This archived article was written by: Dave Adams
Have you ever wondered why your car is blowing smoke out the tail pipe, or why you just don’t have the power you once had as you cruse down Main Street in Price? Perhaps you have a small clicking noise under the hood that just started, but is annoying you to death. More importantly, with winter on the horizon, you need to take care of those pesky problems before they become expensive ones.
These may be signs of premature component failure, or could be as simple as a dirty air filter, or low oil. So how often do you get your vehicle serviced? Do you know the best person to take it to, or how much is too much to pay for a simple oil service?
So how often do you need to change your oil? Depending on your car will depend on your schedule. Most students at the College of Eastern Utah drive smaller compact cars or SUV’s. Now if you fall into this category then you need to get your vehicle serviced about every 3,000 miles; however if you drive a monster truck that requires a little more power of the diesel engine then you will want to get it done every 5,000 miles. But that’s just a rule of thumb, and not every car is the same. Check your owner’s manual to be sure on the correct mileage for your service.
Now I’ve been a mechanic for 10 years now and I have worked in different shops and had many different types of training when it comes to vehicle services. I and Stan Martineau, the Automotive Technology Professor, have compiled a list of the top ten things that should be checked on your vehicle service.
1. Obviously the oil should be changed and the filter too. Now if you’re a gear head and have a favorite kind of oil, than that’s fine use what you feel comfortable with; but if you don’t have a preference than use the default oil that the shop provides it will be fine. But make sure that they use the correct viscosity for your engine if your car requires 10-30 then that’s what they need to use not 15-40.
2. Transmission fluid should be checked and topped off if necessary.Different cars have different specifications for how long they can go before the fluid and filter need to be changed. Check with your owner’s manual to see how often it needs to be serviced; however you fluid should be checked every service. Also make sure that they use the correct fluid there are thirteen different types of fluid, and using the wrong type will cause damage to your internal components.
3.Differentials should be checked for fluid levels and leaks.Not every car is equipped with differentials; however if it is then they should be checked.
4. The air filter needs to be checked for proper air flow.
In order for your car to function properly it must breath. If your filter is clogged, you will not get the proper performance that your car has available.
5. Brake fluid level should be checked and topped off, and also looked at for color of fluid.
Most cars take DOT 3 but check your owner’s manual for the correct fluid if you are unsure. If your brake fluid is low you should be notified. Low brake fluid can be a sign of brake failure or a leaking wheel cylinder, or a worn out brake pad. It is a major safety issue and should be addressed.
6. Power steering fluid should be inspected for fluid level. Not many people own vehicles with the old arm strong steering anymore. When your power steering goes out you can lose control over your vehicle so it is always good to make sure that the fluid is always full.
7. Coolant should be checked or level and strength.Your cars coolant doesn’t only cool your car, but it keeps the engine from freezing in cold weather. Too much antifreeze can cause over heating but not enough can cause engine damage in the cold weather. Also there are several different types of fluid for this as well. Using the wrong type of fluid can void many manufactures warranty
8. Windshield washer fluid needs to be topped off every service, and blades should be inspected. In order to maintain visibility while on the road, you need to keep a clean windshield. In order to do this, these two components need to be in working order. Now I’ve talked about most of the basic under the hood and car checks, but what about the external car issues? Okay let’s talk about some things that need to be checked on the outside of your vehicle.
9. Tires need to be checked for wear and tear, and proper inflation. If tires are not properly watched then trouble on the road can occur. Over inflated tires can cause a blow out which can lead to possible roll over. Under inflated tires can cause irregular tire wear, and you will not have the total life span of your tires.
10. Lights; such as tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, headlights, and the one that usually gets you pulled over when you don’t want to, the license plate light.These all should be checked for proper working order, if one are out then you should be notified of the problem and what needs to happen to get it fixed.
These are ten basic things that need to be checked during your basic oil change. Now some shops say that they do more, and that’s fine, but if the shop doesn’t say that they check these basic things then maybe its time that you find another shop to do the work.
Just because the shop employee checks these things doesn’t mean that they will fix them either. Don’t miss understand me when I say, “this should be checked.” Items such as wipers, extra fluids, for brakes and transmission cost extra.
Do not let a shop employee fix anything that cost extra, without your approval first. Also don’t be afraid to ask to see a repair that you don’t feel comfortable about. If the mechanic says that your power steering fluid is dirty, ask to see a sample of it and a sample of what it should look like. If they say that your air filter is bad, than ask them to explain why.
The average cost here in Price for basic oil change is anywhere from $30- $50. If your car requires a little more attention, you probably will have to pay more. But with winter coming up soon; it is a good idea to get your car checked out.