As a parent and vehicle owner, car reliability and safety is a top priority. There are few things worse than rushing to get all the kids in the car with minutes to spare before you’re late to school only to find your car won’t start or the check engine light comes on. To keep your vehicle in prime working condition, maintenance is a top priority. A big part of maintenance is education – understanding what regular services are most important, what the ideal maintenance schedule is, and what signs, sounds, and smells signal that it’s time to bring your car in for an inspection, maintenance, or repairs. In this article, we’ll go over some often overlooked maintenance steps, signs your engine needs an inspection, and more to ensure your vehicle is ready for all those school pickups and drop-offs.
We all know oil changes and tire rotations are important – but what else? For starters, your cabin air filter should be replaced about every two years or so. If you notice your vehicle is dustier than normal or your ventilation seems blocked, that’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to replace your cabin air filter.
Your coolant should be flushed regularly to help maintain the pH level in your system, preventing corrosion in your radiator and hoses. Different vehicles have different coolant change recommendations, so check with your manual or mechanic for the best schedule.
Your brakes should be regularly serviced and this should include changing your brake fluid. This is an ultra-important safety feature that will help your car stop quickly and efficiently.
Your fuel system, including your fuel injectors, should be cleaned every 30,000 miles to help maintain peak performance and longevity.
Transmission fluid keeps your transmission lubricated, cooled, and working smoothly. Dirt and other junk can build up, causing friction and rapid wear down of your transmission’s parts.
Your power steering fluid is another area where dirt and junk can build up, causing corrosion and issues with the steering pump. Power steering is important for ease of use and safety.
Timing belts, if broken, can cause catastrophic damage to the engine. Most vehicles recommend replacing your timing belt every 100,000 miles.
Why is my engine misfiring?
A misfiring engine is when you get a premature or late explosion that creates a loud, unexpected stop. It can be caused by a number of different reasons and could be due to various combinations of the dozen different parts of the system involved in starting your engine appropriately. Your ignition system, fuel system, and mechanical systems all must work together to prevent a misfiring and ensure your engine starts. You may have a faulty or intermittent spark plug. Your could not have enough fuel getting into your cylinder, leading to an oxygen-heavy explosion. Your timing belt may have jumped or slipped. There are many components that could lead to an engine misfire. If your vehicle is experiencing any of these issues, it’s best to seek professional help immediately.
Why is my engine overheating?
An overheating engine may be a sign of a few different issues. The top 3 most common issues are a cooling system leak, a malfunctioning radiator, or a loose or broken belt. Your cooling system pushes coolant through hoses to keep your engine from overheating. If your engine starts to overheat, it may be due to a coolant leak. Check the hoses and under the car for liquid that is pink, orange, green, yellow, red, or blue. If your radiator is malfunctioning, it could be because of a radiator leak, a bad thermostat, or a broken fan. Identifying a radiator problem is usually a lot easier because it’s often located near the front of your hood. Lastly, if you are noticing a drop in power steering, issues with the AC, or the battery not charging, your engine is likely overheating due to a loose or broken serpentine belt.
Why won’t my engine start?
You’ve hopefully never had to experience the sinking feeling when you turn the key in your car only to hear the engine chugging and/or not starting at all, although it’s quite common. If the engine is clicking but not starting, it’s likely due to a battery problem. If there’s a crank but no start, it is likely a fuel or ignition problem.
Some other common issues an engine may not start may be the battery is low or discharged, the battery is corroded, there’s miscommunication with the starter motor, you may be experiencing an ignition switch failure, you may have a faulty fuel pump, your fuel filter may be clogged, you may be very behind on oil and filter changes, or your catalytic converter is failing. If your engine isn’t starting and you can’t figure out why, it’s best to bring it in right away. We have a free customer shuttle to take you wherever you need to go!
Why is my check engine light on?
For starters, it’s important to understand that a flashing check engine light means something should be done immediately, while a steady lights means it should be checked soon. A check engine light could be caused by fuel system issues or exhaust problems. Fuel system errors include faulty gas caps, mass airflow sensors go out, or a faulty ignition – which could be something as simple as a spark plug needing replaced. Exhaust problems could include a failing catalytic converter or a failed oxygen (O2) sensor. Next time your check engine light comes on, bring it in right away to Main Street Mechanic in American Fork.
Whether you’re in need of maintenance or experiencing a dead battery, overheating, misfiring, or a check engine light, Main Street Mechanic is here for you! Not only do we have high end diagnostic equipment, 11 bays to serve you, and all ASE-Certified Mechanics, we have a free customer shuttle and loaner cars to minimize the disruption to your day-to-day life. Our experience and knowledge can help you get back on the road as quickly as possible with peace of mind, and our industry-leading 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. We are here Monday – Friday 7:30am – 6pm and always happy to answer any questions you may have!