Common Car FAQs

Common Car Questions:

Here at Jesses Garage, your top Sarasota-based mechanic specializing in European auto repair, we get asked questions about cars all the time. Some are simple enough to answer and others are a little more in-depth, but we thought we’d take some of the guesswork out of things and cover these 12 common questions about cars. 

1. Does It Matter What Type of Gas I Use?

The way gasoline works in engines has come a long way, and for the most part regular unleaded gas won’t cause any major problems to your engine, however, there are some things to be aware of. Within the gas industry, there are different types of brands, and some of these are considered to be more top tier, higher quality than others. These would include Shell, ExxonMobil, BP, Texaco, and more. They are considered of higher quality because they add more detergent additives to their gasoline which will prevent carbon deposits from forming and settling in your engine giving you better performance. At these top tier stations, you’ll also find different types of gas. The numbers you see on the pumps that separate unleaded regular gas from premium, 87, 89-91, and 93 are referring to the octane rating of the gasoline. Octane is the level of compression a fuel can withstand before igniting, the higher the level the less likely your engine will experience knocking. For luxury brands with high-performance vehicles such as BMW, Porsche, or Mercedes-Benz we recommend using premium-grade gasoline in their vehicles, again to avoid both carbon deposits and to make sure the catalytic converter works as efficiently as possible.

oil change mechanic jesses garage

Other tips to remember when buying gas; go to a station that is fairly busy so that you don’t end up with ‘stale’ gas that has been sitting for a while, and avoid filling up while the delivery truck is at the station since it will be stirring up impurities in the underground gas tanks as it pumps fresh gas into them.

2. What Is the Difference Between Regular Gas and Diesel?

Both gasoline and diesel engines use internal combustion, but the way in which they ignite is different. Gas engines use spark plugs to create the ignition required to make the engine work where diesel engines use extreme compression to create the heat required for ignition. The actual fuels are quite different as well. Diesel is a combustible hydrocarbon mixture that is created through the distillation process of crude oil. Where gasoline is also a hydrocarbon mixture but has a much lower boiling point and is a flammable substance. Diesel engines have fewer moving parts so tend to be longer-lasting the regular gasoline engines however they can be more costly to repair.

3. What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Oil?

Oil is a lubricant running through your engine keeping everything operating smoothly. An oil change serves two functions, it works for lubrication of your engine and of the hydraulic function of your engine like moving the camshafts. Over time the oil’s chemical composition starts to break down and eventually turns to sludge in your vehicle. Once this occurs you can expect poorer performance from your vehicle as the engine works harder. If you neglect to get an oil change for too long that sludge will stop drawing heat from the engine, which could leave you open to complete engine failure if a gasket blows or the whole system seizes. That is why it is important to schedule regular oil changes with a qualified mechanic near you

4. How Often Should I Replace My Windshield Wiper Blades?

Wiper blades are made of rubber and will slowly degrade over time as they scrap against your glass, clearing it of not only rainwater but also bugs, dust, and more. Typically you should replace your wiper blades every 6-12 months, but watch for signs that they need to be replaced sooner including:

windshield wiper change jesses garageMost experienced mechanics can replace wiper blades in as little as 15 minutes. It’s worth it to have clear visibility while you drive. 

5. Why Do Signal Lights Blink Faster Suddenly?

When you flip your turn signal on and notice that the sound is all of a sudden faster than it used to be this is to alert you that you have a bulb burnt out either at the front or back of your vehicle. 

6. How Often Does My Tire Pressure Need to be Checked?

Most vehicles are equipped with tire pressure sensors these days, taking the guesswork out of things. It is important to know that the average tire pressure sensor only lasts about 7 years, and not all vehicles are equipped with such sensors. If you have a vehicle that does not come with a tire pressure sensor it is best to check your tire pressure once a month or if there is a drastic change in the temperature outside as this will cause the air in your tires to either expand in heat or contract in cold. 

7. Do I Need To Have My Tires Rotated?

On the average vehicle, tires don’t wear exactly the same at different points on the vehicle, by taking the time to have them rotated you can extend the life of your tires and make sure that they don’t wear in one centralized point which could cause them to eventually pop. However, when it comes to European luxury brands of vehicles we don’t recommend rotating. These car-makers have designed their vehicles with staggered tires which makes rotating tires not ideal. Likewise, brands like Landrover do not recommend rotating due to their all-wheel-drive systems. And in AWD systems when rotating tires you have to replace them on both axles.

sitting idle dashboard jesses garage

8. How Much Extra Fuel Gets Used While Running The A/C System?

Depending on the type of vehicle you have and how hard the system is being asked to run based on how hot it is outside your fuel economy could be reduced anywhere from 1-2 miles per gallon up to 4 miles per gallon.

9. Is It Bad To Let My Car Idle For too long?

It actually burns less gas to shut your vehicle off and restart it than it takes to idle for longer than 30 seconds. If you are making a stop that requires you to idle for an extended period of time it is better to shut your car off. This will save not only gas but also your oil and engine components from minor but unnecessary wear. 

10. What Causes An Engine To Overheat?

Although not an entirely common problem anymore it is still possible for your engine to overheat given the correct conditions, especially with modern engines that have composite plastic parts. There are a number of reasons why an engine might overheat and these include:

If your vehicle has overheated for any reason don’t hesitate to bring it to an experienced mechanic in your area

11. Should You Get Your Car Checked Before A Long Trip?

The last thing anyone wants when they are going on a road trip is a mechanical failure of their vehicle. Being broken down in unfamiliar surroundings is the worst. Taking your vehicle in for a quick inspection from a qualified mechanic can save you a major headache down the line. A mechanic will quickly look over your tires, brakes, battery, fluids, engine, lights, and wipers to make sure everything is running smoothly. 

12. Why Do I Need Regular Maintenance on My Vehicle?

Routine car maintenance will help to ensure your vehicle runs smoothly and safely for years to come. By bringing your vehicle to a trusted mechanic near you, you can prevent problems from occurring with your engine, brakes, and more, and you can catch a small issue before it becomes a big issue, typically saving you money on costly repairs. Many parts of a car are simply not designed to last forever, by getting fluids, spark plugs, filters, even belts changed as needed, you protect your vehicle and keep it on the road much longer than if you don’t bring it in for routine maintenance.


For more answers about maintenance issues for specific brands see our routine maintenance pages for the following.

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