Maintenance and Repair Tips
Maintenance work, big or small, is essential to your vehicle proper operation. And when problems occur, it becomes very important to have proper repair work done.
- 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.
- Using laundry products or other washing products with strong detergents can dull your car's finish. If you are going to use soap to wash your car, use special car wash products that are made for the job.
- Batteries should be charged prior to installation to prevent overloading and possible damage to the charging system (which is designed to maintain a constant level of battery charge, not to recharge a dead battery).
- At least every two years, your vehicle's cooling system should be drained, flushed and refilled with fresh antifreeze to replenish the antifreeze mixture and prevent the formation of damaging rust and scale.
- Flushing a car's COOLING system has nothing to do with repeat A/C compressor failure. Flushing the A/C system does.
- Batteries should always be fully charged (at least 12.6 volts ) before installation to maximize service life. Remember, if battery post voltage is 12.6 volts it is fully charged. A battery with post voltage of 12.4 volts is only 75% charged.
- Battery cables and terminals should also be cleaned and inspected to make sure they provide a good electrical connection.
- If battery cables need replacing, match the length and wire size to the original cables.
- 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.
- Short trip driving is especially hard on oil because the engine never warms up enough to boil off the moisture and acids that accumulate inside the crankcase, so be sure to change both the oil and oil filter as your vehicle manufacturer recommends under the "Severe Service" maintenance intervals.
- Higher motor oil viscosity numbers do not necessarily provide better protection; follow your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations for your motor and driving conditions.
- After four years of service, the failure incidence of cooling system belts and hoses goes up dramatically, so consider replacing them if you haven't already done so.
- Check your older rear-wheel drive vehicle's fan clutch for proper operation and fluid loss, because they lose their grip as they age and are a common cause of overheating.
- When refilling your car's cooling system (with a 50/50 mixture of fresh antifreeze and clean - preferably distilled - water), open any air bleeds to make sure there's no air trapped in the system.
- 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.
- Whenever you're working on your vehicle, use safety stands under the frame or drive-on-ramps if you must raise your vehicle. Beware of hot objects, sharp instruments and hazardous materials whenever you're working around machinery.
- When working on your vehicle, don't substitute tools unless you're sure you won't compromise either your safety or the performance of your vehicle.
- Experts recommend changing the oil and oil filter in your vehicle every 3 months or 3,000 miles, (whichever comes first). It's a simple, inexpensive and essential way to maximize engine protection. Oil changes at 7,500 miles are usually too long an interval for most common driving conditions.
- 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 (but see your vehicle owner's manual for specific recommendations).
- If you have a flat tire while driving, pull off the road towards your right as far as you can and then make sure your car is in "park" and the ignition is OFF. (If your car has a manual transmission, set the parking brake.)
- It's a good idea to learn how to change a tire before you have to change a flat tire. So if you buy a new car, make sure you know where the spare is, how the jack works, etc.
- A clogged or dirty air filter can lead to reduced gas mileage and a rough-running car, so check your air filter every six months and replace it according to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations.
- To prevent corrosion on your battery cables, you can apply grease or petroleum jelly under the clamps.
- When replacing your car battery, make sure you get the correct size and capacity battery for your car and that it is fully charged.
- When repairing scratches on your car, get the correct color of paint (the vehicle paint code is usually located on a tag under the hood, on the door jam, or inside the glove compartment).
- If you're replacing the brakes on your vehicle, remember that older brake linings may contain asbestos so be sure to avoid creating or breathing dust when changing linings or cleaning parts.
- When you have to jack up the wheel or axle, support it securely with jack stands and block the other wheels. NEVER work under a car supported by only a jack.
- When you replace a fuel pump, you should also install a new fuel filter and replace any cracked or leaking fuel lines and hoses.
- Always have the headlight switch OFF when replacing a headlamp body or halogen headlight bulb and WEAR EYE PROTECTION! If you are replacing a halogen bulb, be very careful not to touch the glass surface with your fingers. The oil from you skin will attract the heat generated by the bulb and cause premature failure.
- When replacing a sealed beam headlight, begin by removing any screws, housing, trim, retaining rings or molding from around the headlamp body as well as the wiring plug from the back of the bulb but DO NOT disturb the adjusting screws used to aim the lamp.
- Always be sure the switch in the circuit is OFF before replacing any bulb in your vehicle.
- Remove a single or double contact bayonet bulb from its socket by pushing in slightly and turning counterclockwise but be sure to use a rag or a glove to protect your hand in case the bulb breaks.
- Clean dirty or corroded sockets with a rag or small wire brush before installing any new light bulb.
- 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 for defects.
- Allow the engine to cool completely before attempting to remove old spark plugs (especially if the engine has an aluminum cylinder head).
- To avoid mixing up the spark plug wires when replacing them, it's a good idea to remove and replace one plug at a time or use tape to label each wire.
- If a spark plug is hard to remove, use a small amount of penetrating oil and then turn it counterclockwise with a spark plug wrench or a spark plug socket and ratchet.
- To avoid letting any foreign material fall into the cylinder when removing a spark plug, use compressed air to blow any dirt away from the spark plug area or clean the area with a rag or small brush before removing the old spark plug.
- Replace your windshield wiper blades once a year to ensure clear driving vision.
- Make sure you get new windshield wiper blades that are the right size for your vehicle by measuring your old ones.