Is it Time to Change Your Coolant?
Some say every 2 years or 30,000 miles. Some vehicle manufacturers will tell you it is “maintenance free” for 1oo,ooo-150,000 miles. So which is it?
Coolant has come a long way over the years. The best way to know if the coolant needs to be serviced is by testing the coolant.
There are two major factors that will help determine if it is time to change your coolant.
The first is pH. Similar test to what you would do to maintain your pool. Acidic is bad. It will cause the breakdown of other internal components as the coolant will start to eat through the metal.
The second is the balance between coolant and water. 50/50 mix is ideal for protection across the widest temperature spectrum.
We use premixed 50/50 Coolant as the water quality is debatable coming out of the tap. Worst case, we can use distilled water. Contaminants in the water system can contribute to internal engine corrosion. If you would not drink the water, do not use it to add to your vehicle's cooling system.
Most coolants will go more than 30,000 miles, however we advise against going 100,000 or more without periodically tested the coolant, as that can very quickly turn into remove and replace the entire cooling system.
How to Replace Your Battery
Replacing the battery can be done on most vehicles with out coming to my repair shop (although we do recommend professional replacement).
On older vehicles, the replacement procedure is pretty straight forward. Remove the negative battery cable and the positive battery cable. There should be a battery hold down, either a bolt going through plastic piece or a j-hook with nuts on either side of the battery. Remove the hold down and lift the battery straight out (CAREFUL: battery acid may leak out if not kept level). Place the new battery in the vehicle and secure the hold down. Reattach the battery cables. This is a good time to clean or replace them if they seem damaged.
We recommend newer vehicles (2005 and up) be brought to a shop as some of the systems will need to be “relearned” by your car after the battery is disconnected. The idle control system, anti-theft system, auto power windows, climate control, etc. will need to be relearned, some requiring factory equivalent software to perform properly. The charging system may also need to be reset. We are happy to offer these services for you.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT OIL FOR YOUR CAR
Walk down the oil aisle at any auto parts store and there are at least a dozen oils with the same weight designation on the front of the bottle. There are many different brands and weights of oil including 10W30, 5W30, 5W20, 0W20. For European or diesel vehicles, there are additional weights and requirements.
It is important that you understand that all oils are not created equal. The better oils will have a listing on the back of the bottle that tells you what manufacturer approved that oil for use in their engines. The back of most cheap oils will show they are not approved by any manufacturer.
As a responsible car owner, you need to know what kind of oil your vehicle requires. Most newer vehicles will tell you what oil is required right on the oil fill cap. You can also look it up in your owner's manual. Make sure your auto repair shop understands this and is using the right oil for your vehicle. If they don't know what the correct oil is for your vehicle, then find a shop that does.
Using the wrong oil will damage the engine and lead to premature engine failure. In many cars, the check engine light will come on as a result of the variable timing system no longer being able to function properly, causing your gas mileage to go down.
Many manufacturers are requiring the dealers to send oil samples out for testing before approving warranty claims for engine repair or replacement. This means if you, or your chosen repair shop, used the wrong oil or did not have your car serviced as required by the manufacturer, you will not be covered under warranty. You will need to pay out of pocket for any repairs regardless of the mileage.
Let's take GM's dexos as an example, required by GM on all vehicles 2011 and newer. Dexos is a special standard of 5w-30 oil. It still falls into that $19.99 oil change special doesn't it? Most likely not. Many oils are not dexos approved. In order to adhere to GM requirements for this car your oil change price has gone up.
On a positive note, the higher price of an oil change brings with it a longer interval between changes. Through the use of an oil life monitoring system, many vehicles have gone from a 3,000 mile service interval to 5,000 or 7,500 miles. Some car manufacturers will even go as far as 10,000 or 15,000 miles. The oil life monitoring system factors in many things including mileage, cold start ups, engine load, engine speed, and idle time. If equipped, your car will let you know when it is time for service. If your car follows a longer service interval schedule, checking your oil level regularly becomes a necessity.
All engines will burn oil over time, some more than others. The oil life monitoring system does NOT factor in the oil level. Also, do not assume that the red oil light on the dash will tell you when you need to add a quart. This light is an indication of low oil pressure, not a low oil level. You MUST get in the habit of checking your oil level. If you are not sure how to check your oil, just ask. A seized motor from lack of oil will not be covered under any warranty, no oil sample required.
Any car can go well over 200,000 miles, if you take care of it. This starts with the most basic of all things, the oil change.