fotolia 87292606Don’t panic. Your car is probably not going to explode. Your check engine light could be on for any number of reasons.

The check engine light, also known as the service engine soon light, is part of your vehicle’s diagnostic system, which monitors things like performance, emissions and engine activity. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will be able to provide you with specific information about what your diagnostic system monitors.

There are a two ways the check engine light will alert you to a problem – a solid illuminated icon and a flashing illuminated icon. Some vehicle models will combine the illumination of the check engine light with a “ding” sound to get your attention.

If your check engine light isn’t flashing, the problem likely isn’t serious. You can pick up a check engine light code reader at your local automotive shop if you want to investigate the source of the problem. These units are fairly inexpensive and plug into the OBD port, usually located under the steering column. It’s easier, though, to swing into a Levin Tire & Service Center location near you and have one of our certified technicians take a look-see.

If the light IS flashing, you’re likely facing a problem with the engine firing, which could cause your vehicle to overheat and damage the catalytic converter. If your light starts flashing, slow down immediately and pull safely to the side of the road. Then, call your roadside assistance company, tell them what’s happening, and arrange a tow to the nearest automotive service center.

Pro-tip: If your vehicle plan didn’t come with roadside assistance, you can secure coverage through your insurance company or AAA. It’s not expensive, and you’ll be glad you have it when you need it.

The best way to prevent a check engine light panic attack is to keep up with your regular vehicle maintenance service. We can help spot any potential problems before they become expensive fixes.

 

Summer care care imagesYou’re logging a lot of miles this summer, so it’s important to make sure your vehicle is ready to handle your next road trip.

Check your tires.
The hotter the temps are outside, the higher the air pressure in your tires will be. And a tire with too much pressure in it can blow out, which is a sure way to ruin a road trip. Make sure your tires are not inflated to the maximum tire pressure number indicated on your tire. Instead, follow your owner’s manual instructions on the recommended tire pressure.

Check your oil.
This is easy enough to do at home. Just grab a paper towel or a white rag, pull the dipstick out of your engine, and use the towel or rag to wipe of the dipstick. Clean oil will be translucent and absent of any debris. If the oil is dark or has particulates in it, it’s time to have it changed before you hit the road again.

Check your fluids.
Make sure your coolant, transmission, power steering and brake fluids are topped off. And check under the vehicle to make sure you don’t have any leaks.

Check your hoses and belts.
Hoses should be firm to the touch without any cracking or corrosion at the connections. Belts should be taut and fray-free.

Check your brakes.
Bad brakes make for a bad break. If your brakes are soft, squishy or squeaky, get them serviced immediately.

Check your wipers.
If you haven’t changed them since winter, put on a new pair, even if they don’t appear to be in bad shape. You don’t want to get stuck in a summer rain storm with under-performing windshield wipers. You should also change your windshield wipers if the rubber has hardened or is peeling away from the frame.

Auto Repair Levin TireYour car is doing it again, making that noise that says “help me!” through a squeak, knock or grind.

You know you need to take it in to the shop so a qualified automotive repair specialist can take a look-see, but you have no idea where to go. Whether you’re new in town, or new to taking care of a vehicle, these tips will help you find a local automotive repair center with a reputation for quality work and fair pricing.

Before you choose an auto repair shop

  1. Don’t wait until you need a repair shop to start looking for one. You’ll be rushing to get your vehicle fixed and you may have to settle for less-than-stellar service or out-of-budget pricing.
  2. Check with your friends, family and colleagues to see where they take their vehicles. Activate your social media networks and get their advice. This input will be honest and unfiltered, unlike some of the results you’ll find in an Internet search.

After you’ve narrowed it down to a few auto repair shops

  1. Search the shops you’re considering in your local consumer protection agencies, like the BBB or the Chamber of Commerce. These organizations will have a record of any bad behavior.
  2. Perform some secret shopping. Stop by the shop on a day you don’t need service to ask for a quote on tire replacement or an oil change. Use this visit as an opportunity to scope out the cleanliness of the shop and the friendliness and professionalism of the staff.
  3. Look for the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence. To qualify for this recognition, 75% of a business’ employees must be ASE certified. Find a local ASE Blue Seal shop here.

During your auto repair service

  1. Ask questions. Make sure you’re fully informed about the problem, what it will take to fix it, and exactly how much it’s going to cost. All of this information should be provided to you, but if you’re unclear on anything, speak up. And be sure to ask if there’s anything you can do to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

After your auto repair service

  1. Give your feedback. If the shop offers a customer experience survey, fill one out. You can also send a private message via email or leave a review on social media. Highlight any positive parts of your experience and offer any suggestions for how they can improve their service.

At Levin Tire and Service Center, all of our mechanics are ASE certified, plus we’re part of the Goodyear Tire and Service Network, which guarantees our work at more than 2,000 locations across the country. We're known for providing the most personal, professional and affordable service in the Northern Indiana region, so call us for more information at 800-475-5005, or just stop by anytime. You don’t need an appointment.

Car Tune UpA tune up is routine, preventive maintenance for your vehicle’s internal combustion engine. However, a tune up means different things for different cars.

What vintage is your vehicle?
Older vehicles with non-electronic ignitions require more frequent maintenance, in the range of every 10-12K miles.

Newer cars
Vehicles with electronic ignition and fuel injection vary greatly in their recommended tune up schedules, which range from 25-100K miles. Keep in mind that if you pull heavy loads or frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, you many need this service more often.

Therefore, you need to keep your senses tuned in for signs that your spark plugs, electronic sensing device, battery or fuel system need maintenance. Signs that you need a tune up include:

  • Frequent stalling
  • Engine performance is affected by air temperature or a/c use
  • Rough idling or acceleration
  • Difficulty starting
  • Poor gas mileage

Tune ups aren’t a fix for everything. Be sure to discuss specific concerns with us when you bring your car to Levin Tire & Service Center. That way you pay for the service you need, instead of spending money on a full tune up prematurely.

Levin says thanksIt’s pretty thrilling to be voted #1 Tire Store and #1 Car Repair Shop! And that’s what readers of The Times, Indiana’s second largest daily newspaper, voted Levin Tire & Service Center as for “Best of the Region” 2015.

That’s why we want to say “thanks” with our Customer Appreciation Days, July 1-11. Levin will be offering tire rebates of up to $190, discounts on many of our services and a chance to win some great prizes!

This is going to be a great time to come to Levin Tire & Service Center. We have 7 full-service locations in northwest Indiana, where walk-ins are welcome and there is free shuttle service and Wi-Fi access.

Just remember, we will be closed on July 4 and our Highland location is open on Sundays. Want to read all about our award? Check out the article in The Times!

Click here for more details on our Customer Appreciation Days.