Make Your Next Home Car Wash A Greener One

Whether you drive a perky hybrid or a well-loved clunker, there’s a greener way to wash your own car. Of course, from a standpoint of water use, commercial car washes are the “eco-friendlier” option (they tend to recycle and reuse the water). But there are steps you can take to lower the environmental impact of a car wash at home. Here’s how to wash a car and come out ahead.

1. Get out of the driveway.

Bring the car from the driveway into the yard. This will help prevent the runoff – and all the gas, oil, tar and other particulates on your vehicle – from draining into your storm sewers.  Of course, if you don’t want the chemicals of conventional cleaners seeping into your yard, you’ll want to opt for natural cleaners (some options below).

2. Put away the paper towels.

Washing with paper towels is needlessly wasteful. But there’s no need to buy shop towels or packets of ‘heavy duty’ paper towlettes. Rip up some old t-shirts, use an oversized sea sponge, or repurpose fraying washcloths from your closet. Many old fabrics can be upcycled and used again and again.

3. Step away from the hose.

Leaving the hose on throughout the washing process can waste gallons and gallons of water. Find yourself a couple of good-sized buckets and fill them up—this is all the water you need. If your hose has an automatic shut-off trigger, you can keep it around and gently mist the car to rinse.

4. Consider waterless.

You can put that hose away altogether if you consider a waterless car wash product over a traditional car cleaner. Just apply and wipe off, conserving water and eliminating runoff entirely.

5. Try a greener cleaner.

If waterless isn’t your thing, there are a number of natural car wash products on the market that won’t harm the earth with runoff.

I hope these tips inspire you to spend a day taking care of your car – and the earth – with a green car wash.  Spring is the perfect time for keeping clean, and green!

Tips To Spring Cleaning Your Car

It’s important that as the weather warms, you give your vehicle some care and attention to ensure it’s in top driving condition. Here are seven steps to help your car recover from winter and get it ready for spring.

Tips for spring cleaning your car

  1. Clean your car’s undercarriage – Depending on where you live, your car has likely been exposed to salt, sand and other grime that can accumulate underneath your car and even cause erosion. Go to a car wash that does a thorough undercarriage wash, or use a garden hose with as much pressure as possible to get rid of all of those lovely winter leftovers.
  2. Deep clean your car’s interior and exterior – Giving your car a full interior/exterior cleaning is a nice way to mark every season change, but it’s especially important in the spring considering the mess that winter brings. Get any residue away from your paint job and give your car a good wax. Clean those floor mats and empty out any extra brushes or winter necessities from your trunk – ‘tis the season to start-a-new!
  3. Take off your winter tires – Many Americans live in a climate that make winter tires a safety necessity when the temperature drops. Once the mercury climbs above 44°F (and starts to stay there!) it’s time to switch back to your all-season or performance tires.
  4. Check your brakes – Road salt can impact the condition of your brakes. Salt can corrode metal and your brake pads rely on clean, properly lubricated metal frames to work properly. Save a step and get this checked while your car is already elevated having its tires changed at a service center.
  5. Check your tire alignment – Potholes are one of the unfortunate elements of winter driving and they can certainly take their toll on your car. Have your tire alignment checked in the spring, and if you kept your all-season or all-weather tires on over the winter, consider having them rotated as well.
  6. Check your tire pressure – Checking your tire pressure is something many people do all year round. Because your tires lose about one pound per square inch for every drop in temperature, it’s especially important to check your pressure throughout the winter and as you get your car ready for the warmer months.
  7. Replace your wiper blades – Your windshield wipers get a real workout keeping your view clear of snow and sleet over the winter, so replacing them every spring (and fall) is a small investment in making sure you have unobstructed views of the road.

Following the steps above will get your car in great shape, helping it to run smoothly on all your fair weather road trips.

Car Care For Spring

While your immediate focus will likely be on restoring your car, van, SUV or truck’s exterior and interior to pristine condition, make sure you also give its mechanical systems a careful once-over to ensure they’re ready to deal with the hot summer weather ahead, particularly if its an older or high mileage vehicle.

You can have your service technician do this for you – and many service shops offer spring service special deals – but by following some basic procedures you can spot potential problem areas yourself and then have them dealt with if necessary by a pro.

You should have been keeping your vehicle washed regularly to help keep rust at bay, but if you haven’t you need to do so before checking it over as it will be easier to spot damage or problems. A do-it-yourself spring cleaning process also allows you to flush out salt and sand deposits from areas that a quick run through the car wash often misses.

Don’t forget the radiator, which may have become partially clogged with debris. A fine spray and a fairly soft brush with long bristles can help here, but don’t be too aggressive and damage the thin fins. Visually check it for corrosion or leaks.

With the engine stopped and cool you can clean the compartment with an engine specific spray cleaner, followed by a rinse (avoiding high-pressure spray on electrical parts). This will not only make this area look good but often reveal problems.

Hoses should feel firm, not mushy, be free of obvious cracks and show no evidence of leaking at connections. Belts shouldn’t be cracked, frayed, brittle or glazed looking and should be firmly, but not too tightly tensioned.

Make sure the engine is completely cool before you check coolant levels. This can usually be done by looking at the reservoir which is marked with maximum and minimum levels. Never remove the radiator cap of a hot engine. If your coolant level is low you can add a 50/50 mixture of anti-freeze and water, but make sure you check it again in a few days and if it is down, or you notice fluid under the vehicle, you probably have a leak that will require attention. Car Care Canada recommends flushing your cooling system and refilling with fresh coolant every two years as the beneficial chemicals in the coolant break down with age.

 

Should You Change Your Own Brakes?

If you have the know-how to do your own brake work or know someone who does and is willing to share their expertise for free, the do-it-yourself approach to replacing pads and rotors can save you lots of money. But be sure you know what’s wrong before you get started, or you could waste a lot of time and money.

The cost of brake parts varies widely by brand and model, and you should certainly expect to pay more for brake work on a BMW than on a Honda.

Doing it yourself also means you choose the parts that go on your car, you’re in charge of quality control and you do it on your own schedule.

If that was all there was to it, we would recommend that anyone with a little mechanical skill perform their own brake repairs. Brake maintenance, though, isn’t always as simple as just removing and replacing parts.

For example, unevenly worn brake pads could be the result of sticking caliper slide pins, the calipers themselves might need cleaning, lubricating or replacement, and excessive brake pedal travel might be the result of air in the hydraulic brake lines, not worn pads.

If you don’t have the knowledge to diagnose what might be wrong or the tools or experience to correct it, you might be wasting time and money by replacing parts because they’re the usual suspects. You might know your car better than anyone, but a good mechanic probably knows much more about brakes than you do.

Repair shops also guarantee their labor as well as the parts they install, so if something doesn’t seem right after a brake job, they usually stand behind it and fix what’s wrong.

If you decide to do the work yourself, be sure you’re addressing the root causes of your brake issues, and make sure pads, rotors and other parts really do need replacing before you buy new ones.

Above all, know your limits, because brakes are what stop your car and you don’t want to make a dangerous mistake.

How To Improve Your Gas Mileage In 2019

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.