Your radiator protects your engine and air conditioning condenser from
overheating. It also plays another important role. In today's
computer-controlled engines, a radiator coolant temperature sensor actually
tells your car's computer and other sensors how to adjust your fuel mixture
and timing. So, the efficiency of your radiator directly effects the
efficiency of your engine and fuel economy.
That's why we recommend flushing your cooling system and pH balancing your
antifreeze at least once every two years. More importantly, we recommend
having this service performed by a knowledgeable repair shop with the right
equipment. A proper mixture of antifreeze and water is required. The
molecules in water are spaced far apart, so water easily absorbs heat from
the engine, but water can freeze and corrode metal. The molecules in
antifreeze are packed tightly together, so antifreeze does not absorb heat
from the engine as efficiently as water, but its ethylene glycol silicone
base keeps the water from freezing, protects your radiator from corrosion
and lubricates the moving parts in your cooling system.
We also add a special concentrate to achieve the correct pH level of 10.5
throughout the cooling system. Without this, the 7.0/7.2 pH of water would
combine with the 10.5 pH of antifreeze to create an 8.75 pH mixture so
acidic that the resulting electrochemical degradation would deteriorate your
radiator, heater core, water pump, head gaskets, freeze plugs, radiator and
heater hoses. Finally, we pressure test your cooling system for leaks, clean
the recovery bottle and test the radiator cap to be sure that it holds the
proper pressure. Once your cooling system service is completed, the radiator
coolant should stay in the safe pH range of between 9.8 and 10.5 for about 2
years or 30,000 miles. BACK TO TOP Why you should replace your spark plugs, wires,
distributor cap, and rotor.
Spark plugs, wires, distributor caps and rotors break
down and fail over time, due to exposure to moisture, oil, grease and under
hood temperatures that can reach as much as 550 to 700 degrees.
Here's what happens:
Worn spark plugs cause higher voltage requirements, forcing the ignition
module and coil to produce higher and higher voltages to overcome the
resistance. The higher voltage breaks down the insulation on the spark plug
wires. This allows voltage to escape through the sides of the wires to the
easiest path to ground. This causes the ignition module and coil to produce
even more voltage, creating even higher current temperatures within them.
(Remember that higher resistance correlates to higher current temperatures
and that electricity always finds the easiest path to ground.) This higher
than normal resistance weakens transistors and electrical insulation within
modules, coils and computers, resulting in intermittent and premature
What does all this mean to you?
If your vehicle has over 60,000 miles on it and you haven't replaced your
spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor, you may experience a variety of
drivability problems that are often difficult and very costly to diagnose
and repair. In fact, ignition modules and vehicle computers range in price
from $200 to $450, plus labor!
That's why you should replace your spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and
rotor after 60,000 miles. (On distributor-less ignition, the spark plugs and
wires should be replaced.) Take care of your vehicle, and your vehicle will
take care of you! BACK TO TOP
Itís hard to give a specific time or mileage figure
because the life of the filter depends on how much crud it ingests. A filter
that lasts 20,000 or even 30,000 miles on a vehicle thatís driven mostly on
expressways may last only a month or two in a rural setting where the
vehicle is driven frequently on gravel roads. Changing it annually or every
15,000 miles for preventative maintenance may be a good recommendation for
the city driver, but not its country cousin. Regardless of the mileage or
time, a filter should be replaced before it reaches the point where it
creates a significant restriction to airflow. But when exactly that point is
reached is subject to opinion.
A slightly dirty filter actually cleans more efficiently than a brand new
filter. Thatís because the debris trapped by the filter element helps screen
out smaller particles that try to get through. But eventually every filter
reaches the point where it causes enough of a pressure drop to restrict
airflow. Fuel economy, performance and emissions begin to deteriorate and
get progressively worse until the dirty filter is replaced.
Removing the filter and holding it up to a light will show you how dirty it
is. If itís really caked with dirt, it obviously needs to be replaced.
Trying to shake or blow the dirt out is a waste of time because too much of
it will be embedded in the filter fibers.
NOTE: Many filters that appear to be dirty are
in fact still good and do not really need to be replaced. So itís up to you.
If you think itís dirty, replace it. If you donít think itís dirty enough to
need replacing, then donít. BACK TO TOP
The type specified by the vehicle manufacturer in your
ownerís manual. For most passenger car and light truck gasoline engines
today, itís any oil that meets the American Petroleum Institutes "SH"
As for the viscosity of oil to use, most new engines today require a
multiviscosity 5W-30 oil for all-round driving. The lighter 5W-30 oils
contain friction reducing additives that help improve fuel economy, and also
allow the oil to quickly reach critical upper valve train components when a
cold engine is first started. Most engine wear occurs immediately after a
cold start, so itís important to have oil that is thin enough to circulate
easily -- especially at cold temperatures.
For older engines and ones that are driven at sustained highways speeds
during hot weather, 10W-30 or 10W-40 is a good choice. Heavier
multi-viscosity oils such as 20W-40 are for high rpm, high-load applications
primarily and are not recommended for cold weather driving.
Straight weight 30W and 40W oils arenít very popular anymore, but some
diehards insist on using them. They say the thicker oil holds up better
under high temperature (which it does), increases oil pressure and reduces
oil consumption in high mileage engines. But straight 30W and 40W oils are
too thick for cold weather and may make an engine hard to start. They may
also be too thick to provide adequate start-up lubrication to critical upper
valve train components during cold weather. So switching to a straight 20W
oil would be necessary for cold weather driving. Straight 10W oil can also
improve cold starting, but is very thin and should only be used in sub-zero
climates. A multiviscosity 10W-30 or 10W-40 will provide the same cold
starting benefits of a 10W oil and the high temperature protection of a 30W
or 40W oil.
For the ultimate in high temperature protection, durability and all-round
performance, synthetic oils are the way to go. Unfortunately, most synthetic
oils cost up to three times as much as ordinary petroleum-based oils. They
cost more because synthetics are manmade rather than refined from petroleum.
But this improves their performance in virtually every aspect:
∑ Superior temperature resistance. Synthetics can safely handle higher
operating temperatures without oxidizing (burning) or breaking down. The
upper limit for most mineral based oils is about 250 to 300 degrees F.
Synthetics can take up to 450 degrees F. or higher. This makes synthetics
well-suited for turbo applications as well as high rpm and high output
∑ Better low temperature performance. Synthetics flow freely at subzero
temperatures, pouring easily at -40 or -50 degrees F. where ordinary oils
turn to molasses. This makes for easier cold starts and provides faster
upper valve train lubrication during the first critical moments when most
engine wear occurs.
∑ Better engine performance. Synthetics tend to be more slippery than their
petroleum-based counterparts, which improves fuel economy, cuts frictional
horsepower losses and helps the engine run cooler. The difference isnít
great, but it can make a noticeable difference.
∑ Longer oil change intervals. Because synthetics resist oxidation and
viscosity breakdown better than ordinary motor oils, some suppliers say oil
change intervals can be safely extended -- in some cases stretched to as
much as 25,000 miles. Such claims are justified by the fact that synthetics
donít break down or sludge up as fast as ordinary mineral-based oils do in
∑ CAUTION: For vehicles under warranty, extending the normal change interval
is not recommended because failing to follow the OEMís maintenance schedule
can void your warranty.
∑ Synthetics are available in the same grades as ordinary motor oils (5W-30,
5W-20 and 10W-30) as well as "extended" grades such as 15W-50 and even
∑ There are also lower-cost synthetic "blends" that combine synthetic and
petroleum-based oils in the same container. But you can do your own blend to
save money by simply substituting a quart or two of synthetic oil for
conventional oil when you change oil. Synthetics are compatible with
conventional motor oils.
∑ Who should use a synthetic oil? The premium-priced oil is best for:
∑ Turbocharged or supercharged engines
∑ Performance or high output engines
∑ Vehicles used for towing (especially during hot weather)
∑ Vehicles that are operated in extremely cold or hot climates
∑ Anyone who wants the ultimate in lubrication and protection BACK TO TOP
How can I tell if my battery
is low and needs to be recharged?
The first and most likely indication of a low battery would be a hard
starting problem caused by slow cranking. If the battery seems weak or fails
to crank your engine normally, it may be low. To find out, you need to check
the batteryís "state of charge." A battery is nothing more than a chemical
storage device for holding electrons until theyíre needed to crank the
engine or run the lights or other electrical accessories on your vehicle.
Checking the batteryís state of charge will tell you how much juice the
battery has available for such purposes.
If your battery is low, it needs to be recharged, not only to restore full
power, but also to prevent possible damage to the battery. Ordinary
automotive lead-acid storage batteries must be kept at or near full charge
to keep the cell plates from becoming "sulfated" (a condition that occurs if
the battery is run down and left in a discharged condition for more than a
few days). As sulfate builds up, it reduces the batteryís ability to hold a
charge and supply voltage. Eventually the battery becomes useless and must
be replaced. BACK TO TOP
You need a "brake job" when your brake linings are worn
down to the minimum acceptable thickness specified by the vehicle
manufacturer or the applicable state agency in areas that set their own
requirements. The only way to determine if new linings are required,
therefore, is to inspect the brakes.
You may also need a brake job if youíre having brake problems such as
grabbing, pulling, low or soft pedal, pedal vibration, noise, etc., or if
some component in your brake system has failed. But if the problem is
isolated to only one component, thereís no need to replace other parts that
are still in perfectly good working order.
There is no specific mileage interval at which the brakes need to be relined
because brake wear varies depending on how the vehicle is driven, the
braking habits of the driver, the weight of the vehicle, the design of the
brake system and a dozen other variables. A set of brake linings that last
70,000 miles or more on a car driven mostly on the highway may last only
30,000 or 40,000 miles on the same vehicle that is driven mostly in
stop-and-go city traffic.
As a rule, the front brakes wear out before the ones on the rear because the
front brakes handle a higher percentage of the braking load -- especially in
front-wheel drive cars and minivans. So many service facilities advertise
$59.95 brake job "specials" that replace the linings on the front brakes
only. Doing the front brakes only is okay and can save you money as long as
the rear brakes are in good condition. But if the rear brakes need
attention, they should be relined too.
One of the problems with the brake specials you see advertised in the
newspaper is that the price is very misleading. A person typically goes in
expecting to spend $59.95 for a brake job, but usually ends up spending
considerably more because the brakes need more than the minimum amount of
work to restore them to like-new condition. The price of a brake job depends
entirely on the work that needs to be performed. So any advertised special
is not a firm price, but only an estimate of the least amount of money it
might cost you to get your brakes fixed. A price should not be quoted until
after the brakes have been inspected. Then and only then can an accurate
determination be made of the parts that actually need to be replaced. BACK TO TOP
Tires of different size designations, constructions,
and stages of wear may affect vehicle handling and stability. For best
all-around performance, it is recommended that all tires be of the same
size, construction (radial, non-radial) and speed rating. If tires of
different speed ratings are mounted on a vehicle, the same size, type and
speed ratings need to be placed on the same axle, the tires with the lower
speed rating will be the determining factor for permissible tire related
vehicle speed. Never mix radial and bias-ply tires on the same axle. BACK TO TOP
Manufacturers know that a properly maintained vehicle
will be mo re dependable, safer, last longer and increase your satisfaction
with their product. Car manufacturers and owners also have a responsibility
to make sure emission controls receive regular service and are functioning
properly. Regular maintenance helps accomplish these goals by keeping your
engine running efficiently and eliminating potential problems that may leave
What's In It For You? * Saves you money!
* A more dependable vehicle
* A vehicle that retains more "new vehicle feel"
* Less chance of a costly breakdown
* A safer vehicle for you and your family
* Doing your part for cleaner air
* A car that is worth more at trade in or sale
* An intact warranty BACK TO TOP