Is Your Radiator Leaking? Check This Simple Guide

When the temperature gauge on your dashboard reads high or a temperature warning light comes on, you have a cooling system problem that may be caused by a leak — be it in the radiator itself or some other component.

First, make sure it’s coolant that’s leaking, not another fluid. (Coolant is often referred to as antifreeze, but technically coolant is a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.) You can easily check the coolant level in your see-through overflow tank. If it’s empty or low, the next step should be to check the coolant level in the radiator, but that should be done only when the engine is cool.

Once you know you’re losing coolant, the radiator is a good place to start. Some radiator leaks will be easy to spot — such as a puddle underneath the radiator — but others not so much. It’s best to check the radiator from every angle, not just from above, and pay particular attention to seams and the bottom. Corrosion inside the radiator or holes from road debris also can cause leaks.

Antifreeze comes in different colors — green, yellow and pinkish-red, for example — feels like slimy water and usually has a sweet smell. If you can’t see coolant dripping or seeping, look for rust, cracks or stains on the radiator. Those are telltale signs of where it has leaked.

If the radiator appears to be OK, the cooling system offers several possibilities for leaks, including the hoses from the radiator to the engine, the radiator cap, water pump, engine block, thermostat, overflow tank, heat exchanger (a small radiator that circulates hot coolant into the dashboard for cabin heating) and others. A blown gasket between the cylinder head and the engine block is another possibility, allowing coolant inside the combustion chambers — a problem that must be addressed immediately by a mechanic.

If you can’t find a leak, have it checked by a professional. Coolant has a way of escaping only under pressure when the car is running — possibly in the form of steam, which may not leave a trace.

Improve Your Gas Mileage With These Easy Tips

There are a lot of reasons to improve your automobile gas mileage. It starts with the costs that you pay at the pump, with fluctuating gas prices reminding consumers that spending time on the road isn’t always cheap. Then there is dependence on foreign oil (which affects countries with higher use or without vast reserves), not to mention peak oil projections that lead to a lot of people wanting to cut back, in order to benefit the community at large and for the future of the planet. If any of this resonates with you, you can use some of these handy tips to get the best mpg (miles per gallon) possible out of your vehicle.

Improve MPG with Easy Changes

Here are some of the top ways that drivers improve the mpg of their cars, SUVs, trucks and other vehicles.

  1. Unload Vehicles: Driving around with extra weight requires your engine to burn a lot more gas. Take out heavy extras when they’re not needed for a trip, and you’ll be cutting down your overall fuel consumption.
  2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated: Well inflated tires can help you avoid some kinds of road accidents, and save you gas money at the same time. Studies have shown that vehicles get significantly better mpg when all four tires are inflated to capacity. Seasonal changes and other factors mean that your tire inflation can change over a month or two, so keep monitoring your inflation levels for the best results.
  3. Use the Right Motor Oil: Other research has shown that using the correct grade of motor oil can also help with fuel economy. This is as easy as spending that few extra seconds looking for the right grade of oil, or requesting it for your ‘instant oil change.’
  4. Maintain Your Fuel Economy System: Many newer vehicles have sophisticated electronic systems that are made to ensure good mpg by optimizing the fuel mix and other engine performance factors. Letting this system fall into disrepair will cause your vehicle to burn more fuel on every trip. Don’t just ignore your broken O2 sensor or clogged catalytic converter. When the check engine light comes on, get the issue fixed even if it doesn’t impair your use of the car, and you’ll be contributing to better long-term maintenance and fuel economy.
  5. Drive Slower: Charts of fuel consumption by speed show that your fuel economy maxes out around 50 mph and then gradually goes down until at 70 to 80 mph. At the average speed on some highways, you may be getting pretty poor mpg. Some drivers who have decided to use the slow lane on long trips have found that they save quite a bit of gas this way.
  6. Drive Consistently: Some environmental advocacy groups recommend using the cruise control on your vehicle to maintain a constant speed, which lowers the amount of fuel use and improves mpg. To drive efficiently, avoid those quick acceleration moves that make your engine work a lot harder.

These are just some of the ways you can improve the fuel economy of a vehicle without swapping it in for a more expensive high-mpg model. Eventually, newer cars will have better fuel economy built into them, but for now, lots of conscientious drivers are choosing some of these popular fuel-saving approaches.

Secrets To Car Warranties Everyone Should Know

Car warranties ensure that if your car breaks down, you will have the necessary funds available to repair it. There are numerous companies offering car warranties today, but not all of them are created equal. To get the best deal on a car warranty, you must arm yourself with information that helps you pick the good warranty companies from the bad. To help you in the process, here are 4 secrets of car warranties that everyone should know before putting money down on one.

1. Prices are Negotiable

You may think the price on the manufacturer’s extended warranty is set in stone, but think again. Like the price of the automobile, the cost to cover repairs can also be negotiated. To ensure you get the best rate on auto warranties, call a few dealers to find out what their prices are on extended warranties. Once you’re armed with general pricing information, begin the negotiation process. Don’t be afraid to low ball the initial quote, in an effort to bring down the overall cost of the warranty. You and the dealer are likely to meet in the middle between their initial quote and your counter offer

2. Costs Can Be Financed

When you are shopping for auto warranties on new vehicles, the cost of the warranty can often be folded into the car’s financing arrangement. Instead of paying a large sum when the warranty needs to take effect, you see a small increase in your monthly payment amount. However, some dealers only quote a monthly rate on the warranty. When you are planning to add the cost of the warranty to your car finance, ask about the total cost before you sign on the bottom line. This will tell you whether you are getting a fair price and assist with the negotiation process listed above.

3. Warranties Can Be Transferred

Extended used car warranties can often be transferred to the new owner of a vehicle when the car is sold. If you are selling a car with an extended warranty, this fact is a good selling feature, offering additional value to the prospective owner. If you are purchasing a used vehicle, ask about extended used car warranties, to see if you can keep the warranty currently in effect. In some cases, this transfer requires a letter from the current owner and a small transfer fee. Transfer the policy when you purchase the vehicle, to ensure repairs are covered right away.

4. Third Party Warranties

Many car purchasers turn to third-party warranties as a means of saving money. Because some auto manufacturers have closed down recently, manufacturer warranties are not holding as much attraction as they once did. However, if you decide to go with a third party warranty, thoroughly research the company and read the fine print of the policy before purchasing. This extra effort may go far in protecting you from fraud and lack of coverage when you need it most.

Car warranties can be very helpful in covering repairs to your vehicle after the initial warranty expires. By observing these secrets of the warranty industry, you can save money and ensure complete coverage of your automobile.

Looking For A Used Car? Don’t Buy Without These Tips!

Used car advice is easy to come by. Getting a good deal at a used car lot is not that difficult if you know how to approach the negotiation; however, there are some misconceptions about how the negotiation process should be approached.

Take Your Time

When at a used car dealership, never feel like you have to rush into buying the car. Many people feel like they have to negotiate a deal as soon as possible. In fact, the more patient you are the better price you will be able to negotiate for the vehicle. The dealer will always try to convince you that you need to buy the vehicle right away, as it may be gone if you leave and return. However, this is a common sales tactic and one you should not fall for. If the dealer is not willing to offer a price that you can live with, simply leave and make sure they have your phone number before you do. Chances are you will receive a follow-up phone call before you get home.

Don’t Talk about Financing

Even if you have your financing prearranged or are paying cash, never let the dealer know this. Most dealers earn money when they assist you with the financing of the vehicle; therefore, if you tell them you’re paying cash or have your own financing, the dealer won’t be as likely to negotiate a lower selling price as they will not be able to earn on the financing part of the deal. Besides, you should always listen to the dealer’s pitch for financing—sometimes dealer pitches can be quite good.

Throw Out the Hidden Fees

You should always be aware that some dealers charge fees that could add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a used car. For example, many dealers charge prep or cleaning fees before you pick up the car from the lot. Always make sure to ask for all fees in writing and ask questions about each of them. The car should be clean when you buy it and you should not be charged for it. Any fees included in the price of the car should be considered, and the ones that are not truly relevant should be negotiated away.

Don’t Stand In the Sun

The dealer wants you to fall in love with the car and buy it; therefore, he wants you to spend as much time next to the vehicle is possible. You can take away this dealer advantage by asking to sit down in the sales manager’s office and negotiate the price there.

Believe it or not it will help you as well—the longer you stand beside the car you want, the more expensive the price you will be willing to pay for it. Give yourself a little breathing room and ask for discounts and other incentives in the sales manager’s office and not out in the sun by the car.

Avoid Lemons

One of the biggest fears for anyone buying a used car is winding up with a lemon. There are some simple ways to avoid this.

Make sure to examine the car you are looking at thoroughly. Test drive the vehicle, being sure to check the engine, steering, brakes, and transmission for peculiarities. Have a history report done on the car’s vehicle identification number to learn about any previous collisions the car may have been in. Look at the body for signs of mismatched paint on the fenders, and check the odometer for indications of tampering. Generally, a car should average about 10,000 miles for every year on the road. Depending on the age and residual value of the car, it may be a smart idea to purchase a warranty. Some basic car warranty advice is to look for a deal that allows you to use a mechanic of your choosing, check to see what type of mileage restrictions exist and make sure that the warranty claim limit is at least what you would expect to pay for an average repair.

Getting stuck with a lemon can be discouraging and frustrating, but the risk of it happening to you shouldn’t scare you away from buying a used car. If you follow this advice you should be on your way to making your next used car a rewarding experience.

How To Combat Driving Fatigue

 

About a week ago a young, promising teenage boy was killed on my road. He was coming back from night fishing when his car veered off and hit a tree. He was killed instantly. There were no witnesses but everyone feels he may have fallen asleep behind the wheel. He was only 17 years old.

Driver fatigue is a dangerous game to play. You always think you can make it. Just 25 more miles, I am almost there. The unfortunate truth is that sometimes you don’t make it.

Wake up. According to the National Sleep Foundation, two-thirds of Americans have sleep-related problems at some time in their life and 23 percent have actually fallen asleep while driving. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that drowsiness and/or fatigue is a contributing factor in approximately 100,000 motor vehicle crashes annually and is a factor in nearly four percent of all fatal crashes.

Be kind to yourself and your loved ones — keep these tips from NHTSA in mind:

    • Set reasonable daily itineraries
    • Rotate driving shifts if more than one driver is available
    • Take regular breaks while driving (every two hours)
    • Restrict night driving
    • Plan for a good night’s sleep
    • Get some kind of physical exercise during the day
    • Maintain a healthy diet, without excessive fats or carbs. Also, avoid sugary foods; the initial rush is fine, but the “letdown” can make you feel worse than befor