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Your Frequently Asked Auto Service Questions Answered by Graff Bay City

At Graff Bay City we want to help you take the best care of your vehicle. Our service experts have answered all of your frequently asked questions and conveniently put them in one place. We want to make easy for you to find the answer to your problem. All of service technicians are certified to give you the best advice on Tires, Oil Changes, Brakes, and more. Give us a call at (989) 684-4411 if you have any further questions; we’re always happy to help you!


    How often should I get my wheels aligned?

    Alignments should be performed when you get new tires or every other oil change. Anything like potholes, dirt roads, and regular driving wear can affect your vehicle’s alignment. By getting your wheels aligned routinely, your car will perform better and longer. You can even increase your fuel-efficiency. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had your wheels aligned, we suggest making an appointment soon.

    How long can I drive on a spare tire?

    Spare tires cannot perform the same as regular tires. You should never drive over 50mph on a spare, or over 50 miles. At Graff Bay City we can patch you tire or get it replaced quickly so you can be back on the road safely in no time.

    How do I know what my tire PSI should be?

    PSI stands for pounds per square inch of air pressure. You can find your vehicle’s recommended PSI on the inside of your driver door or in the owner’s manual. Never go by the PSI that’s on you tires, because that is the max PSI the tire can hold. If you’re unsure about your tire pressure, give us a call and our tire experts at Graff Bay City can help you out.

    Why does my tire pressure light go off when it’s cold outside?

    Cold weather compresses the air in your tires and can cause your sensor to go off. A lot of times you might notice that in the morning your light will be on and during the day it will be off. That’s because the air has warmed up through the afternoon. If your tire pressure light turns on, you can always bring your vehicle into our service center and we’ll check your PSI to make sure you’re good to go.

    How do I know which tires to buy?

    When replacing one or two tires you should always get the same tires that you already have on your vehicle so they all match. If you’re replacing all of your tires you have two options. You can either get the same brand that you had before, or you can ask the tire experts at Graff Bay City what they recommend for your vehicle. It’s important that you find the right tires for your vehicle that meet your driving needs.

    Why are tire alignments important?

    Tire alignments ensure that your tires remain perpendicular to the road and parallel to each other. By having your tires aligned properly your tires will wear evenly, saving you money in the long run. By routinely performing tire alignments and checking your tire pressure, you’ll improve you car’s fuel-efficiency and drive safely on the road.

    When should my tires be replaced?

    There are a number of signs to look for if you’re thinking about replacing your tires. Look for warning signs like major tread wear, irregular tread wear, abnormal bulges, or cracks in the sidewall. To check your treads, you can use the “penny test” (Check the next FAQ). Another important factor you may want to consider is the traction you get in snowy and icy conditions. If you don’t feel safe driving in these weather conditions it would be beneficial to invest in winter tires.

    How can I check my tire’s tread?

    There’s a very easy and quick way to test your tires’ tread and it’s called the “Penny Test”. Here are the instructions:

    • Place a penny in the lowest tire groove with Lincoln’s head pointing down into the tire.
    • Move the penny along the groove.
    • If any part of Lincoln’s head in NOT covered that means you tire’s tread is worn too much and you don’t have the proper grip you need on the road. If this happens you should being your car in to get your tires inspected and replaced.

    Why is it important to have the right tire pressure?

    Having the right air pressure in your tires helps your vehicle perform at its best. With the right air pressure, your car will handle much better, your tires will last longer, and it can help you save on fuel.

    How often should I get my tires rotated?

    An average rule for getting your tires rotated is every 6,000 miles or every other oil change. If you don’t get your tires rotated they can wear unevenly.

    What is the main cause of tire damage?

    A number of things can cause tire damage, but the most common one is improper inflation. You can check your inflation with a tire gauge, which we recommend keeping in your glove box at all times.

    How long do new tires last?

    Unfortunately, there is no right answer. Some sources say new tires will last around 50,000 miles, but there are many factors to account for. The life of your tires depends on the type of tire, the tire's inflation level, how often you rotate your tires, your vehicle's wheel alignment, the way you use your tires, the type of vehicle you drive and the way you drive it and occasional unexpected tire damage. We'll help you choose a great new set of tires, perfect for your needs and budget, with longevity in mind!


    How do I know which windshield fluid I should use?

    There are two types of windshield fluid you can use in your vehicle. The first type is a diluted formula, which is the most common. The other type is a concentrated formula that you need to dilute with water in your washer fluid tank. The important thing you should pay attention to is the recommended temperature for the solution. Does the temperature that is listed on the label match the weather you’re driving in? If you need assistance with refilling your windshield fluid, or you’re having a hard time choosing which one you should use, come into our service center at Graff Bay City and we’ll take care of you.

    Where can I find the size of my wipers?

    Wiper sizes are different for each vehicle make and model. A lot of times the left and right wiper will also be different sizes. To ensure you get the right wiper size, check your owner’s manual, look online, or ask one of our service experts at Graff Bay City.

    How do I know if my wiper blades need to be replaced?

    There are a few simple signs to look for when your wipers need to be replaced –

    • Wipers leave streaks on your windshield
    • The rubber on the wiper is cracked or dried out
    • The rubber strip is completely gone
    • Wiper is damaged beyond repair

    If your wipers are not clearing your windshield enough to where you can see the road properly, they most likely should be replaced. If any of the signs in the list above occur, come on into our service center and we’ll replace your wipers for you.


    How often should I get my brakes checked?

    As a general rule, your brakes should be checked every 5,000 miles or every 5 months – whichever comes first. Your brakes are one of the most important safety components on your vehicle so make sure you’re checking them regularly. You should also consider how often you drive and your driving style. If your daily commute is stop and go traffic in rush hour, your brakes could wear faster. On the other hand if you don’t drive that often your brakes will not wear as fast and can possibly go longer in between checks.

    How do I know if my brakes need to be replaced?

    If any of these warning signs occur, you should have your brakes inspected and possibly replaced:

    • Weak response during a hard brake
    • Burning smell after you stop hard
    • Your car pulls left or right when stopping
    • High pitched squealing
    • Grinding noises when coming to a stop
    • Increased braking distances
    • Steering wheel vibrates when stopping

    If any of these warning signs occur you should come into Graff Bay City’s Service Center. Our experts can inspect the problem and diagnose it quickly.

    Why does my steering wheel shake when I brake?

    Your steering wheel shakes when you’re braking because your brake rotors are most likely warped, or they have become too thin to distribute the heat correctly.

    Why are my brakes squealing?

    Squealing sounds from your brakes does not always mean something is wrong. However, you should pay attention to when the squealing occurs and how often. If the problem consistently occurs, you could have bad brake pads or rotors. Just to be safe, we suggest you come into our service center and have our experts take a look so you can avoid any future damage.


    How often should I get my oil changed?

    The recommended time between oil changes is every 3,000 miles. Always double-check your owner’s manual to see what they suggest as well.

    Should I consider synthetic oil?

    Synthetic oil works well in cars that are supercharged, turbocharged, or have a high output. Your vehicle may also benefit from synthetic oil if it drives in extreme weather or is used for towing. Synthetic oil is more expensive than mineral-based oil, but it prolongs the time in between each oil change and improves your fuel economy.

    Why does my engine oil look milky brown?

    If you notice that your engine oil looks milky brown you should have it inspected by a service expert immediately. This could be a sign that you have a blown head gasket, a cracked casing, or a failed transmission cooler.


    When should I have my A/C serviced?

    Your A/C only needs to be serviced if it’s not cooling off your car’s cabin like it should be. If you’re having any A/C problems bring your car into our service center and we can check it out for you.

    How often should I have my battery inspected?

    A car battery normally last 3-5 years. If you battery is 3 years or older we encourage you to have it inspected annually. You should also have your battery inspected if your vehicle is having trouble starting; it could be an early warning sign that something is wrong.

    How often should my coolant be changed?

    Your coolant should be changed every 24,000 miles or every two years, depending on which comes first. Schedule an appointment to your get coolant flushed online on our Schedule a Service page.

    Why is my alternator important to my vehicle?

    Your alternator has two very important jobs. The first is to spark your engine when starting your vehicle up and then recharge your engine as your vehicle is running. The second job is to supply an electrical current to any electrical devices in your car like your radio, heater, and lights. If you’re alternator isn’t working properly your vehicle would have to rely on only your battery, and your battery cannot create enough power to control your electrical devices.

    How do I know if I’m having alternator problems?

    The first sign you should look for if you think you’re having alternator problems is the warning light on your dashboard. Other signs to look for are dimmed lights, a ‘growl’ or ‘whine’ coming from your vehicle, or the radio not working. If any of these problems occur, bring your vehicle into Graff Bay City and our service experts will perform an inspection.

    What’s the importance of having my belts and hoses inspected?

    Your belts and hoses keep your car running smoothly and efficiently. If they’re cracked or broken they can cause major problems to your vehicle. If one of your belts or hoses isn't working properly you’ll mostly likely hear a whining noise or encounter a burning rubber smell. If you experience any of these things come into our service center and we’ll perform and inspection. These are the items we look for:

    • Clamps that are loose or worn
    • Belts that show sign of glazing, fracturing, or softening
    • Proper tension
    • Spills and leaks
    • Correct drive pulley alignment
    • Softening, cracking, or hardening of hose pipes

    How often should my hoses and belts be replaced?

    Your belts and hoses should generally be replaced every 30,000-60,000 miles. Replacing your hoses and belts when needed helps you avoid costly damages in the long run.

    When should my vehicle’s suspension system be serviced?

    Your vehicle’s suspension should be serviced if any of the following warning signs occur: leaking shocks, your vehicle bottoms out or nose dives when you stop, excessive bouncing or swaying, or you notice uneven tread marks on your tires. We’ll give you a complete inspection when you bring your vehicle into our service center and get you back on the road safe and sound.

    How do I know if my transmission is having problems?

    The most common warning sign that your transmission is having problems will be the dashboard light coming on. Other signs you should look for are fluid leaks, a burning smell, and your transmission slipping (a high pitched sound). If any of these signs occur we suggest your bring your vehicle in for service right away.

    How should I check my antifreeze?

    It’s recommended that you should routinely check your antifreeze, and all of your other vehicle fluids, once a month. Your antifreeze may be low or have a problem if your dashboard coolant light turns on, your temperature gauge is high, or you notice a puddle under your car that is green, pink, or yellow. Bring your vehicle in for an inspection of you notice any of these warning signs.

    When should I get my car’s fuel filter replaced?

    We suggest that you change your fuel filter every 30,000 miles as a general rule, but you can always check your owner’s manual for a suggested interval as well.

    How should I check that my car battery has a good electrical connection?

    By cleaning and inspecting your battery cables and terminals routinely, you’ll ensure that you battery has a good electrical connection.

    When should I change my spark plugs?

    Spark plugs should be replaced every 30 months or 30,000 miles – whichever comes first. The only exception to this is if you have 100,000-mile platinum tipped spark plugs. Your spark plugs help your vehicle’s fuel economy and engine performance, so keeping them updated will improve both of these.

    My car has a burned out fuse, what should I do?

    The most important thing to remember when replacing a fuse is to replace the fuse with a new one of the same amperage. The amperage will be printed on the side of the fuse, so make sure to check that. If your fuse blows again after you replace it, you most likely have a defect and should have the circuit inspected by a service expert at Graff Bay City.


    How do I know which fuel type is better for my car?

    Your car’s fuel type is dependent on the make, model, and trim level. The best way to figure out which fuel type you should use is to check your owner’s manual. Usually high-performance vehicles take Premium fuel because the engine needs a higher-octane level. Note that sometimes Premium fuel is recommended, but not required. The important thing to remember is to never mix fuel types because it will damage your engine.

    Something smells; what should I do?

    If something smells off in your vehicle, there’s a good chance it could be a warning sign for something that isn’t working properly. If you can’t target where the smell is coming from or what is causing it, bring your vehicle into our service center, and we’ll take care of it for you.

    What should I have in my car emergency kit?

    Everyone should keep a car emergency kit in his or her vehicle just to be prepared. When packing an emergency kit make sure you have tools, a first aid kit, jumper cables, flashlight, extra clothing, tire pump, and roadside flares. Some extra things you may want to pack are kitty litter for snow traction, a phone charger, and extra cash.

    How does my driving affect my vehicle’s performance?

    Every person has his or her own driving style and it usually depends on what your daily commute looks like. Being aware of your driving style is important because you can make changes and possibly prolong the life of your vehicle. For example, if you’re driving in rush hour traffic and slam on your brakes a lot, you’ll wear them out a lot quicker. Or if you’re driving over a road with lots of potholes you might want to change your route if possible because your vehicle alignment will be affected.

    Why is my car having issues starting in the cold weather?

    Your vehicle could have a problem starting for a few reasons. The first is your oil thickening, making it hard for your engine to spin. Another reason could be a bad fuel mixture or the lack of fuel. In winter it’s suggested that you always have at least a quarter tank of gas in your tank. Also, you could have a weak battery. If this is the case, you should come into our service center to get it replaced.

    How long should I warm up my engine before driving in the winter?

    A lot of people assume that in the winter months, having your vehicle idle will warm it up quicker, but in any month your car should only idle 30 seconds or less to warm up. Your vehicle will actually warm up quicker by being driven. In the colder months you should drive more gently in the first 10 minutes though to make sure your engine has enough time to warm up completely.

    What should I do if my engine temperature gauge starts to rise too high?

    If your temperature gauge rises too high you need to cool off your engine as quickly as possible. The first thing you should try is to turn off the air conditioner. Your air conditioner can actually cause a lot of strain on your engine. If that doesn’t work you should turn your heater up because this will pull heat away from your engine. If neither of these solutions work, you should pull over and call for assistance.

    What does it mean if my check engine shows up on the dashboard?

    Your vehicle has a number of sensors used to detect problems that may arise. If any of the components in your vehicle aren’t working your check engine light could turn on from those sensors. If your light goes on, we encourage you to come into our service center so we can find the problem and fix it.

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