Car Care Tips
Why should you winterize your vehicle?
“Regular, routine maintenance can help improve your gasoline mileage, reduce pollution and catch minor problems before they become big headaches,” says Tony Molla, vice-president of communications at ASE. ASE offers these car care tips to give you peace of mind during fall and winter driving:
- Before you do anything else, read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
- Get engine performance and driveability problems — such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc. — corrected at a reputable repair shop that employs ASE-certified repair professionals. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.
- Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel and PCV. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.
- As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming.
- Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. A poll of ASE Master Auto Technicians revealed that regular oil and filter changes is one of the most frequently neglected services, yet one that is essential to protect your engine.
- The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. Do-It-Yourselfers: Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked regularly by a professional technician.
- The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.
- Replace old blades regularly. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent — you’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months. And don’t forget to always carry an ice scraper.
- Have your battery checked. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. However, most motorists can perform routine care. Wear eye protection and protective rubber gloves. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections, clean all surfaces and retighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. A word of caution: removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles, so always check your owner’s manual first. Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid.
- Inspect all lights and bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs and periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Clouded lenses can be refinished by many service outlets or by using a DIY kit found in major auto parts outlets.
- Exhaust fumes inside your vehicle’s cabin can be deadly. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift. The trunk and floorboards should also be inspected for small holes.
- Worn tires are dangerous in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget to check your spare and be sure the jack is in good working condition. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excess gasoline.
- Have your brakes checked periodically for safety and to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.
- The transmission is often neglected until a major failure. Routine checks and fluid changes at prescribed intervals can prevent very costly repairs down the line.
- Always carry an emergency kit with you: extra gloves, boots and blankets; flares; a small shovel and sand or kitty litter; tire chains; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a cell phone and extra car charger. Put a few “high energy” snacks in your glove box.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive technicians. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification. Their employers often display the blue and white ASE sign.
Why do we resurface or replace rotors or drums?
We replace or resurface the rotors or drums so that we can cut away any old brake material and hot spots or grooves in the rotors or drums. This will ensure the best possible brake performance while getting rid of vibration or noise.
Why do we recommend replacing fluids?
We recommend replacing fluids because:
- The oils (engine, transmission transfer case, differential and p/s) break down and lose their ability to lubricate, cool and clean internal components.
- The brake and clutch fluids absorb moisture, which lowers boiling point of fluid. When you brake very hard, heat coming from the brake pads causes the fluid to heat up. Fluid with too much moisture will cause the brake pedal to go to the floor and not work.
- Engine coolant not only keeps vehicles from overheating–it also keeps engines from freezing and cracking.
Why do we need tune-ups?
Engine tune-ups are very different on today’s vehicles. Most newer cars only require the spark plugs to be changed. And if the proper parts are used, they can usually last between 60K-100K miles. Older vehicles can require spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor and points and condenser. Also, while doing tune-ups, we may recommend some of the engine filters (fuel, air PCV valve and breather) be replaced.
How do I get better gas mileage?
- Bring your car in for regular maintenance. This can improve your mileage by as much as 4% annually.
- Oil changes
- Replace air filters
- Plugs and wires
- Keep tires properly inflated. This improves the gas mileage by 3% according to The Car Care Council.
- Make sure the gas cap is secured tightly.
- Avoid quickly stopping and accelerating.
- Shorten idling times. This includes taking excessive time to warm up your vehicle.