Car Care Tips

  • How do I prepare for a long trip?
  • Do I have to go to the dealership for repairs or scheduled maintenance?
  • How often should I change my oil?
  • Is my vehicle safe to drive?
  • Winter weather automotive tips
  • Summer weather automotive tips

How Do I prepare for a long trip?

Have your regular maintenance done

A week or so before you leave, have regular maintenance done, like oil and filter change, or routine maintenance. Specifically, ask the shop to check the air filter and change it if necessary. Changing the air filter is an inexpensive way to enhance fuel economy and performance. Also have them check the tires again. If the pressure has gone down since the last check, you may have a leak.

Have your repair shop check the tire pressure and adjust it if necessary

If the pressure is too low, it can cause a blowout at high speed. Also have them check the tread on the tires for excessive wear. (You can also do this yourself by placing the head of a penny into the tread of the tire. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, you probably need new tires.) Be sure to have your repair shop check to see that the spare tire is inflated and the appropriate tools are available to install it if necessary.

Have the repair shop check the coolant

Are you going somewhere with a warmer or colder climate? Let your repair shop know so your technician can adjust the mixture of water and antifreeze to ensure the vehicle is protected against temperature extremes.

Buy a road atlas or GPS

If you don't have a current road atlas, get one. Hours and hours of expressway can get boring. Getting off the beaten path can add an entirely new dimension to your trip.

Clean out your vehicle

The day before you leave, thoroughly wash and vacuum the vehicle. It's much nicer to have your trip in a clean vehicle.

Make sure your paperwork is in order

Make sure your license, registration and insurance are all current and accessible.

Fill the gas tank

Might as well get it out of the way now. Besides, gas is often more expensive on the road.

Look at what you've packed

Open your suitcases and take one last look — do you really need all that stuff? Did you forget anything?

Relax!

Enjoy your trip!

Do I have to go to the dealership for repairs or scheduled maintenance?

No. In fact there are laws that require the factory to honor your warranty as long as you have proper documentation of the appropriate maintenance being done.

LakeSide Mercedes Repair can perform your maintenance and hold onto your records and receipts. If you have a maintenance schedule book, have the technician just sign it.

How often should I change my oil?

A new engine with little or no wear can probably get by on the recommended oil change intervals. But as an engine accumulates miles, it dumps more unburned fuel into the crankcase which dilutes the oil. This causes the oil to break down. So if the oil isn't changed often enough, you can end up with accelerated wear and all the engine problems that come with it (loss of performance and fuel economy, and increased emissions and oil consumption).

Regular oil changes as part of preventative maintenance are cheap insurance against engine wear, and will always save you money in the long run if you keep a vehicle for more than three or four years.

What about the oil filter?

The oil filters on most engines today have been downsized to save weight, cost and space. The "standard" quart-sized filter that was once common on most engines, has been replaced by a pint-sized (or smaller) filter. Even so, the little filters should be adequate for recommended oil change intervals, however we recommend synthetic oil changes every 5,ooo miles. Replacing the oil filter every time the oil is changed, therefore, is highly recommended.

Is my vehicle safe to drive?

This is a very important question. There are several things that could make a vehicle unsafe to drive as well as things that could damage it more if it were driven. The best thing to do if there is any question in your mind is:

Call your repair shop

Your technician will be able to assess the situation enough to let you know if it's safe for you to drive or if it needs to be towed.

Don't under any circumstance drive an unsafe vehicle!

If there is any question on the safety of your vehicle, we will help you arrange to get it towed to our shop.

Save money on repairs

Automotive technicians are often compared to doctors. This comparison undoubtedly makes some techs smile and others grimace. But in the end, the two professions have a lot in common. It may surprise consumers to find that by choosing these professionals wisely, they can get better care at a better price.

When it comes to choosing a repair shop, many experts praise the virtues of the clean facility, a wall covered with ASE certificates or a coffee pot and some tasty snacks. While these items are important, these four vital questions tell most of the story:

  1. Will the service advisor or tech take time to listen to your description of the vehicle's problem?
  2. Can they explain things to you in laymen's terms?
  3. If necessary, will they test-drive the vehicle with you?
  4. Do they have the knowledge and equipment to diagnose and repair it the first time?

Back to the doctor/technician comparison. Some doctor's are great diagnosticians. They can pin point a problem when their peers are coming up with empty charts. What's the difference between that doctor and the people wearing white coats? Possibly his/her knowledge and perhaps equipment, but probably it's listening skills that sets the really great docs apart from the good ones.

When choosing a professional, the variety that looks after your vehicle or the variety that looks after your body, ask them the four-questions. In effect, audition them. See how the doctor takes care of your flu and how the tech deals with an oil change before visiting with something more serious.

Watch how they handle their time and be aware of how much time is allotted to you. Are they tuned into your problems and asking relevant questions? Are they providing an objective opinion based on information they've gathered during your discussion? Can they explain the problem and solution to you in laymen's terms?

The bottom line is this, time is money. The less time these people are willing to spend with you often multiplies the amount of time needed on the back end. In the case of both the doctor and tech, the extra time spent having to fix you or your vehicle a second or third time not only is expensive, it can be detrimental to the vehicle or patient's condition.

We only hire the best technicians and service advisors with the ability to handle any situation you have with your vehicle. That's the reason we have built the reputation of being the most knowledgeable shop in the area.

Winter weather automotive tips

When winter is upon us, there are some tips that can help you prepare for the changes in the weather that can surprise any of us. Taking some basic actions to be prepared will make it easier for you to be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

When using your heating system, there are some tips to help keep you warm and your windows clear. When using your defroster, make sure you are using the fresh air from the outside of the vehicle. Also, using the air conditioning in this mode helps too since one of the things the A/C system does is remove the moisture from the air and with the heat on you will keep the inside of the vehicle warm. In fact some of the newer vehicles automatically turn on the A/C and use fresh air in defrost mode. If you don't know about your vehicle, look in your owner's manual, or just drop by and we will be glad to show you how it works.

Your wipers are also key to keeping your windows clean. Making sure you have the proper washer fluid that is ready for the cold weather will also help you do this. Having a snow brush in the vehicle with an ice scraper will keep you prepared for whatever happens.

Keeping your tires inflated properly and make sure you have good tread will help you with traction and control. A lot of the newer vehicles have great things like anti-lock brakes and traction control which help with the bad weather. But these systems work much better when you have the most grip you can with good tires.

All of these things mentioned above are checked every time we service your vehicle because we want you to be safe while driving, especially during this time of year. If you would like to stop by we would be glad to check these things for you

Summer Weather Automotive Tips

Summer can be tough on vehicle, especially during high temperatures when heat can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires. As a precaution, these vehicle components should be checked periodically during summer to help avoid breakdowns and vehicle problems, according to the Car Care Council.

LIFE OF YOUR BATTERY

Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of a battery. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery. To get the most life out of a battery, the council recommends having the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. If your vehicle's battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water if necessary. Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can become a conductor, which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator and inhibits the current flow.

THE COOLING SYSTEM

The cooling system also works harder during hot temperatures to prevent overheating of the engine. To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant for a vehicle's radiator should be 50:50. This assures that the coolant has the proper boiling point and protection. As a reminder, never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir.

A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.

TIRE CARE

Tires also need special care in warmer weather as high temperatures put added stress on them. To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure monthly, and have the tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Summer heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise, therefore, it's important to check the pressure when tires are cold. The owner's manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle's tires.

“It takes very little time and money to make sure your vehicle runs properly during summer, and although breakdowns happen, they can definitely be minimized by taking a few extra preventive maintenance steps,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.