The classic "tune-up" was once the heart of the automotive business and
contrary to some beliefs, today's modern vehicles still need tune-ups to
keep them performing at the most efficient levels.
As the pace of technology quickened, the procedures required to perform a traditional tune-up changed dramatically. Highly sophisticated ignition and fuel systems are now the norm, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions.
If the vehicle isn't being properly maintained, you're not going to get where you want to go. As part of the 21st Century Tune-up on today's modern vehicles, the following systems should be inspected: battery, charging and starting engine, mechanical powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks), fuel ignition, and emissions.
To help ensure good performance, fuel economy and emissions, the Car Care Council also recommends that motorists take the time necessary to become familiar with their vehicle. Study the owner's manual to become thoroughly acquainted with the operation of all systems. Pay special attention to the indicator lights and instruments.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter
Mechanical failure - an inconvenience anytime it occurs - can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. A well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.
Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.
Engine Performance - Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters - air, fuel, etc.
Fuel - Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual - more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
Cooling Systems - The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
Windshield Wipers - Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent - you'll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
Heater/Defroster - The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner's manual for the location and replacement interval.
Battery - The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Exhaust System - Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
Tires - Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don't forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
Carry emergency gear - gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few "high-energy" snacks in your glove box.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer
Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too! Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.
Air Conditioning - A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval.
Cooling System - The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
Oil - Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual - more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
Engine Performance - Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended - more often in dusty conditions. Get engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
Windshield Wipers - A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
Lights - Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
Tires - Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
Brakes - Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
Battery - Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Emergencies - Carry some basic tools - ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first-aid kit, flares, and a flashlight. Consider buying a cellular phone.
Keeping your vehicle in tune with the environment is definitely a win-win
situation. Besides helping the environment, a properly maintained and
operated vehicle will run more efficiently, will be safer, and will last
longer - up to 50% longer, according to a survey of ASE-certified Master
The following tips should put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care.
Very very fast and great prices.
Rick And his staff are quite simply the best in Austin. Friendly, fast and very reasonable. I will not take my car anywhere else.
Whenever I need something done on one of my cars, this is where I go! I find them to be HONEST and PROFESSIONAL. Rick and Aaron are the best.
Wow, what a great place. Super nice and helpful guys. They're funny and easy to talk to, and explain things to you really well without talking down to you AT ALL. The shop is tidy and clean. I came in with what I thought was a simple fix, but it turned out to be catastrophic engine failure. :( SW Automotive could have made up anything in an attempt to get more work out of me, but instead, they gave me a bunch of tips about car shopping and how to get into a more reliable car. They even took a quick look at a used car I was test-driving and offered advice on that. Many thumbs up for this place.
The owner, Rick and his staff are men of integrity, ethics, honest and solid value standards. You will not go wrong with them. I most definitely recommend this automotive repair business! It is top-of-the-mark! I find it outstanding these men actually listen to a woman talk of what seems to be wrong and they take the time to check out every detail.
Have a 2009 Hyundai and engine light came on. Ran my own test and 5 different codes came up, all of which I did not have the ability to repair. Took it to SW Automotive and was prepared for the worst but also heard great things about SWA so prayed for the best. Turns out carbon build up in the fuel lines caused the error codes, $89 and I was out of there!! I am always pessimistic about repair shops as they think they can easily trick me into thinking repairs are needed when they are not. Well SW Automotive now allows me to be optimistic about my future auto repairs.
I took my car to get the oil changed and looked at for some other problems. I was pleasantly surprised at how ethical this place is. They were very honest and seemed interested in saving me money and not just lining their pockets with it. I will definitely be taking my car back there in the future.
This review is long overdue since we don't even live in Austin anymore, but I was on here for something else and had some time - that is how good this shop is! I have a 2003 Chrysler T&C van with over 120K miles on it and I think the only reason it is still on the road is bc we found Southwest Automotive through the Car Talk website. My van had so many random, different problems for the 3 years we lived in Austin and SWA helped us keep it on the road for less than a car payment every time. I think Aaron and Rick knew my voice before I said my name by the end, but they were always quick, helpful and reliable. Can't recommend this shop more.
These guys are great. They are close to home geographically, but they're also close to home in terms of integrity and values. They won't push an unneeded repair on you just to make a buck. In fact, they'll even let you know which repairs are MUST-DOs and which things can wait a bit until your budget catches up. They do quality work, they're good-natured people and they treat your car is if it were their own car. Definitely the right people to trust with your sled.
I found out southwest was near my home so I asked for a quote on a break job and Rick responded quickly after hours. Granted he couldn't get me a quote but he did state he would let me know the next morning. Rick was up front and honest. They ended up having to do a bit more than I planned but it was no surprise and I paid what I had planned. Rick was very pleasant and personable I will be going back.
Honest guys! Great work! Been coming here since 1998. Thank you!
All my trips to Southwest Automotive have been great experiences - they explain the problem without talking down to me, make rational recommendations for repair (or things to watch out for), have high standards for their mechanical work, and do what they say they're going to do in the time they said and within the estimate provided. I've recommended them to others and they've been just as pleased. Highly recommended!
I bought a groupon to get oil changes from Southwest Automotive Repair and my first experience was great. I got there bright and early got my oil changed and was on my way! I went back my second and third time and once again got in an out and was on my way. The 4th time I came in I noticed a smell in my car and figured it was an air filter. When I got there they took a look and they didn't have my item in stock but they ordered it and I came back later that day they fix it in about 30 mins it was so fast. It's nice to go some where and get the job done and go on about your day. Great customer service.
Fast, friendly, and honest!
I have used SW Auto since 1992. First with the previous owner (Bob) and now with Rick, I have never been disappointed with them. They are honest, trustworthy and reliable. If you are looking for discount service this is probably not the place for you but if you are looking for high quality work at a reasonable price, I highly recommend them.
Absolutely the best place to have your vehicle repaired. Very good service reasonable prices. Honest repairs.
Very highly recommended. We had a heater core problem driving on our way to California and not only did they get us on our way quickly, but was also very reasonable on price when they saw we had not much money left from our trip. Some of the BEST SERVICE I've received anywhere in the country.
Very very fast and great prices.