Questions You Should Ask At Your Next Oil Change

May 20th, 2015 by

Although routine oil changes do not top the list of fun-filled errands, we all know they are necessary to keep our cars running better and longer.

But, your oil change shouldn’t be limited to just that one service.

The next time you bring your car in for its scheduled oil change in Troy, NY, ask about some other maintenance checkups that will help support your car’s optimal performance.

Part of good car maintenance involves early detection of future problems, which will also save you some money down the road.

What follows is a comprehensive list of automotive items worth discussing with your mechanic.

We’re not suggesting you request a full inspection every time you bring your car in for an oil change, but keeping an eye on a few key areas should extend the time between visits to your service department.

Common Sense Checks and Simple Replacements

Your car stays humming on the road with the help of many bells and whistles.

So it’s important to check them, especially since they are easily overlooked and often taken for granted.

Ask your mechanic to check on those parts of your car that you might not otherwise think about, unless they weren’t performing well.

brake pad

For example, check the brake pads, even if they’re not squeaking.

Why wait until they start to squeak and possibly risk an accident because of faulty or failed brakes?

Your mechanic can inspect the amount of wear and tear, and replace the brake pads if need be.

Just as you want your brakes to function with precision, you also want your engine to exhibit optimal performance.

One part to check when it comes to your engine is the timing belt.

Most are made of a rubber compound, which means they run quieter and do not need lubrication to move smoothly.

However, because the timing valve operates the camshafts in your engine, making sure each valve opens and closes at the exact right moment, it’s important to check the condition of your timing belt.

When a timing belt malfunctions, it strikes the pistons, which can result in major and costly damage to your engine.

Other components that could save you from an expensive engine repair are the spark plugs, which could require replacements.

Spark plugs ignite the fire in your engine, firing about twenty-five times per second.

If one of these misfires or fails to fire at all, your engine will not run as efficiently, resulting in decreased fuel economy.

Frequent replacement, generally recommended approximately every 30,000 miles, will keep your engine running at its best.

tire rotation

Speaking of running, ask your mechanic to rotate your tires at your next scheduled oil change.

Rotating your tires, moving each from one position to another, ensures even wear and extends the life of your tires.

Even wear between your four tire’s treads not only protects your tires, but makes for a safer drive, too.

While he’s at it, your mechanic should also check for proper alignment and tire pressure.

headlight replacement

Of course, a safer drive isn’t complete without proper illumination.

The lights in your car allow safe driving, not just for you, but those around you.

Ask your mechanic to check your car’s headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, fog lights, and replace any bulbs that have burned out.

winter_wiper_blades

Windshield wiper blades wear down from the routine removal of dirt, ice, snow, rain, and any other debris that catches on and clutters your windshield.

They are vital for visibility, but again, are often taken for granted until they stop working effectively.

Ineffective windshield wiper blades are generally indicated by squeaks, stalls, or smears along your windshield.

Check the blades for wear and if either one exhibits signs, replace both.

If one has worn down, the other won’t be far behind.

Replacing them at the same time is more effective maintenance.

Fluid Level Inspections

transmission fluid exchange

Cars use a variety of fluids to run smoothly.

You’re already getting the most important, the oil, checked.

But, it’s necessary to check the others, like transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and washer fluid for the wipers, as well.

Transmission fluid keeps all the parts of your transmission lubricated and moving smoothly, cools the transmission,  and sends the engine’s energy to the drive wheels.

Ask your mechanic to check these levels to keep your transmission and engine working properly.

Power steering systems run hydraulically, meaning they are run by the pressure of a fluid.

So, in order to keep your power steering in action, keep an eye on the power steering fluid level.

Windshield wiper fluid is hardly thought about until you’re desperately trying to swipe away an army of squished galactic-sized bugs while cruising down the highway on a summer road trip.

Or when you’re just trying to get the car started for your commute and clear your windshield of the layers upon layers of sticky, yellow springtime pollen.

What good are those new wiper blades without wiper fluid to help them do their job?

Windshield wiper fluid enhances your visibility, so keep it filled and you’ll be ready for whatever nuisance nature drops on your windshield.

Thanks, feathered friends.

Another crucial fluid when it comes to your car’s engine is coolant.

A triple action fluid, coolant protects your engine from either overheating or freezing, depending on your climate and the time of year, and also protects the aluminum parts in your engine.

Your mechanic can check the condition of your engine’s coolant by using a test strip to check its acidity.

If the coolant is acidic, it will start to erode your engine parts.

In this case, the coolant will need to be exchanged.

You should also check the status and level of your differential fluid.

Your car’s differential, or gearbox, is loaded with gears which must be constantly lubricated in order to function properly.

Not unlike getting a blood test at your physical, checking your car’s fluid levels is an excellent way to evaluate your car’s overall health and address any possible ailments before they become critical.

Filter Replacements

dirty-car-air-filter

There are three main filters that should be checked during your car’s next oil change appointment.

These filters impact your car’s performance, but also effect your own personal comfort while driving.

Take, for example, the cabin air filter.

This works to clean the incoming air that filters through the heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation system in your car.

Air filters catch pollutants and allergens, which is very helpful to allergy-sufferers and people with asthma.

Like the rest of your car’s parts, just how often you should replace the air filter is listed in your vehicle owner’s manual.

However, certain climates and geographic locations might warrant more frequent changes.

If you live in an urban center with lots of smog or pollution, your air filter might break down more quickly.

The same holds true for arid environments, if your car kicks up lots of dust on the roads.

So, for the sake of your own comfort, make sure your mechanic takes a peek at your cabin air filter.

The fuel filter ensures the smooth flow of fuel to your engine, and is a crucial component because modern fuel injectors have very tight, close-fitting parts which can clog easily from dirt and debris.

When your fuel filter functions properly your car gets more power and increased fuel efficiency.

Of course, any number of things can go wrong when it comes your car’s functionality and performance.

This is certainly true in the case of an unforeseen event, like an accident.

Barring any surprises, your car should operate well if you commit to regular maintenance and pay attention to those parts which are important, but too often overlooked.

Chat with your mechanic at your next scheduled oil change in Troy, NY, and see how a routine oil change can provide the perfect opportunity to better care for your car.