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Archive | Auto Life

Extend your car’s longevity with these spring cleaning tips

CAR-Spring-Cleaning(BPT) – The open road lies in front of millions of drivers who are ready to lower the windows and feel the warm breeze. Nothing curbs the excitement of a spring drive more than car issues that could have been avoided by simple maintenance to combat the lasting effects of driving through winter.

Many people consider spring the perfect time to clean their homes, but it is also important not to forget the vehicle. The average vehicle stays on the road nearly 11 years, according to a study by Polk Research. This trend of consumers holding onto their vehicles longer than usual continues to grow.

To help protect what is typically the second largest investment for any consumer – your vehicle – here are simple tips to make sure you are ready for a successful spring travel season.

* Seasons change … so does tire pressure: As temperatures change, so can tire pressure. Proper tire inflation is essential for increased automotive safety, optimum driving performance and significant cost savings, including better fuel mileage. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations printed on the vehicle door placard or in the glove box, and should be checked at least monthly. Over-inflation can lead to premature or irregular tire wear and under-inflation reduces a vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3.3 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.

* Keep hydrated: Many fluids require attention, including the engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Spring is the perfect time to make sure they are all clean and at the proper levels. Additionally, to help ensure maximum engine life, change the oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles, or as directed by your owner’s manual.

* Breathe free: Replacing a dirty air filter can increase a vehicle’s life expectancy and fuel efficiency by reducing the strain on the engine, especially during warmer months. Over the winter months, salt, sand and other impurities may build up in a vehicle’s air filtration system, and replacing this air filter can improve acceleration time by around 6 to 11 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov.

* April showers bring May flowers, and wet roads: Many times, consumers postpone tire purchases, but after enduring a harsh winter and looking ahead to the wet spring weather, it is not the time to have low tread on your tires. The lower the tread depth, the less traction you will have on wet roads, and the greater the distance you will need to stop. For drivers in need of “new shoes” for their vehicle, every tire in the Goodyear Assurance family offers confident all-season traction plus a relevant benefit that enhances the driving experience – ultra traction, refined handling and comfort, and fuel efficiency.

For more helpful car care advice or information on tires for cars, light trucks, SUVs and more, visit your local Goodyear retailer or go online to www.goodyear.com.

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Car care tips that can extend the life of your vehicle

(BPT) – There is no truer saying than, “Take care of your car and it will take care of you.” Taking care of your vehicle should be at the top of your priority list when you rely on it to transport you, your family and friends. You don’t have to be a mechanical expert to take care of your car, you just need to be aware of what needs to occur and keep a regular schedule to ensure the safety and life of your car.

Know how to check your oil

-CAR-Car-care-tips2Checking and changing oil is important to keeping your car’s engine running properly and efficiently. Check your owner’s manual for what viscosity oil you should use and oil change interval recommendations. The type of motor oil you use is just as important as making sure it’s changed regularly. Many cars are now coming from the factory filled with synthetic oil. If your car didn’t come with synthetic, consider switching from conventional to premium synthetic motor oil like Royal Purple. Using synthetic oil will allow you to go longer between oil changes, usually up to 10,000 miles depending on your driving habits. Fewer oil changes means money saved and less oil deposited back into the environment.

It’s also important to know how to check your oil between changes. Locate where to check your oil under the hood, and make sure you’re parked on a level surface for an accurate reading. If you need to top-off your oil, make sure you don’t overfill, or you could damage the engine.

What is ATF?

If your car has an automatic transmission, the Automatic Transmission Fluid or ATF protects against transmission breakdown, corrosion system wear and oxidation. Checking your ATF level is similar to checking your oil level, but with the car running. The usual recommendation for change interval is about every 30,000 miles.

Battery check

Like other car parts that have been made to last longer, most car batteries are maintenance-free and can last more than three years. The first sign that may indicate you need a new battery is if you have trouble starting the engine.

See clearly

One of the most neglected basic car care tips is taking care of your windshield wipers. You should change your wipers every 12 months or if the rubber becomes worn. You will also want to check the wiper fluid reservoir and keep it full.

Basic car care is an easy first step in making sure your car stays on the road longer. Regular maintenance checks can also catch needed repairs before they become big dollar items.

 

 

 

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Tips to avoid tow truck rip-offs in the snow

From Angie’s List

 

Slide-offs are common during heavy snowfall. The majority of towing calls during a heavy snow will be pulling cars out of ditches. Some shady tow truck drivers may try to profit from your misfortune. Here’s how to avoid towing disasters:

1.    Reputation matters: Do a little research before the snow flies. Ask if the company accepts credit card payments. Some may require cash. Add the numbers of a couple of reputable towing services to your cell phone so you have good help literally at your fingertips.

2.    Don’t call me; I’ll call you: Beware the truck driver who shows up unannounced in an unmarked vehicle offering to drag your car out of the ditch. Reputable towing companies will display their Department of Transportation certification number on their tow truck. That certification indicates the company is insured and certified for the job. Should something go even more wrong, you’re covered.

3.    Fair weather pricing: You shouldn’t have to pay a surcharge because it’s cold. If your vehicle is in a really tricky spot and will require a lot of extra work or time, expect that cost to grow. Get a cost estimate upfront before you arrange for the driver to come to you, and if the estimate seems out of whack from the average, call another company.

4.    Oh Snap! If you have a smart phone, take a picture of your car before the driver gets there so you can have a record of what it looked like before and after the work.

5.    Sign off: When you sign off on the job, make sure your signature is right below the dollar amount you’re to be charged to minimize the chances that additional charges will be added in there without your knowledge.

6.    Document: Once the job is done, insist on both an invoice and a copy of your receipt to ensure you’re billed for authorized charges only.

7.    Already covered? Check your auto insurance to determine if you’re paying for roadside assistance and the process you follow. If you belong to a third party assistance organization, be sure you understand your coverage.

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Winter driving and tire tips

Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool—not hot from driving.

Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool—not hot from driving.

(NAPS)—Conditions such as snow-covered roads and black ice can make winter driving unpredictable. The good news is that preparing early for winter weather and anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances can help drivers maintain control and stay safe on the road.

To help, here are some tips from the experts at Cooper Tire & Rubber Company.

• Drive cautiously: For starters, double the anticipated stopping distance when braking anytime conditions are not dry. It will take longer to come to a stop in snowy or icy conditions.

• Do not assume a four-wheel-drive vehicle will stop faster than a two-wheel-drive vehicle—four-wheel drive offers no braking advantage.

• Always reduce speed during winter conditions.

• When purchasing winter tires, replace all four tires. Due to the different grip capabilities of summer, all-season and winter tires, the driver will not get all the handling and traction benefits if all tires are not replaced.

• Examine tread: The only part of a vehicle to touch the road is the tires, and tire tread is a vital part of handling, cornering, accelerating and braking.

• For winter weather driving, a general rule is the more tread depth, the better. A tire’s minimum tread depth should be more than 2⁄32 of an inch deep all around the tire. Drivers can check tread depth by using a U.S. penny. Insert the edge of the coin into the tread with Lincoln going in headfirst. If the top of his head is visible at any location on the tire, the tire is worn out and it’s time to replace it.

• While examining the tread, also look for signs of uneven wear or damage such as cuts, cracks, splits, punctures and bulges. These conditions shorten the life of tires and, if not corrected, further tire damage, tire failure or air loss may occur.

• Find tires made for the season. For example, Cooper Tire has been a proven winter tire brand for decades, providing high-performing and extensive product lines that cover more than 90 percent of vehicles, such as the Weather-Master S/T2, the Weather-Master WSC and the Discoverer M+S. All Cooper winter tires include a patented snow groove technology that retains snow in the tread grooves, capitalizing on the higher traction of “snow on snow” versus “snow on rubber.”

• Test air pressure: Tire pressure plays a critical role in the overall performance of tires. Underinflation creates excessive stress on the tire, while overinflation can cause uneven wear in addition to handling and braking issues.

• Tire pressure decreases by about one pound per square inch for every 10-degree drop in outside air temperature, so it is vital that drivers check the air pressure regularly as winter weather approaches.

• Drivers should follow the guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual or tire placard (or sticker) attached to the vehicle door edge to determine the correct air pressure for their vehicle’s tires. A common myth is that the tire pressure listed on the sidewall is the optimal pressure, while in reality it is the maximum pressure.

• Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool, meaning they are not hot from driving even a mile.

• Should any of these checks reveal the need for required maintenance—or when in doubt about the condition of their tires—drivers should take vehicles to a tire dealer for a professional inspection.

• For more information on proper tire maintenance, visit www.coopertire.com.

 

 

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Drivers could be stuck in an emergency if they only have junk in their trunk

Only one in 10 drivers keep emergency supplies in their vehicle

-CAR-Trunk-junkFinding yourself stranded in your car due to treacherous conditions like snow, ice, poor visibility and slick roads only to discover you have junk in the trunk, rather than the necessary roadside emergency supplies, can place you and your family in jeopardy.

According to a new survey by State Farm® and KRC Research, more than 60 percent of drivers had some sort of “junk” (non-emergency supplies) in their trunk ranging from extra clothes and shoes to used food or drink containers. While 99 percent of drivers had at least one emergency supply in their vehicle, such as spare tire or jumper cables, a mere nine percent carried all the essential emergency roadside supplies, including:

• Jumper cables

• Spare tire

• Hazard triangle/road flares

• Flashlight

• First aid kit

• Water

• Blanket

“Even on a relatively short trip, you can find yourself stranded for several hours. From icy waters splashing up on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago to fog covering the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, it’s important to be prepared,” said Robert Medved, safety expert, State Farm. “These new findings highlight the importance of having the right emergency equipment so people can safely get back on the road faster.”

Medved also recommends drivers check at least twice a year to ensure the equipment is in working order. This means spare tires are properly inflated, first-aid supplies are current, all other supplies are fully stocked, and the cell phone charger is compatible with either a power outlet or an USB port in your car. Communication capability can be the number one lifeline in some roadside emergency cases.

How your junk stacks up:

New survey findings also revealed that sedan drivers (63 percent) are less likely to carry emergency supplies compared to SUV and truck owners (75 percent and 73 percent respectively). Also, only two in five drivers said they check that the emergency supplies in their vehicle are working at least twice a year, in line with what State Farm recommends.

State Farm encourages responsible driving every day of the year, and especially during cold weather months when inclement weather is more common. If you are stranded on the road, follow these tips:

• Pull off the highway (if possible), turn on your hazard lights and use a road flare or reflectors to signal attention.

• If you have a cell phone, call 911 and describe your location as precisely as possible. Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.

• Remain in your vehicle so help can find you.

• Run your vehicle’s engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm.

• Open a downwind window slightly for ventilation and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

• Don’t waste your vehicle’s battery power. Balance electrical energy needs—lights, heat and radio—with supply.

• At night, turn on an inside light when you run the engine so help can see you.

• Keep emergency supplies like road flares, a flashlight, blanket, windshield scraper, jumper cables, spare tire and a first aid kit in your vehicle or trunk at all times.

• Keep your fuel tank at least 1/2 full at all times during bad weather.

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Better late than never when it comes to winterizing your car

The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. It’s not too late to have your vehicle checked, saving you from the cost and hassle of unexpected emergency repairs when severe weather strikes.

Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail completely so it’s wise to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

Antifreeze – Antifreeze (coolant) should be flushed and refilled at least every two years in most vehicles. As a reminder, do not add 100 percent antifreeze as full-strength antifreeze actually has a lower freeze point than when mixed with water.

Brakes – Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item and is key while driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

Tires – Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires will lose pressure when temperatures drop.

Oil – Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to low-viscosity oil in winter, as it will flow more easily between moving parts when cold.

Wiper Blades – Cold weather can affect the life of windshield wipers. Wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield, should be changed. Check the windshield washer reservoir in case it needs fluid.

Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank at least half full as that decreases the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. If you’re due for a tune-up, consider having it done as winter weather magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling. To help you drive smart and save money, visit www.carcare.org and check out the free digital Car Care Guide.

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Driving tips for winter weather

-CAR-Winter-driving-tips(BPT) – Snow, ice, slush and other winter driving challenges can threaten both driver and passenger safety, and adding distractions into the mix only exacerbates the situation. So instead of dashing through the snow in your four-wheeled “sleigh” and ending up o’er the hills, it may be best to simply drive with caution and focus, to stay on the road this winter.

Before heading out to the ski lodge or embarking on a winter road trip, take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of yourself, your friends and your family, as well as others on the road. According to Hankook Tire’s latest Winter Gauge Index, 68 percent of those surveyed are worried about skidding across winter’s icy roadways. Try these simple tips for staying safe while driving in winter weather:

Put distractions on ice: Despite many recent public service announcements and news articles on the dangers of texting and driving, drivers between the ages of 18 and 35 say texting is their top distraction while on the road, according to the Hankook Tire 2012 Fall Gauge Index. Other distractions include talking on the phone, talking to other passengers and eating while driving. Whether driving to a New Year’s party, heading back to school after winter break, or road tripping with a group of friends on a ski trip, it’s important to keep your eyes on the road so you can reach your destination safely.

Check your tire tread to prepare for snow: Worn tread is the No. 1 cause of skidding during the winter season, so it is important to make sure your tires are up to the task before hitting the road. A quick way to do this is to check your tires’ tread depth indicators. Tread depth indicators are small raised bars that run in-between a tire’s tread grooves. When a tire’s tread is worn down to these indicator bars, it’s time to change to a new set of tires.- If your winter driving plans include putting on a set of dedicated winter tires like the Winter i*cept evo, be sure to put them on your vehicle one to two weeks before the next anticipated snow storm.

Check your tire pressure: Every 10-degree drop in air temperature can actually cause a vehicle’s tires to lose up to 2 pounds per square inch (psi) in tire pressure. Improper tire pressure can result in increased tread wear and lowered performance, factors that are highly detrimental to one’s safety in undesirable weather driving conditions.

Be prepared and stock up: Getting stuck on the road is also a major concern during the winter season. Before heading out, check to make sure your engine coolant, no-freeze windshield washer fluid and your gas tank is topped off. Also make sure there are no blockages or obstructions to your heating or window defroster vents. Be sure to pack extra water, a spare tire, ice scraper, snow shovel and brush, blanket, booster cables and a flashlight in your car for emergencies.

With proper preparation you can keep your slipping and sliding confined to the ice rink and make winter pit stops in front of the fireplace instead of in the breakdown lane.

 

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MSP offers tips for safe winter driving

With winter weather now upon us, the Michigan State Police (MSP) Hart Post is reminding motorists to be aware of several factors during winter driving.

Officers remind motorists to take precautions when stopping and turning in winter weather. Remember to do all of your breaking before the turn is made and take proper line of travel through the turn to reduce the potential for a skid to occur. If your car begins to skid, let off the throttle and brakes and use quick hand over hand steering technique to turn the front tires in the direction you want to go.

“Michigan weather is unpredictable any time of the year, but especially during the winter months,” said F/Lt. Kevin Leavitt Hart Post commander. “The most important factor to remember is the handling capability of your car is drastically reduced in winter weather so it is best to use a slower speed to compensate for decreased handling.”

Safe driving tips:

• Keep tires at the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.

• Keep windshield solvent at full strength and make sure the reservoir is full, and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.

• Wash your car for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.

• Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.

• Prepare a winter driving survival kit with items such as: an extra winter coat, pants, hat, boots and gloves; a flashlight with batteries; candle and candle holder; dry container of matches; jumper cables; tow strap; first aid kit; shovel; salt or kitty litter; road flares; and a spare tire and jack.

• If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not leave your vehicle. Stay with the vehicle and wait for help.

The MSP encourages travelers to check the Winter Travel Advisory web site at http://www.ohsp.state.mi.us/rw/home.htm to check road conditions before traveling. The public can also access weather and road conditions by calling the MSP Travel Hotline at 1-800-381-8477. The MSP asks that you utilize the web site or the Travel Hotline rather than calling your local MSP post.

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Don’t get caught in the cold: Know the facts about winter gas mileage

(BPT) – Winter and colder temperatures are notorious for creating difficult driving conditions that can place strain on drivers and their vehicles. And as the temperature drops this winter, so will your gas mileage.

Colder temperatures mean cold oil, tires and cold air in the carburetor – all factors that reduce gas mileage. With higher prices lingering at the gas pumps, a few fuel-saving tips can help protect your miles per gallon (MPG) this winter.

*Warm your car up the right way

Many people believe the myth that you must warm your car up in the winter. The truth is that idling your car actually destroys your MPG and isn’t necessary.

Modern cars don’t require a warm-up, even when the temperatures drop below zero, according to AAA. Modern engines, those built since about 1990, have fuel injection systems rather than carburetors and need no more than 10 to 30 seconds to get oil moving through the engine properly.

Auto experts recommend driving moderately in cold weather to allow the engine and other systems to warm up slowly and reduce wear and tear. So even though many people choose to warm up their car in the winter for personal comfort or to defrost windows, idling a vehicle for more than even one minute is simply wasting gas.

*Get your car winter ready

From changing the oil to checking the tire pressure on a regular basis, improving your winter gas mileage is easier than you might think.

“Your vehicle’s motor oil becomes thicker in colder temperatures, which adds stress to the engine,” says Jim Rossbach, CHS director of technical services and quality. “Try a thinner grade of oil to keep your engine running smoothly in the colder months.” Rossbach recommends using a high-performing synthetic oil like Cenex Maxtron, which is designed to perform well in low temperatures and improve fuel economy.

Proper tire inflation can also improve fuel economy by up to 3 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. It is important to check tire pressure several times throughout the winter when colder temperature can reduce tire pressure at a rate of one pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10 degrees change.

*Lighten the load

Extra weight from cargo or snow also reduces fuel efficiency. Cleaning out your car and clearing off heavy snow is an easy way to get better gas mileage.

In the past, carrying sandbags in the trunk was a common method for gaining more traction and helping rear-wheel drive cars perform better on snow and ice. Today, most cars are front-wheel drive with the engine over the front wheels, creating that same grip. Carrying extra weight does not add traction on snow and ice, but simply lowers your fuel economy.

For more gas-saving tips and to learn how you can nominate someone for a free tank of gas, visit www.tanksofthanks.com.

 

 

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Driving green for dummies: It’s easier and cheaper than you think

(ARA) – Green driving is easier and more important than many people think. It’s important because, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, highway vehicles account for 28 percent (1.5 billion tons) of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a new car or dramatically change your lifestyle to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Just follow these easy steps:

* Upgrade lubricants. Next generation lubricants such as Royal Purple motor oil are formulated with unique advanced additive technologies that allow for longer intervals between changes. This means fewer oil changes, which saves you time and money, and helps the environment. Additionally, Royal Purple motor oil has been reported to improve fuel economy by as much as 5 percent compared to ordinary lubricants. It’s also been reported to increase horsepower and torque, so you can switch to an environmentally friendly product without sacrificing performance.

* Take care of your tires. Underinflated and/or misaligned tires can increase fuel consumption by as much as 4 percent, according to the U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Making sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure will maximize fuel economy and improve the safety and longevity of your tires.

* Replace a clogged air filter. If you have an older vehicle with a carbureted engine, replacing a clogged air filter can improve your fuel economy by up to 6 percent. Air filters keep impurities from damaging the interior of the engine, so replacing the dirty filter will save gas and protect your engine.

* Stay tuned. Keep your car in shape by following the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance. Fixing a vehicle in need of a tune-up can improve gas mileage by up to 4 percent.

* Recycle. If you do your own oil changes, find a place that will accept your used motor oil by visiting www.earth911.com.

Learn more at www.fueleconomy.gov.

 

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