Preventative Car Maintenance

Car Battery Corrosion

Making sure that your vehicle is running smoothly for years to come is one of the most importantly parts of car ownership. The last thing you want is to have is an unexpected breakdown in the middle of driving around Winter Haven and beyond. That is where the service experts at Buick Lakeland comes in! Not only can we make sure your vehicle is getting all of the routine services that it needs, but we can also help you learn common warning signs of some of the most important parts of your vehicle to make sure it stays at peak performance. Ready to become a maintenance pro like our team? Then continue reading below, or you can schedule service today and let our experts take care of it for you.

Common Signs of Needing an Oil Change

Since engine oil is critical for your vehicle’s operation, keeping it fresh is key. The oil in your car lubricates the moving parts within your engine and removes heat from the engine block. This allows your vehicle to operate appropriately during your commute to Bartow and beyond. There are a number of common signs of needing an oil change that you should keep an eye on. Signs your car needs an oil change include:

  • Increased Engine Noise: As oil ages, it breaks down and becomes less effective. If your engine seems louder than normal, chances are the moving parts under the hood aren’t being properly lubricated. 
  • Shaking While Idling: If you feel vibrations as you idle, this is another sign that your car’s oil is unable to lubricate the moving components in your engine properly.
  • Ticking Sounds When Starting the Car: When you start your car, the oil circulates. If the texture of the oil is off, this circulation can be delayed, which causes a ticking sound. 
  • Low Oil Levels: When you check your oil, if you notice the volume is low, it’s time for a refresh. If your oil level is low on a consistent basis, you may have a leak that will need professional attention.
  • Irregular Oil Texture/Colors: Your car’s oil should be amber in color, and free of contaminants. If you see that your oil is dark, sludgy, or full of debris, you should have your oil changed immediately. 
  • Excess Exhaust: Generally, the exhaust from your vehicle isn’t visible. If you notice thick exhaust billowing from your tailpipe, your oil is old and needs to be replaced.

 You should be looking to get an oil change every 7,000 to 10,000 miles to make sure that your vehicle is staying in peak condition. But this number could be much smaller depending on your driving habits.

Are Your Brakes Signaling A Problem?

Sometimes, your vehicle’s brakes will alert you when there’s trouble while you’re trying to slow down. Whistling noises, chirping sounds, and grinding are a few of the indications that brake service may be required. It is important to quickly recognize signs of reduced system performance. Some signs to watch for are:

  • Pulsing brake pedal or shaking steering wheel when brakes are applied
  • Soft brake pedal
  • Squealing or grinding noise when brakes are applied
  • Unusual odor at the wheel area
  • Excessive brake dust on wheel

Various newer model vehicles often come equipped with brake pads that include a small, thin piece of metal to act as a warning indicator when the pad material is getting low and the brake pads should be replaced. This device makes a chirping noise on brake application, letting you know it’s time to have your brakes serviced.

What are Signs You Need New Spark Plugs?

Spark plugs last a long time, but most experts recommend getting a replacement every 30,000 miles, or once every two or three years. This can depend on a number of factors, including your particular car and driving habits, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for personalized recommendations. That being said, there are many signs you need new spark plugs, so one driver may notice poor fuel economy while another may notice engine knocking. We recommend familiarizing yourself with the different signs you need spark plugs to help anticipate any problems on the roads of Brandon. The faster you identify the problem, the quicker you can get the problem fixed!

  • Engine Misfires: Engine misfires feel like an abrupt jerk when you attempt to start the car.
  • Engine Knocking: Engine knocking sounds like a loud clang or knocking sound when you accelerate. 
  • Engine Surging: Your engine may slow and accelerate unpredictably.
  • Rough Idle: Your car may feel rough during idling, particularly on colder or wet mornings with condensation.
  • Stubborn Start: The engine may fail to start promptly, which can get worse and worse over time.
  • Poor Efficiency: You find yourself filling up at the gas station more often than usual.
  • Poor Acceleration: Your car feels less responsive and accelerates more sluggishly.

Ten Dying Car Battery Warning Signs

On average, you should consider getting a fresh battery for your car every 3-5 years. But let’s say it’s been a while, and you aren’t sure how to tell your car battery is dying, it pays to do a little research. Some signs are more subtle and easy to miss, while others are more obvious to a seasoned driver. See if any of these warning flags look familiar, and if so, be sure to visit our service center at Buick Lakeland to get it replaced!

  1. “Check Engine” Light: Your check engine light will let you know if something is wrong, but it won’t tell you specifically what the issue is. When you bring your car into the service center, we can run instant diagnostics to let you know.
  2. Slow Engine Turnover: When you start your engine, it should spring to life instantly. If it hesitates or stutters, it’s time to schedule a service. It could be anything from the battery to the starter.
  3. Ignition Clicks: If you try to start the engine and you’re met with a rhythmic clicking, that means there is either limited or no battery power available.
  4. Dim Headlights: Your headlights require power to keep going and if they appear dim or dark, your battery could be failing.
  5. Electrical Issues: Your battery has a direct influence over your automotive electrical systems: radios, dashboard lights, windshield wipers, power window controls, and more. If you notice electrical issues, that’s one of the key signs your car battery is dying.
  6. Corroded Battery Terminals: Battery acid can leak, hardening onto the terminals and damaging your battery. Cleaning your terminals periodically can help prolong the life of your battery for this reason.
  7. Cold Weather: Cold weather can weaken your battery power or even freeze it completely. Keep this in mind during those frigid Bartow and Brandon winters.
  8. Sulfur Odors: If you pop the hood and notice the smell of rotten eggs, that’s one of the more off-putting dying car battery warning signs – usually caused by a leaking battery.
  9. Bulging Battery Case: A bulging or cracked battery case is a major sign of damage, and it’s important to get your battery replaced as soon as possible. Our service department can help you discard and recycle the old battery too!
  10. Old Age: Batteries don’t last forever, even with the best care, so check the manufactured date on the case. Have your battery tested if it has been around for four years or longer.

 What Factors Affect Tires Life Expectancy? 

The questions “how many miles do tires last” and “how many miles should tires last” may have different answers, depending on a number of factors. As a rule of thumb, replacement tires that are considered to be high quality should last you up to 50,000 miles before needing to be replaced. Some of the factors that can influence this include: 

  • Type of tire: High-performance tires have extra grip but may wear faster than all-season tires which have less rolling resistance.
  • Treadwear rating: Your tires also come with a treadwear rating, which rates the life expectancy of the tire treads.
  • Drivetrain: Tires wear differently on front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive vehicles, because of where the main power for forward motion comes from.
  • Road conditions: If you have to drive on gravel or dirt roads regularly, or you encounter construction, snow, salt, rain, and ice, your tires will take more of a beating. If you plan to use your vehicle for off-roading, this will make a big difference as well.
  • Terrain: If you live in an area with inclines on the roads, more friction on the tires is required to start and stop the vehicle than on flat surfaces.
  • Driving habits: Having a lead foot on the gas and brakes will wear out your tires faster than accelerating gradually and letting coasting do some of the braking work.

How Do I Check Tire Tread Wear At Home?: The Penny Test

While a ruler is going to give you exact measurements, if you have a penny on hand, you can measure your tread depth! The design of the U.S. penny makes it the perfect reference tool for safe tread depth. At this point, you may be wondering, “How do I check tire tread wear with a penny?” Here’s how:

  1. Insert the penny with Lincoln’s head down into one of the tire tread grooves. 
  2. Look to see if Lincoln’s head is covered and no longer visible in between the grooves. 
  3. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire tread is below the 2/32 inches mark, meaning you’re due for a replacement. 
  4. Repeat this test in multiple locations on each tire. 

When you purchase new tires, generally they’ll have a tread depth of about 10/32 or 11/32 of an inch (about a third of an inch). Many winter tires, off-roading tires, truck tires, and SUV tires have deeper grooves, so it’s wise to check when you make your purchase. If this number is 2/32 of an inch or less, it’s time for a replacement.

Get Quality Service Today at Buick Lakeland

Don’t get caught by surprise when it comes to maintenance for your vehicle. The last thing you want is to be stranded, so make sure you’re staying up to date on this range of preventative maintenance needs. Find yourself with any questions? Then it’s time to contact us today!