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Tire Tips

Winter Tires – Now is the Time to Plan

October 17, 2017

winter drivingFalling leaves and crisp temperatures are sure signs that winter driving season is just around the corner. If you are considering investing in a new set of winter tires this year, now is the time to plan. Waiting until the snow and ice hit to shop for winter tires could be risky. Winter tires are typically manufactured during the summer, so quantities are usually limited. If you wait too long to shop for your winter tires you may not get the best tires or the best deal.

In making your plans for winter driving, the first thing to consider is whether or not you actually need winter tires. Think about the weather in your region. Do you frequently drive in snowy or icy conditions? Do you find yourself worrying excessively about sliding off the road, being able to brake, or making it up even the slightest grade?  If the answer is yes, winter tires would probably be a wise investment for you. Winter tires provide a superior grip when driving, stopping, and cornering. Their specially designed tread bites into snow and ice and they are made with a softer rubber, which is formulated to stay pliable at freezing temperatures. These features also mean that winter tires wear faster than all-season tires, however as long as you change back to your all-season tires in the spring, your investment should last for several seasons.

When timing the purchase of your winter tires keep in mind that retailers begin to stock the newest models of winter tires in the fall, so that is when you will find the best selection. If your tire retailer does not have the tires you want in the size you need, you can usually order them, and your retailer will install them, at your convenience, before the winter weather season.

When shopping for winter tires, look for a mountain/snowflake symbol on the sidewall. This symbol lets you know that the tires have passed an industry test for severe snow use.



Dead Car Battery

September 25, 2017

Do You Know What to Do When You Have a Dead Car Battery?

It can happen at any time. You climb inside your car, turn the key or press the start Dead Car Batterybutton and nothing happens. Soon the temperatures will be getting colder so your odds of experiencing a dead car battery will be increasing since low temperatures cause batteries to become more sluggish. It is important to not only be equipped with a quality set of jumper cables in your car, but also to know how to use them properly.

Jump starting a dead car battery isn’t difficult, but it can be dangerous if not done correctly. Jumper cables actually transmit electrical current from one car to another. It is essential that you take precautions to prevent dangerous electric shocks. Once you have one end of the jumper cables connected to a car, it is critical that the metal clamps on the other end of the cable do not touch anything other than the specified components on the other car. It is a good idea to keep rubber gloves and protective eye wear with your jumper cables and wear them for extra safety.

Preparation Steps to Jump Starting the Car:

Park the running car so the cars face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the cars are not in contact with each other.

Set the parking brakes on both cars. Turn off both cars and take out the keys.

Lay out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.

Open the hood to both cars. Locate the batteries and battery terminals. (See your owner’s manual for details). The two terminals on each battery are usually covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Confirm you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.

Attaching the Jumper Cables to the Car:

Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.

Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s positive (+) battery terminal

Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.

Make sure that none of the cables are in contact with moving engine parts before starting the engine.

Performing the Jump Start:

Start the engine of the car with the working battery.

Let the car to run for several minutes. The time required to get the jump to work may vary depending on the age and condition of the battery.

Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working car to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.

As soon as the disabled car is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.

Taking the charged car for a short drive lets the battery to build up a charge to ensure the battery doesn’t die again once you turn off the car.



The Best Way to Prevent Tire Failure

September 6, 2017

Tire failure is something all drivers need to be concerned about. You spend a lot of money on your tires. More importantly, when you drive, you depend prevent tire failureon those tires for your safety and the safety of those you love. The good news is that the most common cause of tire failure is a condition that is highly preventable – under inflated tires.

One of the best things you can do to protect your tires is to make sure they are properly inflated. Under inflation causes a number of problems in tires including increased stress, friction, and overheating. When tires do not have the proper amount of air, sidewall flexing can occur and eventually lead to a rupture. Overheating can cause the rubber to degrade, which makes tires weaker and more prone to failure.

According to the NHTSA, four out of five drivers are driving on improperly inflated tires. There are many benefits of maintaining correctly inflated tires. Not only can you greatly reduce the risk of tire failure with proper inflation, you can also save as much as 11 cents per gallon on fuel and increase tire life by an average of 4,700 miles.

The right pressure to prevent tire failure

The right pressure to prevent tire failure varies from vehicle to vehicle. The best recommendation for your specific vehicle is listed in your owner’s manual. There is a tire pressure number stamped on the tire, but that number is the tire’s maximum pressure, not the recommended pressure.

How to check tire pressure

Make sure you have a working tire gauge. Both manual and digital models are available. Check the pressure when the tires are cold – meaning the vehicle hasn’t been driven for at least three hours. Remove the valve cap and press the tire gauge on the valve stem. You’ll hear a hissing sound when you first press down, which stops once you press the gauge all the way down. Only a few seconds are needed to obtain an accurate reading. If air is needed, you can fill tires with either a portable compressor, or you can use the air pump at your local gas station. The process of filling tires is similar to checking the pressure. Instead of pressing the gauge to the valve stem you will press the fitting on the air hose to the stem. Check the pressure as you inflate until you reach the right pressure number. If your tires are over inflated, you can remove air from the tires using your gauge. Remember to put the valve caps back on each tire when you are finished.

Check the pressure of your tires monthly to greatly reduce your chance of tire failure. Since road debris or other unforeseen circumstances can still lead to tire issues, be sure to check the pressure of your spare while checking your other tires so you are always prepared.



Seven Ways to End Distracted Driving

August 22, 2017

distracted drivingDistracted driving used to just mean things like eating lunch or changing the radio station while driving. Today, distracted driving has reached a whole new level of activity that can potentially lure someone’s eyes away from the road. As a new school year begins, now is a good time to think about the problem of distracted driving. Consider your own habits and talk to the younger drivers in your life about texting and driving.

On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text message. That might not seem very long, but did you know that at 55 miles per hour a car travels the length of a football field during that five second interval? A lot can happen during those five seconds of distracted driving, including a life-changing accident.

The more we rely on smart phone technology, the greater the temptation becomes to focus on a screen instead of the road. How can we take practical steps to avoid the perils of distracted driving?  Here are seven ideas:

  1. Silence is golden. Take a moment before pulling out of your parking spot to silence your phone. Once you are on the road, it will be easier to keep your mind off of your phone if it is not humming, vibrating, or otherwise beckoning you.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. Putting your phone in your purse, glovebox, or storage console is another way to help reduce the odds that you will be distracted by it.
  3. No red light sneaks. A lot of drivers like to sneak a quick look at their phones while stopped at a red light. The problem with this is that if you are not looking at the light, you will not know when it changes.
  4. Make it known. Let everyone you call or text with know that you have a strict “no phone” policy while you are driving. That way you will not have to worry about someone thinking you are ignoring them.
  5. Pull over. If it cannot wait make sure to pull over before using your phone. There are usually plenty of parking lots around that provide a great place to stop and do what you need to do.
  6. Plan ahead. Before you press the ignition button or turn the key, do what you need to do. Let mom know you are leaving. Type your destination into your GPS app. Whatever you feel you need to do, do not do it as you are pulling out onto the street.
  7. Get a connected vehicle. If you have a career that involves a good deal of car travel, consider investing in a car with onboard technology that connects to your phone. Advanced voice features will allow you to communicate or use GPS features without having to take your eyes off of the road.

While everyone likes to save time by multi-tasking, it is important to understand that multi-tasking on the road too often means distracted driving. The time saved could turn into a life lost – in just an instant.

As you focus on eliminating distracted driving habits, make sure you also correct any low-tech bad behaviors, too. Change the radio station, adjust the seat, get your sunglasses out of your purse…do it all before you even start the car. Stay safe!



Spark Plug Replacement

August 8, 2017

Spark Plug Replacement and Tune Ups – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

spark plug replacementThis post, our last in the Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series, focuses on spark plug replacement and tune ups. Spark plug replacement and tune ups are necessary for keeping your vehicle running reliably and performing its best.

Spark plugs initiate the combustion and power needed to move your vehicle. The combustion drives clean gas and air to the vehicle’s cylinders. Eventually the fuel injectors can become clogged, fuel filters get dirty, and the spark plugs can become corroded. When parts are compromised, your engine will not perform as it should, and your gas mileage will suffer.

During a tune up, your automotive technician will check the condition of your spark plugs and test their performance. Other items that are typically checked during a tune up include the fuel filter, fuel pump, fuel injectors, PVC valve, as well as the engine timing and idle.

Maintenance that is not part of the regular tune up may also be needed, so a tune up provides a good opportunity to check the brakes and clutch, fluid and oil levels, and any other systems that are not regularly used or inspected. Getting a tune up in spring or early summer may be a good idea so you can have the air conditioning system checked before you need to use it.

Why spark plug replacement and tune ups are necessary?

Getting spark plug replacement and tune up service will restore power and efficiency to your vehicle. Your engine relies on many components working together to ensure proper starting and functioning. When these components wear out or fail to function, the result is lost performance and fuel inefficiency. Tune up service performed by your auto service professional will help maintain and extend auto life.

How often spark plug replacement and tune ups are needed?

Generally speaking, you should have a tune up every two years or every 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for tune ups and spark plug replacement.



Transmission Flush

July 20, 2017

Transmission Flush and Fluid Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Transmission FlushTransmission service is the topic of this post in our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series. Part of your recommended regular vehicle maintenance, transmission service includes a transmission flush and transmission fluid change. Regular transmission services will keep your car performing at its best, and keep it running dependably.

What a transmission flush does for your vehicle

Transmission fluid is an essential lubricant that cools and protects the moving components in your vehicle’s transmission, and facilitates gear shifts. Like other automotive fluids, transmission fluid degrades over time. Transmission fluid deterioration can be accelerated by certain types of driving, such as city driving or heavy hauling. A transmission flush service gets rid of the old transmission fluid so it can be replaced with new fluid.

What happens during a transmission flush and fluid replacement?

Your auto service professional will:

  • Remove and inspect the pan
  • Replace or clean the screen or filter
  • Clean and reinstall the pan with a new pan gasket
  • Remove the old transmission fluid and replace it with fresh fluid

Why are transmission flushes important to your vehicle?

A transmission flush gets rid of old fluid and washes away tiny particles, such as clutch material and metal shavings, which accumulate as the fluid ages. Without a flush, those particles eventually clog passages and wedge between moving parts, causing wear within the transmission. Flushing the fluid gets rid of those particles and prevents the wear they cause. Regular transmission service allows your transmission to function better for years longer, which means you’re less likely to breakdown and be faced with a major transmission repair.

How often is a transmission flush needed?

Transmission service is typically recommended every 50,000 miles. As with all auto services, it is important to refer to your owner’s manual to see the recommendations for your specific vehicle.



Cooling System Flush

June 29, 2017

Cooling System Flush & Coolant Replacement – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

In this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance, we are going to take a look at the one of the best ways to help your car keep its cool – the cooling system flush. The best way to understand the importance of a cooling system flush is to start by looking at the role of coolant.

The main job of coolant, or antifreeze, is to transfer excess heat from the vehicle engine to the radiator. The coolant absorbs the heat and redirects it to the radiator where it is evacuated into the air. It may also be directed through the heat exchanger to heat the passenger area. Coolant is comprised of a 50/50 ratio mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water. Though water alone could do the job of transferring heat, it is not used alone because it would be too corrosive to the engine. Read more…



Tire Rotation

June 15, 2017

Tire Rotation and Tread Inspection – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Tire Rotation and Tread Wear InspectionTires are the focus of this post in our series on Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance. As one of the most important safety and performance features on your vehicle, tires need the same attention to maintenance that essential mechanical components require. Tire rotation and tread inspection are two recommended maintenance items that need to be done regularly.

What tire rotation and tread inspection do for vehicle performance

Tire rotation and tread inspection are about extending the usable life of your tires and making sure they are safe. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear to get the most even wear on all four tires. Since tires in different positions do not wear the same, this will also help to assure there is a safe and sufficient amount of tread on every tire.

What happens during tire rotation and tread inspection service?

Rotation service consists of rotating or repositioning tires by moving them from one side of the vehicle to the other. Depending on the vehicle manufacturer recommendation, this may include moving them from front to back. Tires tend to wear differently depending on their position, the condition of your suspension, and the way you drive. When your auto service professional rotates your vehicle’s tires, the front tires are usually swapped with the rear tires. Typically the driver side tires stay on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on the passenger side. This can vary with different types of vehicles or tires.

Why tire rotation and tread inspection are necessary

Regular rotation and tread inspection are important because tires are subjected to a tremendous amount of wear. Without proper rotation, your tires will wear prematurely, preventing you from getting the most from your tire investment. Tire rotation protects your investment by extending the quality and service life of your tires. Tire rotation is also important because it promotes safe and even tread wear. Front and rear tires wear differently. Front tires are subjected to much more pressure than rear tires, so the tread wears more rapidly on the front tires. Regular rotation also improves driving performance and gas mileage.

Quality tires are expensive! It only makes sense to get the most for your money. Tire rotation and tread inspection service will keep your vehicle safe and to keep your tires properly maintained to get the most from them.

How often tire rotation and tread inspection are needed

Generally speaking tire rotation is recommended every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your service manual will provide you with the best maintenance schedule for your particular make and model vehicle.



Oil Changes

June 6, 2017

Oil Changes – Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

Oil ChangeThe more you know about car maintenance, the better prepared you’ll be to keep your vehicle safe and performing at peak levels. The goal of our Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand some key services and why they are important. Today we will take a look at oil changes.

What does an oil change do for my vehicle’s performance? 

Over time oil decreases in effectiveness and becomes saturated with dust, water, and combustion residues that cause engine corrosion.  Regular oil changes will improve engine performance because clean oil performs much more efficiently than dirty oil. Regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety and will also help prevent costly repairs throughout the life of your vehicle.

What happens during an oil change?

Your auto service provider will change your vehicle’s motor oil using full synthetic oil, synthetic blend, or high mileage motor oil, depending on the recommendation of your vehicle’s manufacturer. The old oil and oil filter will be removed, replaced, and recycled.

In most cases, the technician will also perform a courtesy inspection, which may include:

  • Topping off fluids
  • Checking vehicle lights
  • Lubricating chassis as necessary
  • Inspecting belts, hoses, steering, suspension, skid plates and undercarriage
  • Checking windshield wipers
  • Checking car battery

Why are oil changes necessary?

As the miles on your vehicle accumulate, high operating temperatures will cause the thermal breakdown of oil. This makes it less effective as a lubricant. Lubricant is essential in the prevention of engine part wear due to excessive friction. Acid neutralizing additives in oil also decrease in effectiveness over time. Accumulation of dirt in the oil is a problem, too. Although the filter traps much of the dirt, eventually the filter will clog and the contaminated oil will bypass the filter through a relief valve. When oil becomes dirty and thick it also becomes abrasive and causes more wear. Regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety.

When will your vehicle need an oil change?

The rule of thumb has always been to change oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Vehicle manufacturer recommendations vary, though so you should always consult your owner’s manual.



Getting in Gear with Car Maintenance

May 19, 2017

Getting in Gear with Car MaintenanceWe all know the importance of making good car maintenance a habit. So, how are you doing with that? Just in case you haven’t quite gotten in gear, we have a five-part series ahead to inspire you.

First, let’s take a look at some eye-opening stats from AAA :

Among U.S. adults who drive, one third (35 percent) have skipped or delayed maintenance or a repair that was recommended by their mechanic or specified in the factory maintenance schedule

And a survey of AAA approved auto repair facilities revealed:

Six in ten (62%) repair shops say more than half of the vehicles they service are behind schedule for routine maintenance services.

Three‐quarters (77%) of repair shops estimate customers who forget or ignore manufacturers’ recommended maintenance could save, on average, $100 or more per visit if they properly maintained their vehicles.

The more you know about car maintenance, the better equipped you’ll be to get in gear. Not only will you understand what needs to be done, you will have a clearer picture of why car maintenance services are so important. Some of the maintenance services we’ll be looking at that need to be done regularly include:

  • Oil Changes
  • Rotate Tires & Inspect for Proper Wear
  • Flush Cooling System & Replace Coolant
  • Drain & Refill Transmission
  • Tune-up & Spark Plug Replacement

The goal of this series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand these services and why they are important, so you can get in gear car maintenance. Up first: Oil Changes



Pain in the Rain – Dealing With Hydroplaning

May 5, 2017

rain2Hydroplaning occurs when the tires of a vehicle ride on top of water that is on the road rather than on the surface of the road. Many drivers may not realize that hydroplaning can happen even when road surfaces are slightly damp. Hydroplaning is a very real possibility whether you are driving in heavy rain or just after a passing shower. It is important for drivers to know how to handle hydroplaning when it occurs, and more importantly how to avoid it.

Those of us who have experienced hydroplaning can attest that it’s really scary situation. If hydroplaning does ever occur while you are driving, it is important to fight the urge to brake or turn suddenly. Try to ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the contact with the road. If you must brake do it with a light pumping action. Most vehicles are now equipped with anti-lock braking systems that will safely and effectively pump automatically as you brake.

It is important to remember that hydroplaning is highly preventable. A few of the avoidable factors that contribute to the likelihood of hydroplaning include worn tire tread and improper inflation, as well as driving at high speeds.

Thanks to developments in tire technology, the tread on your tires has been designed to prevent hydroplaning by channeling and dispersing water and slush away from the face of the tire. Worn tread cannot do this because the channels lack the required depth. Under-inflated tires are also unable to disperse water properly.

Traveling at high speeds can increase the likelihood of hydroplaning. Moving at a higher speed, the tire does not have enough time to push the water out of the way, as it is designed to do. Keeping your tires in good condition and driving smart in inclement weather will go a long way in preventing hydroplaning.

Always slow down when driving through rain, snow, or slush, especially when turning or on curves. Avoid driving through puddles or standing water whenever possible.



Did You Know April is National Car Care Month?

April 19, 2017

Car Care MonthApril is National Car Care Month! Now is the time to take care of car maintenance, including any problems you put off having checked over the winter.

Car care begins with making sure you are on track with recommended regular maintenance services. Not only does this keep your vehicle running properly and performing at its best, finding problems before they escalate will save you time and money while extending the life of your vehicle.

The list below includes services are usually part of regular car maintenance. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for your recommended services and frequency:

Battery & Cables

Brake Inspection

Check Belts & Hoses

Coolant Flush and Replacement

Exhaust System

Filters – Air and Fuel

Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake

Lights

Oil Change

Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades

Make sure your car care includes care of your tires. It is important to regularly check your tire pressure and tread depth. Check the tread depth of your tires by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into several different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time for a new set of tires. If the tread is in good shape, Abe’s head will be covered to about the forehead hairline.

Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle in your owner’s manual, or reference the sticker located on the driver’s side door jam. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare tire as well.

Regular tire balancing and rotation service will benefit both your car and your tires. Tire balancing promotes even tire wear and provides a smooth ride by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is will greatly extend the life of your tires. Vehicle manufacturers have specific recommendations, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines.



Tire Buying: 8 Things to Consider

March 28, 2017

When people shop for something these days their first move is typically to check prices online. Tire buying is no different. If you look for tires online, you will undoubtedly find some great low prices, but unless you know exactly what you need, you are taking a risk. Even if you are shopping for a specific tire, it may still be a gamble. If the wrong tires are sent or you have problems with them, working with an online retailer to get things right could be very time-consuming and complicated.

When you are in need of new tires you need to think about more than price. Before starting the tire buying process, here are some things to consider:

 

1. Vehicle Manufacturer Recommendations

The manufacturer of your vehicle will have specific recommendations regarding the best tire selection for that vehicle’s safety and performance. Read more…



Brake Fluid – What It Does & Why It’s Important

February 28, 2017

stop-signBrake fluid plays an important role in the proper functioning of your vehicle’s brake system. Working under extremely high temperatures, the brake fluid facilitates the movement of the brake system’s various components. A non-compressible substance that is contained within the brake lines, brake fluid provides the force created when the brake pedal is pressed. This force is applied to each of the brake rotors on the four corners of the vehicle, effectively applying pressure to the wheels to slow or stop the movement of the vehicle.

Brake fluid is an element that needs to be periodically replaced. There are a variety of brake fluid types, so it is important to choose the right type for your vehicle. The primary types of brake fluid are glycol-based and silicon-based fluids. Glycol-based brake fluids are mostly used in vehicles with anti-lock brake systems (ABS) and vary by individual grade options. Silicone-based brake fluids are designed for use in vehicles without ABS technology. If a non-ABS vehicle has ever had a glycol-based brake fluid used in the brake system, that type of brake fluid must be continued since residual amounts of glycol will compromise the performance of a silicon-based fluid. To find out the best brake fluid option for your vehicle, refer to your owner’s manual, or ask your auto service technician.

It is necessary to drain and replace brake fluid periodically because it absorbs moisture from the air and degrades over time. Changing brake fluid at recommended intervals will assure proper brake system functioning. Brake fluid changes are typically done every one or two years, however different vehicles will have different recommendations for best performance.

Since your vehicle’s brake system and brake fluid are so crucial to its safe operation, it is really important to have this service done. It is also recommended that this service be done by a qualified professional automotive technician.



Wheel Alignment and Tire Balancing – Two Services You Need

February 8, 2017

Are you doing all you can to get the longest service life from your tires? If you are not getting regular wheel alignment and tire balancing services, you are not doing all you can to protect your tire investment.

 

Why is Wheel Alignment Important?

tire-service2Also known as “front end alignment” or “tire alignment”, wheel alignment service involves the adjustment of the angle of your vehicle’s wheels to the original position recommended by the manufacturer. Wheel alignment includes inspecting tire tread for signs of poor alignment as well as checking the toe, camber, and caster to precisely measure wheel orientation. Wheel alignment checks are typically recommended every 10,000 miles. You may need wheel alignment service before your recommended interval if you notice the vehicle pulling to one side, or if the vehicle has recently been in a collision.

 

Why is Tire Balancing Necessary?

Tires lose balance as you drive, so periodic tire balancing service is needed to return proper balance. As the miles on your tires accumulate tread wear causes the distribution of weight around the tire to change, creating an imbalance. Unusual shaking or vibration as you drive can result from this imbalance. During tire balancing service, the technician will use a calibrated spin balancer, testing non-moving or static balance as well as moving or dynamic balance. Tires will be adjusted to the proper balance in accordance with the test results. Tire balancing is usually every 5-6,000 miles or 6 months.

 

Getting wheel alignment and tire balancing service is not expensive and it does not take a lot of time to get done. It is well worth the effort to protect your tire investment.



7 Signs Your Engine Performance Might Be Declining

January 19, 2017

engine performancePoor engine performance can mean serious and expensive problems for your vehicle. It is essential to catch and address engine issues early, before they result in devastating consequences. Fortunately, today’s vehicles are equipped with warning lights, including a check engine light, to let you know if there is a problem. When the check engine light illuminates, you should schedule diagnostic services to identify the problem. If the light flashes, this indicates a more serious issue that should get immediate attention.

Aside from your check engine light, here are some additional signs that your engine performance might be in trouble:

1. Power loss

Internal combustion engines convert fuel into the power required to move a vehicle. The combustion engine operation involves a four stroke cycle – intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke, and exhaust stroke. Failure during any one of these strokes could result in a lack of power to the engine and compromised engine performance.

2. Unusual or excessive noise

Problems in the combustion flow can result in a wide variety of strange sounds such as knocking, hissing, popping or backfiring. Any time you hear weird noises when you start up your vehicle, consider it a warning sign and schedule a service call.

3. Poor gas mileage

Having to fill your gas tank more often than usual, could mean more than a hit to your budget. It might mean there is a problem with the compression stroke of your engine. Fixing it may be as simple as having fuel injection service or getting a tune-up.  Your best course of action is to have a diagnostic performed to make sure it is not a more serious issue.

4. Engine Stalling

When it comes to automatic transmission vehicles, engine stalling is highly unusual, and probably means there is a problem with the engine. Most commonly the problem is that the intake stroke is not getting the spark or air/fuel mixture it needs. Here, too, the problem may be fixed by a tune up, but it could also be more serious, and should not go unchecked.

5. Odd smells

Like sounds, anything persistent and unusual should not be ignored with odors. Problems with the exhaust stroke could lead to strange exhaust smells to be noticeable in the vehicle.

6. Engine run-on

If your car continues to run after you turn it off, you should have it checked out. This sign of troubled engine performance is most common in high-performance vehicles. Causes of the problem might include incorrect octane gas for the vehicle, a failing solenoid, or carburetor issues.

7. Engine runs rough

Clogs in the system or old spark plugs can cause a rough running engine, as can improper octane in the gasoline or a low battery. Like the other issues mentioned, a simple tune up could be all it takes to remedy a rough running engine.

As with any vehicle problems you may encounter, the important thing is to have engine performance problems or signs addressed as soon as possible to avoid more expense and complications.

 

Poor engine performance can mean serious problems for your vehicle. Pay attention to these signs that your engine performance might be in trouble.



Resolved: Better Tire Care in 2017

January 6, 2017

NewYearNewTiresWhile making your New Year’s Resolutions to take better care of yourself, why not also resolve to take better care of your tires? Here are some easy ideas that will help your tires perform better and last longer. Extra benefits you will get include better gas mileage and greater safety on the road.

Regularly Check Your Tire Tread

Follow these easy steps to check your tire tread depth:

  1. Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head.
  2. If you can consistently see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time to go shopping for a new set of tires.
  3. If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape and your tires probably do not need replacement.

 Check Tire Pressure

Take time to check your tire pressure at least once a month.  While it doesn’t take long to do, it could save you big by improving your tire life and gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires. Remember that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure.

Tire Rotation

Rotating your tires on a regular basis is an essential part of tire maintenance that will significantly extend their service life. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the tire rotation recommendations for your particular vehicle.

Tire Balancing

Make sure tire balancing is part of your regular maintenance routine.  Again, check your owner’s manual for the recommended schedule for your car, truck, or SUV. Tire balancing promotes a smooth ride and even tire wear by correctly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle.

Tire Alignment

Improper tire alignment will not only decrease the life of your tires due to uneven tread wear, it will also compromise the safety of your vehicle. Have the alignment checked any time you notice problems with your vehicle’s handling.

Spare Tire Check

Remember to check the condition of your spare tire so you will know it is ready when you need it. Check the pressure of your spare when you check the pressure of your other tires, and remember that a spare is intended for temporary use only.

 



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January 5, 2017

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Gift Ideas for Drivers

December 13, 2016

giftTime is running out for those of us who still have Christmas shopping to do! We all have those hard-to-shop-for people who cause us serious holiday headaches. Whether it is a girl who seems to have everything or a guy who seems to have no interests, an auto-related gift could be just the thing to please them this holiday season. Practically everyone drives, and often times items for the car are things people just don’t think to buy for themselves.

The following is a list of gift ideas to consider for the drivers on your list.

 

Auto Mats

Life can get messy, and when life gets messy so does your vehicle. Custom fitted, all-season rubber floor mats are a great gift idea for pet owners, parents who chauffeur small children, and people that tend to eat and drink on the go.

 

Car Vacuum

This is another gift that will be greatly appreciated by those who drive around with dogs and messy kids. A quality portable vacuum cleaning makes keeping a clean ride so much easier.

 

Car Windshield Snow Cover & Sun Shade Protector

Drivers who have their car parked outside all day will appreciate this all-season windshield protection. This easy-to-install protector keeps the car cool in the summer and free of ice and snow in the winter.

 

Car Parking Sensor System

Trying to park a large vehicle is a small or crowded garage can be very tricky. A car parking sensor system makes the job much easier and will help drivers avoid scratches and dings.

 

Folding Shovel

A folding shovel is a great item to keep in the trunk along with a roadside emergency kit. Too often drivers are not prepared for roadside problems, so this gift could be a lifesaver!

 

Car Wash Coupons

Even those who prefer to do their own washing will appreciate having these in the winter. Keeping a clean car is especially important in the cold weather months when the roads are covered in salty slush.

 

Digital Tire Pressure Monitor

Keeping tires properly inflated is essential for assuring safe driving and preserving tire tread. A digital tire pressure monitor makes checks easy. This is especially great for drivers of older cars, which may not have TPMS.

 

Portable Air Compressor

This is not only a great emergency item to keep in your car, a portable air compressor will be useful for filling a leaking tire until it can be fixed. It is also great for other jobs like inflating a camping mattress.



How to Jump Start a Dead Car Battery

November 9, 2016

jumper cablesDo you know how to jump start a dead car battery? With the cold winter months right around the corner, this is an important question. When the temperatures drop, the chances of a dead battery increase significantly, since low temperatures lead to sluggish batteries. The process used to jump start a dead car battery is not difficult. Knowing what to do and always having a quality set of jumper cables on hand will get you through this otherwise frustrating situation.

Jump starting your car is not complicated, but it can be dangerous if you don’t do it right. Jumper cables transmit electrical current from one car to another. Precautions must be taken to prevent dangerous electric shocks. When one end of the jumper cables is connected to a car, the metal clamps should not touch each other or anything other than the specified components on the other vehicle. Wearing rubber gloves and protective eyewear is recommended for extra safety, so keep these items with your jumper cables.

Steps to Jump Start a Dead Car Battery:

  1. Position the running vehicle so the vehicles face each other, about one to two feet apart. Make sure that the vehicles are not in contact with each other.
  2. Engage the parking brakes on both vehicles. Turn off both vehicles and remove the keys.
  3. Stretch out the jumper cables on the ground, making sure the clamps do not touch each other.
  4. Open the hood to both cars. Referring to the respective owner’s manuals, locate the batteries and battery terminals. In most cases, the two terminals on each battery will be covered in red or black, with a + or – sign on top. Make sure you are able to identify which is positive, and which is negative, as this will be crucial to the success of your jump. Dirty or corroded battery terminals should be cleaned off with a rag or wire brush.
  5. Attach the red, positive cable clamp to the positive (+) battery terminal of the dead battery. Make sure you have a solid connection to the battery terminal.
  6. Attach the red, positive cable clamp on the other side of the jumper cables to the working battery’s  positive (+) battery terminal
  7. Connect the black, negative cable clamp to the working battery’s negative (-) battery terminal. In the vehicle with the dead battery, attach that clamp to a metal part of the car that is unpainted, as far from the battery as the cable will reach. This will ground the circuit and help prevent sparking.
  8. Verify that none of the cables are in contact with engine parts that will move when the engine is started.
  9. Start the engine of the vehicle with the working battery.
  10. Allow the car to run for several minutes.  Depending on the age and condition of the battery, the time required to get the jump to work may vary.
  11. Attempt to start the car with the dead battery. If unsuccessful, allow the working vehicle to charge the battery for a several minutes longer and try again.
  12. Once the disabled car is running again, you can disconnect the jumper cables, starting with the black, negative cable clamps. Never allow the clamps to come in contact with each other while any part of the cables is still attached to a vehicle.

Take the charged car for a short drive to allow the battery to build up a charge and ensure your car does not die again once you turn it off.

A jump start may fail if there are other issues that need to be addressed including:

– Bad starter connection
– Fuses are bad
– Battery condition
– Faulty alternator
– Ignition switch issues



Tire Types Explained

October 17, 2016

tire typesThere are many factors to consider when it comes to selecting tires. While it is important to choose a quality brand and get a good value, it is equally essential that you buy the right type of tires for your vehicle. The tire type you select should be not only be recommended for your vehicle, but also suited  for the kind of driving you do. A wide range of tire types are available to suit every kind of vehicle and all driving conditions.

Below is a listing of the most common tire types, as well as the corresponding speed rating. The speed rating and tire type are both identified in the tire code, found imprinted on the side of all tires.

All Season Tires

The most common speed ratings for all season tires are S and T. All season tires deliver a good all-weather grip and long mileage. They are most commonly used  standard cars and SUVs.  All season tires are designed to perform in a wide range of conditions from dry pavement to wet weather and light snow. A good choice for a comfortable and quiet ride, all season tires offer reliable handling and long tread life. For year-round traction in moderate climates, all season tires are an excellent choice.

Performance All Season Tires

Performance all season tires have H and V speed rating and are a popular choice for cars with enthusiast appeal or upgraded wheels. These tires feature a better cornering grip than regular all-season tires, but typically need to be replaced more often.

Winter/ Snow Tires

Winter or snow tires are identifiable by a mountain and snowflake symbol displayed on the sidewall. Winter tire tread is designed with gripping edges for better handling on snow and ice. They are made with a softer rubber compound to stay flexible in extremely cold temperatures. Winter tires do not perform as well on cleared roads, lacking the solid grip of all season tires. They also tend to wear more quickly. Winter tires should be exclusively used during extreme cold weather driving conditions.

Summer Tires

Summer tires usually have speed ratings of ZR, W, and Y,  for sports cars and performance sedans. For all-around best performing tires in mild climates and seasons, summer tires offer a performance level above all season tires. As the name implies,  summer tires are not suited for driving in snow and ice, but they offer solid handling on dry and wet roads in mild temperatures. Summer tires are also made with softer compounds however, unlike those used in winter tires, they become harder in colder temperatures. Though they tend to have shorter life span and more rapid tread wear, summer tire do offer enhanced driving performance.

All  Terrain Truck Tires

All terrain truck tires are available in larger sizes and designed for light duty hauling and towing. They are a great choice for light-duty pickups and SUVs. All-terrain tires usually have a more aggressive tread pattern to aid off-road traction. All-terrain tires usually have A/T or All Terrain in the model name.



Safe Driving Begins with Clear Visibility

September 28, 2016

windshield wipersAs summer ends and autumn sets in, keeping your windshield clean for clear visibility becomes a bigger challenge.  There always seems to be more rain as temperatures cool, and with the debris from falling leaves in the air, dust and dirt accumulate on all of your car’s exposed surfaces.

Below are five simple visibility maintenance tips to assure clear visibility while driving so you and your passengers will be as safe as possible on the road.

1. Inspect your wipers

To be most effective, wiper blades need to be in excellent condition. You should inspect your wiper blades regularly, and ask your auto service professional to check them whenever you bring in your car for other service or repair. As a rule of thumb, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

2. Clean your windshield regularly

It doesn’t take long for your windshield to get dirty and hazy. This can be especially dangerous at night, when oncoming lights hit the dirt on your windshield and impair your vision. It is easy to forget to clean your windshield, but if you make a habit of cleaning the windshield every time you fill up, you will be in good shape. Most gas stations have what you need right by the pumps.

3. Clean your headlights

Take a moment to periodically inspect your headlights. When you look closely, you may be amazed (and disgusted) by the amount of dirt and bug grime that has accumulated on them. If not cleaned, it will eventually get to the point of making your headlight beams dimmer.  Regular cleaning will make them easier to maintain.

4. Fix windshield cracks or chips

All it takes is a piece of pea gravel traveling at high speed to put your windshield in serious jeopardy. That little crack may be annoying, but all too often it gets overlooked, until one day you hit a bump or pothole. Suddenly that small crack spreads all the way across your windshield. Have those cracks repaired as soon as possible to maintain safe visibility and to avoid the cost of a windshield replacement.

5. Check your washer fluid

Windshield washer fluid is essential to the proper functioning of your windshield wipers. Letting wiper blades drag across a dry surface is not only ineffective, it can lead to damaging of the blades. Top off your washer fluid at every service interval or whenever the seasons change to avoid being left high and dry. Use windshield washer antifreeze in winter months to prevent damage to your washer system.



Four Ways to Provide Vehicle Theft Protection

September 16, 2016

AntiTheftWhether you have to park your vehicle outside at night, or in an unattended public area for extended periods, you may feel that your ride needs a little extra protection. While there is no such thing as a failsafe device, any barriers that you can place between your car and thieves will help. A highly visible  device may be enough to cause a thief to not target your car. There are a wide range of vehicle theft protection options to choose from, or you can try a combination of devices.

Here are four vehicle theft protection options that are available:

Tire and Wheel Locks

Tire and wheel locks look much like the boots used by law enforcement. These high profile devices are instantly visible and make a car nearly impossible to move. These can be purchased from an automotive supply store or online. If your main concern is protecting an expensive set of custom wheels, McGard offers a variety of wheel locks. These locks are similar in appearance to a regular lug nut, but require a special key tool for installation and removal.

Steering Wheel and Column Locks

Much like the wheel lock boots , these highly visible devices offer a visual deterrent to would be thieves. Selections range from inexpensive locks that must be installed manually each time the driver leaves the car to more expensive options that are permanently installed.

VIN Etching

VIN etching identifies your vehicle with a unique number, which is etched onto several parts of your car, including in the windows for would be thieves to see. In addition to providing a visual deterrent, VIN etching also is helpful in recovering a stolen vehicle. VIN etching kits are available for purchase, or in some areas VIN etching services are available.

Kill Switches

A kill switch is a concealed switch that must be activated in order to start the car. The effectiveness of this approach is reliant upon how well the switch is hidden from the thieves, who tend to be adept at finding them. If you opt for a kill switch, make sure your installer is an experienced professional, and that installation will not impact your car’s warranty.



Texting and Driving – Talk to Young Drivers

August 31, 2016

textingBack to school commutes mean more young drivers on the road – whether it’s a short drive each morning and afternoon, or a long trip to a college campus. Today’s drivers, face a new safety threat/temptation in the form of cell phone use while driving. Young adults and teens have proven to be especially vulnerable to this potentially fatal behavior. If you have a young driver in your family, now is a great time to remind them of what’s at risk with texting and driving.

Texting and Driving is Everyone’s Problem

Many poor choices and destructive habits only affect the person who engages in them. Texting and driving is not one of those kind of behaviors. Literally everyone around the texting driver is in danger, from passengers in that car, to nearby vehicles and pedestrians.

While drivers of all ages can be guilty of texting and driving, young and inexperienced drivers may be particularly susceptible. The invincible, risk-taking attitude teens and young adults often have, combined with a lack of driving experience tends to result in a refusal to acknowledge the danger.

According to the advocacy website, Texting and Driving Safety, the minimum amount of time a driver is distracted by a text is five seconds. In that amount of time, at highway speeds, you will travel the length of a football field. Just a few seconds can result in a huge amount of risk.

An infographic on the website provides some stunning statistics regarding texting and teen driving:

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
  • 55% of young adult drivers claim it is easy to text while they drive

Whether they admit it or not, there is a problem:

  • Teens who text while driving spend approximately 10% of driving time outside of their lane.
  • 13% of drivers 18-20 involved in car wrecks admitted to cell phone use at the time of the crash.

There is a wealth of great information to share with young drivers on the Texting and Driving Safety website. There are also a lot of powerful videos on the subject, I’ve included a sample below.

Be sure to talk to the young drivers in your life and also to set a good example for them. No amount of age or experience makes texting and driving safe.



Understanding Tire Code: Load Index, Speed Rating, and M+S Designation

August 17, 2016

The uniform tire code is imprinted on nearly every vehicle tire manufactured. This code not only identifies the tire, it also provides useful information about the tire. The first post focused on the type of tire and section width and the second post looked at aspect ratio, tire construction and wheel diameter. With this post, we complete our look at tire code with an explanation of the last three parts of the uniform tire code: load index, speed rating, and M + S designation.

Tire Code - Performance Index, Speed Rating, and Mud and Snow Designation

Tire Code – Performance Index, Speed Rating, and Mud and Snow Designation

Performance Index
The tire performance index is displayed after the wheel diameter, and represents the tire’s load and speed ratings. In this case, the 93 load index represents 1,433 pounds, and the speed rating of V represents 149 mph.

Common Speed Ratings

Letter

L

M

N

P

Q

R

S

T

U

H

V

Max. MPH

75

81

87

93

99

106

112

118

124

130

149

All-Season Tires with Mud and Snow Designation
When a tire has M+S on it, that means that it meets the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) guidelines for a mud and snow tire. Similar markings for this include MS, M&S, and M/S. In order for a tire to receive the Mud and Snow designation, it must meet specific RMA geometric requirements.

A tire with the correct tire load index for your vehicle means you that your tires are made to handle the weight of your vehicle. The speed rating shows the maximum speed your tires can handle, which tends to be more important in countries with roadways that are not subject to speed limitations. Whether or not the mud and snow designation is important will depend on the climate in which you live and drive.

Along with looking at the tire code, it is important to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended specifications to assure safety and best vehicle performance. Selecting a dependable, quality tire is just the beginning. Maintaining the proper tire pressure will help you extend the life of your tires .



Tracy Treadmore

Meet Tracy Treadmore

It all began when Tracy converted her Barbie Dream House into a service garage, and had Barbie performing wheel alignment and adjusting the toe, camber and caster settings on her pink Corvette. While her friends played on the swing set and traversed the monkey bars, she could be found identifying the make and model of the playground tire shavings. Tracy’s passion for tires began early, and never relented. Today, Tracy continually scours the latest word on wheels, reports on rubber, and test track results, never tiring of the subject.

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