How to Maintain Your Car Right Now

Worried about your car if you’re not driving it every day? Chances are, your vehicle will be fine. But when it’s parked for extended periods, it does become susceptible to issues you wouldn’t normally have to consider.

For example, batteries can lose their life and tires can lose air. So what can you do to keep your automobile in tiptop condition while your driving is limited?

Try these handy maintenance tips.

1. Run your engine regularly.

If possible, take your car out for a short drive once a week. The trip will do more than alleviate cabin fever. It helps recharge your vehicle’s battery, gets fluids flowing through the engine and prevents the deterioration of moving parts.

If driving isn’t an option, you might want to consider getting a battery tender to keep the battery charged.

2. Attend to tires and fluids.

Your tires will lose air over time, so try to check your tire pressure regularly. Make sure you’re airing them up as needed.

It’s also a good idea to keep your fluids topped up. And if your vehicle is going to sit for several weeks undriven, you may want to add a fuel stabilizer to your gasoline.

3. Schedule maintenance and repairs as necessary.

Auto shops are considered essential businesses, so help is available if you need repairs. Most routine maintenance intervals can be extended temporarily, but you don’t want to wait too long — you never know when you may need to drive unexpectedly.

For more information, reach out today.

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Vehicle

By now, you’re routinely washing your hands and disinfecting household surfaces to help defend against the spread of the coronavirus. But have you given the same attention to your vehicle?

If you’re still using your vehicle for essential errands, you should be cleaning and disinfecting the interior regularly. Not sure about the proper way to do so?

These tips will help you clean and disinfect your car safely:

Clean

A thorough cleaning clears the way for disinfectants to do their job properly. Remove any loose trash, wipe away surface dirt and debris with a microfiber cloth (paper towels scratch) and vacuum the interior.

Avoid spraying cleansers (or disinfectants) directly on interior surfaces. Instead, dampen a microfiber cloth with the cleaner, wipe away excess dirt and oil, then rinse with another water-damped cloth.

Soap and water work best for cleaning most surfaces. But many popular household cleaners are safe as well. Just be sure to check the label for recommendations.

Disinfect

Focus on high-touch areas, including the steering wheel, door handles, seat belts, armrests, gear shifts, touch screens and other controls. A 70-percent isopropyl alcohol solution can be used to disinfect most interior surfaces, including glass and touch-screen displays that can be damaged by harsher alternatives.

There are also a variety of products that are specifically designed for the purpose of disinfecting your vehicle’s interior. If you’re wondering which products work best against COVID-19, consult the latest EPA recommendations.

For best results, wash your hands before and after driving and be sure to clean and disinfect your vehicle on a regular basis.

Please reach out if you have any questions!

Don’t Overlook Small Areas of Paint Damage

Have you started noticing some chips in the paint on your car? It’s annoying when your car gets a new ding or dent. Even if it’s a tiny imperfection, you don’t want to let it go unfixed for long.

That’s because, even if they’re minor, letting those chips go unchecked could lead to further damage to your vehicle. Read on to learn what you should do to take care of those unsightly paint chips.

Common Causes
Rocks and stones can get kicked up by the cars in front of you on the road, launching them into your car at high speeds. The repeated, small scratches from these pebbles can chip or peel your paint job.

Accidents happen, too. Collisions with cars and other objects can scrape the paint off, leaving unsightly scratches and chips.

And bird droppings contain corrosive substances, like uric acid, which can eat through your car’s protective wax coating or even the clear coat.

Fix Chips ASAP
Once the clear coat is breached, your paint is vulnerable to the elements. That means your car could end up with rust spots.

And chipped paint may lower the value of your car: The longer you wait to fix peeling or chipping paint, the more damage could be done.

How to Handle Dings

  1. Wash your vehicle gently. Scrubbing vigorously or using corrosive or abrasive cleaning materials might cause further damage.
  2. Treat any rust spots to avoid further damage to your car.
  3. Get it repaired. A professional paint job can make your car look shiny and new.

Do you have questions about your car? Reach out today.

What You Can Find in a Vehicle History

You have your heart set on a used car. It looks like it’s in great shape. You decide to check its vehicle history report and discover it’s actually a dud.

Even great looking cars can be hiding less-than-ideal pasts. Luckily, you found out beforehand.

Moral of the story: Don’t buy based only on what you think you see. Check the vehicle history report so you can make a truly informed buying decision.

Benefits of a Vehicle History Report
A vehicle history report provides information about a used car pegged to its unique vehicle identification number (VIN). If you’re buying from a dealership, you can probably be less concerned about the vehicle’s history. But if you’re making a deal with a private individual, get the report first.

Reading the Report

The report will include the following:

  • Owners and how they used the car (for example, if it was a taxi or business vehicle)
  • Accident reports
  • Title information and liens
  • Service history
  • Odometer readings

Red Flags on a Vehicle History Report

  • Numerous owners. If the car has had multiple owners over a short period, it may have problems that can’t be easily fixed.
  • Accidents that deployed airbags or caused structural damage. Small bang-ups won’t hurt a car beyond repair. However, more serious accidents can permanently damage a vehicle.
  • Salvage title. If a used car has a salvage title, an insurance company has said it shouldn’t be driven anymore. Still, someone tried to repair the car so it could drive again — even though it shouldn’t.
  • Liens. What if the current owner still owes money on the car? The sale of the car will have to happen in a specific way.

Do you have other questions about your vehicle? Reach out anytime.

5 Things to Teach Your Teen About Cars

Driver’s ed classes are over. Your new driver can parallel park and perform a Y-turn. They’ve passed their test, and now it’s finally time for your kid to hit the road.

Of course, they’re excited about their newfound freedom. And you know they’ll be safe because you’ve taught them the rules of the road. But it’s also important for new drivers to know how to keep their vehicles in good shape, both inside and out.

Before you hand over the keys, here are five things your teen should know about car maintenance.

1. Tire Care
What happens if a tire bursts on the roadway? Drivers (new or not) should know how to change a tire and how to do so safely on busy roads. Teach your teen the importance of tire rotations, keeping tires properly inflated and how to talk to their repair technician about changes in steering.

2. Understanding Warning Lights
Check engine lights should mean a timely call to the repair technician, but young drivers may not realize the dangers of putting this off. Teach them about all of their dashboard warning lights, such as traction lights, oil lights and brake warning signs.

3. Checking Engine Fluids
Does your teen know the difference between transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid? What do they know about engine oil? Show them how to check levels, monitor leaks and choose the right oil product.

4. Cleaning Techniques
Car owners should also know how to clean the car’s exterior, including how to handle paint scratches and damage to the body. You may also want to teach your teen how to handle rust should it develop.

5. Electronics Care
Many vehicles have extensive onboard electronics, from infotainment systems to dash cameras. Your teen should not only know how to use these but also how to adjust them and get help if they stop working.

Do you have any questions about your vehicle? Reach out today.

Here’s What to Expect From a Hybrid

They might seem like something from the future, but hybrid cars have been on the road for over 20 years. Have you ever imagined yourself driving one?

If you’re considering a more fuel-efficient car but aren’t ready to commit to full electric, a hybrid vehicle may be the right option for you. 

Before you decide to buy one, let’s take a look at how they work.

How does a hybrid car work? 

Hybrid cars are powered by both an electric motor and a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. Car companies combine these two energy sources for different goals depending on the type of hybrid.

What are the different types of hybrid cars? 

There are several types of hybrid cars, but most fall into three categories: 

  • Parallel hybrid cars feature an electric motor and gasoline engine that are connected to blend both power sources.
     
  • Series hybrid cars use an electric motor to provide thrust. The gasoline engine is only used to recharge the battery.

  • Plug-in hybrid cars utilize large battery packs and require charging from an external source. They can cover short distances without relying on gasoline, then function like a parallel hybrid. 

Do hybrid cars require special care?

Hybrid cars are often highly reliable and require little additional maintenance. Compared to a traditional vehicle, battery care would be the most significant difference. But recommended checkups and maintenance will vary depending on the make and model.  

What are the pros and cons of a hybrid vehicle? 

Hybrid vehicles produce fewer emissions, get better gas mileage and could qualify you for tax benefits. The initial price tag is higher, however.

Have questions about your vehicle? Reach out today.

Keep Your Car Smelling Fresh Inside

Considering all the time that you spend behind the wheel, wouldn’t it be nice to keep your car’s interior clean? A fresh-smelling, clutter-free vehicle makes for a more pleasant commute. Plus, a clean car that’s well cared for will be worth more should you decide to sell it in the future. 

So start the year by giving your car a little TLC. In less than an hour, your whole interior will feel almost brand-new.

Dash and Console

Start by dusting the dashboard and instrument panel. With the loose debris out of the way, take a clean cloth and an all-purpose car cleaner to wipe down all hard surfaces.

If you prefer to go natural, mix water, vinegar and a drop or two of dish detergent in a spray bottle.  

Windows and Doors

Dirty windows are more than just unappealing — they make it hard to see the road. Your best fix is an automotive glass cleaner. After you’ve wiped your windows clean, use a dry cloth to polish out any streaks.   

Don’t forget the insides of your doors. It can get especially grimy where the car’s door and body meet.  

Other Interior Surfaces

Next up, vacuum your vehicle’s seats, floor mats and carpet. Use a lotion-based leather cleaner, followed by a layer of protectant for your leather or vinyl seats.

Stains on cloth seats and carpets require some elbow grease. Choose your cleaner: club soda; vinegar, water and dish detergent; or laundry detergent. Let it soak in and then gently scrub the stains away with a brush.  

Finishing Touches

Now that you have a freshly cleaned ride, you can make it last by stowing any one of these household deodorizers under your front seats: dryer sheets, baking soda or charcoal.  

Keep bags in the seat pockets, so you’ll always have a handy storage area for miscellaneous items. This should help reduce the number of stray crayons or French fries you find in your car from now on.

Need help keeping your car in good shape? Get in touch.

Save Some Money with Better Mileage

For most of us, with the holidays comes travel. This means keeping everybody happy during long hours on the road and navigating rest stops. The only thing even more frustrating than repeatedly hearing “Are we there yet?” is pumping gas (and money!) into the tank. 

Though a few common myths persist, there are real strategies that can help improve your gas mileage. Let’s take a look: 

Will premium gas give you better mileage?

In short: No. Unless your car requires premium fuel, you won’t be improving your mileage at all. In fact, putting premium gas into a vehicle that doesn’t need it could eventually cause damage. And since it costs more, it’ll hurt your pocketbook as well.

What’s the truth about tire pressure?

Your best bet is to fill your tires according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This can help you avoid blowouts — which will likely cost more than any fuel savings you get from underinflating or overinflating your tires. 

Instead, properly inflate your tires. You’ll be safer and get better gas mileage.

Do you need a pre-trip oil change?

You don’t have to get an oil change before your trip, but you might want to. It can help improve fuel economy. And don’t forget to check out the oil filter. 

Does cruise control impact fuel economy?

It’s true that using cruise control could be more efficient. That’s because it reduces the number of times the throttle opens. 

Will a new air filter improve your mileage?

The air filter on your vehicle can improve the performance of the car, but it doesn’t necessarily reduce the amount of gas you’ll use. It’s still a good idea to replace your filter regularly.

Do roof racks make it worse?

A car-top carrier will almost certainly minimize your vehicle’s efficiency — the larger the item or carrier, the more your mileage will be affected. While a carrier might be necessary for longer trips, make sure you remove it for daily commutes and errands. 

Do you have any questions about your car? Please get in touch!