If my car is under warranty at the dealership, can I still bring my car to your shop for regular service and not lose my warranty?
Yes, absolutely. You are protected and have every right to take your car to any auto repair mechanic for routine service and it will have zero affect on your warranty at the dealership. This is protected by Federal Law with the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. 2302).
This federal law regulates warranties for the protection of consumers. The essence of the law concerning aftermarket auto parts is that a vehicle manufacturer may not condition a written or implied warranty on the consumers using parts or services which are identified by brand, trade, or corporate name unless the parts or service are provided free of charge. The law means that the use of an aftermarket part alone is not cause for denying the warranty. However, the law’s protection does not extend to aftermarket parts in situations where such parts actually caused the damage being claimed under the warranty. The law states in relevant part: No warrantor of a consumer product may condition his written or implied warranty of such product on the consumers using, in connection with such product, any article or service (other than article or service provided without charge under the terms of the warranty) which is identified by brand, trade or corporate name… (15 U.S.C. 2302(C)).
What is Preventative Maintenance?
Preventative Maintenance is regular maintenance of your vehicle that helps keep your automobile running efficiently and eliminating potential problems that may leave you stranded. Manufacturers know that a properly maintained car will be more dependable, safer, last longer, and increase your satisfaction with their product.
Preventative maintenance includes:
Servicing Windshield Wipers
Tune-up or servicing/replacing spark plugs, ignition wires, distributor cap and rotor.
Replacing air filters
Engine oil change
Differential(s) gear oil change
Trans-axle oil change
Routine hose inspection
Exterior drive belt replacement
Servicing/replacing transmission oil and filter
Timing belt replacement
Brake fluid flush
Power steering flush
Inspect exhaust system for leaks
Inspect brake linings brake rotor hydraulic lines calipers and wheel cylinders
Replace cabin air filter
Used car safety inspection
What Maintenance Should I be doing and when?
These are generic service recommendations based solely on time or mileage not on visual appearance or measurement. Their purpose is to extend the life of your vehicle and help prevent breakdown. Your vehicle’s requirements may differ depending on driving habits and/or owner’s manual recommendations. Check your owner’s manual and with your service advisor for specifics.
OIL – LUBE – FILTER: 3,000 miles to 5,000 miles
TIRE ROTATION: 3,000 to 5,000 Miles depending on tire style
PCV VALVE: Yearly, replace and service PCV system
WHOLE CAR DIAGNOSIS: Yearly and before purchase or sale
FUEL FILTER: Yearly or as needed
BATTERY SERVICE: Yearly or as needed
AIR CONDITIONING: Check every spring or as needed
RADIATOR COOLANT: Every two years, flush
BRAKE SYSTEM FLUSH: Every year
CLUTCH SYSTEM FLUSH: Every year
RADIATOR CAP: Replace every two years
ENGINE OIL FLUSH: 2 Years or 30,000 Miles
AUTOMATIC TRANS FLUSH: 2 Years or 24,000 miles
POWER STEERING FLUSH: 2 Years or 24,000 miles
EGR SYSTEM SERVICE: 2 Years or 24,000 miles
4X4 TRANSFER CASE: 15,000 to 50,000 miles
CARBON CLEANING: 2 Years or 30,000 miles or as needed
THROTTLE-BODY SERVICE: 2 Years or 30,000 miles or as needed
RADIATOR & HEATER HOSES: 4 Years or 60,000 miles
DRIVE BELTS: 4 Years or 60,000 miles
TIMING BELT: 4 Years or 60,000 miles
DIFFERENTIAL FLUID: 15,000 to 50,000 miles
MANUAL TRANS SERVICE: 15,000 to 50,000 miles
VALVES: Adjust per owner’s manual
SCAN FOR COMPUTER CODES: When amber “CHECK ENGINE” Light is on
OXYGEN SENSOR: Per owner’s manual or as needed
How do I know when my car needs a tune up?
You may see your gas mileage decrease. Your vehicle may start running rough. If your check engine light comes on that could also be an indicator that your vehicle needs a tune up. The owner’s manual that came with your vehicle may suggest a tune up at a certain mileage.
How should I prepare my car for winter?
Prior to winter weather setting in, you should:
Check your antifreeze level and condition. Rust colored antifreeze means you may need to flush and refill the cooling system.
Check the level of you motor oil. If its been 3 months to 3000 miles since you last oil change, it should be replaced.
Check you battery. Batteries that are weak can fail on cold morning and your car won’t start.
Change your wiper blades to winter wiper-blades. These prevent ice build-up that can obstruct your view during operation in snow and ice conditions.
Check the condition of your tires. Tires that have warn tread can mean hydroplaning on road water and can lead to accidents.
Check your A/C operation. Your air condition will function in the defrost mode and is used to help defrost or remove moister from the windshields, fogged up windows can be hazardous during driving.
Perform a brake inspection. A well operating brake system help stop your car, especially during wet or snowy and icy conditions.
How should I prepare my car for a road trip?
Prior to going on a trip, you should:
Check all lights. Check your headlights (high and low-beam), brake lights, turn signals, parking lamps and (if you have them) fog lights to make sure they are all operational. You should clean your headlights using glass cleaner to improve night visibility.
Check wiper blades. Inspect them for cracks or tears, and make sure they’re operational. If they’re in good shape, it’s still a good idea to clean the rubber blade with little glass cleaner.
Check all hoses. Look for any cracks or holes in hoses, and replace any that are not in good shape.
Check all belts. Inspect all belts to ensure that none are worn, loose or frayed.
Inspect the battery. If there is corrosion on the terminals, you can clean it away with a toothbrush and a pasty solution of water and baking soda.
Check all fluids. Check the reservoirs to ensure that your coolant and wiper fluids are at the proper levels. Check your oil using the dipstick. Check transmission fluid, power-steering fluid and brake fluid. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for advice on checking all the fluids.
It is also a good idea to have a good set of basic tools and a emergency kit on hand, these can be purchased from most auto parts stores.
Remove any unwanted items from your truck and check tire pressures to save on gas mileage.
Why do my brakes squeak? What is a Brake Job?
Brakes can squeak for a variety of reasons, but continuous squeals and grinding sounds may mean it’s time for new brake pads and shoes. Work brakes can mean longer stopping distances and difficulty stopping in emergency situations. Rotors and drums that are too thin may even become over-stressed and break. Remember, if you notice any of these symptoms it’s a good idea to get your brakes checked.
A brake job includes replacement of worn parts in order to restore the vehicle’s braking performance to new condition.
Brake components that should be replaced will obviously depend upon the age, mileage and wear. During a brake job, all components should be checked and the replacement requirements will change form vehicle to vehicle. A brake inspection should include inspection of the brake lining, rotors and drums, calipers and wheel cylinders, brake hardware, hoses, lines, and master cylinder. Any hoses that are found to be age cracked, chaffed, swollen, or leaking must be replaced. Replacement hoses should have the same type of end fittings (double-flared or ISO) as the original. Steel lines that are leaking, kinked, badly corroded, or damaged must also be replaced. For steel brake lines, use only approved steel tubing with double-flared or ISO flare ends’ leaking caliper or wheel cylinder needs to be rebuilt or replaced. The same applies to a caliper that is frozen (look for uneven pad wear), damaged, or badly corroded. A leak at the master cylinder or a brake pedal that gradually sinks to the floor tells you that the master cylinder needs replacing. The rotors and drums need to be inspected for wear, heat cracks, warpage, or other damage. Unless they are in perfect condition, they should always be resurfaced before new linings are installed. If worn too thin, they should be replaced. Rust, heat, and age have a detrimental effect on many hardware components. It’s a good idea to replace some of these parts when the brakes are relined. On disc brakes, new mounting pins and bushings are recommended for floating-style calipers. High temperature synthetic or silicone brake grease (never ordinary chassis grease) should be used to lubricate caliper pins and caliper contact points. On drum brakes: shoe retaining clips and return springs should be replaced. Self-adjusters should be replaced if they are corroded or frozen. Use brake grease to lubricate self-adjusters and raised points on brake backing plates where shoes make contact. Wheel bearings should be part of a complete brake job on most rear-wheel drive vehicles and some front-wheel drive cars. Unless bearings are sealed, they need to be cleaned, inspected, repacked with wheel bearing grease (new grease seals are a must), and properly adjusted. As a rule, tapered roller bearings are not preloaded. Finger tight is usually recommended. Ball wheel bearings usually require pre-loading. Lastly, old brake fluid should always be replaced with fresh fluid as it can be contamination with water which can corrode brake lines and decrease braking capacity.
Why is my check engine light on?
The check engine light is one of the most vital components to a properly functioning vehicle. It alerts the driver of a potential problem on the vehicle’s on-board diagnostic system (main computer). When the check engine light comes on it means that a system in your vehicle — such as ignition, fuel injection, or emission control — is not operating efficiently, even though your vehicle seems to be running fine.If your check engine light comes on and it’s flashing, that indicates a more severe problem that should be checked out immediately to prevent damage to the catalytic converter (part of your exhaust system). When you experience a flashing light, minimize driving at high speeds, especially if you’re towing.When the check engine light comes on, there’s no need to panic, just make an appointment to get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible. Ignoring your check engine light could severely damage engine components and cost you more money in the end.
- Will it hurt my engine if I drive my car when the check engine light is on?
- It is possible but not too likely. However, you do need to get your vehicle checked out as soon as possible. You may see a decrease in performance.
What is the primary cause of tire damage?
Although there are many things that can cause tire damage, improper inflation is the main problem we see. Always keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle and frequently check the pressure of all tires.
When should I have my timing belt changed?
Depending on the vehicle a timing belt needs to be replaced between 60,000 and 120,000 miles.
When do I need to replace my belts and hoses?
If you can see cracks in your belts, it is time to have them replaced. We recommend replacing your belts and hoses at least every three to four years. If your hoses look swollen or soft that could be an indicator that they need to be replaced. However, hoses can deteriorate on the inside and if this happens there is no visual evidence that the hose needs to be changed.
Why do I need to have my engine oil changed every 3,000 miles?
The additive in the oil starts to break down as soon as it heats up to high temperatures. The engine in your vehicle will reach over 200 degrees almost every time you drive it. History has proven that the 3,000 mile mark is a good interval to have your engine oil replaced. You never want to just drain your engine oil out and put new oil in without changing the oil filter. The oil filter will hold about a quart of oil. If you do not change the oil filter when changing the engine oil in your vehicle you are combining your clean engine oil with deteriorated engine oil and this will lessen the effectiveness of the new engine oil you just put in your vehicle.
How often should I rotate my tires?
Your tires should be rotated every other oil change, or every 6000 miles. Neglecting to rotate tires is a major cause of premature tire wear.
Is it really necessary to replace my timing belt at the 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.
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 the engine off! Do not attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator; the hot fluid can cause severe burns. The best thing to do is have your car towed to Sanford’s Automotive Repair.
Why is engine oil milky brown?
Milky brown engine oil is an indication of coolant in the oil. This can be caused by a blown head gasket (or other gasket), a failed transmission cooler, or cracked casings. This condition is very serious and needs to be checked by a professional technician immediately.
How do I make sure my car battery has a good electrical connection?
Battery cables and terminals should be cleaned and inspected periodically to make sure they provide a good electrical connection.
Should I consider using synthetic motor oil in my vehicle?
Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for high output, turbocharged or supercharged engines. Or for vehicles that are used for towing (especially during hot weather), and vehicles that operate in extremely cold or hot climates. Although more expensive than mineral-based oils, synthetic motor oils can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes.
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 or perform a tune-up?
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.
I need to replace a burned out fuse, what should I do?
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.
Why does my brake pedal vibrate when I’m slowing down from freeway speeds?
The most common cause is excessive warping of the brake rotor. This is caused by improper tightening of the wheels or wheel hubs that are not properly cleaned when the rotors are installed after a brake job or tire rotation, or it could be a bad hub. The problem does not show up right away, it can take a few hundred miles of driving, or getting the brakes hot enough for the vibration to show up. To solve this problem, the mechanic must first determine if the rotors are warped, the hubs are dirty, or if it a bad hub. The rotors can be machined if there is enough material on the rotor to machine it properly without going below minimum thickness required for a safe rotor, or the rotor must be replaced. If the hub is the problem it must be cleaned properly, the rotor reinstalled, and the smoothness and straightness (run out) rechecked.
What is the tire pressure of my tires?
You should always set the tire pressure by the tire manufacturer’s pressure specs. They can be found on the side of the tire. To realize better mileage, tire wear, and handling, run the pressure at the maximum pressure. You need to remember car makers do not make tires. The tire manufacturers are the experts and should be your source for pressure information. Car makers are more concerned with the best ride not the best mileage, wear, or handling. Additionally, the pressure car makers recommend is for the tires that they install at the factory.
How often do I check the anti-freeze? Does it need to be changed?
You should check the anti-freeze and the oil at least every other gas fill-up on newer cars and every fill-up on older high-mileage cars.
How long do spark plugs last?
This depends on the type of spark plugs that are in your car. Older cars (15-20 years old) are more likely to have standard plugs and they last 12,000-15,000 miles, newer models up to the year 2000 are platinum tipped and will last 30,000 miles. Some 2000 and newer have iridium tipped plugs and will go 90,000 to 100,000 miles.
What is the difference between timing belts and timing chains?
Timing belts are rubber-toothed belts that drive the camshaft on overhead camshaft engines (most common type manufactured today). They need to be replaced as a maintenance item (refer to owner’s manual for mileage details). Timing chains can be found on both overhead cam engines and non-overhead cam engines; they are not a maintenance item and may go 200,000 miles or more before needing to be replaced.
Why should I have you perform a pre-purchase inspection on a car before I buy it?
When buying a pre-owned car it is imperative that you know what you are getting yourself into. You want to make sure that you don’t get more than you bargained for. We provide a thorough inspection both inside and out. We check for body damage that may be covered with bondo and paint. We also insure that the vehicle is sound mechanically by checking the engine, drive train, belts, and hoses. We also do a comprehensive safety check including the brakes and looking for suspension damage and wear. You do not want surprises after you have bought the car. We can’t see everything but we can see a lot. An additional benefit of having a professional inspection is that you will be armed with additional information when negotiating a sale price.
If you do my scheduled services will my manufacturer or dealer warranty be intact?
Yes, we can do all of your regular maintenance and service, keeping your factor warranty intact. However, the dealer must perform factory warranty and recall work. Only the dealer will complete this work at no expense to you. Sanford’s Automotive can perform any other work you may need. It makes sense you use the dealer when they are paying for the work, or it is “free” work.
Should I service my transmission, even though it is supposed to have a “Lifetime” fluid?
In these times of a down economy, preventative maintenance is being put on hold by many people trying to stretch a paycheck. I totally understand, but in this case, do not agree this is the best choice. One dollar spent on maintenance today may well save you ten dollars tomorrow. Many manufacturers are trying to show lower annual maintenance costs by using what they call “Lifetime” fluids. I always ask who’s “Lifetime”, the transmission’s “Lifetime”? We are seeing a high number of transmission failures on high-end European cars that could have been prevented with regular transmission services, every 30,000 miles. With the cost of transmission replacement in excess of $5,000, the service seems like money well spent, even with the higher costs of some transmission fluids! You should expect to get well over 100,000 miles on your investment, but at our shop we are seeing transmission failures at mileage as low as 70,000 miles, and that is not good. Obviously, that “Lifetime” fluid seems to have a shorter life than one would expect. I strongly suggest regularly servicing your transmission to prolong its life, save money, and give you and your family peace of mind!