F.A.Q.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This page provides answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about vehicle repair and service. We’ve thrown in some of our favorite tips and recommendations, too. Please call us or consult our Contact Us page for answers to your specific questions. We are happy to assist you!

How often should I check the air in my tires?

For safety and maximum tire life, check the air pressure in your tires at least once a month. Use an accurate tire pressure gauge. Don’t fill your tires by look. Every time you bring your car to Kwik Kar Ridgmar, we can inspect your tires and show you how they’re wearing. We would be happy to check and fill your tires for free anytime you’re in the neighborhood.

How much air should I put in my tires?

The recommended tire pressure varies widely by tire size and type. Consult your owner’s manual. The specifications of your original tires are also listed on a decal on the driver’s doorjamb or inside the glove box. If you buy a set of replacement tires, be sure to write down the new specifications.

How can I protect against blowouts?

The best protection against blowouts is to properly inflate your tires. Don’t let them get too soft; don’t overinflate them. Also, make sure you select a tire that is designed for your driving conditions.

How can I get more mileage out of my tires?

Check your tire pressure regularly, rotate your tires, and watch for signs of uneven wear, which can mean alignment problems.

How often should I rotate my tires?

Every 6,000 miles, or every other oil change, assuming you change oil every 3,000 miles.

How do I know when I need new tires?

When your tread wears down to 4/32 of an inch, you start to lose significant traction on wet or snowy roads. A quarter, placed upside down in the tread grooves at several points, is a handy gauge. You’re o.k. if the tread covers part of Washington’s head. To be legal in most states tires must pass the Lincoln penny test, a minimum tread depth of 2/32 inch. Manufacturer’s also place wear bars in the grooves between tire treads. When the tread is nearly flush with the bars, it’s time to replace your tires.

Why is tire tread depth so important to safety and handling?

On wet pavement, the tread grooves sluice water away from the tire where it makes contact with the road. A typical new passenger tire has a tread depth of 10/32 of an inch. When tread wears to even half that depth, the risk increases that your car will hydroplane—slide on the surface of standing water—especially at highway speeds. On snowy pavement, horizontal treads and small slits in the rubber called “sipes” bite into the snow. The deeper the tread, the better the grip.

My ride is quite rough. What can I do?

For a smooth ride, tires must be balanced properly. Also, some tires ride better than others. Every tire is a compromise. Tires with a long tread life have a harder ride. Tires with a softer ride wear faster.

My car pulls to one side. Could this be a problem with one of my tires?

Possibly. A very soft tire can cause your car to pull to one side, but this is a very unsafe situation. Your car could also be out of alignment.

How important is tire pressure to my fuel economy?

You can improve fuel economy by up to 5% by keeping you tires inflated to the correct pressure and using the right grade of motor, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. If you drive 12,000 miles per year, and gas is $3 per gallon, that’s a savings of $72 per year, assuming your car gets 25 miles to the gallon.

What happens if I do not perform the maintenance services as required in my owner's manual?

One of the most significant problems with not performing maintenance as directed in your owner manual is that you may void your warranty.  That aside, what may be very minor problems today can become very large and very expensive problems if ignored.  Diligence with your vehicle maintenance is much less expensive than repairs due to negligence.

Do I have to take my car to the dealership maintenance?

The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, passed by Congress in 1975, gives you the right to take your vehicle wherever you would like and to use any brand of product you would like without voiding your warranty.  Your warranty will remain in force as long as you can document maintenance at proper intervals by a qualified facility using appropriate parts and procedures.

What should I do when my check engine light or service engine light stays on after the vehicle is started?

With most cars, all of the dashboard lights come on when the vehicle is started.  Once the vehicle is started, all of these lights should turn off. If some or all of the dashboard lights stay on or come on later, you need to have it checked by someone that is competent to do so. The issue could be very minor, but if ignored, it could lead to expensive repairs.

Why do I need to have my various chemicals services? Is that really necessary?

Fluids such as brake fluid, coolant, power steering fluid and transmission fluid all contain certain chemical packages that wear out over time.  These chemical packages contain lubricants, cleaners and rust inhibitors. Once these chemicals wear out, the fluids can no longer perform the job they were intended to perform and damage to the particular system will probably occur.

Servicing the fuel injection system is critical for several reasons. First, the build of of carbon compromises performance and fuel economy.  Second, failure to maintain the fuel injections system properly can cause problems with the emission system and cause the vehicle to fail the annual emission test in the DFW area.  That is why it is important to have these fluids serviced according to the manufacturer’s warranty.

My service manual recommends replacing the timing belt at a particular mileage interval. What happens if I do not?

The timing belt keeps all of the internal moving parts of your engine synchronized and working in the proper sequence.  If the timing belt breaks when you are driving down the road, there is a significant chance that some of the internal engine parts will become un-synchronized and cause major damage.  The repairs then would be much more expensive than just a timing belt replacement.

How often should I change my spark plugs?

Your vehicle maintenance booklet will tell you when you need to change spark plugs.  Some vehicles are equipped with 100,000 mile spark plugs.  Otherwise, replacing spark plugs every 30,000 miles helps maintain good fuel economy and performance.

How often should I have my vehicle checked?

It is recommended that all of the vehicle’s components should be checked at every oil change.  Test the radiator system and coolant before the cold weather arrives and have your air conditioning system checked before the hot weather.  Of course, everything should be checked before any extended road trip.

I see a fluid leak under my car, what is it?

You can identify fluids by their color and consistency: • Yellowish green, pastel blue or florescent orange colors indicate an overheated engine or an antifreeze leak caused by a bad hose, water pump or leaking radiator. • A dark brown or black oily fluid means the engine is leaking oil. A bad seal or gasket could cause the leak. • A red oily spot indicates a transmission or power-steering fluid leak. A puddle of clear water usually is no problem. It may be normal condensation from your vehicle’s air conditioner.

I have a leak under my car. How can I tell what is leaking?

The coloring of the liquid identifies the type of liquid. Coolant Fluid is orange or green, Engine fluid is Brown or Black, Transmission Fluid is Red or Pink, Power Steering Fluid is Light Brown, Differential Fluid- Brown. depending on the leak it could mean trouble, don’t wait until it’s too late!

I smell something in /around my car, what could it be?

• The smell of burned toast – a light, sharp odor – often signals an electrical short and burning insulation. To be safe, try not to drive the vehicle until the problem is diagnosed. • The smell of rotten eggs – a continuous burning-sulfur smell – usually indicates a problem in the catalytic converter or other emission control devices. Don’t delay diagnosis and repair. • A thick acrid odor usually means burning oil. Look for sign of a leak. • The smell of gasoline vapors after a failed start may mean you have flooded the engine. Wait a few minutes before trying again. If the odor persists, chances are there’s a leak in the fuel system – a potentially dangerous problem that needs immediate attention. • Burring resin or an acrid chemical odor may signal overheated brakes or clutch. Check the parking brake. Stop and allow the brakes to cool after repeated hard braking on mountain roads. Light smoke coming from a wheel indicates a stuck brake. The vehicle should be towed for repair. A sweet, steamy odor indicates a coolant leak. If the temperature gauge or warning light does not indicate overheating, drive carefully to the nearest service station, keeping an eye on your gauges. If the odor is accompanied by a hot, metallic scent and steam-from under the hood, your engine has overheated. Pull over immediately. Continued driving could cause severe engine damage. The vehicle should be towed for repair.

My car is making a terrible sound, what information will help?

Squeaks, squeals, rattles, rumbles, and other sounds provide valuable clues about problems and maintenance needs. Here are some common noises and their definitions.

  • Squeal – A shrill, sharp noise, usually related to engine speed.
  • Click – A slight sharp noise, related to either engine speed or vehicle speed.
  • Screech – A high-pitched, piercing metallic sound; usually occurs while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Rumble – a low-pitched rhythmic sound.
  • Ping – A high-pitched metallic tapping sound, related to engine speed.
  • Heavy Knock – A rhythmic pounding sound.
  • Clunk – A random thumping sound.

The more details you can provide us, the better chance of locating the problem quickly. Does the noise occur when the engine is cold or warm? Hot or cold outside, rainy or dry? Does the noise occur while driving or only when parked? These clues help the technician diagnose your problems faster, saving you time and money

I hear an intermittent noise from the front of my car. Do I need to worry about it?

Every noise should be checked by a qualified technician. Use you best judgment, if it sounds bad, get it checked right away. Quick action on a problem can many times save big dollars.

When should I get my oil changed?

This depends on oil choice. With mineral-based or conventional oil, our suggestion is 3,000 miles or as recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If using full synthetic oil, our suggestion is changing your oil every 4,500 to 5,000 miles.

How often should I change my oil?

Most car manufacturers say to change your oil every 7,500 miles, unless you drive in severe conditions. Severe conditions are defined as dirty or dusty roads, extremely hot or cold climates, a lot of stop and go driving, taking long trips or if you tow a trailer. If you answer yes to any of the severe driving conditions, your vehicle falls into the severe conditions category, or the 3,000 mile oil change interval. However, the oil choice is also a factor. Mineral based or conventional oil suggestions is 3,000 miles. Full synthetic oil is 4,500 to 5,000 miles.

What is that milky brown engine oil?

Milky brown engine oil is an indication of coolant in the oil. This can be caused by a blown head gasket (other gasket), a failed transmission cooler, or cracked casings. This condition is very serious and needs to be checked by a professional technician quickly.

What is synthetic motor oil?

Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for high output, turbocharged or supercharged engines, vehicles that are used for towing (especially during hot weather), or vehicles that are operated in extremely cold or hot climates. Synthetic motor oils, though several times more expensive than mineral-based motor oils, can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes. They also provide instant lubrication on start-up. Many foreign car manufactures are recommending full synthetic oil today.

What should I do if my car starts to overheat?

This is a very serious problem – if your car overheats for too long, you can damage your engine. As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and shut the engine off! Do not attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator as it can burn you. The best thing to do is have your car towed to a repair shop.

What dashboard lights should I worry about and which are just precautions?

Every dashboard light is responsible for notifying the owner of issues that need to be addressed. If any of the following lights are lit you need to have your vehicle looked at: Engine light, Oil light, ABS light, Traction light, Tire Pressure light.

How to make sure my car battery has a good electrical connection?

Battery cables and terminals should also be cleaned and inspected to make sure they provide a good electrical connection.

I need to replace a burned out fuse, what should I do?

Always replace burned-out fuses with ones of the same amperage (printed on the fuse) and note that if a fuse continues to “blow,” you should have the circuit checked professionally by one of our technicians for defects.

When should I replace my car’s fuel filter?

To help ensure dependable, trouble-free performance, replace your car’s fuel filter approximately every 30,000 miles or as recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

How can you increase fuel mileage?

To optimize gas mileage, check tires for proper inflation, make sure wheels are in alignment, check and replace filters, change Your oil regularly, keep your engine properly tuned, empty out your trunk of unnecessary items, observe the speed limit. These seemingly minor adjustments to your driving and maintenance habits can save on gas–and money!

What is a Cabin Air Filter?

Not all vehicles have Cabin Air Filters. It is a filter that filters the air coming from outside the vehicle and into the passenger compartment. The filter should remove dust, pollen and other air pollutants as well as some odors.

How is a cabin air filter different from an engine filter?

Oversimplified, the cabin air filter protects the passengers inside the vehicle, while the engine air filter cleans the air that is mixing with the fuel going into your engine.

Is the Cabin Air Filter important?

Yes it is.  If you have young children or elderly/sick adults riding in the car, it cleans the air so that they are not breathing in whatever is in the air outside.  If passengers or drivers have allergies, the filter reduces the amount of pollen entering the passenger compartment.  A dirty cabin filter will make your air conditioner work harder and may cause it to break-down sooner.  The cost of replacing the cabin air filter is minor compared to health care costs and air conditioning repair costs.

Where can I find my Cabin Air Filter?

Most of them can be found behind the glove box in the passenger compartment. Some are located in the engine compartment.  Check your owner’s manual.

What is the recommended replacement interval for the cabin air filter?

The first answer is when it is dirty. The technician should remove the cabin air filter and show it to you at every oil change. The replacement interval depends a lot on the type of roads and environment that you drive in.