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Tips & Advice

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Anyone who has ever owned a vehicle knows about the expenses and problems that can occur as time goes by. As an owner, one of the first things you should do is find a reputable repair shop to help you out in times of need. and it can make you start to feel crazy. Here are a few tips and some advice on how to go about this process:

•First, remember that you may not need to contact a mechanic every time your car is having a problem. Some repairs are easy can be done by you. If possible, take care of minor repairs yourself...the monetary savings can be substantial. 

•Ask for referrals when looking for a mechanic. Talk to family members, friends and co-workers to find out who they recommend.  People will generally let you know what kind of experiences they've had with local repair shops, contractors and services. 

•Ask the mechanic if they have experience working on the type of vehicle you own. If not...you might be wise to take your problems to another shop.

•READ your owner’s manual...and make sure to take note of important information. It can often help you diagnose simple problems and is also a vital guide for preventative maintenance and other regular service. 

•Make sure to keep all your car records in one central file. You may even want to store them in the vehicle's glove compartment. A mechanic who works on your car may want to view these records. 

•Look up online reviews for the auto repair shops in your area.  Try to find locations that have more than just a couple of reviews so that you can get a balanced opinion of the business. Even a reputable shop can get a bad review if they're in business long enough, and don't forget, nobody's perfect.

•A spare tire and a jack are valuable--if not essential--items to keep in case of an emergency. Most newer vehicles are already equipped with them. Don’t get stuck on the side of the road and be forced to call for help or pay to have your vehicle towed. The cost for roadside assistance...even for something as simple as a tire change...can be considerable. 

•Look at all guages and lights on your dashboard and find out what they mean. They're meant to let you know if the vehicle is running smoothly and alert you if problems begin to develop. Ignoring them will only lead to greater problems down the road. 

•Headlights will seemingly dim over time....but often it's simply a matter of too much dirt accumulating on the lens. A simple cleaning can breath new life into your headlights and improve safety by increasing your visibility at night. 

How often should I rotate my tires?
Your tires should be rotated every other oil change or every 5,000 miles. Neglecting to rotate tires is a major cause of premature tire wear.

Is it really necessary to replace my timing belt at the manufacturer recommended interval?
YES. The failure of a timing belt in many cars can result in major engine damage. The cost of repairing an engine with a broken timing belt is much greater than the cost of a timing belt replacement.

What does it mean if my “check engine” or “service engine soon” light comes on?
There are many sensors and computerized components that manage your vehicle’s engine performance and emissions. When one of these fails, the “check engine” light is illuminated. Although your car may seem to run fine, it is important to have the issue addressed to prevent long-term problems or failure of emission tests.

What should I do if my car starts to overheat?
This is a very serious problem – if your car overheats for too long, you can damage your engine. As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and shut off the engine! Do not attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator as it can burn you. The best thing to do is have your car towed to a repair shop.

When should I get my oil changed?
You should get your oil changed every 3,000 miles or as recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If intervals are extended, ensure you use oil that is capable of extended mileage changes.

What causes milky brown engine oil?
Milky brown engine oil is an indication of coolant in the oil. This can be caused by a blown head gasket (other gasket), a failed transmission cooler or cracked casings. This condition is very serious and needs to be checked by a professional technician quickly.

How to make sure my car battery has a good electrical connection?
Battery cables and terminals should be cleaned and inspected to make sure they provide a good electrical connection.

What is synthetic motor oil?
Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for high output, turbocharged or supercharged engines, vehicles that are used for towing (especially during hot weather) or vehicles that are operated in extremely cold or hot climates. Synthetic motor oils, though several times more expensive than mineral-based motor oils, can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes. They also provide instant lubrication on start-up.

When should I replace my car’s fuel filter?
To help ensure dependable, trouble-free performance, replace your car’s fuel filter approximately every 30,000 miles or as recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

When should I change my spark plugs?
For maximum fuel economy and peak engine performance, your spark plugs should be replaced every 30 months or 30,000 miles, unless your vehicle is equipped with 100,000-mile platinum-tipped spark plugs.

What should I do when I need to replace a burned out fuse?
Always replace burned-out fuses with ones of the same amperage (printed on the fuse) and note that if a fuse continues to “blow,” you should have the circuit checked professionally by one of our technicians for defects.