Click to call dark
Service tech question

Ask a Service Technician a Question - We Have All the Answers!


Frequently Asked Service Questions at Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant

At Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant, we take pride in making your vehicle service experience positive and stress free. We know vehicle service comes with a lot of questions. Our FAQ page is here to help you gain a better understanding of your vehicle and it’s service needs all in one place! Below we have service categories like Tires, Brakes, Oil Changes, Wiper Blades, Under the Hood, and General Car Care to click on for easier navigation. Feel free to use this page as a resource. For other questions don’t hesitate to give our Service Department a call at (989) 773-3917.


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, which will allow 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 often do I need a wheel alignment?

Properly aligned wheels provide optimal performance, proper fuel-efficiency, even tire wear, and can help save costs in the long run. Common conditions like potholes, driving on dirt roads, hitting the curb, and regular driving wear can affect your vehicle’s tire alignment and in turn affect the wear on your tires. 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, if you have a new set of tires installed on your vehicle, you’ll also want to have an alignment performed. If it has been a while since your car has had a tire alignment, let us know and we can perform an alignment at your next oil change.

How long can I drive on a spare tire?

If you find yourself having to 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 Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant and should be done as soon as possible for your safety. We recommend bringing your vehicle in as soon as possible to have your tire serviced.

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 tire tread testing for Penny Test directions below). 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 concerns driving your vehicle in inclement weather, you should always have your tires checked.

How do I check my tire's tread at home?

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.

How do I know what kind of tires to choose?

If you’re replacing just one or two tires, you may match the new tires as close as possible to the tires you already have on your vehicle. If you need a full set of new tires, you can also 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 find the right size for your vehicle and the right type of tires that fit your needs.

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

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

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, and can also be found in the owner’s manual. But remember you always want to refer to the specific PSI listed inside the door, and not the PSI listed on your vehicle’s tires. This is because the PSI listed on your tires is the max PSI. By inflating your tires to that level you can change the handling characteristics of your vehicle and can decrease 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 technicians at Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant.

Why does my tire light turn on when it gets cold outside?

The sensors in your tires are designed to signal the tire light to go on when PSI measurement is below normal. Cold air naturally compresses and the air in your tires will too. 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 in 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.

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. Neglecting your tires may cause them to wear prematurely.

What is the main cause of damage to tires?

Improper inflation can be the main cause of tire damage. We recommend regularly checking the air pressure in your tires. You can check the air pressure with a tire pressure gauge, or stop by and we can check it for you.


Where can 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 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 Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant.

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

A: Here are a few 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 doing their job to keep your view of the road clear, or if you notice any of the signs above, bring your vehicle into our service center and we can get it fitted with new windshield wipers that will allow you to continue driving safely.

How do I know what type of windshield fluid to use?

When it comes to windshield washer fluid, there are 2 types. The most common type 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. Some fluids have more antifreeze in them to combat extremely cold temps, while others have less and are more suitable for warmer temperatures. Most of this information you can find on the fluid container label. If you need help choosing a fluid or filling your fluid tank, you can consult our service experts in our service center.


What does it mean when my brakes are squealing?

Squealing sounds from your vehicle’s brakes are not uncommon. Nevertheless it is still important to pay attention to the squealing because while the noise could be harmless, it could also mean trouble with your brake pads or rotors. It is best to have your brakes serviced as soon as possible to help prevent any further damage. You can schedule an appointment with our brake experts online today!

Why does my steering wheel shake 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.

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

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

  • High pitched squealing
  • A bad smell after coming to a hard stop
  • A weak emergency brake
  • Steering wheel vibration when stopping
  • Grinding noises when stopping
  • Increased braking distances
  • Feeling the car pull to the left or right when stopping 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. This also depends on how and where you drive. 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 Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant 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 even for vehicles that are used for towing. Vehicles that operate in extreme weather conditions, such as very hot or really cold, can also benefit from synthetic motor oil. Synthetic motor oil is more expensive than mineral-based oils, but it can provide longer intervals between changes and may improve fuel economy.

Why does my engine oil look milky brown?

Milky brown engine oil is usually 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 can be very serious. If you are experiencing a milky brown engine oil color, we recommend bringing your vehicle to see a professional technician immediately.

How often should my oil be changed?

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


When should my A/C be serviced?

If your A/C system is not cooling off your vehicle as efficiently as it should be, bring your vehicle into our Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant Service Center for an A/C inspection. Our expert service technicians can resolve any air conditioning issues you may have 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 3 years old or older, we suggest having it inspected annually. A 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 as soon as possible.

When should I have my coolant changed?

We recommend having your coolant changed every 24,000 miles or every two years – whichever comes first. You can schedule an appointment today by visiting our Schedule an Appointment page online!

Why is my alternator important to my vehicle?

Your vehicle’s alternator is what sparks your engine to start it up and recharges it while running. It also helps create the electricity your vehicle needs to power all of 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 identify any alternator problems?

Some signs your vehicle is experiencing alternator problems are: the warning light in your vehicle turning on, you may notice the lights dim, the car may ‘growl’ or ‘whine’, or the battery may be dead. At Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant our certified service technicians are experienced in solving your vehicle’s alternator issues. If you notice any of the alternator problem signs above, stop by our service center for an inspection.

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

By having your belts & hoses inspected regularly you can avoid costly repairs in the long run. If your vehicle’s belts or hoses are cracked or broken they can cause serious problems for you and your vehicle. 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. When inspected, 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 replace my belts and hoses?

We recommend having your belts & hoses replaced every 30,000 – 60,000 miles to ensure your vehicle continues to perform how 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 you need to service your vehicle’s suspension system 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 for a complete inspection so we can get you back on the road safely.

What are signs that I am having transmission problems?

The most common alert in knowing your vehicle is experiencing a transmission problem is the “Check Engine” light turning on. 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.

How often do I need to check my antifreeze?

We recommend getting into the habit of routinely checking not only your antifreeze, but also all of your vehicle’s fluids once per month to keep your vehicle performing at its optimum level. 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 think you may have anti-freeze problems, bring your vehicle into our service center for an inspection.

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

Your vehicle’s owner manual may recommend how often, but we usually suggest replaced 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 should have a good electrical connection.

When should I change my spark plugs?

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

What should I do if I need to replace a burned out fuse?

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 at the Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant Service Center.


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

Your vehicle has a variety of sensors and components to 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 bring your vehicle into our service center as soon as possible.

What should I do if the engine temperature gauge rises 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. You could try turning off your air conditioner since it puts strain on your engine. You could also turn up your heater, as this pulls heat away from the engine. If your engine is still overheating, pull over and turn the engine off as soon as possible and call for assistance.  

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. Always remember to never mix fuel types as it can damage your engine.

What should I do if I smell something from my vehicle?

When you smell something unusual coming from your vehicle it can be scary not knowing what it is. Potentially alarming vehicle smells can come from many sources, like mildew in your vents or a coolant leak. These may require a simple or complicated fix. If you’re unsure how to identify where the smell in your vehicle is coming from, bring it into our service department at Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant and we can diagnose the issue and get you back on the road.

What should be in my car emergency kit?

While you never plan to find yourself in an emergency situation, it is important to always be ready. There are many items you can keep in your emergency car kit that will get you out of an unfortunate situation. There are some factors you may want to consider when packing an emergency car kit such as the medical needs of the driver or passenger, the 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 may also 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 may vary 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 you are an aggressive driver 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. It is always smart to be aware of your personal driving style so you can adjust for better vehicle performance.

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

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 at Graff Buick GMC Cadillac Mt. Pleasant.

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, your vehicle 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.

Schedule an appointment