Information about Sick Cooling System

With the hot summer temperatures on the rise, knowing the symptoms of a sick cooling system are critical to your summer driving plans, since cooling system failure is a leading cause of vehicle breakdowns. The most noticeable symptoms are overheating, leaks, a sweet smell of antifreeze and repeatedly needing to add coolant, according to the Car Care Council.

Coolant reservoir and level indicator- image“Neglecting your cooling system can result in serious damage and even complete engine failure, which would put a sudden end to your summer road trip,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “If the
cooling system doesn’t receive regular maintenance, it’s not a question of whether it will fail, but rather when it will fail. Performing regular checkups of belts, hoses, the water pump and fluids will ensure your car remains properly cooled and healthy for many miles down the road.”

The primary job of the engine’s cooling system is to remove the heat that is generated during the combustion process. The coolant temperature can be well over 200 degrees and that heat has to go somewhere, otherwise engine components are going to start failing. The key parts of the cooling system remove the heat from the engine and automatic transmission and dispel it to the air outside. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat and returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated. The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep it consistent for efficient engine operation.

A major factor that affects the replacement of cooling system parts is the frequency of regular maintenance, such as coolant changes. Motorists should consult their owner’s manual for specific recommendations about how often to change antifreeze and flush the coolant system. A coolant flush and fill is basic to cooling system maintenance as new antifreeze helps the engine run cooler and a flush removes dirt or sediment that could damage other cooling system parts.

Low CoolantThe coolant level should be checked regularly at the reservoir and motorists are reminded to NEVER open a hot radiator cap. If the coolant is low, a 50/50 mix of approved antifreeze and distilled water should be added.

Motorists can also do a visual inspection of hoses, belts and the radiator to help identify cooling system problems before they escalate. Radiator leaks, bulging hoses or frayed and cracked belts are clues that the cooling system is in need of maintenance.

Additional signs of cooling system problems include the vehicle temperature gauge rising near the danger zone, coolant leaks, steam or hissing sounds under the hood or the district smell of an engine that’s running hot.

The Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you take better care of your vehicle this summer and throughout the year. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

Tips To Protect Your Car’s Interior

Try to add up the hours you spend in your car. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Commutes, errand runs and road trips can have you sitting in those bucket seats for hours on end, and during that time, you and your passengers are actually living in the interior. That means smudges on the windows, scratches on the dash and food in the seat crevices accumulate and leave you wondering what happened to the spotless interior you swear it had when you first bought the car.

A Quick Clean
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to keep a car’s cabin from looking a little too, well, lived in. First things first, get something to stuff your trash into. Just use a plastic bag or a container you don’t use around the house and throw it in the backseat. You can even affix a temporary hook to the door or seat to keep things even neater. Every once and awhile, take it out and relish in the fact that you haven’t spent an hour cleaning up. Keeping trash off the floor also preserves your carpets, which can get stained from any number of items.

The idea of taking a rag to your dash and leather seats is made easier if you have them on-hand. The key here is to just use a little bit of soapy water to wipe the surfaces of your car – some cleaning products contain alcohols that prematurely dry and age the materials by reducing the flexibility in the vinyl. Store a small spray bottle of your homemade cleaning fluid and a rag under your seat or in a storage bin for access when you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school or sitting in that crazy-long drive-through line. This will also come in handy when an emergency spill happens. Lastly, keep your car smelling like roses (or at least a laundromat) by adding dryer sheets under the seats.

Weather Resistant
You can’t discount the impact weather has on your vehicle either. In summer, sandy feet can quickly make a mess of an interior, and dare we mention the destruction caused by mud and snow? If you spend a lot of time ducking in and out of the elements, you might want to grab some all-weather floor mats. They’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the muck in one place.

The sun’s rays can also wreak havoc on your car’s surfaces, causing vinyl to crack over time and materials to fade. A simple solution is to regularly put a sunshade on the windshield. They’re inexpensive and help to keep your interior looking new.

Saving money on repair work and cleaning comes more easily when you take the time to make preventative care a priority. Not only will these tricks make your car a nicer place to be, keeping grime out of your ride will cut down on large maintenance costs in the future and will help to retain its value over time.

Some Tips to Better Gas Mileage

With the average price of gas dipping below two dollars per gallon for the first time since 2009, many motorists have been seeing a real savings at the pump. Putting some of that savings toward basic auto care can lead to more miles per gallon and, in turn, more savings, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

The Car Care Council encourages motorists to be car care aware and perform these five simple steps to improve fuel economy and save money.

Check Tire Pressure: Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.
Use the Right Motor Oil: Improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the grade of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer.

Replace Clogged Air Filters: Replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles can improve fuel economy and will improve performance and acceleration on all vehicles.
Check Engine Performance: Keep your engine running efficiently and improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

Fix It: Addressing a serious maintenance problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to www.fueleconomy.gov.
Save Gas Beyond the Pump“Proactive vehicle maintenance is a motorist’s best money saving tip,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Routine auto care not only helps save on fuel costs, but it helps identify small issues so they can be serviced before they become bigger and more costly to repair.”

To help motorists increase fuel economy and take better care of their vehicles, the Car Care Council offers valuable tools on its website, including a free personalized schedule and email reminder service.

When Need to Change My Brake Fluid

The recommended intervals for changing brake fluid are all over the board depending on the manufacturer, from as often as every two years to never. Really.
For example, Chevrolet says to change the brake fluid on most models every 45,000 miles, but Honda says to do it every three years regardless of the vehicle’s mileage. Three years is also the recommended interval for most Volkswagens, but Mercedes-Benz vehicles typically call for fresh fluid every two years or 20,000 miles.

In contrast, on the Ford Escape, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry and other models from those manufacturers, there are no recommendations for replacing the brake fluid, only instructions to inspect it periodically.

This leaves it up to the owner to consult what the manufacturer says in their car’s maintenance schedule and rely on the advice of a trusted repair shop.

Brake fluid lives in a sealed system and can survive for years, but moisture from the surrounding air can work its way in through hoses and other parts of the brake system. Water in the brake lines lowers the boiling point of the fluid, so stopping ability can diminish in hard stops as heat in the system increases. In addition, over time the moisture can cause internal corrosion in the brake lines, calipers, the master cylinder and other components.

Flushing and replacing brake fluid might cost $100 or less on many vehicles, but replacing rusted brake lines and other parts can run several hundreds of dollars, so clearly there’s value in keeping up with maintenance.
As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to have the brake fluid inspected and perhaps tested for moisture content every few years and no more than every five if you live in a high-humidity area.

You might be able to tell it’s time for a change by looking to see if the fluid is still fresh. Brake fluid is often light brown in color, but in some vehicles it’s clear (at least when new) and will darken with age, becoming murky from water contamination. A better way is to have it tested by a professional for moisture and see what they recommend.

Brake fluid is as vital to stopping a vehicle as engine oil is to keeping it going, but it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.

Tips To Make The Tires Be Balanced

Smooth driving is a balancing act that requires getting the wheels and tires to rotate at high speeds without vibrations. That’s not a slam dunk; a dirty little secret about wheels and tires is that they usually aren’t perfectly round, even when brand new. What’s more, their weight often isn’t evenly distributed, so they’re heavier in some spots than others.

Either issue can cause annoying vibrations. Out-of-balance tires can also cause rapid tire or suspension wear, so it’s not just about ride comfort.

That is why when new tires are mounted on wheels they’re spin-balanced to detect vibrations. Some vibrations can be eliminated by rotating the tire on the wheel so the heavy or “high” spot is in a different location that better matches up with the wheel. Small weights are attached to the wheels with adhesives or clips to counteract the heavy spots and provide a smooth ride. Over time, though, the weights can fall off. If that happens to a front wheel, you may feel vibrations through the steering wheel that typically become more pronounced as vehicle speed increases.

Many tire dealers include free lifetime rotation and balancing with new tires (something you should ask about before buying). Tire rotation is when the vehicle’s tires are removed and reattached at a different position to ensure they wear evenly, which should be done every 5,000 to 7,500 miles on most vehicles, or according to the automaker’s recommendation.

Many consumers neglect the balancing part and have their tires rotated only periodically. If balancing was included with the tires, it would be wise to remind the shop to check the balance at the same time. Even if balancing costs extra, it’s a good idea to have it checked at least every two years, or more often in areas where roads are not well-maintained.

Vibrations can also be caused by a bent wheel, a damaged tire (which won’t be fixed by balancing), worn suspension parts or worn wheel bearings, so balancing the wheels and tires may not eliminate all vibrations.
Tires and wheels are balanced before being attached to the vehicle by spinning them on a balancing machine that identifies heavier or stiffer spots that cause vibrations. Some tire dealers and repair shops use “road force” balancing machines that simulate the weight and forces applied to tires and wheels during driving conditions. They say this method provides more accurate and detailed readings that allow more precise balancing.

Check and Fill Tires

While it may seem like a mundane task, inflating tires is much more crucial to your car than you may think, and it results in a safer and more economical experience on the road. Your vehicle’s handling also will be greatly improved as the larger a tire’s inflated footprint, the more responsive and comfier the ride balance will be.

Because it’s National Tire Safety Week, it’s the perfect time to check your car’s tires.

Before starting

To find your tires’ proper inflation level, look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. It displays the vehicle weight restriction and tire information. The info is also found in the maintenance or car-care section of your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Don’t refer to the sidewall markings on your tires, which in part specify the maximum tire pressure — not the recommended pressure.

Unless your tire is visibly flat, don’t judge tire inflation just by looking at it; you have to use a tire pressure gauge to get the correct pounds per square inch reading. There are three types of tire-pressure gauges: digital, internal slide and dial. Prices range from $5 for a basic gauge to more than $30 for one that is digital, has an air-release button — or even talks. All will do the job, but you may want to consider the conditions in which you’ll be using your gauge. “We’ve found that low-cost digital pressure gauges are very accurate and maintain the accuracy longer, but in extremely cold temperatures the gauge may not show up properly,” said John Rastetter, Tire Rack’s director of tire information services.
Tire manufacturers suggest checking tires when they’re cold for the most accurate reading. Outside temperatures can cause tire pressure to vary by as much as 1 psi per 10 degrees; higher temperatures mean higher psi readings. “Tires are black; what does black do? Attract heat,” Rastetter said, noting the importance of finding a shady place to check and fill all four tires.

Temperature plays a huge part in tire psi, Rastetter said, adding that the most crucial time of year to check pressure is in fall and winter when days are shorter and average temperatures plummet.

Check your tires in the morning before going anywhere, because as soon as you get behind the wheel for an extended amount of time, psi will rise. Rastetter said that if you’ve been on the road a long time and notice higher psi in your tires, don’t let the air out, as the increase in pressure has built up due to the warm,

What to do

1. Pull your car onto a level surface in the shade.
2. Remove dust caps from the tires’ valve stems.
3. Using your tire gauge, firmly press the tip of the gauge straight on to the tire’s valve stem for a brief moment.
4. The tire gauge should provide a psi reading; if the number seems unrealistically low or high — for example, 85 psi or 1 psi – you will need to repeat the previous step, ensuring that the tire gauge’s tip is properly making contact with the valve stem.
5. If the tire gauge’s recorded reading is higher than the manufacturer-recommended rating, press the gauge tip on the valve stem until you hear air leak out. Check the tire pressure again.
6. If the reading is lower than recommended, fill the tire with air by firmly pressing the air-hose tip onto the valve stem. You will hear air quietly enter the tire. If you hear air leaking or spraying out, you need to double-check that the connection between the air hose and the tire’s valve stem is secure.
7. When you think you’ve added or let out enough air, check the pressure a few times with the gauge.
8. Replace the valve dust caps. Rastetter emphasized the importance of keeping dust caps on during winter driving because if water gets into the valve stem and freezes inside the tire, it could cause a flat.

While you’re at it, check your spare tire’s pressure. You don’t want to have a flat tire and then find out your replacement is flat, too.

Some Signs Your Brakes Need to be Inspected

During Brake Safety Awareness Month in August, the Car Care Council reminds motorists that routine brake inspections are essential to safe driving and maintaining your vehicle.

“When it comes to vehicle safety, the brake system is at the top of the list, so have your brakes checked by an auto service professional at least once a year,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Knowing the key warning signs that your brakes may need maintenance will go a long way toward keeping you and others safe on the road.”

The Car Care Council recommends that motorists watch for seven signs that their brakes need to be inspected:

Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
Low Pedal:brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.
Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

Using the Car Care Council’s free personalized schedule and email reminder service is a simple way to help you remember to have your brakes inspected and take better care of your vehicle. It is an easy-to-use resource designed to help you drive smart, save money and make informed decisions.

Tips For a Winter Ready Car

The last thing any driver needs is to break down in cold, harsh winter weather. A vehicle check now before winter arrives is a sensible way to be car care aware and avoid the inconvenience of being stranded out in the cold and with the unexpected expense of emergency repairs, says the Car Care Council.

“Winterizing your vehicle before the temperatures drop is a wise idea,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “An investment of an hour or two to have your vehicle checked is all it takes to have peace of mind and help avoid the cost and hassle of car trouble during severe weather.”

The Car Care Council recommends the following steps for winterizing your vehicle:

If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
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.
Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
Have the exhaust system checked 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.
Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

Motorists should also keep the gas tank at least half full at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing. Drivers should check the tire pressure of the spare in the trunk and stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, blanket, extra clothes, candles/matches, bottled water, dry food snacks and needed medication.

Know More About Fall Car Care Month Checklist

October is Fall Car Care Month, and the Car Care Council reminds motorists that checking their vehicles before the temperatures drop is a sensible way to avoid being stranded out in the cold and the unexpected expense of emergency repairs.

“The last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold, harsh winter weather. Winter magnifies existing problems like hard starts, sluggish performance and rough idling,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Whether you perform the check or maintenance yourself or go to the repair shop, it’s a small investment of time and money to ensure peace of mind, and help avoid the cost and hassle of a breakdown during severe weather.”

The Car Care Council recommends the following Fall Car Care Month checklist to make sure your vehicle is ready for cold winter weather ahead.
Heating, Wipers & Lights

Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly.
Consider winter wiper blades and use cold-weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
Check to see that all exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
Tires & Brakes
Tire Tread- compare

Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure of all tires, including the spare. 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.
Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.

Gas, Oil & Filters

Keep your gas tank at least half full throughout the cold weather to prevent moisture from forming in gas lines and possibly freezing.
Be diligent about changing the oil and filter 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.

System Checks – Charging, Cooling & Exhaust

Have the battery and charging system checked, as cold weather is hard on batteries.
Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
Pack the Essentials

Prepare Your Care

Make sure that your ice scraper and snow brush are accessible and ready to use.
Stock an emergency kit with jumper cables, a flashlight, blankets, extra clothes, bottled water, nonperishable food and a first aid kit with any needed medication.

All About Vehicle Lights and Wipers

As the days get shorter, lights and wipers play a major role in safe driving, as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen, according to the non-profit Car Care Council.

“With fewer daylight hours in fall and winter, it’s important to make sure your vehicle’s lights and wipers are working properly so your visibility is not compromised and you can be seen by others,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat, you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so inspect all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out. Also, inspect and replace wiper blades so you can see clearly when wet weather hits.”

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe.

Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.

Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.

If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.

Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

Broken Tail Light MMThe wiper system keeps excessive water, snow and dirt from building up on the windshield, maintaining clear visibility. Many factors can accelerate the replacement interval of wipers, including operating conditions (winter conditions are tough on wiper blades), frequency of use, material and type of wipers and sunny weather. In fact, wiper blades can deteriorate faster and need more frequent replacement in desert states. Don’t forget to check the rear window wiper blade too!

“Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers,” said White. “Keeping your vehicle’s lights properly cared for and replacing wiper blades periodically will help ensure a safer ride, keeping the road ahead well-lit and giving you a clear view.”

Should Know About Multiply Gas Savings

As gas prices continue to drop, motorists should take advantage of their savings at the pump and invest it back into their vehicles. By spending a little now to increase fuel efficiency, drivers can multiply fuel savings and save more money at the pump, says the Car Care Council.

The national average of the cost of a gallon of gas has been above $3 since 2010 but is expected to dip below that mark this year, according to a recent forecast by energy information service GasBuddy.com.

“Gas prices are expected to fall below $3 per gallon on average, and that means motorists can count on significant savings at the pump,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “A small investment in simple and inexpensive auto care will add up to better fuel economy and even more savings.”

The non-profit Car Care Council encourages motorists to be car care aware and perform simple steps to improve fuel efficiency and save money.

Engine Performance: Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
Tire Pressure: Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.

Motor Oil: Improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the grade of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer.

Air Filters: Replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles can improve fuel economy and will improve performance and acceleration on all vehicles.
Gas Cap: Damaged, loose or missing gas caps allow gas to vaporize into the air.

Fix It: Addressing a serious maintenance problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to www.fueleconomy.gov.

In addition to vehicle maintenance, modifying driving habits, such as observing the speed limit and avoiding quick stops and starts, can also increase fuel efficiency. Consolidating trips, avoiding excessive idling and removing unnecessary items from the trunk are also easy ways to lower fuel consumption.

Car Up for the Journey

Before you pack up the car to head home for the holidays, the Car Care Council reminds you to make sure your vehicle is ready for the journey. Conducting a thorough vehicle inspection will help you avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down miles away from home.

“It’s easy to remember to get your family ready for the holiday festivities, but what about preparing the car that’s going to get you there?” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Having a pre-inspection performed on your car will give you peace of mind as you travel and help make your journey safer.”

Before leaving home, the Car Care Council recommends a check of the following, often overlooked, items: tires and tire pressure, brakes, hoses and belts, air filters, wipers, exterior and interior lighting, and fluid levels, including engine oil, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

“A pre-trip inspection provides the opportunity to have service repairs made at home by your own trusted technician who knows the vehicle, and helps reduce the chance of costly and dangerous trouble on the road,” said Rich While.

The Car Care Council also recommends that drivers keep important telephone numbers in their cell phone or glove box in case of a breakdown or travel emergency. Vehicles should have a roadside emergency kit that includes items such as a first aid kit, a tire-changing jack, a tire pressure gauge, jumper cables, a flashlight and a blanket.