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AC DELCO

GENERAL MAINTENANCE

It's Time for the 21st Century Tune-up

Times are changing...cars are changing. One of the biggest changes in today's automotive industry is the perception of a "tune-up." Ask 10 vehicle owners their definition of a tune-up and chances are there'll be 10 different answers. The classic "tune-up" was once the heart of the automotive business and contrary to some beliefs; today's modern vehicles still need tune-ups to keep them performing at the most efficient levels.

The tune-up was historically associated with the routine replacement of key ignition system parts like spark plugs and ignition points, along with some basic adjustments to help "tune" the engine. Mounting pressure for increased fuel economy and lower emissions drove the car manufacturers to adopt electronics and to do away with ignition points in the '70s, along with the carburetor in the middle '80s. This eliminated the need for the replacement and adjustment of a growing number of ignition and fuel system parts.

As the pace of technology quickened, the procedures required to perform a traditional tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems are now the norm, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions. Things that were once handled mechanically are now controlled electronically through the widespread use of onboard computer technology.

Because vehicles have changed so much over the years, the Car Care Council has introduced the 21st Century Tune-up. This program is designed to help re-define and educate motorists as to what a tune-up should consist of on today's modern vehicles.

"There is a misconception that today's modern vehicles don't need tune-ups because they never break down, but that simply is not true," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "If you're at work and your computer goes down, you can't get any more work done. It's the same with your vehicle. If the vehicle isn't being properly maintained, you're not going to get where you want to go."

As part of the 21st Century Tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected:

  • Battery, charging and starting
  • Engine mechanical
  • Powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks)
  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Emissions

Vehicle owners ask for tune-ups for a variety of reasons, including improving performance, maintaining reliability, planning a vacation, preparing for winter/summer or because they're giving the car to a friend or family member.

To help ensure good performance, fuel economy and emissions, the Car Care Council also recommends that motorists take the time necessary to become familiar with their vehicle from every aspect. Study the owner's manual to become thoroughly acquainted with the operation of all systems. Pay special attention to the indicator lights and instruments.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Mechanical failure—an inconvenience anytime it occurs--can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

  • Engine Performance - Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, etc.
  • Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual—more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
  • Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
  • Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
  • Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
  • Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
  • Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer

Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. . . Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!

Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.

  • Air Conditioning - A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
  • Cooling System - The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual-more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
  • Engine Performance - Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended-more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
  • Windshield Wipers - A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Tires - Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
  • Brakes - Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
  • Battery - Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Emergencies - Carry some basic tools-ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a cellular phone.

Keeping Your Vehicle in Tune with the Environment

Car care is definitely a win-win situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer, and will last longer-up to 50% longer, according to a survey of ASE-certified Master Auto Technicians. The following tips should put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.

  • Keep your engine tuned. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended.
  • Check your tires for proper inflation. Under inflation wastes fuel-your engine has to work harder to push the vehicle. Wheels that are out-of-line (as evidenced by uneven tread wear or vehicle pulling) make the engine work harder, too. Properly maintained tires will last longer, meaning fewer scrap tires have to be disposed.
  • Keep your air conditioner in top condition and have it serviced only by a technician certified competent to handle/recycle refrigerants. Air conditioners contain CFCs-gases that have been implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost one third of the CFCs released into the atmosphere come from mobile air conditioners; some simply leaks out, but the majority escapes during service and repair-so it's important to choose a qualified technician.
  • Do-it-yourselfers: dispose of used motor oil, anti-freeze/coolant, tires, and old batteries properly. Many repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local municipal or county government for recycling sites. Never dump used oil or anti-freeze on the ground or in open streams.
  • Observe speed limits. Mileage decreases sharply above 55 mph.
  • Drive gently. Avoid sudden accelerations and jerky stop-and-go's. Use cruise-control on open highways to keep your speed as steady as possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family. Today's vehicles are designed to "warm up" fast, so forget about those five-minute warm ups on cold winter mornings.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Store luggage/ cargo in the trunk rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.
  • Plan trips. Consolidate your daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. Try to travel when traffic is light to avoid stop-and-go conditions. Join a car pool.

Remember, how your car runs, how you drive it, and how its fluids, old parts, and tires are disposed of all have serious consequences on the environment.

ASSOCIATIONS

  • ACDelco
  • ASE (Automotive Service Excellence)
  • Federated Auto Parts
  • IDENTIFIX
  • Mitchell1
  • Car Care Aware

Testimonials

  • Rich has done a great job on all my vehicles over the last 10 years. Trusted and does honest work.
    -James P.

  • I've brought my truck in a few times, all for different reasons (brakes, cooling system, transmission, and standard maintenance). These guys know what they're doing and they get it done fast! General Auto is the only place I trust for auto repairs.
    -Jeff L.

  • Very practical, great service, great follow through, great prices.
    -Brian

  • General Auto Repair has done outstanding work for me for years. I have brought a number of vehicles there and they always provide great service and a full explanation of what needs to be done and what I can wait on before going to the expense to fix it. They are efficient, timely, cost-effective, trustworthy, and super helpful. I brought my son's 15-year-old Tacoma in before he drove it cross country to ensure everything was working and ready for the trip. They went out of their way to work with my timing, the repairs/maintenance was what I expected, and they were super informative. I had family member's vehicle that had been neglected so I called General and they had the vehicle towed then repaired at a very reasonable rate. They took a difficult situation and handled it for me. I highly recommend them.
    -Leslie C.

  • Very professional and prices are always reasonable. From my first visit, I could tell that they would not be trying to take advantage of me and it shows that they invest in their loyal customers, I take both of my cars to get repairs and oil changes for three years. I have never had one complaint.
    -Caleb

  • Honest advice, fair prices, excellent service is what comes to mind regarding this shop. We have been customers for a couple of years and extremely happy with the work performed on our cars.
    -James S.

  • Let me just say this, finding a good honest mechanic is probably one of the most valuable things to have in life. Rich and the boys at general auto are exactly that. They do fantastic work with the most reasonable honest cost. I live over 35 miles away from the shop and wouldn't think twice driving there to have work done to my car. Do yourself a favor and don't waste any time taking your car anywhere else. I don't ever write reviews but I just had to this time!
    -Ryan

  • Skilled and honest mechanics who give good prices on general repairs and maintenance on my car. I'm easily a customer for life.
    -Jeff T.

  • Had a small problem with my bumper and got recommended to General Auto Repair. Took my car in and they fixed it within 20 minutes. The owner was more than helpful and nice. Definitely will be going back with any problems I have and will recommend to others!
    -Brittany

  • Great service friendly and fast never disappointed.
    -Marie

  • We've always had good service at General Auto. They do a great job diagnosing the problem and performing the repairs. They don't recommend parts that we don't need!
    -Marc

  • Rich and his team are terrific. I highly recommend them!
    -Kent

  • General Auto Repair is very reliable, honest, and knowledgable. I trust their team to take care of all my auto repair needs.
    -Nick

  • I have know Rich V. for many years and consider him to be a very trustworthy person and a good mechanic.
    -Ben

  • Was able to take me on short notice and fixed the issue completely. Thank you!
    -Clair

  • Always excellent work and service!
    -Sue

  • Rich and his team have earned my loyalty and business! I trust him not only to do quality work but to be honest and concerned for my needs.
    -John

  • AC repaired and working better than ever. Very grateful for the honest assessment of problems and pleasant customer service. I will be back next time my vehicle needs service.
    -Linda

  • I have been with Rich for 30 years. He is very aware that I need my truck for my lawn service and will have it back to me asap. Last month I got in my truck at 8 in the morning and it was shaking like crazy. Spur of the moment call, he had it back to me by one. My vehicles are always repaired because he gets in and test drives and makes sure. And he has no problem with bringing it back if I am not satisfied. I only have 4 cars in my family and trust Rich and his mechanics with all of them. Sometimes in life you just have to trust somebody. Your mechanic would be a good person to trust.
    -Ray

  • I have been going to General Auto for about 18 years and have always been treated with respect and honest evaluations. I have both my company vehicles and personal vehicles serviced here because I know that Rich and his crew are fair and honest. It may not always be the cheapest in town but I'll pay more for the quality, honesty and respect I get as a customer before going anywhere else!
    -Robert

  • Always friendly and helpful. No one I trust more with my car.
    -Janette

  • We have always had excellent repair service at General Auto and in a timely and convenient manner. Rich and his staff are professional and courteous. We highly recommend this auto repair shop.
    -Robert

  • My brakes failed and they took me right in and got me back on the road. Rich arranged a rental car and the staff was great.
    -Kirt