Category Archives: Maintenance and Service

Pay Attention To That Check Engine Light!

Freeman Grapevine knows you’ve done it. No use tying to cover it up.  An indicator light goes on in the instrument panel or you hear a new, strange noise and of course you’re thinking that something must absolutely be wrong with your car and it needs immediate attention! Well relax, take a deep breath and let’s sort through some of the common car problems that you just don’t need to kick up a stink about!  And of course you can also come chat with us at Freeman Grapevine too!

The check engine light goes on and immediately you panic that just maybe, maybe…your car is going to blow up.  Take a deep breath and calm down. More than likely the check engine light is just signaling to you that you need to take your car in for a scheduled mileage maintenance. Usually the check engine light will show up in two colors, amber for non-emergency maintenance and red for you should probably hurry up and get it checked out sooner rather than later. Double check your vehicles manual to be 100% sure though as not all vehicles are the same.

Click. Click. Click. Ohhh, a new sound just sounded. What to do? Again, no need to panic. A lot of noises you hear are things that don’t need to be fussed about and will actually just sort themselves out. Just like how that rock got stuck between tires treads and is making the clicking sound, it will soon work itself out. Or if it’s really driving you crazy you can very carefully do some detective work and try to figure out which tire it is and get it out yourself.

A locked steering wheel and your key won’t turn. They’re not broken. You just need to put a little muscle into really. Seriously, grab the steering wheel and turn it hard in one direction and turn the key. If it’s still not working try the other direction.  But don’t force the key. You don’t want to break it or the ignition as that will be a very costly fix all for nothing. Once you get the steering wheel in the sweet spot the key should turn just as it normally does.

You think you might have a leak. So you just pulled out from your where your car was currently parked only to notice that there’s liquid there that you swear wasn’t there before. First, it really could have been there before and you just like to freak yourself out. Or maybe there is some liquid, but if it’s not a lot then there’s usually nothing really to worry about. In fact, if you’ve been using your AC a lot lately it could just be built up condensation. If you notice a color to the liquid then you may have a coolant leak. This could potentially be a problem so if you suspect it is check your coolant level, but carefully as the car needs to be completely cooled before doing so.

Hopefully those few common car problems mentioned above will help calm your nerves when you’re driving. But if you suspect a problem, please don’t hesitate to contact our service department so that we can get it fixed for you, just contact Freeman Grapevine today!

Dealer Or Independent For Service: Which Do You Use?

This is a topic that Freeman Grapevine has a lot of personal experience with. I’m sure the answer, for the most part, really is up to the individual consumer. If you think you are going to get better service from an independent garage you are going to want to get all of the facts about that establishment before you decide to let them tinker under your hood.

I’m obviously going to want to steer you to Freeman Grapevine, as I believe we have one of the best service departments  in DFW. However, I know that there are a few people who choose to stay tried and true to their mechanic because they haven’t had a better experience at a dealership, in regards to service. It can happen. That’s why you should really weigh your options thoroughly before choosing either a dealer or an independent mechanic to service your vehicle.

In doing research to see who the majority of people preferred to service their vehicle, I found a great article at Edmunds.com that has some very good things to think about before you make a potentially bad decision. Here are a few excerpts from the article:

Dealers do have a distinct advantage when it comes to facilities. Dealers get manufacturers’ assistance with start-up costs and equipment. They get first dibs on any of the manufacturers’ newly developed service tools, specifications and, as noted above, recall and service bulletins. That way, the manufacturer keeps the latest information on new cars and the hardware to best service them “in-house,” at least for awhile. (This translates to keeping your money in-house, as well.)

Size also matters. Dealers usually have larger facilities and that means more service bays are available to accommodate customers. This can, but doesn’t always, translate to quicker turnaround time. You may find it more difficult to get prompt service at large, busy dealerships, especially if you go in without an appointment.

Dealer facilities are often cleaner, more organized and better maintained than smaller shops. At a dealer facility, you may find a waiting room, clean bathrooms, a place to buy car accessories, even the availability of drinks, snacks and television. They may even wash your car before returning it to you. This can make the overall experience a lot more pleasurable.

So how can small repair shops compete with dealers on facilities? The short answer is: They can’t.

I thought this was an interesting section as well:

Dealer service departments have a distinct advantage when it comes to manufacturer recalls and technical service bulletins. If you’ve moved since you first bought your car, or if the manufacturer simply doesn’t have your correct address on file, you may have no clue there’s an open recall on your car. Dealers should automatically check for recalls when you come in for service.

The more I kept looking into it, I found even more reasons to use the dealership as opposed to an independent. I would be remiss not to mention, however, that smaller shops have their benefits as well. It just seems, and I know this from personal experience, that you will have more mechanics, tools and brains hard at work which will directly translate into a job well done the very first time you bring your vehicle in for service. Don’t believe me? Try me. Bring your car to Freeman Grapevine the next time you need service and I’ll prove the value you of dealing directly with the dealership in regards to service.

Keeping Your Leather Seats Looking Great

leather seat cleaning conditioning

Your Dallas Fort Worth Buick GMC dealer, Freeman Grapevine knows there’s nothing quite like leather car seats. Of course in our Texas heat, leather can dry and crack if you don’t maintain it properly.

Now I know what your may be thinking, “I thought leather was supposed to be low maintenance?” You are right. It is actually very easy to take care of, but you should also keep in mind that you need give it some attention from time to time. In fact, keeping leather car seats clean is simple with the use of two-part cleaner and conditioners that can be found at an auto parts store.

The application process is very easy and will not only extend the good looks of your leather car seats, but cleaning and conditioning will also help prevent rips and tears that are commonly found in under-conditioned leather.

Keep in mind that leather must be carefully cleansed before it can be properly conditioned. As leather ages, it loses essential guards infused into the leather during the manufacturing process. That leaves the leather susceptible to dirt, oils, and UV damage. To keep leather looking and feeling its best, you must first clean it and then replace the lost moisture and protection.

If you aren’t sure if you are properly cleaning your leather seats, or would just rather have someone do it for you, feel free to bring your vehicle by Freeman Grapevine. We can restore most damaged leather to its “like new” state.

What Are The Best Tires For Your Truck?

truck tiresIf you own a truck, you know that when it comes time for tire replacement it can be a costly venture in more ways than one. What exactly do I mean? Well, I know you’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Well when it comes to new truck tires, this adage may be more truth than philosophy.

If there’s one part of your vehicle that demands attention, but usually doesn’t get as much as it should it’s your tires. Remember they are the only things that are between you and the road…I’d say that was pretty important. Under-inflated tires…over-inflated tires…tires that are simply the wrong choice for your vehicle, there are a lot of pitfalls when it comes time to replacing the tires on your Dallas Fort Worth Truck. Do you really know to shop for new tires?

So, when it comes time to replace your truck tires, Fort Worth, which are the best for you? What makes Tire A better than Tire B? What brands are the best? What type of performance do you expect to get out of your tires? To answer all of these questions and more, I turned to a trusted resource: Consumer Reports.

Our tread-wear test is more than double the mileage that’s required by the government for grading tires per the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System (UTQGS). While the government test is based on a total of 7,200 miles, we run on the same West Texas course to 16,000 miles. We believe the added mileage provides a better assessment of a tire’s true wear potential, upon which our ratings are based.

For the official UTQGS test, manufacturers assign the grades. A tire graded at “200” indicates it will wear twice as long as one graded “100.” The truck tires we tested have grades typically in the 500 to 600 range. Tire tread-wear grades can be found the on new tire label and embossed on the sidewall of the tire. (See our tire buying advice for more information on reading tires.)

In all, when viewing tire models that compete head-to-head, you may see similar warranties and UTQGS tread-wear grades. Often the differences are less impressive than what we find from our tread-wear test. For example, results from our test showed one tire model wore out at above 100,000 miles; the fastest wearing tire model lasted less than 50,000 miles. Despite the difference, you wouldn’t know it by the tread-wear warranties on those tires, which are only 5,000 miles apart (65,000 and 60,000 miles, for the long- and fast-wearing tires, respectively).

The longer-wearing tires do command a higher purchase price, however. A set of four tires cost us $673 in our test size (P265/70R17)—a premium of $145 over the fast-wearing model. Buying cheap tires is one way to go and a common practice of many consumers looking for new tires, based on our research. (Read: “Survey: Car tire shoppers satisfied with retailers, but their research falls flat.”) But that isn’t the best strategy for getting the performance and longevity you want.

Tire prices vary quiet a bit from model to model. But if you want to save lots of cash, don’t consider the initial purchase price alone without considering tire tread life. Think about it: Not only could you be replacing tires twice as often, but you will be doubling tire installation cost. If you plan on keeping your truck for years to come, the long-wearing tires are a bargain – for argument’s sake, let’s say that with a $100 installation fee, the total cost of your new tires comes to $743. But to get the same mileage with the cheaper, fast-wearing tires means buying two sets of four and two installation fees for a whopping $1,255. That’s an added cost of $512. So, spending more up front in this case is the smarter buy.

Don’t discount tire performance, either. Always put safety before price — even above tread life. When it comes time to buy, look for tires that do well in our tests for braking, handling, and resistance to hydroplaning. Winter traction should also be considered, if applicable. Let tread wear, ride comfort, noise, and rolling resistance be tiebreakers.

Make sure you check the tire-buyers guide provided by Consumer Reports. It will really shed some light on the many different styles, performance options and tread wear that can make choosing the right set a difficult task.

If you have any further questions, bring your truck or SUV by Freeman Grapevine and we can work together to get you the right set.

“Slime” your tires to help prevent flats

ghostbustersAs much as I wish I was talking about the movie Ghostbusters, I’m, in fact, talking about a product that will reduce the likelihood of having to change a flat tire on the side of a busy highway. It’s called Slime PowerSpare Flat Repair and it can be a lifesaver if you were to pick up a nail or chunk of metal while on the  road. Of course, in the video demonstration below, it’s an ice pick and the Slime still seals the leak with no problem. Check it out:

According to Slime.com:

The 48-piece kit includes 24-ounce bottle of Slime tire sealant, heavy-duty powerful 12V tire inflator with built-in light and pressure gauge, 25-foot coiled air hose and an adapter for inflatables, 10-piece tire tackle kit, 30 black plugs, t-handle reamer and plugger, tire gauge, alligator power-clip, slime decal set and instructions in both English and Spanish. Suggested MSRP is US$89.99

So the next time you pick up a nail on the road, instead of braving the dangers of a busy highway, freeway or road, fill you tire with some slime and have the powers of a self-sealing tire work for you. If you have any questions about this product or others, feel free to contact Freeman Grapevine Service. They can point you in the the right directions.

Is Your Steering Wheel Covered In Bacteria?

clean steering wheel
How clean is your steering wheel?

The short answer is, “Yes.” Keeping the last theme of car cleanliness going from my last post, have you ever thought about how much bacteria and unpleasant microbes are covering your Buick or Gmc’s steering wheel? Probably not. When was the last time you actually gave your steering wheel and antibacterial rub down? Never? Think about this scenario for a second…it’s happened to all of us. You get in the car and turn the steering wheel and you feel something sticky on the back of it which probably came from your hands in the first place. Remember that big greasy burger you ate in the car before your last meeting? However, you kind of just ignore it but eventually your hand touches it again, and again, and again. When you stop touching it and realize that you should probably clean it off? Or, do you even care? Maybe you should.

Researchers at Queen Mary University in London claim that there are, on average, 700 different kinds of bacteria per square inch of steering wheel. That compares to 80 distinct bacteria types on a public toilet seat. Even worse, the trunk has 1,000 bacteria types per square inch. The most common form of bacteria was bacillus cereus, which can cause food poisoning.

The reason cars are filthy is simple; we simply don’t clean them. While we vacuum, dust and disinfect our home on a semi-regular basis, only one third of study participants cleaned their vehicle once a year or more. That sounds pretty crazy (and a bit lazy), but think about it. You may jettison the trash and vacuum the carpet on a somewhat regular basis, but how often do you wipe down that nasty steering wheel? And when you think about how many Americans regularly eat in their vehicles, our cars could be a reason why we are sick as often as we are. Now we know why valet parking attendants tend to wear white gloves.

As a side note, even beyond cleanliness, the study also shows that many drivers know next to nothing about their vehicles. For example, two-thirds of us don’t know how to change a tire, while one third of those surveyed don’t even know how to put air in the tires. It’s a sad, sad world.

So are you officially grossed out? You better run and get your car cleaned!! Let me know if you are interested in keeping your Buick or GMC bacteria free.

Running on empty can damage your car!

Even though gas prices have come down some, it still hurts the wallet. And to avoid that sting, some people are driving their vehicles until they have used every last drop in the gas tank, literally. Which means not only could they end up on the side of the road because they ran out of gas, but running on empty can cause costly damage to your vehicle. We’ve seen it first hand here at Freeman Grapevine.

Most people on the road don’t realize that if you are running on empty, you may be putting your vehicle at risk by causing damage to the fuel pump. The electric fuel-pump motor uses the gasoline as a coolant, so when you are low the pump may suck in air which creates heat and that is not a good thing. Replacing the fuel pump will cost a couple hundred dollars to fix which leaves you in a position of shelling out even more money!

Besides costly fuel pump damage, running on a low tank of gas could possibly leave you stranded on the side of a road or could possible be the cause of an accident if your vehicle suddenly stops running. Being stranded puts both you and your vehicle at risk. Hopefully a friend can help out by bringing you some gas, but you will need to be prepared to take some heat for letting your car run out of gas in the first place!

Thankfully, you can prevent these situations by following the tips below:

  • Fill up once your tank reaches 1/4 full.
  • Before driving on a long trip, fill up. You never know what the traffic might bring that day and you may end up with a longer trip than planned.
  • If you do get low enough on fuel for your car to ding or warn you, fill up as soon as possible.  Don’t hope that you can get just a little bit further as you never can be sure how far you can get.
  • Find the cheapest gas near your house instead of driving to the other side of town. There are some apps out there that can help find the cheapest gas.

Don’t take your chances by running your vehicle on empty. Even though you may think you are stretching your dollar further, you will run the risk of potentially having costly as well as dangerous situations running on a near empty gas tank. One way to make sure you are getting the best MPGs possible is to have your tires properly inflated and your vehicle properly maintained. You can always bring your vehicle by Freeman Grapevine and we can help you out!

Do You Really Need THAT In Your Car?

At Freeman Grapevine, we know that owning and caring for a new or used car can be expensive! There is absolutely no doubt about that. In fact, buying a car is the 2nd largest investment you could ever make behind purchasing a home or business, of course. There is no other way around the costs involved in owning a new or used car in Dallas or Fort Worth and taking care of a new or used car can get pricey. So, the question is, “Is there maintenance or gimmick you can probably live without?”

(1) Gas Additives – The manufacturer of your vehicle will specify what kind of fuel your car needs. Whether it be regular unleaded or diesel it more than likely already has the additives that you car needs in it. Also if your new or used car requires regular unleaded and you put premium or mid grade fuel in your car, you’re not getting better gas for your car, you’re just wasting money.

(2) Oil Additives – Once again the manufacturer will specify exactly which type of oil you need in your new or used car. Putting in additives to an oil they specified for you to use could severely damage your new or used car. Don’t add anything unless the oil you put in was not the oil they told you to use and it’s missing something. Do you really know what’s in that bottle your about to pour into your car? It could be harmless but it could seriously damage your engine if it has solvents in it that can dilute the oil and ruin its ability to protect your engine. What if you accidentally not knowingly over fill it?

(3) Those High Speed Tires – In most states the highest legal speed limit is 70 but most of our highways are 60 or sometimes 65. In the US and in Ohio there is definitely nowhere you can cruise at 100 and not get at least a ticket or possibly even jail. A lot of cars come with tires that are made for safe travel at a continuous speed of let’s say 60. Unless you are driving on the Autobahn, or are a NASCAR driver, you’re just wasting money.

(4) Extended Warranties – Just make sure you do some research, add everything up, and weigh your options. Sometimes the cost of the warranty may out weigh the cost of some repairs later on. If it makes you feel more comfortable by having an extended warranty then by all means go for it, they really can come in handy when an unexpected repair is needed. Just make sure you read the warranty very closely and you understand everything.

If you have anything else you think should be added to this list, just drop me a line. Let’s not forget though that you car is a machine that need to be well maintained. The products I listed above are intended to improve the performance of your vehicle, however, in many cases, most drivers just don’t understand what they need and don’t need for their cars. Think you might need something special for your car, Freeman Grapevine can help.

Understanding Tire Pressure

In the past few years of maintaining this blog for Freeman Grapevine, I’m pretty certain I’ve written about deciphering the numbers found on your tire walls, and now I want to touch on another imporunderstanding tire pressure, Buick Dealer, buying a car easy, buying used car, car brakes, dallas Buick Dealer, Dallas GMC Dealer, dallas GMC Truck, dallas new car, dallas Used Car, dallas Used Truck, dallas Used Truck. New Car, DFW Buick, dfw car dealer, dfw gmc, engine dissection, Fort Worth Buick, fort worth gmc, Fort Worth Truck Dealer, Ft. Worth Buick, Ft. Worth car dealer, ft. worth gmc, GMC Dealer, GMC Truck, professional grade, used buick, Used Car, used gmc, Used Trucktant feature about tires. Tire pressure!

The bottom line is, that regularly checking tire pressure is key to having a safe and well maintained vehicle.  How do you know what amount of pressure your tires should have?  Every vehicle that has been manufactured in the last twenty years or so has a placard located generally inside the driver’s side door jam that indicates the proper cold tire pressure.  The vehicle’s user manual also usually indicates the correct cold tire pressure amount.

Often, individuals fill their tires to the pressure shown on the PSI level of the actual sidewall of the tire itself.  This number is usually the maximum pressure allowable for the tire and not what the manufacturer of the vehicle recommends.  Tire manufactures print this maximum PSI tire pressure on the sidewall of the tire to show the maximum pressure the tire can hold, but because tires are installed on a wide variety of vehicles, and every vehicle has a different recommended tire pressure, you should go off of your vehicle’s specifications and not the tire’s maximum capacity.  It can get a little confusing, so you’re more than welcome to swing by and chat with one of our service guys to find out what exactly your tire pressure should be.

It is important to go off of the tire’s cold psi pressure.  A tire “warms” up once being driven, and once a tire warms up, the pressure will increase, but the recommended levels are based off of a cold pressure reading.  If your tire pressure is 5 psi below the recommended level at a cold level reading, but then reads at the recommended level after driving to the gas station to fill up the tire because the tire has warmed up, you should still add an additional 5 psi as the pressure will be at the correct amount once the tires cool down again.

Another plus to regularly checking tire pressure is that it helps improve gas mileage.  And now that gas prices seems to be on the rise, this is a great way to get the most bang for your gasoline dollar.

There are many maintenance techniques to keep your vehicle performing at its best, and don’t forget to frequently check your tire pressure as this is one of the most important and easiest maintenance activities you can do.  If you  have any questions just post below or see us here at Freeman Grapevine and one of our guys will show you how to check tire pressure.

Understanding Brake Safety

Although it doesn’t happen often, it can and Freeman Grapevine has seen it: Cars involved in accidents because of brake failures. How do you know that your brakes a failing? If you’ve gone a while between tune ups you are going to want to have your brakes checked ASAP. One leading indicator that your brakes are failing is the feel of the brake pedal. If your car pulls left or right when braking, or if the front end shakes, then these are definite signs of excessive brake wear. If the brake pedal in your car begins to feel spongy, it could be a sign that air has entered the brake system, or fluid is low. Do not ignore these warning signs!

A spongy brake pedal, together with a decrease in brake fluid, may also indicate brake wear, so when you check the brake fluid reservoir, make sure it’s topped off. If not, then brake fluid is most probably remaining at the wheel to fill the space caused by wear. Many vehicles purchased from car auctions experience this kind of problems because of being stocked for a long time in car garage or showrooms. Simply replacing the brake fluid and letting it flow throughout the wheel by pumping the brake pedal a few times before your run the used automobile helps in ensuring safety for you and your passengers.

Many new cars have ABS (Automatic Braking System) which initiates a rapid- fire pumping sequence to the brakes, keeping the car straight during sudden or hard braking. If the ABS light illuminates on your instrument panel, then it’s likely that the wheel sensors have detected excessive build-up of metal particles from the brake system. Most cars are designed to shut down the ABS when excessive particle build-up occurs, but a shutdown ABS does not prevent you from stopping, it just means that the ABS feature isn’t working.

Wheels should be pulled and brakes checked once a year by an experienced brake specialist. At Freeman Grapevine, we have experts who can fit your new car with high quality, high performance braking components. Whether it’s used car or not.

Also keep in mind, brake fluid absorbs moisture in the system and becomes acidic after about two years. Check your owner’s manual or call us to see what kind of brakes your car has and how they are adjusted. .

Remember, how and where you drive will greatly influence when your brakes must be replaced. If you have any questions about your brakes, come and Freeman Grapevine.