We've been solving auto repair problems since 1996.
At Norton Shores Automotive we know you expect great service. To exceed customer expectations, we provide a monthly blog post offering cost saving ideas on auto maintenance, suggestions to get the most out of your tires or more miles per gallon, as well as cost aware auto repair tips. For more, ask one of our pros! Call 231-733-7600 or stop by our service center at 4280 Airline Rd, Muskegon, MI 49444.
August 22, 2023
As your engine runs, dirt gets into the oil. Oil sludge can also start to build up. Fortunately, motor oil contains detergents that clean the engine and gather up contaminates. The oil circulates through the oil filter where clumps of dirt and sludge are captured. An oil filter can eventually get clogged up ? so much so that oil cannot flow freely through the filter material. Of course, you don?t want to starve your engine of oil, so a valve opens in the oil filter allowing oil to bypass the filter material. This keeps your engine lubricated, but dirty oil is circulating through the system.
Back in the day of 3-month, 3,000-mile oil changes, this was only a problem if you forgot to change your oil on schedule. Modern vehicles, however, typically have much longer recommended oil change intervals. 5,000, 10,000, and even 15,000-mile intervals are common. Of course, you need to use the manufacturer recommended type and grade of oil ? but you also need to use a higher capacity oil filter.
A standard capacity oil filter could go into bypass mode many months and several thousands of miles before the recommended oil change interval. Your engine would not be fully protected.
Many motorists are choosing to upgrade to synthetic oil for better protection and to increase their oil change interval. This is a great idea. But also remember you need an oil filter that has a higher capacity to match.
Talk with your Service Advisor about your oil change intervals and how you use your vehicle. He will help you choose the right oil for your needs and will make sure that your new oil filter is compatible with the performance of your oil.
Give us a call at 231-733-7600!
What Does the Check Engine Light Mean?
July 13, 2023
When your check engine light comes on, you may be torn between utter panic and just wanting to ignore it and hope it goes away. That's perfectly understandable. That same check engine light could come on for anything from a serious engine or transmission problem all the way down to a loose gas cap.
There's a very common misconception that the trouble codes stored in your engine computer when your check engine light comes on will specifically identify a problem. It's more like pointing to the symptoms of a problem.
Think of taking your temperature. Say it's 101. Your heat sensor ? the thermometer ? tells you that your temperature is out of the normal range. But it doesn't tell you why you have a fever. Is it the flu or a sinus infection? You need more information; more tests.
For any given trouble code, there could be several causes. So, your trained technician takes the trouble code as a starting point and begins a diagnostic process to determine the cause of the problem. And some problems take longer to solve than others.
When your engine management system logs a problem and illuminates the check engine light, your service technician will plug in a scanner, download the trouble codes and go to work tracing the cause of the problem.
That's just the first step. That's when your technician's training, equipment, databases and skill get put to work diagnosing the problem and fixing it.
If your check engine light is flashing it means that the problem could lead to serious damage. You should get to the service center as soon as possible to get the problem solved. If it's on but not flashing, you have some time to get in at your convenience.
If your check engine light has come on in Muskegon or the surrounding area, give the auto repair experts at Norton Shores Automotive a call at 231-733-7600 to help you diagnose the issue.
The Norton Shores Automotive Guide to Proper Fluids
June 25, 2023
If you?ve walked through the automotive fluids section of an auto parts store in Muskegon, you?ll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what?s right for your vehicle?
As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run. Your vehicle manufacturer has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable.
First let?s talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.
Some vehicles come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory recommends. The recommendation is what?s been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules.
A good quality oil has more additives that are engineered to clean and protect the engine. They cost a bit more but are worth the extra protection. If you buy budget oil, you might want to consider shortening your oil change interval.
Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant must be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We?ve seen special coolant for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.
The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.
The good news is that Norton Shores Automotive has databases that tell us the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that?ll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer?s recommendations.
Of course, your full-service oil change will top off your fluids. But it?s a good idea to have some of everything at home in case you need to top something off yourself or to take on a trip. Ask your service advisor or check your owner?s manual for fluid specifications.
Give us a call at 231-733-7600 and we'll take care of all your car or truck's fluid needs in Muskegon!
The Problems with a Cream Puff (Dormant Vehicles)
April 19, 2023
You may own a vehicle that you only drive occasionally. Maybe it is a summer day cruiser, an off-roader, or vacation hauler. Here are some things you need to know about a vehicle that doesn't get driven all that much.
You know it has oil in it, and the problem with not driving a vehicle means the oil is just sitting there. Time is breaking it down. The additives that neutralize acids that build up in the oil are still at work, being depleted over time. Plus, parts of your vehicle that are supposed to be protected by oil simply aren't when the vehicle is not being used. That's why oil change intervals include both time and distance recommendations.
Combustion causes moisture to accumulate in the oil. The water leads to significant corrosion, so it needs to be burned off periodically. You can do that by driving the vehicle at highway speeds for an hour or so.
Your battery will discharge as it sits. Hot temperatures accelerate the rate of discharge. This will accelerate how quickly your battery will need to be replaced. Consider getting a battery tender that attaches to the battery and plugs into a wall socket. The tender will charge the battery as needed, keeping it at an optimal charge while it sits unused.
Here are some other problems that can develop in a vehicle that sits around:
- Tires can go out of round, and the rubber can deteriorate. Always inspect the tires before driving.
- Engine bearings can develop flat spots from sitting in the same spot. Start the engine and let it run a bit.
- Bugs, mice, and who knows what may take up residence in nooks and crannies.
- Brakes can develop a layer of squeal-producing, stopping-power-reducing corrosion.
So, what to do? Consult your owner's manual. Also, ask your NAPA AutoCare Service Advisor for their suggestions. You can come up with a maintenance schedule custom made for you.
We've all heard about that cream puff vehicle owned by the little old lady who only drove it to church once a month. It's a nice story, but today's vehicles are sophisticated, intricate machines that need regular maintenance and proper care to keep them performing safely and dependably.
If you have a cream puff that needs maintenance, give the professionals at Norton Shores Automotive a call at 231-733-7600!
Power Steering Maintenance In Muskegon
April 10, 2023
Steering is one of the things we take for granted in our vehicles. Let's break it down into two areas: first, the power assist and second, the actual parts that steer the vehicle.
Most people under 40 in Muskegon have never driven a car or truck without power steering. Most vehicles today have a hydraulic power steering pump that provides boost to help you steer. The pump is usually driven by the serpentine belt, but some newer vehicles have an electric pump. Some vehicles even have an electric motor that directly powers the steering.
The important thing to keep in mind is that these pumps and motors will eventually wear out and the hoses will start to leak. You can postpone that day by having a power steering service from time to time. We will drain the old fluid and replace it with fresh fluid. This removes water and contaminants that can corrode power steering parts. Ask your service advisor for the recommended change interval.
What about the mechanical steering parts? Is there anything you can do to maintain them? Yes. If any of the steering parts can be lubed, your technician will take care of that with a lube, oil and filter service. Other than that, just watch for signs that parts are wearing out things like loose steering and uneven tire wear.
Worn parts can be replaced to get you back on the road. Now, sometimes parts can be bent or damaged from hitting potholes, curbs or rocks. It's important to take care of these problems early on. If you neglect them, the damaged parts stress other attached components which starts a chain reaction of damage.
Steering maintenance is pretty straight forward: Replace power steering fluid as recommended and fix worn or damaged parts right away. That'll save you money in the long run.
Contact a professional service advisor at Norton Shores Automotive at 231-733-7600 for more details.
What Can I Do To Make My Tires Last Longer?
March 26, 2023
Norton Shores Automotive Tech Question:
My name is Dan. My vehicle tires wore out early and I had to replace them. What can I do to make my tires last longer?
Norton Shores Automotive Answer:
Dan's problem, premature tire wear, is very common for Muskegon residents. Here are several ways to lengthen the life of your tires:
- First, tires lose air pressure over time, so check them at least once a month and fill them up as necessary. A sticker on the driver's side door jamb has the recommended pressure.
- Tire rotation is also important to increase tire life. Your front tires take the brunt of stopping and steering forces so they wear faster than the rear tires. They should be rotated regularly so that all four tires wear more evenly. Talk to us at Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon.
- Out of balance wheels can also cause a tire to wear too fast. Muskegon drivers who feel a vibration in their seat or steering wheel may have a wheel out of balance.
- Finally, bad wheel alignment and worn or damaged suspension can chew through a tire very quickly. Ask your friendly pros at Norton Shores Automotive to have your tires inspected for signs of premature wear. Your will be able to pinpoint the cause and get it taken care of.
Please give us a call if we can help you with any of these services at 231-733-7600!
Preventive Auto Maintenance For Severe Driving
Reduce the Effects of Severe Driving On Your Car
Are you an "aggressive" driver? Everyone answers "no" to this question because "aggressive" has become associated with road rage incidents. Today we replace "aggressive" with the word "severe." Severe driving is often unavoidable.
8 Types of Severe Driving
- Moving quickly through curvy roads in and around Muskegon
- Traversing gravel or sandy roads
- Driving in extreme heat, on icy roads or roads with a deep snowpack
- Executing multiple lane changes in stop-and-go traffic
- Consistently driving 10 mph or more over the speed limit
- Short time dependent commutes around Muskegon
- Truncating a safe following distance resulting in frequent braking
- Driving with heavier loads such as a cargo or passenger van or towing a trailer
While most motorists have experienced "severe" driving on occasion, for other drivers it is an unavoidable part of their daily commute. If you are a severe driver, take extra care to avoid excessive wear and tear on your car, SUV or truck. Severe drivers are more likely to experience an inconvenient breakdown.
Increase Your Preventive Maintenance Intervals On These Six Important Items:
- Replace your motor oil and oil filters
- Top off or replace your coolant
- Have your brake pad thickness and brake fluid inspected regularly
- Check your tire tread depth
- Replace your windshield wipers
- Monitor your transmission and steering fluid
Other ways to avoid excess wear and tear on your car from severe driving involve slowing down, avoiding quick starts and stops, and removing heavy items left in your car's trunk or truck bed. Remember gas mileage decreases rapidly when you drive above 60 mph.
Stop by Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon and let our pro mechanics help you develop a preventive maintenance plan that matches your driving style. Call today at 231-733-7600 or come by the service center at 4280 Airline Rd, Muskegon, MI, 49444.
5 Regular Auto Maintenance Items That Save Real Money
Save Money And Time With Simple Preventative Maintenance From Norton Shores Automotive
A little auto maintenance goes a long way toward protecting your wallet from high-cost auto repairs in the future.
Schedule regular auto maintenance for these five essential systems
- Brakes, including brake pads, brake fluid, calipers and rotors
- Tires, including tread wear, proper inflation, front end alignment and balancing
- Belts, including serpentine, starter and timing belts
- Hoses, including cooling and radiator hoses
- Fluids, including oil, transmission, steering, brake, antifreeze and wiper fluids
At Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon we keep your car running smoothly and efficiently to save you both time and money in and out of the repair shop. Many drivers overlook how services such as a simple oil change can increase fuel efficiency and save you money at the gas pump.
Come by Norton Shores Automotive at 4280 Airline Rd, Muskegon, MI, 49444 and discuss an annual vehicle maintenance plan with us today. Spreading maintenance items out over the course of the year can help make auto maintenance expenses more affordable. Ask us about Norton Shores Automotive coupons and rebates on items such as tires for additional savings.
Call Norton Shores Automotive today at 231-733-7600.
Should I Replace My Car's Spark Plugs?
The Two Instances When You Should Always Replace Your Spark Plugs
Let's talk spark plugs. A common question we hear at Norton Shores Automotive is, "Should I replace my spark plugs?"
A spark plug performs a critical task for your vehicle's engine. Without a spark plug your car or truck's engine cannot work. Properly working spark plugs also deliver added fuel efficiency. Most owners manuals say to replace the spark plugs every 80,000 to 100,000 miles. In many cases spark plugs last longer than the driver's ownership of the car.
So, when should you replace your spark plugs?
- If you just purchased a used vehicle
- At least every 80,000 miles
Spark plugs are one of the hardest working parts of a vehicle. If you just purchased a used car, it is best to go ahead and replace the spark plugs. You have no idea if the previous owners were "severe" drivers. A spark plug can fire 400 times per minute per cylinder or 1,600 times a minute on a four-cylinder engine. Severe driving can place even higher demands on the spark plugs and engine.
Many used car dealers boast an extensive multi-point inspection plan prior to the sale of any car but many of these plans don't cover spark plug integrity. Because a failed spark plug can mean disaster for your new purchase it is best to get them replaced by the qualified technicians at Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon.
At Norton Shores Automotive we recommend replacing spark plugs before they reach the 80,000-mile mark. Many car owners delay spark plug replacement until the engine starts "missing." An engine that is "missing" will typically result in a jerking feeling when accelerating. Spark plugs that are severely worn out will create a pinging or knocking sound. These fouled, worn-out spark plugs can lead to extensive engine damage that is expensive to fix. Therefore, replacing spark plugs before they reach the 80,000-mile mark is very important.
Three Indicators Your Spark Plugs Need To Be Replaced
- Rattling, pinging or knocking noises when accelerating
- Missing, hesitating or jerky feeling when driving
- Slow acceleration or chugging
Sluggish and reduced performance also causes poor fuel economy. Save money at the pump by taking care of your vehicle's spark plugs.
Come by Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon if you just bought a used car or your vehicle is approaching the 80,000-mile mark to have your spark plugs replaced by one of our qualified pro mechanics. Call today at 231-733-7600 or stop by our service center at 4280 Airline Rd, Muskegon, MI, 49444.
Don't Forget to Replace Your Car or Truck's Belts
Remember to Change Your Belts
Drivers in Muskegon are busy and it is easy to forget that belts are tirelessly working to keep your engine running. A worn-out belt is a break down waiting to happen. Avoid being stranded on the side of the road and get your belts inspected each time you get an oil change at Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon.
Your car or truck's belts are essential for many of the vehicle's critical components such as water cooling, air conditioning and the alternator. Serpentine belts are used to turn the alternator, power steering and air-conditioning compressor. Often when serpentine belts brake your vehicle will stop working completely.
Come to Norton Shores Automotive to get worn or frayed serpentine belts replaced. Replacing belts when cracked, frayed or showing signs of excessive wear is very inexpensive when compared to having your car or truck towed to our repair shop.
Listen for signs of belt problems. Noise like rattling or slipping in the belt system is a sign of wear. Use your nose to tell you if a belt problem is imminent. The smell of burnt rubber can indicate a slipping belt.
At Norton Shores Automotive when we replace a worn serpentine belt, we check all the components in the serpentine system such as tensioners and pulleys. A typical serpentine belt replacement is 60,000 to 90,000 miles.
Why risk being stranded when a bad belt can be diagnosed with simple routine maintenance? Get Norton Shores Automotive to replace your car or truck's serpentine belts as directed by your owner's manual and avoid the hassle and expense of a sudden breakdown.
Call Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon today at 231-733-7600 to schedule regular maintenance such as belt inspection.
Owning A Car Is A Hidden Cost For College Students
Car Ownership - A Hidden Cost for College Students in Muskegon
Public transportation, Uber or Lyft may be an option for students attending college in large cities but for students attending colleges in small towns the only option may be owning a car. This is particularly true for students attending community colleges where commuting to campus is the only option.
College is expensive and owning a car while attending school is an added expense. Here are the top six expense categories college students should plan for:
- Parking permit, annual taxes and registration
Parking permits, licensing, registration and taxes are unavoidable. However here are some recommendations for managing other costs.
- Consider using a gas app that helps you track down the best price in town for gas. Many local gas and convenience stores offer a reward card just for gas.
- Revisit your auto loan. College may be a good time to consider a less expensive car. Call your local credit union and ask them about financing. Some financial institutions offer lower interest rates for car owners who sign up to have their monthly payments deducted directly from their bank account each month.
- Shopping for car insurance may also create a significant savings. If you switch to a less expensive car you may need less coverage. If you are driving less on average this may also lower your insurance costs. Keeping a clean driving record while you are in college can help keep your insurance rates low.
- Come by Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon and let us help you create a solid auto maintenance plan. No one wants to miss class because their car wouldn't start. Regular maintenance on your car will help prevent high-cost car repairs in the future. Maintenance items such as oil changes can also increase fuel efficiency saving you additional money at the gas pump.
- The cost of tires can be a jolt to a college student's budget. Plan to buy tires by setting aside a little money each month. Save on tires by taking advantage of manufacturer rebates.
Call Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon today at 231-733-7600 or stop by our service center for preventive auto maintenance services at 4280 Airline Rd, Muskegon, MI, 49444.
Norton Shores Automotive Knows What Older Cars and Trucks Need
Take Your Older Car or Truck To Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon For Preventative Maintenance
The consumer price index for used cars and trucks jumped up by 40.5% from January 2021 to January 2022. As a result, the average age of vehicles on the road is rising as many owners of older cars decide it is cheaper to hang on to them than to buy one today.
As cars get older, they need more maintenance and repair. Drivers in Muskegon must be more diligent about preventative maintenance. Replacing a bad O2 Sensor costs $250.00 on average. This may increase or decrease based on the make and model of your car or truck. However, performing recommended auto maintenance such as air filter replacement and spark plug replacement can extend the life of your O2 sensor.
Kelly Blue Book reports the average vehicle age in the US is 13.5 years. After five years of ownership the chances of a breakdown or service issue increases dramatically unless drivers are vigilant about preventative maintenance. Come by Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon and let us help you set up a preventative maintenance plan for your car or truck. Sticking to a maintenance plan will minimize the chances of breakdowns, increase fuel efficiency and decrease any future repair costs.
The Top 6 Auto Preventative Maintenance Items to Plan for Today
- oil change
- oil and fuel filters
- belts and hoses
- brake system components
- brake and transmission fluid flushes
- tires and alignment
Norton Shores Automotive in Muskegon is dedicated to helping busy car owners prioritize preventative maintenance. We make it easy with convenient, affordable and friendly service. Call today at 231-733-7600 or stop by our service center at 4280 Airline Rd, Muskegon, MI, 49444 and speak to one of our technicians.
What our clients are saying about us
We have established longterm and stable partnerships with various clients thanks to our excellence in solving their automotive needs!
Girlfriend was getting ready to leave town, and she checked her fluids to see all of the coolant was missing from the reservoir. We slowly got this thing over to a NAPA shop, Fruitport Automotive where they then recommended getting this car over to Frank at Norton Shores Automotive. Frank was a class act from the start, providing reassurance and comfort to my girlfriend who was stressed about the situation. Frank took care of us like family would and did it on the house (loose hose/fitting) and refused any offered payment. If there was an option for 10/5 stars, Frank deserves it. Very grateful for both Fruitport and Norton Shores Automotive for helping us with our situation