Time to Check Your Tires

Tires are a very important part of your car for obvious reasons—they are what keeps your car on the road.  There are two main things that need to be checked on your tires: pressure and tread.

maintenance-tiresTire pressure is very easy to check and extremely important to keep in the recommended range. The recommended tire pressure is listed in the car’s owner manual but is typically between 27 and 32 psi.  In order to check the tire pressure, you simply need an accurate pressure gauge, which can be purchased at a local hardware store. Remember that temperature can affect tire pressure (typically 10 degrees increases pressure by 1 psi), so if your tires were filled in the winter, they may be overinflated when it gets hotter. Having the correct tire pressure is extremely important because under-inflated tires are significantly more likely to fail and also cause decreased gas mileage. If you need to fill your tires, use this map to find a location near you that has a free air pump.

When people talk about tire tread, they are referring to the depth of the grooves on the outside of your tires.  These grooves are extremely important, because they deal with things like mud, water, and snow on the road.  Without grooves, those elements would quite literally lift the tire off of the road, causing you to lose control.  So, when your tires’ tread starts to get low, you could be at a significantly higher risk to hydroplane.  The age-old trick involves using a penny to estimate how much tread you have left. When your tires lose most of their tread, it’s time to get them replaced.

This fall, make sure your car is staying on the road and not losing gas mileage to bad tires.  Come into the shop and we’d be happy to replace your tires or do any other maintenance you need.

 

5 Fluids Your Car Needs to Survive the Winter

Lady troubleshooting her car in the snowWinter is here- which means it’s time to prepare your car for harsh temperatures. No matter the season, your car requires certain fluids to operate properly. Make sure your car is running right by visiting a trusted mechanic to check the following:

1. Oil

Your vehicle is a complex machine that is made up of several different parts; oil lubricates the parts found in your engine. Over time, the oil in your car becomes dirty, which makes your car work twice as hard to operate smoothly. To ensure your car receives clean oil, you should get your oil changed every 3 months or 3,000 miles.

In fact, changing to a different oil all together may be necessary. When temperatures drop in the winter, our car requires a thinner oil to operate effectively. Thicker oils can harm your engine because the viscosity makes your oil pump overwork to reach all the parts it needs to lubricate the engine.

We all travel at some point during the holidays and car maintenance may be the furthest thing from our minds, but it is important to remember. If your car continues to run on dirty oil, you may be asking Santa for an expensive engine cleaning!

2. Anti-Freeze

Anti-freeze is a genius liquid that keeps your engine’s cooling system running. In colder temperatures, your cooling system is vulnerable. However, if you add this substance, you could be saving your car from serious radiator damage.

Make sure to purchase a ready-mix version, also known as an engine coolant. Be careful when purchasing a concentrated form. This variety means you will have to do some diluting; you want your system to carry 50% water and 50% antifreeze.

Check with your mechanic about your car’s requirements! Manufacturers may have different recommendations depending on the make, model, and year of your car.

3. Brake Fluid

Brake fluid matters because this is what keeps you safe on the road! It is required by law that you pass a brake test, but in extreme weather conditions, you will want to make sure your brakes are in tip-top shape.

A mechanic can easily assess your brake fluid for you. If your fluid levels are below the lower marking indicated on your brake fluid reservoir, this could mean your brakes are worn or leaking.

Don’t take a chance this season! High functioning brakes become particularly important during unpredictable winters.

4. Automatic Transmission Fluid

Like oil, transmission fluid keeps all the bells and whistles in your car running appropriately. Generally, you should change your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles. Some cars have sealed transmissions, which means a professional will have to refill this for you.

5. Windshield Wiper

Worn wipers are the worst, especially during inclement weather! Your wiper fluid reservoir requires two blends throughout the year: a summer blend and a winter blend. It’s imperative to make this switch; if not, your windshield fluid will freeze to your windshield in temperatures below 32 degrees.

Is it time to visit us for a check up? Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Summer 2019 Instagram Roundup

It’s been a great summer at Tommy’s! We’re sorry to say goodbye to the nice weather, but we’re excited about fall.

Back in July, we had a chance to try some tricky moves in a Ford Excursion. Check it out:

We also worked on some rod bearings for our friend Pete’s BMW S65. Head to our Instagram page to see pictures, & while you’re there, follow us so you don’t miss any more updates!

Summer: Beating the Heat with A/C

We rely on our auto air conditioner every single day to stay cool on our way to work, yet many of us don’t even think about how it works.  Even if your A/C unit appears to be working, it could still be running inefficiently, meaning either you can’t quite get cool or you might be losing a lot of gas mileage.

auto air conditioningThe most common problem with an air conditioner is a low level of refrigerant, which can happen without visible difference.  If your refrigerant levels are off, your car will be using too much gas to cool itself down, causing you to lose gas mileage and therefore money.  Because of routine problems like this, we recommend that you have your A/C checked at least once every two years (if not more often), especially before the summer months.

In addition to having regular maintenance on your A/C system, there are a few ways to save fuel while still staying cool.  Of course, there is the dilemma of whether to roll the windows down or run the air conditioning.  Although there is some debate among the experts, the general consensus is that at lower speeds (under 45 mph), having the windows down is more efficient, while at higher speeds (above 45 mph), having the windows down causes too much air drag, so running the A/C is better.  One other way to save gas that not as many people know about is to run your A/C on re-circulate because it takes significantly less energy to cool down the already cooler inside air than the hotter outside air.

As you get ready for the summer months this year, consider taking your car into the shop to make sure everything is running at peak efficiency.

Summer Driving Tips

Q: Tom, I am taking a car trip with my family this summer, what are some things I should check before we leave?

A: Long car trips for summer vacation can really turn nasty if your vehicle breaks down. We have compiled a short list of things to check out before you take that long-awaited trip to the shore.

  1. The Cooling System: Take a look at the coolant container under your hood and top it off if necessary. If you need to add coolant more than once in 6 months, or if you smell a sweet burning odor, you probably have a leak. Also, if you can’t remember the last time your coolant was flushed, it’s a good idea to have that done. Dirty fluid can clog parts of your cooling system and cause your vehicle to overheat.
  2. Tire Pressure: Be sure you check your tire pressure on all tires and make sure it is in the recommended range. Remember that there is a difference between the maximum pressure listed on the tire and the recommended pressure. Also, for every 10 degrees tire pressure increases by one pound. If your tires were filled in the freezing cold this winter, they may be overpressurized in the summer heat. For those of you packing your car to the brim for vacation its not a bad idea to look for recommended tire pressure for “heavy loads” in your owners manual. If you’re taking a long trip, you should invest in a full-size spare tire if you don’t have one already.
  3. The Oil: Driving long distances in excessive heat puts a lot of stress on your motor oil. If you are due for an oil change, don’t wait until after your trip. Oil that has been used for more than 3,000 miles breaks down more easily and can put more wear on your engine. If you are taking a heavy load or towing a trailer, some car manufacturers recommend using a thicker type of oil that is better suited for the heat.
  4. The Air Conditioning: Turn on your AC to make sure you are getting nice cold air out of the vents. If it is not as cold as you remember, it is probably time to have your AC recharged. If you are getting cold air, then your AC system is working and there is no need to get it checked. If your AC is not working and you think you can tough it out, be careful. In some newer cars, the AC is tied to several other components that may not function correctly if the AC is in need of repair.

 

If for some reason you are not taking your car or truck to Tommy’s Automotive on Carter Drive in West Chester, you can ask your mechanic to check for the following.

  1. The Cooling System: Including the radiator, coolant, belts, hoses, cooling fans, heater core and water pump.
  2. Tires: Check tread depth, uneven wear and tire pressure.
  3. The Front End: Check ball joints, tie rod ends and steering components.
  4. Change the Oil: Look for leaks.
  5. Check the Air Conditioning System: Refrigerant level, compressor clutch and belts.
  6. Check the Tranny: Are you close to the recommended service interval? Is the fluid nice and clean? Any leaks?

Spring 2019 Instagram Roundup

Spring finally arrived in West Chester, and now we’re enjoying these summer days we missed so much during the cold months.

This season, we had an old school low-rider in our shop. The kind that’s rigged to move up and down. You can see the before and after photos below, but for the full effect, head to our Instagram stream to see it on video! The photos really don’t do it justice.

In May, some of our friends at Harley Davidson of Chester Springs had some issues with a Vanderhall. Fixing it was definitely a head-scratcher, but we were able to get it sorted out and returned to the owner.

We took apart the steering wheel of Jesse’s Mercedes to fix some wiring issues. That ended up being more challenging than we anticipated.

 

Spring: Check Your Belts and Hoses

honda_engine

Belts and hoses are some of the most overlooked parts in your engine, but they are essential to the engine doing its job properly.  Belts and hoses are typically checked every time your car goes in for a tune-up (every 30,000 miles), but checking them is easy and can save you a lot of hassle.  In fact, nearly a third of all cars and light trucks have belts or hoses that should be replaced, according to a recent survey.

Hoses in your engine are designed to keep the engine cool.  This is a pretty important job, but as hoses get older, they can leak or deteriorate.  A faulty hose is a very easy (and inexpensive) fix, and if it is left alone, it can result in much more serious and expensive repairs to the engine.

Belts do a lot of different jobs within the engine.  As with hoses, belts start to deteriorate over time (especially with cold temperatures) and can fray or even snap.  If a belt snaps while you are out on the road, the only way to get the car moving again is a tow truck.  Avoid the problem all together and simply have your belts checked regularly and replaced as necessary.

Learn more about our other repair services.

Winter 2019 Instagram Roundup, and Tommy’s is Hiring!

a '57 hudson hornetIt’s been another great winter here at Tommy’s Automotive, though we must say, we’re excited about spring.

In March, we met a new friend, Utah, who was adopted from the Brandywine Valley SPCA. He has already become an indispensable part of our team. In December, we got to do burnouts in an old rusty truck–head to our Instagram page to see it on video!

We saw no shortage of cool cars in the shop this winter, including a GT R33, a 1957 Hudson Hornet, and Jesse’s BMW E60.

As part of our job search promotion (we’re hiring!), Peyton shook one of her toys in a manic frenzy to show her excitement.

Follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop!

Join the Team at Tommy’s

Tommy’s is looking for a new employee! Requirements for our new mechanic include:

  • Must be willing to work on trucks
  • SIE Required

Tommy’s offers great benefits, including 401k, health insurance, and vacation time. Work Monday-Friday 8-5, no weekends! Contact us online to apply.

Make Sure Your Battery Doesn’t Leave You Out in the Cold

car batteryBatteries are one of the simplest, yet most vital parts of a car.  If the battery is dead or isn’t working, the car won’t even start in the first place. However, people often forget to check their batteries until it’s too late and end up stranded.

Two easy ways to keep your battery running longer include keeping your car in a garage when it’s at home to shield it from the elements and cleaning off the battery.  To clean the battery, look for build-up around the terminals; it can usually be easily removed with some baking soda and water.

It’s also a good idea to keep tabs on how your battery is doing throughout its lifecycle.  You can do this by using a battery tester at a local auto shop. Although these testers can’t give you perfect information about what is going on, they can give you an idea of how the battery is doing overall.

People often have problems with batteries in the winter for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the oil inside your engine is essentially like molasses in the cold weather, making the engine much harder to turn over (requires more current from battery).  Second of all, your battery does not produce its normal amount of energy in the cold.  These two factors combine to cause a lot of problems, which is why it’s better to be safe than sorry with batteries, especially in the winter.

A battery’s typical lifetime usually ranges between 4 and 5 years.  At that point, there’s usually nothing that can be done to save the battery; it simply has to be replaced.  Just remember, you’d rather be on top of it and get it replaced 6 months early on your own schedule than have to do an emergency repair after your battery fails out and strands you in the cold.

Just in case you have a battery problem, it’s always good to remember how to jump a car.

Have questions about your battery? Give us a call (610) 696-2633.