Do You Really need to Change Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles?

Three months or 3,000 miles – you probably already know that’s the general timeline on how often you should have your car’s oil changed. And while there may be some exceptions to the rule based on your vehicle type and the brand you drive, it’s also worth noting that this type of routine maintenance is arguably the most important thing you can do to maintain your car’s engine.

Why? Because putting off, or skipping oil changes altogether, has proven to greatly shorten the engine life of your vehicle.

Oil: The Key Cog in Your Car’s Engine
Oil cleans, lubricates, and helps carry heat away from the engine. But its most important role is that it reduces friction. Fresh clean oil is better able to flow to all the different parts of the vehicle’s engine to ensure smooth operation. Dirt and contaminants can mix in with the engine oil over time – and these contaminants will lead to excess friction as the different components come together. The more friction present, the faster those components will wear out.

If you put off or skip an oil change, your engine will likely run hotter than it should, thereby operating less efficiently. Components are also more likely to wear out due to the increased friction. Worst case scenario, the engine will completely shut down and require complete replacement – a service that often runs several thousand dollars.

Drivers who operate in more demanding conditions (i.e. regular short trips, cold starts, carrying heavy loads, operating in hot weather, etc.) should consider having the oil changed more often, as more demanding conditions can shorten the service interval by up to 40 percent.

Don’t Skip an Oil Change
Oil changes aren’t something that should be put off or skipped. So pay attention to that little sticker in the upper left-hand corner of your windshield telling you when to get your car serviced, and keep close watch on any dashboard maintenance reminders that are built in to your vehicle. Spending a few minutes, and a few dollars, every three months or 3,000 miles sure beats the hassle of spending a lot more money when the engine fails.

Every three months or 3,000 miles – stick to it to maintain a healthy, long-lasting engine.

4 Signs You Need Brake Service or Brake Repair

Though brakes are one of the most important components of your vehicle, they’re also one of the most difficult to predict in terms of replacement. Most mechanics state that brake pads and rotors can last anywhere from 30,000 to 70,000 miles. Needless to say, that’s a pretty wide service range – so wide that many people don’t have their brakes serviced until they notice there’s a problem.

But just how do you know when your brakes need servicing? Here are four tell-tale signs:

  1. Check the Pads: If you want to be proactive with your brake pads, get down and look at them. You don’t need to get underneath the car to do this; just peek between spaces in the wheel hub cap and look to see if the brake pads have more than about a quarter inch of pad. Anything less, and brake pad replacement should be considered.
  2. Grinding: If you hear grinding sounds every time you apply the brake pedal, make sure to get your car into a mechanic soon. Your brake pads are likely worn down beyond the point of replacement, so much so that the disc and caliper are coming into contact with each other. In this case, your rotors will either need to be turned or replaced.
  3. Screeching Sound: If you hear a screech when you apply the brakes, it’s probably time to get your brake pads replaced. Just think of the screeching sound as a warning siren – and don’t put off servicing your brakes for too long. Remember, if the pads completely wear out, you may have issues with the rotor or trouble stopping the vehicle in a reasonable length of time.
  4. Pulling/Fading/Lack of Response: Aside from hardware issues with the pads and rotors, you may also run into issues with brake fluid. If you’re pressing the pedal down to the floor when applying the brake, there could be a leak, either in the brake hose or a fluid leak. If your car pulls when the brake pedal is applied, that could mean that its linings aren’t wearing evenly or that the brake fluid is contaminated. In either case, check underneath the car when it’s parked to see if fluid puddles up, which may indicate a brake fluid leak. If your car’s brakes seem to be behaving unusually, make an appointment to have them serviced.

While many people service their brakes only when there’s a problem, brake issues can often be resolved before they become a big problem just by bringing your vehicle in for a standard tune up.

What’s Involved in Servicing Your Car’s Air Conditioning?

You don’t realize how much you appreciate air conditioning until you’re driving in 90-degree summer weather and expect an open window to provide sufficient comfort. That’s why it’s recommended that you don’t put off giving your car’s A/C system a tune up until summer arrives and you really need it. For most vehicles, a simple refrigerant recharge will keep A/C systems running cool and healthy. Other cars may need a bit more work.

Drivers normally take their vehicles in for A/C service for one of two reasons – to either get the system checked out to ensure it’s running well, or because a car is no longer blowing out cool air. During A/C Servicing, the pressure in the A/C system will be measured, and other components will be inspected to ensure the system is operating properly.

When a vehicle is no longer blowing out cool air, it’s usually the sign of a refrigerant leak somewhere in the system. If the source of the leak can’t be determined from a visual inspection, auto mechanics will pressurize the A/C system, and watch the car over several hours to look for signs of a leak. Most of the time, the source of the leak is a component in the A/C system, such as the compressor or the condenser. The receiver dryer, evaporator, or expansion valve are other parts that may require repair or replacement, if the compressor and condenser are working properly.

As with most things when it comes to your automobile, preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid more costly A/C issues down the road. Service appointments usually don’t just consist of pressurizing the system and adding refrigerant (if necessary), but also include servicing the compressor and replacing some of the more minor components when necessary.

Air conditioning is an important creature comfort – and it’s often one that drivers don’t truly appreciate until they don’t have it anymore. That’s why it makes sense to have your A/C system serviced at least once a year—preferably, in the spring—even if the system is seemingly running fine. By having it serviced regularly, any small issues will be corrected before they become more expensive problems.