How big is your Key ring!!
Does your keychain have 12 keys or more, or multiple key chains attached?
Think about lightening up your key chain load. The weight, combined with bouncing while you drive, can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition and eventually lead to ignition tumbler and/or switch failure.
A lesson in the need for routine maintenance
Created 09/16/2015 - 11:52
We had a 2006 Volvo XC 90, 2.5 L 5 cylinder with 128,852 miles on the odometer come in with a complaint of low power, stalling and excessive oil consumption. The Volvo owner brought the vehicle in for a timing belt replacement thinking that this would solve the problem. I explained to him that the timing belt had nothing to do with the stalling or oil consumption problem. After conversing with him further, I uncovered that the vehicle had close to no maintenance performed other than routine oil changes about every 6,000 to 7,000 miles, using non-synthetic oil. In addition to the work he requested on the vehicle, I suggested that we perform a thorough vehicle inspection.
Upon inspection of the vehicle, we noticed that the serpentine belts and timing belt were all overdue for replacement. We also noticed that the Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV), or oil trap system, was in real bad shape. The PCV system consists of the flame trap, small and large vacuum hoses, along with an oil cap. A telltale sign of a problem was that there was a cracked PCV breather hose located on the upper part of the engine next to the fuel injectors. The odd thing about this hose being broken (Figure 1) was that there was not much oil in the surrounding area, leading me to believe that the breather system had to be clogged. A quick test of the system for proper operation is to remove the dipstick and place a rubber glove or balloon over the dipstick tube. If the balloon or rubber glove starts to blow up, it indicates crankcase pressure is present and not vacuum. Since one of the customer’s complaints was excessive oil consumption (using 3 or more quarts of oil within 5,000 miles without any visible signs of a leakage) it was a good indication that the flame trap and hoses were clogged. To perform the PCV flame trap replacement, the intake manifold would have to be removed to uncover all the hoses and components. One of the PCV hoses is connected to the fuel line that goes from the front of the engine to the rear. Since this vehicle had more than 128,000 miles on it, it was in desperate need of every PCV line. Obviously since the engine had so many miles on it and all the plastic components had hardened with age, everything we touched broke, forcing us to replace more than the normal PCV breather replacement parts.
Once the manifold was removed, we were able to see just how clogged this engine’s PCV system really was. Take a look at one of the main breather ports (Figure 2) for the system that is located on the lower front engine block. As you can see, it was totally clogged and needed to be drilled, scraped and picked clean. My tech Franklin had to spend a good two or more hours just cleaning all the passages, as well as cleaning carbon deposits from the valves and intake manifold. If the vehicle would have had proper maintenance, the replacement of the flame trap (Figure 3) would have been much easier. If we would have just done what the customer originally requested, he would have still had the same problem of oil consumption and stalling. It’s always a good idea to make a thorough inspection and make sure to address the vehicle owner’s concerns so they leave the shop satisfied with a vehicle that is running well.
Having been in the automotive maintenance and repair business since 1984, I've learned a great deal about what should and should not be done to properly maintain vehicles.
Having seen the best and worst over time, I've gathered a wealth of knowledge which I'd like to share with my customers and potential customers.
I'd welcome any questions/comments you have on the following tips and look forward to helping you maintain your vehicle in top condition.
For 2010 vehicles, 14 of 35 carmakes are now using oil life monitoring systems. One GM car driven by Edmunds went 13,000 miles before the monitoring system indicated the need for an oil change. We sent a sample of that oil to a lab for analysis. The results showed that the oil could have could have safetly delivered at least another 2,000 miles of service. Oil experts and car manufacturers are solidly on the side of less- frequent oil changes that these formulation changes make possible. "If customers always just stayed with the 3,00-mile recommendation, there'd be these great strides in the robustness of oil that oil companies have made [that] wouldn't be utilized," said GM's Matt Snider. Consumers, he said, "would be throwing away good oil." Chris Risdon, a product education specialist for Toyota agreed, adding that oil technology advances that permit fewer changes are a tool to protect the environment. "If you're doing it half as much, thats 5 quarts of oil times1.7 million vehicles a year---that's a tremendous amount of waste oil thats not being circulated into the environment." Waste oil is a problem exacerbated by too-frequent oil changes, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, which campaigned against the 3,000-mile dictate. The Agency says that 153.5 million gallons of used oil is generated in California annually but only 59% of it is recycled.
So be "GREEN", check your owners manual or use the oil life monitor to determine when your oil needs to be changed.
This article is provided by Edmunds.com
Gas Mileage, Tires, and Safety Tips
Acting on these tip-offs can improve your gas mileage, save your tires and upgrade your safety.
If you’ve ever pushed an out-of-whack shopping cart down a supermarket aisle, then you know the importance of wheel alignment. Think of hearing that ugly whuppa-whuppa-whuppa from one of the front wheels. Or pushing harder with your right hand than with your left to get the thing to go straight. Or feeling a rear wheel scrub along on its edge while the other one rolls nice and easy. You’d probably ditch the thing and go back for another before you got halfway down Aisle 1.
On your car, though, out-of-whack wheels mean more than a mere annoyance.
Poor alignment creates higher rolling resistance. Higher rolling resistance means greater wear on the tires and lower fuel economy.
With the price of gasoline nowadays, can you really afford to bleed off more miles per gallon than absolutely necessary? To get the highest gas mileage, as well as the longest tire life and best ride and handling from your car, you need to recognize when you need a wheel alignment.
Polich suggests having the alignment checked “whenever you have your tires rotated, or at least once a year. The roads we have around here aren’t in the greatest condition, and that can throw the alignment off sooner than you think. Slamming into a pothole or butting a tire hard into the curb while trying to parallel park is usually all it takes.
Although you can’t always avoid high-impact goof-ups, you can look (and feel) for the following conditions:
1. Pulling right or left. Does your car tend to veer in one direction when you cruise a straight, smooth road? Do you need to keep a slight pressure on the steering wheel with your right or left hand to get the car to track straight?
Try this experiment. On a smooth straightaway with no other traffic around, take your hands off the steering wheel a bit. Keep them poised just above the rim, so that you can grab it instantly to regain control. Although most roads have a crown in the center for runoff, which may subtly affect the vehicle’s path, your car should continue its course fairly well without you. If it doesn’t, then you may have an underinflated tire on one side—or you may need a wheel alignment.
2. A cockeyed logo. The carmaker’s logo in the center of your steering wheel should look perfectly horizontal when you’re driving straight ahead. A cockeyed logo—in other words, a steering wheel that is a few degrees off the 12 o’clock position—may indicate a problem with steering components or (more likely) with the wheel alignment.
3. Tires worn on one edge. Uneven tire wear probably provides the surest sign of misaligned wheels. Increased wear on the inside edge compared with the outside edge (or vice versa) clearly indicates that you need to see a technician, pronto. According to Goodyear, wheels off by as little as one-eighth of an inch in “toe” (the angle at which the front of a tire points in or out, when viewed from above) or one degree in “camber” (the tilt of the top of the tire toward or away from the car, when viewed from the front) can increase wear by 20 percent on one edge.
On the other hand, significant wear on both edges of a single tire but not in the center of the tread face usually indicates serious under inflation. The tire’s sidewalls support the vehicle’s weight and the center of the tread face cups upward, leading to the characteristic two-edge wear pattern.
Unfortunately, by the time you notice such uneven wear patterns with your naked eye, you may be too late to save the tires. That’s why a good tread gage becomes so important. Use it regularly to measure the depth of the tread at three places straight along the tread face—near the outside edge, in the center and near the inside edge.
4. Ribs worn on one edge. Run your fingertips across the tread face as well, taking care to feel how the inside and outside edges of each rib compare. (“Ribs” are the islands of rubber sticking up among the “void areas,” or spaces formed by the tread.) Does it feel uniform across the entire tread face? Improper alignment can sometimes lead to “feathering” on only one edge of the ribs.
5. Poor recovery on turns. After you make a turn, the steering wheel should return to center promptly, without feeling loose or difficult to control. If it doesn’t, then you may have loose steering or suspension components. But in most cases you probably just need an alignment.
6. Sloppy steering feel. Hard steering or shimmying in the wheel can arise from a number of problems, including misalignment.
7. Crab walking. The next time a family member drops you off someplace, watch the rear of the car as it drives away. Does the body seem to move a bit sideways, even though the wheels are pointed straight? Answering “yes” may indicate structural damage in the aftermath of a collision—or the need to adjust the alignment of all four wheels with respect to the centerline of the car.
The Benefits of Correct Air Pressure
Experts agree that keeping the correct air pressure in your tires is as important as giving your engine a tune-up. In fact, the economic benefits may be even greater. With the right amount of air pressure, your tires wear longer, save fuel, enhance handling, and prevent accidents. Failure to maintain the correct air pressure can result in poor gas mileage, reduce tire life, affect vehicle handling, and cause vehicle overloading. If you consider these factors, then the need to routinely check your tire pressure is even clearer.
Check Air Pressure Routinely
Because tires do so much without appearing to need attention, it's easy to forget about them. However, tires do lose pressure each day, through the process of permeation. In cool weather, a tire will typically lose one or two pounds of air per month. In warm weather, it's common for tires to lose air at an even higher rate. Tires are also often subjected to flexing and impacts that can diminish air pressure as well. So it's important to realize that refilling your tires is as important as refilling your gas tank. In fact, associating the need to refill your tires with the need for refilling your fuel supply can also be a useful reminder. Check the air pressure in your tires every other time you stop to fill up at the gas station. That interval will allow you to check your tire pressure consistently enough to maintain recommended air pressure. Another good time to check air pressure is when the tires are rotated. Many vehicles have different tire pressures on the front and rear axle, so remember to have this adjustment made. Also remember to have the pressure in your spare tire checked. The space-saver type spare requires a much higher air pressure level than other tires, and is virtually useless (due to overloading) at lower air pressure levels.
Where To Find Air Pressure Information
The correct air pressure may be found in the vehicle owner's manual or on the tire placard (attached to the vehicle door edge, doorpost, glove box door or fuel door). The placard tells you the maximum vehicle load, the cold tire pressures and the tire size recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. If you have trouble, visit Eagle River Automotive for assistance.
Another valuable resource is tire load/inflation tables. Eagle River Automotive can help. Not only will this document tell you the correct tire pressure for stock sizes, but it will provide the information on optional plus sizes as well. A good example would be the findings on a Honda Civic with the stock size 185/65R-14. The recommended air pressure is 28 psi. Plus one size is 195/55R-15 with a recommended air pressure of 32 psi. Plus two size is 205/45R-16 with a recommended air pressure of 36 psi. Note how the air pressure increases with plus sizing to meet the load carrying capacity for the car.
Other Factors Change Air Pressure
In addition to routine air checks, other circumstances necessitate a visit to the air pump. Seasonal changes or altitude changes create a rise or drop in air pressure (for every 10 degrees change in temperature, tire air pressure changes 1 psi). Perhaps the most overlooked factor is vehicle loading for trucks and RVs. Since these vehicles can be configured and loaded in many ways, actual tire loads should be used to determine the proper inflation pressure. This is best determined by weighing the vehicle. Keep in mind that vehicle loading can change from trip to trip.
Sometimes a small nail, screw or other object will puncture a tire and then act as an inefficient plug. Air pressure drops slowly over a matter of hours or days, undetected by the driver. Your best defense in this circumstance is to be alert to the symptoms of this. Be aware of any pulling or vibration that seems unnatural. Listen for any ticking sounds, which will be especially audible at slow, parking lot speeds. If you detect this, get off the road and inspect the tires on the side of your vehicle where the pull, vibration or unusual sound is occurring. A bulging sidewall and/or excessively hot tire indicates a slow leak. Put on your spare tire and have your tire dealer repair the punctured unit. Ask the repair technician if any sidewall damage has occurred (a powdery residue inside the tire indicates this condition). If sidewall damage has occurred, you will need to have the tire replaced.
How To Check Air Pressure
Properly checking tire pressure requires an ACCURATE air gauge. Many people believe that they can check air pressure just by looking at the tire and judging the sidewall appearance. Also, many people use air meters at service stations, which can be grossly inaccurate due to exposure or abuse. Invest in a quality air gauge. For trucks and RVs, use a dual-head inflation gauge that is calibrated up to 120 psi at 2 psi increments.
When checking your vehicle's tire pressure, make sure the tires are "cold". Cold air pressure means that the vehicle has not yet been driven one mile. Remember that driving on a tire increases its temperature and air pressure. If you must drive more than one mile for air, check and record the air pressure in all your tires before you leave. Once at the tire dealer, measure each tire's inflation again and then note the difference. Inflate the tires with low pressure to a level that is equal to the recommended cold pressure plus the difference at the higher temperature.
In this example, add 3 psi in the right rear tire to match the other rear tire's warm reading. When the tire returns to cold pressure, it should end up at the recommended pressure.
Finally, after completing the pressure check, make sure that the valves and extensions are equipped with valve caps to keep out dirt and moisture. Remember to replace the valve assembly when you replace the tire. It's your best assurance against a sudden or consistent loss of air pressure.
How can routine air pressure maintenance impact our environment? Consider that fewer tires per year would end up in the landfills and scrap heaps that trouble our ecology. How many tires are we talking about? We estimate that most drivers lose from 10% to as much as 50% of tire tread life due to underinflation. That's a significant statistic. Now consider the extra fuel we burn to push cars along on soft, underinflated tires. Tires do require extra energy to roll if they are underinflated. While the statistics vary widely and can be somewhat inconclusive, the implications are staggering. Maintaining tire pressure may seem like a low priority in our busy daily routines, but it adds up to big environmental consequences. We must all take action to do the right thing.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that gas mileage can be lowered by 0.4% for every 1 PSI (pound per square inch) drop in the pressure of all four tires.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association states that 85 percent of drivers surveyed do not check their tire pressure properly, and many don't even know where to find the recommended proper tire inflation for their vehicle.
*Calculations based on US Department of Energy gas consumption estimates and assumption that underinflation value persists unchanged throughout the year.
Maintaining the tire balance on your vehicle is critical to receiving satisfactory service from your tire investment. In addition to providing a smooth ride, balancing is a key component in tire wear. The focus of this article is to help you understand the balancing process and to know why it is important to keep your tires balanced throughout their tread life.
For those of you who think that tire balancing isn't that important, consider some industry trends that may help you rethink the issue. Perhaps the most compelling argument for precision balancing comes from an obvious fact: vehicles are being made lighter and lighter. The heavier cars of yesterday actually helped smooth out the ride by dampening many vibrations before the driver could feel them. The softer suspensions also had the same effect. Another factor is tire technology. Generally, more responsive tires with lower profiles (which send more road feedback to the driver) are being used in today's style- and performance-oriented market. As a result, the slightest imbalance (as little as half an ounce) can be felt in most modern vehicles. This is significantly less than the average of ten years ago. For those of you who have plus-sized your tires and wheels, balancing is even more critical.
The Balancing Act
Perhaps the best way to begin is to discuss the lack of balance. When a tire is mounted onto the wheel, two slightly imperfect units are joined to form an assembly weighing forty pounds (this is the average for cars). The chance of this assembly having absolutely precise weight distribution about its radial and lateral centers is virtually impossible. Remember that all it takes is half an ounce of uneven weight distribution for a vibration to be felt. The illustration below shows how an imbalance creates vibration.
Occurs when there is a heavy or light spot in the tire that prevents the tire from rolling evenly and causing the tire and wheel to undergo an up-and-down motion.
Occurs when there is unequal weight on one or both sides of the tire/wheel assembly's lateral centerline, thus creating a side-to-side wobble or wheel shimmy.
The static imbalance creates a hop or vertical vibration. The dynamic imbalance creates a side-to-side or wobbling vibration. Most assemblies have both types of imbalance, and require dynamic balancing (commonly referred to as spin balancing) to create even weight distribution. The balancing system directs a technician to place counter weights on the rim's outer surface to offset the imbalance. When the balancing system tests for virtually perfect weight distribution, the assembly is in balance and will not vibrate. Your tires will ride smoothly and wear evenly with regard to balance.
Keeping Your Tires Balanced
For the sake of example, assume you have driven your tires 5,000 miles since their purchase and it's time to rotate. Over the miles, turning left and right, hitting bumps and holes you could not see or avoid, and driving down uneven road surfaces have led to uneven tread wear on your tires. Perhaps a pothole has knocked-out your vehicle's alignment (this creates uneven tire wear). Well, besides rotating the tires and getting an alignment to set things right, you should also rebalance the tires. Even if you can't feel vibrations, they are present. The uneven tread wear has created an imbalance that generates excessive heat and wear on your tires. Considering the hundreds of dollars you spent on your tires, a rebalance is a wise expenditure. If you live near one of our stores, you should ask about the Lifetime Balancing program. For a nominal, one-time charge you can have your tires balanced at every rotation.
Other Sources of Vibration
Very often the wheel/tire assemblies on a vehicle may be in balance but you can still feel a vibration. Here are some of the other causes of vibration:
- Bent wheel
- Tire out of round (radial or lateral runout)
- Wheel-to-axle mounting error
- Inconsistent tire sidewall stiffness (force variation)
- Brake component wear or failure
- Drive train or engine component wear or failure
- Suspension wear or failure
- Wheel bearing wear or failure
- Wheel alignment is out
Your tire dealer can isolate many of these problems for you, and there is no question that determining whether the tire/wheel assemblies are good and in balance is the first place to start. However, ultimately this may not be the source of your vibration problem.
Balancing High Performance Tires and Wheels
Today's high performance tires and wheels are made with features that facilitate optimum mounting. Wheels are marked to identify the minimum radial run-out spot (low point) on the bead seat surface. Tires are marked with a high point location. Mounting the assembly to match these two points is called match mounting. This method minimizes the balance weight needed to correct any remaining imbalance and the radial run-out that may occur in the wheel/tire assembly.
On rare occasions, a tire may be manufactured with slightly inconsistent sidewall stiffness (creating what is called force variance) which leads to a ride problem. A new generation of balancers can detect this condition. The balancers can also guide tire technicians to remount the tire in an optimum position that puts the assembly within specification and eliminates the problem. If specifications cannot be achieved, the defective tire will be identified for replacement.
Wheel Weight Placement
Many of today's wheel designs necessitate unique wheel weight placement to achieve both precise balance and aesthetic appeal. Your tire dealer will inform you of the best method for your wheel type.
Standard balance uses only clip-on weights as shown. This method is usually done on original equipment steel or alloy wheels. Different type wheel weights are used for each type of wheel.
Mixed weights balance uses both clip-on and adhesive weights. The balance planes maintain the weights behind the face of the wheel.
The use of adhesive weights is typically reserved for chrome or other wheels with a delicate finish. The balance planes maintain the weights behind the face of
Rotating your tires periodically is an essential part of tire maintenance. The main purpose of regularly rotating tires is to achieve more uniform wear for all tires on the vehicle. If no rotation period or pattern is to be found in your owner's documentation, rotate your tires at least every 6,000 miles and follow one of the patterns suggested below.
However, rotate your tires earlier if irregular or uneven wear develops, and check with a qualified tire dealer or alignment shop to determine the cause of the wear problem. Remember that a hard impact such as hitting a pothole can cause misalignment, which then causes uneven tire wear.
Don't include your temporary spare in any tire rotation; it's for emergency use only. But do take the opportunity at this time to check the air in the spare (remember this unit typically requires a much higher air pressure than the other tires and may fail to serve its purpose if it isn't up to pressure). If you do have a full size spare and wish to include it in the rotation, use one of the patterns shown and insert the spare in the right rear position. Place the tire that would have gone on the right rear in the trunk as the new spare.
Remember that certain tires cannot be rotated in the patterns described. These include tires with asymmetric or uni-directional tread designs. Also, some vehicles are equipped with different size tires on the front and rear axles. Check the owner's manual for the proper rotation in these cases.
Finally, check the inflation pressures and have them adjusted for the tire's new positions. Under-inflated or over-inflated tires may result in poor handling, uneven treadwear or poor fuel consumption. Also check that the lugnuts have been properly installed and torqued.
Alignment is one of the key maintenance factors in getting the most wear and performance from your tires. In addition, wheel alignment provides safe, predictable vehicle control as well as a smooth and comfortable ride that's free of pulling or vibration. Today's modern suspensions require a precise four-wheel alignment that can only be achieved through a modern alignment system. This applies to both front and rear wheel drive vehicles. While Discount Tire stores do not perform alignment work, the following information should help to explain the importance of proper alignment.
Aligning a car or truck involves the adjustment of the vehicle's suspension, not the tires and wheels. The direction and the angles that the tires point in after the alignment is complete, however, are critically important. There are four factors involved in setting the alignment to specification: caster, camber, toe and ride height. The following brief discussion of each aspect will help you understand the process and spot potential problems.
Caster is the angle of the steering axis (the part of the suspension that supports the wheel and tire assembly). Viewed from the side of the vehicle, an imaginary line drawn between the centers of the upper and lower ball joints forms an angle with true vertical; this is defined as caster. The illustration to the right shows whether this angle is referred to as positive or negative. Caster is important to steering feel and high-speed stability.
Viewed from the front of the vehicle, camber describes the inward or outward tilt of the tire. The illustration to the right shows whether this tilt is referred to as positive or negative. The camber adjustment maximizes the tire-to-road contact and takes into account the changes of force when a vehicle is turning. Camber is the one adjustment that can be set according to driving habits. Generally, if you drive more aggressively when cornering, more negative camber can be set. If you drive on highways and do very little hard cornering, more positive camber can be set.
Viewed from above the vehicle, toe describes whether the fronts of the tires are closer (toe-in) or farther (toe-out) apart than the rears of the tires. The illustration below shows this relationship. Toe settings vary between front and rear wheel drive vehicles. In a front wheel drive vehicle, the front wheels try to pull toward each other when the vehicle is in motion, which requires a compensating toe-out setting. A rear wheel drive vehicle works just the opposite, necessitating a toe-in setting. Stated differently, toe is set to let the tires roll in parallel (at zero toe) when the vehicle is in motion.
Ride height is simply the distance between the vehicle's frame and the road. This is the reference point for all alignment measurements. Vehicle customizing will often include raising or lowering the vehicle. Don't forget to have your vehicle aligned afterward. Also, this rule applies if you put a taller or shorter tire on your vehicle.
Misalignment and Tire Wear
By now you may have concluded that poor tire wear and misalignment are closely related. That is true, of course. But what can be done to minimize this condition? It turns out that many of these misalignment conditions can be easily "read" by your tire dealer; and they can recommend the appropriate solution, which will be "get an alignment." For your assistance, the following troubleshooting guide will help you see what your tire expert sees. Armed with this knowledge you can check your tires periodically. Remember that a knowledgeable glance at your tires on occasion can pay big dividends.
||Tire Wear Symptom
|Incorrect Camber Setting
||Premature smooth wear on either inside or outside shoulder
|Incorrect Toe Setting
||Feathered wear across tread, raised tread block edges
|Incorrect Caster Setting
||Excessive shoulder wear, tread blocks show "heel-toe" wear pattern
|Unequal Caster setting (either right or left side is out of specification)
||Sharp pulling necessitates steering compensation and feathered wear
|Unequal Toe setting (either right or left side is out of specification)
||Sharp pulling necessitates steering compensation and feathered wear
|Combination of two or more settings are out of specification
||Irregular tread wear with feathering and smooth spots
This is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of all the possibilities. However, if you learn to spot these symptoms early, you can get a lot more wear from your tires. Remember that tires take the brunt of many problems. Simply replacing the old ones is not a solution. Shortly after replacing your old tires, your new tires will begin to reflect the same problems if you have not made the appropriate alignment changes.
Very often a worn suspension part is the cause of an alignment problem. On older vehicles, worn springs can lower a vehicle's ride height, altering its geometry and creating misalignment (all alignment settings refer to ride height). Weak springs can also contribute to uneven or "cupped" tire wear. Another common problem is worn ball joints. The symptoms here are erratic handling, slow steering response, and irregular tire wear. Finally, worn tie rods can allow the tire to wander left to right, effectively changing toe as the vehicle rolls down the road. Irregular feathering will develop on the tire tread when this is the problem. Again, this is not an exhaustive listing, but if you stay alert to these common problems, it may help you schedule an early visit to your mechanic and save on tire wear.
How to live past 150,000 (miles, that is)
Twelve tips to help you keep your car running forever
By Aaron Gold
Improvements in technology, build quality and metallurgy mean that cars are living longer and longer, even in the Rust Belt. And it's not just Japanese cars, either -- domestics and Europeans are giving reliable service up to, and well past, 150,000 miles.
With proper care and feeding, virtually any car can be kept running as long as the owner wants to keep it. Here are twelve guidelines to keeping your car alive well into six-figure territory.
- Buy a good car to begin with. Though Japanese cars are generally the most reliable, don't dismiss American cars -- their quality is improving and they are often less expensive to repair. European cars are generally the most expensive to fix. If you're shopping, talk to owners of similar cars about their experiences.
- Follow the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual. If your car has a "maintenance minder", use that as a guideline for service, but be sure to double-check your owner's manual as some items need to be replaced based on time rather than mileage. Don't forget the timing belt! Most cars need to have the timing belt replaced every 60,000 to 90,000 miles. It's not cheap, but it's far less expensive than the damage it causes if it breaks.
- Keep a repair fund. Cars do break, and there's nothing like a $1,500 repair bill to scare an old-car owner into the new-car showroom. Remember, your car would have to generate repair bills of around $5,000 per year for at least four years in a row to even approach the cost of a new car. In place of your payment, try putting $100 or $200 per month into an interest-bearing car-repair account. That way an unexpected repair or major maintenance won't disrupt your normal cash flow.
- Do your homework. Many cars have known problems that tend to pop up under certain circumstances or after enough mileage/time. Most makes and models have Web sites and forums devoted to them; they can be a gold mine of information. Knowing your car is prone to a given problem isn't necessarily cause to get rid of it; it just allows you to be prepared.
- Be aware. Be on the lookout for new noises, strange smells or anything that just doesn't feel right. If something seems amiss, talk to your mechanic or dealership. Don't let them tell you "that's normal" -- if you've been driving your car long enough, you know best what normal is.
- Ask a friend to drive. Every two or three months, ask a friend to take you for a drive in your own car. Some problems appear or increase so gradually that you may not even notice them, but they'll stick out like a sore thumb to someone less familiar. And by riding along in the passenger's seat, you may spot something you missed while preoccupied with driving.
- Fix everything as soon as it breaks. If you're going to keep your car as long as possible, you have to want to keep it as long as possible. Don't ignore seemingly unimportant problems like broken trim bits, torn upholstery, or electrical glitches. Little annoyances tend to add up and can begin to erode your love affair with your old car.
- Use quality replacement parts. Whether or not to use genuine manufacturer parts is open to debate, but don't just opt for the least expensive parts you can find. Discuss options with your mechanic or parts store. If a non-wearing part is damaged, consider buying a used replacement -- you'll get manufacturer quality at a more affordable price.
- Keep it clean. Paint does more than make your car look good; it protects the materials underneath. Wash your car regularly. When water no longer beads on the paint, wax it.
- Fight rust. If you live where it snows, be sure to wash the car regularly -- but only if the temperature is above freezing. (Below freezing the salt stays in solution and won't harm the car.) Don't park in a heated garage; melting snow allows embedded salt to attack. Make sure your car wash does not recycle their water -- otherwise they're just spraying your car with salt from other people's vehicles.
- Drive gently. There's no need to baby your car; in fact, a little foot-to-the-floor acceleration every once in a while is a good thing, but driving like a wannabe Michael Schumaker in his Formula 1 Ferrari isn't good for your car (or your nerves).
- Gloat! If you enjoy the surprised looks people give you when you tell them your car has 150,000 miles on it, wait until you see their faces at 200,000. If people chide you about your old wheels, chide them about their car payments and higher insurance rates. Keeping your car as long as possible saves you hundreds of dollars per month; keeping it in good repair minimizes the environmental impact by ensuring that it runs cleanly and efficiently as possible. Feel free to gloat -- you and your car have earned it!
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THINGS YOU AUTO KNOW
In the automotive repair world we are asked many questions about general maintenance. For example when should my tires be rotated and why? We agree that it is always good to be in the know about your vehicle and what you can do to keep your vehicle safe and in good running condition.
For most of us, when we consider general vehicle maintenance, oil changes, tires, brakes, and tune ups typically come to mind. In regards to oil changes, there are many different types of oil that can be used. You can either opt for a Conventional Oil Change which is "Non-Synthetic", a "Semi-Synthetic", "Full Synthetic", or Diesel Oil Change. If you prefer a "Full-Synthetic" oil change, its cost is typically slightly higher but the oil offers more protection against wear and tear. When it comes to the type of oil you should use, refer to your Owner's Manual which is a great resource for questions you may have about your vehicle's specifications, including regularly scheduled maintenance intervals. Along with regularly scheduled oil changes there are also other general maintenance procedures that can help prevent costly vehicle repairs.
For instance, did you know that you should rotate your tires every other oil change? Regularly rotating tires will help prolong the life of your tires. Next time you have your oil changed, ask your shop technician to inspect the tires and check for uneven tire wear. Remember, if you really like hugging those curbs or hit a pothole, you should also have your alignment checked on a consistent basis. It is helpful to maintain your automotive repair records so you and your Automotive Shop can reference the work that has been completed.
Emergency Items For Your Vehicle
Emergencies in Eagle River may encounter can range from a flat tire downtown in Anchorage to being stranded in a snowy ravine for three days. So you may want to consider a basic car emergency kit to keep in your vehicle at all times and a travel kit tailored to a specific trip.Your close-to-home in Eagle River kit would have some basic items to work on your car: everything you need to change a tire, gloves, a couple quarts of oil, some antifreeze and water. A can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. You'll also want jumper cables or a booster box, flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools.Now for your comfort and safety: a first aid kit, drinkable water, high calorie food (like energy bars), blankets, toilet paper, cell phone, towel, hat and boots. Keep some change for a pay phone, emergency cash and a credit card. If you live in an area in AK with frequent severe weather or earthquakes, may want to carry provisions for longer emergencies.For trips away from Eagle River, consider the weather and AK geography as you assemble your emergency auto supplies. You'll need to have a source of light and heat and will want to provide protection against the elements as well as adequate food and water for everyone in the car. Always tell someone where you are going and have a plan for checking in at waypoints. Then if you run into trouble, you can be reported missing as soon as possible and rescuers will be able to narrow the search area. The key to safe travel in AK is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead, and let others know your itinerary.