My contribution to the Cleverly family is to work at Pioneer Pit Stop Lube & Oil,which is owned by my parents,and in doing so I provide health insurance for our family. My job duties are as follows:
1. Welcome you to the Pit Stop and find out why you are there. I know it seems like a no brainer. Like, duh, I'm here for an oil change, hello?! But there are many other things we do there so it is an imperative question.
This is when I will usually answer any questions about your vehicle or convey concerns to the Lube Techs.
2. Input your vehicle information into the computer.
3. Then I am the "detail" person. I vacuum, check tire pressure and wash your windshield.
4. When I am finished with those duties, I will probably fill the vehicle up with oil. Then I start it and check that the oil pressure has come up.
5. Finally, I will cash you out, making sure you know and understand everything that was done or is recommended to be done to your vehicle. Take your money and ask you to have a nice day.
Sounds pretty simple, mostly, but somedays it can be very busy and I feel like I am running like a headless chicken. If you have ever seen a headless chicken you no there is no rhyme or reason to where they run.
I don't like my job every day especially in the winter when it is cold and wet. We service a lot of big trucks which have dual tires in the rear. You know, two tires on each side, and they are a PAIN to check the pressure on. Sometimes I am literally laying on the ground trying to check them and I am thinking to myself . . . a lot of things but I won't post that here.
Somedays I feel good about what I do, especially when I can help someone out, which is why I am writing this post.
So ladies this is for you. You NEED to know about Your vehicle. Even if you have a man in your life who takes care of all of that for you. Because, and you may not want to hear this, but that man might not always be there. I have seen this so many times when older ladies will come in after their husband has passed away and they are clueless and a little scared. Or like the customer, true story, who came in asked if we could show her how to check her oil. She said to me, "Yeah, I used to have a husband who did this, but he ended up being a cheater!"
I'm not trying to be doom and gloom, but I have also had husbands come in to our business steaming mad because their wives took their car to another oil change place and ended up buying parts or having a service done that the husband had already taken care of. The women were completely manipulated and that really makes me mad!!!!!
So here are my car care tips for you:
1. You are in charge of your vehicle. Don't let anyone guilt you or manipulate you into a service or part you are unsure of or comfortable with. If you are on top of the maintenance of your vehicle nothing should ever have to be done TODAY. Take the time for a 2nd opinion.
2. Know your vehicle. Pop the hood, get a good look under there. There is a sticker in your engine compartment called a catalyst sticker. It has the year and engine size on it, you should know this, along with Make and Model. Look at the oil cap. Most vehicles will tell you what weight of oil is recommended for your vehicle. Most newer Chevrolet's are 5w30. Fords are 5w20. Some newer Chrylsers are 10w30. Diesel vehicles take 15w40. Find your oil dipstick it is usually yellow. Your transmission dipstick is usually red or black.
3. You should know how to check both your engine oil and your transmission fluid. Most service places should check your fluids at no charge between oil changes. Do this, and when you do, ask them to show you how to check your vehicle.
Also, know where your coolant/radiator fluid is and know what kind of fluid you take. There is usually a minimum fluid level and if it drops below, which it will, it should be topped off, back to the minimum level. Know the temperature rating. Ideally, coolant should test to 34^ below zero with a boil point of 265^.
4. You should know the maintenance schedule for your vehicle. For instance, usually you should change your oil every 3,000 miles. Changing your transmission fluid might be every 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Most coolants have a 5 year/150,000 mile lifespan, but not all. All these recommendations can be found in your owners manual.
5. If you drive an SUV, there are 2-3 gear boxes underneath that run your 4 wheel drive. A front and a rear differential and a transfer case. The fluid in these need changed periodically as well. Your owners manual should provide you with a recommendation. But a reliable lube tech should also be able to tell you by appearance how those fluids look.
6. Tires. You should know the maximum tire pressure for you vehicle and know what the recommended pressure for that tire is. For instance, the maximum cold tire pressure on my tires is 44 psi (pounds per square inch), I keep mine at 35 psi, but anywhere from 32 - 40 is okay, it is kind of a preference. Large trucks might have a max psi of 80 and be inflated to 60 psi.
7. Lastly, at least for today, is know what you are buying. Some vehicles require basic parts, oil etc. where others require fancy everything. For instance, some Cadillacs need regular oil and a common oil filter. Other Cadillacs need synthetic oil and a fancy oil filter. Both these things can drastically increase the cost of an oil change. Also some newer vehicles have what we call a "Dealer Check" transmission, which means there is no access for us to check the transmission, which also means we cannot service it. The dealership will have to check and service that transmission. This will cost you a lot more money, usually, than to have it serviced by a quick lube place.
Like I said, most places, if they value you as a customer, will take the time to help you get educated about your vehicle and the more you know the more control you have. As they say, knowledge is power and peace of mind.