Common Car Maintenance Questions Answered

  • Aug 22,2016
Clean and well-maintained cars keep up with scheduled maintenance Clean and well-maintained cars keep up with scheduled maintenance


Why is car maintenance important?

The simple answer: to help keep your car running newer, longer. By letting us perform routine maintenance, you’ll help spare bigger car trouble.

Lapsing maintenance on your car’s vital fluid exchanges, dirty filters, fussy belts, and old spark plugs can lead to bigger problems like busted-up radiators, slipping gear shifts and engine failure. That’s why routine maintenance is key to vehicle longevity. Maintenance you think you can “let go” in the short term can often be an “oh, no!” down the road.

Your manufacturer has designed a maintenance schedule (found in your owner’s manual) around the specific makeup of your particular vehicle. Follow this schedule and chances are your vehicle will deliver optimal performance as you rack up the miles, help your parts last longer and save you some dough on more expensive replacement parts.

How often should I have routine maintenance performed?

Each car, SUV, truck or van manufacturer lists time and mileage intervals for routine maintenance, inspections, and part replacement. Some service intervals are shorter, requiring more frequent maintenance, while other maintenance intervals are longer, occurring once or twice over the life of your vehicle.

Some vehicles have internal clocks that alert you to when you need maintenance as well. Heed those indicator lights.

Of course, if you need work sooner, we’re here to help between recommended intervals. Find your vehicle’s recommended maintenance intervals.

Need maintenance? Schedule an appointment.

Will the expense of car maintenance “pay off” in the long run?

Regular maintenance for your ride is a wise decision, my friend—both for the longevity of your car and the length of your dollar. Regular maintenance helps prevent having to replace more expensive parts.

Let’s take an oil change for an average sedan over 100,000 miles as an example. During those miles, you’d change your oil about 25 times (an oil change every 4,000 miles). Assuming the average cost of the oil change is about $25, you’ll spend $625 on oil changes overall. If you were to go without an oil change during that period, your engine would likely flood with contaminants and eventually seize. The reason? Thick, dirty oil that can’t properly lubricate vital parts, leading to metal-on-metal friction. The result? One cost-prohibitive roadblock: an engine replacement that hovers around $4,000.

You can find all recommended maintenance intervals in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Or, you can locate it all right here on our website.

Maintain. Your. Ride. Schedule an appointment.

What are the most common maintenance items recommended by manufacturers?

They vary, but here’s a good place to start:

  • Routine parts and fluid inspections
  • Coolant fluid exchange
  • Filter (air, cabin air, fuel) replacement
  • Timing belt replacement
  • Transmission fluid exchange
  • Spark plug replacement
  • Axle fluid exchange
  • Tire rotations

All inspections and recommended maintenance services will vary by your vehicle make and model. Check your owner’s manual for the specific needs of your vehicle.

Find your vehicle’s maintenance schedule right here on our website. Discover your vehicle’s recommended maintenance intervals.

Need maintenance? Schedule an appointment.

Bulb Replacement

How many different bulbs are there in the average vehicle?

More than most Christmas trees. For real. And it’s not just fog lights, turn signals and rear, mirror and side bulbs you’ll have to contend with. Bulbs are everywhere, especially on vehicles with fancy LED bulbs: they can feature over 100 bulbs in the rear of the vehicle alone. These bulbs will last varying amounts of time, so inspect your vehicle regularly to make sure no crucial rear or front lights are out.

Bulb out? Let’s get your lights shining again. Schedule an appointment.

How long do bulbs typically last?

Bulb life varies, so it’s important to get your vehicle inspected on a regular basis. We can spot burn-outs with our free courtesy check which is available with any service—even a routine oil change. Ask for a free courtesy check next time you’re in and we’ll visually inspect your ride, including all the lights. If a bulb is out or weak, we’ll let you know—and bring back the shine.

Shine on with a new bulb. Schedule an appointment.

How many vehicles on the road today have burned out exterior bulbs?

One of every three vehicles has a light that’s burned out. With so many lights on vehicles these days, it’s inevitable. It’s easy to assume that a person not using their turn signal is a reckless driver. However, with a 33% chance that person may have a bulb burned out, they might not even know they have a burnout.

Stay alert. If you notice people honking or blinking their lights at you for what seems like no reason at all, don’t lose your cool. They may be trying to tell you something very important: one of your lights is out. Then again, maybe they’re just not very nice.

Bulb out? Come in. Schedule an appointment.

Beyond the obvious benefit of better lighting, are there any other benefits of bulb replacement?

Sure, light is a boon if you’re afraid of the dark. When you’re talking about headlights, it’s also integral to increasing visibility—for you and others—when traveling down dark stretches of road. Working turn signals and brake lights are of utmost importance, too. They decrease the likelihood of a collision by enabling other drivers to see you and anticipate your intended actions on the road.

Time for new bulbs? Locate your Firestone Complete Auto Care.

What is the biggest factor that leads to bulb burn-outs?

Condensation and moisture buildup are the biggest bulb killers. Let’s face it, water and electrical devices were never meant to coexist.

With a free courtesy check, we can look for condensation buildup inside any bulb casings, especially your headlights. Condensation may mean your tail or headlight assembly is damaged and needs replacement.

Get your bulbs replaced. Schedule an appointment.

Why do you have to replace the entire headlight casing when it’s just the bulb that has burned out?

Some auto manufacturers require a brand new headlight kit to be installed rather than just replacing the bulb. And if part of your headlight casing is damaged or missing, many manufacturers don’t supply individual replacement parts for headlight housing.

This is true with popular LED lights. Any lights on a LED fixture will require the entire light assembly to be replaced. While it’s true this usually costs more than just a bulb replacement, you’ll have brand new manufacturer equipment, which is always a plus.

Replacing an entire headlight casing, sometimes, can be the best thing that happened to your headlight. The reason? A broken or missing casing part may lead to future malfunctions and burn-outs.

Time for new headlights? Schedule an appointment.

How can you tell if a bulb is about to burn out?

You can’t, unless you have burned-out-bulb ESP. If you have this unique skill, please call us, as we’d like to employ you. All kidding aside, the only true indication that a bulb is about to burn out is if you notice one or both your headlights appear dimmer than normal.

How do I detect a burned out turn signal?

A turn signal that blinks faster, or one that is supposed to be on but never blinks, are both indicators. If you notice your turn signal behaving this way, that’s a warning from your car that one of the turn signal bulbs is burned out. Not all cars have these burn-out indication features though, so make be sure to inspect your vehicle periodically.

Although exterior bulb burn-outs are hard to detect while you’re driving, it’s important to check your exterior lights on a semi-regular basis. Some people go months or—gasp—years without noticing a very important bulb is burned out. Bulb replacement is a must to let other drivers know you’re there or what your intentions are when moving on the road.

Ask for a free courtesy check, and we’ll check all your bulbs for you. Schedule a free courtesy check.

Time for new bulbs? Schedule an appointment.

Do you offer headlight condensation service?

Yes, we do inherently. This is because condensation and moisture buildup in your headlights can result in burned-out bulbs or reduced output. We get rid of the bulb condensation by changing the bulb and/or casing. What’s worse is when water collects in headlights because it can damage your car’s electrical system. With this service, we’ll make sure condensation is eliminated by replacing the bulb and casing, if necessary.

Which bulbs does Firestone Complete Auto Care carry?

The ones that will brighten up your ride. We’re proud to carry Sylvania, an industry leader and the world’s largest manufacturer of automotive lighting. From design to technology, Sylvania is at the forefront of cutting-edge automotive light solutions. Sylvania has designed and perfected bulbs for over 400 lamp types—from auxiliary and advanced halogen to LED. With so many light options, chances are we’ll have your bulb.

Bulb out? Schedule a bulb replacement.

Wiper Blade Replacement

How long do wiper blades generally last?

Wiper longevity depends on where you live. Heat really wears on those rubber windshield squeegees; therefore, if you live in a hot climate, wipers will inevitably require more frequent replacement. Accordingly, if you use your wipers often—and live in a rainy, snowy or icy neck of the country—expect a shortened blade life.

A general wiper blade rule of thumb: if wipers smear water or snow and obstruct your view when they swoosh by, it’s time for new blades.

Worn blades? Get them replaced at your nearest Firestone Complete Auto Care.

Why don’t wiper blades last longer?

Wiper blades may be one of the most misunderstood parts in automotive history. After all, they’re the only true functioning component that is completely exposed to the nasty outside elements, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year. Talk about a tough life. And a tough job keeping visibility clear—whatever the weather.

Given these factors, it’s no wonder something so small, thin and crucial can only provide optimal visibility for so long.

Retire your old blades. And get new TRICO® wiper blades. Schedule an appointment.

What are the biggest factors that cause wiper blades to wear down?

Your wipers are exposed to the outside world day in and day out, which means everything from heat and rain to snow, road salt and ice all have an effect. On top of these factors, blades just wear down over time with repeated use.

Have fresh, new TRICO wiper blades installed today. Schedule an appointment.

What happens as wiper blades get older?

All that sun. All that heat. All that use. All these factors affect the life of your wiper blades. As your rubber wiper blades endure the elements, they start losing their flexibility and become brittle. The rubber cracks and tears. The blades wear down, exposing metal. Eventually, you’re left with blades that streak and smudge, making it more difficult to see all that’s ahead of you. Worst of all, if the rubber runs out on the blade, the metal underneath can scratch your windshield. Yikes.

Renew your ride with new TRICO wiper blades. Schedule an appointment.

Will I be able to tell a difference when I have my wiper blades replaced?

Replacing your blades can be like taking a blindfold off of your eyes. Better functionality will lead to better visibility. TRICO wiper blades protect more drivers across North America than any other wiper manufacturer. TRICO wiper blades let you focus on what matters most—keeping you and your passengers safe.

Have fresh, new TRICO wiper blades installed today. Schedule an appointment.

What are some symptoms that you need new wiper blades?

Smearing, smudging, streaking, rubbing, scraping on your windshield. If your swooshes don’t sound right, look right, or, most importantly, if you can’t see well when your blades go back and forth, it’s time for a wiper replacement.

We carry TRICO’s latest technology. And we have blade sizes designed for virtually every vehicle make and model. Wiper blades are a quick and easy replacement, and we’d be happy to install your next set.

Learn more about our TRICO wiper blades.

Need new wiper blades installed? Give us a call. Schedule an appointment.

Does Firestone Complete Auto Care carry wiper blades designed for my vehicle?

YES. WE. DO! We install TRICO wiper blades, which are designed for virtually every vehicle blade type and size. We stock and install the appropriate wiper blades at our Firestone Complete Auto Care locations. That includes front and rear blades designed to withstand and excel during the most severe weather conditions.

Retire your old blades. And get new TRICO wiper blades. Schedule an appointment.

Up Next

Find Store

Find a Different Location

Stores Near You

Do you want to change your Preferred Store?