Vehicle Care

No one buys a vehicle with the hope that it will depreciate quickly and lose its new car performance and showroom appearance. Most of us take pride in owning a reliable, attractive vehicle and hope that as much of the value as possible will be retained.

There are many things you as an owner can do to help keep your vehicle running and looking great. We have put together some tips to not only keep your vehicle performing at its best, but to also save you some money as well. So to keep your vehicle out of the the repair shop, take a look at these vehicle care tips.

Gas Mileage

Keep your engine tuned.
A well-maintained engine will help you maximize the gas mileage. A poorly performing engine not only wastes fuel but may do further damage to the engine or emission controls.

Check your tire air pressure.
Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels can waste fuel by making the engine work harder. Air pressure gauges are inexpensive. Keep one in your glove compartment and periodically check the pressure to insure they are at manufacturers specifications. Let the tires cool down before checking the air pressure and adjust as necessary.

Avoid excessive engine idling.
Try to travel when traffic is light so you can avoid stop-and-go conditions.

Accelerate moderaletly and watch your speed.
Sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Maintain a consistent speed. Using your cruise control will help. Typically speeds in excess of 60-65 miles per hour will decrease your miles per gallon.

Eleminate excess weight in your vehicle.
Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Roof top carriers and other items that add to wind resistance should be removed if not in use.

Use windows and air condition wisely.
Your mileage should improve if you keep the windows closed at highway speeds as air drag is reduced. If you are in a region where air conditioning use is not needed, be sure it is off.

Performance

Are you in need of a check up? Stop by or give us a call to find out if you are overdue.

Every 3,000 miles:

  • Change your oil and oil filter.
  • Check your fan belt.
  • Check your hoses and cooling system.
  • Check your brake fluid.
  • Check your power steering fluid.
  • Check your transmission fluid.

Safety

  • Check the tires to make sure they're properly inflated and for excessive wear and damage.
  • Make sure the spare tire is properly inflated.
  • Inspect the wiper blades to check for cracks or brittleness. If the wiper blades chatter or leave the windshield smeared, replace the blades.
  • Check the washer operation and the fluid level. A uniform, even spray that covers the entire windshield should be present.
  • Check for engine leaks by starting the engine and listening for any unusual sounds, particularly those coming from under the car.
  • For brakes, open the windows, then, when coming to a stop, notice how the pedal feels and listen for any noises that don't sound normal. Check the brake fluid level and keep it topped off.
  • Check suspension and steering by listening for any rattles or a feeling of looseness while driving.
  • Check the instrument panel for an air bag warning light when the engine is running. The light should come on momentarily when the car is started and go out after a few seconds to verify that the system is operational. Always replace a bag that has been deployed. Safety items to keep in your trunk include a flashlight, flares, reflective triangles, and jumper cables.
  • Check the horn to make sure it works; you never know when you might need it.

Seasonal Chores

Winter
Preparing your car for winter, especially in regions that are extra harsh, will help prevent rusting and other cold-weather problems.

  • Wax your car sometime in autumn before the weather drops below 32 degrees.
  • If you have a leather interior, you should treat it with a conditioner, as the dry winter atmosphere could harm them.
  • Dress the tires with a good, long-lasting protectant. Don't forget to also treat the trim with a protectant.
  • Check the coolant (antifreeze); coolant should be flushed and refilled every two years in most vehicles.
  • Change oil every 3,000 miles; consider changing to a "winter weight" oil if you live in a cold climate.
  • Check the battery and exhaust system.
  • Be certain the heater and defroster are working properly.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full, decreasing the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.
  • Check tire tread depth and tire pressure; consider special tires if snow and ice are a problem in your area.

Summer
The sun can be brutal on cars. Make sure you treat yours before the dog days of summer set in.

  • The roof, trunk lid, and hood need the most attention on the outside of your car. Make sure you wax your car before the temperature gets too high.
  • Dashboards and other plastic, rubber, or vinyl parts may become faded from the sun. Use a protectant to help prevent this type of damage.
  • Leather seats should be treated with a conditioner to help prevent cracking.
  • Park undercover as much as possible to avoid direct sunlight.

Before a Trip

Check all fluids. There are several fluids, in addition to antifreeze, that require attention, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission fluids and windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced.

Check the tires. Check tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, indicating the need for wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.

Vehicle Exterior

Washing Tips

  • Try washing your car in a cool, shady area to avoid streaking and reduce water spotting.
  • Start at the top of the vehicle and move down. The bottom parts of your car accumulate the most dirt, so starting at the top will help to avoid dragging dirt onto other parts of your car.
  • To remove stubborn stains such as insects, road tar, tree sap, and bird droppings, try using an undiluted car wash soap. Using a sponge, apply the product full strength directly onto the spots, let penetrate for 3-5 minutes, then wash off with a stream of water.
  • To avoid water spotting, dry the car immediately with a chamois or a 100% cotton terry cloth towel.

Wax and Polishing Tips

  • Even with vast improvement in the quality of automotive paint, you still need to protect your car's thin clear coat finish from oxidation and environmental damage. Regular waxing can protect your car and keeping it looking shiny longer.
  • If you're going to polish your car, make sure to do so before you wax it. And make sure you wash your car before applying polish or wax.
  • Wax at least two times a year. If water does not bead on the painted surfaces of your car, it's time to wax.

Windshield Cleaning Tips

  • Your car's windows can accumulate dirt and dust particles, road grime, tree sap, water spots, bugs, and bird droppings. Keeping your windshield and windows clean is essential for safe driving.
  • While household products can be used on car windows, auto glass cleaners have been specifically formulated to be streak-free, lint-free, and ammonia-free, as ammonia can damage tinted windows.

Vehicle Interior

The interior of your car should be kept clean and well maintained. The carpets should be vacumed, and any vinyl coated with a good protectant. Many products are available at general merchandise and auto parts stores for shampooing and stain removal of carpets and cloth uphostery. Leather surfaces require special conditioners to keep the material soft and pliable. Always follow your manufacturer's recomendations and directions for any cleaning supplies exactly for best results.

It is just as important to keep your car windows clean on the inside as it is on the outside. A film caused by smoke, fingerprints, condensation, and other pollutants can build up on the glass. While ammonia works well in the home, it can harm many car surfaces, including window tinting, vinyl, rubber, and leather, and be hazardous to your health. Therefore, using an auto glass cleaner specially formulated to be ammonia-free is recommended.

General Maintenance

Maintenance is critical when it comes to a vehicle's performance. A person who follows their vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule tends to spend thousands of dollars less on repairs than one that does not.

Here at The Service Department, we can determine and perform the recommended maintenance for all makes and models at all mileage intervals. We have all the latest equipment for servicing transmissions, cooling systems, fuel systems, power steering systems, and brake systems. We also keep each customer's history on file. This allows us to determine exactly what your vehicle needs without you having to keep up with it yourself.

The following is a general maintenance schedule for all makes and models. You may follow this general maintenance schedule or you may contact us if you would like the manufacturer's recommendation.

3K 6K 9K 12K ... 30K ... 60K ... 90K ...
Oil and Filter Change
Tire Rotation
Coolant Flush
Automatic Transmission Service
Fuel System Service
Brake Inspection
Inspect steering Components
Inspect Suspension Components
Flush Power steering System
Change Differential Fluid (Rear wheel drive only)
Change Transfer Case Fluid (4 X 4's only)