Auto Repair Questions & Answers

Why should I do a pre-purchase inspection before I buy the vehicle?

When purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, it is extremely important to know exactly what you are getting yourself into. You don’t want to end up with a lemon and get more than you bargained for. Silverdale Autoworks can provide you with a thorough pre-buy inspection: We inspect the vehicle’s mechanical soundness by checking the engine, drivetrain, belts, hoses, and search for oil leaks. Additionally, we do a comprehensive safety check including brake and lights testing, suspension examination, as well as frame examination for damage and wear. No one wants surprises after the purchase of a new used vehicle!

How often should the engine antifreeze/coolant be flushed?

Always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations as outlined in the owner’s manual. Typically, the cooling system should be flushed out at least once every two years or 30,000 miles. The best time is to have this service performed is in the spring or fall. A flush should never be done as a repair for an overheating problem. A coolant flush after the repair is recommended to clean the entire system and replace it with the proper anti-foaming agents, rust inhibitors, and water pump lubricants.

How do I know if I need a wheel alignment?

You should have the alignment checked if you are experiencing any of the following:

  1. Excessive or uneven tire wear (provided the tires have been inflated at the proper air pressure)
  2. Steering wheel pulls to the left or right (again, first check air pressure in each tire)
  3. Steering feels loose or the car wanders on the road
  4. If the steering wheel is not centered
  5. If you feel any shaking, vibration, or shimmy when driving

What should I do if my car starts to overheat?

This is a very serious problem – if your car overheats for too long, you can damage your engine. As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and shut the engine off! Do not attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator; the hot fluid can cause severe burns. The best thing to do is have your car towed to Silverdale Autoworks.

When do I need to replace my belts and hoses?

If you can see cracks in your belts, it is time to have them replaced.  We recommend replacing your belts and hoses at least every three to four years.  If your hoses look swollen or soft that could be an indicator that they need to be replaced.  However, hoses can deteriorate on the inside and if this happens there is no visual evidence that the hose needs to be changed.

When should I have my timing belt replaced?

Depending on the vehicle a timing belt needs to be replaced between 60,000 and 120,000 miles.

When is a good time to have my brakes checked or repaired?

Routine brake inspections should be conducted during regular maintenance intervals, tire rotations, or every 15,000 miles. All routine maintenance to a car’s braking system such as a brake fluid flush, ABS check, rear brake adjustment, emergency brake adjustment, machining of the rotors, or replacement of brake pads or brake shoes should be completed according to manufacturer specifications which is typically every 40,000 – 45,000 miles. If you are unsure your brakes need service, come in today for a free brake inspection.

When should I have my tires rotated?

Tire rotations are typically done every 15,000 miles. During your tire rotation we also inspect the vehicle’s rotors, brake lines, brake pads, calipers, and wheel tread.

Who should I call for Towing?

Silverdale Towing

(360) 692-7322

What is a “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon” light?

The “Check Engine”, “Service Engine Soon” light or MIL (Malfunction Indicator Lamp) means that the vehicle computer detects a system not functioning within its pre-programmed parameters. Many things can trigger the check engine light: A loose fuel cap (computer sees a pressure loss in the fuel system), a vacuum leak, a bad fuel pump, a bad spark plug, a plugged fuel filter, a broken, pinched or disconnected wire, a lazy oxygen sensor, or a malfunctioning coolant temperature sensor.

Don’t worry! What were the driving conditions and circumstances when the light first came on? Did it come on shortly after you filled the fuel tank? Did it come on after an extended drive in the summer heat? These clues can help the technician find the problem quicker saving you some money.

If the MIL is flashing, you need to get to your repair facility ASAP! This indicates that your vehicle’s emission control system could soon be damaged.

When the check engine light comes on, make an appointment to have your vehicle tested. A technician will scan the computer for codes that help him find the malfunctioning system and begin the repair process.

Tire Inflation

Tire Inflation:

Tires are one of the most important and often overlooked components of our cars. Tires are the only things that attach our cars to the road, and tire problems affect your car’s ride comfort, handling and safety. Here are some simple tire safety tips to help keep you and your car’s occupants safe.

Check your tire pressure regularly. Tires tend to lose air over time. Buy a digital tire gauge and check your tires once a month and before a long trip. Proper inflation pressures can be found in your owner’s manual or on a sticker on the car (usually on the driver’s doorjamb or fuel-filler) Remember to check tire pressure only after the car has been sitting for several hours in order to ensure that the tires are cold — the friction of driving heats the tires and increases pressure, which can hide an under-inflated tire.

Address under-inflated tires immediately. An under-inflated tire has more rolling resistance, which increases fuel consumption. It also creates more heat, which can lead to tire failure.

Don’t forget the spare. Getting a flat tire and discovering that your spare is also flat is a miserable experience. Inspect your spare as you would your other tires. If you have a compact spare, the inflation pressure will usually be written on the tire. If your car comes with a compressor and/or flat repair kit in lieu of a spare, check their operation regularly.

Check for tread depth. Check the tread depth by placing the edge of a penny upside-down into the grooves of the tire’s tread.  If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time for a new set of tires. Never buy a single tire; it’s best to replace all four tires at once, but at the very least they should be bought as axle pairs (both fronts or both rears). Rotating your tires every 5,000 to 7,000 miles will help ensure that all four tires wear at the same rate.

Check for even wear. When you check tread depth, check both the inside and outside edge of the tires. Uneven tire wear is usually a sign that your car is out of alignment. Proper alignment optimizes handling and helps prevent premature tire wear.

Look for tire damage. When you check pressure, inspect the sides of the tires for nicks, bulges, cracks and cuts. Such damage often cannot be repaired and will require replacement of the tire.

Stay balanced. If your car develops a shimmy (a back-and-forth vibration, usually felt through the steering wheel) at a certain speed, it’s possible that one of your tires has lost its balance weight. Having your tires re-balanced is a fairly inexpensive job.

Buy the right tire for the job. Most cars come with all-season tires, the tire equivalent of a jack-of-all-trades. If you live in the rust belt, consider a set of dedicated snow tires for the winter; they do wonders for safety. If you live where it’s always warm and dry, “summer” performance tires can vastly improve your car’s handling.

And most importantly:

Never hesitate to replace a worn or damaged tire. Tires are not cheap, but they are vital to the safety of you and your car’s occupants. Remember, the tires are the only thing that connects your car to the road. Advanced safety features such as antilock brakes and electronic stability control can’t do their life-saving jobs without four good tires. Take care of your tires — because whether you know it or not, you’re counting on them to take care of you.

Should I consider using Synthetic motor oil in my vehicle?

Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for high output, turbocharged or supercharged engines. Or for vehicles that are used for towing (especially during hot weather), and vehicles that operate in extremely cold or hot climates. Although more expensive than mineral-based oils, synthetic motor oils can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes.

Why do I need to replace my engine oil every 3,000/6,000 miles?

The additive in the oil starts to break down as soon as it heats up to high temperatures.  The engine in your vehicle will reach over 200 degrees almost every time you drive it.  History has proven that the 3,000 mile mark is a good interval to have your engine oil replaced.  You never want to just drain your engine oil out and put new oil in without changing the oil filter.  The oil filter will hold about a quart of oil.  If you do not change the oil filter when changing the engine oil in your vehicle you are combining your clean engine oil with deteriorated engine oil and this will lessen the effectiveness of the new engine oil you just put in your vehicle.

How long can I drive with each Oil Service?

Manufacturers generally recommend that you replace your car’s oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles or every 3 months; or Synthetic Oil which is every 6,000 miles or every 6 months, whichever comes first. Manufacturers recommend at least changing your oil at least once a year, due to the fact that oil starts to break down over time.

What are some Gas Saving Tips?

Avoid High Speeds:  As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases in an exponential fashion. Driving 62 mph vs 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15%.

Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard:  By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20%.

Keep Tires Properly Inflated:  Keep tire air pressure at the level recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. A single tire under inflated by 2 PSI, increases fuel consumption by 1%.

Use A/C Sparingly:  When the air conditioner is on it puts extra load on the engine forcing more fuel to be used (by about 20%). The defrost position on most vehicles also uses the air conditioner.

Keep Windows Closed:  Windows open, especially at highway speeds, increase drag and result in decreased fuel economy of up to 10%.

Service Vehicle Regularly:  Proper maintenance avoids poor fuel economy related to dirty air filters, old spark plugs or low fluid levels.

Use Cruise Control:  Maintaining a constant speed over long distances often saves gas.

Avoid Heavy Loads:  Remove the sand bags from your trunk in the spring and pack lightly for long trips.

Avoid Long Idles:  If you anticipate being stopped for more than 1 minute, shut off the car. Restarting the car uses less fuel than letting it idle for this time.

Purchase a Fuel Efficient Vehicle:  When buying a new vehicle examine the vehicle’s rated fuel efficiency. Usually choosing a small vehicle with a manual transmission will provide you with great fuel economy.

Air Filter Maintenance

Air filters are basically assemblies of pleated paper supported by a layer of fine mesh which can sometimes be made out of nylon or wire that resembles a screen. The screen provides the paper with some strength and also helps to filter out the extremely large particles such as leaves and big chunks of dirt.

Again your air filter may vary but it will have some kind of thick plastic or rubber like gasket material on the ends of the filter. This thick silicone or plastic like gasket also add strength to the automotive air filter and assures a good seal so that all air is filtered through the paper before it enters the intake manifold.

On some vehicles checking air filters is an easy operation. On the other hand some vehicles make it very difficult to remove the air filter for inspection. Check your auto repair manual for the procedure as well as the recommended guidelines for inspection and replacement.

Why is coolant important?

Why is coolant important during cold weather? Most people only think about their radiators during hot weather. But as one of your car’s primary fluids, the coolant that goes into your radiator needs to be monitored all year around.

Coolant, also called antifreeze, is a vital fluid that keeps your radiator from boiling over during the summer, and, therefore, overheating. Conversely in winter, it keeps your radiator from freezing. In addition, the coolant mixture helps with lubrication (for the moving parts in the water pump).

The following diagram from Car Care Councils online guide shows the major parts of a typical car’s cooling system:

Car Care cooling

When should I get my vehicle serviced?

Let’s talk about when and how to properly service your car. First of all some people think just because they change their oil every 3.000 miles their car will never break down! This is far from the truth, no matter how much maintenance you do on your vehicle normal wear and tear is going to happen and eventually you will need repairs done. Most will be minor and some will be major repairs so be prepared.

Keeping your car on a regular maintenance schedule can help prevent a minor problem from turning into a MAJOR problem! Your owners manual should have a recommended maintenance schedule in the back of it. Below I have a general maintenance schedule set up as a guide to follow, but remember all cars are different and have different options that may require a specific maintenance schedule. You can also check with your Service Advisor for a maintenance schedule for your specific car.

Click here to view the Vehicle Service Schedule