Vehicle Maintenance

Spark Plugs

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Spark Plugs

In Benton Harbor, Michigan, the days when Benton Harbor drivers changed their spark plugs every couple of years has ended. Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now…

First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer for Benton Harbor drivers and they’re designed better. The second reason spark plugs used to have to be changed in vehicles and other autos was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits. The deposits built up when fuel wasn’t burned completely. With modern engine management controls that just doesn’t happen as often.

Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something’s wrong, spark plugs just don’t foul like they used to.

Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the power to the spark plug. The electricity travels through a wire from the coil to the spark plug. At the tip of the plug, a spark jumps between two electrodes and ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.

Some engines have more than one coil. Coils wear out and need to be replaced occasionally. Also, spark plug wires can wear out and need to be replaced.

Modern engines used around Benton Harbor are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. That’s largely credited to fast engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and improvements to the lowly spark plug.

It’ll be interesting to see where future developments take us. One last thought: it’s to have the right kind of spark plug for your vehicle. Because engines are designed to run with different internal temperatures, spark plugs have different designs to work properly within those temperatures. Your Benton Harbor, Michigan, service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle. And he’ll be able to advise you on when you should replace your spark plugs as well.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

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/

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/

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/

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/

Engine Air Filter

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Engine Air Filter

Today we want to talk about your engine air filter.

That’s the filter that cleans the air before it’s burned in your engine. Many people in Benton Harbor wonder how often they should change their engine air filter. The simple answer is “when it’s dirty.” That’s a function of how much air has passed through the filter, so your vehicle manufacturer will recommend a mileage interval for replacing the air filter. But you can imagine that how dirty the air is would affect how quickly the filter gets filled.

If you drive in Benton Harbor where there’s lots of dust, pollution or pollen, your engine air filter will get dirty more quickly and need to be changed sooner. That’s why we check the air filter with every full-service oil change at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc. We can visually tell if the filter needs to be changed.

Your filter can only hold so much dirt. Once the filter is full, dirt will pass through to the engine. This dirt gums up the combustion chamber, hurts fuel economy and may cause damage. It can also contaminate the Mass Air Flow Sensor which will affect drivability and can be fairly expensive to replace.

A dirty air filter would also restrict the amount of air that gets to the engine, which hurts fuel economy. We can replace your engine air filter with one that matches the factory specifications or you can upgrade your filter for enhanced performance.

So when your Benton Harbor, Michigan, service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc shows you your dirty air filter, you know how important it is to get it replaced.

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/

Kevin & Pro Muffler guys, “Many thanks for your prompt, courteous & special service today!Anita
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

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