Q: Are my tires properly inflated?
The correct tire pressure for a vehicle is determined by the size and weight of the vehicle, the type of tires it uses, load hauled, and the type of driving the vehicle is intended for. The vehicle manufacturer places a tire inflation placard in each vehicle that gives the proper tire inflation pressures for that vehicle. This placard is located on the inside of the glove box door, inside the fuel-filler door, or on the driver’s side doorpost (depending upon manufacturer). Most manufacturers also list tire inflation levels in the owner’s manual.
Q: What does it mean when my check engine light is on?
There's a problem with the car's emissions system. The on-board diagnostics system and engine control unit are in charge of monitoring different parameters, and when something is off it triggers the check engine light. Here are a few examples of things that can be wrong, a wet engine, a blown gasket head, faulty oxygen sensor, worn-out spark plugs or wires, loose or cracked hoses and pinched or deteriorated fuel injector O-rings. The check engine light can come back on after a few days of being fixed, and can be a whole other problem.
Q: When should I change my engine oil?
Short hops to the store, stop-and-go rush hour driving, driving on dirt roads and inclement-weather operation are all considered severe operating conditions that can cause impurities to build up quickly in the oil, resulting in increased wear and tear on internal parts. That is why most owner's manuals and mechanics recommend changing the oil and filter every three months or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first) to assure that maximum engine lubrication occurs while a minimum of impurities are suspended in the oil.
Q: What can I do if my car overheats?
If you are driving at normal highway speed and the vehicle starts to overheat, turn off the air conditioner, turn on the heater and immediately pull over to the shoulder. Odds are if the vehicle starts to overheat at highway speed, there is a problem in the cooling system such as low coolant, a clogged radiator or a broken drive belt or burst hose. Once at the shoulder, shut off the engine, open the hood and let the engine cool down – 20 minutes minimum. Once any overboiling stops and the engine has cooled, look for obvious signs of trouble.
Q: How often should my car get a tune-up?
A “tune-up” for vehicles is an orderly process of inspection, computer diagnosis, testing and adjustment to maintain peak engine performance, maximum operating efficiency and low exhaust emissions. During this process, spark plugs, plug wires, sensors, and modules may be replaced. The frequency at which a newer vehicle needs a tune-up is dependent more upon driving conditions than mileage and recommended tune-up frequencies vary between 30,000 – 100,000 miles, depending on the manufacturer.
Q: Why are my brakes making noise?
If you hear a grinding or squealing sound when the pedal is applied, you probably need new brake shoes or pads. Brakes shouldn’t make any noise as they operate. Even if the actual problem turns out to be something minor, the only safe assumption is this one: noisy brakes are unsafe brakes. Postponing service is unsafe and could raise the cost of repairs later. If your brakes are making noise, get them inspected or serviced right away.
Q: How can I tell if my coolant is OK?
It is impossible to determine the condition of the coolant in the radiator just by looking at it. Coolant, a mixture of ethylene glycol and water, breaks down with age, picks up contaminants that cause sludge, and becomes acidic. When this happens, it can cause corrosion within the radiator and cooling passages of the engine. To determine its condition, coolant must be checked with coolant test strips that measure PH balance. Coolant is an environmentally hazardous substance, therefore must be disposed of as a hazardous waste