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Fluid Replacement Guide

Our cars are machines. Those machines are dependent on the fluids we put in it. Oftentimes, we neglect to check or change fluids when needed. On average, our cars have 9 different types of fluid that is required for our cars to continue running at its optimal output. I’ve put together a handy guide as a reminder to check these fluids. These are all averages, not every car is the same, so be sure and check your owner’s manual for specifics regarding your vehicle. If you cannot find your owner’s manual, I have found a resource that will allow you to download it for free! So now you have no reason not to! 2 out of every 3 cars operate in “severe service” conditions that makes the fluids work harder than normal. Examples of severe service conditions include lots of short trips, stop-and-go driving, hauling heavy loads, operating in extreme temperatures (Yes, our Texas summers count as extreme), prolonged idling or driving in dusty conditions. These severe driving conditions make the need for checking our fluids more important than ever for getting the most out of your car.

Brake Fluid – 2 years or 30,000 miles
Clutch Hydraulic Oil – Check every 6 months
Differential/ Transaxle oil – 2 years or 30,000 miles
Distilled water for non-sealed battery – Check at every oil change
Extended life coolant – 4 years or 60,000 miles
Manual Transmission oil – Check annually
Motor oil – 3,000 to 7,500 miles
Power steering fluid – Check annually
Radiator coolant – 2 years or 30,000 miles
Transmission fluid – 30,000 to 60,000 miles
Washer fluid – Check monthly
Wheel bearing lubricant – 24,000 to 36,000 miles

Potholes Really Are the Pits!

Winter is the season for the holidays. Families getting together and enjoying each other’s company is a common theme throughout the winter season. Unfortunately, so are potholes. Snow, cold temperatures, and rain all contribute to these unsightly and dangerous road hazards. They may not look like much, but those craters in the roadway are dangerous, not only to your driving, but to your car. How many times have you driven over a monster pothole and though to yourself, “Something just broke on my car!”? Next time you ask yourself that, remember these warning signs to see if something actually DID break.

  • Loss of tire pressure. Potholes are taxing on tires and if you hit one just right, you may puncture even the newest tires. Even if you don’t puncture it, you might notice a bulge or a blister on the tire. If so, have your tire guys check it out to make sure there is no internal damage.
  • Pulling to the right or left. This means you’ve got an alignment problem. Hitting a pothole can cause and worsen any alignment problem you may have. If your car is noticeably pulling in one direction, it’ll only get worse and potholes will offer no help.
  • Loss of control, swaying, bottoming out. These are indicators that your steering or suspension may have been damaged. If you notice a considerable change in the way your car is steering or the ride, have your car checked by a professional. Struts, shocks and ball joints (plus countless others) are all very important components of controlling your vehicle while it is in motion. If one of them is damaged or broken, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.

Potholes will happen. Until there is a new breakthrough in the way our roads are designed, the winter season will bring on a number of new ones. Here in Texas, we can go to our Department of Transportation website and report a pothole to make its existence aware to the state so they can assign a contractor to fill them in. If you’re outside of Texas, check with your state’s DOT and let them know about any new potholes you come across. If you need to get your car checked out after running over a massive pothole, don’t hesitate to bring it in, we’ll take a look.

‘Tis the Season For Long Drives

Long drives are stressful on your car. With the holidays a few days away, it’s time to check your vehicle and make sure it can handle a long road trip. Taking car of a few minor maintenance issues before you head out to your parent’s, or any other family member’s, house, can save you from being stuck on the side of the road or at a gas station.

1. Check your fluids.

Transmission, brake, windshield, antifreeze. All of these are vital fluids (Well, ok, maybe the windshield fluid isn’t vital, but it’s still necessary!) that ensure your car is functioning properly.

2. Check your tires’ air pressure.

Low air pressure causes the engine to work harder to turn the wheels. Making sure your tires are at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure helps your engine run as efficiently as possible, helping your gas mileage in the process.

3. Wash your windows.

Your visibility depends on your ability to see out of your car’s windows. If you have dirty, bug splattered windows, that affects your ability to see what’s coming.

4. Change your oil.

If it’s getting close to time to change your oil, go ahead and do it before you leave. Long hours on the road are taxing on an engine. If it’s not close to time, check the oil levels to make sure you aren’t a quart or 2 low.

5. Check your air filter.

A plentiful supply of fresh air is vital to your engine’s efficiency. If it’s time for a new air filter, don’t wait until you get back, go ahead and get a new one.

6. Check your lights.

You definitely don’t want to be out at night with a headlight or a brake light out, for a multitude of reasons. Police will give you a ticket if they spot you and it hampers your ability to see where you are going and for other drivers to see you.

We’re coming up on 2 of the biggest travel holidays of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season. As always, find us on Facebook and tell us your car tips for long drives.

10 Things You Should Know Before Bringing Your Car In For Repairs

Having your car repaired is a stressful process. No one wants to admit that their car needs to be repaired, costing money that they never intended on spending. Accidents happen, we are all aware of that fact. Freeman Grapevine strives to maintain a level of excellence with all of our customers, previous and future. As a member of the business community, we subscribe to a Code of Ethics, our pledge to you of honesty, safety, and integrity. If you have any questions during the estimating or repair process, don’t hesitate to contact me or anyone else who is on duty and we can answer your questions or guide you in the right direction. With that being said, here are the ten things to keep in mind when bringing your car in for repairs.

1. Your vehicle is a major investment, preserve its value by having it repaired by certified professionals.

2. Some insurance companies will want you to visit their drive-in claims center before having your car repaired. You can do this, or you may leave your car at our shop and ask that the insurance company inspect the car here.

3. Never drive a car that is unsafe due to damages or repairs that need to be made.

4. Contrary to popular belief, there is no law requiring you to obtain more than one appraisal or estimate.

5. You have the right to go to the repair shop of your choice. Your insurance company cannot require you to go to a particular shop.

6. Choose a shop that has certified ASE  certified technicians.

7. Differences in repair quotes are common. A lower estimate may not include all necessary work. If you’re not sure why one estimate is different from another, please ask us.

8. Ask if the shop will be using genuine manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts.

9. Ask if the shop offers a repair warranty.

10. Let us help you negotiate your claim with the insurance company.


What Can I Do To Minimize My Risk Of Getting Broken Into?

Car theft is a problem that likely won’t go away anytime soon. It seems like I hear of cars getting broken into or stolen every other day. But, what can we do about it? That question got me thinking of a few things we can do to lessen the risk of a thief breaking into our vehicles.

1. Don’t keep valuables in your car.

If there’s nothing of value in the car, a would-be-robber has no reason to break in.

2. Keep your windows rolled up.

I see it all the time, people running into grocery stores or convenience stores and leaving their windows down. That’s just asking for someone to come along and swipe their phone that they laid in the center console.

3. Park in a well-lit area.

If you park somewhere there is an abundance of overhead lighting, robbers generally will look the other way since they will be in plain sight.

4. Install a theft-deterrent system.

Aftermarket alarm systems are very good at deterring robbers, especially if someone decides to open your car door, or break a window in the middle of the night.

5. Install a visual deterrent.

The Club is a archaic and clunky, but it works. If a robber were to walk up and see something like that on the steering wheel of your car, they will just keep walking. Another visual deterrent is a steel locking collar that stops people from breaking open the steering column and hot-wiring your car.

6. Install a tracking device

If your super serious about getting your car back in the event of theft, there are a few tracking systems that you can have installed. They won’t stop someone from stealing your car, but it will make it harder for the thief to get away with it. Police will have the ability to track where your vehicle is, in the event of someone taking it.

What methods do you use? Have you ever had your car broken into or stolen? Find me on Facebook and let me know!

Driving on Ice!

I decided to expand on my last post. I mentioned that we generally have 1-2 freezes per year here in North Texas. It wreaks havoc on our transportation system, since it happens so rarely and us Texans are not used to it. If my driveway is covered in ice, I stay home. I usually see people slipping and sliding down my street, hitting curbs, mailboxes and even other cars! This post is about driving safely in ice and snow if you absolutely have to go out in it.

1. Check your tires.

Your tires are what keeps you going in the direction that you want to go. If your tire tread is worn thin, you probably shouldn’t be out in the freezing temperatures.

2. Run the A/C.

I know, it seems redundant, but it actually works! Turning on your air conditioner and selecting the ‘fresh air’ setting will remove the condensation on the inside of the vehicle, helping with your visibility.

3. Turn your headlights on.

Newer cars will always have running lamps on, if they don’t, turn them on. Visibility is key, for your own safety and the other drivers on the road.

4. Keep your eyes peeled for ‘black ice’.

Black ice is the transparent sheet of ice that you never see coming. It may look like a puddle or not look like anything at all. If you find yourself driving on it, jerky movements are the last thing you want to do.

5. Visualize your trip.

If it’s freezing outside and there’s snow and ice on the ground, you definitely don’t want to be driving over any bridges. Those are always the most dangerous places to be driving during sub-zero temperatures. Take an alternate route to stay off of bridges and on solid ground.

6. Don’t depend on the technology

Just because your car has the latest sensors and traction controls, doesn’t mean they can save your car if you make a bad decision.

Keep these tips in mind next time you find yourself venturing out into the winter wonderland. The best advice I can give is to stay at home and start a fire in the fireplace. You may be able to control your driving, but you can’t control other drivers!

If you can think of anymore tips or have a harrowing snow day driving story, find me on Facebook and let me hear about them!

It’s Time To Winterize Your Car!

It got a bit chilly last night and that got me thinking about the things I need to do to make sure my car is prepared for the colder temperatures. I’ve compiled a list of the things that I could think of, off the top of my head.

1. Check your tire pressure.

When the temperatures drop, your PSI drops too. Every 10 degrees lower than normal drops it by about 1 PSI. Since winter always presents the opportunity for running into an ice patch, traction is of the utmost importance.

2. Check your battery

Colder weather means less power coming from your battery. Double-check the terminals to make sure corrosion isn’t preventing your battery from connection to the cables. You can always read the article I wrote a couple of weeks ago to help with this.

3. Inspect your windshield wipers and wiper fluid.

The morning after a freeze is the worst time to find out that your wipers are in terrible condition. With our harsh summers, your blades could probably stand being replaced. In freezing weather, you run the risk of rain and snow re-freezing on your windshield while you’re driving. To combat that, use a de-icing wiper fluid. It will help with melting standing ice and prevent re-freezing.

4. Check your anti-freeze mixture.

The ideal mixture of water to anti-freeze is 50:50. If you deviate from that, you run the risk of freezing in the event of a deep freeze. Properly mixed anti-freeze won’t freeze until -34 degrees. Most store bought anti-freeze is premixed, but always double check. If you’d like to check your mixture levels, you can get a tester at your local auto parts store.

5. Check your hoses and belts.

Cold weather can harden the rubber that your belts and hoses are made of, so check them before the big freeze gets here.

6. Check your owners manual for changes in oil viscosity.

Some engines need thicker oil during the winter. Check with your owner’s manual to be sure you’re using the correct weight engine oil.

If you can think of any other tips to make your vehicle’s life easier during the upcoming winter months, find me on Facebook and tell me about them!

When Should I Replace My Windshield Wipers?

Windshield wipers increase your visibility during a rainstorm.

One of the most important factors of safe driving is your visibility. If your vision is obstructed in any way, you are putting yourself, your passengers and other people on the road at risk. Driving in the rain or snow is a risky proposition to begin with, but having worn wiper blades makes it even worse. Your windshield wipers are very possibly the most important feature on your car when there’s a downpour. If they aren’t performing at the highest efficiency, then you can’t see the things that you need to see. Ninety percent of the decisions you make while driving, rely on your ability to see clearly. During a rainstorm, your car is being bombarded with rain in multiple instances, from the sky, from the ground, and from other cars.

Most experts say that you should replace your wipers every 6 to 12 months, but with our harsh Texas summers, I’d keep it closer to every 6 months. During the months of July and August, when the heat is bearing down on us, it’s warping and cracking the rubber of your wipers, making them less and less effective. Even our yearly freeze takes its toll on them too. When you use the wipers as ice removers, you tear and disfigure them and they no longer make full contact with the windshield.

Replacing your wipers is a simple and fairly cost-effective fix. A pair of replacement blades will generally run you $15-40. The name-brand, high-quality blades, or odd sizes, may run a bit higher. If you must drive when it’s pouring outside, then a functioning set of wiper blades is well worth the money you spend to help you see better.

Giving a Dead Battery a Jump

It’s a common problem, I’ve done it more than a few times. I’ve left my headlights on, my interior light, too. I’ve even shut my car door, thinking I closed it, but in fact, it never closed completely. Most new cars have a way of shutting them off after a period of time, but older cars just arent’t that advanced. What happens when you get in the car first thing in the morning and you reach in a turn the key? Nothing. Nothing at all. That’s when you have to ask your neighbor for a jump.

It’s scary how much I see people jumping cars incorrectly. It may seem like an easy thing to do, but it can be done wrong, and in some instances, it can cause damage to your car and even harm you. Here are a few points to consider next time you find yourself helping a neighbor or asking for help with a dead battery yourself.

1. Make sure the 2 vehicles are not touching. If they are, then you could create a current that could run through the car and damage the electrical system.

2. Turn the car giving the jump completely off. (The car needing the jump should already be off.)

3. Connect the red (positive) cable to the good battery’s positive terminal, then connect the red (positive) cable to the dead battery’s positive terminal using the same cable.

4. Connect the negative (ground) cable to the good battery’s ground terminal, then connect the negative (ground) cable to a solid ground (unpainted frame member or engine bracket) on the other car. Do not connect the negative terminal on the good battery to the negative terminal on the dead battery! Doing so will cause a spark and could ignite the battery. Connecting the cable away from the battery minimizes that risk.

5. Make double sure that the cable ends to not touch each other and the cables are not in the way of any moving parts or pulleys on the engine.

6. Start the engine in the vehicle with the good battery and run the engine at a fast idle for several minutes before attempting to start the vehicle with the dead battery. This will allow the good battery to pump more juice into the dead battery without causing a severe drain on it.

7. Start the vehicle with the dead battery. Once the vehicle has been started, carefully remove the jumper cables, keeping the metal ends away from each other until all 4 clamps have been successfully removed.

8. Drive the vehicle with the low battery for at least 30 minutes to recharge your battery. Driving time may need to be increased if your battery is close to the end of its life cycle.

There you have it! The safest way to jump a dead battery. Of course, you can always eliminate the need for a neighbor or a friend to jump your battery, there are numerous battery packs out there for a reasonable cost that you can keep in your trunk and use only when necessary. If your battery is kaput and can’t be jumped then hitch a ride over here and let us get you a new one!

Helpful Tips For Maintaining Your Car’s Battery

Maintain your car batteryCar batteries aren’t cheap. I just replaced mine and it was just over $100! So that got me thinking about the maintenance that I should be doing to make sure that I don’t help end my battery’s useful life prematurely. I came up with 6 tips to get the most out of your battery.

1. Check the water level in your battery every 2-3 months.

Check on your battery for signs indicating the fill line. Don’t overfill your water reservoir, if you do, it will spill acid and corrode whatever it lands on. Also, double check to make sure your battery is one that requires water to operate, some newer models do not.

2. Clean the terminals with a wire brush every 6 months.

You know that weird stuff that grows out of your battery terminals? That’s not a good thing. That can also stop your battery cables and battery from conducting electricity. Get a good wire brush, remove the cables, and get all of that acid build-up off. Using a paste of baking soda and distilled water will definitely help remove the acid.

3.  Coat the battery with grease made for high temperatures.

Applying this battery grease will protect it from rust and corrosion.

4. Check your cell voltage every time you get your oil changed.

When you’re at the service center, getting your oil changed, ask the repairman to check your voltage. They should have a voltmeter to check the output of your battery. Make sure it’s somewhere around 12.5 volts when it’s fully charged.

5. Check your battery’s insulator.

These come in handy when you live in an area with extreme temperatures. Texas being one of them. Extremely high temperatures can cause the fluid to dry out more quickly and shorten your battery’s life. These insulators protect them from getting too hot or too cold.

6. Check with a service center for regular check-ups.

Only a car repair professional can diagnose problems with your battery. Always check with a pro before you spend the money on a new battery. Who knows? You may not even need a new one!

If you know of any other tips and tricks to keep your battery running strong, find us on Facebook and let us know!