Getting Your Car Serviced Regular Can Keep You Green

Regular vehicle maintenance and sensible driving habits will help the environment and save you money in the long run, according to the pros at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Well-maintained vehicles pollute less, last longer and command greater resale values. Follow these tips from ASE to become a more savvy and environmentally conscientious car-owner.

* Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent, for instance. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the owner’s manual to keep your vehicle in peak condition.

* Keep tires properly inflated and aligned to reduce the effort required by the engine – and gasoline consumption.

* Find a good technician. Ask friends for recommendations or check the reputation of the repair shop you are considering by contacting your local consumer group.

Check the technicians’ credentials as well, including ASE certification. ASE-certified auto technicians have passed one or more national exams in specialties such as engine performance and air conditioning.

* Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-

depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.

* Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations; both habits guzzle gas.

* Don’t let the car sit idle with the engine running. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine to conserve fuel.

* Consolidate errands to eliminate unnecessary driving.

* Remove excess items from the vehicle to reduce weight and improve gas mileage. Also, be sure to remove that rooftop luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag.

ASE was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. Its certified technicians wear blue-and-white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.

The Benefits of Leasing Your Vehicle

Despite aggressive low-interest financing, cash-back offers and other
purchasing incentives offered by leading auto-makers to buyers, leasing
numbers keep increasing steadily over the years. Leasing is not only an
attractive financial proposition to most auto-consumers, but also a
lifestyle and preference choice.

Benefit Number 1: Keeping up with the latest trends

Leasing is sometimes more of a personal and lifestyle choice than a
financial one. Many people are not comfortable with the idea of owning a
vehicle over a long period of time. Theyíd rather keep up with the latest
trends of the industry and drive the latest models every two to three
years.

Leasing a car gives you the convenience of having the latest technology
and safety innovation, such as an electronic stability system, DVD
entertainment systems and advanced stereo equipment. If you are willing to
forego ownership for the latest set of wheels, than leasing is your best
option.

Benefit Number 2: Purchasing Flexibility

Leasing also offers purchasing flexibility: it allows you to defer the
purchasing decision while using the car. You donít have to haggle with your
mechanic over repair expenses, deal with hefty maintenance bills or worry
about a depreciating asset. Provided you can keep the vehicle in good
condition and stay within the contracted mileage allowance, youíre
effectively getting a test drive for the length of your lease. At the end of your lease, you can purchase the vehicle or simply turn in the keys and walk away. No questions asked.

Benefit Number 3: Cash Flow

Leasing offers many short-term benefits. It reduces your initial cash
outlay as you do not have to pay the large down payment required for car
ownership. You only pay for the depreciation on the car – only the part you
will use during your lease, not the entire vehicle. This results in lower
monthly payments and frees even more cash. This cash can be put to use more intelligently elsewhere than the questionable investment of owning a
depreciating asset. If you are self-employed or use your car for your job,
then you can write off your leasing payment as a business expense.

Benefit Number 4: Negotiating Leverage

Although it may seem a little unorthodox in this industry, almost
everything about leasing is negotiable. If you know all the fees involved,
you can lower your monthly payments, negotiate the purchase price of the
vehicle at the end of the lease and contract additional miles on top of
your mileage limit. You can also do some shopping around and compare deals from different auto-insurers to get the cheapest GAP insurance for your lease.

What is that Smell and What is Wrong With Your Car?

What is the usual smell that your car has?

For most cars the usual smell would be the scent of leather or of the materials used. This usually goes for those newly purchased cars. On the other hand, there are also distinct smells that emanate from your car as it goes through time and use. However, as the owner or driver, you would know that these are the usual odors and that would not be something to get alarmed about.

What you should be on the alert about are some types of smells or odors that seem to be different, and out of the ordinary. These are the smells that you should be aware about for they could conceal something much more serious than simply a smell out of place.

If you smell an odor emanating from your exhaust, it could indicate that there is a leak in the exhaust system. It could mean a hole in your carís tailpipe, exhaust pipe, exhaust manifold, or even the muffler. It could also mean that your hatchback or rear door already has a worn out seal. If this happens, you should take on the challenge immediately for you might get carbon monoxide inside your car which could get pretty deadly. What you should do is to bring your car to a mechanic right away.

If you smell raw gas, it could mean that there is a leak in your carís fuel delivery system. What could be affected is your carís fuel lines, gas tank, or your fuel filter. This is also dangerous for any fuel leaks could spark a car fire. You can remedy the situation by first seeking if you have put back the gas cap right on properly. If this does not seem to be the problem, then go straight away to your mechanic.

The smell of rotten eggs could also be something that you may notice and this means that your catalytic converter has become plugged. Once you smell this, go see your mechanic so as to remedy the problem.

Proper Driving Etiquette Explained

 

If you’re learning to drive or teaching a new driver the rules of the road, you need to understand proper driving etiquette. Because you’re rarely on the road all by yourself, it’s important to get along with your fellow drivers. So, check out this list of 10 driving behaviors that are sure to annoy everyone else on the road…and don’t do them!

  1. Blinker Blindness: Your turn signals are not part of your portable psychedelic lightshow. They are solely to be used when you intend to make a turn or enter a road. Example: At a 4-way stop, you reach the intersection at the exact same time as the car across from you. Since neither of you have your turn signal activated, you continue straight (assuming they’ll do the same). All of a sudden, this moron makes a left turn and you almost crash into him. Don’t be that guy. A corollary to this is the person who forgets to turn their blinker off after making the lane change. This confuses every driver around you.
  2. Lane Sharing: White dashed lines on the roadway indicate the separation of lanes. Do not straddle lane lines for longer than is necessary to change lanes. If you must occupy two lanes to avoid hitting something, then do so quickly and shift back into your single lane as soon as possible.

 

  1. Boxing Other Cars In: There is nothing worse than coming out to your car to find it “boxed in” by other cars on the curb. If a curb parking spot does not have a two foot margin on the front and rear, then you shouldn’t park there. By inching up to the cars around you, you’re leaving them with no room to get out. This is sure to infuriate other drivers.
  2. Slow-poke Driving: Highways have a slow lane and a fast lane. If you are a slow driver, then please stay in the right-most lane (which is usually the slow lane). Do not drive in the fast/passing lane for any reason other than to perform a pass. Clogging up a faster lane is sure to send other drivers into a fit. Simply move over and let the crazy speedsters pass.
  3. Tailgating: Tailgating is one of the most annoying driving habits. Don’t do it, ever. It frustrates other drivers and will not get you to your destination any faster. Tailgating a car to try to force them to move over can result in a road-rage incident or a crash. If you hit someone from behind, it’s always your fault for following too closely. So, think about the dangerous and wallet-shrinking consequences of tailgating before you do it.

 

  1. Being a Portable Snow Dispersal Unit: After a snow storm, wipe off any snow that has collected on top of your car, on each window (front, back, and sides), as well as over the headlights and tail lights. If you leave this snow in place, it can blow off while driving and blind the person behind you.
  2. Driving with One Foot On Each Pedal: Unless you have a manual transmission car, driving is performed solely with your right foot. Riding the brake confuses other drivers because your brake lights are illuminated, but you’re not slowing down.
  3. Poor Stop Light Etiquette: I see this often; the person who stops about 3 feet past the white line at stop lights. Not only can you end up blocking the intersection and get hit by cross-traffic, but you’re not allowing any room for pedestrians to cross safely.
  4. Being a Pace Car: This usually only occurs on rural 2-lane highways. If you are driving alongside another car at the same speed, you are blocking all traffic from being able to pass. The right lane is meant for slower cars, therefore only use the left lane when passing.
  5. Excessive Braking: Have you ever been in heavy traffic when the car in front of you keeps slamming on his breaks to avoid hitting the car in front of him? Or, when a car keeps tapping his breaks every minute for no apparent reason? Not only is this annoying, but it’s confusing to drivers around you. If you do this for an extended period of time, a “crying wolf” syndrome could occur. Other drivers may not react to your brake lights until it’s too late.

 

Updating and Improving Your Car In 6 Easy Ways

 

You might think of your car as simply a conveyance that gets you from point A to point B, but maybe it’s a few years old and you are ready for an upgrade. Buying a new car may be an option, but it’s no small expense and may not be practical for you to add new or potentially higher car payments to your monthly bills. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can upgrade your car’s appearance and features without spending a ton. Check out the six low-cost or do-it-yourself car upgrades below to learn how to make your car feel newer, inside and out.

1. Clean It Up

One of the best things about a new car is that it’s clean, shiny and has that new-car smell. You may be able to get some of the new car aroma back via an inexpensive air freshener, but scrubbing your old car from top to bottom can give it a newer look. Start with shampooing the carpet and upholstery, vacuuming the seat cushions and floor, and clearing out buildup from the engine bay. If you have the proper cleaning products, you can also clean many of the actual engine parts including the battery connections. Then, wash and wax the outside.

2. Remove Dents

Detailing your car may reveal dents and scratches you might not have noticed before. Purchase a DIY Dent Kit. These can be purchased online for as low as $20 and offer all the tools you need to flatten out dents. But keep in mind, the smaller the dent, the trickier it is to fix.

Minor dents and dings, the kind your car might receive from a hail storm, for example, can be repaired by one of two methods: paintless dent removal or the traditional body shop repair/paint method.

Because dent repair can vary in difficulty, it may be a good idea to contact a professional auto body shop or dent repair shop to fix any dent, big or small.

3. Upgrade Your Sound System

If your car is 5-7 years old (or more), there’s a good chance your sound system is out-of-date. You can get a new radio head unit that integrates with mobile devices or satellite radio and has Bluetooth capabilities for less than $100 online.

4. Turn Your Cigarette Lighter Into a Power Source

Whether you upgrade your sound system or already had one that was compatible with mobile devices, certain features will only be useful if your electronics have battery life. If you are stuck in traffic or taking longer trips, you may run out of juice before you can charge again. Add a power source through your cigarette lighter. There are units available that plug in to the cigarette lighter socket and offer USB plugs for charging electronic devices. With one of these gadgets, you don’t have to worry about your phone dying before your maps app can get you to your destination.

5. Cover up Scratches

Unsightly scratches and chips in your car’s paint may make your vehicle look aged and worn. To give your car a newer look from the outside, Consumer Reports suggests hiding the wear and tear by applying touch-up paint. Many auto dealers and some auto-parts shops have small bottles of matching paint you can purchase for a low cost. If the scratch is shallow and doesn’t hit the primer or bare metal, you may be able to just dab the paint on the scratch with a paintbrush, let it dry for a couple of days, and then polish the area with a microfiber or foam applicator pad to make sure it blends.

6. Docking Stations for Electronics

Even if you can use your electronics in the car, it may not be practical, safe, or even legal, in some cases, to hold them while you drive. However, using your phone’s navigation system may require your phone to be in clear view all the time. If your older car doesn’t have a fancy, big-screen navigation system installed in its dashboard, you can purchase a mount for your dash, center console or cupholder for your GPS-enabled phone for approximately $10 to $20.You could also create your own DIY electronics dock using a 6-inch by 6-inch piece of stiff plastic and self-adhesive strips of hook-and-loop fasteners.

While these updates and car improvements will not make your vehicle new again, they may help you see it in a new light. Knowing how to improve your car with functional upgrades or some minor body work may give you what you want in a vehicle, without having to spend a hefty amount