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, your 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 Driving Tips

road during the summerQ: 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.

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

Car beltsBelts and hoses are some of the most overlooked parts of 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 altogether and simply have your belts checked regularly and replaced as necessary.

Contact us today and 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!

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.

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.

Tommy’s Automotive Holiday Hours

Happy New YearTommy’s Automotive will be closed Monday and Tuesday the 24th and 25th for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then Monday and Tuesday the 31st and the 1st for New Years Eve and New Years Day.  All other hours are normal.

Happy Holidays from Tommy’s Automotive!

What You Should Know About Deer Safety

deer Now that the leaves are changing, drivers have a new set of hazards. Leaves present a danger on the road, school buses are back on the move, and it’s deer season. You’ll want to watch out for deer, because these guys are very athletic. They can run up to 40 miles an hour and leap high enough to scale a 9-foot fence.

According to a post by Geico, there are things you can do to stay safe during deer season.  Read below to learn more about how to prevent these leaping marathoners from crashing into your vehicle.

Some facts about deer on the road:

  • Accidents involving deer occur mostly between October and January, which is deer breeding season.
  • Deer are most active in the early morning and evening, between 5 AM and 8 AM and from 5 PM until midnight.
  • Deer travel in packs, so if you see one, there are likely more nearby.
  • They aren’t just on country roads. Due to urban sprawl and the growing deer population, our forest friends make appearances anywhere from suburban streets to city highways.

How to Avoid Colliding with a Deer:

  • Be alert, particularly in keeping the right side of the road on your radar. If a deer enters the road from the left, you have a better chance of spotting it before it’s too late.
  • When possible, use your high beams for increased visibility.
  • Buckle up! Sixty percent of fatal animal accidents occur when the driver or passengers were not wearing their seat belts.
  • If you notice a deer on the road, break firmly and be careful not to swerve.
  • If you do hit a deer, do not approach it. Injured deer are likely to injure you due to fright. Make sure to call the authorities as soon as possible, as the deer may block the road and be a hazard to other drivers.

 

Spring Instagram Summary

We’ve enjoyed every minute of our spring here at Tommy’s Automotive, and we’re excited that summer is finally here! In case you missed it, we’ve compiled a round-up of everything we posted on Instagram.

We fixed up an old 48 trailer that’s ready to do work on the farm. Plus, we found a hidden message while changing a customer’s oil and spotted some flamingos that looked a little lost and very chilly.

Winter Tire Maintenance and PA Potholes

It’s a difficult time to be a tire. Our neighborhoods are all becoming 1 giant pothole, and it’s difficult to avoid them. All of this is quite annoying, and if that weren’t enough, it also affects your car.

Changing winter temperatures aren’t just a pain for you. As the temperature drops, so does your tire pressure, so be sure to keep your eye on the PSI. Luckily, warmer weather will soon be here (knock on wood). So go ahead and take the time to give your tires some extra TLC.

Rotate Your Tires

Not sure if it’s time to rotate your tires? Many people like to have their tires rotated when getting an oil change. Generally, they should be rotated every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. At around 40,000 miles it’s time to think about tire replacement, which is where our fancy machinery can help.

Potholes, Potholes Everywhere

potholesWe’ve all been seeing it. Those gosh darn potholes are literally everywhere, and there’s nothing we can do about it. To avoid any tire damage, be sure to slow down on roads that aren’t well paved.  Sure fixing a tire problem is one thing, but running over a deep pothole can actually bring up a host of other problems, including:

  • Premature wear on shocks
  • Suspension damage
  • Steering misalignment
  • Exhaust system damage
  • Engine damage

Within the first two weeks of the new year, Philadelphia alone had over 500 reported potholes. And it’s only getting worse.

While some people have received money towards repairs from filing insurance claims, it can often cause more of a problem, further increasing insurance rates. Learn more in this Philly.com article.

If you think your tires need a little extra winter TLC, stop by Tommy’s and we can make sure your car hasn’t been damaged by excess pothole driving.