Walt's Service
© 2004 Walt's Service
Q: My car’s body is damaged, is it a total loss?

A: No, a car is only a total loss when the price of repairs exceeds the value of the car.

Q: How often should I change my car’s oil?

A: Although with progressing technology manufacturers are extending the recommended oil change intervals, we still recommend that you change your oil every 3 months or 3000 miles to keep your engine running properly.

Q: How often should I have my car’s wheels aligned?

A: Always follow your manufacturers recommendation outlined in your owner’s manual. In general, wheels should be aligned every 10,000 or once a year.

Q: What is the difference between rebuilt and remanufactured?

A: Rebuilding is the process of restoring a part to its original state before failure. Remanufacturing is the process of replacing all of the components of a part to make it like its new condition.

Q: What kind of maintenance is recommended for the cooling system ?

Replacing the coolant on a regular basis will prolong the life of the radiator and other cooling system components. Most new car maintenance schedules call for coolant changes every three years or 50,000 miles. Many professional technicians consider that too long and recommend every two years or 24,000 miles. It does not really make much difference how often the coolant is changed as long as it is changed before losing its corrosion resistance.

Q: How can you tell when it is time to change the coolant ?

The only way to know if the coolant still has adequate corrosion protection is to test it.

Q: How often should belts and hoses be replaced ?

Most hose manufacturers recommend replacing hoses every four years. V-belts should be replaced every three years or 36,000 miles. The incidence for failure rises sharply after the fourth year of service for hoses and third year for belts. The lifespan of a typical serpentine belt is about five years or 50,000 miles. Serpentine belts are thinner and more flexible than V-belts. They run cooler and last longer, but cost about twice as much to replace. Rubber hoses deteriorate with age. Tiny cracks develop in the rubber, which eventually cause hoses to split, blister or leak. Oil contamination and atmospheric ozone can accelerate the process. According to research, internal corrosion caused by electrochemical degradation is the primary cause of cooling system hose failure. The coolant acts like an electrolyte and allows current to flow between engine and radiator. This causes micro-cracks to form inside the hose, which eventually leads to pinhole leaks and weakening of hose fibers.

Q: What can make an engine overheat ?

Overheating is caused by anything that leads to a loss of coolant, prevents the cooling system from getting rid of heat, or causes excess heat in the engine itself.

Some causes listed below

  • Coolant leaks (water pump, radiator, heater core, hoses, freeze plugs, head gasket, internal engine problem).
  • Weak radiator cap does not hold rated pressure and allows coolant to boil-over.
  • Cooling system clogged, deposits built up in radiator or in engine due to maintenance neglect or use of hard water.
  • Thermostat stuck
  • Inoperative electric cooling fan
  • Bad fan clutch
  • Missing fan shroud
  • Slipping fan belt
  • Too low or too high concentration of antifreeze
  • Bad water pump
  • Collapsed radiator hose


Q: Why cars need preventative maintenance

Manufacturers know that a properly maintained car will be more dependable, safer, last longer, and increase your satisfaction with their product. Car makers and owners also have a responsibility to make sure emission controls receive regular service and are functioning properly. Regular maintenance helps accomplish these goals by keeping your engine running efficiently and eliminating potential problems that may leave you stranded. 

Q: What’s in it for you ?

  • More dependable car
  • A car that retains the new car feel
  • Less chance of a costly breakdown
  • A safer car for you and your family
  • Doing your part for cleaner air
  • A car worth more at trade in or sale
  • An intact warranty

Q: Manufacturer maintenance schedules

The manufacture creates detailed maintenance schedules outlining specific operations to be performed on various components and systems. This is done at different mileage intervals to ensure proper operation and prevent premature wear. The manufacturer also indicates what services must be done to maintain the factory warranty and extended warranty.

Q: What is a timing belt ?

Timing belts have replaced timing chains on many of today’s engines. Both belts and chains ensure that crankshaft, pistons and valves operate together in proper sequence. Belts are lighter, quieter and more efficient than chains.

Q: Why replace the timing belt ?

Like other components timing belts wear out. Proper maintenance requires belt replacement at regular intervals—before they break. When a timing belt breaks the engine stops, depending on if the engine is free-running or an interference will determine the damage that may occur.

Q: What is a “Free-running” engine ?

If the timing belt breaks on a free-running engine, the engine stops and you will need a tow to the repair shop. No mechanical damage occurs and the installation of a new belt is usually all that is needed to get you on your way.

Q: What is an “Interference” engine ?

If the timing belt breaks on an interference engine, mechanical engine damage occurs. It most commonly involves open valves being struck by pistons, resulting in the need for expensive repairs. In extreme cases, a replacement engine may be required

Q: How does a oxygen sensor work ?

This is the only sensor that makes its own voltage. The voltage signal is proportional to the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust. When hot (at least 600 degrees F ), the zirconium dioxide element in the sensor’s tip produces a voltage signal that varies according to the difference in oxygen content between exhaust and outside air. Some O2 sensors have three wires and an internal heating element to help the sensor reach operating temperature more quickly. The heater also keeps the sensor from cooling off when the engine is idling. An O2 sensor’s normal life span is about 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Some vehicles are equipped with a different type of O2 sensor that has a titania rather than zirconia element. Instead of generating its own voltage signal, a titania O2 sensor changes resistance as the air /fuel ratio goes from rich to lean. The titania O2 sensor has a few advantages over the zirconia O2 sensor .

·        They don’t need an air reference ( no internal venting to plug up)

·        They warm up faster , about 15 seconds

·        They work at lower exhaust temperatures ( they don’t cool off at idle and can be located further downstream form the engine or turbocharger)


Q: What is included in a complete brake job ?

A complete brake job should restore the vehicle’s brake system and braking performance to good – as – new condition. Anything less would be an incomplete brake job. A complete brake job should begin with a thorough inspection of the entire brake system; pad/shoe condition, rotors and drums, calipers and wheel cylinders, brake hardware, hoses, lines, and master cylinder. Any of the above mentioned parts found to be out of spec, leaking, poor condition, should be brought back to new condition. The rotors and drums need to be inspected for wear, heat cracks, warpage, or other damage. Unless they are in perfect condition they should always be resurfaced, if worn to thin they need to be replaced. Wheel bearings should be part of the brake job, unless they are sealed. They should be cleaned, inspected, repacked with proper grease and adjusted properly. After all repairs a road test should be taken to insure proper braking action.


 Are struts simply oversized shock absorbers ?

A strut performs the same ride control functions as a shock absorber, but it is also an integral part of the suspension rather than an add-on component. On most strut suspensions, the struts replace the upper control arms and ball joints. Another important difference between struts and shocks is that struts also affect wheel alignment, whereas shocks do not. One often overlooked strut component that usually needs attention is the upper bearing plate that sits atop the strut. This plate supports the weight of the vehicle and serves as the upper point for steering.

Q: Why do shocks and struts always get replaced in pairs ?

Unlike some other steering and suspension components, there is no significant difference in wear rates between left and right shocks and struts. If one shock or strut is shot, chances are its companion also needs to be replaced. Shocks and struts are designed to dampen spring oscillations as the suspension goes thru jounce and rebound (up and down). This prevents unwanted body gyrations and helps keep the wheels in contact with the road. After zillions of such cycles, the cylinder bore, piston, and shaft seals eventually wear out. Though original equipment shocks have improved in recent years, many still may need replacing in as little as 30,000 miles. With struts, the lifespan is about double that of  a shock.