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Affordable Auto Tips to Keep You on the Road

Safety First:
Due to the complex nature of today’s vehicles, it is essential that you use the utmost care when working on your car or truck. Before attempting any service or repair, consult your owner’s manual. Be sure you understand the service procedure completely, have the proper tools, and adhere to all safety precautions, including handling instructions for any chemicals you are using. If you are unsure about any repair, consult a professional technician.

Scheduled Preventive Maintenance
Reading your vehicle's owner's manual is the first step in becoming an informed consumer. The manual explains how your car works, and provides you with a detailed recommended maintenance schedule specifically for your vehicle's make and model. If you don't have an owner's manual, you can buy one from a car dealership that sells your type of vehicle. Call the parts department and ask them to order one for you. Keep the manual in your glove compartment for quick reference. It is the definitive source of maintenance information for your vehicle.
You can determine your maintenance needs by paying attention to how and where you drive your vehicle. Automobile manufacturers divide driving maintenance requirements into two categories: "normal" and "severe." Follow the maintenance schedule that fits your driving habits.

Normal driving conditions: Highway driving on paved roads in relatively dust-free areas. (Dust clogs up your air filter and PCV filter).

Severe driving conditions:

---Trips less than 10 miles
---Stop-and-go city driving
---Driving in extremely cold weather
---Dusty driving conditions
---Towing a trailer
---Idling for long periods

By spending a moderate amount of money following your vehicle's maintenance schedule, you will save money on repairing and replacing prematurely worn parts. You will also save money on fuel consumption when your car is running properly. There are some maintenance tasks you can do yourself, like inspecting your tires, and belts and hoses.

Is an engine tune-up a thing of the past? After all, modern engines have no points and condenser to replace, no carburetor to adjust and spark timing is controlled by the car's computer. Most cars now even have direct ignition that replaces the distributor.

Is a tune-up necessary anymore? Well, yes. But the procedure is different. About every 30,000 miles, you should take your car to a service facility for an "engine inspection" and "computer scan". With an "engine inspection", a service technician will check all the engine functions by hooking it up to a diagnostic analyzer. This computerized piece of equipment reveals problems in the ignition, fuel and emissions systems, and allows the technician to return the engine to factory specifications.

At this point, they may replace the spark plugs or other parts as found faulty. Beware however, the technician may find only one or two components from a set to be faulty (such as spark plugs or ignition wires), therefore only replacing the ones found bad.

Save yourself a future headache and be certain to replace components like these as a set, being that they're all the same age and all have the same amount of wear. Think about it, would you buy a new left shoe and not the right? And as with anything that is mass produced, replacement parts for your car can be bad right out of the factory. Just about every technician can attest to this, so never take for granted that just because something is "new" means it will always be "good".

Electronic sensors in your engine and exhaust system can wear out too, so they also need to be checked. By "scanning" your car's computer, in addition to a "tune-up", you can spot faulty sensors and other mis-adjustments which can reduce gas mileage, cause running or idling problems and increase emissions.

However, not all cars with on-board computers are capable of being "scanned". Many of the models in the mid to late 1980's were not programmed to divulge this type of information while being scanned, therefore the electronic sensors for these vehicles need to be checked manually. A properly trained technician will know how to determine the condition of your car's computer and sensors.

Don't be fooled by big fancy shops with elaborate machines, because a repair facility is only as good as its technicians. While certain equipment is a must, in this day and age of the high tech, computer controlled car, trained and certified technicians are the thing to look for when seeking a repair facility to conduct this kind of service. These grand diagnostic machines are only a tool for the technician to use while servicing your car, but they will do you no good if the technician doesn't know what to do with it.


Affordable Automotive
8508 N. Lilley Rd.
Canton, MI 48187