Things That Affect Your Lube, Oil, and Filter Duration

1 Aug

Things That Affect Your Lube, Oil, and Filter Duration

We here at DOC Auto cannot stress enough how important it is to get a lube, oil, and filter change when your vehicle needs it. This service can literally extend the life you get out of your vehicle’s engine. If you fail to change the oil, you will not only prematurely damage the engine but you could actually kill it. There is a reason why mechanics say motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Let’s talk about the things that affect how often you should have your vehicle’s oil changed.


First, take a look at what your vehicle manufacturer recommends in your owner’s manual. This is the best starting point for determining how often you should have your oil changed. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that you have your oil changed every 3,000 miles. This can change, however, if your manufacturer also recommends that you use synthetic motor oil in your automobile.

Oil Type

You probably already know this, but synthetic motor oil can extend the time between oil changes. If you use synthetic or a synthetic blend, you may not need to have your oil changed until you have driven 5,000 miles to 10,000 miles. It depends on what your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends as well as the oil manufacturer’s recommendation.


It’s also important to take into account your daily commute. For example, if you only drive short distances throughout the day, you need to have your oil changed more often. Short-distance driving is hard on your vehicle’s engine. Another thing that is hard on the engine is being stuck in traffic throughout the day. These things can make it necessary to have your oil changed before the manufacturer’s recommendation.


Driving habits are another thing to take into consideration. If you’re a calm driver who doesn’t drive your vehicle hard, your motor oil has time to warm up and protect the engine accordingly. If you drive like a maniac and put the pedal to the metal right away, your motor oil does not have time to warm up and you could be damaging your engine. The latter also causes a need for more frequent oil changes.


Finally, your vehicle’s age can also affect how often you need to get a lube, oil, and filter service. Vehicles that are quite old, such as classic automobiles, should have their oil changed every 2,000 miles. If you drive a high-mileage automobile, this, too, can make frequent oil changes more necessary.

DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, would be happy to change your vehicle’s oil when it needs it. Give us a call today.

1 Jul
Important tire and wheel services

Don’t Forget About These Important Tire and Wheel Services

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, the tires and wheels are also important. You, obviously, won’t get anywhere without any tires, and the wheels help you control your automobile. DOC Auto can help you maintain your tires and wheels. Let’s talk about some important tire and wheel services that extend the life you get out of the tires and keeps your vehicle easy to control.

Tire Inspections

Tire inspections are something you can do quickly on the weekend. Bimonthly, check your tire’s air pressure in all four tires and the spare. Make sure that the tires are inflated to the proper psi. If they aren’t, add air to the tires that need it, but never overinflate the tires or allow them to remain underinflated for a long time. Check the tires for uneven tread wear and for bubbling or cracking on the sides of the tires. Check for nails and other issues, as well.

Tire Rotations

Bring your vehicle to us if you notice any problem with the tires. Also plan to schedule a tire rotation every 6,000 miles to 10,000 miles. You can split the difference, so to speak, and have your tires rotated every 7,500 miles if this is easier for you. Another easy way to remember when you need your tires rotated is to have the service done during every other oil change. Rotating the tires wears down the tread evenly and makes them last longer.

Wheel Balances

If your wheels are not balanced, they will vibrate as you pick up speed. You will not only be able to hear the vibration but you will also feel it. Balancing the wheels is important every time you have the tires rotated. This makes sure that your axles are carrying even weight, which makes handling your automobile is easier. If you don’t get your wheels balanced when they need it, the vibration will cause uneven tire tread wear. This reduces the life you get out of your tires.

Wheel Alignments

Finally, your wheels need to be aligned every two years at a maximum. If you do a lot of driving, it’s a good idea to get the wheels aligned annually. They also need to be aligned when you have a new set of tires put on your automobile. This ensures the tire tread is flush with the road and does not wear down unevenly.

As we said above, DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, can help you with your tire and wheel services. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

1 May
Is Transmission Fluid Red or Brown?

Is Transmission Fluid Red or Brown?

The answer to the titled question is both. Your car, truck, utility vehicle, or van’s transmission fluid changes color as it ages. Generally, the fluid should be changed every 30,000 miles. If it has been at least that long since you last had your transmission serviced, bring your vehicle into DOC Auto for a quick inspection. We can determine the health of your transmission based upon its color. The differences are listed below.

Red Means New

Red means that your transmission’s fluid is new and doing its job to the best of its ability. The fluid is responsible for lubricating the gears, protecting them, reducing their heat, and helping the transmission to shift gears. Red fluid is translucent and an indication that you don’t need to have your it changed at this moment.

Light Brown Means Getting Old

Light brown means that the transmission fluid is starting to age. In some cases, the fluid may look more orange than light brown, but either way, it’s time to start thinking about getting your fluid changed. You may have a few more miles out of the fluid depending on how translucent it still is, but you’re on the road to a necessary flush and refill soon.

Brown Means Old

When the fluid turns brown, it also turns opaque and is no longer able to do its job. This means that it is too old and you need to have it changed right away. Brown fluid is not circulating through the transmission properly and, on top of its age, the fluid level is likely too low due to dissipation.

Black Means Dangerously Old

If your transmission has a black and opaque fluid, it is actually damaging your transmission rather than protecting it. The fluid needs to be changed right away in order to prevent further damage to your vehicle’s transmission. It’s important to never let it get so old that it turns black. This fluid is oxidized and filled with air bubbles.

Pink Means Diluted

Finally, if your fluid looks like a strawberry milkshake, you’ve got a serious problem. Pink and frothy fluid is a combination of the fluid in the transmission mixed with engine coolant. This usually happens when there is a breach between the two systems. This diluted fluid will damage your transmission if you drive your automobile.

DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, can check the fluid in your transmission for you and let you know whether it needs to be changed. Stop by our shop or call us today.

1 Apr
Engine Vacuum Leak Symptoms

Common Engine Vacuum Leak Symptoms

Your car, truck, or utility vehicle will suffer from performance issues if the engine has a vacuum leak. Your engine can end up with a vacuum leak through the vacuum hoses as they age. Part of what makes a vacuum leak such a problem is that your vehicle relies on vacuum pressure to power components and accessories. The vacuum leak also creates a lean fuel condition where there is too much air in the engine and not enough diesel fuel or gasoline. DOC Auto can fix the engine vacuum leak if you have one. Here are some common engine vacuum leak symptoms.

Check Engine Light

One of the first things that will happen is your check engine light will come on and not turn off. This is because the engine is struggling with the high amounts of air circulating through it. Until you get the vacuum leak fixed, your check engine light will stay on.

Engine Stalls

Because there is too much air in the engine, you may experience frequent stalls. If the vacuum leak is quite bad, you may not even be able to get your engine started. Other engine performance issues resulting from a vacuum leak include sputtering and misfiring.

Hesitant Acceleration

You may also notice a problem with your vehicle’s acceleration. Your automobile might lurch when you press down on the accelerator, or it might not respond at all. The engine may stutter as the vehicle attempts to pick up speed when you press down on the accelerator

High RPMs

One clear sign that your automobile has a vacuum leak is your revolutions-per-minute (RPMs). The reading on the tachometer will be much higher than normal because the excess air in the engine causes it to rev much higher. The tachometer needle might also shoot up and down as the engine tries to process the excess air.

Strange Sounds

You may hear your engine’s vacuum leak from the inside of your automobile if it is bad enough. It will sound like hissing, squealing, or a sucking noise that is similar to the sound you hear from a vacuum cleaner. You can also leave your engine running and pop the hood to see if you can hear the vacuum leak. Just make sure your vehicle is parked on level ground, and that you set the parking brake. You don’t want your automobile to roll.

Call DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, to schedule an appointment if you suspect that your car, crossover, truck, or SUV has a vacuum leak. We can take care of the problem for you.

1 Mar
transmission inspection

Seven Signs Your Transmission Is Going Bad and Needs Servicing

The transmission is an unsung hero in your automobile. If you drive an automatic transmission, you don’t even think about changing the gears; it just happens. If you drive a manual, you know how much fun it can be to have that control over the gears. Either way, your vehicle needs a transmission inspection and service every 30,000 miles. If you fail to do this, DOC Auto warns that you may notice signs of your transmission going bad. Here are seven of them that need attention right away.

1. Slippage

When your transmission slips out of gear, your vehicle immediately goes into neutral. You will notice that your engine revs much higher yet you don’t have any power. If you haven’t had your transmission fluid changed in a long time, it may cause the transmission to slip out of gear, especially when going uphill.

2. Fluid Leaks

Transmission fluid is bright red and transparent. It will leak from underneath your car toward the center, not from underneath the engine. If the fluid is old, dirty, and burnt, it will be dark brown. If you see pink, foamy transmission fluid leaking out from underneath your automobile, your transmission has serious problems.

3. Sweet Smells

Both transmission fluid and engine coolant have a sweet, musty smell to them. If you smell something sweet burning, it is one of these fluids. The important thing is to pull over immediately and call for a tow truck. If you continue to drive, you can damage your engine or transmission because the fluids are too hot.

4. Idling Problems

One way to check to see if your transmission is having problems is to turn on your engine and put your vehicle in neutral. Make sure you have the parking brake set so you don’t roll. Listen for strange sounds, such as humming or whining, as well as sounds that the idle is rough and cutting in and out. You shouldn’t hear grinding, either.

5. Delayed Shifting

Your transmission should go through the gear cycle at about the same speed each time. There shouldn’t be delays from one gearshift to the next. It should also go into gear without fighting you. If your transmission refuses to go into gear, whether an automatic or manual transmission, you’ve got a big problem.

6. Poor Acceleration

Poor acceleration is more likely caused by a fuel problem. Chances are you have clogged fuel injectors or a clogged fuel filter. This being said, the transmission also helps your vehicle accelerate and the torque converter helps turn the wheels. If your acceleration is sluggish, it could be the transmission.

7. Dashboard Warning

Finally, if the engine control unit receives an error code from any of the transmission sensors, it will turn on the check engine light to let you know that there’s a problem with the transmission. We can run a diagnostic check to get the specific error code that will point us directly to the issue.

Call DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, today to schedule an appointment for a transmission inspection and service.

1 Feb
vacuum leak

Signs My Car Has a Vacuum Leak

Your car, truck, or utility vehicle relies on the vacuum that results from engine combustion to power many of the vehicle’s components and accessories. DOC Auto advises that your vehicle’s performance will suffer if you have a vacuum leak. A vacuum leak, obviously, reduces the pressure needed for your automobile to operate efficiently. Here are the causes of vacuum leaks and the signs that your vehicle might have one.

Auto Vacuum Leak Causes

Your vehicle’s engine is filled with a ton of moving parts. As the engine ages, the parts wear down and break. Preventative maintenance helps prevent parts from wearing down to the point that they cause damage to your engine. It also keeps your fluids filled and fresh. Vacuum leaks are caused by this part wear and tear. Specifically, you can get a vacuum leak in your

  • Actuators
  • Brake booster
  • Gaskets
  • Regulators
  • Seals
  • Solenoids
  • Vacuum hoses
  • Vacuum tubes
  • Valves

Depending on the extent of the vacuum leak, you might be able to hear it. You may hear hissing sounds coming out of your engine as it struggles to perform, but more on that below. It’s important to have the vacuum leak fixed as soon as possible in order to avoid additional engine damage. In fact, if the leak is severe enough, you might lose accessory or component function, including your brakes.

Signs of a Vacuum Leak

Aside from hissing sounds, you may also hear squealing or what sounds like sucking coming from your engine. Think of how your vacuum hose sounds when you’re cleaning your house. A leak may have the same sound. You can hear the leak coming from your engine, especially if you’re stopped at a red light or stop sign. Other signs of a leak include

  • A rough or sporadic engine idle
  • Stalling or hesitation in the engine
  • A check engine light warning on the dashboard

Part of the reason why a vacuum leak causes these symptoms is that you have too much air in your engine. Your engine’s combustion relies on air and gasoline in order to operate. When there is too much air, the engine becomes starved for fuel and the above performance issues ensue. Your engine will feel as if it’s going to stall and, in severe cases, it just might.

Call DOC Auto today if you are having engine trouble. We are the best auto repair shop in Fredericksburg, VA, and we’ll check for a vacuum leak and other potential problems.

1 Jan
Engine Overheating Constantly? Here Are 8 Possible Causes!

Engine Overheating Constantly? Here Are Eight Possible Causes!

Here’s the thing: Your car’s engine should never overheat. This isn’t something that can happen every once in a while. It’s not normal. Today’s automobiles are designed to maintain the engine’s temperature in the worst possible driving conditions, so if your car, truck, or utility vehicle keeps overheating, there’s something wrong. DOC Auto lists eight possibilities below.

1. Coolant Level Is Too Low

It’s a good idea to pop the hood and check your engine’s coolant level regularly. If the coolant is too low, your engine will overheat. If you keep adding coolant to the radiator and overflow, there’s something going on with the cooling system. You should never have to add coolant. It’s encased in the engine.

2. Coolant Is Leaking

So we’ll be Captain Obvious for a second and say that if you do have to add coolant to your engine you’ve probably got a coolant leak somewhere. Leaks are often caused by a hole in one of the cooling system hoses. Coolant can also leak out of the radiator, heater core, or the water pump.

3. Speaking of the Water Pump

The water pump can also cause your engine to overheat if it is broken and cannot circulate the coolant. The water pump can also get clogged by dirt, debris, and grime. If the coolant is unable to perform its job, your engine will be deprived of the precious coolant it needs to prevent overheating.

4. Radiator Leaks or Fan Trouble

The most common cause of a radiator leak is age. Coolant resting at the bottom of the radiator for years will eventually rust the metal. The oxidation eats a hole through the metal and, voila, you’ve coolant leaking out of it. The radiator fan can also malfunction, rendering it useless in cooling down hot coolant.

5. Thermostat Has Gone Bad

To get everything started in your vehicle’s cooling system, the engine must reach a certain temperature as gauged by the thermostat. Once the engine starts heating up, the thermostat opens up a valve to get the coolant pumping through the water pump. A bad thermostat will not release the coolant.

6. Belts and/or Engine Parts Going Bad

The water pump and radiator fan are operated by the serpentine belt. If this belt is loose, cracked, or otherwise failing, it will directly affect how these parts work. Some overheating engine parts can also make the entire engine overheat, such as the fuel pump or a cracked exhaust manifold.

7. Heater Core Clogs or Leaks

The heater core uses hot engine coolant to keep your car’s interior warm. A fan blows the air over tubes in the heater core to warm it. The heater core then passes the hot coolant into the radiator. If the core is clogged or leaking, the coolant will never make its way into the radiator.

8. Low or Dirty Motor Oil

Finally, dirty and/or low motor oil will not only overheat your engine but also destroy it. We don’t mean to sound dramatic but, seriously, if you don’t change your motor oil regularly you’re just asking for devastating engine damage the can easily be avoided.

A full-service auto repair shop in Fredericksburg, VA, DOC Auto is here to fix your vehicle’s overheating problem. Call us today.

1 Dec
Automotive Fluid Color Guide So You Can Tell What’s Leaking From Your Car

Automotive Fluid Color Guide So You Can Tell What’s Leaking From Your Car

Few things can ruin your day more than backing out of your garage and seeing spots on the floor. Automotive fluid leaks are uncommon, unless your vehicle has a ton of mileage under its belt. Even if it doesn’t, there’s no need to panic. The fluid color will tell you where the leak is coming from and we here at DOC Auto can most likely fix it. Here’s an auto fluid color guide to help you identify the leaking fluid.


Ninety-nine percent of the time, blue automotive fluid is your windshield wash. As your vehicle ages, the reservoir or tubing can crack, and you will end up with a washer fluid leaking on your garage floor. This isn’t the end of the world. The leaking components can be replaced.


Clear fluid is just condensation leaking from the air conditioner. When you run your AC, condensation builds up on the parts and then drips off them once you park your car. You might also see condensation dripping from your tailpipes. These things are not a cause for concern.

Dark Brown

Dark brown fluid is a cause for concern. Dark brown fluid could be your brake fluid, differential oil, or motor oil. It could also be very old and dirty transmission fluid. If you have dark brown fluid leaking from your car, have the leak fixed and the fluid changed right away.


Antifreeze is the only green fluid you will have in your car. Leaking antifreeze most likely comes from the cooling system, but the antifreeze also runs through the air conditioner system – the heater core specifically – and the transmission. Have the leak found ASAP.

Light Brown

Gear lubricant and motor oil are both light brown when they are new. Brake fluid is also amber or light brown. The fluid might be new, but the leak should be found and fixed right away. Any of these leaking fluids will damage your vehicle when they get too low.


Antifreeze and engine coolant are both orange, especially if your radiator is rusting, and transmission fluid can look orangish-brown as it ages. If a rusted radiator is turning your coolant orange, the radiator probably has a hole and you’ll need a new radiator.


If you see pink spots on your garage floor, the fluid is either leaking from the power steering system or the transmission. If it’s leaking from the transmission, the transmission oil is being diluted by coolant and this is a sign of serious transmission trouble.


Red fluid is also power steering fluid or transmission oil. If the leak is coming from the transmission, you’ve got a faulty pan gasket, seal, or a hole in the transmission pan. The transmission lines can also leak, as can the power steering fluid reservoir.

Call DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA. We’ll find your vehicle’s fluid leak and fix it.

1 Nov
Stay Safe if You’re Traveling By Car This Thanksgiving

Stay Safe if You’re Traveling By Car This Thanksgiving

Don’t let an unnecessary breakdown or auto accident ruin your Thanksgiving holiday. More people will be traveling by car than ever this Thanksgiving, so plan your trip now and add some extra precautions to ensure you get to and from your destination without a hitch. DOC Auto suggests the following to help.

Carefully Plan Your Initial Trip

Even if you’re going to your mom and dad’s house and you’ve driven there a million times, research the way you usually go to see if there is anything anticipatory that would make driving difficult. Will there be bad weather? Are there any road closures that will slow you down? What about plenty of rest stops?

Have a Backup Plan

Even if your normal route looks a-okay, plan a backup route just in case. You never when there could be an accident or sudden winter storm that will shut down the way you normally go. Be prepared during all legs of the journey with a backup plan that will put you on a different route to your parents’ house.

Take Your Time and Take Breaks

Leave early, don’t rush, buckle up, and take breaks. Getting to your parents’ house doesn’t have to be the Daytona 500. Enjoy the drive and stop to smell the roses, if you will. Plan breaks that the whole family will enjoy. This not only allows everyone to use the restroom but also reduces travel lag.

Drive Defensively and Remain Alert

Reducing travel lag is important because you must remain alert behind the wheel. Tired driving is as bad as drunk driving, so make certain you don’t push yourself and nod off. Drive defensively, change lanes to avoid aggressive drivers, and pay special attention to big rigs so you don’t end up in their blind spots.

Don’t Drive When Intoxicated

Don’t drink and drive. Just don’t. Even if getting to your parents’ house only takes a couple of hours, avoid alcohol with the Thanksgiving feast if you’re going to drive back home that night. Even one glass of wine or beer can diminish your motor skills, especially when you’re also stuffed and in a turkey-coma.

Get a Vehicle Inspection Beforehand

Finally, stop by our shop for a vehicle inspection before your road trip. We’ll check to make sure your car, truck, or utility vehicle is road-ready, safe, reliable, and sure to get you there without a problem. This includes changing the oil and performing other necessary services before you leave.

Give DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, a call to schedule your pre-trip service.

1 Oct
Vehicle Safety Inspections in Virginia Are a Must

Vehicle Safety Inspections in Virginia Are a Must

Unless your automobile is registered as an antique with Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles and you do not drive it regularly, you must have an annual safety inspection. DOC Auto performs safety inspections and is a state-authorized inspection center. We can make certain your vehicle is safe to drive under Virginia law and certify it as such. Let’s talk about Virginia vehicle safety inspections.

Nearly Every Vehicle Needs an Inspection Each Year

As we briefly touched upon above, the vehicle or vehicles that you drive on a regular basis must be inspected annually and receive a new safety sticker each year confirming the vehicle passed the safety inspection. Antique vehicles that are 25 years or older and registered as an antique with the DMV do not have to be safety inspected, unless you drive the vehicle regularly. New automobiles purchased in Virginia are also exempt from safety inspections for one year.

If you bring your vehicle into the state because you’ve just moved to Virginia, old or new, your vehicle must pass a safety inspection in order for you to register the automobile with the state. In fact, it’s a good idea to get the vehicle inspected before you register it to avoid any delays in your vehicle’s registration. All vehicles must have an inspection sticker on them that is visible to the authorities. The safety sticker expires on the last day of the month noted on it.

DOC Auto Safety Inspections

The safety inspections we perform here at DOC Auto are in compliance with the requirements stated in the Virginia motor vehicle code and all other vehicle regulations. When you bring your vehicle in for its annual safety inspection, we will inspect the

  • Airbags
  • Brakes
  • Driver’s Seat
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Horn
  • Lights
  • Mirrors
  • Rims
  • Seatbelts
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Tires
  • Wheels
  • Windshield

In other words, we’ll make sure your automobile does not pose any safety hazards when you drive it. We inspect all vehicle types, too, including crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. You can count on us to find anything that is wrong and because we’re a full-service auto shop, we can fix the problem right there.


Contact DOC Auto for your next vehicle safety inspection. We are located in Fredericksburg, VA, and we have two shops, one on Chatham Heights and one Courthouse Road, for your convenience. 

Chatham Heights
175 Chatham Heights Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
(540) 899-3732

Courthouse Road
10734 Courthouse Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
(540) 710-0173

Monday – Friday:
8am to 6pm

8am to 2pm

Closed on Sunday