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Maintenance Tips

Over the years, we have accumulated extensive advice which we share with customers about caring for their automobiles. Here are tips that can save you trips to the mechanic.

Preventive Automotive Maintenance Tips You Can Do Yourself

These tips are provided by the Automotive Service Association.

These tips are things you can do yourself. Look for the red, white and blue ASA sign. Remember to consult the vehicle owner's manual for individual service recommendations.

  1. Measure the car's fluid levels. These include the brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission/transaxle fluid, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze.
  2. Inspect the windshield wiper blades for cracking, tears and windshield contact. Your blades should be replaced at least once a year.
  3. Evaluate the tire inflation monthly. Underinflated tires waste fuel.
  4. Inspect the engines belts regularly. Look for cracks or missing sections or segments. Worn belts will affect the engine performance.
  5. Inspect the battery cables and posts for corrosion and clean them if needed. The battery fluid should also be checked and filled if it is low. (Except in the case of maintenance-free batteries.)
  6. Inspect all vehicle lights, including headlights, turn signals, brake lights and emergency flashers.
  7. Check the air filter approximately every other oil change. This filter, along with the other filters, ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.
  8. Consult your owner's manual for fuel octane recommendations.

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Preventative Maintenance Tips That Should Be Performed By a Qualified Technician

  1. Change the engine oil and filter regularly, every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
  2. Have the engine tuned-up regularly. A fouled spark plug or plugged/restricted fuel injector can reduce fule efficiency as much as 30%.
  3. Have the fuel filter changed every 10,000 miles to prevent rust, dirt, and othe impurities from entering the fuel system.
  4. Change the crankcase vent filter every 24,000 miles. This filter cleans air that is exposed to the crankcase and the working components of the engine.
  5. Change the transmission fluid and filter every 15,000 to 18,000 miles. This will protect the precision-crafted components of the transmission/transaxle. The filter removes dirt and other foreign material from the transmission/transaxle fluid.
  6. Measure the manual transmission fluid level, as well as the differential (rear-end) fluid level.
  7. Lubricate the chassis frequently to extend the life of the moving components of the suspension.
  8. Inspect the suspension system regularly. This will extend the life of the vehicle's tires.
  9. Change the vapor canister every 24,000 miles. The vapor canister collects gas fumes from the gas tank to prevent their escape into the atmosphere. These fumes are then burned by the engine.

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Evaluating an Automotive Service Facility

  1. Ask if the technicians are ASE-certified. This means that they have passed a voluntary competency test offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
  2. Ask about facility's industry and consumer affiliations. For example, check the business' affiliation with the The Better Business Bureau.
  3. Expect the automotive facility to be neat, clean, and well-organized.
  4. Note whether the employees are helpful and courteous.
  5. Ask the business to provide a list of references.
  6. Ask how long the facility has been in business.
  7. Check what guarantees the business offers. Most automotive service facilities guarantee their parts and labor.
  8. Make sure a written estimate is provided prior to letting the business begin the repair.
  9. Lastly, a good service facility can usually be found by asking family, friends, neighbors and co-workers for their recommendations.

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Preparing Your Vehicle For Winter

There are several steps you can take to maintain top performance from your vehicle during the winter. Below are a few tips to make your winter season a little more pleasant.

  1. The cooling system should be tested and flushed. Inspect the hoses and clamps for wear and tear.
  2. Inspect the thermostat, belts, water pump and fan clutch.
  3. To help your vehicle's battery stay strong, inspect the cables and posts for good connections and corrosion. Remember to replace a marginal battery before it fails.
  4. A tune-up can prevent ignition system problems. This consists of an analysis and replacement of various ignition and fuel components.
  5. Clean the engine's choking device to eliminate contamination. Fuel additives in conjunction with fuels containing detergents can also remove deposits from fuel system components. Replace the fuel filter at regular intervals to remove rust, dirt and other impurities from the fuel system.
  6. To increase the gas mileage of your vehicle, replace the air filter at the manufacturer's recommended intervals.
  7. Use a lighter grade of oil in the winter if a heavy grade is used during the summer months
  8. Tires, brakes and the steering system should be inspected and serviced before harsh winter weather arrives.
  9. The transmission fluid and filter should be changed at regular intervals, about every 15,000 to 18,000 miles.

Please make sure your vehicle is ready for the winter to prevent accidents and headaches.

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Maintaining a Cool Engine

The engine is equipped with a cooling system to protect it from intense heat produced by daily operation. To ensure that your vehicle's engine works properly, a maintenance program should be followed. This program should include the following:

  1. Inspect engine belts. Look for cracks or missing sections. Also, check the tension.
  2. Evaluate for leaks or corrosion in and on the radiator
  3. Examine the heater hoses for leaks, cracks or rotted rubber. Also replace the hose clamps when replacing the hoses.
  4. Hoses should not be cracked, soft or in poor condition. If the hoses in your vehicle show signs of wear, have them replaced.
  5. Maintain proper coolant levels. Note: Never attempt to check the coolant or radiator when the engine is hot.
  6. Make sure radiator hoses and connections are not leaking and tighten any clamps that may have become loose.
  7. The exterior of your engine should be cleaned. Build-ups of oil and dirt can cause the engine to run hot or hide leaks.
  8. The cooling system should be drained and refilled with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  9. The radiator pressure should be checked to make sure it is in proper working order. If the seal is damaged, replace the entire cap.

The most accurate test of hoses and connections involves pressure testing of the pressure cap and radiator. The equipment used to perform these tests can be found in most service stations. Remember to avoid engine trouble through preventive maintenance.

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Understanding and Caring For Your Brake System

Regular periodic inspections and maintenance should be performed on your brake system. To prevent brake problems and/or failure, regular inspections should include:

  1. Checking the fluid levels (you can do this).
  2. Inspecting the line for rust or punctures (you may be able to do this; if not, consult your technician).
  3. Examining the brake hoses for brittleness or cracking (best left to a technician).
  4. Inspecting the brake linings and pads to look for wear and brake fluid or grease (best left to a technician).
  5. Inspecting the wheel bearings and grease seals (best left to a technician).
  6. Adjusting the parking brake as required (best left to a technician).

When there are problems with the braking system, your vehicle may give you some of the following signals:

  1. Squeals - caused by heating of brake pads and or/linings.
  2. Rubbings - caused by metal brake rotor rubbing against metal component of the brake pad. This sound means that the brake pad is completely worn away.
  3. Soft brake pedal - if your brake does not feel right or goes down too far, there may be a brake fluid leak or air in the lines.
  4. Brake pull - if your vehicle has worn linings, stuck pistons in the calipers or wheel cylinders, or saturated linings (grease or brake fluid), it may pull to one side or the other when you apply the brake.

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Car Emergency Kit

To help you in an emergency, you should always have in your car a roadside emergency kit. This kit should include:

  • Jumper cables
  • A screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • An adjustable wrench
  • Blankets
  • Clean Water
  • Candles and matches
  • Canned fruits, nuts, and a can opener
  • A supply of any regularly taken medication
  • A first aid kit

During the winter, tire chains, or a bag of salt or sand should also be carried in your car.

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Contact Us
Pinto’s Auto Repair & Sales
2447 South Main Street
Fall River, MA 02724
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508 673 7751
Monday 8:00am - 5pm
Tuesday 8:00am - 5pm
Wednesday 8:00am - 5pm
Thursday 8:00am - 5pm
Friday 8:00am - 5pm
Saturday 8:00am - 1pm
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