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April is National Car Care month! During the winter, vehicles are neglected because of the cold and snow. They sure could use a little extra care by now. It is recommended setting aside a little time during National Car Care Month, to get your vehicle ready for the spring and summer driving season.
Your vehicle goes through a lot in the winter. The harsh conditions, extreme cold, potholes, and road salt all take a toll. Since you rely on your vehicle nearly every day to get to work, school, and everywhere in between, taking a little time for car care now can save headaches and money in the long run.
Having a Clean Vehicle
Regular car washes and waxes protect the paint and body of your car from corrosive debris. In parts of the country where salt is used on the roads, regularly washing is especially important. By washing the vehicle, you are reducing the chance of rust occurring. Also take a few minutes and clean out the interior of your vehicle. Remove any garbage that might be in the vehicle. Also take out things you will not need or will not use.
Every vehicle has a manufacturer recommended maintenance schedule. Following a routine service schedule is essential to keeping your car in safe and dependable working order. If you are not sure how often to bring your vehicle in, contact us. During Car Care month, take the time to ensure your vehicle will run efficient and effective.
When you see your car needs attention, do not ignore it. Your windshield wipers aren’t cleaning as well as they should? Your gas tank is missing its cap? There’s a warning light on your dashboard? Repairing small things now can help avoid more costly problems down the road, and add years of useful vehicle life. No matter what issue you notice, hear, or see, contact us. With an appointment, we can check the vehicle for you.
When you tow a boat or trailer, you will have to adjust your driving. You will also want to make sure that your vehicle has been properly maintained. If you are not sure how often this should be, contact us. We can advise you on the correct schedule to ensure it is in the best condition. Besides being maintained, we can also make sure your vehicle can handle towing something. This will help prevent an unexpected breakdown on the side of the road.
Take Wider Turns
It’s easy to forget when you’re cruising along that you have an extra length to your vehicle. Turning quickly into an available gas station or fast-food drive through without considering your wide load can be an issue. Your trailer has a tighter turning radius than your tow vehicle. Period. If you’re barely clearing that curb with your truck, your trailer won’t.
Adjust your Distance
Since you will be towing more weight, consider how much longer it will take to come to a stop. You will not want to wait until the last second to slam on the brakes. One of the side effects of slamming on the brakes is that it can lead to jackknifing or cause dangerous trailer sway. Gradually apply pump brakes to bring the heavy load under control. Also know how to hang onto the wheel. When you’re backing up, place your hands on the bottom of the steering wheel. Then, move your hand in the direction you want the trailer to go. Aim toward the passenger side of your tow vehicle and the trailer will go right. Face forward and let your mirrors be your guide. If you need to have vehicle checked over before you tow a boat or trailer, contact us. We can have it inspected to ensure it will handle it efficiently.
The suspension for your vehicle is important. Tires meeting the road efficiently are what makes effective steering and better handling possible. It also makes for a far less bumpy ride for the driver and their passengers. If you notice an issue with how your vehicle handles, make sure to bring it in. By doing so, we can inspect it for you.
There are bumps and irregularities on every road you drive. When your tires strike one of those bumps, and there could be damage to the suspension. The wheel experiences a sudden vertical acceleration of varying magnitude depending on the size of the bump or rough patch. If there is not a system in place to absorb that impact, it can cause issues. The energy of the wheel striking the bump is transferred directly to the car’s frame, causing the vehicle to move in the same direction as the energy from the wheel. Upward motion means that your wheel is not making efficient contact with the road, and you experience a loss in traction. Further impacts follow, and there is a continued gradual loss in traction over distance.
Ride and Handling
Your car’s suspension allows the wheel to move upward over irregularities and bumps without disengaging from the surface of the road to the same degree. This improves the ride of your vehicle. However, it is not just bumps and potholes that your suspension takes care of for you. Sudden sideways motion of the vehicle due to a change in direction can cause the tires to lose their grip due to loss of contact with the road as well. Properly calibrated and balanced suspension allows the wheels to compensate for these rapid changes in direction. This helps to keep your wheels and tires as close to the road as possible even when the vehicle is changing direction. If you notice an issue with how your vehicle handles, make sure to contact us. We can schedule an appointment and check it for you. This should include the suspension and other parts of it.
Now is a great time for spring inspections to be done for your vehicle. Over the winter, your vehicle takes a beating. Snow, salt, corrosion, and rust can build up on your vehicle. This can increase the chance of needing it replaced sooner than you should. There are some spring inspections that you can do for your vehicle. Following these can help your vehicle last as long as possible.
A good, thorough wash and wax is the most important thing to do with your car once the winter is over. Winter driving can cause a huge amount of road grime, debris, and salt to build up on your car. You want to make sure those items are long gone before spring starts. Allowing debris and grime to build up on your car can affect its paint and finish, while allowing salt to build up can lead to rust and other serious problems.
Cleaning out your vehicle
Nobody wants to spend time cleaning out their car during a cold winter day. That’s why spring is the perfect time to clean your car’s interior, so spend a day doing some spring cleaning. Remove and throw away all the interior papers, trash and other items that have accrued over the winter.
Tire pressure is especially important in the spring. As air temperatures get cooler during the winter, tire pressures decrease, which probably caused you to fill up your tires during the winter months. But as air gets warmer again in the spring, tire pressures can increase. If the pressure increases past your manufacturer specification, it can seriously affect your car’s drivability and fuel economy.
As spring starts and temperatures warm up, check your wiper blades for any signs of cracking or wear. The wiper itself could wear dramatically over the winter due to ice buildup or other issues on your windshield. You will need those wipers for spring rains, so be sure they are in good working order after winter comes and goes. If you notice an issue with them, bring the vehicle in. We can inspect the windshield wipers for you.
Oil changes are necessary and important. Without them, you can cause damage to parts of the engine. If you are not sure how often to have oil changes done, make sure to contact us. We can advise you on the correct schedule. If you notice an issue with the oil, you should also call us. If the oil leaks out, it can be a sign of something more serious. By noticing an issue at the first time, you can help prevent further damage in the long run.
What the oil does
The oil keeps the many components of the engine working efficiently. Also it helps reduce the accumulation of varnish and carbon from collecting on the engine. The engine can get very hot from the thousands of small explosions taking place every minute. Oil helps pull the heat away from the combustion chamber essentially preventing the engine from blowing up. As oil collects heat, it then helps protect and keeps the engine running smoothly. Then it eventually becomes less like liquid and more like sludge. No matter how good the oil is, eventually it degrades as the additives get used up. If you ignore oil changes, the oil in your vehicle will do damage to the engine.
Changing the oil
Knowing how often to change the oil varies. It will depend on the type of oil you choose to use, what kind of car, and how often you drive. The amount of mileage you drive is more important than the amount of time. You may go on a road trip and burn through a few thousand miles in a few weeks, or it may take five months before you reach the recommended mileage. Pay attention to the odometer and how you’ve been driving your vehicle. Driving in extreme weather or towing a lot of weight behind your car will affect your oil too. If you don’t think you have the time or money to get your oil changed and you choose to wait, eventually the oil will get worse and worse, becoming more like sludge and clog your engine. So make sure to contact us about your next oil change.
As the snow melts, be aware of potholes. Hitting potholes can cause suspension damage like a broken ball joint or blown strut. It can also cause the suspension to have issues as you drive. Sometimes you will hit a pothole hard enough you will need an alignment. An alignment is and adjustment of the suspension system of the vehicle. This is the system that connects the car to its wheels. If the alignment is off, you can get uneven and premature tire wear. It can also pull to one side while you are driving.
Check the tires
You will also want to check the tires if you hit a pothole. There could also be tire damage. They may look fine, but could blow out later. You might get a little bulge on the side of the tire because there’s a tear in the inside lining. When you run your hand along the sidewall, you can feel it. Even if you do not see damage, you should bring it in and have the alignment checked.
Proper inflation of the tires
The best protection against potholes is properly inflated tires. Look in the manual or driver’s doorjamb to find the correct pressure. The number on the side of the tires is the maximum recommended by the tire manufacturer. Also make sure to check the tire pressure regularly.
Be aware of the road
Spring is pothole season, so you should be aware of the road you are driving on. Usually these are formed at the edge or center of the road. Also make sure to be cautious of puddles. These could be hiding a pothole. Since it will be filled with water, you will not know how did that pothole is. If you do hit a pothole, be aware of how your vehicle handles. Any odd ways how your vehicle handles should be a cause for concern. Bring the vehicle in, and we can inspect it for you. This way you can ensure a comfortable ride.
What to do about Brake Noise
When you drive, nothing gets your attention like hearing grinding or squealing brake noise. It is important to keep the brakes in the best working condition possible. This means going in for regular maintenance inspections. If you do notice an issue, make sure to contact us as soon as possible, and we can schedule an appointment to get your vehicle in. If the noise happens occasionally, make sure to take note of what you were doing when the noise occurred.
A Few Possible Causes for Brake Noise
While driving your vehicle, snow and water can get into your brake pads and rotors. If the temperature is below freezing, it can cause your brakes to make grinding and squealing noises the next time you start up your car. As your brakes heat up, the ice should melt off the brake pads and rotors, resolving the issue.
A buildup of rust on your brake rotors can cause your brakes to make a squealing or squeaking noise. If your vehicle sits outside overnight, moisture from rain, snow or dew can collect on the surface of the brake rotors. This moisture causes a layer of rust to develop on the rotor. As you drive and use your brakes, the surface rust will get scrubbed off. The best way to avoid this is to park your car overnight in a garage or other dry environment when possible.
If you make a sudden stop on snow or ice, your vehicle’s anti-lock brake system (ABS) will most likely engage. In many vehicles, the ABS system makes grinding or buzzing noises when you step on the brake pedal. While you may not be used to how anti-lock brakes work, these noises are normal and are an indication that the ABS brakes are working as they should.
Schedule a Brake Inspection
If the brake pedal becomes spongy or is out of the norm, make sure to schedule an appointment to have it inspected. Give us a call today! 651-228-1316
Want to learn more about vehicle noises read this article.
Clearing the windshield is important before you drive. In the winter you will need to start your vehicle and let it run to warm up on cold mornings. Part of this helps to lubricate the oil and have it run efficiently and effectively through the engine. Another reason to let your vehicle warm up is help defrost and clear off the windshield and other windows in your vehicle. This is needed so your visibility can improve.
Scrape the Windows
When scraping the vehicle, start with clearing the windshield. You will want to make sure to scrape the windshield while the vehicle is also warming up. This can ensure that you can improve the visibility. You will not need to wait as long for your visibility to improve. You will want to scrape off all the ice, snow, and frost. Also take time to clear off all the windows. This should include all the side windows. Also it includes the rear windshield for your vehicle. Do not scrape only a small hole you can see out of. Make sure to scrape the entire window.
You should also take time to remove snow and loose chunks of ice from the hood and roof of your vehicle. When driving at faster speeds, the snow can blow onto the windshield and impair vision. If the windshield is warm, the snow can stick the windshield, and become more difficult to remove.
Check the Windshield Wipers
The windshield wipers and washer fluid should also be inspected on a regular basis. Over time, the wipers will start to wear down and need to be replaced. If you notice them not being efficient when cleaning the windshield, make sure to look into getting a new set. The washer fluid should also be topped off. Just in case you need to clean dirt or road grime off of the windshield. If you notice anything out of the norm, schedule an appointment. We can inspect the vehicle for you.
Not all dashboard lights mean the same as they tend to vary depending on make and model. Referring to your owner’s manual will make it easier to understand and identify warning symbols. Basically warning lights either tell you something in on, or indicate that a problem has occurred inside your car’s system. If a light comes on, and will not turn off, make sure to bring the vehicle in so we can inspect it for you. This will help you to have a safe and reliable drive. It can also help to notice the sign of an issue before it becomes worse and more dangerous to drive your vehicle.
What Dashboard Lights Mean
Warning dashboard lights can come in different colors to alert you to what is wrong. A red warning light indicates either a potentially serious problem or safety issue, which should be attended to immediately by a professional. However, a red light might also serve as a reminder to the driver about service maintenance.
When a yellow or orange light illuminates, it’s usually a signal that a component needs servicing or repair. If the light flashes, it’s important to contact us so we can inspect it for you. This will also help to improve the safety of the vehicle.
When you see Green or blue dashboard lights they only serve to let the driver know that a system is active and operating.
Different Types of Dashboard Lights
Brake warning lights are usually in red text, which indicates a serious problem with the your brakes (main or emergency brakes). Make sure to schedule an appointment if you notice this issue.
If the temperature warning light symbol is red, it indicates your engine has overheated. A blue light means the coolant temperature is too low. Red and blue blinking means there is an electrical wiring malfunction.
Battery charging system warning light can mean either a bad battery or a failing alternator. Either way, you may start to notice an issue with how your vehicle starts, so make sure to bring it in as soon as possible.
How the winter affects your vehicle may be surprising. The winter is hard on everyone, even vehicles. You will want to make sure you inspect your car on a regular basis to ensure everything is working efficiently. The first think you will want to do is check the battery, because it can die in the cold weather. You should also test it, because this will prevent going out to your car and finding a dead battery. Keeping vehicles in a garage is one definite way to ensure they will start in subzero conditions. However, if you don’t have access to a garage, it’s important to check the battery on a regular basis. A typical battery can last an average of about three years and usually can handle the cold. Extreme cold pulls voltage from a battery, making it harder for your car to start.
Fluids of your Vehicle
The winter affects the fluids of the vehicle. The fluids will also become thicker when the temperatures drop. Check all your fluids. This includes oil, antifreeze, power steering, brake and transmission fluids. When it gets cold, fluids thicken and that will make it harder for your car to get the fluids it need to run properly. Transmission fluid in particular needs to flow quickly, and your car won’t function if it flows at a slow pace.
Cold temperatures in Winter
Cold temperatures also affect the tires. Most tires lose 1 pound per square inch (psi) for every 10 F of temperature drop. So, checking inflation as the air gets colder is critical. For example, a fully inflated tire at 70 F is five psi under-inflated at 20 F. Under-inflated tires do not perform well and are subject to damage or failure especially in snow and icy conditions.
Check the windshield wipers
Remember to check the windshield wipers and wiper fluid in your vehicle. Make sure to clean the windshield of your car before turning on your wipers. A lot of wiper problems come from windshields not being cleared first and then being turned on. Winter affects the blades on the vehicle as well. The blades get torn and wiper transmissions break because extreme weather can overpower the freezing point of the washer fluid. They are just rubber and pressure from snow, ice and slush will break them. If you start to notice that the windshield wipers are wearing, they should be replaced as soon as possible. This can help improve your visibility when you drive as well.