Are you putting off car maintenance?

Have you been putting off car maintenance? We get it. Regular upkeep takes planning, money and time. But putting off care isn’t the best choice for your car.

 

Routine professional maintenance keeps your vehicle functioning at its best, extends the life of your vehicle and saves you money long-term. Although life can get hectic, there are a few tasks that are especially important to keep up with.

 

  1. Brake check: Faulty brakes can be dangerous. If your brakes have become noisy or less responsive, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Worn brake pads may be the culprit. But it could be something more serious, such as a fluid leak or air in the brake lines.
  2. Oil change: Oil lubricates engine components to reduce heat and friction during operation but becomes sludgy over time due to oxidation and contamination. Putting off a necessary oil change can drag down engine performance and possibly cause damage. Foregoing regular oil changes could also void your warranty. (Check your manual for recommendations.)
  3. Timing belt replacement: Generally, a timing belt can last you 60,000 miles or more. But if your engine is ticking or misfiring, you may need a replacement.
  4. Tire rotation and alignment: Tires should be rotated and aligned approximately every six months (or every 6,000 to 8,000 miles). This ensures even wear, extends the life of the tires and reduces the likelihood of a blowout.
  5. Windshield repair: A chipped windshield can hinder your view of the road. Left unchecked, even the smallest crack can quickly spread (and make a costly windshield replacement more likely).

 

Tend to forget to schedule car maintenance? Try adding a recurring reminder to your calendar. A reminder for other tasks, such as monthly fluid and tire pressure checks, can be helpful as well.

 

Need help or want to schedule an appointment? Reach out anytime.

5 Helpful Tools to Have in Your Garage

Even if you don’t consider yourself mechanically inclined, it can be helpful to have a few tools on hand for auto maintenance. These tools can help with upkeep between professional services and can help you fix minor car issues. But with so many tools to choose from, how do you determine which ones are worth the investment?

Here are five tools we suggest you include in your automotive tool kit.

1. Socket Set

Socket sets typically include a wrench and an assortment of attachments (available in standard and metric sizes). Socket sets can address a diverse range of nuts and bolts, making them essential for auto maintenance. Plus, they’re less likely to slip than other tools, reducing the likelihood of injury or property damage.

2. Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is super helpful if you’re dealing with wheels. They provide a variety of settings, ensuring that you only tighten bolts to the proper specifications.

3. Toolbox

A sturdy toolbox makes it easy to keep your garage organized. Just starting your tool collection? Look for a complete tool kit that includes common tools such as pliers, screwdrivers and wrenches.

4. Lighting Options

It’s dark under the hood of a car, even in a well-lit garage. But with a shop light, you can get a much better view of the job at hand, ensuring it gets done properly and safely.

5. Floor Jack and Stands

Some areas of your engine can’t be accessed without elevating the vehicle. A floor jack makes it easy to access these hard-to-reach areas. But don’t leave the car on the jack while you’re working. Secure it with jack stands rated specifically for the weight of your vehicle.

While these tools are certainly helpful to have, regular professional maintenance is highly recommended.

For more help, contact us today.

How to Care for the Glass on Your Car

Keeping your vehicle’s glass clean and in good shape is about more than looks. Dirty or damaged glass can obstruct your vision and potentially put you (and your passengers) in unnecessary danger.

But with proper cleaning and care, you can travel safer and extend the life of your vehicle’s windshield and windows.

Here are few ways you can take care of the glass parts of your vehicle.

Clean the glass on your car regularly.

Use a dedicated glass cleaner, cleaning glass as often as needed to maintain optimal visibility. Avoid products that contain ammonia and other harsh chemicals, which can damage window tint and vinyl, rubber and leather trim.

Instead of spraying the glass directly, lightly mist a microfiber cloth and apply just enough cleaner to the glass to remove residue. Use a separate cloth to dry the glass.

Don’t forget to clean the tops and edges of the door windows. Polish away hard water spots to avoid permanent staining, and consider applying an exterior sealant to make future cleaning easier.

Replace your wiper blades as needed.

Wiper blades dry out, become worn and break down over time. As this occurs, you may notice noise, streaking and visible deterioration. If you notice these tell-tale signs, replace the blades ASAP. If the metal beneath the blades becomes exposed, it could scratch the windshield.

Practice safe driving.

When traveling, it’s always possible that gravel and other debris kicked up by nearby cars could hit your windshield. It helps to keep your distance from other vehicles.

Repair damage ASAP.

When rocks or other debris hit your windshield it can leave a small chip in the glass. Even without insurance coverage, such damage is relatively inexpensive to repair if caught early. But left unchecked, a small chip can quickly turn into a large crack that requires a windshield replacement.

Park in the shade whenever possible.

Heat can weaken and warp glass over time, shortening its lifespan. It can also cause small chips to spread more quickly. Park in a garage or other covered areas whenever possible.

For all things automotive, reach out today.

What should you keep in your car?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a road trip or just using your car for errands, it’s a good idea to keep a few essentials handy in case of an emergency.

Here’s a weekend project idea: Clear out anything you don’t need and stock your car with a few useful items instead.

Whether you buy a pre-made emergency kit or gather a few things separately, here’s what to consider keeping in your vehicle to stay prepared and safe on the road:

1. Flashlight or Headlamp
A light source is great to have in case you have car troubles at night. With a headlamp, you can keep your hands free while changing a tire or checking under the hood.

2. First-Aid and Comfort Supplies
Band-Aids and other first-aid tools can be useful anytime, not just in an emergency. A blanket can protect you while on the ground working on your car (or provide warmth if your vehicle breaks down in cold weather). If you have kids, water and snacks will come in handy if you have to wait for a tow truck.

3. Emergency Tools
Stay safe on the side of the road with items such as reflective triangles, flares, a fire extinguisher and a multipurpose tool like a pocket knife.

4. Jumper Cables
Keep working jumper cables in your trunk to help revive your own vehicle’s dead battery or someone else’s.

5. Portable Phone Charger
If your car battery dies, you won’t be able to charge your cell phone in your vehicle’s USB port or cigarette lighter. Keep a functioning portable charger handy just in case.

Have questions about your vehicle? Get in touch with us anytime.

5 Smart Tips for Summer Car Care

The summer heat can pose some unique challenges for drivers. Increased temperatures can impact everything from road conditions to vehicle performance, and too much sun can even cause some damage to your vehicle.

So how do you make sure that you properly care for your vehicle during the summer? Use the five following maintenance tips to create a smarter summer car care routine.

1. Check the battery.
Rising temperatures cause battery fluids to evaporate and can also speed up the corrosion process, possibly causing irreversible damage to your battery. Luckily, corrosion is easily removed using baking soda and water.

Keep in mind, most batteries only last three to five years. If your battery is in that age range, have it checked by a professional. It may be time for a replacement.

2. Top off fluids.
Extreme temperatures can take a toll on engine fluids, so it’s important to develop a consistent maintenance routine. For example, oil should be checked monthly, topped off as needed and changed regularly. Engine coolant should be checked every time you fill up your gas tank, topped off as needed and flushed every five years.

3. Gauge tire pressure.
As temperatures rise and fall, so does tire pressure. When tires are off balance, they wear unevenly, which impacts fuel economy and increases the chances of blowouts. Tire pressure should be checked (at least) monthly and adjusted to manufacturer specifications.

4. Protect your paint.
Avoid washing your car in direct sunlight. If it dries too quickly, soap residue may get cooked into the paint, damaging the finish. It’s also a good idea to wax the exterior every six months to protect the paint from sun damage.

5. Protect your interior.
Wipe down and condition the dash and upholstery as needed to prevent surfaces from drying out, cracking or fading. And consider using a sunshade while parked to protect interior surfaces from the heat.

For more automotive advice, reach out today.

Tire Balancing and Alignment Explained

Did you know that your vehicle’s tires should be regularly balanced and aligned? Tire balancing and alignment help create a smoother ride, improve fuel efficiency and extend tire life. But while these essential maintenance tasks are often performed together, they are two separate services.

Here’s everything you should know about tire balancing and alignment:

What is tire balancing?

In this context, “balance” refers to the distribution of weight across the tire and wheel. When tires aren’t properly balanced, they can have less traction and are more susceptible to premature failure.

Using special equipment, a technician can spin the tires, measure the imbalance and correct it according to manufacturer specifications.

What is tire alignment?

Alignment adjusts the car’s suspension so the tires are angled properly. When the tires are out of alignment, steering may become difficult. Often the steering wheel will vibrate and the car will pull to one side or the other. This misalignment happens naturally over time as the car encounters rough terrain, such as potholes or curbs.

When aligning tires, a technician must consider:

  • Camber: the inward/outward tilt of the tire when viewed head-on, which determines load distribution and even tire wear.
  • Caster: the front/rear tilt of the tire when viewed from the side.
  • Toe: the direction the tires are pointed when viewed from above.

Each of these items can be adjusted to manufacturer specifications using computerized alignment tools.

When should these services be performed?

Tire balancing and alignment should be performed every 6,000 miles or any time the tires are rotated, repaired or replaced. Both procedures should always be performed by a professional. It’s also a good idea to have both done at the same time.

For more expert insight and automotive advice, contact us today.

Hail Protection and Damage Control

Hail storm warnings can cause concern, and rightly so. Hail can cause major damage to your vehicle (and leave a dent in your wallet).

So what can you do to prevent, or at least minimize, hail storm damage? Here’s how to protect your car, make an insurance claim due to hail and repair any damage:

Seek Shelter Immediately

If you’re on the road, parking garages, covered gas stations and freeway underpasses are good options. At home, parking in your garage or under your carport is the safest option.

If you don’t have access to any type of shelter for your vehicle, use a padded car cover to reduce potential damage. Blankets, towels or cardboard can be used in a pinch (but will need to be secured with paint-safe tape).

Look at Your Insurance Coverage

A comprehensive insurance policy will typically cover dents and dings to the body, cracked or shattered glass and interior water damage. But coverage must be purchased prior to the date of damage, and many providers place moratoriums on coverage prior to forecasted storms.

A deductible (out-of-pocket cost) is included with most comprehensive policies. In areas where hail storms are common, a policy with a lower deductible could be worth exploring. Zero-deductible policies may be available at an additional cost.

Claims & Repairs

After a claim is filed, an insurance adjuster will assess the damage and estimate repair costs.

If the cost of repair exceeds the value of the vehicle, the vehicle may be totaled. If damage is minor, paintless dent removal may be sufficient. More serious damage could require panel replacement and a new paint job.

Put the insurance company in contact with your body shop to streamline the process. For example, if the estimate is lower than the actual costs, the body shop may be able to work out the difference with the insurer without your direct involvement.

If you have questions or need help with your vehicle, reach out today.

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.