Duane's Auto Tips

Take it from someone who knows.

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    December 2020: In lieu of a tip this month...

    Stewart's Automotive and Santa Paws would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

  • October 2020: Check Your Coolant & Washer Fluid

    With winter weather fast approaching now is a good time to check your engine's coolant for adequate protection. Oftentimes, you will recognize the importance of changing your engine's oil at a regular scheduled maintenance, and might overlook other scheduled fluid changes such as your engine's coolant protection. Some are unaware that much like other scheduled maintenance your engine coolant also has an expiration date. In fact, a good rule of thumb for many automobiles is to change the coolant every 3 years or 30,000 miles, although there are some exceptions where some auto manufacturers use extended life coolants that may not require changing as often. Please check your owner's manual or contact your repair shop for your automobile's specific schedule. Also now would be a good time to consider checking your windshield wiper fluid and making sure you are using a De-Icer washer fluid that is formulated to work in extreme cold temperatures.

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    September 2020 Tip of the Month

    In lieu of a tip of the month for September, Stewart's Automotive just wants to extend a thank you to all the brave emergency responders as we remember and mourn the loss of those on 9-11. We will never forget.

  • August 2020: COVID-19 Update

    In lieu of a tip of the month, we at Stewart's Automotive would like to assure all of our customers that we are taking every precaution to prevent contamination when servicing your vehicles during the ongoing pandemic. This includes disinfecting common areas that are touched, wearing N95 masks when entering vehicles and transporting customers. Please know that we will do everything in our power to protect you and your families while continuing to provide you with the same excellent service as always. Should you have any concerns regarding the steps we are taking to ensure your safety please feel free to reach out to us either on Facebook or by calling 217-235-4709.

  • July 2020: The Importance of HVAC Filters

    Did you know that most cars and trucks have an HVAC filter to screen the impurities in the air inside your vehicle? In fact, HVAC filters can screen many germs and some viruses so it is important to replace your filter. And with that said we would like to extend our air-conditioning special from last month and while it’s in, let us replace your filter. For the month of July, Stewart’s Automotive will continue to offer an AC charge which will get your AC running cold once again for $79.00 for most makes and models (does not include refrigerant/oil; only applies to R134a systems). Give us a call today at 217-235-4709 to make an appointment and be sure to mention this advertisement in order to receive this special offer.

  • June 2020: Summer Air Conditioning Maintenance

    With June come high temperatures. To make sure your car’s air conditioning is working at its maximum potential be sure to run it using the “recirculate” option. With that said, if you think your AC isn’t running as cold as it should, Stewart's Automotive can help. For the month of June, Stewart’s Automotive is offering an AC charge which will get your AC running cold once again for $79.00 for most makes and models (does not include refrigerant/oil; only applies to R134a systems). Give us a call today at 217-235-4709 to make an appointment and be sure to mention this advertisement in order to receive this special offer.

  • May 2020: Automatic Transmission Fluid & Filter

    One of the most overlooked automotive maintenance items is routine replacement of automatic transmission fluid and the filter. While most are aware of the importance of changing engine motor oil and the oil filter, some are surprised to find that much like their scheduled oil change for their engine, there is also scheduled maintenance for their transmission/transaxle although the frequency required is not near as often. Failure to follow the recommended transmission service schedules can cause premature transmission/transaxle failure, resulting in a very costly repair. It's worth noting that some automotive manufacturers only recommend replacing a portion of the fluid and in some cases, the filter is not serviceable. With that said it is recommended that you check your owner’s manual or contact your automotive repair shop for specific maintenance intervals for your automobile.

  • April 2020: Pulsating brake pedal and shaking steering wheel?

    If you are experiencing a pulsating brake pedal and in some cases a shaking steering wheel you may have a condition that is oftentimes described as brake rotor warpage.

    This annoying phenomenon can start out rather mild and eventually, over time, become more pronounced or severe. This can occur from excessive use of the brake or when you have had one or more of your wheels off, either to repair or replace a tire, and someone has tightened one or more lug nuts on the wheel improperly, or not tightened them in the proper sequence. By doing this it causes one or more of the lug nuts to be torqued unevenly and will cause your brake rotors to warp.

    As a result, drivers will experience pulsation and a shaky steering wheel. When the proper torque specifications and torque sequence are not used when reinstalling a wheel you, the customer, run the very real risk of an expensive repair.

    In any case, you should be certain that whoever is removing your wheels for whatever reason that they follow the correct procedures when reinstalling your wheels.

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    In Memory of Mr. Ed Royse

    Instead of a tip of the month for March, Stewart's Automotive would like to offer a message of deep sorrow and heartache in light of the recent passing of former Mattoon High School Automotive Instructor and dear friend, Mr. Ed Royse, as written by owner Duane Stewart:

    I've known Ed Royse, or as I called him, Mister Ed, for many years, and over that time, Ed was a father figure–someone whom I grew to depend on and learned from. He was a staple in my shop as many customers can attest. He would often be seated in my waiting room, waiting on nothing but instead just enjoying the paper or latest issue of an automotive magazine. Whether it was needing an extra set of hands to help bleed breaks to someone who would watch my office while I went out on an emergency road call, Ed never wavered in his willingness to help. As a small, one-man shop, I can't begin to express my appreciation for Ed. But more than this, what I will miss about Ed was his no-nonsense attitude. Being a small business owner does not come without its worries or concerns. Further, yet, being a small automotive business also does not come without challenging jobs and the desire to always find the fix. Whenever I would remark out loud how difficult it was finding a fix for a particularly challenging car problem, he would interrupt and say plainly, "Just fix it!" He didn't have sympathy for excuses. But that was because Ed had high expectations and was someone who cheered others on to success. He was my biggest fan and would often share with customers his confidence in me. While Mister Ed had no patience for excuses, he also had no shortage of moral support.

    In an honest desire to not make this seem like a sales pitch or promotion of my business, I just want to extend my deepest condolences to Mister Ed's family. I want his family to know that I am not only a better automotive technician but a better person because of Ed. And for that, I will forever be grateful for having known Mister Ed, and I will miss his unwavering, no-nonsense presence in my shop. Here's to continuing to just fix it, Mister Ed.


    Duane Stewart

  • February 2020: Timing Is Everything!

    There is a scheduled maintenance item that is often overlooked by some customers: timing belts. Some late model vehicles may use timing belts (although the current trend these past several years has been to use timing chains which are not as near likely to break and are considered by some manufactures to be a lifetime part that should last the life of the vehicle). Failure to follow your manufacture's recommended maintenance regarding the timing belt can result in devastating destruction to your engine. For instance, timing belts drive the water pump on some vehicles, and should the water pump seize or fail it can drip slick anti-freeze/coolant on the timing belt and cause it to (derail) come off, resulting in major engine damage. Another concern is whether your vehicle has and interference engine or non-interference engine. Interference engines run the risk of severe internal engine damage when the timing belt breaks, often because the belt has not been replaced at the recommended mileage;non-interference engines, however, don't run the same risk. In either case, it is wise to consult your owner's manual or contact your automotive technician regarding recommended maintenance intervals for timing belts to avoid extemely expensive repairs.

  • January 2020: Easily avoid premature fuel pump failure

    Okay, be honest. How many of you have been guilty of driving around shopping for cheap gas? I know I have!

    The problem with doing this scavenger hunt in an attempt to save money is that it can have ill effects on your fuel pump. Your fuel pump is cooled and lubricated from the gas in your tank and running your fuel tank low repeatedly can have negative consequences on its life expectancy.

    Another major cause for fuel pump failure is failing to replace your fuel filter at regular maintenance intervals–the cause here is when a filter becomes restricted it can cause the fuel pump to work much harder than it was designed to, causing it to fail prematurely. Therefore, it is very important to service your fuel filter at the recommended periods of time according to the car’s manufacturer, although there are some exceptions regarding this service since some vehicles, particularly later models, do not have a serviceable fuel filter due to the filter being integrated with the pump itself. Replacing the filter for these vehicles would not be cost-effective since you would also have to replace the pump, too!

    Put simply: try not to run around with a low tank of gas and follow your manufacturer’s regular maintenance schedule to help avoid those surprising and expensive repairs, like a fuel pump! Need help figuring out your car’s maintenance schedule? Stop by Stewart’s Automotive and have Duane check your vehicle for any needed service!

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    December 2019: In lieu of a tip this month...

    Stewart's Automotive of Mattoon, IL and Santa Paws would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

  • November 2019: Old Man Winter is almost here!

    Extremely cold temperatures are headed this way and right around this time customers start to ask what they can do to keep their autos running in the best condition.

    If I had to recommend just one thing, it would be this: have your battery’s load tested and your charging systems checked. This will ensure your battery’s full charge is maintained and capable of handling the subzero temps that will be here sooner than you think. Taking care of your battery now can prevent having to pay to tow your vehicle as well as stop you from being stranded outside in dangerous conditions.

    The state of your battery in January isn’t just important for getting from Point A to Point B, it could be extremely important for your safety, too.

  • October 2019: Engine coolant is always important, even in winter

    Not only is it important to flush and clean your engine’s coolant system, but it’s just as important to replace with fresh new coolant every 5 years. Replacing your coolant will prevent potential problems that can occur due to the anti-corrosive properties of your old coolant diminishing over time.

    These issues include, but aren't limited to:

    • rusted cooling components such as radiators, water pumps, and heater cores.
    • reduction in flow of coolant in your engine (causing your engine to overheat)
    • restriction of the flow of coolant in your heater core, causing you to experience inadequate heat in the winter.

    Don’t forget to have your coolant protection checked this fall in preparation for the winter months ahead!

  • September 2019: The truth about automotive diagnostic scanning.

    Just to say this tip may be a little bit longer than most! To fully explain the importance of a diagnostic scan: contrary to some people’s popular belief, when there service engine light/check engine light come’s on, they go to their local part store to determine the cause. Often times some parts stores will do a scan for the code (with a code reader) and recommend what part needs to be replaced. This practice is like playing Russian roulette with your vehicle.

    This practice by some is not a complete diagnoses and therefore is nothing more that a random guess. Obviously if the store’s employee guess’s correctly (all is good ) and the customer is content. This practice is no different than if you were to ask your local hairdresser advice on a health issue of which most people would refrain from doing.

    With this said you should always have a COMPLETE diagnostic scan/evaluation in which requires testing and often advanced OBD II skill set by a trained professional.

  • August 2019: Do you hear clicking?

    Have you ever started your vehicle and shortly thereafter start hearing and audible clicking noise coming from behind your dash?

    This is most likely a failed HVAC actuator motor for your heating, ventilation & air conditioning systems and needs to be replaced.

    Note: You may have 3 or more of these actuators depending on your year, make and model.

  • July 2019: What's that squeaking?

    Are you aware that a squeaking or chirping accessory drive belt may be caused by a weak belt tensioner assembly or misalignment of the pulleys the belt comes in contact with?

    This results in the need to replace the belt and address the tensioner or alignment issue to prevent the failure from reocurring.

    If you hear a squeak coming from your engine, schedule your appointment and come see me right away!

  • June 2019: Pay attention to the check engine light

    Did you know that a flashing amber yellow check engine light is an indication that your engine is misfiring? This means unburned gasoline is likely saturating your catalytic convertor, as well as drastically hampering your fuel mileage. This can and will cause expensive catalytic convertor failure as well as internal engine damage and should be addressed immedately! Schedule an appointment to get your check engine light looked at now!

  • May 2019: Spring has sprung!

    Spring is approaching and will be here soon! That means so will pollen causing allergy symptoms. Be sure to change your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) filter in the cabin of your cars and trucks. Schedule an appointment to come in this week!

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