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.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Conventional Oil or Synthetic Oil?

Every time you head in for an oil change, one question you’ll usually hear is “Do you want conventional or synthetic oil?” Though this seems like a simple decision, this actually brings up more questions like “What kind should I use in my car?” or “Is the difference really worth the extra money?” Below we’ve listed some of the main differences between the oils and some useful information to help determine what kind is right for you.

Conventional Oil

Conventional Oil is the “traditional” motor oil. Conventional is derived from crude oil and has additives that help with heat tolerance and viscosity. When purchasing a “regular” oil change, this is the oil usually being used. It usually comes in a black bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Oil changes for conventional are usually recommended at 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic Oil is derived from crude oil and has additives just like Conventional, however this version of the oil is synthesized” – in other words, the oil is modified at the molecular level. It is also distilled. It usually comes in a silver bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Synthetic Oil Changes are usually recommended at 5,000 miles or 5 months, whichever comes first.

What Oil Should I Use?

There is no “wrong time” to use Synthetic over Conventional, because it is fact that Synthetic lasts longer and holds up better. However, this doesn’t mean Conventional is bad. Conventional is fine for cars that are daily drivers that have a “regular” commute (15 minutes or longer.) Synthetic is better for cars that drive in extreme temps (a New York winter or an Arizona Summer, for example) or make short trips commonly (conventional may not heat up enough in short trips.) Synthetic is also useful in dusty climates. Synthetic is sometimes recommended in the owner’s manual, in which case that oil should be used. Synthetic can also be useful in high milage cars, but is not necessary unless the manual requires it. In short, conventional is fine for the average daily driver, but synthetic will usually be the better option.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How Do I Keep Children Safe Around A Car?

The importance of keeping kids safe when around or in a car is a story we’ve all heard a thousand times. It may have even been covered in your driver’s education class. However, do you know exactly how to keep kids safe? Listed below are some tips and tricks on how.

  • Check Seat Belts – And Not Just For If They’re On.

The importance of wearing a seat belt is pretty well known, however, kids can suffer injuries in a wreck if their seatbelt wraps around their head. This can happen from a child being mischievous and wrapping it themselves, but can also happen by the child being strapped in wrong in the first place.

  • Backovers

Backovers are where a person is driven over by a car. This can happen with children because of how small they are and are hard to see (or sometimes impossible to see) in mirrors. According to the Motorist Assurance Program, 15,000 injuries are caused by backover crashes yearly. “Back-Up Cameras,” the cameras which are designed to display the rear view of a car when in reverse, usually cannot prevent these kinds of accidents because even they cannot see directly behind the rear wheels and bumper. The general rule of thumb is this – before driving off, walk around the car and check for anything or anyone.

  • Don’t Leave Kids in the Car

This is probably the most obvious of all the tips listed, but leaving children in the car still happens. Leaving a child in a car can cause heatstroke, which can be deadly. Heatstroke is still possible even on lukewarm spring days because as the sun beats down on the car, the temperature still rises just as it does in the summer. It is important to know cracking the windows is usually not enough to keep the car cool enough. Remember, no matter how short the trip, do not leave kids in the car – nothing is more important than their lives. This also applies to pets.

  • Lock the Car

Locking the doors is crucial for two reasons – the first is to prevent children from crawling into hot cars and locking themselves in the cabin or trunk, and also to prevent any injury by vehicle rollaway. (Rollaway is mostly an issue with manual transmission cars that don’t have a “park” feature, but can happen in automatics.)

  • Lock Your Power Windows

Power windows – any window controlled by a button or lever and not a hand crank – can cause injury to hands and fingers as well as cause strangling, because kids may stick their hands or heads out the window and then accidentally roll the window up on themselves. This is easily preventable by locking the windows so kids cannot play with them. (Power windows usually have a lock button on the driver’s side by the window master controls)

  • Keep Children in Car Seats As Recommended.

A large factor in injuries of children in cars is improper car seats, or lack thereof. The age and weight of a child usually determines what kind of seats they need.  Local laws also sometimes dictate this, so be sure to check for any.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How Do I Make My Wipers Last Longer?

Wiper blades are a key piece to any car and, in North Carolina, required by law on vehicles equipped with windshields. Wipers are a kind of car part that you don’t really think about if they’re good or not until you’re using them. With this in mind, how does one make a wiper “last?” Here are a few tips and tricks on how

  1. Treat Your Windshield

Things like Rain-X or similar products intended to make water and other fluids on windshields bead up are great for making wipers last longer as it makes the work a wiper has to do with each wipe a bit easier.

2. Glass Cleaner on the Rubber

Things like glass cleaner are a great way to clean film and other residue off your wiper’s rubber. Doing this with a towel is best, but paper towels are also ok.

3. Lift Your Blades When it Snows or is Freezing

When it snows or is freezing cold, your blades could freeze to the windshield. Preventing this from happening is great for your wipers.

4. Keep the Windshield Crack and Chip Free

Cracks, chips, and dings are one of the biggest reasons a wiper blade tears. should your windshield crack or chip, consider replacement.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Car

Warm weather is a sign of great times, cook outs, and road trips. For those if us who own pets, it just wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t bring them along for the ride! However, keeping our fuzzy friends safe should always be a priority. Below are some tips, tricks and other useful info.

 

  1. Protect the Eyes of Your Pet

Some pets like to stick their heads out the window when driving. That’s fun for the pet, but this can hurt your pet’s eyesight over time. Buying you pet goggles (sometimes called Doggles) are a great way to protect their eyes and let them have their fun.

2. Seatbelts, Good for You and Your Pet

Some pets are big enough for seatbelts. In events of a wreck, seatbelts can save a pet’s life just like a person. Modifications and adapters to make seatbelts work for your pet can be found online for as little as about $7.

3. Leaving Pets in Cars isn’t OK!

Leaving a pet in a vehicle that isn’t running with A/C (or heat in cold months) isn’t not only unsafe, but illegal.

In North Carolina specifically, law § 14-363.3 states:

“In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, any animal control officer,animal cruelty investigator appointed under G.S. 19A-45, law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue squad worker, who has probable cause to believe that an animal is confined in a motor vehicle under conditions that are likely to cause suffering, injury, or death to the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or under other endangering conditions, may enter the motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible for the animal.”

 

So, in other words, if the pet is in dangerous temperatures or doesn’t have enough air, it is legal for officers of the law to enter the vehicle to save the pet. Don’t let this be your pet!

 

The next time you bring your pet into the vehicle, just remember these tips, and you and your fuzzy friend will have a great (and safe) time!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Ready for Spring?

Finally, spring has sprung! The weather is warmer and our winter coats are back in the closet. Just like how we change our activities and wardrobes, our cars need some TLC for the warmer months too. Here are some basic tips and tricks on how to “springtomize” your car.

 

  1. Change your windshield washer fluid

In the winter months, you may have swapped out your washer fluid for a “winter wash” style of fluid. While that fluid is great for breaking down ice on your windshield, the formula isn’t intended for the warmer months. Consider switching to a regular washer fluid or a hot-weather-specific blend.

  1. Check the windshield wipers.

Your wipers put in overtime in cold months, helping remove ice and similar winter debris. Always check your wipers for tears or cuts and, if needed, replace.

  1. Get a sun shade

A sun shade isn’t so much a requirement as it is an accessory, but it’s a useful accessory either way. Sun shades are big, tin foil looking covers that go over your windshield when you’re not driving. This is especially useful on cars painted dark colors, because it helps prevent your car from being ridiculously hot when pared outside.

  1. Have your A/C system checked.

You’re A/C system has been sitting dormant now for a few months. Your coolant may be low/dirty and other systems used to cool your car may be running a little weak. It’s best to have your car serviced now in the spring so that when the hottest of the summer months roll around, you’re A/C is at peak performance.

  1. Check your tires.

Depending on how severe the weather was during the winter, your tires may have worn a bit quicker than expected. Check to make sure there aren’t any holes/leaks/bumps or uneven wear.

  1. Consider window tint

Similar to the sun shade, window tint works to keep some of the sunlight out of your car. This not only makes the windows darker but also helps it keep cool (and in some cases, provide UV protection.) Just remember that most states where window tint laws are in place, 35% tint is the lowest you legally can go.

  1. Wash the car’s underbody.

There is no bad reason to wash your car’s underbody, but if you live somewhere where the roads were salted to prevent snow and black ice buildup, it is incredibly important. Salt left on the underbody of a car can cause the frame to rust, which is an extreme safety hazard, and lowers the overall value of your vehicle.

Now that the warmer months are here to stay, be sure to consider the tips above, and most importantly, have a safe and happy spring!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Safe for a Rainy Day?

Did you know it rains about 70 days a year in Charlotte? That’s almost 20% of the year! With that much rain, you’re likely to have to drive around in the rain every now and again. Driving in rain, however, is not like driving on a sunny day. Is your car prepared to face a rainy day? Here are some important factors to think about before driving in the rain:

 

  • Tire Tread Depth

Tire Tread Depth is important on any day, but it plays an even more important role when the roads are wet. The gaps between your tire and the road that your tire tread creates is what prevents you from losing control and hydroplaning. This is why most states consider tires that are below 2/32″ in tread depth illegal.

  • Windshield Wipers

This one may seem a bit obvious, but Windshield Wipers are one of those things that you really don’t think about unless you try and use them. Wipers usually should be replaced every six months, but that can vary by quality and usage. If you’d like to read more about Windshield Wipers, we have an article about them here.

  • Headlights

In North Carolina, it is law to turn on your Headlights when your Windshield Wipers are in use. This law is in place not so much so you can see in the rain, but so others can see you. If you have headlight/taillight/daytime runner out, you may be harder to see and possibly more likely to be hit. If you’d like to read more about Headlights, we have an article about them here.

  • How You’re Driving

When driving in the rain, you should allow for more following distance  (this is the distance between you and the car in front of you) and slow down. This allows you more time to stop should something in front of you happen. A lot of your vehicles automation devices – cruise control for example – may not work as well during the rain.

No matter if it is rainy, sunny, sleeting or snowing, be sure to enjoy the ride and stay safe!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What do the Lights on my Dashboard Mean?

If you’ve ever owned a motor vehicle, you’ve most likely been driving around and had a light come on, only to find yourself saying “What does that mean?” This is an understandable feeling. After all, even the most common light, the check engine light, looks different from vehicle to vehicle. Due to this, we’ve made a list of common lights and what they mean so the next time a light comes on in your car, you’ll be informed and ready.

Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light

Officially known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) the Check Engine Light is a light that tells you something is wrong inside your engine. It can have multiple forms, but the most common are shown above. In vehicles with OBD II built in (this is all vehicles made during or after 1996) Check Engine Lights also put out a code (you’ll need a code-reader for this) that give a broad diagnostic of the issue. Vehicles equipped with OBD I (these are in most vehicles made during the 70’s to 1995) blink a certain way to tell you what code you have.
Image result for maintenance required lightMaintenance Required Light

The Maintenance Required Light, which was created by Toyota, is commonly confused as a Check Engine Light. All this light actually does, though, is tell you its time for an oil change. It isn’t always accurate, however, so don’t rely on just it for when to know its time for an oil change.

Image result for tpms lightTire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Light

Commonplace on vehicles made in the 2010’s, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Light is a light that is synced with the TPMS monitors inside your wheels. This light comes on to tell you one of two things; either “your tires are low on air” or “your TPMS monitors are broken.” The light usually goes away once you air your tires back up, however, if your monitors are broken or replaced, some reprogramming of the TPMS monitors may need to be done to make the light go off.

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Oil Light

The Oil Light (sometimes called the Oil Pressure Light or Oil Temperature Light) is an oil-can shaped light designed to tell you that there is something wrong with your oil. It can mean that your oil’s pressure is too low, your oil levels themselves are low, or the oil temp is too high. Oil is the lifeblood of the car, and this light should be taken seriously if it comes on. This light sometimes has a squiggly line under it (pictured above) or a temperature gauge with squiggly lines by the oil can.

Image result for abs light

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Light

The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Light is designed to tell you if there is a problem with your anti-lock braking system(ABS). The ABS system is why we no longer need to “pump the brakes” to prevent our wheels from locking up and skidding. ABS was created in the 1980’s and is equipped on most vehicles made during or after the 90’s. ABS became legally required on all new vehicles in the United States in 2013.  While the light usually means there is a problem with your ABS system, the sensors on these can go bad causing the light to come on when there actually isn’t a problem with the system at all. Either way, the ABS system is important and it is highly recommended that when this light comes on, you visit your local auto shop.

These lights are the most common indicator lights that come on in the modern vehicle. If you have a light on not mentioned in this article, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill for more information at 704-545-4597

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What Should I Do if My Vehicle is Recalled?

Having your vehicle recalled is a scary thing to have happen. After all, if a vehicle is recalled for a defect, the issue is most likely important. Recalls happen all the time for various reasons. Though recalls themselves are common, what to do when the vehicle is recalled is not commonly discussed.

 

  1. If you vehicle is recalled, you’ll likely get a letter.

Most car companies will send mail to you if they have your address, which they should have if you bought your car from a car dealer (this usually excludes dealerships who focus on used cars.)

2. You are usually required to bring the vehicle to the dealership from where it was originally sold.

Sadly, your local independent auto shop cannot do recall repairs, usually due to licensing or legal reasons. The good news is, however, a recall is free if the recall was issued by the manufacturer. For example, if a Toyota is recalled, the repair is usually done at the Toyota dealership who sold it new, regardless of who currently owns it. If you cannot get to that specific dealership, you should attempt to go to your local dealer.

3. If you have the repair done, you should keep the records.

It is incredibly important you keep the records of a recall repair. If something should happen to the vehicle or if you try and resell it, proof that the job has been done is great to have.

 

If your vehicle ever gets recalled, you can rest easy, you now know everything there is to know about recalls.

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