Small Car Repairs That Could Save You Big Money

Skylar auto technician sets out brake components for car serviceLittle things can have a big impact. A small leak in a ship can sink the whole thing. A couple of words can ruin a relationship. A spark can cause a wildfire.

In a way, the same goes for your car. You can fix minor issues with inexpensive repairs to help prevent significant and costly problems from happening. Read on to learn more about these seven affordable fixes that could lead to significant savings.

Windshield Fixes

A chipped or cracked windshield won’t stop your car from moving. But, that chip or crack could spread, weakening the windshield and reducing visibility.

If you notice a scrape on your windshield, the sooner you call for help, the better. In some cases, experts can repair a chip or crack without replacing the entire windshield. And the price difference between a repair and a full replacement is significant.

A windshield wards off debris and gives you a clear view of the road, protecting you and your passenger. But also, some states consider driving with a cracked windshield illegal. So, get yours fixed ASAP to protect yourself from traffic tickets, too!

Best solution: We don’t fix windshields at Firestone Complete Auto Care, but we do care about your car and your safety. Get your windshield fixed by a top-rated window repair service in your area. Depending on your coverage, your insurance company may also cover windshield repair. Give ’em a call.

Spark Plug Replacement

Your car’s spark plugs are small but mighty. The jolt of electricity they generate gives your vehicle the power to start!

Dysfunctional spark plugs can damage your car’s catalytic converter—a relatively expensive part. Get your spark plugs replaced at manufacturer-recommended intervals, before signs of spark plug problems arise.

Besides damaging the catalytic converter, a misfiring spark plug could decrease fuel efficiency by up to 30%, reports the National Institute for Automotive Excellence. Down the road, that could mean spending more on gas than you would on spark plug replacements.

Compromised gas mileage or a faulty catalytic converter could turn into significant expenses. But, with routine, manufacturer-recommended spark plug replacements, you can help prevent those issues.

Best solution: Bring your car to your neighborhood Firestone Complete Auto Care for a Complete Vehicle Inspection. Our expert auto techs will check out your spark plugs and let you know if it’s time to replace them.

Oxygen Sensor Replacement

An oxygen (O2) sensor monitors how much unburned oxygen is in your car’s exhaust system as exhaust is being pumped out. The sensor gauges whether there’s too much oxygen or too little oxygen in the car’s fuel mixture.

An engine with too little oxygen (and too much fuel) is said to be “running lean,” and its acceleration may feel jerky or inconsistent. On the flip side, if the engine is “running rich” or has too much fuel (and not enough air), it may emit a rotten egg smell or black smoke.

A faulty O2 sensor may damage the catalytic converter, which, as we mentioned before, can be an expensive fix. It can also decrease your car’s fuel efficiency, and that’s a big no-no in our book.

Best solution: Let the trained professionals at Firestone Complete Auto Care test your oxygen sensor during a Complete Vehicle Inspection.

Brake Pad Replacement

Your car’s brake pads help slow the rotation of the wheels and bring your car to a stop. Neglecting them can be an expensive and risky mistake.

Not replacing brake pads at regular intervals can compromise other braking components. You may have to pay for new rotors, calipers, and tires—all because you didn’t get new brake pads. That’s a long and expensive list of repairs for what could’ve been a simple fix.

Take it from Alex, a lead technician at Firestone Complete Auto Care.

“If you let your brake pads wear down they get hotter and they ruin the rotors. When they ruin the rotors, that becomes a big job.”

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=u86QiwXqBvw%5D

Plus, responsive brakes help prevent accidents. Losing the ability to stop your car because of bad brake pads can hurt you, your passengers, and your car.

Best solution: Prioritize your safety with a free brake check.

Balancing, Alignment, and Rotation

Proper tire balancing, wheel alignment, and tire rotation are critical to a smooth ride. Although these services sound similar, they actually have different meanings and functions.

Tire balancing is necessary when tire tread wear causes disparities in a tire’s weight. If your car’s steering wheel shakes or vibrates, you might be due for tire balancing. When performing such service, a tech will check the distribution of weight in each tire. If he or she finds weight disparities, the tech will counter them by adding small weights to the sidewall.

During a wheel alignment, a technician adjusts the angles at which your tires come into contact with the road. This ensures all tires make even contact with the road. When your wheels are aligned, your car handles better.

Then there’s tire rotation. Tire rotation helps prevent uneven tread wear. It’s a simple but smart service that involves moving your tires to other wheels. Regular tire rotations extend the life of your tires and help support fuel efficiency. If you neglect tire rotations as recommended by the car’s manufacturer, you increase your risk of experiencing a blowout.

Vehicle manufacturers generally recommend having your tires rotated and balanced every 7,000 miles. Double-check your owner’s manual for exact guidelines.

Together, tire balancing, wheel alignment, and rotation work together to improve tire lifespan, prevent suspension damage, and boost fuel economy. Put these services off and you could find yourself buying new tires and investing in your suspension and steering system far sooner than you expected.

Best solution: Stop for a Complete Vehicle Inspection. An inspection includes a full alignment, tire, and suspension system check.

Give Your Car a Little TLC

We know it’s not just a car—it’s your car. Keep it running newer, longer with some strategic TLC. Visit your local Firestone Complete Auto Care today to learn more about Courtesy Checks and Complete Vehicle Inspections.

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The Best Motor Oils For 2019

1) Valvoline – Best Conventional Oil

From $5 per quart
When looking for a motor oil, why not choose one from the company that invented the product? Valvoline founder Dr. John Ellis is credited as the inventor of motor oil, creating products for steam engines and later worked with Ford to make a formulation for the Model T.

The company’s in-house development team continues to be at the leading edge of lubrication technology, working together with motorsport teams to meet the demands of their engines while also spearheading the development of formulations that improve the performance of high mileage engines.

Valvoline NextGenvalvoline-nextgen meets all the standards for a conventional oil, but it costs less than many major brands and is made with 50 percent recycled oil.

When Scientific American reported on the oil when it first came to market, they found that the refining techniques used to create this formulation allowed it to meet all the API requirements as a standard motor oil. Since then, other options using recycled base oils have hit the market, allowing buyers to maintain their vehicles while having a lower impact on the environment.

Valvoline is one of the few oil manufacturers who backup their high mileage oil with a guarantee. If your engine has under 125,000 miles on it, you can register it in a program that will give you some valvoline-maxlife-5w30warranty protection from the company provided that you keep up on maintenance records and only use their oil.

Valvoline MaxLife SAE 5W30 – Using the latest breakthroughs in distillation, this engine formulation is engineered for the issues facing high mileage engines. This oil helps by reducing friction, removing corrosive deposits and helps prevent oil leaks.

2) Mobil 1 – Best Synthetic Engine Oil

From $5 per quart
mobil-1-10w30-synthetic-oilThe best synthetic motor oil (just beating out the Amsoil mentioned below), is Mobil 1 10W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil.

Many of the cars in top level motorsports use Mobil 1. The company prides itself on its motorsports partnerships. They make the official engine oil of NASCAR and they’re the oil sponsor of McLaren-Honda’s F1 team. Their testing and development of oils designed for demanding racing conditions has worked its way into their consumer products.

Their synthetics are great at maintaining a low viscosity in very cold temperatures, and they’ve led the way in developing oils formulated for turbocharged engines. Turbocharged motors are notorious for high oil consumption due to the extreme heat generated by the turbo bearings, and with their adoption across the industry as a way to increase fuel efficiency, this is becoming an issue for not just sports cars, but regular consumer cars and trucks as well.

The best engine oils are synthetics like Mobil 1, Valvoline SynPower and Castrol Edge. Despite being highly refined and processed, they can be fairly affordable if you keep an eye out for sales and rebates.

There are also higher-end synthetic oils like Royal Purple, Motul and Amsoil. While they’re often touted by armchair enthusiasts on online forums for their supposed superior protection, there is little concrete evidence to back up these claims. However, they offer at least the same level of protection as more affordable, widely available synthetics.

All that said, if your car and driving habits don’t demand the added protection of a synthetic, there’s no harm saving money by using a conventional oil.

3) Castrol GTX HM – Best Motor Oil for Older, High Mileage Cars

From $6 per quart
castrol-gtx-high-mileageNo matter how well lubricated the inside of your engine is, the metal components will wear down and internal seals will dry and shrink over time, allowing oil to get into places where it will burn away or leak out.

It used to be common practice to use thicker oils as engines got older, but these formulations cause extra strain on the oil pump and don’t reach all the pathways to fully lubricate the engine. That means rather than fixing the problem, they can actually accelerate engine wear.

Contrary to popular belief, a synthetic won’t slip through these spaces more easily and burn faster than a conventional oil. Synthetic and conventional oils with the same viscosity will flow exactly the same way. For high mileage engines, there’s a better alternative to either of these: semi-synthetic oil.

Castrol GTX HM doesn’t just work better in older engines, it adheres to parts longer, offering better protection when starting an engine after a long period of sitting. This makes it a great choice for older vehicles that are only used occasionally such as antique cars and winter beaters.

4) Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil – Best Oil for Diesel Engines

From $8 per quart
royal-purple-5w30-high-performance-oilRoyal Purple is almost unheard-of outside of racing circles, but independent tests show their oils are able to keep up with oils offered by the industry’s leaders. Hot Rod magazine has experimented with their lubricants and managed to get more power out of a classic car and improving the fuel economy on a late model Ford pickup by switching to their oil and transmission fluid. While not a thorough test of their products’ capabilities, these tests are much better than the speculation surrounding most oil claims.

5) Quaker State

From $5 per quart
Valvoline and Castrol may offer semi-synthetic high mileage formulations, but Quaker State has gone the extra mile, creating conventional, synthetic blend and full synthetic oils all designed for older vehicles, allowing buyers choose the trade off between price and performance that works for them. There are many supporters of their Defy High Mileage blends who have run the oil in vehicles that have anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 miles on their engines.

6) Total Motor Oil

From $8 per quart
total-quartz-5w30Total may not be a big name in the U.S, but they’re a major player in Europe thanks to their extensive petroleum operations.  If you follow any motorsports outside of America, you’re probably familiar with the brand as they’ve sponsored Red Bull’s F1 team since 2009. That’s the same team that won the constructor’s championship title, and whose driver, Sebastian Vettel, took the driver’s championship title that same year.

They’re also involved in rally racing, supporting Citroën’s efforts for over 20 years. Here in the states, they recently became the top sponsor for the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) racing series, a top level North American-based motorsport that was formerly known as Grand-Am racing. Like Mobil, they’re able to apply their experience developing oils for severe racing conditions to create formulas that meet the demands of regular consumer vehicles.

7) Pennzoil Motor Oil

From $4 per quart
pennzoil-platinum-5w30-full-syntheticWhile other manufacturers concentrate on lubrication performance, Pennzoil’s development aims at reducing the formation of sludge to keep the inside of the engine as clean as possible. That translates to lower friction, maintaining power and fuel economy.

There’s more to this strategy than just marketing. The brand works hand-in-hand with automotive manufacturers to develop oils for their engines and recently became the official oil supplier for Ferrari. There could be few better endorsements than the approval of one of the world’s top supercar manufacturers, and even if you aren’t going to run out and buy one of these vehicles, the resulting marketing campaigns with IMSA driver Rhys Millen tearing around Barcelona in a 488 GTB are great fun to watch. Using Pennzoil may not turn your commuter into a V12 sports car, but there’s no doubt it will protect your engine.

8) Amsoil Synthetic Motor Oil

From $7 per quart
amsoil-signature-series-5w-30When did you first hear about synthetic oil? The 2000s? The 90s? Amsoil led the way, bringing lubrication technology developed for fighter jets to the automotive market in the 1970s, beating their competitors by almost two decades. Their synthetic formulations were the first to be recognized by the American Petroleum Institute, the same API that formulates all the standard performance tests for oil that automakers design their engines and lubrication systems around. Despite this leading position, the company has remained a small, family-owned enterprise with a focus on quality over sales.

Since it was founded, the company has stayed at the leading edge of oil development, concentrating on motorsports applications. Instead of working with a single high high profile series, they sponsor a wide range of racing events in the U.S. and Canada including motocross, Sprint Cup, Canadian Snowcross Racing and numerous off-roading events.

Conclusion

According to promotional materials and advertisements, each brand and formulation of engine oil is the best oil, offering unparalleled engine protection, fuel economy and performance. The truth is that almost every motor oil on the market these days meets the same API standards and can provide the protection our vehicles need, so long as they meet the specifications of the automobile’s manufacturer.

Since oil manufacturers do their testing internally and secretly and there’s no standardization other than the API’s requirements, any advantage a particular formulation may have is hard to determine as the information available is speculative at best.

No matter what oil you choose, always compare the manufacturer’s recommendations with the API “donut” seal on the back of the oil container. This seal will include the service category, oil viscosity, and whether or not the oil formulation is “energy conserving,” which means it reduces friction for improved fuel economy. As long as the requirements of your engine are met, the oil is safe to use in your vehicle.

Getting Your Car Ready for School

It’s back-to-school time and the Car Care Council wants to help families get their vehicles ready for car pools, playdates, soccer games and more. An informative new video from the non-profit organization provides motorists a with a five-point checklist to be performed before the start of the school year.

“There is always a lot to do before school starts and making sure your vehicle is running safely and efficiently should be at the top of that ‘to-do’ list,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Our new back-to-school video offers maintenance and safety tips to help parents and their precious passengers travel safely to and from school and all kinds of activities.”

Produced in conjunction with AutoNetTV (ANTV), the Car Care Council’s Back to School video highlights five areas that should be checked to make sure vehicles are kid-safe and road ready:

  1. Check lights and wipers for visibility.With shorter days and inclement weather ahead, make sure lights and wipers function properly so that you can see and be seen. Check wiper blades for signs of wear and replace if necessary.
  2. Get an annual brake inspection. The braking system is your car’s most important safety feature. Before carpool season gets in full swing, make sure that your brakes are functioning properly. Schedule a brake inspection and look for warning signs that your vehicle may need brake service, such as an illuminated brake light or screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  3. Check tires for under inflation or excessive wear.Check tire pressure and refill underinflated tires, including the spare, and look for uneven wear and check tread depth.
  4. Make sure everyone is buckled up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website has important tips on seat belt fit and position. For the younger ones riding along, the site has information about how to install car seats as well as guidelines on selecting a car seat or booster based on your child’s age and size.
  5. Consider a back-up detection device.Consider having a back-up detection device installed that provides rearview video or warning sounds when moving in reverse. While drivers should not rely solely on these devices, they can help to reduce the risk of back-over incidents along with following other prevention tips from NHTSA.

To learn more about keeping your vehicle in safe, dependable working condition, visit www.carcare.org and follow the Car Care Council on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

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Pothole Season is Here

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzIP5n3fQZo%5D

This pothole season when the road starts biting, get a tire that bites back.

At Firestone Complete Auto Care.

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Adrian Talks Tires

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=flG8IZ7Sn9I%5D

Finding the perfect tires is like finding the perfect pair of shoes. We’re not just here to sell you tires. We’re here to sell you the right tire. It’s a big investment. We definitely have tires to fit any vehicle, for any budget.

At Firestone Complete Auto Care.

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