Car Basics: Checking Your Oil

Checking the oil in a vehicle is a very basic car-maintenance skill that all drivers should have. It’s not difficult, and all drivers both young and old can learn how.

The oil plays an important role in keeping your car running smoothly. If you fail to keep the oil level/quality where it needs to be, you’ll experience some serious problems with the engine. So, here’s how to check your oil (which should be done at least once a month):

Open the hood, remove the dipstick, and clean it with a rag

The exact location of the dipstick varies from vehicle to vehicle, but look for a circular handle (usually yellow). Pull the handle and remove the dipstick. Wipe off the end of the stick so that it is clean of any oil. Once it is clean, insert the dipstick back into the tube and push it all the way in.

oil change idahoOnce again, pull out the dipstick and check the oil level

The dipstick will have some type of markings on the end. You might see the words “MIN” and “MAX”, “Full” and “Add”, or there may just be a section of the dipstick that has a cross-hatched pattern. Whatever the markings, you are checking to see if the oil is below the minimum mark indicated on the dipstick. If so, that means the oil in your engine is low and more is needed. Find a cap labeled “Oil Cap”, or something along those lines, and add the oil there, NOT into the dipstick tube.

Now that you have checked the level of the oil, you will want to check the oil’s quality. Not only do you need enough oil, but you need clean oil. First take a look at the oil’s color. If it is light-colored or milky, you should take it to a mechanic such as Bargain Tire to have it checked. There may be a coolant leak. Also pay attention to how the oil smells – if it smells like gasoline it is probably time for a change. To finish, rub some oil between your fingers. If it leaves a dirty smudge it’s also time for a change.

Congratulations, you’re done!

Piece of cake, right? You’ll be able to finish this whole process in under a minute in no time! When adding oil, check the vehicle owner’s manual to make sure you use the right type of oil. For oil that needs to be changed, bring your vehicle to Bargain Tire in Chubbuck, Idaho for our top-of-the-line oil change services. We’ll have you in, out, and safely back on the road!

Give us a call, or visit our website to schedule an appointment

pre trip checklist

Pre-Trip Checklist

With summer here, you probably have some trips planned with your family! Since we all know there’s nothing worse than arriving to your destination and then realizing you forgot something back home, here’s a checklist that you can go through before leaving to help you be prepared to go have some fun.

  1. Place stop order on mail/newspaper.
  2. Find a house/pet sitter.
  3. Pay bills.
  4. Turn off lights or set light timers.
  5. Unplug electronics.
  6. Turn off water and gas.
  7. Close and lock windows.
  8. Take out trash.
  9. Throw out any food that will expire.
  10. Take out cash at ATM.
  11. Refill prescriptions.
  12. Confirm hotel reservations.
  13. Confirm flight/train/bus reservations.
  14. Make sure each person has packed clothing, underwear, socks, shoes, and toothbrush.
  15. Have snacks and games for the road.
  16. Take your car in to Bargain Tire to check the fluids, alignment, air pressure, brakes, battery, and make sure your car is ready for the road!

The more prepared you are, the smoother your trip will go. Have fun, be safe, and remember Bargain Tire is here for all of your auto needs in the Chubbuck, Idaho area!

air conditioning repair

Diagnosing a Broken AC

Summer is just around the corner. As you get ready for all those summer BBQ’s, pool parties, and road trips with the family, we hope that you’ll also remember to get your car ready for the warmer months of the year. One of the common summer-time vehicle problems that people will encounter is an air conditioning unit that doesn’t work. Driving in the summer with no AC can be pretty miserable, so if this happens to you, you’ll want to know how to diagnose the problem.

There are two common problems when it comes to the AC. We’ll discuss how you can identify the problem and get it taken care of.

Symptom: Little or No Air Coming Out

If no air is coming out (cold nor warm), then one of the major components of the AC has likely failed. The vehicle’s AC system is made up of a compressor, condenser, evaporator, expansion valve and a bunch of tubes and fans. Each of these components is important, and if any one of them fails for any reason, you won’t get any air coming out of your vents. Newer cars have a safety mechanism that shuts down a component if their is a refrigerant leak detected. Check underneath the car for oil stains, which indicate their is likely a leak somewhere.

Symptom: Only Warm Air Comes Out

It’s normal for the vehicle to take a minute or two to start blowing cool air, but if it continues to blow nothing but hot air then you know something is wrong. This symptom is shared by a few different illnesses, and knowing how to treat it may require help from the pros over at Bargain Tire. It could be something simple, like recharging the AC unit, or something more serious such as a freon leak.

Whatever AC problems you have, you can rest assured that the certified technicians at Bargain Tire will take care of the problem at the best value in the Pocatello, ID area!

In-Depth Look: Air Filters

Whether you’re a mechanic or you don’t have the faintest clue how your car works, you’ve heard of engine air filters. You’ve probably be advised to replace it a time or two.

So what is an air filter? What is its actual purpose?

What is it?

An engine air filter is an essential element of your car engine delivering maximum performance. It keeps unwanted particles and contaminants out of the combustion chambers.

What does it do?

Your vehicle pulls air into the engine to be able to combust and create movement. The air comes through the vehicle’s air box where the air filter sits. The air then passes through the pleated material of the filter.

This filtration keeps the engine clean and running smoothly. Unfortunately, when the filter gets clogged up, it keeps  proper air flow from entering the engine and decreases performance.

A clean air filter can increase your acceleration up to 11%.

Should I replace it?

A certified mechanic can tell you when your air filter needs to be replaced. However, there are signs and symptoms you might notice too. If you notice a decrease in acceleration, a rough engine start, or a check engine light engaging then you should bring your vehicle in to get it checked.

It is generally recommended that you replace it every 15,000-30,000 miles. If you drive on a lot of dirt roads, you’ll probably want to gravitate toward replacing in the earlier part of that range.

If a bad filter isn’t replaced in a timely manner, then you’re engine will have to work that much harder and may not last as long. Sometimes filters can get so clogged that they finally tear and let in contaminants into the engine itself, causing irreparable damage.

Who should replace it?

You can always trust the friendly staff at Bargain Tire. We have a lot of experience under one roof and can see that you’re taken care of in an honest manner. Let us be your go-to for the maintenance work that your vehicle needs.

 

The Basics of Tire Alignments

tire alignmentIn the simplest of terms, tires that are properly aligned are pointing in the right direction. That said, the most obvious way to know if your tires need to be aligned is if your vehicle pulls to the left or to the right.

Your tires may become unaligned due to many different causes. The most common cause is hitting potholes, the curb, or some other hard thing.

In addition to being annoying to have to hold the steering wheel to the left in order to drive your vehicle straight, it is also important to have your tires aligned in order to preserve the life of your tires. Your tires will wear down much quicker if they are not properly aligned.

However, whether your car is driving straight or not, you may still need your tires aligned. The alignments are performed with equipment that measures to a fraction of an inch. Sometimes the need for an alignment can’t be seen by the human eye. You will typically be safe to have your tire alignment checked annually.

When you bring your vehicle over to Bargain Tire for an alignment, we will set the camber (inward or outward tilt of the wheels when looking head on), the caster (wheel tilt front or back looking from the side), and the toe (looking down at the wheels from above). We will also set the tire pressure to the manufacturer’s specifications. And with our 6-month/6,000 mile guarantee, you will know that you are getting your money’s worth.

For years, Bargain Tire has been Idaho’s trusted tire and automotive shop. Call or visit us online to schedule an appointment today!

Winter/Snow Tires Vs. All Season Tires

As winter begins it is important to understand which variety of tire will keep you and your loved ones safe. The first thing to consider is what the region is like where you live:

If where you live sees occasional flurries of snow and infrequent ice on the roads, an all weather tire will be your answer. If you deal with excessive snow all winter long, and constant ice and slush on your roads then a winter tire will be best. Here are some of the reasons why, and benefits of each:

All Season Tires:

  • Tread on all season tires has less depth and pronounced features (less aggressive)
  • This tread provides more comfort and a quieter driving experience, but will exhibit less traction in snow and ice
  • Tires will last longer in year round use and the ware will be more evenly distributed
  • All season tires offer a low rolling resistance, so they can produce a higher fuel efficiency
  • A harder rubber is used in all season tires, so it can adapt to all temperatures, but in icy conditions it can harden and reduce handling

Winter Tires:

  • Aggressive tread is especially designed to block snow build up and add traction in inclement weather
  • Rubber stays malleable against cold asphalt to maintain handling and control
  • Tread is engineered with snow and ice with a better biting edge for wet and snow covered roads
  • Winter tires provide the driver more control and confidence in potentially dangerous situations
  • Stopping time is significantly improved compared to all season tires

It is important to note, that winter tires should not be used in the summer as the soft rubber designed for snow will wear very quickly and will not handle well in heat.

When Do Your Brakes Need Maintenance?

Brakes undebrake maintenance and repair service rgo regular wear with age and eventually have to be replaced. How fast they wear out depends on a number of factors including driving habits, the quality of the brake pads, and vehicle type. While annual brake system inspections are vital to ensuring your safety, there are occasional warning signs between check-ups that might mean your brakes need attention.

Remember that it’s very important to replace your brakes before they get too far gone. Metal-to-metal braking without braking pads can lead to expensive fixes on your vehicle.

Here are some of the warning signs that you should have your brakes looked at:

  • Brake Light: the red brake light lights up on your vehicle’s dashboard.
  • ABS Light: The automated braking system light is constantly lit up on the dashboard.
  • Low Pedal: brake pedal gets very low before it actually starts engaging.
  • Hard Pedal: you have to push the pedal really hard to make it move so that the brakes can engage.
  • Grabbing: brakes grab almost too hard and fast at the slightest touch to the pedal.
  • Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
  • Noise: screeching or grinding noises when applying brakes.
  • Vibration: brake pedal excessively vibrates, even under normal braking conditions.

If you experience any of these things, talk to a brake inspection professional as quickly as possible. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your vehicle.

Keep in mind that Bargain Tire offers complete brake system inspections and repairs for very affordable prices! Let us be your resource to diagnosing your brake problems. 

The Choice Between Regular and Synthetic Oil

bargain tire oil changeWhen you walk in to get your oil changed, you will be asked the question: Would you like synthetic or regular? You might be able to guess that synthetic oil is higher quality due to it’s higher price, but you may not know exactly why. In order to make the decision that is right for you and your vehicle, let’s break it down.

What is it?

Regular, or conventional, oil is created from crude oil, and that is pretty much the end of the story. Synthetic oil, on the other hand, is regular oil that undergoes further modifications which remove many of the impurities that are found in the crude oil and improve its protective and lubricant properties.

Lubrication

Your car engine has lots of moving parts. In order to keep the parts moving fluidly, motor oil is used to create a slippery coating of lubrication. Synthetic oils have a greater ability to keep the parts slick, especially at higher temperatures. Better lubrication means less wear and tear on your engine, which could extend the life of the engine.

Cleaning

Another purpose of motor oil is to clean your engine of debris. Regular oil sometimes forms sludge which can be harmful for your engine. Synthetic oil, with its fewer impurities, is better able to work without forming sludge, also increasing the life of your engine.

Oil Changes

Any type of oil will eventually break down and become less effective. That is why you should regularly have your motor oil changed. The benefit of synthetic oil is that it can last as much as three times longer than regular oil before breaking down. So despite being more expensive, it will get you further down the road than conventional oil.

It is easy to see that synthetic oil is superior in many ways. However, regular oil will get the job done and is a good option as well. The most important thing to remember when it comes to caring for your car is to follow the recommendations from your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Rather than stressing about changing your oil, just bring your car on over to the nearest Bargain Tire. We will ensure that your vehicle has the oil it needs so that your engine will keep getting you where you need to be, when you need to be there! Schedule an appointment today! 

How To Outsmart High Gas Prices

auto repair chubbuck idahoGas prices are constantly changing, and with the summer months approaching, we can expect to see them steadily on the rise. It can be difficult to keep up with the rising cost of fuel. The average cost today is $2.25, compared to $1.25 in 2002. A dollar may not seem like much of a difference, but in our economy that dollar adds up and can have a drastic affect on your wallet.

Luckily, there are small changes we can make to lighten the load we pay at the pump. And, as an added bonus, following these maintenance tips can also prevent other vehicle related issues and extend the life of your car. So why pay more at the pump when you simply don’t have to? Increase your fuel economy with these simple tricks:

  • Replace dirty air filters. A clogged filter also clogs your cash flow by making your vehicle run less effectively.
  • Maintain proper alignment. Doing so will increase your gas mileage and make your tires last longer.
  • Tune up your engine regularly. Having a well running motor is key to saving on gas.
  • Keep octane guidelines for your specific vehicle. Contrary to popular belief, higher octane won’t actually give you more power. But it will guzzle your gas tank.
  • Inspect your gas cap. Make sure it’s always on tight so you don’t lose gas through vaporizing.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Having proper tire pressure can save you 3.3% on fuel.

How you drive also has an impact on fuel consumption. So bottle up the road rage and follow these driver behavior tips to add to your gas savings:

  • Don’t idle unless absolutely necessary. This wastes gas.
  • Avoid aggressive driving. Sudden stops and turns require ⅓ more gas than performing the same maneuvers calmly.
  • Don’t weave in and out of traffic. This may get you to the front of the line in a traffic jam, but it will also lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% in city driving.
  • Avoid the tendency to speed. Just because you don’t get caught doesn’t mean you’re not paying for it. Speeding, as well as quick stops and starts, uses up your gas. 

Do your best to make these practices a part of your everyday life as a driver. Your wallet will thank you for it!

To talk with an automotive professional, call or stop in to your local Bargain Tire shop in Chubbock, ID!

Getting Your Vehicle Winter Ready

When you go outside, it’s beginning to look and feel like fall, with winter right around the corner. We thought we would share our thoughts on the importance of getting your car ready for the cold and the snow that is sure to come. Whether you’re just going to work, or driving in the mountains on the way to a ski resort, your car will need to be able to get you there safe. Make it a priority to get prepared so that you won’t have to worry while you’re driving in the winter. Following some of these tips could literally be life-saving!

Inspect Your Battery

This time of year is perfect for inspecting your battery. As a result of the cold, your battery capacity is reduced. You engine needs more current from the battery in order to start, so make sure your battery is functioning how it should be. If you battery is more than three years old, you may want to have your local repair shop test its ability to hold a charge. Also, you may want to check for cracks and breaks in the battery cables, as well as other belts and hoses under your hood.

Your Windshield & Windshield Wipers

Has it been awhile since you replaced your windshield wiper blades? You might consider investing in new ones if your current blades are not effective. You also should check the level of your windshield washer fluid. We recommend getting washer fluid with an antifreeze solution in it to help out on those cold mornings. Using just water will not work well because it will just freeze on your windshield. Along those same lines, check to ensure your heater and defroster are working properly so that your windshield stays clear. Another tip is to check for air leaks around windows and doors. Keep out the extra moisture and cold in the winter months!

Check Your Oil

As temperatures outside drop, your oil tends to thicken. If it becomes too thick, it will not be as effective in lubricating your engine. You may think about using a thinner oil in the winter to keep your oil at the right viscosity, or thickness. Refer to your owner’s manual, or talk to the technicians the next time you get your oil changed.

Tires

It is common for the air pressure in your tires to have dropped due to the cold temperatures outside. Check your owner’s manual to know what the target tire pressure should be. Tires that are properly inflated give you the best possible traction on the road. Additionally, if your tires do not have a lot of tread left on them, your handling ability will be decreased. In some cases, you may want to consider switching to snow tires. This would be more practical in places with hills and in areas that get a lot of snow. Another option would be to get all-season tires.

Four-Wheel Drive

Most people in this part of the mountain west region have vehicles equipped with four-wheel drive. For those people, we recommend making sure that it is working correctly. The system should engage and disengage easily. We also advise making sure all the people that may drive that vehicle during the winter months know how to activate the four-wheel drive system.

Emergency Kit

Having an emergency kit in your car is important, especially in the winter months. You never know what will happen while you are driving, so it is wise to keep an emergency kit in your trunk just in case of an unexpected situation. You can include items such as: blanks, boots, flares,  washer fluid, sand or kitty litter, cell phone charger, flashlight, small shovel, engine oil, coolant, snacks, etc. And don’t forget to make sure your spare tire is in good shape and that there are the required tools to change it out if necessary.

Other Tips and Tricks

A good thing to remember is to be mindful of your gas tank. You never really know what the weather or circumstances may be like, so we suggest keeping your gas tank at least ¼ to ½ full at all times. Make sure to check that all your lights and bulbs are working properly. This will ensure that you can see well, and that other vehicles on the road will be able to see you if there is poor visibility. In instances where your door is frozen shut and you’re not at home to use your own warm water, try to find a nearby store that sells glycerine that you can use for de-icing.

We hope that some of these suggestions will help you this winter months and all year round. Bargain Tire  is here to help you in any way that we can. When you take the time to properly winterize your car, you can have comfort and peace of mind when you are driving in the cold and the snow. Don’t expect your car to function perfectly if you don’t give it the attention that it may need. Plan ahead and make sure your vehicle is safe and reliable this winter!