Would you like to make sure your vehicle is on the road for as long as possible? You may not be able to avoid the fluctuating of fuel prices and increasing insurance rates, but you can avoid that expensive new car payment. How? By keeping up with vehicle maintenance and adhering to recommended service intervals. In fact, the more effort you put into maintaining your vehicle, the longer it will last.
If you want your vehicle to operate efficiently and safely for as long as possible, a commitment to regular maintenance and automotive care is a must:
Regular Oil & Filter Changes: The engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle. Keep it clean and change it before it gets old and dirty – your engine will continue to run well for years to come. Skip oil changes, drive with dirty oil or a cheap oil filter, and you will end up paying a premium. With all the new synthetic oils on the market, you may be confused as to what is best for your vehicle. In that case, the simplest thing to do is to ask your Shade Tree Garage certified auto technician. He or she will be able to help you determine the right maintenance schedule for your vehicle.
Air Filter Changes: Though it seems like an insignificant part, the engine air filter is important to proper vehicle operation. It is designed to prevent harmful debris, dirt and contaminants from entering your engine. If you don’t replace it when needed, the air filter will become clogged and engine performance will suffer. If you continue to drive with a bad air filter, it will harm the engine. Depending on driving conditions, the air filter should be replaced between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (sooner if you regularly drive on dusty, dirt roads).
Cooling System Maintenance: The cooling system is designed to keep the engine running at an optimal temperature, whether it is in the winter or summer. Coolant circulates through the system and pulls the heat away from the engine. The cooling system utilizes a lot of different parts – radiator, thermostat, water pump, belts, hoses. If you just put plain water in your radiator, your engine would overheat when you drive. The water would also freeze in the winter when your vehicle is sitting outside. The antifreeze (50/50 mixture with water) you add to your radiator changes the chemical composition of plain water so it protects your engine parts from overheating, freezing, and corroding. In time, the coolant will no longer be able to protect the engine parts. If you don’t change the coolant, your vehicle will start to run hotter. Parts will begin to rust and fail. If the engine overheats, you risk serious damage and expensive repair bills. It’s important to have the radiator flushed and coolant replaced before it no longer has the ability to protect engine parts. Equally important is changing belts and hoses before they break.
Regular Vehicle Check-Ups: Find an auto repair shop you trust, and bring your vehicle there for all your service and repairs. Why is this important? At Shade Tree Garage, you and the safety and reliability of your vehicle are important to us. Having a long-term relationship with our auto repair shop means we will get to know you and your vehicle. We keep detailed records on all our customers’ vehicles so we know when you need to have a service performed. We also perform a courtesy inspection each time your vehicle is in the shop and will alert you to anything that needs to be replaced. If there are recall items or items that can be replaced/repaired under the warranty, we will let you know so you can bring your vehicle to the dealer. Here are some more benefits of bringing your vehicle to an independent, family-owned shop like Shade Tree Garage.
Don’t Ignore Vehicle Problems: Is the Check Engine light on? Is your vehicle making a funny sound? Is it not driving right? Don’t delay getting things checked out. What could be a simple fix, could end up being a safety hazard and will most likely cost you more for repairs down the road.
Don’t Ignore Dashboard Warning Lights: Your vehicle has a warning system for a reason. As you are driving, the onboard computers are continually monitoring all the vehicle systems. If it detects a problem, it will trigger a warning light to let you know something is wrong. Certain lights are signifying a critical issue (red-colored lights), and that there will be serious consequences if you continue to drive. Find out what your dashboard lights are telling you and don’t delay any repairs.
Driveway Inspections: Once a month, take a few minutes to do a driveway inspection of your vehicle. Inspect the tires, check tire air pressure, make sure lights are working, check the fluids, and inspect hoses and belts. For example, tires that are wearing unevenly signify a problem. If you didn’t do the driveway inspection, you will be driving around in a vehicle that could pose a safety risk to you and others.
Keep Your Vehicle Clean, Inside and Out: Road salts in New Jersey will wreak havoc on the underbody of your vehicle. Sun and environmental pollutants will affect the finish on your vehicle. The sun can also damage vinyl and leather inside your vehicle. Wash your vehicle at least once a month, vacuum the interior and apply protectant to the outside and inside surfaces.
Drive Wisely: The way a person drives affects vehicle longevity. Good driving habits will cut fuel costs. It will also reduce wear and tear. Some simple ways to drive wisely include not taking off fast or shopping abruptly. Avoid riding the brakes on downhills.
Keep Your Vehicle Covered: Keep your vehicle in a garage or under a carport. Don’t have either? Get a cover. By protecting your vehicle from the elements, you will protect its finish.
But I’m not quite sure what it is and what to do. Whether it’s not running quite right, it’s making odd sounds, you are noticing a funny smell or one of the dashboard lights just came on, there are some basic diagnostics you can do before you bring your vehicle in. I often say, “you are the best tool in my toolbox. You know your car better than anyone including me, so if something doesn’t sound right…” Even the seemingly most innocuous clue can save hours of testing time. By going through these listed items, you will be able to your mechanic a better idea about what may be occurring so he or she can have a clearer idea on where to start.
Write things down. You will want to note all you are experiencing when driving. If you are able, identify where you believe the problem is occurring, when it happens (e.g. accelerating, decelerating, etc.), how often it’s happening, and if it is something that is happening constantly or every now and then. Try to be as precise as possible.
Read the troubleshooting tips found in the owner’s manual. You should also check the maintenance schedule that is listed in the manual to see if there is anything that needs to be addressed.
Noticing any fluid leaks? Check the color of the fluid. Where is the leak located? You may not be able to see the exact location of the leak, but by telling us where the leak on the floor or ground in relation to the vehicle will be helpful. Oil leaks are a dark, slippery fluid. Coolant leaks can be green, blue or orange and can be found toward the front of the vehicle. Transmission fluid (usually under the engine or transmission) and brake fluid (under the master cylinder) are red. Like the coolant, power steering fluid can be a number of different colors. If it’s a power steering fluid leak, you may find that the steering wheel is hard to turn or it makes noises when you are turning corners.
If there are any funny noises, let us know what it sounds like and from where you think it could be coming. A loud sound from under the vehicle could be the muffler or tailpipe. Clunking while turning could be a problem with the steering or suspension systems. Are the brakes making noise? Click here to learn more about the signs you need brake repair.
Is a dashboard light on? Check the owner’s manual. Remember, if the light is “red,” pull over, shut off the engine and call for a tow.
The ASE-Certified and Bosch-certified technicians at Shade Tree Garage in Morristown, NJ, can assist you with any problems you are experiencing with your vehicle. Our technicians have years of experience and a vast knowledge-base that can only be developed by working on many different vehicle makes and models. Give us a call today to schedule your next maintenance or repair.
Having a clean fuel system is vital to making sure your vehicle is operating properly. A fuel system that’s dirty will affect vehicle power, performance, fuel economy and drivability. It can also have a direct impact on some of the other engine systems in your vehicle. If you haven’t thought about cleaning your vehicle’s fuel system, you may want to read through this blog post to learn more.
The fuel system begins at the gas tank where the gasoline is stored. A system made up of fuel lines, fuel filters, fuel injectors and fuel pumps feed the gasoline into the engine where it is mixed with air and ignited by the spark plugs. If you don’t maintain a clean fuel system, some of the following things can happen:
The fuel pump can become clogged. This pump sends the gasoline to the engine so anything that hinders the flow or prevents this from happening properly, will cause engine problems. You may find it to be difficult to start your vehicle. You may also notice that the engine backfires, stalls or hesitates while you accelerate. The simplest way to avoid this type of problem is to periodically clean or replace the fuel filter.
The fuel lines can become cracked or clogged, again hindering the flow of gas going into the combustion chamber. Replace these damaged lines.
The fuel filter can become clogged. To make sure the flow of gasoline is not hindered, a fuel filter should be replaced at an interval between 20,000 to 40,000 miles.
The fuel injectors will need to be replaced. Fuel injectors will last anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 miles. The amount of time it takes before one or more injectors fails depends on the type of gas you use and how often the fuel filters are changed.
One last thing to mention… Do not allow the level of gas in the tank get close to empty before refilling the tank. When you wait until the gas gauge is on “E” or the gas light comes on, the fuel lines end up sucking in debris that’s on the bottom of the gas tank. Ideally, you should refill when the gauge shows ½ a tank. At a minimum, don’t let the gauge go below ¼ of a tank before refilling.
I recently did a stint in the hospital. All is good, but while there, I heard a lot of staff members freaking out about the snow storm. They were panicking and asking questions like – How will I get home?! Why didn’t the hospital tell us?! Why didn’t the governor do something to clear the roads?! The amount of time people spent on the road getting to or from work was staggering. On and on, the questions and complaints resounded. This may sound harsh, but in reality, the root of the problem lies in many people’s failure to make the proper choice when it comes to the type of tires installed on their vehicles.
Disease and storms are pretty indiscriminate. If either one enters your life, it’s bad. It’s extra bad if everyone fails to comply. All of a sudden, it doesn’t matter if you have snow tires because there are probably more people on the roads who don’t. The result… a lot of people slipping and sliding their ways home.
All-season tires are nothing more than a compromise. In our opinion, they are a mediocre highway tire and weak snow tire. They are especially horrible when it comes to weather like we recently had where snow was mixing with sleet or ice pellets or a misty rain and temperatures were around 28 to 33 degrees. When you drive on this type of surface, the person in front of you squeezes the moisture up to the top of the snow. The packed snow is closer to ice than snow and now it has water on top. Throw in a quick drop of temperature by a degree or two and wham! The only hope for any traction is a tire with fine sipes (thin cuts in the tread block) coupled with a soft winter rubber compound, aka a SNOW TIRE. As temperatures go down, these features give better traction and performance.
If the snow squeaks when you walk on it (approximately 20°) you can almost get away with an all-season tire… almost….
If you have to drive in this type of weather, make sure you have snow tires. I feel so strongly about this that all my family and company cars have snows. We can switch out your summer or all-season tires when winter comes and it will extend the life on all your tires. Otherwise, the best way to handle any bad winter weather conditions is to stay home or get off the road. That way you don’t have to worry about getting hurt or hurting someone because you slid into someone’s vehicle or they slid into yours. Who wants to deal with insurance companies, deductibles… and all the other hassles?
We all know Marge has a few opinions on this as well. So, before the next winter storm rolls around, bring your vehicle into the shop and have us install decent snow tires for you. We can help you select the best tires for your vehicle and budget.
Regular oil and filter changes are a necessity to keeping your engine running smoothly. This is especially important as your vehicle begins to age. If you are starting to notice that you need to add engine oil on more frequently, this is an indication there is a problem. Hopefully, you are checking your oil level and condition at least once a month. With the use of synthetic oils, there is a normal amount of oil consumption in many newer vehicles. That’s not what we are referring to here. What we will be discussing in this blog post is excessive oil consumption in older vehicles.
Before identifying what could be causing the problem, let’s address oil changes. Are you getting the oil and filter changed when it should be changed? If you neglect oil changes, you’re going to have engine problems. Sludge will begin to build up in the engine, the oil filter will get clogged, and you may even begin to experience symptoms caused by corrosion. It’s also important to note that you should never run your vehicle if the Low Oil Pressure Warning light is lit up on your dashboard. This light is coming on because there is not enough oil circulating through the engine. If you continue to drive with it in this condition, the engine will seize.
One tell-tale sign that your car is burning oil can be seen in the exhaust. When you first start your car in the morning, if the exhaust smoke is blue, there’s a problem. As you drive your vehicle, the engine oil is flowing around the valves in the engine’s head. Each valve has a seal that is designed to prevent oil from entering into the combustion chamber (the place where the gasoline and air ignite). Over time, the seals will wear out. They can also wear out faster from low oil levels or if your vehicle isn’t driven very often.
Items that Can Cause Internal Burning of Oil
The PCV (Positive Crankcase Ventilation) System has failed. This can lead to blown seals and gaskets.
Valve guides and seals are worn and have failed. Worn valve guides and seals will allow oil to enter into the combustion chamber.
The piston rings are worn and no longer provide a seal between the pistons and cylinder bores. If this happens, too much oil can enter the cylinders from the crankcase. This is identified by blue smoke coming out of the exhaust when accelerating.
Oil can also leak out of the engine at a number of points. Seals and gaskets will become dry and brittle allowing oil to leak out onto the engine. You may notice oil on the garage floor or your driveway. Common sources of oil leaks include the oil filter, oil drain plug, oil pan and gasket, oil filler cap, oil cooler lines and the valve cover gaskets and other gaskets and seals. Any oil leaks should be addressed immediately to avoid damage to the engine.
Your dashboard warning lights are there to warn you that there’s a problem. Whether it’s the Tire Pressure Monitoring System letting you know there’s one or more tires that are low on air or the brake warning light, these lights should not be ignored. Some, however, are critical to your engine and its longevity. If you ignore these lights, you will end up with a serious problem and you may even have to replace your engine or your vehicle.
The most important thing to remember about a dashboard warning light is the color. When it comes on and stays on, what color is it? Lights like the Check Engine, Service Engine Soon, Tire Pressure Monitoring System, and ABS warning lights are designated “orange” in color. It means there’s a problem – you need to get it taken care of but it’s not critical. We have some blogs on each of these lights for you to learn more. “Red” warning lights, however, are critical warning lights. When one of these lights comes on, you do not want to drive your vehicle any further. Safely pull over to the side of the road and call for a tow.
Here’s some information on each of the critical dashboard warning lights:
Oil Pressure Warning Light
This light will come on when there is a drop in engine oil pressure. This happens because either there isn’t enough oil in the system or the oil pump isn’t circulating enough oil throughout the system. If this warning light comes on and stays on while you are driving, safely pull over to the side of the road. If you continue to drive, very serious engine damage will occur. Have the vehicle towed to our shop.
Engine Temperature Warning Light
Your vehicle’s engine is designed to run at a certain temperature that is managed by the cooling system. As coolant flows through the system, it removes the heat from the engine and dissipates it back into the air through the radiator. When the engine temperature warning light comes on, it means the temperature of the engine has exceeded the safe maximum. More commonly, this happens because of a broken hose or belt. It could also occur when there’s a problem with the radiator, water pump or thermostat. When the light comes on, it means the temperature of the engine has exceeded the safe maximum. Safely pull off to the side of the road, open the hood and call for a tow. Do NOT open the radiator cap as you could sustain serious injury from the hot coolant.
Brake Warning Light
If the Brake Warning Light comes on while you are driving, it is not safe to drive. In some vehicles the Brake Warning Light is the same one that’s used to let you know the Emergency Brake is engaged. If the light is on when you turn your vehicle on, check to see if the Emergency Brake is on. If it is, disengage it before you start to drive. The Brake Warning Light comes on when there’s no fluid in the system. Perhaps there is a leak somewhere, the Master Cylinder needs to be replaced or there is a problem in one of the hydraulic lines. Have your vehicle towed.
The best way to avoid having these lights come on unexpectedly is to have your vehicle serviced regularly at our auto repair shop in Morristown, New Jersey. The certified technicians at Shade Tree Garage will be able to identify the problem that triggered the light to come on and get it fixed. Click here to schedule service or repair now.
We don’t have to tell you gas prices have been going up. You can see it every time you go to fill up. By implementing these helpful tips, you will be able to save at the pumps.
Check tire pressure once a month. You may be wondering why you have to do this when your vehicle is equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. A TPMS warning light isn’t required to come on until a tire is 25 percent below the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. That means the light might not be on even though you are driving around on tires that are underinflated. Driving on tires that are underinflated or overinflated are safety hazards. Your tires will also wear out sooner than they should. When the tires are properly inflated, you can save up to $0.11/gallon on gasoline. All you need is a simple tire gauge and the recommended tire pressure found on a label inside the driver’s side door.
Don’t go overboard with using a higher-octane fuel when your vehicle can use regular. Check the owner’s manual for your vehicle on the octane level you should be using for your vehicle. Unless the manual tells you to use Super or Premium, just fill it up with regular.
Go easy on the gas pedal. By slowing down a little, avoiding fast starts and stops and minimizing idling, you will be able to increase your fuel efficiency. We know… easier said than done, right? But for every 5 miles per hour that you slow down, you reduce fuel consumption by 7%.
Replace the air filter on a regular schedule. When was the last time you have the engine air filter changed? Clean air filters can improve gas mileage by up to 10%, yet one in four vehicles on the road are operating with dirty air filters. If you bring your vehicle to our shop in Morristown, NJ, the certified auto technician working on your vehicle will let you know when the filter should be replaced.
Regular wheel alignments can help reduce gas consumption too. Improperly aligned wheels mean your vehicle has to work harder. When that happens, you use more gas. It also translates into tires that wear out quicker than they should. Alignments should be done at least once a year, when you buy new tires, and/or when you hit a huge pothole or curb.
Make sure there’s less junk in the trunk. Gas mileage decreases with added weight in the vehicle. If you have items in your trunk or the back of your SUV that you don’t use on a regular basis, remove it.
Regular maintenance and tune-ups have a tremendous impact on gas mileage. Old fluids cause the engine to work harder which affects gas mileage. Equally important are having your vehicle tuned-up on a regular basis. Dirty spark plugs, old wires and bad timing affect the ignition of the fuel/gas mixture in the engine. Read more about tune-ups here.
The 800 members of the Lincoln Highway Association would like to invite you and your friends to learn more about the Lincoln Highway by taking part in this year’s conference.
27th Annual Conference June 20-24, 2018 Bus Tours – Presentations Lincoln Highway Book & Memorabilia Room
Marriott Renaissance Woodbridge 515 US Route 1, Iselin, NJ 08830
The Lincoln Highway was America’s first cross-country automobile highway. Conceived by Carl Fisher in 1912, the original 3,398 mile road linked Times Square in New York City with Lincoln Park in San Francisco. The New Jersey section of the original Lincoln Highway ran from Weehawken to Trenton before crossing the Delaware River on the Calhoun Street Bridge into Pennsylvania. Today, some sections of New Jersey roads are still marked with Lincoln Highway signs.
Who should attend?
This conference will be of interest to students, educators, curriculum planners, historians and anyone interested in the development of America’s early highways with special emphasis on the Lincoln Highway in New Jersey.
The Lincoln Highway Book & Memorabilia Room, located just off the hotel lobby, will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. The room offers books, DVDs, LH clothing and tourism information.
Have you ever wondered how our roads came to be? Or why they go in the directions and ways they go?
Before there was a US Route 1, State Highway 27 or the Lincoln Highway, there existed the King’s Highway. The king didn’t order a highway built; the settlers adopted a route the natives were using to traverse across NJ. Sorry, but we don’t know what the natives called it.
There were rivers separating them from their destinations, so they crossed where it was shallow or at falls. The major cities were set where the ships could navigate, which co-incidentally, were settled around the shallows and falls. Deep water vessels could only go up the river so far so that’s how much of NJ was settled.
The rivers were the routes of commerce until the cars and trucks came along. The roads became critical, and thankfully, there were some visionaries to plan the routes. The Route 95 corridor from DC to Boston, along with the Hudson River, concentrated huge industrial and commercial areas. Sometimes when people drive through, they struggle to appreciate how (while not beautiful) it’s crucial to the success of the Northeast.
If you find this history interesting, come discover more with us, and oh yeah, all 63 miles of the Lincoln Highway between the Hudson and Delaware!
Join us for our northern bus tour and you will learn to have a different perspective on the area. In Weehawken, you will get to see where travelers arrived off the ferry on their Lincoln Highway adventures. We will visit the dueling grounds where Hamilton fell (you’ll also be able to see the play in NYC if you order tickets now.)
As you travel through New Jersey, you will experience a change in its complexion. Discover why it’s called the “Garden State” as we leave the industrial areas and move into our rural region.
Our guides will explain the architecture, which even though man-made, was designed to reflect nature. There’s also a visit to the Princeton Battleground and lunch at Washington’s Crossing to remind us of the history that makes the US great. Finally, a visit to Center City Philly, with all the history there, will round out the southern bus tours.