear stories about consumers who think inspections or a “laundry list” as they call it, was done in order to make a bigger sale.  This is not the case in most shops and those that practice selling services that aren’t needed don’t stay in business very long! We feel it is our duty to point out any potential hazards because our customers rely on us, as the experts in automotive maintenance, to tell them if their vehicle needs work. You can count on us!


A Little TLC Keeps Your Beloved Vehicle Going and Going and Going…

Many of you love your car!  You pamper it, you keep it clean inside and out and you want it to live a good long life.  The newness may have worn off a few years ago but that doesn’t matter…you’ve bonded with this vehicle. Some people keep their vehicles a very long time…over 200,000 miles and counting.  If you love your car and you want to keep it longer, don’t fret.  It is very possible.  All it takes is some tender, loving care!

Throughout our many years of experience we have learned that taking certain preventive measures, such as timely oil changes and multi-point inspections, enable you to keep your car going and going. Call us today…together we can keep it going!


Don’t Worry…Your Warranty Is Safe

When choosing to have your vehicle serviced by an independent, you may feel your warranty could be in jeopardy. There is no need to be concerned about the validity of your warranty or quality service.  Many consumers don’t realize that it is actually a law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) that an independent repair shop can service your car and you will not be jeopardizing your warranty in any way.  Just like you have to do with the dealership, you need to keep records of services and have them done as recommended in your owner’s manual. Most independent shop owners, such as ours, can provide you with the same excellent service you have been receiving from your dealership.  Independents, like the dealerships, have ASE certified technicians, quality parts and service, state-of-the-art tools and equipment, dedication to customer service, and on-going training to keep current with the latest vehicle innovations. So stop worrying!  We’ve got you covered!


How To Have A Lean Mean Driving Machine

Cars are built better than ever these days and give us miles of service.  Keeping them healthy is important and extends their life.  Oil is their lifeblood.  Dirty oil makes it harder for your engine to turn over and causes premature engine wear.  Belts and hoses are made of very durable material with relatively long lives but they do deteriorate over time. Leaks are not normal except for condensation from your air conditioner.  11 different fluids keep your car running; brake fluid, antifreeze, engine oil, power steering fluid, air conditioner refrigerant, shock absorber fluid, battery electrolyte, windshield washer solvent, rear axle or CV boot lubricant and fuel.  If any of these leaks, they need to be fixed right away.  Tires need to be kept properly inflated and rotated to save gas and tire wear. Coolant, when neglected can corrode and leave sediment throughout your cooling system causing clogging that results in damaging hot spots than can harm your engine. The battery needs to have the cables securely attached and free of corrosion in order to get power to the starter and accessories so the alternator receives a charge.

Keep your care lean and mean by getting it serviced regularly.


My Vehicle…How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways!

I love thee enough to take thee regularly for automotive servicing! Okay…I just felt the need for a little humor.  Seriously though…and I am a very serious person when it comes to vehicle care…you need to love your car!  Think of all it does for you each and every day.  Think how lost you feel without it when it breaks down.  Think of the pain of paying for a high repair cost because you neglected to have it serviced.  I want you to drive safely and I want you to pay for servicing your car rather than paying the much higher cost of repairing it.  I want to think of you getting from point A to point B safely.  I don’t want to see you with your vehicle broken down on the side of the road. I don’t want to see your vehicle dangling from a tow truck when it could all have been prevented.  I prefer to see you save your hard-earned dollars by having regular preventive maintenance instead of costly repair.  If you have been putting off servicing, now is the time to show your vehicle some love!


Speak To Me!

Do you ever wish your car could just tell you when something is wrong with it? In its own way it does speak to you.  When it suddenly is acting, smelling, sounding, or dripping differently than it usually does it is telling you it isn’t feeling well.

I get calls all the time saying that their car is making a ka-thump noise or a pinging noise or it is knocking or sputtering, whining or screeching. Regular vehicle checkups prevent these symptoms from happening and keep your vehicle healthy.  If your vehicle is trying to speak to you, listen and call for an appointment today.


The Hazards of Running on Fumes

When your car beeps a warning about low fuel, listen to it! Put gas in as soon as you can because that reserve fuel keeps your fuel pump from taking in the “bottom of the barrel” fuel which is full of debris. This sediment in the bottom of the fuel tank can also clog the fuel filter, fuel injectors as well as the pump pickup. I generally don’t let my tank get below 1/4 tank for this reason. Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!


The Importance of Flushing

Your vehicle needs fluids to remain healthy.  Overtime, these fluids get contaminated and cause corrosion. Flushing those out and refilling with clean, fresh fluid keeps your car safe and running smoothly. Think of it this way, when it comes to fluids, our cars’ needs are similar to the human body. We need to keep our systems flushed with water to keep our bodies running well, keep them lubricated while at the same time flushing out harmful toxins.  Water keeps us hydrated and running well. Fluids do the same for your vehicle!  Call today for an appointment.


These Come Between You and the Highway

Tires keep us and our car off the highway.  It has been that way since Henry Ford’s Model A. Tires are, after all, the only part of the car that actually touches the road.  That is a good reason to keep them as healthy as possible. Tire rotations and proper inflation should be part of your regular preventive maintenance routine. This seemingly simple act of swapping the tires around plus proper inflation keeps them from having extensive wear and tear and prolongs their life.  Call today to give your tires a long and healthy life!

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