New Canaan Foreign Car, european and classic automobile repair shop in New Canaan CT

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59 Pine Street   |   New Canaan, CT   |   (203) 966-2681

Auto Maintenance Basics

The basics of auto maintenance

Timing Belt

The timing belt on a car is similar to a bicycle chain. It is connected to the bottom of the engine and the top of the engine and keeps the bottom and top half of the engine running together at the same time.

The timing belt is normally replaced every 60,000 miles or as specified in the maintenance handbook by the manufacturer. If the timing belt breaks while some cars are running, the top half of the engine can become damaged. This requires costly repairs to that part of the engine.

Wiper Blades

Good vision is obviously needed to safely drive the vehicle, and anything that impedes vision impedes safety. Have you ever wondered why when driving in rain it can be hard to see through the windshield? You may have thought that your night vision was getting worse. But many times the cause is worn wiper blades causing smearing or streaking; these increase glare from other car headlights when they shine on your windshield, making it very difficult to see the road. If a wiper blade leaves even a single streak, it is worn and should be replaced.


Tires are some of the most neglected and overlooked items on the car but are critical to your safety and that of your passengers. When the tires are worn, they decrease the car's ability to handle on the road and decrease road traction. How do you know if your tires need alignment, rotation, balancing, or pressure adjustment? Tires that are worn unevenly, such as inner or outer edges more than the rest of the tire, indicate the front end is out of alignment. If the car pulls to one side it also may indicate alignment is needed.

Have you ever felt the car vibrate or shimmy at certain speeds—typically at 40-45MPH or 60-65MPH? This usually indicates the tires are out of balance. Rotating and balancing the tires usually can correct this. The correct tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in the handbook of the car, and on many cars there is a sticker located on the doorjamb on either the front or rear driver's side door indicating proper tire pressures. When using the sticker, make sure that it is not indicating the maximum tire pressure (it will be stated as maximum and should not be used to set the tire pressures). If you're not sure and have no way of verifying the recommended tire pressure, the rule of thumb is 32 pounds of pressure per tire. You can check your tire pressures on a regular basis with an inexpensive tire pressure gauge kept in the car.

Changing The Oil

Why should you change your oil every 3,000 miles for regular oil and every 6,500 for synthetic oil?

Changing oil at these intervals is the single most important part of your car's engine maintenance. When an engine is running, combustion by-products are produced and end up in the oil. These by-products reduce the ability of oil to lubricate the engine and increase the amount of wear on the engine. So changing to clean oil helps minimize engine stress. When the oil is changed, a complete and thorough safety check can be performed which will alert you to any potential trouble areas, such as worn systems and parts. In addition, the car mileage can be crosschecked with the vehicle manufacturer's recommended schedule for any other maintenance procedures (such as a tune-up), which are based on mileage intervals.

>>Read here about the Art of the Oil Change.

Routine Maintenance & Severe Maintenance

The maintenance intervals that are listed under Normal Service are designed by the vehicle manufacturer to meet the needs of the "average" motorist.

Since maintenance intervals are affected by climate and operating conditions, a customer who operates a vehicle under arduous conditions or whose driving habits are markedly different from those of the "average" motorist should have a more personalized service program. This will ensure the continued safe and reliable operation of the vehicle. Because the manufacturer does not specify a Severe Service Interval, determination of proper maintenance intervals should be left to the good judgement of the vehicle owner and the advance of an authorized service center.

Conditions that will change the frequency and composition of Normal Service and qualify the vehicle for Severe Service:

  • Frequent driving in dense city stop-and-go traffic
  • Repeated short trip operation without sufficient engine warm-up
  • Ambient temperature extremes
  • Operating in mountainous/high altitude areas
  • Trailer towing

NOTE: Low mileage vehicles should be maintained at least once a year.


A properly maintained car will be more dependable, safer, last longer, increase your satisfaction with your car and improve the trade-in or resale value. Regular maintenance helps accomplish these goals by keeping your car running more efficiently and eliminating potential problems that may leave you stranded. What benefits do you get when you maintain your vehicle with us?

We give every car a complete 45-point safety check. We check for any maintenance that is due according to the vehicle's manufacturer. We check and top off all fluids, inspect all lights, and check tire pressures including the spare. You gain the peace of mind that trained professionals have inspected your car and will notify you when your next service is due.

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