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Not long ago, to keep a car running beyond the 200,000-mile mark would have seemed about as likely as driving it to the moon. But big improvements in powertrain technology, rust prevention, lubricants, and more have led to game changing improvements in reliability and durability. Now, almost any car can make it well into six-figure territory with proper care.

That is good news for drivers, who are keeping their cars longer than ever before; the average age of all cars on the road is more than 11 years, up from about eight years in 1995, according to Polk research. Still, motorists might not realize the long-term financial benefits of keeping a car for 200,000 miles.

Buy a Safe, Reliable Model

You can coax any vehicle to 200,000 miles with enough patience and cash, but that doesn’t make doing so a good idea. The best way to minimize visits to the shop is to start with a model that has a reliable track record. And you don’t have to look far for a source; Consumer Reports compiles comprehensive reliability information.

In addition to choosing a reliable model, make sure to pick a car you’ll want to keep for a long time. Don’t compromise on the features you want or buy less or more vehicle than you think you’ll need. If this is going to be a long relationship, it may as well be a happy one. So choose a vehicle that will fit your lifestyle and that you’ll enjoy driving.

If you’re buying a used car, be on the lookout for signs of neglect or abuse. Check the car for dents, rust, and mismatched body panels. Look for paint overspray, which is often a sign of repair work. Make sure all interior components are in good condition. A mildew smell, discolored carpeting, and silt in the trunk are indicators of water damage. All components under the hood should be free of corrosion and grease. Check the fluids and watch out for damp areas in the engine compartment and under the vehicle, which might point to leaks.

When you’ve found a vehicle you’re interested in, take it to an independent mechanic for a diagnostic inspection, which costs about $100 to $150. A mechanic can help you spot signs of wear or abuse that you might not see.

Stick to the Schedule

Follow the maintenance schedule in your car’s owner’s manual. It spells out when to take care of every service for the life of your car, including routine oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and more major service such as timing-belt replacement. Even missing one oil change can contribute to premature engine wear or cause damage, and reduce the chances of your car remaining reliable for long.

If you’ve neglected following your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, it’s not too late to get with the program. Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle and take care of any apparent problems, no matter how minor. Then introduce yourself to your owner’s manual and start fresh. Even if your vehicle doesn’t make it to 200,000 miles, it will definitely last longer with proper ongoing care.

Following the maintenance schedule has gotten easier over the years because longer-lasting components and fluids have increased service intervals. Today, it’s common to go 10,000 miles between oil changes, and some spark plugs don’t need replacement for 100,000 miles.

Many new models from a wide variety of carmakers make it even easier to stay on top of maintenance, with sensors that take into account your mileage and driving habits to determine the optimum time for maintenance. They monitor the miles driven since the last service and record data such as how much stop-and-go driving is done, the engine temperature during each trip, and the time the engine spends operating at higher speeds. The system then calculates how quickly your oil is breaking down and alerts you when service is due, and can even adjust a car’s complete service interval to compensate for the severity of use.

The End of the Road

No matter how well you choose and care for a car, someday it will be time to move on because it’s costing too much or is no longer safe. Still, saying goodbye can be a tough decision, especially if you’re attached to your car. Here are signs that it’s probably time to find another vehicle:

  • It needs a big repair that will cost more to fix than the car is worth.
  • Rust is compromising the structural integrity.
  • It remains unreliable even with frequent repairs.
  • It has been in a flood or a serious accident.

Be careful not to over-maintain your car, that waste’s money. If you think your vehicle needs a maintenance inspection, see any of our Sierra Car Care Locations around the Reno area for fast, friendly service.

Every engine requires fuel to operate. Using the proper grade of gasoline or diesel fuel can have a significant impact on your vehicle’s performance and reliability, and on your wallet.

Gasoline Grades
Gasoline is sold in three grades: regular, mid-grade and premium. The main difference between the grades is octane, which is the ability of the fuel to resist harmful detonation – also known as pinging, pre-ignition, or spark knock.

As long as your engine does not detonate on a given grade of fuel, there is nothing to be gained by spending more for a higher grade. Contrary to popular belief, premium grade fuel does not contain more energy, burn cleaner or improve fuel economy in vehicles that do not require it. Most cars today are engineered to run on regular grade fuel, though some models with more highly tuned engines call for premium.

Modern engines are equipped with knock sensors that allow use of lower grade fuel if the required grade is unavailable. However, engine performance and fuel economy will suffer. Never use less than the recommended fuel grade when the vehicle is heavily loaded or being used for towing.

If your vehicle detonates on the recommended grade of fuel, try switching to another brand; octane ratings can vary slightly between brands. If this doesn’t help, try going up one grade. If this cures the problem, its possible internal carbon deposits have raised the engine’s octane requirement. If your engine knocks regardless of fuel grade, it has a problem that will require the diagnostic skills of a repair professional.

Feel free to come into any of our locations around the Reno-Sparks area to speak with an ASE Certified Professional. We will make sure your back on the road in no time.

Happy Holidays

We would like to remind you that no matter where you’re going, if you need our services we’ll be here. Whether it’s tires, an oil change or something more, our ASE certified technicians will keep your vehicle running strong.

3 Safety tips we encourage drivers to keep in mind before any long distance travel.

1. Emergency kit. Be sure to keep a winter emergency kit in the car including a flashlight (check to make sure it works and has extra batteries), booster cables, tools, duct tape, and emergency rain coats (ponchos). Extra supplies to think about packing in the trunk are: snow brush and/or scraper, gloves, water, cloth or paper towels, blankets and extra winter clothing. An emergency meal is not a bad idea as well; MRE or Meal-Ready-to-Eat or other non-perishable snacks.

2. Maintain your vehicle. Always make sure your vehicle is up to date with its maintenance, especially for winter.  If the battery is more than 3 years old, it should be tested. Windshield wiper blades are critical for clearing the windshield for a clear view. Consider replacing your worn out wiper blades with winter or all-season. Remember to keep your washer fluid reservoir full. We are currently offering a FREE Courtesy Winter Vehicle Inspection (click link for related coupon information).

3. Snow tires. If you’re considering getting snow tires, make sure you install them on all four (not just two) wheels.  Otherwise, the front (or back) of your car will respond differently to the road and ice than the other resulting in possible steering difficulties. See this related article for more information about whether to choose Winter Tires vs. Snow Tires.



Take it to 4th StreetOn Saturday April 23, 2016 Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada will be participating in the inaugural Take It To 4th Street community block party. Businesses along 4th Street between Lake and Elko will all take part with various activities that will allow the public to learn more about their organization. There will be 40+ attractions, including interactive art, live music, performers and much more!

At Catholic Charities, they will offer a vintage sidewalk sale outside St. Vincent’s Thrift Shop, tours of our campus, a farmers market, and a live mural painting outside the St. Vincent’s Food Pantry.

Reno muralist Erik Burke will be painting images of three local veterans on the pantry wall facing 4th Street.The mural will only be visible during certain times throughout the day, depending on the angle of the sun.

The event is free and open to the public and will take place from 11 a.m. to 6p.m. Don’t forget to gas up before you go – the closest Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Center location is on Lakeside & Moana.

Donate Goods to St. Vincent’s and Fight Poverty from CatholicCharities NorthernNevada on Vimeo.

40 Year Anniversary Logo RGB-01

Thank you for being a huge part of what makes Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers successful, 40 years later.

Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers are a family-run, community-focused, neighborhood service and fuel station, providing full service auto repair and tire services.

Thanks to our partnership with the “Gas for Goodness” program, our customers have helped to make a difference in the lives of local families, just by pumping gas at our 4 convenient locations in the Reno-Sparks, NV area. Through this partnership, you have helped us exceed $12,000 each year in charitable contributions.

In the future, we promise to maintain that same great customer service you are accustomed to when visiting our shops. We strive to continue building long, lasting relationships with our customers.

If you have a story or would like to share your appreciation to Sierra Car Care and MST Tire Centers for their years of dedication to the service industry, we welcome you to “Review” us on Facebook > here, to let us know how we are doing. Your feedback is highly appreciated!

Thanks again!

October Charity: Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary

Fall for CRCSEvery Wednesday in October, we’ll make a ($.01) penny donation to the Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary for every gallon of gas sold from our Sierra Car Care/MST Tire Centers. And we’ll donate $1.00 per tire sold each Saturday at MST Tire Center on Mill Street.

The Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary (CRCS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission is “To inspire, educate and motivate the human spirit. To save, nurture and love the canine spirit and to bring the two together to change the way the world views, rescues and places homeless dogs.”
Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Atlantis Resort and Casino in Reno
6pm – 9pm

CRCSThis exciting event will allow supporters, old and new, to fully experience what CRCS is all about. It is a celebration of how far we’ve come, a tribute to all the wonderful dogs that have found homes through our program and a look into the future of CRCS. It will mark the beginning of a 4 year campaign dedicated to raising one million dollars for the purchase and renovation of our facility to better meet the needs of our dogs.

So, when you need gas or new tires, you can also support the Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary by visiting any of our 5 locations on  Wednesdays for gas and Saturdays for tires (Mill Street location only).

CRCSFor charity information,visit: 
Canine Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary
CRCS Facebook
Find Us on Facebook
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