Car Care Tips

Fully Laden Vehicle Driving Advice

When towing or driving a fully laden vehicle up hill, turn off the air conditioning to reduce strain on the cooling system, so the engine and transmission will not overheat.

Air Pressure Checks

When performing air pressure checks on your tires, don’t forget the spare. Over time, tires lose air pressure through permeation. Checking the air in the spare on a monthly basis assures that when you go to change a tire you won’t be stuck with two flats.

ABS Usage Advice

When driving a vehicle equipped with anti-lock braking system (ABS), don’t pump the brake when stopping. Pumping the pedal does not allow the ABS to properly engage. Instead, hold the pedal firmly down without letting up and let the ABS keep the wheel from locking up as the vehicle slows.

Windshield Sun Shade

Using a windshield sun shade when you park reduces damage to the interior caused by the sun’s ultra-violet rays and can lower passenger compartment temperatures by as much as 30 percent.

Gas Grade Advice

Unless the owner’s manual says otherwise, use the lowest grade of gas possible. In most cases your car won’t run any differently and you’ll save money at the pump.

DIY Small Dent Repair

Small dents can often be repaired without the use of plastic fillers and the need for repainting. Many collision repair shops offer paintless dent repair as a fast and economical alternative to traditional bodywork.

Vinyl Cracks & Tears

Small cracks and tears in vinyl upholstery can be easily repaired using a vinyl repair kit available from auto parts stores – and will prevent the tear from growing into a much more costly repair job.

Fuel Economy Tips

To get the best fuel economy possible, drive smoothly, avoid jackrabbit starts and make sure your vehicle is tuned up.

Tire Rotation

Tires that are rotated last longer. Auto experts recommend rotating your tires every 7,500 miles to maximize tread life.

Dipstick Indicators

The oil on the dipstick can tell you a lot. It should be honey colored or light brown. Black oil indicates you’re overdue for an oil/filter change, frothy buildup indicates contamination by water and metal particles mean an engine check up is needed.

Vinyl Gassing Off

The filmy coating on the inside of your car’s windows is from the “gassing off” of interior vinyl, upholstery and carpeting and can cause glare that limits driver visibility. Clean interior glass with a glass cleaner once every couple of weeks to remove it.

Daylight Savings Time Driving

The change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time every fall catches many drivers unprepared as they find themselves suddenly commuting in the dark. The reduced visibility of nighttime driving means slower going, so allow extra travel time for your commute.

Wiper Blade Maintenance

Replacing your wiper blades twice a year (Spring and Fall) assures that windshield will stay streak free for maximum visibility when foul weather strikes.

Routine Vehicle Vacuuming

Regular vacuuming of your vehicle’s carpeting will help it to last longer by keeping fiber-cutting grit and dirt from doing damage to the carpet.

On Road Advice

Passing a drunk or erratic driver is dangerous. Instead, stay behind at a safe distance where can keep an eye on them. Note the vehicle make and license number. Then, when it is safe to do so, pull off the road and phone the police.

Oil and Coolant Advice

Making sure your engine always has the proper oil and coolant levels a positive step towards long engine life. Make it a habit to check under the hood every time you fill up.

Trunk Drain Plug

Most trunks have a drain plug at the bottom of the spare tire bin that can be removed to allow standing water in the trunk to be drained.

Loose or Torn Gasket Warning

Loose or torn rubber gaskets around the door and trunk frames will allow water to enter the vehicle and cause corrosion. Additionally, they will make the interior louder and may let the door rattle. Get them fixed promptly.

Prevent Hinge Binding

Lubricate your door, trunk and hood hinges with parts grease semi-annually to keep them from binding up.

Vehicle Washing and Waxing

Keeping your vehicle washed and waxed not only keeps it looking great, it helps maintain the vehicle’s resale value because it protects the finish from scratches and corrosion.

Icy Patch Prevention

Keep a coffee can full of cat litter in the trunk during winter months. Sprinkling it over icy patches can supply the traction you need to get rolling when you are stuck.

Prevent Edge Chipping

Installing inexpensive door edge guards will protect the paint on the edge from chipping when the door is opened and comes in contact with posts, walls, trees or other vehicles.

Pulling Vehicle

If your vehicle recently starting pulling to one side, it could be an indication that front end work is needed, but it could also mean you have a tire that’s low on air. Improper inflation levels can affect vehicle handling and shorten tire life.

Fender Well Maintenance

Hose out the fender wells when you wash your car to keep moisture-holding dirt from building up in crevices and causing corrosion.

Door Lock Maintenance

Give door and trunk locks a treatment of graphite or silicone lock lube once or twice a year to keep them operating smoothly.

Windshield Chips & Cracks

Get small chips and cracks in your windshield fixed before they grow and ruin the glass. Chip repair is quick, restores the windshield’s structural integrity and does not adversely affect visibility. Insurance companies often cover this cost.

Gas Fume Warning

Except when filling up, you should never smell gasoline fumes in or around the vehicle. If you do, it may mean there’s a leak in the fuel tank, fuel line, carburetor, or around the fuel injector seals. Leaking fuel is dangerous; have the vehicle inspected ASAP.

Prevent Door Rust

Doors often rust because the drain holes in the bottom of the door frame become plugged with dirt. Use a stiff wire to keep the holes open so moisture won’t build up inside the door and cause corrosion.

Tire Treatment Advice

Don’t use vinyl treatments on tires. They can interact with the sun’s ultra-violet rays, giving the tires a dirty, dingy appearance. Instead, use a tire dressing specifically designed for use on rubber that will make your tires look like new.

Exterior Trim Part Treatments

Don’t use vinyl treatments or car waxes on rubber exterior trim parts such as moldings and bumpers; this will give black rubber parts a brownish finish with prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays. Instead, get a rubber treatment product intended for these uses.

Car Wash Advice

Don’t use household detergents to wash your car. They are hard on the finish, dulling the paint and leaving a filmy buildup that detracts from the appearance. Instead, use an automotive car wash agent designed to keep your vehicle sparkling clean.

Vehicle Hoses Maintenance

Did you know you can check the condition of your vehicle’s hoses simply by giving them a squeeze? With the engine off and brake set, squeeze the hoses between thumb and forefinger. If pliant, they’re OK. If they feel hard or mushy, they’ll need replacing.

Tire Pressure Testing

Checking the tire pressures once a week will improve handling and prolong tire life. Proper tire inflation levels are listed on the driver’s doorpost, inside the glove box, or on the fuel filler door.

Prevent Rust

Buy a bottle of touch-up paint for your car to touch up small scratches and stone chips before they start to rust. These bottles are available from auto parts stores and car dealers and come with a built-in touch-up brush.

Paint Bubbles

Bubbles in the paint are a sign of pinhole corrosion attacking from the backside of the metal. Have paint bubbles repaired by a professional before they lead to major corrosion.

Driveway Drip Color Meanings

Black or brown drips on the driveway means your car is leaking engine oil. Red drips indicate a transmission fluid leak and green or pale yellow fluids indicate a coolant leak. If you notice signs of fluid leakage, get your car inspected ASAP.

Idling Advice

Avoid prolonged idling. Turn off the engine while waiting for friends and family to save fuel. Forget about those five-minute winter warm ups; today’s vehicles are designed to warm up quickly.

Anti-freeze/Coolant Advice

Anti-freeze, or coolant, is vital to your engine’s well being but is extremely toxic. The sweet odor, taste, and iridescent color of most coolants are attractive to children and animals and ingesting even a little can be fatal. Keep coolant locked away from children. Mop up spills and leaks immediately.

When an Oil Change is Due

Although many owners manuals recommend an oil and filter change every 7,500 miles, most vehicles are driven under “severe service” conditions and need this service every 3,000 miles to assure maximum engine life.

Gas Can Usage Advice

Always remove gas cans from the vehicle and place them on the ground before filling at the pump. Cans filled while in the vehicle aren’t properly grounded and static build up can ignite the gas fumes, causing a dangerous vehicle fire at the pump.

Two Second Rule

A minimum two-second distance between you and the vehicle ahead assures plenty of stopping room. To gauge your distance, let the vehicle in front of you pass by a fixed object, and then count the seconds(one-thousand-and-one, one-thousand-and-two…) until you reach the same point and adjust your distanced accordingly.

Squealing Brakes Alert

A squealing or grinding sound when you step on the brake pedal is an indication that your vehicle needs brake service. Don’t put it off; properly working brakes are vital to your safety.

Loud Muffler Alert

A loud muffler may not be just annoying; it can also be dangerous, allowing leaking exhaust fumes to enter the passenger compartment. The danger of carbon monoxide poisoning from a damaged exhaust system is very real. Have it inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

DIY Cracked Dashboard Restoration

A cracked dashboard can be restored with the installation of a dashboard coverlay piece that is easily installed by any body and trim shop for far less than the cost of replacing the entire dash.