The Right Automotive Fluids For Las Vegas Drivers

What grade of oil should I use?

All those automotive fluids can be confusing for Las Vegas motorists. Recent years have brought new grades of engine oil, types of transmission fluid, coolant, and brake fluid. The right fluid protects your vehicle and helps it perform at its best. The wrong fluid won’t work as well for Las Vegas and Henderson drivers and could even cause damage.

In addition to new grades of engine oil, many Mercedes-Benzs now leave the factory with synthetic oil. Las Vegas and Henderson drivers should always use the grade recommended by their car maker  and type of oil in their engine.

All coolant, also called antifreeze, used to be green. Now there are several other colors of coolant sold at Frank’s European Service in Las Vegas and Henderson. Each type is designed to protect the cooling system components that are particular to your vehicle. The wrong stuff can void your Mercedes-Benz cooling system warranty and could even cause engine damage.

Most passenger vehicles on Las Vegas and Henderson roads today use either DOT 3, DOT 4 or DOT 5 brake fluid. Your Mercedes-Benz power brake system is specifically designed to use ONE of these types – you need the right one. Higher numbers do not necessarily mean a higher, upgraded fluid.

Now, the vital thing is knowing that your vehicle requires specific grades and types of fluids and that using the right fluids is good and using the wrong ones is bad. Once you’ve got that down, it’s easy to remember to check with your professional Frank’s European Service service professional or Mercedes-Benz owner’s manual to find out which automotive fluids to use.

Give us a call

Frank’s European Service
1931 N. Rainbow Boulevard
Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada 89108

How do I prepare my car for wet weather?

The number one thing you see in an area where you only get four inches or so of rain a year (like Las Vegas) is that people don’t have the opportunity to check their windshield wipers.

It never fails, after that first rain our phone lines are blowing up with the question, “Do you have windshield wipers for my car?” These are usually people who aren’t our regular customers — we make it a point for that reason on our courtesy inspections when a car is in for service to check the windshield wipers. There is nothing worse than needing your wipers and your windshield system in the rain and they don’t work properly. We also check for proper operation. If you have ever driven on the streets in Vegas and somebody drove into standing water and it completely covered your car in water, the last thing you need is for your wipers not to be working so you can’t see where you’re going.

How long do windshield wipers last?

Most of the cars that we see will get new wipers once a year and they’re not that expensive. It’s a good investment so that you know that you’re in great shape.

Some wipers are better quality than others. A lot of discount part stores have wipers that are pretty close to the size of the one that’s on your car. But we find that they don’t often hit the windshield enough. There is an actual science in making wiper blades for the spring tension and to make sure it fits the curvature of the windshield — to make sure there is no chattering or streaking, so it’s important not to get a universal wiper. Get one specifically for your car. One of my favorite brands is Bosch. They have an incredible line of high-quality wiper blades and they are an original supplier on many vehicles.

When someone brings their car to Frank’s European Service and needs wipers we use either Bosch as the original manufacturer or the original manufacturer’s product.

Tires and bushings and all the other rubber parts on our cars can get dry rot in our dry heat. The wipers sit on the hot windshield in the sun and they do take a lot of abuse. That’s why we insist on checking them at least twice a year to make sure they are in good working order.

Under Pressure in Las Vegas and Henderson: TPMS

Have you noticed an increase in price when you get a flat fixed in Las Vegas and Henderson or your tires rotated? It might be the result of your TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

The federal government began requiring a TPMS system on 2008 model year passenger vehicles and light trucks. Some 2006 and 2007 models may have them as well. The system has a warning light that is mounted on the dashboard that will go on if one of the tires becomes severely under inflated.

Why the new requirement? Because underinflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure. Tire blowouts cause detrimental and sometimes fatal accidents. Underinflated tires also need longer stopping distance and can skid, both of which also present dangers on Nevada roads. Many flat tires can also be prevented by proper tire inflation, and though this may seem an economic consideration, Las Vegas and Henderson motorists who have changed a flat on the side of the road recognize that this has serious safety concerns as well.

Advances in tire technology, specifically the development of radial tires has made it harder for Las Vegas and Henderson drivers to recognize when a tire is underinflated. At a recommended pressure of 35 psi, a tire is seriously underinflated at 26 psi. But the tire doesn’t look low on air until it reaches 20 psi. This raises concerns about vehicle owners being able to tell when their Mercedes-Benzs are a safety hazard on the road. Hence, the TPMS.

So, like seatbelts, the essential TPMS system is expected to save a lot of lives. The technology has been in use in race cars for years, and now it’s being mandated for all passenger cars, SUV’s, mini-vans and pick-ups. Besides warning Las Vegas and Henderson motorists when their tires need air, the system is required to indicate when it is malfunctioning.

This increased safety won’t come without increased costs to Las Vegas and Henderson car owners. Estimates regarding the cost of maintaining the TPMS on your vehicle run from $27 to $100. Also, there will be an added cost for tire repair. Las Vegas and Henderson service centers have had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with TPMS sensors and other critical equipment to repair tires and wheels equipped with TPMS. Frank’s European Service techs have to be trained to use the new equipment. These costs will have to be passed on to Las Vegas and Henderson motorists.

Further, whenever a tire is changed, the Frank’s European Service service professional will have to deal with the TPMS. Sensors will have to removed, then re-installed and re-activated. Sometimes the act of changing a tire will damage a sensor, and it will need to be replaced. These extra services will come at an added charge to Las Vegas and Henderson drivers.

Tire rotations will require that the TPMS be re-programmed. And whenever a vehicle’s battery is disconnected, the TPMS will require re-programming as well.

The TPMS itself will require attention – it contains batteries and sensors that will wear out and need to be replaced.

So, if you’ve noticed an increase in the cost for car care at your Las Vegas and Henderson tire center, it may not be the economy. It could be the cost of the TPMS in newer vehicles. Before you dash off an angry letter to Congress, however, stop and consider what you’re paying for. If predictions are correct, the TPMS will save lives, and that will be a benefit to all of us.

Of course, no warning system will save lives in Las Vegas and Henderson if motorists don’t pay attention to it. And remember that the warning doesn’t come on until the tire is severely under inflated – you still should check your tire pressure at least once a month. Las Vegas and Henderson auto owners can prevent accidents and potentially save lives without a warning system by keeping their tires properly inflated.

Are manufacturer’s recommendations accurate?

Manufacturer’s recommendations are pretty right on…but one of the things that is kind of a pet peeve of mine is that…

a lot of manufacturers have a normal service interval where they may recommend an oil change at 10,000 miles under normal driving circumstances.

I think AAA did a study that — I think it was like 65 percent of drivers — thought they did normal driving when actually only 8 percent did. That’s how vast those numbers are. Almost no one does normal driving. So you have to look at the severe driving table. The people selling you the car are never going to tell you that, because it means more frequent maintenance.

So make sure you’re looking at the severe driving table on your car: stop and go, high ambient temperatures, high dusty conditions, everything that we have right here in Las Vegas and Henderson.

Those manufacturer’s recommendations are probably conservative then and bearing on the side of not getting as much maintenance as much as you may need. We have seen a large number of engines badly sludged up with oil that has broken down and that has not properly cleaned and lubricated the inside of the engine. We also attribute that to either low-quality oil or infrequent service intervals.

Some cars are getting free maintenance — BMW and Volkswagen and a number of other manufacturers offer that, but only under the “normal” driving schedule. So car owners need to be on the severe driving schedule and need to do additional maintenance that the manufacturer is not going to pay for.

But now the customer is disappointed. They thought the maintenance was free and delayed it to get the free maintenance, so they are not getting the best proper maintenance for their car.

The manufacturer wants the lifetime maintenance cost of the car and they want it to be lower because that’s part of their sales process. By including some of the maintenance for the first two or four years they can claim to have lowered cost of ownership.

But what they tend to do is give people absolute sticker shock when they do actually need to pay for something at the dealership and they are totally unprepared for it.

How can I tell when my vehicle really needs something?

Some people may wonder if their car really needs something when a mechanic tells them that they do.

If it’s a maintenance item, we at Frank’s European Service can show you right out of the owner’s manual: brake fluid needs to be done every two years, the spark plugs need to be done every five years or 100,000 miles depending on the vehicle, etc. These are things that have specific time and/or mileage intervals so that you can plan for those.

Let’s say we tell you that your car need a gasket replaced — you don’t know. You may not even know what a gasket is. You may not even care what a gasket is. We will do one of two things: we’ll show you the car or we’ll take and send pictures of it for you because we want people to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

Part of our mission statement is to make sure that our customers are informed on what their cars need even if it means we don’t do any service work on them, because we don’t put money ahead of people. We want to make sure you’re comfortable with what your car needs and why, and understand what we’re doing. We invite the customer to ask questions and understand.

Most of the time people misunderstand or they’ll say, “There’s nothing wrong with my car, how could you tell me I need spark plugs?” Well, you don’t feel spark plugs. You don’t have a problem with spark plugs but it’s a maintenance item that needs to be done on a regular basis. That’s why we tell you, “Hey this is coming up and this is what you’re going to need to do soon.”

There are possible repercussions if the spark plugs or any other item aren’t replaced. When spark plugs wear out and age the ignition system has to work harder, and now the ignition system is strained so eventually you’re going to have a failure. If an air filter for the engine is neglected, the engine has to work harder so it’s going to use more gasoline. It could also cause sensor failures later on. There are filters that filter the air coming into the cabin of the vehicle — if you ignore those and they get dirty the air conditioning blowers have to work harder to blow the air through so you’re stressing other systems on the car for no reason. You’re really not saving any money by delaying this needed maintenance.

Helping Las Vegas and Henderson Drivers Get the Right Tires

Every Las Vegas and Henderson vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it’s a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engineered for good traction on dry or rainy Nevada roads. But the rubber compound in summer tires gets stiff when temperatures drop below 45°F, and snow and mud can pack into the tread, reducing the traction of the tire.

Winter tires are designed for good traction on snowy surfaces. The tread actually throws snow off of the tire as the wheel turns. The rubber compound in a winter tire is soft so that it will remain flexible at Las Vegas temperatures below 45°F. At higher temperatures, however, the softer rubber wears down rapidly.

All-season tires sacrifice some of the extreme performance of summer or winter tires, but they maintain adequate traction in either type of Las Vegas and Henderson weather.

So your first consideration when buying a tire is where you live in Nevada and where you usually drive. If you require maximum summer and winter performance you can go with dedicated summer and winter tires; you would just need to change out your tires each spring and fall.

For serious winter driving in Nevada, look for tires with a severe snow rating. These tires are labeled with a mountain-and-snowflake logo.

Your second critical consideration is the quality of tire to purchase. Summer, winter and all-season tires come in a variety of grades and styles at Nevada tire stores. Las Vegas and Henderson drivers will want to purchase a tire that will give them good wear and that will handle their driving style and road conditions. Your Frank’s European Service tire professional can give you auto advice as to which type of tire will best fit your needs.

Las Vegas and Henderson motorists who drive off-road around Nevada may want to look at a high-grade tire that is designed for off-road use. These tires are designed to handle the extra wear of off-roading while still giving good performance on Las Vegas and Henderson streets and expressways. There are a number of options to choose from so that you can find the right tire whether you are only an occasional off-road explorer or a serious rock climber.

New wheels can be purchased in Las Vegas and Henderson as a statement of style or to add personality to your Mercedes-Benz. There are almost unlimited options. If you change the size of the wheels on your Mercedes-Benz, however, you will need to get some professional help to make your vehicle compatible with its new wheels. Talk to your Frank’s European Service technician for more information about tires.

Will smog checks become a thing of the past?

Not every place and not every city has smog checks, but in Las Vegas we do. That may or may not change with new technology.

If the car is 100% electric there is nothing to check — there are no emissions being emitted by the car. If it’s a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid car, they are still governed by the same emission control laws and do still need to be emission tested.

I think if you buy a new regular car, the first year is a pass and then it’s done on the second year. I think for the hybrid cars the first two years are a pass and then smog it on the third year.

So you have to check with your smog station to verify that. After that, then you do need to do emission testing every year again.

If you are moving out of Las Vegas and want to know if you will need a smog check there is a list of states along with their smog check requirements here.

Automotive Detective Work In Las Vegas and Henderson

There’s a reason we use the word “diagnose” when we talk about fixing cars in Las Vegas and Henderson. Figuring out what’s wrong with your Mercedes-Benz has a lot of similarities to figuring out what’s wrong with someone who is ill. Vehicles are a mass of complex systems that can produce a variety of symptoms when something goes wrong. As with human diagnoses, a specific symptom may be indicative of a number of problems, and figuring out the specific cause takes training and experience.

Sometimes the diagnosis of your Mercedes-Benz’s trouble comes down to a matter of trial-and-error. This can be frustrating for Las Vegas and Henderson drivers because time and money are on the line. You may feel you should only be paying for repair work. Of course, you only want to pay for the right repair – and a proper diagnosis is part of getting it right. Like at the Las Vegas and Henderson doctor’s office — some of what you pay for is the doctor’s time and effort to figure out what’s wrong with you, not for the actual cure.

The good news is that Las Vegas and Henderson car owners can do a lot to help out their professional Frank’s European Service service professional in figuring out what’s wrong with their Mercedes-Benz. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Las Vegas and Henderson service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

Good auto advice: learn how to talk to your Las Vegas and Henderson tech.

If fluid is leaking from your Mercedes-Benz, you should note the color of the fluid, where under the car the puddles form, and when they form (e.g. only when it’s parked for a while, only if the engine’s hot, when the weather turns cold, etc.). For example, if your Mercedes-Benz is making an unusual sound, you should indicate where the sound is coming from, what kind of sound it is, and when you hear it (again, be very specific). The more details you can give, the more helpful you will be. “I hear the sound when I turn left” is more helpful than “I hear the sound when I turn.” After a few conversations with your Frank’s European Service service advisor, you should get a feel for the kind of information he needs.

If you drop your car off, leave a detailed note describing information about your Mercedes-Benz’s problem. A quickly scrawled “Making a funny noise” will only lead to frustration for both your technician and for you. Good communication leads to better car care for Las Vegas and Henderson auto owners.

If your Mercedes-Benz is occasionally stalling or sputtering, you may need a little more patience than with other types of car trouble because these types of problems are intermittent. In order to fix the trouble, your service specialist often finds it helpful to reproduce the symptoms. And if the problem is intermittent, it may take a while to do so.

In these cases, specific information can be invaluable, as it can significantly reduce the time it takes for your professional service professional to get your Mercedes-Benz to misbehave. For example, if you can tell your technician that the vehicle only acts up after it’s been driven for 20 minutes and over 50 mph, it will allow him to quickly reproduce your problem, greatly reducing the time it will take for a car diagnosis in Las Vegas and Henderson and then get it fixed.

Good preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping your car out of the Las Vegas repair shop, but if you need to get it repaired, good communication will get you back on the road quickly.

Clean Air for Your Engine: Engine Air Filters In Las Vegas and Henderson

Every Las Vegas and Henderson car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter’s dirty.

Here’s what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your Mercedes-Benz owner’s manual will have a recommendation of when to change the filter. Second, a visual inspection by your Las Vegas and Henderson technician may determine that your filter it is visibly dirty and needs to be changed.

Clean Air for Your Engine Las Vegas and Henderson Engine Air Filter

So between your owner’s manual and your Las Vegas technician’s inspection there’s really no guesswork involved for Las Vegas and Henderson motorists.

Now, most air filters purchased in Las Vegas and Henderson, Boulder City , North Las Vegas, or Lake Las Vegas don’t cost a lot to replace. It’s just that Nevada people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at Frank’s European Service can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Las Vegas and Henderson.

Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Las Vegas and Henderson home. When it’s all clogged up, enough clean air can’t get through. In your Mercedes-Benz, that means that your engine can’t get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more pricey Nevada gas to move your vehicle around Las Vegas roads.

Your Mercedes-Benz actually needs about 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of gas it burns. Engine air filters don’t cost much in Las Vegas and Henderson at Frank’s European Service . When it’s time to change yours, just get it done. You’ll get better fuel economy, have better performance and protect your Mercedes-Benz engine.

Are there new trends in 2015 for maintenance?

With more and more hybrid vehicles, some changes that we see are some of the extended service intervals.

A lot of the hybrids plug in. Whether it’s hybrid or not, brakes tend to last a very long time because the electric motor does some of the braking. So there are different brake services on those kinds of vehicles.

I think there are 70 some-odd hybrid vehicles being sold this model year, and that number is going to continue to climb. Hydrogen vehicles are starting to hit the market. You can buy a Toyota hydrogen vehicle right now. So there’s going to be different service needs coming up in the future.

Here’s where it is very important now that we’re dealing with high voltage electricity: under no circumstance should anyone touch one of these cars who has not been trained in specifically addressing hybrid systems. It can be very dangerous if something is done incorrectly — not only for the service tech, but it could cause an unsafe condition for the customer if something is done wrong. You have to make sure that your service provider is hybrid certified to work on these vehicles. We are going to see some very different maintenance feats coming up.

A hybrid certified provider should have a certificate on the wall from a reputable company showing his certification and his training. When I say reputable, you can look up the company and check out their credentials.

Frank’s European Services is hybrid certified.