Fall Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

You may not associate fall as a prime time to complete a seasonal preventative maintenance checklist. But, while most of the items on this checklist are geared toward winter driving, it’s much smarter and easier to do them during fall when the weather is milder and less threatening.

So, let’s get started!

Fall Vehicle Maintenance Checklist: be prepared!

  1. Check your oil level, and add oil if necessary; it’s even better if you have us at Midwest Motors Service perform an oil and lube job. Be sure to use a multi-grade viscosity oil for winter driving.  Call 636-938-5777 to schedule an appointment!
  2. Have us test your battery, in our full service shop, here in Eureka Missouri.   If it needs to be replaced, Midwest Motors, service department,  will install the new battery, and get you up and running.
  3. Inspect your windshield wipers. Bitter cold, snow and ice are hard on their rubber blades. Our service department, here at Midwest Motors, is happy to replace them for you... see clearly, drive safely!
  4. Fill your windshield wiper reservoir with the proper type of windshield fluid for our climate.
  5. Look at the level and condition of your engine coolant. If the level is low, add antifreeze. If the condition looks poor, do a flush-and-fill.
  6. Have our Service Department evaluate your belts and hoses. If we see any evidence of fraying, cracking or leaking, we can get a new belt or hose immediately.
  7. Consider getting a tune-up, especially if it’s been 30,000 miles or so since your last one. At the least, our service department, here in Eureka Missouri can perform a visual inspection of your spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor.
  8. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. When dealing with sloppy or icy road conditions, you’ll need the best traction your tires can deliver. If your tires are worn, we can replace them before winter arrives.
  9. Apply high-grade car wax to your vehicle’s exterior to help protect it from the possible onslaught of snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain.
  10. Put together a winter car survival kit. Jumper cables, flares, ice scrapers, road salt, flashlights, flares, blankets, first aid materials and snacks are all good to include in your kit.

Vehicle Systems Overview

BELTS AND HOSES

What is it?
You car’s belts and hoses are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems, and the engine. Don’t take these routine replacement intervals for granted because they can break down and leave you stranded.

What does it do?

The timing belt keeps the crankshaft and camshaft mechanically synchronized to maintain engine timing. Whether serpentine, V-belt or fan belt (the belts on the outside of the engine), they all transmit power from the front of the engine to accessories that need to be driven, such as the air conditioning, the charging system and fans. Radiator and heater hoses carry coolant to and from the engine, radiator and heater core.

Typical Wear and Tear
Key items that affect the replacement interval for belts and hoses:

  • Vehicle age
  • Electrolytic corrosion
  • Mileage
  • Oil contamination
  • Belt tension
  • Failed hose clamps

Symptoms

  • Squeaking noise from under the hood during start-up or operation
  • Coolant leaks
  • Dashboard light will illuminate
  • A/C System may fail
  • Engine overheating
  • Smell of burnt rubber

BRAKE SYSTEM

What is it?
Your car’s brake system is its most critical safety system and you should check it immediately if you suspect any problems. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation under a wide variety of conditions.

What does it do?
When you push the brake pedal, the force generates hydraulic pressure in the master cylinder. This pressure flows through the hydraulic lines and hoses to the wheel cylinders and calipers, forcing the shoes against the drums (drum brakes) and the pads against the rotors (disc brakes). The resulting friction slows the vehicle and is relative to the amount of force applied at the brake pedal.

Typical Wear and Tear
Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually they’re going to need replacement. Avoid letting your brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which usually means expensive rotor or drum replacement. Factors that affect wear include driving habits and quality of brake pads and shoes.

Symptoms

  • Car pulls to one side during braking
  • Pulsating brake pedal or steering wheel shake
  • Brake pedal feels “mushy”
  • Unusual noise when you step on the brake pedal
  • Repeatedly need to add brake fluid to the master cylinder
  • Brake fluid sprayed onto outside of wheel
  • Unusual odor or noise

EMISSION SYSTEM

What is it?
Your car’s emission system keeps the engine running cleanly and efficiently in all sorts of operating conditions. A steady or flashing warning light on your vehicle dashboard indicates a problem that is currently happening and may require immediate attention. Failure to do so can reduce your gas mileage or cause your vehicle to pollute.

What does it do?

Your car’s emission system controls the emissions, exhaust and pollutants (including gasoline vapors escaping from the fuel tank), using an array of sensors, computerized engine controls and the exhaust components. The emission system substantially reduces harmful gases such as carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and, by law, must be maintained in operating condition.

Typical Wear and Tear
Some factors affecting the emission system include:

  • Driving and atmospheric conditions
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle age
  • Type of spark plug electrode material
  • Poor vehicle maintenance
  • Poor quality fuel
  • Damaged or worn sensors
  • Dry-rotted or cracked vacuum hoses

ENGINE COOLING SYSTEM

What is it?
The engine cooling system affects your car’s overall dependability and engine longevity. Cooling systems have advanced over the years with new coolant formulations and new radiator designs and materials. If you suspect a problem with your cooling system, you should check it immediately.

What does it do?
The key parts of the cooling system remove heat from the engine and automatic transmission and dissipate heat to the air outside. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat and returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated. The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep it consistent for efficient engine operation.

Typical Wear and Tear
Factors that affect the replacement of cooling system parts include:

  • Driving habits
  • Operating conditions
  • Type of vehicle
  • Type of coolant
  • Frequency of regular maintenance such as coolant changes

Symptoms

  • Overheating
  • Sweet smell
  • Leaks
  • Repeatedly need to add fluid

EXHAUST SYSTEM

What is it?
Your car’s exhaust system has come a long way from the old days of exhaust pipes and mufflers. Today, the exhaust system is safety and emissions control rolled into one. Have your car’s exhaust system inspected regularly and check it immediately if you suspect any problems.

What does it do?
The exhaust system routes dangerous exhaust gas from the engine out and away from the car to keep from affecting the occupants. Next, the exhaust system reduces exhaust noise from the engine. The catalytic converter reduces the level of harmful pollutants in the exhaust. The oxygen sensors mounted in the exhaust system monitor the level of oxygen in the exhaust gases to maintain efficient engine operation and to monitor the converter’s operation.

Typical Wear and Tear
Maintain a safe car with regular exhaust system checks. Factors that affect replacement requirements include:

  • Driving habits (short trips take their toll on exhaust system life)
  • Road conditions (salt, road spray, bumps)
  • Vehicle type
  • Age of exhaust system parts

Symptoms

  • Loud noise
  • Rattling noise when starting, accelerating or braking
  • Drowsiness while driving
  • Rotten eggs smell

FILTERS AND FLUIDS

What is it?
Your car’s filters are important to the longevity of your car and interior comfort. Maximize your car investment by replacing filters regularly.

What does it do?
The oil filter traps contaminants, allowing the oil to flow through the engine unrestricted. The fuel filter separates harmful contaminants that may cause problems with carburetors or intricate fuel injectors. The air filter traps dirt particles, which can cause damage to engine cylinders, walls, pistons and piston rings. The air filter also plays a role in keeping contaminants off the airflow sensor (in fuel-injected cars). The cabin filter helps trap pollen, bacteria and dust that may find their way into a car’s ventilation system.

Typical Wear and Tear
Filters are normal wear items that require regular checks and replacement. Factors that affect replacement intervals include:

  • Mileage
  • Driving habits
  • Driving and road conditions
  • Type of filter
  • Vehicle type

Symptoms

  • Poor gas mileage
  • Hesitation while accelerating
  • Musty odor in the cabin

FUEL SYSTEM

What is it?
You car’s fuel system works with the rest of the engine control system to deliver the best performance with the lowest emissions. Check your car’s fuel system regularly or immediately if you smell gas or suspect a problem.

What does it do?
The fuel system transfers fuel from the fuel tank and passes it through a fuel filter for straining before it arrives at the injectors. A pressure regulator controls fuel pressure to ensure good engine performance under a variety of speed and load conditions. Fuel injectors, when activated, spray a metered amount of fuel into the engine. Some vehicles use a return line system to return unused fuel back to the tank.

Typical Wear and Tear
Intervals for fuel system maintenance may be influenced by:

  • Fuel quality
  • Vehicle age
  • Mileage/time
  • Operating conditions
  • Maintenance history

Symptoms

  • Poor fuel economy
  • Vehicle won’t start
  • “Check Engine” light is illuminated

LIGHTING AND WIPERS

What is it?
Lights and wipers play a major role in safe driving – the chances for accidents increase if you can’t see or be seen. Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers. If you detect any problems with your car’s lights or wipers, have them checked out at once.

What does it do?
The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow or dirt from building up on the windshield and removes them to maintain clear visibility through the windshield. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility, signals and alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior.

Typical Wear and Tear
Lights and wipers are normal wear items that require periodic replacement. Factors affecting replacement intervals include:

  • Operating conditions (winter conditions are tough on wiper blades)
  • Frequency of use
  • Material and type of lights and wipers
  • Sunny weather – wiper blades can deteriorate faster and need more frequent replacement in desert states

Symptoms

  • Chattering or streaking wiper
  • Rapid signal blinking
  • Dimming lights

STARTING, CHARGING AND BATTERIES

What is it?
Your car’s starting and charging systems, and the battery, help ensure dependable vehicle operation whenever you drive your car and in all sorts of driving conditions. Make sure to check these systems regularly.

What does it do?
The battery stores electrical energy and the starter converts that energy into mechanical force to turn the engine for starting. The alternator produces electric current to replace what the starter used during start-up and to support electrical loads when the engine is running. An ignition module turns the low-voltage supply to the ignition coil on and off, and the coil produces the high voltage for the ignition system. This creates a spark at the spark plugs and ignites the air/fuel mixture in the engine. A belt transmits power from the front of the engine to the alternator’s pulley, along with other accessories.

Typical Wear and Tear
Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple trip back and forth to work. Other factors include:

  • Driving and weather conditions
  • Mileage
  • Vehicle age
  • Excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems

Symptoms

  • Headlights and interior lights dim
  • “Check Engine” and/or battery light may come on
  • Accessories fail to operate

STEERING AND SUSPENSION

What is it?

The steering and suspension systems are key safety-related systems that largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Have these systems checked regularly, at least once a year and usually with a wheel alignment.

What does it do?
The suspension maintains the relationship between the wheels and the frame or unibody. The suspension system interacts with the steering system to provide vehicle control. When working properly, the suspension system helps absorb the energy from road irregularities such as potholes and helps to maintain vehicle stability. The steering system transmits your input from the steering wheel to the steering gear and other steering components to control the car’s direction.

Typical Wear and Tear
Over time, steering and suspension components wear out and require replacement. Regular checks are critical to maintain a safe car. Factors that affect wear include:

  • Driving habits
  • Operating conditions (potholes in road)
  • Vehicle type
  • Type of steering and suspension system
  • Frequency of regular maintenance such as chassis lubrication and wheel alignment

Symptoms

  • Car pulls to one side
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Excessive noise, vibration or bouncing
  • Loss of control

TRANSMISSION

What is it?
The transmission works with the engine to provide power to you car’s wheels. Whether automatic or manual, the transmission plays a major role in the overall performance of your car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.

What does it do?

A transmission/transaxle keeps the engine’s output optimally matched to the speed and load conditions. The torque converter, connected to the automatic transmission/transaxle input shaft, connects, multiplies and interrupts the flow of engine torque into the transmission. Universal and/or Constant Velocity (CV) joints connect to the driveshaft to transmit output power from the transmission to the rear axle on rear-wheel-drive cars and the front axle on front-wheel-drive cars. These joints also allow the driveshaft and/or CV shaft to work at an angle. The several different types of automatic transmission fluid serve multiple purposes: cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish buildup and continually protects the transmission.

Typical Wear and Tear
Wear and tear on the transmission can be influenced by:

  • Driving habits
  • Towing or excessive loads
  • Operating conditions
  • Condition of the transmission fluid
  • Frequency of regular maintenance

Symptoms

  • Slipping
  • Hesitation
  • Bucking
  • Grinding gears
  • Difficulty shifting

Midwest Motors, just outside of St. Louis Missouri, in Eureka Missouri is a full service CM Dealer.  Sales, Service, and installation, all done here in our shop!  We also sell and service used trucks, we have diesel mechanics to get your truck up and running!  Give us a call, and let us show you the Midwest Motors way!   

General Service Schedule

Auto technicians say the key to keeping vehicles running well-today and down the road-is routine maintenance. Yet many drivers tend to stall when it comes to keeping up with some everyday auto-basics. A recent survey by the Car Care Council found:

  • 25% of cars had low or dirty engine oil.
  • 13% had low or contaminated brake fluid.
  • 18% had dirty air filters.
  • 17% had inadequate cooling protection or low coolant levels.
  • 16% needed new windshield wiper and 27% had low or contaminated washer fluid.
  • 18% needed new belts

Overall, 89% of vehicles were in need of at least one service or repair.


For your convenience, the Car Care Council developed a Service Interval Schedule to help you keep track of regular maintenance. Most of the checks and services described here can be done at little or no cost. Best of all, they are quick and easy to do. Learn more about your car’s systems in our vehicle systems overview.

Check Frequently

Dashboard Indicator Lights On

Lights

Tire Inflation and Condition

Windshield Washer Fluid

Engine Oil Level

 

Check Every 3 Months/ 3,000 Miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Battery and Cables

Belts

Dashboard Indicator Light On

Engine Air Filter

Engine Oil

Exhaust

Hoses

Lights

Power Steering Fluid

Tire Inflation and Condition

Windshield Washer Fluid

 

Check Every 6 Months/6,000 Miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Battery and Cables

Belts

Chassis Lubrication

Dashboard Indicator Light On

Engine Air Filter

Engine Oil

Exhaust

Hoses

Lights

Power Steering Fluid

Tire Inflation and Condition

Windshield Washer Fluid

Wiper Blades

 

Check Every 9 Months/ 9,000 Miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Battery and Cables

Belts

Dashboard Indicator Light On

Engine Air Filter

Engine Oil

Exhaust

Hoses

Lights

Power Steering Fluid

Tire Inflation and Condition

Windshield Washer Fluid

 

Check every 12 Months/ 12,000 miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Battery and Cables

Belts

Brakes

Cabin Air Filter

Chassis Lubrication

Dashboard Indicator Light On

Coolant (Antifreeze)

Engine Air Filter

Engine Oil

Exhaust

Hoses

Lights

Power Steering Fluid

Steering and Suspension

Tire Inflation and Condition

Wheel Alignment

Windshield Washer Fluid

Wiper Blades


Midwest Motors, just outside of St. Louis Missouri, in Eureka Missouri is a full service CM Dealer.  Sales, Service, and installation, all done here in our shop!  We also sell and service used trucks, we have diesel mechanics to get your truck up and running!  Give us a call, and let us show you the Midwest Motors way!   

How To Get Better Fuel Economy

How to get better fuel economy

One of the best trade-offs for getting your car serviced and maintained on regular basis regularly is having a car that runs at peak performance and consumes less gas. Check out how these simple steps can help reduce your pain at the pump!

1. Pump up the tire pressure

Where the rubber meets the road is one of the most important factors in improving fuel economy. Even having one tire that’s below the recommend pressure can easily add a large amount of friction or drag and contribute to poor fuel economy. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual to check the correct tire pressure as recommended by the auto maker. Most vehicles have a sticker listing the correct tire pressure with the driver’s door jamb or on the fuel cap door.

Improving vehicle fuel efficiency starts with good driving habits - click for more fuel-saving tips.

2. Set those wheels straight

Wheel alignment is another easily corrected contributor to poor fuel economy, but it’s often overlooked. Unless your tires are visibly worn unevenly, it may be hard to tell if they’re in correct alignment. Bumps in the road, accidental contact with curbs or parking blocks and potholes can all cause bad alignment. Get your wheels checked and aligned to help improve your vehicle’s fuel economy.

3. Keep up with schedule maintenance

Engine oil that’s overdue for change causes increased friction and wear, resulting in reduced fuel efficiency. Worn spark plugs can cause inefficient combustion, wasting fuel. Over time, these and other neglected maintenance items can add up to bad fuel economy. Keeping to the maintenance schedule helps ensure hidden problems don’t unnoticed.

4. Ease up on the gas pedal

The easiest fuel-saving tips doesn't cost a single penny, just a few slight alterations to driving habits. Avoid hard accelerations, which are inherently fuel inefficient. Drive at or around the speed limit – you won’t arrive any later. Combine multiple trips into one pre-planned route.

Midwest Motors, just outside of St. Louis Missouri, in Eureka Missouri is a full service CM Dealer.  Sales, Service, and installation, all done here in our shop!  We also sell and service used trucks, we have diesel mechanics to get your truck up and running!  Give us a call, and let us show you the Midwest Motors way!   


"Summerize Your Car"

Summer-ize your car today!
Summer's scorching heat, high humidity, heavy rain, dust, and stop-and-go traffic can take a toll on a vehicle. Drivers can help reduce the chance of mechanical failure by taking a few simple preventative measures to keep rollin' on down the highway – and not end up stranded beside it. Here are some tips to help your car beat the heat:
Air Conditioning
• Before your air conditioning quits cooling, inspect the system for a worn or damaged belt.
• Inspect the condenser fins to be sure they are clear of debris so air can move freely around them.
• Have a professional check your refrigerant level.
• Check your owner's manual for info on replacing cabin air filters (if you have them).
Cooling System: The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. Overheating can be serious and may result in permanent engine damage.
• Check the radiator and hoses for leaks or cracks and be sure all the connections are snug.
• Check the coolant level. If low, add coolant (antifreeze) as necessary. A word of caution – To avoid burns from coolant spray, never remove the radiator or coolant reservoir cap until the engine has cooled completely!
• Check your vehicle's radiator cap for cracks at the start of the summer driving season: The rubber gasket can crack, deform, become damaged or simply hardened.
• Check the cap's metal spring for weakness that may occur over time (most experts advise replacing a radiator cap that is more than five years old).
• Clean out any debris that might have accumulated in the radiator fins.
• Have the cooling system flushed and refilled (check recommended service interval in your owner's manual).
• When driving, monitor the temperature gauge on your dashboard. If you notice it rising beyond "normal" toward the red zone or the engine temperature warning light is on, take immediate action: Turn off A/C, turn on heat to pull hot air from the cooling system and, when safe, pull over to allow engine to cool down.
Engine Performance
• Don't forget to check the gas cap. The gas cap is a critical component of your vehicle's emission control system, and if it isn't airtight it may trigger "check engine" or "emissions service" lights on your dashboard.
• Check gasket around gas cap every time you fill up for cracks or damage, and replace the cap if damaged.
Belts and Hoses: Summer's heat and humidity will worsen the condition of deteriorating belts and hoses. Hose or belt failure could result in a breakdown.
• Visually inspect belts and hoses for excessive wear or damage including cracks, fraying, leakage or swelling.
• Check hose clamps and retighten as necessary.
Tires
• If you used winter tires, now is the time to change over to your summer tires.
• Have your tires rotated at approximately 5,000 mile intervals or as recommended in your owner's manual.
• Summer heat will cause the air in your tires to expand, so check tire pressure at least monthly while the tires are cold and adjust the pressure. Don't forget to check the spare, too!
Brakes: Hot weather can increase the temperature of your braking system, causing brake pads to wear more quickly.
• If the pads wear through, brake rotors may be severely damaged. The parts and labor cost to replace worn pads is much less expensive than brake rotors.