Category Archives: car

Lights Out? Check Vehicle Lighting

Lights Out? Check Vehicle Lighting

Winter Check_Vehicle LightsFall is here and its arrival means fewer hours of daylight and upcoming holiday travel. Before hitting the road, it is a wise idea to make sure your vehicle’s lights are in proper working order, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Lights play a critical role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so inspect all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out.”

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The vehicle lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe:

– Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.

– Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

– If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.

– Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

“Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers,” said White. “Keeping your vehicle’s lights properly cared for and replacing wiper blades periodically will help ensure a safer ride, keeping the road ahead well-lit and giving you a clear view.”

Tire Safety: Check Your Tires for Wear and Tear

Tire Safety: Check Your Tires for Wear and Tear

It only takes a penny to see if your tires are worn or losing tread. Examining your tires for wear and tear, along with checking tire pressure and alignment, are essential to ensuring your vehicle’s safety on the road and helping to improve gas mileage and performance. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists be car care aware and check tire condition and pressure regularly.

“The penny test is a simple, yet effective, way to check tire tread. If you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, you are ready for new tires,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Tires are critical to a vehicle’s handling and traction, and maintaining proper pressure is vitally important to vehicle safety. Underinflated tires are under stress and will wear unevenly, causing them to need to be replaced sooner. Routinely checking tire balance and wheel alignment reduces tire wear, improves handling, and increases fuel economy.”

According to the Car Care Council’s popular Car Care Guide, vehicle owners should check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, on a monthly basis and more often during colder weather. In addition, the tread should be checked for uneven or irregular wear as well as cuts or bruises along sidewalls. Tires should be inflated to recommended pressure levels, rotated every 6,000 miles to promote uniform tire wear and be replaced if worn or damaged.

If the vehicle shakes or pulls to one side, it could be a sign of an alignment issue. Because uneven or accelerated tire wear may indicate an alignment problem, it’s a good idea to have the alignment checked at least once a year. Wheel balance can change as a result of normal tire wear and unbalanced wheels can cause rapid wear of shock absorbers and struts.

Brake Safety Awareness Month: Stop and Check Your Vehicle’s Most Important Safety System

Brake Safety Awareness Month: Stop and Check Your Vehicle’s Most Important Safety System

August is Brake Safety Awareness MonthWhen it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list. Brake Safety Awareness Month in August is the perfect time to have your brakes inspected to make sure they are in safe working condition before school starts and cold weather hits, says the Car Care Council.

Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually they’re going to need to be replaced. For routine maintenance, check your vehicle’s braking system at least once a year. A thorough inspection should include brake lining wear, brake fluid level, rotor thickness, condition of hoses and brake lines, brake and dash warning lights, as well as taking the car for a test drive to detect other potential brake system problems.

If your car is pulling to the left or right, or if you hear odd noises when you apply the brakes, you should inspect your brakes. Other warning signs include an illuminated brake warning light, brake grabbing, low pedal feel, vibration, hard pedal feel and squealing.

Several factors that affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Never put off routine brake inspections or any needed repair, such as letting the brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which can be potentially dangerous and lead to a more costly repair bill.

.“A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle operation and control under a variety of driving conditions,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Motorists can put a stop to any potential brake system problems by recognizing the signs and symptoms that their brake system may need maintenance or repair.”

.Brake pad wear- video captureThe non-profit Car Care Council offers tools to help you learn more about auto care and brake repair. Visit www.carcare.org to order a free copy of the popular 80-page Car Care Guide or sign up for the council’s free personalized service schedule and email reminder service.

Four Easy Ways to Go Green with Your Car

Four Easy Ways to Go Green with Your Car

Looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly with your car? Motorists can help protect the environment by following four simple steps from the non-profit Car Care Council.

Follow a vehicle service schedule including steps like checking engine performance, keeping tires properly inflated, replacing air filters regularly, changing oil regularly and checking your gas cap. Routine maintenance helps reduce emissions and fuel consumption, saving money at the pump.

Keep your current vehicle longer and limit the number of new cars you buy over the course of a lifetime. Extending vehicle life is as simple as taking care of your vehicle properly. You’ll gain years of reliable service without monthly car payments and higher insurance rates.Recycle oil MM

Recycle or properly dispose motor oil, tires, batteries, fluids and other vehicle components to help protect the planet when performing vehicle maintenance or repairs.

Repower your engine when faced with serious engine trouble. A remanufactured/rebuilt engine can give your vehicle new life and make it more fuel efficient for about the cost of an average down payment on a new car.

“Being car care aware and performing basic vehicle maintenance go a long way toward protecting the environment and improving fuel economy,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The Car Care Council’s free customized service schedule and email reminder service makes it easy to stay on schedule and keep your car running efficiently.”

To help motorists “go green,” the Car Care Council’s newly redesigned Car Care Guide features fuel economy and environmental awareness tips to help motorists “go green.” Available in English and Spanish, the 80-page Car Care Guide uses easy-to-understand language rather than technical automotive jargon, fits easily in a glove box and can be ordered free-of-charge at www.carcare.org/car-care-guide.

How to Protect Your Car’s Interior

How to Protect Your Car’s Interior

Try to add up the hours you spend in your car. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Commutes, errand runs and road trips can have you sitting in those bucket seats for hours on end, and during that time, you and your passengers are actually living in the interior. That means smudges on the windows, scratches on the dash and food in the seat crevices accumulate and leave you wondering what happened to the spotless interior you swear it had when you first bought the car.
A Quick Clean
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to keep a car’s cabin from looking a little too, well, lived in. First things first, get something to stuff your trash into. Just use a plastic bag or a container you don’t use around the house and throw it in the backseat. You can even affix a temporary hook to the door or seat to keep things even neater. Every once and awhile, take it out and relish in the fact that you haven’t spent an hour cleaning up. Keeping trash off the floor also preserves your carpets, which can get stained from any number of items.
The idea of taking a rag to your dash and leather seats is made easier if you have them on-hand. The key here is to just use a little bit of soapy water to wipe the surfaces of your car – some cleaning products contain alcohols that prematurely dry and age the materials by reducing the flexibility in the vinyl. Store a small spray bottle of your homemade cleaning fluid and a rag under your seat or in a storage bin for access when you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school or sitting in that crazy-long drive-through line. This will also come in handy when an emergency spill happens. Lastly, keep your car smelling like roses (or at least a laundromat) by adding dryer sheets under the seats.
Weather Resistant
You can’t discount the impact weather has on your vehicle either. In summer, sandy feet can quickly make a mess of an interior, and dare we mention the destruction caused by mud and snow? If you spend a lot of time ducking in and out of the elements, you might want to grab some all-weather floor mats. They’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the muck in one place.
The sun’s rays can also wreak havoc on your car’s surfaces, causing vinyl to crack over time and materials to fade. A simple solution is to regularly put a sunshade on the windshield. They’re inexpensive and help to keep your interior looking new.
Saving money on repair work and cleaning comes more easily when you take the time to make preventative care a priority. Not only will these tricks make your car a nicer place to be, keeping grime out of your ride will cut down on large maintenance costs in the future and will help to retain its value over time.

Easy Steps to Better Gas Mileage

Easy Steps to Better Gas Mileage

With the average price of gas dipping below two dollars per gallon for the first time since 2009, many motorists have been seeing a real savings at the pump. Putting some of that savings toward basic auto care can lead to more miles per gallon and, in turn, more savings, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council encourages motorists to be car care aware and perform these five simple steps to improve fuel economy and save money.

1. Check Tire Pressure: Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.
2. Use the Right Motor Oil: Improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the grade of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer.
3. Replace Clogged Air Filters: Replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles can improve fuel economy and will improve performance and acceleration on all vehicles.
4. Check Engine Performance: Keep your engine running efficiently and improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
5. Fix It: Addressing a serious maintenance problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to www.fueleconomy.gov.

Save Gas Beyond the Pump“Proactive vehicle maintenance is a motorist’s best money saving tip,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine auto care not only helps save on fuel costs, but it helps identify small issues so they can be serviced before they become bigger and more costly to repair.”

To help motorists increase fuel economy and take better care of their vehicles, the Car Care Council offers valuable tools on its website, including a free personalized schedule and email reminder service.

Five Steps Towards Better Battery Behavior

Five Steps Towards Better Battery Behavior

5 (1)Here’s hot news about your car battery that may seem surprising: It’s not so much the cold that gets it down as it is high heat. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your battery as the seasons change from hotter to cooler or if you’ve been driving in a hot part of the country.

Battery Batterers

Another reason for shortened battery life is overcharging. That is, a malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, can allow too high a charging rate, leading to slow death for a battery, explained Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

In addition, colder temperatures can increase the thickness of the engine oil, making the engine harder to turn over, causing the battery to have to work more. These factors lead to harder starting.

What You Can Do

To get the most life out of a battery, the Car Care Council suggests the following simple steps:
• Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
• If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly. Add distilled water when necessary.
• Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
• Have the battery checked if you notice headlights and interior lights dim, accessories that fail to operate, or the “check engine” or battery light illuminated.
• Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.

Are Your Brakes Trying to Tell You Something?

Are Your Brakes Trying to Tell You Something?

If your brakes are trying to tell you something, you should pay attention. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation and it should be checked immediately if you suspect any problems, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“While an annual brake inspection is a good way to ensure brake safety, motorists should not ignore signs that their brakes need attention,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council reminds motorists to look for the following warning signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
Low Pedal: brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Because brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle, they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Be sure to avoid letting brakes get to the ‘metal-to-metal’ point as that can mean expensive rotor or drum replacement.

The Car Care Council offers a free custom service schedule and email reminder service to help car owners remember to have their brakes inspected and take better care of their vehicles. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help motorists drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

Six Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Six Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Owning a car can be a dream or a nightmare depending on how well you take care of your vehicle, says the non-profit Car Care Council. The following are six things that many motorists do that can harm their car and their wallet.6waysyouarekillingyourcar

Ignoring the check engine light. Ignoring an illuminated check engine light can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy.

Failing to change fluids and filters. Many fluids are required for the operation and protection of vehicle systems and components. Checking fluid levels regularly, along with the filters, helps ensure that your vehicle runs dependably and extends vehicle life.

Neglecting your tires. Your vehicle’s tires should be checked frequently for inflation and tread depth. Underinflated tires can wear out more quickly, needing to be replaced sooner, and can negatively impact safety, gas mileage and performance.

Not following a service schedule. Because many car parts and components wear out or become damaged over time, vehicles need to be routinely serviced in order to perform optimally. Routine inspections and timely repairs will help keep your car running efficiently and will help you avoid more expensive repairs down the road.

Keeping a dirty car. Allowing your car to go too long without a wash leads to buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, increases the potential for rust from road salt and interferes with proper visibility needed for safe driving.

Being a severe driver. Whether it’s stop-and-go traffic, extreme weather, rough roads or heavy loads, it can sometimes be difficult to limit severe driving conditions. However, you can drive smart and improve fuel economy by observing the speed limit; avoiding aggressive driving, including quick starts and stops; not hauling unnecessary items; and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.

“Because auto care isn’t always a top priority for car owners, they might not realize they are doing things that adversely affect the performance, safety and value of their car,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine maintenance can go a long way toward saving money, avoiding headaches and protecting your vehicle investment.”

Vehicle Checklist for Back-to-School Carpool Season

Vehicle Checklist for Back-to-School Carpool Season

School carpool season is upon us and the non-profit Car Care Council reminds drivers to make sure their vehicles are kid-safe and road ready with a five-point checklist:

#BackToSchoolCarpoolChecklist

1. Check lights and wipers for visibility. With shorter days and inclement weather ahead, make sure lights and wipers function properly so that you can see and be seen. Check the exterior and interior lights and replace any that are dimming, rapidly blinking or not functioning. Check wiper blades for signs of wear and replace if necessary.

2. Get an annual brake inspection. The braking system is your car’s most important safety feature. Before carpool season gets in full swing, make sure that your brakes are functioning properly. Schedule a brake inspection and look for warning signs that your vehicle may need brake services, such as an illuminated brake light or screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.

3. Check tires for under inflation or excessive wear. Check tire pressure and refill underinflated tires, including the spare, and look for uneven wear and check tread depth. An easy way to do the latter is by placing a penny head-down in the tread groove. If the tread does not cover Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.

4. Make sure everyone is buckled up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website has important tips on seat belt fit and position. For the younger ones riding along, the site has information about how to install car seats as well as guidelines on selecting a car seat or booster based on your child’s age and size.

5. Consider a back-up detection device. Consider having a back-up detection device installed that provides rearview video or warning sounds when moving in reverse. While drivers should not rely solely on these devices, they can help to reduce the risk of backover incidents along with following other prevention tips from NHTSA.

“Back-to-school time is hectic for most families, but scheduling a complete vehicle inspection is time well spent,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing your vehicle was checked by a professional technician will give you peace of mind and make all those trips to school and activities safer and less stressful.”