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Brakes & Brake Repair Questions

A. You get used to your brakes. How they sound, how the pedal feels -- and how quickly they stop your vehicle. Then one day, your brakes just aren't the same. Your brakes sound funny. Your pedal feels funny -- and you need to press it farther. Worst of all, it takes longer and longer to come to a stop.

We created Midas Secure Stop® brake service for you. We hate surprises (at least behind the wheel) as much as you do. But we know change is inevitable. Brake pads and rotors wear out from the immense friction and heat they encounter. Air gets into brake lines. And your brake system has dozens of other components that can wear out at any time. It takes Midas expertise to bring your braking confidence back.

When you come in for any brake problem, our Midas Auto Service Experts® conduct a 55-point inspection of your brakes. Then we take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle's condition and tell you which problems are urgent (and which can wait). We discuss the best options for your budget and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.


A. Brakes can squeak for a variety of reasons, but continuous squeals and grinding sounds may mean it's time for new brake pads or shoes. Worn brakes can mean longer stopping distances and difficulty stopping in an emergency situation. Rotors and drums that are too thin may even become over-stressed and break.


A.
  • 55-Point Brake Inspection -- to diagnose that spongy brake pedal, discover why your brake light is on, or just check out your brakes as part of routine maintenance.
  • Brake Pad Replacement -- for routine brake maintenance.
  • Brake Rotor Service -- to complete your brake pad replacement. We'll smooth out brake pad wear if necessary, or recommend new rotors if you need them.
  • Brake Shoe Replacement -- similar to brake pad replacement, for drum style brakes.
  • Brake Drum Service -- similar to brake rotor service, for drum style brakes.
  • Brake Fluid Service -- from routine brake fluid exchange to brake fluid leak repair.
  • Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) Service -- from your ABS sensors to the system computer module.
  • Brake Repair -- to all parts of your brake system, from the power brake booster to the parking brake assembly.

Whether you suspect a brake problem (thanks to your brake light, brake pedal, or a suspicious leak), or you've just hit your vehicle's recommended service interval, start by requesting a brake service appointment.


A. Common brake services include:

  • Brake pad or brake shoe replacement
  • Brake rotor resurfacing or brake drum turning
  • Brake rotor or drum replacement
  • Brake fluid exchange or flushing
  • Brake line leak repair
  • Brake light diagnosis

What's included in a brake job depends on where each part is in its lifecycle. For example, you may or may not need new rotors with your replacement brake pads. But some brake services need to be duplicated on both wheels of the same axle. Multiple systems in your vehicle are designed for the parts on both sides of your vehicle to be in matching condition.

A brake inspection should include a check of all brake parts and connectors, dashboard lights, external brake lights, brake fluid condition, and hydraulic pressure through the brake lines.


A. Depending on your vehicle, climate, brake parts, and driving patterns, your brake pads or shoes may last anywhere from 20,000 to 80,000 miles. Brake fluid can last 2-5 years. With such an unpredictable replacement cycle, regular brake inspection is essential. Check your vehicle owner's manual for your brake inspection schedule -- every 10,000-12,000 miles or every year are common recommendations.


A. You may need new brake pads, rotors, or new brake fluid when you notice any new sound or diminished pedal response when you brake. Worn brake pads can squeak -- and the situation will worsen until you hear the grinding sound of unprotected rotors. Worn pads and low brake fluid pressure can each cause a nerve-wracking delay in pedal response. Warped rotors cause vibrations when braking (not to be confused with the expected pulsing sensation of your ABS kicking in).


A. Here are some common signs of failing brakes:

  • Dashboard lights or warnings - Your BRAKE light, ABS light or Check Engine light may indicate brake problems.
  • Leaking brake fluid - Any fluid leak should be inspected.
  • Any change in brake response - Taking longer to stop or needing to press the pedal farther are classic symptoms of brake trouble.
  • Any new noise when braking - Squealing, grinding, squeaking, or rattling? Check the brake pads and rotors. Hissing sounds? Suspect a brake fluid leak problem.
  • Any shaking or vibration when braking - Rough stops may mean warped rotors. (But a pulsing pedal can simply be your ABS in action.)
  • Soft or spongy brakes - Spongy brakes suggest a problem in your brake fluid lines, or brake shoes.
  • Hard or stiff brakes - You may have contaminants in the brake fluid or a bad seal on the master cylinder or brake booster.
  • Engine misfiring or stalling - You may have a bad power brake booster.
  • Vehicle pulling to one side when braking -- You could have faulty brake hardware or an uneven hydraulic issue.

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Brake Fluid Questions

A. What turns your foot on a pedal into a force strong enough to stop your vehicle? Part of that magic happens in your brake lines. The fluid inside delivers the hydraulic pressure that activates your brakes. When your brake fluid level drops too low, your brake lines can't build up as much pressure -- and you, your pedal, and other parts of your braking system have to work harder to stop the vehicle. If you lose too much pressure, your brakes can fail.


A. Hydraulic pressure in your brake lines can drop for several reasons, involving various brake components, but the three themes are:

  • Brake fluid loss.
  • Air in the brake lines.
  • Old or contaminated brake fluid.

No matter what's going on with your brake fluid, the first step is always a brake inspection.


A. A vehicle's brake fluid level can drop over time due to normal brake system wear as well as brake fluid leaks. Air then enters the brake lines to fill the vacuum left by lost fluid. It's able to get in because the brake line system isn't perfectly airtight to begin with -- and it's open to the air every time someone checks your brake fluid level.


A. Brake fluid, like motor oil, has additives that help fight corrosion and fluid breakdown. Just like motor oil, brake fluid is changed periodically to maintain its level of protection and performance. Another reason brake fluid doesn't last forever is contamination. Brake fluid absorbs water. It draws moisture from the atmosphere every time it's exposed to the air. (All it takes is removing the cap to the master cylinder to check the fluid level.) Over time, this moisture can rust and corrode the internal metal parts of your brake system.


A. A vehicle's brake fluid runs low either because it's leaking or from normal brake operation. Here's one reason: as your brake pads and/or shoes wear down, more space opens between the pads and/or shoes, and the brake rotors and/or drums in their resting position. It takes more brake fluid to cross that bigger space and reach the wheels, thus decreasing the brake fluid level.


A. A vehicle's brake fluid runs low either because it's leaking or from normal brake operation. Here's one reason: as your brake pads and/or shoes wear down, more space opens between the pads and/or shoes, and the brake rotors and/or drums in their resting position. It takes more brake fluid to cross that bigger space and reach the wheels, thus decreasing the brake fluid level.


A. Fresh brake fluid ranges from colorless to light brown or amber, and older brake fluid is often a darker brown. Old brake fluid can carry debris that, over time, may erode the seals on your master cylinder and brake calipers. But color alone does not tell you when it's time to replace your brake fluid.

Instead of relying on brake fluid color to determine when to change fluid, the Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association's (AMRA) Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) recommends brake fluid testing by a qualified technician. Your local Midas shop can test your brake fluid for the depletion of corrosion inhibitors and for incorrect fluid added, among other things.


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Brake Fluid - Leak Repair Service Questions

A. Common signs of a brake fluid leak include:

  • A puddle of clear, amber, or brown fluid where you park your car.
  • The brake fluid level in your master cylinder reservoir drops faster than usual.
  • A spongy brake pedal or other difference in brake response.
  • Your dashboard brake light comes on.

Any one of these signs means your brakes should be inspected by a qualified mechanic.

To get started tracking down your brake fluid leak, trust Midas for a thorough brake inspection. Your local Midas technician will explain the cause of your leak and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.


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Brake Fluid - Brake Line Bleeding Service Questions

A. Bleeding your brake lines is jargon for eliminating air from the brake lines. It's done by draining brake fluid to get rid of air bubbles, then adding enough fluid to restore the correct hydraulic pressure to your brake system. As long as the air in your brake lines isn't caused by a brake fluid leak, bleeding your brakes removes a major cause of mushy or spongy brakes. Bleeding is an alternative to flushing the brake lines when you're not close to your recommended brake fluid change interval.


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Brake Fluid - - Flush Service Questions

A. The term Brake Flush is used by most automotive shops to describe the process of draining and filling, changing or exchanging the brake fluid in an automotive brake system. Sometimes a flush chemical such as denatured alcohol is used -- if a contaminant (such as power steering or transmission fluid) has gotten into the hydraulic portion of your brake system. This decontamination procedure is the most technical definition of a brake fluid flush, and some experts call this procedure a chemical flush.

Outside the chemical flush scenario, periodic brake fluid exchange is typically recommended for routine maintenance. This process simply involves removing your old brake fluid and replacing it with new fluid. Many shops call this process a "Brake Flush" even though flush chemicals are not used.

Through careful testing of your brake fluid, a certified automotive technician can determine whether your vehicle needs a chemical flush or simply a routine maintenance brake fluid exchange.


A. Here are some signs that it's time to service or replace your brake fluid:

  • On many vehicles, your dashboard brake light will trigger if your brake fluid reaches a low level -- check your vehicle manual for the specifics.
  • Your brake fluid is near the minimum mark on the master cylinder reservoir.
  • On a white towel, the fluid in the master cylinder reservoir is medium brown or darker. (New brake fluid is light brown, amber, or clear.)

A. Brake fluid can last anywhere from two to five years, so check your vehicle manual for your recommended brake fluid care cycle. If your vehicle manufacturer does not recommend a specific maintenance schedule for brake fluid replacement (often called brake fluid flush), monitor your brake fluid level, and have the fluid tested with every oil change -- and schedule a brake inspection at the first sign of spongy brakes. Your local Midas technician can help you decide when it's time for new brake fluid.

To help spot brake problems early, it's a wise precaution to check your brake fluid with each oil change. And remember: Midas visually checks your brake lines and fluid levels as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check.

Midas Touch Courtesy Check includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses


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Brake Rotor Replacement Questions

A. A brake rotor is a metal disc, attached to a vehicle's wheel hub, that receives friction from the brake pads to stop the vehicle. The rotor is situated within a caliper, which houses brake pads situated on either side of the rotor. When you press your brake pedal, hydraulic pressure from the brake fluid pushes a piston(s) causing the brake pads to squeeze the rotor and bring your wheels to a stop. Brakes consisting of a rotor, brake pads, and calipers are called disc brakes.

The other common brake type is the drum brake. These have shoes instead of pads, and drums instead of rotors. Most new cars today have either disc brakes on all four wheels or disc brakes on the front wheels and drum brakes on the rear wheels.

Brake rotors wear down over time due to contact with brake pads. But you don't necessarily need new rotors with each brake pad replacement. Most rotors can be resurfaced one or more times to extend their life. But each resurfacing makes the rotors thinner, and sooner or later you'll need new ones. Always follow the recommendations of the vehicle manufacturer when replacing rotors.


A. Here are some signs that it's time to inspect your brake rotors for possible resurfacing or replacement:

  • A high-pitched screeching sound from your brakes - That's the dreaded "metal on metal" sound telling you that your brake pads are worn down completely. Your metal calipers are probably digging deep grooves into your rotors.
  • Squeaky brakes - Brake pad material has transferred to the rotor.
  • Vibrations or jittery sensation when braking - Your brake rotors might be warped.

Before that point, your mechanic can tell you when your rotors are too worn from brake pad contact to be safely resurfaced. Mechanics are required to replace any rotor that's worn to a level below its manufacturer-required minimum thickness.

The most convenient time to check the rotors is during a brake inspection. On most vehicles, it's difficult to get a good look at your brake rotors yourself without removing the wheels. Your Midas technician will advise you if it's time for new rotors now or whether it's a job that can wait.


A. Brake rotors are expected to wear down in the shape of brake pads, and these indentations can often be resurfaced away (until the rotor gets too thin and must be replaced). Grooves can also be caused by foreign objects under the brake pads, corrosion, or by softer metal in the rotors than on the brake pads. These, too, can be resurfaced as long as the groove isn't deeper than the rotor's minimum thickness.


A. The most common cause of brake rotor warping is excessive heat buildup caused by:

  • Glazing from brake pad material - Pieces of brake pad material can transfer onto the rotor.
  • Rotors that are too thin to dissipate heat - Rotors wear thin due to regular use (and resurfacing during brake service). When they're below the manufacturer's minimum thickness, it's time for new rotors.

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Brake Inspection Questions

A. Your vehicle's brake system has one job -- to stop your vehicle. But it takes dozens of components working together to do that job. And each component has a different replacement cycle.

That's why Midas developed the 55-point brake inspection at the heart of our Secure Stop® brake service. First our experienced Midas Auto Service Experts® conduct a no-stone-unturned investigation of every component of your brake system. We check the usual suspects, like brake pads and fluid leaks. And we track down sneakier culprits, like slowly leaking power brake booster seals that could one day stall your vehicle. If we diagnose a problem with your brakes, we offer an objective view of what's most urgent and what can wait. We take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle's condition, and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.


A. A brake inspection should always include a thorough examination of your entire brake system from the pedal to the rotors and drums (the brake parts attached to your wheels). Along the way, your brake lines should be checked for leaks and proper hydraulic pressure. Even your external brake lights should be tested.

At Midas, Secure Stop® brake service includes a 55-point brake inspection covering these major components (and their smaller parts, such as seals and connectors):

  • Dashboard alerts such as BRAKE and ABS Lights
  • Brake Pedal
  • Power Brake Booster
  • Brake Fluid Reservoir
  • Master Cylinder
  • Brake Lines/ Hoses
  • ABS Hydraulic Unit (if equipped)
  • ABS Controller & other ABS components (if equipped)
  • On Drum Brakes:
    • Backing Plate
    • Wheel Cylinder
    • Brake Shoes
    • Parking Brake/Adjuster Assembly
    • Brake Hardware
  • On Disc Brakes:
    • Hub Bearing Assembly
    • Brake Rotor (disc)
    • Brake Pads
    • Brake Pad Shims
    • Caliper Assembly
    • Brake Hardware

After the inspection, your local Midas technician will provide a written estimate to fix any brake problems they diagnose, and will help you prioritize what needs immediate attention (and what can wait) before making the repairs.


A. Having your brakes inspected once a year or every 10,000-12,000 miles is common, but check your vehicle owner's manual for the recommended brake inspection interval for your model. And have your brakes checked by a mechanic at the first sign of any of these brake problems:

  • Dashboard lights or warnings - Depending on your vehicle, your BRAKE light, ABS light, Check Engine light may alert you to various brake problems.
  • Leaking brake fluid - Any fluid leak should be inspected.
  • Any change in brake response - Taking longer to stop, needing to press the pedal further toward the floor, or having to apply more pressure as you hold the brakes down a steep hill -- these issues suggest potential brake problems.
  • Any new noise when braking - Squealing, grinding, squeaking, or rattling can point to problems with the brake pads and rotors. Hissing sounds can indicate brake fluid leaks or air in the brake lines. Clunking, knocking, or clicking noises can indicate suspension problems.
  • Any shaking or vibration when braking - Rough stops may mean warped rotors. On the other hand, a pulsing brake pedal during a hard stop is your ABS system in action.
  • Soft or spongy brakes - Spongy brakes often mean low brake fluid, air in the brake lines, or certain brake shoe problems.
  • Hard or stiff brakes - You may have contaminants in the brake fluid or a bad seal on the master cylinder or brake booster.
  • Engine misfiring or stalling - You may have a bad power brake booster.
  • Vehicle pulling to one side when braking -- You could have faulty brake hardware or an uneven hydraulic issue. These problems can cause a pull that will also result in uneven brake pad wear.

A. Brake inspections usually take less than 30 minutes as a standalone service. Repairs and maintenance to your brakes will take additional time. Your Midas technician will provide a written estimate and a detailed explanation of any diagnosed brake problems before making repairs.


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ABS Brakes Questions

A.

Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) are designed to prevent your vehicle's wheels from locking (and skidding) during emergency stops and other challenging conditions. How does ABS work? Using electronic sensors and high-pressure pumps, under certain conditions, your ABS system can measure your vehicle's speed, wheel slip and the force you apply to the brakes. When the sensors detect a skid hazard, your ABS actually pumps the brakes for you -- with more speed and precision than a human driver can achieve.

How do anti-lock brakes help you? ABS helps you keep control of your vehicle when you stop suddenly or brake on slick surfaces. By preventing the wheels from locking, you maintain traction and steering as you stop -- instead of skid. On some vehicles, anti-lock brakes may also decrease the braking distance required to stop safely, but this isn't their main purpose.


A. Your anti-lock brake light could be on as part of a routine system check, or it could be alerting you to a problem with your ABS brake system:

  • Routine self-check (the light is briefly on at startup)
  • Malfunctioning ABS computer module
  • Broken or corroded ABS sensor
  • Bad wheel bearing
  • Dirty tone ring
  • Problem outside the ABS and brake systems that affects the ABS sensors or module (low car battery, electrical problems)

A. What to do when your ABS light turns on depends on when the light turns on:

  • ABS light flashes at startup (then turns off): Your ABS system has just performed (and passed) its routine self-test. Nothing to worry about.
  • ABS light comes on at startup (and stays on): Your ABS self-test has found an issue. Your brakes will still work, but their anti-lock function won't engage. Drive mindfully of this missing safety feature until you have your ABS system checked.
  • ABS light comes on while you're driving: Your ABS system has stopped working. Sometimes the issue is temporary, but request an appointment if the light stays on after your next startup.
  • ABS and brake lights come on: On many vehicles, this means your brake system has a problem. Your vehicle isn't safe to drive. Get off the road at the first safe opportunity and call for a tow -- and brake carefully.
  • Brake light glows amber: In some vehicles, an amber brake light functions as the ABS light.

Any time your ABS light stays on after startup, you should request an appointment at Midas for ABS service. After inspecting your ABS, your local Midas technician will explain exactly what's required and what's optional, and provide you with a written estimate before any work is done.


A. Driving with the ABS light on is safe if your brakes are working normally -- but it's less safe than driving with a functioning anti-lock-brake system. In situations where ABS would normally engage, you're at heightened risk of brake lock and skidding if that ABS light is on. It's a good idea to have your ABS system checked out at your earliest convenience.


A. It is unsafe to drive most vehicles with the ABS and brake light on simultaneously. On most vehicles, the brake light alerts you to problems such as low brake fluid or low brake pads. On some older vehicles, the brake light will kick in along with the ABS light to alert you to an ABS system problem. Unless your vehicle is one of these, it's a good idea to err on the side of safety, consider your brakes unreliable, and see your local Midas expert as soon as possible.


A. If your brake pedal pulsates during sudden stops or on slippery roads, that's probably your ABS in action, pumping the brakes. Keep your foot on the brake until your vehicle stops.

Several brake problems can cause brake pedal movement. Whenever your vehicle feels different without a clear explanation, request a Midas brake inspection appointment.


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Soft & Spongy Brakes Questions

A. The most common causes of soft, spongy brakes are:

  • Air in the brake lines - A leak somewhere in the brake system can allow air into the system. Because air compresses, it applies less pressure to the brakes than hydraulic fluid normally does. The result: you need to press your brake pedal further down toward the floor. The solution? One or more Brake Fluid Services may be needed to remediate the issues.
  • Brake adjustment problem - Brakes should automatically adjust as they wear down, but this self-adjusting function can fail. The solution? Brake shoe service.

Either way, a Brake Inspection is the first step to making your mushy pedal feel normal again.


A. While most spongy brakes are caused by some kind of brake fluid problem, there are several parts of your brake system where that leak or pressure disruption could originate.

Spongy brake causes that can be fixed with routine maintenance include:

  • Low brake fluid - A common cause of spongy brakes. Brake fluid levels fall over time (even without leaks), and air enters your brake lines to fill the void. If there's no leak involved, bleeding the brake lines (draining enough fluid to evacuate the air) and topping off the fluid will restore proper hydraulic pressure.
  • Moisture in the system - When there is too much moisture in the system, the brake fluid can get too hot and cause what is known as a brake pedal fade. The solution? Test the brake fluid and replace if needed.

Spongy brake causes that need diagnosis and repair include:

  • Leaking brake fluid
  • Master cylinder failure - this part must be working perfectly to deliver correct pressure from the pedal to the brakes.
  • ABS hydraulic assembly problems
  • Leaking calipers (on disc brakes)
  • Brake shoe adjustment problems (on drum brakes)

From the master cylinder to the calipers and brake shoes, Midas technicians know all the places where spongy brakes start. We'll tell you what needs work now (and what can wait), and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.


A. Air compresses (unlike hydraulic brake fluid), causing the brake pedal to feel spongy. But air in the brake lines is also a symptom of several other brake problems, from worn braking system parts to brake fluid leaks. Some of these problems can lead to brake failure, so early diagnosis of any change in brake response is a very important road safety measure.


A. The first thing you'll feel with air in your brake lines is a soft, spongy, or mushy sensation in your brake pedal. If your brake pressure keeps dropping, you'll need to press your brake pedal further and further toward the floor of your vehicle. If the air in your brake lines is due to a brake fluid leak, your brakes could eventually fail. That's why you should have your brakes checked as soon as you feel any difference in your brake pedal or brake response.


A. Spongy brakes are one of several symptoms of a bad master cylinder -- when the cylinder's seals are too worn to maintain pressure from the brake pedal to the brake lines.

Let's quickly review how brakes work. Pressing the brake pedal pushes the fluid in your master cylinder through the brake lines to exert hydraulic pressure on the brakes. This pressure brings the brake pads or shoes into contact with the rotors and/or drums, creating friction that slows down and stops your vehicle.

Have your brakes checked as soon as you notice any of these symptoms that may point to a bad master cylinder (as well as other serious car problems):

Soft or spongy brakes

Hard of stiff brakes

Leaking brake fluid

Brake pedal falls to the floor when applying pressure


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Oil Change Questions

A. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. It reduces friction, lessens wear, lubricates metal engine parts, forms a seal between the pistons, rings and cylinder walls while helping to cool engine parts. Without the cleaning action of fresh oil, carbon and varnish buildup would be toxic to the engine.

Want to help your engine run efficiently, maximize fuel economy, minimize emissions, and prolong the life of your car? Change your oil at the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals.


A. A Midas oil change takes about 60 minutes and includes oil and filter change as well as our complimentary Midas Touch Courtesy Check. Oil Change Plus customers should allow another 15 minutes for tire rotation. A do-it-yourself oil change can take up to an hour, depending on how easily you can access the oil drain plug and filter on your vehicle.


  • A. Conventional motor oil is derived from crude oil with a variety of additives.
  • Synthetic motor oil is derived from man-made ingredients with a variety of additives. Full synthetic oil protects your engine better than conventional oil due to the purity and uniform molecular structure of these man-made ingredients -- with added environmental benefits. Cost-saving synthetic blend oils are also available. Compare conventional oil vs. synthetic oil.
  • High mileage motor oil contains anti-wear additives to prolong engine life in vehicles with 75,000 miles or more. It's available in conventional, synthetic blend, and full synthetic oil formulas.

Your Midas mechanic can help you choose the right motor oil for your vehicle and driving style -- and we'll never put any oil in your vehicle that fails to meet its manual specifications.

Related:


A. For vehicles made in the past decade or so, automakers usually recommend changing the oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, with even higher intervals for certain models. Most owner's manuals now specify synthetic blend or full synthetic oil in concert with these longer oil change intervals. Manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 3,000 miles for many older vehicles and certain engine types. The 3,000-mile oil change might be a sensible tradition to keep alive if you choose conventional oil.

However, check your manual -- and heed your vehicle's oil change reminder if it triggers between oil changes, regardless of the old adage of every 3,000-miles. (On some vehicles, it takes your actual driving patterns into account.) And if you aren't reaching the mileage guideline each year, follow your manual's timed oil change interval instead.


A. Check your vehicle's manufacturer recommendations to see if "severe" driving conditions mean more frequent oil changes. And the definition of severe might surprise you! If your driving consists mostly of short trips in stop-and-go traffic or driving in "extreme temperatures" (which most of us call ordinary hot summers and cold winters), your vehicle manufacturer may recommend more frequent oil changes.


A. It's best to follow your regular maintenance schedule. But here are some ways your car might tell you it's ready for an oil and filter change:

  • Your dashboard oil reminder: In newer vehicles, this light or text message takes your actual driving conditions into account.
  • Dark oil on your dipstick: Fresh engine oil is transparent and light brown or amber. Dirty oil is dark brown or black -- and too opaque to see through.
  • Overheating: Poor lubrication also makes your engine work harder, which can generate excess heat.
  • Grinding or tapping noises -- these may be the dreaded "metal on metal" sounds, warning you that your oil level is too low to protect your engine.

And don't ignore oil leaks!

Any fluid leak needs immediate attention -- it shouldn't wait till your next oil change. Often, an oil leak is an easy fix, like replacing a filter or tightening a bolt. But an unchecked oil leak can lead to catastrophic engine failure and serious fire hazards.

See either of these symptoms?

  • Fluid under your vehicle or on engine parts.
  • Blue smoke or a burning odor from your exhaust.

Request an oil and fluid diagnosis appointment ASAP if you see these symptoms.


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Synthetic Oil Change Questions

A. Conventional motor oil is a refined crude oil product. Synthetic motor oil is a man-made product produced from a variety of highly engineered ingredients. Full synthetic oil offers the best lubrication, stability, viscosity retention, and sludge prevention. These features of synthetic oil translate to better gas mileage, smoother performance, and better protection against engine wear compared to conventional oil. Plus, vehicles that use synthetic oil usually have longer oil change intervals. That's more convenient for you and better for the environment.

Is synthetic oil right for your car? Learn more about the differences between conventional and synthetic oil.


A. In a 2017 study1 by AAA, full synthetic oil offered 47% more engine protection than conventional oil. Learn more about synthetic vs. conventional oil.


A. The benefits of synthetic oil outweigh the extra cost. AAA's 2017 study1 found that one synthetic oil change every 7,500 miles costs just $5 more per month than conventional oil, while outperforming conventional oil by 47%. Since better oil performance contributes to long-term engine health, synthetic oil is a great investment in the longevity of your vehicle.

Related:


A. When in doubt, a full synthetic oil change every 7,500 miles (or sooner, if your oil reminder activates) is a great rule of thumb. But check your vehicle's manual -- manufacturers today recommend oil change intervals ranging from 5,000 miles to a whopping 15,000 miles, depending on the vehicle. Today's longer oil change intervals assume you're using a type of oil that meets your vehicle's specifications -- a synthetic blend or better, in most cases. (Don't worry - Midas never uses engine oils below your vehicle specs.)


A. It's a myth that synthetic oil causes leaks. But the myth persists because it's based on an outdated fact. Back in the 1970s, synthetic oils did sometimes degrade engine seals made of certain materials. Today, synthetic oils help protect your seals.

Synthetic oil does not cause leaks, but you may notice an existing leak after your first synthetic oil change. That's because synthetic oil can clear away conventional oil build-up that was plugging an existing leak. So synthetic oil doesn't cause the leak -- it diagnoses it! It may be time for high mileage oil. It's designed to fill in those small gaps and prolong the life of your engine.


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High Mileage Oil Change Questions

A. To keep older engines healthy as long as possible. High mileage oil contains additives that condition your engine's rubber seals, reduce friction on metal parts, and clear away sludge. Switching to high mileage oil when your vehicle hits 75,000 miles or so may offer many benefits:

  • Reduce oil consumption.
  • Reduce smoke & emissions.
  • Treat and prevent leaks.
  • Prevent sludge build-up.
  • Maintain and restore compression.
  • Minimize wear on engine parts.
  • Delay the need for major engine repair.

A. High mileage oils contain additives that help prolong engine life and maximize performance in three ways: detergent to eliminate sludge, conditioner to keep rubber seals and gaskets flexible, and additives to lubricate broken-in metal parts and maintain compression.

How does high mileage oil work? As your engine ages, rubber distorts and becomes brittle, so your engine's seals don't quite seal anymore. Meanwhile, friction wears down the moving parts, at least to a broken-in state. Both issues open tiny gaps in your engine system, causing problems like oil leaks, oil burning, extra friction, and loss of compression in your engine's cylinders. Your engine performance suffers, you go through more oil, and the metal parts wear out faster. But the conditioners in high mileage oil chemically react with your seals and gaskets to keep the rubber flexible. The detergents can prevent sludge and eliminate sludge buildup. And high mileage oil is thickened to the higher end of each viscosity range, to fill in those gaps in the seals and metal part connections. This higher base viscosity also pampers your metal components with generous lubrication without exceeding your vehicle's oil specifications.


A. For most high mileage vehicles, the benefits of high mileage oil outweigh the increased cost. With the average age of cars and light trucks at nearly 12 years2, many owners are driving higher mileage vehicles and keeping them longer. Delaying the need for major engine repair isn't just a theoretical question.

Another factor to weigh is the health of your engine's seals and gaskets. Rubber compresses and distorts with time no matter how much or how little you drive. The seal conditioners in high mileage oil counteract that effect on a chemical level to minimize leaks.


A. Consider switching to high mileage oil if your vehicle has 75,000 or more miles, or if you notice any of these problems:

  • Increased oil consumption.
  • Oil stains on your garage floor or driveway.
  • Oil streaks on engine parts.
  • Louder engine noise.
  • Blue smoke from your exhaust system.

A. High mileage oil should be changed on the same schedule your vehicle's manual recommends. For vehicles made in the past decade or so, automakers usually recommend changing the oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, or if your dashboard oil change reminder triggers. The traditional 3,000-mile oil change interval still applies to some older cars, but many cars with these higher oil change intervals have already reached high mileage status. So check the manual -- and heed your vehicle's oil change indicator. (In some vehicles it takes your actual driving patterns into account.) No longer putting those miles on your car? Follow your manual's time interval instead.

Can you wait longer between oil changes by using high mileage oil? Midas doesn't recommend it, given the engine problems these oils help prevent. If your older vehicle is already showing signs of engine wear -- such as burning oil or losing compression -- you should be extra careful to follow your recommended oil change schedule.


A. Synthetic oil offers many benefits that complement the benefits of high mileage oil, including a 47% performance boost over conventional oil in AAA testing.

High mileage oil is available in full synthetic oil, synthetic blend, or conventional oil formulations. Be sure to follow the oil change specifications in your owner's manual to keep your engine healthy -- and your warranty in good standing. With some powertrain warranties as high as 100,000 miles, many high mileage cars are still protected -- but using the wrong kind of oil may void your warranty.

Related:

Your Midas mechanic can help you decide whether synthetic or conventional oil is right for your high mileage oil change -- and we'll never put any oil in your vehicle that fails to meet its manual specifications.


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Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil Questions

A. Synthetic motor oil is derived from man-made ingredients, while conventional motor oil is derived from crude oil. Thanks to these man-made ingredients, synthetic oils are purer than conventional oils. They're also considerably more uniform in molecular structure than conventional oils. That's why synthetic oils lubricate vehicle engines more smoothly and last longer than conventional oils. Synthetic oil may prolong your engine life -- and it's easier on the environment than regular oil.


A. Here are five reasons synthetic oil is better for your car (and the environment) than conventional oil:

  • Longer oil life: The typical newer car has an oil change interval of 7,500 miles partially based on the assumption that full synthetic or synthetic blend oil will be used.
  • Stability at extreme temperatures: Synthetic oil helps your engine stay cooler in hot weather and start more easily in cold weather.
  • Fuel efficiency: By reducing engine friction, synthetic oil helps you get the best mileage out of your vehicle.
  • Better for your engine: Synthetic oil provides improved lubrication for engine parts and less sludge buildup, thanks to its chemical purity and molecular consistency.
  • Better for our planet: In addition to boosting gas mileage, synthetic oil helps reduce emissions and oil burn-off every mile you drive. And the longer time between oil changes means less oil (and packaging!) is used and recycled.

But don't take our word for it. In a 2017 study, AAA found1 that synthetic engine oils performed an average of 47 percent better than conventional oils in a variety of industry-standard tests. According to John Nielsen, AAA's managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair: "With its superior resistance to deterioration, AAA's findings indicate that synthetic oil is particularly beneficial to newer vehicles with turbocharged engines and for vehicles that frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow heavy loads or operate in extreme hot or cold conditions."


A. AAA recommends switching to synthetic oil especially for turbocharged engines, and for vehicles driven in "severe" conditions like hot summers, cold winters, towing, and stop-and-go driving.

Related:


A. You can freely switch between synthetic oil and conventional oil as long as you always use oil that meets or exceeds the standard your vehicle's manufacturer recommends.


A. It's OK to mix synthetic oil with conventional oil, as long as each oil meets the specifications in your owner's manual. (And very few vehicles require exclusively conventional or full synthetic oil.) For example, if your car needs oil between changes -- but the oil you have handy is different from your last oil change -- go ahead and top off. Just remember you won't be getting the full benefits of synthetic oil if you mix in some regular oil.


A. Synthetic oil changes last longer than conventional oil changes -- but you should not exceed your vehicle's recommended oil change frequency. The longer oil change intervals of modern cars assume you'll be using the synthetic blend or full synthetic oil the manual specifies. So, check your vehicle's manual for both oil type and how often to change oil. Those two specifications work together!

With synthetic oil, automakers usually recommend changing the oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, and some models are designed to go 10,000 to even 15,000 miles between oil changes. No longer putting those miles on your car? Follow your manual's time interval instead. And heed your oil change reminder if it triggers in the meantime. It likely takes your specific driving conditions into account.


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Oil Leak Questions

A. Most new engine oil leaks can be fixed inexpensively -- but a neglected oil leak can lead to costly, dangerous outcomes: catastrophic engine failure and even engine fires. So come to Midas as soon as you suspect an oil leak. Your engine, your budget, and the environment will thank you!


A. Get an oil/fluid leak diagnosis as soon as possible if you notice any one or more of the following oil leak symptoms:

  • The red dashboard light is illuminated.
  • You find oil stains (brown or amber fluid) under your vehicle or streaked on engine parts.
  • An abnormal drop in your oil level.
  • Blue smoke from your exhaust, or the smell of burning oil.
  • Grinding or clattering sounds from metal parts ("metal on metal").

A. While oil leak repair is often quick and affordable, you should still treat it as an urgent issue. Ignoring an oil leak can lead to major repairs and safety hazards:

  • Environmental impact: Oil leaks can increase engine emissions, and lost oil ends up in the environment instead of being properly recycled at your next oil change.
  • Degraded hoses and belts: Oil can damage parts and surfaces not designed to come in contact with it.
  • Wear down of metal engine parts from loss of lubrication. If you hear "metal on metal" sounds, your engine parts are grinding against each other.
  • Catastrophic engine failure.
  • Engine fire hazard.

A. For a very small oil leak, make an appointment for a diagnosis as soon as possible -- and minimize unnecessary driving in the meantime.

For a severe oil leak, consider having your vehicle towed to the appointment. For example, significant oil loss and grinding "metal on metal" sounds suggest that a loss of lubrication is damaging your engine parts. Lose enough oil and your engine can seize and stall. Even worse, strong burning odors and blue smoke indicate a possible fire hazard within the engine. Each situation endangers you, your passengers, and others on the road.


A. Where is your oil leak coming from? Oil leaks commonly originate in these auto parts -- which can either wear out or simply be sealed incorrectly:

  • The oil filter.
  • The oil drain plug, valve cover gasket, rear main seals, and any other oil seals and gaskets.
  • The filler cap.
  • The oil pan (or oil pan gasket).
  • Hoses and oil lines.
  • Piston rings.
  • Connections between any of these parts.

A. Oil collecting on the spark plug well can be caused by a leaky valve gasket, valve guide, o-ring, or piston ring. In many cases, the leak can be repaired by replacing the rubber seal.


A. Like all oil and fluid leaks, oil and coolant mixture should be seen by a mechanic at your earliest convenience. The cause is often minor, such as a leaky head gasket. But it can also indicate serious damage such as a cracked engine block.


A. Synthetic oil does not cause oil leaks, but switching to synthetic oil after years of conventional oil changes can reveal preexisting leaks. How? The detergents in synthetic oils clear away thebuild-up (aka sludge) that was previously plugging the leak. One solution: Switching to High Mileage Oil.


A. While it's most important to act quickly when you do see signs of an oil leak, you can also help prevent leaks by following these vehicle maintenance best practices:

  • Follow your vehicle's recommended maintenance schedule.
  • Use the most protective engine oil compatible with your car, and switch to high mileage oil when your vehicle reaches 75,000 miles.
  • Change oil as often as your manual recommends.

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New Tires & Tire Services Questions

A. You need new tires, and you have questions. What type of tire do I really need? What do terms like "all-season" and "all-terrain" really mean? What are my financing options?

Midas brings simplicity to tire buying (and owning). We're here to help you with tire selection, financing, professional installation, and preventive maintenance for a long tire life. We even check your tire pressure and tread wear as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1, no matter what auto repair or maintenance service brings you to Midas.

  1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check also includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.

A. Seasonal Tires - Change these tires twice a year for the best possible tire performance in summer and winter.

  • Snow/Winter Tires: The strongest possible winter traction thanks to tread edges that bite into ice and snow, generous channels that send away slush -- and rubber that stays supple at lower temperatures than other tires.
  • Summer Tires: Lower rolling resistance (and less fuel consumption) than winter, all-season, or off-road tires thanks to flatter treads (for more road contact) -- and rubber formulated for warmer temperatures.

Related:
When to switch between summer and winter tires

Year-Round Tires - Not into changing tires along with the seasons? These versatile tires balance the features needed for summer and winter driving, on and off the roads.

  • All-Season Tires: The tires that come with most passenger cars. Ideal for street driving in areas where winters are moderate (at worst).
  • All-Terrain Tires: Multipurpose marvels that balance off-road traction and durability with comfortable, responsive highway handling. Ideal for a mixture of street driving and moderate off-road use.
  • Mud Tires: Off-road specialists that power through mud, rocks, sand, dirt, and deep snow. Ideal for primarily off-road use (especially on challenging terrain).
  • Low Profile Tires: Enhanced cornering and handling thanks to wide treads and short sidewalls.
  • Performance Tires: Excellent traction, maneuverability and performance thanks to soft rubber compounds and stiff sidewalls.

Want the best snow traction in a year-round tire?

Look for the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol on tires rated for severe snow service. To qualify, a tire must achieve 10% better traction over medium packed snow in manufacturer tests. The mountain snowflake symbol is found on most dedicated snow tires -- and select (year-round) all-terrain and all-season tires. Learn more about severe snow-rated tires.


A. You should replace any tire that shows one or more of these signs of age, damage, or wear:

  • Low tread depth: Replace tires that have worn down below the recommended tread depth. The U.S. legal minimum tread depth is 2/32." You may want to replace your tires at a higher tread depth depending on manufacturer recommendations, or your specific driving conditions.
  • Sidewall damage: Tires with cracks, punctures, blisters, or bulges in the sidewall are no longer structurally sound and cannot be repaired.

Your local Midas technician can help you identify these tire safety hazards, and help you select your perfect replacement tires.


A. The legal minimum tire tread depth in the United States is 2/32" and many tire experts recommend replacing tires at 4/32"-6/32" tread depth or less, especially for tire types that benefit from a deeper tread (snow tires, all-terrain tires, or mud tires). Testing multiple winter tire brands at 5/32"-6/32" tread depth (or 50% of original tread depth), Consumer Reports saw a 14.5% decline in snow traction when accelerating, and a 7% increase in wet stopping distance compared to the tires' original tread depth2.

How to tell if your tire tread depth is too low, and you need to replace your tires:

  • Use a tire tread depth gauge for a precise measurement.
  • Take the U.S. Penny Test: Insert a penny (head first) into your tire tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, it's time for new tires. If the top of Lincoln's head is covered, your tread is deeper than 2/32". On the tail side, if the top of the Lincoln Memorial is covered, your tread is deeper than 6/32".
  • Take the Canadian nickel test: If the top of Queen Elizabeth's crown is covered, your tread is deeper than 2/32".
  • Take the U.S. Quarter Test: If the top of Washington's head is covered, your tire tread is deeper than 4/32".
  • Take the Canadian Quarter Test: If the caribou's nose is covered, your tire tread is deeper than 6/32".
  • Check the wear bars: Tire wear bars are situated at 2/32" of tread depth, so if any wear bar is worn, replace the tire right away. It's below the legal minimum tread depth.

Check tread depth on several parts of the tire, especially if you see uneven wear patterns. And talk to a Midas tire expert to help you decide how low your tread depth can go.


A. It's a good idea to have your wheel alignment checked when you buy new tires, to ensure that your new tires wear down evenly from the day you drive them home. We also recommend having your alignment checked regularly to extend the life of your tires -- it's especially convenient to do this when your vehicle is in for services like tire rotation.

Related:
Learn more about Wheel Alignment


A. While tire imbalance is a common side effect of bumpy roads and other driving hazards, new tires should be checked for balance before mounting. Even new tires can have natural imbalance from the factory. Starting off with balanced tires and having the balanced checked as a regular part of tire service will help extend the life of your tires.

Related:
Learn more about Tire Balancing


A. Midas recommends installing a TPMS Service Kit with every tire purchased on a TPMS sensor vehicle and testing the TPMS sensor to ensure it's measuring your tire pressure correctly. Maintaining proper tire pressure extends the life of your tires by preventing premature edge wear and other damage. And your TPMS system is there to alert you to dangerously low tire pressure -- and the blowout risk it brings. You don't want to miss this warning due to incorrect pressure measurements or a malfunction in your TPMS's alert function.

Related:
Learn more about TPMS


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All-Terrain Tires Questions

A. What if you need off-road capability, but you do plenty of road driving too? Mud tires can tackle the terrain, but it'll be a bumpy ride home on the highway. Highway tires offer a comfy commute, but they're no match for the mountain.

You can decide not to decide. Get all-terrain tires. They're built for your off-road life -- and for the road that takes you there.


A.

All-terrain tires are good for driving in both off-road and on-road conditions without buying multiple tires for those purposes. They are the best off-road tires for highway comfort, noise control, and fuel economy. And many AT tires offer great for traction control in icy, snowy, or wet conditions. Dedicated mud tires, winter tires, and highway tires outperform AT tires in the conditions they're designed for, but all-terrain tires offer the most versatility for drivers who need to go off-road.


All-terrain tires are all-purpose pavement and off-road tires, while mud tires are off-road specialists. Mud tires excel on rocky, sandy terrain, loose soil, deep snow, and (of course) mud -- but at the price of a bumpy, noisy ride on highways. All-terrain tires offer more comfort and better handling on highways, but at the price of a lower level of off-road traction. But there's one off-road scenario where all-terrains beat mud tires: driving over ice, packed snow, or slush. That's because AT tire treads are somewhat similar to snow tire treads, with siping and smA. all tread blocks. (Caveat: Dedicated snow tires offer even more winter traction.)


A. While their tread patterns can be similar, all-terrain tires are not substitutes for snow tires. Here are some important differences between all-terrain tires and snow tires:

  • Rubber composition: Snow tires are made of cold-friendly rubber that stays flexible below 45 degrees -- but gets too soft at higher temperatures. All-terrain tires are made of conventional tire rubber that becomes brittle in colder weather -- but performs at higher temperatures. In this sense, all-terrain tires are a type of all-season tire.
  • Studs (where permitted): Some snow tires come with studded treads, or holes where studs can be installed. Because they damage roads, studs aren't legal everywhere. But they offer a very high level of traction.
  • Siping: While some siping is a common feature of AT tire design, there's usually two or three times more siping in snow tires, to evacuate water and slush and to create more edge surface area to bite into slippery pavement.

Related:
Learn more about snow tires.


Look for the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol on tires rated for severe snow service. To qualify, a tire must achieve 10% better traction over medium packed snow in manufacturer tests. The mountain snowflake symbol is found on most dedicated snow tires -- and select (year-round) all-terrain and all-season tires. All-terrain tires with the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol are not necessarily equivalent to snow tires, but may represent the highest industry standard of snow traction without going to full snow tires. The symbol was defined by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) to designate tires that qualify for severe snow performance rating1. To qualify, a tire must be tested by the manufacturer to achieve 10% better traction on medium packed snow than a standard reference tire. The standard does not mention rubber composition, so a tire carrying this symbol is not required to be composed of rubber that remains soft in cold weather. In a 2017 snow acceleration test2, all-terrain tires with the 3PMSF symbol took second place to dedicated snow tires, while outperforming all-terrain tires without the symbol.


A.

All-terrain tires are generally more fuel-efficient than mud tires but less fuel efficient than all-season tires. Tire traction always affects fuel economy because it's a force your engine must work to overcome. The aggressive traction needed for off-road terrain becomes extra rolling resistance on a paved road -- and rolling resistance accounts for 4%-11% of fuel consumption in light duty vehicles3.

U.S. Department of Energy, "Low Rolling Resistance Tires." Read the article here.


A. Most all-terrain tires are rated to last 40,000 miles, though some tires list higher ratings of 50,000-70,000 miles. You tire life will depend on your specific driving conditions. You can maximize the life of your all-terrain tires by monitoring your tire pressure, safely storing winter and summer tires when not in use, and keeping a regular maintenance schedule. Off-road driving can be especially hard on your tire treads, tire balance, and suspension, so come to Midas regularly for tire rotation, tire balancing and wheel alignment.


A. Consumer Reports recommends replacing your all terrain tires every three or four years as a best practice. In the meantime, replace your all-terrain tires when you see visible cord or wire, or when the treads are worn down to the tire's minimum recommended tread depth. Tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires at a tread depth of 2/32". And if your tread has worn down to the wear bar, replace those tires immediately. Wear bars mark the legal minimum tread depth in most states.

But you may want to consider a more conservative tread depth of 4/32" to 6/32" for winter and off-road driving. In a test of multiple winter tire brands at 5/32"-6/32" tread depth, Consumer Reports saw a 14.5% decline in snow traction when accelerating, and a 7% increase in wet stopping distance4.

How deep is 2/32"? How deep is 4/32"? Take the Penny Test! (It works with U.S. and Canadian coins.) And your local Midas technician can visually inspect your tires whenever you have your vehicle serviced.

  1. Consumer Reports tested 50 models of winter tires after removing 50% of tread from the tires (resulting in testing tread depths of 5/32"-6/32"), and published the results on February 10, 2018. Read the test results here.

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Snow Tires Questions

A. Here's an all-too familiar winter driving scene: the roads are dusted with slippery, powdery snow and the all-season tires that came with your car seem to be getting the job done. Until your back wheels start to fishtail. Or you brake for a traffic light -- and your car keeps rolling (skating?) toward that icy intersection for several more seconds.

Opt out of those nerve-wracking moments this winter. Get snow tires. Get your brakes, your traction (and your confidence) back.


A. Snow tires (also called winter tires) provide better traction and braking on winter roads compared to all-season tires, summer tires, or performance tires. The main advantages of snow tires come from cold-friendly rubber composition and precipitation-friendly tread design:

  1. Deeper Tread Depth: Snow tire treads can grip though surface snow and slush.
  2. Groovy Tread Patterns: Snow tire tread patterns have more grooves, to increase the surface area for traction.
  3. Wider Siping: Snow tire edges often feature more open channels called siping to evacuate water.
  4. Softer Rubber: Snow tire rubber is formulated to stay flexible in temperatures below 45 °F / 7 °C (where other tires may develop cracks and premature wear).

A. Winter tires come in studded and studless types. (Technically, studdable tires are also on the market -- with holes in the tread to install your own studs.) Studded tires offer extreme traction, but give you a bumpy ride the rest of the time. Plus, studded tires damage roads. They're only legal during winter in most of Canada and the U.S. -- and banned outright in some states. Studded snow tires were once the state of the art in snow tire design and many of us grew up with them. Studless snow tires are the standard winter tire choice today, thanks to decades of advances in tread design and rubber formulation.


A.

All-season tires are not a substitute for snow tires. They're designed to be a compromise between winter traction and warm-weather performance, comfort, and fuel efficiency. Both summer tires and winter tires outperform all-season tires in their areas of strength. And depending on where you drive, snow tires may be a requirement:

  • Vehicles registered in the province of Quebec must have four snow tires from December 1 to March 15 -- and they must be either studded or marked with the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF) symbol. (Learn about 3PMSF tires.)
  • In several U.S. states, local officials have the power to mandate snow tires (or chains) during harsh weather or on snowy roads. New to an area with serious winters? Check with your state transportation department -- or your local Midas tire expert -- for current tire laws.

A. More and more off-road and all-terrain tires bear the 3PMSF "mountain snowflake" symbol indicating that they are snow-rated, but these tires aren't a substitute for snow tires. They're designed to include snow in the types of terrain they can handle, but most aren't made of cold-tolerant rubber and they aren't optimized for the full range of winter challenges -- such as icy streets when you aren't driving off-road.

Off-road driving can complicate your snow tire options. Trust Midas to help you find your perfect winter tires.

Related:
Learn more about all-terrain tires.


A. If winter temperatures in your area regularly drop below 45 °F / 7 °C, snow tires are well worth the extra expense - no matter how much (or how little) snow falls.

  1. 1. Snow tires offer better cold-weather traction whether it's snowing or not, because they're made of more cold-tolerant rubber than other tires. So "snow" tires offer peace of mind all winter -- even when there's not a cloud in the sky.
  2. 2. Snow tire treads really do outperform all-season tires on snow and ice. In a test of multiple tire brands, Consumer Reports found that winter tires reduced braking distance on ice by an average of six feet, and improved snow traction by an average of 34%.

Here's another reason snow tires are worth the money: Keeping your regular tires off the road and safely stored during the winter months will extend their life for another two or three years.

1. Consumer Reports tested 53 models of all-terrain, all-season, and dedicated winter/snow truck tires, and published the results on March 16, 2017. Read the test results here.


A. Four matching snow tires are recommended for all passenger vehicle types. Your vehicle's brakes and traction control are designed for all its tires to have the same traction capability. If you only change your front tires to winter tires, the back of your vehicle may spin out as the back tires grip the road loosely compared to the front. If you only install winter tires on the back of your car, you may find it difficult to turn your vehicle as the front tires encounter resistance from the back tires.


A. Winter tires excel in temperatures below 45 °F / 7 °C, and summer tires rule the road in warmer weather. It's not just about snow -- it's the rubber, too. Summer tires can grow brittle in cold weather, risking premature cracks and wear. Winter tires can become too soft in warm weather, increasing rolling resistance, compromising fuel efficiency, and wearing down your tire edges prematurely.


A. Snow tires should not be used when the temperature regularly exceeds 45 °F / 7 °C. Snow tires are made of softer rubber than other tires to counteract the brittleness that rubber takes on when cold. A winter tire used in warm weather becomes too soft, causing uneven tread wear and risking premature breakdown. The tread wear pattern on a snow tire used out of season looks much like the wear pattern on an under-inflated tire.


A. A set of snow tires that is properly used, maintained, and stored will provide most drivers with three to four seasons of superior winter traction. After that, the tires may be usable for several more winters, but without the full benefits of winter tires. Your tire manufacturer may offer guidelines, and the actual life of your snow tires will depend on your mileage, your driving conditions, and how you care for your tires. You can extend their life by using your winter tires in only cold weather, storing them properly in warm weather, maintaining proper tire pressure, and following a regular schedule of wheel alignment, tire rotation, and tire balancing.


A. Replace your snow tires if they sustain sidewall damage, or when they've worn down below acceptable tread depth. In the U.S., 2/32" is the legal minimum tire tread depth, and some manufacturers encourage drivers to keep their tires until that point. (Tip: When your tire wear bars show visible wear, you're there. Replace those tires as soon as possible.) But 4/32" to 6/32" may be a better tread depth for snow tires. In a test of multiple winter tire brands at 5/32"-6/32" tread depth, Consumer Reports saw a 14.5% decline in snow traction during acceleration, and a 7% increase in wet stopping distance2.

Related:
How to measure tire tread depth with a U.S. or Canadian coin.

Your local Midas technician can inspect your snow tires during the season switch, or whenever you have your tires serviced. You'll get objective advice on when it's time for replacement tires.

Consumer Reports tested 50 models of winter tires after removing 50% of tread from the tires (resulting in testing tread depths of 5/32"-6/32"), and published the results on February 10, 2018. Read the test results here.


A. In warmer weather (temperatures regularly above 45 °F / 7 °C) store snow tires away from heat, light, air, and moisture to protect them from rubber breakdown and dry rot.

  1. Choose a cool, dry, preferably dark location to store your winter tires. First choice: A climate-controlled storage area. Second choice, a basement.
  2. Clean and dry each tire.
  3. Place each tire in a plastic garbage bag.
  4. Remove as much air as possible from each bag.
  5. Store each tire upright if space permits.
  6. Shield the tires from light: Ensure that the storage area is kept dark, or place light-blocking materials on and around the tires.

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Flat Tire Repair Questions

A. If you've ever had a flat tire, you know two sinking feelings: The flat itself, and the thought of having to replace a tire before its time. But as much as we love selling new tires, it's not ideal to replace one tire at a time. If your tire can be repaired, it's better to fix it and keep the set together for a long and useful life. We're here to help you keep those tires as long as possible -- and select your next set when the time comes.

At your tire repair appointment, your Midas technician will inspect your tire and let you know if we can safely repair it according to specific U.S. and Canadian industry standards1.

We can usually repair:

  • Punctures to the tire tread ¼ inch or smaller: We plug the hole and apply a patch to the area.
  • Leaks in and around the air valve stem: We replace the valve stem if it's damaged, and re-seal the valve stem it there's a leak where it's inserted into the tire.

We cannot repair:

  • Punctures larger than ¼ inch.
  • Punctures that are too close to previous repairs on the same tire.
  • Sidewall damage.

A. Most cars can be driven on a flat tire very slowly, for extremely short distances (such as one hundred yards) without damaging the wheel. But you cannot drive on a flat tire at all if you want to preserve the option of having the tire repaired. Contact with the rim will shred the tire's internal structure. And driving on a flat tire should be a last resort, reserved for situations when you cannot safely pull over and call for a tow truck. There is no way to determine exactly how long your flat tire will protect your wheel. That's assuming you don't have run-flat tires.

If you have run-flat tires, check your tire model specifications to see how far you can drive in the event of a flat. Most run-flat tires are designed for up to fifty miles of driving while flat, at up to 50 mph.

If your tire has a slow leak, make an appointment at your earliest convenience and keep your tire pressure properly inflated until you reach your local Midas.


A. There are several possible causes of a slow tire leak:

  • A puncture from a very small object that is still lodged inside the tire.
  • Aging rubber which is vulnerable to tiny cracks.
  • A leaky air valve stem.

A. To find the slow leak in your tire, try the Bubble Test:

  1. Check your tire's air valve stem for damage or corrosion.
  2. Examine the tire carefully for foreign objects lodged inside puncture marks.
  3. Spray the tire with soapy water. Look for active bubbles -- this will be air escaping from the leak.

A. Unlike a punctured tire tread, a punctured tire sidewall cannot be safely repaired. The tread of a tire can be plugged and patched thanks to the layers of structural support under the tread. The sidewall is flat rubber, too thin to attach a plug. Without the plug, a patch on the outside of the sidewall would not hold. A tire with sidewall damage is no longer structurally sound for safe driving.


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Tire Rotation Questions

A. Tire rotation is the process of moving each tire to a different wheel on the vehicle to ensure that all parts of each tire wear down evenly over time. A level tire tread promotes consistent traction on the road and minimizes the risk of a blowout. You get a safer, easier-handling vehicle while maximizing tire life -- if you rotate your tires regularly.

Why do tires wear down unevenly? Each wheel position places different stresses on its tire. The steering system, drivetrain, and sun exposure -- all these factors influence tire wear. There are even tire rotation patterns specific to each drivetrain, directional vs. non-directional tires, and whether you have a full-sized spare tire as part of your rotation. Stick to your rotation pattern and all your tires will get equal time in each stress point.

Is this tire rotation lesson making your head spin? Don't worry. Your Midas technician will know the best tire rotation pattern for your vehicle.


A. Tire rotation and tire balancing are two different services that are often performed together. Tire rotation involves moving tires from one wheel to another to promote even tread wear. Balancing a tire involves removing the tire to measure and optimize its weight distribution so it rolls smoothly and wears down evenly. Tire rotation is an ideal opportunity to balance your tires while they are off your vehicle. Since both services promote even tire wear and are often done at the same time, it's easy to see how these services are sometimes mistaken for each other (Learn more about tire balancing.)


A. Unless your owner's manual provides a different schedule, rotate your tires at least once a year or every 6,000-8,000 miles -- whichever comes first. For many newer vehicles, this tire rotation schedule conveniently matches the common oil change interval of 7,500 miles. If you work your vehicle hard with high-performance driving, towing, or off-road adventures, you may want to rotate your tires more often. The tire experts at Midas can help you monitor how quickly your tire treads are wearing down.


A. Tire rotation takes about 15 minutes as a standalone service. But tire rotation often includes extra services like tire pressure check, visual inspection for damage, and even checking tire balance and wheel alignment. These additional services take more time.


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Tire Pressure Check Questions

A. Don't you love driving on newly inflated tires? Doesn't it feel like your car just works better? It's not in your head. Properly inflated tires provide better shock absorption, traction, braking, and steering response. It's a difference you can feel.

But maintaining proper tire pressure gives you much more than the feeling of a comfortable, responsive car. It may just be your easiest way to maximize the safety and performance of your vehicle while minimizing its cost of ownership. Here's how:

  • Safety: An under-inflated tire faces an increased blowout risk. Under low pressure, more of your tire comes into contact with the road, generating extra friction and heat. And the flatter shape of an under-inflated tire places extra strain on its rubber and metal components. A properly inflated tire is free of these particular stresses.
  • Tire Longevity: Too much or too little tire pressure shortens tire life by causing uneven tread wear (not to mention wear on parts of the tire not designed for road contact). Proper tire pressure helps you avoid premature tire replacement.
  • Fuel Efficiency: Proper tire pressure can boost fuel efficiency by as much as 3%. On average, drivers can save 2 cents a gallon, which adds up to $240 over 12,000 miles.1

That's why every Midas Touch Courtesy Check2 includes a tire pressure check.

1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check also includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.


A. A sticker showing your recommended tire pressure is usually found in the driver's door jamb (newer vehicles) or in the glove compartment. Your proper tire pressure will also be listed in your vehicle's owner's manual. Pay attention to the details: front, rear, and spare tires usually have different pressure targets, and some stickers provide hot and cold pressure targets. (In this context, "hot" refers to the temperature of the tire, not the weather. If you've been driving on it, the tire is hot.)

Never rely on any pressure markings you see on the tire itself -- this number represents the maximum pressure the tire can withstand.


A. Your tire pressure in cold weather should be monitored with extra vigilance. Cold weather itself decreases tire pressure by condensing the air inside your tires. Expect your tires to lose 1 PSI for every 10 degrees the temperature falls -- and vice versa. Your vehicle's sticker (in the driver's door jamb or glove box) or your owner's manual will specify your recommended tire pressure.


A. The specific PSI measurement that's considered low tire pressure depends on your vehicle, the tire (front, rear, spare) and whether the tire has been recently driven ("hot"). Your vehicle's manual and tire pressure sticker will list the recommended pressure.

If your vehicle has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that's properly set up, the TPMS will alert you in certain situations such as a sudden drop in tire pressure or a dangerously low pressure reading. Not all TPMS systems work the same way, so check your vehicle manual to learn more. (Learn more about TPMS systems.)


A. When outside temperatures are stable, you should check tire pressure about once a month. When the weather brings rapid temperature changes, remember that every 10-degree rise or fall on the thermometer will change your tire pressure by at least 1 PSI. And if your vehicle has TPMS (most newer vehicles do), remember that it's not necessarily a substitute for regular tire pressure check. Your TPMS may be designed only to alert you to sudden pressure loss, or to a specific low pressure measurement. Even moderately low pressure can increase the chance of a blowout, and cause premature tire wear. Check your owner's manual to learn how your TPMS works.


A. Driving with low tire pressure is a safety hazard due to increased risk of a blowout. When a tire is under-inflated, its flatter shape stretches and strains structure of the tire, and puts more rubber on the ground to generate extra heat. If you suspect your tires are low in pressure (or your TPMS lights up), you should check your pressure as soon as possible and add air if you need to. Find your nearest Midas for help with this, and avoid high-speed driving in the meantime.


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Wheel Alignment Questions

A. Wheel alignment (also known as tire alignment) is a service that adjusts your vehicle's suspension to ensure that all wheels are oriented correctly in relation to each other and to the road. In practical terms, wheel alignment ensures that every wheel points in the same direction and every tire maintains optimal contact with the road. It also helps maximize your tire investment by preventing some kinds of uneven tire wear.

The wheel alignment process involves measuring and restoring the factory settings of three angles in your vehicle's suspension:

  • The Camber angle: The vertical tilt of the side of the wheel in relation to the side of the vehicle, viewed from the front or back of the vehicle.
  • The Caster angle: The tilt of the steering axis in relation to a theoretical vertical straight line, viewed from the side of the vehicle.
  • The Toe angle: The lateral tilt of the side of the wheel in relation to the center of the vehicle, viewed from above the vehicle.

Wheel alignment involves meticulous measurements on an alignment machine. It's a job for a qualified mechanic using precision equipment. And that's what you'll find at your local Midas.


A. When your vehicle needs wheel alignment, you may notice these symptoms in your steering wheel and tires:

  • Rolling to the right or left: While pointing your steering wheel straight ahead on a level road.
  • Crooked steering wheel: You're driving straight ahead, but your steering wheel looks as if you're making a turn.
  • Tire noise: As the misaligned tires are dragged in a different direction than they're pointed toward.
  • Uneven tire wear: You see one of these telltale tread patterns: Diagonal wipe, feathering, camber wear, or toe wear. Or, you notice a mismatch in tread wear between the two front tires or the two back tires.s

A. A wheel alignment takes about an hour as a standalone task. Replacing any damaged components along the way would take extra time. Please allow more time for any other tire and wheel services commonly performed along with wheel alignment.


A. Most vehicle manufacturers do not include wheel alignment in the standard maintenance schedule, so we recommend wheel alignment every one to two years. We strongly recommend wheel alignment with any new tire purchase for even tread wear from day one. In the meantime, it's a great idea to check your alignment any time you have tires rotated or balanced.


A. Whether you can adjust the alignment on just two wheels or all four wheels depends on your vehicle's drivetrain and suspension type. However, all modern wheel alignment is designed to be performed as a four wheel system. Whether the rear wheels can be adjusted or not, the rear wheel alignment angles should be measured and the front wheels should be aligned to the rear wheels. Your Midas Technician can tell you which wheels on your vehicle can actually be adjusted.


A. Poor tire alignment can cause your vehicle to vibrate when the misaligned wheels point in different directions. The wheels and tires experience strain and friction as they push or pull against each other. Your ride gets even rougher as your tire treads wear down at the stress points.

Misaligned wheels are only one cause of vibrations in your car. If you're feeling vibrations in your steering wheel -- at specific highway speeds -- you may need tire balancing. And vibrations in your wheels may lead you to suspension service as well as tire imbalance.


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Tire Balancing Questions

A. Has your steering wheel started to vibrate just as you hit the speed limit? Then it's time to have a mechanic check your… tires? Actually, yes. Vibrations at a specific range of highway speeds are a classic symptom of tire imbalance, and the effect is often first felt in the steering wheel. And that's just the beginning. Left untreated, an unbalanced tire can shorten your tire life, increase your fuel cost, and eventually damage your shock absorbers, wheel bearings, and wheel assembly. And your ride will get more bumpy -- and more dangerous. So be sure to have your tires inspected at the first sign you might need tire balancing.


A. The purpose of tire balancing (also called wheel balancing) is to detect when a tire is rolling unevenly due to irregular weight distribution, and to correct the problem by attaching weights to specific areas of the wheel. The tire balancing procedure consists of these five steps:

  1. Remove the tire from the vehicle.
  2. Place the tire on a balancing machine.
  3. Spin the tire to identify where weight imbalances exist and to determine where to attach counterweights.
  4. Apply clip-on or adhesive counterweights to the wheel.
  5. Reinstall the tire.

A. Tire balancing, tire rotation, and wheel alignment are three different services that complement each other to extend tire life and enhance road safety. Tires are often balanced while they're conveniently removed from the vehicle for tire rotation or wheel alignment, leading to confusion between these tasks.


  • Vibrations, but only at a specific speed range: Several auto repair issues can cause vibrations, but tire imbalance is the prime suspect if your vibrations kick in around 50mph and level off around 60mph. (Many drivers first notice the feeling in the steering wheel, but the vibrations can escalate to the floors and seats of your vehicle.)
  • Uneven tread wear, especially in a patchy or cupping pattern. Other tire problems (misalignment, improper inflation) cause extra tread wear along the sides or in the middle of the tire. Tire imbalance wears down the tread in random spots due to random irregularities in the tire's weight distribution.
  • Bumpy or wobbly ride, especially with rhythmic thudding: The tire imbalance itself will bounce you around first, and the resulting patches of worn-down tread can slap the pavement with each revolution.
  • Premature wear to shock absorbers, wheel bearings, and wheel assembly, a predictable effect of the bumpy ride caused by unbalanced tires.
  • Decline in fuel efficiency. This symptom may be difficult to isolate amid the many variables involved in fuel consumption, but any condition that affects tire traction or steering will also make your engine work harder.

  • A. Small imbalances in tire components often arise in manufacturing, shipping, and storage. Further imbalances can result from road conditions like potholes, curb contact, and other minor trauma to the tire or the metal in the wheel. Finally, driving on improperly inflated tires or misaligned wheels can put extra stress on the wrong parts of your tire and introduce new weight imbalances.

    The takeaway: Tire imbalance is inevitable! That's why tire balancing should be a regular part of tire and wheel maintenance along with wheel alignment, tire rotation, and proper tire inflation.


    A. There are two sounds associated with unbalanced tires that require urgent attention. The first is a rhythmic thump at highway speeds -- it could be a bare spot in your tire tread striking the pavement with each revolution. The second sound is a humming noise during shallow turns or lane changes -- it could be a damaged wheel bearing. These sounds point to diminished traction and steering control as well as heightened blowout risk.


    A. Balancing a set of four tires may take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours as a standalone service. An older tire that's seen its share of bumps and bounces (and accumulated more imbalances) will often take longer to balance than a new tire that's only picked up minor imbalances during shipping and storage.

    Tire balancing is often added to other services that involve tire removal and remounting, such as tire rotation or new tire purchase. Your Midas technician can estimate the total turnaround time for all the tire service you choose.


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    TPMS Service Questions

    A. When your Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) lights up, one or more of your tires might be under-inflated. Or your TPMS system itself might need service -- from a simple reset to new seals to a TPMS sensor replacement.

    Your Midas technician can check your tire pressure, tell you why the light is on, and make sure your TPMS is working to alert you to any dangerous loss of tire pressure.


    A. Different TPMS systems have different repair and service options. For instance, most TPMS sensors do not have removable batteries, so the entire sensor must be replaced when the battery is drained. Here are the TPMS service options at Midas:

    • Tire inspection to rule out slow leaks as a cause of tire under-inflation.
    • Diagnostic check (and servicing) of TPMS system1.
    • Replacement seals and nuts on TPMS sensors (TPMS Service Kit).
    • TPMS sensor battery testing.
    • TPMS sensor replacement, installation and programming.
    • TPMS reset after tire service.

    A. A steady TPMS light usually means one or more of your tires is under-inflated. Depending on your vehicle, various pressure conditions may trigger a TPMS alert, such as a sudden change in pressure, or your tire pressure falling too low by a certain percentage. A blinking or flashing TPMS light usually indicates an issue with the TPMS system itself, such as a dead TPMS sensor battery. Check your vehicle manual to learn what triggers your particular TPMS light.


    A. If you've added air to your tires and verified their inflation levels with a tire pressure gauge, there are three possible reasons for the TPMS light to stay on:

    1. Your TPMS needs resetting: Some sensors require a TPMS reset after adding air as well as rotating or replacing tires. Check your vehicle manual for the procedure.
    2. Your TPMS needs service: Likely if the light is blinking and your verified tire pressure is stable.
    3. A slow tire leak: Likely if the TPMS light is steady after adding air. Keep monitoring tire inflation. If your verified tire pressure drops too quickly, it's time for tire repair.

    A. It is only safe to drive with the TPMS light on if you're certain your tires are maintaining proper pressure (suggesting the light is on because of a TPMS system issue). It's unsafe to drive on improperly inflated tires, so check your tires with a pressure gauge as soon as your TPMS light comes on. If your tires maintain correct pressure but the light still won't go off, it's time for diagnostic service on your TPMS. In this case it's OK to drive in the short term, as long as you monitor your tire pressure carefully -- and remember that you may not be reliably alerted to dangerous changes in tire pressure.


    A. A TPMS sensor is typically replaced when its battery runs out. Very few sensors come with removable batteries, so the lifespan of a TPMS sensor is usually equal to its battery life.


    A. You don't need to replace your TPMS sensors when buying new tires, but it's often convenient to do so if the sensors are more than a few years old. Most TPMS sensor batteries last five to ten years, so older sensors may not last as long as your new tires. Many drivers prefer to avoid the hassle of replacing TPMS sensors mid-way through the tire lifecycle.

    Midas recommends a TPMS Service Kit when replacing tires. This kit contains replacement parts for the sensor's valve stem seals and nuts to ensure a perfect fit to your new tires.

    Your local Midas technician can help you decide whether to replace TPMS sensors based on the life expectancy of your new tires, and we'll be here to replace your sensors when the time is right.


    A. You should always reset your TPMS after changing or rotating tires, or installing new sensors. Some sensor manufacturers recommend resetting it even after adding air to your tires. Resetting the TPMS is often described as retraining the main TPMS system by teaching the system to recognize the sensors in their new positions. Depending on your vehicle, the TPMS reset procedure consists of sequence of ignition and pedal movements, or changing a setting in your dashboard menu, or using a TPMS Reset Tool.

    Check your vehicle manual or ask your local Midas technician how to reset your TPMS after tire service.


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    Search Tires by Make and Model Questions

    A. Provide your vehicle details and we'll show you the tires that fit.


    A. Select Your Vehicle Make


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    Mufflers & Exhaust Questions

    A. A loud muffler and a dragging tailpipe may be classic comedy gold, but a damaged exhaust system is no joke. Broken or leaky exhaust parts can compromise your vehicle's engine performance, increase emissions, and even let toxic gasses into your cabin, undetected.

    Midas services all parts of your vehicle's exhaust system:

    • Exhaust valve and piston: Engine parts that force exhaust fumes out from the combustion chamber (where they are created) to the exhaust manifold.
    • Exhaust manifold: The path from the piston to the catalytic converter. In or near this area, there will be one or more oxygen sensors.
    • Catalytic converter: Converts some toxins to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water for cleaner emissions -- though the exhaust is still poisonous in confined spaces (and CO2 is a greenhouse gas). More oxygen sensors may be located after the catalytic converter to help monitor its performance.
    • Exhaust pipe: Carries the cleaner exhaust gasses to the muffler.
    • Muffler: Reduces the noise of combustion and expulsion of exhaust.
    • Tailpipe: Where exhaust leaves your vehicle.

    Related:

    Exhaust Leaks

    Dual Exhaust

    Muffler Replacement and Repair with North America's Leader


    A. A muffler is one component of a vehicle's exhaust system. Its job is to reduce the noises of engine combustion and evacuation of exhaust gasses. The entire exhaust system starts with your engine's exhaust valve and exhaust manifold and continues through a series of pipes to at least one catalytic converter, muffler, and tailpipe.

    Dual exhaust systems may employ one or two catalytic converters and mufflers, depending on the configuration. Single exhaust systems are far more common and employ a single catalytic converter and muffler, occasionally featuring two tailpipes.

    Find your local Midas and request an appointment today. Our Midas Auto Service Experts® take the time to thoroughly explain your muffler's condition and discuss the best muffler repair vs. replacement options for your budget. We provide a written estimate before working on your vehicle.


    A. The simplest muffler replacement takes 30-60 minutes depending on your vehicle. Allow another hour or two if the mid-pipe or downpipe also needs service. These pipes can be difficult to reach, and may need to be replaced along with your muffler.


    A. Here are some signs that your muffler needs service:

    • Louder exhaust sounds
    • Clunking from the muffler
    • Engine rattling or misfiring
    • Dangling or dragging tailpipe
    • Condensation from the exhaust pipe
    • An unusual exhaust smell

    A. The lifespan of a muffler is traditionally estimated at 40,000-80,000 miles. But your muffler may fail sooner under harsh driving conditions like cold weather, corrosive road salt, and damage from road debris and potholes. You can help mitigate corrosion by frequently having your vehicle's undercarriage washed, and choosing a replacement muffler made of corrosion-resistant steel when the time comes.


    A. A car with a broken muffler may or may not be safe to drive. Muffler damage often goes hand in hand with an exhaust leak -- a serious safety hazard. Carbon monoxide in your cabin can affect your driving ability and cause health problems before you realize it's there. Any problem with your exhaust system should be evaluated by a qualified mechanic.


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    Dual Exhaust Questions

    A. A dual exhaust system distributes a vehicle's engine exhaust between two separate exit routes, usually ending in two separate mufflers. A single exhaust system sends all exhaust gasses through one exhaust path and muffler. If your engine has multiple cylinder banks (typical with six or more cylinders) and you have single exhaust, a "Y" pipe connects both cylinder manifolds to a shared exhaust pipe. From there, exhaust passes through one oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, and muffler. In a dual exhaust system, two exhaust pipes (usually connected to each other in an "X" or "H" pipe configuration) distribute the exhaust between two different sensors: the catalytic converter and muffler arrays. (Single mufflers with two intakes are also available.) With dual exhaust, your engine expels exhaust gas faster (using less energy) than with single exhaust. Most small-engine, non-turbo passenger vehicles come with single exhaust. Dual exhaust comes on certain vehicles featuring engines with six or more cylinders.


    A. Either single or dual exhaust may be better, depending on the vehicle and whether you're interested in the performance benefits and classic muscle car engine sound that dual exhaust can deliver.

    Dual exhaust is better for:

    • Engine sounds: The "hot rod" sounds of dual exhaust are a matter of taste (and hotly debated among car enthusiasts). Depending on exhaust pipe configuration, dual exhaust can deliver a deep, throaty sound or a higher-pitched, exotic-car sound.
    • Performance and fuel efficiency: The performance and fuel efficiency benefits of dual exhaust come from opening more pipe space for exhaust to pass through (lowering the backpressure), and doubling the vehicle's oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, and muffler capacity. The faster an engine can "exhale," the faster it can "inhale" fresh fuel. And the less energy your engine devotes to exhaling, the more energy it can devote to its main job of moving your vehicle.

    Single exhaust is better for:

    • Lower service costs: With just one exhaust pipe, oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, and muffler to maintain, single exhaust has a lower cost of ownership than dual exhaust.
    • Vehicles that wouldn't see performance benefits from dual exhaust: The performance gains of dual exhaust will only be noticeable in high performance or large-capacity engines. That's why single exhaust comes standard on most vehicles with non-turbo, four-cylinder engines.

    A. Aftermarket dual exhaust upgrade kits are available for certain vehicles. Check with your nearest Midas to find out whether if dual exhaust upgrade service is available in your location. Our technicians can offer objective advice on the upgrade options for your vehicle.


    A. With a good muffler installed, a dual exhaust system should not make your engine sound significantly louder than it would with single exhaust. But it almost certainly affects the sound quality of your engine. Car enthusiasts relish the classic engine sound of a dual exhaust vehicle (and endlessly compare the specific tone colors of various system configurations). Here are some ways dual exhaust (and the rest of the exhaust system) can enhance your vehicle's engine sound.

    • Pipe length and diameter: Like the pipes on an organ, the longer and wider the exhaust pipe is, the louder and deeper sound can be produced as exhaust gasses move through it.
    • Piping configuration: "Generally, the X-pipe will deliver a more high-pitched exhaust note, making a car sound more exotic, whereas an H-pipe gives a deeper tone with more of a traditional hot rod sound," says George Rumore of the muffler manufacturer Stainless Works1.
    • Muffler selection and modifications: The muffler affects engine sound more than any other part. Sound quality can be customized with muffler design and aftermarket muffler tips. Excessive sound can also be muffled further with sound dampening sprays and wraps.

    Interested in changing your engine sound? Find your local Midas. We know exhaust systems and (of course) mufflers. Come talk to us about your options.

    1. George Rumore of the muffler manufacturer Stainless Works was quoted in an April 25, 2015 article on SuperChevy.com Read the article.

    A. Seeing two (or more) tail pipes on a vehicle does not mean that the engine is equipped with true dual exhaust. You may be seeing a "twin tips" style exhaust tip -- an aftermarket muffler accessory some drivers install to improve the look and sound of their vehicle. A true dual exhaust system has two oxygen sensors, two catalytic converters, and two mufflers (or one muffler with two intakes). Exhaust tips do not offer the engine performance benefits of true dual exhaust, since they have no effect on exhaust system workload and resources.


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    Exhaust Leak Questions

    A. If there's a burning aroma lingering in your cabin (and you didn't just drive by a smokestack) Exhaust Leak service should go right to the top of your To-Do list. Behind those yucky fumes you smell, more poisonous gasses may be sneaking into your cabin -- that you can't smell.

    Since you can't always smell an exhaust leak, pay attention to any changes in your vehicle's acceleration performance. Book an appointment at the first sign of sluggish pickup, backfiring, funny noises, or a vibrating gas pedal. (Better yet: have your exhaust system checked regularly at Midas.)


    A. An exhaust leak is a hole (or other defect) in your vehicle's exhaust system that lets toxic exhaust fumes enter your cabin instead of exiting your vehicle through the tailpipe. Engine exhaust contains poisonous gasses like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, phosphorus, metals such as lead, and unburned fuel (hydrocarbons). An exhaust leak can endanger you and your passengers if the fumes build up in your cabin faster than your car's ventilation system can evacuate them. Exhaust leaks can also compromise your vehicle's fuel efficiency and performance, make your ride noisier, and damage your catalytic converter.

    A leak can develop anywhere along the parts of a vehicle exhaust system:

    • Exhaust valve and piston: Engine parts that force exhaust fumes out from the combustion chamber (where they are created) to the exhaust manifold.
    • Exhaust manifold: The path from the piston to the catalytic converter.
    • Catalytic converter: Converts some toxins to carbon dioxide (CO2) and water for cleaner emissions -- though the exhaust is still poisonous in confined spaces (and CO2 is a greenhouse gas).
    • Exhaust pipe: Carries the cleaner exhaust gasses to the muffler.
    • Muffler: Reduces the noise of combustion and expulsion of exhaust.
    • Tailpipe: Where exhaust leaves your vehicle.

    A. The most common signs of an exhaust leak are bad smells, unusual smoke, engine noise, and visible damage to your muffler or tailpipe. Other things to look for:

    • Your Check Engine light is on. In many modern vehicles, a problem with emissions or exhaust will trigger the Check engine light.
    • Gasoline, burning, or rotten egg odor in the cabin. Any troubling smells (that can't be explained by the air you're driving through) should be diagnosed immediately. If the fumes you can smell are in your cabin -- so are the carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide you can't smell.
    • Black smoke from your tailpipe. Your exhaust manifold could be blocked, among other issues.
    • Hissing, Popping, Tapping, or Ticking Noise. Donut gasket and manifold leaks are the prime suspects when you hear this sound, especially during acceleration or a cold start.
    • Vehicle performance problems. Exhaust leaks are one of many obstacles to fuel efficiency, engine power, and acceleration performance. Some leaks cause the gas pedal to vibrate during acceleration, or even backfiring along with sluggish acceleration.
    • Hanging or dragging tailpipe. Somewhere along your exhaust system, a pipe is broken or bent, or your muffler or tailpipe is no longer held in place. This situation will probably cause a leak if one doesn't already exist. Your Midas technician can determine whether you need exhaust leak service or muffler service.

    A. People describe the sound of an exhaust leak in different ways: Ticking, tapping (sometimes "fingernail tapping"), popping, or ticking like a clock. The classic exhaust leak sound is a rapid ticking effect while accelerating or starting cold. The exact sound depends on where the exhaust leak is, and where you're sitting in the vehicle when you hear it.

    Any new noise from your vehicle should be diagnosed by a qualified mechanic. And at Midas, we've heard everything -- so request an appointment today.


    A. For your safety and the safety of your passengers, drive as little as possible if you suspect an exhaust leak. You already know that vehicle exhaust can be lethal in a confined space such as a closed garage. An exhaust leak that sends enough carbon monoxide (CO) into your cabin can make you an unsafe driver. According to engineer T.H. Grenier, "Studies show that elevated CO in the body interferes with driving skills. At high carbon monoxide concentrations CO intoxication occurs and severely impairs driving ability. People suffering from CO intoxication think slowly and irrationally, are confused, and are unable to safely operate a motor vehicle."1 And it's not just your driving that suffers. Sustained exposure to low levels of CO poses serious health risks. According to Harvard Medical School, symptoms of low-level CO exposure (over weeks or months) include flu-like symptoms, nausea, vision problems, numbness, sleep disturbances, and impaired concentration and memory.2

    1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning: What Is It? from Harvard Medical Publishing, June 2019.

    A. One way an exhaust leak can negatively affect your gas mileage is by causing falsely low readings in your oxygen sensor. The sensor responds to the perceived shortfall by increasing fuel consumption. In many vehicles, the Check Engine light will eventually flag the overconsumption of fuel. This effect only applies to gasoline vehicles, typically in leaks before the catalytic converter.


    A. One way an exhaust leak can compromise engine performance is by sending exhaust back into the combustion chamber -- decreasing the space available for new fuel to be burned. You may notice a lower level of engine power in general, and noticeably sluggish acceleration.


    A. To help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend having your exhaust system professionally checked at least once a year.3 Between full exhaust system checks, Midas performs a visual inspection of your exhaust system as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check.4

    1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.


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    Engine Repair Questions

    A. That knocking sound in your engine is about as welcome as a brightly lit Check Engine alert. But they're both warning you about possible engine or exhaust problems. A failed emission test could be in your future, or even a sudden stall on the road, so it's best to tackle your engine trouble before it gets worse.

    Midas offers these engine services:

    When you come to Midas for engine service, you'll get an expert diagnostic check, a thorough explanation of your engine problem, and a written estimate before we make any repairs.


    A. The following problems often indicate an engine problem:

    • You have problems starting your vehicle
    • Your engine has started producing unfamiliar noises or odors
    • Your vehicle stalls
    • Your Check Engine light comes on

    Your engine will be visually inspected as part of every routine Midas Touch Courtesy Check1.

    1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.


    A. Your engine can make a knocking noise for several reasons -- most of which can be addressed with simple repairs or routine maintenance:

    • A problem with the fuel air mixture (most common cause)
    • Low quality fuel
    • Bad spark plugs
    • Deposits forming on the engine's cylinder walls
    • An overheated engine or low coolant level

    A. Engine knocking sounds like metallic pinging, like metal objects being shaken in a tin can.


    A. In vehicles with automatic transmission, stalling usually indicates a problem that needs a mechanic's attention. Vehicles with manual transmission (stick shift) can stall as a result of poor clutch pedal engagement. Here are some common problems that can cause your vehicle to stall:

    • Problems with the idling and fuel systems
    • Improper air supply
    • Electrical problems
    • Poor engine timing

    The experienced mechanics at your local Midas can help you decide what to do when your engine fails. We'll outline your options and provide written estimates before making any repairs.

    Better yet, make Midas your partner for preventive maintenance to keep your engine running (and running well) as long as possible.


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    Check Engine Light Questions

    A. You're not always happy to see it, but the Check Engine light is an important cue about a problem in your engine, exhaust system, or battery. You may need help to decipher the cue because it's part of the OBD System. In modern vehicles, the ODB system monitors your emissions system and triggers the Check Engine light for a variety of issues, from the fuel cap to the catalytic converter.

    So don't ignore the Check Engine light. Midas Technicians speak ODB II, and we'll translate your Check Engine light's message. We'll tell you what's happening with your engine or emissions system, and provide a written estimate before making any needed repairs.


    A. The check engine light usually indicates a need to replace one or more parts of your engine or exhaust system: the oxygen sensor, catalytic converter, mass airflow sensor or spark plugs and wires. It can also indicate a loose or faulty gas cap, a vacuum leak, an exhaust gas recirculation valve failure, a dead battery, or a problem with an aftermarket car alarm.

    A solid Check Engine light should be diagnosed at your earliest convenience. A flashing Check Engine light should send you right to your nearest service station -- the problem may be urgent.


    A. All dash indicator lights turn on and then off when the car starts as a quick system check. This on-off behavior also shows your service technician which bulbs may be burned out.


    A. How to respond to a Check Engine Light depends on your vehicle and how the light behaves:

    • If your Check Engine light is flashing, you should pull over and call for a tow -- driving could endanger your engine and catalytic converter.
    • If your Check Engine light was flashing but is now solid, you should still have your vehicle serviced immediately.
    • If your Check Engine light is steady, have a mechanic examine the vehicle as soon as possible; there are many reasons the light may be on.
    • If your Check Engine light is still solid after your service appointment, it's OK to wait a few days to see if it turns off. If not, contact your local Midas to make sure your vehicle's issue was resolved.
    • One possible quick fix: Check for a loose fuel cap. If the Check Engine light turns off after tightening the cap, you're ready to roll.

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    Engine Tune Up Questions

    A. The tasks involved in a tune-up depend on the age of the vehicle. A traditional tune-up consists of several time-consuming inspections and mechanical adjustments to engine parts such as the carburetor. This style of tune-up applies to vehicles made decades ago. Today, most engine parts are controlled and monitored electronically, leaving little to manually adjust besides the spark plugs. And as technology has evolved, so has the meaning of "tune-up."

    At Midas, a typical tune-up on a more modern vehicle includes the following inspections and services:

    • Install new spark plugs
    • Check filters & fluids
    • Check timing chain (newer vehicles) or timing belt (older vintage)
    • Check battery
    • Midas Touch Courtesy Check1

    And what if your vehicle is more vintage? We're just as happy to tune up your carburetor, ignition points, distributor (and cap, rotor, and spark plug wires), timing belt, and fuel filter.


    A. How often to get an engine tune-up depends on your vehicle and driving conditions -- older vehicles are often tuned up every 10,000-12,000 miles or every 2 years. Modern vehicles with electronic engines and fuel injection have a wide variety of tune-up intervals, some as high as 100,000 miles. Check your vehicle owner's manual to learn the tune-up schedule for your make and model.


    A. Depending on your vehicle, a tune-up should take about two to four hours. Tuning up a modern, computerized vehicle would fall on the faster end of that range. Tuning up an older vehicle (with many mechanical parts to adjust) would take more time.


    A. Unusual noises and smells, exhaust smoke, warning lights, starting problems, reduced mileage and acceleration are all signs that your vehicle needs a tune up.


    A. Traditional tune-ups are an important part of preventive maintenance on older vehicles -- their mechanical engine parts must be manually adjusted from time to time. Modern vehicles with computer-controlled engines do not need this kind of tune-up -- but they do need every service that's now commonly included with spark plug service in modern tune-up packages. Depending on your location, these services may include oil changes, tire service, battery service, timing chain service, and fluid and filter service. A tune-up package can be a convenient way to follow your vehicle's maintenance schedule.


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    Belts & Hoses Questions

    A. The belts and hoses in your vehicle may look unassuming, but they power nearly every feature in your vehicle. Hoses deliver hydraulic pressure to your brakes and other components. Belts transfer energy from the crankshaft to the moving parts that start, steer, heat, and cool your vehicle -- not to mention keeping your engine cranking correctly. A leaky hose or loose belt can impact the performance of the affected part. A broken belt or hose can disable your vehicle.

    So head to Midas at the first sign of damage to your belts and hoses. Better yet, trust Midas with your regular vehicle maintenance routine. We'll take an expert look at your belts and hoses with every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1.

    1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.

    A. There are several types of belts in a motor vehicle:

    • Serpentine belt and other drive belts: Powers your alternator, climate control, and power steering with energy from the crankshaft.
    • Timing belt or timing chain: Helps turn the camshaft of your engine, coordinating the rhythm of your engine valves and pistons. Also known as a gilmer belt or camshaft belt.
    • Other automotive belts: Alternator belt, fan belt, power steering belt, A/C belt, and more. These belts work with your serpentine belt to drive their respective parts.

    A. Here are some types of automotive hoses you'll most frequently hear about in your vehicle maintenance routine:

    • Radiator hoses: Carry coolant (a mixture of water and antifreeze) between the engine and the radiator. Radiator hoses are made of strong rubber to withstand the dramatic temperature changes as the coolant absorbs heat from the engine and is cooled by the radiator.
    • Heater core hoses: Carry hot coolant through your climate control system to warm your cabin. They're also made of durable rubber.
    • Fuel hoses: In older vehicles, these connect the fuel tank to the engine. They require a type of rubber that can chemically withstand exposure to fuel. In modern vehicles, fuel is delivered via fuel-injection in pressurized metal tubes.
    • Brake hoses: Carry brake fluid from the (metal) brake lines to the calipers.
    • Air intake hoses: Carry oxygen to your engine to ensure the correct air/fuel mixture for combustion.
    • Other automotive hoses: Help operate the systems in your vehicle, such as the power steering hoses, A/C high- and low-pressure hoses, PCV valve hose, and the oil cooler hose.

    A. Here are some signs that your vehicle's belts and hoses need service:

    • Chirping or squealing noise: Could be the sound of a loose or damaged belt, or possibly an oil or fluid leakage.
    • Visibly loose belt: Replace the belt unless it's a serpentine belt designed for periodic manual adjustment.
    • Visible belt or hose wear: Belts should be free of cracks, rust, or rib damage. Hoses should be free of holes and tightly connected.
    • Leaking fluid around a hose or under your car: Any fluid leak should be evaluated by a mechanic.
    • Battery problems: Your car doesn't start, your battery light is on, or the lights are dimmer in your cabin and on the instrument panel? Your alternator belt may be failing.
    • Engine problems: Metal shavings in your engine oil, or the engine misfires, rattles, or won't start? Your timing belt or chain may need service.
    • Vehicle system failure or overheating: Power steering, alternator, engine cooling, brakes, climate control: all can be disabled by a belt or hose failure.

    Our Midas Auto Service Experts® take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle's condition and tell you which problems are urgent and which can wait. (We'll know if that belt should be tightened or replaced.) We discuss the best options for your budget and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.


    A. Metal and rubber car belts can squeal in reaction to temperature changes or from a need for maintenance:

    • The belt is too tight or too loose: You're hearing the belt stretch or rub against a surface other than its pulleys. Have the belt adjusted or replaced before it breaks or slips off its pulleys.
    • A pulley under the belt is worn: You're hearing friction from the pulley's worn bearings. Have the pulley replaced before it breaks -- in turn, disabling the affected belt.

    Either way, have the belt serviced before it disables your starting, steering, or engine power. You could also find yourself vulnerable to overheating if the affected belt powers your cooling system.


    A. Each belt in your car has a different lifespan:

    • Serpentine belt: Typically replaced at 50,000-100,000 miles depending on your belt material and driving conditions. Tip: some serpentine belts are designed to be tightened regularly over the life of the belt. Older drive belts may have shorter lifespans.
    • Alternator belt and other part-specific belts: Usually covered under the service and replacement schedule of the part.
    • Timing belt: A typical timing belt lifespan is five years or 60,000 miles.
    • Timing chain: Good news: timing chains are designed to last the entire life of your engine. The timing chain replaces the timing belt in many newer vehicles.

    Check your owner's manual for the replacement cycle for each belt in your vehicle. And watch for alternate terminology like drive belt, v-belt, or camshaft belt.


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    Serpentine Belt Replacement Questions

    A. If your engine is chirping or squealing, don't ignore it. It could be your serpentine belt now -- and critical vehicle systems later.


    A. The serpentine belt (also called a drive belt) powers several critical systems in your vehicle, most commonly the power steering, air conditioning, alternator, and water pump (for the cooling system). This belt is the link between your engine and these important accessories, transferring energy from the crankshaft to the systems that enable you to start, steer, and cool your vehicle. Certain vehicles use two drive belts to power these components.

    Preventive maintenance on the serpentine belt includes occasional replacement of the belt and (on some vehicles) periodic adjustments to the belt's tension. Neglecting the serpentine belt long enough will compromise every system the belt controls -- and ultimately disable your vehicle. The good news: a serpentine belt can last up to 100,000 miles.


    A. Since the serpentine belt controls other systems in your vehicle, a worn-out belt may first come to your attention through a problem in your power steering, alternator, climate control, or cooling system. Or you may see or hear the belt problem directly. Here are some common signs of serpentine belt breakdown:

    • Chirping or squealing noises: Could be the sound of your serpentine belt slipping due to loose tension, misalignment due to belt damage, or possibly an oil or fluid leak.
    • Vehicle system failure: Power steering, alternator, and climate control are all controlled by the serpentine belt and vulnerable to belt failure.
    • Overheating: Serpentine belt failure can prevent your water pump from cooling your engine.
    • Visible wear on the serpentine belt: Cracks, rust, and rib damage mean it's time to replace the belt before it breaks.
    • Loose tension on the serpentine belt: Some belts require periodic tension adjustment. Many include a part called the tensioner. The belt needs to be serviced, not replaced.

    A. A bad serpentine belt can disable your power steering, water pump, climate control, and alternator. A broken serpentine belt will stall your vehicle -- and also risks immediate, severe damage to major vehicle systems. That's why preventive maintenance on this belt is so important. Be sure to follow your vehicle's recommended schedule for adjusting and replacing your serpentine or drive belt -- and take advantage of the Midas Touch Courtesy Check1 for a visual inspection of the belt.


    A. A serpentine belt should last anywhere from 50,000 miles (in older vehicles) to 100,000 miles (newer vehicles with belts made of the latest rubber compounds, in ideal conditions). So, how often to replace your serpentine belt depends on your vehicle, its age, the material your serpentine belt is made of, and your driving conditions. In addition to this occasional replacement cycle, some serpentine belts are designed to be manually tightened or adjusted from time to time. Check your vehicle owner's manual for the recommended serpentine belt maintenance cycle -- note that it may be called the drive belt.


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    Timing Belt Replacement Questions

    A. A timing belt or timing chain is the part that fits in a specific spot against your engine and synchronizes the movement of your engine's crankshaft and camshaft, to ensure that the valves and pistons on the top and bottom halves of your engine are opening and closing in the proper rhythm. A timing belt is a toothed version common in older vehicles, while a timing chain is more common in modern vehicles.


    A. Here are some signs your timing belt or timing chain needs service:

    • Ticking or rattling sounds from the engine: Your timing belt is fitting too loosely.
    • Engine misfires: Your engine's cylinders are firing out of sync.
    • Visible signs of belt wear: Your timing belt is fraying or its teeth are worn.
    • Metal shavings found in engine oil: Your timing belt is weakening, losing metal.
    • Engine won't start: Your timing belt may already be broken.

    A. A bad timing belt may produce a ticking, rattling sound from the engine as the belt develops a looser fit against the engine. You may also hear your engine misfiring (backfiring) as one of more cylinders stays open, out of sync with the other cylinders. Request an appointment for a belt inspection as soon as possible if you hear any of these engine sounds. Fix that belt before it breaks -- and stalls your vehicle.


    A. If your timing belt breaks while driving, your engine will stop working. We encourage preventive maintenance to avoid that.


    A. It depends on what type of engine you have: interference, or non-interference. An interference engine can easily be ruined by a broken timing belt. The valves (on the camshaft) and pistons (on the crankshaft) take turns occupying the same space, so the timing belt keeps them apart. Without a timing belt, the engine stops turning, but not all at once. The lighter camshaft stops first, leaving some valves open. The heavier crankshaft takes longer to stop, pushing the pistons against the open valves on the camshaft. The valves take the brunt of the damage, but surrounding parts can sustain additional damage.

    In a non-interference engine, the valves and pistons occupy different spaces, so they're unlikely to sustain damage from a broken timing belt. A new timing belt should get the engine operational again.

    But remember, even if you have a non-interference engine, you should still follow your vehicle's recommended timing belt replacement cycle. A timing belt failure may not put you at risk for major engine damage -- but it will still cause your vehicle to stall and strand you on the road.


    A. A typical timing belt replacement interval is five years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Your vehicle owner's manual should tell your how often to replace your timing belt.

    A timing chain (common in newer vehicles) should last the entire life of your engine.


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    Lights, Wipers & Accessories Questions

    A.

    Rain. Snow. Gloom of night. According to tradition, they won't stop your mail carrier. And they won't stop your vehicle -- if your windshield wipers, headlamps, and other lights are up to the task. (For snow, winter tires are handy, too.)

    Midas offers these services for your wipers and lights:

    • Windshield Wiper Replacement -- Our experts can inspect and replace your wiper blades, repair your wiper system, and let you know if you need winter wipers.
    • Headlights Replacement -- Our experts can replace your headlight bulbs, service your headlamp system, and give you the scoop on HID and LED lights.
    • Lightbulb Replacement -- In addition to your headlamps, our experts can also replace brake light bulbs, turn signal bulbs, or any other hard-to-reach automotive light bulb.

    We always perform a Midas Touch Courtesy Check1 during your routine scheduled vehicle maintenance. Plus, our Midas Auto Service Experts® take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle's condition. We'll let you know which problems are urgent (and which can wait). We discuss the best options for your budget and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.


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    Headlight Replacement Questions

    A. You hope it's this simple: an oncoming driver flashes their lights, so you check your headlights and pick up a replacement bulb. With the new bulb in place, you can see clearly again, and other drivers can see you. (With just one working headlight, other drivers can misjudge your distance from them, or mistake four-wheeled vehicles for motorcycles. With no working headlights, the hazard is even greater.)

    But sometimes you can't easily reach the burned-out bulb, and sometimes the bulb isn't the problem. That's when you need a trained Midas technician to replace your bulb or diagnose your headlight problem.


  • Replacing headlight bulbs
  • Checking the electrical system: power, fuses, relays, modules, switches, wiring.
  • Checking the igniter and other components of HID (or Xenon) headlights
  • Headlight aiming to remedy dark spots on the road in front of you.

  • A. Most headlight problems are due to burned-out bulbs, electrical problems, or issues with the charging system. Figuring out which lights are off can help narrow down the suspects:

    • When one headlight stops working, it's usually the bulb. If a replacement bulb doesn't solve the problem, get the fuses and wiring checked.
    • When high beams or low beams stop working, first rule out burned-out bulbs. Then have switches and relays checked.
    • When both headlights stop working, the problem probably lies in the electrical system.

    A. If you saw both lights go out at the same time, you almost certainly have an electrical problem. Bulbs don't usually burn out in pairs. But it's easy to miss one burned-out bulb until the other one goes out (or until another driver flashes their lights at you), so start by testing a replacement bulb.


    A. If your vehicle's headlights turn on and off correctly, but aren't as bright as they used to be, the culprit could be your charging system, worn-out bulbs (headlight bulbs dim over time), or even foggy lenses. Clean your lenses, try a new bulb, and book a headlight diagnosis appointment with Midas if those easy fixes don't work out.


    A. Here are the main headlight materials and technologies on the U.S. and Canadian market:

    • Halogen headlights: Incandescent lights with a tungsten filament surrounded by argon and nitrogen gasses. Halogen bulbs are widely available, inexpensive, and dimmable. They also generate heat, use more energy, and burn out quicker than more advanced headlight technologies. (Non-halogen incandescent headlights are available, but used mainly in classic cars.)
    • High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights: Also called Xenon headlights, for the gas that powers these lights in much the same way neon lights work. HID lights last up to eight times as long as halogen lights, can shine up to twice as brightly, and can illuminate a larger area using less energy. They're also more expensive and can blind oncoming traffic if not installed properly and used judiciously. (HIDs can often be left on low beam where halogen lights would be switched to high beam, and some HID systems let drivers customize how much light to project.)Beware the Glare:
      • HID bulbs should be installed by a trained technician like your local Midas technician. We'll ensure that your HID headlights have minimal impact on other drivers, and help you understand any custom settings on your headlight system.
      • Before you install an aftermarket HID upgrade, check your local laws. Aftermarket HID kits are available, but they're illegal in some jurisdictions due to the risk of glare to other drivers. Again, talk to us at your local Midas if you're interested in HID headlights.
    • LED headlights: An emerging option that balances some of the pros and cons of halogen and HID headlights. LED headlights offer better brightness and coverage than halogen, while using less energy, without the glare of HID. Unfortunately, they can also generate heat in surrounding areas (though LEDs themselves stay cool). LED headlights can cost up to five times as much as HID lights, but are designed to last tens of thousands of hours.

    A. Halogen bulbs are designed to last 500-1000 hours. That's now at the lower end of vehicle headlight life expectancy. The longest-lasting headlights are LED lights, designed for up to 50,000 hours of use. HID and Xenon lights fall in the middle, lasting 2,000-8,000 hours.

    To maximize the life of your headlights:

    • Always wear clean gloves when changing headlight bulbs. Oil residue from your fingers can prematurely damage a headlight bulb or certain HID components.
    • If possible, park in climate-controlled conditions during very hot weather. Extreme heat shortens the life of some headlights.

    A. Several factors affect how often headlights should be replaced, including:

    • The type of headlight: conventional incandescent, halogen, LED, or HID/Xenon
    • How much your vehicle is driven after dark (and in poor-visibility weather)
    • Whether you use daytime running lights (always-on headlights)

    You should replace your headlights when you notice a loss of brightness, or when they're approaching the end of their designed life expectancy. Want to do the math with your headlight choice? Start with an average American driving time of almost 300 hours per year.


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    Windshield Wiper Replacement Questions

    1. A. Turn on windshield wipers.
    2. Cringe at the sound of worn wiper blades scraping across your windshield.
    3. Squint at the streaks left on your windshield.
    4. Promise yourself a new set of wipers the very next time you're out.
    5. Forget about it until the next time it rains.
    6. Repeat.

    How about switching to a Midas maintenance routine? We'll take a look at your wipers as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1, and can replace them before they squeak.

    Are your wipers whining right now? Break the cycle before the rainy season hits. Request an appointment today.


    A. Replace your windshield wipers when they no longer effectively clear your windshield view (quietly). In addition to the distracting noises an aging wiper can make, a windshield obscured by water, dirt, or streaking can be a safety hazard. Severely worn-out windshield wipers can even scratch your windshield. Here are some signs that it's time for new wipers:

    • Dirt, debris, or streaking left behind on the windshield - Your wipers are no longer doing their job of clearing your view of the road. The rubber edges are damaged, or the blade assembly is misaligned.
    • The sound of rubber on glass - That squeak, squeal, or whine is the drag of your wiper blades because they're weighed down with debris, or they've become too stiff to glide smoothly across the glass surface.
    • Chattering sound - That sound is your wiper blade failing to make full contact with your windshield. If your windshield and wipers are clean, the chattering sound means your wiper arm is bent (or the blade is too stiff). If you can't adjust the wiper to restore full contact, it's time for a replacement.
    • Wiper blades skipping across the windshield - Another sign of stiffening rubber or a misaligned blade assembly.
    • Visibly peeling or fraying wipers - Replace them now before they scratch your windshield!

    A. Depending on your driving conditions, most windshield wipers provide good performance for a few months, and wear out within a year of use. Some factors that will age the metal and rubber in your wipers:

    • Airborne enemies - Like many parts of your vehicle, windshield wipers can be degraded over time from exposure to engine exhaust, acid rain, and salt (from sea air or winter road de-icing).
    • Ultraviolet light (UV) - UV exposure can stiffen, crack, and degrade rubber. A stiff or brittle rubber edge will not maintain smooth, quiet contact with your curved windshield.
    • Temperature changes - Rubber contracts in hot weather and becomes brittle in cold weather.
    • Time - Even in perfect conditions, rubber quality deteriorates over time.

    A. Here are some best practices to keep your windshield wipers working better, longer:

    • Keep your wipers clean. Clean your windshield wiper blades once a month with rubbing alcohol. You can also try running sandpaper over minor imperfections in the rubber, but once they're damaged enough to leave streaks, replace them.
    • Keep your windshield clean. Wash your windshield regularly, and always remove any visible dirt or debris before driving. Operating your wipers over an uneven surface can ruin the rubber edge. The wipers will leave streaks on your windshield until you replace them. (For the same reason, never use your wipers to help de-ice the windshield. An icy windshield is a very uneven surface.)
    • Don't make your wipers work too hard. Always clear your windshield and wipers of accumulated snow, slush, and ice before starting your vehicle. Forcing your wipers to push against extra weight can bend the blade assembly. (For the same reason, consider dedicated winter wipers if you live where it snows. Their design encourages snow and ice to slide off your wipers instead of accumulating between the metal parts. And they're made of rubber formulated to stay supple in colder weather.)
    • Tip: Prevent snow and ice accumulation by lifting your wipers away from your windshield when snow or ice is in the weather forecast. This also prevents your wipers from freezing to the glass.
    • Slow down rubber breakdown. Keep your vehicle in a climate-controlled shelter as much as possible. Very hot and cold temperatures can weaken the rubber wiper blades. Failing that, park in the shade whenever possible to avoid UV exposure.

    A. Windshield wipers should be inspected at least every six months and replaced at least once a year. (Getting new wipers twice a year allows you to take advantage of dedicated winter wipers.) Between inspections, clean your wiper blades with rubbing alcohol once a month.


    A. A squeegee that's free of streak-causing imperfections -- and flexible enough to maintain contact with the curved shape of your windshield in any weather. But don't worry. Every Midas Touch® Courtesy Check1 includes a windshield wiper inspection, and you can always book an appointment if you're concerned about your wipers.

    1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.


    A. If both wipers were installed together, they should be replaced together because they're wearing out at roughly the same pace. Even if one wiper appears to be in better shape, its rubber has endured the same temperature changes and driving conditions as its twin. It'll probably show visible wear soon. And who wants to keep track of different replacement cycles for each wiper?


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    Steering & Suspension Questions

    A. Your steering and suspension systems work together to keep your tires on the pavement and your vehicle under control -- until a power steering problem makes your steering wheel hard to move, or a suspension problem makes you whole vehicle hard to rein in.

    If your vehicle bounces, sways, squeaks, or makes you work hard just to turn the steering wheel, request a diagnostic appointment. Our Midas Auto Service Experts® will conduct a thorough inspection of your steering, suspension, and other possible causes for your vehicle handling problems. We'll take the time to explain your vehicle's condition, and let you know which services are urgent (and which can wait). We discuss the best options for your budget and provide a written estimate before making any repairs.

    Suspension Service

    Most drivers wonder about their vehicle's suspension when the ride gets rough. But that bounce and squeak isn't the only way a bad suspension can spoil your ride.

    Does your car lean into turns a little a little too forcefully? Does the back of your vehicle drag when you accelerate? Does the front take a noticeable nosedive when you brake?

    With a damaged suspension, it feels like you've lost a little bit of your control over your vehicle. Listen to that instinct -- the lean, the drag, and the nosedive are warnings of heightened rollover risk and increased stop time.

    Related:

    Wheel Alignment -- The suspension service that goes hand in hand with your tire maintenance routine.


    A. A bad suspension leaves visible signs if you know where to look, but the change in your vehicle's handling will probably catch your attention first.

    Signs of a damaged suspension that you can see and hear:

    • One corner of your vehicle sits lower than the others. Suspect a broken spring.
    • Your vehicle fails the "bounce test": Lean your body weight on the front of your parked vehicle and then move away quickly. If the vehicle bounces more than twice, suspect a problem with your shocks and struts.
    • Your tire treads develop a specific, uneven wear pattern called "cupping."
    • You see oil, grease, or obvious wear on your shocks or struts.
    • You hear squeaking, especially when turning or braking.

    Here are several symptoms of a damaged suspension that you can feel as you drive:

    • Your ride feels rougher than usual.
    • Your car leans forward, backward, or toward one side as you brake.
    • Your vehicle pulls or drifts, especially around turns. The prime suspect: bad shock absorbers.
    • Your vehicle pulls or drifts while driving straight. The cause could be your suspension -- or your steering, your tires, or your brakes. Rule out uneven tire pressure, then see a mechanic.

    Here's a tip that just may save you a trip to Midas. (We won't take it personally.) Some signs of steering and suspension problems are really brake and tire problems in disguise. So, at the first sign of trouble, check your tire pressure and tread wear. Your suspension is designed to work with four correctly-inflated tires, ideally of the same age and tread life. If optimal tire pressure doesn't fix the problem, make your diagnostic appointment.


    A. Driving with a bad suspension is likely more dangerous than driving with a suspension in good shape. The suspension contributes to your vehicle's road traction and resistance to centrifugal force when turning and braking. Depending on the suspension problem, you could face increased risk of rolling over, or find yourself unable to stop as quickly as you expect in an emergency.


    A. Some common signs of a power steering problem are:

    • Noise when turning the steering wheel: A loose drive belt can squeal, and a bad power steering pump can clatter.
    • Change in steering response: A stiff or slow-to-respond steering wheel can also point to a bad power steering pump.
    • Vibrating steering wheel: A loose belt or power steering pulley.
    • Low or dirty power steering fluid: Oxidation, metal flakes, or bubbles can mean air in the power steering fluid lines or a bad power steering pump.

    A. Power steering problems are typically caused by:

    • Worn power steering pump.
    • Contaminated power steering fluid: A side effect of problems with the power steering pump and hoses.
    • Low power steering fluid pressure: Caused by leaks or air in the power fluid lines.
    • Loose or broken drive belt: A completely broken serpentine-style drive belt will disable too many systems to operate your vehicle, but a drive belt issue localized to your power steering pulley can compromise your power steering alone.

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    Car A/C Repair Questions

    A. Nobody likes getting into a sweltering car, but it's such a relief to turn on your AC and feel that cool air kick in. Until the day it doesn't kick in. Or maybe your car's air conditioner activates but doesn't cool your cabin the way it used to.

    To prevent car AC breakdowns, follow your vehicle manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule -- and have your AC checked at the first sign of trouble.

    If you're already having AC problems, request a Car AC Check appointment today.

    Related:

    How do I know if my AC needs to be recharged?

    Why is my car blowing cold air when the heat is on?


    A. Between the compressor, the AC clutch, and (most commonly) the refrigerant level, there are several reasons why a car air conditioner can stop blowing cold air:

    • Refrigerant loss: Low refrigerant (coolant) is the most common cause of AC problems, and the solution is a Car AC Recharge -- plus repairs to any leaking AC components that may be causing your vehicle to lose refrigerant faster than expected.
    • Blocked air flow: Anywhere between the compressor, the condenser, and the air vents into your cabin, any blockage to air flow will shut down your AC system.
    • Broken or worn AC parts: Depending on the vehicle, your AC system may include a compressor, AC clutch, condenser, thermal expansion drive, receiver, dryer, orifice tube, accumulator, evaporator, and blower. Any of these parts, and the lines and connections between them, may need service.

    A. There is no industry-standard interval to check vehicle climate control systems. Best advice: follow the maintenance schedule in your vehicle manual.

    sYour local Midas technician will discuss the results of your AC Check with you before making any repairs. And remember, every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1 includes a visual inspection of your vehicle's AC system. It's one more reason to make Midas a regular part of your vehicle maintenance routine.


  • Your vehicle AC doesn't cool your cabin as effectively as it used to: If warm air from your vents (or no air at all) is your first sign of AC trouble, the culprit may be a minor problem, like low coolant or a clogged vent. You could also have a broken fan.
  • Your AC makes unfamiliar sounds: What you hear rattling around in your car's climate control system could also be a minor problem, like debris ingested from outside. It could also be a broken part anywhere in the system. (Remember: any new sound from your vehicle should be checked by a qualified mechanic.)
  • Your vehicle cabin smells bad: Mold in your car AC system -- a respiratory health hazard -- can generate a funky smell. New odors from your vehicle also need immediate attention. They signal simple problems like an overdue air filter replacement and significant safety hazards like Exhaust Leaks.
  • Coolant stains under your vehicle: Car AC coolant has a sweet smell and a texture that people describe as greasy, filmy, or slimy. (Another reminder: any fluid under your car besides water should be checked by a mechanic.)
  • Water leaking into your vehicle: A healthy AC system will drain water outside your vehicle. But a clog in your water line can cause water to back up in other places, like your floor mats.

  • A. You know your car AC system needs service when it cools less effectively or refuses to kick in at all -- but here are some signs that your compressor is the culprit:

    • Unusual compressor noise: In the compressor, worn-out bearings or other interior components can cause (noisy) friction.
    • Visible damage, debris, or dirt on the compressor.
    • The compressor clutch won't engage: Listen the next time you turn your AC on. You'll hear a switch moving before your compressor kicks in. That's the clutch switch. It can break (or get stuck in the off position).

    A. While the air compressor is just one part of your car AC system that can break down, it's a part that many drivers understand from dealing with AC problems at home. Here are some common causes of AC compressor failure:

    • Refrigerant is too low to maintain air pressure
    • Low lubricant
    • Blocked suction lines
    • Dirty coils
    • Electrical problems

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    Car A/C Recharge Questions

    A. Refrigerant (traditionally Freon, now being phased out) has two jobs: cool the air, and sustain enough pressure to blow air through the AC system. Lose a little -- and your AC won't cool the air like it used to. Lose a lot -- and your whole AC system can stop kicking in due to low pressure.

    A Car AC Recharge fixes the most common problem diagnosed in Car AC Repair service: low refrigerant.


    A. Vehicle air conditioner recharge service consists of vacuuming out used refrigerant and refilling your system with fresh refrigerant. We then test the air coming from your vents to ensure it's cooling your cabin to manufacturer specifications. If your low refrigerant is caused by a leak, an AC Recharge will follow other repairs to your climate control system.


    A. It may be time to recharge your vehicle's air conditioner if:

    • Your cabin doesn't get as cool as it used to - If you're consistently turning to a cooler target temperature or running the fan harder (but the weather hasn't gotten hotter) you may be low on refrigerant.
    • You see refrigerant spills under your vehicle - It's greasy, filmy stuff, and it means you have a leak.
    • You can't hear your AC clutch engage when turning your air conditioner on - The clutch switch could be broken, or your refrigerant may be too low to achieve the pressure needed to activate your AC.

    A. Your car's AC unit may be running low on Freon if it doesn't cool your cabin the way it used to. But soon, you may be recharging your AC with Opteon instead. Freon is a brand name for a family of fluorocarbon refrigerants that became so successful that many people use it as a generic noun. But the classic Freon was phased out to protect our ozone layer, and now the ozone-friendly Freon in most modern vehicles is being phased out to help address climate change. Chemours, the company that owns the Freon brand, has chosen the name Opteon for their next-level refrigerant. (For your next trivia night: Freon was trademarked way back in 1930 by Kinetic Chemicals, a joint venture of Du Pont and General Motors. Chemours is a 2015 spin-off from Du Pont.)

    Sound confusing? That's why we just call it refrigerant. And don't worry. You can trust Midas to keep track of which refrigerants your vehicle can use and to safely dispose of your used refrigerant.


    A. For most vehicle models, the manufacturer-suggested maintenance schedule doesn't include a specific AC recharge cycle. You'll have to be alert to declining AC performance or signs of refrigerant leaks. And take advantage of the Midas Touch® Courtesy Check1 whenever it's included in one of our services. We'll visually inspect your AC system.


    A. Driving with low refrigerant is safe in the short term, but letting it go too long can increase your repair cost when you finally have your AC serviced. Refrigerant not only cools your cabin air -- it lubricates the seals in your AC system. Over time, the seals in your AC system can degrade from lack of lubrication.


    A. The number one reason for your car air conditioner to blow air that's not cold is low refrigerant. (In other words, you need AC Recharge service.) Other common reasons are:

    • Clutch Cycling Switch failure - Your refrigerant can't pressurize.
    • Broken or blocked condenser - Warm air can't enter your AC system to be cooled.
    • Blocked or kinked airflow - Cool air can't get into your cabin.

    If you need an AC Recharge, you've come to the right place. If you need service on the rest of your AC system, Midas can help. Start by diagnosing the problem. Learn about our Car AC Repair service.


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    Car Heating Service & Repair Questions

    1. A. Get into car, turn on ignition, adjust heating controls.
    2. Shiver patiently as cold air blows into your cabin, confident that warm air is coming soon.
    3. Reach your destination in comfort.

    But sometimes your heater stops on Step 2. Something breaks in your vehicle's HVAC system or disrupts coolant flow from your engine radiator. Bundle up and head to Midas.

    Our Midas Auto Service Experts® take the time to thoroughly explain why your heater just won't heat, and discuss the best options for your budget. We'll provide a written estimate before making any repairs. Request an appointment today.


    A. Cold air from your heater is normal for the first few minutes of operation. If the air from your vents doesn't heat up shortly, you've got a problem with your heater or your coolant. Your heating system borrows coolant (water + antifreeze) from the engine radiator, so if there isn't enough coolant for both systems, the engine gets the available coolant. Another possible culprit: your engine's water pump is failing to recirculate coolant back to the radiator -- again leading to a coolant shortage for the heater.

    Related Links:

    Radiator Flush

    Radiator Leak


  • Low coolant: Your heater shares a coolant supply with the engine radiator. A radiator leak or bad water pump can leave the heater core without coolant.
  • Bad heater core: In addition to leaks, your heater core can fall victim to holes and blocked coolant hoses.
  • Bad blower motor: This could prevent heated air from reaching your cabin.
  • Bad HVAC controls and valves: Over time, these small parts can break or get stuck.
  • Broken or stuck thermostat: Even a mint-condition heater with plenty of coolant needs a thermostat to tell it to kick in.

  • A. The heater core is a small, radiator-like device that usually sits behind your dashboard vents. Coolant enters the core, takes in heat, and then exits to warm up the air being blown into your cabin. Here are some common signs that your vehicle's heater core needs service:

    • Your heater blows cold air: A punctured or otherwise damaged heater core can prevent heat transfer.
    • Your cabin fogs up, after warming up: Coolant running through a bad heater core stays cold. The air blowing into your cabin cools down. If your cabin is already warm, condensation accumulates on all your windows.
    • Your car smells sweet or bitter: If your heater core leaks, you may notice the fruity or bitter odor of coolant in your cabin or outside the vehicle. You may also have a radiator leak.
    • Your coolant level drops: Another sign of a coolant leak in your heater core or radiator. Be alert to the risk of overheating.
    • Your vehicle overheats: A blocked heater core can overheat your engine and strand you on the road.

    Related:

    What to do if your car overheats


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    Car Battery Replacement Questions

    A. You didn't leave a car door open or a light on. (We believe you.) But your vehicle just won't start. You turn on the ignition, and all you get is the telltale clicking noise. Possibly followed by competing pronouncements of "Your battery's dead" and "It's your alternator" from anyone within earshot.

    We can settle the debate. If you can jump-start your vehicle, find your nearest Midas. (If you can't, have it towed to Midas.) We'll diagnose and fix your starting system -- or help you choose a replacement battery.

    Our Midas Auto Service Experts® take the time to thoroughly explain your vehicle's condition, telling you which problems are urgent (and which can wait). We discuss the best options for your budget and provide a written estimate before making any repairs. Request an appointment today.


    A. If your vehicle won't start, it's most likely a problem with your battery or the ignition and starting system:

    • Your battery is drained (but healthy): It's the best-case scenario: you accidentally left on your lights, or some other battery-draining feature. A jump start will send you on your way, lesson learned.
    • Your battery is too old to hold a charge: It's time for a new battery. If your jump start fails -- or your car won't start the next day -- have your battery tested.
    • Your starting system needs service: It's not your battery. There's a mechanical problem preventing ignition, draining your battery, or keeping your battery from charging as you drive.

    If a single jump start doesn't solve your starting problems, have your battery professionally tested. If your battery is healthy, it's time for diagnostic service, beginning with your starter and alternator.


    A. If your vehicle won't start with a fully-charged and healthy battery, the usual suspects are problems with your starter, your alternator, your ignition switch, your spark plugs or your fuses. It's also worthwhile to clean your battery terminals and connectors if they're dirty or corroded and see if your car will start. But the only way to be sure your battery is healthy is to test it with a voltmeter. When you have your vehicle towed to Midas, it's the first thing we'll check.

    Related link: Learn about Starter and Alternator service.


    A. From the easiest-to-fix to the most complicated, here are the most common reasons your vehicle's battery can't hold a charge:

    • Corrosion around the battery terminals: Your local Midas technician will visually inspect these during every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1 and can clean away corrosion safely.
    • Something's draining your battery: Check every light switch, door (liftgate included), and lighted compartment in your vehicle. You may be leaving a door slightly ajar, or a faulty latch could appear closed but is allowing your lights to stay on overnight.
    • End of battery life: Every car battery has a finite charging capacity, testable with a voltmeter machine.
    • A bad alternator: The alternator is responsible for recharging your battery as you drive, so it's one of the first mechanical problems to check.
    • Other defective vehicle parts: From the fuses to the serpentine belt.

    A. The best time to think about your car battery is before it goes dead and leaves you stranded. So, we're here to test your battery regularly and replace it when its voltage is low… but not too low.


    A. A car battery should be replaced when its capacity has dropped below 12 volts -- which happens to most batteries after three to seven years of use. Here are some signs that your battery is running critically low:

    • Your battery won't accept a charge: You hear rapid clicks instead of your engine cranking -- and jump-starting doesn't help. You'll need a new battery to get rolling again.
    • Your battery can't hold a charge: Jump-starting works, but you have to jump-start repeatedly. Replace your battery as soon as you can. You're at risk of being stranded.
    • Your battery shows low voltage on a voltmeter.

    A. Request a car battery check appointment at the first sign of trouble starting your vehicle (unless you drained the battery by accident, and a jump start solves the problem indefinitely). Your local Midas technician will test your battery's voltage with a voltmeter and help you select a new battery if the time has come. If your battery's healthy, we'll diagnose the real problem.


    A. You'll get the most thorough testing by having your vehicle towed to your nearest Midas. If you remove your battery and bring it to Midas, we can test it --- but we won't be able to test your charging system. (That's the next step if we find your battery is in good shape.)


    A. Most car batteries last from three to seven years, depending on climate and driving patterns. With such a long time window for your battery to potentially fail, it's smart to incorporate battery testing into your regular maintenance cycle. Don't get stranded!


    A. At Midas, it takes 20-30 minutes to replace a car battery on most vehicles. Our battery replacement service includes cleaning the battery tray and terminals to get rid of battery acid and other debris. We also recycle your old battery.


    A. Your vehicle owner's manual will tell you what size battery you need. Your local Midas technician can answer any questions you have about the battery specifications for your make and model.


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    Alternators & Starters Questions

    A. Most drivers don't think about alternators and starters until their vehicle suddenly won't start. The relationship between these two parts is pretty straight forward: The starter relies on the battery, the alternator relies on the starter (skipping some steps), and the battery relies on the alternator.

    At Midas, our experts know how to get your car back up and running. If your battery is healthy, we perform tests of your starting system components including the alternator, starter, and other possibilities like the ignition switch and drive belts. Then we explain your vehicle's condition and present a written estimate before making repairs.


    A. The alternator (named after alternating current) ensures that your vehicle's battery-powered components (such as the lights and accessories) are supplied with voltage and keeps the battery charged for the next ride.


    A. Here are some common symptoms of a bad alternator:

    • Indicator light going on: This also includes the battery light.
    • Weak or dimming lights, especially noticeable at night: An alternator problem is especially likely if the lights brighten with an increase in RPM.
    • Other electrical malfunctions: The alternator generates power for a vehicle's electrical systems.
    • Strange noises: A problem with an alternator's belt or pulley may cause a squealing sound, while a problem with an alternator's internal bearings may cause a grinding or growling noise.
    • A burning smell: This may indicate a problem with the alternator's belt or pulley.
    • A healthy battery that cannot accept or hold a charge: Always have your "dead" battery tested before replacing it. A faulty alternator could be failing to recharge the battery during operation.

    Related:

    Learn more about battery testing


    A. What your car starter actually starts is the combustion process of your engine. You turn or push your ignition, and the battery sends voltage to the starter. By activating a gear connected to the crankshaft, the starter motor turns the engine over. The rapid clicking sound many associate with a dead battery is actually the starter relay failing under insufficient voltage from the battery. Like the alternator, an evaluation of your starter begins by testing the voltage of your battery.


    A. There is no industry-standard replacement cycle for a car starter, and you may never need to replace your original part. But here are some signs that your starter needs to be replaced:

    • The engine won't turn over, especially if you hear a loud click instead (and your battery is healthy).
    • The engine doesn't crank consistently (and your battery is healthy).
    • The starter grinds for your entire drive (the starter fails to turn off).

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    Radiator & Engine Cooling Questions

    A. An overheated engine that leaves you stranded on the side of the road is a hassle. You hope to be on your way as soon as your engine cools down and you top off the antifreeze. But overheating is one of many signs of trouble with your vehicle's radiator or coolant system. And some of those problems can escalate to irreparable engine damage.


    That's why Midas visually inspects your radiator as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1. But between Midas visits, have any engine coolant problem checked out as soon as possible. Your local Midas technician will outline your options (including what's critical now and what can wait), and present a written estimate before making any repairs.

    Radiator Replacement and Repair

    Related Services:

    • Radiator Flush: Refreshes your engine coolant to help ensure that your radiator protects your engine as efficiently as possible
    • Radiator Fluid Leak Repair: Helps prevent overheating now -- and major engine damage later

    A. Engines overheat due to problems with the vehicle's coolant, thermostat, and the radiator itself:

    • Low engine coolant: Radiator systems can leak for many reasons, such as corrosion or impact from small rocks and road debris.
    • Blocked coolant flow: Sediments and foreign objects in the radiator, head gasket, and other spots can prevent coolant from circulating.
    • Broken or stuck thermostat: The engine thermostat can fail or become locked in the closed position.
    • Broken radiator parts: These include the water pump and radiator fan.

    A. Here are some other symptoms of a bad cooling system:

    • Low coolant levels: Take advantage of Midas Touch Courtesy Check
    • High dashboard temperature gauge: Alert drivers can pull over before the engine actually overheats.
    • Visible coolant leak: A bright-green, sweet-smelling stain on your driveway or garage floor.
    • White steam from hood: The most dramatic sign of a cooling system failure is, of course, white steam rising from under your hood: your engine is already overheating.
    • White exhaust smoke: Not to be confused with the white steam of an overheating engine, white smoke from your tailpipe suggests that your engine is burning coolant. Catastrophic engine damage is a possibility.

    A. When an engine cooling system fails, the engine will overheat, stranding you and your passengers on the side of the road. If the vehicle is driven while overheated (or suffers specific types of coolant leaks or other damage) the resulting engine damage may generate a repair cost that exceeds the cost of an older vehicle.


    A. t is not safe to drive an overheating vehicle. Given the hazard of being stranded on the side of the road, it's tempting to keep driving toward a safe location. But here's what can happen to a vehicle driven while overheated:

    • The antifreeze can boil, causing hoses to burst open and spray hot coolant.
    • Engine heads can melt, affecting every aspect of engine performance. Many other engine and exhaust components are equally unable to withstand the high temperature of boiling antifreeze.
    • A blown head gasket can allow coolant to mix with engine oil. This is an extremely expensive engine repair, if the engine can be saved.

    A. If your vehicle overheats on the road, here's how to safely cool it down before and after you pull over:

    1. While you're still driving, open all windows.
    2. Turn off the air conditioner if it's in use.
    3. Turn on the heat to help dissipate heat from the engine.
    4. Keep your transmission in neutral when it's safe to do so and rev the engine (this distributes antifreeze).
    5. After you pull over, turn off your engine and keep the windows open.
    6. Open the hood to further dissipate engine heat.
    7. Do not remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled down.
    8. Add fluid to your coolant reservoir that meets your vehicle manufacturer's specifications. If you have bottled coolant on hand, read the label to find out whether to add water. For most vehicles, plain water should be a last resort.

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    Radiator Flush Questions

    A. A coolant flush is another name for radiator flush, a procedure to clean your vehicle's cooling system of sediment and rust. The coolant keeps your engine from overheating while running, and from freezing in cold weather when it's not running. The purpose of a radiator flush is to ensure that your coolant system protects your engine as efficiently as possible -- and to prevent corrosion in metal engine parts from rust and other contaminants.


    A. A radiator flush (or coolant flush) consists of four steps:

    1. Draining the existing coolant from your vehicle's radiator.
    2. Adding new coolant and conditioner to the radiator. The new mixture then circulates through the vehicle's cooling system, loosening any sediment and rust that has built up in the radiator channel.
    3. Draining the radiator to remove sediment and rust.
    4. Refilling the radiator channel with a fresh coolant mix (typically water and anti-freeze).

    A. Check your vehicle owner's manual to see how often your manufacturer recommends a radiator flush for your model. A common radiator flush interval is every 30,000-50,000 mile, or every 2-5 years.


    A. A trained mechanic can perform a radiator flush in about 30 minutes using a commercial coolant flush and fill machine. Without a machine, a radiator flush takes about two hours. You'll need to allow additional time for any other services performed at the same time, such as radiator leak repair or inspection.


    A. Depending on your vehicle and your coolant, flushing your radiator on your manufacturer's recommended schedule ranges from a best practice to a necessity. With modern coolants, flushes likely help the operation of the cooling system and, in any case, do no harm. If enough corrosives build up in your coolant, your metal engine parts can degrade. If enough contaminants build up that your engine freezes, you can end up with irreparable engine damage. And If there are silicates or borates in your coolant, it must be replaced regularly. And in the case of a radiator leak, you will need new coolant after that problem is repaired. A full coolant system flush is convenient at that time.

    Your local Midas technician will visually inspect your coolant fluid and hoses as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1. We'll let you know whether it's time for new coolant, or if it can wait.

    1. Midas Touch Courtesy Check includes visual checks of brakes, battery, air filter, fluids, belts, and hoses.


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    Radiator Leak Questions

    A. Here are the top signs that your vehicle has a radiator leak:

    • Radiator fluid under your vehicle or around radiator parts and hoses - Radiator fluid is green, orange, or red and often has a sweet smell.
    • Coolant light or other dashboard alert is on - Check your vehicle owner's manual to learn exactly which radiator-related situations will trigger your dashboard alert.
    • Overheating - Best case scenario: you notice a rise on your temperature gauge before you're stranded at the side of the road.
    • Low coolant level - You should be able to see whether your coolant is up to the "Full" line on your coolant reservoir -- without opening the reservoir.

    A. Some common causes of radiator leaks:

    • Dirty coolant - Sediment, rust and other corrosives collect in your coolant system over time. These materials compromise the seals in your radiator hoses and even wear through metal radiator parts. Treatment (and preventive maintenance): Radiator Flush.
    • Excessive heat and temperature swings - Metal parts in the coolant system contract and expand with temperature changes. One common cause of excessive heat: a malfunctioning radiator fan.
    • Rocks and other foreign objects striking the coolant system - Like dirty coolant, these objects can damage coolant lines and metal parts.
    • Accidents causing damage to coolant system parts - A trained mechanic should always check your vehicle after an accident.

    A. Driving with a radiator leak can cause coolant loss, engine overheating, and potentially major engine damage. First and foremost, there is always risk to driver and passenger safety when you're stranded on the road with an overheated engine. A radiator leak can also mix your coolant with your engine oil or transmission fluid, or build up sludge in the radiator. If these problems become too extensive to be fixed by radiator flush, transmission flush, and oil change, you'll need a new radiator to prevent damage to your engine and transmission.


    A. A leaking radiator can pose several dangers to your engine:

    • Warped cylinders - Your engine's pistons need perfectly shaped cylinders to move through. Depending on the age and type of your engine, fixing this problem can cost as much as a new engine.
    • Cracked head gasket - The head gasket seals coolant in the engine head, so it can't damage other engine parts. Replacement parts aren't expensive, but labor costs can be.
    • And for your own safety: Do not touch or remove your radiator cap while your engine is overheated.

    A. If you suspect your radiator is leaking, make an appointment for radiator leak service at your earliest convenience, drive as little as possible in the meantime, and prepare for potential overheating in these ways:

    1. Monitor your coolant level by checking the Full line on the outside of the coolant reservoir.
    2. Learn what fluids you can safely add when topping off your coolant. In many vehicles, plain water be used only in an emergency because metal parts in the coolant system need the anti-corrosive properties of antifreeze. Check your vehicle owner's manual for these specifications -- a 50:50 solution of water and antifreeze is common.
    3. Keep a supply of appropriate coolant (and water) in your vehicle in case of overheating. Read the label; some coolants come pre-diluted and some require that you add water.
    4. Make sure the necessary mobile device chargers are in the vehicle, and keep everyone's phone charged.
    5. As you drive, pay close attention to your temperature gauge so that you're alerted to an overheating engine before you're forced to pull over.

    Related link:

    What to do if your vehicle overheats


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    Transmission Flush Questions

    A. A transmission flush is a procedure to remove old automatic transmission fluid (ATF), sludge and grime from a vehicle's transmission and replace it with fresh fluid. The purpose of ATF is to cool and lubricate your automatic transmission. Over time, transmission fluid collects foreign particles that can interfere with these functions -- causing your transmission to generate more friction and heat. Eventually these particles can build up into sludge deposits in your transmission and interfere with shifting and acceleration.


    A. A transmission flush helps maximize the lifespan and performance of your automatic transmission -- one of the most expensive vehicle parts to replace. It does not help with preexisting transmission problems, however.


    A. Changing transmission fluid and flushing the transmission are two different services:

    • Transmission Fluid Change - Replaces 50%-60% of your transmission fluid. Your transmission pan is drained without special equipment, inspected, and cleaned. The transmission filter is replaced and new fluid is added, leaving a mixture of old and new fluid.
    • Transmission Flush - Replaces 100% of your transmission fluid and purges accumulated particles and deposits from the entire transmission. Fluid is expelled from your transmission using a cooler line flushing machine or a pump inlet. The transmission pan is inspected and cleaned, the filter replaced. A complete batch of new, pure ATF is added.

    A. Check your vehicle owner's manual to see how often your manufacturer recommends transmission flush for your model. Common transmission flush intervals range from every 30,000-50,000 miles to every 3-5 years.

    How often should you replace transmission fluid? If you aren't having full transmission flushes, a common ATF change interval is every 3,000 miles or every two years. Again, check your vehicle's manual.

    Need help choosing which procedure is right for your vehicle? Talk to your local Midas technician. We know transmissions, and we'll help you design an ATF maintenance plan that works for your vehicle, your schedule, and your budget.


    A. Here are some signs that it's time to flush your transmission:

    • Dark red or brown fluid on your transmission dipstick - Fresh ATF is brilliant red. If the fluid on your dipstick is dark, it means that foreign particles have accumulated in your ATF.
    • Transmission slipping - Poor coordination between the engine and your vehicle. If you hear the engine engage but your vehicle seems to respond out of sync, you could have ineffective ATF or a leak.
    • Shifting feels or sounds different - Both of these problems can indicate ineffective ATF or a leak.

    Midas visually inspects your transmission fluid as part of every Midas Touch Courtesy Check1. But between Midas visits, any transmission problem should be checked out as soon as possible. Your transmission is one of the costliest parts of your vehicle to replace, so fixing a small transmission problem (while it's still small) is a big win.


    A. A trained mechanic can perform a simple transmission flush in three to four hours using a commercial flushing machine or pump inlet. A transmission fluid change takes just about 30 minutes. You'll need to allow additional time for any other services performed at the same time, such as the Midas Touch Courtesy Check, or a transmission inspection.


    A. An already-compromised transmission should not be flushed. If too much force is applied in the flushing process, it can cause debris to lodge in places that could potentially cause problems.

    When in doubt, ask your Midas technician how to best care for your particular transmission.


    A. An already-compromised transmission should not be flushed. If too much force is applied in the flushing process, it can cause debris to lodge in places that could potentially cause problems.

    When in doubt, ask your Midas technician how to best care for your particular transmission.


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    Fleet Services Questions

    A. Midas has built one of the most comprehensive fleet management systems available today. At every stage of the fleet maintenance management process we have addressed the service, data and payment needs of the fleet manager and built controls that help offer real savings in both time and money. Combined web-based fleet management capabilities, universal credit products and a premier network of service locations have created a fleet program unlike any other.s


    A. Complete Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Services

    At Midas, we offer an array of fleet maintenance and repair services to help keep your fleet vehicles running smoothly.

    Advanced Web-Based Fleet Management Software

    The Midas Fleet Services program helps time-strapped fleet managers manage vehicle expenses by providing card and system level purchasing controls. The backbone of the Midas Fleet Services program is a web-based fleet management application. We use this program to give you control of the purchases made by your drivers and to provide visibility of the repairs and maintenance performed on your vehicles at any participating Midas location.

    Flexible Credit and Payment Options*

    We also offer a myriad of payment options to suit your payment preferences. We even offer a Midas Fleet Services card that allows you to receive terms on your purchases made at Midas, and if elected, you can even use the card for your fuel purchases at thousands of fuel stations nationwide.

    *Payment terms are subject to credit approval

    National Fleet Accounts

    Midas has a comprehensive national fleet program that is geared to service the maintenance needs of your vehicles, regardless of their location. Ask about our existing national fleet accounts.

    Location, Location, Location

    With more than 1200 locations in North America, your vehicles are never very far from a Midas shop. We know downtime is a concern and understand how unscheduled repairs negatively impact your company's productivity. Your drivers can drive in anytime and we will be happy to get their vehicle serviced and back on the road, or if you prefer to schedule an appointment, we will work with you to bring your vehicle to Midas when it's most convenient for you.

    Service Delivery Process

    At Midas, we check every vehicle using a courtesy check list and will provide a detailed estimate of the needed repairs. We also use quality parts, many of which are backed by our famous Midas Lifetime Guarantee.*

    *Most vehicles. See manager for limited guarantee terms.


    A. The Midas credit card and house charge account are widely preferred among our fleets. However, you are welcome to pay with any form of accepted retail payment type at our stores. Canada: Because pricing is determined by local markets, any fleet discount offered is at the discretion of the individual Midas Canada Dealer.


    A. There is never a requirement for how many vehicles are serviced to qualify for a fleet account. Canada: Because pricing is determined by local markets, any fleet discount offered is at the discretion of the individual Midas Canada Dealer.


    A. While we don't make house calls, we can certainly assist with coordinating a towing service to get your vehicle to a Midas location for repairs. Simply call your closest store and have them make arrangements for you. The towing service will be added to your invoice repairs to make billing easy. Canada: Because pricing is determined by local markets, any fleet discount offered is at the discretion of the individual Midas Canada Dealer. In addition to towing service, a courtesy shuttle will take you home and pick you up.


    A. We can certainly assist with coordinating a towing service to get your vehicle to a Midas location for repairs. Simply call your closest store and have them make arrangements for you. The towing service will be added to your invoice repairs to make billing easy. Canada: Because pricing is determined by local markets, any fleet discount offered is at the discretion of the individual Midas Canada Dealer


    A.

    Yes, we are a registered "In Network" preferred supplier with all the top fleet management companies: GE, MAP/Wheels, Lease Plan, ARI, Enterprise Fleet, Donlen Fleet and more. Simply present your driver credentials when requesting repair services. Canada: Same as above except instead of your driver credentials, please present your fleet management company driver service card when requesting maintenance or repair services.


    A. Not typically. Regardless of the age of your fleet, your fleet discount will remain consistent. Canada: Age of fleet does not affect pricing, but increased maintenance does affect the overall cost of vehicle maintenance.


    A. Simply visit your local Midas dealer and request a Midas credit card or house account application. Canada: Same as above.


    A. Midas supports both small and large fleet operations, and we recognize that all businesses have to start their vehicle program somewhere. If your business is just getting started, and you have one company vehicle, that's fine with us. We look forward to growing with our small business partners. Canada: Because pricing is determined by local markets, any fleet discount offered is at the discretion of the individual Midas Canada Dealer.


    A. All pricing and discounts are negotiated at the store location/dealer level.


    A. The majority of our stores do offer fleet services, but check with your local Midas first to ensure they are a participating dealer. Canada: Same as above.


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    Midas Touch® Maintenance Package Questions

    A. Routine car maintenance can help you avoid roadside breakdowns, reduce costly repairs and, most importantly, help keep your vehicle safe, reliable and running longer. The Midas Touch® Maintenance Package consists of an oil and filter change, Midas Touch® Courtesy Check and a four wheel tire rotation.


    A. The Midas Touch® Courtesy Check is a multi-point visual inspection that helps identify areas that could need attention. And it provides you with the comfort that comes with knowing the condition of your vehicle.

    When you Midasize® your car or truck, it's like a routine physical, with our expert technicians conducting a visual check of many of the items that are found on your preventive auto maintenance plan.

    MAJOR SYSTEMS AND COMPONENTS

    Engine, Transmission, Brakes, Steering, Starting and Charging, Heating and Cooling, Lighting

    UNDER-THE-HOOD ITEMS

    Battery, Radiator, Water Pump, Air Filter, Belts and Hoses

    FLUIDS

    Engine Oil, Coolant, Transmission, Power Steering, Brake, Windshield Washer

    UNDER-THE-VEHICLE ITEMS

    Shocks and Struts, Brake and Fuel Lines, Exhaust System, Driveline

    TIRES

    Tread Depth, Wear Patterns, Inflation Pressure, Overall Condition


    A. Everyone knows that tires play an important role in your vehicle's handling and performance.­ But many people forget that proper tire maintenance, along with monitoring tire pressure, tread depth and performing regular tire rotations, are all safety issues.

    Consider these Car Care Council statistics:

    • Only 14% of drivers properly check their tire pressure.
    • Nearly 70% don't know how to tell if their tires are bald.
    • 45% wrongly believe that if taking a trip with a fully loaded vehicle, they're better off with tires that are slightly under inflated.

    To help keep you from landing on the wrong side of these statistics, Midas technicians are committed to proper tire maintenance.

    Remember, tire pressure should be checked at least once a month.

    Well maintained tires help ensure you're receiving the proper level of traction and road-hugging performance; as well as the ability to funnel water out from under the tire to reduce hydroplaning.

    Rotating your tires can help even out tire wear rates by mounting each tire in as many of the vehicle's wheel positions as possible.

    That's why the Midas Touch® Maintenance Package comes with a 4 wheel tire rotation, Midas Touch® Courtesy Check and an oil & filter change.


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    91) Auto Maintenance Questions

    A. The treasure hunting for popular auto repair services can be time consuming and annoying to get the facts. Learn why buying oil change and auto repair services online and in advance pays off. WATCH VIDEO


    A. With the help of your friendly Midas mechanic, you don't have to be an auto expert. From our Midas Touch Maintenance Package to our Midas Touch Courtesy Check, we'll help you become more comfortable with your vehicle's factory scheduled maintenance needs as well as help improve your knowledge of what to watch for and be aware of should a problem occur.


    A. Regular maintenance on your car is important. It's hard to tell you changing your oil is more important that changing a worn belt. You can run into high costs if you ignore both. For most people, their car is their second biggest investment after their home. Budget for preventive maintenance today and keep your car in good order. Without proper maintenance, you may be in line for costly major repairs, or a breakdown and need a new vehicle. Proper maintenance can also make your vehicle safer, more fuel efficient, and possibly even retain more value if you decide to sell or trade in the future.


    A.

    No. You definitely do not have to complete all your factory scheduled maintenance at a dealer to maintain coverage under your warranty. In fact, by law, as long as you follow the maintenance schedule recommended by your manufacturer, you can have maintenance completed anywhere. At every Midas, we have the factory scheduled maintenance for vehicles, or bring in your owner's manual to review with us.


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    93) Mufflers and Exhaust Questions

    A. Excessive rust or broken bolts could cause mufflers, pipes, and other parts of the exhaust system to hang dangerously low, resulting in a hazard for the people driving behind you. However, these aren't always things that can be easily assessed by just peeking underneath your car. As a rule, we recommend having your exhaust system inspected at least once a year.


    A. Your exhaust system and mufflers in particular is very sophisticated. Technically, your muffler has baffled passages that the exhaust gases move through to muffle engine sound. But if you were to cut away your muffler, you d find some tubes with holes in them. Sounds simple, but inside your muffler, these elements work together to have the sound waves hit one another to reduce the noise. Your muffler is actually a finely tuned instrument.


    A. Your car exhaust system is pretty complex. Excess noise could be from cracks or holes in manifolds or gaskets. On your muffler itself, excessive rust on a muffler, on holes in a muffler can cause a louder ride. Bad mufflers may also lead to increased pollution and even a rough idle. If you re not sure, stop by your local Midas to get it checked out.


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    94) Oil Change Questions

    An oil change puts fresh oil into your car. More importantly, an oil change takes out the old oil that can become filled with dust, metallic shavings or other contaminants. As your oil ages, outside items make their way in. Without an oil change, this can lower your gas mileage or in the worse case, cause your engine to fail. An oil change is a great preventive step to keep you car running clean and smooth. Make sure to change your oil filter as well, it helps to remove impurities from the oil and the engine.


    A. A good rule of thumb is every 3,000 miles for an oil change. However, follow your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. They will specify the frequency for an oil change for your driving conditions. The timing of your oil change should follow those recommendations.


    A. Good question. It's something that most people probably aren't familiar with. The first number (such as 5W) indicates the low-temperature viscosity. Viscosity simply is a measure of an oil's ability to flow and protect at certain temperatures. The lower the number, the easier the oil will flow (and protect) in cold weather when starting your car. The second number (such as 30, in 5W-30), indicates the thickness of the oil at operating (high) temperatures. The higher the number, the better the lubrication will be. When you get an oil change, you should follow your manufacturer's recommendations. Take a look at your owner's manual before your next trip to Midas for an oil change.



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    • AUTO REPAIR AND SERVICE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
    Frequently Asked Questions - Auto Repair & Service
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