Friday, November 29, 2013

How to Stay Safe Driving in Fog

When you run into fog on the road, keep your head and follow these simple tips to stay safe.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Make Your Car Last 200,000 Miles or More

The average age of cars on American roads is nearly 11 years, according to Polk Research. Plenty of drivers own vehicles with well over 200,000 miles. The long-term savings of keeping a car for 200,000 miles, or about 15 years, can be $30,000 or more. Clearly, learning to keep a car well maintained and healthy is worth the effort.

1) Your Owner's Manual and Regular Mechanic Checks
a) Read and follow the owner's manual for your vehicle.
b) Find out the recommended maintenance schedule and stick to it.
c) Follow the "severe duty" maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer.

2) Look, Listen and Smell
a) Know how to check your car's oil and transmission fluid, and how to inflate your tires to the correct levels.
b) Pay attention to how your car runs. Any time it makes odd sounds, has trouble starting, overheats, or does not brake or handle correctly, get the car checked by your mechanic.
c) Heed warning indicator lights on the dashboard.
d) Do a walk-around of your car regularly, including checking brake lights and turn signals.
e) If you see fluid spots in your garage or parking space, park on some cardboard to check the exact source of the leak. Get the leak repaired as soon as possible.
f) Listen for out of the ordinary sounds. Note when these happen and at what speed and give this information to your mechanic. This saves them hours of trying to recreate the issue, and saves you money in labor costs.
g) When you check your oil, notice if it smells burnt. If it does, get repairs quickly and avoid needing your engine rebuilt.
h) Burnt or bad-smelling transmission fluid is a bad sign that needs mechanic attention immediately.

3) Oil Changes and Fluid Checks
a) Never skip recommended oil and filter change. Missing oil changes results in clogged oil filters and sludge that wrecks engines.
b) Use the "severe use" oil change schedule listed in the owner's manual.
c) Use synthetic oil.
d) Your mechanic will check the other fluids during oil changes. They will inspect the fluid itself and top off fluid levels. If there is a big fluid loss, mechanics can find the cause and repair it before it gets worse.

4) Transmission
a) Get your transmission fluid and filter changed according to your car's maintenance schedule.
b) Replace the fluid at least every 100,000 miles or sooner.

Regardless of how well you care for your car, accidents happen, and parts fail. However, proper maintenance keeps your car on the road longer and brings you a better price at trade-in time. It is usually cheaper to fix a car that is in decent condition than it is to make new car payments. Follow your maintenance schedule and attend to concerns quickly to keep your car running for 200,000 miles or more.

Service Plus Automotive is a family owned business since 1991. We are focused on providing the best possible customer service experience when servicing or repairing a customers vehicle. We strongly believe in customer education and regularly show the customer what needs repairing. We are very involved in various community activities and believe in giving back to the community who has supported us for almost 20 years. For more information, go to
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Helpful Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle

The good news about winter driving is that you only have to prepare for it once a year. The bad news is that it lasts for several excruciating months. Preparing for driving in winter weather can help ease your mind and will be helpful if you end up having car troubles, or an accident. Here are some helpful tips on how to winterize your car.

Winter Weather Kit

One of the easiest things you can do to prepare this winter is to put together a simple kit of things you would need if you were stranded out in the cold. A blanket, an extra pair of gloves, a hat and snow boots could all be life-saving if something were to happen while driving this winter.
In addition to extra things to keep you warm, make sure you keep a useable spare tire, tools to change a flat, washer fluid, engine coolant, flashlight with extra batteries, flares, jumper cables, and a shovel in case you need to dig yourself out in a storm.

Four-Wheel Drive

If your vehicle has 4-wheel drive (4WD) it's a good idea to know what it can and can't do. Also, make sure it is functioning correctly before you get in a situation where you'll need it. 4WD can improve tire traction on ice and snow; however it doesn't give a driver license to speed around on icy roads without a care in the world. 4WD varies depending on the vehicle, so check your owner's manual to familiarize yourself on how it works and how to engage the system.


If you don't have at least 3/32" of tread left on your tires (the groove pattern in your tires) then your tires may be considered bald. Along with keeping the proper amount of air in your tires, be sure to check the tread going in to the winter months. You can also swap out your regular tires for specialty snow tires if you live in a particularly snowy or mountainous area.


The average lifespan of a car battery is three to five years. Winter months can put extra pressure on your battery, so it's a good idea to check the battery going into winter. You can start by checking the battery cables and clamps for fraying or corrosion. Battery acid corrodes the clamps by covering them with a white powdery substance, but it can be easily removed with baking soda, water and a toothbrush. Most batteries also have caps on top, and you can check your battery's fluid level by removing these caps. If the fluid is low, fill the battery with distilled water up to the bottom of the cap.


Did you know there are different types of engine oils for different seasons? Since cold weather tends to turn oil into a thicker viscosity, it's a good idea to change your oil to one of a lower viscosity before the cold weather begins. You can change it back to a thicker consistency once the warm weather starts up again. To keep your engine running cleanly, pay attention to what type of oil you are using during cold weather and warmer weather.


One somewhat obvious thing to keep in mind is keeping your gas tank full enough that the liquid does not freeze during the winter. It is recommended to keep at least a quarter of a tank of gas at all times during cold months, and it's probably a good idea to keep more gas than that in the tank since you really don't want to get stranded in the wintertime.


Having a floppy windshield wiper is not only annoying; it also causes a dangerous problem of not clearing your windshield properly. Make sure your wipers are operating correctly and that the rubber is not pulling away from the rest of the wiper. It's also a good idea to check your wiper fluid level since wiper fluid can help melt icy windshields.

Car Components

Defrosting and heating units that do not run properly in winter months can also be very dangerous. You will not be able to see properly if you do not have a working defroster; and having a broken heater can be extremely uncomfortable, as well as dangerous if you get to the point where you can't feel your feet.

by Jason J Junge!
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inside IIHS: Preparing for a Crash Test

"Inside IIHS: Preparing for a crash test" shows how engineers at the Institute's Vehicle Research Center attend to every detail to ensure a smooth crash test with results that can be easily measured and compared with other vehicles.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tips for Preparing for and Dealing With Car Accidents

Car accidents can be terrifying but being prepared will help take some of the confusion and fear out of this horrible event. Whenever you are traveling by car, particularly if you are going far or nobody is expecting to hear from you for a while, be sure you have a cell phone at hand. Keep it in the glove box so that you can get to it easily if necessary but it will not be a distraction while driving.

Immediately after a car crash, assess injuries and what if any danger you are still in. As soon as possible, report the crash location and any injuries to you, your passengers, or other people involved in the accident. Do what you can for injured persons but do not remove them from the vehicle unless they are in immediate danger as this can make some injuries worse. Turn off the ignition in your vehicle to prevent fumes from building up and check the immediate area for dangers such as leaking fuel and fallen hydro wires.

Do not stand in the road as you may be hit by passing cars, move as far off the road as possible and use any markers or flares you have to draw attention to the accident scene and give other drivers time to stop or steer around. This is particularly important in serious crashed where vehicles cannot be moved or when on unlit country highways at night.

Photograph the crime scene if possible so as to provide as much information to the authorities as possible and then move vehicles off the road if possible. If there is little damage to any of the vehicles involved and nobody is seriously injured, you can choose to exchange information and simply report the incident to a nearby Collision Centre instead of waiting for the police to arrive. If the other driver insists on not reporting the accident, be suspicious - there is little reason not to report the incident other than outstanding criminal or traffic related charges.

At the scene of the incident, remember to remain calm and refrain from arguing with the other drivers. Now is not the time to assign guilt or blame. Instead, gather the information you will need to report the accident to your insurance and leave the investigation to the authorities. Never assume responsibility, sign statements, or promise to pay for damages and be wary of tow truck drivers pressuring you to let them take your car to their garage. Unauthorized tow truck drivers can sometimes use the confusion of accidents to prey on unsuspecting drivers: be sure to use a respected, licenced tow truck company and get all of their information before you let them drive off with your car or you may never see it again!

Finally, preparation is the best way to deal with most unpleasant aspects of life so carry these helpful items with you whenever you drive just in case:

• A basic first aid kit;
• A disposable camera or charged smart phone with camera;
• Emergency road flares, warning triangles, or cones;
• A fire extinguisher;
• A flashlight and extra batteries;
• Bottled water;
• Booster cables;
• A tire repair kit and pump;
• A small tool kit;
• A towel;
• A pair of work gloves;
• Non-perishable food such as chocolate bars or granola bars;
• Hand wipes; and
• A thermal blanket..

Remember, if you get into a car accident, keep calm and get all the information you can. Then call a legal expert at X-Copper at to see what options you have for fighting traffic charges or keeping your insurance rates from rising
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

New 2013 Ratings for Child Booster Seats - IIHS news

More booster seats grab top ratings for safety belt fit: 19 of 31 new models for 2013 earn BEST BET designation

Child restraint manufacturers continue to roll out new booster seats that do a good job of improving the way an adult safety belt fits a typical booster-age child. This year, 19 of 31 new models evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earn the top rating of BEST BET, and one model is a GOOD BET.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Flat Tire Fixes | Consumer Reports

We test products that promise to fix a flat tire quickly without having to jack up your car. Some are compressor units and others are aerosol cans.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Minivan 30th Anniversary | AutoMotoTV

Chrysler invented the minivan, and now the segment is 30 years old. Chrysler Digital Media's Ed Garsten takes a look at the minivan's birth and where it is now, speaking with Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. sales for Chrysler as well as Pres., Chairman, CEO of Chrysler Canada Inc., a couple of employees of the Windsor, Ontario Assembly Plant who are still there, 30 years after the first minivan was built, as well as the plant manager. The plant is the only assembly plant that builds Chrysler and Dodge brand minivans.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top 5 Keys to Finding the Right Auto Body Shop

We love our cars; we spend countless hours in them driving to work, driving the kids around, and driving for pleasure. Though modern vehicles are fine machines, because of the sheer quantity of vehicles on the road, accidents will happen, no matter how cautious and safe you are as a driver. When accidents happen, you will need to take your car in to the body shop. Because there are so many shops in every town and city, here are five keys to finding the right auto body shop that will get the job done correctly and reasonably.

5 Keys to Finding the Right Auto Body Shop

The first thing to do is find a few auto body shops in your area. The best way to do this is through referrals from family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers. You can also look online for shops in your vicinity. Once you get a handful of shops, it is important to check online for reviews, ratings, and testimonials. There are a few good online review sites that offer unbiased accounts on their experiences with businesses in your local area.

It is important that your auto body shop works with your insurance company. Even if you are not filing a claim on this particular accident, it helps to establish a relationship with a body shop that is willing to work with insurance companies if the need ever arises. Any reputable body shop should be able to work with and coordinate repairs with your insurance company; if you find that this is not the case, move on to the next repair facility.

Take a quick look at each shop you go to. A quick inspection will tell you if the place is run efficiently and if the staff is friendly. If you feel as if you won't be treated well or just don't like the vibe, move on to the next location.

Make sure that each and every body shop you visit is properly licensed and insured. There will usually be certificates hanging on the wall, but it is wise to ask about their licensing and insurance. Also, ask about any guarantees they offer.

The final key is the estimate. You should get at least three estimates. The final estimates will vary from location to location, but the difference shouldn't be too great. If one shop provides you with a very low estimate, this should raise a red flag. Even if you are taking your car in for a small job, get the estimate in writing. The estimate should also contain a time frame for completion.

Your final selection should be based on referrals, the online homework you did, your feeling when visiting the place, the customer service, and the written estimate. You want to build up a relationship with a reputable auto body shop; if you find one you trust, then the next time you need repairs, you can skip the first four keys and go straight to the written estimate.

Jennifer Greenfield is a writer in the auto body repair business. For more information on Final Finish Collision Centers, visit
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Saturday, November 2, 2013

What Really Happens When Your Car Is At The Body Shop - A Behind The Scenes Look

I was talking to a customer yesterday when I was asked a question that sent the lights off in my head. She was asking me "when" her car would be finished. Not really an unusual question. However, when I answered her, her response was, "why is it going to take sooooo long?" While I was answering her question, I realized that most people don't really know what happens when your car gets in an accident.

Since, unfortunately, most of us will eventually have to have some sort of "body work" done at some time in our lives, I thought it might be interesting to explain what really happens here!
When a car gets hit, metal bends. Pretty simple, huh? Yup, shopping cart makes contact with your car, pushes a little, and there you have it! A little "dent", "ding", "scratch" or whatever you want to call it. It only take a second to accomplish. But, removing it takes hours... and hours. Why? Here's what happens:

The "dent" has pushed in the metal. To "push it back out" first of all, you have to be able to get to it! This usually requires the diss-assembly of some parts. Once you are able to "get at" the spot from the other side, you have to decide what is the best method of "pushing the metal back the other way". Without getting too technical, I'll tell you there are many ways to accomplish this. The idea is to get the job done with the least amount of damage to the metal. Small dents and dings are actually harder to get out than the big ones. Once metal is "moved" in a certain direction, it doesn't like to come back easily. Sometimes it may require a rubber mallet, sometimes the use of precision body hammers (made in all kinds of styles to make this job easer). Sometimes, the dent can't be pounded out! In this case, we need to drill a hole in the middle of the dent, insert a "slide hammer" tool and pull the metal back out to where it should be. It all sounds so simple, but, it really requires a lot of experience and a lot of science to do it properly.

Once the "dent" is brought back out to where it matches the rest of the metal, we check to see how much damage was done to the paint around the dent location. All of this pushing and pulling in and out can crack the painted surface which in turn lets the elements into contact with the bare metal of your car. That can cause major damage to your vehicle in the form of corrosion and rust. To avoid any possibility of this happening, we "scuff" the damaged area around the dent and then, prime it with a primer which seals the area and gives a perfect surface for the paint to adhere to. Then the area is sanded and painted with the color to match the rest of the vehicle. After drying, the area is sprayed with a clear coat finish which provides a protective, glossy seal to the paint. After the clear is dried and cured, it is wet sanded, buffed to a beautiful finish and then glazed to a brilliant shine!

So there you have it! Now, the work I just described is what is required just to remove a small "dent" or "ding" in a body panel. You can imagine what is involved when a car is involved in an accident! These guys are engineers. Straightening the frame or uni-body on today's cars requires talent and is not for the backyard body man or the do-it-yourselfer. The guys who do this type of work are artists. They work long hours and they endure horrible temperatures because they love to fix what others can't. The next time you take your car to a body shop, remember, the work they do there is complex and requires a lot of skill and many years of on the job training to become the professionals they are. They want to fix your car as quickly as possible, but, they are limited to the steps that are required to do the job properly. Your safety and satisfaction is their priority. Your patience will be rewarded with a car that is as safe and beautiful as the day you drove it out of the showroom.

I hope this gives a little insight into what happens when your car is damaged. Although I have only touched on the basics of auto body repair, I'm sure it will give you a pretty good idea of what kind of work is involved. For this reason, it is important to choose your repair shop carefully. Research the shop and ask for references. A good shop will gladly give you a list of references along with pictures of their completed work. Ask about warranties and guarantees. These are important and will save you lots of money in the long run should you have a problem with the repair. Remember what the cost was for that dent? Don't want to pay it again, right? A good shop will provide you with, at the very least, a 90 day warranty on the paint.

Here at LDJ Auto Body we guarantee our body work for the life of the vehicle and our standard paint job is factory warranted for at least 1 yr. and you can purchase additional warranty coverage for that "show" paint job too! That's all for now. Drive safely! Finding a body shop that does great work and has your car ready on time can sometimes be a chore. But not at LDJ Auto Body. Our loyal customers will tell you they won't take their cars anywhere else for their auto body and automotive paint needs. That's why we are the Number #1 shop in Riverview, Brandon, Apollo Beach, and the surrounding Tampa Bay areas!
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