Turnpike Tire and Auto Service

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How can I prepare my car for the winter?

Winter can wreak havoc on vehicles, causing accidents and engine problems. To ensure that your vehicle can perform properly in the snow and ice, you should prepare these various parts of your car for the winter:


Before snow and ice cover the roads, you should inspect your vehicle’s tires to make sure they are in good condition for winter driving. Check that the tread has not worn down, there are no wires sticking out, no holes or tears, and that the air and tire pressure is correct. Tires that show signs of wear or other problems should be replaced. Certain types of tires may need to be replaced with tires that are designed to drive in the snow and ice. If you have a driveway or road that is hard to travel in the winter, or a vehicle that does not do well in the snow, you may want to consider putting chains on the tires. Chains will help small and lightweight vehicles catch traction and help them climb hills and drive better in the snow and ice.


It is important to maintain the fluids in your vehicle at all times, but especially in the winter. Make sure the antifreeze reservoir is full. If you have not changed the antifreeze in the last six months, it will need to be drained and new antifreeze will need to be added. Check the windshield wiper reservoir to make sure there is fluid. This will be needed to melt ice and snow from your windows during the winter.


Make sure the windshield wipers are in good condition. Some types of windshield wipers are made for winter weather. These types are usually bigger and more durable than regular wipers, so they can hold up to ice and snow. Replace damaged or lightweight wipers to prepare them for winter.


Make sure your batter is completely charge and the battery posts are clean. This will prevent your car from stalling and stranding you in the cold weather.


Brakes and rotors need to be checked thoroughly before winter. Brakes that are well maintained and working properly will help the car stop easier on snowy and icy roads.

Under the Hood

Check the basic fluids and parts under the hood. Check your oil to make sure it is clean. If it seems too dark or thin, have it changed. Check that your transmission fluid reservoir is full so your transmission can function properly. Check each spark plug to make sure they are firing properly and will not cause your vehicle to misfire or stall.

If you have questions about preparing your car for the winter or if the winter has already caused damage to your car, feel free to schedule an appointment to make sure you car continues to function properly all season.

How Often Should I Check My Oil?

The Importance of Checking Your Oil

When it comes to car maintenance, one of the things often overlooked is checking the oil. Many people do not check it at all and this can lead to serious problems if the car is run with old oil for an extended period. Checking your oil is quick and easy. If you drive your car almost every day, make a habit of checking the oil every time you fill up with gas.

Checking this often might seem like overkill, but it can be a lifesaver because if there is a problem with the oil, you will know about it before it can do extensive damage that could easily cost thousands of dollars to repair. If you do not drive your car often, try to check once a month. Also, make sure that there are no puddles of oil under the car if it has been sitting for an extended period of time.

When you check the oil, remember to look for two things. First, make sure the oil level is correct. This is shown on the dipstick and is easily checked. Too low is obviously not going to be good for your engine and you should add oil right away and make sure you do not have any leaks. Having too much oil in the engine can also cause damage. If this is the case, drain the excess oil as soon as possible so it does not stress the seals of your engine. Second, verify that the oil is not dirty, too thin or too thick. If you notice any of these, change your oil right away.

How Often Should Oil be Changed?

Speaking of oil changes, most cars can go between 3,000 and 5,000 miles between oil changes without any problems. If you drive on the freeway and avoid stop and go traffic, you can likely stretch it out to around 7,500 miles between changes. The opposite is also true. If you drive in heavy traffic all the time, or take mostly short trips with your car, plan on changing the oil more often to ensure the best engine life.

Sometimes, problems can still happen even if you maintain your car. Any problem to do with the engine oil is critical and should be looked at as soon as possible. For example, if the oil pressure light comes on, do not drive the car into the repair shop as you may cause serious damage to the engine. Get it towed instead.

Now that you know when and how often to check your oil, make it a habit and stick with it. Your wallet will thank you.

If you think your car is due for an oil change, feel free to schedule an appointment.

How often should I have my car inspected for problems?

Keeping a car well maintained and in working order is an important responsibility of car owner. One of the easiest ways to prevent accidents or major damage is to have your car inspected for problems on a regular basis.


Here are some of the things you should have inspected to ensure your car is functioning properly.



A car’s radiator should be inspected every six months or anytime you notice a problem with it. Check for erosion around the caps and hoses. Check the ground where the car is parked to see if any radiator fluid has leaked out. You can also take the vehicle to a mechanic to have it inspected and repaired if you are not comfortable doing it yourself.


Brakes and Rotors

Brakes should be checked every three months, every 10,000 miles or anytime they feel as if they are slipping, not stopping properly or are making a noise. Check the rotors to make sure they are smooth and do not have deep grooves. Check that the brake pads are not worn down. If the brakes need to be changed, take the vehicle to a repair shop so they can be serviced properly.


Heating and Cooling Unit

Heating and cooling units should be inspected before they are used each season. Heating units should be inspected in the fall and cooling units should be inspected in the spring. If the heater is not working, it may need to have a heating core replaced. If the air conditioner is not working it may need to be charged with freon. Not all vehicles use freon and may need to be serviced differently.



Oil should be checked on a regular basis or at least once a month and changed every 3,000 miles unless otherwise stated in your vehicle owner’s manual. It should also be checked before going on a long trip. If the oil is reading low on the dip stick, new oil should be poured in the reservoir. If the oil is too thin or too thick it will need to be changed. Many people choose to change their oil themselves. Others choose to take their vehicles to lube shops to get the oil changed by professionals.


Air Filter

Air filters should be checked and changed every six months or sooner if they become dirty or clogged. Some air filters can be rinsed and reused. Others will need to be changed. Depending on the type of vehicle you have, the air filter may be easy to change yourself. Vehicles with hard-to-reach air filters will need to be inspected and serviced by a mechanic.


Key Takeaways

Have the following aspects of your car checked out, especially before a long trip, so that your car will be in working order.
• Radiator
• Brakes and rotors
• Heating and Cooling Unit
• Oil
• Air Filter



Need a professional to look at your car? Contact us to schedule an appointment!  And don’t forget to download our free coupon book!

What is an emissions system?

Emission systems are one of the most important components on a car. It is also one of the least understood systems in modern vehicles since the only time most people have to worry about it is during a routine emissions check.


The emission system on modern automobiles is used to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in exhaust gases. Combustion produces many harmful substances including hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen. These all are bad for both the environment and humans if they are inhaled. Cars outfitted with a modern emission system cut the levels of all three of these chemical compounds to near zero.


How does it work?

The majority of modern cars use a catalytic converter as the main component in the emission system. The catalytic converter looks like a muffler and is installed near the middle or back of the car and is part of the exhaust system. Inside the catalytic converter are pellets or a honeycomb structure that are made of either platinum or palladium. These metals are the catalyst, which speeds up the chemical reaction process of the exhaust gases. The hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide are chemically oxidized and converted to carbon dioxide and water, both of which are harmless to the environment.


The Downsides

The downside to the catalytic converter is it generates a large amount of heat while operating. The more hydrocarbons there are in the exhaust, the more heat that is generated. This is not good for the catalytic converter and if it gets hot too often it will begin to destroy itself. If this happens, the car it is installed in will not pass an emissions test and it can be a pricy repair depending on the model of the vehicle. Catalytic converters are also a popular item for thieves to steal off of vehicles, especially trucks and SUVs which are higher off the ground. This is due to the fact that many of the metals used to make catalytic converters are worth quite a bit of money if they are sold as scrap metal. Unfortunately, there really is not much you can do to prevent this from happening.


Key Takeaways

  • Emission systems are important to decrease harmful chemicals being released into the air.
  • Modern models of emission systems bring the levels down to almost zero.
  • Keep in mind these systems are longed for by thieves, as they have a large value in the scrap metal industry.

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Ensuring Your Safety: Changing your headlights and wipers – Part 2

In our previous blog article, you learned how to change your dimming headlights. In part 2, you will learn how to change your wiper blades. This is an important task that should be done at least once a year, and is fairly simple to do yourself.


Your first task with this project is purchasing the correct wiper blades for your vehicle. Every vehicle requires a specific blade length, so it is best to go to an auto parts store and ask an associate which blades you need. As far as the style of blade, you will have a few choices:


• All weather blades
• Winter blades
• Jointless blades
• Metal tension spring blades
• Blades that cover your entire windshield


You will need to know is the style of the wiper arm required for your vehicle in order to replace your old blades. The following are the two most common arm styles and the replacement process:


For side lock blades:

1. If your blades are original to the car, use a flat screwdriver to release the spring lock in the middle of the wiper, sliding the wiper off the arm. If they are universal, use the flat screwdriver to remove the plastic adapter from the wiper arm pin.
2. Once removed, compare the old wiper with the new one just to make sure you purchased the proper length.
3. With some side lock blades, you will need to slide the wiper over the pin, then push down until it locks. For others, simply slide the wiper over the pin and snap the locking adapter.
4. Lastly, check to see if they are installed properly by turning the wipers on and making sure they do not pull off easily.


For hook style blades:

1. Unlock the wiper from the hook by simply pushing up the tab located under the wiper. Then, slide the blade back to detach the hook from the adapter and turn the blade upward in order to slide it off the arm.
2. If your adapter operates differently, use a screwdriver to “pop up” the tab in front of the hook.
3. Like with the other blade type, compare the old and new wipers to ensure you purchased the proper size.
4. Finally, slide the arm through the blade. Then, put the arm into the adapter and push it into the hook until it locks in place.
5. Check to see if they were installed properly.


Key Takeaways

You should replace all of your blades at once, rather than one at a time. Stay on top of your car’s safety feature functionality to protect your life, as well as others.


Need help changing your wiper blades, headlights, or signals?  Bring your car in and we’ll be glad to help you!  And don’t forget to download our free coupon book!

What to Know About DIY Tune-Ups

These days, people are looking to save a buck wherever they can.   When it comes to your car, you can do just that.  With your car needing a tune-up as part of its routine maintenance to keep it running and running well, you can avoid facing another bill by doing it yourself.  However, you do need to know what you’re doing in order to do it successfully.

Guidelines for a DIY Tune-Up

A car can acquire severe damage through DIY projects.  In order to avoid damaging your engine, here are some guidelines you should follow before beginning your tune-up:

  1. Have a Manual for Guidance and Reference: Having a shop manual is absolutely necessary because you need to know what to do and how to do it, step by step.  There is a very good chance that you will see a domino effect occur when one step is done incorrectly, so read the manual before doing anything.
  2. Have the Parts Before Starting: Make sure to have everything you need beforehand.  Not every local auto-parts store is going to have the supplies you need, so you may need to drive around to find a store that does.  Also, buy two of everything so you will have extra for the next tune-up.  Be sure to stock up on paper towels and rags as well.
  3. Keep your Workspace Clean: It is always much easier to get a job done and done right when you have a clean and organized environment.  Therefore, make sure you have quick and easy access to your tools.  Clean all surfaces to avoid contaminating your parts and engine, and make sure your oil-drain pan is empty.
  4. Be patient: Doing a tune-up yourself won’t be easy the first time around.  So if you find yourself stuck at a particular step, stay calm and be patient.  Take your time to figure it out.  It’s best to spend hours on one step than having to pay for repairs to fix your mistake, or worse, having to buy a new car.

By following these guidelines, your DIY tune-up should be a success.  Just remember to possess and read the manual, get all your supplies and in multiples, keep your workspace clean, and have patience!

If you have questions about tune-ups or find this project is not for you, feel free to contact us at Turnpike Auto and Tire.  We’re happy to help you with all of your auto care needs.


What Does My Check Engine Light Mean?

Chances are, if you’re reading this article it means that you or someone you know has seen the “Check Engine” light come on in the car.  No matter your current location or situation, seeing this light can be nerve-racking and cause a great deal of anxiety.   In this circumstance, the best way to react is to analyze the situation based on what your car is telling you.  Knowing how to interpret these signals is what is important.

Understanding Your Car’s Language

If you’re seeing a check engine light, it means that your car’s on-board diagnostic (OBD) is sending you a message. All cars built after 1996 are required to be equipped with an OBD, a built-in computer that detects any problems within the car’s emission control system. For smaller issues, your car can typically adjust on its own without needing to send out a signal.

 Think of it like a guard to a building.  If something happens that the guard can’t control alone, he signals for backup, much like your car flashes the check engine light.  Issues become resolved after help has arrived, and the building goes back to functioning properly, much like your check engine light will go off and your car will function properly once the problem has been fixed.

Appearance of the Check Engine Light

Depending on the behavior of your check engine light (and sometimes the color), you can diagnose the time sensitiveness of the issue.  See which of the following characteristics describes your situation:

  • Steady Light: A check engine light which goes on briefly or remains steadily on your dashboard typically indicates a less-serious issue.  This can be something as simple as your fuel cap not being tight enough or the result of bad fuel, so run some simple tests to try to get the light to go off.  If you can’t get the light to go off yourself, bring it to a professional to have it assessed.
  • Blinking Light (typically red): If your check engine light blinks on and off repeatedly, your issue could be quite serious and/or dangerous.  Typically the light will be in red to stress the seriousness of the problem.  In this situation, it is best to pull over to the closest safe area and turn your car off.  Get in touch with a car specialist who can help diagnose the issue without putting your car or yourself in danger.

Because all cars are different, the behaviors of your car may fluctuate, but these tips can serve as general guidelines.  To make sure that your check engine light hasn’t burnt out, simply turn your keys enough to turn the car on but not start the engine.  At this point, all of your warning lights will come on, so you can make sure this important light is functioning properly.

If you have questions about your check engine light and what it means for your car, give us a call at Turnpike Auto.  We’re happy to assess any issues and get your car functioning safely and properly as soon as possible.

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