Useful Information About Auto Maintenance and Safety
At 1000 Islands Auto Solutions Inc. in Gananoque, ON, we are your partners in road safety. Read on for helpful guidelines on how to prevent or troubleshoot common car problems.
- Winter Preparedness Checklist
- How to Change a Tire
- Items You Should Always Keep in Your Vehicle
- What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down on the Road
- How to Check Your Car Battery
- How to Check Your Vehicle’s Coolant/Antifreeze
- Maintaining Your Wipers and Washer Fluid
- How to Check Your Vehicle’s Oil Level
- Frequently Asked Questions
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Winter Preparedness Checklist
Use our checklist to make sure your car is ready for wintertime.
Give your vehicle a winter-ready tune-up
Cold temperatures can greatly impact your vehicle’s performance. Check your spark plugs, brakes, steering and suspension, and exhaust for damages.
Inspect and install your winter tires
At 7°C/44°F, all-season tires begin to lose their grip. Winter tires provide up to 25% better traction in cold temperatures. If your winter tire treads are worn, it’s time to buy a new set.
Inspect your spare tire
This is a good time to make sure that your spare tire is properly inflated, and that you have the tools necessary to change a tire if you get a flat.
Inspect your car battery
Cold temperatures can reduce your battery’s rated power by up to 60%, making it more difficult to start your car in the winter.
Inspect or replace your wiper blades
Damage to the blade or deterioration of the rubber will reduce blade performance, which can cause reduced visibility. Consider switching to special winter blades to avoid ice build-up and streaking.
Inspect all of your lights: headlights, taillights, brake lights, indicator lights and hazard lights
Visibility is one of the most important parts of driving, which is why your lighting system should be at peak performance for winter. Bulbs not only burn out, but also become dim over time. If you find it difficult to see at night, consider replacing your bulbs.
Keep in mind that it is best to replace bulbs in pairs. Think about whether a headlight restoration kit is the right option for you, as it will help ensure your plastic headlights are clear.
Get an oil change
Talk to your technician about synthetic oil. This type of oil provides better engine protection from cold starts than conventional motor oil. Always refer to your owner’s manual to make sure that you use the right grade of synthetic oil for your car.
Top up with winter windshield washer fluid
Winter windshield washer fluid is formulated to prevent freezing, and has strong detergents to effectively clean away salt and sand.
Top up your engine fluids: coolant/anti-freeze, brake, power steering
Cold temperatures shrink gaskets, which could result in fluid leaks. Check your vehicle regularly to ensure that all of your essential fluids are at the appropriate levels. Always refer to your owner’s manual to guarantee that you use the fluid specified for your vehicle’s specific model.
How to Change a Tire
Having a flat tire and not knowing the proper way to change it is a difficult situation. View our guide and learn the basics of changing tires.
Step 1: Secure your vehicle
Engage your vehicle’s handbrake. Once you are sure that your car is stationary, roll the spare tire towards the flat one. Afterwards, use bricks, wooden wedges, or metal wheel chocks to block the wheels that are at the opposite end of your car.
Step 2: Jack up your vehicle
If you have a scissor jack, insert the rod or wrench over the knob before cranking it. If you have a hydraulic jack, place the handle into the appropriate location before pumping it up and down. Make sure to use nice, even strokes to make the job easier.
Step 3: Pry off the wheel cover
You can use a simple screwdriver to pry the wheel cover off. All you need to do is insert the point of the tool where the edge of the cover meets the wheel, then apply a little leverage. With the right force, the cap should pop off. Remember that you may have to do this in a couple of different places, like how you would if you are prying the lid off a paint can.
Step 4: Loosen the lug nuts
Find the end of the wrench that matches the size of lug nuts on your vehicle, and fit it onto the first nut. Once the wrench is in place, apply all of your weight to the bar on the left side. This motion starts turning the nut counter-clockwise, which loosens it.
To save energy, don’t remove the lug nuts completely. Just get them loose enough so that you can remove them by hand after jacking up your car. If the lug nuts are too tight, a hollow pipe and a cross-shaft wrench re the best tools to use.
For alloy wheels that are held on by lug nuts with delicate finishes, delicate handling is advised. These types of lug nuts should never be loosened or replaced with power tools that can scratch their surface.
Step 5: Remove the flat tire
Using your hands, take the lug nuts completely. Firmly grasp the flat tire with both of your hands and pull it toward you. As you pull the flat off, it should slide along the bolts until it clears the end of the bolts. Once the flat tire is removed, make sure that it is out of the way by rolling it along the ground to the rear of your car.
Step 6: Lift the spare onto the lug bolts
This next step is fairly straightforward. However, keep in mind that tires are heavy, and that you may have a little trouble lifting them into place.
Step 7: Replace the lug nuts and tighten them by hand
Using your wrench, give each lug nut a jolt to secure it into place. Do not tighten them all the way unless your car is on the ground.
Step 8: Lower your vehicle and tighten the lug nuts
Once your vehicle is securely resting on the ground, use your wrench to tighten the nuts as much as you can.
Step 9: Replace the wheel cover or hubcap
If your car has wheel covers with a delicate finish, the owner’s manual should provide you with instructions on how to replace them. However, if your car has hubcaps, place the hubcap against the wheel. Once aligned, whack the hubcap into place with the heel of your hand.
To prevent injury, cushion your hand with a soft rag before hitting the hubcap. Using a wrench or hammer is not recommended because they will dent the hubcap.
The location of the spare tires differs from vehicle to vehicle. If you are not sure where your spare is located, we advise you to check your owner’s manual. While you’re at it, make sure that your spare tire has enough air. We advice you to check your spare tire’s air periodically.
Items You Should Always Keep in Your Vehicle
- Rags: clean, lint-free rags can be used to wipe oil or transmission dipstick. You can also use this all-around item to clean the interior of your windshield if it clouds up.
- Emergency Parts: these items include spare sets of wiper blades and extra fuses.
- Spare Tire: having a spare tire ensures that you will have a backup when one of your main tires gets blown out.
- Jumper Cables: among the most common car problems is the loss of battery power to start the engine. This item lets you transfer energy from another vehicle, providing your car with enough power to start.
- Snow and Ice Equipment: if you live in a cold area, we recommend that you always carry a bag of sand and a can of de-icer. In addition, we advice you to bring a small shovel, which is useful for digging your tires out, as well as a scraper, which allows you to clear your windshield of snow and/or ice.
- Flashlights and Reflectors: a flashlight will enable you to see things under the hood if your vehicle breaks down. In addition, a flashlight can serve as an emergency light for oncoming traffic if you have to stop on the road for repairs.
- First-Aid Kit: the ideal contents of a first-aid kit includes a variety of bandages, tweezers, surgical tape, antibiotic ointment, something soothing for burns, and a high-quality antiseptic.
- Hand Cleaner: most hand cleaners can be used as grease solvents.
- Gloves: a pair of gloves can be used for emergencies. Industrial-grade rubber gloves, which are available at swimming pool supply stores, are not affected by gasoline, solvent, or battery acid.
- Stuffed Toy: If you come upon an accident or family broken down, a stuffed toy can calm a frightened child.
What to Do If Your Car Breaks Down on the Road
- Try to coast along the shoulder until you’re away from any curves in the road behind you
- If the engine dies right on the highway and you can’t get off the road, by all means, don’t get out of the car
- If it’s after dark, put the interior light on
- If the engine is operable, make sure to keep it running so that you don’t run the battery down
- Roll down the driver side window, hang out a white piece of cloth or paper, and roll the window back up to secure it in place
- If you know that you’re going to require roadside assistance, use your phone to call your auto club or the police
- Never work on your vehicle from the side that’s exposed to traffic because you may get hit by a passing vehicle
- If it’s daylight, put on your emergency blinkers to warn oncoming traffic to the fact that your vehicle is stationary
- If it’s nighttime and there’s not a lot of traffic, quickly place warning lights or reflective markers about 6 ft behind your vehicle to alert oncoming traffic and promptly get back in your car
- If you get a flat, do not try to change it unless you can get to the side of the road
- Do not attempt to change the tire if it’s not on the side that is away from traffic
How to Check Your Car Battery
Like the other parts of your vehicle, your car battery is subject to wear and tear, which is why they should be checked on a regular basis. It’s important to remember that a clean battery lasts longer than a dirty one.
Before you work on your battery, see to it that you have read all the safety measures involved.
- Disconnect the battery whenever you work on it, but be sure to shut the engine off first before doing so
- Always remove the negative cable from the battery if you need to work on wiring under the hood
- When removing and/or replacing both of the battery cables, always remove the negative cable first and replace it last
- Tie the cables back while working on the battery
It’s easy to check your battery. Just locate it and follow these steps:
Step 1: Clean off any powdery deposits on the positive and negative terminals.
You can use a battery terminal brush, located inside the cap, and a clamp cleaner.
Rotate the battery terminal brush on each terminal to shine it and ensure a good electrical connection. Afterwards, dry everything with a clean, disposable, lint-free rag. Try to avoid getting the powdery stuff on your hands or clothes. If you do, wash it off with water at once.
Step 2: Reconnect the terminals to the battery, replacing the positive cable first and then the negative cable last. After the battery terminals are securely reconnected, coat the terminals with thick automotive grease or petroleum jelly in order to prevent corrosive deposits from forming again.
Step 3: Closely examine the battery cables and clamps to see whether they’re frayed or corroded. If the damage looks extensive, the cables and clamps may need to be replaced. Damaged connections may cause the battery to short-circuit, which could damage onboard computers. If you need assistance, visit us and we’ll check your battery.
If the battery is old or the electrolyte in is not strong enough, you may have trouble starting your engine or your headlights may seem dim. If this is the case, the battery may need to be recharged or replaced.
Step 4: Check all of the battery case and the terminals. If you see deep cracks in the battery case or obvious terminal damage, replace the battery regardless of its electrical performance.
How to Check Your Vehicle’s Coolant/Antifreeze
The radiator, the component of your vehicle that cools your engine, needs water and coolant (antifreeze) to function. Check out our list for more information about auto coolants.
- Rather than opening the cap on the radiator, it’s better to just check whether the liquid reaches the “full” line on the side of the coolant reservoir
- Check the coolant stored in the plastic bottle, which is connected to the radiator
- You add only water to the coolant system during emergencies
- Most radiators require the protective anticorrosive properties of antifreeze, an element that water doesn’t naturally have
- A 50/50 mix of liquid or coolant is usually sufficient
- Never open the caps or add coolant to a hot engine
- Coolant is usually colored red, green, blue, or yellow
- If the coolant has a sludgy, oily surface, immediately take the vehicle to your mechanic This issue can be a sign of internal leakage
- While you’re checking out your cooling system, feel the radiator hoses for clogs
Maintaining Your Wipers and Washer Fluid
- Located under the hood of your vehicle is a plastic container, which holds the fluid for your windshield wipers
- Check the reservoir to see if it needs to be refilled
- If you live in an area that gets extremely cold during wintertime, consider using a premixed washer solution that contains antifreeze
- If your wipers are not cleaning your windshield, buy new blades or inserts
- To avoid being caught driving with no visibility, change your blades after summertime, before the rainy season, or at least twice a year
- If your vehicle has a rear window wiper, be sure to check that, too
How to Check Your Vehicle’s Oil Level
To make sure that your car has enough oil to run properly, be sure to check your vehicle’s oil level at least once a month. If the oil looks dirty or smells of gasoline, it should be changed.
To find out if your vehicle needs an oil change, follow these steps:
Pull out the dipstick and wipe it off using a clean, lint-free rag
- Be sure the engine is cold, or has been off for at least 10 minutes, before you check the oil level
- Insert the dipstick back into the pipe
- Pull the dipstick out again and look at the film of oil on the end of the stick.
- Check how high the oil film reached the dipstick
- If the oil reaches the “Full” level on the dipstick, your car has sufficient oil
- If the oil looks clean but doesn’t pass the “Add” level on the dipstick, your car needs more oil
- Put the dipstick back into the pipe
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a question about auto maintenance? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post the answer in this section.
How long is it going to take?
Our turnaround times vary depending on the type of services we will be doing. However, keep in mind that we always strive to finish our job as soon as possible without sacrificing the quality of our work.
What am I supposed to do while I wait?
We have a taxi service that can take you into town, casino, or back home.
How often should get my tires rotated?
We recommend that you have your tires rotated every other oil change or every 10,000 km. Neglecting to rotate tires is one of the major causes of early tire wear.
What does it mean if the “check engine” or “service engine soon” light comes on?
There are numerous sensors and computerized components that manage your vehicle’s engine performance and emissions. When one of these fails, the “check engine” light comes on. Although your car may seem to run fine, it is important to have the issue addressed to prevent long-term problems from occurring.
How often should I get my oil changed?
It’s ideal to get your oil changed every 5,000 km, or as recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
Should I consider using synthetic motor oil in my vehicle?
Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for high output, turbocharged, or supercharged engines. It is also suitable for vehicles that are used for towing, especially during hot weather, as well as vehicles that operate in extremely cold or hot climates.
Although more expensive than mineral-based oils, synthetic motor oils can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes.
How often do I need to buy new shocks or struts?
Unlike filters or spark plugs, shocks and struts do not require replacing at specific mileage intervals, but they do wear out. Struts usually last for 80,000 to 100,000 km, but have been known to wear out at 50,000 km.
If you are not getting the smooth ride that you previously had, or if you frequently tow a trailer or cargo using your vehicle, you may need new struts or shocks.
My car is new and under warranty. Do I have to take it to the dealer for maintenance service?
No, you are free to choose where your vehicle is serviced. You can count on us to do all of your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance.
As an independent shop, we can provide the added benefit of offering you an unbiased opinion about a warranty-covered problem. A dealer may not do this, and often will not perform a warranty repair unless the problem is severe.
Isn’t the dealer the best place to take my car for service; after all they are specialists in my vehicle?
While dealerships are specialized in certain makes of vehicles, more often than not their maintenance schedules have a narrow focus and critical items get missed. Most dealerships are too large to offer personal service and get to know your driving and maintenance needs.
At our auto repair shop, we get to know what you and your vehicle really needs. You can rest assured that we have the tools, equipment, and expertise to service your vehicle