Auto Repair Traverse City MI: 231-421-6368



I want to maintain my car. What are the most common maintenance items recommended by vehicle manufacturers?


If you have your vehicle’s owner’s manual, it’s the best place to start. If you don’t have that available, understand that every vehicle manufacturer will have slightly different recommendations or recommended service intervals, but this is a list of the most common auto maintenance recommendations and it’s a good place to start.

  • Routine parts and fluid level inspections
  • Coolant or Antifreeze – Flush and/or fluid change
  • Filter (air, cabin air, fuel) replacement
  • Timing belt replacement
  • Transmission fluid exchange
  • Spark plug replacement
  • Axle fluid exchange
  • Tire rotations

These are not listed in any particular order. It’s important to understand that all inspections and recommended maintenance services will vary, depending on your vehicle make and model. Although we always recommend that you check your owner’s manual for the specific needs of your vehicle, don’t hesitate to call us or book your next service appointment and we’ll be glad to help you the best way we can. For more information on the best recommended service and maintenance for your car, see more about auto fluids and regular maintenance.



How often should I change my oil? I’ve heard different things. Can you tell me the best schedule?


The best rule of thumb is to have your oil and oil filter changed every 3,000 miles or according to your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.

It’s also important to understand that different oils require different oil change intervals. As an example, conventional (non-synthetic) oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.

On the other hand, semi-synthetic and synthetic oils can have longer recommended service intervals. They typically cost a little more too! If you’re changing your vehicle over to synthetic oils, remember that a better grade oil filter should be used to be sure it provides the longer life to match the oil.

If you’re in doubt, we would be more than happy to provide your manufacturer’s recommended service interval and help you decide if the longer service intervals with synthetic oil will help save you money on regular service.



How long do wiper blades last?


As a general rule of thumb, you should expect to replace your windshield wipers every 6 months. The longevity of your wiper blades will also depend on where you live.

In warm and hot climates, the heat wears on the rubber windshield squeegees. That means your wipers will inevitably require more frequent replacement.

In rainy, snowy or icy climates when the wipers are used more frequently, you can expect the wiper blade life to be even shorter.

For those reasons, we recommend wiper blade replacement every 6 months to be sure you’re never caught not being able to see where you’re going.


I’m always told about regular maintenance. Is the cost of service or the expense of car maintenance “pay off” in the long run?


Regular maintenance for your car is a wise decision. It will add to the longevity of your car and the overall cost for auto repairs and service. Regular maintenance helps prevent having to replace more expensive parts.

As an example, let’s take the regular oil change. If we consider the average sedan with over 100,000 miles as an example, you would have changed the oil about 30 times. That’s assuming a typical oil change every 3,000 miles.

With a typical oil change running about $35-$40, you would spend about $1,000 over the 100,000 miles.

If you were to go without an oil change during that period, your engine would likely flood with contaminants and eventually seize. The reason? Thick, dirty oil that can’t properly lubricate vital parts, leading to metal-on-metal friction. The result? Engine replacement that typically costs around $4,000.

You can find all recommended maintenance intervals in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Or, you could pick up the phone and call us – or ask-a-mechanic – and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you’ve got and help you determine the right schedule for your car and driving habits.



I get my oil changed every 3-4 months religiously! My “oil” light came on and when I checked, my car was almost 2 1/2 quarts low on oil! How can this be?


Chances are that when you’ve been getting your oil change, the oil level has been low, but never checked before draining. In other words, you’ve had your car in for service before the oil indicator light came on.

Understand that oil consumption between oil changes is pretty normal (except for new cars). Small amounts of oil get burnt and go out the tail pipe.

You may have also developed oil leaks even though you don’t see any drops on the ground where you park. Small leaks often leave stains on the engine, but engine heat causes the oil to be burnt off as you drive.

If you’ve already experienced this condition of have a serve low oil condition between oil changes, you should make it a habit to check your oil dipstick on a regular basis – every month would be a good start. Remember, the oil is the lifeblood of your engine – taking a couple of minutes to check the dipstick is far less costly than replacing the motor.



I had my brakes serviced a while ago and they still squeak and squeal sometimes. Are my brakes safe?


Remember that brakes stop your car when two un-lubricated surfaces rub on each other. That’s the brake pads and rotors (or brake shoes and drums on older vehicles) – the main mechanical components of your brake systems

Technically speaking -the squeal is actually natural. Yes, systems are designed to reduce or eliminate those noises, but they may still occur.

Brake noise is unpredictable and can occur for a number of different reasons. They can be effected by dust, debris, humidity and temperature.

However, keep in mind that when brakes wear, they do tend to squeak more often. Worn brakes also means that it may take longer to stop and you could even have difficulty stopping in emergency situations.



Why is there a charge to diagnose my “check engine” light when national auto parts stores do it for free?


First of all, understand that there’s a big difference in the service provided. The parts stores will simply pull a fault code from the engine computer in your vehicle. That code is basically an error message referring to a particular fault in one of many engine control systems. That service requires a simple $79 code reader.

When you get that service, you’ll be given a generic list of possible causes. Those possible causes can not take into account the specifics about your make and model of car. If parts are replaced based on this “diagnosis” alone they typically will NOT fix the problem.

On the other hand, our scan tools are far more sophisticated and are valued as several thousands of dollars. Besides the fact they provide mountains of service information, they allow the diagnosing technician to read a datastream from the vehicle.

With experience, that information allows us to isolate the specific problem and repair it. That’s a far better solution than just tossing expensive electronic parts at your car and hoping we get it right.

It’s also important to understand that depending on the specific code(s) being reported, the diagnosis can be relatively easy and straightforward. In other cases, there is a considerable amount of additional time required for testing.



I’ve got a new car. Will your service interfere with my manufacturer’s new car warranty or do I have to return to the dealer?


No. You definitely do not have to return to the new car dealer to complete any of the recommended factory scheduled maintenance in order to maintain coverage under your warranty.

The only service we can not provide are for services or items that are warranty replacement (or recalls). The general rule of thumb is – if you have to pay for the maintenance and service, you can have it completed anywhere and we would be glad to help!

By law, as long as you follow the maintenance schedule recommended by your manufacturer, you can have maintenance completed anywhere. We have and follow the factory recommended scheduled maintenance for vehicles. You will also find that information in your owner’s manual.

We would be happy to review your requirements and driving habits to help you come up with the best maintenance schedule for you and your car.