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Archive for the ‘Helpful Articles’ Category

How to Protect Your Car from Winter Salt

best auto lenders 11In times of severe winter weather, there are countless motorists who are worried about their rides. While the cold season are harsh on people, it is much harsher on vehicles. This is because aside from snow, ice and frigid temperatures, cars are also affected by salt. The salt used to melt ice on roads during winter can do some significant damage, so owners must not forget to protect their vehicles. Read on below for some tips on how you can protect your car from road salt and brine.

Remember to wax and seal

Waxing is one of the best ways you can make you car winter-ready as well as salt-ready. Wax serves as a shield of sorts, one that protects the vehicle’s paint surface from the elements. Sealants have the same purpose. It is most ideal that you wax and seal before the winter season begins so that the car is properly protected from rust and corrosion. However, if you failed to do this, make sure to wax and seal every time the car gets washed.

Wash the car thoroughly

Speaking of washing, make sure the vehicle is cleaned thoroughly. Regardless if you send your ride to the carwash or you wash it yourself, ensure that the vehicle gets washed from top to bottom. Road salt can reach the undercarriage and other hard-to-reach areas (i.e., beneath wheel wells, the area behind the fenders, etc.), so make sure these are kept salt-free too. Otherwise, you might have to deal with rust, corrosion and the repairs and expenses that come with these.

If you send your car to the carwash, find out if it is equipped to eliminate salt from parts underneath the vehicle. If you do the washing yourself, rinse the salt using a hose.

Thorough car cleaning should extend to the inside, too. Eliminate salt from the carpets and mats with a vacuum.

Inspect the vehicle

Inspect your car after washing. Look for signs of possible salt-related problems like rust, corrosion or oxidation. These include paint flakes and chipping. If you see chipped paint, replace it immediately.

Avoid puddles and deep snow

If you can, avoid driving through puddles of water. These puddles not only have dirty water, but also a lot of road salt. By driving through them, you risk having your undercarriage exposed to salt and brine. Avoid driving through deep snow as well. Since the deep snow can pack salt into the undercarriage, removing the salt can be more challenging.

Photo credit: Solis Invicti/ Flickr/ CC BY




 


 

Top Tips to Keep Yourself Safe While Winter Driving

Winter-DrivingIt is hard enough to drive when the weather is fine and the road is dry. What more when the weather is severe, snow and ice are blanketing the road, and your windshield is fogged.

Winter driving posts a lot of risks to drivers and their passengers. The slick road coupled with freezing temperature and damp darkness outside make it difficult to have complete control over your vehicle. One wrong move can result to a deadly accident.

While the best way to avoid such fate is to keep yourself at home, there are cases when you need to take your car out to attend to some important matters. In such case, you can use some reminders to keep yourself safe while driving this winter. Here are some tips to keep you in control.

Equip yourself and your car before leaving

Prior to hitting the road, ensure your car is in peak operating condition. Make sure its battery, lights and brakes are working and its tires are well inflated. There should also be ample amount of anti-freeze and windshield washer fluid.

Aside from the mechanical equipment of your vehicle, do not forget to prepare an emergency kit that you can use when disaster hits. Keep things such as flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, flares as well as basic repair tools in your trunk. You should also pack your own winter gear, which includes warm clothes, gloves, hats as well as sunglasses to keep your eyes protected against the sun’s glare off the snow and ice.

Drive with added care

Even if your car is already equipped with devices like special tires, chains, fog lights and defroster, none of these things will assure your safety on the road. So the best thing you can do to is drive with added care when the roads are slippery. Prevent skids from happening by driving slowly and avoiding abrupt braking, turning or acceleration. Remember, any sudden move or quick change of direction is an invitation to skid that could end up in a crash.

It is also important not to use cruise control while winter driving. While this system can help your leg from getting fatigued, especially on long trips, it can be unsafe on winter conditions as it can cause your vehicle’s wheels to spin rapidly when they hit ice or snow. When that happens, it is more likely that you will lose control of your car.

Avoid tailgating

Always keep a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you. While it is tempting to close the gap when the driver in front of you is moving too slow on the freeway, do not do it. Tailgating usually ends up in accidents, especially on busy roads. If the car in front of you abruptly stops and you are close behind, it is not just a fender-bender that you have to deal with. On a snow- or ice-covered road, that could result to uncontrolled skidding that can cause collision with other vehicles. For sure, that is the last thing you want to happen, so keep your head cool and maintain good distance.

Do not drive when you are fatigued or just stay home

No matter how good a driver you are, never drive when you are exhausted. Get some rest before driving so as to avoid the risks.

If you are already on a trip or maybe you are just about to leave and the weather got worse and you feel it is no longer safe to drive, stay put. If you are on the road, pull over on a safe spot and stay inside your vehicle. It provides good temporary shelter and will make it easier for rescuers to locate you when you get stuck. If you are still at home, your best bet is to put off the trip altogether.

Photo credit:  Falk Lademann / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 


 

Caring for Your Car This Winter

Car-and-SnowWinter can be especially harsh for your car. The cold temperatures, snow and moist this season brings can zap the life out of your vehicle, resulting to costly repairs. For sure, the last thing you want is to get stranded in the middle of the street on a cold winter day, desperately waiting for somebody to rescue you. To avoid such nightmare and save yourself significant amount of cash, here are some winter car care tips you should implement now.

Wax it good. To protect your car’s finish, give its entire body some good waxing. This will also help the snow to slide off easily for faster cleaning.

Pay your technician a visit. If your car is due for a tune-up, be sure to do so early on this winter to avoid existing problems, such as pings, slow performance and hard starts, from getting worse. Have the technician check the belts and hoses to see if they need replacements as well as the battery and charging system, making sure they are not corroded. It is also a good idea to have the oil changed to a lighter weight to keep your vehicle’s parts well lubricated.

Additionally, let the technician look at your car’s brakes and lights to ensure they are working properly and exhaust system to know if there are carbon monoxide leaks. The latter problem is hazardous when driving during winter when windows are closed.

Keep an eye out on the tires. Worn tires can be especially dangerous during winter as they can lead to road accidents. So if yours is due for replacement, do not wait out until the temperatures hit their lowest. Also, ensure they are properly inflated to get better fuel economy and fend off flat tires. If you live in an area where snowfall is significant, having snow tires is a good investment.

Take note of the fluids. Your car’s fluids play an integral role in keeping it in good running condition. Unfortunately, some of them can be affected by cold temperatures. Take the time to inspect the cooling system of your car. If there is too much water in it and not enough anti-freeze, it can get stuck up due to freezing temperatures, which can eventually result to engine-related breakdown. Also, do not allow the gas tank to drop below the halfway mark to prevent the gas lines from freezing. Equally important is to top up your windshield washer fluid with winter fluid.

Regularly wash your car. To keep grime, de-icing chemicals and salt off your car, give it a good wash at least every 10 days. If you need to wash your car but it is cold outside, watch out for the door lock mechanisms as they can get wet, which can result for the locks to freeze. To avoid that, spray graphite into the slot and push your key in until the graphite is deep into the slot.

Always have an emergency kit. Even if you have completely checked your car, you can never tell when disaster will strike. As such, it always pays to be prepared. Keep an emergency kit in place, which includes your own winter gear (ex. hats, gloves, jacket, etc.), jumper cables, flashlight, flares and basic tools.

Photo credit: Sergey Rodovnichenko / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

 


 

Has Your Car Been Correctly Repaired? Here’s How to Tell

car-damageIf you are not mechanically inclined, you have no other choice but to bring your car to a body shop when it needs repair. Of course, when you take your ride to a body shop, you are expecting that the work will be done with reasonable care and skill. That way it will drive like new once you hit the road and hopefully lengthen its service life.

Unfortunately, not all body shops are created equal. Some ensure satisfactory quality of repair, while others are just downright bad. For a car owner, the last thing you want is to fall victim for the latter type of body shops. As such, the first thing you have to do is to find a reliable shop to do business with. And the second important step you need to take is to inspect your car before you write a check and drive away.

So what are the things you need to look at to ensure your car has been restored to the condition it was before an accident? Read on.

Spick and Span Inside and Out

The appearance of your car after the repair is one of the most important things you need to keep an eye on. So when you are picking it up, it should have been cleaned inside and out. There should not be dirt and dust on the body as well as parts or tools that were used during the repair inside the trunk.

Although a body shop is one of the dirtiest places around, the fact that your car is clean after the repair simply implies that the shop took all the necessary steps to ensure that you are satisfied with their work.

Look at the Paint Job

Paint matching is perhaps the most arduous task any body shop has to do on a vehicle. While it is possible to get the factory paint of the car, doing the actual paint job is an entirely different story. The task should be done by people who actually know what they are doing, because they understand what approach to take to get the color and texture as close to the original one as possible.

When you have your car painted, schedule the pick up during the day. Check in the sunlight to make sure the color matches and there should not be thoughtlessly sprayed chrome, paint drips and embedded dirt on the car.

Inspect the Area that was Repaired

With the car’s general appearance completely checked, the next step is to closely inspect the area that was repaired. At the most, body panels should be tight without any gap or uneven surface. The doors should open and close properly, as this is a good indicator of correct alignment.

In case the front-end was damaged, the body shop may not be able to repair it perfectly. However, they should have made sure they have fixed it properly. To be able to tell that, the frame should be straight and the clearance between the tire and fender should be balanced on both sides. Likewise, the light beams from the headlights must be aligned.

Do a Road Test

It is not enough that you just perform a visual inspection on the vehicle. You should also ask for a road test to see how the car drives after the repair. If possible, have a mechanic by your side when doing the road test so someone knowledgeable can listen to squeaks and rattles that may indicate a problem.

By the end of the road test and you feel that a fault was not fixed correctly, mention your concern immediately so the body shop will have the chance to inspect and repair the problem without any additional cost on your part.

Photo credit: Kristy / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 


 

Fuel-Saving Tips That Do Not Really Save

5856850771_49e3e53693_zYou might have read a lot about fuel efficiency and how to save gas. Unfortunately, not everything presented as facts is true. We’ve got a short discussion below about some of the most common fuel-saving misconceptions.

1. Shift to neutral at stops.

This may be true several years ago when engines then required carburetors. But vehicles today have engines with fuel-injection systems which can sense and tell you if the engine is revving beyond idle when the throttle is fully closed. In that case, no fuel is being injected to the engine when your foot is off the gas pedal even if your vehicle’s in gear.

Thus, shifting to neutral at stops does not really save you gas. What that achieves is only premature wearing of the shifting components.

2. Manual transmissions are more fuel-efficient than automatic transmissions.

Years back, manual transmissions are more fuel-efficient than automatics because you can control the engine revs through shifting. But today’s advanced automatic transmissions can save you more fuel than a traditional clutch-and-stick shift can do. There is also the automatic manual transmission which offers a combination of the benefits of a manual and an automatic transmission.

3. Fuel economy declines as the vehicle gets old.

According to FuelEconomy.gov, fuel economy normally improves over the first years of ownership or about the first 5,000 miles of a vehicle. But the overall performance, including fuel economy, of your vehicle will certainly deteriorate over time without proper maintenance.

Regular engine maintenance is the secret to keeping your vehicle’s reliability and efficiency. It also allows you to find out and fix problems, which might hurt fuel economy badly, as early as possible. In this way, there’s no way your engine will be any less fuel-efficient over time.

4. A dirty air filter hurts a vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

A dirty air filter used to lower mileage in older vehicles. But with fuel-injected engines used by modern vehicles now, that shouldn’t be the case anymore. These engines use a computerized engine control module which regulates the air-to-fuel ratio. This is why a dirty air filter on a modern engine won’t significantly affect fuel economy.

5. Premium gas is the best in terms of fuel economy.

Oil companies may have subliminally told consumers that premium gas has something to do with fuel economy. But experts discourage consumers from filling in a vehicle’s tank with gas that’s not recommended for that vehicle. If your car is designed for regular gas, stick with it and don’t go premium unless recommended in the owner’s manual. But in general, using higher-octane gas does not really have a significant effect on any vehicle’s fuel economy and performance. Gassing up with premium only makes you spend more unnecessarily.

Photo credit: Images Money / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 


 

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