Category Archives: Vehicle Maintenance and Repair

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!

Get Your Car’s AC Checked Before Summer Reason

cars acThere is nothing as amazing as the feeling you get taking a casual drive on a hot summer day with your windows rolled down and the music turned up. With all the places to see and the things to do this summer, the last thing you want to do is have your car breaking down on you or simply refusing to start. It is for this very reason that you have to make sure that you get your car checked and necessary repairs made.

One of the most important checks is the auto air conditioner check. It goes without saying that the AC is one of the most important parts of the car especially over the summer when there is nothing but heat and humidity inside and outside the car. This makes getting an auto AC check and repair something that should be at the very top of your priority list.

5 reasons you should get your car’s AC checked

1. A good AC will keep you cool in the hot weather

Driving on a hot summer day can be absolute torture if your auto air conditioner is not working. Getting it checked ensures that it is in good enough shape to keep you cool and supplied with fresh air as you enjoy your drive.

2. The AC keeps other parts of the car from overheating and malfunctioning

Some parts of the car are at risk of damage from excess heat and humidity in the car. A good AC system ensures that the cool air in the vehicle also benefits these parts by cooling them and allowing them to function properly.

3. It is more cost effective to find and fix problems early

AC checks allow you to identify potential problems early and to have them fixed as soon as possible. This will save you a lot of money in terms of costs that might be incurred fixing the problem when it gets bigger.

4. It is possible to discover other issues during the checks

Given the position of the AC in the vehicle, a certified technician can come across other problems with other parts while performing the check. This is a major advantage and allows you to fix these problems as soon as they are found.

5. AC checks and repairs prolong the lifespan of the AC itself

Automotive AC repair work is part of the recommended maintenance practices for most of the systems and ensures that you get to enjoy the cool fresh air breeze in the car for as long as possible.

Bottom line

With all these advantages, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get you car’s AC checked. It is sure to make a difference in your summer and for as long as you have the car.

A Checklist To Prepare Your Car For Summer

Spring is in full swing and summer is coming soon! The temperature will go up and your car will witness more dust and traffic. And all these can take a toll on your car’s performance by causing a mechanic failure of a part or a component. The season brings in its own set of challenges for car driving. But giving some attention to your car service and maintenance will help you keep it in tip-top condition throughout the summer season.

Particularly if you are planning for a long driving this summer, make sure your car go through necessary maintenance before you depart. This will prevent you from wasting your valuable travel time waiting on a road side for mechanic help. In worst, car overlooked for summer preparation may also ruin your entire holiday trip.

Here is a complete checklist on how to prepare your vehicle for summer.

Cooling System & Air Conditioning:

According to a recent study, summer has the highest number of car breakdown mainly due to overheated engine. Hot air and high speed can badly impact your car’s engine; traffic jams can also cause overheating of the engine. To prevent breakdown, make sure your car air conditioning system is working at its optimal efficiency.

It is strongly recommended to take your car for air con services which include air con recharge and replacement of a worn out or damaged part if any. It is also wise to get your car fully serviced before going on a driving holiday.

A professional car service station offering air con services will measure the coolant strength and check all other parts or components in line with manufacturer’s guidelines. They will flush out the old antifreeze liquid, as it may lead to corrosion of parts. So, if you haven’t cooled your car using air fans or air con since long time, which is quite casual in winter days, first check if they are working properly and the vents aren’t blocked.

Wipers & Windscreen

Summer wind can spread dust over your car’s windshield and driving with such windshield won’t just stress your eyes but can pose a serious safety risk. Change worn out blades with new ones and make sure there is enough solvent in your vehicle’s windscreen washer.

Tyres & Wheels

In summer, it’s time to replace your winter tyres with all-weather or summer tyres. Also, don’t skip to check your tyres for cuts, tread depth, pressure and abnormal wearing before you hit the road.

Follow the manufacturer’s guideline for tyre pressure and tread depth. If going on long driving holiday trip, it makes sense to take a spare wheel and a jack in good condition. Also, check if the wheels are aligned perfectly, else they can cause uneven wearing. In short, get your wheels and tyres checked by an expert mechanic.

Lights

Check if all lights and LEDs in your car body are working fine. Replace any failed bulb or light immediately with a new one. It is recommended to clean lenses at a regular interval of time, more frequently in summer due to high-speed wind blowing, to remove dust and debris. Don’t use a dry rag, as it can cause smears.

How to Add More Mileage to Your Car

People want to get the most of their cars. There’s no doubt about that. Cars can be such an expensive investment. And if you won’t maximize their use, then you may just come out as the sore loser with the purchase. You can’t overuse your car because it won’t let you. It would breakdown and won’t run if you force it. All cars have their limits, no matter how pricey you’ve bought it.

Improve your car’s mileage and you should be good. However, mileage and costly repairs seem to go hand in hand. Is there anyway you can take your car to its limits and still keep it in the same tiptop condition? There’s a way. Here’s how:

1. Regularly check the oil level.
A lot of motorists keep forgetting about their oils. And so they go to long journeys only to run out of oil halfway. To maximize the mileage of your car, you should make sure that the oil is always on the full level mark. Use the dipstick and check regularly. Keep a quart or two of synthetic oil in your trunk. You’ll never know how much that can help you.

2. Always check the tire pressure.
Tires are one of the most worked parts of any car. It is only right to take care of it properly. Check the manual of your car to know the right tire pressure that your car should run on. Before starting on any long drive, be sure to drop by a service station to check your tire’s psi.

3. Check the car’s fluid requirements.
Cars need several types of fluids to run properly. These are brake fluid, transmission fluid, windshield water fluid, power steering fluid, and radiator coolant. Make sure that the levels of these fluids are good. It pays to check them every three months to maximize your car’s mileage.

4. Check the oil filter.
The level of the engine oil is not the only one you should check regularly. The oil filter deteriorates too. Cars with low mileage can get away changing oil filters every four months. If you exceed more than 6,000 miles a year, then do so every three months.

5. Check the air filter.
Air filters should be changed every year at most. This is most applicable to you if you incur 10,000 miles yearly. If your mileage is lower, you are allowed to use the same air filter for two years.

6. Wash and clean
How many times do you submit your car for general cleaning and washing? If you want to go the distance, do so every six months. This pertains to a thorough car wash and not just a simple spray of water. Through car wash includes the removal of tar and wax from your vehicle.

By doing these steps regularly, you are going to add more life and mileage to your car. These are simple maintenance tips that you should never ignore. To get the best service out of your car, you should make a little more investment.

Tips For Keeping Track Of Vehicle Maintenance And Services

Most people find it difficult to keep track of when their personal car last received a service or repair – imagine what it would be like to have to keep track of 30 or 40 cars! For people who manage a business that works with a lot of trucks or heavy machinery vehicles, however, this is a reality that they must take responsibility for if they want to ensure that their fleet is in tiptop condition. Use these tips to help you keep track of your vehicle maintenance and services:

Tracking Software: You can actually purchase software that allows you to track the maintenance and services of each vehicle in your fleet. The software will also alert you when particular vehicles are due for attention or have been scheduled for a service. Using software instead of paperwork can actually make this process much easier, as well as keep you from pulling your hair out.

Serial Number: Each vehicle in your fleet will have its own unique serial number, which it is very important that you take note of. Often, tracking software will allow you to insert the serial number into the system to help you keep track of all the services and maintenance that the vehicle has been subjected to.

Drivers: You could also hold each of your drivers responsible for their own vehicle maintenance and services. Whilst you will still need to keep track of these processes, you inform your drivers that they are responsible for taking the vehicle to the relevant places for work to be completed. This will lessen the strain on your shoulders, as well as alert you to drivers that need frequent work.

Mechanics: When choosing a heavy machinery or truck mechanic to undertake the maintenance and services on your vehicles, you should make sure that you choose one that will keep their own records and reminders. This could include the placement of a sticker on the windscreen with the next service date, for example.

By implementing each of the above tips into your workplace, you can ensure that your entire fleet is well looked after and is ready to handle whatever job you throw at it. The best advice that we can offer you for keeping track of your various vehicle maintenance and service requirements is to purchase tracking software that will help you to achieve this with as little stress and headaches as possible. Be sure to purchase the most up to date software possible and you will be set for years.

6 Tips For Inexpensive Car Repairs and Maintenance

Listed here are 5 simple tips that will certainly give you significant savings regarding car repair and maintenance:

1.) Diagnose the Problem Accurately

This is crucial particularly if it is the very first time you experience the problem and you do not have any clue about its character. You may seek advice from your neighborhood mechanic or you may request the opinion of your family or friends who are familiar with automotive issues, thus being able to figure out the actual problem. Correct diagnosis is vital for obtaining a solution.

2.) Take action As Soon As Possible

This is certainly easy if you’re familiar with all the pieces and crannies of your vehicle. Using this method, even when the actual problem is merely in its early phase, you are able to already smell, hear, see, or even feel it. Prevention is usually cheaper than cure when it comes to cars. Therefore, repairing any defect in early stages before it gets worse will save you lots of bucks.

3.) Research Before you purchase

Even before you purchase your vehicle, review the make or model with care, particularly if it is second hand. Know what parts of the actual make or model are liable to wear and tear and also check the price of this kind of parts upfront. By doing this, you are going to be appropriately guided as to which brand or model is a sensible purchase. Furthermore, verify if the spare components of a particular model or make are accessible since you might come across problems if they are rare or already phased out.

4.) Solicit the Price of Auto Parts

Whenever you need to replace a part of your car, specifically one that is expensive, you should be patient and take the time to check both nearby auto parts retailers as well as online stores to help you find less expensive parts. The price of the various components offered in the market usually varies in accordance with their manufacturer, so you should do some investigation as to their particular benefits over other components.

5.) Do-It-Yourself Fix

Small defects for example small car dents or scratches, the actual set up of certain auto parts, along with other repairs are easy to handle and you can accomplish them by yourself. Just study guidelines and manuals or search the web to locate demos that you can download free of charge.

6.) Recycle

When searching for replacement components, you can try junk shops or repair shops. Some may have precisely the parts that you’ll require, that are used but still working flawlessly. These components may come from a vehicle already left behind by the owner and therefore are remanufactured, and they are normally way cheaper than completely new ones. You may also look at websites such as eBay.