Teson Automotive

1200 Armstrong Street

Algonquin, Illinois 60102

Mon -Fri  7:30am to 5:30pm

Phone: (847) 658-7700

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What Octane should I use in my Car?

When you pull into a local gas station in Algonquin to fill your empty tank, it may be tempting to reach for the fuel with the lowest price tag. After-all, how can one little number be so important?

But reaching for the regular grade isn’t always the right choice – consult your owner’s manual, the sticker on the gas cap, or call our techs at (847) 658-7700 for advice for your vehicle – keep reading for more information about gasoline octane and when it matters.

What do the numbers on the gas pump mean?

Use the right octane for the best gas mileage in Algonquin - tips from the auto repair experts at Teson AutomotiveWhen you stop at the pump, the numbers indicate the octane rating of the fuel. This rating (87, 89, 93, etc.) relates to its ability to be compressed in the engine without igniting prematurely.

In a typical engine, gas and air are combined in the cylinders then compressed into a smaller volume. Once compressed, the fuel is ignited with a spark plug to create the combustion that powers your vehicle.

But different engines compress the fuel and air at varying ratios – high performance engines often have higher compression ratios that gives your vehicle higher horsepower.

The octane grade relates directly to the compression in the engine. Higher octane gasoline can withstand more pressure and compression without spontaneously igniting.

Can I use the cheaper gas to save money?

When the fuel ignites on its own (during compression instead of with the spark plug), you’ll notice a knocking sound in the engine. Did you recently fill the tank? You might be using the wrong grade of gasoline.

If you notice this sound, bring your vehicle into a trusted auto shop right away. Pre-ignition can damage the engine, so catching the problem early can help prevent further damage and costly repairs.

Uncontrolled combustion inside the cylinders is called knock or ping, and can cause severe engine damage. Using the lowest grade of gasoline might save you a few pennies now, but it’ll cost you much more when you have to repair or replace your engine later.

Is “Premium” fuel better for the engine?

Higher octane or “premium” fuel won’t boost the performance of your vehicle. If you put 93 grade fuel into your engine that calls for 87, you won’t see any increase in power, speed, or performance. Horsepower comes from the engine, not the fuel.

It’s always best to use the grade of fuel recommended in your owner’s manual. The manufacture can calculate the best octane rating based on the compression ratio and running temperatures inside your engine. Use the recommended fuel – if your engine calls for regular, there’s no need to pay more for premium!

Will I ever need to change fuel types?

As your car gets older, you may notice changes in the performance. If you notice knocking or pinging as you drive, you may need to consider putting in a higher octane. Carbon deposits inside the cylinders can raise the combustion ratio, requiring higher octane.

However, with proper care and maintenance, you can keep your engine in its best condition to keep running as it was designed!

Services like regular oil changes, cooling system flushes, fuel injection cleaning, and motor vac will keep your engine in shape for a long and healthy life. Stop by Teson Automotive  in Algonquin, IL, for your preventative maintenance services or if you notice ping or knocking in the engine.

If you have any questions about the right gasoline for your vehicle, different fuel types, or the services needed to care for your engine, call our team of certified technicians and advisors: (847) 658-7700.

Spring Car Care Tips

Spring has officially arrived in Algonquin! But that doesn’t mean your vehicle is in the clear – changing seasons means it’s time for maintenance to make sure your vehicle will keep you safely and comfortable on the road through the spring and summer.

April National Car Care Month - visit Teson Automotive for auto maintenance and an inspectionAs we kick off National Car Care Month, here are 8 things you should check on your vehicle to prepare for spring:

1. Antifreeze
Many people think of antifreeze only in cold months. But antifreeze (also known as coolant) also cools the engine in the heat of the spring and summer. This fluid is responsible for keeping your vehicle running at a consistent temperature. Don’t ignore it just because it has “freeze” in its name – antifreeze will become even more important as the weather warms up to prevent overheating engines and vehicle breakdowns.

Stay cool all spring and summer in Algonquin with an auto air conditioning inspection and service2. A/C temperature and check
As the days get warmer in Illinois, we’ve already noticed the need for air conditioning to stay cool and comfortable driving on the roads. But not using this system in the winter months means you’ll likely notice latent problems as the weather gets warm. Stop by our shop and our ASE Certified technicians will perform an inspection, checking the temperature and components in your vehicle’s A/C system. (Be leary of DIY Refrigerant flushes – leave this to the professionals to avoid damaging your vehicle).

3. Tire pressure
Warming temperatures affect tire pressure – a 10 degree increase can drop pressure by 1-2 psi. Low tire pressure means you’ll get fewer miles to each gallon and means your tires will wear faster than if they were properly inflated. Every time you stop at a gas station, check your tire pressure. Many stations even have air available for a top off on-the-go, or stop by our shop and we’ll fill your tires to the right pressure to get you back on the road!

4. Potholes
Road damage, from cracks to potholes to bumps in the road, can wreak havoc on your vehicle in the spring. Even a small pothole can damage your alignment and suspension. If your daily commute involves risks like these, stop by for an inspection early to prevent worsening the damage and premature tire wear.

5. Fluids
Spring is the perfect time to take care of routine maintenance before warm weather puts a toll on your vehicle. From your oil to coolant, transmission fluid, and brake fluid, winter can be harder on your vehicle. Small problems may become more noticeable as we head into the spring season. Have your fluids checked and replace as needed. When you bring your vehicle in for an inspection, our ASE certified technicians will check all of your fluids and recommend maintenance as needed – we’ll even top off your windshield washer fluid to keep you safe through spring showers!

6. Wash exterior
Winter roads can leave your vehicle covered in dirt and salt. Not only is this unsightly, it can actually harm your exterior. A thorough wash can remove chloride, salt, and chemicals from the exterior of your car. Be sure you clean the underside too! This is where the most dirt and chemicals can collect and post the biggest threat. As an extra bonus, take pride in your vehicle again when it is clean and looks like new!

penny7. Tire tread
Take a look at the tread on your tires using the penny test, looking carefully for any uneven patches or bald spots. While it might not seem as important in the spring, this time of year is the rainiest and wettest season. Good traction is important for driving on wet roads, especially unexpected or panic stops. If you’re not sure how to check your tires, stop by our shop and our technicians will help!

8. Spring Inspection
The best thing you can do for your vehicle this spring is stop by for a full inspection. When you bring your vehicle into our shop, our auto technicians can check all of the issues above, and can fix any problems we find right away. Most issues, including alignment, coolant, and fluid flushes, can be performed right away to get your vehicle back on the road quickly and safely.

Don’t be fooled thinking that just because it’s spring your car is now in the clear – changing seasons mean changing conditions for your vehicle. Check the elements above in your vehicle, or stop by our shop for a full inspection. Wishing you a fun and safe National Car Care Month!

If you have any questions about the care of your vehicle, preparing for spring in Algonquin, or scheduling an appointment, call our advisors at (847) 658-7700.

Cooling System Flush – is it really necessary?



Overheating is the most common cause of vehicle breakdowns and internal engine damage. As the heat rises in the summer, our shop sees more and more people coming in after breakdowns due to cooling system failure. But there is an easy answer!

A cooling system flush can keep your engine running smooth and cool even on the hottest days. Regularly changing your coolant, aka antifreeze, can prevent larger problems for your cooling system and engine and keep your family safe on the road!

What is the Cooling System?

Cooling-System

The cooling system is responsible for keeping your vehicle’s engine from overheating. The engine runs best at a high temperature, so the cooling system helps it to heat up quickly then keep the engine at a regular, constant temperature without overheating as it runs. It accomplishes this by transferring heat into the air with the help of coolant, or antifreeze, and the other components of the cooling system.

In most cars, the cooling system works by circulating radiator fluid (the mixture of coolant and water) through parts and pipes in the engine to absorb the heat and cool the engine. A radiator at the end of the system captures and transfers the heat from the fluid into the air.

But my coolant still looks clear, why should I change it?

New coolant usually appears a bright green or a bright red color, as in the picture below.

coolant-fluid-green

As the coolant runs through the engine, rust and contaminants caused by oxidation and corrosion mix in with the fluid. Unfortunately, when you look under the hood to check your fluid, it may still appear clean and clear even though these contaminants rest under the surface, unseen and threatening the life of your engine.

This video from Monday Morning Mechanic shows the striking visual of these hidden contaminants, and the threats they pose: http://mondaymorningmechanic.com/helpful-money-saving-videos/?mmmvideo=38#video

How often should I flush my coolant?

Most manufacturers recommend that you change the radiator fluid (the mixture of antifreeze coolant and water) every 24,000 to 36,000 miles or 24 to 36 months. Depending on your driving habits, you may need to flush your coolant more often – we recommend every 1-2 years.

Be leery of “extended life” coolants that tout 100,000 mile lifespans – even these can accumulate rust and contaminants that threaten your engine life. These impurities could add up and cause bigger problems before you reach the 100,000 mile check.  Even with “extended life” fluids, you should have these coolants checked frequently.

What happens if I don’t?

Failing to change your coolant can take as much as 100,000 miles off the life of your engine, in addition to big problems and expensive repairs.

Coolant flows through your entire engine, leaving behind contaminants. They can collect on the radiator, inside the water pump or thermostat, getting stuck and preventing the components from working appropriately. Plastic components, like the water pump, can wear and break apart. If the water pump breaks, the system won’t be able to move the water and coolant through the engine. Hoses can also react to contaminants, becoming swollen and rusty on the inside even as they appear normal on the outside. With excess heat, belts that control the cooling system and steering will start cracking, eventually breaking and disabling the systems (imagine a steering belt break, not being able to control your vehicle!).

Bottom line – contaminated coolant can lead to cooling system failure, causing your engine to overheat and break down, leaving you stranded on the road!

We assume your family’s safety is at the top of your priority list, so having your coolant flushed or even just checked while it’s still scorching outside, and before it gets cold, should be as well. Avoid expensive engine breakdowns by having your coolant flushed before problems arise. Call us at 847-658-7700 or stop by our shop.

Oil Change Basics – Different types of Motor Oil

Changing your vehicle’s oil is one of the most basic aspects of maintenance – every vehicle needs it regularly to continue to function properly. If you are setting up an appointment with your mechanic, chances are it’s to have your oil changed. But how much thought do you usually put into this process? Or, like many of our customers, do you simply follow the 3 months/3,000  mile rule and let our techs handle the rest?

Our technicians are here for just that – we keep track of the details, know the manufacturer recommendations, and identify the right type of motor oil for your vehicle so you don’t have to. But if you have ever wondered what makes different types of oil unique, or why you should use one type over another in your vehicle, read on!

This guide from How Stuff Works discusses 5 types of oils and how manufacturers specify oil type for your vehicle:

“Often times a manufacturer will suggest two or more motor oil viscosities for an engine, such as a 5W-20 or 5W-30, based on several different factors — including temperature. The reason for this is that engines often need a different viscosity based on operating conditions. Knowing how scientists see viscosity will help an owner determine the best oil for the engine.

Viscosity, at its most basic, is a fluid’s resistance to flow. Within the engine oil world, viscosity is notated with the common “XW-XX.” The number preceding the “W” rates the oil’s flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). The “W” stands for winter, not weight as many people think. The lower the number here, the less it thickens in the cold. So 5W-30 viscosity engine oil thickens less in the cold than a 10W-30, but more than a 0W-30. An engine in a colder climate, where motor oil tends to thicken because of lower temperatures, would benefit from 0W or 5W viscosity. A car in Death Valley would need a higher number to keep the oil from thinning out too much.

The second number after the “W” indicates the oil’s viscosity measured at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). This number represents the oil’s resistance to thinning at high temperatures. For example, 10W-30 oil will thin out at higher temperatures faster than 10W-40 will.

The owner’s manual will advise the best viscosity range and the owner can then work within those parameters.

With the right viscosity in mind, it’s time to start shopping for a type of oil. Most commuters follow the 3-month and 3,000-mile (4,828-kilometer) rule. Frequent oil changes means there’s less tendency to need other types of oil than conventional. However some car companies, like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, recommend only synthetic oil in their cars. The following list, as well as the car’s owner’s manual, will provide a good idea of what type of oil to use. It’s also a good rule of thumb not to switch between types. If your car started with conventional, stick with that. If it first used synthetic, be wary about switching to conventional.

  • Conventional Oil: This is the oil used in bulk at dealerships and is the cheapest at the auto store, too. Most adhere to API and SAE standards but offer little in the way of additive packages. This is good oil for owners that are religious about frequent oil changes and have low-mile (but well broken-in) engines.
  • Premium Conventional Oil: This is the standard new-car oil. Most leading brands have one for SL, or highest level, service. Most are available in the common viscosities. Car manufacturers usually specify 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil, though some require 10W-30. These three ratings cover just about every light-duty vehicle on the road, though this is changing as engines become more precise and fussy about specific types oil.
  • Full-synthetic Oil: These oils are made for high-tech engines. If these oils pass stringent special tests (indicated by their labeling), it means they have superior, longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas, from viscosity index to protection against engine deposits. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak lubrication at high temperatures. While excellent oil, synthetics are about three times as expensive as conventional oil and not always necessary for most engines. Use the owner’s manual as a guide. If it doesn’t call for synthetic oil, using it will only be an additional expense that may not add anything to the engine’s performance or life.
  • Synthetic-blend Oil: This is essentially premium conventional oil hit with a dose of synthetic. They’re formulated to offer better protection during heavier engine loads and the associated higher engine temperatures. These oils are popular with pick-up and SUV drivers because they do offer better protection, but usually cost only a fraction more than premium conventional oils.
  • High-mileage Oil: More than 60 percent of vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles (120,701 kilometers) on the odometer. Playing to this growing market, oil refiners and labs developed high-mileage oils. Seal conditioners are added to the oil (the oil can be synthetic or conventional) to expand and increase the flexibility of internal engine seals. The conditioners are very precise and can benefit some engines while not affecting others.”

To read more about types of motor oil, read the full article from How Stuff Works. To discuss the motor oil options for your vehicle, call our experts at 847-658-7700! Stop by our shop anytime, or schedule your next oil change with us today!