Overheating is the most common cause of vehicle breakdowns and internal engine damage. As the heat rises in Omaha over the summer, our shop sees more and more people coming in after breakdowns due to cooling system failure. But there is an easy answer!
A cooling system flush can keep your engine running smooth and cool even on the hottest days. Regularly changing your coolant, aka antifreeze, can prevent larger problems for your cooling system and engine and keep your family safe on the road!
What is the Cooling System?
The engine runs best at a high temperature, so the cooling system helps it to heat up quickly then keep the engine at a regular, constant temperature without overheating as it runs. It accomplishes this by transferring heat into the air with the help of coolant, or antifreeze, and the other components of the cooling system.
In most cars, the cooling system works by circulating radiator fluid (the mixture of coolant and water) through parts and pipes in the engine to absorb the heat and cool the engine. A radiator at the end of the system captures and transfers the heat from the fluid into the air.
But my coolant still looks clear, why should I change it?
New coolant usually appears a bright green or a bright red color, as in the picture below. As the coolant runs through the engine, rust and contaminants caused by oxidation and corrosion mix in with the fluid. Unfortunately, when you look under the hood to check your fluid, it may still appear clean and clear even though these contaminants rest under the surface, unseen and threatening the life of your engine.
This video from Monday Morning Mechanic shows the striking visual of these hidden contaminants, and the threats they pose.
How often should I flush my coolant?
Most manufacturers recommend that you change the radiator fluid (the mixture of antifreeze coolant and water) every 24,000 to 36,000 miles or 24 to 36 months. Depending on your driving habits, you may need to flush your coolant more often – we recommend every 1-2 years.
Be leery of “extended life” coolants that tout 100,000 mile lifespans – even these can accumulate rust and contaminants that threaten your engine life. These impurities could add up and cause bigger problems before you reach the 100,000 mile check. Even with “extended life” fluids, you should have these coolants checked frequently.
What happens if I don’t?
Failing to change your coolant can take as much as 100,000 miles off the life of your engine, in addition to big problems and expensive repairs.
Coolant flows through your entire engine, leaving behind contaminants. They can collect on the radiator, inside the water pump or thermostat, getting stuck and preventing the components from working appropriately. Plastic components, like the water pump, can wear and break apart. If the water pump breaks, the system won’t be able to move the water and coolant through the engine. Hoses can also react to contaminants, becoming swollen and rusty on the inside even as they appear normal on the outside. With excess heat, belts that control the cooling system and steering will start cracking, eventually breaking and disabling the systems (imagine a steering belt break, not being able to control your vehicle!).
Bottom line – contaminated coolant can lead to cooling system failure, causing your engine to overheat and break down, leaving you stranded on the road!
We assume your family’s safety is at the top of your priority list, so having your coolant flushed or even just checked while it’s still scorching outside, and before it gets cold, should be as well. Avoid expensive engine breakdowns by having your coolant flushed before problems arise. Call us at 402-896-5800 or stop by our shop.
We’ve had many conversations with our customers here in Omaha, NE – any time we recommend a transmission flush, our customers ask questions. So what is a transmission flush? Can’t you just top off the fluid? Is it really necessary?
We understand your confusion – a transmission flush isn’t one of the aspects of preventative maintenance that usually come to mind. An oil change, new tires, wiper blades… but a transmission flush? Just like an oil change, your transmission needs regular maintenance to keep your car running smoothly.
What is a flush?
A transmission flush usually involves connecting your transmission to a professional grade machine to completely flush the transmission fluid out of your vehicle. Running solution through the lines until they come out clean, it then fills your system with new fluid.
A transmission fluid change, on the other hand, simply drains the fluid with gravity. A change usually does not drain all of the fluid, but does allow you to replace most of the old with fresh transmission fluid. Both services are helpful and can extend the life of your transmission.
Some signs your car needs transmission service:
Carsdirect.com offers these warning signs that you may need a transmission flush – “There may be times when you need to get a transmission flush, in order to help protect your car’s transmission:
- Transmission Grinding or Strange Noises … If you notice your transmission grinding or making strange sounds, you should stop the vehicle and check the transmission fluid level while the engine is still running. Insure that the transmission fluid color is bright red and not brown or black because of grime or sludge. If the fluid level of the transmission is acceptable, your vehicle probably needs a transmission flush.
- Problems Shifting Gears … A transmission that contains too much dirt or sludge will cause sluggish response in the transmission which will result in your vehicle changing gears too quickly or too late while driving. In manual transmission vehicles, you may find it very hard to change gears at all.
- Slipping Gears … A dirty transmission may cause a lack of hydraulic power, much the same as not having enough transmission fluid will cause. In order to stay in the appropriate gear, the transmission must develop enough pressure.
- Surging of the Vehicle … This is caused by inconsistent flow of clean transmission fluid that is needed to ensure smooth operation of the gears and other moving parts inside the transmission bell housing.
- Delay in Vehicle Movement … Another sign that your vehicle may have contaminated transmission fluid is when the vehicle stalls for one or two seconds before moving after having been put in gear. If there are no other problems with the transmission, a transmission flush may help.”
You should be aware that if the vehicle is displaying these symptoms, your dirty transmission may have already caused bigger problems. Read more from Cars Direct here. If your car is displaying any of these symptoms or having other transmission issues, stop by our shop for an inspection.
Is it really necessary?
Ultimately it is best to consult your manufacturer owner’s manual and follow the recommended services and guidelines provided. Many manufacturers recommend a transmission flush every 30,000 miles or 2 years. However, not all recommend this frequently – some suggest a flush only every 100,000 miles, and others don’t recommend a transmission flush at all. Sometimes, if your car is having trouble, you may need a transmission service between the recommended intervals.
A transmission flush can extend the life of your transmission. Like all preventative maintenance, the cost and time of this process can save you from expensive transmission repairs down the road. Our technicians keep track of the manufacturer recommendations for your vehicle and can help you make an informed decision for your family. If you have questions about your vehicle’s transmission, or other concerns, please call us at 402-896-5800.
You know that spring has arrived when flowers start to bloom and so do your allergies! This also means that it’s a good time to have your air filter replaced. Watch the video below to see how a dirty air system can be bad for your car and your health if not cleaned out regularly.
Breathe easier this spring!
Remember, from our quick and efficient oil changes to our detailed transmission repair, we are always here to help with any of your auto repair needs. Stop by our auto repair shop in Omaha or give us a call at (402)-896-5800 to set up an appointment today!
* Auto Station is proud to partner with Monday Morning Mechanic to bring you helpful money saving tips like these to help you get more miles for your dollar! www.mondaymorningmechanic.com
As a resident of the Omaha area, auto repair shops will probably recommend you have scheduled maintenance performed every 3 months or 3,000 miles to ensure a healthy vehicle. However, there’s plenty of minor maintenance you can do to help your car stay healthy between visits! We’ve broken down something minor for you to do every day this week so you can spend literally minutes every morning ensuring your car is ready to go:
Monday: Tire Pressure
Proper tire pressure ensures you’ll have better gas mileage AND better grip on the road. Consult your owner’s manual for what pressure your tires should be at for optimal safety. Then, pick up a tire pressure gauge (they’ll be around $3 or $4 dollars). Before leaving for work this Monday, check all 4 tries to make sure their pressure is correct. If any of them are low, fixing the issue is as easy as stopping a gas station air pump.
Tuesday: Wiper Blades
Be honest: when you turn on your wiper blades, do they smear more than they clear? If so, then it’s probably time to switch them out. This Tuesday morning, run your washer fluid and really pay attention to how your blades clear your windshield. If the wipers are more than a year old, then stop by an auto repair shop in Omaha for new wiper blade recommendation for your vehicle.
Wednesday: Check your Oil
Engine oil lubricates the various moving metal pieces in your engine that allows your car to go. When the oil level’s low, friction causes those metal parts to warp, leading to irreversible damage in your engine! On Wednesday morning, walk out to your car with a rag and check the dipstick marked “OIL” in your engine. This will tell you at what level your oil is at and where it should be. If it’s low, stop by an auto repair shop in Omaha NE and have their technicians top off your fluids!
Thursday: Headlights, Taillights
Before taking off, turn on your lights and blinkers and take a walk around your vehicle to make sure everything’s in working condition. If any bulb is burned out or not working, bring your vehicle by a Car Repair in Omaha to have their technicians fix it right away. It’s illegal to be on the road with a burned light!
Friday: Take Out the Trash
This is the easiest one of them all. Before heading out, take a trash bag and 5 minutes to clear out all the garbage in your vehicle’s cabin. Your car won’t just look better—it’ll feel better, too!
If you have any other question or concerns with your vehicle, stop by an auto repair shop in Omaha like Auto Station to have your car looked at by one of our ASE-Certified technicians!