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It’s a festive time of year. The air is crisp, and all around there are little lights blinking on.

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It’s not a holiday . . . it’s TPMS season!

Your car’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) notifies you if the air pressure in your tires decreases. When the temperature dips, as it does during this time of year, the air in your tires gets cold and contracts. So, when you get in your car on a crisp fall morning – or any time there’s been a drop in temperature – you may be greeted with this little yellow / amber icon on your dashboard.

That’s just your car telling you that your air pressure has decreased below a certain level. It’s not
typically an emergency (some cars will show a red icon or a different message when a tire is completely
flat – a much more serious issue) but it deserves your attention for a few reasons:

  • Underinflated tires make less contact with the ground, reducing their grip for performance and safety. The same is true of overinflated tires.
  • Underinflated tires generate extra heat, especially at speed, which can increase risk of tire failure.
  • Underinflated (or overinflated) tires wear unevenly, so they won’t last as long before needing to be replaced.

Click Here to Get a FREE Tire Pressure Check & Adjustment

Nomad offers a courtesy tire check program – for no charge, we will come check and adjust your car’s tires for proper inflation and tread wear. While we’re there, we’ll complete this full checklist:

  • Check and Adjust Tire Pressure
  • Check and Fill Wiper Fluid
  • Check Tire Treadwear
  • Check Brake Wear
  • Inspect Wiper Blades
  • Check Engine for Leaks
  • Check Engine Fluid Levels
  • Check Air Filter
  • Decode Error Codes (if any)

After the service, you’ll get an email report about your car. We want you to be confident that your car is in good working order with no mechanical or safety issues. If it needs any work done, you can refer to this report to book an oil change at home with Nomad . . . or take your car to your trusted local shop. The important thing is knowing that your car is well-maintained and ready for the season ahead.

Click Here to Get a FREE Tire Pressure Check & Adjustment

10 Car Maintenance Hacks to Extend the Life of Your Car

Hopefully by now you know how crucial oil changes are to extend car life. But what other car maintenance hacks can help you keep your prized steed around for long past the 100,000 mile mark? Take a look at these 10 car maintenance tips to easily extend the life of your car – some are mechanical basics, and some are clever little life hacks to help you navigate the automotive surprises of the changing seasons.

1- Engine Break-In

A brand new engine has slight imperfections in the metal surfaces; over the first few hundred miles of driving, the engine parts (with help from oil!) actually smooth out the places where they contact each other which allow them to glide more smoothly and seal properly. Specific instructions vary across manufacturers, but in general they recommend avoiding aggressive acceleration, hard braking, and long periods cruising at the same speed for the first 500-1,000 miles.

2- Idling

If you take a minute to think about it, idling is the worst. The most obvious knock on idling is that you’re getting zero MPG while still burning gas and creating exhaust emissions. But beyond that, it’s also hard on your engine. That’s because idling creates the same internal friction for your engine as driving even though the car is just sitting. Manufacturers recommend that vehicles that idle a lot (ambulances, taxis) actually get their oil changed more often because the engine is working all the time even though the car’s not moving. Car manufacturers have cut down on idle times with auto start/stop technology . . . if your vehicle doesn’t have that, you can do your part by turning off your engine if you’re going to be sitting for more than 2 minutes.

3- Cold Starts

The hardest part of an engine’s life are the first few minutes after it’s turned on, before the oil has warmed up to provide maximum lubrication. This is true of every start, but especially turning your engine on in cold weather. Traditional wisdom was to let a car “warm up” by idling before driving it. However, modern engines are different and benefit instead from minimizing the length of time they run while cold – they enjoy better fuel efficiency and longevity at warm operating temperatures. Plus, we just finished talking about the downsides of excessive idling. So, once your car is started, run it for about a minute if it’s really cold and then roll on your way. Drive gently for the first few miles so you’re not revving your engine to high RPM while it’s cold. Once you start driving, the burning the fuel will help the engine warm up faster – not to mention your car’s heater!

4- Wash That Car!

The easiest way to prevent premature rust damage is regular car cleaning. Far from a vanity activity, frequent car washes remove salt and other corrosive materials from your car’s body work and vital mechanical parts underneath. We recommend washing your car every couple weeks, and washing it as soon as possible after driving where salt has been applied to roads such as in cold regions or following a snow storm. Remember to flush that salt off your car’s underside; if you’re at a commercial car wash, get the “underspray” or “underwash”. A coat of wax on your paint will help it bead away moisture for longer and resist UV damage as well. Trouble getting around to washing your car? Check out a quality on-site car wash service such as AlwaysCleanCars.com to have your care cared for while you’re busy . . . just like Nomad does.

5- Driving Habits

As you can guess from the bit about Cold Starts, the most efficient time to run a car is when . . . it’s already running. You can make your car last longer and save fuel with some basic trip planning. Doing errands? String your stops together into one long round trip instead of a bunch of separate trips. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can even plan a clockwise trip to maximize right turns like UPS does. While you’re driving, it’s most efficient to cruise along at a constant steady speed. Eliminate as much acceleration and braking as possible if you’re interested in reducing wear and tear and saving fuel.

6- Alignment

Alignment refers to how straight your car’s wheels are relative to each other – and to the process of straightening them if needed. Does your car pull to one side when driving? Do your tires wear out faster on one edge than the other? Do you hit a lot of potholes (hello New Jersey)? Your car is likely out of alignment so your tires are working against each other rather than rolling in the exact same direction. Correcting your car’s alignment will help improve your vehicle’s handling characteristics and improve the tread life of your tires. If you live in an area with bad roads (hello again New Jersey) you may benefit from having your alignment checked and corrected each year. Affordable alignments are often available at tire shops.

7- Tire Pressure and the Seasons

The leaves turning . . . the geese flying south . . .  the little yellow tire light flashing on your dash. Oh, the signs of Autumn. Does your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) ding on every fall? When the temperature falls, the air in your tires contracts, reducing the pressure in each tire. Your TPMS is set to notify you when your tire inflation dips below a certain point (often 10% or 20% of total pressure). So, on mornings after a big change in temperature you are probably seeing your TPMS light because of that, rather than a bigger issue such as a leak, puncture, or flat tire. If you air your tires up to their correct PSI rating (look for the sticker inside the driver door), your TPMS notification will likely go away. The best bet: keep a tire pressure gauge in your car and check your tires regularly so you know where they stand. And don’t forget to check pressures as weather gets warmer in the spring, to avoid over-inflation.

8- Bug Removal and Cleaning Sap

Pulverized bugs (as well as tree sap and tar) can leave remarkably stubborn stains on your windshield and paint! Here are some tips to making your next Summer road trip much less . . . smeary. First, do not run your windshield spray and wipers to remove the bugs. Your wipers are just rubber squeegees that are great at getting water off your glass, but they don’t apply enough friction to scrub off the bug guts. If you’re in the middle of a drive, you may find leaving bugs on the glass is better than looking through a whole windshield of wiper smears, especially at night. Second, clean the bug goo off as soon as possible – it comes off much easier before the bugs dry and bond on to the surface . . . this will also minimize damage to your car’s paint. Third, the best ways to get bugs off? If you’re on the road, you may find the sponge side of a gas station squeegee does the trick due to the texture and pressure it applies (more than a wiper). At home, some drivers like to use household products like Windex, vinegar, or even WD-40. Nomad has had the best results using commercial Bug & Tar removal products however, and recommends sprays from Meguiar’s, Turtle Wax, and Safety Kleen. A little dollop will soak into a stubborn bug carcass and then wiping it away with a cloth is easy.

9 – Windshield Wiper Care

On the subject of wipers, remember they are made for gliding across your windshield to remove water. Avoid these habits to help your wipers work better and last longer: Do not use your wipers to remove ice or heavy slush – remove ice from your wiper blades and their ‘sweep’ area before your start driving so they can make a clean seal on the glass. Don’t use your wipers to take off bug guts. If your wipers are leaving lots of streaks, try cleaning the windshield and wiping the length of the wiper blades by hand to remove any particles trapped between the rubber and glass. For very dirty windshields, save yourself the effort and wiper fluid of trying to clean them with your wipers . . . a quick hand clean with a squeegee or even windex/paper towel will cut down on wear and tear.

10 – Frozen Locks

“My car door won’t open” . . . “My key won’t turn in the lock” . . . “My key is stuck IN the lock”. In wintertime, frost may seize your car’s locks. Cold metal itself isn’t likely to become frozen in one place, but if the weather was wet or humid before the freeze, ice can form around the lock’s parts and hold them in place. A few tips: Rubbing alcohol is a great way to melt ice because it stays liquid even in the cold, try squirting it into the frozen mechanism. You may also try a hair dryer or other heat source to thaw out your locks, being careful not to melt, warp, or damage your car’s finish. DO NOT try to muscle the lock open with your key, as you could bend it or break it off inside the lock. Try the car’s other doors and trunk to see if you can gain access and open your door from the inside. Worst case, an automotive locksmith should be able to help if you’re more stuck than these DIY tricks can handle.

When Does Your Car Need an Oil Change? – Oil Life

What is ‘oil life’? Oil life refers to how long motor oil can effectively protect your car’s engine before it needs to be replaced. There is no ‘Oil Expiration Date’ in the traditional sense (new oil can be stored for years without affecting the quality) – oil life refers to the normal process of oil breaking down and becoming less effective after many miles or months of duty in your motor. Oil wears out due to the extreme heat of your engine, and from oxidation as it comes into contact with moisture and air in the atmosphere. There are also additives in motor oil that help clean and flush dirt, soot, and metal particles away from your engine’s mechanical parts. These additives are consumed over the life of the oil and therefore stop doing their jobs – picture dish soap on a sponge that gets used up after washing a bunch of pots. As many motor oil additives are actually detergents, it’s a similar idea. All together, these factors cause old oil to become thicker, dirtier, and more viscous (aka “sludge”) so it doesn’t flow through your engine and lubricate the moving parts as easily.

A full synthetic oil change will allow you to go longer (5,000, 7,500, or even 10,000+ miles) before your next service than a conventional oil change (3,000 miles). That’s because synthetic motor oil is manufactured to have a very controlled and uniform chemical makeup with more predictable performance than conventional oil. You can think of synthetic oil as built from the ground up of specific components, while conventional oil is refined down from naturally-occurring crude oil into motor oil by eliminating unwanted impurities. Synthetic oil holds up better to heat, moisture, and air exposure.

Driving habits play the largest role in determining how often you need to change your oil. You may see maintenance intervals noted as “every 5,000 or six months”. The reason for this is that with frequent short trips, you may be putting fewer miles on your car but you’re actually operating it more often in the most high-wear condition: while your oil is still heating up. Engine oil protects best once it is up to full temperature and can flow more freely in the engine. On a related note, frequent cold starts in the winter or many short trips will compromise how long your oil lasts (not to mention your fuel efficiency). Oil will also last more miles if your driving is gentle highway cruising than if you’re frequently accelerating, pulling heavy loads, or doing anything that taxes your engine.

If oil protects your engine, is it better to get it changed more often? Changing your oil earlier than needed is unnecessary, plus harder on your wallet and the environment. Modern engines are designed to last hundreds of thousands of miles with the proper care; the oil change interval recommended by your car manufacturer ensures oil is replaced before it has ceased protecting the engine. So, as long as you keep up with regular oil changes and aren’t putting your vehicle through specific severe duties, going shorter than the recommended interval isn’t worthwhile. Many modern engines are built to go 5,000-10,000 miles between oil changes through improved engineering and synthetic oil — if your car calls for a 5,000 mile interval and your mechanic recommends changing oil every 3,000 miles “just to be safe,” he is trying to sell you unnecessary services and you should go elsewhere. Many modern cars can calculate your remaining oil life based on your mileage and driving habits to give you a completely customized maintenance recommendation. These systems are a helpful tool to compare with the standard mileage and time intervals to make an informed decision about when to get your oil changed.

For synthetic oil change in New Jersey, Nomad offers convenient at-home service with easy reservations right from your smartphone. If you have questions about getting your oil changed in NJ, or about the oil life in your car, you can speak with a knowledgeable Nomad representative at 973.744.7069.

Knowing when it’s time for a tire rotation.

In Bergen County, car maintenance is part of life because so many drivers in Northern New Jersey rely on their cars daily. No doubt you’ve been offered a tire rotation when you take your car in for a routine maintenance or oil change. How do you know if it’s time for a tire rotation?

Nomad Oil - Tire Rotation Illustration

Engines, styling, in-car technology, and even “French-stitched Napa leather” (I’m not sure exactly what that is) get all the attention when it comes to cars. However the unsung heroes that give your car many of its abilities are your tires. They grip a variety of road surfaces in a variable weather conditions, even at high speed, and also act as part of your car’s suspension by soaking up bumps. Tires themselves are multi-layered devices molded from sophisticated rubber compounds and highly-tested tread patterns depending on their purpose. When you think about all that tires do, they’re pretty amazing . . . Which is why they’re expensive.

Long live the tire

Tires are wear-and-tear items. That means they have a useful life, and tires are expected to gradually wear down until they need to be replaced. The catch is, some tires on your car wear faster than others. Front tires typically wear faster than rear tires because they do the steering, support the weight of the engine, and most often transmit power to the ground too. In order to get the most out of your investment, you want to spread the wear around. Tire Rotation helps your tires wear evenly, so all 4 tires get a more similar lifespan. Tires have a hard life in New Jersey, so if you’re a driver in Bergen County, tire rotation will help your set of tires and your car last longer.

Aren’t my tires always rotating?

The definition of “tire rotation” is a bit different than what it sounds like: tire rotation refers to switching the location of the tires on the car. There is no actual spinning/rotation involved and the tires (the rubber part) actually stay on your rim (the metal part). Each wheel is relocated to another corner of the car; think of it like musical chairs for your car’s wheels.

How a tire rotation works.

Your car is elevated off the ground, and then the wheels are unbolted from the car’s axles and bolted back on in a different spot. The most common type of rotation simply swaps your car’s front and back wheels. If a tire is wearing unevenly, your technician may swap front and back AND change which side the tires are on. Some cars only swap side-to-side, and some only front-to-back, due to specialized wheel and tire designs.

When is it time for a tire rotation?

Tread Wear Indicator or Wear Bar - Nomad OilIf your more-worn tires are on the front wheels, it’s safe to say it’s time for a rotation because the front tires typically wear down faster and play a more active role in safety and handling. In other words, a tire rotation will leave you with the freshest rubber on the most important wheels. Many technicians use a 5,000 mile rule of thumb for tire rotations, although depending on driving habits your interval could be longer or shorter. Nomad offers mobile tire rotation in New Jersey, and we recommend it (or don’t) for our clients based on inspecting the tires, so we aren’t promoting unnecessary service.

Other tire wear to look out for

If a tire is under-inflated or over-inflated, the sides or center of the tread will wear out faster. It also won’t grip the road in the way it was designed to; think about trying to roll a flat soccer ball. That’s why we check and correct tire inflation – for free – at every mobile oil change we deliver.

Also, if your car is out of alignment – the wheels aren’t rolling completely straight on the road – the asymmetrical friction on the ground can create lopsided wear on one side of a tire. Rotation can help spread out and delay the effects of this wear, but to prevent it you will need to get your car’s wheels aligned. An alignment is more economical than prematurely replacing a set of tires.

 

 

 

 

Why Maintaining Proper Tire Pressure is Important

Many drivers are wizards at using automotive infotainment, whether it’s streaming music, making hands-free calls, or receiving navigational instructions through their speakers. But what about tires? It’s ironic that some very tech-savvy drivers haven’t a clue about performing this car maintenance task, along with other basic skills.

 

Start With the Right Tool

First, it’s a mistake to rely on the car’s automatic tire pressure sensor solely. Tires lose about one pound per square inch (PSI) per month and one PSI per 10 degrees of outside temperature change. Fluctuations happen fast. Tire pressure monitoring systems don’t trigger until a tire loses 20% of its air pressure, which is why it’s important to check tire pressure every 30 days. To determine PSI levels, visit any auto parts store and buy a tire pressure “pencil” gauge. It’s inexpensive but accurate. Unscrew the tire’s valve cap, place the gauge’s corresponding fitting on the stem and press. A small post pops out the rear with numbers on it. Where it stops is the correct tire pressure. Repeat this action for the remaining tires, then add air if needed.

 

How Much Air to Add?

Knowing this is critical car maintenance. Most vehicles have an optimal tire pressure label on the driver or passenger-side door frame. Don’t go by the number on the tire’s sidewall. That’s the maximum pressure the tire can handle. Bad things may happen if inflated that high. However, don’t underinflate tires either. They will wear quickly and lose their tread, resulting in compromised steering and stopping ability.

The doorframe label usually has two numbers, one for both front and rear tires. It may read 32 PSI front; 34 PSI rear, depending on the vehicle. While repeatedly checking the tire pressure gauge, pump air into the tire until its readout matches the label number. Avoid the urge to overinflate. Many think a few extra pounds of air is a safe practice, but overinflated tires can suddenly blow out at high speed and temperature, putting the driver and others in peril. Follow the recommended PSI numbers precisely.

 

The Importance of Keeping Tires Properly Inflated 

Properly inflated tires can lead to better road performance and fuel economy. A tire that is underinflated will wear through its tread more quickly and burn through fuel quicker. The driver who drives on under-inflated tires uses about 144 extra gallons of gasoline, equating to an extra 300-500 dollars spent a year. For each gallon of gasoline burned, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are added to the atmosphere. In addition to saving fuel and reducing emissions, properly inflated tires are safer on the highway—an under-inflated tire takes longer to stop and is more prone to skidding in wet conditions. 

For our friends in North New Jersey, fill out this online booking form, and we can check your tire pressure for you while servicing your car—right from your driveway. 

 

 

Preventive Maintenance the Right Way

Preventive car maintenance is perhaps the most important part of owning a vehicle. Like humans, cars need regular checkups and maintenance to avoid serious problems. An owner’s manual is the best place to begin when it comes to knowing precisely what a particular vehicle needs. Here are some tips to ensure that nothing slips by unnoticed.

The Oil Question

Vehicle oil change intervals vary from one manufacturer to the next. The old standard used to be every 3,000 miles, but times have changed. Some cars can now go up to 15,000 miles between oil changes! Changing oil on time is critical, but changing it too often has some oft-overlooked drawbacks. Oil is a non-renewable resource, and drivers who blindly follow the 3,000 mile rule might be changing their oil two or three times more often than the car really needs. This will result in two or three times the necessary financial cost and environmental impact. Adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendations will prevent unnecessary waste and expense. 

Tires, Gas Mileage, and More

Preventive car maintenance is not only important for keeping the vehicle running; it is also about saving money and extending the car’s life. Since fuel is the most persistent expense with a vehicle, it is good to know ways to optimize fuel efficiency. Maintaining proper tire pressure can add up to real savings over time. It will extend the life of the tires and keep gas mileage at the highest level. Pressure should be checked a few times per month and once per week during the cold monthsTire rotation will also extend the life of the tires. Other gas savers include clean air and oil filters, good spark plugs, and even an occasional fuel injector cleaning agent. Again, the car’s manual will list the proper intervals for these items to be changed.

Whether it’s DIY or trusted to a professional, preventive car maintenance will keep a vehicle running smoothly for many years.