If you’re like most people, your vehicle represents one of the largest investments you will ever make. You take great pride in your ride: you insure, wash and service it. So nothing upsets you more than the car you have worked so hard for, and saved so long for breaks down.
Your car not only gets you places safely, efficiently, and comfortably, but it has come to symbolize your personal independence, illustrating a freedom to choose where you drive, how you drive, and when you drive there. When your car is “in the shop” you begin to realize how dependent you are on your vehicle.
Knowing some basics about your vehicle and scheduling regular maintenance can help save money on repairs and help keep it out the shop for major repairs. We’ve put together some commonly asked car care questions and answers for your convenience.
Are my tires properly inflated?
The correct auto-car tire pressure for a vehicle is determined by the size and weight of the automotive vehicle, the type of auto-car tires it uses, load hauled, and the type of automotive driving the vehicle is intended for. The auto vehicle manufacturer places a tire inflation placard in each vehicle that gives the proper car tire inflation pressures for that auto vehicle. This placard is located on the inside of the glove box door, inside the fuel-filler door, or on the car driver?s side doorpost (depending upon manufacturer). Most auto manufacturers also list tire inflation levels in the owners manual.
How often should I have my engine oil/filter changed?
According to automotive-car experts, regularly scheduled oil/filter changes are the single most important item for prolonging auto-car engine life. Most new auto vehicles have recommended oil/filter change intervals of 7,500 miles and some new auto vehicles have recommended oil change intervals of 11,000 to 15,000 miles under normal operating conditions, with “”normal”" operation described as the operation of the vehicle for at least 20 minutes at a medium speed, with a steady throttle and in a clean driving environment.
Short hops to the store, stop-and-go rush hour driving, driving on dirt roads and inclement-weather operation are all considered severe operating conditions that can cause impurities to build up quickly in the oil, resulting in increased wear and tear on internal parts. That is why most auto-car owner’s manuals and auto mechanics recommend changing the oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first) to assure that maximum engine lubrication occurs while a minimum of impurities are suspended in the oil. To find out what the recommended oil change frequency is for your auto vehicle, check your car owner’s manual or talk with your automotive service professional.
What can I do if my car overheats?
If you are driving at normal highway speed and the auto vehicle starts to overheat, turn off the air conditioner, turn on the heater and immediately pull over to the shoulder. Odds are if the vehicle starts to overheat at highway speed, there is a problem in the cooling system such as low coolant, a clogged radiator or a broken drive belt or burst hose. Once at the shoulder, shut off the auto-car engine, open the hood and let the car engine cool down – 20 minutes minimum. Once any overboiling stops and the car’s engine has cooled, look for obvious signs of trouble. DO NOT attempt to open the auto-car radiator cap unless the car engine is off and the top of the radiator is cold. If there is no noticeable problem such as a broken drive belt or burst hose, you can then add a coolant/water mixture to the radiator or overflow reservoir, start the auto vehicle and drive slowly to a service facility.
How often should my car get a tune-up?
The term “tune-up” actually applies only to older cars without electronic ignition (before 1981). On these auto-car vehicles a tune-up would generally be required every 15,000 – 20,000 miles and consisted of replacing the spark plugs, ignition contact points, rotor and distributor cap and adjusting the ignition timing as well as the carburetor.
On modern auto-car vehicles equipped with electronic ignition, fuel injection and computer controls, the term “engine performance maintenance” is a more accurate term. A “tune-up” for these newer vehicles is an orderly process of inspection, computer diagnosis, testing and adjustment to maintain peak auto engine performance, maximum operating efficiency and low car exhaust emissions. During this process, spark plugs, plug wires, sensors, and modules may be replaced. The frequency at which a newer auto-car vehicle needs a tune-up is dependent more upon driving conditions than mileage and recommended tune-up frequencies vary between 30,000 – 100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer. To learn how often your auto-car vehicle needs a tune-up, check your owner’s manual or speak with your local automotive service provider.
Does my transmission ever need service?
Most auto-car care experts advise having an automatic transmission’s fluid and filter changed every two years or 24,000 miles, to keep it in good working order. This is especially important if the auto vehicle is more than five years old. Many auto vehicles newer than five years old may need scheduled service less often and some new auto vehicles have transmissions that need no scheduled service for the life of the car.
By-the-book service, however, may not be adequate if your vehicle is driven hard, tows a trailer, goes off-road or carries a camper. Under these conditions, the auto-car fluid and filter may need to be changed more often — every 12 months or 12,000 miles –because dirt and moisture buildup in the fluid can cause internal damage. Heat buildup can also be a problem. The harder the auto-car transmission works, the hotter the fluid gets and the quicker the fluid breaks down. To find out the recommended service schedule for your auto-car vehicle’s transmission, check the owner’s manual or talk with your local automotive service provider.
Manual transmissions generally need no regularly scheduled service, but may need service due to worn clutch and throw-out bearings and broken synchromesh gears. Check your owner’s manual for specific information on manual transmission service or talk with your local automotive service provider.