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GENERAL MAINTENANCE

It's Time for the 21st Century Tune-up

Times are changing...cars are changing. One of the biggest changes in today's automotive industry is the perception of a "tune-up." Ask 10 vehicle owners their definition of a tune-up and chances are there'll be 10 different answers. The classic "tune-up" was once the heart of the automotive business and contrary to some beliefs; today's modern vehicles still need tune-ups to keep them performing at the most efficient levels.

The tune-up was historically associated with the routine replacement of key ignition system parts like spark plugs and ignition points, along with some basic adjustments to help "tune" the engine. Mounting pressure for increased fuel economy and lower emissions drove the car manufacturers to adopt electronics and to do away with ignition points in the '70s, along with the carburetor in the middle '80s. This eliminated the need for the replacement and adjustment of a growing number of ignition and fuel system parts.

As the pace of technology quickened, the procedures required to perform a traditional tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems are now the norm, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions. Things that were once handled mechanically are now controlled electronically through the widespread use of onboard computer technology.

Because vehicles have changed so much over the years, the Car Care Council has introduced the 21st Century Tune-up. This program is designed to help re-define and educate motorists as to what a tune-up should consist of on today's modern vehicles.

"There is a misconception that today's modern vehicles don't need tune-ups because they never break down, but that simply is not true," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "If you're at work and your computer goes down, you can't get any more work done. It's the same with your vehicle. If the vehicle isn't being properly maintained, you're not going to get where you want to go."

As part of the 21st Century Tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected:

  • Battery, charging and starting
  • Engine mechanical
  • Powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks)
  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Emissions

Vehicle owners ask for tune-ups for a variety of reasons, including improving performance, maintaining reliability, planning a vacation, preparing for winter/summer or because they're giving the car to a friend or family member.

To help ensure good performance, fuel economy and emissions, the Car Care Council also recommends that motorists take the time necessary to become familiar with their vehicle from every aspect. Study the owner's manual to become thoroughly acquainted with the operation of all systems. Pay special attention to the indicator lights and instruments.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Mechanical failure—an inconvenience anytime it occurs--can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

  • Engine Performance - Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, etc.
  • Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual—more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
  • Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
  • Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
  • Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
  • Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
  • Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer

Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. . . Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!

Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.

  • Air Conditioning - A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
  • Cooling System - The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual-more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
  • Engine Performance - Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended-more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
  • Windshield Wipers - A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
  • Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Tires - Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
  • Brakes - Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
  • Battery - Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Emergencies - Carry some basic tools-ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a cellular phone.

Keeping Your Vehicle in Tune with the Environment

Car care is definitely a win-win situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer, and will last longer-up to 50% longer, according to a survey of ASE-certified Master Auto Technicians. The following tips should put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.

  • Keep your engine tuned. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Follow the service schedules listed in your owner's manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended.
  • Check your tires for proper inflation. Under inflation wastes fuel-your engine has to work harder to push the vehicle. Wheels that are out-of-line (as evidenced by uneven tread wear or vehicle pulling) make the engine work harder, too. Properly maintained tires will last longer, meaning fewer scrap tires have to be disposed.
  • Keep your air conditioner in top condition and have it serviced only by a technician certified competent to handle/recycle refrigerants. Air conditioners contain CFCs-gases that have been implicated in the depletion of the ozone layer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost one third of the CFCs released into the atmosphere come from mobile air conditioners; some simply leaks out, but the majority escapes during service and repair-so it's important to choose a qualified technician.
  • Do-it-yourselfers: dispose of used motor oil, anti-freeze/coolant, tires, and old batteries properly. Many repair facilities accept these items. Or call your local municipal or county government for recycling sites. Never dump used oil or anti-freeze on the ground or in open streams.
  • Observe speed limits. Mileage decreases sharply above 55 mph.
  • Drive gently. Avoid sudden accelerations and jerky stop-and-go's. Use cruise-control on open highways to keep your speed as steady as possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family. Today's vehicles are designed to "warm up" fast, so forget about those five-minute warm ups on cold winter mornings.
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Store luggage/ cargo in the trunk rather than on the roof to reduce air drag.
  • Plan trips. Consolidate your daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. Try to travel when traffic is light to avoid stop-and-go conditions. Join a car pool.

Remember, how your car runs, how you drive it, and how its fluids, old parts, and tires are disposed of all have serious consequences on the environment.

ASSOCIATIONS

  • AAA Approved Auto Repair
  • ASE (Automotive Service Excellence)
  • NAPA AutoCare Center
  • Jasper
  • Car Care Aware

Testimonials

  • ust spoke with my mom who was driving from Maryland to SC when her alternator went out 100 miles from her home. She called AAA and was offered the option of being towed to Dun Rite Automotive or she could be towed all the way to her home if she preferred. She chose Dun Rite and I can say from talking to her she was THRILLED that she chose Dun Rite. The young lady at the desk was incredibly friendly and immediately made her and her new pup feel right at home, offering a fresh bowl of water for the pup. The general manager immediately diagnosed the alternator issue and ordered a NAPA warranted replacement part. He assigned 2 mechanics to the job to ensure it was completed quickly and got her back on the road before their closing time which was 45 minutes away. The new alternator was not a "rebuilt" but new and was priced at a very fair NAPA price with a very inexpensive $99 install price (plus the 20% AAA discount added in as well). As someone who has traveled the I-95 corridor and had poor experiences with breakdowns and the predatory repair service stations before, I was incredibly happy with the experience my mom described to me when working with Dun Rite Automotive. They are the real deal and I can assure you that my immediate family have been told of the experience and advised that if ever we experience any automotive problems within the Florence area, this is the shop we are going to! I felt it important to write this review to express my sincere gratitude to the people at Dun Rite Auto for the incredible professionalism and courtesy they demonstrated to my mom. You could not have made her feel more safe and secure and for that I am very grateful. As a son, there is nothing more comforting and satisfying than knowing that there are still businesses out there that believe that great customer service at a fair price is still a priority. Thanks again for your incredible standard of service!
    -Mike G.

  • While enroute to Florida from PA I ran over an animal on I95, which smashed the bottom of the radiator in my Honda Accord. I contacted AAA for a tow and they gave me 2 options, and thankfully I chose Dun-Rite (Ross at the Petro also recommended Dun-Rite). Excellent service from the time my car was towed, dealing with the insurance company, car repairs, rental car and then picking up my car on the way back from Florida. Thank You so much Brenda and team for making a very frustrating and upsetting experience not so bad after all. I got to meet all of you at least!!! Again THANK YOU!!!!
    -Dawn S.

  • My sons were traveling south on 95 when his engine stop running he pulled over to the side of 95. The jeep would not start they were stranded hauling a trailer and a dog. Not knowing the area didn't know who to call or who would be honest and reliable. They called several companies and they could not guarantee they would look at his jeep on that day. It was a Friday and he didn't want to be stuck for the weekend he was starting a new job on Monday in Florida. I found Dun-Rite Automotive on the internet called and spoke with Lucas explained the situation to him. He then called my sons and towed his jeep, trailer along with the dog back to his business. The guys had been traveling all night so when they got there they were exhausted, everyone made them comfortable even the dog was welcomed. While Lucas' team worked on the jeep the guys caught a nap. It took some time to figure out the problem being "electrical" anyway the boys were back on the road before dark. As a mother I want say "Thank you for taking such good care of my sons and grand dog"
    -James' and Matt's Mom

  • Last week Monday night my family and I got stuck late in evening on I-95. AAA contacted Dun Rite who came to our need very fast. Chris towed us to hotel and picked the truck up Tuesday morning. Within one hour Dun Rite had me back on the road. Chris was fantastic as was the floor manager. THANK YOU!
    -Albert V.

  • The service is better than excellent (if such a possibility exists)!
    -John J.

  • VERY happy with our experience. Your service was speedy and fairly priced. Special thanks to Brenda, who was so incredibly helpful in helping us locate a tow truck, even though we called after your closing time. She's a gem.
    -Mitch R.

  • Able to fit me in last minute and deliver my vehicle back the same day. Always courteous and professional. Prices are reasonable and work has never failed. Thanks DunRite!
    -Carlos D.

  • Everything was done very well. Brenda was friendly and efficient, the tech I spoke with was great, and the car was fixed when they said it would it be.
    -Joey P.

  • I have confidence that Dun Rite will treat elderly customers I rec. fairly and with respect. Many auto. repair shops gouge the elderly and women customers but not Dun Rite, they go out of their way to provide superior service.
    -J Floyd

  • I have the upmost confidence not only in the quality of work at Dun Rite Automotive but I have seen first hand that Mr. Rodney Godwin and his staff go the extra mile to see that his customers are satisfied and that they are dealt with with respect and fairness. Mr. Godwin services and repairs all of my families vehicles including our teenage daughters Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have been trading with Mr. Godwin for many years and I trust my famiies safety with him and his staff.
    -gwillis

  • From the time you drop off your car to the time you pick it up you are greeted with a professional team that makes sure everything is done to your satisfaction. Rodney and his crew provide a service at a resonable price and timeline. I will always use his shop as my repair center.
    -RHayes

  • Thank You Rodney, Brenda, and all the fine folks at Dun Rite Auto. I have had to carry 4 or 5 different vehicles with 4 or 5 different problems to Dun Rite. They have always been able to find the problem and fix them in a very professional manor. I also like the fact that my car is not covered in grease when I get it back (hood, fenders, floor mats, and steering wheel)are always grease free when I pick up my cars. Trustworthy place to do business. I hope I don't have anymore car troubles, but if I do I will be visiting Dun Rite!!!!
    -Josh Bair

  • Dun-Rite Automotive has proven to be the fairest repair shop in Florence. Professional service is the only type of service that you will receive from Rodney Godwin and his team. This is the only repair shop in Florence that I refer my friends to. Thanks for the GREAT job and INTERGRITY that Dun-Rite stands for!
    -JThompson

  • The guys at Dun-Rite totally fixed my Honda van. Everyone was very knowledgeable and efficient. I would never take my car to anyone else in Florence or the surrounding areas.
    -Anonymous