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Make Sure Your Car's Ready For Winter!

October 14th, 2016

You know that winter and bad weather are coming. Is your car ready? Here’s a quick checklist of things to get up to speed on:

Motor oil: Motor oil has a tendency to thicken in cold weather, making it harder to circulate to upper engine parts at startup. If you haven’t ever used synthetic oil Driving in the Winterbefore, this might be a good time to start. The flow properties of synthetic oil are a lot more consistent, meaning it doesn’t thicken in sub-freezing temperatures or thin out when it’s hot outside.

Wipers: Even the best windshield wipers only last about a year. If your wipers are showing cracks or chips or losing strips of rubber, go ahead and replace them. Don’t forget to refill your washer fluid reservoir…you’ ...[more]

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

No Spare Tire?

September 29th, 2016
Believe it or not, many new vehicles come without a spare tire. Manufacturers have a few different reasons for that, including weight savings, space efficiency, Spare Tireand cost. When you're stuck by the side of the road, though, none of that really matters much, does it? 
 
Instead, these vehicles come equipped with an inflation kit and/or a can of sealant. 
 
Sealant is a gooey substance in an aerosol can that's designed to coat the inside of the tire due to centrifugal force once you get rolling again, hopefully sealing the puncture. These products, such as Fix-A-Flat, have been on the market for decades and tend to work pretty well on a minor puncture. They're not a permanent fix, however. Your speed should be limited after using ...[more]
  Posted in: Tire 101

What's Leaking From My Car?

July 14th, 2016
You go out to your car, start it up, pull out of your parking space and see a puddle of...something...where you were parked a moment ago. This is never a good feeling. What could it be? 
 
Fortunately, some automotive fluids are dyed different colors to make this a little easier to narrow down. 
 
Does it appear to be water? Were you recently running your A/C? Chances are that's just condensation from the A/C system, which drips out through a rubber tube and is perfectly normal. No worries there. 
 
For years, antifreeze was dyed a bright green to make it easy to identify. Today, other antifreeze formulations can be colored pink or orange, but it's still not hard to figure out -- antifreeze has a swe ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

4 Things About Tires You May Not Have Known

April 28th, 2016

Tires all look sort of the same…round and black…and people tend to think tires don’t change much over the years. That’s really not true, though – engineers and designers are constantly working on advances in tire designs for more miles, better fuel economy and better performance.

Here’s a rundown of current trends in tire technology you may not have been aware of:

  • Tall, skinny tires are coming back. If you’ve ever ridden a beach cruiser bike vs. a racing bike, you know that skinny tires have lower rolling resistance. Carmakers are going in that direction, too – the BMW i3 electric/plug-in hybrid uses Bridgestone Ecopia tires, with higher inflation pressure and a taller, skinnier profile. Tall, skinny tires also redu ...[more]
  Posted in: Tire 101

Cars That Last 250,000 Miles or More

April 14th, 2016

If you’re old enough, you probably remember the cars from the late 70s and early 80s that weren’t good for much more than 120,000 miles before they started to develop real problems and were junkyard bound. Today, thanks to improvements in design, metallurgy, manufacturing techniques and machining, those days are over and it’s not at all unusual to see vehicles with well over 200,000 miles on the odometer and still running strong.

Here’s a quick rundown of some vehicles to consider which have a track record of being good for 250k miles or more:

  • Toyota Corolla: Probably not a surprise to fans of Toyotas, the simple, no-frills Corolla hasn’t changed much since the early 00s…but Toyota’s approach to the tried-and-true Corolla ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Self-Inflating Tires…Soon To Be A Reality?

March 31st, 2016

Driving around on underinflated tires is just a bad idea all the way around. Underinflated tires increase a car’s rolling resistance, meaning a drop in fuel efficiency since it takes more energy to move the vehicle down the road.

A single tire that’s down by ten pounds of air means a 3.3 percent drop in fuel economy…multiply that by all four tires, and you can figure on giving up ten percent of your gas mileage. The added friction and rolling resistance also means more heat is generated, and heat is the enemy of the internal structure of a tire. That heat will damage a tire to the point of failure. Studies show that underinflated tires are a full 25 percent more likely to fail, and at least half of one-car accidents involve a tire problem as a factor. And still, it’s estimated ...[more]

  Posted in: Tire 101

Questions You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask Your Auto Repair Tech

March 17th, 2016

Often, drivers are mystified by how their cars actually work. It’s to be expected. Even an older car is a complex machine with many sub-assemblies that all work together to move it down the road.Car questions? Ask them!

As a result, drivers tend to be a little intimidated by auto repair and often tend to not inform themselves by asking the necessary questions of a tech or a garage. Too often, that ends up being a big mistake. Here are some examples of the kinds of things you really should know before any auto repair work starts:

  • Does your shop work on any kind of vehicle? Of course, most shops can service a product from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and the other leading makes. Some makes, however, require a lot more training and experience, o ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Mixing Tires – Bad Idea

February 25th, 2016

In a perfect world, all four tires would wear out at the same time. In the same perfect world, everyone would be able to afford a whole set of tires all at once. Unfortunately, things often just do not work out that way. 

Sometimes you may just have to replace tires as you can afford them, one or two at a time, but there are some important things to bear in mind if you have to do that. 

If you can only afford to replace one or two tires, it’s essential that you go with tires that are identical (or at least as close as possible) to the car’s remaining tires. That means that internal construction, size, tread pattern and design should be close to the same. Don’t mix winter tires with all-season tires, don’t mix run-flat tires with ...[more]

  Posted in: Tire 101

Differential Service: Too Often Neglected by Drivers

February 11th, 2016
Differential Service – Why Is It Important? 
 
Of all the various things on a vehicle that need regular service and maintenance, the differential is too often neglected. But what exactly is it, and what does it do? 
 
Visualize a rear-wheel-drive vehicle making a right-hand turn. As the car turns to the right, the left rear wheel will have to actually cover a longer distance and spin at a different speed than the right wheel. If the rear axle was delivering the same torque to both wheels, the left rear wheel would be binding and skittering as it made the turn. The differential is designed to allow the wheels to turn at different speeds around corners, eliminating that problem. 
 
...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Get The Most Out Of That Set Of Tires

January 28th, 2016
Your tires are a pretty big investment. Even with the cheapest set of tires, you’re going to be spending upwards of $400 on the tires, mounting, balancing, disposal fees and taxes. Since you laid down that kind of money, doesn’t it just make sense to make sure you get the most miles possible out of them? 
Here’s some advice on long tire life:
 
Regularly check your tire pressure. This one is really, really important. Underinflated tires will wear 
unevenly and reduce your fuel economy due to increased rolling resistance. That increased rolling resistance also means more heat, which will break down the tires’ internal structure and sh ...[more]
  Posted in: Tire 101
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