End of Summer Marks Perfect Time for Car Care

Preventative maintenance now can help ensure worry-free driving this winter

The vacations are over, the kids are back in school and cooler evenings have begun. Take advantage of the lull to prepare your vehicle for the winter ahead, advise the pros and the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Breakdowns, never convenient, can be dangerous in cold weather period.

The following tips from ASE should give parent and student alike a road map to fall car care.

First things first

Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. There are usually two schedules listed: normal and severe.

Engine Performance

Have engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse. Replace dirty filtersair, fuel, PCV, etc.


Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture from forming in the first place.


Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles or so) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.

Cooling System

The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) If you’re doing your own work, allow the radiator to cool down completely before removing the cap. (Newer vehicles have coolant reservoirs.) The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a certified auto technician.


The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

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.


The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. But do-it-yourselfers can do routine maintenance. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.

A word of caution:

Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Note too that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles so refer to your manual for instructions.


Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. 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 floorboards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.


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 pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.


Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, and a cell phone. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.


Drive & Shine Car Wash, Oil Change and Auto Detailing - we are a one stop shop for all your routine car care needs. Our Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend and Schererville Indiana facilities combine Express Car Washes, Full Service Car Washes, Detailing Services, and Quick Lube/Oil Change Services all under one roof. You never need an appointment! Our customers have voted us #1 in what we do for as long as we have been in business. If you are a current customer, we thank you for your business. If you have not tried our services, we invite you to try us- we promise not to disappoint you.



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Choosing the Right Type of Motor Oil

Choosing the Right Type of Motor Oil


Baxter, Eric.  "How to Choose the Right Oil for Your Car or Truck"  16 May 2011.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://auto.howstuffworks.com/how-to-choose-the-right-oil-for-your-car-or-truck.htm>  07 October 2015.

Often times a manufacturer will suggest two or more motor oil viscosities for an engine, such as a 5W-20 or 5W-30, based on several different factors -- including temperature. The reason for this is that engines often need a different viscosity based on operating conditions. Knowing how scientists see viscosity will help an owner determine the best oil for the engine.

Viscosity, at its most basic, is a fluid's resistance to flow. Within theengine oil world, viscosity is notated with the common "XW-XX." The number preceding the "W" rates the oil's flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). The "W" stands for winter, not weight as many people think. The lower the number here, the less it thickens in the cold. So 5W-30 viscosity engine oil thickens less in the cold than a 10W-30, but more than a 0W-30. An engine in a colder climate,

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Benefits of Regular Vehicle Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the key to your vehicle’s longevity. For many, car maintenance is nothing more than filling up the fuel tank and an occasional oil change. If you think giving your car a once over before heading out on a long road trip is a waste of time, you cannot be further from the truth. Regular vehicle maintenance will not only ensure maximum car performance but will also prevent costly repairs, increase safety and improve fuel economy (How much is gas these days?!) Sometimes, even the smallest defect that seems irrelevant may lead to a major problem. 

 Oil and Filter Changes

 Getting regular oil changes is the absolute easiest thing you can do to extend the life of your car and save yourself from the inconvenience of breakdowns and repairs. Over time, motor oil becomes contaminated with engine metals, acids and air humidity, eventually transforming into sludge. Waiting too long to change your oil will increase the likelihood of sludge infecting all the parts where motor oil travels. As part of routine maintenance, oil changes are essential to keep your vehicle running smoothly and efficiently.  (Recommended every 3 months or 3,000-6,000 miles depending on your vehicle)

 Transmission Flush

 The importance of a transmission flush often goes unnoticed until serious problems arise. It removes dirt and contamination from the system that causes early deterioration, blockage, and damage to the transmission. New fluid will also protect transmission components and prevent premature failure and very expensive repairs. (Recommended every 2 years or 30,000 miles)

Coolant/Antifreeze Service

 Over time rust and scale deposits build up within the radiator. A flush helps to remove these deposits which get pushed out with the old anti-freeze. This is important since these build ups can cause overheating or even damage your radiator. The additives in the coolant lubricate the vehicles water pump which will lengthen its life.  A flush completely drains the system of the old anti-freeze which means that any contaminants that have made their way into the system will be flushed out as well. The additives in the coolant can lose important anti-corrosive properties over time which leads to the build up of particles. Also, the new anti-freeze will have additives that help prevent rust and build up. It will also prevent foaming in the system which helps it operate efficiently. (Recommended every 2 years or 30,000 miles)

Power Steering Service

Normal fluid will get slightly darker and thinner with age. Heat and pressure breaks down the fluid and creates flecks of rubber and metal from the steering system seals and metal components and pushes them through the system. As there is no power steering fluid filter, these little flecks are abrasive contaminants and will further wear away seals and components, which then cause more contaminants to become ingrained in the fluid which allows deposits and varnish to gum up the system. This will decrease performance- sometimes causing sluggishness and noise. Often times, it is damage that you are unaware of and could lead to very expensive repairs to your internal system parts. (Recommended every 2 years or 30,000 miles)

Differential Service

Changing the differential oil—it's one of the most-overlooked maintenance tasks on non-FWD light trucks, SUVs, and passenger cars. Because the differential is at the rear and under the car, it gets none of the star treatment that the engine up front does. However, if lubrication in the differential fails, you won't be getting very far for very long. The differential is a component in all cars and is designed to compensate for the difference in distance the inner wheels and outer wheels travel as the car goes around a corner. The differential oil lubricates the ring and pinion gears that transfer power from the driveshaft to the wheel axles. If your car is fitted with a limited-slip differential, it also keeps all the moving parts in that assembly healthy. Changing this oil is just as important as changing your engine's oil, and for the same reason. Metal-to-metal contact wears down surfaces and creates heat from friction, which inevitably weakens the gears and leads to failure. This small procedure can save you a big headache down the road. (Recommended every 2 years or 30,000 miles)

Fuel Injection Cleaning Service/ Fuel Filter Service

From the first time your engine is started, dirt, carbon deposits and varnishes are formed in your vehicle's fuel systems, on the intake valves, and in the combustion chamber areas. Some symptoms that are caused by carbon buildup are engine pinging, poor acceleration, hesitation or lurching, repeated stalling, rough idle and poor fuel mileage. Cleaning your fuel system has enormous benefits.  It will save you money by improving fuel mileage and preventing costly repairs, reduces the risk of breakdowns, reduces air pollution and increases safety and dependability. (Recommended every 2 years or 30,000 miles)

Engine Flush

The process involves removing the engine oil and pouring cleaning agents into the engine. The cleaning agents get into the tiny nicks and corners to flush the gunk out. The chemicals have strong degreasing properties which remove the toughest engine gunk.  Oil filters are effective but they do not filter out all types of residue.  It can be so miniscule the oil filter misses it. If the oil is not changed for a while, it keeps getting dirty. As the oil keeps gathering engine dirt, it begins forming residue around different engine parts. Even if you change your oil and add clean oil, the dirt will remain stuck to the engine parts and can cause serious damage to your engine in the long run. When gunk is stuck to internal components, the engine struggles to deliver optimum performance. Not only will this result in a lower gas mileage, but your engine will begin vibrating excessively. At times, the gunk chokes the small oil lines within the engine. After a flush, fresh engine oil will stay cleaner for longer. You will even notice a significant difference in the engine temperature and also the drive. (Recommended every 2 years or 30,000 miles)

Serpentine Belt Service

Driving on an old belt is a disaster waiting to happen because it powers most all of an engine’s accessories.  That means when your belt breaks, slips and, ultimately, wears out, everything – from the power steering pump to the alternator and air conditioner stops working.  What’s more, the parts it controls can become severely damaged.  Broken hoses and belts are bad, a damaged engine is even worse.  By replacing your belt periodically, can you minimize the risk of breakdown.  (When cracked, frayed, aged)

A/C Recharge Service

When an air conditioning system loses its ability to cool properly, it may be necessary to recharge the system. An A/C Recharge is the first line of defense if cooling is inadequate.  If you have a leak and the recharge escapes, another recharge is not recommended and you must get your system repaired. (Recommended when cooling efficiency is low)

Every vehicle manufacturer recommends routine scheduled maintenance- which varies in interval.  Drive and Shine performs all of the above routine and recommended services at a fraction of the cost of a dealership and without the need for making appointments, dropping off the car, getting rides or long waits.  We do them in just minutes while you wait in the comfort of your own vehicle.  You never need an appointment – we work on your schedule!  All services are performed by our highly trained technicians.

Drive & Shine Car Wash, Oil Change and Auto Detailing - we are a one stop shop for all your routine car care needs. Our Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend and Schererville Indiana facilities combine Express Carwashes, Full Service Carwashes, Detailing Services, and Quick Lube/Oil Change Services all under one roof. You never need an appointment! Our customers have voted us #1 in what we do for as long as we have been in business. If you are a current customer, we thank you for your business. If you have not tried our services, we invite you to try us- we promise not to disappoint you.

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