Frequently Asked Questions

Full of the Correct Answers--Superior Auto Service Center

Frequently Asked Automotive Questions

If you’ve got pressing questions about your vehicle that you absolutely need answered, you can always count on Superior Auto Service Center. If you don’t see your question answered below, give us a call and get an answer from an ASE Master Certified Expert Mechanic with over 35 years of experience.

I Was Told That I HAVE To Bring My Car Back To The Dealer For Service Or Risk Them Voiding The Warranty. Is That True?
FALSE! It is a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Act (1975) for dealerships to make routine service at their facility a condition of the warranty. As long as the vehicle is serviced properly, the dealership MUST honor the warranty, regardless of whether the vehicle was serviced by that dealer or not.

What that means is you do NOT, in fact, have to take your car to the dealer for regular services. Naturally, we suggest you choose Superior for all your routine service (and repair) work, but that’s not the point. The point is that YOU have the right to take your car wherever you feel provides you with the best service and value. Now, that’s probably going to be Superior, but even if you choose somewhere else, it’s better that you know you can bring it here—I mean, to the mechanic of your choosing without fear of losing your factory warranty. (You should bring it to Superior, though).

Text of the Magnuson-Moss Act (1975): Title 15 – Chapter 50 §2302(c).

What Makes Synthetic Oil Better Than Standard Or Conventional Oil?

Conventional—also called standard—oil is refined crude oil, which contains molecules of sulfur and other impurities. Over time and use, these molecules crystallize and breakdown, creating sludge and reducing the oil’s ability to effectively lubricate the engine. Poor lubrication causes the engine to suffer premature wear, reduced fuel efficiency, and can lead to catastrophic engine failure.

Synthetic oil is artificially produced from chemical compounds and petroleum stocks. Unlike conventional oil, which is refined into a suitable lubricant, synthetic motor oil is specifically designed for engine lubrication, so it contains far fewer impurities. Synthetic oil flows much easier than conventional, providing a high level of protection at cooler temperatures, and won’t build-up oil sludge, meaning synthetic oil can increase fuel economy and engine life.

Even though synthetic oil doesn’t breakdown like conventional, it oil does need to be changed routinely. Water from condensation and particles (both from environment and the engine) can slowly contaminate your oil system over time, so we recommend that synthetic oil be changed every 6 months or 7,500 miles.

What about “High-Mileage” Motor Oils?

High Mileage motor oils, such as Castrol GTX High Mileage, are semi-synthetic blends (part conventional, part synthetic) specifically engineered to inhibit rust, resist sludge build-up, and maintain oil seals.

Why Are Some Of The Service Intervals You Recommend Different From The Manufacturer’s?

The recommendations from the automotive manufacturer are the bare minimum in order to maintain the vehicle’s new car warranty. The vehicle is expected to remain trouble-free through the warranty period, which is typically three to five years (depending on the manufacturer). After the warranty has expired, the manufacturer expects (or hopes) you will trade it in for a new one–that is, of course, how the manufacturer makes money, by selling you a new car.

Our goal is ensure your vehicle is safe and reliable well beyond the vehicle’s warranty; for hundreds of thousands of miles.

The engineering of cars and trucks today is far superior to the cars in the past. It used to be true that a car with 100,000 miles was on borrowed time, no matter how well taken care of. That is no longer the case. The vast majority of vehicles today can be reliable for two, three, even four times that, provided all systems are routinely serviced.

Our 1996 Chevrolet Suburban was purchased several years ago from a customer who couldn’t sleep at night if he didn’t change his oil every 5,000 miles and service the other fluids every 30,000 miles. Today, it has over 340,000 miles, the original engine, original transmission; all are still in great condition and it runs like a champ.

What Exactly Is A “Tune-Up” And How Often Should I Get One?

“Tune-up” typically refers to replacing the spark plugs and other ignition components. Generally, standard resistor spark plugs should be replaced every 2 years or 30,000 miles. If your vehicle uses platinum spark plugs (most newer cars do), the interval is usually anywhere between 60,000 to 105,000 miles, it just depends on the vehicle.

A “tune-up” is usually preventive maintenance to keep your ignition system from failing, but is rarely a fix for a performance problem. If you are experiencing a decrease in power, rough idle, or any other sort of engine deficiency, get the vehicle diagnosed. The ignition components could very well need to be replaced, but that probably isn’t the root cause.

What Is The Difference Between A Drain & Refill Service And BG Services & Flushes?

The traditional method for servicing most fluid systems is to drain the old fluid out and put new fluid in. It’s like pouring out a bucket of muddy water, then filling it with clean water. Now you have a bucket of cloudy, dirty water. Sure, the water is less muddy, but nobody would say that it’s clean.

However, what if you take that same bucket of muddy water, pour it out, rinse it with soapy water, then fill it up? You have a clear bucket of fresh, clean water. That’s difference between drain & refill and a BG Fluid Flush.

The residual fluid is literally flushed out, taking all the dirt, grime, and contamination completely out of the system. The result is a transmission, power steering, coolant, or engine that is completely clean and free from any friction producing particles that accelerate wear. We recommend most of these BG services every 30,000 to 45,000 miles, depending on the service and vehicle. BG also makes additives proven to keep sludge, corrosion, and excessive heat from building-up in the respective systems. The BG Services & Flushes, performed regularly, can drastically increase your vehicle’s performance, fuel efficiency, and life expectancy.

My Timing Belt Is Due For Replacement, What Is The Benefit To Replacing The Water Pump Also?

In short, the labor cost is about the same whether you’re replacing the Timing Belt, Water Pump, or both.

The Water Pump is the heart of the engine cooling system. It pumps coolant (anti-freeze) through the engine in order to keep it from getting too hot. A Water Pump failure will cause your engine to overheat and may result in catastrophic damage.

The Water Pump is located in the same area of the engine as the Timing Belt. Depending on the vehicle, this area is fairly labor intensive to get to, usually 3-6 hours, more or less. Since the bulk of the labor is accessing the components, replacing both the timing belt and water pump together generally takes the same amount of time as it does to replace one or the other. Obviously, replacing the timing belt and waiting for the water pump to fail before replacing it doesn’t make much sense, especially considering the damage a failed water pump can cause.

What Needs A Maryland State Inspection And How Much Does One Cost?

The Maryland State Vehicle Safety Inspection is a comprehensive safety inspection mandatory for most vehicles in order to be registered in the state. This includes all passenger cars, trucks, SUVs, RVs, Motorhomes, motorcycles, and most trailers. Superior is licensed a Maryland State Vehicle Inspection Station for all vehicles, except motorcycles, up to 10,000 lbs GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight).

For cars and light trucks under 3/4 ton, the inspection costs $65.00 and takes about an hour. Inspections on trucks with full floating axle 4×4 or 1 ton up to 10,000 lbs GVW are $149.95 and take about 2 hours.

What Does My Check Engine Light Mean?

The Check Engine light is the vehicle’s way of telling you something isn’t right. Today’s cars have sensors are constantly measuring everything from fuel pressure to air flow, CO2 emissions to ambient air temperature–effectively everything. Every second, these sensors send thousands of data signals to the onboard computer–known as the PCM (Powertrain Control Module)–which can be thought of as your vehicle’s brain. The PCM analyzes the data, makes adjustments and calibrations to optimize performance. If the PCM receives data that is out of range, it will run tests on the system to see what is going on. If the system fails two consecutive tests, the PCM flags the malfunction, saves the data in memory, and turns on the Check Engine light. Sometimes the Check Engine light may be signaling something simple, like a faulty sensor or loose gas cap. But it also could be indicating more severe problems, like a transmission malfunction or serious engine problems.

If your check engine light comes on or is flashing, bring your vehicle to Superior right away, even if the light turns itself off. An intermittent check engine light almost always indicates the beginning stages of a system failure and will usually become progressively worse.