Regular oil changes are extremely important and are fundamental for proper vehicle maintenance. Failing to keep oil clean and clear can cause a lot of damage to the engine, destroy gas mileage and result in frequent trips to the local repair shop.
Why Change the Oil
Engine oil’s main purpose is to lubricate the engine. It keeps things running smoothly and prevents parts from grinding against each other. But it also plays many other important parts. Oil helps to keep the engine cool. It also removes moisture and dirt particles, both of which can cause serious damage. It lubricates and seals the combustion chambers and protects the parts from rust. As the oil is used up in the engine, it begins to break down and lose its ability to perform these necessary functions. As such, it is extremely important to remove the worn-down stuff and replace it with clean oil.
When to Change the Oil
The traditional recommendation is to change the oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. This rule of thumb came about in the 1950s as a safe estimate of how long engine oil holds up. This might be true for older cars, but most new cars can go longer than that between changes. In addition, engine oil has improved over the years.
Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendations
The best guideline for determining when to change the oil is to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most owners’ manuals will have both a mileage and time stated, and whichever comes first is when the oil needs changing. It may be surprising to find out that the maker of the car actually recommends a longer time between oil changes. New engines and oils can last as much as 5,000 miles or longer.
- Oil changes are one of the most important vehicle maintenance tasks.
- Engine oil serves to lubricate, seal, protect and cool the engine.
- Older cars should follow the rule of changing the oil every three months or 3,000 miles.
- New models that have better parts do not need the oil changed that often.
- Engine oil quality has increased over the years, making it more durable than ever before.
- Always check the owner’s manual for model-specific guidelines on the frequency of oil changes.
- Some manufacturers recommend changing oil every 5,000 miles or possibly even longer.
- Change the oil following either the time or mileage guideline in the manual, whichever comes first.
According to an Insurance Information Institute, the average vehicle repair bill is upwards of $900. With so much money on the line, you want to make sure that you understand the estimate written by the auto repair shop before you authorize them to complete the work. Here’s a look at what you should be aware of when reading the estimate.
Look at the Customer Vehicle Information
This is usually found toward the top of the page and contains your name, address, current mileage, license plate and Vehicle Identification Number (also called a VIN.) While many times you provide the repair shop with the information, you should always make sure it is correct. For example, if the mileage is incorrect, the shop may miss recommended services such as oil changes, tire rotation and fluid level checks.
Read the Suggested Parts for the Job
Generally, there are three types of parts. Original Equipment Manufacturer (also called OEM), after-market and used. Manufacturer parts are usually the most expensive, followed by after-market and then used. Dealerships usually only use OEM parts which is one of the reasons their repairs tend to be more expensive. Additionally, you should watch out for using used parts for a couple of reasons. One, the part has been used and has worn. Second, those parts usually do not come with a warranty. Using after-market parts from a reputable retailer saves you money while usually still providing a warranty.
Read the Suggested Labor for the Job
This is usually broken down by the number of hours it will take to complete the job. For example, if having your brake pads replaced, you’ll notice the cost for the brake pads under “Parts” and maybe one to three hours under the “Labor” portion of the estimate. The variance is due to the complexity of different brake systems and whether the vehicle needs more brake work such as fixing the rotors. Shops should clearly post their hourly rates for all customers, so you know you’re getting a fair price in comparison with other customers. Hourly rates range from about $80 to $100.
Determine if the Job is Imperative or Optional
On the estimate for your car repair, the auto shop will detail if they feel you definitely need the repair or if it is merely optional. For example, if your tires are almost tread-bare, they might state that you need new tires. However, if your windshield wipers have not been changed in a year, they might suggest you replace them, but if they are not giving you problems, then it is not something that it is imperative. This is where it is important to trust your mechanic, as a solid mechanic will be square with you as to what you absolutely need versus what is optional.
The final piece of the estimate is the additional charges levied by federal and state statutes. For example, if you have an oil change, the state might charge a disposal fee. Additionally, you’ll have to pay sales tax on parts and labor. These charges are added after the “Sub-total” to create the “Total” for the estimate. You must sign the estimate for the shop to perform the work. You are allowed to waive any and all services if you do not feel you need them. Finally, if the repair shop discovers some other repair needed, they must contact you to discuss new charges to your estimate before proceeding.
- Check the customer vehicle information section to make sure it is correct.
- Read the suggested parts needed for the repair.
- Read the suggested labor for the repair.
- Determine whether each suggested repair is imperative or optional.
- Look at the taxes and associated fees that complete the estimate.
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.
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.
Safety is generally our main concern when it comes to driving. Three very important safety aspects of our vehicles are the wipers, headlights, and signals. If any or all of these features are not working or not working well, you need to get them repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
You will know when your wipers, signals, and headlights are not working when your:
- Wipers are chattering or streaking
- Signal is blinking rapidly
- Lights are dimming
Some of these repairs are simple enough that you can do them yourself. Headlight replacement is one of those. The following instructions will guide you through the process:
For seal beam headlights:
- Make sure the headlights are off.
- From the front of the vehicle, remove the screws, trim, or retaining rims holding the headlight in place.
- Now, pull the old headlight out as gentle as possible and unplug the electrical connecter in the back.
- Plug the connecter into the new headlight and place it back in. Make sure it’s fitted properly before turning them on.
- Check to see if they are aimed correctly by shining them on a building or wall.
For halogen bulbs:
- Again, make sure the lights are off. Then, read your vehicles owner manual to see how the bulb should be removed.
- With some vehicles, there is a retainer ring that turns counter clockwise, about 90 degrees. With other vehicles you simply need to turn the bulb itself.
- After loosening the ring (if applicable), remove the bulb by grabbing the base, NOT the glass itself. Remove the electrical connector and connect it to the new bulb.
- Making sure the bulb is flush and placed properly, turn or use the ring to fasten it. Then check to see it works.
Changing out your fading headlights is not as difficult as you may think. However, keep in mind that every vehicle is different, and you may find these instructions irrelevant to your particular headlight system. You can always bring your vehicle to Turnpike Tire & Auto if you find you need assistance! Make you appointment today!
Your brakes are an essential part of your vehicle’s function. It’s important to keep them in the best condition possible mainly for safety reasons, but also for your car’s well being. Therefore, at the first sign of poor brake quality or damage, get your car in to the repair shop and have it checked out.
Warning Signs that your Brakes are Going Bad
You might be wondering how to detect that your brakes are going bad. Here are some of the main symptoms you’ll notice when your cars brakes are in need for repair.
- Burning Smell: If you smell your brakes burning or notice a “hot” smell, as well as experience difficulty stopping or needing to pump the brakes, this is due to too much heat building around your brake system. This will lead to brake failure, so it is crucial to get them repaired immediately.
- Car is Pulling to One Side: You’ll know if your brakes need to be adjusted when you try to stop and the car pulls to one side. This causes uneven brake wear and will make your car difficult to handle when you try to stop, especially when driving at a higher speed and needing to stop quickly.
- Squeaking Noises: The first sign of brake wear is typically a squeaking noise that occurs when applying the brake. This means your brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. Not doing so will lead to massive and costly repairs later on, so get it done as soon as possible.
- Grinding Noise: If you chose not to replace your brakes pads when your brakes were squeaking, you will eventually hear a grinding noise. This means your pads are completely gone and your brake system is now metal-on-metal. This is a serious issue and needs to be taken care of immediately.
- Breaks Require too Much Pressure: If you need to put more pressure on the brake pedal than you should have to, this means the vacuum assist unit has a leak. This particular part is what makes pressing the pedal easier, so it is important to get it repaired. Like every other brake issue, it could lead to a dangerous situation.
Addressing your Brake Issue
If you experience any of the above symptoms, get your car to the repair shop as soon as possible. It is tempting to put off repairs to avoid another bill, but keep in mind that a poor brake system is dangerous. A properly functioning brake system ensures safety to your passengers, other drivers, and of course, yourself. So don’t wait to get your brakes repaired. If you know something is wrong, get on it before it’s too late.
Turnpike Tire and Auto is more than willing to take a look at your brake system and apply the proper repairs. Our experienced and professional staff can handle all of your auto repair needs!
As the weather gets colder and snow is in the forecast, the inevitable bad driving conditions come into effect. Year after year you suffer through the slipping and sliding, inability to gain traction or speed, and overall difficulty with control of your car, always wishing there was a better option. Lucky for you, by switching to the proper type of winter tires, your wish can be granted.
The Difference between Regular Tires and Snow Tires
Snow tires have the appearance of regular tires, but are created using rubber which is specifically designed to excel in colder temperatures. While your regular tires struggle to move and stop your car over ice and snowy conditions, snow tires offer unparalleled control in the same situations because of the way their rubber reacts.
Deciding if Snow Tires are Necessary
If you live in an area which gets a significant amount of snowfall during the winter or year-round, snow tires are an excellent option for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:
- Safety: Snow tires offer an enormous amount of traction and control compared to regular tires. In instances where you are making turns, abrupt stops, or even avoiding other drivers who are likely to slip on snow or ice, these tires can prevent a serious accident. It is not worth risking your own safety, the safety of those in your car, or the safety of others with tires which are not fully equipped for the change of weather when an affordable option is available.
- Cost: The actual price of snow tires will fluctuate depending on your specific car and needs. However, taking into consideration the cost to repair damage to your car or what you may hit because of loss of control, is well worth the small investment. In more serious instances where people may be injured or killed because of bad driving conditions, the ability of the tires to prevent these tragedies is a priceless benefit.
- Time and Stress: Tires which are not equipped for the snow can create unnecessarily long trips based on the lack of ability to increase speed or slow down. Snow tires offer the ability to drive at a quicker yet comfortable pace to save time and avoid the stress associated with the lack of control.
Buying Snow Tires
Once you have decided that snow tires are the right option you, seek the help of a tire expert to ensure you buy the proper tires for your car. While it may be tempting to only buy two snow tires to save money, an expert should advise you otherwise. Regardless of the type of car you drive, all of the tires work together to allow for proper and safe acceleration, stopping, turning, and more for a safe drive in bad weather. Spending that extra amount to change all of your tires will ensure that they are functioning properly and to the best of their ability.
If you have questions about snow tires or would like to look into getting different tires for your car, give us a call at Turnpike Auto. As experts in the automotive field, we are happy to answer your questions and provide you with the best possible product.