Automotive Maintenance & Repair Tips

Simple and Inexpensive Preventive Maintenance Tips For Your Vehicle:

  • Even though your vehicle may still be under warranty you are not required to return to a dealership for scheduled maintenance. You may have the service facility of your choice maintain your vehicle and not void your warranty.
  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications in your vehicle owner’s manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil and filter changed regularly, every 3,000 to 4,000 miles when using conventional engine oil and every 5,000 to 6,000 miles when using synthetic engine oil.
  • Have all fluids inspected, including brake, power steering, transmission/transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant. These fluids play a vital role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.
  • Inspect tires and inflation once a month. Under-inflated tires can result in a loss of fuel efficiency and premature tire wear. This is the least expensive form of preventive and safety maintenance.
  • Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle’s suspension system.
  • Inspect battery, cables and posts for corrosion and clean as needed.
  • Have the lighting system inspected frequently, including headlights, turn signals, brake lights and tail lights.
  • Inspect windshield wiper blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them at least once a year or sooner if streaking begins.
  • Inspect engine belts and hoses regularly. Look for wear, cracks and missing sections or segments. Worn belts and hoses can affect the safe operation of your vehicle.
  • Have the air filtration system inspected frequently. The air filter should be inspected approximately every other oil change for clogging or damage.

* Always consult your vehicle owner’s manual for individual service schedules as manufacturer maintenance requirements may vary greatly.

Tips to Improve Your Auto Repair Experience:

Write down notes on your vehicle’s symptoms and performance before taking it to a repair facility so important information is not overlooked or forgotten. Include all observations, even if they seem silly or irrelevant.

Describe the symptoms to the technician rather than solutions. Explains what has been seen, smelled, heard and felt while driving the vehicle. For example, have you smelled a new odor, does it vibrate or pull to the left? Explain with as much detail as possible, such as what driving conditions the problem occurs in and how long ago it started.

Try to be precise when describing the problem. For example, if the problem only happens on cold days or if the rattle under the hood starts at 40 mph.

Resist the temptation to use technical jargon unless absolutely sure what it means.

If the vehicle has been serviced recently, bring in copies of the previous repair orders rather than trying to explain what work was done.

Helpful Tips to Help Avoid Unexpected Charges or Unneeded Repairs:

Ask questions if the technician uses jargon that is not understood or if something is not clearly explained. A quality automotive technician should be willing to take time to clearly explain the problem and solution.

Always read the repair order before signing it and authorizing any work. Look for specific instructions detailing the maintenance to be done, or the condition to be corrected and work to be performed. If the language is vague or unclear, such as ‘fix engine noise,’ ask that it be rewritten. A diagnosis may need to be performed and an estimate then provided before a final repair is authorized.

Read over the bill and question any charges that are not clear. Insist on descriptions of parts, not just the serial numbers; be listed on the final invoice.

Before authorizing a repair, be sure to obtain a written description of the warranty the shop provides, including the warranty on parts as well as labor. Most repairs should carry a warranty of at least 6 months or 6,000 miles.