Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What Do Oil Grades Mean?

Have you taken a peak at your oil change sticker or owner’s manual to see what kind of oil you’re running in your car? No, not standard or synthetic, but the grade of oil? It usually reads like 5W30 or 0W20. Sure, you’ve probably seen that combo of letters and numbers before, but what does it mean? Today, we’re going to talk about just that and why using the right kind is important.

Today’s oil grading system was created by a group called the Society of Auto Engeneers (SAE). The need for a new grading system came to be when “year round” oil was invented around about half a century ago. Previously, Cars needed thinner oil in the winter, and thicker oil in the summer. Oil thins at higher temperatures and thickens at lower ones, and the numbers (0, 5, 10, 20 etc.) measure just how the oil reacts to different temperatures. Thanks to additives, modern oil can be used in both hot and cold seasons. For example, a 5W20 oil acts like an SAE 5 oil at 0°F and an SAE 20 oil at 212°F – in other words, you don’t have to switch to “winter” or “summer” oils to properly lubricate parts – one kind of oil can do both.

So why is it important to use the factory reccomended kind of oil?

The short answer is that your engine is engeneered for it. While it is true that modern oils can lubricate in both hot and cold seasons, everything in your engine that touches oil wasn’t just designed to be lubricated – It was designed to be lubricated certain ways in certain temperatures – and the oil your manual calls for is the best way to do that. If your car calls for 5W30 and you use 5W20, for example, the oil’s viscosity may not be adequite for how your engine was designed, so if your owner’s manual calls for 5W30, you should stick to that. Don’t substitiute because a different grade oil is on sale one week – while you may not see or feel any changes immediatley it could be detremental to your engine in the long run.

 

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoAndTireofMintHill

 

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How to Keep Up With Recalls and See if Your Car Has Been Recalled.

Recalls are a dime a dozen. Sometimes recalls are issued in small batches, like when Volkswagen recalled just 250 cars earlier this year, and sometimes they’re huge, like when Takata had 35-40 Million inflators recalled by more than a half-dozen different manufacturers including Honda, Ferrari and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. While quality control on today’s cars are, for the most part, better than vehicles of the past, no company is perfect and recalls happen. This ultimately rases one big question; “How do I know if my car was recalled?” Fortunatley, theres many ways to check.

Mail

If the manufacturer of your vehicle has a current address for you, they can send you recall info right to your mailbox. This isn’t the most reliable source, however, as mail delivery can be inconsistent, and you even getting a recall letter is entirely dependent on the manufacturer having a valid address for you.

Primetime News

Major recalls, Such as the Takata Airbag recall, usually make national news, and recalls that effect certain geographical areas, like recalls for salt corrosion issues, usually make local news. Again, this isn’t the most reliable method since some recalls are small in nature, you may not see a recall for your vehicle in the news.

Automotive News Outlets

Unlike nightly news, magazines and websites based around the automotive industry rely on recall information to reel in readers. Some popular ones include Motor Trend, www.autonews.com, and Car and Driver. Again, these sites and mags may not run info on small batch recalls, but can be earlier in reporting than non-automotive focused sources.

www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

The National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration, or NHTSA, has an option on their site for checking if your vehicle has been recalled. You can check most accuratley by entering your vehicle’s 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) which can be found under the windshield, on the door or door jam, and on your registration card. There’s also some other cool tools there like a tire-brand safety checker. This is ususally the best source because it finds recalls based on your exact vehilce thanks to the VIN tool.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – A Multi-Part Series About Lemons, Their Laws, and the Citrusy Sour Problems They Cause.

PART I: WHAT LEMONS ARE LEMONS AND WHO MAKES THEM

To most, Lemons are a versatile fruit that works great in Tea, helps freshen the air, and remove the occasional stain. To the auto industry, however, lemons are anything but useful.

A Lemon is a slang term referring to any car that was an absolutle piece of junk right off the assembly line. Was it bad parts? Poor engineering? Hasty assembly? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but it happens, and it’s expensive.

All data concerning the amount of lemons made by each car company below comes from a 2016 Study done by AutoGuide. You can view the data on their website, AutoGuide.com.

Too Tart to Tame

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles

FCA produced the most lemons. Of the nine car brands they sell, five were below the industry average. Fiat was hands down the worst on the list, they made one 1 lemon for every 76,808 cars produced. Jeep made one for every 131,574 cars, Dodge made one for every 402,728 cars, Chrysler made one for every 596,377 cars, and Ram made one for every 856,136 trucks.

Background Info: Chrysler has played hot potato with istelf many times over the last few years, constantly changing names and owners. After being partnered with Mercedes-Benz owner Diamler for years, Diamler bailed out during the recession and shortly after filing for bankrupcy, Chrysler was purhased by Fiat.

Ford Motor Company

The majority of their brands did not make this list, but flagship Ford did, and it didnt do well, making one lemon per every 676,484 cars. Their F-Series of trucks are highly touted as quality, so the lemons are likley coming from the Sedans and SUV’s. (by the way, Ford is axing all sedans in their lineup except for the Mustang and Focus.)

Background info: FoMoCo is not the first car company Henry Ford started (ever heard of Cadillac?) but it was the one to actualy keep bearing his name in the end. Ford is one of the longest standing automakers in the USA, and was one of the few American car companies to make a profit in 2009.

Sweet & Sour

General Motors Company

GM is a curious case, as they have both the 5th best and 2nd worst brands on the list. Buick was stellar, manufacturing one lemon per 1.26 Million vehicles. Cadillac, however, was only bested by Fiat for the brand with the worst quality control with one lemon every 103,167 vehicles. Flagship Chevrolet was well below industry average with one lemon per 640,438 cars.

Background Info: Though it’s brand is over 100 years old, General Motors Company is technically only 8 years old, as the original General Motors Corporation went bankrupt in 2009 and sold off it’s brands to New GM. The Majority of General Motors statyed intact under the new company because the GM trademark as well as most major brands were purchased. Not everything was saved, however. Rest in Peace, Hummer.

Honda Motor Company

Honda was second best, with only one lemon per approximately 3 Million cars. Luxury brand Acura, however, made one lemon per 516,436 cars.

Background Info: After nearly being purchased by Mitsubishi in the 1990’s due to a hostile takeover attempt, Honda quickly entered the SUV and Minivan market, stole American autobuyer’s hearts in the process, and haven’t looked back yet.

Certified Fresh

Toyota Motor Corporation

Toyota built their legacy on longevity, and today that’s no different. they did a whopping 10 times better than the industry average, making one lemon per 11 Million vehicles. 2nd place Honda was 8 million cars behind.

 

Background Info: Toyota is credited with having the most efficent assembly line of any industry and holds the unique distinction of being “more American” than 3 of it’s actual American counterparts by building 61% of it’s fleet in the United States – more than Buick, Chrysler and Lincoln.

Honorable Mentions:

Diamler AG, BMW.

Mercedes-Benz, and BMW took 3rd, and 4th respectivly. Mercedes and BMW almost tie at approximately one lemon per 2 million cars. German engineering once again proves it’s consistency.

 

Next time, we’ll talk all about Lemon Laws in North Carolina.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Should I Trade in My Car?

 

Have you ever owned a car that seemed to spend more time in the garage getting fixed than in your garage at home? As you sit in the waiting room of the auto shop you find yourself asking “Is it time for a new car? I’m here it seems quite a bit.” The answer to that question, like many other things in the auto industry, isn’t as black-and-white as it may seem.

Consider Current Repair Costs.

It isn’t fun when you have to give up your car for a day to have it fixed. It can seem tedious when you go to your local shop almost monthly, but consider the average dollar amount of what you spend fixing your car – is it less than $509 a month? According to Cars.com, that was the average price of a new car payment in the first quarter of 2017. If you’re spending more than that on average, it’s time for a new car (or a new-to-you used car with low milage – cars just off their first-owner’s lease are great buys!)

 

Consider A New Car’s Future Repairs.

Buying a new car isn’t like buying a TV. You can’t just save up for it, buy it, and be done spending – even with a new car, you’ll have to visit the shop. Though maintaining a new car is inherently cheaper than maintaining an old one, oil changes, factory-required tune ups at specific mileage, and the like still have to be done. Bottom line – if you can afford a car payment, but can’t afford the car’s maintanence that goes with it, you can’t afford a new car.

Consider the Time Value of a New Car.

Let’s say you spend only $1,800 a year keeping your old car running. Averaging just $150 a month is great for a car 15-20 years old, but what if it is your only mode of transportation and you can’t make the time to go to the shop? It may be time to get a new car. Though you’ll likely be paying more monthly due to a car payment, you’ll be in the shop far less – probably just once every 3-5 months for those oil changes and factory-reqired jobs we talked about earlier. That may be worth more to you than the money you’re saving repairing the old car, depending on your job or health.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Ready for a Summer Road Trip?

Finally, summer is here! The older kids are back from college and the younger ones will be done in June. It’s time to start planning that family road trip, and you’ve already picked a spot, booked the hotel, and packed your bags, but there’s one thing left to do – make sure the car is ready. But what exactly should you do though to get your car ready? Here’s a few key checkpoints to look over:

 

  • Tires

Tires are important all the time, but especially so on a road trip. After all, they are the one thing separating you from the road. Check tread wear and make sure the tire has not worn unevenly, and check tread depth to make sure it is above 2/32″. If a tire is not “ready” it should be replaced before a road trip, especially if its a long one.

  • Fluids

This one you should take your car to the shop for because a proper fluid check looks at more than just the fluid itself. An old hose carrying coolant, for example, may be able to take the workload of your 20 minute commute fine, but could bust on a 7 hour drive, so its best to replace before that happens. A proper fluid check for road trips doesn’t just top off fluids, but checks for leaks that may be hard to see and, if needed, replaces old, worn-out lines and cracked hoses

Don’t forget, you may need to have your A/C fixed, if you’re already in for a fluid checkover, that’s the best time to do so!

  • Fuel Economy

Gas is expensive, and it adds up quick on a road trip. Don’t take the biggest vehicle you own if you don’t have to. Bigger vehicles and bigger engines consume more fuel and have worse MPG’s.

  • Safety/First-Aid Kit.

A First-Aid Kit is a great thing to have in a car at any time, but especially so during a road trip. A summer-ready kit should contain the basics such as band aids, gause and snacks, but should also have sunscreen, a portable battery pack to charge phones (some of these packs double as jumper boxes for your car, that’s always a plus) as well as a warning sign (they are triangular and orange) and some over-the-counter style scrape cleaner.

  • Have Some Repair Money Ready.

It’s unfortunate, but things break. Sometimes they break away from home. Though hopefully this never happens to you, have some money set asside for incase you have to make emergency repairs.

PROTIP: Most independent shops have a nationwide warrenty program. Go to these shops. For example, if you have your vehicle serviced at a shop with a TechNet warrenty program in Texas, and that part needs to be warranteed out back here in NC, any shop that uses that program can do the job here at home, and vice-versa.

  • Consider Your Vehicle’s Mileage.

Some cars break more than others. For example, an Ol’ Reliable 2000 Chevy Tahoe with 240,000 miles is something to be proud of, and is a great daily driver, but it’s 18 years old and is more likley to break down on the road. If the miles are high on your vehicle, it is probably best to rent something else for the trip.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is OBDII?

If you’ve had an emissions inspection done on your vehicle, or have ever had a check engine light come on, you’ve most likley heard the term “OBDII” before. But do you know what it means?

OBDII is an acronym for On-Board Diagnostics II. OBDII is a car’s self-diagnositc tool, it can perform basic diagnostics on itself and can give a broad idea on what is or isnt causing a problem. If you own a car that is model year 1996 or newer, you have OBDII. Though some vehicles from madel year 1995 have OBDII, it was not legally required.

What Can OBDII Do?

OBDII’s most common use is as a self-diagnostic tool. For example, whenever your check engine light comes on, OBDII also generates a code which shows why the light is on. For example, if you have a misfire, your check engine light would come on and OBDII would produce a code like P0300.

Are there Downsides to OBDII?

While in some areas OBDII can be very speific, in others it can be broad. For example, code P0300 means “Random or Multiple Misfires.” While this information is useful, it doesnt clarify why those random misfired happened, it only shows that misfires happened. OBDII is best used as a tool to “point you in the right direction” as compared to a definite diagnostic.

Why is OBDII Important?

While OBDII helps diagnose issues, like a misfire, OBDII also helps keep our air cleaner by monitoring emissions systems. OBDII is also what makes State Inspections possible. OBDII is also responsible for speeding up diagnostic times on engine related repairs.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Ready for a Winter Road Trip?

Once again, the holidays have arrived. Colder weather, lots of food, and, for some, road trips. While a road trip may seem like a fun adventure, having one in cold weather is a whole new ballgame. Before you head over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, ask yourself, “Is my car ready for a winter road trip?” If you aren’t sure, here are a few things to check before you leave.

1. Tires.

Tires are important in any season – after all, they do keep you glued to the road – but in winter tires have all new obsticals to overcome. Things like black ice, snow, and even heavy rain are all things you may see on your trip, and old tires are dangerous in these situations. 2/32″ is the legal minimum for tire tread, but if you are traveling somewhere that definitley is getting snow (Buffalo, for example) you should replace long before that.

2. Wipers.

Much like tires, wipers are also an all-season divice, but becomes much more useful in the winter. In areas where snow has fallen and things like mush and salt cover the road, your wipers will be in almost constant use. If your wipers are old, they may not wipe off melted snow or physical debris as well as new ones would.

3. Defrosters.

Even in a fairly mild winter climate like the Carolinas, windshields and mirrors are bound to freeze over or fog up. While it may not be necessary to have defrosters, they will save you lots of time keeping your windshield visible. If your car comes equipped with them, check them!

4. Washer fluid.

If you live in or are visiting somewhere that has temperatures are below freezing, water won’t be a good substitute for washer fluid. Most washer fluid is designed to freeze at a much lower temperature than water, and also is better at breaking up snow and salt on your windshield. Of all the things on this list, washer fluid is both the fastest and cheapest fix, so be sure to change your fluid!

5. Be prepared for emergencies.

Though you never want to break down, it is always best to be prepared in case you do. A winter emergency car pack should have things like blankets, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and warning markers. Portable phone charge-packs are also useful so your cellphone can stay on even when the car cannot.

6. Have your battery tested.

Cold weather is a dangerous time to have an old battery. Have your battery tested by a professional to see if the battery is healty enough to take on a long trip. If not, consider replacement.

7. Consider an oil change.

Consider how long the trip is, in miles, and compare to where you are in your oil’s life. If you think you’ll pass your vehicle’s “milage due” for an oil change, it may be best to do it before you leave.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is Winterizing My Car?

It’s getting colder out! Winter will soon be here, and you’re probably ready to bust out your favorite coat and make some nice hot coffee. But did you know your car needs some TLC to be ready for colder weather too? As colder weather approaches, it’s time to winterize your car.

 

Winterizing is the process of Inspecting and replacing parts and fluids to make sure your vehicle can handle the harsher weather. It is best to get this done in the fall, just before temperatures really start to fall, but it can be done at any point in the cold months. Listed below are some of the things that are done to winterize a car.

 

  1. Inspect the Battery.

Batteries don’t like cold, and things like low charge and corroded terminals only exacerbate the situation. Usually a quick clean of the battery is all that is necessary, but sometimes a battery needs to be recharged or replaced.

  1. Inspect the Oil.

Oil is the lifeblood of your car. While in extreme temperatures it may be necessary to switch to less-thick oil, it usually isn’t necessary in the fairly tame Carolina Piedmont winters. However, if your oil is old (around 5 months or older) it may warrant a change, and switching to synthetic isn’t a bad choice either.

  1. Inspect the Coolant.

Coolant is possibly the most important piece in this equation. Coolant (sometimes called antifreeze) should be inspected to assure that there is not water or grime in the system. While water can freeze at 32°F, coolant cannot. If your vehicle is using water instead of coolant, it is crucial it be replaced. Some coolants are designed for cold weather, but it may not be necessary to switch from regular coolant due to the fact that the Carolina Piedmont rarely goes below 20°F, but it may be useful for those who commute to the Appalachian Mountains.

  1. Inspect the Washer Fluid.

Washer Fluid is a great tool to help defrost a windshield. While most washer fluids are predesigned to not freeze at 32°F, some can and it is necessary to replace these fluids with cold-resistant ones. This is another example of a place where water won’t cut it as it freezes. It is worth noting that mixing coolant into the washer fluid is not recommended, as coolant can corrode paint and is dangerous to the natural wildlife as well as pets.

  1. Inspect tires.

Are your tires old? Is the tread at or below 2/32”? Is the wear uneven? If so, you should heavily consider replacing them. Tires with bad tread do poorly on black ice, which is common in this region of North Carolina. For the Carolina Piedmont snow tires and chains aren’t necessary, as the snowfall is usually less than an inch and only happens a few times a year. ALWAYS MAKE SURE TIRES ARE INFLATED PROPERLY FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE TRACTION IN COLD WEATHER!!!

  1. Pack an Emergency Kit.

Though this one is designed for cities with extreme cold and heavy snowfall, it’s still a great idea. Winter emergency kits usually have a flashlight, an ice scraper, a blanket, a warning/S.O.S light and non-perishable food.

  1. Inspect the Belts and Hoses.

Belts and hoses are notorious for snapping in cold weather. These should be inspected and replaced if they show signs of cracking or age.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is “Preventive Maintenance?”

If you’ve ever had your car in a shop, you’ve most likely heard the term “preventative maintenance” at some point. However, just what is preventative maintenance? To put it simply, preventative maintenance are jobs done to your car to prevent problems, as compared to regular service, which you do while the problem is occurring. Changing spark plugs, filters, and belts are kinds of preventative maintenance done  during factory-preset intervals. Even something as common as an oil change is technically preventative maintenance, because you don’t change your oil after it has turned to muck in your engine, you change it beforehand to prevent it from doing so.

When Should I do Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is done either when the factory recommends it (this is usually listed in your owner’s manual) or when a technician spots something wearing a bit prematurely. For example, a timing belt is usually recommended to be changed at 90,000 miles, but it may be changed earlier if a professional notices cracks or other wear in the belt.

How Do I Know if I Actually Need What’s Recommended?

The best way to know is to ask your service provider to show you. Any reputable shop will gladly do this for you and take pride in making sure you understand fully what is needed.

Is Recommended Maintenance the Same for Every Car?

No. While there are many similar components in cars that may require maintenance, no two cars have the same preventative maintenance schedule. You should always check with your manual and automotive service provider to see what your car’s specific needs will be down the road.

 

To recap, preventative maintenance is a “catch-it-early” repair service. All cars have a preventative maintenance schedule, and it is always best to check to see what your car needs when. We hope this article helped!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – 3 Tips to Extend Tire Life

Tires are one of the most important pieces of your car – not just because they actually let your move, but because they are one of the most important safety tools your car has. As the increasing amount of research and development of tires sends prices up and up, many people are left wondering “How do I get my money’s worth out of my tires?” Believe it or not, there’s a lot of easy tips and tricks that can help you do just that.

 

  • Check your tire’s air pressure.

Over-inflated or under-inflated tires are one of the biggest reasons tires wear unevenly and prematurely. To prevent this from happening, check your tires at least once a month to see if the tire pressure is right. If you aren’t sure what the correct tire pressure is, check your car’s driver’s side door panel, there’s usually a sticker there indicating what the correct pressure your tires should be at. Tire gauges can be bought for as little as $2.00 both in stores and online.

Some forms of uneven tread wear.

  • Have your alignment checked.

A wheel alignment is an adjustment of your car’s basic suspension components. A bad alignment is usually most obvious when your steering wheel “pulls” to the left or right, but there are other things that an alignment can affect besides the direction your wheels what to go in. An alignment adjusts your car’s camber, or the angle at which your tire is pointing. If a wheel’s camber is off, a tire can wear unevenly on one specific side, causing the tires to need replacement. An alignment can be checked fairly easily by professionals and of you feel there may be an alignment problem, ask that it be checked the next time you head in for an oil change.

 

  • Rotate your tires.

Rotating the tires is the simple act of moving the rear wheels and tires to the front, and the front to the rear. This extends tread life because front tires wear quicker than rear ones due to the fact that front tires are the tires you steer with. By rotating at regular intervals, tire wear can be “evened out” among all four tires so the front two don’t have to be replaced before the rear two. Tire rotation is recommended every other oil change, or 6 months, whichever comes first.

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