6802 Peters Creek Road
Roanoke, VA 24019

Spring is In The Air – Time for Auto Repair (Hey, That Rhymes)

April 4th, 2016

The days are getting longer, the temperatures are getting warmer and the trees are starting to show some green. It seemed like winter was never going to be over…and it’s the perfect time to schedule some auto repair and maintenance. Here’s a brief checklist of things you should be aware of, going into spring and summer:


·         Finish: Winter weather and road chemicals are really hard on a car’s finish, as are the UV rays of the summer sun. Your vehicle needs a coat of wax a few times a year, and springtime is a good time to get that done. Wash thoroughly using a soft wash mitt, then apply a couple of coats of good-quality paste or liquid wax.

·         Oil change: Summer temperatures aren’t kind to motor oil, and neither are short trips in cold weather, where the engine never gets a chance to warm up to operating temperature. Conventional oil should be changed every 5-7,000 miles, while synthetic oil can easily go 10-12,000 miles between changes. Check your owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations. Can’t remember when your last oil change was? Pull the dipstick and have a look. Clean oil is translucent and honey-colored. Darker oil that’s still translucent is OK for another 1-2,000 miles. Motor oil that’s the color of black coffee should be changed right away.

·         Tires: Tires should be rotated at 5-7,000 mile intervals for proper, even wear patterns…so it’s handy to schedule a tire rotation when you have your oil changed. Remember that cold weather affects tire inflation, so be sure to check tire pressure all the way around. What’s the tread depth look like? Stick a quarter down in a tread groove, Washington’s head down. If the tread reaches the top of George’s head, your tread is at 6/32”, well above the 2/32” minimum required by state law.

·         Brakes: Brake pads wear so slowly and gradually, it can be hard to know when they’re wearing to the point of needing replacement. The good news is that, with most newer cars that have alloy wheels, it’s easy to inspect the pads and rotors without pulling the wheels off. Get a look through the slots or spokes of the wheels – the rotors should be smooth and glassy, with only some faint lines or streaks. Now, you should be able to inspect the pads as well; the outer pad, mounted on the caliper, should be no less than 1/8” thick. If you’re not sure how to do this, be aware of the signs of brake trouble, such as a pull to one side while braking, excessive brake pedal travel, longer stopping distances or squealing, grinding or groaning noises while braking.

·         Coolant: Winter temperatures take their toll on your cooling system. Cooling system flushes should be performed every 30-50,000 miles (check owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations). An auto repair tech can perform a check on the condition of the coolant itself and make a recommendation. Cooling system flushes help remove corrosion and impurities that can cause big problems down the line.

·         Air conditioning: You know it’s going to get hot – and even the best A/C system can lose as much as five percent of its refrigerant over the winter months. Have your A/C system recharged and check the serpentine belt that drives the compressor and other accessories.

·         Wipers and washers: Even good quality wiper blades are only good for about a year. If yours are showing signs of chipping, drying out, cracking or losing strips or rubber, go ahead and replace them (don’t forget the rear wiper if you drive an SUV or minivan). It’s also a good idea to replenish the washer fluid and maybe apply a coat of Rain-X water repellent to all the glass.

·         Oxygen sensor: This one’s a little less well-known. Oxygen (O2) sensors are mounted in your vehicle’s exhaust stream and provide information on fuel metering for the engine computer. A faulty O2 sensor can reduce power and fuel economy, trigger the Check Engine light on your dashboard and raise emissions. Spring is a good time to have your O2 sensors (some vehicles have as many as three) checked.

It’s not hard to get your vehicle up to speed for the coming warm months, and it can save you a lot of headaches down the line. Make an appointment with us at Star City Tire in Roanoke, VA and let us help you make sure your car’s good to go. We’ll do you right!

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101