How Often Should You Get Your Brakes Checked?

Our Japanese Auto Repair Blog

How Often Should You Get Your Brakes Checked?

Your vehicle’s brakes are its most important safety feature, designed to keep you and everyone else on the road safe. The entire braking system is deceptively complex, involving many parts that need to be checked and replaced often. Not many people know with absolute certainty when their systems are failing, or when an inspection is required. Keeping the following guidelines in mind lets know exactly when to bring your car in for a brake check.

Best Practices

Ideally, you should have your brakes inspected once every six months. Most people have this done at the same time as they have their tires rotated, so they don’t forget. If you cannot recall the last time a professional examined your braking system, you should arrange an appointment as soon as possible. Depending on the type of traffic you endure and how you drive your car, you may need inspections more frequently. This is why you should pay attention to the warning signs of a brake system failure. Every time you come in for a service or repair at Greg’s Japanese Auto you can get your brakes checked by their professionals.

Reduced Responsiveness or Pulling

One of the first signs that your brakes may be failing is reduced responsiveness, requiring you to apply more pressure to the pedal to achieve the same effect. In other cases, the vehicle may pull slightly to one side whenever you apply the brakes. It is important to bring your car in for an inspection as soon as you notice these signs, because they only get worse with time, leading to hazardous driving situations.

Vibration

Steering wheel vibration going down hills or when braking at higher speeds is another sign that your brakes need to be examined. These vibrations or pulsations are caused by rotors that have been warped or damaged. Vehicle owners who drive in brake-heavy conditions, such as driving down steep hills, should have their brakes examined often.

Loud Sounds

If you notice any grinding or growling sounds when you press on the brake, it could mean that your pads have worn down or are failing. These sounds often happen as the metal from the worn-down brake grinds against other components in the car, damaging the rotors. Driving with your brakes in this condition for too long is a serious safety concern.

If you are wondering “where can I get a brake check near me?” contact us at Greg’s Japanese Auto. Our team of skilled technicians can examine your brake system, as well as complete many other maintenance and repair services. Visit us in-store today or call 800-79-GREGS where our friendly office staff can help you book an appointment.

 

Image Credit: Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock 

Signs Your Car's Oil Needs Changing

Signs Your Car’s Oil Needs Changing

Most car owners know when to perform routine maintenance tasks, such as having your tires rotated and your brakes inspected. When it comes to fluids, however, many have the same question: when should you get an oil change? While many manufacturers recommend specific intervals, everything from the environment to the type of traffic you typically endure can mean you need your oil changed much sooner. Being familiar with the signs you need an oil change is a crucial part of car ownership.

Strange Sounds and Smells

It is important to know when to get an oil change, as many of the warning signs can create driving hazards. Old oil that needs to be replaced burns differently than it did when it was fresh. As a result, the interior of your vehicle may start to smell like oil. Individuals with allergies or scent sensitivities may find this nauseating.

Waiting too long to have your oil changed can also result in loud engine sounds, as the car has to keep itself powered without fresh oil to keep these parts lubricated. Drivers and others on the road may hear knocking, rattling, and clunking sounds as the engine struggles to work.

Exhaust Smoke and Oil Color

In the colder months, most exhaust pipes emit a translucent smoke. This is because of the way the hot car exhaust reacts with the cold air. The rest of the time, your exhaust should be clear. If you notice that there is a lot of smoke coming from this area of your car, it means your oil needs to be replaced.

Another sign that you should replace your oil soon is the color of the oil itself. If it is dark, gritty, and dirty-looking, it is probably old oil and needs to be replaced. You can check this yourself using the oil drip stick. See your Owners Manual or any Greg’s Japanese Auto location would be glad to show you where it’s located.

It’s Been A While Since Your Last Change

If you can’t remember when your last oil change was, it is probably time to bring your car in for maintenance. Car experts recommend changing your oil once every six months or so, and even sooner if you drive it in warm conditions or in stop-and-go traffic.

Make sure you don’t just head to the closest oil change place for work on your car. Take the time to look for an auto shop with a great reputation. If you’re looking for places to get an oil change nearby, you can visit us at Greg’s Japanese Auto. Our friendly and experienced technicians can complete your oil change or any other type of vehicle maintenance quickly and effectively. Visit us in-store or contact our friendly office staff to book an appointment today.

Tips for Driving in the Rain in Washington

Tips for Driving in the Rain in Washington

Washington sees an average of 38.15 inches of precipitation per year, much of it being rain. This can lead to hazardous driving conditions, especially if your vehicle is not serviced correctly. While many people have been behind the wheel for years, learning how to drive in the rain is a special skill that can be honed over time. These safe driving tips are an excellent place to start.


Pay Attention to Depth

Make sure you pay attention to the depth of the water around you, especially during heavy rains. Driving in water that is too deep can cause your car to get stuck and can create several mechanical issues, including a stalled engine. As long as you can clearly see the markings on the road, it is safe to drive. Once they are completely covered by water, you need to find an alternate route.


Turn on Your Headlights

Whenever visibility is low, you should turn on your headlights. Even if it does not help you see any better while driving, it can help other cars spot you. If the rain becomes bad enough that you need to pull over and wait for it to lighten up, be sure to keep your headlights and four-way lights on.


Watch for Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning happens when your tires have more traction on the water than the road. As a result, you lose control of your vehicle as it grips the water instead of the solid concrete. Hydroplaning can happen with less than a twelfth of an inch of rain, so be careful and take it slow. If you do find yourself in this condition, steer straight and ease off the accelerator until you regain control.


Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition

Vehicles in need of maintenance are dangerous on the road, regardless of weather. They become particularly hazardous in the rain, as you have to navigate unclear driving conditions while also maneuvering a car that is not functioning correctly. Regular maintenance also ensures that vital features, such as your windshield wipers and defogging mechanisms still work well.

Stay safe while driving in the rain by getting regular vehicle maintenance. At Greg’s Japanese Auto, we have years of experience with diagnostic and maintenance services. Our service advisors and technicians pride themselves on their dedication to the job, ensuring that each and every customer stays safe on the road. Greg’s offers additional protection on the road with their free 24-Hour Nationwide Roadside Assistance Program. All customers are eligible. If you are searching for ways to keep you and your family safe in poor driving conditions, contact us today to arrange for vehicle maintenance or to learn more.

 

Image Credit: Pierluigi.Palazzi/Shutterstock

Does Your Car Have a Timing Belt or Timing Chain?

Does Your Car Have a Timing Belt or Timing Chain?

Figuring out if your car has a timing chain vs. timing belt often makes a huge difference when budgeting repairs. While belts and chains both connect the crankshaft to the camshaft(s), they have different lifespans and are prone to varying types of damage. Learning more about each one ensures your car runs smoother for longer. Belts are smooth, rubber objects making the connection while chains resemble large, thick bicycle chains.

Timing Belts

Timing belts were popularized in the 1960s when Pontiac came out with the overhead cam. Modern belts are made of rubber, fiberglass, and Kevlar, giving them extra strength and ensuring the rotation is quiet. At a bare minimum, you should replace your timing belt once every 60,000 to 105,000 miles, depending on your vehicle’s model.

Rarely, your belt needs to be replaced before that time. Here is how you know it’s time to start thinking about replacing your timing belt:

  • Check your Owner’s Manual for the mileage interval that is recommended by the manufacturer
  • Check your Owner’s Manual for the time interval that is recommended by the manufacturer
  • Call Greg’s Japanese Auto to learn more

It is a good idea to bring your car in for vehicle maintenance when you replace your belts. Pulleys, water pumps, and belt tensioners often require replacement at the same time, and it is easier to have a service technician complete these repairs.

Timing Chains

Timing chains serve the same purpose as belts and generally last much longer. Some manufacturers suggest replacement after a pre-set number of miles, while others state they are good for the life of the car with regular oil changes. Timing chains can create catastrophic conditions when they break, damaging many other engine parts. In general, you should keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Engine misfires
  • Metal shavings in your oil
  • Loud rattling sounds when idling

Regardless of whether your vehicle has a timing belt or chain, you need to stay on top of replacement. Driving with an outdated belt or chain can lead to major repair when they break. If you are searching for vehicle maintenance, come visit us at Greg’s Japanese Auto. Our service advisors and technicians have years of experience and can take care of your car’s needs. Contact us today to learn more or to book an appointment to have your timing belt or timing chain replaced.

 

Image Credit: Corepics VOF/Shutterstock 

AC running in car

The Benefits of Your Climate Control System in the Winter

The climate control systems in your vehicle can help make the seasons easier to endure in Western Washington. Your focus is likely more on the heating component during the winter months, but it’s important to take care of the air conditioning system all year round. If you neglect the A/C for too long, it can stop working completely by the time summer comes around. Luckily, running the unit even during the winter can prolong the life of your car’s air conditioner.

Use Your Car’s A/C Regularly to Prevent Breakdown

You certainly wouldn’t want your car to be any colder than it already is on one of the chilliest winter days in Washington. You should still make a point to run the A/C on full blast for at least ten minutes or so every couple of weeks. The activity keeps a few different components of your A/C in good health. Luckily, you can run the A/C and then immediately turn the heater to warm to avoid making your car unnecessarily cold.

Keep Rubber Seals and Pipework in Good Condition

Keeping your climate control system active will help coolant circulate throughout the system. Long periods of inactivity can cause coolant to settle into one place, and the lack of flow might damage the system. The coolant contains a lubricant that helps keep all the parts of the system oiled. If those pieces don’t get lubricated, it might create cracks and leaks. These kinds of flaws in the air conditioning system make it easy for necessary elements like cooling gasses to escape. If your vehicle loses too much of the coolant, the air conditioner won’t get your car very cold when summer rolls around.

Avoid Moisture Buildup in Vents

Long periods of inactivity can cause moisture to settle and collect in the vents of your climate control system. This collected moisture might harbor mold and bacteria. Developing such a problem creates an unpleasant odor in your car and can even pose a health hazard. Drying out the air a little bit serves other purposes too.

Any moisture that collects in your air conditioner can also lead to fogged windows. A foggy windshield is annoying at best, and it can even cause dangerous vision impairment at the worst. If you’re having a hard time clearing moisture from your A/C system, it may be time to contact a professional mechanic.

Vehicle Maintenance in Western Washington

Greg’s Japanese Auto offers a wide array of services to make sure your car stays up and running through even the harshest Washingtonian winters. Come in to one of our 8 Western Washington locations today if you need maintenance or diagnostics for your car cooling system.

 

Image Credit: Pavel L Photo and Video/ Shutterstock

Safe Winter Driving Tips for Washingtonians

Safe Winter Driving Tips for Washingtonians

Living in Washington exposes a driver to all sorts of nasty conditions throughout the year. Keep yourself and your passengers safe by brushing up on some safe winter driving tips. There are a few key things you need to know before taking to the roads this winter.

Black Ice

Dealing with black ice is one of the most common winter driving tips for good reason. Black ice is dangerous because it’s nearly impossible to see on the road. The best way to prepare for black ice is to know where it might be. It typically comes from moisture that freezes once it’s already on the ground, so expect to find it where liquid can accumulate.

Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, and at the bottom of hills. Black ice is more common in shady areas where the sun can’t melt it. Go slowly and avoid sharp turns to minimize danger.

Heavy Rain

Downpours of rain can reduce visibility and create slick conditions. Stay prepared by keeping your car well equipped. Replace your tires as needed and keep them well-inflated to create maximum traction. Windshield wiper blades see a lot of action in this part of Washington, so make sure those are in top condition too. If your wipers are fresh and you still can’t see in the rain, it might mean you need new headlights or additional fog lights.

Snow

Snow can reduce the contact between your tires and the road. This makes it harder to control your car, so it’s important to make sure all your equipment is in great condition. Check tire tread and pressure before driving in snow. Since skidding can be an issue, double check that your brakes are in great shape as well.

Disaster Kit

In case of emergency it’s good to have some extra supplies on hand. Getting prepared with a small disaster kit can help you be ready for anything. Be sure to include the following:

  • Water and Snacks
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blankets and Warm Clothes
  • Shovel
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Gas Can with Extra Fuel
  • Ice Scraper
  • Jumper Cable
  • Tire Chains
  • Road Flares or Reflective Signs
  • Greg’s Japanese Auto Roadside Assistance Card

Best Vehicle Maintenance in Western Washington

Regular maintenance is the best way to make sure your car is ready for anything winter can throw at it. Greg’s Japanese Auto offers premium services in all areas including safety diagnostics and routine maintenance. We’ll make sure your vehicle is tuned just right to handle any driving conditions you might encounter, but we’ll never try to over-sell you services you don’t need. Before you leave make sure to ask your Service Advisor about our complimentary Rewards Program that includes 24/7 Nationwide Roadside Assistance. Come see us today at one of our 8 locations in Western Washington.

 

Image Credit: Alexkick/Shutterstock.com

Keeping It Local

Most people don’t know this, but Greg’s Japanese Auto is family owned and operated. Two brothers, Greg and David Huntley, established Greg’s Japanese Auto in 1987. Their first store was in the Renton Highlands. Many times I have been asked the question, “Is there really a Greg?” Or “Is Greg Japanese?” Well yes, there really is a Greg, and no, he is not Japanese. He lives, works, and plays right here in the Puget Sound. He has a house in Kent and a lodge in Cle Elum. His brother David also lives in Covington with his wife and Family.

Greg’s Japanese Auto

Tired of auto repair shops that don't understand your car? Want a car mechanic who does? Come to Greg's Japanese Auto.

We only work on Japanese makes and models, and we have the experience and knowhow to give your car the service it deserves. Call us today to schedule your appointment.

Call Us Today

For quality service of your Japanese car model, rely on Greg's Japanese Auto Parts and Service. Call to schedule your appointment today at 1-800-794-7347.