Modern automobiles are marvels of engineering – finely-tuned machines that would seem downright futuristic to car owners just a couple of generations ago. That being said, your vehicle still requires regular maintenance in order to function at an optimal level and, every now and then, needs a tune-up.
As a rule of thumb, you should consider getting a proper tune-up every 30,000 miles at the very minimum in order to avoid encountering any major problems with key vehicle components in the future.
As oil changes are done every 3,000 miles or every three months, getting an inspection every other time you get this service done, twice a year or so, is also a good idea in order to maintain your vehicle’s health and avoid any potential issues.
While exact details can differ from shop to shop depending on a variety of factors such as market climate and such, a modern tune-up will generally consist of filters and spark plugs being replaced, the fuel system being cleaned and a comprehensive fluid flush.
If you’re not sure how long it’s been since your last tune-up, here are a few signs you should get one performed soon:
Increased Fuel Consumption. If you’re filling your tank up more often than usual, there’s a decent chance something is out-of-whack in your engine and you’re in need of a tune-up.
Knocking/Pinging Sounds. When you hear either of these noises, particularly during acceleration, your vehicle is definitely in need of service. There’s a chance your engine is making these noises due to using the wrong octane level of fuel, but better safe than sorry!
Hard Starting. If it takes you a few tries to get your engine started more than once within a short timeframe, you should head to an auto shop ASAP.
If you need to schedule a tune-up, inspection or anything else related to your vehicle’s health, be sure to get in touch with Myers Automotive via our online contact form – our ASE-certified technicians are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have!
Potholes: Menace to Drivability
With winter now at its peak here in Kansas, road conditions are currently at their most challenging. As temperatures oscillate between above freezing and below freezing the next little while, you’ll most likely begin seeing a menace potentially as dangerous as black ice or a blinding blizzard appear on our roads – potholes.
Potholes are created by water infiltrating asphalt pavement and its underlying soil via structural cracks and then freezing when the temperature drops, thereby making the cracks bigger. When the ice then melts, the hole remains and the asphalt surrounding it will collapse and a pothole will resultantly emerge.
In addition to being eyesores and road irritants, potholes can also cause serious (and expensive!) damage to your vehicle if you’re not careful. Here are the various vehicle components that can be affected by potholes in the coming months:
Suspension – Hitting a pothole can damage your vehicle’s shocks and struts which will in turn negatively impact your suspension. A wonky suspension will cause your vehicle to handle poorly and greatly increase the odds of an accident.
Alignment – Completely smooth roads are tough to come by this time of year and driving on an uneven surface, even at a reduced speed, can lead to your wheels/tires being pulled out of alignment. Potholes are an extreme example of an uneven surface, and if you hit several in a short amount of time your risk for rapid tire wear and wonky wheel alignment increases greatly.
Wheels/Tires – In addition to affecting your alignment which can gradually impact your tires’ tread, potholes are also a leading cause of flats and blowouts during the winter and spring months.
Even if you don’t think a pothole hit has had an impact on your vehicle, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have an ASE-certified technician perform a thorough inspection to make sure no damage has been done that can expand in scope over time. If you’re worried that your alignment or suspension have been affected by a pothole hit, be sure to get in touch with us to set up an inspection for your vehicle!
Improve Your Gas Mileage This Winter
Old Man Winter has definitely arrived in Kansas and before he makes his presence *too* obvious, here are a few tips on how you can save some money at the gas pump in the coming months:
Check your tires’ air pressure. Maintaining your tires’ air pressure at the factory-recommended levels can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3%.
Slow down! In addition to running the risk of getting a ticket, driving above the speed limit is a bad idea from both a safety standpoint and in terms of optimizing your gas mileage. Staying within a few MPH of the posted speed limit can significantly boost your vehicle’s MPG efficiency. Using cruise control is also recommended as it will cut down on how often your car accelerates.
Inspect your air filter. When your filter is dirty, not as much air makes its way to your engine which will make it harder for your car to accelerate. A clean air filter can save you as much as 10% on your fuel costs.
Lighten your load. Keeping fewer items in your vehicle both reduces clutter and saves you money at the pump since lighter cars are more fuel efficient. If you have 100 extra pounds of cargo in your car you’re costing yourself 1-2% in fuel efficiency which might not sound like much but can definitely add up over time.
The most effective and simplest way to optimize your gas mileage is to stay up to date on your vehicle’s preventive maintenance needs. Our ASE-Certified technicians have the tools and know-how to make sure your car is operating at its most efficient and not wasting any fuel by working too hard. Make an appointment online to set up a maintenance schedule that will keep your vehicle running at an optimal level year-round!
Why Brake Fluid is Critical
Your vehicle’s braking system is a complex assortment of sophisticated components and elements all working together to ensure you can stop when you need to and stay safely on the road. For this important system to work properly, it requires each and every one of its parts to be working in sync and running smoothly – a feat which is dependent upon your brake fluid being healthy and being able to perform its job.
Braking systems are hydraulic, meaning that they’re reliant upon liquids moving in a confined space under pressure to operate. Your brake fluid is ultimately what is responsible for your vehicle being able to come to a stop when you push down on the pedal next to the gas and bring a heavy machine moving at a quick rate to a halt.
Given the heavy workload and important task brake fluid is assigned, it’s not a surprise that it needs to be changed out periodically. Newer brake fluid both lubricates and protects your brake system’s components while aging/old fluid can become corrosive and pose a threat to various components. Typically, brake fluid becomes darker in shade as it ages but it’s best to consult an ASE-certified technician if you’re not sure what state your fluid is in to ensure your system is able to operate at an optimal level and prevent your brakes from failing.
At Myers Automotive, we’re able to provide a thorough inspection of your braking system and determine if your fluid needs to be flushed. You should bring your vehicle in to any of our four locations if you notice any issues whatsoever with your brakes, including a loss of pressure, grinding sounds of any kind, difficulty in stopping or a noticeable change in your brake pedal’s strength.
Be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians if you have any questions regarding your vehicle’s health!
Exhaust System 101
Your vehicle’s exhaust system is most likely one of those things you don’t think about – or even notice – until something goes wrong.
If your engine was 100% efficient, it would combust every ounce of fuel it’s supplied with and turn all of its gas into power. But because no engine is perfect, leftover fuel is left behind in the form of exhaust.
The exhaust system is made up of your vehicle’s catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, muffler, and pipes – all designed to move the waste from your engine out of the vehicle. Each component in the system has a specific job and is designed to safely rid dangerous chemicals and fumes from your engine:
Exhaust Manifold – This component connects to the engine and begins the flow of exhaust through the pipes and system components.
Catalytic Converter – Exhaust is, in simplest terms, pollution. The catalytic converter burns off and removes up to 90 percent of the toxins in your engine’s exhaust.
Muffler – The muffler and resonator address engine sound. Most work to reduce the noise to keep your car running as quietly as possible.
Pipes – Once it has journeyed through the above components, exhaust travels through remaining pipes to exit the vehicle. This process also cools the fumes.
Like every system in your vehicle, the pipes and exhaust components undergo wear and tear over time. The harsh chemicals in the exhaust itself can degrade the system’s interior while road debris and corrosion cab cause damage to its exterior.
Corrosion or loose connections can sometimes create leaks in your system. If you have a leak, you’ll likely know right away from warning signs like loud cracking noises or distinct odor emanation.
Be sure to contact our team of ASE-certified technicians by clicking HERE if you notice any issues with your exhaust system or if you have any other questions/concerns regarding your vehicle’s health!
MAKING THE (OCTANE) GRADE
When most drivers in Kansas fill up the gas tank, they probably select the cheapest price, paying little or no attention to the octane number. While cost is typically a major concern when purchasing gas, the lowest and cheapest octane can sometimes be the wrong choice.
What do the numbers on the gas pump mean and when does it matter anyway? Most people are aware that there are three grades of fuel offered at most gas stations, but what are the differences? The numbers on the pumps (85, 87, 92, for example) are the octane ratings. Each fuel is rated on how much it can be compressed within the engine before igniting. This means that gasoline with a higher octane can tolerate more pressure than a lower octane fuel can.
In a normal car’s engine, the cylinders combine and compress air and gas. After gas is compressed, a spark plug uses an electric spark to light the fuel. This is the process of combustion and it’s the driving force powering your car.
If, after filling up your tank, you notice any type of knocking sound coming from the engine, you may be using the wrong octane level. Combustion that’s not happening as it should be inside the cylinders is referred to as “knock” or “ping,” and can mean big problems for your engine. Knocking can occur as a result of gassing up with the wrong octane level. If you are concerned that this knocking sound is coming from your engine, it’s important to bring your vehicle to certified technicians at an auto repair shop as soon as possible.
Is there ever a circumstance in which using a high-octane level will help your car run better? The truth is that if your car requires fuel with an octane rating of 87, and you treat it to 92, you won’t really notice any improvement in the way your car runs. Speed and performance are determined by how the engine is constructed, not by the fuel you give it.
So, what’s the most important thing to remember regarding which octane to use? Use the rating that is recommended in your car manual and don’t waiver from it. Your car’s manufacturer has done all the necessary research and has calculated the exact octane rating your car needs.
Regular and preventative maintenance like frequent oil changes, flushing your cooling system, and keeping the fuel injector clean are also important factors in ensuring your vehicle’s health and will ensure your engine runs smoothly for years to come. Be sure to get in touch with our auto experts with any questions you may have on the best fuel for your vehicle’s make/model as well as to set up a regular maintenance schedule.
How to Deal with a Flat Tire
Let’s face it – flat tires happen. No matter how careful you may be, any car can succumb to an unexpected flat. But you can be prepared! Car manufacturers have made the tire change process simple so that virtually anyone can do it. And with our guide, you can be confident in your ability to change a flat tire!
Before you head out for a long drive, or even your regular commute, check your spare tire. Flat tires can’t be replaced with flat spares! You can also look at your tires – if you see any worn spots or skimpy tread, invest in new tires. You can even stop by our shop for a full inspection before any big road trips!
But even the most prepared drivers can encounter unexpected flats – not to fear! With this guide, you will be able to change your flat tire in 5 easy steps:
1. Find a safe spot to pull over. Look for a flat spot with a wide shoulder, the fewer cars the better. If you are on the interstate, taking the next exit is usually best if your car is able. Pull over as far onto the shoulder of the road as possible. Avoid parking on a curve where oncoming traffic can’t see you, or hills where jacking up your car can be dangerous. Turn on your hazard lights and set your parking brake!
2. Loosen the lug nuts. Most cars come equipped with a spare tire, simple jack, and lug wrench, so start by gathering these tools from your trunk. A flashlight, gloves, towel or tarp can also be helpful. Start by using the wrench to loosen the lug nuts. You may need to remove the hubcap or plastic covers to access the lug nuts. Do not remove them all the way at this step, but simply loosen. If you lift the vehicle before loosening the lug nuts, the tire will spin when you try to remove them.
3. Lift the vehicle with the jack. Make sure you place the jack in the appropriate place under the car. Some vehicles have marked areas behind each tire – check your owner’s manual for the specific location for your vehicle. Once you place the jack in the right spot, start lifting the car until it is about 6 inches off the ground.
4. Place the spare tire. Finish removing the lug nuts from the tire (make sure you keep them in a safe place so you don’t lose any!) and remove the flat tire by pulling straight towards you. Line up the spare tire with the lug nut posts and push it all the way onto the wheel base. Put on the lug nuts and hand-tighten them so that the spare will stay on the car when you lower the jack.
5. Lower and tighten. Use the jack to bring the car back to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts on the spare tire diagonally – tighten one lug nut about half way, then move to the opposite diagonally (across the wheel) and tighten half way, then finish tightening both nuts. Continue using this method to tighten the rest of the lug nuts. This helps to ensure that the tire is on evenly and won’t wobble as you drive.
Remember, spare tires aren’t meant to be driven on as far or as fast as normal tires. Drive carefully and head towards our shop to get your tire fixed or a new, full-sized tire put on right away.
Keeping your tires properly inflated and making sure they have a good amount of tread can help avoid the pain and expense of changing and possibly replacing a flat tire.
Air Conditioning System Failure Warning Signs
With hot temperatures abounding in Kansas this summer, it’s definitely the worst possible time for you to experience air conditioning system problems.
Your air conditioning system should be included as part of your regular preventative maintenance plan and inspected on a regular basis. If you notice any of the following issues with your a/c system between inspections, you should have a mechanic inspect it ASAP:
– The air being emitted isn’t as cold as it used to be
– A funny smell is coming from the vents
– The air conditioner’s drive belts, compressor, or blower are nosier than usual
– A rhythmic clicking noise is coming from under the hood when you turn on the AC or defroster
– The defroster no longer defrosts the windshield effectively
– Water is resting on the floor of the passenger compartment
– The cooling fan keeps cycling on and off
If you are noticing any of these symptoms, it’s time for an air conditioning repair service. It should also be noted—if your vehicle was serviced prior to 1992— that the Freon refrigerant used to cool your car, CFC-12, is no longer used in a/c units because it contributes to the breakdown of the ozone layer. R-134a, the new refrigerant, can be used in older vehicles by converting the a/c to take the new refrigerant.
If you want to avoid paying big bucks to fix your whole air conditioning unit, you must service it as you would any other part of your vehicle rather than waiting until it breaks or has problems. Luckily, the auto experts here at Myers Automotive can help you avoid expensive and uncomfortable breakdowns in your a/c system with an a/c inspection.
Click HERE to schedule an appointment with our ASE-certified technicians if you’re concerned about your air condition system or any other component in your vehicle!
Wax or Polish, Which is Best for Your Car Exterior?
It is extremely important to keep the exterior of your car in good shape, and vehicle wax and polish products are some of the best ways to protect it and keep it looking great. However, there are subtle differences between the two and more to it to decide which is better for your car exterior.
Waxing a Car
The primary purpose to wax a car’s exterior is to add a layer of protection from air pollution, harmful UV rays from the sun, and corrosion, among other things. The act of applying the wax adds that protective barrier between those harmful elements of the environment and the vehicle’s finish.
Your wax can either be synthetic or natural. While natural waxes are made from caranauba and can offer protection and shine, synthetic waxes to last longer than natural ones.
Particularly important is that you need to wash your car thoroughly before waxing it. While it will seal out external environmental hazards, anything already on the exterior of the car and still underneath it can damage the paint underneath.
Polishing A Car
The purpose behind polishing a car it to give it a smooth, beautiful surface and get rid of defects or imperfections on the paint or clear coat. It can get rid of a lot of pollutants and damaging materials that regular washing will not, while at the same time, help repair small scrapes or damage to your paint.
As before, there are two main types of car polish, chemicals and abrasives. Chemicals help clean the exterior of the vehicle while abrasives help fix imperfections in the paint or clear coat.
So… Which is the best for a car?
Since they both serve different purposes, it is recommended to do both. Always clean your vehicle first and fix any major damage before you apply a wax and polish. Always wax after polishing, as the polish can remove the wax and negate any of it’s benefits.
If you have any further questions about your car exterior or anything else related to your vehicle, be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians!
Improve Your Gas Mileage This Summer
Summer will soon be arriving in Kansas and while we’re all enjoying the warm weather and being outdoors, the hottest season of the year can also wreak havoc on your vehicle’s gas mileage. Here are a few tips on how to avoid racking up extra fuel costs by improving your vehicle’s MPG performance when you’re on the road this summer:
Check Your Air Filter. Driving around with a dirty air filter can affect fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.
Check Your Tire Pressure. When your tires aren’t properly inflated, your engine has to work a bit harder and your MPGs are affected by as much as 3.3%.
Lighten Up. Having an extra 100 pounds of cargo in your trunk – softball gear, golf clubs, etc. – can reduce your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by 1-2%.
Slow Down. This is especially true for road trips – if you go 60mph instead of 70mph on the highway, you’ll use less gas and possibly avoid an expensive speeding ticket!
Keep it in Cruise! Accelerating less frequently means you’re burning less fuel so, when possible, activate your vehicle’s cruise control feature.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s gas mileage or its general health, be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians – we’re dedicated to keeping you safely on the road year-round!
At Myers Automotive, we warranty all of our work to give you peace of mind on every repair – 24 months, 24,000 miles on both parts AND labor nationwide! We hope you’ll never need to use that warranty, but in the event a part breaks, it’s good to know you have somebody who will take care of your family, no matter where you are. From headlight to taillights and everything between, no job is to big or too small for Myers Automotive. We service all makes and models of Domestic and Import vehicles with ASE-Certified technicians, quality parts, and state-of-the-art tools and equipment.