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Pristine Pistons: How an Oil Change Can Keep Your Car Engine’s Pistons Running Smoothly

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Even the most conscientious car owners don’t always give as much thought as they should to what happens under the hood of their car. Under the hood is where the car engine does its job. If all of those moving parts aren’t clean and well-maintained, some or all of them could lock up or become damaged. One of those parts is the piston.

What Is a Piston, and What Does It Do?

Let’s start at the beginning. At the most basic level, a combustion engine requires fuel, pressure, and a spark. Pistons work in conjunction with cylinders to provide those elements. When pistons rise, pressure is created in the cylinder. The cylinder contains a vapor composed of air and fuel. When a cylinder is at its highest point, a spark from the spark plug ignites the fuel/air mixture. This reaction sends the piston down at a high rate of speed. Other components then transfer that energy to the wheels.

OK…What Does That Have to Do With an Oil Change?

Oil lubricates a car engine’s moving parts. Think of oil as a coating that protects skin from chafing. In addition, oil draws heat away from a car’s working parts. This is important as a car’s engine can get extremely hot. It also helps prevent buildup from varnish and carbons. When it comes to pistons, oil keeps the pistons from getting scratched during their movement through the cylinders. Eventually, scratches can cause the pistons to lock up — which can result in an engine that doesn’t work and a car that doesn’t drive. Even if things never go that far, sludge and residue can hinder the piston’s movement. This can keep the car engine from operating at maximum efficiency.

What Do I Need to Do toTakeCare of My Car Engine’s Pistons?

Get regular oil changes at the intervals recommended by your manufacturer. In addition, make sure to choose synthetic oil. Synthetic oil has a lot of benefits that natural oil does not. First, it’s created in a lab. That means it can be tweaked to serve different purposes (as opposed to using natural oil). Manufacturers engineer synthetic oil to last longer and to be slicker than natural oil— which means it does a better job of reducing friction.

Your car’s paint and finish are important, but what happens under the hood is important, too. Next time you treat your car to a spa day at Mr. Clean Car Wash, ask about an oil change using synthetic oil.

Your Car’s Engine Throughout The Seasons: How Weather Has An Impact

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

It can be easy to take your vehicle for granted. With numerous road adventures and daily treks to and from the office, even light wear and tear can affect the overall performance of your car’s engine. Keep in mind that weather conditions that your car is frequently exposed to can also affect driving as well as certain mechanical problems. Here are a just a few common problems that you should look out for as your car makes it throughout the seasons.

Spring Into Allergy Season

As spring approaches, it’s easy to think about hitting the road and enjoying the awakening of beautiful flowering trees and plants. Along with that comes the wrath of pollination. Pollen buildup along roadways and in the air may not seem like a big deal unless you have allergies. As your car’s AC system is running, air is being brought in through the engine area. You may want to consider:

  • Installing a new cabin air filter to prevent excess pollen from reaching inside your car and to improve overall air quality.
  • Having your mechanic replace your car’s air filter to help filter pollen and dirt buildup within your engine.

Frequent carwashes at a Mr. Clean Car Wash can help keep pollen counts down and Mr. Clean Car Wash & Oil Change Plus can improve the performance of your car’s engine with a new air filter.

Summer Sun Fun

The summertime heat can wreak havoc on your car’s cooling system. If the coolant is running low, or is in need of being replaced, your vehicle’s thermostat will begin to rise. Overheating can easily occur—leading to significant engine damage. Visit your auto tech throughout the summer to check for coolant leaks and to ensure that fluid levels are within normal range. Get your radiator flushed at Mr. Clean Car Wash & Oil Change Plus so you can hit the road knowing your coolant won’t let you down!

Fall Color Road Trips

As temperatures cool down a bit and leaves begin to turn colors, it’s the perfect time to head north to experience fall color changes. Here are a few car engine tips to consider:

  • Don’t forget frequent oil changes and transmission checkups throughout the fall months. Your technician may recommend a higher viscosity if you’re planning on making a lengthy road trip.

Stop by your local Mr. Clean Car Wash & Oil Change Plus to help your engine perform at its best.

Winter Engine Care

When ice and cold temperatures begin to approach, it’s time to think about engine maintenance. Be sure that your antifreeze levels are within the specified range in your engine. This will lubricate components, prevent fluids from freezing and allow your engine to provide proper heat. Don’t forget to run your vehicle through the Mr. Clean Car Wash to remove salt and dirt buildup from treated roadways.

Keeping your engine serviced should be a huge priority for overall preventative care year round. Along with that comes routine maintenance to ensure your vehicle’s engine is working top-notch through every season. Remember to check out money saving coupons on your next oil change and car wash at Mr. Clean Car Wash.

What Is a 15 Point Inspection Oil Change?

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Much like a human body, cars need to be kept in healthy, tip-top shape in order to run like they should. Oftentimes, a break down can be prevented if the car is properly maintained. This maintenance includes checking fluid levels or adding air to tires. How do you know what to check and when? What should a car owner look for when inspecting? Easy. Follow the 15 point inspection (that comes complimentary with every oil change at Mr. Clean Car Wash):

  1. Change the Oil: Changing the oil in a vehicle is crucial to the health and longevity of the engine. Regularly changing the oil can keep a car running smoothly for much longer—not to mention it can give a car greater resale value.
  2. Change the Oil Filter: The oil filter in a vehicle should be changed every time the oil is changed. Failure to change the oil filter can have lasting negative effects on a car. That’s why a new one should be installed every time.
  3. Lubricate Chassis: No one likes a squeaky car. Lubricating chassis helps keep a car’s joints working exactly the way they should be.
  4. Check the Air Filter: Having a clean air filter can not only help the vehicle, but can also be safer for the passengers as well. Clean air filters can keep those in the car from getting sick. Air filters can help keep air cool or hot when needed.
  5. Check Breathers: Pipes on a vehicle need to breath. Sometimes the valves need to be cleaned to get rid of oil and other buildup. Mr. Clean Car Wash checks the breathers to make sure everything is functioning properly.
  6. Check PCV Valve: The PCV valve is crucial. Checking to make sure the PCV valve works properly can help you catch major problems before they occur.
  7. Check Wiper Blades: Streaks and poorly functioning wiper blades can make all the difference when it comes to getting home safely on a rainy day. Checking the blades helps to ensure the safety and security of those in the car.
  8. Check and Fill Coolant: Coolant helps to keep the engine from overheating. It also helps to protect the engine overall. Making sure the fluid is at the proper level helps keep the engine running smoothly.
  9. Check and Fill Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid acts as the lubricant for all of the moving parts in the transmission. Low fluid can cause unnecessary friction. Unnecessary friction can cause costly problems.

10. Check & Fill Differential Fluid: The differential in a car helps to transfer the power of the transmission to the wheels. The fluid helps to cool the car and keep it running properly.

11. Check the Brake Fluid Level: Brake problems are dangerous and costly. Keeping the fluid filled to the right level helps keep the brakes working. This also helps keep everyone in the vehicle safe.

12. Check & Fill Steering Fluid: This fluid helps to keep steering smooth and easy.

13. Check & Fill Windshield Fluid: No one likes getting stuck with pesky streaks on their window. Let Mr. Clean Car Wash top off the windshield washer fluid so those streaks are never a problem.

14. Check Inflation of Tires: Tire pressure is key to great gas mileage, so checking on tire inflation is always a good thing.

15. Check & Fill Battery: The fluid in a car battery can evaporate overtime, so checking the fluid level can help save a car owner from a breakdown.

While the term “Car Wash” may be in their title, Mr. Clean Car Wash does more than just wash cars. Mr. Clean Car Wash is a one stop shop. Check out all of Mr. Clean Car Wash’s oil change services, including their 15 point inspection.

Mr. Clean Car Wash’s 60k Service: Transmission Fluid Changes and Why They’re Important

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

A car wash is a car wash is a car wash…right? Well, no. At least not when it comes to Mr. Clean Car Washes. In addition to washing and detailing services, Mr. Clean Car Wash offers a number of maintenance services, including a 60K service that includes a transmission fluid exchange.

What is transmission fluid?

A car’s transmission transfers power from the engine to the wheels. Transmission fluid makes sure that transfer of power happens smoothly, without transmission parts hanging up on each other or overheating.

Why does transmission fluid need to be changed?

Over time, transmission fluid builds up residue, like gum and varnish. That residue builds up on the transmission components, causing them to move sluggishly or to lock up completely. That makes shifting gears difficult, if not impossible. Eventually, it can cause the transmission to burn out, resulting in a costly repair. A transmission fluid exchange minimizes that problem by replacing the old, dirty transmission fluid with new clean fluid while flushing the system to remove residue.

How often does that need to happen?

Each manufacturer has its own recommendation that you can find that in your owner’s manual. As a general rule, however, the first transmission fluid exchange should be at no later than 60,000 miles. That’s why it’s included in Mr. Clean Car Wash’s 60K service.

Can’t I do that myself?

A transmission fluid exchange isn’t a recommended DIY job. While it’s possible to drain the transmission fluid at home, it takes special equipment to flush the system. Without a flush, the accumulated residue just lingers in the system, waiting to contaminate the new transmission fluid.

A transmission fluid exchange is a relatively fast service that can add years to the life of your car and avoid a transmission replacement (which can drain your bank account in a hurry). Visit your closest Mr. Clean Car Wash today to learn more about the 60K service and what it includes.

Top Winterization Services Your Car

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Everyone has heard the old cliché that, if March comes in like a lamb, it leaves like a lion. This year, that cliché could apply to winter in general. The season may have started out mild, but Old Man Winter has finally settled in, wreaking havoc all across the map. For those who put off winterizing their cars because it didn’t seem necessary, it’s not too late to do it now. Here are the most important winterization steps in making sure a car is ready for the elements.

Get a checkup.

During frigid weather, it’s more important than ever for a car to be in good condition. For one thing, winter weather can exacerbate existing problems. And, even if winter weather isn’t the cause of a breakdown, no one wants to be stuck by the side of the road in dangerously cold temperatures. At a minimum, a winter checkup should include the following:

  • Coolant: Make sure the car’s coolant is the proper mixture for cold weather and is at the optimum level.
  • Battery: Extreme temperatures can kill a battery. Check the battery for cracks, leaks, loose terminals, and corrosion. If the car has been slow to start, take it somewhere that can check the battery’s charge.
  • Oil: Cold weather affects oil’s viscosity, which is a measure of how thick it is and how easily it flows. When the weather is cold, many cars need thinner oil (like 5W-30 instead of 10W-30). Check the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Fuel Delivery: Clean fuel injectors, throttle plate and a new fuel filter will help prevent drivability issues in the winter weather.
  • Safety: Check all exterior light bulbs to be sure they are working; replace your wiper blades and ensure you have plenty of washer fluid that is for freezing conditions.
  • Tires: Inspect the car’s tires. Most people don’t think about tires until they have a flat. That’s a dangerous habit, especially during the winter. The tread is all that’s protecting the car from sliding on slick surfaces. If the tread is worn down too low, the tires should be replaced. If the tires are worn unevenly, alignment and rotation can even things out. Even if the tread is fine, it’s important to check the pressure in tires. Tires lose one to two pounds of pressure for every 10-degree temperature drop. If the tires are below the manufacturer’s recommendations, it’s time to top them off.

 

Treat the car to a spa day.

It may seem counterintuitive to worry about things like exterior details when winter is still causing mischief, but that’s exactly what cars need. Important treatments include:

  • Wash and wax: A good, fresh coat of wax will protect the car’s finish from things like salt, corrosion and the contaminants found in snow and rain. And a dirty car is a very poor surface for wax, so a professional wash is an important first step.
  • Headlights: Consider headlight restoration. It’s a quick process that can remove all of the nicks and scratches that build up in headlight covers. Those imperfections can make headlights seem dim, and restoration can bring back full visibility. In addition, make sure that all bulbs are working, including brake lights and turn signals.
  • Winterize the Engine: Be sure to get all services that will keep your car running in the cold such as a coolant exchange, transmission fluid exchange, fuel filters, fuel injector cleaning etc.

Be prepared.

Being stranded is never fun, but, in the winter, it can be dangerous. Severe winter storms, for example, can make it impossible for searchers to look for stranded motorists. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared to spend a couple of days in the car if disaster strikes. An emergency kit should include the following items at a minimum:

  • Flares
  • Blankets
  • Snow boots
  • A radio
  • Heavy outerwear
  • Gloves and a hat for all passengers
  • A flashlight (with extra batteries)
  • Drinkable water
  • High-energy snacks like protein bars
  • A flag or some other bright item to alert searchers to your presence
  • A shovel
  • A window scraper
  • A cell phone charger or external battery
  • Booster cables
  • A basic tool kit
  • Emergency repair items like water, antifreeze, oil, and tire repair
  • Waterproof matches
  • First aid kit

This winter, protect both your investment in your car and your own health and safety by being ready for whatever winter throws your way. Mr. Clean Car Wash is ready to take care of everything except that emergency kit (that one is on you). Visit today to get 50% off a full-service wash with a V.I.P. Club membership, or look online for other great promotions.

Throttle Plates and 30k Service

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

As vehicles get older, parts become more and more dirty. The dirtier a part gets, the more it becomes vulnerable to wear and tear— or even a breakdown. The hardest parts of a vehicle to maintain are the ones that a vehicle owner cannot see with the naked eye (especially those invisible parts that protect the engine). One of the parts that is crucial to keep clean (and is also small) is the throttle plate.

A throttle plate is a valve that regulates the amount of vaporized fuel that enters an engine’s cylinders. The throttle plate is very important when it comes to how a vehicle runs, and it also maintains airflow to the engine. Throttle plates can be victim to build up that may reduce acceleration. This build up can also impact the miles per gallon (or fuel economy) of the vehicle.

Another common problem associated with a dirty throttle plate is that they become sticky. Sometimes, it may take an extra push on the gas to get throttle plates to open. A clean throttle helps keep a vehicle running smoothly as it gets older. Not only will it produce better gas mileage, it will also help with acceleration frustrations.

Make sure you’re getting your vehicle’s mechanics checked out as it reaches certain milestones. This way, you’ll know that the car is safe and effective. Don’t wait until a major milestone, like 100,000 miles as getting a full 30k service on a vehicle is essential to your car’s health and safety.

At Mr. Clean Car Wash, every 30k service includes a throttle plate cleaning as well as a fuel injection cleaning, coolant service, and oil system cleaning. Why wait until there is a problem? Make sure the inside and the outside of your vehicle is washed, maintained and running.

Auto Maintenance Repair: The Right Water To Antifreeze Ratio For Your Car

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Antifreeze, coolant, selective focus, preparing the car for the winterWinter auto maintenance repair means different things to different people. Many think that getting ready for the winter simply means snow tires and new wiper blades– but there’s more. Winter auto prep is also a good time to check your coolant’s antifreeze. Coolant is the fluid in your radiator while antifreeze is the liquid being added to the radiator to help prevent the coolant from freezing. While some antifreeze comes premixed with water, allowing you to simply add more as needed– these types of antifreeze can be more expensive. Others are concentrated and need to be mixed with water to achieve the proper level of cooling for an engine but give you the ability to customize the ratio of water and antifreeze to your climate. So how much water to antifreeze is the correct ratio? Read on to find out.

Why Use Both?
You may be wondering why both water and antifreeze are needed. While water is the best fluid for cooling, it can cause corrosion. Antifreeze has a lower freezing point and a higher boiling point than water so it helps protect your engine in extreme weather conditions. However, it is not very good at drawing heat away from the engine– as antifreeze was actually produced as an aid to water.

Climate Control
Buying an antifreeze that requires you to mix it with water can be a little more involved. However, it gives you more flexibility when it comes to mixture. Generally speaking, a 50/50 mixture of water and antifreeze is a good place to start. However, when speaking in terms of climate, you may want to take temperature into consideration. For example, 50/50 may work best in more moderate climates where the temperature gets below 32 only on occasion. However, in climates where temperatures drop below 32°F for long periods of time, mixtures closer to 70% antifreeze and 30% water are better suited to keep coolant from freezing.

In The Mix
Now that you’ve decided what percentage mixture you’d like, how do you go about putting the parts together? The best way is to keep a spare container around; even a clean one-gallon milk jug can come in handy when trying to mix antifreeze and water. Pour the appropriate amount of antifreeze into the milk jug and then fill the original container back up with water. If you’re replacing your coolant, you’ll most likely need more than one bottle– so pour the excess into the milk jug as you mix. Then once you’re done, pour the excess antifreeze back into the proper container.

Understanding what makes your coolant work as well as understanding the needs of your car will help you decide on the right mixture of water and antifreeze. A radiator flush is a great way to winterize your cars coolant. For more information on our radiator flush service and other auto maintenance repair services, check out Mr. Clean Car Wash.

4 Ways To Improve Your Fuel Mileage and Emissions

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Today’s engines are designed to be more efficient than ever before. With engines producing astounding fuel economy and emissions ratings, it’s become more important than ever before to keep your vehicle’s maintenance up to date. Let’s take a look at four items under your hood that could be stifling your engine’s efficiency. Learn how to improve your gas mileage and lower your emissions to boot.

Breathe Easy

One of the easiest things you can do to improve your engine’s efficiency is replace your vehicle’s air filter. Over time, the air filter clogs up with dirt and debris, which can restrict the airflow to your engine. Your engine uses a mixture of air and fuel to complete the combustion process. Believe it or not, the majority of a combustion cycle’s fuel is actually air. While your vehicle’s fuel management system can adjust to keep your engine running smoothly, the lowered amount of air means that your engine will be running “rich” or with too much gas in the mixture. This will result in higher fuel consumption and dirtier emissions from the excess fuel in the exhaust.

Let It Flow

Like your air filter, your engine’s fuel filter’s cleanliness has a major effect on the combustion process. As fuel leaves the gas tank and is pumped toward the engine, an inline fuel filter captures any debris that may be in the gas. The inline fuel filter keeps this debris out of the engine where it could cause major damage. Over time this filter can clog up with debris and the filter will require changing to keep fuel flowing freely.

Take Care of Your Body

When it comes to improving mileage, the fuel filter is only where it begins. Over time, your engine’s throttle body collects debris that can make your engine idle rough and decrease fuel economy. Start by removing the air vent at the throttle body (opposite end from the filter) and simply spray some carb cleaner on the buildup. You may want to use an old tooth brush to remove any tough debris. Take your vehicle to your local Mr. Clean Car Wash to have their service tech do it instead.

Injection Protection

Fuel injectors are responsible for spraying a mist of fuel into the engine. The finer and more controlled the spray, the better the fuel economy. Add a bottle of fuel injector cleaner to your gas on your next fill-up. Doing this once a year can significantly improve your fuel injector’s performance. If you would like a more thorough cleaning, Mr. Clean Car Wash provides fuel injector cleaning services as well.

Keeping your engine’s fuel and air systems functioning will not only help reduce emissions but will also improve your fuel consumption. For more information on our emissions and maintenance offerings, check out Mr. Clean Car Wash.

Pennzoil Motor Oil: The Best Choice at Your Local Oil Change Place

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

There is a lot to choose from in the world of motor oils. As a consumer, you may find yourself pretty overwhelmed by brands, varieties and technology when tasked with choosing the right oil for your vehicle at your local oil change place. Pennzoil motor oil offers the highest protection against engine sludge on the market. It comes in a variety of premium synthetic blends—so it meets the standards of every vehicle on the road. What makes Pennzoil stand out from the rest?

Let’s take a closer look:

Clean Technology

Tolerances in today’s engines are tighter than ever before. Today’s engines have reached the highest of performance and fuel economy standards. With all of their precision, engines are more dependent on clean running oil. As your engine runs, it creates combustion gases, moisture and other deposits that can gum up moving parts. Ultimately, this can hurt your engine’s performance and damage parts. All Pennzoil oils are designed with Active Cleaning Agents that keep your engine clean and free of debris and corrosion. That’s why they’re the oil of choice for flagship vehicles with names like Ferrari and Dodge.

Synthetics

According to Pennzoil, a cleaner engine is better protected and more responsive. Modern engines create a lot of contaminants that can corrode and damage its components. Full synthetic oils capture contaminants and prevent engine-damaging deposits that build up on parts and cause cooling and lubrication issues. Pennzoil offers a variety of synthetic oils from Platinum High Mileage (which is designed for higher mileage engines and restores worn seals and helps prevent leaks) to Platinum and Ultra Platinum (which are the standard for performance vehicles including the 640hp Dodge SRT Viper).

Guaranteed Protection

Pennzoil oils also come with their Lubrication Limited Warranty, which covers 15 critical engine parts. When you enroll in their warranty and use any Pennzoil motor oil except Ultra Platinum, you’re covered for up to 10 years/300,000 miles. Ultra Platinum extends that warranty up to 15 years/500,000 miles thanks to its PurePlus Technology.

Engines these days are precisely engineered. Keeping your engine running at peak performance is more important now than it ever has been. Pennzoil motor oils are designed to keep parts lubricated and to cool them off. This leads to a better running and longer lasting engine.

Mr. Clean Car Wash uses Pennzoil products. For more information on Mr. Clean Car Wash oil changes, check out Mr. Clean Car Wash & Oil Change Plus.

Save a Trip to the Oil Change Place – How to Check Your Oil Yourself

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Checking a car’s oil regularly is important step towards maintain a car’s engine. However, for many, heading under the hood can be a bit nerve racking. With so many covers, reservoirs and do-hickeys, those with a less-than-mechanical ability tend to quickly shut the hood and head to the local oil change place.

Here’s a quick guide to checking the oil that breaks down when it’s time to get it changed.

Under the Hood

Car engines have what’s called an oil dipstick. Oil dipsticks are long rods that reach down into the bottom of the oil pan where oil is stored. The top of this stick is located in the front of the engine and has a brightly colored loop that can be used to pull it out. Once out, the other end will have a set of holes or some other system of markings that represent the minimum and maximum oil levels for the engine. If you can’t find the dipstick for your specific vehicle, check the owner’s manual for its location as some vehicles have it located in other spots.

 

Before You Get Going

When working with an engine, like any machine, it’s important to be aware of some safety measures and work in the right environment to avoid damaging it or injuring yourself. First, make sure that your engine is off and that the radiator fan or other externally moving components are not running. Also, the oil inside a running engine can reach temperatures of 200+ degrees so give the engine an hour to cool down before checking your oil. Finally, since you’re checking the oil level in the bottom of the engine, be sure to park your vehicle on a flat level surface where the oil level will be consistent throughout.

What’s That Sticker?

Often times, the last oil change place you took your vehicle to placed a sticker in the upper left corner of your windshield. This sticker indicates the date and mileage you will be due for your next oil change. While different oil manufacturers and shops will vary in their opinion on how often to change the oil, the sticker on the windshield will most likely range between 3000-5000 miles or 3-5 months. If you’re ever unsure about your oil level or when to have it changed, you can always refer to the sticker for a quick reference.

Ready, Set, Check

Now that you’re ready to check your oil, have a shop towel ready before pulling the dipstick out to check the oil. Pull the stick out and wipe it clean before reinserting it. This will help ensure an accurate reading. The stick needs to be wiped off to remove excess oil that may have splashed up on the stick while the engine was running. Remove the dipstick again and observe the oil level in comparison to the markings on it. Be sure that the level is correct and also that the oil is clean. Clean oil will have a golden brown color while oil that needs to be replaced will be dark or have debris in it.

 

What’s Next?

When you observe the oil you may notice that the color and cleanliness look good but the level is a little low. If this is the case, add some oil but be sure to use the same viscosity that was already in the engine. Not sure which oil to use? It may be better to be safe than sorry. Call the oil change place that last did the oil change and ask them what they put in. If the motor oil is dirty or very low, it may be time for a trip to Mr. Clean Car Wash for an oil change. Also, if you’ve gone past the amount of time allotted on your car’s oil change sticker, it may be time for a change.