Transmission Flush & Fluid Replacement

Transmission Flush and Fluid Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Transmission FlushTransmission service is the topic of this post in our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series. Part of your recommended regular vehicle maintenance, transmission service includes a transmission flush and transmission fluid change. Regular transmission services will keep your car performing at its best, and keep it running dependably.

What a transmission flush does for your vehicle

Transmission fluid is an essential lubricant that cools and protects the moving components in your vehicle’s transmission, and facilitates gear shifts. Like other automotive fluids, transmission fluid degrades over time. Transmission fluid deterioration can be accelerated by certain types of driving, such as city driving or heavy hauling. A transmission flush service gets rid of the old transmission fluid so it can be replaced with new fluid.

What happens during a transmission flush and fluid replacement?

Your auto service professional will:

  • Remove and inspect the pan
  • Replace or clean the screen or filter
  • Clean and reinstall the pan with a new pan gasket
  • Remove the old transmission fluid and replace it with fresh fluid

Why are transmission flushes important to your vehicle?

A transmission flush gets rid of old fluid and washes away tiny particles, such as clutch material and metal shavings, which accumulate as the fluid ages. Without a flush, those particles eventually clog passages and wedge between moving parts, causing wear within the transmission. Flushing the fluid gets rid of those particles and prevents the wear they cause. Regular transmission service allows your transmission to function better for years longer, which means you’re less likely to breakdown and be faced with a major transmission repair.

How often is a transmission flush needed?

Transmission service is typically recommended every 50,000 miles. As with all auto services, it is important to refer to your owner’s manual to see the recommendations for your specific vehicle.

 

Cooling System Flush

Cooling System Flush & Coolant Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

coolant system flushesIn this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance, we are going to take a look at the one of the best ways to help your car keep its cool – the cooling system flush. The best way to understand the importance of a cooling system flush is to start by looking at the role of coolant.

The main job of coolant, or antifreeze, is to transfer excess heat from the vehicle engine to the radiator. The coolant absorbs the heat and redirects it to the radiator where it is evacuated into the air. It may also be directed through the heat exchanger to heat the passenger area. Coolant is comprised of a 50/50 ratio mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water. Though water alone could do the job of transferring heat, it is not used alone because it would be too corrosive to the engine.

What a cooling system flush does for your vehicle

The beneficial elements found in coolant breakdown over time, which leaves the engine and radiator vulnerable to corrosion.  Eventually rust deposits can accumulate and clog the cooling system and radiator. The clogs lead to overheating, which is the most common cause of engine damage and breakdowns. A coolant flush and fill will prevent these deposits and overheating.  Ultimately, getting a coolant flush and keeping the coolant fresh is much less trouble and expensive than repairing a heater core or radiator, or head gasket.

What happens during cooling system flush service?

Your auto service professional will:

  • Thoroughly inspect the coolant/antifreeze system
  • Repair and/or replace any components as necessary
  • Replace old coolant/antifreeze with new fluid 

Why are coolant flushes important to your vehicle?

Because it functions in a hot and hostile environment, coolant is subject to rapid break down. Once the coolant’s rust inhibitors become depleted, corrosion may occur in the confined passages in the engine and radiator. Ultimately some corrosion will take place, even with rust inhibitors. The engine block is the main source of rust in a car’s cooling system. Particles of rust will clog radiator and heater passages, causing your engine to overheat. If coolant is not regularly monitored, the rust inhibitors stop working, and the cooling system rusts from the inside out. 

How often are coolant flushes necessary?

The typical time frame for having a coolant flush is two years or 30,000 miles. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

Tire Rotation & Tread Inspection

Tire Rotation and Tread Inspection – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Tire Rotation and Tread Wear InspectionTires are the focus of this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance. As one of the most important safety and performance features on your vehicle, tires need the same attention to maintenance that essential mechanical components require. Tire rotation and tread inspection are two recommended maintenance items that need to be done regularly.

What tire rotation and tread inspection do for vehicle performance

Tire rotation and tread inspection are about extending the usable life of your tires and making sure they are safe. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear to get the most even wear on all four tires. Since tires in different positions do not wear the same, this will also help to assure there is a safe and sufficient amount of tread on every tire.

What happens during tire rotation and tread inspection service?

Rotation service consists of rotating or repositioning tires by moving them from one side of the vehicle to the other. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer recommendation, this may include moving them from front to back. Tires tend to wear differently depending on their position, the condition of your suspension, and the way you drive. When your auto service professional rotates your vehicle’s tires, the front tires are usually swapped with the rear tires. Typically the driver side tires stay on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on the passenger side. This can vary with different types of vehicles or tires.

Why tire rotation and tread inspection are necessary

Regular rotation and tread inspection are important because tires are subjected to a tremendous amount of wear. Without proper rotation, your tires will wear prematurely, preventing you from getting the most from your tire investment. Tire rotation protects your investment by extending the quality and service life of your tires. Tire rotation is also important because it promotes safe and even tread wear. Front and rear tires wear differently. Front tires are subjected to much more pressure than rear tires, so the tread wears more rapidly on the front tires. Regular rotation also improves driving performance and gas mileage.

Quality tires are expensive! It only makes sense to get the most for your money. Tire rotation and tread inspection service will keep your vehicle safe and to keep your tires properly maintained to get the most from them.

How often tire rotation and tread inspection are needed

Generally speaking tire rotation is recommended every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your service manual will provide you with the best maintenance schedule for your particular make and model vehicle.

Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Get in Gear with Car MaintenanceA few weeks ago we talked about National Car Care Month, and the importance of making good car maintenance a habit. So, how are you doing with that? Just in case you haven’t quite gotten in gear, we have a five-part series ahead to inspire you.

First, let’s take a look at some eye-opening stats from AAA :

Among U.S. adults who drive, one third (35 percent) have skipped or delayed maintenance or a repair that was recommended by their mechanic or specified in the factory maintenance schedule

And a survey of AAA approved auto repair facilities revealed:

Six in ten (62%) repair shops say more than half of the vehicles they service are behind schedule for routine maintenance services.

Three‐quarters (77%) of repair shops estimate customers who forget or ignore manufacturers’ recommended maintenance could save, on average, $100 or more per visit if they properly maintained their vehicles.

The more you know about car maintenance, the better equipped you’ll be to get in gear. Not only will you understand what needs to be done, you will have a clearer picture of why car maintenance services are so important. Some of the maintenance services we’ll be looking at that need to be done regularly include:

  • Oil Changes
  • Rotate Tires & Inspect for Proper Wear
  • Flush Cooling System & Replace Coolant
  • Drain & Refill Transmission
  • Tune-up & Spark Plug Replacement

The goal of this series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand these services and why they are important, so you can get in gear car maintenance. Up first: Oil Changes

 

Did You Know April is National Car Care Month?

car maintenanceApril is National Car Care Month! Now is the time to take care of car maintenance, including any problems you put off having checked over the winter.

Car maintenance begins with making sure you are on track with recommended regular maintenance services. Not only does this keep your vehicle running properly and performing at its best, finding problems before they escalate will save you time and money while extending the life of your vehicle.

The list below includes services are usually part of regular car maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for your recommended services and frequency:

  • Battery & Cables
  • Brake Inspection
  • Check Belts & Hoses
  • Coolant Flush and Replacement
  • Exhaust System
  • Filters – Air and Fuel
  • Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake
  • Lights
  • Oil Change
  • Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades

 Make sure your car maintenance includes care of your tires. It is important to regularly check your tire pressure and tread depth. Check the tread depth of your tires by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into several different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time for a new set of tires. If the tread is in good shape, Abe’s head will be covered to about the forehead hairline.

Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle in your owner’s manual, or reference the sticker located on the driver’s side door jam. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare tire as well.

Regular tire balancing and rotation service will benefit both your car and your tires. Tire balancing promotes even tire wear and provides a smooth ride by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is will greatly extend the life of your tires. Vehicle manufacturers have specific recommendations, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines.

Wheel Alignment and Tire Balancing – Two Services You Need

tire service2Are you doing all you can to get the longest service life from your tires? If you are not getting regular wheel alignment and tire balancing services, you are not doing all you can to protect your tire investment.

Why is Wheel Alignment Important?

Also known as “front end alignment” or “tire alignment”, wheel alignment service involves the adjustment of the angle of your vehicle’s wheels to the original position recommended by the manufacturer. Wheel alignment includes inspecting tire tread for signs of poor alignment as well as checking the toe, camber, and caster to precisely measure wheel orientation. Wheel alignment checks are typically recommended every 10,000 miles. You may need wheel alignment service before your recommended interval if you notice the vehicle pulling to one side, or if the vehicle has recently been in a collision.

Why is Tire Balancing Necessary?

Tires lose balance as you drive, so periodic tire balancing service is needed to return proper balance. As the miles on your tires accumulate tread wear causes the distribution of weight around the tire to change, creating an imbalance. Unusual shaking or vibration as you drive can result from this imbalance. During tire balancing service, the technician will use a calibrated spin balancer, testing non-moving or static balance as well as moving or dynamic balance. Tires will be adjusted to the proper balance in accordance with the test results. Tire balancing is usually every 5-6,000 miles or 6 months.

Getting wheel alignment and tire balancing service is not expensive and it does not take a lot of time to get done. It is well worth the effort to protect your tire investment.

7 Signs Your Engine Performance Might Be Declining

engine performance lightPoor engine performance can mean serious and expensive problems for your vehicle. It is essential to catch and address engine issues early, before they result in devastating consequences. Fortunately, today’s vehicles are equipped with warning lights, including a check engine light, to let you know if there is a problem. When the check engine light illuminates, you should schedule diagnostic services to identify the problem. If the light flashes, this indicates a more serious issue that should get immediate attention.

Aside from your check engine light, here are some additional signs that your engine performance might be in trouble:

  1. Power loss

Internal combustion engines convert fuel into the power required to move a vehicle. The combustion engine operation involves a four stroke cycle – intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke, and exhaust stroke. Failure during any one of these strokes could result in a lack of power to the engine and compromised engine performance.

  1. Unusual or excessive noise

Problems in the combustion flow can result in a wide variety of strange sounds such as knocking, hissing, popping or backfiring. Any time you hear weird noises when you start up your vehicle, consider it a warning sign and schedule a service call.

  1. Poor gas mileage

Having to fill your gas tank more often than usual, could mean more than a hit to your budget. It might mean there is a problem with the compression stroke of your engine. Fixing it may be as simple as having the fuel system cleaned or getting a tune-up.  Your best course of action is to have a diagnostic performed to make sure it is not a more serious issue.

  1. Engine Stalling

When it comes to automatic transmission vehicles, engine stalling is highly unusual, and probably means there is a problem with the engine. Most commonly the problem is that the intake stroke is not getting the spark or air/fuel mixture it needs. Here, too, the problem may be fixed by a tune up, but it could also be more serious, and should not go unchecked.

  1. Odd smells

Like sounds, anything persistent and unusual should not be ignored with odors. Problems with the exhaust stroke could lead to strange exhaust smells to be noticeable in the vehicle.

  1. Engine run-on

If your car continues to run after you turn it off, you should have it checked out. This sign of troubled engine performance is most common in high-performance vehicles. Causes of the problem might include incorrect octane gas for the vehicle, a failing solenoid, or carburetor issues.

  1. Engine runs rough

Clogs in the system or old spark plugs can cause a rough running engine, as can improper octane in the gasoline or a low battery. Like the other issues mentioned, a simple tune up could be all it takes to remedy a rough running engine.

As with any vehicle problems you may encounter, the important thing is to have engine performance problems or signs addressed as soon as possible to avoid more expense and complications.

How to Jump Start a Dead Car Battery

Jumper CablesDo you know how to jump start a dead car battery? With the cold winter months right around the corner, this is an important question. When the temperatures drop, the chances of a dead battery increase significantly, since low temperatures lead to sluggish batteries. The process used to jump start a dead car battery is not difficult. Knowing what to do and always having a quality set of jumper cables on hand will get you through this otherwise frustrating situation.

Jump starting your car is not complicated, but it can be dangerous if you don’t do it right. Jumper cables transmit electrical current from one car to another. Precautions must be taken to prevent dangerous electric shocks. When one end of the jumper cables is connected to a car, the metal clamps should not touch each other or anything other than the specified components on the other vehicle. Wearing rubber gloves and protective eyewear is recommended for extra safety, so keep these items with your jumper cables.

Steps to Jump Start a Dead Car Battery:

  1. Position the running vehicle so the vehicles face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the vehicles are not in contact with each other.
  2. Engage the parking brakes on both vehicles. Turn off both vehicles and remove the keys.
  3. Stretch out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.
  4. Open the hood to both cars. Referring to the respective owner’s manuals, locate the batteries and battery terminals. In most cases, the two terminals on each battery will be covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Make sure you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.
  5. Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.
  6. Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s  positive (+) battery terminal
  7. Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.
  8. Verify that none of the cables are in contact with engine parts that will move when the engine is started.
  9. Start the engine of the vehicle with the working battery.
  10. Allow the car to run for several minutes.  Depending on the age and condition of the battery, the time required to get the jump to work may vary.
  11. Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working vehicle to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.
  12. Once the disabled car is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.

Take the charged car for a short drive to allow the battery to build up a charge and ensure your car does not die again once you turn it off.

A jump start may fail if there are other issues that need to be addressed including:

  • Bad starter connection
  • Fuses are bad
  • Battery condition
  • Faulty alternator
  • Ignition switch issues

 

Safe Driving Begins with Clear Visibility

clear visibility windshield wipers As summer ends and autumn sets in, keeping your windshield clean for clear visibility becomes a bigger challenge.  There always seems to be more rain as temperatures cool, and with the debris from falling leaves in the air, dust and dirt accumulate on all of your car’s exposed surfaces.

Below are five simple visibility maintenance tips to assure clear visibility while driving so you and your passengers will be as safe as possible on the road.

  1. Inspect your wipers

To be most effective, wiper blades need to be in excellent condition. You should inspect your wiper blades regularly, and ask your auto service professional to check them whenever you bring in your car for other service or repair. As a rule of thumb, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

  1. Clean your windshield regularly

It doesn’t take long for your windshield to get dirty and hazy. This can be especially dangerous at night, when oncoming lights hit the dirt on your windshield and impair your vision. It is easy to forget to clean your windshield, but if you make a habit of cleaning the windshield every time you fill up, you will be in good shape. Most gas stations have what you need right by the pumps.

  1. Clean your headlights

Take a moment to periodically inspect your headlights. When you look closely, you may be amazed (and disgusted) by the amount of dirt and bug grime that has accumulated on them. If not cleaned, it will eventually get to the point of making your headlight beams dimmer.  Regular cleaning will make them easier to maintain.

  1. Fix windshield cracks or chips

All it takes is a piece of pea gravel traveling at high speed to put your windshield in serious jeopardy. That little crack may be annoying, but all too often it gets overlooked, until one day you hit a bump or pothole. Suddenly that small crack spreads all the way across your windshield. Have those cracks repaired as soon as possible to maintain safe visibility and to avoid the cost of a windshield replacement.

  1. Check your washer fluid

Windshield washer fluid is essential to the proper functioning of your windshield wipers. Letting wiper blades drag across a dry surface is not only ineffective, it can lead to damaging of the blades. Top off your washer fluid at every service interval or whenever the seasons change to avoid being left high and dry. Use windshield washer antifreeze in winter months to prevent damage to your washer system.

Goodbye Winter, Hello Potholes!

pothole“Oh no, potholes!” is probably a more accurate description of how we feel when we see these road menaces. Potholes not only make driving less comfortable, they can inflict some serious damage on your vehicle. While we do our best to avoid them, sometimes it’s just not possible. It is important to be aware of any problems your vehicle might have after hitting one.

Why are potholes so bad this time of year? The pothole problem actually begins in the winter, when freezing and thawing cycles cause cracks in road surfaces to get larger and further degrade. The application of road salt can accelerate the damage because it creates more freezing and thawing stress, while melting ice on the roadway. In the spring, heavy rains infiltrate the cracks and cause more deterioration.

We have all felt the jolting impact of hitting a deep pothole. Our vehicles feel the impact, too, but to a much greater extent. Hitting potholes often leads to serious vehicle component damage, usually with the shocks and struts, which control ride and handling, and serve as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of the vehicle’s springs. Shocks and struts also regulate spring and suspension movement, keeping the car’s tires in contact with the road to facilitate proper steering, stability, and braking. Compromised shocks and struts can create a dangerous situation, so it is important to be aware of the signs that your shocks or struts may need to be replaced:

  • Swaying or rolling on turns
  • Bottoming out or thumping on bumps
  • Bouncing or sliding sideways on rough or winding roads
  • Front-end dives when braking or rear end dips when accelerating
  • Loss of directional control during abrupt stops
  • Noticeable puddles under the car or leaking fluids

Hitting potholes can also result in tire and wheel damage, engine and  exhaust system issues, as well as suspension problems. It’s important to have your vehicle inspected if you experience any of the these types of issues. Addressing pothole damage issues early can prevent more extensive problems down the road.