Archive for the ‘Fluids’ Category
Eric was recently interviewed on WZZM 13 here in Grand Rapids about making sure a vehicle is ready for fall and the winter months.
Main points of the interview:
Get your vehicle a safety inspection ASAP. The reason Eric urges you to do this right away is in case there is a list of safety items that needs to be addressed. We can help you prioritize the repairs needed and by the time snow starts falling you can be ready to go!
- Tires. They are the number one item to keep your car or truck on the road. Reliable tires are necessary to make sure you can safely stop, especially in inclement weather.
- Check the coolant (along with other fluids). Certainly we don’t want any engine to ever freeze. It is going to get really cold. Most engines will go through the summer months with no problem, even with inadequate anti-freeze protection but, as soon as the winter and cold weather gets here, that is when you are going to see an issue if that has been neglected.
- Check the battery to make sure it is in good shape. Batteries have a lot more stress on them when the temperature drops.
- Replace windshield wipers to make sure visibility isn’t compromised.
- Check heating system, to make it is performing well enough to keep drivers comfortable and defrost windows.
- Check brakes, to make sure they are in safe working order.
- Check and replace, if needed, exterior and brake lights to make sure other drivers can see you and you can see where you are going
If you have questions about the safety of your vehicle, give us a call! We’re happy to make sure you and your family safe on the road this fall and winter. At Ervine’s and Grand Rapids Hybrid we have free loaner cars help ease the inconvenience of being without your vehicle while repairs are made. 616-532-6600
Today’s Ervine’s Auto Repair post focuses on using the proper fluids for your vehicle. Significant advancements in automotive technology have lead to the development of high-tech fluids to keep modern cars operating at peak performance. This is due to both engineering advances and new high-tech materials used to build sedan automotive systems.
A simple example of this is the cooling system. For decades it was primarily made out of iron, steel and rubber hoses. There was one kind of coolant that protected these components from corrosion.
Now cooling system components are made with various metal alloys and plastics. These materials require different additives to protect them from corrosion. Since the materials used vary among sedan car makers, we now have a number of different kinds of coolant.
It’s essential for Grand Rapids car owners to use the right coolant. If you pour in the wrong kind, it won’t protect the cooling system and may even void the warranty. Check your sedan owner’s manual. Of course, your Ervine’s Auto Repair automotive advisor will know the proper coolant for your vehicle.
Brake fluid is confusing for some Grand Rapids drivers. Back when we opened Ervine’s Auto Repair 36 years ago, most vehicles used Dot 3 brake fluid. Now we have Dot 4 and Dot 5. Some Grand Rapids people mistakenly think the higher numbers are an upgrade. You know, if 3 is good then 4 must be better. That’s not how it works. They are different formulations to meet the demands of differences in brake systems. Only one of them is designed for your sedan.
Ditto for transmission fluid. For decades there were two basic types of tranny fluid used at Ervine’s Auto Repair: friction modified or not. With the tremendous engineering advances in sedan automatic transmissions, there have been several new types of fluids developed to protect and lubricate them.
Nowhere are the advances in automotive fluids more evident to Wyoming car owners and Ervine’s Auto Repair professionals than in motor oil. Many new weights and formulations have been created to meet the demands of today’s high-tech sedan engine design. Modern engines have more parts and much tighter tolerances. Every year, engines make more power and (thankfully!) get better gas mileage. And along with all the complexity and sophistication, they still have to be durable.
That’s where the new grades of engine oil come in. They have to be formulated to lubricate, protect and clean all of those sedan engine parts, big and little. The oil has to be thin enough to get into little passages, yet resistant to vaporization.
At Ervine’s Auto Repair in Grand Rapids, we believe that in some ways modern automotive fluids are just as impressive as the new engines. Because weights of oil and types of coolant and transmission fluid are so carefully matched to the vehicle, make sure you always use the proper fluid if you are topping off at home.
Check your sedan owner’s manual or ask your Wyoming service technician. The wrong fluid can cause damage to your sedan engine. If you drive a car or truck around Michigan with 75,000 miles or more, consider high mileage formulations. These fluids contain extra detergent to clean dirtier older engines as well as additives to condition seals and gaskets. That’ll help prevent leaks. Always be sure that the high mileage fluid is the same weight or type of fluid recommended for your sedan.
If you’ve walked through the automotive fluids of an auto parts store in Grand Rapids, you’ll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what’s right for your vehicle?
As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run as you drive around the Grand Rapids area. Your vehicle manufacturer has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable.
First let’s talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.
Some vehicles around Grand Rapids come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory recommends. The recommendation is what’s been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules.
A good quality oil has more additives that are engineered to clean and protect the engine. They cost a bit more, but are worth the extra protection. If you buy budget oil, you might want to consider shortening your oil change interval.
Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant has to be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We’ve seen special coolant in Grand Rapids for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.
The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.
The really good news is that your Grand Rapids service center has databases that tell them the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that’ll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Of course, your full-service oil change will top off your fluids. But it’s a good idea to have some of everything at home in case you need to top something off yourself or to take on a trip. Ask your Grand Rapids service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair or check your owner’s manual for fluid specifications.
It’s important to know that there are national warranty laws that say that a manufacturer cannot require you to use their brand of fluid to maintain your warranty. That said, there are two things that may affect your warranty.
Using the wrong type of fluid may void the warranty. Going back to radiator coolant, the correct type protects against corrosion and the wrong type will not. So it’s important to be right.
Also some warranty protections are conditioned on taking care of scheduled preventive maintenance. Please review your warranty if you have questions.
Today Ervine’s Auto Repair is talking about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It’s become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It’s not that people in Michigan are confused as much as they don’t realize how much things have changed in recent years.
If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don’t hesitate to stop by Ervine’s Auto Repair. You can find us on 4311 Stafford SW in Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548.
Just give us a call at (616) 532-6600
Let’s take engine oil. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.
It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it’s cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn’t thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.
Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the car has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas and the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.
So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.
Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It’s certainly in the owner’s manual. Of course, your Grand Rapids Michigan auto service center can look it up for you.
It’s more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.
Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.
In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.
So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn’t formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you’re using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won’t be covered under warrantee. So it’s important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.
Your owner’s manual or your Grand Rapids Michigan service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair can make sure you’re using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That’s OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer’s recommendation for your sedan or other auto type is always a safe bet.
In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It’s important to remember that the new ones aren’t better than the old ones. They’re just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.
There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid, and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.
They’re fine to use as long as they’re a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it’s also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it’s the right type for your transmission.
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