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Frequently Asked Service Questions at Graff Chevrolet Okemos

At Graff Okemos, we work to make your vehicle service experience positive and smooth. We know vehicle service can be confusing. The FAQ section of our website is here to help you better understand your vehicle and its service needs. Below you’ll see service categories like Under the Hood, General Car Care, Tires, Brakes, Oil Changes, and Wiper Blades to click on for easier and convenience navigation. Please use this page as a resource, and if you have any further questions give our Service Department a call at (517) 349-8300.



How often should I get my wheels aligned?

Common conditions like potholes, driving on dirt roads, hitting the curb, or regular driving wear can affect your vehicle’s tire alignment, which can in turn affect the wear on your tires and your safety. Properly aligned wheels give optimal performance, proper fuel-efficiency, even tire wear, and provide cost savings in the long run. If it’s been awhile since your car has had a tire alignment, let us know and our experts can perform an alignment at your next oil change. If the conditions above sound similar to your regular driving circumstances, then it can be wise to get a tire alignment every other oil change to extend the life of your tires. Additionally, you will want to have an alignment performed if you purchase a new set of tires.

How long can I drive on a spare tire?

If you must drive on a spare tire, you should avoid driving more than 50 miles and should also never drive over 50 mph. Every situation is different, but getting your tire replaced or patched is a simple fix at Graff Chevrolet Okemos and should be done as soon as possible for your safety.

How do I know what my tire PSI should be?

Your vehicle’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch of air pressure) is typically listed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door, or can be found in the owner’s manual. However, you always want to refer to the specific PSI listed inside the door, and not the PSI listed on your vehicle’s tires. The PSI listed on your tires is the max PSI for that tire and inflating your tires to that level can change the handling characteristics of your vehicle, causing a potential decrease in the life of your tires. Recommended PSI is usually between 30 - 35 PSI for optimal tire performance and life. If you’re unsure about your vehicle's specific PSI measurements, consult our expert tire techs at Graff Chevrolet Okemos.

Why does my tire light go on when it's cold outside?

Cold air naturally compresses meaning the air in your tires will too. The sensors in your tires are designed to signal the tire light to go on when PSI measurement is below normal. So, when the air in your tires compresses in cold weather it causes the PSI measurement to decrease. This is why sometimes you’ll notice the light will go off during the day when air temperatures warm up. If your tire light is illuminated, you can bring your vehicle into our service center to ensure your tires are inflated to the optimal level. Having your tires properly inflated also means optimal fuel efficiency.

How do I know what kind of tires to buy for my vehicle?

If you’re replacing just one or two tires, you should match the new tires as close as possible to your current tires on your vehicle. If you need a full set of new tires, you can ask for the same brand that you had before. If you didn’t like the tires you previously had, or if you’re looking for the best available deal, we can help you explore the tire category types to find the right tires that fit your needs and the right size for your vehicle.

Why are tire alignments important?

Routine tire alignments are important because they ensure your tires remain perpendicular to the road and parallel to each other. This allows them to wear evenly and save you money in the long run. With the proper tire alignment and tire pressure you can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, and you can drive confidently knowing you are safe because your vehicle won’t pull to one side or another.

How do I check my tire's tread?

An easy way to check your tires tread is by performing the trusted “Penny Test” as outlined below –

  • Place a penny in the lowest tire tread grooves with Lincoln’s head pointing downward into the tire.
  • Move the penny along the groove.
  • If any part of Lincoln’s head is NOT covered by the tread it means that your tire’s tread is extremely worn and your tire may not be able to grip the road properly. If this is the case, you’ll want to have your tires inspected in our service center to evaluate whether you need to replace your tires.

When should I replace my tires?

There are many signs that indicate you may need to replace your tires. Any noticeable irregular or severe tread wear can be an indication of an overdue tire replacement. This can be caused by infrequent tire rotations or improper inflation. A simple way to test your tire’s tread at home is the popular “penny test” (Check out our FAQ on Tire Tread Testing for directions). Another sign you may need a tire replacement would be any abnormal bulges or cracks in the sidewall of the tire. This can indicate that the outside of your tire is weak and could result in a leak. Always remember, if you have any concern driving your vehicle in inclement weather, you should always have your tires checked by our team of experts.

Why is it important to have the correct tire air pressure?

Making sure that you have the correct air pressure in your tires can help you save on fuel, enhance your handling of the vehicle while driving, and help your tires last longer. If you aren’t sure of the correct air pressure for your tires, you can find the recommended level in your owner’s manual.

How often should I get my tires rotated?

We typically recommend that you rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or every other oil change – whichever comes first. If you neglect your tires, they may wear prematurely.

What is the main cause of damage to tires?

We recommend regularly checking the air pressure in your tires, as improper inflation is typically the main cause of tire damage. You can check the air pressure with a tire pressure gauge, or stop by our service center and we can check it for you.


How do I know which windshield fluid to use?

When it comes to windshield washer fluid, there are 2 types. The most common type sold in stores is an already diluted formula. The second type is a concentrated formula that you’ll need to dilute with water in your washer fluid tank. Whatever solution you choose, make sure the fluid can withstand the temperatures of the climate where you live and drive - you’ll find this information on the label. Some fluids have more antifreeze in them to combat extremely cold temps, while others have less and are more suitable for warmer temperatures. If you need help putting fluid in, or need help choosing which type to use, you can consult our service experts at Graff Chevrolet Okemos.

How do I know if my wiper blades need to be replaced?

Here are a few telltale signs that your wiper blades need to be replaced:

  • They leave streaks on your windshield after use
  • The rubber strip has become cracked and dried out
  • The rubber strip is completely removed or wiper is damaged in any way

If your windshield wipers are not helping make your view of the road clear, or if you notice any of the signs above, come into our service center and we can get your vehicle fitted with new windshield wipers that will allow you to continue driving safely.

How do I find the size of my wipers?

Did you know that each vehicle make and model have a specific wiper size? Sometimes the left and right windshield wipers are different sizes as well. You can find your vehicle’s windshield wiper blade size in your owner’s manual, online, or simply by asking our service technicians at Graff Chevrolet Okemos.


Why is my steering wheel shaking when I brake?

The most common reason that your steering wheel might shake when applying the brakes is because the brake rotors have become warped, or they have become too thin to disperse the heat. If you are experiencing a shaky steering wheel, stop by Graff Chevrolet Okemos and our team of professionals can provide a vehicle inspection.

My brakes are squealing, what does that mean?

Squealing sounds from your vehicle’s brakes are not uncommon. However it is important to pay attention to the squealing because while the noise may be harmless, it could also mean trouble with your brake pads or rotors. It is best to have your brakes serviced by our Graff Chevrolet Okemos technicians as soon as possible to help prevent any further damage.

How do I know if my brakes need to be replaced?

There are a few different warning signs to look for that may suggest your brakes need to be replaced –

  • High pitched squealing
  • Steering wheel vibration when stopping
  • Grinding noises when stopping
  • Increased braking distances
  • Feeling the car pull to the left or right when stopping
  • A bad smell after coming to a hard stop
  • A weak emergency brake

If you experience any of these warning signs, bring your vehicle into our service department and our brake experts can diagnose the issue.

How often should I get my brakes checked?

Your brakes are one of your vehicle’s biggest safety components, so it’s a good idea to have them checked regularly. A routine brake check should be considered every 5 months or every 5,000 miles. However, it also depends on your driving habits and your location. If you find yourself driving in stop-and-go traffic often or brake riding, you should consider having them checked more often. If you don’t drive that often, you can probably go longer between brake checks. If you hear grinding or squealing noises when braking, bring your vehicle into our Service Center to have the brakes checked.


Should I consider synthetic motor oil?

Synthetic motor oils can be great for engines that are high output, turbocharged, supercharged, or vehicles that are used for towing. Vehicles that operate in extreme weather conditions, such as very hot or really cold, would also benefit from synthetic motor oil. This type of oil is more expensive than mineral-based oils, but it can provide longer intervals between changes and can improve fuel economy.

Why is my engine oil a milky brown color?

Milky brown engine oil may be an indication that there is coolant in the oil. There are a few things that can cause this, such as a blown head gasket, a failed transmission cooler, or a cracked casing – all of these are very serious. If you are experiencing milky brown engine oil, we recommend bringing your vehicle into our service center immediately.

How often should I get my oil changed?

We recommend having your oil changed every 3,000 miles, or as often as your vehicle’s owner manual recommends.


When should I have my A/C serviced?

If your A/C system isn’t cooling off your vehicle as efficiently as it should be, bring your vehicle into our service center at Graff Chevrolet Okemos for an A/C inspection. Our expert service techs can resolve any air conditioning issues and get you back on the road in no time!

How often should I have my battery inspected?

If the battery in your vehicle is more than 3 years old, we suggest you have it inspected annually. Your normal battery life is around 3-5 years. If your vehicle is having trouble starting it could be the battery and you should have it inspected then too.

How often should I have my coolant changed?

We recommend having your coolant changed every 24,000 miles or every two years – whichever comes first. Scheduling an appointment can be easy. Visit our Schedule an Appointment page online today!

How often should I check my antifreeze?

To keep your vehicle performing at its optimum level, we recommend getting into the habit of routinely checking not only your antifreeze but also all of your vehicle’s fluids once per month. Some signs of an antifreeze problem include: your coolant light turning on, your temperature gauge is higher than normal, or you notice a coolant leak by seeing yellow, green, or pink puddles under your car. If you suspect any anti-freeze problems, bring your vehicle into our service center for an inspection.

Why is my alternator important to my vehicle?

Your vehicle’s alternator sparks your engine to start it up and recharges it while running. It also helps create the electricity your vehicle needs to power all your electrical devices. Without your alternator your vehicle would rely solely on your battery and your battery doesn’t have enough power to control everything that runs on electrical power like your wipers, radio, lights, etc.

How do I detect if I’m having alternator problems?

If your vehicle is experiencing alternator problems, the warning light in your vehicle will turn on, you may notice the lights dim, the car may ‘growl’ or ‘whine’, or the battery may be dead. At Graff Chevrolet Okemos our certified service technicians are experienced in resolving your vehicle’s alternator issues, so if you notice any of the signs above, stop by our service center and we’ll be happy to perform an inspection.

Why should I have my vehicle’s belts & hoses inspected?

If your vehicle’s belts or hoses are cracked or broken they can cause serious problems for you and your vehicle. By having your belts & hoses inspected regularly you can avoid costly repairs in the long run. If you are having issues with any of your belts or hoses you could experience whining noises or a disabled car. If this is the case, you should bring your vehicle in right away. During the inspection our technicians can check for:

  • Loose or worn clamps
  • Glazing, fracturing, or softening of belts
  • Proper tension
  • Leakages and splits
  • Appropriate drive pulley alignment
  • Hardening, cracking, or softening of hose pipes

How often should I have my belts and hoses replaced?

You should have your belts & hoses replaced every 30,000 – 60,000 miles to ensure your vehicle continues to perform as it should, and to avoid serious problems that can be costly to repair.

When should I have my vehicle’s suspension system serviced?

Some common signs your vehicle’s suspension system may need to be serviced are: leaking shocks, if your vehicle is excessively bouncing or swaying, if your vehicle is bottoming out or nose diving when you are stopping, or uneven tread marks on your tires. If you notice any of the above with your vehicle, bring it into our service center at Graff Chevrolet Okemos for a complete inspection.

How do I know if I’m having transmission problems?

The most common alert in knowing your vehicle is having transmission problems is the “Check Engine” light illuminating on your dashboard. If that happens, you should bring your vehicle into our service center to have it inspected right away. Other common signs of transmission problems include: transmission slipping (giving off a high pitch sound), fluid leaks, or a burning smell.

When should I get my vehicle's fuel filter replaced?

Your vehicle’s owner manual may recommend how often, but we usually suggest replacing your car fuel filter every 30,000 miles. This will ensure that your vehicle remains dependable and trouble-free.

How do I make sure my car battery has a good electrical connection?

If you clean and inspect your battery cables and terminals periodically, your battery will maintain a good electrical connection.

When should I change my spark plugs?

Unless your vehicle is equipped with 100,000-mile platinum tipped spark plugs, we recommend replacing them every 30 months or 30,000 miles. Your spark plugs play a big part in fuel economy and engine performance, so replacing worn out spark plugs could improve both.

I have a burned-out fuse, what should I do?

Always replace burned-out fuses with fuses of the same amperage. You should be able to find the amperage information printed on the side of the fuse. If your fuse continues to “blow”, it’s very likely that you could have a defect and should have the circuit checked out by one of our professionals.


How do I know which fuel is better for my car?

Your owner’s manual will outline which fuel type to use based specifically on your vehicle make, model, and trim level. However, note that sometimes Premium Unleaded is recommended, but may not be required. Typically only high-performance vehicles require Premium gas for the higher octane percentage needed for the engine. Make sure to never mix fuel types as it can damage your engine.

Something smells, what should I do?

When you smell something unusual coming from your vehicle it can be scary if you don’t know what it is. There are many sources of potentially alarming vehicle smells that may require a simple or complicated fix, like mildew in your vents or a coolant leak. If you’re unsure how to identify where the smell in your vehicle is coming from, bring it into our service department at Graff Chevrolet Okemos and we can diagnose the issue and get you back on the road stench-free.

What should I have in my car emergency kit?

While you never plan to find yourself in an emergency situation, you want to expect the unexpected. There are many items you can keep in your emergency car kit that will get you out of an unfortunate situation. A few factors to consider when packing an emergency car kit are: the medical needs of the driver or passenger, climate, and what you may need in different situations. Jumper cables, a first aid kit, and a flashlight are great items to start with. Other items you could include are: roadside flares, a multipurpose tool containing pliers and scissors, extra clothing or blankets, kitty litter or salt for traction on ice and snow, fix-a-flat or an electric tire pump, a phone charger, and a little extra cash.  

How does my driving impact my vehicle’s performance?

Personal driving styles vary from person to person so it is important to know what you can do to get the most out of your vehicle’s performance. For example, if you often drive in a high traffic, stop-and-go area, it is likely that your brakes may wear more quickly. If you find yourself driving aggressively with rapid acceleration, hard braking, and speeding, you’ll likely notice a decrease in your fuel efficiency compared to slowly speeding up and easily braking. If you drive on pothole-laden or bumpy roads, your vehicle’s alignment is more likely to be affected. By being aware of your personal driving style, you can adjust for better vehicle performance.

Why am I having issues starting my car in the cold weather?

There are various reasons your car could be having trouble starting in colder weather. For example, oil becomes thicker in colder weather and when your engine relies on thicker oil it can be harder for the engine to spin. Another reason your vehicle may have trouble starting in cold weather could be a weak battery. Additionally, there could also be a bad fuel mixture or lack of fuel in your vehicle. When your vehicle has a poor fuel to air mixture, it can have a hard time igniting properly. Winter weather can be harsh on your vehicle so if you experience any issues, just bring it by our service center.

How long should I warm up my engine before driving in the winter?

Even in colder weather, your vehicle needs no more than 30 seconds to warm up before being driven. In fact, it will warm up faster being driven than it will just idling. In colder weather it may also be beneficial to drive your car gently for the first 10 minutes after starting while the engine completely warms up.

What should I do if the engine temperature gauge begins to rise too high?

If your vehicle’s engine temperature gauge begins to rise too high, there are a few ways you can cool off your engine. 1) Try turning off your air conditioner since it puts strain on your engine. 2) Turn up your heater, as this pulls heat away from the engine. If your engine is still overheating, pull over to turn the engine off as soon as possible and call for assistance.  

What does it mean if my check engine light turns on?

Your vehicle has a variety of sensors and components that ensure that your vehicle is running correctly. If one of these fails, the check engine light will illuminate. In order to prevent long-term problems, we recommend that you come get it checked out as soon as possible.

Schedule Service Let Us Handle It! It Could Save You More Than You Think

Outstanding Automotive Service and Answers to Your Auto Service Questions in Okemos at Hank Graff Chevrolet!

We hope we’ve been able to answer all your auto service questions. If your question was not answered in our FAQs, feel free to send one of our technicians a message to get a personalized answer to your question. You may also call the service center at Hank Graff Chevrolet Okemos at (517) 507-3013 to get answers to your questions or schedule a service appointment.

We are a full-service automotive repair and maintenance center, and we service all makes and models. Choose Hank Graff Chevrolet Okemos for the most thorough automotive service at great prices! We proudly serve customers in Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos, Ovid, Morrice, Portland, Holt, and many other communities.