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Posts belonging to Category Auto Maintenance

7 Important Winter Car Maintenance Tips

Statistically, people will drive a lot more in the summer than in the cold winter months.  You need to keep up with your car in the summer to keep it running well, but when it gets frigid outside, there are a lot of other things that you need to start  worrying about.

Colder temperatures can wreak havoc on your vehicle.  The liquids in your car can freeze, the engine often has issues starting up and a windshield can become dangerously filthy.  Take the following steps to winterize your car and you should survive the cold months of the year.

1 – Check your Antifreeze

This one is sort of a no-brainer.  Its winter, you don’t want the cold to cause your engine to seize up.  Antifreeze is a chemical that brings the freezing temperature down which means that 32 degrees is no longer the temperature at which your engine can freeze.

Checking the antifreeze/coolant level is easy.  There should be an antifreeze reservoir inside your engine that you can look at to see if you are at the full level or closer to low.  If it isn’t at the full mark, you can take a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze then add it to the reservoir until filled up.  If you notice it is an off color or has a leak, bring it to a mechanic to check out.

2 – Check or Change your Tires

You will only need winter tires if you live an an area where you expect an unprecedented amount of snow.  If you might get a couple storms a year, chances are you won’t even be driving that much during the storms, so there is no need to get snow tires.

However, you will want to make sure you have tires with full tread in the winter.  If you have bald tires during the winter months, you risk spinning out on black ice and getting into an accident.

3 – Oil Changes

You can still stick with the 3,000 mile oil change recommendation, but you should also consider the type of oil you are getting in the winter.  You might want to consider getting a synthetic oil change in the winter time to give yourself an oil with more viscosity that will prevent you from having issues starting up your car in the morning.

4 – Change your Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers are a cheap product, so don’t skimp on these in the winter.  If you are in an area that gets snow at all, you will be thankful you changed your wiper blades after the first storm.  New windshield wipers are better at getting off the caked on snow as well as removing the dirty snow side effects that you’ll need windshield washer fluid to get off.  Which leads me to…

5 – Buy Extra Windshield Washer Fluid

These bottles are so cheap.  You should buy three of them for your car this year.  One you should use to top off your fluid right away, and leave that one in your garage.  Throw the other two in your trunk just to be safe.  If there is a snowstorm, you’ll definitely end up with dirty, salty snow splashing up on your windshield.  The only way to combat that and actually see where you are driving is to spray washer fluid constantly.  You do not want to run out of this stuff.

6 – Remove Twigs and Leaves from your Hood

This is one of the free fixes you can do.  Autumn is over which means months have gone by where twigs and leaves have been continuously landing on your car.  Lots of the debris has probably found a home on the air intake near your windshield.  Simply pop your hood and clear this debris away.  It will keep your car from having to filter out all of the impurities that will make their way through the grill.

7 – Check your Battery

The cold air puts a toll on a battery.  This is why in the winter you might notice more people sitting in a cold car hearing a click as they turn the key rather than the engine rumbling.  You can bring your car to a Sears Auto or most other local mechanics to have them test how much juice is still in your battery.  Make sure you also shut your lights off when you get out of the car so they don’t drain the battery.

 

Where to get an oil change

With so many options as to where to get an oil change, you might need a little help sorting through the mess.  You have nationwide companies that specialize in quick oil changes, local mechanics that do cheap oil changes, and large format stores that do car maintenance work as a side operation.

Local Mechanic Oil Changes

You can usually go into a garage in your neighborhood to drop off your car for an oil change.  These are often a little more expensive, but you can usually find a deal for a cheap oil change coupon or in a sale.  These mechanics are usually backed up with a lot of serious work, so you might have to leave your car there for a few hours.  The biggest benefit to using a local mechanic for your oil change is that you can build a relationship with him/her.  This is good when you run into bigger problems with your car and you might need somebody to do work on it that you don’t want taking advantage of you or your wallet.

Quick Lube Stations

There are so many national oil change companies that specialize in this service.  Two prominent companies are Jiffy Lube and EZ Lube.  You can see that having “lube” in the title advertises their core service is oil changes.  These companies are usually the fastest and offer the best deals.  They will however always try to upsell you on more costly services when you show up.  This is how they make their money on all of the cheap oil changes.  You do have the opportunity to say no and just get your oil change.  It usually takes about 20-30 minutes at these places.

National Car Parts Companies

These are places that you go to get tires, brakes, muffler, or auto parts in general.  The following companies have their core focuses, but also offer oil changes.

  • Meineke – Mufflers
  • Midas – Brakes
  • Firestone – Tires
  • Sears Auto – Tires
  • Goodyear – Tires
  • Pep Boys – Auto Parts

Large Retailers

You may have a Walmart or a Costco in your town that does oil changes.  These are usually priced fairly well.  One major benefit that people seem to like is the convenience with using these stores for their oil change.  You can drop off your car and have it services while you walk around and do your grocery shopping.

Oil Change and Tire Rotation Coupons

Usually when you think of the most common and necessary car maintenance you need to get for your automobile, you’ll start to think of an oil change.  Most people completely forget about tire rotations when it comes to their scheduled car maintenance.

A tire rotation is exactly what it sounds like, rotating the tires.  You do this in order to ensure that your tires are given even tire wear.  Even tire wear will help your car run as smoothly as possible and greatly increase the length of your tires life.

Your tires wear down at different rates for the following reasons:

  • Distribution of weight: Front wheel drive cars usually have somewhere along the lines of a 60:40 weight difference between the front and the back.  Because of this, your front tires usually wear down at twice the rate of your rear tires.
  • Turning: Right turns are much more tighter than left turns, so this causes your right tire to wear faster on the outside.    Hitting curbs also happens fairly often on the right tires when parking close to curbs and paralleled parking.
  • Mechanical problem: Problems such as improper wheel alignment can cause your tires to wear differently.  The tire that is aligned improperly is usually worn down at a much faster rate.

A tire rotation is recommended every 12,000.  That is every 4 oil changes.

You can often find oil change and tire rotation coupons together.  Most of the big oil change companies give these coupons regularly.  You will also have much better luck finding a oil change and tire rotation coupon when you go to a shop that specializes in tires like Tires Plus, Sears Auto, Firestone, etc.

Tire Rotation Options

Firestone Credit Card

Firestone offers this great perk to keep customer loyalty.

A Firestone credit card packs plenty of benefits, enough that you should consider applying for one.

  • There is no annual fee.  Not a lot of the competition can offer this anymore.
  • The Firestone credit card is honored nationwide at ANY of the 1,600 plus locations.
  • Your complete service history will be logged into the system and attached to the card.  Your services and warranty information can be accessed at any Firestone location.
  • Firestone offers paperless billing so that you don’t have to be bogged down with unnecessary paperwork at your home or office.
  • You will find special savings, discounts, and coupons available exclusively for Firestone credit card holders.  No more need to be fishing around for oil change coupons or tire coupons with this handy card.
  • NO INTEREST if you pay the full balance in 6 months. (You need a minimum purchase of $249)

Firestone Credit Card

How to get better gas mileage – Part 2

Better gas mileage

The best tip for better MPG

We already touched upon the importance of why we all need to get our oil changes regularly.  They will keep your car running in the best condition possible, avoid expensive repairs, and increase your fuel efficiency.

In part one of our how to get better gas mileage series we discussed 5 great ways to get better mpg out of your car.  Here is a quick recap:

  1. Check your air filter.  If it looks dirty or used up, change it.  This is cheap and extremely easy to do.
  2. Get rid of extra weight from your car.  All of the extra weight in the trunk, back seat, front seat, roof, etc. bring down the mpg of your car.
  3. Remove your roof rack when you aren’t using it.  Lightweight or not, a roof rack can significantly cause you to use more gas to drive.  It provides so much drag on your car that you will need almost twice as much gas to get the same distance.
  4. Keep your tired filled to the manufacturer’s recommended PSI.  Flat tires need more power from your car to get going and going faster.  More power is made by using more fuel.  Don’t overfill your tires though or they may burst at high speeds.
  5. Get an oil change.  This can get your car running much more efficient.  Your oil is the lifeblood of your car.  You wouldn’t want gunked up blood running through your veins, why would you let the oil get gunked up in your car?

Onto the 2nd part of this series:

We were going to provide 5-10 of a “top 10”, but instead are looking into a different route.  Changing your driving habits can significantly help increase your fuel efficiency.  In other words…

Slow Down!

Accelerating and Braking

Why is everybody in such a hurry to get to the next stop sign?  You are using way more fuel by accelerating hard and braking abruptly.  A test done by Edmunds.com found that unnecessary over acceleration and harder braking causes ruins fuel consumption of a Land Rover by 35.4% and a Ford Mustang by 27.1%.  Did doesn’t even take into account the more frequent tire and brake repairs that you’ll need by driving like this.

A tip to follow, lift your foot off of the accelerator as soon as you see a yellow light or a stop sign.  This way you coast to your next stop, and avoid pushing excess fuel into the engine.

High Speed Driving

There is an optimal fuel efficiency at different speeds for every car.  We don’t have access to that list so you’ll have to use 60 MPH as the go to speed.  Most cars optimal speed for best use of fuel is around this speed.  Accelerating up to 60 miles per hour will use a good amount of gas, but once you get there, you should try and stay as driving long distance at 60mph is better than driving the same distance at 30mph (following the speed limit of course).

Every little bit you drive above your car’s optimal speed is going to cost you dearly.  To simplify things, just consider that every 5 mph your drive over 60 mph is going to cost you about $0.28 more per gallon.  So those of you driving 75 mph our your commute home, that comes to about $0.56 more per gallon.  Gas technically went from about $3.79 up to $4.35 a gallon for you.  Imagine seeing that number on the gas station sign.

Use Cruise Control

We have already established that you should look to drive in the “sweet spot” or optimal speed for your best fuel efficiency.  Now you want to try and stay there when you drive long distances.Use Cruise Control for Better Mileage

Learn to use your cruise control.  This is the top way to keep your car in the right speed with the least amount of effort by your vehicle.  The human factor of speeding up and letting off of the gas is usually way under par to that of your car’s automatic ability to hold a steady speed.

 

There we have it.  Slow down and get better gas mileage.  You don’t have to race everywhere you go, and holding a good speed will keep your car in the right range for the best gas mileage.

Now as promised, we will return with more tips for better fuel efficiency.