Archive for the ‘Service Tip of the Week’ Category
When it comes to proper maintenance of your car, there’s the typical stuff you hear all the time. Most of it involves fluids: changing your oil, changing your coolant, changing your transmission fluid. On the hardware side, replacing fuel filters, windshield wipers and checking your tire pressure are all important maintenance habits.
But there are several less-obvious things you can do to make sure your car stays running smoothly:
Use your parking brake on hills If you depend on your transmission to keep your car in place on a hill — by putting it in park — you are putting a lot of pressure on a tiny pin called a parking pawl. Add years to the life of your transmission, and use the parking brake on hills.
Change the differential fluid About every 60K miles, you will want to have a mechanic change the differential fluid. Like the transmission, the differential is extremely important to the forward motion of your car and expensive to replace.
Make a complete stop before shifting It’s easy to get lazy when you’re backing out of a spot and want to get going, but shifting into drive before your car is ready is a sure way to cook your transmission—not right away, but over time. Bring your car to a full stop and then shift. A transmission is a terrible thing to waste.
Pull into any fuel station and you’re faced with a choice: 87, 89, or 91 octane, regular, premium, or super. But is there any quantifiable difference in how a car performs when filled with one over the others? Does premium gas do anything other than cost more? Experts say, unless your car was built before 1990, probably not in any way that you’re going to notice.
If your car has a computer, technology has improved vehicles to the point where engine knocking—the pre-computer reason for needing higher-octane fuel—has become a non-issue. Censors and other high-tech installations under the hood prevent engine damage by constantly regulating the vehicle. Higher-octane fuel doesn’t change the computer’s abilities or programming.
If you’re not on a racetrack, you’re not going to notice a difference. It may take an extra half-second to go from 0-60 if there’s regular in the tank instead of premium. While that may be important on a race track or in a lab setting when cars are being tested and evaluated for performance, humans can’t tell split-second differences like that and everyday driving conditions rarely (if ever) call for 0-60 in very few seconds.
If you drive a hybrid or other highly efficient vehicle, you’ll achieve high miles-per-gallon so that even a mile or two extra per gallon won’t make a noticeable difference in fuel expenditures. To break down the math, someone driving a 35MPG vehicle 15,000 miles per year would spend the same amount of money buying mid-grade gas to get one mile per gallon more, and that’s if the higher-octane improved fuel efficiency at all.
Check your driver’s manual. Just as it would be disastrous to put diesel in a standard engine (or vice-versa), your car may require higher-grade fuel. If this is the case, then use it. On the other hand, if the manual simply recommends a higher-octane gas, save your money and go with regular instead.
Winter driving requires special attention to your vehicle. Rain, snow, and cold weather can place any vehicle – or any driver – in an unsafe condition. Here are a few tips to see you safely through the winter driving season:
Always keep plenty of gas in the tank. You never know when you will be stuck somewhere in traffic, or stuck on the mountain in the snow. Your gas mileage may drop during winter, because there is more stop-and-go driving, because the roads are slicker, and because your vehicle may operate at a lower temperature. Unless your engine is running rough or the check engine light is on, a small decline in miles per gallon is normal. To keep your miles per gallon at their best, and to drive safely, watch your tire pressure. Most manufacturers do not recommend that you change the inflation during the winter. When in doubt, consult your owners’ manual.
Have your windshield washer fluid freeze protection checked regularly. Keep your reservoir full and be sure that your supply includes a chemical to prevent freezing. Driving in intermittent rain and snow can empty your sprayer tank quickly.
Use the “fresh air” mode on your heater control when defogging the window. This draws in outside air and will still be warm with your heater on, but does a better job defogging your windows. Later models automatically do this when in “defrost” mode. If your window is slow to de-fog, keep the heat on, but hit the air conditioning button for a minute or two. It won’t make your car cold – but it will help to more quickly reduce the humidity, and de-fog your window.
Make sure you turn your wipers off before you shut the car off for the night. This will return them to their horizontal position. If you don’t the next morning they may delay your departure, or may require that you drive away with them stuck in a vertical position, obstructing your vision. Never try to force a frozen windshield wiper to move. It may cause damage to the blades, to the linkage or to the wiper motor.
Don’t pour hot water on a frozen car. It can cause your windshield to crack. Plan a few extra minutes to allow the interior of your car to warm up and defrost the windshield – or place an old rubber mat over your windshield before you go to bed at night.
Get your snow tires on your vehicle as soon as permissible. In Oregon, that’s usually around November 1st. Don’t wait for the crunch of a sudden snowstorm that they didn’t predict on the news.
Learn how to use your 4-wheel drive or anti-lock brakes ahead of time. Consider practicing in an empty parking lot. This is particularly important when you buy an unfamiliar vehicle. Anti-lock brakes cause a unique shudder and noise from the brake pedal. This is normal. They usually don’t even activate unless you stomp down on the brake pedal hard and fast. Try it. That way it won’t be so scary when you experience this in a panic situation. 4-wheel drive now has several configurations depending on the make and model of the vehicle. If yours is one that you have to activate, learn how yours works before you need it. For most vehicles, it should not be used on dry pavement, which can bind up the drive train.
Have a multi-point inspection done on your vehicle every fall. Check tires, engine coolant for freeze protection, belts, hoses, fluids, filters and especially check your battery. The colder it is the less cranking amps it has and the more your engine needs.
Winter is just around the corner, and for Oregonians, that means the weather is about to take a serious turn. It also means that we must prepare our vehicles both to stay in shape for the long haul and also to ensure our safety throughout the cold weather months. While we’re still in November, we thought we would offer 5 tips to keep your car in shape for winter:
1. Consider Purchasing Snow Tires While “all-weather” tires can suffice, purchasing high-quality winter tires might be the best thing you can do for your vehicle if you plan on being in the snow often (and you do, don’t you?). New tread patterns that are efficient on both dry pavement and snow have replaced loud, deep-treaded snow tires of the past and are definitely worth considering.
2. Stuck in the Snow? Don’t Rev the Engine! If you get stuck in the snow, immediately stop revving the engine as soon as you realize that it won’t help you get out. Doing so can cause a world of trouble for your transmission and clutch, and it is a much safer investment to simply call a towing company.
3. Replace Your Windshield Wipers You’re not alone if you let your windshield wipers go for longer periods of time than you should. However, if they are worn down or not performing optimally, you will want to get them replaced before you head into the snow with your family this winter.
4. Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly This is crucial throughout the winter months. Cold weather can mean significant drops in your tire pressure and a threat to not only your fuel economy, but also your safety. Establish one day each month to ensure you are keeping up with the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle – doing so can prevent major problems down the road.
5. Don’t Stop Washing Your Car! Washing your car regularly during the cold winter months can be a drag, but it can also keep your vehicle in shape for the long run. In the winter, there is an increased amount of slush, ice, dirt, and other particles that cause your car to rust fastest in the colder months. Be sure to wash your vehicle regularly all winter long and dry thoroughly!
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Summer has officially arrived, and with warm weather comes the need for certain vehicle maintenance. Here are 10 tips from Gresham Toyota to ensure your vehicle remains in excellent condition:
- Replace your old antifreeze with new coolant. Most automobiles take a 50-50 mixture of coolant and water, but check your owner’s manual just to be sure. Don’t add plain water to your cooling system unless it’s an emergency.
- Consider a tune-up, particularly if you own an older model. Consult your manual for the recommended maintenance schedule for your car.
Check your tire pressure when the tires are “cold” and make sure they are properly inflated and wearing evenly.
- Have a certified mechanic check your car’s air conditioning unit and make sure you fill it with the correct amount of freon.
- Check your hoses and drive belts for cracks, or signs of wear and tear. Replace any clogged air and oil filters.
- Inspect your battery’s water levels, even if it’s the “maintenance free” type. Before you hit the road, check the fuses and the alternator.
- Examine your car’s headlights and other exterior lights to make sure they are aligned and working properly.
- Replace worn windshield wiper blades and make sure your windshield wiper fluid tank is full.
- If you don’t have an emergency tool kit in your car, get one. If you already own a kit, make sure it’s stocked with battery cables, a flashlight with fresh batteries, a first-aid kit, spare fuses, a jack, a tire gauge and an empty gasoline can. (NOTE: Never carry gasoline or other flammable liquids in your trunk except in an emergency)
- Buy a cardboard sunscreen for your front and back windshields. They will keep the interior cool to make it easy on your A/C and protect your dashboard’s finish.