The classic "tune-up" was once the heart of the automotive business, and contrary to some beliefs, today's modern vehicles still need tune-ups to keep them performing at the most efficient levels.
As the pace of technology quickened, the procedures required to perform a traditional tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems are now the norm, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions.
If the vehicle isn't adequately maintained, you won't get where you want to go. As part of the 21st Century Tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected: battery, charging and starting engine, mechanical powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks), fuel ignition, and emissions.
To help ensure good performance, fuel economy, and emissions, the Car Care Council also recommends that motorists take the time necessary to become familiar with their vehicles. Study the owner's manual to become thoroughly acquainted with the operation of all systems. Pay special attention to the indicator lights and instruments.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter
Mechanical failure - an inconvenience anytime it occurs - can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. A well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.
Any do-it-yourselfer can perform some of the following tips; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.
Engine Performance - Correct engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters - air, fuel, etc.
Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual-more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled every 24 months. The coolant's level, condition, and concentration should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, only remove the radiator cap once the engine has thoroughly cooled! A pro should check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses.
Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent. You'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned-out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift, and the exhaust system should be examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Remember your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
Carry emergency gear - gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flashlight. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer
Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too! Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.
Air Conditioning - A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
Cooling System - The most significant cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The coolant's level, condition, and concentration should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, only remove the radiator cap once the engine has thoroughly cooled! A pro should check the tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses.
Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. More often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
Engine Performance - Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended - more often in dusty conditions. Correct engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) at a good shop.
Windshield Wipers - A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned-out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Tires - Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them when cold before driving for any distance. Remember to check your spare and ensure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or your vehicle pulls to one side.
Brakes - Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distances. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
Battery - Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Emergencies - Carry some basic tools. Ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first-aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a cellular phone.
Keeping your vehicle in tune with the environment is a win-win situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, be safer, and last longer - up to 50% longer, according to a survey of ASE-certified Master Auto Technicians.
The following tips should lead you to environmentally conscious car care.
- Keep your engine tuned. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30%.
- Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended.
- Check your tires for proper inflation. Underinflation wastes fuel - your engine has to work harder to push the vehicle.
- Out-of-line wheels (as evidenced by uneven tread wear or vehicle pulling) also make the engine work harder. Properly maintained tires will last longer, meaning fewer scrap tires have to be disposed of. Observe speed limits. Mileage decreases sharply above 60 mph.
- Drive gently. Avoid sudden accelerations and jerky stop-and-go's. Use cruise control on open highways to keep your speed as steady as possible.
- Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family.
- Today's vehicles are designed to "warm up" fast, so forget those five-minute warm-ups on cold winter mornings.
- Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better gas mileage.
- Store luggage/cargo in the trunk rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.
- Plan trips. Consolidate your daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. Try to travel when traffic is light to avoid stop-and-go conditions.
- Join a car pool.
Remember, how your car runs, how you drive it, and how its fluids, old parts, and tires are disposed of seriously affect the environment.
What our clients are saying about us
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Great customer service! This is what I remembered from previous visits in the past to Affordable Auto Repair. They are friendly and courteous. They take the time to explain everything up front and answer all your questions. Matthew handled everything concerning my service from beginning to end. James also followed up to make sure things were right and was a great listener. Just good people to deal with. Oh what did I have done? Had my 2007 Toyota Highlander inspected there today. Inspections are always a necessary pain and I hate it when it comes around. I was there when they opened at 8am and they took my car in right away. I had a couple of items that needed to be fixed to pass which Chris the inspector explained to me and showed me. Matthew, who checked me in, said if I got these fixed, they would slip me back in to verify the fixes, remove the Rejection and replace it with a new inspection sticker. Done deal! Just as they said! I couldn't have asked for more. Thanks Matthew, James, and Chris!
I was referred to Affordable Automotive by a family friend. My check engine light had been coming on in my Expedition. James promptly set my appointment, kept me informed of what was needed and within 24 hours I had my Expedition back in my possession. I highly recommend them! Very honest, affordable and very quick turn around. I will be a returning customer!