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Maintenance and the Environment

Maintenance and the Environment

Vehicles with properly maintained engines and emission control systems pollute less and are more fuel efficient. They perform better, last longer, have higher resale value and save you money. Here are some tips for keeping your vehicle running at top efficiency.

  • Follow GM's maintenance guidelines to help identify any problems before they become serious. Your Owner's Manual provides recommended maintenance intervals and product specifications.
  • If you notice a change in the way your vehicle functions or if your fuel efficiency drops, get your vehicle checked promptly.
  • Change your vehicle's oil regularly. The GM Oil Life System (OLS) tells you when you need to change your oil, saving you time and money, and keeping you reassured that your oil is in good condition. If the GM OLS is used as intended, almost 378 million litres of oil could be saved worldwide in the next five years. Your dealership is equipped to properly dispose of waste oil.
  • Change the air filter as often as the manual recommends. Between changes, inspect it by taking the filter out and tapping it against a hard surface. If dirt falls out, replace the filter.
  • Do a tire check-up. Every two weeks, check your tire treads and sidewalls for wear, cuts or bruises. Follow it up by checking your tire pressure. Maintaining the correct tire pressure increases safety, saves you money and reduces pollution.
  • Check your antifreeze/coolant level weekly. Never remove the radiator cap unless the engine is cold!
  • Let Certified Service experts keep your vehicle tuned up. The fuel efficiency of most cars can be improved by as much as 6 percent with a minor tune-up, saving you money and reducing your vehicle's carbon footprint.
  • Keep the brakes maintained. Being able to brake quickly can help you avoid an accident. Make sure the vehicle stops smoothly and does not pull to one side when the brakes are applied.

An Expert Oil Change

An Expert Oil Change

Certified Service experts at your local dealership are GM-trained to understand how your GM vehicle uses its oil and how it monitors oil life. So an Oil Change from a GM-trained technician not only gives you great service, convenience and a great price – it also gives you the added value of our expertise on the particular make and model that you drive.

The GM Oil Life System

Most GM vehicles are now equipped with the GM Oil Life System. This system actually senses your vehicle's speed and engine temperature and can continuously monitor operating conditions. This helps determine when it's time to change the oil.

This system can actually monitor your personal driving habits and your area's climate condition to let you know precisely when to come in for an Oil Change. When the light comes on, you come in. It's that simple. It'll will save you money and help reduce oil waste.

Your Certified Service technician will reset your Oil Life Monitor System after an Oil change. Ask your technician how, or consult your Owners Manual if necessary.

Always consult your Owners Manual for the proper procedure to check your oil level. You'll get a more accurate dipstick reading by following those instructions.

How to know when it's time for an oil change

  • Your Owners manual recommends you check oil level each time you refuel.
  • To check oil must be warm and car on level round
  • Turn the engine off
  • Wait a few minutes for oil to drain back into pan
  • Remove the Dipstick and wipe clean
  • Reinsert stick and remove to take the reading

Prepare your car for warmer weather

Prepare your car for warmer weather

As temperatures increase, so do the demands made on your vehicle. So make sure your vehicle is up to summer's challenge.

What You Can Do

  • Check tire tread depth for excessive and uneven wear.
  • In extreme summer temperatures, you may have to change the grade of your engine oil. Check your owner's manual for the viscosity grade recommended for your vehicle's engine.
  • Check the cooling system - both hoses and radiator - for leaks. Check the coolant recovery reservoir under the hood when the engine is cold. Add the coolant recommended in your Owner's Manual, if required. Replace conventional coolant every two years or 60,000 miles (every five years/150,000 miles DEX-COOL®).*

What a Certified Service Expert Can Do to Help

Check the air conditioning system.

After a winter of coughing and sneezing, combined with allergens, bacteria, mold and other microscopic interlopers, you might need to replace your cabin air filter and thoroughly clean or vacuum interior surfaces.

Winter can take a bigger toll on your vehicle than you think. See your GM dealer for a pre-summer springtime check-up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some quick references to help you make your driving experience more enjoyable:

How do I know when I really need new tires?

You can't always tell by looking at the tread depth. Sometimes a tire that appears to have significant tread remaining needs to be replaced. So check the treadwear indicators -- bald spots that appear at various intervals on the tread. If you see them in three or more places, you need a new tire.

Also, you need a new tire if:

  • You can see cord or fabric showing through the tire's rubber
  • The tread or sidewall is cracked, cut, or snagged deep enough to show cord or fabric
  • The tire has a bump, bulge, or split
  • The tire has a puncture, cut or other damage that can't be repaired because of the size or location of the damage

To learn more about replacing and maintaining your vehicle's tires, visit the Tire Knowledge Centre.

Why can't I just use water in my radiator?

Your vehicle's coolant system is set for the proper coolant mix. With plain water, or the wrong mix, your engine could get too hot, but you wouldn't get the "overheated" warning. Your engine could be badly damaged and might even catch fire. Also, too much water in the mix can freeze and crack the engine, radiator, heater core and other parts. Damage resulting from using plain water or the wrong mixture would not be covered by your warranty. See your Owner's Manual for more specific information.

A 50/50 mixture of water and the proper coolant will

  • Give freezing protection down to -37° C (-34° F)
  • Give boiling protection up to 129° C (256° F)
  • Protect against rust and corrosion
  • Help maintain the proper engine temperature
  • Let the warning lights and gauges work as they should

Why do I have to keep changing the oil if I'm not burning any?

Oil helps protect your vehicle's engine from premature wear by suspending moisture, abrasive dirt, and contaminants until they're broken down by detergents and trapped by the oil filter. But over time, even the best oil loses its ability to do the job. That's why regular oil changes are so important. Even if you don't drive many miles, stop-and-go driving and repeated short trips can increase your vehicle's need for an oil change.

What's the best grade of oil?

Oils recommended for your GM vehicle (gasoline engine only) can be identified by looking for the "starburst" symbol, indicating that the oil has been certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Do not use any oil that does not carry this symbol. Check your Owner's Manual for the proper viscosity grade. Diesel engines have a different API symbol.

What is octane?

The octane number or octane rating is a measure of the anti-knock properties of gasoline -- a higher number indicates a smaller likelihood of knocking. Using a higher-octane fuel than your Owner's Manual calls for is a waste of money. It doesn't produce more power, performance or fuel savings. Follow the Owner's Manual recommendations regarding fuel octane for your vehicle. The only time that higher octane fuels might be necessary is if your vehicle suffers audible engine knock at highway speeds.

I don't smoke, so what's the film buildup on the inside of my windshield?

The film buildup occurs primarily as a result of harmless agents called plasticizers, which are released from the plastic interior parts and condense on glass surfaces. You can clean them off with GM Glass Cleaner, part number 992727.

When I'm waiting in my car with the engine running, how long of a wait justifies turning the engine off?

Restarting your vehicle's engine uses about as much gas as 30 seconds worth of idling. Therefore, shutting off your vehicle's engine when you'll be at a standstill for more than half a minute will improve your gas mileage and put fewer emissions in the air.

How come they never lubricate the lug nuts on my wheels? Wouldn't that make them easier to take off when I change a tire?

Lug nuts or studs should never be lubricated. While it may make them easier to remove, they could come off while you're driving. If you can't remove them with the equipment in your vehicle, call the GM Roadside Assistance line provided in your Owner's Manual.

How to Speak Mechanic

How to Speak Mechanic

Car trouble symptoms can indicate minor or major problems with your vehicle. This glossary of terms should help you identify what's going wrong with your vehicle and assist you in letting a Certified Service technician know exactly what's been happening.


Brake fade: the stopping distance of your vehicle seems to increase, causing longer braking distance, similar to braking at high speeds. This can occur after repeated application of your brakes over a short period of time (i.e. during city driving).

Low brake pedal: the brake pedal has to be pushed unusually far to engage the brakes.

Brake pedal pulsation: the brake pedal fluctuates or vibrates while the brakes are applied.

Grabs: the vehicle has a tendency to move right or left when the brakes are applied. Or, the brakes engage suddenly when applying steady pressure to the brake pedal.


Cuts out: a temporary complete loss of power. Or, the engine quits at irregular intervals. This may occur repeatedly or intermittently, usually under heavy acceleration.

Detonation: mild to severe pings, usually worse under acceleration. It sounds like popcorn popping.

Dieseling: the engine runs after the ignition switch is turned off.

Hesitation: a momentary lack of response as the accelerator is pressed. This can occur at any speed. Usually it's most severe when starting from a complete stop and may cause the engine to stall.

Miss: a pulsation or jerking that changes with the engine speed. Or, the exhaust has a steady spitting sound at idle or low speeds.

Rough idle: the engine runs unevenly at idle. The vehicle may also shake.

Sluggish: the engine delivers limited power under a load or at high speeds. Or, the vehicle won't accelerate as fast as normal. Or, the engine loses power going up hills.

Spongy: only a small increase in speed occurs when the accelerator is pushed down.

Stall: the engine stops running or dies out. This may occur at idle or while driving.

Surge: the vehicle speeds up and slows down with no change on the accelerator pedal. This can occur at any speed.

Steering & Handling

Bottoming: the suspension moves to an extreme end of travel and hits the compression bumpers. It feels like a heavy thud.

Excessive play: the steering wheel must be turned unusually far before the vehicle responds.

Hard steering: the vehicle is difficult to steer, especially during parking situations or when it's first started.

Pulls: the vehicle moves to one side when the grip or the steering wheel is loosened.

Shimmy: a rapid side-to-side motion of both the front wheels, which is felt in the steering wheel.

Sway or Pitching: a mushy or spongy ride. Or the vehicle takes a long time to recover from bumps in the road.

Vibration: the vehicle shakes.

Wanders: the vehicle meanders, requiring frequent steering adjustments to maintain direction.

Odours & Stains

Antifreeze or coolant leak: A sweet odour can be accompanied by steam from under the hood. Yellow, green, or orange stains appear that are lighter and thinner than oil.

Axle leaks: black stains with a heavy, thick consistency appear.

Burning oil: a thick, heavy odour, sometimes accompanied by bluish smoke from under the hood or from the exhaust.

Crankcase, oil, power-steering fluid leaks: brownish stains appear.

Electrical short: gives off an acrid odour, like burnt toast.

Rich fuel mixture: a heavy sulphur odour, like rotten eggs.

Overheated brakes or clutch: a burning rubber odour.

Overheating: a hot, metallic odour can be accompanied by an antifreeze or coolant odour.

Transmission oil leaks: reddish stains appear.

Brake Service

Brake Service

Stopping power is crucial to a safe and successful driving experience. Need a set of brakes? Then you'll want a great set of brakes that are always available at any GM dealer. You can have your brakes replaced or serviced by GM-vehicle experts. Our Certified Service experts are GM-trained to understand your vehicle's brakes better than anyone.

If your brake pedal feels different than normal or if you've noticed any change in the way your vehicle brakes (pulls to one side when braking or requires more pressure on the brake pedal), have the brake system inspected at your local GM dealer immediately.

When Is Brake Noise Signalling A Problem?

Sometimes, your GM vehicle's brakes will alert you when there's trouble. Whistling noises, chirping sounds or grinding are indications that maintenance is required. Here are some common causes of brake noise.

  • Worn brake pads
  • Heat cracked or worn "un-true" rotors
  • Rough finish on resurfaced rotors
  • Loose fitting brake pads in the caliper
  • Lack of silicone compound on back of brake pad
  • Missing springs or anti-rattle clips that should be on the caliper or pad
  • Improper tightening sequence of lug nuts or caliper hardware

Vehicles often come equipped with a small thin piece of metal attached to the brake pad to act as a warning indicator when the pad material is getting low and the brake pads should be replaced. This device makes a loud noise on brake application, letting you know it is time to have your brakes serviced.

Get more expert tips about brakes.