In today's economy it is important to get the most for your money.  Likewise, it is important to know when something that costs less might not necessarily be the "best bargain."

Some people choose to have their routine maintenance work (oil changes, tire rotations, etc.) outside the dealership because they believe dealership maintenance is too expensive, takes too long, or is not a good bargain.


Preventable Maintenance Pays Off

Vehicle Inspection


Summer VS Winter Fuel Economy

I speak with customers on a regular basis with concerns that their vehicle's fuel economy apparently dropping during colder winter months.

There are several reasons that a driver might notice that they don't seem to be able to go quite as far on a tank of fuel during the winter.

The number one thing that impacts fuel mileage is one that is often overlooked. A very high percentage of drivers will start their automobile first thing and allow it to "warm up" for a few, or even several minutes (I have even heard some customers allowing the vehicle to run for 20 minutes before driving.) An important thing to realize is, that although the car is not moving, the engine is running and therefore using fuel. Using fuel without forward movement can have a huge impact on overall fuel economy. While we all enjoy our car being nice and toasty on a cold morning, for the best fuel economy, minimize "warm-up" time to only 1-2 minutes.
Another factor which can impact cold weather fuel usage is the change from "Summer blend" to "Winter blend" fuels. The difference between summer- and winter-blend gasoline involves the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the fuel. RVP is a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The more volatile a gasoline (higher RVP), the easier it evaporates.

Winter-blend fuel has a significantly higher RVP because the fuel must be able to properly evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, and especially when the engine is cold. If the RVP is too low on an extremely cold day, the vehicle will be hard to get started and once it has started, will likely run rough, or seem to struggle to maintain idle.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that a conventional summer-blend gasoline contains 1.7 percent more energy than winter-blend fuel, which is one of the reasons why gas mileage is slightly better in the summer. However, the summer-blend is also more expensive to produce, which explains why fuel prices tend to drop in winter.

The switch between the two fuels happens twice a year, once in the fall (to winter-blend) and again in the spring (to summer-blend).

Generally speaking winter blend fuels begin making their appearance in mid-September and have been purged from systems by late May.

There are always other factors which can impact fuel economy; vehicle state of tune, quality of fuel, and driving habits. Understanding how all these factors can impact your vehicle's fuel economy can be helpful in predicting changes in your vehicle's thirst for fossil fuels, and alleviate some tension or apprehension about a perceived problem with the car.

Not all oil changes are created equal!

Have you ever actually wondered what is inside an oil filter?  Well, you're not the only one.  One of our techs recently pointed out that the Subaru OEM oil filter felt much heavier than an aftermarket on he had just removed.  Being the curious type, he cut the aftermarket filter apart, as well as a used Subaru OEM filter.  The results were actually quite surprising.  The OEM Subaru filter contained over 60% more filter material.  Not only that, but the aftermarket oil filter did not contain the special anti-drainback valve that the OEM filter contains.  This valve is important because when the engine is shut off, the valve closes, keeping the oil in the engine, rather than allowing it all to drain back down into the oil pan.  This helps eliminate dry starts, which can prolong engine life.

Since this initial experiment we have cut open filters from 5 different manufacturers and found that none of those have had the special valve, and none of them had as much filter material as the Subaru filter.

Does Your Battery Look Like This?

This customer brought their car in complaining of sluggish starts.  There was so much corrosion that our technician was frankly surprised that the car could start at all. This was caused by a leaky battery and a bad engine ground.

Recently a customer brought their Forester in to our dealership complaining of a "burning oil smell."  Upon investigation, we discovered oil leaking near the oil drain plug.  Further looking around uncovered an aftermarket oil filter as well.  When speaking with the customer we were told that he had been out of town and unable to get his car in to a dealership so he had an oil change done at a major nationwide chain store.  The store had neglected to replace the very important crush seal on the oil drain plug.  Not only was this messy, and inconvenient for the customer, but after only 900 miles, his car was over a quart low on oil.