We made it through winter and now it's time to get our vehicles in shape for summer. April is National Car Care Month. Are you prepared for the road ahead?
With more bells and whistles and more safety features in vehicles, many essential parts are getting smaller, like brake pads. WOWT 6 News resident Auto Guy/Charlie Graham Body & Service owner Jim Champion says they are about one-third the size of brake pads he used to work with and if they're smaller, it cuts down on weight and helps with gas savings, but it also means they wear out a lot a faster than they did in the past.
"It can vary how often they're replaced, but it can be 20,000-50,000 miles when they need to be replaced. This was a brand new vehicle, it only went 30,000 miles but they say that's not uncommon 'cause the brake pads are so small."
If you want to make your ride more comfortable over those pot holes and through road construction, get those shock absorbers checked, too. Champion says it can make for a better ride if they are replaced on a regular basis.
Before taking a trip, always make sure the tank is full and with spring showers, the windshield wipers are a pretty big deal, too, but we have to get down to ground level to find what mechanics say is the most important step of all, checking the tires.
"If you think about it, all your family, all your weight of the car is down to about four patches of rubber about that big going down the road,” says Champion. “That's the only contact between you and the road, so you need to make sure those tires are in good shape."
Don't forget to check the tire pressure. Keep a gauge in your glove box. A basic one costs just a few dollars.
Champion often knows more about the vehicles in his shop than their owners do. “You can see things like this, it looks rusty, but it's just surface rust. This is a good example of something your mechanic would notice and maybe tell you about." The transmission oil pan is wearing down, but it doesn't need to go just yet. “It's okay right now, but that rusty part might need to be replaced down the road."
Going through the car wash is not only good for cosmetic purposes. If your vehicle hasn't been cleaned since the last time roads were treated, that means brine is sitting on there and can be detrimental over time, especially to the under body.
Inside, when was the last time you changed out your vehicle’s cabin air filter? It can be found mostly in late-model vehicles and should catch dust and pollen.
Since most of us aren't keeping an eye on these things ourselves, it's peace of mind to know your mechanic is watching out for your vehicle and hopefully your wallet as well. "If the transmission fluid came out of this and you burned up the tranny you could be $3,000, $3,500 on some expensive cars, that's how much it can be to replace a transmission."
While money matters, this relationship really comes down to safety. Consider something like a worn out ball joint. "If a ball joint breaks, your front suspension would collapse and the vehicle would go out of control. So had that not been checked, that person would have been in big trouble."
Champion says if you tend to not trust your mechanic or feel like they're constantly upselling, keep shopping around. Find someone you really trust to keep your best interests in mind.