We are often asked what grade of fuel to use. For most cars on the road premium fuel is a waste of money. You will not see a difference in fuel economy or performance. If you drive a performance car the manufacturer may suggest the use of a high octane fuel.
As much as we would like to be able to recommend the use of fuel containing ethanol for the sake of the environment or cost savings we cannot.
While it seems that the price difference at the pump would make it advantageous to use fuel containing ethanol, the fact is that ethanol is actually less volatile (less explosive) than gasoline therefore you will get fewer miles to the gallon and actually end up spending more on gas.
In addition ethanol reacts negatively with some of the internal components of the fuel system and can actually cause damage and/or additional expense in fuel system repairs.
Many manufacturers are now making statements with regard to the use of fuel containing ethanol for the reasons mentioned and in fact may not honor warranties if the problem can be shown to be due to the use of ethanol containing fuel.
So we have to recommend that you not use ethanol containing fuel and that you just buy the lower grade regular fuel. It could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Quick starts from a stop sign or light uses a lot of gas. Coasting for a longer distance when approaching a stop sign or light can save a lot of gas. Driving the speed limit can also create significant fuel savings.
Unless your vehicle requires premium gasoline, filling up your car with high-octane gas is a waste of money. The premium gas doesn’t boost your gas mileage or performance. If you're not sure what grade works best for your vehicle, your owner's manual will tell you. You can also ask us what grade to use. Ethanol is less volatile than gasoline meaning that it does not burn as easily. So it takes more fuel to go the same distance. While you might save 10 cents per gallon at the pump you might lose 3 – 4 miles per gallon of driving. Using fuel that does not contain ethanol over high-octane gasoline could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Under inflated tires wear down more quickly, and they also lower your car's gas mileage. Your car's gas mileage may plummet by as much as 15 percent. Driving on under inflated tires may also reduce the life of your tires by 15 percent or more. Buy a digital gauge and keep it in your glove box. Compare the pressure in your tires with the recommended pressure listed in your owner's manual and on the placard located on the driver’s door or door jam. Then inflate your tires as needed. Be sure to check tire pressure when your tires are cold. A good time is early in the morning after your car's been idle overnight. However, be sure not to over inflate tires as that may compromise safety. You can also stop by the shop anytime and we will be happy to adjust your tire pressure.
Think about how many bumps you go over in a year. It is nearly impossible to avoid all the pot holes etc. out there on the road for an entire year. Worn or out of adjustment steering and suspension components can lead to your front wheels essentially snow plowing down the road. That causes significant rolling resistance which means reduced fuel economy. Taking care of any steering or suspension issues early can reduce the need for more costly repairs in the future and ensure your safety.
Your car's performance depends on it being properly maintained. For example a misfiring spark plug can reduce a car's fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent. Changing the engine oil and other fluids ensures that internal components are lubricated as well as possible to maintain their life and to reduce friction thereby improving fuel economy. The owner's manual of your vehicle will tell you what maintenance is needed and when. If you have any questions we will be able to show you the recommended maintenance for your car. Not only will it improve efficiency, it will also save you money on costly repairs in the long run.
When the engine air filter clogs with dirt, dust and bugs, it causes your engine to work harder and your car becomes less fuel efficient. Replacing a clogged air filter could improve your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent and save you 15 cents a gallon. It's a good idea to have your engine air filter checked at each oil change. The Car Care Council recommends changing your car's air and oil filters every three months or 3,000 miles whichever comes first or as specified in your owner's manual. We always check the air filter replace the oil filter when changing the oil.
Synthetic oil does a much better job of reducing friction and does not break down as fast as conventional oil from heat etc. You can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage by 2 to 4 percent by switching to synthetic oil. The price of a synthetic oil change is actually quite cost effective given the extended amount of time or number of miles you can go between oil changes (6 months or 7500 miles = 2 ½ times as long as conventional oil) plus they have the added convenience of not needing to take your vehicle in to a shop as often.
Try to reduce the length of time that you use the air conditioner. I know that when it is really hot out it is just not feasible but using the air conditioner takes a lot of energy and negatively affects fuel economy. I should note that driving with all the windows open reduces a car’s aerodynamics and therefore reduces fuel economy to about the same degree as running the air conditioner so unfortunately that is not a solution. One thing that many people may not know is that when you use the defroster in the winter time it automatically turns on the air conditioning because it serves to dehumidify the air. So once the car is warmed up switch to a mode other than defrost when you can. That will reduce the load on the engine and save gas.
A week or so before you leave, have regular maintenance done, like oil and filter change, or routine maintenance. Specifically, ask the shop to check the air filter and change it if necessary. Changing the air filter is an inexpensive way to enhance fuel economy and performance. Also have them check the tires again. If the pressure has gone down since the last check, you may have a leak that can be fixed on the spot.
If the pressure is too low, it can cause a blowout at high speed. Also have them check the tread on the tires for excessive wear. (You can also do this yourself by placing the head of a penny into the tread of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, you probably need new tires.) Be sure to have your repair shop check to see that the spare tire is inflated and the appropriate tools are available to install it if necessary.
Are you going somewhere with a warmer or colder climate? Let your repair shop know so your mechanic can adjust the mixture of water and antifreeze to ensure the car is protected against temperature extremes.
If you don’t have a current road atlas, get one. Hours and hours of expressway can get boring. Getting off the beaten path can add an entirely new dimension to your trip.
The day before you leave, thoroughly wash and vacuum the car. It’s much nicer to have your trip in a clean car.
Make sure your license, registration and insurance are all current and accessible.
Might as well get it out of the way now. Besides, gas is often more expensive on the road.
Open your suitcases and take one last look — do you really need all that stuff? Did you forget anything?
Enjoy your trip!
No. In fact there are laws that require the factory to honor your warranty as long as you have proper documentation of the appropriate maintenance being done.
Just have any legitimate mechanic do it, and hold onto your records and receipts. If you have a maintenance schedule book, have the mechanic sign it.
Something goes wrong with your car and you're faced with a high repair bill. It would be nice to get a new car, but is that the smartest decision? Would you be better off fixing your current ride, or is it really time to buy a new one? The answers to these questions will vary, so let me give you some information that might help you make a more informed decision.
If you aren't sure if fixing it is the right thing to do, here are a few reasons why it is a good idea to bite the bullet and get the repairs done.
There are times when it's time to buy that new vehicle. Here are some reasons for it:
A good rule of thumb to estimate when it's time to throw in the towel, is if the cost of repairs is greater than either the value of the vehicle or one year's worth of monthly payments and increased insurance payments.
The only way to make an accurate decision, is to know what to expect. Ask your mechanic to fully inspect the vehicle and let you know what it really needs to run like new.
For maximum protection, most oil companies say to change the oil every 3,000 miles or three to six months regardless of what type of driving you do.
A new engine with little or no wear can probably get by on 7,500 mile oil changes. But as an engine accumulates miles, it dumps more unburned fuel into the crankcase which dilutes the oil. This causes the oil to break down. So if the oil isn't changed often enough, you can end up with accelerated wear and all the engine problems that come with it (loss of performance and fuel economy, and increased emissions and oil consumption).
Regular oil changes as part of preventative maintenance are cheap insurance against engine wear, and will always save you money in the long run if you keep a car for more than three or four years.
To reduce the costs of vehicle ownership and maintenance, many car makers say the oil filter only needs to be replaced at every other oil change. Most mechanics will tell you this is false economy.
The oil filters on most engines today have been downsized to save weight, cost and space. The "standard" quart-sized filter that was once common on most engines, has been replaced by a pint-sized (or smaller) filter. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that a smaller filter has less total filtering capacity. Even so, the little filters should be adequate for a 3,000 mile oil change intervals — but may run out of capacity long before a second oil change at 6,000 or 15,000 miles. Replacing the oil filter every time the oil is changed, therefore, is highly recommended.
This is a very important question. There are several things that could make a vehicle unsafe to drive as well as things that could damage it more if it were driven. The best thing to do if there is any question in your mind is:
Your mechanic will be able to assess the situation enough to let you know if it's safe for you to drive or if it needs to be towed.
If there is any question on the safety of your vehicle, we will help you arrange to get it towed to our shop.
Automotive technicians are often compared to doctors. This comparison undoubtedly makes some techs smile and others grimace. But in the end, the two professions have a lot in common. It may surprise consumers to find that by choosing these professionals wisely, they can get better care at a better price.
When it comes to choosing a repair shop, many experts praise the virtues of the clean facility, a wall covered with ASE certificates or a coffee pot and some tasty snacks. While these items are important, these four vital questions tell most of the story:
Back to the doctor/technician comparison. Some doctor’s are great diagnosticians. They can pin point a problem when their peers are coming up with empty charts. What’s the difference between that doctor and the people wearing white coats? Possibly his/her knowledge and perhaps equipment, but probably it’s listening skills that sets the really great docs apart from the good ones.
When choosing a professional, the variety that looks after your car or the variety that looks after your body, ask them the four-questions. In effect, audition them. See how the doctor takes care of your flu and how the tech deals with an oil change before visiting with something more serious.
Watch how they handle their time and be aware of how much time is allotted to you. Are they tuned into your problems and asking relevant questions? Are they providing an objective opinion based on information they’ve gathered during your discussion? Can they explain the problem and solution to you in laymen’s terms?
The bottom line is this, time is money. The less time these people are willing to spend with you often multiplies the amount of time needed on the back end. In the case of both the doctor and tech, the extra time spent having to fix you or your car a second or third time not only is expensive, it can be detrimental to the car or patient’s condition.
We only hire the best technicians and service advisors with the ability to handle any situation you have with your vehicle. That’s the reason we have built the reputation of being the most knowledgeable shop in the area.
When winter is upon us, there are some tips that can help you prepare for the changes in the weather that can surprise any of us. Taking some basic actions to be prepared will make it easier for you to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.
When using your heating system, there are some tips to help keep you warm and your windows clear. When using your defroster, make sure you are using the fresh air from the outside of the car. Have you ever seen someone driving down the road and all the windows are fogged up? The reason is the car is using the inside air in the car and the system can't get rid of the moisture in the air. And that's why the windows fog up. Also, using the air conditioning in this mode helps too since one of the things the A/C system does is remove the moisture from the air and with the heat on you will keep the inside of the car warm. In fact some of the newer cars automatically turn on the A/C and use fresh air in defrost mode. If you don't know about your vehicle, look in your owner's manual, or just drop by and we will be glad to show you how it works.
Your wipers are also key to keeping your windows clean. Making sure you have the proper washer fluid that is ready for the cold weather will also help you do this. Having a snow brush in the car with an ice scraper will keep you prepared for whatever happens.
Keeping your tires inflated properly and make sure you have good tread will help you with traction and control. A lot of the newer cars have great things like anti-lock brakes and traction control which help with the bad weather. But these systems work much better when you have the most grip you can with good tires.
All of these things mentioned above are checked every time we service your vehicle because we want you to be safe while driving, especially during this time of year. If you would like to stop by we would be glad to check these things for you
Summer can be tough on cars, especially during high temperatures when heat can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires. As a precaution, these vehicle components should be checked periodically during summer to help avoid breakdowns and car problems, according to the Car Care Council.
Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of a battery. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery. To get the most life out of a battery, the council recommends having the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. If your car’s battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water if necessary. Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can become a conductor, which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator and inhibits the current flow.
The cooling system also works harder during hot temperatures to prevent overheating of the engine. To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant and distilled water mixture for a vehicle’s radiator should be 50:50. As a reminder, never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles. This will keep the cooling system fresh and clean inside, which helps prevent corrosion and assures that the coolant has the proper boiling point and protection.
A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.
Tires also need special care in warmer weather as high temperatures put added stress on them. To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure monthly, and have the tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Summer heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise, therefore, it’s important to check the pressure when tires are cold. The owner’s manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle’s tires.
“It takes very little time and money to make sure your car runs properly during summer, and although breakdowns happen, they can definitely be minimized by taking a few extra preventive maintenance steps,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.
At Harbor Brake and Automotive Services, our goal is to serve you and make your experience a pleasant one. We will stop at nothing to ensure that you come away more than satisfied.
How long your brakes last is based on various things such as driving conditions, how you brake and other factors. For this reason, it is necessary to service your brakes regularly.
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