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Advantage Auto Repair
3155 N. Stone Ave.
(Intersection of Ft. Lowell and Stone Ave.)
Tucson, AZ 85705





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Service Intervals

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Recommended Service Intervals at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson

Posted: Dec 18, 2017

Most people in the Tucson area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for areas in AZ.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your vehicle. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your vehicle engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are a component of one of the most important safety systems on your vehicle. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Tucson service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson by calling 520.807.5555.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your vehicle. These inspections are usually at major intervals like 15,000 or 30,000 miles/24,000 or 48,000 km. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your vehicle owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705

Should Tucson Soccer Moms Follow the Severe Service Schedule?

Posted: Oct 11, 2017

So you take your vehicle in for maintenance and the pro at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson tells you that you ought to change your oil more often. What? You followed the maintenance schedule – but you take a second look at that “severe service” schedule and see some of the following:

1. Most of your trips around Tucson are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers.
2. Most of your trips are less than 10 miles/16 km when outside AZ temperatures are below freezing.
3. You don't do a lot of AZ freeway driving, so you drive at low speeds most of the time.
4. You drive in an area with a lot of pollution, dust, dirt, mud or slush.
5. You frequently tow a trailer, haul heavy loads around Tucson or use a car-top carrier.
6. The weather in your area can get very hot or very cold.

Surprising, isn't it? Severe driving isn't quite what you'd envisioned.

Ask yourself: "Which auto service schedule should I follow?" For some of us, it's obvious. But for most of us, it's not an either/or question.

One way to decide how often to maintain your vehicle is to picture a line. On one end, imagine ideal driving conditions: year-round moderate AZ temperatures, only freeway driving, all trips are longer than 4 miles/6.5 km and travel is always at a constant speed of 60 mph/97 kph. At the other end of the line, put the severe driving conditions. Now, stop and think about how you drive, where you live, where you go in AZ and what you plan to do with your vehicle in the near future. Consider honestly where your driving fits on the line.

For example, if the regular maintenance schedule recommends an oil change every 5,000 miles/8,000 km, the severe schedule recommends 3,000 miles/5,000 km and you fall in the center of the driving conditions line, then 4,000 miles/6,600 km is a happy compromise. Just be honest. You don't want that happy compromise to turn into auto repairs.

Learning why our vehicles need more frequent service can also help us Tucson drivers determine a maintenance schedule. For example, fluids in your vehicle are depleted more rapidly the more heat there is in their environment. That heat can come from air temperatures, but also from the extra heat generated in the engine and transmission from stop-and-go driving. Towing a trailer or carrying heavy loads also generates more heat. So under these conditions, fluids must be replaced more often in order to retain their effectiveness.

Moisture naturally builds up inside of an engine because of the heating and cooling it constantly undergoes. When the engine is hot, moisture evaporates; when the engine is cool, moisture condenses. As long as the engine is getting hot enough to evaporate all of the moisture, your vehicle will remain healthy. But short trips don't allow for this and moisture can build up inside the engine. This moisture can lead to the formation of oil sludge, which in turn leads to clogged engine parts and damage.

In dusty or polluted Tucson area conditions, filters and fluids just get dirty more quickly. Talk with your service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson regarding service schedules and which one is right for you. Good car care means taking care of problems before they become problems. And in order to do that, you need to know how often to take your vehicle in to Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson for service.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705

Hey Tucson Drivers, How Many Miles Are on Your Car?

Posted: Aug 17, 2017

Nowadays, Tucson drivers are paying more at AZ gas pumps. For some families it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That's got to come out of the budget somewhere. This is one of the reasons many AZ drivers are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.

Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Tucson, AZ, roads have over 75,000 miles (120,000 kilometers) on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in the Tucson area can't afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a breakdown. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.

Determining what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many owner's manuals don't publish service intervals after 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers). Thus, Tucson drivers need to be better at keeping records and planning for preventive maintenance.

You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you're past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles (24,000 kilometers). Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles (24,000 kilometers) for as long as you have your car.

Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some AZ automotive experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners' manual or service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.

And keeping current with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your vehicle.

Another equally important reason is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.

And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain  additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.

Older vehicles in the Tucson, AZ, area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don't: things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.

With a high-mileage vehicle, a couple of relationships will become pretty important to Tucson drivers. The first is with your service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget and for the Tucson, AZ, area driving conditions. 

The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We're not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean - pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to your service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson and head off problems. We can't do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Tucson roads.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705

Easy Miles – Do Tucson Driving Conditions Affect Service Intervals?

Posted: Jun 18, 2017

Have you ever noticed that your vehicle has a schedule in your owner's manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let's define what severe driving conditions aren't: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the interstate for 20 miles (32 kilometers) or more at a constant rate of 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour) in 75°F (24°C) weather with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly and you are driving under severe conditions.

Let's look at the parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around Tucson are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy. But on short trips, the engine doesn't stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate. So it starts to build up in the engine oil leading to sludge, which can clog up your engine and lead to serious engine damage. If most or all of your trips around the Tucson area are less than four miles, you should be using the severe service maintenance schedule. Changing your oil more frequently at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson in Tucson will help prevent the formation of sludge.

Most of us Tucson drivers think of severe AZ weather conditions when we think of severe driving conditions. And we're right. Cold AZ weather takes its toll on the oil in your vehicle. Remember how water has to evaporate out of the oil to keep your engine healthy? It can take up to ten miles of driving for an engine to get hot enough to get rid of moisture in the oil when the weather is cold.

Hot Tucson weather is also bad for vehicles. When an engine runs, it gets hot. The longer it runs, the hotter it gets. If it gets too hot, it breaks down. So it has to be constantly cooled to keep running. Hot AZ weather means your cooling system has to work harder to keep your engine from getting too hot.

So, in the end, most of us Tucson auto owners drive under severe conditions some of the time. Smart Tucson residents will ask themselves the question: "Should I follow the severe service maintenance schedule?" An honest evaluation of our driving habits is the best way to determine which schedule to follow.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705


Is Your Tucson Driving Severe?

Posted: Mar 26, 2017

People near Tucson, AZ, often ask Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual or have your Tucson, AZ, service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Tucson will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that.'

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles (six and a half kilometers).
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles (16 km) and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • You drive with a car-top carrier.
  • You do a lot of stop-and-go driving.
  • You drive in very hot or very cold weather.

If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles (six and a half km) from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour (100 kph) when I'm on the freeway.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Tucson. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles (8,000 km) and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 miles (5,000 km), when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles (5,000 km). For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Your Tucson, AZ, auto service advisor at Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather, engine and transmission heat from stop-and-go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly, and then they aren't as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.

Advantage Auto Repair & Transmisson
3155 N. Stone Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85705


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