End of Summer Marks Perfect Time for Car Care

Preventative maintenance now can help ensure worry-free driving this winter

The vacations are over, the kids are back in school and cooler evenings have begun. Take advantage of the lull to prepare your vehicle for the winter ahead, advise the pros and the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Breakdowns, never convenient, can be dangerous in cold weather period.

The following tips from ASE should give parent and student alike a road map to fall car care.

First things first

Read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules. There are usually two schedules listed: normal and severe.

Engine Performance

Have engine driveability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather will make existing problems worse. Replace dirty filtersair, fuel, PCV, etc.

Fuel

Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note, too, that a gas tank that’s kept filled helps prevent moisture from forming in the first place.

Oil

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles or so) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.

Cooling System

The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) If you’re doing your own work, allow the radiator to cool down completely before removing the cap. (Newer vehicles have coolant reservoirs.) The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a certified auto technician.

Heater/Defroster

The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

Windshield Wipers

Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent you’ll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.

Battery

The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. But do-it-yourselfers can do routine maintenance. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly.

A word of caution:

Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Note too that removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles so refer to your manual for instructions.

Lights

Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses with a moistened cloth or towel. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.

Exhaust System

Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.

Tires

Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month. Let the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.

Emergencies

Carry gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, and a cell phone. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.

 

Drive & Shine Car Wash, Oil Change and Auto Detailing - we are a one stop shop for all your routine car care needs. Our Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend and Schererville Indiana facilities combine Express Car Washes, Full Service Car Washes, Detailing Services, and Quick Lube/Oil Change Services all under one roof. You never need an appointment! Our customers have voted us #1 in what we do for as long as we have been in business. If you are a current customer, we thank you for your business. If you have not tried our services, we invite you to try us- we promise not to disappoint you.

 

http://www.ase.com/News-Events/Publications/Car-Care-Articles/End-of-Summer-Marks-Perfect-Time-for-Car-Care.aspx

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Synthetic, Semi-Synthetic or Conventional?

Synthetic, Semi-Synthetic or Conventional?

Baxter, Eric.  "How to Choose the Right Oil for Your Car or Truck"  16 May 2011.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://auto.howstuffworks.com/how-to-choose-the-right-oil-for-your-car-or-truck.htm>  07 October 2015.

Often times a manufacturer will suggest two or more motor oil viscosities for an engine, such as a 5W-20 or 5W-30, based on several different factors -- including temperature. The reason for this is that engines often need a different viscosity based on operating conditions. Knowing how scientists see viscosity will help an owner determine the best oil for the engine.

Viscosity, at its most basic, is a fluid's resistance to flow. Within theengine oil world, viscosity is notated with the common "XW-XX." The number preceding the "W" rates the oil's flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). The "W" stands for winter, not weight as many people think. The lower the number here, the less it thickens in the cold. So 5W-30 viscosity engine oil thickens less in the cold than a 10W-30, but more than a 0W-30. An engine in a colder climate,

where motor oil tends to thicken because of lower temperatures, would benefit from 0W or 5W viscosity. A car in Death Valley would need a higher number to keep the oil from thinning out too much.

The second number after the "W" indicates the oil's viscosity measured at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). This number represents the oil's resistance to thinning at high temperatures. For example, 10W-30 oil will thin out at higher temperatures faster than 10W-40 will.

The owner's manual will advise the best viscosity range and the owner can then work within those parameters.

With the right viscosity in mind, it's time to start shopping for a type of oil. Most commuters follow the 3-month and 3,000-mile (4,828-kilometer) rule. Frequent oil changes means there's less tendency to need other types of oil than conventional. However some car companies, like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, recommend onlysynthetic oil in their cars. The following list, as well as the car's owner's manual, will provide a good idea of what type of oil to use. It's also a good rule of thumb not to switch between types. If your car started with conventional, stick with that. If it first used synthetic, be wary about switching to conventional.

  • Conventional Oil: This is the oil used in bulk at dealerships and is the cheapest at the auto store, too. Most adhere to API and SAE standards but offer little in the way of additive packages. This is good oil for owners that are religious about frequent oil changes and have low-mile (but well broken-in) engines.
  • Premium Conventional Oil: This is the standard new-car oil. Most leading brands have one for SL, or highest level, service. Most are available in the common viscosities. Car manufacturers usually specify 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil, though some require 10W-30. These three ratings cover just about every light-duty vehicle on the road, though this is changing as engines become more precise and fussy about specific types oil.
  • Full-synthetic Oil: These oils are made for high-tech engines. If these oils pass stringent special tests (indicated by their labeling), it means they have superior, longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas, from viscosity index to protection against engine deposits. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak lubrication at high temperatures. While excellent oil, synthetics are about three times as expensive as conventional oil and not always necessary for most engines. Use the owner's manual as a guide. If it doesn't call for synthetic oil, using it will only be an additional expense that may not add anything to the engine's performance or life.
  • Synthetic-blend Oil: This is essentially premium conventional oil hit with a dose of synthetic. They're formulated to offer better protection during heavier engine loads and the associated higher engine temperatures. These oils are popular with pick-up and SUV drivers because they do offer better protection, but usually cost only a fraction more than premium conventional oils.
  • High-mileage Oil: More than 60 percent of vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles (120,701 kilometers) on the odometer. Playing to this growing market, oil refiners and labs developed high-mileage oils. Seal conditioners are added to the oil (the oil can be synthetic or conventional) to expand and increase the flexibility of internal engine seals. The conditioners are very precise and can benefit some engines while not affecting others.
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10 Ways Car Owners Can Extend the Life of a Vehicle

10 Ways Car Owners Can Extend the Life of a Vehicle

Whether you drive an old Buick or a new Camry, you want to keep your ride going as long as possible, but it’s easier said than done. While in the middle of life’s daily hustle, you might be letting proper car care slide. Over the years, that will add extra wear and ultimately shorten the life of the vehicle.

Getting the most out of your car is easier than you might think. Once the warranty runs out or your service package expires, simple maintenance procedures (at small investments) are the key to avoiding expensive vehicle repairs. Reader’s Digest was good enough to point out a robust 74 tips to keep your car humming longer. That’s one tall, if instructive, order. Here are 10 tips for a more manageable assignment when trying to extend the life of your vehicle.

1. Rotate your tires

You ought to have your car’s tires rotated when it goes in for servicing, but if you are off the warranty, you are on your own. Goodyear recommends having the job done every 3,000 to 6,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual for the figure the manufacturer suggests for your vehicle, but once every six months is a good standard to follow. Some tire companies offer free rotations every 6,000 miles for the life of the tires when you buy their products.

2. Run your air conditioner in winter

With the temperature below freezing, the idea of running your car’s air conditioner in the winter might sound terrifying, but it helps your keep your cooling system working for the next time you actually need it (i.e., next summer). Otherwise, the moving parts can seize up and cause malfunctions come summertime. Pick a day when the weather is manageable, and you are fully bundled up to get the AC going.

3. Engine cleaning

Washing your car’s exterior is taken for granted, but opening the hood and washing the engine every few years is a way to prolong the life of the vehicle. Removing the sludge that accumulates on an engine’s exterior helps keep the parts from overheating, which will allow you to stay away from the mechanic. Electrical parts and the air intake should be protected when you perform this task, so ask for advice at the auto parts store before you get into engine cleaning.

4. How to protect a car in storage

If you aren’t going to use your car for several weeks, there are steps you should take to protect its operation. Reader’s Digest suggests filling up the gas tank to avoid condensation and adding a fuel stabilizer to keep parts in working order while it sits idle. In addition, removing the battery from your car will protect it from damage and potential drain. Finally, wash and wax your car so the exterior remains protected in your absence. It will be much better off when you return.

5. Antifreeze maintenance

Over the years, coolant-antifreeze breaks down and becomes susceptible to contamination, which will shorten the life of your vehicle. Follow your owner’s manual to get old antifreeze out of your car’s cooling system. Three years will be the breaking point for most antifreeze products, but it could happen sooner with cheap products. This bit of maintenance protects your radiator, keeps your heater from failing, and helps keep the car’s thermostat in working order.

6. Wash your car in winter

Washing your car in winter can feel like Lucille Ball in her skit at the chocolate factory. As soon as you have it clean, some car comes splashing through a frozen slush puddle and ruins it. That evening, a snowfall might hit and ensure your car looks hideous for the coming weeks.

Rather than a cosmetic solution, washing in winter is about protecting your car from rust and corrosion. The salt and dirt from the road presents a big danger to your car’s undercarriage during the winter months. Routine washings will help you minimize this threat.

7. Transmission maintenance

Cars need fluid replaced in the automatic transmission every few years or 25,000 miles, depending on your make and model. Vehicles you use to tow need the fluid replaced more frequently. If you drive stick, manual transmissions need lubricant changes every 50,000 miles. Synthetic motor oil is the most recommended option for maintaining your vehicle longer, but your owner’s manual will have details for the particular model.

8. Filter changes

Everyone knows the filters in HVAC systems and cars need changing on a regular schedule, but life often stops you from getting it done. Clogged fuel and oil filters make automobile engines work harder to perform standard functions, so keep an eye out for issues and observe the recommended maintenance in your owner’s manual. Air filters and transmission filters also need changing on a regular basis. Even when your might not see obviously clogged filters, this bit of preventive maintenance is one of the easiest things for an owner to do to prolong the life of your car.

9. Protect vehicles from the sun

Sunlight will eat away paint and leave your car vulnerable to rust. If you can’t keep it in a garage, at least try to keep it out of the sun. Reader’s Digest suggests getting a car cover to give your car protection against moisture, bird droppings, and other debris. Covers also give you a line of defense against random damage that can occur to a car sitting on a residential street or in a parking lot.

10. Change oil more often than recommended

What do you get by avoiding frequent oil changes? Other than saving a few dollars, there is little advantage for car owners who wait the maximum time (or longer) to replace motor oil. A higher frequency of oil changes keeps corrosive materials out of the engine and helps you keep your car on the road longer. Drivers who are often caught in city traffic should especially follow this advice. As with fuel economy, city driving can put a hurt on your automobile’s engine. Oil changes help minimize the long-term impact.

 

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Choosing the Right Type of Motor Oil

Choosing the Right Type of Motor Oil

 

Baxter, Eric.  "How to Choose the Right Oil for Your Car or Truck"  16 May 2011.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://auto.howstuffworks.com/how-to-choose-the-right-oil-for-your-car-or-truck.htm>  07 October 2015.

Often times a manufacturer will suggest two or more motor oil viscosities for an engine, such as a 5W-20 or 5W-30, based on several different factors -- including temperature. The reason for this is that engines often need a different viscosity based on operating conditions. Knowing how scientists see viscosity will help an owner determine the best oil for the engine.

Viscosity, at its most basic, is a fluid's resistance to flow. Within theengine oil world, viscosity is notated with the common "XW-XX." The number preceding the "W" rates the oil's flow at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.8 degrees Celsius). The "W" stands for winter, not weight as many people think. The lower the number here, the less it thickens in the cold. So 5W-30 viscosity engine oil thickens less in the cold than a 10W-30, but more than a 0W-30. An engine in a colder climate,

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How to Fix a Flat Tire

With the unofficial end of summer quickly approaching, you may be thinking of heading out for one last hurrah before fall begins.  Even with Roadside Assistance, you should still be prepared to change a tire yourself in case you experience a flat far from civilization (has anyone ever gotten a flat in front of a service station?).  Here are some great tips to prepare your tires for the road ahead and what to do if you do get a flat.

Before hitting the road it’s a good idea to get your vehicle serviced.  Part of that overall checkup should include your tires.  Check the pressure (don’t forget to check the spare), look for worn tread, bumps or bulges, or cracks.  If the tires seem iffy, it may be time to get a new set.

Most cars come equipped with a simple jack and lug wrench, as well as a spare tire.  If you’re not sure how to access these items, check your vehicles owner’s manual.

If you do experience a flat tire, here’s an excellent step-by-step from Popular Mechanics on how to safely change a tire and get back on the road:

 

Step 1: Be Prepared

Planning ahead will save a lot of frustration. It's not a bad idea to keep an emergency kit in your trunk and disposable, but sturdy Tyvek overalls will help keep your dry cleaning bills down. Throw in some mechanics gloves, a good waterproof flashlight, hand cleaner and paper towels. Believe it or not, all that, plus wheel chocks, flares, tire gauge and tire sealant all fit into a shallow Rubbermaid bin. The lid can double as something to kneel on. Since flat tires happen year round, you can even fit in a collapsible snow shovel.

Step 2: Location, Location, Location

You want to choose your tire changing place very carefully. Once on the shoulder, slowly driving to the next exit ramp may give you enough space needed to stay away from the main flow of traffic.

Step 3: Not Enough Room

The line separating traffic from you on the shoulder is not an invisible force field. Be sure you are a safe distance from traffic. You will a need level, solid surface to jack up a car safely.

Step 4: Be Aware of Traffic

Turn on your four-way flashers. Using flares or reflective triangles will help give a long range warning that a disabled car is ahead. This is especially important at night or in the rain. Always be aware of on rushing traffic, especially heavy trucks that create suction in their wake that can pull you off your feet.

 

Step 5: Give Yourself Room

Be sure you have enough room around the flat tire to work safely. Keep the doors closed. A truck's wake can blow them suddenly wide open and damage the hinges.

Step 6: Set Your Parking Brake

Set your parking brake. Blocking the diagonally opposite wheel will help keep the car from rolling once the flat tire is up in the air. If you don't have a wheel chock, you can improvise with some suitable object found by the side of the road.

Step 7: Check the Spare

Check the spare tire and tools. If your spare is flat or essential tools are missing, there's no sense in continuing. You were prepared so your flat kit is fully stocked and ready to go. Remove jack and lug wrench.

Step 8: Use Your Owner's Manual

Your owner’s manual has all the vehicle specific instructions and pictures of where everything is located. It's not a bad idea to copy the tire change page instructions (double sided) and laminate them. A plastic kitchen magnet can hold them in a place easily viewed while working.

Step 9: Pry Off the Hub Cap

Use the sharp end of the lug wrench to pry off hub cap. Some cars have hub caps with false lugs that secure the hub cap or are just for decoration. It's a good idea to become familiar with your type of wheel fasteners before you are in an emergency situation.

Step 10: Remove the Hub Cap

Remove the hub cap and set it on the ground upside-down to use as a tray for the lug nuts.

Step 11: Loosen Lugs

Lugs will need to be loosened prior to lifting vehicle.

Step 12: You May Need an Adapter

You may have one lug that requires a special "key" adapter.

Step 13: Insert Key Lock Adapter

Insert key lock adapter.

Step 14: Use Your Floor Mat

Loosen the key lock. Here's a tip: You can use your floor mat to kneel on. Flip it over so the dirty side is on the ground.

Step 15: Remove Lock

Remove lock.

Step 16: Place Lock in Hub Cap

Place lock in hub cap. Loosen all the other lug nuts. You'll put all the lug nuts in the hub cap or other suitable clean place so you don't lose them. You also don't want to get dirt or grit in the threads.

Step 17: Locate the Pinch Flange

On most unit body construction cars, the pinch flange is the strongest part of the car for lifting purposes. Most cars have a notch that fits the factory jack. Consult your owner manual for lifting locations. Lifting a car at the wrong spot can damage the car and endanger you if it's unstable.

Step 18: Position Jack

Position jack under jacking location.

Step 19: Raise the Vehicle

Raise the vehicle slowly by turning the jack handle clockwise. You'll want enough height to not only remove the flat tire, but be able to install the fully inflated spare.

Step 20: Remove the Tire

Remove the remaining, already loosened lug nuts and remove the flat tire. Just pull, but be careful! It may be heavy.

Step 21: Remove Spare

Remove spare from the trunk or inside a rear panel on some minivans.

Step 22: Pickups and SUVs

On many pickups and SUV's the spare is suspended under the rear the truck. There is a center nut that holds the spare up. Direction to loosen is counter-clockwise. On some there is a manual cable "winch" that lowers the spare down. Consult your owner’s manual for details on operation.

Step 23: Install the Spare

Install spare by lining up wheel studs with holes.

Step 24: Finger Tighten the Lugs

You may need to use your foot to hold spare in place while you thread the lugs on. Just finger tighten until snug. You should NOT attempt to tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench while the wheel is in the air. The wheel may merely rotate or could cause the car to fall off the jack.

Step 25: Lower the Car

Carefully lower the car by turning the jack handle counter-clockwise.

Step 26: Tighten the Lugs

Once the car is down you can tighten the lugs. Tighten them clockwise in a crisscross pattern. Your owner’s manual will show the correct sequence. Failure to tighten the lugs properly is potentially unsafe.

Step 27: Your Spare is Now Installed

Your spare is now installed. Note that these "space saver" tires are temporary spares. Do not exceed the speed label on the sidewall (usually 50 mph) and drive carefully. Because a temporary spare does not have the same handling characteristics and longevity as your regular tire, get your full size flat tire repaired or replaced right away.

Step 28: Remove the Jack

Be sure to remember to remove jack and stow in trunk. Look around and pick up your tools, hubcap, emergency kit, and everything else.

Step 29: Stow Flat in the Trunk

Place the flat, tools and kit in trunk.

Step 30: Reinstall Hub Cap

After you get a new tire mounted on your wheel, reinstall wheel and re-install hub cap. Put spare back in trunk. Secure jack and tools.

Step 31: All Done

All done! Remember: Don't delay getting a new tire.

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