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Recommended Maintenance Intervals (RMI's) - Do I need these services?
Most vehicle manufacturers today have some type of maintenance/inspection mileage interval which needs to be followed to assure a vehicle's reliability and longevity expectations; some are required to meet emissions warranty guidelines. Everyone has different driving habits which can have a significant impact on the service interval. You should always have the inspections performed for proper care of your vehicle. Discuss any maintenance items with your trusted repair shop. Depending on your type of driving, not all maintenance items may be necessary at that interval. Keeping up with maintenance can greatly reduce the risk of costly repairs in the future. Frequent short trips tend to be harder on vehicles.
Check your owner's manual, they sometimes have provisions for maintenance interval records keeping and maintenance check lists for your convenience. Exchanging/flushing of fluids is relatively inexpensive and will increase the life span and reliability of associated components. When performing these inspections, other non-maintenance related problems that may ordinarily go unnoticed, might be detected and can save you grief later on when they break unexpectedly. Maintenance is always worth the time and investment.
What does the Check Engine/Service Engine Soon light on my dash mean?
The Check Engine/Service Engine Soon light comes on the dash when there is an emissions related failure. Be sure to take this seriously. This light does not mean that you just need an oil change or routine maintenance. There are many different systems/component failures that may cause this light to come on. Your vehicle will need to be taken to the repair shop for diagnostic work. If the light stays on solid, you can buy yourself some time to bring the vehicle to the repair shop. Do this at your earliest possible convenience. If the light is flashing, this means that there is a catalyst damaging misfire present and the vehicle should not be driven. The risk of more damage occurring is substantial in this situation! The engine should be stopped immediately and the vehicle either needs to be towed or wait until the light will just stay on solid!
What things should be done to prepare a vehicle for summer driving?Have your vehicle's cooling system inspected. This includes the radiator, water pump, belts and hoses. A leak or restriction can lead to costly repairs that may have been avoidable and that cause extreme inconvenience. Your vehicles tires and alignment should be inspected. Pressure, tread depth and proper wear are keys to maximizing the performance of your tires. A vehicle that is out of alignment will prematurely wear tires. The steering and suspension should be inspected. Ball joints, steering components and shocks/struts are all prone to failure during the "pothole" season prior to summer. A grease, oil and filter change should be performed. Lights, belts, hoses, wipers and washers should be inspected. If your air conditioning system is not working well, have a service performed. All components will be checked for leaks and functionality.
Hondacure Automotive Specialists has a "Summer Special" package that includes inspections of all the items mentioned above.
What things should I think about to prepare my vehicle for winter?
Have a "winter tune-up". Hoses, belts, water pump and secondary ignition components (spark plugs, wires etc) should be inspected for wear. It is much more convenient to have them replaced as preventative maintenance rather than having a breakdown on the side of the road in frigid temperatures. Tires should be inspected for improper wear and sufficient tread depth. Tires that are significantly worn can be a danger to you and other motorists on the road with you. Also have the tire pressure tested for maximum handling performance. Make sure your battery and charging system are working properly. A battery that started your vehicle well in the summer may not in the winter. Engine oil is not as fluid in cold temperatures, so much more battery power is needed to crank the engine. Batteries also lose power in colder weather. Have the cooling system inspected. Antifreeze needs to be tested so you can be assured that it will protect your engine in cold temperatures. If your coolant is dirty, have it flushed. If it has been a couple years since you have had your coolant flushed, have it done before winter. Rust inhibitors in anti-freeze break down over time and rust in the cooling system can cause various problems. Ensure your antifreeze is always full; low antifreeze may result in lack of heat. Antifreeze needs to be diluted 50/50 with water. Any less may cause the fluid to freeze in your engine and damage the engine. Make certain your wiper blades are in good operating condition. Also remember to keep your washer fluid reservoir full. You never know when you will need to use it! On a messy day, you can easily go through a half-gallon or more! Keep your fuel tank at least half full. One reason is in case you get stranded and the engine still runs, this will be your only source of heat on a cold day and you will need the fuel to idle the vehicle.
Hondacure Automotive Specialists has a "Winter Special" package that includes inspections of the aforementioned items, so your best bet is to make an appointment to have these inspections performed.
Is there anything I can do to give myself some piece of mind before my road trip?
Fuel efficiency in this time is a must. Check tire pressure, under inflated tires increase rolling resistance, thus working the engine harder. A dirty air filter may restrict air fuel and cause the vehicle to run rich or burn too much fuel. Worn spark plugs won't ignite fuel properly, leading to unburned fuel exiting the exhaust. A faulty or worn oxygen sensor may be unable to detect and adjust air/fuel mixture. Dirty engine oil increases internal engine friction, thus leading to the engine working excessively to keep things moving. A loose gas cap or leak in the Evaporative Emissions System may cause fuel to evaporate before even reaching the engine! All of these factors, on a single basis, may sacrifice fuel economy. If there is more than one contributing factor, your fuel efficiency will suffer greatly! Wiper blades need to be inspected for smearing and tearing. Torn or smearing wiper blades will not clean effectively. Be sure to test the windshield washers and keep the reservoir full. Depending on the climate, wiper blades may need replacing every 6 months. Interior and exterior lights should be inspected prior to a road trip. When lights are inoperative, other motorists may not know your intent to turn, stop etc. All fluids, belts, hoses and tires should be inspected to insure proper level and wear. Steering and suspension components should be inspected for wear as well. A good rule of thumb is to bring your vehicle to the repair shop and explain your desire to take a road trip. Hondacure Automotive Specialists will perform a safety inspection on all vehicles we service. Now is also a good time to have any suspicious noises or feelings looked at to determine the severity of any problems.