Fluids

A Fluid Situation (Check Fluid Levels)

There's one fluid in your car you are always careful to keep at a certain level: the fuel. If you don't have fuel, you're not going anywhere.  Your vehicle has other fluids which are vitally important to proper and safe operation, too.  So, here's a "level" headed approach to those "other" fluids.

Engine oil.  This one's probably the most important fluid to maintain at the proper level. Without enough oil, you'll wear out your engine prematurely.  Sometimes vehicles have warning lights on the dash that will tell you to get your oil checked.  Don't ignore that one; get it checked immediately.  Certainly don't go on a long trip at high speeds with your oil level low. Oh, and it's not good to have too much oil in, either. Our pros at PDR can advise you on oil levels and tell if you if you should be concerned about abnormal fluctuations.

Windshield washer fluid.  OK, this is one you probably know about.  You certainly miss it when it runs out.  You find yourself trying to clean your windshield with the wipers but you need a little liquid help.  Unless you live in an area that requires you to use an awful lot of windshield washer fluid, one fill-up can often last between oil changes.  Modern vehicles have large enough windshield washer fluid reservoirs to keep you going for quite a while.    

Engine Coolant. Here's another fluid you need to keep your engine running properly.  You need it to keep the engine running at the proper temperature.  Plus, you'll need it for heat when the temperature gets chilly outside. 

Power Steering Fluid. If you have a vehicle that uses power steering fluid, it's important to keep the correct amount in your system. Without enough of it, you might find steering difficult.  Plus, if you’re losing power steering fluid, our experts at PDR can find out why and perhaps prevent a more expensive repair later.

Brake Fluid.  You may have heard of hydraulic brakes.  Hydraulic refers to the fluid and is one of the key reasons your brakes work.  Levels should be checked regularly and, like power steering fluid, if you're losing brake fluid, a technician needs to find out why so you can get the issue repaired and maintain your stopping ability.

If you have regular preventative maintenance performed at PDR, we’ll keep an eye on all of these fluids when you bring your vehicle in for service.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Procrastination Prevention in Urbana

Every one of us has a little procrastinator inside us. Some put off getting our teeth cleaned. Others put off answering our emails. Yet others put off calling friends and family (sorry, Uncle Joe). And there are those of us who put off getting our vehicle's service done, whether it's a repair or regular maintenance. You may make the excuse that you don't have time, it can wait until tomorrow, you have other things to do.

Well, there are some things you should NEVER put off when it comes to your vehicle because that procrastination could have dire consequences down the road.

The biggest one is changing your oil. Yes, it's one of those things you may hear somebody nag you about, but changing your vehicle's oil regularly is probably the one thing that will do the most to keep things running smoothly… and well. It's the lubricant that keeps metal engine parts from wearing out. Oil doesn't last forever and it gets dirty, so you have to swap it out for fresh every so often. How often? Your PDR service advisor can tell you, and your owner's manual has the manufacturer's recommendations, too.

You have to keep the right amount of air in your tires. They don't inflate themselves! You may have a newer vehicle that has a tire pressure monitor built in and lets you know when a tire is over- or under-inflated. Don't ignore those warning lights! If your vehicle doesn't have those electronic monitors, have our pros at PDR check your pressure every so often. If your tires have the right amount of air in them, they'll last longer, save you money and keep you much safer on the road.

Make sure you have the right amount of vital fluids in your vehicle. The important ones (besides oil) are brake fluid, transmission fluid and coolant. Without the right amount of brake fluid, your vehicle may be hard to stop. Without the right level of transmission fluid, gear shifting may be erratic. And without the right amount of coolant, your engine may overheat.

Ok, so if you put off calling your Uncle Joe today, he probably will be ok with that. But when it comes to these important vehicle maintenance points, prevent procrastination… and prevent problems down the road.

We’d love to hear from you. Let us know if you have any questions.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Sniffing Out a Problem

Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention.

For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like.  If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can't be far away. Here's a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it.  There's a device in your exhaust system that's supposed to convert it to something that doesn't pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter.  If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out.  But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors.  Either way, something's rotten that should be repaired.

Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some coolant (anti-freeze).  If it's leaking, then you may be getting a whiff of ethylene glycol, one of the coolant's components.  If the odor is strong inside the car, it could be a leaky heater core. This is important to get checked out because a leak in your vehicle's cooling system can eventually cause expensive damage.

How about that distinctive smell of gasoline? You could have a leak in your gas tank, a hose that vents your gas tank or a leak in a fuel injector line.  A gasoline leak needs to be tracked down since it could catch fire.  It can also be bad for your health if you breathe it in all the time.

When you step hard on the brakes, ever smell something like a rug's in fire? That could mean you've just overheated your brake pads.  If you detect that smell just driving around town, one of the brake calipers could be stuck.  To figure out which wheel has the problem, get out of your vehicle and smell each wheel.  It will likely be obvious where the problem is.

Here's one last smell.  Ever had your oil changed and right after you picked up your vehicle it smells like something's burning around the engine? That's because sometimes a little oil leaks onto the metal when the filter is changed or the oil is poured in.  It's a useful smell to know.  Because of you smell burning oil and you haven't had your oil changed recently, that could mean you have a leak in your engine.  It could be a gasket or a seal, but it also could mean the start of more serious issues. 

All of these things are signals that you should discuss with your service advisor to get them checked out.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481

PDR Advice on What to Pour into Your Vehicle

Changes in vehicle design and manufacture have resulted in changed fluid requirements for our vehicles. With the sophistication of engines, transmissions, differentials, etc., it's best for Urbana residents to always use the proper type of fluid for their vehicle. Using incorrect fluids can actually damage your engine.

As engines have become more sophisticated, new weights (or grades) of engine oil have been introduced. Today, there is a much wider range of weights for engine oil as well as a variety of formulations for different types of engines.

Transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant/anti-freeze have changed because the materials that go into making the systems they protect have changed. The fluids in our vehicles generally have two jobs: to lubricate and to prevent corrosion. The fluids formulated for your vehicle are specifically designed to protect the materials that make up its engine parts. Using the wrong fluid may leave some parts vulnerable to corrosion. Further, using the wrong fluids can also void your vehicle's warranty. So PDR recommends Urbana drivers follow the fluid recommendations in their owner's manuals.

Vehicle fluids, including engine oil, are also designed in special formulas for higher mileage vehicles. These formulas contain additives that help clean older engines and transmissions as well as recondition older seals and gaskets. These fluids are perfectly okay for your vehicle as long as you match the original fluid recommendations in your owner's manual. In other words, a high-mileage oil is fine as long as it is the same weight as the oil recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer.

Good vehicle care always includes proper attention to your vehicle's fluids. Understanding and using correct fluids will keep your vehicle running well and will help prevent early corrosion and wear of vital engine parts.

Talk to your PDR service advisor for more information.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Does My Choice in Oil Affect Change Intervals?

Oil changes are probably the most recognized service on a vehicle. Almost all Urbana residents know about them. But do we know enough?

Several decades ago, oil changes were fairly standard: every three months or 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But recent advances in both engine technology and oil quality have led to longer oil change intervals.

Delayed or skipped oil changes are a problem for Urbana residents because they lead to the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Oil sludge forms when engine oil breaks down, which happens with both time and miles. Obviously, driving will take its toll on engine oil, but the oil also breaks down even as the vehicle just sits in the garage. This is why oil change intervals are listed in both time and distance traveled, and the phrase “whichever comes first” is applicable.

Oil sludge is essentially petroleum jelly. Imagine this stuff squishing around in your vehicle engine, pushing into small engine passageways and blocking passage of oil to vital engine parts, shortening your engine's life expectancy.

To prevent sludge, you have to get your oil changed regularly, as often as the manufacturer recommends. Check your owner's manual for every vehicle you own to know the interval for each one. Don't assume they will be the same.

If you tow a trailer, haul heavy loads, make a lot of short trips around Urbana, usually engage in stop-and-go (or around-the-town) driving, drive in cold or hot Illinois weather, or drive in polluted or dusty conditions, you may need to change your oil more frequently. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for a “severe service” recommendation.

If the manual doesn't give you the advice you need, talk to your friendly and knowledgeable PDR service advisor. He will be able to answer any questions about preventive maintenance or vehicle care that you may have, including how often to change your oil.

Urbana residents need to get the right weight and type of oil recommended for their vehicles. More and more are using synthetic oil in their vehicles. Synthetic oil typically lasts longer and is more resistant to sludge formation than conventional motor oil. But it is also more expensive. So it can be tempting for Urbana residents to ask for conventional oil, but if you replace synthetic oil with conventional oil, you will have to change your oil more often to prevent sludge build-up. In the end, you're probably not saving money at all.

Also, your engine may not be designed for the conventional oil. Check your owner's manual before replacing synthetic oil with conventional.

Talk to your PDR service advisor for more information.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

The PDR Basic Guide To Synthetic Oil

Synthetic motor oil has been around for a long time, and more and more new vehicles are leaving factories with synthetic in their engines. But a lot of drivers don't really know much about it.

Let's start with conventional oil – the kind folks are used to. Conventional oil is made up of naturally occurring hydrocarbon chains, which means its molecules are long and have various lengths. Like a pile of pencils, some of them new and some of them used.

Synthetic oil is man-made. Its molecules are more uniform and regular in shape – more similar to marbles than pencils. Some synthetic oil starts with a petroleum base that's modified and others are entirely synthesized from other materials.

Synthetic motor oil works better in both hot and cold temperatures. It's more chemically stable so it doesn't readily evaporate or break down in the high heat produced inside your vehicle engine. This means it resists turning to sludge, which is a real engine killer.

Remember that marbles and pencils thing we were talking about? Well, that makes synthetic oil slipperier than conventional oil which means less friction in your engine. Your vehicle engine runs cooler, wears less and lasts longer. You also get a boost in power and maybe even an improvement in fuel economy.

Synthetic oil also lasts longer so you change it less often – which is great for the environment. With longer oil change intervals, you need an oil filter specifically built for the longer service life of synthetic oil. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable PDR service adviser about synthetic oil and synthetic blends – they might be just what you need to improve engine performance and extend the life of your vehicle.

Give us a call.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481

The PDR Guide to Proper Fluids for Your Vehicle

The automotive professionals at PDR would like to give Urbana drivers an update on some of the things happening in automotive fluids. You know, vehicles are becoming more sophisticated every day.  Fluids such as, oil, coolant and transmission fluid are becoming more specialized at about the same pace.

The Urbana do-it-yourselfer has to be pretty careful so that they do not actually harm their vehicle with the wrong type of fluid. That is why so many Illinois ] owners rely on the advice of their friendly and knowledgeable PDR service advisor to not only get the correct family of fluids, but to suggest the formulation that is best for their vehicle and their driving habits in the Urbana area.

Let's start with engine oil. Urbana drivers who have been paying attention will have noticed a number of new oil weights on the Illinois scene in the last several years. Modern engines are built to much tighter tolerances and have very complicated valve trains. The oil must be thin enough to lubricate complicated parts when the engine is cold. The weight of an oil is expressed in terms like 20-W-50 or 5-W-30. The vehicle manufacturers recommend the weight of oil for each vehicle they make. The recommendation is based on engine design. Your Urbana service center will know what weight your vehicle manufacturer recommends - and it's important to follow those recommendations. Your service advisor at PDR can also offer suggestions for special formulations and can tell you all about conventional and synthetic oils.

Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is another area that has become more complicated. For a long time, vehicle manufacturers only recommended a couple of different types of coolant. Now, several different formulations are needed because of the high-tech materials that vehicle manufacturers are using to build the cooling system. Using the wrong type of coolant in your vehicle can actually void your warranty, so it's important to get that right.

Transmission fluid is becoming specialized for Urbana vehicles as well. New transmission designs have particular requirements that require specific formulations. Recently, new, somewhat confusing, standards for brake fluid have also been released.

Not too long ago, there was a good chance that all of the vehicles at your house would use many of the same fluids. However, as automotive technology advances, the array of basic automotive fluids Illinois drivers need will grow. And, some of the formulations will cost a little more for Urbana drivers. Fortunately, PDR will continue to update their training to keep pace with technology so that you'll get the right fluids your vehicle needs. It's all part of the commitment we make to your driving peace of mind.

 PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Illinois: What Is the Risk of High Oil Change Intervals?

Illinois residents may have heard that vehicles don't need their oil changed as often as they used to. That's true. But it's not the whole story.

Owing to improved engine technology and higher oil quality, most newer vehicles can go longer between oil changes than their older counterparts.

So what is a good time interval for oil changes? How do Illinois residents know when to change it? And why do we change it in the first place?

Oil lubricates a vehicle's engine, which protects it from friction damage. Over time the oil can collect dirt and contaminants that inhibit its performance. But dirty oil isn't the only problem for Illinois residents. What you really want to avoid is called oil sludge.

Oil sludge is caused by moisture in the oil and by hot spots in your engine that burn off oil. This sludge is a gooey gel that can clog engine passageways, which can block lubricants from reaching vital engine parts. The result can be engine wear or even engine failure.

Sludge forms rapidly in an engine that is driven under what are termed “severe conditions.” A vehicle's owner's manual includes recommendations for oil change intervals under both normal and severe conditions. Severe conditions include towing a trailer, driving in polluted or dusty conditions, hauling heavy loads or using a car top carrier. Also, extremes in climate such as very hot or very cold temperatures constitute severe conditions for vehicles.

Some people may be tempted to overlook the severe conditions preventive maintenance schedule in their 's owner's manual because of the word “severe.” But consider this: the most common form of severe conditions is stop-and-go driving, rush hour commuting or only driving your vehicle on short trips around the area.

When a vehicle only makes trips under four miles/six kilometers, or under 10 miles/16 kilometers in freezing conditions, the engine doesn't get warm enough for condensation in the oil to evaporate. The result? You get oil sludge build-up. If your driving patterns are the same as any of the conditions that count as severe, you should be changing your oil more frequently under the severe conditions schedule. 

The team at PDR in Urbana can help you understand what type of oil to use in your vehicle and how it can affect your oil change schedule. Some vehicles are filled with synthetic or synthetic-blend oil at the factory. The owner's manual will recommend that this oil continue to be used in the vehicle, and oil change intervals will be based on this type of oil.

Also, if your vehicle uses conventional oil, but you have some of those severe driving habits we talked about, you can switch to a premium-grade oil to give your vehicle extra protection. The answer to why we change our oil is fairly simple: to protect our engines and make our vehicles last longer and run better. But the answer to how often to change our oil is more complex: it depends on our vehicle, our driving habits, where we live and what kind of oil we use.

When it comes to oil changes, a little information can go a long way to helping people save money and extend the life of their vehicles. Stay safe, and stay on the road.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481

PDR Service Tip: Why Synthetic Oil Is Good For Your Vehicles

Hello Illinois! Today's vehicle care topic is: Synthetic Oil vs. Petroleum Based Oil. Synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil. If you aren't currently using it, why not? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why, we'd need a microscope, so we'll have to settle for using our imaginations. The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is slipperier, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?

Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there's less friction. This results in myriad benefits: better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn't sludge up like conventional oil so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up. (We see that too often at PDR in Urbana.)

Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals for many models. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your PDR service advisor about how you drive in and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil for your vehicle. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.

Most of us have a busy life and occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead, admit it. Since we're not perfect, doesn't it make sense to use a motor oil that's got your back?

What about price? Petroleum based oil may appear to win out on this point, but let's consider all the facts. Although synthetic oil costs more, it lasts longer, protects your vehicle engine better and increases fuel economy. You'll likely save money in the long run. If you're serious about making your vehicle last longer, consider using synthetic motor oil.

Give us a call.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

PDR Guide to Using the Correct Fluids in Your Vehicle

Today's PDR post focuses on using coolant. drive If you pour in the wrong kind, it won't protect the cooling system and may even void the warranty. Check your vehicle owner's manual. Of course, your PDR service advisor will know the proper coolant for your vehicle.

Brake fluid is confusing for some Urbana drivers. Back when we opened PDR, most vehicles used Dot 3 brake fluid. Now we have Dot 4 and Dot 5. Some Urbana residents mistakenly think the higher numbers are an upgrade. You know, if 3 is good then 4 must be better. That's not how it works. They are different formulations to meet the demands of differences in brake systems. Only one of them is designed for your vehicle.

Ditto for transmission fluid. For decades there were two basic types of tranny fluid used at PDR: friction modified or not. With the tremendous engineering advances in vehicle automatic transmissions, there have been several new types of fluids developed to protect and lubricate them.

Nowhere are the advances in automotive fluids more evident to PDR professionals than in motor oil. Many new weights and formulations have been created to meet the demands of today's high-tech vehicle engine design. Modern engines have more parts and much tighter tolerances.

That's where the new grades of engine oil come in. They have to be formulated to lubricate, protect and clean all of those vehicle engine parts, big and little. The oil has to be thin enough to get into little passages, yet resistant to vaporization.

At PDR in Urbana, we believe that in some ways modern automotive fluids are just as impressive as the new engines. Because weights of oil and types of coolant and transmission fluid are so carefully matched to the vehicle, make sure you always use the proper fluid if you are topping off at home.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com