5 car maintenance tips you need to know
Angie's List gets a ton of questions about car maintenance. For some quick tips and answers we went to top-rated auto repair shop Bill Gramley's Auto Repair Center in St. Petersburg, Fla.
What should car owners know about oil changes?
We tell people to take the factory oil change recommendation and cut it in half. Oil gets contaminated from unburned fuel. After 5,000 miles, about 10 percent of your oil is diluted by gasoline or unburned fuel. If you drive your car until 10,000 miles between oil changes, that could be up to 20 to 25 percent, and the oil will start caking up the engine parts. That's probably our biggest cause of grief when it comes to people having problems. They're following what the factory recommends for oil changes, but the factories only suggest that to make the cost of ownership low.
Can you share some general car maintenance tips?
Preventive maintenance adds so much life to your car, and in the long run it saves you money because your car runs more efficiently. We change air filters at 20,000 miles instead of 30,000 miles. Once an air filter goes 20,000 miles, especially here in Florida where there's so much sand, it doesn't work as well, which reduces the fuel miles. Tire rotation will also help you get more life out of your tires if you do it every 8,000 to 12,000 miles, or with every other oil change. For other things, there's not really much you personally can do on these cars anymore because everything is so electronic, but it's good to get on a schedule with your mechanic.
Seriously, what's the difference between taking a car to the dealer or an independent repair shop?
Dealer mechanics have benefits, including factory trained mechanics and loaner cars available. But dealers are pricier, with hourly labor rates of $105 to $120, where the local independent shops usually charge $75 to $95. We also attend certification classes through parts manufacturers and factory schools. You just have to find someone you're comfortable with. Word of mouth is usually the best advice. Right now, just about everybody's slow, but generally if you see a shop that's busy, the reason why they're busy is they're good.
If you carry nothing else in your car, it should be...?
In case of emergencies, the best tool to keep on hand is a AAA card. Keep a gallon of antifreeze and 2 quarts of oil stored in your car just in case you need it
What about the other stuff?
Just be aware of your car. Check your tire pressure every two months, do your oil maintenance and keep up all your fluids. Lately, more and more people are bringing in their car only if something is wrong. But if you take care of your car, your car will take care of you.
If you've been a customer of Bill Gramley's Auto Repair Center, please submit a review about your experience.