Archive for the ‘vehicle maintenance’ Tag

Don’t Be Spooked By Basic Car Care

While Halloween is a scary time of year, vehicle owners don’t need to be spooked about basic car care. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends motorists follow a preventative vehicle maintenance plan to help take away the fear of unexpected breakdowns and frightening repair costs.

“Getting an oil change should never be scary; having wipers replaced should not be horrifying; and asking a professional automotive technician questions should not make someone shake in fear,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “With a quick visit to http://www.carcare.org, motorists will find free online tools from the Car Care Council to help take the fear out of auto care.”

The Car Care Council’s online custom service schedule and email reminder service can help car owners be more responsible and remember to include auto care in their busy schedules. This easy-to-use resource is free-of-charge and can be personalized to help make auto care more convenient and economical. The council also has a general service schedule that can be printed and followed. Drivers should be sure to consult their vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations by the carmaker.

Motorists can order a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide at http://www.carcare.org/car-care-guide. Available in English and Spanish, the popular guide uses easy-to-understand language and includes descriptions of major vehicle systems, questions to ask a professional technician, and a checklist to remind drivers what vehicle systems need to be maintained and when service or repair should be performed. Special sections on fuel economy and environmental awareness show drivers how to get better gas mileage and make their vehicle more environmentally friendly.

The Car Care Council’s video entitled “Auto Service and Repair: What to Expect” helps drivers become more comfortable with the auto service and repair process, providing valuable information on such topics as finding the right auto repair facility, what to expect at the shop and what questions to ask. The video also covers the real truth about consumer rights and the manufacturer’s warranty. View the video online at http://www.carcare.org/2012/01/auto-repair-shop-video/.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/10/dont-spooked-basic-car-care/

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When should you consider synthetic oil?

Many automakers require owners to use synthetic motor oil in their cars’ engines. This is because synthetic oil has some advantages over conventional motor oil. It’s designed to be more effective at:

Resisting break-down, and thus lasts longer than mineral oil

Withstanding high temperatures

Flowing in cold temperatures, thus reducing engine wear during frigid startups.

However, synthetic motor oil can cost two to four times as much as regular oil. So unless your owner’s manual specifies synthetic, you don’t need it. But Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic says there are some situations where synthetic oil’s resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of an engine.

If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities. That could hasten the breakdown of conventional oil. Also, if you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil won’t break down as quickly. While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year.

Another good use for synthetic oil is as a salve for older engines prone to sludge buildup. This gunky residue can block oil passages and lead to a quick death of an engine. In the early 2000s, several engines from Chrysler, Toyota, and Volkswagen, among others, were especially prone to sludge buildup. This sludge forms when oil breaks down. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in those engines, as it is less likely to form troublesome sludge.

Using synthetic in these situations will prolong your oil life and require fewer changes. That’s a major benefit to the environment, as used motor oil is a major source of toxic waste in water. Your pocketbook will also thank you.

Read more at: http://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/car-tech/when-should-you-consider-synthetic-oil/ar-AAcHX6y

Five Costly Mistakes Of Car Ownership

Cars are expensive and complex machines that need to be maintained properly so that they don’t break down prematurely. If a modern car is treated with care, it can last for over 200,000 miles without needing major costly repairs. However, neglecting you car’s maintenance needs can leave you with a large bill that could have been avoided.

Here are five commonly-made mistakes to avoid. Doing so will save you loads of money and ensure that your car has a long, healthy and happy life.

1. Putting Off An Oil Change

While oil technology has improved drastically over the past couple of decades, it’s still important to change your oil as recommended by your car’s manufacturer.

Motor oil gradually breaks down as it is circulated through your engine. After a certain number of miles, the oil doesn’t provide adequate lubrication, causing your engine to wear out prematurely. A new or rebuilt engine can cost you thousands of dollars.

2. Changing Tires Without An Alignment

An alignment ensures that the wheels of your car are positioned properly on the road. When a car is out of alignment, the tires wear out prematurely or in places where they’re not supposed to wear.

When you change your tires, always opt for the $75 alignment. Otherwise you could find yourself spending hundreds on a new set of tires.

3. Installing Oversized Aftermarket Wheels

While some aftermarket wheels are carefully designed to be compatible with certain vehicles, getting the wrong wheels can harm your vehicle’s suspension and ride comfort. Also, if you buy wheels that are too large for your car, you can damage your fenders and wheel wells. Replacing a damaged suspension can cost thousands, and body work can be even more expensive.

4. Buying A Cheap Battery

A dead battery is a huge hassle. Often times, it means waiting for a jump start and then having to spend $100 for a replacement. There are many batteries available at your local parts retailer, and it’s important to find the exact match for your car. Springing for an inexpensive substitute can damage your car’s electrical system, requiring extensive repairs that won’t be cheap.

5. Getting Cheap Body Work

If you have a dent on your car, sometimes you can be approached by a “professional” in a shopping mall parking lot, or a friend might offer to take care of the problem. Beware, because sloppy body repair can cost more to correct than the original damage. A dent that can be repaired for $100 by a professional dent repair expert might cost $500 to fix once an amateur has damaged paint and deformed the metal panel.

Read more at: http://www.autoblog.com/photos/costly-mistakes-car-repair/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000016#image-1

Does Engine Coolant Go Bad?

Yes, engine coolant does deteriorate over time, but unless something unusual occurs, you probably won’t need to change the coolant in most late-model vehicles until 100,000 miles. Older vehicles probably require more frequent coolant replacement, so check your owner’s manual to be sure.

Most manufacturers now use extended-life coolant with a recommended change interval of 100,000 miles. That varies based on maintenance schedules for each manufacturer and individual models. Some Subarus, for example, call for coolant replacement after 13 years or 132,500 miles. Many Ford engines say to replace it after the first 100,000 miles and every 50,000 miles thereafter, though heavy-duty applications (such as frequent towing) should have it done more often.

No matter what the maintenance schedule is for your vehicle, after a few years of ownership it is a good idea to have the coolant checked by a professional periodically for acid buildup, rust and other contaminants, and for its resistance to freezing and boiling. If you have added water (particularly tap water) to top off the cooling system, you may have introduced contaminants or diluted the antifreeze/water mix (generally 50/50) and altered the freezing and boiling points.

If your engine is running hotter than normal, deteriorated coolant could be a possible cause. Most manufacturers and service shops recommend flushing the cooling system at the same time the coolant is replaced to get rid of deposits that accumulated over the years.

Manufacturers specify certain types of antifreeze, and some may be red, others pink or green, but don’t go to an auto parts store looking for the right color. You need to ask for the right type of antifreeze for your vehicle, whether you’re adding some yourself or having it replaced by a pro.

Read more at: http://www.cars.com/auto-repair/expert-tips/engine-and-tune-up/does-engine-coolant-go-bad/?cmp=sf9379509+sf9379509

April is National Car Care Month: Time to Spring for Vehicle Maintenance

Spring is here and it is time to give your car some extra attention, says the non-profit Car Care Council. Results of vehicle inspections held at community car care events across the country during Car Care Months in April and October 2014 reveal that 84 percent of vehicles need service or parts, up 5 percent from the previous year.

“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value. These results show that the majority of vehicle owners could save money by being proactive in the maintenance of their second largest investment,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

When checking lubricants and fluids, the three top failure rates were: low washer fluid at 27 percent; low or dirty motor oil at 25 percent; and low, leaky or dirty coolant at 17 percent. Power steering, brake and transmission fluids were also checked, and had failure rates of 13 percent and below.

When checking under the hood, nearly one in five vehicles (18 percent) needed a new air filter and 13 percent had the “check engine” light on. At least one belt was reported as unsatisfactory in 17 percent of the vehicles inspected, and 8 percent required at least one new hose. Battery cables, clamps and terminals needed maintenance in 14 percent of the vehicles inspected, while 9 percent of the batteries were not properly held down.

Approximately 16 percent of vehicles had front windshield wiper failures, and at least 11 percent of vehicles needed lights replaced, including headlights, brake lights and license plate lights. Improperly inflated tires were found on 10 percent of the cars, and 14 percent had worn tread and were in need of replacement.

“Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs to make sure it is ready for the upcoming spring and summer travel season,” said White. “Following a routine maintenance program, like the free personalized schedule and e-mail reminder service the Car Care Council offers, can help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.”

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 more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

Read more at: http://www.carcare.org/2015/03/april-is-national-car-care-monthspring-for-vehicle-maintenance/

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

Home for the Holidays: Is Your Car Up for the Journey?

Before you pack up the car to head home for the holidays, the Car Care Council reminds you to make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Conducting a thorough vehicle inspection will help you avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home.

“It’s easy to remember to get your family ready for the holiday festivities, but what about preparing the car that’s going to get you there?” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Having a pre-inspection performed on your car will give you peace of mind as you travel and help make your journey safer.”

Before leaving home, the Car Care Council recommends a check of the following, often overlooked, items: tires and tire pressure, brakes, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

“A pre-trip inspection provides the opportunity to have service repairs made at home by your own trusted technician who knows the vehicle, and helps reduce the chance of costly and dangerous trouble on the road,” said Rich While.

The Car Care Council also recommends that drivers keep important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a breakdown or travel emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as a first aid kit, a tire-changing jack, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, a flashlight and a blanket. A copy of the recently-updated 80-page Car Care Guide should be kept in the glove box and can be ordered free of charge at 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 www.carcare.org.

As read on: http://www.carcare.org/2014/11/home-holidays-car-journey/

When Should I Change My Oil?

An engine oil change is a relatively simple service. It’s widely touted as the single most important part of your car’s maintenance schedule. There is a good reason for this. Nothing will shorten engine life faster than missed oil changes. But how can you tell when you should change your oil?  Advances in technology and increased consumer awareness have created some confusion to how often this needs to happen.

The Easy Answer

For most of us, all we need to do is follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for oil change intervals. Their guidelines are designed to keep your car in good running condition for a long time. Where can you find your car’s service schedule for oil changes and other recommended maintenance? You can check the owner’s manual that hopefully you have kept in a handy place like your car’s glove box. You might also visit the manufacturer’s website and do a search to download it.

Quick lube shops have their own recommendations. One thing to remember is that these shops are speaking to a wide audience, addressing cars of every age, every mileage, and some with different needs. While there is no harm done by too frequent oil changes, if your car doesn’t need them, that money could be better spent on other maintenance needs.

Don’t Put It Off

If you have ever put off a trip to the grocery store or waited a couple of weeks longer between haircuts, don’t do that with oil changes. Never put it off.  Your oil’s primary function is to cut friction. Over time, oil accumulates contaminants and loses viscosity (the ability to flow into every nook and cranny). Contaminants cause friction as parts rub together. Friction wears out those parts faster. The damage caused by these conditions is largely irreversible without an engine overhaul or replacement.

Waiting for the low oil light to come on can be the worst thing you can do to your engine. You shouldn’t see that light unless your oil level is low. So you don’t want to see it. Whatever amount of oil you do have left almost certainly has lost its ability to function properly. The good news is that your service schedule is written to have this service done long before disaster is on the horizon.

Cars are Smarter Now

For a very long time the gold standard for oil changes was 3,000 to 3,500 miles. There are still many adherents to this philosophy, but it may not be necessary. Advances in engineering to both engine mechanical parts and especially to oil itself have extended the oil life cycle by more than double the old number.

Do you use synthetic oil?  Automakers recommend it for some models. It cost a little more than regular oil, but it has had the biggest impact on oil life. The life cycle for synthetics is typically 7,000 to 10,000 miles, a big change from conventional oil. The type of driving we do also affects our oil change needs. Frequent cold starts, extreme heat, and towing, are all examples of types of driving that can shorten our oil life. Also, repeated short trips (under 4 miles) is one of the most overlooked enemies of oil life. Any of these driving conditions can create the need to shorten your service interval by 25-40 percent depending on the severity.

If your car is equipped with a maintenance reminder on the dash some the guesswork is eliminated for you. Can you trust it? For the most part, yes. In the early days of automobiles the only way we had to track our vehicle’s aging was the odometer. But miles traveled is not always a good indicator of actual use for many urban environments. With the inclusion of computers in the modern automobile we now have a way for the car to track time AND mileage. Time is important to this discussion because running time affects oil life.

But not all maintenance indicators work the same way. Some use an electronic sensor to measure the oil quality, while others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine life expectancy. If your car is not equipped with maintenance light or gauge, the owner’s manual should still be your guide.

Don’t Buy Cheap Oil

All of these scenarios assume you are using the factory-recommended lubricant. If you have opted for something inferior you may be adversely affecting the recommendation. It’s not worth a few dollars to shortcut on the oil.

Track Your Maintenance

Because time is important as well as mileage, it’s nice to try and plan our service visits. The little sticker in the corner of the windshield was a small, important innovation to help us plan. Before that, many people kept a paper record in their glove box as well. But now, with many of us carrying smart phones and having home computers, it’s gotten even easier. MyCarfax is a website and a free smart phone app that will track all of your car’s maintenance needs, making it even easier to keep track of, and plan, your next service.

Read more at: http://www.carfax.com/blog/when-to-change-oil/