Top Six Automotive Maintenance Myths

mechanic myths









Pretty much any complicated machine is going to develop some mythology over time, and the automobile is no exception. Cars have been ubiquitous for more than 100 years, and seemingly with every new innovation comes a new myth that is either created or busted.

Here are the top six auto maintenance myths.

The 3,000-Mile Oil Change

The “three months or 3,000 miles” oil change interval was invented by oil manufacturers, not auto manufacturers. Even 50 years ago, most manufacturers suggested changing the oil at more like 5,000 miles. There is nothing wrong with changing it every 3,000 miles, of course, but if you look at your owner’s manual, you’ll probably see a higher number.


We put that in quotes because that term, as commonly understood, isn’t relevant to modern engine designs. In the old days, a tune-up involved a whole series of tasks, including changing the plugs and points and tuning the carburetor. Well, modern engines don’t have any of that stuff. Except for spark plugs. So if you as a mechanic to perform a tune-up on a car built within the last 25 years, all he’s going to do is change the spark plugs.

Premium Gas Make More Power

If we’ve said it once we’ve said it 1,000 times: Premium gasoline will do nothing extra for a car that doesn’t require it. This myth persists because the oil companies call high-octane fuel “premium” and low-octane fuel “regular,” implying one is better for the other. There is a bunch of complicated science involved with this, but all you need to know is that if your car doesn’t specifically indicate it is designed to run on premium fuel, premium fuel won’t do a single thing for you that regular won’t. That said, if your car does require premium, you’ll cause it to run worse by running regular.

Filling Your Gas in the Morning

The mythology goes like this: Since temperatures are lower in the morning, the gasoline will be more dense, meaning the parts of it that would be vaporizing during the afternoon are being pumped, as liquid, into your tank. This is nonsense. Gasoline is stored underground, and its temperature isn’t affected enough on the way to your tank for there to be any different.

Dirty Cars Get Better Mileage

This one is out there, but some people actually believe that a car caked in dirt will get better fuel economy than a clean car because of something having to do with dimples on a golf ball or whatever. The opposite is true. the dirt creates more drag. Wash your car.

Wash Your Car with Dish Soap

The thinking goes that since dish soap is great at removing oils, it’s great for cleaning your car. And it’s true: Dish soap will wash the daylights out of your car. It will remove all the dirt, and the grime, and the oils, and the wax, and it will leave your paint and the sun with nothing between them. Use less harsh soaps designed for auto finishes.

If you’ve got work that needs doing on your car, bring it to our expert technicians at Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC. Our technicians know the ins and outs of your vehicle, and will repair it perfectly with genuine Chevrolet parts.

5 Tips For Keeping Your Car Clean Without Even Trying










Ever get into someone else’s car and think, “This vehicle looks like it has never been driven,” and then gotten jealous and frustrated because the inside of your car looks like a college student has been living in it for three semesters?

Well, we have good news and we have bad news. The bad news is, your friend’s car has probably been professionally detailed, because your friend is the kind of person who gets his shirts pressed and his car detailed, while you’ve worn the same pair of jeans to work for the last four days. The good news is, with just a few minor changes to your habit, you can achieve vehicular cleanliness without having to do much work or pay much money.

Here’s how:

When You Leave Your Car, Throw Something Away

Think about it. How much of the clutter in your car is stuff you actually need? Be honest. It’s mostly garbage, isn’t it? Garbage you have been too lazy or too hurried to throw away. And now it has accumulated over time.

Just get in the habit of throwing something away whenever you leave your car. You’re getting out anyway, and odds are there’s a trash can wherever you’re going. It adds practically no time or effort to your day, and it makes your car cleaner.

Stop Eating in Your Car

This is easier said than done, for some people, but even if you’re following step one and tossing some trash every time you leave your car, there are still the crumbs to deal with. Bread crumbs, stray fries, little spills of coffee or ketchup that seem like no big deal at the time, but start to add up.

Most people who have messy cars have messy cars because they eat inside them. It’s the No. 1 cause of vehicular messiness, and it’s easily eliminated.

Take Advantage of the Gas Station

Think about it: While the gasoline is pumping into your gas tank, what do you do? Check Facebook? Buy a coffee? Listen to the radio?

This is time that can easily be used to quickly throw away some trash or wipe down some surfaces. And you know your center console could use a good wipe-down. It’s a couple minutes where you’re at the mercy of the fuel pump, so you might as well accomplish something.

Floor Mats are Your Friend

If we had a dollar for every vehicle we saw with worn-out or out-of-place floor mats that were doing little to no good for the carpet underneath, we’d … buy the whole world a set of floor mats, we guess.

Here’s the thing about floor mats: They’re disposable, inexpensive, and easily changed, compared to the carpet underneath, which is molded, expensive, and takes a great deal of work to replace.

If all you do is keep your floor mats properly positioned so that they catch the majority of the action from your feet, you’re doing fine. Sometimes, you can just pull them out, give them a good shake, and throw ‘em right back in.

Keep Some Cleaner in the Car

This is so you can clean up any spots or spills immediately, before they dry and harden and become something that kinda, sorta comes out but the material never really looks the same again.

Just keep a rag and some all-purpose cleaner in the trunk, and when you spill something, clean it up.

Do this for a month, and note the difference. Notice how, even if your car isn’t spotless, it does come across as generally clean. Notice how you don’t have to move a bunch of stuff around every time someone needs to sit down. Notice how you don’t find yourself thinking, “Man, I really need to clean out this car.”

No, not you. You are a clean person now, and you barely even had to try.

Of course, if you’re looking for that new-car smell, there is only one way to get it: By stopping by our showroom at Finnegan Chevrolet, where our friendly, professional sales staff will get you in just the kind of clean, new ride you’re looking for.

What To Do When Your Car Overheats


An overheated car is something to send to a professional technician, but we all know cars don’t wait until you’re at a car dealership to get hot.

Sometimes, you’re in the middle of nowhere and your temperature gauge starts rising and you don’t know what to do, but you know you need to get your car to someplace else.

Well, we’re here to help. Here is what to do if your car overheats.

Turn Off the Engine

This sounds obvious, but it is of such vital importance that it has to be mentioned. If your car’s temperature gauge gets into the danger zone, you smell coolant, or you see steam coming from the engine bay, it’s time to shut off the engine as soon as you safely can.

This is one of those scenarios in which you really can ruin your engine for good. So if you do nothing else, shut off the engine and let it cool.

Open the Hood

Pop open the hood and see if you can tell what the problem is. There are a lot of different reasons a car might overheat, but some of them will be obvious when you open the hood. For example, a common cause of overheating is a broken radiator hose, which lets coolant escape and results in a hot motor. If this is what happened, you’re probably looking at a steam of coolant shooting out of a hose.

Remove the Radiator Cap

Caution: You must be extremely careful about this. An overheated engine will be filled with outrageously hot liquid that might be under pressure. Let the engine cool down until it is no longer under pressure, then, with a rag to protect your hand, remove the radiator cap. Steam will come out. If you can’t see any water/coolant in the radiator, you need to add some.

This advice applies only if, as we suggested at the top, you’re in the middle of nowhere and need to get your car to safety. If you can, just have the car towed to a technician. If you can’t, you need to add some water or coolant or, ideally, a 50-50 mixture of the two.

Start the Car

Assuming you don’t have a leaking radiator hose, assuming you’ve allowed your car a good 10-20 minutes to cool, and assuming your radiator is now full of coolant/water, you can start your engine.

Keep a very close eye on the temperature gauge and shut the car off again immediately.

We hope we’ve made it clear that this is a stop-gap solution to a problem that requires the attention of an expert technician, like the ones we have at Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC. Come see us, and you’ll be back on the road in no time with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your vehicle was repaired by pros with genuine GM parts.

How To Save Money At The Pump











Even with oil and gas prices dropping at the pumps, we as the concrete navigators of Houston are always looking for ways to save money. With gas being a hefty monthly expense for many commuters in a city as big as Houston, there’s luckily a few techniques to get more miles for your money.

Slow Down

This may seem like an obvious tip, but it really does go a long way when getting better mileage. The logic goes like this: the more RPM’s your engine uses, the more gas it uses to power it. In a city with constant stop-and-go traffic, the RPM’s needed to accelerate from 0 mph to even 30 mph is a lot, especially if you drive an SUV (they’re heavier). Keeping your RPM’s low, or constant, will save you gas mileage, and money, in the long run.

Use Your Car’s Cruise Control

Continuing from the tip above, your car’s cruise control setting is designed to keep your speed, and your RPM’s, at a constant level. Using this setting, especially on long road trips, will undoubtedly get you better gas mileage. Instead of fluctuating your car’s speed and RPM, the cruise control setting will keep your speed and RPM’s at a constant level – ensuring your car uses fuel at a constant pace, rather than a sporadic one.

Maintenance is Key

Your car needs proper maintenance just like you need the right amount of sleep and food to function! Neglecting your car’s needs like routine oil changes, tire rotation, or cleaning the air filter all contribute to how hard your car’s engine has to work. Besides, car maintenance is easy, and just right around the corner from you. In the end, a well-maintained car will ensure you’re getting the maximum amount of mileage from your vehicle.

Schedule an Appointment

Not getting the gas mileage you want out of your car? Bring your vehicle into our service department and we’ll make sure everything is properly maintained! Visit our Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC website for more information, or bring your vehicle by our service department for a checkup!

Three Car Mistakes You Need To Stop Making











You’re not a neglectful person. You pay your bills on time. You RSVP to weddings. You reply to text messages in a timely fashion. You’re on top of it.

But we all have our blind spots, and cars are complicated and, well, we here at Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC have seen it all over the years. As much as we appreciate your business, nothing makes us happier than seeing cars and trucks running in tip-top shape.

So we thought we’d let you in on a few common car mistakes you may be making.

Letting Your Brakes Squeal

Well, the car keeps stopping, doesn’t it? It’s just a little squeak, and it doesn’t even do it every time. No big deal, right?

Here’s the thing: That brake squeal is caused by a part that has no function in your brake system other than to make a terrible and annoying squeaking noise to alert you to the fact your brake pads need changed, ASAP. That sound you hear is a little metal tab digging into your brake rotors. If you don’t replace the pads immediately, that tab — and eventually some other metal parts — will start digging into your brake rotor, and you’ll end up having to replace or resurface that too.

Not Flushing Your Transmission

We know, we know. We’ve seen the looks on your faces. A lot of people look at a transmission flush like it’s a bottle of snake oil, some needless gimmick designed only to separate you from your money.

Trust the automotive community on this one. Think of it like this: Transmission fluid is to your transmission what oil is to your engine. Granted, transmission fluid stays cleaner for longer because, unlike your engine, your transmission isn’t sucking air and fuel into it from the outside, nor are any explosions happening in your transmission. But that oil can’t last forever. If your car has more than about 70,000 miles on it, you’re probably about ready for a transmission flush. Trust us: It won’t cost that much, and you know what they say about an ounce of prevention …

Not Getting An Alignment

As with the noisy brakes, a misaligned suspension generally doesn’t render the car un-drivable, it just renders it mildly annoying — the steering wheel is off center and the wheels pull you to one side, but overall the car works OK.

The trouble is, that poor alignment is doing a number on your tires. It’s making them wear out faster and unevenly, and it might even make them develop this weird choppy pattern that will create more road noise. Just get the thing aligned. It won’t cost much, and your car will thank you.

As always, we’re here to take care of these and any other car problems you may be having. Know you can always trust our technicians to get the job done right the first time, with the convenience Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC has always been known for.

Do You Really Need That Premium Fuel?


Let’s get this out of the way right off the top. The answer to the headline above is, most likely, “no”, you probably do not need premium gasoline. The vast majority of cars are designed to run just fine on regular gas, and adding premium to their tanks will do precisely nothing for your car.

So that’s the long and short of it. But if you’re like us, you’re gonna need more of an explanation.

That’s why we’re here.

What’s the Difference?

So, the technical explanation of this is pretty … technical. But we’ll try to put it in the simplest possible terms. The difference between 87 octane fuel and 93 octane fuel is the particular point at which they will explode. High-octane fuel can withstand more compression before it combusts, and therefore is only necessary for use in high-compression engines (typically performance engines).

Won’t Premium Gas Give My Engine More Power?

It will not. If you put premium fuel into an engine not designed for it, it will have no effect whatsoever. It won’t add power. It won’t increase efficiency. It won’t burn cleaner. It won’t do squat, other than cost you more.

What If I Put Regular In My Performance Car?

If your engine has a high compression ratio, and its manufacturer recommends running high-octane gas through it, using regular gas will cause a phenomenon known as “knocking,” which is exactly what it sounds like — a knocking sound coming from the combustion chamber. This is because the regular fuel won’t be exploding at the right time, and might be exploding more than once per revolution. It won’t immediately ruin your engine or anything, but you should definitely not run 87 gas in a vehicle designed for 91.

Why Do They Call it “Premium,” Then?

Because they’re in the business of selling gasoline, and “premium” sounds better than “regular,” and premium costs more. It’s effective marketing, but since we aren’t in the business of selling gasoline, we can tell it like it is.

So How Do I Know For Sure If I Need Premium Or Not?

If your vehicle requires premium gasoline, your vehicle will indicate that in some key areas, such as the gas cap, fuel door, fuel gauge, owner’s manual … don’t worry, it’ll tell you.

If your vehicle offers no indication one way or another, you’re fine going with the cheap stuff. Unless, of course, you’ve rebuilt your engine and modified it to make more compression, in which case you’re on your own.

If your car isn’t running right, bring it to our expert technicians at Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC. We’ll get you back on the road quickly and conveniently, with the confidence the job was done right.

Don’t Leave Home Without These 5 Vehicle Emergency Items








If you’re like most of us, the main things you have in your car at any given time are, like, a coffee cup, a pair of gym shoes, a discarded wrapper or two, a pack of gum. You get the idea. The point is, we carry around a lot of stuff we don’t need.

But there are some things we do need to carry around in our cars — or at least some things we might regret not having at some point.

Here are five things you should keep in your car just in case:

Motor Oil, Other Fluids

If you’re checking your oil regularly, you’re probably in good shape, but it’s not a bad idea to keep a quart of oil in the trunk for that one day when, much to your surprise, the oil light comes on. While you’re at it, throw in some coolant/water, and maybe some brake fluid and power steering fluid. It could save the day.

First Aid Kit

This is fairly self-explanatory, but make sure your first-aid kit makes sense for you, specifically. If you have medications, keep some in there, along with emergency phone numbers. And don’t forget to include a flashlight with good batteries.

Jumper Cables

Every car should have a pair of jumper cables in the trunk. They cost very little, they never wear out, and they can often be the difference between being stranded in some parking lot and being on your way home. The thing is, your car’s battery will die at some point. It’s pretty much inevitable. Be prepared for that moment.


Or towels, even. If something goes wrong with your car — dead battery, oil low, etc. — odds are you’re going to end up getting your hands dirty dealing with it. Some shop rags are nice for this. But you may also consider something a little bigger, for that time your dog decides to roll in in the mud, or you get caught in a rain storm.

Battery-Powered Cell Phone Charger

Let’s say your battery is dead and you’re nowhere near civilization and you need to call for help, but your phone is about to die. This is when it would be really nice to have one of those portable phone chargers for some emergency juice.

Five New Year Resolutions For Your Car

blank list of resolutions on blackboard

Well, 2016 is barely a week old as of this blogging and if you’re like most of us, some of those New Year resolutions are already starting to become a challenge to keep.  Of course, most of us have trips to the gym and diets on our mind when it comes to turning over new leaves but there are other areas that would benefit from some of that physical fitness resolve…like your vehicle.  That’s why your friends at Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC are happy to share a few suggestions for some New Year maintenance resolutions for your car to help keep your wheels turning throughout 2016.

1. Keep That Oil Changed

We all do it.  Stretching those oil changes well beyond the recommended 3,000 mile limit is an issue we all struggle with.  But, the life expectancy of your vehicle’s most complicated, and most important, parts can be prolonged dramatically by resolving to change the oil regularly.  Thanks to synthetic motor oil, drivers can nearly double the amount of time between oil changes, but that extra time comes at a higher price than regular petroleum-based oil. Regardless of what type of oil you use, of all of the car maintenance resolutions you can make this year, this one should be #1 on everybody’s list.

2. Pump It UP!

Another simple maintenance step that typically goes ignored is regular tire pressure checks. Back in the days of full-service gas stations, car tires were regularly checked by the attendants every time a car pulled up for gas. Of course, those days are gone as are the regular tire checks. So, making it a point to check your tire pressure at each fill-up is an excellent idea to save wear-and-tear on the tires as well as keep your fuel-sipping MPG from dropping to gas-guzzling levels.

3. Drink Plenty Of Fluids

A good idea for anyone, including your car.  No matter what level of mechanical expertise you may have, this fact cannot be ignored. Your vehicle, like your body, needs fluids to survive.  With the demise of the full-service gas station, the responsibility for checking our vehicle’s coolant, oil, transmission, and brake fluid levels has been passed from the attendants to us.  Giving  your vehicle a fluidic once-over when you stop at the pump is never a bad idea. Just keep this thought in mind, no one ever experienced a catastrophic engine failure for having plenty of lubricating and cooling fluids in their vehicle’s respective systems.

4. Keep it clean

It doesn’t matter if you’re single or married with kids, our vehicles can easily become as full as our lives if we’re not careful.  Keeping the car clean doesn’t just enhance the appeal of the vehicle, it actually helps prolong the life of your paint and interior materials.  Over time, dirt and grime can act like sandpaper and cause permanent damage to the features that attracted you to it in the first place. The best part about this resolution is it is easy and (mostly) free. You’ll be amazed at what a little soap and water can do to keep that “new car” feel all year long.

5. Stop Ignoring That Pesky Warning Light

Not everyone does this, but we know plenty of people who ignore that “check engine” light for far too long.  Modern vehicles come equipped with highly sophisticated diagnostic computer systems designed to detect potentially harmful malfunctions long before they become emergency-level disasters. As easy as it is to downplay that warning light or procrastinate on getting it checked, resolving to make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape means taking care of any and all mechanical problems, hopefully while they’re still minor and relatively inexpensive.

These are just a few ideas we had when planning our own New Year’s vehicle maintenance resolutions. As always, your friends at Finnegan Auto Group are here to assist you with any maintenance and service needs you may have. Just schedule a service appointment online or stop by our service center and let Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC help you keep your vehicle going strong all year long.

Steps To Winterizing Your Radiator

01 Cooling-System-Flush










As every experienced car mechanic knows, basic maintenance for your vehicle is key to prolonging the life of your car.  While the easiest step in keeping your car maintained is to simply take it to your local mechanic or dealership service department, that is not always an option. So, knowing how to perform fundamental maintenance to your vehicle is always a good idea, especially with the harsh weather we can have in the Houston area.

While our winters are not typically very hard on our vehicles, Jack Frost does pay us a visit from time to time. Those occasional visits can wreak havoc on our engines and supporting systems. One of the primary culprits for system failure is an engine cooling system that wasn’t prepared for winter weather. With this in mind, your friends at Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC offer the following radiator flushing and winterizing tips to help you prepare for whatever weather this winter decides to throw at us.


02 cool engine





Always be sure to work on your engine when it is completely cool. This is especially true if you’re planning to drain any fluids from the vehicle (oil, water, etc) as a recently running engine will quickly heat up the engine and subsequent liquids to boiling levels. We’re sure we don’t have to tell you the dangers of exposing your skin to boiling water.


03 jack up car





Consider this a safety step, if done correctly. While many vehicle radiators are accessible without this step, the clearance between the bottom of the radiator and the surface of the ground is typically quite small. So, raising the front of the vehicle and bracing it with jack stands is never a bad idea. Besides, elevating the front of your vehicle will help reduce, if not completely eliminate, air bubbles when flushing your radiator.


04 drain pan





Back in the day, our grandparents would drain the engine’s fluids directly onto the ground and let nature handle the chemicals and toxins.  Today we’re a bit more knowledgable on the damage your vehicle’s lubricants and cooling chemicals can do to the environment. So, be sure to place a drain pan underneath your radiator to catch everything you’re about to drain from your vehicle. Your grandkids will thank you.


05 inspect hoses





Before you start draining the coolant from your radiator, it’s always a good idea to inspect the radiator’s connecting hoses for any signs of wear and tear. There are two hoses, one on top and one on bottom. Be sure they haven’t collapsed at any point as that will restrict the flow of coolant and cause problems with your engine.

Also, it’s never a bad step to give the front of your radiator a good once-over to make sure there is nothing clogging or blocking the metal slats, or “fins”. If there is anything, simply brush them with a nylon brush until the foreign particles are removed.

Finally, inspect the rubber o-rings on your radiator cap to make sure there is no wear and tear that would prevent the cap from making a good seal when it is closed. If there are any issues with the hoses or the cap, you’ll need to replace them.

If the fins are completely clogged or collapsed, you may have a larger problem than a simple flushing can cure. If you have any questions, feel free to ask your mechanic or any of the service technicians as Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC.


06 radiator_petcock






The radiator drain valve, or ‘petcock’, is typically located at the bottom of the radiator and will be the only bolt-looking device there. To open the petcock, use a wrench or socket/ratchet to loosen the valve. Once it is open, gravity will take care of the rest. Just be sure the drain pain is placed where it can catch the fluids.


08 flush radiator





Draining the radiator will not remove all of the old coolant so a good flushing is required. Here are the steps for flushing your radiator:

  • Use a garden hose to completely fill the radiator with water.
  • Start the car and let it run for 10 minutes. Stop the engine and let the car sit until the engine is cool again.
  • Open the radiator petcock and drain the radiator again. Be advised that this water will contain coolant toxins so handle with care.
  • Repeat this process two or three more times to ensure complete flushing of the radiator.
  • NOTE: you can purchase “radiator flush solutions” from any auto parts store to add to the water as you’re flushing the radiator. These solutions aid in preventing rust and oxidation within your radiator. Just be sure to flush out all of the solutions before filling the radiator with coolant.


09 add antifreeze





Close the radiator drain petcock and add your coolant/water mix. You can purchase engine coolant that is pre-mixed with water but if you get the concentrated coolant, you’ll have to mix it yourself. A good engine coolant mixture consists of 50% distilled water and 50% antifreeze. It’s a good idea to combine the two ingredients in a bucket before adding them to the radiator to ensure a good mix.

It is always a good idea to check the owner’s manual for specific coolant requirements or suggestions. If you cannot find that info in your manual, simply bring your car’s make, model, and year info to your local parts shop and they should be able to help you.


10 clean coolant




With the radiator cap still off, start your car and let it run for about 15 minutes with the heater turned on. This action will allow any trapped air to escape from the lines thereby making room for more coolant and preventing any damage to your radiator.  After the 15 minutes are up, replace the cap and remove the jack stand/jack from your car.  That’s it, you’re done flushing and winterizing your radiator.

We hope these tips will help you keep your vehicle running in tip-top condition year round. As always, if you have any questions or need any help with this or any other maintenance on your vehicle, give Finnegan Chevrolet Buick GMC’s service desk a call. We’re always ready to help you.


How to Get Better Gas Mileage

Gas Pump

Houston is notorious for its stop and go traffic, and Houstonians are known for their ‘speed-happy’ driving. Unfortunately for your wallet, both of these things factor in when it comes to getting great gas mileage. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you save time and money with higher miles per gallon.

Drive Slower

This is about as obvious as it gets when it comes to getting better gas mileage, but it’s honestly the one with the most benefits, and the easiest one to take advantage of. Fast driving makes your engine work harder, and in-turn consumes gas much quicker.

Cruise Control

Nothing makes your car consume gas faster than it needs to than constant speed changes. When you drive long distances, use your car’s cruise control setting, this allows your car to maintain a constant speed, which helps reduce your engine’s RPMs.

Take Care of Your Car

Nothing makes your car perform more efficiently than proper vehicle maintenance. This means changing your oil on time, rotating and inflating your tires to their proper levels, and making sure your air filter stays clean. All of these simple maintenance tasks are directly correlated with your car’s gas mileage, and making sure your car is properly maintained will go a long ways at the pump.

Schedule a Visit Today

Don’t have time to do all of these maintenance tasks yourself? Drop your car off at our service department and we’ll make sure your car is up to speed and performing at its best. Schedule a service appointment with us or visit us online for more information today!

(c) 2013 Finnegan Auto Blog