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Car Care Tips


Make an Informed Decision

Taking care of your health involves "listening to your body" - taking notes of aches, pains or signs of an illness.

Taking care of your car is a similar situation - make sure you keep track of what's going on with it.

Listen for odd noises or watch for equipment malfunctions. If they happen consistently, then a part might need to be replaced.

Keep an eye on your car's mileage. Many parts need to be replaced after a amount of time and driving.

When a problem does occur, make sure you take note of it. Keeping a pen and pad of paper in your glove compartment is a great way to keep track of where or when these problems occur.

Also, be sure to read your owner's manual. In many cases, the manufacturer will let you know what certain problems mean, and when you should replace a part.

Don't forget to have standard maintenance done on your car - get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, and have your tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.

When getting new parts, make sure you don't use a brand X name you know nothing about. Check with the store employee to find out about the manufacturer and its reputation.

And of course, when you're in our auto parts shop - don't be afraid to ask questions.

Helpful Info


Are You Ready For The Road?

An average of 13,000 Americans are killed between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day, some as a result of unperformed vehicle maintenance, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Each year, neglected maintenance leads to more than 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries and more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.

Most mechanical failures can be traced to neglected maintenance. For example, the U. S. Department of Transportation reports the leading cause of mechanical breakdown on our nation's highways is overheating, a condition that is easily avoidable. Other deficiencies that are simple to detect include low antifreeze/coolant, worn or loose drive belts and defective cooling system hoses.

Checking tire pressure and inflating a tire costs nothing, yet an average of 21 percent of cars inspected in check lanes during National Car Care Month have under inflated tires. This can lead to a blowout and a serious accident.

Fuel Saving Tips

Condition Effect MPG Penalty up to
Under inflated tires Increase rolling resistance 1-2mpg
Dirty air filter Causes excessively rich fuel/air mixture 2.0mpg
Worn spark plugs Cause inefficient combustion, wasted fuel 2.0mpg
Worn O2 sensor Unable to detect and adjust air/fuel mixture 3mpg
Dirty or substandard engine oil Increases internal engine friction 0.4mpg
Loose gas cap Allows fuel to evaporate 2.0mpg
Potential loss in fuel economy if all of the above were neglected 11.4mpg
The Car Care Council offers these fuel-saving tips:

  1. Vehicle gas caps -- About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
  2. Under inflated tires -- When tires aren't inflated properly it's like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
  3. Worn spark plugs -- A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plug causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Dirty air filters -- An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture -- too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 20 cents a gallon.

Fuel-saving driving tips include:

  • Don't be an aggressive driver -- Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 10 to 66 cents per gallon.
  • Avoid excessive idling -- Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
  • Observe the speed limit -- Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.
WIPERS - In the 2001 National Car Care Month vehicle check lanes, 21 percent of participants had wipers that smeared, streaked or chattered across their windshields. Although climates vary, wipers generally need replacing every six months. An easy reminder is to change wiper blades in the spring and fall when you change your clock. Be sure the windshield washers are working properly, too, and keep the reservoir filled with solvent.

LIGHTING - Another important pre-trip check should be exterior and interior lighting. Vehicle check lanes revealed an overall failure rate of over 25 percent in the lighting category. The Car Care Council reminds motorists to check their lights monthly. Other suggestions from the Council include turning on headlights both day and night. This helps define your car's position on the road, and its distance from other drivers. When your vehicle's lighting is defective, other motorists may not get the message that you intend to stop or turn. The end result could be disastrous.

10 Minute Pre-Trip Checkup Can Pay Off

Car Care Council offers three suggestions for a traveler's 10-minute pre-trip checklist:

  • Check all fluids. There are several fluids, in addition to antifreeze, that require attention, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission fluids and windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced.
  • Check the tires. Check tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, indicating the need for wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.

"While a last minute checkup is better than no checkup, motorists should plan ahead to allow time to perform necessary maintenance themselves or at the local service facility. A properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable and will even save a few dollars at the gas pumps," said the Car Care Council's Executive Director, Rich White.

Not only can a pre-trip inspection help reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble, it also provides an opportunity to have repairs made at home, with one's own technician who knows the vehicle. Especially important, it provides peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car's performance, it's comforting to know proper precautions were taken.

Preventive Maintenance



Courtesy of the Automotive Service Association

The following simple and inexpensive preventive checks will greatly extend the life of the vehicle, ensure safer operation and even benefit the environment.

Always consult your owner's manual for individual service schedules because maintenance requirements vary by manufacturer.

  • Always consult your owner's manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil filter changed regularly - every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
  • Have all fluids checked, including brake, power steering, transmission/transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. These fluids play a large role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.
  • Check tire inflation. Under-inflated tires can result in a loss of fuel efficiency. This is the least expensive form of preventive and safety maintenance. Tires should be checked once a month.
  • Keep your engine tuned. A fouled spark plug or plugged/restricted fuel injector can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
  • Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle's suspension system.
  • Check battery cables and posts for corrosion and clean them as needed. The battery fluid also should be checked and filled if it is low, unless it is a maintenance-free battery.
  • Have the lighting system checked frequently, including headlights, turn signals, and brake and taillights.
  • Check windshield washer blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them at least once a year, or sooner if streaking begins.
  • Inspect engine belts regularly. Worn belts will affect the engine performance. Look for cracks and missing sections or segments.
  • Have the air filtration system checked frequently. The air filter should be checked every other oil change for clogging or damage. This system ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.

Service Interval Schedule:

Vehicle System or Component

Check Monthly

Check Every 3,000 Miles

Automatic Transmission Fluid
Check level with engine running and transmission in park. If low, add type of ATF specified in owners' manual and/or on dipstick. For best results change every two years or 24,000 miles

Battery and Cables
Battery should be securely mounted. Battery connections should be clean, tight and corrosion-free. If your car's battery is three years old or more, it should be replaced

Belts
Check for looseness, cracks or glazing. Replace V-belts every four years/36,000 miles. Replace serpentine belts every four years/50,000 miles, or sooner if needed. Replace belt per interval specified in owner's manual. Typically, this is at 60,000 miles. Not replacing the belt as required could cause a breakdown or serious engine damage

Brakes and Brake Fluid
For best results, have the entire brake system - including brake linings - inspected at every other oil change.

Cabin Air Filter
Replace annually, more often in areas with heavy airborne contaminants

Chassis Lubrication
Many newer cars are lubed-for-life, some still require this service. Replacement steering and suspension components require periodic lubrication.

Check Engine Light On
If light comes on while driving or remains on, your engine may have an emissions or sensor problem and should be checked by a professional technician. If light flashes, the condition is more severe and must be checked immediately to prevent catalytic converter damage.

Coolant (Antifreeze)
Check level at reservoir. Do not open hot radiator cap. If low, add 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water.

Engine Air Filter
Replace yearly, or when dirty. Inspect annually, more often if driving and road conditions dictate.

Engine Oil and Filter
Check level with engine off at every fill up. Change oil and filter every 3,000 miles or 3 months. Use specified oil grade and weight.

Exhaust
Inspect for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. If you suspect a problem, have it inspected immediately by a professional technician.

Fuel Filter
On carbureted cars, replace the filter once a year. On cars with fuel injection, replace the filter every two years or 24,000 miles.

Hoses
Inspect for leaks, cracks or bulges, sponginess, brittleness and swelling. Replace hoses at lease every four years.

Lights
Replace bulb immediately if light is out.

Power Steering Fluid
Check the fluid with the car warmed up. Add approved type if low. If regular topping off is required, have system inspected for leaks.

Shock Absorbers and Struts
Inspect for leaks, damage and loose mounting hardware. Replace if worn, damaged or leaking. Have checked by a professional at lease once a year.

Tire Inflation and Condition
Inflate tires to recommended pressure. Replace tires if worn or damaged. Remember to check the spare. Check pressure of all tires including the spare. Check tread for wear and for cuts or bruised along the sidewalls.

Windshield Washer Fluid
Check level every other fill up. Some vehicles have two reservoirs. Do not use water. Use waster fluid only.

Wiper Blades
Replace when streaking or chattering.