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HELPFUL INFO

Are You Ready For The Road?

An average of 13,000 Americans are killed between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, some as a result of unperformed vehicle maintenance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each year, neglected maintenance leads to more than 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries and more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.

Most mechanical failures can be traced to neglected maintenance. For example, the U. S. Department of Transportation reports the leading cause of mechanical breakdown on our nation's highways is overheating, a condition that is easily avoidable. Other deficiencies that are simple to detect include low antifreeze/coolant, worn or loose drive belts and defective cooling system hoses.

Checking tire pressure and inflating a tire costs nothing, yet an average of 21 percent of cars inspected in check lanes during National Car Care Month have under inflated tires. This can lead to a blowout and a serious accident.

Fuel Saving Tips

Condition Effect MPG Penalty up to
Under inflated tires Increase rolling resistance 1-2mpg
Dirty air filter Causes excessively rich fuel/air mixture 2.0mpg
Worn spark plugs Cause inefficient combustion, wasted fuel 2.0mpg
Worn O2 sensor Unable to detect and adjust air/fuel mixture 3mpg
Dirty or substandard engine oil Increases internal engine friction 0.4mpg
Loose gas cap Allows fuel to evaporate 2.0mpg
Potential loss in fuel economy if all of the above were neglected
11.4mpg

The Car Care Council offers these fuel-saving tips:

  1. Vehicle gas caps -- About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
  2. Under inflated tires -- When tires aren't inflated properly it's like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
  3. Worn spark plugs -- A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Dirty air filters -- An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture -- too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 20 cents a gallon.

Fuel-saving driving tips include:

  • Don't be an aggressive driver -- Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 10 to 66 cents per gallon.
  • Avoid excessive idling -- Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
  • Observe the speed limit -- Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.

WIPERS - In the 2001National Car Care Month vehicle check lanes, 21percent of participants had wipers that smeared, streaked or chattered across their windshields. Although climates vary, wipers generally need replacing every six months. An easy reminder is to change wiper blades in the spring and fall when you change your clock. Be sure the windshield washers are working properly, too, and keep the reservoir filled with solvent.

LIGHTING - Another important pre-trip check should be exterior and interior lighting. Vehicle check lanes revealed an overall failure rate of over 25 percent in the lighting category. The Car Care Council reminds motorists to check their lights monthly. Other suggestions from the Council include turning on headlights both day and night. This helps define your car's position on the road, and its distance from other drivers. When your vehicle's lighting is defective, other motorists may not get the message that you intend to stop or turn. The end result could be disastrous.

10 Minute Pre-Trip Checkup Can Pay Off

Car Care Council offers three suggestions for a traveler's 10-minute pre-trip checklist:

  • Check all fluids. There are several fluids, in addition to antifreeze, that require attention, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission fluids and windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced.
  • Check the tires. Check tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, indicating the need for wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.

"While a last minute checkup is better than no checkup, motorists should plan ahead to allow time to perform necessary maintenance themselves or at the local service facility. A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable and will even save a few dollars at the gas pumps," said the Car Care Council's Executive Director, Rich White.

Not only can a pre-trip inspection help reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble, it also provides an opportunity to have repairs made at home, with one's own technician who knows the vehicle. Especially important, it provides peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car's performance, it's comforting to know proper precautions were taken.



ASSOCIATIONS

  • ASE (Automotive Service Excellence)
  • IDENTIFIX
  • Jasper
  • World Pac
  • ALL-DATA
  • STS Turbo
  • Car Care Aware

Testimonials

  • I am a owner of a Buick that is 14 years old . This car has a great running engine, but the brakes and suspension not so good. I brought my car to several automotive centers, Sears being one of them. The money I paid at Sears for just front brakes was outrageous and to add insult to injury they let me drive out with two very bad tires. I had no knowledge they could blow out at anytime. Most of all when they addressed the biggest problem, I said to my husband maybe we should buy a new car. So through word of mouth my husband was told about Service Plus on Lakeview Ave in Dracut . A friend suggest I go there, because they are very good. When I brought my car to Service Plus, they where very professional. They gave me a free estimate and offered me a free car for the day while they repaired my car. Heck, they even fixed a problem from the work done previously at sears and saved me hundreds of $$$$. I am a big fan of Service Plus now. My car rides so good. I will go to them always in the future. I am grateful that I can count on Service Plus to be honest and do a professional and competent job. You can't say that about to many companies now a days. Bravo and well done.
    -Gloria H.

  • I have been a customer at Service Plus for over eight years. I have also recommended Service Plus to others over the years. "Service Plus" is the correct name for this automotive center because that is exactly how Steve and Greg and their other workers treat customers...they provide service plus! I have very little knowledge of car problems so I rely on their expertise and honesty and I have never been disappointed. They make the repairs that they say they will make and charge you what they say they will charge you. They complete the work when they say they will and are very helpful for emergency type problems. They are respectful of their customer's time and money and I would highly recommend them to anyone.
    -Pauline L. - Dracut, MA

  • Have used them many times over the years. They are all always friendly, professional and honest. I recommend Service Plus to all my friends!
    -Anonymous

  • Long-time customer! Always honest, friendly and reasonable. They know how to treat their customers and keep them happy. We recommend Service Plus to all of our friends.
    -Carrie Ladebauche

  • Took my truck there (really old and time for a new one) but they were incredibly nice and very professional and they fixed my truck the very next day. This is hands down the greatest shop in Massachusettes, As im writing this my truck is being looked at by them for another issue. To make a long story short these guys are fantastic and everybody should bring there vehicles there!!!!
    -Brandon L.

  • I've been going to Service Plus since I started driving, introduced to Steve and Greg by my father who swore by them sine they opened. I refuse to go to any other mechanic because you simply cant beat the kindness and honesty they offer.
    -Justin B.

  • Just left Service Plus with the peace of mind that my car is in good hands! I have been a long-time customer and have never been let down. Went there today with a laundry list of "problems" with my car from the dealership. Steve and Greg took my car right in with the list in hand. They came back and told me what needed to be fixed and what didn't. I left with an appointment for next week. They guarantee their work and their parts. Their honesty and service is first class.
    -Carrie L.