Auto Care Steps for a Stress Free Road Trip

Summer road trip season is here. Taking proactive steps to make sure your vehicle is operating properly will help avoid the hassle and unexpected cost of a breakdown away from home, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

This summer, AAA expects to receive calls from over seven million stranded motorists experiencing car trouble. The majority of issues the travel group anticipates will cause car problems, such as dead batteries and flat tires, can be prevented with a pre-trip vehicle inspection.

“Summer heat can take a toll on a vehicle, especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Whether you do it yourself or visit a trusted professional technician, a pre-trip vehicle check will give you peace of mind and provide the opportunity to make any necessary repairs before you hit the highway.”

AAA also reports that four out of 10 drivers are unprepared for vehicle breakdowns. So you and your vehicle are ready for the road, the Car Care Council recommends taking the following auto care steps before you leave home.

  • Check the battery and replace if necessary. Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging. Excessive heat and overcharging shortens the life of a battery.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system as proper cooling performance is critical for interior comfort.
  • Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check the wipers and lightingso that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.
  • Check the emergency kit and restock, if necessary. Be sure to fully charge cell phones before leaving home.

The Car Care Council also recommends inspecting the brake system and performing a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy.

A Clean Car is Money in the Bank

Purchasing a new car is a major financial investment. Keeping it clean is an easy and inexpensive way to protect its resale and trade-in value, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Many motorists procrastinate when it comes to cleaning their vehicles,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Whether you do it yourself or have it cleaned professionally, proactively keeping your car clean on the outside, and tidy on the inside, will pay big dividends when it comes to maintaining your vehicle’s value over time.”

The Car Care Council suggests five simple steps to keep a vehicle clean, helping protect it from the elements and preserve its value.

Declutter – Start the cleaning process by removing excess clutter from inside the car as it can be distracting and hazardous, especially when debris finds its way near the gas and brake pedals. Don’t forget to clear out items that have accumulated in the trunk as they can add extra weight and reduce fuel efficiency.
Clean the Interior – The next step is to thoroughly clean the interior, wash the windows, and clean and install floor mats. Be sure to vacuum on a regular basis. A clean and orderly interior allows you spot issues in the cabin so you can get them repaired before they get worse.
Wash the Exterior – Give your car a good wash from top to bottom using products specifically made for automobiles. Always clean the tires and wheels before washing the body, and don’t use the same washing mitt or cloth for both.
Wax Twice a Year – Waxing not only protects a vehicle’s finish, but it also makes subsequent washing easier. Before proceeding, make sure there are no foreign particles on the paint. It is important to note that waxing should be done in the shade, not direct sunlight.
Fix Chips – If you find minor paint damage, cover the paint chips as quickly as possible to prevent further damage. For a quick fix until you can get paint touchup supplies, dab a little clear nail polish on the scratch.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

A Little Auto Care Goes a Long Way

Performing simple preventative maintenance on your vehicle will go a long way toward protecting your vehicle investment, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

 

“Buying a new car today comes with a hefty price tag when you add up the down payment, monthly car payments and higher insurance rates. Neglecting its care can mean even higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs and lost resale value,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “By following a proactive auto care plan, the typical car should deliver at least 200,000 miles of safe, dependable, efficient and enjoyable performance.”

National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time of year to give your car some extra attention. The Car Care Council recommends following a vehicle service schedule, keeping a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide in the glovebox and performing the most common routine maintenance procedures to keep your vehicle performing at its best.

  • Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  • Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and safety reasons, such as defrosting.
  • Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

“Be sure to fully inspect your vehicle annually, including performing a tune-up and wheel alignment,” continued White. “If you ever suspect there is a problem, it’s a good idea to address it quickly before minor repairs become more complicated, expensive repairs.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

Auto Care: An Easy Resolution That Makes Financial Sense

With the cost of a new vehicle on the rise, the non-profit Car Care Council reminds drivers that caring for your current vehicle is an easy new year’s resolution to keep, making more economic sense than purchasing a new one.

“During the holiday season, many people bust the budget and then resolve to save money in the coming year,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Many resolutions quickly go by the wayside, but it’s an easy decision to keep your current vehicle and maintain it at recommended intervals. Auto care makes financial sense, protecting the trade-in value and postponing the sting of new car prices.”

While the average price of a new passenger vehicle has risen to nearly $34,000 according to Kelley Blue Book, IHS Markit reports that the average vehicle age is now 11.6 years. The good news for car owners is that today’s vehicles are lasting longer than ever before and by following three simple auto care tips, they can protect their vehicle investment and address minor issues before they become more complicated, expensive repairs.

Regular Maintenance is Key. The best way to ensure a vehicle’s longevity is to observe a regular service schedule. Keep up with fluid and filter changes, tire checks and other routine maintenance. Over time, some car parts and components wear out or become damaged, so the smart investment is to replace these typical wear items before long-term damage ensues. In addition to the maintenance schedule outlined in the owner’s manual, the Car Care Council offers a free custom service schedule to help remind motorists of essential auto care intervals.

Heed the Warning Signs. Vehicles have ways of communicating that trouble may be on the horizon. Illuminated dashboard warning lights, such as the check engine light, indicate that key vehicle systems need inspection as soon as possible. Pay attention to any new or unusual vehicle sounds, such as squealing, thumping, hissing or grinding as they can indicate a problem. Unusual smells, such as burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, rotten eggs, burning carpet or the sweet smell of syrup can also indicate a serious problem.

Keep It Clean. Washing and waxing a vehicle on a regular basis protects its value. A thorough cleaning inside and out prevents the buildup of dirt and damaging chemicals that can harm the finish, reduces the potential for rust from road salt, and ensures proper visibility needed for safe driving.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

Winter Driving Tips

The non-profit Car Care Council recommends checking the following areas of your vehicle so it is road ready when severe winter weather strikes.

  • Check the battery and charging system for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
  • Check the antifreeze. As a general rule of thumb, clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system every two years.
  • Check that heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid.
  • Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
  • Check the oil and filter and be diligent about changing them at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.
  • Check engine performance before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
  • Check the brakes. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
  • Check the exhaust system for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
  • Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.

During winter, drivers should keep their vehicle’s gas tank at least half-full to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Motorists should also check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, blanket, extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

To learn more about winterizing your vehicle, view the council’s Car Care Minute video and visit www.carcare.orgto order a free copy of the 80-page Car Care Guide.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Basic Auto Care Many Drivers Miss

Community car care events held throughout the country found that the top-three fluids most likely to be low or contaminated are windshield washer fluid in 26 percent of inspected vehicles, followed by engine oil at 23 percent and coolant at 19 percent.
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Windshield washer fluid keeps dirt and debris from collecting on a vehicle’s windshield, allowing the driver full visibility and making it an essential safety item. Windshield washer fluid should be checked monthly and drivers should use a fluid that is specially formulated for their climate.

Engine oil lubricates the moving parts of a vehicle’s engine, helping keep the engine clean and preventing wear and overheating. Neglecting to change a vehicle’s oil can lead to costly repairs, including replacement. Engine oil levels should be checked frequently and changed per the owner’s manual.

Coolant absorbs heat from the engine and dissipates it through the radiator and heat exchanger. Because coolant breaks down over time, neglecting it can lead to corrosion, rust and engine overheating. Flushing and replacing coolant every six to 12 months, depending upon climate, will help prevent costly repairs.

“Checking fluids and lubricants is easy to put off, but each is critical to your vehicle running properly and safely,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The good news is that they are easy to check and inexpensive to replace. Whether you do it yourself or visit a trusted technician, be sure to inspect your vehicle for any possible signs of trouble so you can address minor service needs before they turn into major repairs.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

Six Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Owning a car can be a dream or a nightmare depending on how well you take care of your vehicle, says the non-profit Car Care Council. The following are six things that many motorists do that can harm their car and their wallet.6waysyouarekillingyourcar

  1. Ignoring the check engine light. Ignoring an illuminated check engine light can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy.
  1. Failing to change fluids and filters.Many fluids are required for the operation and protection of vehicle systems and components. Checking fluid levels regularly, along with the filters, helps ensure that your vehicle runs dependably and extends vehicle life.
  1. Neglecting your tires. Your vehicle’s tires should be checked frequently for inflation and tread depth. Underinflated tires can wear out more quickly, needing to be replaced sooner, and can negatively impact safety, gas mileage and performance.
  1. Not following a service schedule. Because many car parts and components wear out or become damaged over time, vehicles need to be routinely serviced in order to perform optimally. Routine inspections and timely repairs will help keep your car running efficiently and will help you avoid more expensive repairs down the road.
  1. Keeping a dirty car. Allowing your car to go too long without a wash leads to buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, increases the potential for rust from road salt and interferes with proper visibility needed for safe driving.
  1. Being a severe driver. Whether it’s stop-and-go traffic, extreme weather, rough roads or heavy loads, it can sometimes be difficult to limit severe driving conditions. However, you can drive smart and improve fuel economy by observing the speed limit; avoiding aggressive driving, including quick starts and stops; not hauling unnecessary items; and keeping your vehicle properly tuned.

“Because auto care isn’t always a top priority for car owners, they might not realize they are doing things that adversely affect the performance, safety and value of their car,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine maintenance can go a long way toward saving money, avoiding headaches and protecting your vehicle investment.”

 

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org.

Is Your Car Ready for a Road Trip?

Is Your Car Ready for a Road Trip?

If you are planning a road trip, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t just put gas in your car and go, says the non-profit Car Care Council. A pre-trip vehicle check can determine how road-ready your vehicle is so you can take steps to have any problems fixed before heading out for vacation.

Before you hit the road, the Car Care Council recommends a vehicle check to help avoid the inconvenience, potential safety hazards and unplanned expense of breaking down miles away from home.

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  • Check filters and fluids, including engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, windshield washer and power steering, brake and transmission fluids.  Dirty air filters can waste gas and cause the engine to lose power.
  • Check the hoses and belts and replace if they become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear.  These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
  • Check the brake system and make sure the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread.  Under inflated tires reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy and uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment.  Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check the engine to make sure it is delivering the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
  • Check that the gas cap is not damaged, loose or missing to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.

“A thorough inspection of your vehicle will give you peace of mind and help make your road journey safer,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Taking a few minutes to ‘be car care aware’ will make for a less stressful and more fun adventure.”

Stay on Schedule

The key to a car running at its best is basic maintenance. Keeping up with fluid changes, tire checks, filter changes and other services will help avoid bigger and more expensive repairs. Over time, some car parts and components wear out or become damaged. Being aware of your car will help you address any issues before they become bigger problems.

Custom Vehicle Service Schedule OnlineIn addition to following the maintenance schedule recommended in your owner’s manual, the Car Care Council offers a free custom service schedule to help you be proactive in caring for your car.

“Everyone loves a new car but sometimes the money is just not there to purchase one,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “If you treat your car as a valuable investment and commit to regular preventative auto care, not only will you end up saving money, but your car will keep on running for many miles down the road.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.

Vehicle Checklist for Back-to-School Carpool Season

School carpool season is upon us and the non-profit Car Care Council reminds drivers to make sure their vehicles are kid-safe and road ready with a five-point checklist:

  • Check lights and wipers for visibility. With shorter days and inclement weather ahead, make sure lights and wipers function properly so that you can see and be seen.  Check the exterior and interior lights and replace any that are dimming, rapidly blinking or not functioning. Check wiper blades for signs of wear and replace if necessary.
  1. Get an annual brake inspection. The braking system is your car’s most important safety feature. Before carpool season gets in full swing, make sure that your brakes are functioning properly. Schedule a brake inspection and look for warning signs that your vehicle may need brake services, such as an illuminated brake light or screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
  1. Check tires for under inflation or excessive wear. Check tire pressure and refill underinflated tires, including the spare, and look for uneven wear and check tread depth. An easy way to do the latter is by placing a penny head-down in the tread groove. If the tread does not cover Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires.
  1. Make sure everyone is buckled up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website has important tips on seat belt fit and position. For the younger ones riding along, the site has information about how to install car seats as well as guidelines on selecting a car seat or booster based on your child’s age and size.
  1. Consider a back-up detection device. Consider having a back-up detection device installed that provides rearview video or warning sounds when moving in reverse. While drivers should not rely solely on these devices, they can help to reduce the risk of backover incidents along with following other prevention tips from NHTSA.

“Back-to-school time is hectic for most families, but scheduling a complete vehicle inspection is time well spent,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing your vehicle was checked by a professional technician will give you peace of mind and make all those trips to school and activities safer and less stressful.”

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a free copy of the council’s popular Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.