Driving Tips

Older Vehicle?

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Simple Answers from Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc for Benton Harbor: High Mileage Vehicles

Question:
What do I need to do for my high mileage vehicle?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Answer:
Benton Harbor drivers ask this question at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc a lot more these days. The median age for vehicles on Michigan roads is now over 11 years. Regardless of your reason for keeping your vehicle around, the good news for Benton Harbor drivers is that it’s capable of going 150,000 to 200,000 miles (or 250,000 to 3500,000 kilometers) or more with proper care and professional automotive service at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc.

Here are some tips from Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc on how to make your car last:

  • First, Benton Harbor drivers should follow all of their regularly scheduled maintenance routines. Things like oil changes, transmission and cooling system service are for avoiding damage. This reduces your overall cost for keeping your vehicle for a long time.
  • Next, regular inspections are critical for Benton Harbor drivers. Look, those parts are starting to get old and will become worn out the more you drive. Thorough inspections of various systems will uncover things that are nearing the end of their service life, like suspension, brake and steering components. Replacing worn parts early not only prevents breakdowns but relieves stress on related components so they will last longer as well.
  • Another thing for Benton Harbor drivers to consider is the use of special high mileage fluid formulations. For example, high mileage engine oil has special additives that condition those old seals and gaskets. It also has extra detergents to help keep that older vehicle engine clean inside. High mileage oil, transmission fluid, etc., costs a little more but can really head off some of the problems that are typical of older vehicles around Michigan.
  • One last thing for Benton Harbor drivers would be to consult with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about the overall condition of your vehicle and your driving routines. It may be advisable to follow your vehicle’s severe service schedule.
  • Even with the occasional unexpected repair associated with an older vehicle, you can still enjoy good, reliable transportation if you take good care of your ride.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Vehicle Service?

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Why Benton Harbor Car Owners Hesitate to Get their Vehicle Serviced

A recent report stated that over 80% of the vehicles on the road have one or more service item or repair that’s needed but hasn’t been taken care of. Now that’s a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in the US alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.

There are several reasons Benton Harbor drivers hesitate to take care of recommended services – especially services that our friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor recommends when we’re in for something else, like an oil change.

The first issue boils down to comfort with car care in Benton Harbor. Benton Harbor drivers don’t always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Benton Harbor drivers who don’t know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don’t want to look ignorant. It’s human nature. But there’s so much to know in this world, we can’t all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It’s very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it’s your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician.

Your Benton Harbor technician wants your questions. He wants you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done. That brings us to the next issue. Benton Harbor folks say that they don’t always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.

At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your Benton Harbor service center and your service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc? Trust has to be earned and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer’s maintenance schedules.

In other words, “You don’t have to trust me, you can trust your owner’s manual.”

Basically, the engineers who designed your vehicle say here’s when you need to have it serviced. That’s who makes the recommendation, not your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc. He’s just reminding you.

Now Benton Harbor drivers do need to trust the technician’s experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concern and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.

That brings us to the third issue. Money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And Benton Harbor drivers have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn’t usually on those lists.

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc works hard to make sure that they diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That’s the only way they can maintain their reputation and remain in business. If they’re not satisfying you and providing a good value, you won’t come back and the service center won’t be around for long.

When there is a real budget concern, your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc pros can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Wheel Alignment

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Simple Answers from Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc: Alignment

Question:
How do I know when I need a wheel alignment?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Answer:
When Benton Harbor drivers’ wheels are properly aligned they all point in the same direction. When they are out of alignment, most Michigan drivers notice a couple of things. First the vehicle pulls to one side when driving. It could be slight or pretty severe. If your wheels have been out of alignment for a while, you’ll also start to see uneven tire wear – the shoulder on either the outside or inside of the tire is worn down more than the other.

A whole bunch of steering and suspension components are joined together. Everyday Benton Harbor driving can cause Benton Harbor drivers’ wheels to go out of alignment over time just from the joints loosening up. That’s why most recommend an alignment check every couple of years. Depending on where you live in Michigan or the conditions you drive in (off-road driving, harsh Benton Harbor winter conditions, poor pavement, etc.), an alignment inspection every year at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc may be called for.

Suspension and steering components wear over time as well, which can lead to and alignment issues for Benton Harbor drivers. Of course, a big bump, like hitting a curb or pothole, can knock a wheel out of alignment or damage a steering or suspension part.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor will check your tires for uneven wear. The type of wear provides clues for what might be wrong. Undercar parts are inspected for wear and damage. The alignment machine will provide a reading of how each wheel is aligned. The reading is compared with the alignment settings recommended by the manufacturer, and then the technician makes the necessary adjustments and repairs to bring your wheels back into alignment.

Now putting off a wheel alignment in Benton Harbor can get dangerous because of tire wear: a bad alignment can chew through a tire pretty quickly. If you see uneven tire wear, if your steering wheel is off center or your vehicle pulls to one side, ask your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor about getting an alignment check.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

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/

Item Most Stolen From Vehicles

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Item Most Stolen From Vehicles

What item is most often stolen from vehicles?

Is it:
(A) Stereo
(B) Wheels
(C) Air Bag
(D) DVD System

Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft – approximately 50,000 a year nationally in the United States. New airbags cost about $1,000 for Benton Harbor but go for $50 to $200 on the black market. Stolen airbags are making their way back into vehicles that have been in an accident in Benton Harbor. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.

There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.

That is definitely a part you don’t want to take a chance with, so we recommend following the following guidelines:

Use a reputable collision repair center like Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc in Benton Harbor that employs ASE certified mechanics.
Inspect the invoice to ensure that the Benton Harbor repair shop purchased the airbag from a Michigan manufacturer, dealer or recycler.
If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer or recycler.
You will see the SRS (Supplemental Restraint System) light when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is a problem with the airbag system.

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/

Water Pump

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Water Pump

Let’s talk water pumps for autos in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The engine is cooled by coolant/antifreeze mixed with water. This mixture circulates around the engine, absorbing some of the heat. The coolant then flows through the radiator where air cools it down for the return trip back through the engine. Your vehicle’s water pump is what drives this process.

Cooling system problems are the number-one mechanical failure in Benton Harbor. So the water pump plays a pretty important role. You can’t get very far in Michigan without a water pump.

After all that distant and years of pumping coolant, water pumps just wear out. You might notice a whining or grinding sound coming from the water pump. Or maybe see coolant leaking from the pump itself.

The precise location of the water pump varies depending on the vehicle. Some have the water pump attached to the outside of the engine where you can see it. With these, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt.

Some have the water pump driven by the timing belt. The timing belt cover often hides the water pump with this setup, so you can’t see the pump without removing the cover.

When you have Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc replace the water pump on one of these, you really should replace the timing belt at the same time. We’ve already gotten things taken apart and besides, the belt’s likely been contaminated by coolant. And timing belts usually need to be replaced at similar intervals anyway, so it just makes sense to do both jobs at once.

The opposite is true too; when you change the timing belt on this type of engine, replace the water pump while you’re at it. The water pump will eventually fail and getting to it is an expensive project. For not that much more you can take care of both the timing belt and the water pump at the same time.

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/

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/

Do you have dirty headlights?

 

A recent study showed that 9 out of 10 vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlights. This can decrease nighttime visibility by as much as 90 percent. When you gas up, wipe down your windshield.

At Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc in Benton Harbor we install quality NAPA replacement parts.

Give us a call at 269.926.2006 and let us help keep you safely and economically on the road.

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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