Category Archives: Car Care

Preparing Your Car for Cold Weather

Before the cold weather really hits, it is best to prepare your car as best as possible to ensure that it’s running well and safely. While vehicles are made to handle inclement weather and cold temperatures, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your car is in the best possible condition.

Inspect Your Tires

Whether your car has front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or even four-wheel drive, inspect yours tires to make sure the tread is deep enough and the tire pressure is accurate. Worn down tires can be hazardous on slick winter roads.

  • Tire Pressure – If you’ve never checked your tire’s pressure before, refer to your owner’s manual for the proper PSI. Most gas stations have air stations for your tires.
  • Tread Check – The easiest way to ensure your tire tread is safe is with the penny test: hold a penny between your forefinger and thumb so you can see Lincoln’s head. Place the penny (upside down) in the tire tread and if you can see Lincoln’s whole head, your tires need to be replaced.

Image result for penny test tire tread

Check All Fluid Levels

Make sure your car’s fluids are all topped off to start the cold season. You can check at home or take it to your local mechanic.

  • Oil – Mechanics sometimes recommend using thinner oil in the winter months because the cold weather can make it thicker and harder on your engine, but check your owner’s manual just in case.
  • Coolant – If you live where temperatures get below freezing, it is important to have the proper water/antifreeze mixture to prevent your radiator from freezing. You can pick up a tester at any auto parts store to make sure the fluid is filled up to maximum capacity.
  • Windshield Washer Fluid – This may get overlooked, but make sure your washer fluid contains antifreeze so you can see clearly all winter long.

Test Your Battery

It’s not only your engine that dislikes cold weather – your battery gets cold too! In fact, colder temperatures can wreak havoc on your battery capacity.

Check your battery for any cracks, make sure the cable connections are snug, and check the charge level. You can do this by turning off your engine and looking at your battery’s built-in hydrometer to check the voltage levels. If your car doesn’t have a hydrometer built-in, you can pick one up at an auto parts store.

Image result for checking car battery

Have an Emergency Kit

In case of an emergency, you’ll want to be prepared with all the essentials for both you and your vehicle.  Use this checklist to make sure you have everything you need in case you get stranded this winter.

Keep Up Regular Maintenance

The best way to ensure your car is running smoothly this winter is to stay on top of routine maintenance – this means getting your oil changed regularly, have your belts and hoses checked by a mechanic, and get your engine tuned up as recommended.  Every vehicle is different, so reading over your owner’s manual before the cold weather strikes can be incredibly helpful so you know what to expect.

4 Car Maintenance Repairs You Can Do At Home

With colder weather quickly approaching,  taking necessary precautions to prepare your car for snow, bad roads, and the change of seasons is an important step to keeping your car running smoothly.

Instead of taking your car to a costly mechanic, save a buck by doing some general maintenance repairs at home. You don’t have to be a car expert or even mechanically inclined to know how to  do basic repairs on your vehicle.

1. Oil ChangeImage result for car oil change illustration

Tools: Ratchet, oil pan, funnel, oil filter wrench

Time: 30-45 minutes

You’re supposed to change your oil every 5,000 miles, but before you start, take a few safety precautions:

  • Never change the oil while your car is still hot. Driving around the block may loosen up the oil and make it easier to change, but park, wait for your engine to cool down, then get to work.
  • You will most likely need to use a jack to get under your vehicle, so be sure you are comfortable using a jack.

Changing your vehicle’s oil is the messiest job on this list, so be prepared to get a little dirty!

  1. Using a jack, get under your car and find the vehicle’s oil pan. It should be easy to find.
  2. Unscrew the drain plug and drain all of the old oil into the oil pan.
  3. When all the oil is drained, put the drain plug back in place.
  4. Under your car’s hood, locate the oil filter and remove using your oil filter wrench (there will be some oil on the filter, so be careful).
  5. Lubricate the rubber gasket on the new oil filter and fill the new oil filter 2/3 of the way with new motor oil
  6. Screw in the new oil filter and tighten by hand.
  7. Using your funnel, fill the engine with new oil.
  8. Double check your oil levels to be sure you’ve added enough by using a dip-stick.
  9. Discard the old oil filter.

Most gas stations will recycle old motor oil, so check the gas station closest to you.

2. Changing Your Wiper Blades

Tools: None

Time: 5-10 minutes

This is very important as we enter colder months and start getting frost on our vehicle’s overnight and even some ice! Wiper blades are rubber, so they experience wear and tear a lot more frequently than other external parts.  Keeping your blades fresh and new for winter months will increase your visibility and make you a safer driver.

Changing your wiper blades varies between cars, so if you are unsure how to do this, always check your owner’s manual first.  But for the most part, this is a pretty simple task.

  1. Lift your windshield wipers and carefully remove the blades.
  2. While doing this, pay attention to how the blades were attached.
  3. On most vehicles, there’s a tab on the bottom of the wipers – push to remove the blade.
  4. Attach the new blades, being careful not to bend the metal frame of the wipers, and make sure they are secure.

(If you can’t figure out how to do this, most wiper blades packaging come with installation instructions.)

3. Topping Off Your Fluids

Tools: Funnel

Time: 15-20 minutes (for all levels)

One of the easiest maintenance tasks to perform on your vehicle is topping off your fluid levels – windshield washer fluid and antifreeze especially for winter.

Windshield washer fluid is as simple as lifting the hood of your car and locating the container and using a funnel, pouring windshield washer fluid into the container until it reaches the “fill” line. If there is no clear indicator, leave a few inches at the top.

Antifreeze is important for your engine so it doesn’t overheat. Locate the reservoir and loosen the cap. Allow the pressure to release before fully unscrewing the cap. If the coolant level is low, add the correct coolant to the reservoir (not the radiator itself).

Image result for oil change car

4. Replacing Your Vehicle’s Air Filter

Tools: None

Time: 10-15 minutes

It’s recommended that you change your vehicle’s air filter once a year, or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. This only takes about 10 minutes to do by yourself, making it a quick fix that shouldn’t go overlooked.

  1. Find your filter under the hood of your car. It is a rectangular box with metal clips on the side (if you can’t locate it, check your owner’s manual).
  2. Open the cover and remove the old air filter, taking note of how the filter fits inside the casing.
  3. Replace with the new filter and close the cover using the metal clips.

These 4 tasks can be done easily in your own driveway and will save you a boatload of money (auto mechanic costs can add up!). If ever you are unsure or uncomfortable working on your vehicle, read through the owner’s manual or call your local mechanic.  Most auto shops will be able to help you determine the best brands and types of fluids for your vehicle, what wiper blades fit your make and model, and what size air filter you need.

End-of-Summer Car Maintenance Guide

Even if your summer car care routine was top notch, now is not the time to let up.  With temperatures and humidity levels changing as we enter fall months, there are some maintenance tasks that are practical and will save you time down the road.  Don’t wait until the leaves are falling or there is snow on the ground to check this simple, yet important, car maintenance guide.

3-Step Car Maintenance Guide

1. Start with a vehicle inspection

The first step in your fall-prep car maintenance guide to have an inspection done on your vehicle.  This will help you focus on exactly what your car needs and what should be prioritized.  Your inspection will include test and checks on your battery, fluid levels, lights, all belts and hoses, as well as general transmission work.  Issues with any of these components can get worse as the temperature falls and humidity levels lower.

2. Check your Exterior Accessories

Checking the tread on your tires and wiper blades are very important as the seasons change.

Ragged and worn out wiper blades can affect visibility in harsh weather. If your wiper blades are older than 6 months, give them a thorough check and consider replacing.  Find out what size wiper blades you need here.

Your tire tread should be monitored regularly, but especially during the change of the seasons when temperature levels can affect them the most.  Your tread depth should be 2/32″ deep, otherwise, you may not have decent traction, regardless of the road conditions.

An easy way to test your tire tread is using a penny.  Take a penny, and with Lincoln’s head facing downwards, place in the grooves of your tires.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is too worn down and it could mean it’s time to buy new tires.

Not sure if you should invest in Winter tires or All-Weather tires? Find out here.

3. Swap Out Your Old Floor Mats

After traveling and going to the beach all summer, it could be time for new floor mats.  Carpeted floor mats are harder to clean and can easily become moldy from residual moisture.  Instead, try rubber all-weather floor mats with grooves to capture dirt, dust, moisture, or anything else you might track in on your shoes.  These mats are easy to clean and perfect for the transition from summer to fall and into the colder months.

Get some of the top rated rubber floor mats here.

Kick off the cooler months with putting your best wheel forward! There are many places that offer free 29-point auto inspections, so it’s not hard to get started on making sure your vehicle is safe, reliable, and ready for whatever the coolers months throw our way.

7 Common Car Detailing Mistakes

Memorial Day marked the start of summer, which can only mean one thing: a full line up of car show and cruise weeks.  Having your car look its best is important, but make sure you are properly detailing your vehicle and not making some of these common  car detailing mistakes.  

Common Car Detailing Mistakes

  1. Washing Your Car in Direct Sunlight

Any detailing professional will tell you not to wash your car in direct sunlight. It’s bad for the paint and finish, but at the very least, it makes the job a lot harder.  In the sun, water and soap dry a lot faster, making it more likely that you’ll have water spots on your car. Keep the surface of your vehicle cool by regularly spraying it down with water.  

  1. Pouring Wax and Polishes Directly on the Surface Of Car

Pouring wax and polishes directly onto the surface of your car can leave dark, uneven streaks and residue on your finish.  To avoid this, pour the wax or polish directly on the applicator, and then apply to your vehicle.

  1. Cleaning the Wheels and Tires Last

You were most likely taught to wash your car from top to bottom – however, this isn’t quite right.  Washing the wheels and tires first will prevent dirt and grime from splashing onto your freshly clean vehicle (and will help prevent scratches).  Since the wheels and tires are the dirtiest part of the car, washing them first and rinsing them off again at the end will keep your car extra clean.

  1. Using Ammonia-Based Window Cleaner

Most household glass cleaners contain ammonia.  Not only does ammonia have a very strong, pungent scent, but if it drips or gets splashed onto your upholstery or dashboard surfaces, it can damage them and stain.  Try one of these ammonia-free window cleaners instead.

  1. Overwaxing

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as overwaxing.  Most cars only need 2 layers of wax in order to be protected. The first layer acts as a foundation and the second coat acts as a protectant and covers the surface.  A third (or even fourth) coating of wax will just come off when buffed out, and could also lead to uneven waxing and streaking.

  1. Using a Chamois for Drying

Instead, you should be using a microfiber towel.  Chamois are too smooth and instead of drying the water off the surface, it can drag water (and even dirt particles) around on the surface of your car and lead to scratching and leave swirl marks on your finish.  Microfiber towels are soft and absorbent, so instead of smearing the water around, it absorbs the water droplets and leaves your car streak-free. When cleaning your drying towels, avoid using a fabric softener that can leave soap residue on the cloth, which can then transfer to your car’s surface.

  1. Using a Drying Towel to Remove Excess Dirt

It can be tempting to use your drying cloth to scratch off small little dirt particles you may have missed when washing.  Those dirt particles can get caught in the drying cloth and then scratch the paint and finish as your dry your vehicle.

Does the Gasoline You Use Matter?

Gassing up your vehicle used to be simple. But today, with gas quality being regulated and monitored, there are questions that arise regarding what type of gasoline is good (or bad) for your vehicle’s engine.

Gas is legally required to have certain levels of detergents, octane, ethanol, and other ingredients. So what is the difference between “name brand” gasoline and the gas you get a discounted stations?

Truthfully, not much. There is a good chance that the gasoline you use at discounted stations is made by the same company that provides name brand gas to specific retailers.

gasoline-station

However

Using cheaper off-brand gasoline can cause expensive problems to your vehicle’s engine, including reliability.  And this may not be entirely your fault. Half of the new cars being manufactured have what is called gasoline direct injection, or GDI, which means the gasoline gets directly injected into the cylinder. It’s a new and different way of optimizing your engine using a different mix of air and fuel.  

If you have an GDI engine, gas quality immediately becomes important.  According to Rebecca Monroe, a fuel engineers at General Motors, “proper gasoline detergency is necessary for keeping engine components free of deposits.” Top-Tier gasoline contains certain additives that prevent build up and fuel deposits in the cylinders. These engines are very sensitive to the type of fuel you use.

There are generally 3 types of unleaded gasoline available at any given gas station, and the price rises with the fuel grade (octane ratings). If you drive a high-performance vehicle, you will need a higher octane fuel because the engine was designed to generate higher compression and increased power. High pressure and low octane aren’t a good match.  Your vehicle manual will determine whether your vehicle needs standard 87 gasoline or higher octane gasoline.

gasoline-pump

The American Automotive Association compared Top Tier gas to “off brand” gas to new GDI engines and the results were clear: Off-Brand gasoline caused 19 times more deposits than Top Tier brands after 40,000 miles.  Long story, short: It’s not about quality… it’s about brand. This means you can get the lowest grade gasoline, as long as it’s from an approved brand.

While the Top Tier gas might cost three-cents more, it will save you money on engine repairs down the road.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Car

One month into 2018 and there’s a good chance that you haven’t stuck with your New Year’s Resolutions. If you had a hard time coming up with a resolution that was easy to keep all year long, no worries!

Here’s a simple and effective goal to keep up all year: Keep Your Car Maintained

Compared to larger, more life-changing resolutions, this may seem trivial, but think about it: When your child is sick, you take them to the doctor. When your dog eats your TV remote, you take him to the vet. Your car is responsible for getting your kids safely to and from their activities, getting you to work on time everyday, and getting you to the beach in the summer. Why not take care of your vehicle and give it the love it deserves?

Keep the Inside Clean

On a nice day, spend some time getting the interior of your car looking nice again. Clean out any trash and put a small trash receptacle in the front so you can empty it easily while you are getting gas or as you walk into work.  Keeping trash off the floor can make your car look clean without much effort.

Vacuum the floor mats and seats to clean up any crumbs, dirt, or grime that builds up over time. If you are feeling really ambitious, remove the floor mats and deep clean with a carpet cleaner and shampoo.  

 

Using a dusting cloth to wipe down your dash and surfaces in the car help give your car a fresh start.  It’s amazing what a little TLC can do!

Schedule Routine Maintenance

Even if there are no glaring issues with your vehicle, scheduling bi-annual service appointments helps keep your car in prime condition.  Your mechanic or dealership will check your car’s exterior and interior and run diagnostics to ensure your car is running smoothly.  Keeping it regularly maintained leads into our next point…

Be Proactive

While you’re driving, if you start to hear an odd noise (everyone is familiar with the dreaded buzzzzzz or whirllll of a mysterious car malfunction!), call your mechanic or dealership immediately to make an appointment.  The sooner you can get it checked out, the sooner a problem may be caught, saving you potentially thousands of dollars down the road.

Being attentive to your car and its needs is important to keep it on the road for as long as possible.

Keep Your Fluids Topped Off

Your car’s fluids are like it’s bloodstream. Maintaining the fluid levels and their quality is crucial to your car’s performance.  Regular oil changes prevent the oil from being old and thick in consistency, which can wreak havoc on your motor. Wiper fluid should be monitored and topped off in order to ensure your visibility as you drive down the road, as well as keeping an eye on your coolant, to make sure your car does not overheat.

Check Your Tires and Their Condition

As you are maintaining your vehicle, don’t neglect your tires.  Important to your car’s performance and your safety, keep an eye on your tire’s tread and air pressure.  If your tire pressure is too low, you run the risk of getting a flat tire.  The tread on your tire is important for traction, especially during the winter months and rainy seasons to prevent hydroplaning.  When you get your car serviced, ask for a tire rotation so your tires wear down evenly, saving you money and keeping you as safe as possible.

When you get your vehicle serviced at Trust Auto, you can be sure that your vehicle is in the best possible hands and that your car will be serviced by trusted professionals.