Vehicle Maintenance

Winter Prep

steering

 

Every year, your vehicle needs to be ready for our Michigan winter. The last thing we Benton Harbor drivers want is to get stranded out in the cold in Michigan. We need our vehicles to be safe and reliable. It’s a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime – but the stakes are higher in the winter for Michigan .

There are some specific and necessary things that we need to do to have our vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze protection is not set correctly it can’t properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your vehicle does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out at Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done.

In the cold Michigan rainy months we always worry about being able to stop in time when it’s slick out on Benton Harbor area roads. The first thing for Benton Harbor drivers to remember is to slow down and allow plenty of room to stop. A thorough brake inspection at Pro Muffler & Brake will reveal if the pads or any other parts need replacing. Check with your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor to see if it is time to replace your brake fluid. It accumulates water over time which really messes with your stopping power.

It is also advisable to have your battery tested. A battery’s cranking power really drops with the temperature. If your battery is weak in the fall, it may not be up to winter in Michigan.

You should always have a blanket or something to keep you and your passengers warm if you get stranded when it’s cold in Michigan. If you will be leaving the Benton Harbor area and venturing away from civilization, pack more items such as food and water to help you survive. Keeping at least half a tank of gas is a good idea if you get stuck and need to run the vehicle to keep warm, and it will help keep your gas lines from freezing up.

It’s a really good idea for Benton Harbor drivers to replace their wiper blades in the fall before the Michigan winter storms. If you live where there’s a lot of snow and ice in Michigan, you might want a special winter blade that resists freezing up. And be sure to have enough windshield washer fluid.

The final thing for Benton Harbor to consider is their tires. Any tire can lose pressure over time – up to one pound every six or eight weeks. For every 10 degrees F/5.6 degrees C, the temperature drops in Benton Harbor you lose another pound of pressure. So if it was 80°F/26.7°C outside in Benton Harbor when you checked your tire pressure two months ago and now it’s 40°F/4.4°C, you could be down 5 pounds of pressure. That’s enough to be a safety issue and it’s also hard on your fuel economy. You may need special winter tires as well. Your Pro Muffler & Brake tire professional can help you find the right tire design for your Benton Harbor expected road conditions.

If you’re getting winter tires in Benton Harbor, it is always best to put them on all four wheels. If you are only getting two, it might be best to put them on the rear – even if you have a front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle. This is a very important safety measure recommended by Michigan tire manufacturers. Sliding or fish-tailing on ice and snow is a matter of not having enough traction at the rear end. That is why your newest tires should probably always be on the rear. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Steering

steering

 

Steering is one of the things we take for granted in our vehicles.  Let’s break it down into two areas: first, the power assist and second the actual parts that steer the vehicle.

Most people under 40 have never driven a car or truck without power steering.  Most vehicles today have a hydraulic power steering pump that provides boost to help you steer.  The pump is usually driven by the serpentine belt, but some newer vehicles have an electric pump.  Some vehicles even have an electric motor that directly powers the steering.

The important thing to keep in mind is that these pumps and motors will eventually wear out and the hoses will start to leak.  You can postpone that day by having a power steering service from time to time.  We will drain the old fluid and replace it with fresh fluid.  This removes water and contaminants that can corrode power steering parts.  Ask your service advisor for the recommended change interval.

What about the mechanical steering parts?  Is there anything you can do to maintain them?  Yes.  If any of the steering parts can be lubed, your technician will take care of that with a lube, oil and filter service.  Other than that, just watch for signs that parts are wearing out.  Things like loose steering and uneven tire wear.

Worn parts can be replaced to get you back on the road.  Now, sometimes parts can be bent or damaged from hitting potholes, curbs or rocks.  It’s important to take care of these problems early on.  If you neglect them, the damaged parts stress other attached components which starts a chain reaction of damage.

Steering maintenance is pretty straight forward: Replace power steering fluid as recommended and fix worn or damaged parts right away.  That’ll save you money in the long run.

Hey – we wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Coolant Replacement

coolant-replacement

 

Coolant Replacement 

Your cooling system’s job is to keep your engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it’s cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the cooled mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.

Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures.

Without coolant, the metal engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. Expensive parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole engine is ruined and has to be replaced.

Also, if it’s freezing outside, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the cold.

Therefore, check coolant levels frequently and have your cooling system inspected for leaks. Also, your manufacturer has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner’s manual or ask your service advisor.

The reason you need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system’s a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted, and the coolant just has to be replaced. A simple Ph test can measure the coolant’s acidity.

You may have noticed that there are different colors of antifreeze: it is very important that you use the correct type. The different coolant types are different colors, so you don’t mix them up. Manufacturers use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.

So, check with your service advisor or owner’s manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your cooling system.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Disc Brakes

disc-brakes

 

Disc Brakes 

Question:
What are the signs that I need a brake job?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Answer:
Signs of brake problems often fall into one of two categories for Benton Harbor vehicles: making noise or a pulsation in the brake pedal. Let’s start with the noise.

Most brake pads have an audible brake wear indicator. This is a small piece of metal that rubs on your brake rotor when the brake pads are worn to the point they should be replaced. The noise is a chirp or soft squeal. This noise gives Benton Harbor drivers enough warning to get their brakes serviced while there is still enough brake pad left to enable you to stop safely.

Benton Harbor drivers who ignore the chirp find that the sound changes to a grinding noise. That is more serious. It means that the friction material on your brake pad is worn away and metal parts of the brake are grinding against the rotor when you press on the brakes. Obviously, this metal-on-metal means that your brakes aren’t stopping very well. It also means that your rotor is being damaged. It may need to be resurfaced or even replaced.

Pedal pulsation is another noticeable sound. When your rotor is not in perfect alignment, it pushes against the brake pads unevenly as you apply the brakes. There could be a number of reasons for this. The rotor and wheel hub may not be mating well, causing the rotor to be spinning out of vertical alignment. This misalignment can be caused by either the rotor or the hub, or a combination of the two. If this persists, the rotor may even start to wear unevenly to the point that its thickness varies, causing an even more noticeable pulsation. This uneven mating of the brake pad and the rotor when braking means less contact and it will reduce braking power.

Your service center or the team at Pro Muffler & Brake  in Benton Harbor can determine the cause of the misalignment and remedy the problem.

Either unusual brake noise or pedal pulsation are signs for Benton Harbor residents that there are brake problems. Benton Harbor motorists should have a tech at Pro Muffler & Brake check their brakes thoroughly and recommend any steps necessary to correct the problem.

A regular brake inspection is on every vehicle’s recommended list. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor if it’s time for brake inspection.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Prevent Costly Repairs

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Prevent Costly Repairs 

You’ve probably seen auto parts delivery trucks in Benton Harbor making their rounds. Every part has a story behind it. Unfortunately, some of the stories are tales of repairs that could have been prevented.

One stop may be to deliver an engine air filter and a mass air flow sensor for a customer’s pick-up. His service advisor has been recommending he replace that dirty air filter for the last couple of oil changes. The guy’s been saying no to save a couple of bucks. Now dirty air has been getting into his mass air flow sensor for so long that it’s ruined. Talk about stepping over dollars to pick up a dime.

Perhaps the next stop is for a fuel system cleaning kit and a set of four fuel injectors. This nice lady has never had her fuel system cleaned. Over the years, gum and varnish have completely ruined her fuel injectors. Her tech will replace the injectors and clean the system, removing carbon deposits from her valves and combustion chamber. Her engine will be making more power and getting much better fuel economy. Just too bad she had the unnecessary expense of new fuel injectors.

The next stop is a crying shame: transmission fluid and a transmission rebuild kit. When you think of a transmission rebuild you probably picture a lot of expensive broken parts. Sure, that can happen, but most of the time it’s just replacing all of these little seals and gaskets that got chewed up by dirty transmission fluid. Really, the guy didn’t service his transmission so all those little bits or dirt and clutch material that naturally come loose over the miles turn the transmission fluid into liquid sandpaper – and it just tears up the rubber seals and paper gaskets. Pretty soon there are all these internal leaks and then there isn’t enough hydraulic pressure to shift properly. Taking out, tearing down, and rebuilding a transmission can cost thousands – all because the transmission fluid wasn’t changed on schedule.

Next time you see an auto parts delivery truck around Benton Harbor, think about your own preventive maintenance. Check your owner’s manual or ask your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor about your manufacturer recommended service schedule today.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Cloudy Headlamps

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Cloudy Headlamps

You may be surprised to learn that 40 percent of traffic fatalities in Michigan take place at night even though there’s 60 percent less traffic. It goes to show how important proper visibility is to nighttime driving in our Benton Harbor community.

Obviously, a clean windshield is important – so are good wiper blades. Your headlights play a big role as well. There are two main concerns. One is with the headlamp, or bulb. The other is with the lens.

The fact of the matter is that headlamps go dim over time on your vehicle or other auto. You just need to replace them. Some vehicles come with a standard bulb which you can replace or you can upgrade to a halogen bulb that’s much brighter. Halogen costs a little more but you’d be amazed at the difference.

It’s a good idea to replace your headlamps once a year. The idea is that your lamps never dim to the point that they become a safety issue. Just take care of it at a fall oil change so that your lights will be bright for the coming long winter nights.

The other big issue is the headlamp lens. For the last couple of decades, most lenses are made of plastic which can get cloudy or yellow. That blocks a lot of light. You can replace the lens, but each lens assembly can cost as much as $350 to $400. It’s much less expensive to restore the lens if it isn’t broken.

At Pro Muffler & Brake, we use a process of special cleaners and polishes to remove the yellowed and hazy layer of the lens. We then apply a hard protective finish. When we’re done, your lenses really are as good as new.

The price depends on the size of the lens and how yellowed or cloudy it is. You can even restore taillights and turn signals.

So combining a headlamp restoration with new bulbs will light up the road like a new car. Can you clearly see the advantage?

At Pro Muffler & Brake we install quality NAPA replacement parts so you can be assured it’s done right the first time.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Suspension Service

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Suspension System Service

Suspension systems should continue to operate effectively for many years and tens of thousands of miles/kilometers, holding your tires’ foot print on the road. Eventually components do wear out, but how long that takes depends a lot on how you drive.

As you can imagine, if most of your driving is on smooth Benton Harbor roads, your vehicle shock absorbers will last a lot longer than if you do most of your driving on bumpy Michigan highways or hauling heavy loads. In addition to just wearing out, upgraded shock suspension components can be damaged in an accident or by a hard impact, like hitting a pothole, a curb or a rock in the road.

Because the life span of shocks can vary so widely, your vehicle manufacturer recommends periodic inspections. During a car inspection at Pro Muffler & Brake, your Benton Harbor service technician will check for worn, broken or missing suspension parts. If the inspection reveals any problems, take care of this important safety and handling work. When you replace your shocks, it’s usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That’ll give you even handling at all four corners of the vehicle.

If you have special road handling needs like improved cornering or towing or hauling requirements, your Pro Muffler Service Consultant, Chris, can recommend an upgraded shock or strut to get you what you want.

At Pro Muffler & Brake, we have been providing quality auto repair in Southwest Michigan for 20+ years.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

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/

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

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