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365 posts categorized "Car Care"

April 04, 2012

How to Prevent Pothole Damage (and What to Do if You Can't Avoid One)

PotholeYou likely don’t think about potholes until you rumble over one and your coffee spills and scorches your thighs. But hold onto your latte because the advent of spring temperatures means pothole season has arrived. Here are some preventative measures you can take to avoid what ultimately can be major damage to your car:

Keep tires properly inflated: The force of a pothole collision can cause structural damage to overinflated tires and cause underinflated tires to blow out. Keep proper tire pressure and note that low-profile tires (those with less rubber between the rim and road) offer less resistance to a blow from a pothole.

Avoid puddles: Suppress your inner child and avoid driving through puddles if you can. Those still waters could be hiding a pothole that runs deep.

Give yourself room: It’s always good practice to leave room between your vehicle and the car in front of you, but doing so during pothole season gives you more time to spot and react safely.

Slow down, and roll: If you see a pothole but don’t have time or clearance to avoid it, then reduce your speed and roll right through it. Braking on top of the pothole transfers vehicle weight to the front and can actually increase damage.

Hold firm: When rolling through the pothole, hold firm to the wheel and steer in a straight line to avoid losing control of your vehicle.

Check your vehicle: You’ve made impact. Are you feeling any vehicular vibrations? Is your steering off kilter? These and other symptoms are signs that you should have your car checked.

Rat them out: Most municipalities invite the public to report potholes, but a Montreal ad agency makes it easier than ever. Its free iPhone app, Pothole Season, uses Google Maps so users can tag a pothole in any city in the world; the app then emails local officials requesting a repair.

There may not be much you can do to prevent a pothole, but there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself and your car driving through the hazards cropping up—sometimes overnight—on spring roads.


Audia_net_Pamela__0042_WebSizePamela Reyhan is the manager of digital content strategy at Allstate Insurance Company.  She loves all thingsdigital, is the mother of twin girls and is a former Diet Coke addict.


April 03, 2012

Technical Tuesday: Restore a Plastic Headlight Lens

EhowOur weekly series of how-to videos continues as Jody offers insight on how to restore a plastic headlight lens.  As we enter the period of April showers, you'll want to be sure your headlights offer you the visibility you need, as well as letting other drivers on the road see you.  

Plastic headlight lenses yellow and dull over time - you may have noticed your lenses aren't as crystal clear as they used to be.  If that's the case, don't fret!  Headlight lens restoration is easier than you think, and the kits are inexpensive.  Follow these tips from Jody (after the jump) and keep your lights shining bright!

Continue reading "Technical Tuesday: Restore a Plastic Headlight Lens" »

April 02, 2012

Car Care Events Reveal Increased Need for Maintenance

Carcare-logoResults of vehicle inspections held at community car care events across the country during Car Care Months in April and October 2011 reveal that 84 percent of vehicles need service or parts, the highest percentage in five years, according to the Car Care Council. The unsatisfactory condition of vehicles reflects the current economic climate and reinforces the continued need for consumer education about the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair.

“During an uncertain economy, some motorists think they will save money by putting off needed vehicle maintenance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “What they don’t realize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more in the long run. These results demonstrate the importance of consumer education as the lack of proper vehicle maintenance can greatly impact highway safety, air quality, cost operation, and vehicle performance and dependability.”

Continue reading "Car Care Events Reveal Increased Need for Maintenance" »

March 27, 2012

Technical Tuesday: How to Check Battery Cables

Our own Jody DeVere brings you more of her wisdom from our eHow video series.  In this installment, battery cables.  How to check them, how to clean them, why that matters.  Check it out after the jump, and find more Ask Patty videos at http://www.ehow.com/videos-on_12403_auto-advice.html!

Continue reading "Technical Tuesday: How to Check Battery Cables" »

March 14, 2012

AutoMD.com Offers Top Ten Towing Tips

Tens of thousands have crashed, been injured or died due to towing accidents; AutoMD.com provides guide for safe towing as Spring/Summer road trip season approaches

Over 15,000 people have been killed in crashes involving passenger vehicles towing trailers since 1975(1) with more than 65,000 crashes involving passenger vehicles towing trailers occurring in one year alone(2). Lack of knowledge of correct towing techniques is clearly a contributing factor - in fact, a recent study(2) revealed that 71% of Americans who tow admitted to being only somewhat to not knowledgeable about proper towing practices and safety! So, as the Spring/Summer road trip and tow season approaches, the experts at AutoMD.com have put together their Top Ten Towing Tips to make sure that vacation road trippers not only tow their recreational 'toys' safely, but also avoid extra wear and tear on their towing vehicle.

"Driving may still be the best travel choice for families this Spring and Summer, but for those who will be hauling their fun behind them, it is important to remember that without careful planning, attention to equipment and safe driving practices, these extra loads can be a hazard to driver, passengers and vehicle -- and to other drivers as well," said Brian Hafer, VP Marketing at AutoMD.com. "AutoMD.com's Top Ten Towing Tips should help vacationers and their 'toys' arrive safe and sound at their road trip destinations." 

There are many things to consider when towing extra cargo. AutoMD.com's Top Ten Towing Tips provide crucial advice for the novice tower, as well as a refresher for those who are more experienced with hauling an extra load.

AutoMD.com's Top Ten Towing Tips 
The information and advice provided herein is general and intended to be a starting point to gather information about towing practices.  You should not rely solely on the information contained herein as it may not be suitable for your particular automobile or situation. Please consult your vehicle and trailer owner's manual before attempting to tow anything.

1. Understanding Towing Capacity

Never exceed your vehicle's towing capacity. For example, you may think that just because you have a truck, you can tow a boat, but if the boat and trailer are heavier than your towing capacity, you can find yourself in deep water (literally!). If your tow load exceeds your car or truck's capacity, it can lead to significant mechanical issues and/or transmission damage. Plus, it can cause sway issues, which can have a devastating impact on others on the road. To find out what your car/truck's towing capacity is, consult your vehicle owner's manual. There are also public and private scale locations that can help you determine the weight of your trailer and cargo.

2. Let's Get Hitched

A tow hitch attaches to the chassis of a car allowing it to connect to and tow a trailer or other vehicle. Buying the right hitch is crucial if your vehicle is not already equipped with a manufacturer's towing package. Your hitch must not only match your vehicle's towing capacity but must be the appropriate hitch for the load you are carrying: for instance, a weight-distributing hitch is appropriate for towing a heavier load (especially when the trailer and load weigh more than 50 percent of the vehicle's weight), and it can help reduce sway.

3. Are All Brakes in Sync?

Make sure that the brakes and lights on your car or truck are in sync with the brakes and lights on your trailer. Your trailer brakes and brake lights should go on when your car/truck's brakes and brake lights go on. If your car/truck signals left, so should your trailer. Not only is this basic road safety, but having operable, in sync lights when towing is the law in many states. And many states require that a towed trailer weighing more than 1,500 pounds has its own brake system.

4. Weight Distribution is Critical

As you prepare to tow a trailer, make sure your load is distributed appropriately for weight. Incorrect weight distribution can cause your trailer to flip with devastating consequences for you and others on the road.  Load heavier cargo first, making sure you secure your item(s) with ropes or cords. Fill in extra spaces evenly, front to back, and side to side. By placing sixty percent of the cargo weight on the front half of the trailer, this helps properly distribute weight across the tow hitch and trailer. Take into account visibility:  don't pile things so high that you obstruct the driver's view unless you have extended side-view mirrors. Always check to be sure you have unobstructed views before hitting the road.

5. Perform a Maintenance Check on Your Vehicle

As with any road trip, make sure your car is in good condition before you head out. Towing can add extra stress to your vehicle, accelerating repair issues for vehicles that are not properly maintained. Check all fluid levels, get an oil change if needed,inspect the brakes, and make sure your tires have plenty of tread and are properly inflated. The more you can do to make sure your car is operating properly, the less likely you are to find yourself, and your trailer, on the side of the road.

6. Do a Practice Run

As they say, practice makes perfect. This is especially important if you are towing a trailer for the first time. Driving when hauling is a completely different experience, so practice accelerating and stopping, backing up, turning corners, and even parking before heading off on your road trip. If you can, practice in a large empty parking lot.

7. Safety Checks

It is a good idea to plan stops every 50-60 miles to check on your trailer and make sure the lights and brakes are working, the tires are inflated, and the load is secure. Sometimes loads can shift if they are not properly tied down. Also, under no circumstances should any passengers be riding in the trailer, even if it is a mobile home.

8. Slow Down!

Drive slower and give yourself ample distance for stopping when towing a trailer. If you are driving too fast, and need to stop suddenly, you can cause your vehicle and trailer to slide, skid, jackknife, or even flip over. Plus, driving slowly (while towing) can help alleviate stress on your vehicle.

9. Towing Laws Vary from State to State

As you embark on your road trip, you may be crossing one, or multiple, states. You may find yourself subject to different towing laws from one state to another. For instance, towing height and width laws vary by state, as do speed limits and weight limits. Some states allow you to haul multiple trailers, while others don't.  Do your research, look online and read up on towing laws for the states where you will be traveling.

10. Carry Emergency Equipment

This is a great rule of thumb for any road trip – carry an emergency kit in case you breakdown or find yourself on the side of the road with a flat tire. Make sure your kit is well stocked with roadside flares and triangles, tire jack, jumper cables, even extra clothes, water and energy bars/snacks. You may be driving in remote areas, so make sure to carry a cell phone, and that it is adequately charged during your drive.

(1) According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as reported in USA Today 
(http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-07-05-trailer-laws_N.htm
(2) Master Lock "Towing Troubles: Danger on America's Road" study: (http://www.dangeroustrailers.org/uploads/Towing_Troubles_2006_Study.pdf )

About AutoMD.com
AutoMD.com™ (www.automd.com), a wholly-owned subsidiary of US Auto Parts Network, Inc., (Nasdaq: PRTS), is the most comprehensive and unbiased free online automotive repair resource designed to empower car owners with the best way to repair their vehicles. Backed by a team of automotive data specialists and certified auto mechanics who are advocates for the car owner, AutoMD.com allows both car owners and DIYers to 1. Troubleshoot car problems, 2. Know how much auto repairs should cost, 3. Understand the steps needed and the time it should take with How-to Auto Repair guides, 4. Find the right local auto repair shop at the right price for their issue, and 5. Get auto repair questions answered by the AutoMD.com community. AutoMD.com was named Best Automotive Website in the 8th annual American Business Awards, also known as the Stevie® Awards. AutoMD Mobile is available for the iPhone at iTunes.

Expert Advice
AskPatty.com
 



February 17, 2012

Six Common Car Care Habits that May Be Causing Harm to Your Vehicle

Mercedes_046B.Final.AThat Simple Car Wash Could End Up Costing You
More Than You Bargained For
 
Everyone enjoys a great looking car, but many consumers are unaware of some every day habits that can harm your paint finish. Keeping your car in shape helps to avoid costly damage down the line, which is why Meguiar’s®, the world’s leading surface care company, wants car owners to know how to protect their cars. Meguiar’s reveals six common ways consumers neglect their cars, and easy routine changes to help prevent each.


1. “Using Dishwashing Detergent to Clean the Exterior” – Most household detergents are formulated to strip everything off the surface, including the wax protection on your car. While this might be great for your dishes, your car is now defenseless against the elements. Meguiar’s suggests using a pH balanced car wash product, like Meguiar’s Gold Class Shampoo and Conditioner, that removes loose surface dirt and debris without damaging the car’s surface.


2. “Parking Under Trees” – Although it’s tempting to take advantage of parking in the shade, it’s actually one of the most damaging things you can do to your paint finish. The damage caused by items falling from above like tree sap and bird droppings, is actually greater than leaving your car in the sun, because sap and bird droppings, if not removed quickly enough, can permanently damage your paint finish.


3. “Neglecting Headlights” – Dull, hazy, and oxidized headlights are the first giveaway sign of a neglected car. Not only are they unattractive, they can also be a safety concern as they make it difficult to see the road ahead and avoid potential hazards. To maximize the brightness of your headlights, try using Meguiar’s Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit™.


 4. “Leaving Spilled Food and Drinks” – Forgetting to clean up spills is not only unsightly, it can also lead to permanent stains and unpleasant odors in the interior of your car. Meguiar’s recommends leaving a few terrycloth towels and Quik Interior Detailer™ in the trunk in case of emergencies. Cleaning up spilled food right away is key to getting the entire stain out. To tackle any foul odors, Meguiar’s recommends also having a bottle of Odor Eliminator handy.


5. “Using Just One Bucket" – By using just one bucket when washing, you end up transferring dirt back onto the car, which can create swirl marks and defeats the purpose of your wash. Meguiar’s suggests using two buckets: a plain water bucket for rinsing the wash mitt and a wash solution bucket for retrieving fresh suds to continue cleaning. Using a Grit Guard in each bucket also helps to trap loose dirt particles, preventing them from transferring back onto your car.


6. “Using Too Much Product on Your Vehicle” – When applying wax to protect the surface of your vehicle, a common mistake is to use too much product in one application. Not only is this wasteful of the product, but it also creates extra work when removing the product. To get the most out of your wax, Meguiar’s suggests a single uniform thin layer of wax. If you are worried about coverage or protection during tough winter months, a second uniform, thin layer may be applied.

Expert Advice
AskPatty.com
 

 

February 09, 2012

Seven DIY Car Care Tips to Cut Your Maintenance Costs

Woman DIY CareStill trying to pare down your household budget? Here’s an option you might not have considered—doing more of the regular maintenance on your car.

The idea can be a little intimidating—even scary—for some. The website, womens-finance.com, reports that one-third of women have some sort of “car-phobia” when it comes to servicing their cars.

You’ve learned DIY for your home, so why not for your vehicle? We’re not talking about a brake relining, but simple things that not only can cut your service expenses but also extend the life of your car, save on gas and keep you and your family safer on the road. Here are seven tips to get you started:

Continue reading "Seven DIY Car Care Tips to Cut Your Maintenance Costs " »

January 25, 2012

Neglecting Your Car's Engine? It Can All Add Up...

CarairfilterBrought to you by Purolator Filters

You always have a ‘choice,’ even where something simple is concerned – even something as simple as your car’s engine air filter. Say you’ve been driving around without having changed your car’s engine air filter in a while. You can choose to buy one for $15-20 and install it yourself or perhaps with the helping hand of a friendly parts store clerk. Or, down the road, you may find yourself shopping for a laundry list of parts and a reliable repair shop.

Under these circumstances, your shopping list could include:

  • Piston rings - $120

  • Full gasket set - $175

  • Connecting rod bearings - $80

  • Main bearings - $80

  • Machine work - $600

  • Repair shop labor to remove/reinstall engine and parts - $1,200

  • Labor to disassemble and reassemble engine - $750 

    Total $3,005

Continue reading "Neglecting Your Car's Engine? It Can All Add Up..." »

January 16, 2012

Start, Look, and Listen!

Best-new-cars-for-winter-drivingNow’s the time to get your car ready for the demands placed on it in the coming winter months. Especially in rain, sleet, freezing rain, and maybe snow, you’ll want your vehicle to start and run reliably. And you’ll want your driving experience to be as safe and comfortable as possible. Here are some things to check to make your winter driving safer and more secure.

 

Start
Most important, you’ll want your car to start reliably every time. “While routine tune-ups are not what they used to be, your vehicle still needs to have new spark plugs installed periodically,” said Mark Wilkinson, Group Product Manager, Spark Plugs for Robert Bosch LLC. Bosch is the company that invented the first commercially-viable high voltage spark plug more than a century ago.

Installing new spark plugs will help assure quick starts even in very cold weather when battery power can be severely compromised. According to Wilkinson, “Most drivers feel that the original spark plugs performed well and lasted quite a while. Our Bosch Iridium is the replacement spark plug most like the Original Equipment (OE) plugs used in many late-model cars. Bosch Iridium has optimized spark projection in the combustion chamber and uses a fine wire electrode design for superior ignitability and performance. It is an excellent replacement plug for any car using older-technology spark plugs.”

Continue reading "Start, Look, and Listen!" »

December 16, 2011

The Ask Patty Holiday Gift Garage: YOU!

HolidayPattyWow, it's hard to believe, but it's true: we are officially into single digits on our "days until Christmas" countdown.  A little more than a week remains until tinsel time, but there's still time to bring you one last Holiday Gift Garage post, this time focused on the one person we haven't shopped for yet:  YOU!

We've done the kids, and we've done the pets, now it's time for us to look at some great automotive themed gifts that will make your holiday a little bit brighter, and maybe a little bit safer, too.  Let's get to it!

 

Prod-2100-zoomThe CarMD Vehicle Health System - Check engine light on?   It's one of life's deepest mysteries - what, oh what could that light possibly mean?  Is it your gas cap?  A sensor of some sort malfunctioning?  To find out, you'll have to take it to a mechanic and have it scanned, or - you could do it yourself, at home.  CarMD uses the same sophisticated technology your mechanic uses, but was designed for everyone to use. It does not matter whether you know a lot about cars or don't have a clue.  The CarMD Vehicle Health system will not only tell you what that check engine light means, it'll also tell you how much you can expect to pay for a repair, not to mention empowering you with the ability to diagnose and even fix simple problems yourself.  It even does emissions testing, so you're not surprised come inspection time. 

HeatedSeatThe Wagan Heated Seat Cushion - Some people have heated seats in their cars already.  I very much enjoy being in the passenger seat with those people during the winter, because my own car doesn't have that feature.  If you're in the same boat, stop hitching lifts to keep your behind warm and treat yourself to this heated seat cushion.  Apparently I'm not alone, because it's one of the most wished-for automotive items on Amazon today - and at $20, it's a no-brainer, really.

 

JumpncarryJump-n-Carry Jumpstarter - No one wants to be stuck, especially not in winter.  If you get stranded with a dead battery it's either find a good samaritan to give you a boost, or wait for a friend, family member, or roadside assistance to arrive... and if it's the latter, you'll be waiting a while.  This jumpstarter can get you back on the road quickly and painlessly - it jumpstarts your own engine!  A must have for any vehicle emergency kit.

 

InflatorCraftsman NEXTEC Inflator - A perfect companion piece to the jumpstarter, this will keep those tires ready for the road.  Powered by a 12.0 Volt Die-Hard® Lithium-Ion battery for enhanced performance and longer shelf-life, this unit's powerful, adjustable air pressure quickly inflates objects all the way up to 200PSI! Fill up a variety of inflatable's including pool toys, sports equipment and yes, vehicle tires.    Simply use the up/down arrows to set the desired PSI on the digital screen and it will do the rest. Once the desired PSI is met the inflator will automatically shut off to prevent over inflating.

 

Photo_distinctive3M Scotchprint Wrap Film - Want to make your ride a little more distinctive?  More affortable and less permanent than paint, this awesome wrap film is the perfect way to customize your car for a day, a year, or more.  Choose from a variety of finishes, textures and colors including carbon fiber, that off a unique, head-turning look.  You can get a sample, more info, and installation instructions at 3M's website.

 

MaddMADD Virgin Drinks - If you're attending holiday parties and driving, please remember to do so responsibly.  To help you keep yourself and your family safe, MADD presents a series of virgin beverages that allow you to participate in holiday cheer without any of the ill-effects.  These virgin drinks are all 100% alcohol-free, and varieties include champagne, merlot, chardonnay, mojito, pina colada, margarita, and even a virgin lager.  Remember, at the holidays and every day, buzzed driving IS drunk driving and one small step can and will save lives.

Wagan IN9738-5 12-Volt Heated Seat Cushion




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