Car Inspection

Ball Joints

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Ball Joints

Most drivers in Benton Harbor, Michigan know ball joints are an important part of the suspension system. Visualize a ball attached to a spindle with the ball enclosed in a cup. This allows the joint to move in several directions, kind of like how your hip works.

Most vehicles have two or four ball joints on the front, depending on the type of suspension system. The joint allows the wheels to move up and down as the tires go over bumps, as well as allowing the wheels to turn as you steer. The ball joints are continuously working and are subject to normal wear.

Most ball joints on modern vehicles are maintenance free, meaning they are sealed and cannot be lubricated. Once the lubricant breaks down or leaks out due to a broken seal, the ball joint will wear more quickly.

You may hear a clicking or popping sound from a corner of the vehicle when turning and/or going over bumps as a ball joint is failing. Your steering may begin to feel sloppy or stiff, depending on how the joint is wearing. You may even feel vibration in the steering wheel at highway speeds. Unusual tire wear is also a sign.

It’s important to replace worn ball joints before they fail. Once it fails, the joint may not be able to constrain the steering angle of a wheel, causing you to lose control.

Your owner’s manual calls for periodic suspension system inspections. The ball joints are an important component that will be inspected for safe function. At Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc, we can check to see if you are due for a suspension system inspection. And ask your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor for an inspection if you are experiencing any of the signs of ball joint wear.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Oil Change

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Oil Change

An oil change at your local Benton Harbor, Michigan, auto shop sounds simple, but there are some pretty important things to know about preventing oil sludge.

Oil eventually starts to turn into jelly, literally: petroleum jelly. Sludge clogs up oil passages and keeps oil from getting to some areas of the engine, causing parts to wear out prematurely. And that means expensive engine repairs.

That’s why you need to change the oil and oil filter on schedule — to get the old oil out before it turns to sludge. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for how many miles/kilometers you can go between oil changes. They also usually have a number of months between recommended oil changes. That’s because the detergents and other additives in the oil break down over time.

Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation for time and distance, but you need to remember that it’s based on using the recommended weight of oil. And if your vehicle came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended intervals assume you will continue to use synthetic.

Also, how you drive around Benton Harbor, Michigan, can have a big effect. Most owner’s manuals will have a list of driving conditions that are harder on your vehicle — things like stop and go driving in Benton Harbor, short trips to Benton Harbor, driving in very hot or very cold weather, heavy loads and towing. If some of your driving fits this, you may need to change your oil and do other maintenance on a shorter schedule.

This may sound complicated. Some vehicles in Michigan have an oil life calculator that takes all of these factors into account and tells you when you should change your oil. Otherwise, talk with your Michigan service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about how you drive and get his or her recommendation for when to take care of your service.

Finally, if any of the steering or suspension parts can be lubed, your technician at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc will take care of that with a lube, oil and filter service.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Guide for buying a Used Vehilcle

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The Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Guide to Buying a Used Vehicle

Used vehicles are certainly an economical choice for budget-conscious Benton Harbor drivers. But how can we know we’re getting a good used vehicle and not just inheriting someone else’s problems?

There are good used vehicles for sale in the Benton Harbor area. Cars are sold when families upsize, when families downsize or even when someone just wants a new car. So the used vehicle may be just fine. But some Benton Harbor used car owners sell vehicles because they don’t want to deal with developing or existing problems.

When you’re considering buying a used vehicle in Benton Harbor, ask for service records. Check to see if the recommended schedules for preventive maintenance have been followed. If so, you probably have a great used vehicle on your hands. If there aren’t any service records, then assume the worst.

Check the vehicle for obvious signs of problems. Kick the tires if you want to, but definitely check them for uneven tread wear. This can indicate alignment problems, worn shocks or suspension issues. Listen to the engine for unusual sounds and pay attention to unexpected odors. Take the vehicle for a test drive and make a list of any concerns you might have.

If the used vehicle you’re looking at is a late model vehicle with under 35,000 miles, or 55,000 kilometers, on it, take it to Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc for a full-service oil change. This inspection will reveal many basic or developing problems. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor about concerns you had on the test drive. Get a heads-up on needed repairs or maintenance.

Previously leased vehicles are often tempting to used vehicle buyers because they are generally newer models with low mileage and have been factory-cleaned. Be cautious, however. Many Benton Harbor drivers of lease vehicles don’t bother with preventive maintenance because they know they’ll be turning the vehicles in. Again, ask for maintenance records, take the vehicle in for a full-service oil change and consult with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about any problems the vehicle may have.

Older used vehicles are even more problematic for Benton Harbor used car buyers. Older vehicles simply come with more maintenance and repair issues than new ones. Take these vehicles in for a used vehicle inspection at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc. Usually, a seller will let you do this before you purchase the vehicle. These inspections are very thorough and will help you know what you’re getting into. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about your purchase. That peace of mind will make the cost of the inspection more than worth your while. It’s always good auto advice for Benton Harbor drivers to purchase a Carfax report on any used vehicle. This report will let you know if the vehicle has been in a major accident and will give you a title history. You’d be surprised what used vehicle buyers have learned from those reports. Know before you buy.

Once you purchase a used vehicle, give it some tender loving car care. Give it a thorough cleaning, inside and out — and don’t forget the engine compartment. A good wax will make it look and feel “new.” And, of course, stay on top of preventive maintenance. Used vehicles bought in Michigan can last a good, long time if they’re properly cared for. They’re economical to buy, and they can keep on saving us Benton Harbor drivers money if we look after them.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Fuel Saving Tip

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Fuel Saving Tip: Slow Down in Benton Harbor

There’s not much Benton Harbor residents can do about the price of gas in Michigan, but we can control – up to a point – how much we use. Our driving habits can dramatically affect our fuel economy.

The first thing we can do is watch the go-pedal. Hard acceleration just sucks the gas. Gently leave stop lights and plan lane changes so you don’t need to floor it. That can save you hundreds of dollars a year in improved fuel economy.

Go a little slower on Michigan roads. Benton Harbor residents who go more than 60 mph/100 kph will see their drop dramatically. Leave early so you don’t need to rush to be on time. And cruise control is your friend – steady speeds use less gas.

Plan errands ahead. Make fewer trips by combining errands around Benton Harbor, Benton Harbor, Coloma and Stevensville.

Hey, at current Benton Harbor gas prices, a lead-foot might as well be a gold foot.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Viva la Differential

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Viva la Differential

With front-wheel drive being so common these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service at Pro Muffler & Brake, so most Benton Harbor drivers don’t even have to think about it. And most rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for many miles or kilometers, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the minds of Benton Harbor drivers. So it’s not uncommon for people in Benton Harbor to not know they have a differential, let alone know that it needs service.

To better understand what a differential does, think about a high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That’s to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds on drive wheels between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

Differentials do a lot of work and require very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He’ll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Benton Harbor driver’s four-wheel-drive vehicles need special attention to their differentials because they have a differential on both the front and rear axles that work at different times and sometimes under heavy loads; they may need to be serviced at different intervals.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor can look up the manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual. And of course, we stand behind our work and the parts we install. Let Pro Muffler & Brake be a part of your family’s car care.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Save Some Gas!

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High Michigan gas prices have hit most of our budgets here in Benton Harbor. If increased fuel costs are consuming a bigger portion of your budget, you may be tempted to skimp in some other areas – like scheduled maintenance.

According to Michigan news reports and industry studies, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn’t been. Some of these items are serious safety concerns. Others are just more likely to affect the cost of operating your vehicle.

In this area, we can take a lesson from professional vehicle owners in the Benton Harbor area: fleet owners and operators like trucking companies and Benton Harbor delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.

Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. For them, even a small decrease in fuel economy may mean not being profitable.

Here are some services that could potentially save you some gas in Benton Harbor:

Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, wheel alignment, oil change, tune-up. Ring any bells? Is there at least one thing on the list that hasn’t been done? Let’s suppose you chose to spend $150 at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc and get caught up on some of these services and that they combine to improve your fuel economy by 15 percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?

Well, the average personal vehicle in Michigan is driven about 12,000 miles a year. If you get 20 miles per gallon, over the course of one year you would pay for the $150 worth of service and save an additional $165 if gas is $3.50 in Benton Harbor. If gas is $4.50, you would save $255. And you’d rack up savings of $345 with gas at $5.50.

From this you can see that the more fuel costs in Benton Harbor, the more it pays to take care of your vehicle. Some of us Benton Harbor drive trucks for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A 15 percent improvement in fuel economy can generate huge savings – $660 a year if gas is $4.50 a gallon at your Benton Harbor gas station.

So catch up on those services at Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about your vehicle’s needs. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you’ll save a lot of on fuel this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Ask Your Mechanic

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A lot of service and repair customers in Benton Harbor are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions but don’t want to be embarrassed or to seem pushy. Cars are very complicated and there’s more to know about them than most of us Benton Harbor drivers have the time to learn.

At Pro Muffler & Brake, we think automotive service customers have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their vehicle and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.

It’s all about the communication. What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, most Pro Muffler & Brake service advisors are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get Benton Harbor drivers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.

Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to Benton Harbor customers. If you’re not sure, ask what the auto repair payment policies are. For example, there’s a big difference between giving your vehicle a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while for your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake technician. Make sure you know what’s done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.

Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find rebuilt auto parts or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.

Ask about Pro Muffler & Brake warranties for car parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. At Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor, we stand behind our work and want you to understand precisely what that means.

Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that’s done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received at Pro Muffler & Brake  when the time comes to sell it.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Clean your EGR

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Benton Harbor drivers realize it is pretty amazing how auto makers have been able to consistently build more powerful engines in vehicles that get better fuel economy while at the same meeting increasing environmental standards. One of the little miracles that helps make this happen is the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve. The EGR valve routes some exhaust back into the air intake system in both gasoline and diesel engines. The exhaust gas takes up some space in the engine cylinders, replacing some of the oxygen-rich air that would otherwise be in there. This means that the fuel burning event is cooler. Cooler combustion means fewer harmful nitrous oxides are produced.

Your EGR valve can get gummed up, messing up the timing and amount of exhaust that is supposed to be recirculated in the engine. Symptoms of EGR valve problems are rough idle and poor engine performance. Performance can be restored by cleaning or replacing the EGR valve, depending on how dirty it is.

EGR valves in diesel engines are particularly susceptible to becoming clogged because of the high soot content in diesel exhaust. (Note: the soot is ultimately filtered out of the exhaust further down the exhaust system, but not before it passes through the EGR valve.)

There are a couple of things you can do to lengthen the life of the EGR valve in your diesel engine. First, extended idling allows for more soot buildup because the engine operating temperature is reduced as it idles; the valve is not opening and closing, allowing particulates to accumulate in the valve. Next is fuel quality. Diesel fuel has a cetane rating: the higher the rating, the better the combustion will be. Unfortunately, the cetane rating is rarely posted on the pump and can vary from location to location. Adding a cetane booster to the fuel tank can help with this.

So, if you are experiencing rough idling or poor performance in your gas or diesel vehicle, have one of our Pro Muffler & Brake Shop expert technicians diagnose the problem. They can set things right and restore your vehicle’s performance.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

How’s your braking power?

Pro Muffler Anti-Lock Brakes

 

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Question:
What is the Power Brake Service?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Answer:

Howdy, Benton Harbor. Let’s talk about your brakes. Basically, the power brake system helps you provide braking power so that you don’t have to do all the work with your brake pedal. The brakes themselves are applied at the wheel using hydraulic pressure. When we step on the brake pedal, we create pressure in the power booster that’s multiplied by vacuum from the engine. The resulting pressure pushes brake fluid through the master cylinder into tubes and hoses that run to the brake at each wheel.

When there’s a problem, it’s usually a fluid leak somewhere along the line. It could be at a fitting or a hose, or even an internal leak in the master cylinder. A leak gives the pressurized fluid somewhere to go other than to the brakes, so stopping power is hurt. Lose enough fluid and you can’t stop at all. Of course that’s extremely dangerous for us Benton Harbor and the others on the road.

If you notice any decrease in stopping power or if your pedal seems mushy, you could have a problem. There are some preventive maintenance items for the power brake system that will help them last longer. At Pro Muffler & Brake Shop in Benton Harbor, we provide comprehensive brake maintenance and repair service.

Obviously Benton Harbor want to make sure their brake fluid is filled to the recommended level. Low fluid in the master cylinder could indicate a leak or worn brake material. Master cylinder leaks are usually just because it’s worn out but, leaks in the brake lines and connectors can be minimized by replacing the brake fluid from time to time. Brake fluid has additives that protect against corrosion that can damage brake components.

Benton Harbor should take note that brake fluid also attracts moisture which can lead to rust – not a good thing for expensive anti-lock brake components. Also, significant amounts of water in the brake fluid can affect stopping power because the water has a much lower boiling point than brake fluid. In the high temperature environment of the brake system, the water can vaporize – and steam doesn’t do a very good job of providing hydraulic pressure.

A final word – make sure you use the recommended type of brake fluid. There are several kinds and using the wrong one can lead to total brake failure. Your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop technician can help you.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

April is National Car Care Month

Pro Muffler Anti-Lock Brakes

April is National Car Care Month!

Spring has Sprung and it’s time for your vehicle maintenance check up. Let the professional technicians at Pro Muffler & Brake inspect and advise you on keeping it in tip top shape. April is national car care month, what better month than April to get your vehicle running properly.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Dear Kevin & Rich,We finally made it to the West Coast. We’re in Northern California headed down to San Fran. We picked up my PT Cruiser and it’s holding up well… So far. I don’t want to jinx myself. Hope all is well in Michigan. Perhaps we’ll meet again. Thanks for all your kindness!Sincerely, Beth & Jerod
Thank you Pro Muffler & Brake Shop! If I have a problem with my brakes or my muffler again, I will come to you! Many thanks to you & staff. My car runs so much better and because of you guys I have confidence in driving my car. Customer of '97 Honda Civic
Kevin & Pro Muffler guys, “Many thanks for your prompt, courteous & special service today!Anita

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