Category Archives: Vehicle Maintenance

spring cleaning your car waxing inside

Spring Cleaning Your Vehicle

As the colder temperatures fade into springtime, we frequently open the windows and give our houses a good cleaning. So why not do the same for our vehicles? The idea of starting fresh after months of cold, snowy weather is a welcomed change, and it’s time for spring cleaning! Clean your car of dirt, salt, and residue. 

The cleaning process might be one we dread, but the finished product makes it worth it. Kick-off spring cleaning with a new, clutter-free vehicle. 

11 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Vehicle

Start on the Inside

It’s easier to start on the inside and work your way out. That way, anything you do on the inside won’t scuff up a fresh layer of wax or get dirt on the exterior. 

1. Take out the trash.

It is easy for your vehicle to get cluttered with old receipts, fast food wrappers, empty water bottles, or snack bags. If you have children, you know it’s inevitable that there are crumbs and snack food wrappers to be found. Get a trash bag and empty all the trash from your car. 

2. Wipe Down Surfaces.

Use a microfiber towel and gentle cleaner or interior car cleaner to wipe off any and all hard surfaces. This will wipe away dush, drink spills, sticky messes – whatever might not come up with a vacuum. If you don’t have a gentle cleaner, baby wipes will do the trick. 

3. Brush and Vacuum Carpets.

Use a gentle brush, remove dirt and dust particles from ventilation areas, buttons, cracks, and all nooks and crannies from the seat cushions. Use a vacuum to remove all the dirt and dust. In the small spaces, using a dusting cloth and your hand might work best. 

4. Wash and Vacuum Floor Mats.

Remove all floor mats from your car. If you have rubber mats, wash with soap and water and leave out to dry. For carpeted floor mats, use a gentle carpet cleaner or even a carpet steam cleaner to remove all dirt and residue from the mats – mud, sand, gravel. Every little thing can get caught in the fibers. Leave the mats out to dry completely before putting them back in the vehicle. Use that time to vacuum the entire vehicle’s entire floor. Be sure to move seats forward and back to ensure maximum cleanliness.

5. Organize the trunk.

The back of your SUV or trunk of the car is where most clutter ends up. This is because you can’t see it and lacks storage space. Get simple car organizers to help minimize clutter like chapstick, umbrellas, and even entertainment for the kids. Organizers that hang from seatbacks allow kids to reach toys, snacks, or even diapers and wipes. Bins and trunk organizers keep things like grocery bags, ice scrapers, and gear like tools or jumper cables all in one place. 

6. Reduce bad smells.

Even the cleanest of cars can get a musty smell after awhile. Add in fast-food wrappers, crumbs, old drink bottles, and that smell can get pretty offensive. Place a small odor eliminator under the driver’s seat to help keep your vehicle smelling fresh and clean.

The Exterior

The rule of thumb when detailing the exterior of a vehicle is to work your way up: start at your tires and finish with windows. 

1. Shine the Tires.

Use a non-acid-based tire cleaner. You can use a degreaser to get your tires looking brand new. Be careful around the paint so it does not get damaged.

2. Hand wash.

When doing a deep clean, hand-washing your car is your best bet. Use a car wash solution and not a detergent or dish soap, as they can strip wax coatings and ruin the paint. When you are rinsing the soap off, don’t forget to hose off the underbody of your vehicle.  

3. Dry Your Car.

Don’t rely upon the sun to “air dry” your vehicle; you’ll end up with water spots. Use a microfiber cloth and silicone squeegee to dry your car. 

4. Polish and Wax.

You can use paint polish or car wax. You can use an electric buffer with a microfiber cover, but if you don’t have one, doing it by hand works just as well. Finish with sealing wax to help protect your car’s paint against the elements. 

5. Windows and glass.

Wash and shine your windows and glass last to prevent them from getting dirty while washing or waxing. It is best to use a gentle ammonia-free, streak-free window and glass cleaner with a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to clean the interior and exterior of the windows, as well as the top of the windows that collect dirt and grime when your windows are down. 

trade-in vehicle with dealership

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Trade-In

If your car isn’t running the way it should, or if you have your eye on something shiny and new (to you!), then a trade-in is often your best bet. It is a big decision to trade in your current vehicle for a different one, but it is much simpler than a private sale. Trading your vehicle can also be a great way to lower your monthly payments on a different vehicle. 

Whether you are trading in your car or just selling to a dealership without purchasing another car there, pay attention to all the details. Getting a fair price for your old vehicle is important, but ultimately the dealer is the one who determines the value. 

How to Prepare Your Vehicle for a Trade-In

Before taking your vehicle to a dealership for a trade-in, the first step is to prepare your vehicle. Dealers will take their time to look at every aspect of your vehicle, inside and out. It’s their job to determine the value when you bring it in, so looks are very important in this case.

Here are a few tips to getting your vehicle prepped for a trade-in: 

Fix the Small Issues

You might feel silly paying to get the small things fixed when you’re just going to trade in your vehicle, but a small amount of money can make a big difference in its overall value. Check all the car’s lights, including interior bulbs and replace if needed. Check all fluid levels, such as coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid) and be sure to top them off. If your car has any small dings or scratches, there are DIY kits for repairing small imperfections. An oil change and tire alignment can help the vehicle run more smoothly.

Have the Important Paperwork

Gather all the important paperwork and documents for your vehicle. This includes the car’s title, service records, registration, and anything else a potential buyer may want to see. Cars that are well taken care of  with scheduled maintenance and well-kept records retain more of their value. If you do not have a physical record history, no worries – the dealership can pull one themselves! 

Have the Extras

Bring any extra sets of keys or accessories along with your vehicle. This may include:

  • Any additional floor mats if you swapped out the originals for new or all-weather mats.
  • Instruction manuals for the vehicle’s navigation or technology systems
  • Have the little accessories that accompany the vehicle. The dealer doesn’t give credit for those features if they are not with the vehicle at trade in. 

Do Your Own Inspection

Before taking your vehicle to the dealership, do your own inspection. Look for exterior dents and dings that can’t be buffed out with at-home products. Take your vehicle for a drive and pay attention to every little detail – any sound, rattle, or noise that seems out of place. If there are any issues with the way the car handles, any electrical problems, or even how the tires look, take note.

Wash and Detail

Clean the vehicle, inside and out. GIve it a thorough wash and a fresh coat of wax – some extra shine will give it a good first impression. On the interior, clean it from floor to ceiling. Take out all your personal belongings and vacuum it, steam the floor mats to remove any dirt, stains, and scents. If you do not want to clean it yourself, the price to pay for someone detailing your car may go a long way at the dealership. 

Do Your Homework

One of the biggest mistakes people make when going to trade in their car is not knowing what their current vehicle is worth. When you walk into a dealership, you should have a “price tag” in mind of what your vehicle is worth and how much you want for the trade in. This will provide a clear, honest transaction with the dealer. 

To do your homework, pretend you are a buyer and look up the vehicle you want to trade-in. Look at what other people are asking for your specific make and model, especially locally. This will give you a good understanding of the market and what you can most likely get for your trade-in. 

Understand The Dealer’s Perspective

Ultimately, the trade-in is left up to the dealer. Some people are confused as to why a dealer offers a lower trade-in price. However, there are factors that a dealer has to consider when looking at a trade-in and when determining the value. 

One of the major concerns is how quickly your trade-in will sell to a new buyer. Your vehicle will get inspected, walked around, and checked to see if the paint needs work, and to see if any damages have been done to it. Once they determine what repairs are necessary and the cost to get the vehicle in like-new condition, the dealer will offer a trade-in value for your vehicle.

To learn more about trading in your vehicle, contact the team at Trust Auto today. 

Is It Hard To Sell A Car Privately?

If the purchaser of a new or used vehicle has a trade-in, he must decide whether to sell it privately or trade it in to the new or used car dealer. While the majority of customers will decide, for several good reasons, to trade their vehicle in, there are a number of people who will opt to sell privately. The subject of trade-ins is a large and complicated one. This blog will address some of the difficulties to be expected in a private sale. The benefits of trading in the old vehicle are detailed in a blog entitled “Advantages of Trading In Your Car” at Trust Auto in Sykesville, MD.

In order to conduct a successful sale of his old vehicle, there are several things that should be handled. The first challenge to the private seller is to try to determine the market value of his current vehicle – what is a reasonable asking price? For this he must perform some diligent research, looking at similar vehicles listed at dealer websites and third-party searchers like Google or CarGurus.  From the average asking prices he must subtract what it will cost to fully recondition the vehicle, both mechanically and cosmetically. A professional detailing job will take about four hours and cost $150 or more. 

Next he will need to prepare a VDP, or vehicle detail page, a full description of every aspect of his vehicle. The more information that is provided the better. Help the prospective buyer to better visualize the car or truck. Several good photos of the inside and the outside will be needed. If the seller is going to find a buyer, he will need to place a classified ad with one or more of the classified automotive listing services such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, TrueCar and many others. These services cost money, and a prime location that offers better visibility can be expensive. The objective is to help a buyer looking for a particular vehicle be able to find the sellers car or truck, click on that vehicle, read about it, see the photos, and be interested enough to call or email the seller for more information. If and when they do communicate, the buyer will ask all the usual questions that he would ask a dealer. And, he will need to be satisfied with the answers, to the point that he is willing to visit, inspect and drive the vehicle. 

If the vehicle passes the buyers inspection and he wants to buy it, the parties must agree on the price and how it will be paid. In almost all cases, the seller should require payment in cash or certified check. The seller should limit his future liability by selling the vehicle “As Is”, with no written representation about the condition of the vehicle. Private buyers are notorious for failing to show up for an appointment. If they want to buy it, their first offer will usually be much lower than the asking price, so the seller must be prepared to negotiate. 

If and when agreement is reached, the seller will need to produce the ownership title. If there is a bank lien on the title, he must call the bank, request a payoff amount and instructions for processing the payoff and getting the title. This will take several days, and maybe longer. When the seller receives the title from the bank, he should complete the assignment, including the buyer’s information, and take the title to the DMV to complete the transfer. Until the DMV processes the name change, the seller remains liable for any loss caused by the vehicle. Therefore, all insurance coverage must be kept until the transfer is complete. Any delays will extend the sellers legal liability. 

If the seller has an extended warranty or vehicle service contract on his car or truck, this could greatly facilitate the sale. Most warranties and service contracts are transferable for a small fee, and this will give the buyer much more confidence in completing the purchase. This is one of the many benefits of buying a service contract from a dealer when the seller makes his new purchase. There are many reputable service contract providers today, and Trust Auto in Sykesville, MD, works with several of the leading companies.

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.