Oil, Brakes, Tires, & Alignment
Engine oil is what lubricates a car’s engine, allowing it to run smoothly and last longer.Car owners must maintain a car’s engine by changing the oil and using the oil appropriate for their cars make and model. Every car comes with a “check oil” light and an oil filler under the hood. These components allow car owners to monitor their oil levels and add oil as needed, without having to hire a mechanic.
Changing the Oil
An important part of routine car maintenance is changing the oil regularly. The necessary frequency of oil changes has become a point of contention among experts. The Engine Oil Bible maintains that engine oil can’t be changed often enough, but Nordic group insists that, with the advent of detergent oils and multi-weight oils, some vehicles can go as far as 6,000 miles before needing an oil change. The best course of action is to check the owner’s manual and follow manufacturer’s recommendations.
An obvious benefit of changing one’s own oil is saving money, but oil change services frequently advertize bargains. If the “check engine oil” light comes on while driving, this is a strong indication that the car is running low on oil. A driver does not need a mechanic to add oil. However, if the oil light stays on or lights up shortly after adding oil, there may be a leak and a mechanic should look at the car.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System Can Saves Lives
Most people ignore their tires, yet tires are undoubtedly a critical safety component on a vehicle. Where the rubber meets the road affects traction, handling, steering, stability and braking. Because of this, a sudden tire failure can have serious consequences, especially if it occurs when operating at high speeds.
- Nearly 250,000 accidents occur in the United States per year due to low tire pressure.
- About 75 % of roadside flats are preceded by a slow leak or under inflation.
- According to a recent survey, America could reduce its fuel consumption by 10 % and save a collective $2 billion a year by keeping tires properly inflated.
- NHTSA estimates that tire pressure monitoring systems could prevent as many as 79 deaths and 10,365 injuries each year in the United States.
What is the Effect of Under Inflation?
An estimated 23,000 accidents and 535 fatal accidents annually involve blowouts or flat tires. Maintaining proper tire air pressure is not only a major safety concern, but can also affect the handling and performance of your vehicle.
Why Is It More Expensive and Time Consuming to Have Tires Serviced Rather Than Rotated?
Technicians use special diagnostic tools to test and recalibrate sensors any time a tire is moved from one location on the vehicle to another. A sensor must be tested to make sure it is functioning correctly and also must be reprogrammed whenever tires are moved from one position to another during rotation. OEMs recommend a sensor service kit be installed every time a tire is serviced. These kits include replacement parts to properly service the sensor. Sensors are powered by a battery that usually has a life of 6 to 8 years. The sensor has to be replaced when the battery fails because the batteries are not replaceable.
Brakes are pretty much the most important safety device on your car. If you’ve ever partially lost your brakes in the past, you’ll agree that it’s not something you want to experience again. Inspecting your brakes twice a year for wear and damage can protect you and your passengers. Additionally, it will also help save you money by catching any damage before it becomes too costly.
Brake System Components That Can Fail
The master cylinder, the heart of the vehicles braking system, holds the brake fluid when it is not being delivered to the brakes through the brake lines. If brake fluid leaks because the master cylinder is worn or brake lines are plugged or broken, the fluid cannot be delivered and the brake pads will become inoperable.
The brake fluid itself can become dirty or contaminated as it draws rust-causing moisture and picks up other debris, or it can break down from excess heat. Clean brake fluid is either clear or slightly yellow, while dirty brake fluid may be brown or even black. Old and dirty brake fluid can damage ABS brake systems internally.
The brake lines connect to the master cylinder through a combination valve, which combines a metering and proportioning valve. It regulates the pressure on the front and rear wheels to make sure both sets of brakes are applied simultaneously. A malfunctioning combination valve may cause the wheels to lock up.
Brake pads and shoes can be made of ceramic, metal or organic materials, while the disc rotors and drums they press against are made of metal. Because the pads and shoes create friction to stop the car, they gradually wear down over time and may wear away completely, letting the metal of the calipers and cylinders they are attached to grind against the rotors and drums and damage them. (Some pads have a metal strip attached that sounds a warning whistle when the pad becomes too worn, but this strip sounds only when the car is in motion and the brakes are not applied.
How important is wheel alignment?
Think of it this way: Research indicates that the average vehicle is driven about 12,000 miles per year. A car with a toe angle misadjustment of 0.34 degrees (only 0.17 inches) out of specification will drag the tires sideways for more than 68 miles by the end of the year!
What are the “symptoms” of a vehicle with incorrect alignment?
Have your vehicle checked if you notice:
- Excessive or uneven tire wear.
- The vehicle pulls to the left or right.
- Feeling of looseness or wandering.
- Steering wheel vibration or shimmy.
- Steering wheel is not centered when the vehicle is moving straight ahead.
How often should I have my vehicle aligned?
Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation noted in your owner’s manual. As a general rule, have your wheel alignment checked every 10,000 miles or at least once a year.
The Importance of Total Alignment:
- Reduced Tire Wear: Improper alignment is a major cause of premature tire wear. Over the years, a properly aligned vehicle can add thousands of miles to tire life. Most tires are replaced prematurely due to adverse wear.
- Better Gas Mileage: Gas mileage increases as rolling resistance decreases. Total Alignment sets all four wheels parallel, which along with proper inflation, minimizes rolling resistance.
- Improved Handling: Does your car pull to one side? Do you constantly have to move the steering wheel to keep your car traveling straight ahead? Many handling problems can be corrected by Total Alignment service. With all the vehicle components aligned properly, road shock is more efficiently absorbed for a smoother ride.
- Safer Driving: A suspension system inspection is part of the alignment procedure. This allows worn parts to be detected before they cause costly problems.