Archive for September 2014

Car Maintenance – Top Tips Before Taking Your Car On Holiday

Summer is here, (well, in theory) and with current economic situations many people are choosing to stay in the country for their holiday to save a bit of cash. If you’re going to drive you may want to check one or two things on your car first and just perform a bit of basic car maintenance.

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The last thing you want to do when you get to your destination is try to find a mechanic (especially one you can trust) because something’s gone wrong. If you’ve noticed any niggling noises or anything out of the normal in your car, check it out now, even if it’s nothing, you may be too focused on finding your way around your holiday destination to notice if it gets worse (if you’ve got kids, you may not even hear your engine screaming at you over the cries of ‘are we nearly there yet?’). You don’t want to start your holiday off waiting for your breakdown service while the family head to the beach.

Brakes

Lets start your car maintenance with your breaks, if there’s a problem with them, you don’t want to find out about it hurtling down the motorway with your family in the car. If you notice squealing or unusual noises when you brake, or if the car pulls slightly to one side, there’s a good chance you’ll need to replace your break pads, don’t worry, these are relatively cheap and with a certain level of skill, you can replace them yourself. The brake pads should be evenly worn, it’s very easy to know if they need changing, most break pads will have lines running through them, once they’ve worn down to a certain line, change them. A lot of cars will display a warning light on the dashboard that will also indicate it’s time for a change, and lastly, if you notice sparks coming from your wheels when you brake and the car doesn’t actually stop that’s also a pretty good indicator they need changing. The brake disks will also need checking, they should be evenly worn and should look almost polished, if there are any marks or uneven wearing, replace them.

Tires

If you’ve checked the brakes, it’s only logical to make sure your tires are in perfect condition too, this is basic car maintenance and should be checked regularly as you can not only be pulled over by the police for unsafe tires, you can be fined and be issued penalty points on your licence too. Your hand book will advice you of the correct tire pressure, remember this pressure will vary if you’re going to be carrying a heavy load, if your family has brought along more suitcases than the TARDIS could be expected to carry you will need more pressure in your tires than if you’re just carrying a normal load. Remember to bear in mind that over inflated tires will not have as much grip on the road and under inflated tires will consume more fuel. If you notice any cracks or splits in your tires, you need to replace them. Again, the outside lane of a motorway is not the best place to have a tire blow out on you.

Seat Belts

Seat Belts don’t really require a whole lot of maintenance, they don’t need top ups or regular changes but if they don’t work it could prove just as fatal as having faulty brakes. Checking your seatbelts is especially important if you are going be carrying other people in your car when you don’t normally do so, make sure they’re not frayed or physically damaged, and check they will hold anything when suddenly jolted. Lastly, check the buckle both holds the seatbelt against extreme pressure and that it releases easily in the case of an emergency. If the worst comes to the worst and you are involved in a serious accident and you need to get someone out the car, you cant afford to be struggling with a dodgy seat belt catch.

Windscreen and Wipers

Now you need to look at your windscreen, both the glass and the wipers. It would be nice if we could assume that because it’s summer, they wont be needed but they will, whether you’re just clearing your screen or because it’s raining or maybe the guy in front has decided your windscreen needed a wash while he was doing his own you will need your wipers and you should check them regularly, if you’re looking out for a signpost or your driving round somewhere you’re not familiar you’ll need to know your wipers can clear your windscreen instantly. Check the windscreen wiper blades are smooth and have no splits, cracks or stones stuck in them. Any cracks that appear on the windscreen should always be taken care of as soon as possible but it’s especially important if you’re about to go away as long journeys increase the risk of a chip spidering and causing serious damage.

Lights

Lastly, give the lights a quick check, it’s an offence to drive knowing you have faulty lights, quickly check the brake lights, indicators and headlights, remember you’re not just checking the bulb is ok, you need to make sure none of the plastic casing is cracked and they’re all clear.

Well that’s about it, you should be good to go, a quick bit of basic car maintenance is no substitute for a proper service by a qualified mechanic, if you notice anything out of the ordinary it’s always a safe bet to get someone who knows what they’re doing to check it out. All that’s left to do now is check your break down cover is still in data, pack the map (or sat nav) and have fun.

Top 5 Car Maintenance Mistakes

Back in the day, drivers had to contend with oil changes and tune-ups to keep their cars running. Compared to the monstrosities that ruled the road just a generation ago, modern cars require far less maintenance.

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Even though modern cars are easier to maintain, they still require proper maintenance. Your vehicle’s maintenance information can be found in the glove compartment. Every car is supplied with a maintenance schedule — in the owner’s manual or in a separate maintenance log book — that details that vehicle’s needs. Below are some car maintenance mistakes you should avoid.

Proper Tire Inflation and Rotation
Tires leak naturally and need the occasional check. Figuratively speaking, underinflated tires suck up gasoline. Under- or overinflated tires wear out sooner, and deliver the same emergency maneuver handling as marshmallows. You probably aren’t going to check tire pressures monthly, but how about twice a year?

Furthermore, front and rear tires wear differently and should be rotated to even that wear. Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation on both pressure and rotation periods.

Wiper Tales
Here’s a news flash: It’s much easier to avoid hitting things you can see. Simple as it is, that’s the concept behind replacing your windshield wipers before they fossilize into noisy uselessness.

Fall is the ideal wiper replacement time: after the blade-baking summer and before the fall and winter nastiness. Depending on location, wiper replacement may be an annual affair in the Southwest to a biannual chore in northern climes.

Tune-Up Anachronism

Tune-ups are a thing of the past. Valves no longer need adjusting, ignition timing is controlled by a computer and there are no carburetors to fiddle with. About all that’s left of the old tune-up drill are the spark plugs. These are often good for 100,000 miles, so don’t change parts just to change parts. Instead, save up for those big 60,000- and 120,000-mile services when the timing belt, spark plug wires and coolant are due for replacement.

Octane Overdose
“If some is good, more is better” thinking does not apply to octane. Here the rule is to supply whatever octane the engine is rated for and call it done. Higher-than-required octane does not yield more power or mileage, only oil company profits.

Some engines are rated for premium 91 octane fuel but can burn 87 octane regular, thanks to the magic of knock sensors. In that case, run regular gas if puttering around surface streets, and premium fuel if full-throttle driving is part of your daily repertoire.

Oil Change Timing
Oil changes every 3,000 miles used to be required jobs, just like cleaning the accumulated fuzz from record player needles or defrosting freezers. Today, advances in engine design and lubricants make oil changes something to be done when the schedule calls for it, not when granddad says it’s time. Some cars call for 5,000-mile change intervals, some up to 15,000-mile stints. Others have a variable timer. Follow the schedule and use the oil called for by the manufacturer.

Do-It-Yourself Car Repairs And Car Maintenance

If you own a vehicle, there’s a great chance that a big chunk of the budget you allot for your car is for car repair and car maintenance. As you drive your vehicle daily and expose it to different elements, it experiences wear and tear. It’s important that you monitor its running condition to avoid problems. And when damage occurs, it’s also important that you do repair immediately. Despite the increasing cost of car repair, the fact is that you can still save on your car through do-it-yourself car repairs and maintenance.

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DIY is a growing trend among many drivers and vehicle owners today. Although this requires some kind of knowledge in automotive, it does not only give big savings but as well as the satisfaction of truly owning your vehicle. There are basic and more advanced car maintenance and repairs that you can do. These include the following:

Cleaning, Car Washing, and Waxing

You don’t need a professional mechanic to do these for you, and you don’t need to be highly skilled in automotive to learn these basics. All you will need is to have the right cleaning and detailing materials to ensure that you will achieve your desired effect. With just a little time on your hand, you can reduce your trips to car wash and car detailing shops and you can save a lot of bucks.

Routine Fluid Changing and Refilling

Many of the systems in your car make use of different types of fluid in their operation. Other than fuel, there are oil and special water formulas that make your car work. Over time, these fluids are reduced due to evaporation or leaks, and you have to ensure that you refill them to avoid problems like overheating.

• Oil. This fluid is needed for lubricating the metal engine parts as they rub against each other. Without it, too much friction will be produced and the parts will heat up and get damaged. Over time, the oil also gets dirty and should be replaced.

• Coolant. This is a special type of water solution that circulates throughout the cooling system to absorb engine heat so that you won’t experience overheating. Regular coolant refilling is vital in keeping the engine temperature right.

• Brake Fluid. This fluid is crucial to the operation of the brakes. With not enough fluid in your system, the brakes may not work well and you may experience braking problems. Refilling your braking system should be done with caution and you must only use the right type of fluid.

Removal and Installation of Parts

Whereas many of the parts in your auto are complicated and dealing with them requires professional knowledge, there are others that are simple enough for average drivers. The addition of add-ons like spoiler, car bra, or wheel caps, for instance, can be done simply. And if you’re skilled enough, you can even do more serious part replacements when the need arises.

Yes, do-it-yourself car repairs and maintenance may take time, but the savings are all worth it. Plus, nothing beats being able to know the inner workings of your own car.