Monthly Archives: August 2018

An Automotive Gift for Mothers Day

It’s time to be seriously thinking about Mother’s Day. A great place to look for useful ideas is her driver’s seat, especially if Mom spends a lot of time behind the wheel.

Her vehicle is her home away from home and gifts that enhance her enjoyment of that second home are likely to be appreciated, suggests the Car Care Council. We tend to gravitate toward gifts like jewelry, a framed photo or flowers. But why not break from the traditional and dress up her car? Maybe she’s always wanted a sunroof or a cool sound system. Her wish could come true, with the help of your local auto specialty shop or service dealer.

Beyond the obvious gifts such as seat covers or floor mats, Mom might appreciate having her damaged steering wheel replaced with one that’s stylish, possibly even leather covered. A sun-damaged and faded dash could be repaired, replaced, or recovered to upgrade the interior. How about a GPS navigation system, remote starter, or satellite radio?

Security devices such as a remote keyless entry or alarm systems are also popular add-ons, as are custom wheels or wheel covers. Most women are interested in the safety and appearance accessories as opposed to those, which are performance related. Gifts can be inexpensive. Net shopping bags, that hook on back of the driver’s seat, are great gift items too. Just look around.

Right on the heels of Mother’s Day, of course, is Father’s Day, with additional categories of gifts to consider: special tools, custom rims, window tinting, or sound system enhancements, to mention a few. Gifts for vehicles are always well received and the variety of innovative products never stops growing.

Staying Cool on the Road

Temperatures over 90 degrees and high humidity can challenge your vehicle’s air conditioning system. Here are some easy tips to keep you and your passengers cool on the road.

  1. If possible, leave the windows down slightly on hot days to reduce heat build-up. An A/C system works by removing heat, so the cooler the interior is to start with, the easier and faster the A/C will do its job.
  2. When you get in the car, open all the windows completely, or even open the doors, for a moment to vent the hot interior air quickly.
  3. When you first turn the A/C on, set the controls to MAX or REC and use highest blower speed. This moves the greatest volume of air and re-circulates it for even faster cool-down. As soon as you are comfortable, switch the system to NORM or OUTSIDE or FRESH, and select a lower fan speed. The lower blower speed produces colder the air from the system.
  4. Does your cool air have a bad odor, perhaps like “dirty socks” or a gym locker? Remember to set the system to the OUTSIDE air mode (not REC) frequently to help prevent or lessen this problem.
  5. Automatic Temperature Control systems operate differently than manual systems. Read your owner’s manual to gain understanding of exactly how your system works. With most automatic systems, the quickest cool-down comes by setting the temperature as low as it will go at first, then adjusting it later to occupant comfort.

The Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide wants everyone to get the most comfort from their vehicle’s air conditioning system and be able to recognize problems when they occur.

Air conditioning problems should diagnosed by a professional service facility with the proper tools, training, and certified technicians.

Quality Auto Repairs

A poll of ASE-certified automotive technicians indicated that drivers over 60 are among the most conscientious when it comes to taking their vehicles in for routine maintenance and repair.

The experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) remind consumers that good communication between shop and customer can help make the repair process go smoothly.

“Professionally run repair establishments recognize the importance of two-way communications,” notes Martin Lawson, ASE’s editorial director. “Just as you would with your physician, be prepared to discuss your vehicle’s aches and pains once you are at the repair shop.”

The following tips from ASE should make the repair process go smoothly:

Don’t ignore what your vehicle is telling you.

Look for:

* Unusual sounds, odors, drips, leaks, smoke, warning lights, gauge readings.

* Changes in acceleration, engine performance, gas mileage, fluid levels.

* Worn tires, belts and hoses.

* Problems in handling, braking, steering, vibrations.

* Note when the problem occurs and whether it is constant or periodic.

Stay involved; communicate your findings:

* Be prepared to describe any symptoms. In larger shops, you’ll probably speak with a service consultant rather than with the technician directly.

* Carry a written list of the symptoms that you can give to the technician or service consultant.

* Do not be embarrassed to request simple definitions of technical terms.

* Ask to be called and apprised of the problem, course of action and costs before work begins.

* Before you leave, make a note of shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

Maintain vehicle in the dead of winter

It’s foolhardy to head out in a poorly maintained vehicle in the dead of winter, of course, but even vehicle owners in temperate zones need a car care check as the days grow shorter, note the pros with the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), an independent group that tests and certifies the competence of auto technicians.

Regular, routine maintenance can help improve your gasoline mileage, reduce pollution, and catch minor problems before they become big headaches.

ASE offers these car care tips to give you peace of mind during winter driving:

  • Before you do anything else, read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.
  • Get engine performance and driveability problems — hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc. — corrected at a reputable repair shop that employs ASE-certified repair professionals. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.
  • Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel, and PCV. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.
  • As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming.
  • Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. A poll of ASE Master Auto Technicians revealed that regular oil and filter changes is one of the most frequently neglected services, yet one that is essential to protect your engine.
  • The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. Do-It-Yourselfers: Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked regularly by a professional technician.
  • The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.
  • Replace old blades regularly. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent — you’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months. And don’t forget to always carry an ice scraper.
  • Have your battery checked. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. However, most motorists can perform routine care: Wear eye protection and protective rubber gloves. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; retighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. A word of caution:  Removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles, so always check your owner’s manual first. Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Clouded lenses can be refinished by many service outlets or by using a DIY kit found in major auto parts outlets.
  • Exhaust fumes inside your vehicle’s cabin can be deadly. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift. The trunk and floorboards should also be inspected for small holes.

Repair Or Replace Your Car

Is it best to repair or replace your car? That’s a good question in this economy and here are some helpful tips to make your decision a little easier for you.

(NAPSI)-A growing number of people are finding that the economy has them debating whether it’s best to buy a new car or repair the one they have. If you are trying to decide between buying and repairing, here are some tips that may help:

Comparing Costs

It is typically less expensive in the long run to repair the vehicle you already own rather than purchasing a newer one. Financing even a $2,000 repair typically means lower payments (or similar payments for a shorter time) than those incurred when purchasing a newer vehicle.

The 50-Percent Rule

After receiving the estimate of a major repair, consider the “50-percent rule.” When the cost of a needed repair approaches 50 percent of the vehicle’s value, it is time to seriously consider replacing it.

Reliability And Maintenance History

The best way to know a vehicle’s condition is by maintaining it on a regular basis and using the same repair shop. If a repair shop knows the service history of a vehicle, consumers can look to its technicians for guidance on when their vehicle likely will need major repairs.

“Following the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations can greatly increase the life span of vehicle,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying.

Cosmetics

The cosmetic condition of a vehicle can greatly affect its value and a motorist’s desire to hold on to it. Motorists should take a critical look at their vehicle for signs of wear and tear and evaluate how important their vehicle’s cosmetics are to them.

Lifestyle

Changes in lifestyle can be a large factor in changing vehicles. Family size, commute length, recreational usage and business needs are all legitimate reasons to consider purchasing a newer vehicle that is better suited to a consumer’s driving routine.

Outside Factors

Several outside factors may impact the decision between repairing and replacing a vehicle, such as reduced pricing and special offers from manufacturers. A vehicle that could become a valuable classic might be worthy of extraordinary repairs and maintenance.

If you decide to go with a major repair, be sure to use a qualified and trustworthy auto repair facility. A listing of AAA Approved Auto Repair shops is available at AAA.com/repair.

Focus on Your Vehicle Investment

National Car Care Month, is the perfect time for motorists to learn more about the very real economic benefits of performing regular vehicle maintenance, according to the Car Care Council for Auto Village.

Each year, community car care events routinely identify that consumers are not taking proper care of their vehicles. Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line, either in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value.

Results of free community car care inspection events throughout the US showed that consumers are neglecting their Second Hand Car. 8 out of 10 vehicles failed at least one component of the vehicle inspection process. Even with an estimated 20% more vehicles inspected last year, the overall failure rate remained unchanged.

Of the vehicles checked, 27% were found to have low, overfull, or dirty engine oil, which affects vehicle performance and damages internal parts. Low, leaky, or dirty coolant in the radiator or surge tank was identified in 26% of the inspected vehicles. A cooling system protects against damage by keeping the engine operating within the correct temperature range.

51% of all belts in the vehicles inspected were reported as unsatisfactory. 10% of the vehicles required at least one new hose. Roadside breakdowns can be avoided by checking belts and hoses and replacing them when worn.

These results show that the majority of vehicle owners could save money by being proactive in the maintenance of their second largest investment. Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs to make sure it is ready for the upcoming spring and summer travel season.