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1835 Highway 83
Hartford, WI 53027-9774
Phone (262) 673-9900
  (262) 673-9915
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The bedrock of a good preventive maintenance program, is a regular series of scheduled component inspections. Regular periodic inspections can give our technicians important insight into the usage patterns and maintenance needs of your vehicle and provide you with important benefits:

1)  The ability to anticipate when and where maintenance issues may occur and plan appropriate services to preclude breakdowns and unplanned repairs.  

2)  The ability to spot potential problem areas early, and perfrom pre-emptive repairs.

3)  A program of regular inspections can give you, the driver, confidence in your vehicle to use it as its manufacturer intended.  

Your vehicle's manufacturer will detail their recommendations in the vehicle owner's manual.  Typical inspection items and criteria are discussed here:

Accessory Drive Belt(s) Battery and Terminal Condition
Drive Train Component Condition Evaporative Emission Systems Components
Exhaust System Condition Air Filter Condition
Cabin  Air Filter Condition Fuel Tank Cap Seal Condition
Hydraulic Fluid Quantity and Condition Exterior Lighting Operation
Lubricant Quantity and Condition Steering and Suspension Component Condition
Tire Inflation  Pressure and Tread Condition Under Hood Fluid Leaks
Wiper Blade Condition

1)  Accessory Drive Belt(s) -- Driven accessories can include the power steering pump, air-conditioning compressor, coolant pump, alternator, and certain emissions control devices.  Most belts in this application can last up to 150,000 miles, however;  ozone in the environment, sustained highway driving, and high ambient temperature can shorten the life of these belts.  As a general rule the manufacturer suggests that the belt has 10% of its useful life remaining, when cracks or blemishes exceed 3 per inch.  Replacement is recommended when belts reach this condition.  A failed accessory drive belt will cause all driven accessories to loose power.  In the case of the water pump, the engine will overheat and cause substantial vehicle damage.

2)  Battery and Terminal Condition -- Battery life can suffer if: 1) it is left in a discharged state, 2) if the fluid level is not maintained, or 3) if the terminals become excessively corroded.  If you leave your lights on overnight, for instance, the battery life may be significantly foreshortened.  If the battery is not 'maintenance free' , electrolyte level should be inspected and adjusted on a periodic basis, to maximize battery life.  As batteries age, corrosion will develop at the terminals.  This corrosion can spread to the cables and cable ends causing poor starting and potential safety issues.  Periodic inspection and cleaning of the battery terminals and cable ends can insure safe reliable starting and full utility of the battery.

3)  Drive Train Component Condition -- Exposed rotating components of the drive train such as drive shafts, u-joints, and drive axles, are subject to exposure and corrosion from the environment.  Some of these components include service fittings that provide for routine lubrication.  All of these components should be regularly inspected for running clearance, smoothness, and mechanical condition, and serviced where applicable.  Deteriorated drive line components can cause noise and vibration, and under extreme circumstances of degradation, they can fail causing serious mechanical damage to the vehicle.

4)  Evaporative Emission Systems Components -- Since 1996, environmental regulations have mandated controls on the evaporative emissions from a vehicle's fuel tank.  This complex system usually involves an activated carbon filter and a series of valves and pressure sensors to test for pressure leaks.  These components are mounted under the vehicle in the vicinity of the fuel tank.  Although this system is robust, periodic inspections for mechanical damage and degradation are prudent.  A leak in this system will be detected by your vehicle's on-board computer, and cause a 'Check Engine' malfunction Lamp.  Here in S.E. Wisconsin a 'Check Engine' Lamp will cause an automatic failure of an emissions inspection for vehicle registration.

5)  Exhaust System Condition -- In the last ten years manufacturers have upgraded exhaust system materials to become very corrosion resistant.  As a result, exhaust systems have the ability to last for 150,000 miles or more.  Seasonal usage of deicing salt, and other environmental conditions can greatly reduce the life expectancy of an exhaust system.  Degraded exhausts can develop potentially hazardous leaks, become objectionably noisy, or in some instances become detached from the vehicle and create a driving hazard.  For these reasons, periodic inspection of your exhaust system is recommended to insure safe a comfortable driving experience.

6)  Air Filter Condition -- A clean air filter is a very inexpensive way to insure good longevity and best fuel economy and performance for your vehicle.  Here in rural S.E. Wisconsin, the driving environment is tough on air filters.  On most vehicles the air filter is easily accessible for inspection and service.  An easy way to test an air filter is to hold a lamp behind it and observe the light that passes through.  A clogged air filter will not allow any light to pass.  

7)  Cabin  Air Filter Condition -- Later model vehicles are now frequently equipped with high efficiency cabin air filters.  These filters are intended to prevent pollen and other small impurities from entering the cabin ventilation system.   This type of filtration system dramatically improves the air quality inside the passenger compartment, especially for individuals prone to sensitivity to these types of particulates.  Periodic inspection and renwal of this filter is important in maintaining the enjoyment of your vehicle.

8)  Fuel Tank Cap Seal Condition -- The fuel tank cap is typically taken for granted; however,  the gasket seal will degrade with age and a failure to seal will cause the 'Check Engine' lamp to illuminate.  This is an inexpensive repair under most circumstances, but if it is not accomplished, moisture can inter the fuel tank and cause corrosion issues and potentially expensive repairs.  A leaky fuel cap seal will also cause an automatic failure during emissions inspection for registration in S.E. Wisconsin.

9)  Hydraulic Fluid Quantity and Condition  --  Brake and other hydraulic system fluids are designed to operate at high temperatures.  These fluids have a chemical characteristic, that causes them to absorb moisture from the air.  Over time this moisture can build up and cause internal corrosion of the system components.  In addition excessive moisture content in the brake fluid can reduce its resistance high temperatures and cause brake fade.  Regular inspection and testing of these fluids can prevent expensive component or system failures.

10)  Exterior Lighting Operation -- A large number of vehicles in service today still use the old fashioned incandescent light bulb for exterior lighting, including; headlamps, turn-signals, brake, and running lamps.  Most reputable providers will include courtesy inspections of these lamps during a routine engine lubricant service.  A quick and easy service will insure that these lamps are working properly and help insure that your vehicle's safety features are working properly.  Here in S.E. Wisconsin, our law enforcement officers, will also note the operability of these lamps!

11)  Lubricant Quantity and Condition -- Everyone understands the importance of maintaining your engine's lubricant.  Regular intervals of inspection can also yield valuable information about the health of your vehicle's power train.  Once your vehicle's usage patterns are established through experience, sudden increases in oil consumption or sudden degradation in oil quality can give valuable early warning to more expensive and troublesome issues that might be forth coming, and allow a plan of action that will insure the continued reliability of your vehicle.

12)  Steering and Suspension Component Condition -- These components are critical to safe and comfortable operation of your vehicle.  Articulating mechanical linkages which comprise the steering system can and will loosen up with age and use.  Any detectable looseness is considered a component failure.  A routine inspection for this condition and prompt repairs when necessary can prevent premature tire wear, insecure handling, and potentially dangerous mechanical failures.  Suspension components such as springs and dampers can also degrade with age.  Springs can sag with accumulation of mileage and shock absorbers can loose their damping characteristics and /or leak damping fluid.  Vehicles with degraded suspension components will not be able to execute smooth and sure emergency maneuvers, and can exhibit uncomfortable ride characteristics.

13)  Tire Inflation  Pressure and Tread Condition -- Tire inflation pressure is a frequently neglected maintenance item that can have a strong influence on your car's operating costs and drivability.  Under inflated tires will develop hazardous wear patterns and not develop the traction that the manufacturer intended.  Normal air under pressure will diffuse through the portions of the tire, pressure losses are typically 0.5 to 1.0 psi per week.   Unusual tread wear patterns can be caused by wheel misalignment.  Early detection of these patterns and prompt wheel re-alignment can prevent costly tire wear.

14)  Under Hood Fluid Leaks -- A typical passenger vehicle may have 5 or more vital fluids in circulation in the engine compartment.  A regular program of inspection and monitoring of these fluids can reveal potential problems long before they become a threat to the reliability and safety of your vehicle.

15)  Wiper Blade Condition -- Ozone, normal wear, and hot summer temperatures will degrade wiper blades.  Blades in poor condition will streak and chatter, hindering rather than improving visibility in the rain.  Wiper blade condition should be assessed regularly and wipers should be replaced once per year.  A popular alternative are winter style blades which have a protective covering around the spring system to protect it from ice buildup and insure constant pressure on the glass during snowy conditions.  Wiper blade renewal is recommended on a yearly basis.

USED CAR INSPECTIONS -- If you are considering the purchase of a used car, it is highly recommended that you invest in a third party inspection.  Erin Auto Care has been performing these inspections at this location for 11 years.  We offer three levels of inspection from basic to comprehensive.   Each inspection includes a detailed report covering important safety, reliability, and maintenance issues.  Armed with this information, our customers are typically able to negotiate a price reduction that covers the cost of the inspection.   Most reputable sellers will welcome our involvement in your purchasing decision.  Contact us for details.