Auto Repair Tips & Guidance
Auto repair questions? Van Laar's Auto Service has the answers.
You asked for auto repair solutions you can trust delivered at your convenience and we heard you. At Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids because we don't just promise excellent customer service we deliver it, we created a straightforward blog, updated monthly, with quick auto maintenance tips, suggestions for better fuel efficiency and time saving auto repair ideas.
Do you have more questions? Ask one of our highly trained technicians by calling 616-455-3940 or stopping by our service center at 6640 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI 49548.
Preventive Auto Maintenance For Severe Driving
Reduce the Effects of Severe Driving On Your Car
Are you an "aggressive" driver? Everyone answers "no" to this question because "aggressive" has become associated with road rage incidents. Today we replace "aggressive" with the word "severe." Severe driving is often unavoidable.
8 Types of Severe Driving
- Moving quickly through curvy roads in and around Grand Rapids
- Traversing gravel or sandy roads
- Driving in extreme heat, on icy roads or roads with a deep snowpack
- Executing multiple lane changes in stop-and-go traffic
- Consistently driving 10 mph or more over the speed limit
- Short time dependent commutes around Grand Rapids
- Truncating a safe following distance resulting in frequent braking
- Driving with heavier loads such as a cargo or passenger van or towing a trailer
While most motorists have experienced "severe" driving on occasion, for other drivers it is an unavoidable part of their daily commute. If you are a severe driver, take extra care to avoid excessive wear and tear on your car, SUV or truck. Severe drivers are more likely to experience an inconvenient breakdown.
Increase Your Preventive Maintenance Intervals On These Six Important Items:
- Replace your motor oil and oil filters
- Top off or replace your coolant
- Have your brake pad thickness and brake fluid inspected regularly
- Check your tire tread depth
- Replace your windshield wipers
- Monitor your transmission and steering fluid
Other ways to avoid excess wear and tear on your car from severe driving involve slowing down, avoiding quick starts and stops, and removing heavy items left in your car's trunk or truck bed. Remember gas mileage decreases rapidly when you drive above 60 mph.
Stop by Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids and let our pro mechanics help you develop a preventive maintenance plan that matches your driving style. Call today at 616-455-3940 or come by the service center at 6640 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI, 49548.
5 Regular Auto Maintenance Items That Save Real Money
Save Money And Time With Simple Preventative Maintenance From Van Laar's Auto Service
A little auto maintenance goes a long way toward protecting your wallet from high-cost auto repairs in the future.
Schedule regular auto maintenance for these five essential systems
- Brakes, including brake pads, brake fluid, calipers and rotors
- Tires, including tread wear, proper inflation, front end alignment and balancing
- Belts, including serpentine, starter and timing belts
- Hoses, including cooling and radiator hoses
- Fluids, including oil, transmission, steering, brake, antifreeze and wiper fluids
At Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids we keep your car running smoothly and efficiently to save you both time and money in and out of the repair shop. Many drivers overlook how services such as a simple oil change can increase fuel efficiency and save you money at the gas pump.
Come by Van Laar's Auto Service at 6640 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI, 49548 and discuss an annual vehicle maintenance plan with us today. Spreading maintenance items out over the course of the year can help make auto maintenance expenses more affordable. Ask us about Van Laar's Auto Service coupons and rebates on items such as tires for additional savings.
Call Van Laar's Auto Service today at 616-455-3940.
Should I Replace My Car's Spark Plugs?
The Two Instances When You Should Always Replace Your Spark Plugs
Let's talk spark plugs. A common question we hear at Van Laar's Auto Service is, "Should I replace my spark plugs?"
A spark plug performs a critical task for your vehicle's engine. Without a spark plug your car or truck's engine cannot work. Properly working spark plugs also deliver added fuel efficiency. Most owners manuals say to replace the spark plugs every 80,000 to 100,000 miles. In many cases spark plugs last longer than the driver's ownership of the car.
So, when should you replace your spark plugs?
- If you just purchased a used vehicle
- At least every 80,000 miles
Spark plugs are one of the hardest working parts of a vehicle. If you just purchased a used car, it is best to go ahead and replace the spark plugs. You have no idea if the previous owners were "severe" drivers. A spark plug can fire 400 times per minute per cylinder or 1,600 times a minute on a four-cylinder engine. Severe driving can place even higher demands on the spark plugs and engine.
Many used car dealers boast an extensive multi-point inspection plan prior to the sale of any car but many of these plans don't cover spark plug integrity. Because a failed spark plug can mean disaster for your new purchase it is best to get them replaced by the qualified technicians at Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids.
At Van Laar's Auto Service we recommend replacing spark plugs before they reach the 80,000-mile mark. Many car owners delay spark plug replacement until the engine starts "missing." An engine that is "missing" will typically result in a jerking feeling when accelerating. Spark plugs that are severely worn out will create a pinging or knocking sound. These fouled, worn-out spark plugs can lead to extensive engine damage that is expensive to fix. Therefore, replacing spark plugs before they reach the 80,000-mile mark is very important.
Three Indicators Your Spark Plugs Need To Be Replaced
- Rattling, pinging or knocking noises when accelerating
- Missing, hesitating or jerky feeling when driving
- Slow acceleration or chugging
Sluggish and reduced performance also causes poor fuel economy. Save money at the pump by taking care of your vehicle's spark plugs.
Come by Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids if you just bought a used car or your vehicle is approaching the 80,000-mile mark to have your spark plugs replaced by one of our qualified pro mechanics. Call today at 616-455-3940 or stop by our service center at 6640 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI, 49548.
Don't Forget to Replace Your Car or Truck's Belts
Remember to Change Your Belts
Drivers in Grand Rapids are busy and it is easy to forget that belts are tirelessly working to keep your engine running. A worn-out belt is a break down waiting to happen. Avoid being stranded on the side of the road and get your belts inspected each time you get an oil change at Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids.
Your car or truck's belts are essential for many of the vehicle's critical components such as water cooling, air conditioning and the alternator. Serpentine belts are used to turn the alternator, power steering and air-conditioning compressor. Often when serpentine belts brake your vehicle will stop working completely.
Come to Van Laar's Auto Service to get worn or frayed serpentine belts replaced. Replacing belts when cracked, frayed or showing signs of excessive wear is very inexpensive when compared to having your car or truck towed to our repair shop.
Listen for signs of belt problems. Noise like rattling or slipping in the belt system is a sign of wear. Use your nose to tell you if a belt problem is imminent. The smell of burnt rubber can indicate a slipping belt.
At Van Laar's Auto Service when we replace a worn serpentine belt, we check all the components in the serpentine system such as tensioners and pulleys. A typical serpentine belt replacement is 60,000 to 90,000 miles.
Why risk being stranded when a bad belt can be diagnosed with simple routine maintenance? Get Van Laar's Auto Service to replace your car or truck's serpentine belts as directed by your owner's manual and avoid the hassle and expense of a sudden breakdown.
Call Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids today at 616-455-3940 to schedule regular maintenance such as belt inspection.
Owning A Car Is A Hidden Cost For College Students
Car Ownership - A Hidden Cost for College Students in Grand Rapids
Public transportation, Uber or Lyft may be an option for students attending college in large cities but for students attending colleges in small towns the only option may be owning a car. This is particularly true for students attending community colleges where commuting to campus is the only option.
College is expensive and owning a car while attending school is an added expense. Here are the top six expense categories college students should plan for:
- Parking permit, annual taxes and registration
Parking permits, licensing, registration and taxes are unavoidable. However here are some recommendations for managing other costs.
- Consider using a gas app that helps you track down the best price in town for gas. Many local gas and convenience stores offer a reward card just for gas.
- Revisit your auto loan. College may be a good time to consider a less expensive car. Call your local credit union and ask them about financing. Some financial institutions offer lower interest rates for car owners who sign up to have their monthly payments deducted directly from their bank account each month.
- Shopping for car insurance may also create a significant savings. If you switch to a less expensive car you may need less coverage. If you are driving less on average this may also lower your insurance costs. Keeping a clean driving record while you are in college can help keep your insurance rates low.
- Come by Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids and let us help you create a solid auto maintenance plan. No one wants to miss class because their car wouldn't start. Regular maintenance on your car will help prevent high-cost car repairs in the future. Maintenance items such as oil changes can also increase fuel efficiency saving you additional money at the gas pump.
- The cost of tires can be a jolt to a college student's budget. Plan to buy tires by setting aside a little money each month. Save on tires by taking advantage of manufacturer rebates.
Call Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids today at 616-455-3940 or stop by our service center for preventive auto maintenance services at 6640 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI, 49548.
Van Laar's Auto Service Knows What Older Cars and Trucks Need
Take Your Older Car or Truck To Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids For Preventative Maintenance
The consumer price index for used cars and trucks jumped up by 40.5% from January 2021 to January 2022. As a result, the average age of vehicles on the road is rising as many owners of older cars decide it is cheaper to hang on to them than to buy one today.
As cars get older, they need more maintenance and repair. Drivers in Grand Rapids must be more diligent about preventative maintenance. Replacing a bad O2 Sensor costs $250.00 on average. This may increase or decrease based on the make and model of your car or truck. However, performing recommended auto maintenance such as air filter replacement and spark plug replacement can extend the life of your O2 sensor.
Kelly Blue Book reports the average vehicle age in the US is 13.5 years. After five years of ownership the chances of a breakdown or service issue increases dramatically unless drivers are vigilant about preventative maintenance. Come by Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids and let us help you set up a preventative maintenance plan for your car or truck. Sticking to a maintenance plan will minimize the chances of breakdowns, increase fuel efficiency and decrease any future repair costs.
The Top 6 Auto Preventative Maintenance Items to Plan for Today
- oil change
- oil and fuel filters
- belts and hoses
- brake system components
- brake and transmission fluid flushes
- tires and alignment
Van Laar's Auto Service in Grand Rapids is dedicated to helping busy car owners prioritize preventative maintenance. We make it easy with convenient, affordable and friendly service. Call today at 616-455-3940 or stop by our service center at 6640 S Division, Grand Rapids, MI, 49548 and speak to one of our technicians.