Saturday, September 29, 2012

10 Emergency Items to Keep in Your Vehicle

The majority of us spend a significant amount of time in our vehicles, therefore it is prudent to keep certain items safely stored away in case of an unexpected emergency. Here are several suggestions for items you should keep as part of an "emergency kit".

1. Flashlight with spare batteries

If you break down or get a flat tire at night, a flashlight is an indispensable item. Without one, checking engine components or changing a flat can be a very difficult and frustrating undertaking. In addition, be sure to always keep a number of spare batteries for the flashlight - you don't want it dying when it is needed most.

2. First Aid Kit

Injuries, whether major or minor, can never be foreseen, and you never know what might happen while you're out on the road. Be prepared for anything from scraped knuckles to small cuts or a bee sting. Basic emergency first aid kits are available at most department stores and pharmacies, and should contain most everything you may need to treat an injury.

3. Bottled Water

In your travels, you may find yourself broke down or stranded in a less than desirable location. Having water available ensures you can keep yourself and your family members hydrated.

4. Glass Scraper

If your area normally sees snow or ice during the winter months, an ice scraper for your windows and windshield is essential. Even in these fall months leading up to winter, it is best to be prepared now rather than unprepared when you actually need it. Be sure to keep a scraper handy, you never know when you might awake to find your vehicle covered in ice or frost.

5. Jumper Cables

At one point or another, most of us have had the misfortune of a dead battery, and find that we didn't have battery jumper cables in our vehicle. Hearing that empty click when you turn the key can be a real downer, but if you happen to have a set of cables you can quickly get a jump off another considerate motorist. Having these cables in your vehicle also enables you to help someone else out in a similar situation.

6. Hand Warmers

These very small yet useful items can be easily fit into your first aid kit or glove compartment. For those of you who have changed a tire in extremely cold weather, you'll understand why we recommend these as a must-have. If you haven't - take our advice and pick up a pair! Working around your vehicle in the biting cold without hand warmers can be an extremely uncomfortable experience.

7. Duct Tape

As the saying goes, "Duct tape can fix anything". While that may not be entirely true, having a role of duct tape handy is always a good idea, providing a quick, temporary fix to an unforeseen problem.

8. Hazard Triangles or Flares

These items are for the safety of both yourself and oncoming motorists. If you break down on the side of the road, placing hazard triangles or flares behind your vehicle will alert other drivers that there is a vehicle in distress up ahead. Without these items, other drivers may not see you in inclement weather, resulting in a near-miss or even a collision. Place these items at 50, 75, and 100 feet to the rear of your vehicle, and on the side of your vehicle facing traffic.

9. Tow Rope

Ensure the rope you buy is capable of towing your vehicle's gross weight (see the owner's manual to determine this figure). Keep in mind this rope is not for extended trips and regular towing, but only to get out of harm's way.

10. Small Shovel

Many of us at some point have found ourselves stuck in some type of mud or snow. Having a small shovel handy will allow you to dig out around your tires if needed. Also, you can use the shovel to pack material in front of your tires for better traction when trying to free your vehicle.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Most Common Reasons For Transmission Repair

Do you need transmission repair? If your car is not moving forward smoothly, is jolting you around or seems to be less inclined to switch gears easily, it may be time for you to bring it in for repairs. The good news is that if you get help right away, you are unlikely to need significant changes or replacement. However, the key is to get your car in as soon as you start to notice concerns with the way the vehicle is moving. As just one component of the vehicle's engine, it needs attention less frequently than the brakes, oil and filters. Yet, it remains an important part of it nonetheless.

Poor Oil

One of the main reasons transmission repair is necessary is due to the oil contents circulating in the engine. Oil is a lubricant. It flows through various components of the working engine to ensure that metal does not grind against metal. If this were to happen, it would cause significant damage to the working parts of the system. It also works as a coolant. By keeping the engine's main parts cool, it allows the system to keep working without overheating. It also works as a tool for removing debris from the engine.

As you use oil, it picks up debris and thickens. The more it passes through the system, the thicker it becomes. This leads to problems because old oil is not able to work as effectively. As a result, the tranny can become clogged with material and may stop working properly. To prevent these types of repairs, be sure to change the oil in the vehicle as directed by the vehicle's manufacturer.

Damage Is Possible

It is possible that actual damage has occurred on the system. If the tranny is damaged in any way, this will reduce its function. It will also likely lead to replacement unless just a small portion of the system needs repair.

Fluid Cleansing

Most manufacturers recommend monitoring, adding and even replacing the tranny fluid at about 30,000 miles. This fluid is not oil, though it works for many of the same reasons. By flushing out the old and putting in new fluid, you reduce the risk that your system will stop working. This can also increase efficiency and create more of the smooth drive you are looking for when operating your car.

Ultimately, you should keep an eye on your transmission as a main component to the engine and vehicle. When transmission repair is needed, do not put it off. Doing so can affect the functionality and comfort of the vehicle's driving ability. It also can affect the overall value of the vehicle in the long-term. It is far less expensive to make repairs than to replace the system too soon.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Make Your Car Like New Again With Expert Service From Your Local Auto Body Repair Shop

Cars can suffer damage due to all kinds of situations, from collisions to plain old wear and tear. Fortunately, auto body shops can address almost any car body or frame issue you bring in and can help you get your car back in perfect condition.

No matter how the damage to your car originated, a damaged vehicle looks unattractive and can send the wrong message to the world about the people who own and drive it. Leaving repairs undone can also lead to further, more dangerous, and costlier damage, and can be a safety hazard to drivers and passengers alike. This is why it's so important to contact an auto body repairer as soon as there's a problem. Experts in car body paint and structural repairs will be able to evaluate what needs to be done and take care of your car or truck with an eye to timeliness and workmanship so that you can get your car back in top shape as soon as possible.

Whether you were in a collision on the road, or another person nicked your car's paint job while you were parked, chipped auto paint can be a real pain. First of all, it affects the overall look of your car in a hugely negative way. And secondly, if left untreated, it can lead to more extensive chipping and, eventually, to rust that can deteriorate the whole body of the car. There are products on the market that let you deal with automotive paint issues on your own, but getting an exact match to your car's original color and quality of paintwork is nearly impossible. If you go the DIY route and the color match is even slightly off, your car will end up looking worse than it did before! Avoid these pitfalls by contacting a car paint specialist as soon as you know that there's a problem. These professionals have the knowledge, tools, and experience to tackle whatever car painting project you need so that you can get your car back to looking its best, and you can drive secure in the knowledge that you've forestalled any further damage.

If you're dealing with something more serious than a paintwork issue, getting professional help is a must. Not only are there aesthetic matters to consider, but there are a number of safety issues in question when it comes to repairing the actual structure of a car. If you're dealing with dents, the cosmetic aspect is probably the most important. It's unpleasant and distracting to drive around in a dented vehicle, but a body repair expert can take care of everything from a small ding from a golf ball to a huge dent from a collision, all without causing further damage to the car or the paintwork. These professionals can also handle more intense issues such as frame repair and straightening. After a car has been in a collision, the car frame is often damaged or misaligned. In the worst cases, this can make the car undrivable, and in all cases, it can compromise the overall safety of your vehicle. Using specialized machinery, repair experts can realign your car's frame so that your car works properly and complies with necessary safety standards.

If your car is damaged, don't wait--call your local auto body and repair shop today. Whether you need a minimal touch-up to your paint, or major repairs after a collision, professional body shops will be able to ensure that your car looks great and is protected as much as possible against future damage.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Maintaining Your Car's Air Conditioner

There has been record-breaking heat this summer and that means your car's air conditioner has been working extra hard to keep you and your passengers cool. It is no surprise that most people say they like to keep their air conditioner "arctic cold." And really, who doesn't? But if your A/C isn't blowing as cool as it once did, there may be a problem lurking under the hood.

There are three common issues car owners have with their air conditioner that could contribute to a lackluster breeze:

There is a refrigerant leak
There is an electrical problem
The refrigerant level is incorrect
When there is a refrigerant leak in your vehicle, the air blowing through the vents does not get cooled to the temperature you set from inside your car. This can make air that is supposed to be cold, blow out at room temperature. It is important to fix the leak as soon as it is identified because air and moisture that enters the air conditioner can ultimately damage the compressor, the pump that compresses and transfers refrigerant gas.

If your car has an electrical problem, this means the fan, or blower motor, has stopped working. As a result, air no longer blows through your vents properly. Dust or debris could be the culprit behind the malfunction, though it could also be the result of a blockage or even a faulty electrical connection. Removing an obvious blockage may solve the problem, but if it is an electrical connection, the problem might be more serious.

A third common A/C issue is incorrect refrigerant level-either too much or too little will cause your car's air conditioner not to work properly. The telltale signs are there is too much noise coming from the A/C compressor or the air conditioner is cycling on and off too frequently.

Irregular maintenance of your vehicle contributes to each of these problems. Just like your home's heating and cooling system, your car's A/C should be checked at the beginning of each season. Checking in the winter is just as important as in the summer, when you are more likely to be using cool air.

So, if your temperature is not cold enough, you hear too much noise coming from the A/C compressor, or if the A/C is not cycling on and off properly, it may be time for a new compressor.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Child Passenger Safety Tips

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests the following:

Do List:

• Do make sure to restrain your child appropriately for his or her age and size (see below for more).

• Do follow directions that come with the car seat. Also pay close attention to your vehicle owner's manual for any further directions.

• Watch for local law enforcement events that help you check for proper installation and use.

Don't List:

• Don't allow any child under the age of 13 years to sit in the front seat.

• Don't allow a child under age 13 to sit in front of an active airbag, especially rear-facing infants.

Birth - 12 Months

• All infants under age 1 should ride rear-facing.

• Infant-only seats typically must be used in the rear-facing position. Most convertible seats and 3-in-1 seats can be used rear-facing and usually have higher weight and height limits.

1 - 3 Years

• Children ages 1-3 years should ride rear-facing as long as possible, within the weight and height limits of the seat.

• Once your child outgrows his or her rear-facing seat, a forward-facing car seat with a harness should be used.

4-7 Years

• Children ages 4-7 years should remain in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the weight and height limits of the seat.

• Once your child outgrows his or her forward-facing seat with a harness, a belt-positioning booster seat should be used in conjunction with the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt.

8-12 Years

• Your child should continue using a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly

• The shoulder strap should fit snugly over the shoulder and across the chest. Make sure it's never across the neck, face, or arm.

• The lap belt should fit low and tight on your child's hips, not over his or her stomach.

For more information regarding your state laws you should check with your State Highway Patrol and/or Department of Revenue. These officials can answer all of your questions regarding regulations.

The most important first step is researching the different models of child safety seats. Make sure the one you choose is not on the recall list and watch for those recalls regularly. An exchange will be in order should a safety seat be recalled.

We all want our children to be comfortable but we can accomplish that at the same time as transporting them as safely as we possibly can.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Car Care Check Up: What to Inspect

Fall is the perfect time to give your car a good look over, as summer is past and winter is soon to follow. Summer and winter are the toughest seasons on any car as extreme temperature variations can test your car. Cooler fall weather means you're in the mood to work on your car any way, something you'll want to accomplish before the first cold snap hits and winter settles in and your car is tested once again.
Let's take a look at some "must do" checks as you inspect your car this fall.
1. Tires. When was the last time your rotated your tires? As a matter of fact, when was the last time you checked them for wear and tear? If your tires are showing signs of wear, they may need replacing or at least a full rotation. Rotate your tires and adjust the air pressure to the required level.
2. Battery. Car batteries can last for as little as two or three years, or for five years or longer. Much depends on the condition of your battery, its quality and how often you drive. Check the battery connections, removing gunk build up on the terminals and securing the cables back in place. If the battery is old or low on charge, replace it before winter.
3. Fluids. If you haven't had an oil change in six months or 5,000 miles get it done now. Replace the oil and oil filter, and check other fluids including power steering, brake and transmissions fluids. Top off the washer solvent and inspect your coolant system.
4. Belts and hoses. Following a hot summer, your car's belts and hoses may be frayed or worn. Check for signs of wear and replace immediately. Cracks can soon turn into breaks, leaving you stranded if a belt gives way or a hose splits.
5. Wipers. Heat can damage wipers and your wipers should be replaced twice annually -- in spring and again in the fall. Streaking wipers or a clouded windshield are signs that your wipers need to be replaced.
6. HVAC. You ran the air-conditioner all summer and will soon be running the heater all winter. Replace the a/c filter and if heating or cooling is not adequate, it may be time for a freon replacement or heating coil change.
7. Suspension. Wear and tear on your car's suspension system can result in a rough ride. Shocks, struts and various chassis parts such as your tie rods and ball joints may need to be replaced. Check your brakes too -- pads, linings and rotors wear out.
If your car hasn't had a tune up, check the owner's manual to see when one is due. Today's cars can go much further between tune ups, but an air filter may need to be replaced or your emissions system checked.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ensure the Longevity of Your Car

Investing in a car entails a lot of money. You have to set aside funds for the purchase of the unit. There should also be separate funds for registration, insurance, gas, maintenance and occasional repairs. It is important to take care of your vehicle or else, the hard-earned cash will simply go to waste. Keep your car on the road longer by following these suggestions:

• The break-in phase is your first concern. Your driving speed should not be more than 55 miles per hour during the first 1,000 miles. Check your car owner's manual or confirm with the manufacturer. Make use of light to medium increase of velocity. Ideally, the engine's revolution-per-minutes should be under 3,000 during the initial hours of driving. The vehicle must not be immobile for a long time since oil may not be dispersed to all engine parts.

• Pay attention to the engine's lubrication. Oil and the oil filter have to be changed regularly. The blocked filter means that the engine is performing poorly. If you want to get an accurate reading of your engine oil, drive the car around for 15 minutes and park on a flat surface. Stop the engine and let the oil go back to the pan. Pull the measuring rod and wipe with a clean cloth of paper towel. Put it back and remove again. The level should be somewhere near the middle of the plunger.

• Make it a point to wash your car engine annually. The clean engine makes it less difficult for you to pinpoint leakages and overhaul components. Take good care of the sensitive parts such as electrical items, distributor and air-intake system. Scrutinize the timing belt and hoses. Remove any filth that has accumulated in these hosepipes.

• The cooling mechanism of the car is as important as the condition of the engine lubricant. The breakdown of the cooling system can ruin the entire engine. It is necessary to mix water and anti-freeze. Temper the coolant using the 50-50 proportion. The water facilitates proper transfer of heat from the coolant to the car radiator. On the other hand, cooling chemical serves as a safeguard against freezing and rust. The anti-freeze concentration should be checked every week to makes sure that it is not too low or overflow.

• Check the tires and make sure that the inflation pressure is correct. Tires that are not properly filled with air produce excess heat and strain that will lead to fast breakdown. Inspect your tires at least once every month but at more frequent intervals during the hot summer months.

• Examine the tires for irregular wear and tear. Imbalanced deterioration calls for immediate wheel repositioning. This can also be caused by defective brakes, worn-out bearings and internal damages. Rotate your tires after 6,000 to 7,500 miles of driving. Refer to your manual or dealer for the exact configuration of rotation. Incidentally, the normal requirement for replacement of tires is when it is down to 1.5 millimetres of tire deepness. These are basic tire safety issues that motorists must always be aware of.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Is Car Polish Really Necessary?

While many people understand the simple concept that their car should be cleaned quite often in order to keep it maintained, the one question most have is deciding whether or not car polish is necessary. Along with this, what items are needed and which are simply a waste of money? For the most part, there are a variety of necessary items needed for the cleaning process. Keep reading to find out which items will help your vehicle.

Needed Items

One of the main items a person should go and pick up is polish. Despite what many may tell you, polish is a best kept secret of many car fanatics that is used to make any vehicle look brand new. Although washing is essential, polish can help your vehicle's paint in all the areas that washing has missed. Polish can similarly be compared to a face wash. It can remove car wax, oxidation, and other contaminants. Your car's paint will also drastically stand out after a polish as blemishes are removed. This is always done before a waxing job.

As car waxing goes, this is a main process used to help your vehicle's paint job. Along with extending its life, it also helps it to look nice and shine. A great wax will help your car to be protected from the sun's harmful UV rays, moisture, and pollution. Sadly, many people opt out of waxing their vehicles and then their vehicle ends up rusting and fading very quickly.

Another great item to use is a car mitt. Air drying a car is never the answer because it can leave water spots which can be hard to get rid of. Driving around to dry off a car is also a bad choice. All this will do is get the car dirty again. Instead of these things, a car mitt should be used for drying. Done right, this can be used in conjunction with other things to keep your car looking like new.

Typically when people clean their cars, they forget to use a vacuum because they are so focused on the exterior of the vehicle. The interior of the vehicle is just as important. Even if the outside looks fantastic, if the inside is dirty, your car can still suffer. Stains, spills, and trash can all contribute to the interior wearing down significantly faster than if it was clean. Use a vacuum to help keep the interior smelling fresh and clean.

Go Out and Clean

Now that you've learned that car polish is absolutely necessary within the car cleaning process, it's time to go pick some up along with the other items listed above and start cleaning! A clean car will help to prolong its life and you'll enjoy driving it a lot more.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Best Car Care Products Out There

As far as car care products go, you would be simply amazed at what a few will do to help keep your vehicle in proper shape. Caring for your car is essential to maintaining a sharp look, keeping the value up, and helping to prevent any damage from occurring. No matter if you're simply a novice or a person who has owned tons of different cars over the years, you definitely need to check out some of these products to keep your car looking as best as possible!

Washing Your Car

Washing is one of the most important steps to take care of your car properly. For the best care, be sure to wash your car on a weekly basis. Washing is essential to preserve the condition and value for your vehicle. To get starting on this washing process, be sure to pick up a wash mitt, a brush for the wheels, a bucket, drying towels, and a specific type of soap that will work with your vehicle. Soap is the most essential product that needs to be carefully researched because you will need something that is safe for your vehicle's paint but will also help to protect the finish.

Interior Vehicle Care

Taking fantastic care of the inside of your vehicle will ensure that both you and your passengers have a nice comfortable drive. Unfortunately, without the proper care, anyone's vehicle can become extremely dirty within a matter of only a few days. The first thing needed for the interior of your vehicle is a decent vacuum. This will help to ensure that all upholstery plus the carpeting gets cleaned properly. After this, you will need to use a nice carpet cleaner. Between spills and stains, most peoples' carpeting within their vehicle is extremely dirty. Carpet cleaner is safe and is the most effective way to clean.

As far as the seating goes, these should always be clean for both you and any potential guests. Things like rips and stains can easily occur, so it is best to keep seats clean as much as possible. Besides a vacuum, you will need to pick up specific seat cleaner that works with your upholstery. This is very important. You do not want to pick up a leather seat cleaner if you don't have leather in your car. Along with this, be sure to cover the seats if you simply are not happy with the sight of them. These can help to improve the look of the car if it has any unsightly rips or stains.

Time to Clean

Now that you know some of the steps to take and a few of the best car care products to use, it's time to start cleaning your vehicle. Maintaining your vehicle will not only help it to look much better but will significantly improve the value.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Does Your Car Need an Air Conditioning Tune-Up?

Can you imagine going on a long drive in the middle of a hot summer day without your air conditioning system properly working? What if you were on the way to an important meeting or interview and the AC went out? Nobody wants to spend a miserable car ride sweating or getting blown around by open windows. Avoid having your car's air conditioning fail by performing preventative maintenance at the first sign of trouble.

Signs you may have a problem

Your car will typically display warning signs before your air conditioning goes out, but these signs are typically only seen when you pop the hood. Here are several things to watch out for:

• Your car AC is blowing hot or warm air instead of cold.

• You have a disconnected or damaged drive belt.

• There are damages on the refrigerant hoses.

• There is oil on some of the AC components. This is a sign that you are experiencing refrigerant loss.

• The compressor shows signs of failure such as a paint damage, rust, or off-center drive hub.

• The drive belt seems to be squealing or slipping while the A/C controls are on maximum.

• The air conditioning system does not seem to stay on steadily for a long time, and may show on and off cycles every few minutes.

• The condenser fan seems to work with varying and unstable speed and volume.

• Since 2000, most vehicles have a cabin air filter (sometimes known as Pollen Filter). It should be replaced once a year, after all it filters the air you breathe inside your vehicle.

These are all indications that there may be a problem with some of your car's air conditioning components. Because your mechanic is typically going to notice these signs before you do, it is important to take your car in for regularly scheduled maintenance.

The Tune-Up

It's recommended that you have your car's air conditioning system checked once a year, preferably before you will need to use the AC. Prevention is definitely the best way to go, but you can also drop by your neighborhood mechanic at any time if you notice something going wrong.

When you take your car in for your annual air conditioning check, your mechanic will perform a system check and inspection. He or she will thoroughly examine the components for leaks, cracks, damages, and temperature readings. Most car service centers and mechanics can conduct such inspections quickly and then give you a full report, including an estimate. This way, you'll have some idea of what, if any, repairs or replacements will be necessary to keep you cool all summer long!

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