Automotive Blessings' Vehicle Maintenance Tips

VEHICLE CARE FAQ
 

WHAT'S THE CORRECT TIRE PRESSURE FOR MY VEHICLE?

The correct tire pressure for a vehicle is determined by the size and weight of the vehicle, the type of tires it uses, load hauled, and the type of driving the vehicle is intended for. The vehicle manufacturer places a tire inflation placard in each vehicle that gives the proper tire inflation pressures for that vehicle. This placard is located on the inside of the glove box door, inside the fuel-filler door, or on the driver's side doorpost (depending upon manufacturer). Most manufacturers also list tire inflation levels in the owner's manual.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE MY WIPER BLADES?

For vehicles that are parked inside, car care experts recommend that the wiper blades be replaced at least once a year or when the wiper blades start streaking – which ever comes first. On vehicles kept outside or in areas where the wipers receive excessive use, changing the blades two or even three times a year is recommended for clear vision.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE MY ENGINE OIL/FILTER CHANGED?

According to automotive experts, regularly scheduled oil/filter changes are the single most important item for prolonging engine life. Most new vehicles have recommended oil/filter change intervals of 7,500 miles and some new 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 owner's manuals and mechanics recommend changing the oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first)for conventional oil, and five months or 5000 miles for full synthetic oil, 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 vehicle, check your owner's manual or talk with your automotive service professional. 

HOW CAN I TELL IF MY COOLANT IS OK?

It is impossible to determine the condition of the coolant in the radiator just by looking at it. Coolant, a mixture of ethylene glycol and water, breaks down with age, picks up contaminants that cause sludge, and becomes acidic. When this happens, it can cause corrosion within the radiator, heater core and cooling passages of the engine. To determine its condition, coolant must be checked with coolant test strips that measure PH balance. Coolant is an environmentally hazardous substance. It pollutes the water table and is poisonous to people and animals and therefore must be disposed of as a hazardous waste. We have special tools and procedures for testing and changing coolant.

WHY IS HEAT COMING OUT OF MY AIR CONDITIONER?

If your air conditioning system is blowing hot air instead of cool, the refrigerant gas may have leaked out, you may have a clogged condenser, or the air conditioner's blend door may be stuck. Whatever the cause of the problem, the air conditioning system needs immediate service. Turn the system off. You can cool the vehicle interior by putting the ventilation control in the ""vent"" position and/or opening the windows.

WHAT CAN I DO IF MY CAR OVERHEATS?

If you are driving at normal highway speed and the 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 engine, open the hood and let the engine cool down – 20 minutes minimum. Once any overboiling stops and the engine has cooled, look for obvious signs of trouble. DO NOT attempt to open the radiator cap unless the 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 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 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 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 engine performance, maximum operating efficiency, and low exhaust emissions. During this process, spark plugs, plug wires, sensors, and modules may be replaced. The frequency at which a newer 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 vehicle needs a tune-up, check your owner's manual or give us a call. 

WHY ARE MY BRAKES MAKING NOISE?

If you hear a grinding or squealing sound when the pedal is applied, you probably need new brake shoes or pads. Brakes shouldn't make any noise as they operate. Even if the actual problem turns out to be something minor, the only safe assumption is this one: noisy brakes are unsafe brakes. Postponing service is unsafe and could raise the cost of repairs later. If your brakes are making noise, get them inspected or serviced right away.

DOES MY TRANSMISSION EVER NEED SERVICE?

Most 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 vehicle is more than five years old. 

 

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 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 transmission works, the hotter the fluid gets and the quicker the fluid breaks down. To find out the recommended service schedule for your vehicle's transmission, check the owner's manual or give us a call. 

 

Manual transmissions only need a drain and fill every 60k  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 give us a call. 

WHY SHOULD I GET A COOLANT FLUSH?

Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is a vital component of a vehicle's engine system. It helps to regulate the temperature and prevent overheating. However, coolant can become contaminated over time and needs to be regularly flushed and replaced at an automotive shop like Automotive Blessings. Not only does this help to ensure the smooth functioning of your engine, but it can also prevent costly repairs in the future. Neglecting regular coolant maintenance can lead to corrosion and damage in the engine, so scheduling a coolant flush at Automotive Blessings is an important part of car care and upkeep. Don't delay - maintain your vehicle's coolant levels for smooth driving experiences now and in the future.

WHY DOES MY BATTERY KEEP DYING?

It can be frustrating to constantly deal with a dead car battery, but there are a few potential explanations for this issue. One possibility is that the battery is reaching the end of its lifespan and needs to be replaced. Another potential cause is an excessive drain on the battery, such as leaving the headlights or interior lights on overnight. Finally, cold weather can also cause battery issues, as it reduces the battery's capacity to hold a charge. If you are frequently dealing with a dead battery, it may be time to have the professionals at Automotive Blessings check your battery and potentially recommend a replacement. In the meantime, always be sure to turn off any unnecessary electrical components before leaving your car unattended.

HOW DOES MY CAR BATTERY RECHARGE?

The battery in a car is responsible for providing the initial power needed to start the engine. As the engine runs, the battery is recharged by an alternator. This device converts mechanical energy from the moving parts of the engine into electrical energy, which is then stored in the battery. However, over time, car batteries may become worn out and in need of replacement. In these cases, it is important to replace the battery with one that is compatible with your car's model and specifications in order to ensure proper charging and performance. Regular maintenance on both the battery and alternator can help extend their lifespan and prevent unexpected breakdowns.

ARE CAR BATTERY TERMINALS ALWAYS ON THE SAME SIDE?

When it comes to car battery terminals, there is no one right answer. In some models, the positive and negative terminals are on opposite sides of the battery. However, in other models, they may be on the same side or even stacked on top of each other. It's important to check your car manual or ask a professional before attempting to jumpstart your battery to ensure you are correctly identifying and accessing the terminals. Incorrectly connecting the terminals can damage both the battery and the car's electrical system. Ultimately, it's best to err on the side of caution and let the professionals at Automotive Blessings help.

CAN MY CAR BATTERY SHOCK ME?

Your car battery may not be something you think much about, but it is important to understand its potential dangers. One common misconception is that car batteries can shock you, but this is actually not the case. The battery itself does not produce electricity; rather, it provides power for the electrical components in your car. Even if there were a short circuit or another problem with the battery, it would not emit enough electricity to cause harm to a person. However, it is still important to exercise caution around car batteries and make sure they are properly maintained. Damage or leaks to the battery can release harmful chemicals, and proper handling is necessary when jumpstarting or charging the battery. In summary, while car batteries cannot shock you, they should still be handled with care.

CAN THE CAR BATTERY DIE WHILE I'M DRIVING?

It is possible for a car battery to die while driving, although it is rare. The battery is responsible for starting the engine, but once the engine is running, the alternator takes over and provides power to the battery. However, if there is an issue with the alternator or it is not charging properly, the battery can slowly drain while driving and eventually die. This can happen if the battery is old or if it has developed a fault. It is important to regularly check on the condition of your battery and have it replaced as necessary to prevent this from happening. In addition, ensuring that all electrical components in your vehicle are functioning properly can also help prevent a battery drain while driving. Overall, it's always best to be proactive about battery maintenance to avoid being stranded on the road.

WHICH CAR BATTERY TERMINAL SHOULD I CONNECT FIRST?

When jumpstarting a car, it is important to first identify the battery terminals. The positive terminal will have a "+" symbol and will typically be larger than the negative terminal, which is marked with a "-". It is important to connect the jumper cables in the correct order to prevent damage to the battery and the vehicle's electrical system. The positive terminal should always be connected first, followed by the negative. Once connected, start the working vehicle and allow it to run for several minutes before attempting to start the dead battery's engine. As a general rule of thumb, it is best to consult with a professional mechanic if you are unsure about any aspect of jumpstarting a car battery. Taking these precautions can help ensure safe and successful jumpstarts in the future.

WHY IS MY CAR BATTERY NOT CHARGING?

One common reason for a car battery not charging is a faulty alternator. The alternator is responsible for converting mechanical energy from the engine into electricity to charge the battery. If it is not functioning properly, the battery will not receive enough power to maintain its charge. Another potential issue could be that the battery itself has worn out and is no longer able to hold a charge. In this case, it may need to be replaced. Additionally, there could be an issue with the connections between the battery and alternator, such as corroded terminals or loose wires. It's important to address any charging issues promptly, as a dead battery can leave you stranded and unable to start your vehicle. The professional mechanics at Automotive Blessings will be able to diagnose and resolve any issues with your car's charging system.

WHEN SHOULD I REPLACE MY CAR BATTERY?

When it comes to car battery replacement, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. However, there are some common signs that it may be time for a replacement. If your car has difficulty starting or the battery dies quickly, this could indicate a problem with the battery. Another indicator is the age of the battery itself - most batteries will last about four to five years before needing to be replaced. It’s also important to have your battery regularly inspected by a professional to ensure it is functioning properly and catch any potential issues before they become worse. In the end, replacing your car battery at the right time can save you from unexpected breakdowns and keep your vehicle running smoothly. So stay on top of regular inspections and don’t ignore warning signs - it might just be time for a new battery.

WILL A CAR BATTERY DIE IF NOT USED?

Many people believe that a car battery will last longer if it's not used frequently, but this is actually not the case. In fact, allowing a battery to remain unused for long periods of time can weaken its ability to hold a charge. Regular use helps to keep the battery's internal components active, leading to a longer lifespan. If the battery is left untouched for extended periods, it may need to be replaced sooner than expected. As always, it's best to consult with a professional mechanic when determining the health and longevity of your car battery. Regular maintenance and replacement as necessary are key in ensuring optimal battery performance.

WHAT BRAKES DOES THE HANDBRAKE USE?

The handbrake, also known as the parking brake, engages brakes on the rear wheels of a vehicle. However, it can also activate brakes on the front wheels if the car is equipped with four-wheel brakes. When engaged, the handbrake provides an extra layer of safety by preventing the car from rolling while parked. It is important to note that the handbrake should not be used as a replacement for regular brakes while driving. Instead, it should only be used in emergency situations or when stopped for an extended period of time. Additionally, regular maintenance and inspection of the handbrake is necessary to ensure it functions properly in case of an emergency. Without proper care, the handbrake may not engage properly and could potentially lead to accidents. Remember to always use caution and properly engage your handbrake to ensure safe and secure parking.

WHICH BRAKES ARE MORE IMPORTANT?

When it comes to brakes, both front and rear brakes serve important functions. The front brakes provide the majority of stopping power, as they are able to slow down the weight of the vehicle more effectively. However, the rear brakes still play a crucial role in maintaining stability during braking and helping to evenly distribute stopping force. Without proper functioning of both brakes, your vehicle could skid or lose control in emergency braking situations. In short, both front and rear brakes are essential for ensuring safe stopping ability in any situation. So make sure to regularly check and maintain all brakes on your vehicle for optimum performance and safety.

HOW DO BRAKES AND ROTORS WORK?

When it comes to keeping yourself and others safe on the road, brakes are essential. In a car, brakes work by using friction to slow down the spinning wheels. Pressing the brakes sends hydraulic fluid to the brakes at each wheel, causing metal brake pads to press against a spinning metal disc called a rotor. The friction from this contact slows down the rotation of the wheels and brings your car to a halt. Over time, brake pads can wear down and need to be replaced, but regularly maintaining your brakes is crucial for continued safe driving. 

WHY IS THERE SMOKE COMING OUT OF MY VEHICLE'S VENTS?

Is smoke billowing out of your vehicle's vent? Don't panic - it may not be as serious as it seems. One potential cause could be an issue with the air conditioner. When the A/C compressor is malfunctioning, it can cause a buildup of oil and lead to smoke coming out of the vent. It's important to have this issue addressed promptly, as continued use of a damaged A/C compressor can lead to more severe problems such as engine failure. It's also possible that smoke from outside sources, like exhaust from a nearby vehicle, could enter through the vent and give the appearance of smoke coming from within your own car. If you notice any strange smells or smoke coming out of your vent, it's best to have it checked out by a professional mechanic for proper diagnosis and repair. Don't ignore the warning signs - taking care of potential problems early can save you time and money in the long run.

CAN I RECHARGE MY VEHICLE'S A/C MYSELF?

While it may be tempting to try and save money by recharging your own air conditioning system in your vehicle, you may end up causing more harm than good. A/C systems contain sensitive parts that require special training and equipment to handle properly. Attempting to recharge your system without the proper knowledge and tools can cause serious damage to your system, leading to costly repairs or even replacement. The cans for recharging vehicle a/c systems that are sold at most auto parts stores are a big 'NO' too. These cans also include sealants that will ruin your entire a/c system. If you do use one of these cans, you will do 1,000s of dollars worth of damage to your a/c system and will need to replace the entire system, not just one or two parts. In addition, handling refrigerants without the proper certification can have legal consequences. Instead of risking damage or breaking the law, it is best to leave the A/C recharge to the professionals. It may cost a bit more upfront, but in the long run, it will save you time and money.

WHAT IS WHEEL ALIGNMENT AND BALANCING?

When it comes to maintaining your car, wheel alignment and balancing are important yet often overlooked tasks. Alignment refers to ensuring that the tires are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other, while balancing involves adjusting the weight distribution of the tires to prevent uneven wear. Both alignment and balancing impact your car's performance – if your alignment is off, you may notice steering issues or uneven tire wear. In addition, improper alignment can lead to decreased gas mileage and damage to suspension components. By regularly checking alignment and balancing your tires, you can improve the overall handling of your vehicle and extend the life of your tires. Don't underestimate the importance of these simple maintenance tasks!

WHY IS A WHEEL ALIGNMENT NECESSARY?

While getting a tire alignment may seem like just another item on your car maintenance to-do list, it's actually essential for the overall health and function of your vehicle. Proper alignment helps ensure that the tires make full contact with the road, resulting in better handling, less wear and tear on the tires, and improved gas mileage. Without alignment, your tires may be prematurely worn down or even damaged, leading to expensive replacements. Additionally, poor alignment can cause steering issues and increased risk of accidents. So next time you get that alignment check on your car, remember that it's not just about aesthetics - it's about keeping you safe and ensuring smooth driving for years to come.