Archive for the ‘car care tips’ Tag

Car Care: Winter Maintenance Check

Heavy snow can be fun for some, but many drivers dread treacherous winter driving conditions. Being car care aware will help ensure your vehicle is ready for harsh winter weather encountered on the road, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Many drivers overlook auto care this time of year, even with inclement weather in the forecast,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Driving in snow, especially in heavy snowfall or a blizzard, takes patience and preparation. A vehicle that is properly prepared for the elements can help you avoid an unplanned road emergency when the weather takes an unexpected turn for the worse.”

To ensure that your vehicle is ready for winter driving, the Car Care Council recommends that motorists perform a winter maintenance check of areas that have direct impact on winter driving.

– Battery – Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

– Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.

– Brakes – Have the brake system checked. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

– Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure, including the spare. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.

– Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil at recommended intervals and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold. In sub-zero driving temperatures, drop oil weight from 10-W30 to 5-W30 as thickened oil can make it hard to start the car.

– Lights & Wipers – Make sure all exterior and interior lights are working so you can see and be seen. Check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir and replace wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield.

In addition, the council recommends a thorough vehicle inspection by a trusted professional service technician as winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. Drivers should keep their vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2016/01/car-care-winter-maintenance-check/

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5 Winter Car Care Tips

Sometimes, it may be easy to forget about giving your car the tender loving care it needs to stay healthy. But with the heavy snow, icy roads and cold weather that winter can bring, now is the time to make sure to care for your vehicle.

Cold weather makes pliable material stiffer and more brittle and can make fluids thicker. If you live an area with severe winter weather, you know how dangerous the roads can get and the unique problems winter weather can create for your car.

So, take a look through our list of top five winter car care tips:


1. Take your car in for a tune-up.

If you haven’t taken your car to the shop for a while, now is the time to do so. A tune-up will help keep your car running longer and may save you money by detecting potential problems early.


2. Check your tires.

On slippery or icy roads, your tires are extremely important to giving you stability and controlled handling. So, make sure to check your tires’ pressure and wear. You can place a penny on its edge in a tread groove to test a tire’s tread. If you can see the top of his hair or any of the tires background, it is time to replace your tires. Do this in several spots because tires don’t wear evenly. You should also take your tires in to get rotated and properly balanced. If you’re in an area with particularly severe winter weather, you should consider purchasing a set of snow tires, which are made specifically for snowy and icy surfaces.


3. Check your fluids levels.

Make sure you check that the transmission, brake, power steering and windshield washer fluids and coolants are filled to proper levels. You should use de-icer windshield washer fluid which will help clear light ice and frost while preventing re-freezing.


4. Make a winter emergency kit.

In addition to the emergency road kit you should already have in your car, it is a good idea to have a special winter car kit. This kit should include things like cat litter or sand for tire traction on snow and ice, an ice scraper and de-icing liquid.


5. Check your air filters.

During the summer and fall, contaminants can get caught in your air filters and will eventually get caught inside your vehicle and cause problems. If you see any debris caught on the filter, it’s a good idea to get the filter replaced.

Read more at: http://blog.allstate.com/5-winter-car-care-tips/

Better Driving Habits Help Family Finances and the Environment

According to the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), motorists can help the environment and their own finances by incorporating a few good practices. Regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits are two simple ways any car owner can go “green” — both for the environment and one’s own wallet.

Here are a few specific, easy-to-implement tips from ASE:

– Keep the engine running at its peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the manual. A well-tuned engine pollutes less and uses less. Moreover, neglected engine performance problems can cause costly repairs over time.

– If you do your own repairs, be a good steward of the environment. Dispose of engine fluids and batteries properly. A single quart of used motor oil can pollute thousands of gallons of water. Antifreeze poured on the ground can poison wildlife and household pets. Check around at local repair facilities to see if they accept used fluids and parts, or call your local government agencies for information on proper disposal and recycling.

– Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. If your air pressure is low, you force the engine to work harder and burn more gasoline. Tires that are misaligned also make your vehicle work harder. Consider, too, that poorly maintained tires wear out faster, which means more discards have to be scraped, recycled, or sent to the landfill.

– If weekend car tinkering is not your idea of fun, find a dependable ASE-certified technician. Ask friends for recommendations. Check the reputation of the repair shop with your local consumer group. Check out the technician’s specific credentials. ASE-certified auto technicians are tested for specific skills and knowledge in national exams, such as engine performance, brakes or suspension.

– Have your vehicle’s air conditioning system serviced only by a technician qualified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older systems contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service. If you have used any over-the-counter remedies such as system sealants or self-service refrigerants, let the technician know prior to servicing the vehicle.

– Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both habits guzzle gas and put extra wear-and-tear on your vehicle’s engine, transmission, steering and suspension system, and other components. Use cruise control and anticipate traffic patterns ahead. As a side benefit, your brakes will last longer, too.

– Consolidate daily errands to eliminate unnecessary driving. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Park in a central location at the shopping center, and walk from store to store, rather than drive from one end to the other.

– Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight means better mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.

While there is no single vehicle that’s ideal for every lifestyle, regular car care and gentler driving lets you maximize gas mileage for your particular make and model — saving you money and helping the environment.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign. Shops with a high percentage of ASE-certified technicians often participate in the Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program.

Read more at: http://www.ase.com/News-Events/Publications/Glove-Box-Tips/Better-Driving-Habits-Help-Family-Finances-and-the.aspx

6 Simple Car Care Tips to Increase Gas Mileage

Six Gas Saving Car Care TipsSpring is here and so are rising gas prices. Not to worry, says the Car Care Council. A few simple and inexpensive vehicle maintenance steps can stretch your dollar at the pump and go a long way toward protecting the environment.

“Many motorists don’t realize that fuel consumption is directly related to auto care and has a significant impact on how much gas you use,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Gas prices can climb quickly, but the good news is that you can fight back. By properly maintaining your vehicle, you can improve fuel economy while saving money.”

The non-profit Car Care Council encourages motorists to be car care aware and perform simple maintenance to improve fuel economy.

– Tune-Up: Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

– Tire Pressure: Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.

– Motor Oil: Improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the grade of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer.

– Air Filters: Replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles can improve fuel economy and will improve performance and acceleration on all vehicles.

– Gas Cap: Damaged, loose or missing gas caps allow gas to vaporize into the air.

– Fix It: Addressing a serious maintenance problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to http://www.fueleconomy.gov.

In addition to vehicle maintenance, modifying driving habits, such as observing the speed limit and avoiding quick stops and starts, can also increase fuel efficiency. Consolidating trips, avoiding excessive idling and removing unnecessary items from the trunk are also easy ways to lower fuel consumption.

April is National Car Care Month and free vehicle inspections are happening all around the country. Find a free car care clinic or vehicle inspection event near you on the Car Care Council’s Event Finder to learn more about taking care of your car.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2014/04/rising-gas-prices-dont-have-to-cost-you/

Winterizing Your Car

Winter is right around the corner. Depending on where you live, colder weather and shorter days will bring some driving challenges. Don’t wait to winterize your car if you haven’t done so yet. This is also a good time to prepare yourself for the need to change your driving habits with the change of seasons. A little preparation now can give you added confidence when things get slippery. For folks that know “winter is coming”, here is some advice on what you need to do right now for safe winter driving.

Winterizing Your Car Starts With This

An inspection. It’s a good idea to give your car a thorough inspection once or twice a year. There is no better time to do this than in the fall, before the cold weather sets in. Even if you live in a more moderate climate, the days are shorter in the winter months, so you will likely use your lights more often. That’s why looking over things like headlights and signal lights are a good idea. Many automotive service centers will do a comprehensive check for free. But even if it costs you a small fee, the safety value is priceless.

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Check Antifreeze

Starting with the obvious, you need to make sure that your antifreeze has adequate freeze-protection for the climate. Properly mixed antifreeze also adds an important measure of corrosion protection to the car’s cooling system. The normal 50/50 ratio between water and antifreeze can get watered down if you’ve kept adding water when topping it off. Also, antifreeze should be changed periodically as needed (check your owner’s manual). A mechanic can use a simple antifreeze/coolant testing tool to quickly measure whether the concentration of antifreeze is adequate to protect your engine. If the recommendation is for a “flush and fill”, this is money well spent. It just might save your engine block from cracking due to water freezing inside.

Check Belts and Hoses

Also take a look at the belts and hoses, as a failure there can leave you stranded without warning. Look for any signs of cracking.

Check Tires

The next obvious thing is the tires. If you live in a region that requires it, a snow tire may need to be fitted for the season. If you live in the mountains, you may need to keep a set of tire-chains in your trunk. If not, you should make sure you have sufficient tread of the correct design for your climate.

Less Obvious Things to Check

Now for the not so obvious. When you are checking the cooling system, make sure the engine thermostat is working as designed. A malfunctioning thermostat can make a car overheat, but a lesser known problem in the winter is that it will take the car longer to warm up, making it uncomfortable to drive and causing a reduction in fuel economy.

While you are at it, make sure the defroster works. You never know how much you need a defroster until you miss it. Something that is easily overlooked is the windshield washer fluid. Properly mixed, it will not freeze, and it can be a vital aid for clearing the windshield.

With these things out of the way, a cursory check of the brakes, suspension, and lights is always a good idea. If your wipers are no longer up to the task, or you can’t remember the last time you changed them, go ahead and do it now. Better safe than sorry.

Winter Safety Tips: What to Keep in Your Trunk

It’s a good time to get some basic winter-related safety items in the trunk. This is another thing that varies by the driving conditions you may encounter, a basic list of winter safety items could include:

Flares

Blanket

Sand bag(s)

Shovel

Flashlight

Drinking water (leave room for freezing)

Non-perishable snacks

Ice scraper

First Aid Kit

Jumper cables

More Car Winterizing Tips

Here a few simple tips to make your winter driving easier:

A little smear of petroleum jelly on the door weatherstrips will help keep your doors from freezing shut.

A small shot of WD40 keeps door locks from freezing.
If your door lock does freeze, heat the metal key with a cigarette lighter before putting it in the lock to help thaw it out. Never force the key.

Pull your visors down to a vertical position when you run your defroster to help trap the warm air against the windshield.

Your floor mats can be a traction aid in an emergency. Place them in front of the drive wheels and slowly try and pull out, it works more often than not.

Read more at: http://www.carfax.com/blog/winterizing-your-car/

Avoid a Breakdown with a Belt Check

BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — You may not see them, or know much about them, but engine belts are always working to keep your vehicle moving. Losing a belt can mean immediate trouble for the engine and a breakdown for you. The Car Car Council recommends motorists “be car care aware” and review the owner’s manual to ensure that belts are inspected and replaced at the proper intervals.

A vehicle’s belts are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems of the engine. Serpentine belts are used to turn the water pump, alternator, power steering and air-conditioning compressor. Older cars use V-belts for various accessories and failure of this belt could strand a driver.

“You don’t want to be stranded because of a bad belt that could have been diagnosed with simple preventative maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “If the serpentine belt fails or breaks, the engine will fail to run and you may be stuck. The Car Care Council recommends replacing belts at specified intervals to save you from the hassle of a breakdown.”

Results of vehicle inspection events conducted around the country during National Car Care Month in April and Fall Car Care Month in October revealed that 12 percent of vehicles had belts in need of replacement.

Always check serpentine and V-belts for looseness and their overall condition. Replace V-belts when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear. Noise in the belt system is a sign of wear and the smell of burnt rubber can indicate a slipping belt. When changing a serpentine belt, it is important to check all the components in the serpentine system as tensioners and pulleys wear at the same rate as the belt and should be inspected.

Typical serpentine belt replacement is 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Typical V-belt replacement is 40,000 to 50,000 miles. Replace the timing belt per interval specified in the owner’s manual.

The non-profit Car Care Council has a free 80-page Car Care Guide for motorists that features several pages of information on the functionality of belts and when to replace them. Available in English and Spanish, the popular guide uses easy-to-understand everyday language rather than technical automotive jargon, fits easily in a glove box and can be ordered by visiting http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

SOURCE Car Care Council

Read more at: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/avoid-a-breakdown-with-a-belt-check-300030056.html