Archive for the ‘oil’ Tag

Love your engine by checking the oil

The gas station ritual has changed over the years. Today we tend to fill the tank, clear trash out of the door pockets and under the seats, and get going.

One important task has fallen by the wayside – checking the engine oil level.

Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and too little or too much of it can cause serious and expensive damage. Also, regular checking lets you see if the level is falling unexpectedly, an early sign that service is needed.

Checking engine oil is easy and can be done while filling the gasoline tank. You’ll even earn respect from other drivers who see you pop the hood and work the dipstick with authority.

We find it handy to keep a roll of shop towels or paper towels in the car. Not every fuel station puts them out anymore. A shop rag works too. Or, in a pinch, a couple of leftover fast food napkins.

Let the engine sit for a couple of minutes before you check the oil, so go ahead and start the fuel pump and clean out the door pockets. Then pop the hood – the release is usually located on the left edge of the driver’s footwell. Then slide your hand under the front edge of the hood and release the secondary latch to open the hood all the way, using the prop rod to hold it open if your car has one.

The handle for the dip stick is usually topped in yellow plastic and labeled Engine Oil. If you’re not sure, check the owner’s manual for a diagram of its location.

Pull the dipstick out of the tube, grasping the end of the stick with the towel and wiping it clean. Look at the end of the stick and see the high and low marks that define the safe zone for the oil level.

Slide the dipstick back into the tube and push it all the way in until the handle seats. Now pull the dipstick out, again grab toward the end with the towel and look at where the oil level shows:

  • If it’s inside the safe zone, between the marks, all is good so put the dipstick fully back into the tube, close the hood and wipe your hands clean.
  • If the oil level is at or below the bottom mark of the safe zone, it’s time to add a quart of oil. Check the oil fill cap or the owner’s manual for the correct grade, such as 5W-20, and use that oil.
  • If the oil level is above the top mark of the safe zone you should take your vehicle in for service as soon as possible.

Many of today’s vehicles also have an oil life monitor that lets you know when it’s time to change the oil. When you get the signal, have the oil changed – old, dirty oil can lead to engine damage.

It’s easy and quick to check your engine oil. You’ll drive with confidence knowing your engine is maintained to perform as designed.

Read more at: https://blog.fcanorthamerica.com/2018/10/09/love-your-engine-by-checking-the-oil/

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When should you consider synthetic oil?

Many automakers require owners to use synthetic motor oil in their cars’ engines. This is because synthetic oil has some advantages over conventional motor oil. It’s designed to be more effective at:

Resisting break-down, and thus lasts longer than mineral oil

Withstanding high temperatures

Flowing in cold temperatures, thus reducing engine wear during frigid startups.

However, synthetic motor oil can cost two to four times as much as regular oil. So unless your owner’s manual specifies synthetic, you don’t need it. But Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic says there are some situations where synthetic oil’s resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of an engine.

If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities. That could hasten the breakdown of conventional oil. Also, if you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil won’t break down as quickly. While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year.

Another good use for synthetic oil is as a salve for older engines prone to sludge buildup. This gunky residue can block oil passages and lead to a quick death of an engine. In the early 2000s, several engines from Chrysler, Toyota, and Volkswagen, among others, were especially prone to sludge buildup. This sludge forms when oil breaks down. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in those engines, as it is less likely to form troublesome sludge.

Using synthetic in these situations will prolong your oil life and require fewer changes. That’s a major benefit to the environment, as used motor oil is a major source of toxic waste in water. Your pocketbook will also thank you.

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/car-tech/when-should-you-consider-synthetic-oil/ar-AAcHX6y

5 spring cleaning tips for your car

Winter can do a number on your car.

Slush, salt and cold temperatures take a toll on everything from the tires to the wiper blades. So, with spring around the corner, it’s a good idea to give your car a thorough once-over to undo winter’s damage.

It won’t cost a lot. You can do the work yourself or visit a car wash and service department to get all these services permormed.

Here are five things you can do to shake off winter and get your car in shape for spring:

1. Wash the underbody

Wintertime driving will coat the bottom of your car with salt, sand and other grime that can cause corrosion. Corrosion can lead to rust problems, which can make your car much harder to resell or even dangerous to drive.

Spend a few extra dollars for the undercarriage power wash at the local car wash or spray the car’s bottom with your own hose. There’s no need to use soap or any other cleaner.

While you’re at it, open the hood and wipe down the engine with a soft mitt and soapy water. And remove all the leaves and debris that can find their way into the car. And remove any crusty white residue off the battery with a toothbrush, baking soda and water. The residue — caused by corrosion — can eventually prevent your car from starting. The cleaning also helps prepare the battery for the stress of warmer temperatures.

2. Scrub inside and out

Salt can damage the car’s paint. Give your car a thorough cleaning and wax it.

Scrub the bottoms of doors, which can get coated with grime. Clean the window channels, also apply a silicone spray, which repels dirt and lubricates the surfaces so the windows will operate smoothly.

Use a steam cleaner — you can rent one for $20 at Home Depot — or apply a rug-cleaning spray to remove all the salt from the car’s inside. Salt can break down some fabrics and cause rips or tears when feet grind against them.

And don’t forget to take bags of salt and ice scrapers out of the trunk.

3. Replace wiper blades

Wiper blades get a workout during the winter months. Changing them each spring and fall insures you have good working blades when you need them.

4. Check tires

Check your tire pressure and rotate and align them when neccessary based on your maintenace schedule and how hard the roads were on them over the winter. Cold weather can cause tires to be underinflated and the onset of warm weather can overinflate them. Also, visually inspect your tires to make sure they’re wearing evenly and have plenty of tread for the rainy spring weather ahead.

Driving on properly inflated tires can save you money. It can cost anywhere from $50 to $250 to replace a blown tire, depending on the kind of tire you need. Your vehicle is also more fuel efficient when you drive on properly inflated tires.

5. Check your fluids

Winter weather can deplete some fluids — especially windshield wiper fluid — more quickly, so top them off yourself if they’re too low. A service station can also do the job. You should change your oil around based on your vehicles maintenance schedule regardless of season. Brake and transmission fluids should be checked as well.

When Should I Change My Oil?

An engine oil change is a relatively simple service. It’s widely touted as the single most important part of your car’s maintenance schedule. There is a good reason for this. Nothing will shorten engine life faster than missed oil changes. But how can you tell when you should change your oil?  Advances in technology and increased consumer awareness have created some confusion to how often this needs to happen.

The Easy Answer

For most of us, all we need to do is follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for oil change intervals. Their guidelines are designed to keep your car in good running condition for a long time. Where can you find your car’s service schedule for oil changes and other recommended maintenance? You can check the owner’s manual that hopefully you have kept in a handy place like your car’s glove box. You might also visit the manufacturer’s website and do a search to download it.

Quick lube shops have their own recommendations. One thing to remember is that these shops are speaking to a wide audience, addressing cars of every age, every mileage, and some with different needs. While there is no harm done by too frequent oil changes, if your car doesn’t need them, that money could be better spent on other maintenance needs.

Don’t Put It Off

If you have ever put off a trip to the grocery store or waited a couple of weeks longer between haircuts, don’t do that with oil changes. Never put it off.  Your oil’s primary function is to cut friction. Over time, oil accumulates contaminants and loses viscosity (the ability to flow into every nook and cranny). Contaminants cause friction as parts rub together. Friction wears out those parts faster. The damage caused by these conditions is largely irreversible without an engine overhaul or replacement.

Waiting for the low oil light to come on can be the worst thing you can do to your engine. You shouldn’t see that light unless your oil level is low. So you don’t want to see it. Whatever amount of oil you do have left almost certainly has lost its ability to function properly. The good news is that your service schedule is written to have this service done long before disaster is on the horizon.

Cars are Smarter Now

For a very long time the gold standard for oil changes was 3,000 to 3,500 miles. There are still many adherents to this philosophy, but it may not be necessary. Advances in engineering to both engine mechanical parts and especially to oil itself have extended the oil life cycle by more than double the old number.

Do you use synthetic oil?  Automakers recommend it for some models. It cost a little more than regular oil, but it has had the biggest impact on oil life. The life cycle for synthetics is typically 7,000 to 10,000 miles, a big change from conventional oil. The type of driving we do also affects our oil change needs. Frequent cold starts, extreme heat, and towing, are all examples of types of driving that can shorten our oil life. Also, repeated short trips (under 4 miles) is one of the most overlooked enemies of oil life. Any of these driving conditions can create the need to shorten your service interval by 25-40 percent depending on the severity.

If your car is equipped with a maintenance reminder on the dash some the guesswork is eliminated for you. Can you trust it? For the most part, yes. In the early days of automobiles the only way we had to track our vehicle’s aging was the odometer. But miles traveled is not always a good indicator of actual use for many urban environments. With the inclusion of computers in the modern automobile we now have a way for the car to track time AND mileage. Time is important to this discussion because running time affects oil life.

But not all maintenance indicators work the same way. Some use an electronic sensor to measure the oil quality, while others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine life expectancy. If your car is not equipped with maintenance light or gauge, the owner’s manual should still be your guide.

Don’t Buy Cheap Oil

All of these scenarios assume you are using the factory-recommended lubricant. If you have opted for something inferior you may be adversely affecting the recommendation. It’s not worth a few dollars to shortcut on the oil.

Track Your Maintenance

Because time is important as well as mileage, it’s nice to try and plan our service visits. The little sticker in the corner of the windshield was a small, important innovation to help us plan. Before that, many people kept a paper record in their glove box as well. But now, with many of us carrying smart phones and having home computers, it’s gotten even easier. MyCarfax is a website and a free smart phone app that will track all of your car’s maintenance needs, making it even easier to keep track of, and plan, your next service.

Read more at: http://www.carfax.com/blog/when-to-change-oil/

Michigan gas prices tumble to 10-month low

Gasoline prices in Michigan tumbled to their lowest point in about 10 months, and analysts expect prices to keep falling.

The average price of an unleaded gallon of gasoline fell to $3.27, down 13 cents from a week ago, according to AAA.

In metro Detroit, it was a similar story. The average price dropped 10 cents to $3.31 per gallon.

“Decreased demand, relatively lower crude prices and the cost savings associated with producing winter-blend fuel will likely keep downward pressure on the price for retail gasoline,” AAA Michigan said in a statement. “Barring any major disruptions in supply, drivers are expected to see some of the lowest autumn prices since 2010.”

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst of GasBuddy.com, said prices are heading below the $3 mark.

“We’re really looking at wholesale prices that point to not just lower, but they’re dramatically lower,” Kloza said in an interview. “It’s coming fairly soon.”

In fact, stations in Greenville and Ionia have already reduced prices to below the $3 mark.

The lowest average price for a Michigan region is $3.14 in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland region. Marquette has the highest price at $3.49.

More than a dozen gas stations in metro Detroit are charging $3.07 or less, though most of those prices are cash only, according to GasBuddy.com.

Kloza said a confluence of factors are driving prices down.

The price of crude oil has been falling, hitting the $90 mark, and Bloomberg reported Thursday that betting on the future price of oil hit a 17-month low last week.

Refineries in the Midwest have also ended maintenance initiatives in recent weeks, increasing supplies and lowering prices further.

Political turmoil in the Middle East has had little effect on gas prices, economists noted.

“Geopolitical events remain front of mind for market watchers, but in recent months have not translated into upward pressure on global oil markets,” AAA said.

Kloza said the price of crude oil has fallen despite ISIS violence in Iraq and Syria, indicating that the market is not concerned that continued fighting will disrupt the flow of oil.

Still, he cautioned that $3 gasoline isn’t necessarily here to stay.

“I don’t think that becomes the new normal,” he said. “I do think that becomes a level that people will get used to in the offseason.”

Read more at: http://www.freep.com/story/money/business/michigan/2014/10/06/gasoline-prices-metro-detroit/16796443/