Spring is In The Air – Time for Auto Repair (Hey, That Rhymes)
March 25th, 2016
The temperatures are getting longer, the trees are starting to bloom and the days are getting longer. After a long, tough winter, now’s the time to get some auto repair and maintenance out of the way. Here’s a list of suggestions for your vehicle, going into the spring and summer months:
• Finish: Snow, ice and road chemicals are tough on the finish of any car, and so are the summer sun’s UV rays. It’s a good idea to wax your vehicle a few times a year, and spring is a perfect time for it. Wash thoroughly using a non-detergent car wash solution, then apply a couple of coats of good-quality paste or liquid wax and buff with a soft, lint-free cloth.
• Oil change: Summer temperatures put some real demands on your car’s motor oil, as do short winter commutes where the engine never completely warms up to operating temperature. If your car is using conventional oil, it should be changed every 5-7,000 miles, while synthetic oil can go for 10-12,000 mile intervals. Always consult your owner’s manual for manufacturer’s oil change recommendations. Can’t remember the date or mileage of your last oil change? Pull the dipstick and have a look at the oil. Oil that’s fresh will be honey-colored and translucent. Oil that’s a bit darker but still translucent should be okay for another 1-2,000 miles. Motor oil that’s the color of black coffee and has a sharp, acidic odor to it should be changed right away.
• Tires: For even wear and long life, tires should be rotated every 5-7,000 miles. Since that coincides with oil change intervals, many drivers just have both jobs done at once (especially since the vehicle’s already off the ground on a lube rack). Since cold weather has an effect on tire inflation, be sure to check your tire pressure all around. What’s the tread depth look like? Stick a quarter down in a tread groove, Washington’s head down. If the tread reaches the top of George’s head, your tread is at 6/32”, well above the 2/32” minimum required by state law.
• Brakes: The friction material of brake pads wears very slowly and gradually – so slowly that drivers often don’t notice when it’s worn to the point of needing replacement. With alloy wheels, though, it’s easy to inspect your own brakes without needing to remove the wheels. Get a look through the spokes or slots of the wheels – rotors should be smooth and glassy, with only a faint pattern of streaks or lines. If you can see the calipers on the wheels, you should also be able to check the pads; outer pads should be no less than 1/8” thick. If you’re still not quite sure how to do this inspection, be on the lookout for signs of brake trouble; a pronounced pull to one side while braking, excessive brake pedal travel, longer stopping distances or squealing or grinding noises all mean brake problems.
• Coolant: Winter weather puts some stress on your cooling system. A cooling system should be flushed at a 30-50,000 mile interval (check owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations). Flushes help eliminate corrosion and impurities that can impede flow of coolant through the engine and system.
• Air conditioning: Hot weather’s on its way, and even a late-model vehicle will lose as much as five percent of its refrigerant from the A/C system over the winter months. It’s a good idea to have you’re your A/C system recharged and check the serpentine belt that drives the compressor and other engine accessories.
• Wipers and washers: Even the best wiper blades will only last for about a year. If your wipers are starting to split, chip, dry out, crack or lose strips of rubber, go ahead and replace them…and don’t forget the rear wiper if you drive a minivan or SUV. While you’re at it, replenish the washer fluid reservoir and maybe put a coat of Rain-X water repellent on all the glass.
• Oxygen sensor: This one’s a little less common, but still important. The oxygen (O2) sensor is mounted in the exhaust stream (sometimes there are two or three of them) and gives the engine computer information on fuel metering and emissions. A failing O2 sensor can cut into fuel economy and power, register a hard code in the engine computer that will illuminate the Check Engine light, and will raise emissions levels. Spring is the perfect time to have the O2 sensors checked.
It’s not hard to get your vehicle up to speed for the coming warm months, and it can save you a lot of headaches down the line. Make an appointment with us at Miracle Tire and Total Car Care in Boise, ID and let us help you make sure your car’s good to go. We’ll do you right!