End Of Summer Car Care

The vacations are over, the kids are back in school and cooler evenings have begun. Take advantage of the lull to prepare your vehicle for the winter ahead, that way you can avoid breakdowns!

First things first

Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. There are usually two schedules listed: normal and severe.

Engine Performance

Have engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse. Replace dirty filtersair, fuel, PCV, etc.

Fuel

Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture from forming in the first place.

Oil

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles or so) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.

Cooling System

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 anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) If you’re doing your own work, allow the radiator to cool down completely before removing the cap. (Newer vehicles have coolant reservoirs.) The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a certified auto technician.

Heater/Defroster

The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

Windshield Wipers

Replace old blades. 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. Carry an ice-scraper.

Battery

The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. But do-it-yourselfers can do routine maintenance. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.

A word of caution:

Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Note too that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles so refer to your manual for instructions.

Lights

Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.

Exhaust System

Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Tires

Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

Emergencies

Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, and a cell phone. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.

Why Your Cars Trade In Value Is Lower Than The Market Value

When consumers buy a new car and sell their current vehicle to the dealership, that vehicle is called a trade-in. Almost always, the amount of money that a dealer will offer for the vehicle, the trade-in value, is less than the amount of money that you could get by selling it on your own, the market value. This article explains why.

Dealers accept trade-ins for two reasons. First, a trade-in may be a well-maintained example of a popular model that the dealer can recondition and sell on the used car lot for a profit. Second, the dealer is making it easier for the consumer to agree to buy the new car. Accepting a trade-in for any other reason results in extra effort, extra cost, and an uncertain outcome for the dealer.

When a dealer buys a customer’s vehicle, the dealer makes that customer’s life easier while adding complexity and uncertainty to his or her own business model. Paperwork regarding the transfer of ownership must be completed and filed. If the vehicle is going to be resold on the dealer’s used car lot, it must be inspected, reconditioned, and anything wrong must be repaired. If the vehicle is going to be auctioned, it must be transported to the auction and sold for an amount that covers the dealer’s costs. Sometimes, there is something wrong with the customer’s old car that the dealer discovers after the deal is completed, resulting in unforeseen expenses.

For all of these reasons, trade-in value is less than market value.

Keep in mind, consumers do not have to accept the dealer’s trade-in offer. If the dealership offers the consumer less for the trade-in than the consumer believes the vehicle is worth, the consumer has the option of selling the vehicle on their own in an attempt to receive more money for it.

Selling a car on your own is not easy. The seller must be aware of state and local laws governing the private sale of vehicles. To extract maximum value for the vehicle, the seller must clean the car, replace worn items, and repair anything that doesn’t work. Advertisements must be placed, and when interested parties call, the seller must arrange to meet strangers to conduct test drives. If an agreement is reached with a buyer, another meeting is required to handle transfer of funds and paperwork. Separately, a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles may be required.

For all of these reasons, trade-in value is less than market value.

Safety Tips For Teen Drivers

While getting a drivers license is an exciting rite-of-passage for teens, it can make a parent frantic—with good reason. You’ll want to make sure that they have the right driving license like this Ohio drivers license. That’s the first thing that a parent will probably want to make sure they have right. That’s one thing off the checklist. However, there is much more to it after that. The first years that teenagers spend driving are very risky. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds and research shows that more than half of teens who die in crashes are passengers, most of whom are not wearing a seatbelt.

Immaturity and lack of driving experience are the two main factors leading to the high crash rates among teens. Even the best teenage drivers do not have the judgment that comes from experience. It affects their recognition of, and response to, hazardous situations and results in dangerous practices such as speeding and tailgating. Teens also tend to engage in risky behavior—eating, talking on their cellphones, text messaging, talking to friends in the car—and they often do not wear their seatbelts.

If you’re the parent of a new driver, take the following steps to ensure the safety of your teenager.

Pick a safe car

You and your teenager should choose a car that is easy to drive and would offer protection in the event of a crash. For example, avoid small cars and those with high performance images that might encourage speed and recklessness, or trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are more prone to rollovers.

Enroll your teen in a drivers education course

The more driving practice the better; experience will give your teen confidence behind the wheel, and he or she will be better able to react to challenging situations on the road. Furthermore, a teenager who has learned to drive through a recognized drivers education course is viewed more favorably by insurers and may earn a discount.Enroll your teen in a safe driver program

Check whether your insurance company offers a “safe driver” program. Teen participants in these programs sign parent-teen driving contracts that outline the young driver’s responsibilities (for instance, not having teen passengers in the car, being home by a certain hour, etc.) and the consequences of failure to meet those expectations. If your teenager completes the program, not only will he or she be a safer driver, you may also be eligible for a discount.

In addition, many insurance companies are helping to reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers by subsidizing the cost of electronic devices, such as GPS systems and video cameras, which can monitor the way teens drive and alert parents of unsafe driving practices by email, text message or phone.

Enroll your teen in a graduated drivers license program—or create your own

Many states have successful reduced teen accident rates with graduated drivers license (GDL) programs and other laws that allow teen drivers to develop skills and gain experience behind the wheel. With these, new drivers are restricted from certain activities—such as late night driving, having passengers in the car or being on the road unsupervised—until they have had their licenses for a set period.

In states without a GDL program, parents can institute the same policies. Take an active role in your teenagers’ driving practice and expose them to driving in a wide variety of driving conditions to build experience and confidence as you introduce privileges gradually. Allow independent driving only after continued practice, including night driving and driving in inclement weather.

Discuss the dangers of drug and alcohol use

Advise teens never to drink or do drugs, and not to get in a car if the driver has used drugs or alcohol. Encourage your teen to call you if such a situation arises to ensure they have a safe way home.

Understand the dangers of distracted and impaired driving

Talk to your teen about the importance of not driving while distracted. Distractions include phoning or texting while driving, as well as listening to the radio and chatting with friends who are in the car. Teens should also be responsible passengers when in their friends’ cars. New drivers should wait 1,000 miles or six months before picking up their first teen passenger.

Be a good role model

New drivers learn by example, so if you drive recklessly, your teenage driver may imitate you. Always wear your seatbelt and never drink and drive.

And, finally, keep in mind, teenagers mature differently—not all are mature enough to handle a drivers license at the same age. Parents should consider whether teens are easily distracted, nervous or risk takers before allowing them to get a license or even a learners permit.

Important Keys To Car Safety

There are more vehicles on U.S. roads than ever before. With an estimated 240.5 million cars and light trucks crowding our roads as of 2011, your safety and that of others is at risk when your vehicle isn’t stopping and steering at its best. Reducing your vehicle’s stopping distance by just an inch or so could make the difference between a minor scare and a major fender bender.

Crowded roads aren’t the only concern. The roads themselves are often in a sorry state of repair. Portions of our highway system (including many bridges) haven’t seen much in the way of maintenance or repair since they were built.

In cold climates, the freeze/thaw cycle enlarges cracks and holes in the pavement. In sunnier spots, the heat, heavy cargo hauling and years of neglect take their own toll on roads. The result can be a moonscape of potholes that can affect the handling of your vehicle. Bad roads can cause suspension components, so vital to steering control and handling, to grow old before their time.

But you don’t have to be an automotive expert to keep your vehicle’s stopping and steering systems safe.

Pay a little now, or a lot later

Putting off repairs for too long results in growing costs. For example, let’s look at a typical brake job. Not only will you have to buy new brake pads, but add in new brake rotors as well to replace the ones that were ruined by procrastination.

New rotors can range from $50 to $250 or more, depending upon the vehicle application — and that’s for each wheel. Even if normal wear dictates rotor replacement, the upside is that it could be the last time you’ll ever replace them before you trade in the vehicle.

It’s important to perform needed maintenance early. Allowing the situation to bloom into an expensive repair threatens the practicality of keeping your paid-for wheels on the road. If you made 36, 48 or even 60 monthly payments without flinching in order to buy the car, but don’t like to pay for maintenance, try considering it as a short-term “car payment” that only has to be made occasionally.

Safety tips for brake service:

  • Invest in a top-quality brake pads.
  • If any rotors are marginal for continued service after refinishing (too thin or very close to the minimum thickness specification), have them replaced. An ASE-certified technician can compare the specification dimension and your rotors’ actual thickness for you on request. If you own an older vehicle equipped with original equipment (OE) rotors, be prepared to replace them at this time.
  • Have the brake calipers inspected to ensure that any moving parts, such as slides and bleeder screws, haven’t corroded and frozen up.
  • Don’t always jump at the lowest quoted price for your brake job. A low price quote can mean that you’re not getting the complete brake system serviced.

Remember, there are cheap jobs that use basic components. There are also more-expensive jobs that use premium components. When evaluating the cost of any vehicle repair or maintenance, consider the quality of work and the parts. What’s the cost difference between the two? Which one would you trust most?

Beyond basic brake pads and rotor replacement or resurfacing, ask for quotations on the following expanded parts and services if you own an older vehicle:

  • If your brake hydraulic system has never been flushed, consider having it serviced to remove moisture and impurities from the fluid reservoir, lines, calipers and/or wheel cylinders.
  • Have rubber-type flex brake hoses replaced when they’re hard, cracked or simply old.
  • When rotors are being resurfaced for reuse, request inspection of the wheel bearings.
  • On rear-wheel-drive cars or trucks, have the front wheel bearings inspected and repacked with new grease, along with replacing the seals. Don’t take the chance of being stranded over an inexpensive bearing or seal.
  • For drum brake applications, ask to have a new brake hardware kit installed when the brake shoes are replaced and the drums are refinished. The technician should ensure that each assembly’s wheel cylinder pistons, starwheel adjuster and bleeder screw aren’t sticking or seized.
  • Have your emergency brake assembly tested periodically. Have it repaired or adjusted if necessary.

This approach to vehicle maintenance may cost a little more up front, but if you make the investment now, you can be sure that-old or new-your car or truck will stop in the shortest distance possible-and be able to steer around trouble.

Gas Saving Tips For The Summer

Gas-Saving Tips for Your Auto

While it is always wise to conserve natural resources, the recent price of gasoline has made even the most wasteful people think twice. Whatever your motivation, here are some gas saving tips from the pros at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Monitor tires. Under inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels waste fuel by forcing the engine to work harder. (Let the tires cool down before checking the air pressure.) Out-of-line wheels, as evidenced by uneven tread wear, should be aligned by a professional.

Remove excess weight. Remove unnecessary items from the vehicle. Store only essentials in the trunk. Less weight means better mileage.

Consolidate trips and errands. Some trips may be unnecessary. Also, try to travel when traffic is light so you can avoid stop-and-go conditions.

Avoid excessive idling. Shut off the engine while waiting for friends and family.

Observe speed limits. Speeding decreases your miles per gallon.

Drive gently. Sudden accelerations guzzle gas. Anticipate traffic patterns ahead and adjust your speed gradually.

Use windows and air conditioning wisely. Your mileage should improve if you keep the windows closed at highway speeds, since air drag is reduced. This is true even with the air conditioning on-assuming that the system is in good working order. But turn the air conditioning off in stop-and-go traffic to save fuel.

Keep your engine “tuned up.” A well-maintained engine operates at peak efficiency, maximizing gas mileage. Follow the service schedules listed in the owner’s manual. Replace filters and fluids as recommended; have engine performance problems (rough idling, poor acceleration, etc.) corrected at a repair facility. Given today’s high-tech engines, it’s wise to have this type of work done by auto technicians who are ASE certified in engine performance.

These conservation tips will not only save gasoline, they’ll help extend the life of your vehicle. Win-win, indeed.