With the recent focus in Parkville on improving fuel economy, we've been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.
Everyone in Parkville knows that tires wear out, but we all want to make them last as long as possible because they're fairly expensive to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Under-inflated tires will wear out more quickly.
Some people in Parkville wonder if there is benefit to adding a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. But actually, there isn't. In fact, there are very good reasons not to over-inflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.
Come in and see us about tire maintenance for your North Kansas City, Missouri vehicle. Northtown Auto Clinic 2235 Taney Street North Kansas City, Missouri 64116 816-842-1777
Every vehicle in the Parkville area has a sticker on the driver's side door jamb that tells you the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle's suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it's important to follow it.
What else do we need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let's start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. We rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front and they'll all wear evenly over their life.
For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it'll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can't be rotated at all. Your owner's manual will have details for your car.
How often should you rotate your tires? Your owner's manual will have a recommendation. Your service advisor at Northtown Auto Clinic can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles.
You know, some people don't think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren't taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there's enough variation to require balancing.
When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely in order. When a tire's out of balance, it's actually hopping down the road. You'll feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire's out of balance and through your seat if it's a rear tire.
Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted.
Also, always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that's where you need the most traction to avoid spinning-out.
People near North Kansas City Missouri often ask Northtown Auto Clinic 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 North Kansas City Missouri service advisor at Northtown Auto Clinic 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 North Kansas City Missouri 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 North Kansas City. 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 North Kansas City Missouri auto service advisor at Northtown Auto Clinic 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.
We find that a lot of North Kansas City service and repair at Northtown Auto Clinic are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions, but don't want to be embarrassed or to seem pushy. Cars are very complicated and there's more to know about them than most of us have the time to learn. Maybe it's because cars have become so much more reliable that the average person just doesn't need to know as much to keep their vehicle on the road.
You know, your local hospital has a Patient's Bill of Rights that they post throughout the hospital. We think our North Kansas City automotive service customers also have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their car and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.
It's all about the communication. It's a little harder when you're trying to find the right service center in North Kansas City. But once you've developed a relationship, the communication should come easier.
What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, let's go back to the medical example. When your doctor's explaining something to you, it's something that she understands very well and is very familiar with. So she may use jargon you don't understand or that you don't have the education and training that's foundational to understanding what she's trying to explain.
So you fall behind and get frustrated.
It can be the same with your North Kansas City automotive service advisors. Most of them are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get their customers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.
Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to customers. If you're not sure, ask what the payment policies are. For example, there's a big difference between giving your car a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while. Make sure you know what's done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.
Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your North Kansas City service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt part or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.
Ask about warranties for parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. Your service center and its technicians stand behind their work and want you to understand precisely what that means.
Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that's done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received when the time comes to sell it.
Call Northtown Auto Clinic to make an appointment. 2235 Taney Street North Kansas City, Missouri 64116 816-842-1777
Call Northtown Auto Clinic to make an appointment to check your transmission in North Kansas City. 2235 Taney Street North Kansas City, Missouri 64116 816-842-1777
Do you have any plans around North Kansas City Missouri for the weekend? Maybe you and some friends and are taking the boat up to the lake. Maybe you'll be having a lot of fun water skiing and doing a little fishing.
You got the boat all ready. It's all gassed up. You packed lots of snacks and the cooler's stocked – ready to go.
How about your tow vehicle? It has plenty of gas and you've even vacuumed it out, but is your auto maintenance up to date?
Stop and think. You'll have some heavy traffic on your way out of town. Hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it may be hot weather. And all the time you're going to be towing around several thousand extra pounds.
That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission. Your transmission's going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. What's a fun little blast to the lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.
It's important that you have enough transmission fluid. If you're running low, the transmission will run to hot and won't have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing.
And if it's time for a transmission service, you really should have it done at Northtown Auto Clinic before your trip. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, you need to have it serviced on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.
Automatic transmissions contain a maze of passages that the fluid has to pass through to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems. Neglect your transmission for too long, and it can fail. Believe us – you don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.
You know, most of us in North Kansas City Missouri do a lot of our driving under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions. Things like short trips or driving in very hot or very cold weather. Also, dusty roads, city driving around North Kansas City, and basically any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions is severe driving. We all need to think about whether or not we need to follow the severe service schedule.
So, consider going in for a full service oil change before you leave for the lake to make sure everything has been looked at. Ask for a trip inspection while you're at it. Your North Kansas City Missouri service technician at Northtown Auto Clinic can check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Don't forget the sunscreen. And to thank your North Kansas City service technician, how about bringing him back a nice trout?