Monthly Archives: November 2016

Radiator Maintenance

Radiator MaintenanceMaintaining your vehicle is essential if you want to keep it running well and operating at peak performance. The usual maintenance procedures, such as oil changes, are usually not issues for most people – but performing basic maintenance operations to keep your radiator and engine running well are just as important yet more often overlooked. Radiator maintenance is an integral part of the overall “health” of your vehicle because the engine has to remain at a prime operating temperature in order to work properly. If your engine overheats, for example, you’ll have a lot more headaches than if you keep up with important maintenance tasks on a regular basis.

Radiator maintenance is mostly about the fluids. Other problems with the cooling system can arise, for various different reasons, but for basic maintenance and upkeep properly maintaining the vital fluids in the radiator is what will keep your vehicle humming with life for years to come. Whether you utilize the services of your local shop to perform key maintenance and repair processes or do everything yourself, it is recommended that coolant is replaced every year or so. In addition to coolant replacement, it is also a good idea to flush and refill the radiator every 1 to 2 years to ensure the cooling system will run well, even if your mileage is low after this period of time. Following such a maintenance schedule is vital if you want your vehicle to be properly and consistently maintained.

Why Antifreeze is Key

Antifreeze/coolant is a big part of what keeps your engine in top working order. In addition to its cooling properties and ability to keep your engine running under extreme temperature variations, many companies also include other ingredients that help keep your engine working well. For instance, antifreeze can contain additives that prevent rust and corrosion of the radiator, engine and vehicle heater. If you neglect radiator maintenance the advantages of a good cooling system will not be fully utilized.

Basically, coolant is a 50/50 mix of glycol and water, depending on your vehicle. The glycol portion of the mixture is the antifreeze – it works to keep the water from turning to ice in cold temperatures and reaching the boiling point in extreme heat. With the coolant operating at the proper degree, the engine will continue running at a stable temperature in all climates and driving situations.

Ethylene glycol is used in antifreeze but it requires proper handling if you are planning on performing cooling system maintenance on your own – it is a toxic substance that can cause health problems or even death, and can be damaging to the environment. Following suggested protocol when handling antifreeze is a necessity. Keep it away from children and animals, and ensure proper disposal according to local hazardous waste regulations. A recent alternative to ethylene glycol is propylene glycol. Antifreeze that contains propylene glycol is less toxic than its predecessor, especially at low levels, but it still must be handled with caution. No matter what antifreeze you use, the fluid picks up heavy metals during usage, so disposal is something to be taken seriously. Follow the same procedure you would with any antifreeze product and you will avoid problems when performing maintenance on your vehicle at home. It is very important that you do not pour coolant down your sink or into storm drains due to its toxic properties.

Draining and Flushing

Over time, rust and sediment can build up in your vehicle’s cooling system making it necessary to drain out the coolant from time to time to clean out anything that may be clogging up the system. Many experts recommend this be done every few years, preferably every year. You can tell if the coolant in your radiator requires removal if it appears dirty or brown in color, and if you see little rust specks floating around. Coolant should appear a slightly thick, light yellowy-green color, almost like lemonade, or orange if your car uses long-lasting coolant.

If you are going to take on the job yourself, begin by parking the vehicle in a safe work area – away from kids, pets and storm drains. Raising the car on ramps is also a good idea if you are able to do so. Follow this checklist before getting started: turn the ignition off and wait until the engine is cool. This is very important – it’s dangerous to work with a hot engine. Set the car in Park and engage the emergency brakes.

Now you can get started. First step – remove the radiator cap. Place a 2-gallon or larger bucket underneath the radiator drain plug and remove the plug. This will catch the fluid. Once the fluid has finished draining, put the plug back in place. If you want to drain as much coolant out as possible, you can add another step to the procedure and drain any excess coolant in the engine. Simply take out the plug in the engine block if you can, to drain the coolant.
If you think your cooling system needs a more thorough cleaning to remove excess sediment and rust, flushing may be a good idea. You can achieve this by using a radiator-cleaning product fit for this type of job. This is a simple task. All you have to do is close up all the drain plugs and pour the product into the radiator along with some water. The instructions on the package should tell you exactly what to do – this usually entails running the heater on high for a specified amount of time. When the engine cools you can drain the radiator fluid out and refill with water, following the same steps as above. This will have fully flushed out the cooling system.

Refilling

Refilling the radiator is easy, especially if you consult your car’s user manual and the instructions on the antifreeze bottle. You will need to know the ratio of coolant to water before refilling, which can vary depending on the vehicle and weather conditions in your area. Fill the radiator according to the instructions and also fill the overflow reservoir with a 50/50 mix. Clean up any spills that may occur and then close the cap. Now you can run the engine to the normal running temperature – and make sure you set the heater on high to effectively circulate the coolant throughout the system. When the engine cools down again, double check for leaks.

If everything checks out ok, you’re done and can drive off knowing you have kept up with one of the most important aspects of your car’s maintenance.

Tips For Buying A Used Car And Avoiding A Lemon

Buying A Used CarDo some homework before you start shopping for a used vehicle. Think about what your needs are, what your driving habits are, and what your budget is. You can learn about vehicle models, options, and prices by reading dealership ads in the newspaper as well as reading the classifieds.

There is also a host of information about used cars on the Internet. Enter the words USED CAR as keywords for searching and you will find information such as how to buy a used car, how to conduct a pre-purchase inspection, ads for cars available for sale, as well as other information.

Your local library and book stores are another source of good information. They have publications that compare car models, options, and costs; as well as offer information about frequency-of-repair records, safety tests, and mileage.
Once you’ve narrowed your car choices, research the frequency of repair and the maintenance costs on those models in auto-related consumer magazines. For information on recalls, contact The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Auto Safety.

When you find a vehicle you are seriously interested in, considering using one of the vehicle history services available online to find out what that vehicle’s history is. Some of the services available include an odometer check to help you make sure the mileage on the vehicle is accurate; checking the registration to find out if the vehicle was a rental, a lease, private party, or fleet vehicle; a title check; as well as finding out if the vehicle is a lemon, was in a major accident, was a salvage vehicle, or was ever reported stolen.

There is typically a fee for these services, but spending a little money to find out the exact history of the vehicle can save you serious money and headaches down the road. In order to use one of these services, you will need the VIN from the vehicle. Enter the keywords VEHICLE HISTORY in an Internet search engine such as Google or Yahoo. It will yield results for several organizations that offer these services.

For financing you have two choices. One is to pay in full at the time of purchase. The other option is to finance over time. If you finance, the total cost of the vehicle increases because you are also paying for the cost of credit which includes interest and other loan costs. If you are going to finance, consider how much money you can put down on the car, your monthly payment, the length of the loan, and the annual percentage rate. Keep in mind that annual percentage rates are typically higher on used vehicles. The loan period is typically shorter on a used vehicle as well.
Dealers and lenders offer a variety of loan terms and payments schedules. Shop around. Compare offers. Negotiate the best deal you can. Be very careful about advertisements that offer financing to first time buyers and to people with bad credit. They typically require a big down payment and have a high annual percentage interest rate. If you agree to financing that carries a high interest rate, you might be taking a big risk. If you decide to sell the car before the loan is paid in full, the amount you receive from the sale of the vehicle may be far less than the amount you need to pay off the loan. If the car is repossessed or declared a total loss because of an accident, you could be obligated to pay a considerable amount to repay the loan even after the proceeds from the sale of the car or the insurance payment have been deducted.

If you decide to finance, make sure you understand the following aspects of the loan agreement before you sign any documents:

1) the exact price you are paying for the vehicle, not just what the monthly payments are
2) the amount of your finance charges (the exact dollar around the credit will cost you)
3) the annual percentage rate (APR)
4) the number of monthly payments and the amount of each monthly payment
5) the total cost of the vehicle (including tax, title, registration, finance costs, etc.)
Used cars are sold through numerous types of outlets: franchise dealers, independent dealers, rental car companies, leasing companies, used car superstores, private party sales and the Internet. Check with family and friends for recommendations on where to buy a vehicle. It is also a good idea to call your local Better Business Bureau and/or the State Attorney General office to find out if any unresolved complaints are on file about a particular dealer before you decide to do business with them.

There is a lot of hype in ads you will see. Some dealers are attracting customers with no-haggle prices, factory certified used cars and better warranties. Consider the dealer’s reputation when evaluating these ads.
By law, dealers are not required to give used car buyers a three day right to cancel. The right to return a car in a few days for a refund exists only if the dealer grants this privilege to buyers. Before you purchase from a dealer, ask about the return policy. Get the return policy in writing and read it carefully to be sure you understand it.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This includes light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars.Demonstrator vehicles are new vehicles that have not been owned, leased, or used as rentals, but they have been driven by the dealer staff. Program cars are low-mileage, current-model-year vehicles returned from short-term leases or rentals.

Buyers Guides do not have to be posted on motorcycles and most recreational vehicles. Anyone who sells less than six cars a year does not have to post a Buyers Guide.

The Buyers Guide must tell you the following:

1) whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty
2) what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will pay under the warranty
3) that spoken promises are difficult to enforce
4) to get all promises in writing
5) to keep the Buyer’s Guide for reference after the sale
6) the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including some of the major problems you should look out for
7) to ask to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, get the original Buyers Guide that was posted in the vehicle, or a copy. The Guide has to reflect any negotiated changes in the warranty coverage. It also becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any contrary provisions. For example, if the Buyers Guide says the car comes with a warranty and the contract says the car is sold “as is,” the dealer must give you the warranty described in the Guide. When the dealer offers a vehicle “as is,” the box next to the “As Is – No Warranty” disclosure on the Buyers Guide must be checked. If the box is checked but the dealer promises to repair the vehicle or cancel the sale if you’re not satisfied, make sure the promise is written on the Buyers Guide.

Some states, do not allow “as is” sales for many used vehicles and some states require different disclosures than those on the Buyers Guide. Check with you state Attorney General office to find out what the laws are in your state.

Steps To Buying Your Car

Most people do not enjoy buying a car. A survey conducted by CNN revealed that 75% of people would rather visit a dentist than face visiting a car dealership. It’s not that people don’t want a car – it’s just that there are so many pitfalls to negotiate and not everyone can be sure of the right steps to take. Here are a few points to keep in mind to make the process easier.

1. Ask questions, lots of questions. Try to ask sensible questions that will enable you to base your decisions on solid ground. But don’t be afraid to just ask and only stop when all your concerns have been properly addressed.

2. Do not let emotion drive you. Pretty cars with all the bells and whistles can blind you to the truth. More often than not you will end up paying more than you need to if you buy with emotion. Be impartial and see the car for what it is and not what you may have fallen in love with.

3. Know exactly what you want before you put a single foot inside the dealership door. An open mind can be easily manipulated, and usually not in your favor. Use brochures, etc, beforehand to determine exactly what you want within your budget, and don’t be swayed by smooth talk.

4. Talk to the dealer about the price and not the payments. Dealers who keep referring to the “easy” payments could be avoiding the issue of overall price, and you need to know why. Do your homework and you will know exactly what price fits into a payment plan to fit your budget. But if you focus on payment, you may end up paying more than you bargained for.

5. Know when the time has come to make a decision. That decision could be to walk away, or it could be to close the deal. You should constantly monitor how you feel about the offer being made to you. If it all feels right, then stay with it and see it through. But if you get even just a tiny twinge of something not quite right, be prepared to walk away.
Buying a car is not always easy. It’s not something most of us do very often and we all want to make the best use of our money. But with sensible and careful planning, and an awareness of the five points above, you can buy the exact right car for you at the exact right price for you. Happy motoring!