Owning a car comes with the responsibility of staying on top of the maintenance services. When you perform maintenance in the proper intervals, it can greatly decrease the amount of expenses throughout the life of the car. When you bring your car in for regular service checks, professional auto specialists will often check your fluids for cleanliness and fullness, and will usually check your tire pressure and tread. It is important that they check the tires, because a tire blowout can cause a serious accident. When tires wear too thin or don’t have enough air in them, this can be problematic because the amount of surface area of the rubber that comes into contact with the pavement is increased, and gives more opportunity for a sharp object to puncture the tire, in addition to creating increased friction between the rubber and the ground which heats up the rubber, causing it to expand and then finally explode, usually at high speeds. Replacing tires can be quite expensive, and most car owners avoid replacing them at all costs. One way to extend the life of all four of your tires is to have them rotated on a routine basis.
Tire wear remains even
Tire rotation is highly important to every car owner or driver, and it is one car service that is usually relative quick, and cheap. Some auto mechanics offer lifetime tire rotations if you purchase your tires there. When you get your tires rotated, the goal is to essentially evenly spread out the wear of all four tires so that they can be used for as long as possible. Every car comes with a manual that has service intervals, or a routine maintenance schedule. Generally rotation of tires consists of moving the tire placement around, switching back to front, right to left, or diagonal. The method of rotation will depend on what the tread and tire wear looks like on all four tires; if some tires need more wear on the outer edge, than they will move the tires accordingly. Because roads are often paved at a slant, and not all roads or cars are created equally, tires are bound to wear unevenly. However, uneven tire wear may be due to an issue with another part of your vehicle sometimes.
It will extend the life of the tires
If your tires are wearing unevenly, your mechanic will be able to let you know if it is due to another, more serious issue with your vehicle. This is another reason why it is important to bring your car in for a tire rotation. The more often you can afford to bring your car in for such routine services, the better; this gives the mechanic more frequent opportunities to inspect your car for abnormal wear, or for any damaged parts that need replacing. It is important to catch potential issues early so that you can prevent any real damages from occurring, costing you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars down the road. This is called “preventive maintenance,” and tire rotation is one very important piece. In fact, rotating your tires can extend the life of the tires for thousands of miles—who wants to spend hundreds of dollars on new tires sooner than they have to?
It will keep you safe
Rotating tires helps to keep you safe. As previously mentioned, tire blowouts are a common occurrence when car owners do not stay on top of tire maintenance. Every time you bring your tires in to be rotated, they undergo a full inspection for nails, debris, uneven wear, and low tire pressure. Any of those mentioned can be serious issues for safety concerns, because any one of them could cause your tire to go flat at a high speed, blowout, or leak air progressively over time. In addition to checking tire pressure, mechanics will also check your brakes; because they must remove all the tires, the brakes are in easy view, and they can perform maintenance or repair on them in a two-for-one kind of deal. Issues with tire pressure or brakes are a few of the reasons why you may be found on the roadside stranded, or involved in an accident; this is why rotating your tires is of the utmost importance and should be a priority for all drivers.
One of the telltale signs of poor automotive car is simply the color of your headlight covers; luckily, this is an easy fix and even easier to prevent. Most headlight covers are made of plastic material that over time direct sunlight causes them to become cloudy and yellow if not properly cleaned and maintained. The good news is, plastic is much preferable over glass—glass can be easily damaged by rocks and road wear. Although there are benefits to having plastic headlight covers over glass ones, it comes at the unsightly disadvantage of dullness. Unless you feel like spending a fortune to replace the covers, here are a few tips that can help you clean already cloudy lenses, as well as prevent future yellowing.
Wash and Polish the Area
Before you begin cleaning, you should wash the area and protect the outside layer of paint surrounding the plastic headlight material. Depending on how damaged the lenses are, you may be able to get away with simply polishing them. However, if you need to bring in the big guns, there are further steps you can take to get a perfect clear headlight covers. You may either remove the covers to clean them, or take steps to protect the rest of your car from the abrasive materials used. Heavy tape that won’t damage the paint on your car will adequately surround the area to protect your paint job. Using a wetted and heavy scrubbing material such as sandpaper, scrub the plastic cover vigorously, yet with caution to not damage your paint. Once you’ve adequately scrubbed, polish the lens with a fine polish product, thoroughly remove the polish and add car wax. Lastly, seal the lens to protect it from sunlight.
Keep Your Car Out of Direct Sunlight
The oxidization of the plastic material in most headlights that causes the yellowish clouding to occur can be prevented by keeping your car out of direct sunlight as often as possible. Now there’s a good reason to finally clean out your garage! Keeping your car under a carport or parked in a garage will not only prevent your headlights from yellowing, but it will also keep your paint from chipping, and keep those pesky birds from having a field day on the roof of your car. Unfortunately, if you do not have the option of parking your car in a sheltered area, one of the most efficient things you can do to reduce the amount of yellowing your headlights will eventually sustain is to routinely care for your car. This means regular car washes and regular waxing, especially being sure to wax the headlights of your car each time. In order to save money, you can wash and wax your car yourself. Car cleaning products aren’t generally wallet-tearing, and removing the already existing yellow sun-stains from your headlights is something you can do on a budget.
Cleaning is Cost-effective than Replacing
Alas, the inevitable sunrays of doom will take a toll on your sweet ride’s eye-sockets. The good news is that cleaning and maintaining them yourself is far more cost-effective than replacing them when they become dull. Even the dullest headlights have hope of being restored to their original glory. As before mentioned, it only takes some sanding, polishing, waxing, and sealing to get them back to their original, clear beauty. This may sound like a lot of work, but you’ll be surprised at how great they turn out and how much money you save on purchasing new headlights. Depending on your headlight covers, they can reach over a thousand dollars! Take solace in the fact that generally taillights and brake lights are made of a different plastic material that doesn’t erode as quickly or as severely, so you shouldn’t need to replace them. Remember, your car will not take care of itself, so give it all the love that it deserves. It’s best to do manageable car maintenance yourself—the chemicals that car washes use overall damaging because they spread dirt and dust all over your paint job, causing fine scratches everywhere, including the headlights, which contributes to the cloudy look. Having clean, clear headlights will not only make your car look 10 years younger, but it will improve visibility at nighttime.
Engine trouble is some of the most stressful and potentially expensive work to have done on your car. With such a wide variety of potential issues, it can often feel like a Russian roulette of sorts when waiting for a diagnosis. Engine overheating is a common occurrence for most drivers that can sometimes lead to more significant engine issues down the road. It’s important that drivers know the proper steps to take to help avoid their engine from overheating along with the steps to take in case your engine does overheat to avoid causing further damage.
Here are steps to take should your vehicle begin to overheat.
- Stop the Car- If you see the temperature gauge beginning to climb towards H (typically it will be colored red to stand out and alert you) then when it’s safe to pull over, pull to the side of the road and stop your vehicle. When you’ve come to a complete stop turn your engine off. On extremely hot days, usually in the summer, keep a closer eye on the temperature gauge as that can play a big factor as well.
- Open the Hood- Once you’ve come to a stop, opening the hood of your vehicle will help the heat dispense faster and will help your vehicle begin cooling down. Be careful because if there’s steam emitting from the radiator area, it can be extremely hot and harmful.
- Don’t Open the Radiator Pressure Cap- When your engine is still hot, there will likely be extremely hot steam still emitting from the radiator. Combined with hot radiator fluid, there is a high chance for burns should you open the cap and unleash that pressure.
- Check and Refill Coolant- Attached above or around the radiator is usually a reservoir for radiator coolant so that you can properly monitor the levels. Once your engine has cooled a bit, check the coolant levels and if you can, refill the coolant up to the proper level as this will help cool the radiator down and will also prevent future overheating. If coolant isn’t available, in a pinch you can always use water in the meantime and in most vehicles, coolant can usually be added while the car is still hot. If your vehicle doesn’t have a reservoir, then you must wait for the car to cool down before adding coolant or water to the radiator.
- Search for Leaks- Once you’ve replaced coolant and your vehicle is cooling down, search for leaks in the radiator or in surrounding hoses that could be limiting the fluid getting to the radiator that may cause overheating. If there are no discernable leaks, you can then determine if your vehicle is safe to continue driving or if you’ll need to have it towed to be repaired. If you take your vehicle in to a mechanic, most will check for leaks free of charge, as the process is a relatively simple one.
In some situations your vehicle can be overheating and you may not be able to stop safely. Here are a few tips to help manage driving and to minimize further damaging your engine.
- Turn Off the AC- Using the air conditioner will put an extra load on the engine so turning it off will reduce the stress being put on your engine and in turn help to start cooling it down.
- Turn the Heater On- It may sound like an old wives tale but turning the vents on and turning the heat and the fans all the way up will take heat away from the engine because the heater uses the engine for warm air. In the summer your vehicle will heat up greatly so be sure to roll all of your windows down and point vents outwards toward the windows.
- Turn Your Engine Off/On- Leaving your ignition on but the engine off will keep your radiator fan and blower on and those will help to continue cooling your vehicle. Only do this when you’re sitting at a light or in stopped traffic as it can have more of a strain on your vehicle constantly turning the engine on and off. Also keeping it steady in stop-and-go traffic and avoiding constantly speeding and stopping will help the engine from overworking.
In addition to all of these steps, you can also take more preventative measures like replacing your battery every 3 years as older batteries tend to get more stressed in extreme temperatures. Regular visits to the professional auto mechanic or dealer is also a great way to make sure there are no leaks and that all your car’s fluids are proper. Taking the right precautions will help you avoid extensive damage to your engine and in the event it does overheat, you can be properly prepared to minimize your time spent on the side of the road.
Though it is a common misconception, coolant and antifreeze are actually the same thing!
This fluid, which is mixed with water in your engine sometimes called “radiator fluid,” circulates through your vehicle’s engine and cooling system to keep it running at the optimum temperature.
As your engine operates, it creates a lot of heat. The combustion of fuel combined with friction from its many moving parts means the engine runs very hot, even when it’s cold outside.
The primary job of the coolant and cooling system is to prevent your engine from overheating. An overheated engine is a common cause of engine breakdowns on the road. But this is preventable! With proper maintenance, like cooling system inspections and coolant flushes, your cooling system is designed to keep up with the high demands of your vehicle’s hot engine.
Coolant is also known as antifreeze. Just like you don’t want your engine to become too hot, you also don’t want it to become too cold. Like Goldilocks, your engine needs the temperature to be just right.
The antifreeze in your vehicle’s engine prevent the key fluids and parts from freezing in extreme temperatures. This fluid combines with the water in the system to lower the freezing point and raise the boiling point. Even on mornings below freezing, you’ll still be able to start your vehicle.
But you can’t just dump the coolant or antifreeze into the system and hope for the best, and you can’t put it in once and ignore it. The fluid must be mixed at a specific ratio to be most effective. If the level is incorrect, the fluid can lead to rust and contaminants that will do more harm than good.
If your fluid level is too low, the vehicle’s system likely has a leak. Coolant isn’t used up in the engine, but circulates continuously. Fluid can get out and contaminants can get in. Have it inspected right away to avoid bigger problems that leave you stuck in the cold.
Make sure your vehicle is ready for any season by keeping your coolant in prime condition! Whether you call it “coolant,” “antifreeze,” or “radiator fluid,” this fluid is vital to your engine’s operation and the health of your vehicle.
Call our team of certified technicians to schedule your next appointment: (615) 327-9600
When it comes to import auto repair, it’s always a good idea to know how to check your own tire pressure. As the weather changes outside, the pressure within your tires can change as well. You don’t want to experience a flat tire or even a tire blow out when you’re driving, so you can ensure the pressure is where it should be before going out on a road trip.
How to Check the Tire Pressure
It’s always a good idea to perform BMW service on your BMW, or any other import that you may own.
Checking the tire pressure is relatively simple and it can be done on your own. Always do so when the tires are cold, so let the car sit for about three hours after driving it when possible.
You will want to get a gauge. It can be digital or analog version. You need to measure the PSI of the air that’s in the tire. This is done by removing the cap on the tire stem and placing the gauge over it. Press the gauge firmly onto the valve so that air does not escape. If it’s a digital gauge, the number will appear on the screen. Analog gauges will have either a dial or a measuring stick that will extend from the end. Read the number and compare it to the PSI that should be in your tires based upon what kind of car you have.
What to Do When Pressure is Low
When the tire pressure is lower than it should be, the simple solution is to put more air in the tire. You want to look on the sticker on the inside of the door panel to know what the correct PSI is for your car. This information can also be found within the owner’s manual. You don’t want to go more than or less than 5 PSI from what is recommended.
If a tire is consistently losing pressure, you will want to take it in for repair. There’s likely an issue such as a nail in the tread. At Import Auto Maintenance, we are a fully stocked tire shop and have been since 1975. You can schedule an appointment, and we will be able to check the tire pressure and recommend a new tire if one is needed. Depending upon your driving style, we can also recommend a specific brand as well as tread type.
Knowing how to check your own tire pressure is important. It’s a sign of being a good car owner. It’s something you want to check before any long distance trek and on occasion, especially when there has been a dramatic change in the temperature outside.
It’s time to learn the truth about maintenance, including what needs to be done and when. You don’t want to spend any more money on import auto repair than what is absolutely necessary and that’s why you have to focus on the preventative maintenance.
Routine Maintenance Checklist
There is a lot of maintenance that needs to be performed, but none of it is going to be time consuming. In fact, many of the things can be done on your own so you can see whether there is an issue. Here’s a list to get you rolling:
- Buy a tire pressure gauge so you can check your own tire pressure. The recommended pressure is found on a label in your driver side door jamb
- Check all of your fluids. This can be done using the dipsticks or gauges that are in place. Check the coolant, power steering and antifreeze levels. You can also check on your wiper fluid so you always have enough
- You will want to refer to your owner’s manual on some of the other regularly scheduled maintenance. This includes your oil. Most oil change shops say it is 3,000 miles or three months. The reality is that some of the newer cars can go as long as 10,000 miles in between oil changes
- Additionally, you want to have your brake pads checked periodically during BMW service to avoid the calipers grinding onto the rotors. There is no mileage specification as it is based upon the level of breaking. It can be time to change the pads any time between 25,000 and 50,000 miles
- It’s also a good idea to check on the timing and serpentine belts and replace them when they show wear instead of waiting until they actually snap and you are stranded somewhere.
Bringing Your Car in for Import Auto Repair
At Import Auto Maintenance, we have been around since 1975 and have some of the finest mechanics around to work on Mercedes repair and more. When you want to avoid a BMW repair, you can often do so simply by having your vehicle serviced from time to time. It doesn’t matter whether you have a Mercedes, a BMW, a Saab, or any other import. It needs care.
You can easily schedule maintenance on your import by making an appointment. It can be done by phone or online and we will get back to you quickly. Once the service is performed, you can take to the open road with confidence knowing that your car has been checked out.
Summers are made for the Great American Road Trip. Long days and short nights mean plenty of time for fun in the sun after driving to get there. Before you embark on your road trip, you need to make sure your vehicle is ready. Here is a maintenance checklist you can use to ensure your vehicle is up for the job.
Summer Road Trip Maintenance Checklist
Before you hit the road, you need to make sure your vehicle can handle being on the highway for many miles at once. You should start by checking these components under the hood:
✓ Engine Oil
When you’re going on a road trip, the first thing you need to do is check the oil. After you check your oil levels, notice the date you had your oil checked. There should be a sticker in the top left-hand corner of the windshield. If you do not have a sticker and are not sure when the last time you changed your oil was, have it changed to be on the safe side.
✓ Fluid Levels
The drive axle and transmission have unique lubricant systems, but you need to make sure both have a steady flow of fluids. Fluids that are clean and filled to the appropriate level help the car continue to run smoothly, especially on a long road trip.
Check the input and output hoses for the radiator as well as the hoses attached to the engine. Check to ensure these hoses are not hard. When hoses become hard, they can crack and begin to leak hot water.
When you are checking the engine belts, look for signs of friction by turning the belts sideways. Engine belts need to be replaced when they reveal fiber cords, become cracked, ragged or torn. If you are driving an older model car, the vehicle will have more than one belt that controls many different accessories for the vehicle, including power steering and air conditioning. Cars that are newer models will only have one belt for these accessories.
Vehicles with a battery that exceeds four years-old need to be checked for corrosion. If corrosion is present, Pepsi and a toothbrush can help remove it.
Have your brake fluid flushed if you have not done so in the last three or four years. Make note of the color of the fluid and how much is left. The fluid should be at or close to the full mark.
Where to Have Your Vehicle Serviced
Imported vehicles should be taken to a repair shop specializing in import auto repair. At Import Auto Repair, we can handle Mercedes repair, BMW service, BMW repair and service for other imported vehicles.
It might not be a question you ask yourself very often, but it’s an important one. Preventative maintenance is important for the health of your vehicle, but what your health?
Avoiding routine maintenance can actually put your health at risk. we discuss two factors below, air filters and exhaust, and stay tuned for two more in next month’s newsletter…
Dirty Air Filter – Allergens
Your cabin air filter is a quick and easy fix, but it’s just as easy to put off. Many people wait to change filters to save a few dollars, but it could be harming more than your vehicle.
The cabin air filters catches bugs, dirt, and dust to prevent it form entering the cabin where you sit. Dirty air filters can cause respiratory system issues, including sneezing, sore throats, shortness of breath, and allergy symptoms. They can even become a breeding ground for bacteria.
One surefire way to know it’s time to replace the air filter is that the car smells musty when you turn on the face, a/c or heat. Stay healthy — stop by our shop to change your filter!
Exhaust – Toxins
It’s hard not to imagine that cloud of fumes coming out of your tailpipe is bad for your health… The catalytic converted in your exhaust system works to remove most of the harmful properties before exhaust leaves your vehicle, but ignoring maintenance can cause toxins to leach out into the environment and your body.
If you notice smells or exhaust fumes, bring your vehicle in as soon as possible. Our certified technicians will check for leaks, perform any repairs, and get your car back on the road safe and healthy!
Keeping up with preventative maintenance is the best way to keep your car, your passenger, and yourself health! For more advice or to schedule your next appointment, call our team at 615-327-9600.