Need A Tune Up? Find Out Here

If your engine misfires, hesitates, stalls, gets poor mileage, is hard to start or has failed an emissions test, it clearly needs something, though a tune-up in the traditional sense might not be the cure.

If you tell a repair shop you need a tune-up, the mechanic should ask why you feel you need one before recommending any service. Just like a doctor should ask what symptoms you’re experiencing, a mechanic should seek to diagnose the problem. And just as a doctor may recommend some tests, a mechanic may do the same.

You can speed the process by being ready to describe what happens and when (such as whether your car hesitates when the engine is cold or when passing at highway speeds), any sounds you hear and what you feel when your car’s “illness” shows up.

One caution about lower fuel economy: You should expect it to go down at least a little during the cold months, and maybe a lot. Colder temperatures make your engine and charging system work harder. In addition, winter gasoline blends have slightly less energy content than summer blends, so they don’t deliver as many miles per gallon. A tune-up won’t make Old Man Winter, or his effects, go away.

What are symptoms that might make you think you need a tune-up?

* A misfiring engine (when spark plugs ignite at the wrong time) could be caused by worn or fouled spark plugs. Bad spark plugs can also cause low fuel economy, hard starting and sluggish acceleration. Most plugs, though, should last 100,000 miles or more, and engine computers do a remarkable job of compensating for worn plugs, so that might not be the main or only culprit.


* A dirty or clogged engine air filter is more likely to reduce acceleration than fuel economy, according to tests conducted by the EPA. Because filters get dirty gradually over time, you might not notice a small but steady loss of performance until your car is accelerating like a turtle. But if you haven’t changed the filter in a couple of years (or sooner in areas that have a lot of soot in the air), that could be part of the problem.

* Engine deposits caused by low-quality or contaminated gasoline create drivability problems, and the cure for that might be a fuel system cleaning, either by a repair shop or with a gas-tank additive.

* An illuminated check engine light signals when something is amiss in the emissions control system, but depending on what the issue is it could also affect fuel economy or engine performance, so don’t ignore it. A faulty oxygen sensor, for example, leaves the engine computer in the dark about how to set the air-fuel mixture, and that can result in poor fuel economy.

* An old oxygen sensor (say, 90,000 miles or more) may still work well enough that it doesn’t trigger the check engine light but could still hurt fuel economy. Engine performance can also be reduced by more serious internal problems, such as valves that don’t seat properly or worn piston rings, or by restrictions in the exhaust system.

Because the same symptoms can suggest different problems, and there are often several possible causes and cures, it’s better to consult a professional mechanic than to try to be one if you have neither the experience nor the right equipment to diagnose drivability problems.In short, rather than ask for a tune-up, tell a mechanic what you’re experiencing and ask him or her to find the cause.

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.

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