Archive for the ‘Service Intervals’ Category

offSeptember 22, 2016

 

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Everyone in Grand Rapids, Michigan knows we are advised to go to our Grand Rapids dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Grand Rapids residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – “Everything’s fine, see you in six months.” Or “You’ve got a small cavity starting, let’s schedule an appointment to take care of it.” By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Grand Rapids folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our car maintenance?

Ervine’s Auto Repair
4311 Stafford SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548
(616) 532-6600

Following the auto maker’s recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing …you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it’s hard to keep it all straight – even if you’re part of the 1% of the Michigan motorists that read their owners’ manual.

And if you have more than one sedan, the complexity is multiplied. You’d need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that’s how your Grand Rapids service center does it. For example, Ervine’s Auto Repair subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle’s recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it’s all in the database.

Well, it’s not all in the computer. There are other variables that can’t be accounted for in the schedule. Things like Grand Rapids weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in Michigan. Talk about these things with your honest and efficient Ervine’s Auto Repair service professional and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner’s manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that’s not interstate driving in moderate Grand Rapids weather is considered severe, most of us do at least some of that around Grand Rapids, Michigan and it should be taken into account.

Let’s take your basic oil change as an example – what issues are involved? The oil you put in your car is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That’s why most maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.

It’s easy to think, “Gee, I’ve only driven 2,000 miles in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change.” But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a harsh environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that starts degrading its effectiveness even when it’s just sitting there.

A lot of people in Grand Rapids don’t realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it’s clogged up because you haven’t changed it, it can’t trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think ‘Vaseline’. Obviously, sludge doesn’t lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don’t get properly protected by the oil. That’ll lead to premature wear.

If you’ve missed some oil changes, don’t despair. Just talk with your service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair. Fess up – you’ll feel better. And he can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your car on the road and avoiding costly repairs.

Take a look at the auto tips video in this post for more information.

People near Grand Rapids Michigan often ask Ervine’s Auto Repair how often they should have a particular service done. It’s a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner’s manual, or have your Grand Rapids Michigan service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Grand Rapids Michigan will say that their driving is normal and that the ‘regular’ schedule probably applies to them. ‘Severe service’ sounds pretty extreme – ‘I don’t drive like that’.

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles.
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • Drive with a car-top carrier.
  • Stop and go driving.
  • Driving in very hot or very cold weather.

If that’s severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I’m thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I’m on the freeway.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Grand Rapids. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here’s what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with ‘regular’ on one end and ‘severe’ on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it’s closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it’s closer to 5,000 miles. Your Grand Rapids Michigan auto service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren’t as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don’t drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won’t evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You’ve made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.

Most people in the Grand Rapids area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Wyoming, Kentwood and Byron Center in Michigan.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let’s start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your sedan. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your sedan engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn’t flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system’s efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your sedan. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Grand Rapids service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair by calling (616) 532-6600. You’ll find our shop located at 4311 Stafford SW in Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your sedan. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They’re designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your sedan owner’s manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can’t tell you that you have a radiator hose that’s bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

Nowadays, everyone in Grand Rapids, Michigan is paying more at the gas pump. For some families in the greater Grand Rapids area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. Throughout North America, people are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.

Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Grand Rapids, Michigan roads have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in Grand Rapids can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like our personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.

Knowing what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many owners’ manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. It just means that you need to be better at keeping records and planning your preventive maintenance.

You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.

Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.

And keeping up with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your sedan.

The second benefit is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.

And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry-out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain special additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.

Older vehicles in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.

With a high-mileage vehicle, a couple of relationships will become pretty important. The first is with your service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the Grand Rapids, Michigan area driving conditions.

The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean – pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to your service advisor at Ervine’s Auto Repair and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Grand Rapids, Michigan roads.

Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV

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Ervine's, a Grand Rapids auto repair shop, provides a wide-range of car repair services from ASE Certified Master Technicians. In addition, we also offer free loaner cars, 24-hour automotive assistance, free Wi-Fi and Starbucks coffee while you wait in our comfortable lobby!

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Customer Reviews

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  • Chelsea Vives:
    Awesome service!! They were extremely helpful and friendly! I loved how they were accommodating to the customers and being very organized with after hours drop-offs and pick-ups. They were also very quick with fixing my car which was great.


    Andy Krafft:
    Ervine's has provided great service for me throughout my college years! They do their best to make time for customers and understand the importance and value in quality service. Would definitely recommend!


    Erin O'Brien-Jenison:
    The staff is very friendly. The technicians take the time to explain repairs in detail. The loaner car service is very convenient for my family. Each of my experiences with Ervine's has been very positive.

  • Jamie Riehle:
    My car needed a lot of work and being relatively new to the area, I had to rely on online reviews. Ervine's got great feedback, so I made an appointment through their website. I was contacted almost immediately and scheduled very quickly. The repairs took a few days, but with the free loaner it was no big deal. They explained everything to me, helped me prioritize which repairs to do first, and Jamie even entertained my 5-year-old while I spent 10 minutes on the phone with my bank to get my payment to go through. I may have been able to find someplace a little cheaper, but you can't pay for the excellent customer service at Ervine's. The lobby is clean, has fresh coffee, and is very professional. As a woman I've been intimidated going into car shops but I never felt that way at Ervine's. I'll definitely be returning.

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  • Kaitlin McDowell:
    I had a great experience at Ervine's. I know very little about my car beyond turning it on, so I was relieved when the staff were willing to spend extra time explaining to me exactly what is going on and helping me to be an informed consumer. I also appreciated that they are not trying to sell something-- I did not actually need the repair that the dealership had told me to IMMEDIATELY deal with, and the folks at Ervine's were willing to tell me that when they could have made a buck doing the repair. The visit was so painless I even got to run errands while I was waiting using one of their fabulous loaner cars. Thank you so much!

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