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5 Tips for your next Road Trip

You have scouted your course and destination.  You have hotel rooms booked.  You have made arrangements for your pets and mail delivery.  But how can you ensure that your road trip won’t end with memories that rival the riswold’s disastrous trip to “Walley World?” Preparation is key! Here are 5 tips to make your next road trip as stress-free as possible:

  1. Passenger Comfort Kit. Chargers for every type of mobile device in the car are at the top of the list, or there will be a carload of grumpy passengers on day two.  A stash of snacks and beverages, small trash bag, medication, bandages, and a printed map will help keep your occupants healthy and happy.
  2. Keep cool, everyone. You may or may not have had to test your vehicles air conditioning in the heat with a car full of people.  Having your vehicle AC serviced in advance will save a lot of comfort and nerves.
  3. Pack smart. Overloading your vehicle will decrease your fuel economy.  If you are using roof-mounted storage, only pack lightweight materials in them.  Excessive weight on the roof will make your vehicle more difficult to handle in an emergency situation, and could increase your risk for a rollover.
  4. Roadside Emergency Kit. Even if you do not have a complete store bought kit, you can gather items to insure you have the basics.  Jumper cables are a must.  A flashlight, duct tape, small tool kit, jug of water, and a can of fix-a-flat are solid additions to a homemade kit.
  5. The key to getting there. Do you have an extra set of keys?  Hide-a-key, or with your spouse.  Losing a key on the road would not be a fun experience.  Lock-out calls are expensive and time consuming.

To make sure your vehicle is equipped for the journey, visit Import Auto Maintenance for a pre-trip inspection. The only way to minimize the risk of trouble on the road is to understand the exact condition of your vehicle – we can help! Our certified and experienced technicians will review the inspection results with you to help you select the best maintenance plan for your vehicle and your family.
Learn more and request an appointment before your next road trip by calling our team at 615-327-9600 or drop in to our auto repair shop in Nashville.

Vehicle Air Conditioning not Working?

On the hottest days in Nashville, your car’s air conditioning keeps you comfortable on the road. But after a winter of hibernating, hidden problems may emerge in the A/C in your vehicle.

If you turn on the air conditioning and it struggles to get your car cool, stop by Import Auto Maintenance for an air conditioning inspection.

The air conditioning system includes fans, a condenser, and the radiator. Compressed fluid in the a/c system flows through to dissipate heat and create cool air for your vehicle.

When you bring your vehicle in for an air conditioning inspection, our technicians will first check the pressure in your vehicle’s air conditioning. Low pressure is a common cause of issues with the air conditioning, and often indicates a leak.

Leaking fluid can be a serious problem. Older vehicles use a refrigerant that is bad for the environment and is no longer permitted in new vehicles. The refrigerant cannot be topped off – this will not fix the leak and will continue to lose fluid from the system. Though it may temporarily allow the air conditioning to function, you will experience the same issues before long.

Instead, our technicians will perform an air conditioning system inspection to find and fix the leak. Using UV light and dye, we will identify the problem area and find any leaks affecting the system.

When no leak is present, your vehicle air conditioning system may need to be recharged or have the refrigerant replaced. In the thorough air conditioning inspection, our technicians will identify the issues affecting your vehicle, recommend services to keep you cool, and help you make the best decision for your vehicle.

If you have any questions about your vehicle or suspect the air conditioning system may not be working, call Import Auto Maintenance at (615) 327-9600. Call to request an appointment or visit our independent auto repair shop in Nashville.

Car Sick? Check your Suspension

Anyone who has experienced motion sickness while driving down the roads can tell you it is not a pleasant experience. But before you shrug it off as something you simply have to deal with, stop by Import Auto Maintenance to have your car’s suspension checked.

As your car travels the uneven roads in Nashville, the suspension keeps you from bouncing uncontrollably in the cabin. But if you’ve put off one too many tire rotations, alignments, or repairs, you’ll feel every bump and crack in the roads.

For those already prone to motion sickness, this can mean miles of queasiness and discomfort. This is especially true when the vehicle’s suspension needs maintenance!

Tire rotations and alignments ensure that your vehicle’s tires hit the road at precisely the correct angle. If the tires are out of alignment, it can result in rapid wear, uneven tread, and uncomfortable rides. When these conditions become extreme, it can even damage the suspension of your vehicle.

Including an alignment inspection as part of your regular car care can catch these issues before they cause problems and maximize the life of your tires, saving you money! It will also save you from feeling sea sick every time you hit the road with misaligned tires and damaged suspension.

In the suspension system, sway bars control the motion from side to side while shocks and struts tackles the up and down bounce. If your vehicle suspension is damaged, not only will the risk of car sickness rise, you’ll get less life out of your tires as they wear unevenly and risk further damage and costly repairs.

Don’t settle for bumpy rides have your suspension inspected and repaired to soothe motion sickness, get the longest life from your tires, and save money.

Preventative maintenance can help keep you and your vehicle healthy and comfortable on the road. Whether it means a suspension repair, wheel alignment, or safety inspection, stop by Import Auto Maintenance for healthier drives and peace of mind all summer! Request an appointment online.

Check your Tires at home this Spring

The up-and-down temperatures during spring can wreak havoc on tire pressure. A ten degree change in temperature can raise or lower tire pressure by 1 pound of pressure!

It’s critical to make sure your tires are properly inflated, though. Under-inflated tires creates excessive stresses and heat and may lead to tire failure. Over-inflated tires which cause uneven wear plus handling and stopping problems.

Whether over- or under-inflated, the best case scenario is spending more to replace tires that wear prematurely. The worst case puts you and your family in jeopardy!

How do you know what pressure your tires should be? Check your owner’s manual rather than the maximum pressure listed on the tire itself. Spending a few dollars on a pressure gauge that you can keep in the glove compartment is a tiny investment that can help keep your family safe.

Another way you can prevent uneven wear and thus prematurely having to replace tires is by having them rotated regularly, and having the alignment checked whenever you hit a curb or a pothole.

With just a few small checks and some regular preventive maintenance, you can maximize the life of your tires and keep your family safely on the road.

If you have any questions about how to check your tire pressure, or want to have you alignment inspected after hitting a nasty pothole, call us anytime at (615) 327-9600.

The Role of Brake Fluid

Brake systems are responsible for safely stopping your vehicle. But it’s more than just brake pads and calipers… one critical factor is the brake fluid.

Your vehicle’s brakes are a hydraulic system. They rely on brake fluid to move other parts in the system.

The brake fluid allows you to push a pedal inside the car and generate enough power to stop your car. The force of the small motion, pushing the brake pedal, gets transferred through the brake fluid into the brake system.

But just like the oil in your engine, brake fluid must be changed regularly. Brake fluid is hygroscopic. This means that is pulls moisture out of the air and draws it inside the brake fluid. As more water collects in the brake system, the more difficult it is to stop your vehicle.

Brake lines filled with water make it extremely difficult for brake fluid to do their job.

Brake fluid must be flushed and replaced at least every two years. This is the minimum requirement – in some cases, your vehicle’s brake fluid may need to be replaced more frequently.

If you experience trouble braking, hear squealing and screeching, or notice a loss of pressure in your brake pedal, bring your vehicle into Import Auto Maintenance as soon as possible. These can indicate a serious problem with your vehicles brake system that may put you and your family at risk.

Our ASE-Certified technicians will thoroughly inspect the brake system for key warning signs and issues that affect your brakes. We’ll also help you keep track of your vehicle’s recommended maintenance, including brake fluid flushes, to keep you safe in your vehicle.

If you suspect a problem with your brakes, call us at (615) 327-9600 right away or request an appointment online. We also welcome walk-ins – stop by our shop on 1616 Broadway in Nashville.

Emergency Brake Risks in the Cold

Winter isn’t over yet in Nashville, and freezing temperatures are still on the horizon. As winter weather poses threats to vehicles across the state, some of the most dangerous threats are the ones you can’t see.

Consider your emergency brake. As you’re parking in very cold weather, the emergency brake may be at risk of freezing.

The emergency brake is controlled by a cable from the interior lever to the brake itself. This cable is enclosed in a protective sleeve, but the system isn’t impervious to threats.

As you park for an extended period of time, this cable may freeze in place. When you disengage the lever inside the car, the frozen cable may not be able to release the brake.

If this happens to your vehicle DO NOT drive! Driving while the emergency brake is engaged can cause serious damage to your vehicle’s wheels, tires, brakes, and more.

Instead, wait for the temperature to warm up or call our team at (615) 327-9600. We’ll help you know what to do next and avoid damage that could come from a frozen emergency brake.

On freezing days and nights, it may be best to avoid using the emergency brake if possible. For automatic vehicles you may choose to not use it at all. If you drive a manual car, park on level ground and leave the vehicle in gear. Park in a warmer, protected area like a garage or covered parking if possible.

On cold mornings, watch for warning signs of a problem with your vehicle. If there’s a change in the way your vehicle drives, loss of control, or difficulty steering the vehicle, pull over right away. Anytime you notice a strange noise, smell, or change, have your vehicle brought in for an inspection.

Our certified technicians will thoroughly inspect your vehicle to make sure it will keep you safe on the winter roads in Nashville. The scariest winter issues are the ones you may not notice until it is too late. We’ll help you catch these issues and warning signs before they cause damage in your vehicle. To schedule your next appointment, call us at (615) 327-9600 or request an appointment online.

Car Myth: Higher Octane Gas, Better Performance

When it’s time to fill your gas tank, should you be reaching for that higher octane fuel? Not necessarily.

Always use the right fuel for your specific vehicle, as specified in your manufacturer’s manual.

Occasionally a myth circulates that higher octane fuel is better for the engine. The truth: Sometimes, but not always.

Octane has nothing to do with the quality of the gasoline. It specifically indicated that point at which the gas will ignite in your engine.

Some engines require fuel that can withstand more pressure before combusting. In your engine, fuel is pumped into a combustion chamber and the ignited with a spark. If you use the wrong octane of gasoline, the fuel may ignite spontaneously before the engine is ready – causing damage to the engine.

This spontaneous combustion can cause a loud knocking sound, known as pinging. It can lead to serious engine damage costing thousands in repairs.

If you use higher octane fuel than your vehicle needs, you won’t usually cause harm to the engine, but you won’t achieve higher performance. Performance is impacted by the design of the engine more than the fuel that it uses. You’ll spend more at the pump, but your car’s performance will stay the same.

If you use lower octance than your vehicle needs, you’ll save a few dollars at the fill up, but you’re putting your vehicle at risk for thousands of dollars worth of repairs down the road.

You best option – consult your owner’s manual. Always use the octane of gasoline indicated in the manual for the best performance for your vehicle and avoid damaging the engine trying to save a few dollars.

To keep your engine running its best, visit Import Auto Maintenance for an inspection and preventative maintenance services. Our skilled technicians will help keep your car running on the roads in Nashville. Give us a call at (615) 327-9600 or schedule an appointment online.

Gas Mileage and Your A/C

With summer here the price of gas continues to increase daily. In addition to this, as the temperature rises you use your air conditioner more often, which burns more fuel. The Department of Transportation estimates that your imported car burns approximately 20% more fuel while driving with the air conditioner on, as opposed to driving without it.

Since running the AC can increase gas mileage so much,  you should have your BMW, Mercedes, or imported car checked over by a professional at Import Auto Maintenance to keep it running as efficiently as possible. We specialize in import auto preventive maintenance, import auto repair, BMW service, BMW repair, and Mercedes repair. Your car may have a simple issue that can be repaired quickly.

Ways to Increase Gas Mileage

There are several ways you can increase your car’s gas mileage. The first and probably most important way to increase your gas mileage is to slow down. If you have a lead foot, you will be pulling up to a gas pump a lot more often than you want to. According to fueleconomy.gov, every 5 mph that you drive over 60 mph, you are paying roughly 24 cents more per gallon of gas. Speeding can result in a 7 – 23% decrease in fuel economy. Driving 5 mph under the speed limit can save you between 21 to 71 cents per gallon of gas.

While driving on highways use the cruise control to save up to 43 cents a gallon. Fill your gas tank up early in the morning or late at night. The gas will be more dense than it is in the middle of the day when it is hot outside. You will get more gas than you normally would for the same amount of money.

Make sure your tires are inflated with the correct amount of air pressure and that they are aligned. Tires that are properly aligned and have the correct amount of air in them save on average of 3 – 9 cents per gallon. This may not seem like much, but when you add in the other factors you could save close to a $1.00 on a gallon of gas.