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Archive | Auto Life

Four tire tips for teen drivers

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(BPT) – Getting a driver’s license is a pivotal moment for many teens, and with the privilege of driving comes greater freedom and independence. For parents, this can be both a moment of great pride and overwhelming anxiety.

In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that drivers 19-years-old and younger were more likely to be involved in motor vehicle collisions than any other driver on the road. According to NHTSA, teens are three times more likely to get into an accident than drivers over the age of 20.

It’s not surprising that teen drivers fall into a higher collision risk category given their inexperience. Additionally, teens are more likely to speed, text, drive without a seat belt and they typically maintain a closer following distance than more seasoned drivers.

“Taking the time to talk to teens about their driving practices can help prevent accidents,” says Bob Abram, product planning manager for Yokohama Tire Corporation, maker of a variety of truck and car tires. “Teaching teens about proper vehicle maintenance, especially tires, is also important and often overlooked.”

Abram says tire maintenance is crucial because tires have an enormous effect on braking, steering, comfort and handling. “Unfortunately, tires are not always top-of-mind when it comes to routine vehicle upkeep. When tires are inflated appropriately and wheel alignment adjusted correctly, the driver has better control. Improper alignment causes uneven tread wear and reduces the life of a tire.”

Underinflated tires can also increase the stopping distance of a vehicle, warns Abram. “Taking care of your tires properly can help prevent skidding, aid in emergency stops and traffic avoidance maneuvers, as well as provide more traction on wet roads.”

Abram reiterates that parents should teach teens about tire care to optimize vehicle control and maximize safety. Here are a few of his rules of thumb concerning tire care:

  • Tires must be replaced before the tread wears down below 2/32 of an inch. A quick and easy tread test involves placing a penny into the grooves of the tire. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, the tires should be replaced.
  • Check tire pressure at least once a month. Consult the vehicle’s owner’s manual or placard on driver’s door to determine proper tire pressure. Tire pressure should be checked when the tires are cold.
  • Alignment should be checked at least once a year or if the vehicle is pulling to one side to avoid uneven wear on tire tread. Tire balance should also be monitored.
  • Regular rotation of tires promotes even wearing of tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

For more tire care and safety tips visit www.yokohamatire.com or www.rma.org.

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Close Calls

Most rear-end crashes occur in the afternoon when school is letting out.

Most rear-end crashes occur in the afternoon when school is letting out.

(NAPS)—At least 1,500 people a year could avoid getting injured or killed on the road, government and university researchers say, if road rage could be eliminated.

How to stop it: One way to do that, according to study.com, is to reduce tailgating, especially by young drivers.

The Hartford Courant found the most common “contributing factor” noted by police in crashes caused by new drivers was following another vehicle too closely.

Most crashes where tailgating was the primary causal factor happened between 2 and 3 p.m., about the time high school classes are done for the day.

In other words, the typical crash caused by a 16- or 17-year-old driver doesn’t involve a car careening off the road during a boozy, late-night joyride.

The Cause: Tailgating is so high on the list of accident causes because stopping involves more than just applying the brakes. It also includes perception time (realization that you need to stop) and reaction time (moving your foot to the brake pedal). At 60 mph, by the time the vehicle begins to slow down, it will have traveled more than 130 feet.

Most drivers know they should maintain a minimum of three seconds between a car and the vehicle in front. However, depending on factors such as vehicle condition, size and type, speed, time of day, road and weather conditions, and visibility, the time it takes to fully stop can vary dramatically. For example, a wet road can quadruple the time required to fully stop, and increasing speed from 35 mph to 55 mph nearly doubles the required stopping distance.

What you can do: If you find that another vehicle is tailgating you, remain calm and don’t let ego get in the way of safety. Do not slam on your brakes, honk your horn or use angry gestures. Instead, if there is an alternate lane, safely move over so the other car can pass. If you can’t move over, slowly increase the distance between your car and the one in front of you. That way, if the tailgater hits you, you’re less likely to hit another car.

Learn More: For further information on what to do if someone is tailgating visit www.accidentattorneys.org.

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AC or windows down: secrets to better summer fuel economy

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(BPT) – Summer is peak travel season for most Americans. Those hoping to spend less on fuel and more on fun can find ways to stretch their travel budgets with better vehicle care and use.

One hotly (pun intended) debated topic during summer driving season is whether it is more fuel efficient to use the air conditioner (AC) or roll down the windows and catch the breeze to stay cool.

To settle the AC versus windows question, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee compared the performance of a Ford Explorer and a Toyota Corolla. It’s probably no surprise that fuel consumption was the lowest when AC was off and the windows were up. But that’s not a great option on a 95-degree day.

When driving at speeds slower than 75 mph, researchers found it was more efficient to roll down the windows. At speeds faster than 75 mph, it was more efficient to run the AC in the Corolla, but not the Explorer, likely because the larger cabin was harder to cool.

Edmunds.com experts found similar results with a Toyota Tundra, which got almost ten percent better gas mileage at 65 mph with the windows down and AC off. In Consumer Reports tests with a Honda Accord, using air conditioning while driving at 65 mph reduced gas mileage by more than 3 mpg, while the effect of opening the windows at 65 mph was not measurable.

So deciding whether to choose AC or open windows depends on driving speed, wind speed, terrain, vehicle size and aerodynamics. Thankfully, other ways to improve fuel efficiency are less complicated.

Good vehicle maintenance is the best way to improve fuel economy, says Andrew Hamilton, technical services and quality manager for Cenex brand lubricants. “To maintain your vehicle’s top fuel efficiency, perform regular maintenance, including oil changes and replacing the air filter and spark plugs,” says Hamilton.

Use the manufacturer recommended engine oil to get the most from your engine. “Using the wrong oil viscosity can reduce fuel efficiency by five to ten percent,” says Hamilton. “Use the correct oil grade and choose an engine oil that contains friction modifiers, such as a full-synthetic oil like Cenex Maxtron.”

Finally, don’t forget tire care. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 1.25 billion gallons of gas are wasted every year by driving on underinflated tires. “Properly inflated tires last longer, reduce braking distance and improve fuel efficiency,” says Hamilton. The inflation guidelines can be found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the driver’s side door.

For more gas-saving tips and to nominate someone to win free fuel, visit Cenex.com.

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What’s the real cost of that auto repair? 

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How to know if you’re paying the best price

(BPT) Do you take your car’s health for granted? Only when the check engine light comes on do you realize how important a fully functional vehicle is to your daily life. Feelings of fear, regret and anxiety often rush in: “Will my car break down?” “Should I have gotten my oil changed sooner?” Can I trust that I’m receiving a fair price for repairs?”

These are all reasonable concerns, according to Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com executive editor.

“According to Mintel, on average, drivers spend nearly $1,000 per year maintaining their cars, and that number will likely only increase as the average age of vehicles continues to get older,” says Wiesenfelder. “Even more important, a recent survey by Cars.com and Toluna found that one in three drivers don’t trust that the prices mechanics quote to them are fair. ‘Expensive’ and ‘stressful’ are the top words that come to mind for many consumers when they’re thinking about car maintenance and repairs.”

Knowledge is power, but for many consumers, car maintenance can be shrouded in mystery. Many don’t know which mechanic to go to, how much to pay or if the price they’re being quoted is accurate. Thankfully, tools and resources are available to help drivers confidently navigate the automotive service and repair process. Here are a few expert tips, resources and busted myths to arm you with the information you need to make informed, confident decisions about car service:

1. You probably don’t need to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Due to technology advancements, many auto manufacturers recommend changing oil at intervals of 7,500 miles or more for new cars.

2. Does a dirty air filter really hurt performance? A clogged air filter won’t significantly affect fuel economy, but it can reduce acceleration from 6 to 11 percent, according to a U.S. Department of Energy Study. For that reason, it’s a good idea to periodically visually check the engine air filter.

3. Cars.com has launched a new “Service & Repair” feature that provides a fair price estimate for different types of service, helping ensure drivers never overpay. The online tool also helps drivers find local service providers and offers reviews from actual customers to help them find a quality mechanic.

4. Drivers expect the tires that come with their new vehicle to last a long time, but tire life depends on many factors, including: the quality of the tire, its treadwear rating, whether it is an all-season, summer performance or winter tire, the type of vehicle and where and how it is driven.

5. Service engine? If the check engine light comes on and has a steady illumination, that indicates a possibly serious issue, and it should be dealt with quickly by a mechanic. If the check engine light is flashing, find a place to park the vehicle and turn the engine off as quickly as you safely can. Ignoring your check engine light increases the likelihood of additional problems.

For more information, tips and to learn more about Cars.com’s Service & Repair tool, visit www.cars.com/auto-repair.

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Six must-have auto products for the summer

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(BPT) – Summer is a great time to get up off the couch and soak up the sun. As you stock up on sunscreen and prepare to protect your skin from the direct sunlight, be sure to pick up products to protect your vehicle as well. Whether you’re taking the car out for a summer road trip, a day at the park or just running errands around town, the warm summer weather can have an effect on your ride.

The heat is not the only thing to look out for this season. Sand, dirt and water can easily find their way inside your vehicle as you spend more time at the beach and outside. There are thousands of aftermarket products and accessories available to protect, preserve and personalize your car, truck, or SUV as you head into summer, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). In fact, Americans spend $33 billion annually on products to modify and customize their cars, trucks and SUVs, according to SEMA.

Here are a few must-have products to get you through the summer:

*Wax: The sun, insects, airborne particles and even dirt can be damaging to your paint finish. Protect your car’s paint and keep it looking shiny and clean during summer by giving it a wax. Wax products come in a variety of different forms and create a barrier to shield your car and preserve its finish. Whether it’s a paste, liquid or combined with a wash, car wax is an easy and efficient way to protect your vehicle in the summer.

*All-weather floor mats: As you start to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities, you’ll notice the sandy towels and muddy shoes begin to take a toll on your car’s interior. You’re left with soiled carpet and hard-to-clean stains. Owners can protect their floorboard with an aftermarket floor mat. Available for almost every car, truck or SUV, a custom-fitted, all-weather floor mat will trap foreign particles and protect your investment.

*Custom fitted seat covers: Spills, stains and snags are prone to happen in your vehicle as kids and passengers enjoy their summer snacks and drag their sand buckets and skateboards in and out of the back seat. Custom fitted seat covers are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and provide durability to your seats and headrests. They come in thousands of colors and fabric combinations, giving you the ability to truly personalize your car, truck or SUV.

*Wheels and tires: Replace your winter tires with a set of wheels better suited for warmer weather. Snow tires are designed for better traction in the cold and will not provide the same handling capabilities as a summer or all-season tire. If you don’t have winter tires, consider checking your tread wear to determine if it’s time to replace them. There are hundreds of different wheels and tires available to choose from that will increase performance, prevent overheating and improve your vehicle’s handling during the summertime. Check your local tire dealer for more information.

*Window film: Block the sun and reduce the heat in your car with window film, also referred to as window tint. A variety of different shades are available when tinting the windows of your car, truck or SUV. Window film can protect your interior from sun damage, reduce heat and offer safety by preventing your glass from shattering.

*Roof racks, bike racks and cargo boxes: Make your outdoor summer activities easier and more accessible by storing your bikes and surfboards on a roof rack. If you’re headed to the beach for the day, you can transport your boogie boards, firewood and coolers in a cargo box on the roof of your vehicle. There are a variety of different sizes and styles of cargo carriers to select from.

These simple, inexpensive products can make your summer more enjoyable by protecting and preserving your car, truck or SUV. Visit your local auto retailer to learn about the different aftermarket products and accessories available.

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Don’t forget to replace your vehicle’s brake hardware

For a few extra dollars, car owners can enhance vehicle safety and protect their investment in brake pads and shoes by replacing their vehicle’s brake hardware.

For a few extra dollars, car owners can enhance vehicle safety and protect their investment in brake pads and shoes by replacing their vehicle’s brake hardware.

(NAPS)—Brakes are a critical component for maintaining vehicle safety. Whether it’s trying to stop your vehicle on an icy, snow-packed road or slowing down on a rain-soaked highway, properly functioning brakes are key to maintaining control of the vehicle.

However, brake wear can compromise vehicle performance and, ultimately, threaten vehicle safety. AAA encourages motorists to have a certified technician inspect their brakes to ensure they are ready for whatever Mother Nature has to offer.

In an article featured on theautochannel.com, John Nielsen, director, AAA Auto Repair and Buying Services, noted that there are several warning signs that motorists should closely monitor to identify and resolve brake wear before it can impact vehicle safety.

“Often, the first sign of worn brakes is a brake pedal that seems to require more pressure to stop the vehicle. Scraping, squeaking or chirping noises that come from the wheels when the brakes are applied are other signs of potentially excessive brake wear. A car that pulls to the left or right when the brakes are applied could also mean trouble,” Nielsen said.

He further advises consumers to ask for an annual brake inspection when taking their vehicle into an auto repair shop for service.

Complete Brake Inspection Includes Hardware

According to Chris Miller, Product Development Engineer, of International Brake Industries (IBI), consumers should ask their technician to also inspect their vehicle’s brake hardware in order to ensure that their vehicle receives a complete brake job.

Miller explained that brake noise is the No. 1 cause of dissatisfaction and complaints about brake systems. Brake noise is usually caused by the vibration of components that are not properly installed and secured—typically, it’s not the fault of brake pads or shoes, but it can more likely be caused by worn-out brake hardware.

He added that, like most mechanical parts, brake hardware will wear out over time and can’t function if the parts are corroded or stretched. If brake hardware is worn, it can even cause newly installed brake pads to wear out prematurely, reducing the life span of the pads and shoes.

Brake hardware—including clips, bolts, rubber bushings, rubber seals and springs—is integral to the proper operation of the vehicle’s entire braking system.

“It’s very common for drivers to leave an auto repair shop with newly replaced pads and shoes, but still experience brake noise because their brake hardware was not replaced,” Miller said. “We have a simple message for consumers: For a few extra dollars, you can protect your investment in brake pads and shoes and ensure optimum performance by also replacing your vehicle’s brake hardware.”

Superior Brake Performance

To reduce brake noise and drag (that is, brake pad friction, which can affect fuel economy), IBI recently introduced the new line of QuietGlide® brake clips. QuietGlide brake clips feature a coating of vulcanized rubber on one side to reduce brake noise and a low-friction PTFE coating on the other side of the clip to reduce drag.

By installing new QuietGlide brake clips, consumers are truly receiving a complete brake job—ensuring smoother, quieter riding brakes and extending the life of their brake pads and shoes.

For more information, visit www.completebrakejob.com.

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Parents play a big role in keeping teen drivers safe

 

(c) National Safety Council

(c) National Safety Council

(StatePoint) For teens, getting behind a wheel can seem like an exciting taste of freedom. But too much leeway too soon can have dangerous results. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens, and half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating high school, reports the National Safety Council (NSC).

Luckily, states with a Teen Safe Driving Coalition are helping change the game. The Coalitions — comprised of state and local government, law enforcement, public health agencies, traffic safety and injury prevention organizations, academia, businesses, teens, parents and crash survivors — were established by NSC and The Allstate Foundation. They have worked at the grassroots level for the last four years to educate parents and teens about the risks of teen driving. Coalitions exist in California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas to offer solutions for parents to help teens be safer.

The results have been effective. Crashes involving 15- to 17- year-old drivers in Coalition states have dropped nearly 34 percent since the Coalitions were established four years ago, whereas non-coalition states have experienced just a 19.5 percent drop, according to NSC analysis of federal fatality data.

The Coalitions’ success is in part because they promote a program that indisputably saves lives. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), a proven method of reducing teen drivers’ crash risk by 20 to 40 percent, works by maximizing experience while minimizing common driving risks teens face, such as nighttime driving and carrying teen passengers. This allows new drivers to gain experience with less exposure to high-risk scenarios. All 50 states and D.C. have implemented some form of GDL.

“Beyond legislation, parents have a role to play as well,” says Kathy Bernstein, senior manager of teen driving initiatives, NSC. “As the number one resource when it comes to teaching teens to drive, parents should stay involved well after teens get their licenses.”

With that in mind, Bernstein is offering some life-saving tips to families with new drivers:

  • Parents should drive with teens regularly even after they receive their license. A minimum of 30 minutes weekly can help ensure that safe driving skills are being employed.
  • Talk with teens about managing distractions, such as phones — both handheld and hands-free — the radio, other young passengers, and even beautiful roadside scenery. When teens are driving, they must stay focused on the task at hand.
  • Mile for mile, 16 and 17 year-old drivers are about three times as likely​ to be involved in a fatal car crash at night than during the day, according to “Injury Prevention,” a peer review journal. Parents should give teens opportunities to learn nighttime driving skills with an adult supervisor in the car.
  • One of the best ways for teens to learn to drive is by example. So practice safe habits always.
  • Visit the Drive it Home site at www.DriveitHome.org for resources, such as weekly driving lessons and the New Driver Deal, a contract which parents and teens can create together that outlines household driving rules and the consequences for breaking them.

“Remember, it’s not whether teens are ‘good kids’ or ‘responsible.’ New drivers share one thing in common — lack of experience,” says Bernstein. “The more practice driving teens get, the better.”

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Tire Safety Week – May 24th to 30th

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It’s National Tire Safety Week.  When you check your tire pressures, don’t forget the spare!

Be TireWise, because the only thing between you and the road are your tires.  Yearly estimates back up that statement. On average:

• Drivers in the United States put more than 2,969 billion miles on their tires,

• There are nearly 11,000 tire-related crashes, and

• Almost 200 people will die in those crashes.

Many of these crashes can be prevented through proper tire maintenance—including tire inflation and rotation—and understanding tire labels, tire aging, and recalls and complaints.

Because safety is our top priority, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation want to make sure you have the tools to avoid being in one of those 11,000 crashes. TireWise (www.safercar.gov/tires/index.html) is your resource to help you make smart decisions to keep you and your family safe, whether you’re in the market to buy new tires or want to extend the life and safety of the ones on your car or truck.

TireWise is also a resource for tire manufacturers, sellers and other partners to provide essential information to consumers for choosing and caring for their tires.

The next time you’re in the garage, remember these handy tips to get the most out of your tires.

#BeTireSmart

Stay Safe. Drive Smart.

The mission is to move Toward Zero Deaths on Michigan Roadways. The statewide interim goal is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all roadways from 889 and 5,706 respectively in 2011 to 750 and 4,800 in 2016.

The number of reported fatalities statewide is 281 as of May 26, an increase of 19 from last week. In addition, 1,450 serious injuries have occurred on roadways statewide, an increase of 95.

Visit www.michigan.gov/zerodeaths for more info.

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Tips for dealing with potholes

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Be vigilant—extra vigilant

From MDOT

Stating the obvious here: it’s best to avoid hitting potholes whenever possible. That’s easier to do if you’re driving cautiously, and not tailgating, so you have more time to see and react to any potholes you’re approaching.

Potholes aren’t always obvious in the daylight; they’re even harder to spot in the dark. Make sure your headlights are working and your windshield is clear.

Be extra cautious around puddles—they could be potholes filled with water. Since water is a critical component to forming potholes, that puddle may be at work creating one as you drive through it.

Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel as potholes can cause your vehicle to change direction suddenly. Don’t swerve into an occupied lane. No one wants pothole damage to escalate to a collision causing further damage or injury.

Vehicle maintenance helps

Unquestionably, hitting potholes can damage your vehicle. However, there are some things you can do to keep it to a minimum.

• Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Over- or under-inflated tires fare worse when they tangle with a pothole. Tires showing excessive wear or bulges in the sidewalls won’t hold up as well to potholes, either.

• Have your vehicle’s suspension and steering components checked out by a qualified mechanic. Steering that is in good condition and responsive can help you avoid hitting potholes. Remember that shocks, struts and springs in good shape help cushion the blow.

There’s a technique to this

There are often two schools of thought on driving through potholes: speeding up to “jump” over them and jamming the brakes hard to hit them as slowly as possible. Both might work occasionally but the best way is somewhere in between.

If you see a pothole ahead and can’t safely steer to avoid it, it’s best to slow down, then release the brakes before you hit the pothole. This helps to reduce the speed at impact as well as give your suspension the full range of travel to absorb the impact. If you can’t avoid the pothole, straighten your wheel to hit it squarely and roll through. Hitting a pothole at an angle can transfer the energy of impact in ways more likely to damage your vehicle.

You hit one. Now what? 

Tire and wheel damage are common in pothole hits. Look them over for obvious damage. Is your car now pulling one way or the other? You may need to get your steering realigned. Is your vehicle now “bottoming out” or bouncing? That could be damaged suspension. You probably should get your vehicle checked out and repaired, if necessary. A properly maintained vehicle can help you avoid all sorts of road hazards.

Help us take care of it

Whether you hit a pothole or you missed it, you can save your fellow motorists the headache and costs of repairs by reporting it. If it’s on a city street or county road, report it to your city public works department or county road commission. If it’s on state trunkline (I, M or US route), submit it to MDOT’s Report a Pothole webpage (find link at www.michigan.gov/mdot) or call it in to the Pothole Hotline at 888-296-4546.

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The perfect car tips for any trip

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(BPT) – Across the country people are planning to take longer road trips this year. If you plan to be one of them, here are five maintenance tips to consider for today’s cars.

* New tires? “For four-wheel drive cars and trucks, buy new tires as a complete set,” says RockAuto.com Engineer and Vice President Tom Taylor. “Mixing old and new tires or just mixing tire brands can create small differences in tire diameter that may be enough to overheat and damage four-wheel drive parts.”

* What spare tire? Adding air to the spare used to be all that was needed, but many newer cars do not have a spare tire. They may have “run-flat” tires or come equipped with an air compressor and sealant. Become familiar with your vehicle’s spare tire system before you leave town and decide if it is adequate. Maybe you will want to upgrade to a full size spare.

CAR-Car-tips2* Why new struts? Pushing down on a fender and counting the bounces is not a good test for the shocks and struts on modern cars. “Some people are happy that their struts seem to be lasting forever but they don’t realize that the struts actually wore out thousands of miles ago,” says Taylor. “Bad struts lead to unnecessary wear on a whole slew of additional parts including the brakes, rubber boots, suspension bushings and engine mounts.” For the safest handling and braking, replace your struts and shocks at 50,000 miles or at the mileage recommended by the manufacturer.

* Just the belt? Modern engine belts last a long time. Most car owners do not resist when their mechanic tells them it is time to replace the belts after many miles or years. “Owners should listen to their mechanics when they are told the belt tensioners need to be replaced along with the belt,” says Taylor. “Those are the spring-loaded pulleys that keep the belt at the correct tension. Putting a new belt on old tensioners can mean premature wear on the new belt or damage to the alternator or other components spun by the belt.”

* Hose looks new? New engine hoses also now last much longer than they used to. Hoses do eventually fail and the damage often starts in the hose’s inner layers where it is out of sight. A burst radiator hose still means a disrupted trip and today’s aluminum alloy engines are often even more susceptible to heat damage. Follow the guidance of your repair manual or mechanic on when to replace hoses.

Some owners may get away with leaving a radiator hose untouched for decades, but for the rest, common sense assessment of risks and rewards shows why these tips are worth following.

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