FAQs

[accordion title=”What is TPMS?”]
TPMS is an acronym for tire pressure monitoring system. Direct and indirect systems monitor the actual air pressure in each tire on the ground. These systems often give the operator a reading of the active air pressure and location of each tire. Indirect systems operate through wheel speed sensors and compare the revolutions per mile. If a tire is low, it will rotate at a higher rate since it is diameter has been reduced because of under inflation. Since 2007, ever car and light truck under 9,000 pounds are equipped with TPMS.
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[accordion title=”What is the correct air pressure for my tires and how often should they be checked?”]
There is no one correct air pressure for any car or truck. We strongly recommend that you consult with your owner’s manual for the air pressure recommendations for the automobile manufacturer. Quite often, this information can be found on the door jamb or gas cap door. Most manufacturers will give you a single passenger-unloaded pressure and a fully-loaded pressure. As a general rule, you should check your tire pressure at least once a month with a an accurate tire gauge. No one can tell how much pressure is inside a tire just by looking at it. A tire will lose approximately one psi per month and also one psi for every 10 degree Fahrenheit drop in ambient temperature. Race drivers and airlines check air much more often than this. Improper inflation pressure has been and will always be the primary cause of tire failure. Proper tire inflation habits save time, gasoline, tire wear and maybe even your life!
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[accordion title=”Why should I have my tires rotated and balanced?”]
Dynamic computerized wheel balancing make the tires roll smoothly down the road and properly done, can eliminate noise, vibration and harshness. This not only makes the driving experience a pleasurable one, but it saves wear and tear on the entire vehicle as well. Less wear comes to the steering and suspension, drivetrain, braking system, as well as the body and comfort systems. Rotation should be performed at 6000 mile intervals if you do a lot of local stop and go driving. It is a natural occurrence for the free-rolling tires of a vehicle to develop some irregular wear. Since the front tires on a rear-wheel drive and the rear tires on a front-wheel drive car do not have power driven through them to the road surface, cupping, heel and toe wear of the tread blocks, and flat-spotting can occur if the wheel position is not changed at regular intervals. Regular tire rotations are good way to check for premature tire wear that may be caused by worn steering and suspension parts, misalignment, and a host of other problems. It is also a good time to check the brake linings.
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[accordion title=”What is a proper tire repair?”]
There is only one way to properly repair a pneumatic tire. An off-the-rim, inside tire inspection and repair is the only way. Plugging should only be considered a temporary fix at best. Plugging can and does cause many tire to develop separations between the carcass plies and the tread. If you have to have a tire plugged, get to a full-service tire repair facility as soon as you can. Proper tire repair is truly the “lost art” of the tire industry in the USA At Saab Tire & Automotive, we use German-made Rema brand patches and cement for all tire repairs. We have never plugged a tire and we never will!
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[accordion title=”What is a “road hazard”?”]
A “road hazard” is an injury to a tire and/or wheel that happens during the act of driving a car. The most common one is a puncture from a nail, screw, or other metal foreign object. Most of the punctures will occur to a rear wheel; when driving down the road the front tire will come in contact with the object, flip it up for a split-second and then the rear tire will be impaled upon the object. Another common road hazard occurs when the tires are driven through potholes, over curbs or over some other obstruction at a high enough rate of speed to break some of the cords inside the sidewall or belt carcass of the tire. Tires getting stabbed by jealous ex-spouses are not road hazards – that is called vandalism. We at Saab Tire & Automotive do offer a road hazard protection policy if you prefer. We do not push it as many of national competitors do, but our computer system will keep track of your protection policy if you decide to purchase the plan.
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[accordion title=”Why should I buy tires from an independent tire dealer rather than through mail-order, at a wholesale club, or at a national discount chain marketer?”]
It all depends what you are looking for. If all you are interested in is the lowest price, then by all means find the lowest bidder. But understand that today’s tires and wheels are quite complicated, fragile and expensive and that they are an integral part of the automobile. We at Saab Tire & Automotive offer application-specific recommendations and qualified personnel to service your car or truck. A fast-food chain and a home-owned gourmet restaurant both sell food – but the similarity ends there. The same is true in tire and automotive business. Our computerized point-of-sale system keeps track of everything that we do to your car. This can be very helpful to both us and you down the road. Prompt and professional service does cost a little more, but it is well worth it. There is no substitute for quality!
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[accordion title=”What is the difference between balancing and alignment?”]
Balancing is performed on tire/wheel unit in order to check the roundness in order to make uniformity and road force variation make the car ride smoothly. It involves measuring the unit for heavy spots and attaching wheel 180 degrees opposite that position on the wheel. With the advent of the newest radial force variation computerized balancers, the tire technician is able to road-test the tire before it hits the road, optimize its position relative to the wheel, and weed out a bad tire and/or wheel before it goes into service. Wheel alignment is a process that is performed on the steering and suspension of the vehicle in order to provide even tire wear, proper tracking of all four wheels, and a visually correct steering wheel position.
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[accordion title=”How often should I have my car’s alignment checked?”]
There is no one correct answer. However, it always makes good common sense to check and correct the alignment when you get a new set of tires. If your tires are showing abnormal or rapid wear, then the alignment should also be checked. A thorough inspection by a qualified technician of the steering and suspension parts is part on any good alignment.
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[accordion title=”How long does a wheel alignment take?”]
An average 4-wheel alignment takes 1-2 hours. There are exceptions, depending mostly on the lack of adjustments that the vehicle manufacturer give the technician. A good example of this would be all GM full-size pickups and vans from 1988-1999. If you do not have time to get a wheel alignment when you get your tires installed, we recommend that you find some time soon to get one. We will gladly provide you with a ride back to work in the local area and do anything we can to accommodate your schedule. We know that many people make a living with their car and we do our best to get it back to you as quickly as possible.
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[accordion title=”What are shocks and struts? What is the difference between them?”]
A shock absorber is a hydraulic device designed to dampen the oscillation of the springs that a vehicle’s body is mounted on. A strut does the same thing, but is found on more modern vehicles, because it saves space over a conventional short-arm and long-arm suspension. Quite often, the strut assembly includes a coil sprint, steering knuckle, upper pivot point and lower all joint. Because of this, struts cost quite a bit more than shocks in both parts and installation labor. Struts and shocks are integral safety devices of the car. They keep the tires down on the road over uneven road surfaces and the body stable under acceleration, cornering and braking. Like anything else, they do wear out and need to be replaced.
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[accordion title=”What is a brake job?”]
It might be easier to describe what a ‘brake job” is not. A professional brake job is not hanging a set of “Outer-Zone” $9.99 “Lifetime” brake pads on scored, grooved worn out brake rotors and sending the vehicle down the road. In Germany, brake technicians are some of the most highly respected members of the work force. In the good old USA, mass merchandisers have successfully sold the American people short on the value of proper brake service and repair. At Saab Tire & Automotive, proper and professional brake repair techniques are the only recommended way to go. Our technicians look at the total system. We can only give you an estimate after we test drive and inspect your car. Good work takes time and money. We offer competitive pricing, have properly trained personnel, and have the best brake equipment that money can buy and we know how to use it. Would you be comfortable searching for the lowest-priced open-heart surgeon that you can find? Brakes are serious business. They should be treated accordingly.
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[accordion title=”How often should I change my oil? Why?”]
It all depends on your driving habits. The industry breaks them into two categories: normal and severe. Normal driving means a mixture of in town and long road trips with an unloaded vehicle, driven at a moderate pace. Severe means mostly stop and go traffic driving, or driving with a loaded vehicle (like a loaded pick up truck), and/or fast, heavy footed driving habits. We recommend 3,000 mile intervals for oil changes, but that can fluctuate depending on how you drive and manage your vehicle. Certainly, severe service vehicles should have the oil changed at 3,000 mile intervals. And always, ALWAYS, change the oil when the vehicle overheats. Monitoring your oil on a weekly basis is a great idea, and you will learn when the oil has become dirty by trying this for a few months. Remember, it is no at all unusual for a vehicle to use oil – do not be alarmed if you see this happening. Throw a few extra quarts in the trunk of your car and add as needed!
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[accordion title=”How often should I change my air filter?”]
As often as needed! The air filters job, primarily, is to filter junk out of the air before it enters the intake and is mixed with fuel. And air filters can become outrageously filthy in Birmingham air. A clean air filter will eliminate contaminants before they find a home inside your engine, increase fuel consumption, and save you money – they have been known to turn on the service engine light when dirty – which costs money to have reset! Many air filtering systems are equipped with indicators that let you know when to change the filter, but they will not let you know how much crud is sitting inside the casing. Your oil change personnel will gladly decrud this for you probably install a clean filter at the same time.
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[accordion title=”How often should I service my transmission?”]
Once again, it depends on the vehicle, the type of transmission, and your driving habit. We have found that many of the foreign cars get more life out of their transmission services, but this is not a constant. Also, automatic transmissions need to be serviced more frequently than manual transmissions, but there again, it depends on your driving habits. All American makes should be serviced at first at 30,000 miles, and then again at 15,000 mile intervals – but there again, we find that highway driving and frugal driving habits can extend these time intervals. If you want to keep your tranny, service it – it beats replacement.
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[accordion title=”What is the difference between synthetic and regular oil?”]
Synthetic oil rules. Why? First and foremost – it lowers the operating temperature of the engine by a least 10 degrees. It is manmade, and can be formulated to any specification that the chemist desires, and it runs far cleaner than regular oil. You can get many more miles off a synthetic oil change – which makes it cost worthy, considering it costs three times as much as regular oil. But it surprises us each time we change a synthetic oil using car – even with 7000-8000 miles on the oil change, the oil still comes out clean, functional, and road worthy. Be informed that it is expensive to use synthetic oil – and is recommended especially if you drive with a lead foot, have a vehicle you plan on keeping, or if your vehicle is a high-performance vehicle. Mobil 1 synthetic oil is the factory fill on Corvettes and Porsches. That says a lot right there.
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[accordion title=”How often should I change the coolant (ant-freeze) in my vehicle?”]
Another very good question! There are basically two types of coolant on the market today–standard ethylene glycol (the green stuff), and organic acid technology Dexcool (the pink stuff). The green stuff starts with a reserve alkalinity of 10, while pink stuff starts only with a 7. Anytime the coolant get below a reserve alkalinity reading of 5, it becomes progressively more acidic and will corrode the rubber, aluminum and cast iron that it comes in contact with. It is not uncommon for the pink stuff to become a mixture of red mud and pond scum and clog up a radiator. Do not believe the 100,000 mile hype, because it just is not true. We can check the freeze protection level of the coolant as well as the reserve alkalinity for you. Having your coolant checked out once every 2 years or 24,000 miles is not a bad idea. The proper mix of 50% water and 50% coolant will give the best overall protection against engine, thermostat, water pump, and radiator failure.
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[accordion title=”My car is overheating. What should I do?”]
The best answer is to shut if off! If you cannot do this, then turn you heater to full blast, even if it is 100 degrees outside. This technique will pull a good bit of heat off of the engine block as it transfers what it can to the passenger floorboard through the heater core. Excessive heat can and does warp the aluminum in an engine and can cost you major bucks to repair. Keep an eye on your instrument panel. That is what it is there for! A wrecker bill is a lot cheaper than an engine job.
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[accordion title=”My “check engine” or “service engine soon” light came on. What should I do?”]
Another great question! Well, it does not mean that you are out of oil or coolant. The function of the light is similar to that of an ABS light. It means that the engine computer (PCM) has picked up an electrical reading that is not within preprogrammed parameters. Since 1996, all vehicles sold in the USA have been equipped with the OBD-II (on-board-diagnostics two) platform for engine management. This platform will give the technician a very good idea of what is going on under the hood. It will store a fault code or codes that occur at the moment that the PCM detected a problem. While the primary purpose of OBDII is to minimize air pollution, it provide a wealth of diagnostic information to the technician on how efficiently the engine is running. While it could indicate that a spark plug and wire replacement is in order, it also tells the tech how well the sensors of the engine management system are doing. Once again, quality diagnostic time is needed by an experienced and well-equipped technician is needed. There is no one mystical and magical “machine” that will tell us the answer. Scan tools, wiring diagrams, scopes and time are needed. This is not a “quick” service as so many mass merchandisers try to portray it. Diagnostic time can be expensive, but it is the only right path upon which to pursue the problem.
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[accordion title=”What is a tune-up?”]
Historically, a tune-up consisted of a new set of spark plugs, plug wire, distributor cap and rotor button, fuel filter, and air filter. But now, we have fuel injection instead of carburetors, coil packs instead of coils, and sensors galore instead of timing marks and timing lights. My definition of a tune-up is what it takes to get the engine to run properly. Once again, there are many cases that this can not be accomplished without the proper diagnostic time. You can be helpful to your technician by relaying to him or her all of the relevant symptoms that you have noticed (misfires, poor fuel mileage, loss of power, etc.) rather than trying to diagnose the cause. Truly, it does take a “car doctor” to solve many of today’s engine and fuel management problems.
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[accordion title=”My air conditioner does not work well. What should I do?”]
Air conditioner systems are among the most complex systems on the vehicle. Basically, A/C does not make cold air, it makes air seem cold, by removing heat and humidity through the evaporator (which is inside the car up under the dash) and releasing it to the atmosphere through the condenser, which is under the hood by the radiator. All refrigeration or air-conditioning systems use a refrigerant inside the closed piping system that changes from a high pressure liquid to a low pressure gas as it absorbs the heat, while compressor failure is the most common cause of loss of A/C, any loss of refrigerant or blockage of a major A/C component will also cause problems. Since 1993, most vehicles have come with 134A as the refrigerant. While not as efficient as R-12 (commonly called Freon), it does less harm to the environment by not destroying the protective ozone layer in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. R-12 became illegal to manufacture after 1996 and stock piles have grown very small. We recommend that because of R-12’s scarcity and ridiculous cost (over $50 per pound), that if you R-12 system needs a major repair, that it be converted over to 134A. The cost of doing this varies, but it is usually around $200 for a basic conversion, which would include a new orifice tube, refrigerant, and a receiver-drier. The vehicles A/C system may not cool quite as well as it did on R-12, due to less efficient design of the condensers and evaporators of that time. And do not expect miracles–a big black Suburban on a 100 degree day with high humidity will no cool as well as it will on an 80 degree low-humidity day. Proper air conditioning repair takes diagnosis, time and a good bit of money. It is not a quick service! This is another area where chain stores and mass merchandisers have given car owners the wrong impression. And please be considerate to your technician. We know you want your car fixed quickly, cheaply and correctly–but that is not always possible. Please remember that he is working under the hood of a hot car, on a hot day, and dealing with higher temperatures and your headache!
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[accordion title=”Do you perform engine and transmission repairs?”]
In a word, yes! We do sell and install Jasper and AC Delco remanufactured engines and transmissions. They produce a great product with great warranties, quite often better than the OEM supplier. Remanufacturing involves much more than rebuilding; it also involves upgrading of the original design if applicable. Jasper uses many brand new parts in their remanufacturing process. Also, using a remanufactured engine or transmission saves time and money. Rebuilding an engine can be done, but it involves more time and using machine shops to farm out some of the labor. Because of the time and the extra cost, more often than not, dropping in a remanufactured unit will cost less money and downtime. Please be advised that it takes a competent technician to diagnose whether an engine or transmission problem is major or minor. Once again, this is not a quick service.
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[accordion title=”My vehicle is slow to crank or will not start. Where do I go from here?”]
Today’s vehicles make much larger demands on the battery and charging system than the older cars. There is no substitute for a good battery. We have sold Interstate batteries for years and have had great results. The battery, alternator, and starter all have to be doing their part to maintain the electrical health of your car. A weakness in one of them will lead to failure in the others. Jump starting a vehicle with battery cables from another vehicle is not a very good idea anymore. It can cause spikes which can fry one or more of your car’s computers. We use jump boxes which are designed for the purpose. Anytime, a battery is replaced, it is a good idea to check out the alternator for proper output. In my experience, an original equipment battery usually last about 3 years. And a cheap mass merchandiser battery is exactly what it is–a cheap battery.
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[accordion title=”What is the value of a good auto mechanic?”]
Priceless!
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