Why do my brakes make a squealing noise sometimes when it’s cold?

If it is wet and cold outside, the brakes of a sitting car can oxidize. Rust can then form on the surfaces of the pads and rotors. If that happens, you might hear a squealing noise the first few times you step on the brakes. You essentially scrub the surfaces free of this rust when you apply the brakes. The noise should then disappear. If brake noise continues, contact us or bring it on by so we can hear the noise, check out your brakes and make an evaluation.

Can I change the size of the tires on my vehicle?

Your tires were carefully selected by the manufacturer for your car. You can check out the recommended “Tire and Loading Information” label on the door of your vehicle or listed in the owner’s manual. You can change sizes, but you must be very careful that your change does not interfere with safety features, such as anti-lock brakes. If you want to change tire size, we can help you determine which rim and tire size will work best for your car.

How often do I need to change the oil in my vehicle?

Don’t make assumptions based on past experience or the standard 3,000-miles/3 months refrain that you’ve heard for decades. Every vehicle is different, so it’s important to follow the recommendations listed in your owner’s manual. Many vehicles now have service reminders that monitor and alert drivers when they need to change their oil. These systems not only monitor miles but also analyze how hard a vehicle is being driven. We can also make sure you stay on schedule!

I’ve forgotten my car’s security code…. what do I do?

Suffering from too-many-passwords-to-remember syndrome? If you’ve gotten locked out of your vehicle’s security system and don’t have access to the manual (because it’s locked inside!), remember that most manuals are available online. If this doesn’t help you reset the code—you can usually contact the carmaker with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that is visible through the front windshield. Of course, we can always help you with this, or any type of car software or hardware issue—that’s just what we do as the premier European auto service shop in Seattle!

Should I tow my vehicle with all four wheels on the road?

This is a question RVers often ask as they look to haul a smaller vehicle behind their motorhome. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer cars that can be towed on all four wheels, usually called flat towing or “dinghy style.” Rear-wheel drive vehicles with a manual transmission or four-wheel drive and a manual transfer case that can be placed in neutral are the most likely vehicles you can flat-tow But front-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles can be damaged because transmission pumps don’t operate when the vehicle isn’t running. Be very sure before flat-towing your car—you can inflict severe harm to your transmission if you do so.

How long should the original tires on my vehicle last?

There isn’t a set timeframe for how long original tires should last since tire wear is based on driving habits and road conditions. Of course, there is always the DIY method—but it’ll cost you a quarter. Place the quarter in the nearest groove so that George Washington’s head is upside down. If you can’t see the top of our first President’s head, you may need new tires. Bring your vehicle and we can help you determine what’s best for you and your car. Better yet, bring your car in regularly and we’ll help you keep track of this and other critical maintenance schedules.

Can I use 85 octane fuel in my vehicle?

The state of Washington sets regular octane at 87—the standard for most states. Nearby rocky mountain states such as Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado offer 85-octane. Check with your owner’s manual. You may have to upgrade to mid-grade in these places if 87-octane is the lowest recommended by your car maker.

Can I jump-start my car? 

On most cars, yes. Notice we said most cars. This even includes hybrids that often have two different batteries—a high voltage battery for the powertrain and a 12-volt battery to start the vehicle. Many hybrids feature dedicated jump-start terminals under the hood. We recommend becoming familiar with your where your battery is located and access to terminals before your car is disabled. Due to the sensitivity of on-board computers, some carmakers recommend not jump-starting some vehicles. Make sure you have a full understanding of this system before you get the cables out!

What is the minimum octane I can use in my vehicle?

Don’t want to skim through the entire owner’s manual? There should be a label inside the gas tank access door that states the minimum octane for your vehicle. Using a lower octane fuel can cause the engine to run poorly and even damage the emissions control system over time. In older vehicles, you will hear a knocking or pinging. Using higher octane fuel might actually lower performance since it is designed to compress more without pre-igniting for more power in engines designed for that fuel. Keep it simple—use the recommended fuel rating!

Can I get an on/off switch installed for my airbags?

Some smaller people and those with medical conditions, including having pacemakers, mastectomies, and back or neck surgeries, may be at more risk of injury than aid with airbag deployment. For these and other qualifying folks, shops can install switches for one or both airbags. You need to make a formal request to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We can help you find out if a switch is available and install it for you.

What kind of child safety seat should I use in my car?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) solemnly notes that car crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-13. There are two critical components of this process. First, find an NHTSA approved seat that appropriately fits and secures your child. Next, make sure you properly secure it. Locate the lower anchors and tether anchors and check the NHTA tips for installing rear-facing, forward-facing, and booster seats.

Can I turn off my daytime running lights?

Please remember that your daytime running lights (DRL) are a proven safety feature. They make it easier for cars to see you at all times, especially right after dawn and before sunset. That said, if you are determined to turn your DRL off, many cars have that function on the headlight controls. Other cars can be modified, but in these cases, your DRL will not automatically turn on. We can talk you through the pros and cons and do the work for you on these vehicles if it is possible.