Inspecting your vehicle for efficiency is important to do. Not only that, but it should also be done on a regular basis. By making sure your vehicle is in the best condition possible, you can help ensure it will be reliable when you drive. Make sure to contact us, as we can set up a maintenance schedule for you.
Inspecting the Tires
The tires are an important part to check on your car. This should be done before any long road trip, as well as on a regular basis. The first thing to check is the air pressure. You will want to make sure it is at the ideal amount. That can be found on the inside doorjamb of the driver’s door. It can also be found in the owner’s manual. If a tire loses air often, or goes flat, make sure to contact us. We can inspect them to search for the source of the issue. Checking the tires to ensure they are wearing evenly is also important. If they are not balanced correctly, they will not wear correctly.
Checking the Oil Levels
Another important part to inspect is under the hood. Here, you will notice belts and hoses that help the vehicle operate the best it can. Along with that is the oil. Changing the oil on a regular basis is important. This will help ensure that the engine will operate efficiently as well. Fresh clean oil is need for the engine parts. If the oil is old, it will cause greater strain and result in the engine working harder than it otherwise should. Following the recommended oil change schedule is always recommended. Every time the oil is changed, then a sticker will be placed in the windshield to remind you of the next oil change. With every other oil change, the filter should be replaced. Over time, this becomes clogged with dirt and debris it catches while filtering it from the oil.
No matter where you drive, having a safe and reliable car is important. So make sure to contact us to schedule your next vehicle inspection.
Tire inspections are a necessary part of your car safety routine. But don’t let the inspection process intimidate you—here’s how to do them safely and effectively. You can bring your vehicle in, and we can inspect the tires for you as well. Even if you notice a slight issue, always make sure to have them checked. Also follow some of these tips to help ensure your tires are in the best condition that they can be in when you drive.
Tire Inspections and What to do
A tire inspection is a safety check of your tires that will help you determine if they are in good condition and safe to travel on. To do a tire inspection, you will need to:
- Get your car or truck ready for the inspection by checking the oil level and filter status, and cleaning any obstructions from the air intake or exhaust system.
- Remove the original tires and inspect them for cracks or damage.
- Check the inflation pressure of all tires and replace if necessary.
- Look for any signs of wear (check tread depth, sidewall thickness, etc.) and replace if needed as needed.
- Inspect the brake pads and rotors to make sure they are in good condition and not rusting or corroding; this can cause braking problems on future trips.
- Check the fluid levels in all fluids (including brakes) and replace if necessary; it’s important to keep brakes clean so they can work properly during travel).
- Replace any loose screws or bolts that may be present in your car or truck’s panels or other parts.
Checking Tread Wear
You can use the tire inspection results to improve your driving experience by learning about potential problems with your tires. For example, if you find that one of your tires is low on air pressure, you should replace it as soon as possible. You can also check the tread depth and surface condition of your tires to determine whether they need to be replaced or repaired.
Check the tread wear by using just a penny. Place it upside down in the groove of the tire. Do this for each tire to help ensure that the tread is correct and wearing evenly. If there is a tires with poor tread wear, make sure to contact us. Depending on the remaining condition, it may be beneficial to rotate the tires. Also be aware how the vehicle handles when you are driving it. If it starts to pull in one direction, it could be from poor tread wear. No matter the case, it is always beneficial to have the vehicle and tires inspected. Tire inspections are a critical part of driving safely. By getting a tire inspection, you can improve your driving experience and be sure that your tires are in safe condition.
As summer turns to fall and winter, our roads will become more challenging to navigate. Drivers, like you, will focus on driver safety and improving visibility to ensure they arrive at their destination safe and sound. One way to take your driver safety to the next level is to improve visibility while driving. Increased visibility will help you see potentially dangerous situations on the road ahead of you, and help you assess changing road conditions in those fall and winter months. Regardless of the time of year, safety is important and greater visibility will help. If you’re ready to improve your visibility, then we have 6 ways to help you drive more safely in any road conditions.
Keep your windshield clean for better Visibility
This may sound like a no-brainer, but one of the most basic keys to greater visibility is keeping your windshield clean. Dirty windshields can be dangerous when driving at night because street lights and oncoming headlights can reflect off of smudges and haze on your windshield – causing “stars” in the driver’s eyes. We recommend making a habit out of cleaning your windshield every time you fill up for gas to ensure clear vision at any time of day.
Check your windshield wiper blades
Your windshield wiper blades are essential for clear visibility especially when debris falls on your window, or you face inclement weather. But did you know that your wiper blades can dull after continued use? We recommend replacing your wiper blades every 6 months to ensure clean and clear visibility every time you drive. If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced your blades, now is a good time to do it. And while you’re changing out the blades, we recommend filling your windshield washer fluid to appropriate levels so you’re ready to drive in any weather conditions.
Better Visibility by cleaning your headlights
Dirt and debris can accumulate on your headlights which can cause them to dim when you need them most for driving at night. To eliminate this issue, plan on cleaning your headlights regularly for better visibility at night. While you’re at it, it’s also a good idea to make sure your headlights are in working order, by replacing any burned out bulbs.
Repair chips and cracks immediately
We’ve all had it happen to us. We’re driving along and a small rock comes flying out of nowhere leaving a chip or small crack in your windshield. Left unrepaired, those small chips or cracks can become a large crack traveling the width of your windshield – and in the end, create a huge visibility challenge. Save yourself the headache and get those chips and cracks repaired as soon as they happen.
Uncover those windows
One visibility problem that can get overlooked is blocking your windows while driving. It’s essential to keep all your windows clear, so if you’ve installed sunshades in your back seat just make sure they are rolled up before you hit the road. If you are storing belongings in your back seat or in the trunk area of your SUV, it’s a good idea to pack them on either side of the car – leaving the middle open for a clear view out the back window. If you are transporting hanging clothes, you can invest in a hanger installed around your headrest enabling you to hang your clothes without blocking your view of the rear window.
Minimize your blind spots
Most newer cars have a blind spot warning system installed, but if your car doesn’t have this feature there are some things you can do to minimize your blind spots. For starters, you can set your side mirrors to be out 15 degrees from the side of your car. For your left side mirror, lean your head so that it’s even with the driver side window and adjust the mirror so you can see the side of your car. For your right side mirror, you can do the same but keep your head in the center of the car. These small adjustments should help minimize your blind spots and maximize your visibility.
These 6 small steps will go a long way in creating greater driver safety as you improve your visibility. If you have questions about preparing your car to aid in safer driving, we’d love to help. Call us for an appointment and one of our trained mechanics can inspect your car to ensure safe driving all year long.
Summer is in full swing, and like most Minnesotans, you’re ready to get outside with some summer fun. If your summer fun includes a family road trip, then you know that you have a lot to do before you hit the road on your trip. Aside from planning your route and packing your car, one important step to take before you leave is getting your car road trip ready. If you’ve been asking what steps you can take to get your car road trip ready, then keep reading for some checks you can make before hitting the road.
Check your tire pressure before your road trip
Improperly inflated tires can wreak havoc on your family fun as they can add stress to your engine, cause unnecessary wear and tear on your brakes, and also cause uneven wear on your tires. In addition, improperly inflated tires decrease your fuel economy by 1%, and are susceptible to blow outs. Save yourself the headache of waiting for a tow and check your tire pressure. Check your owner’s manual or the sticker on the driver’s side door jam to find out the recommended tire pressure for your tires.
Rotate your tires
While you’re focused on your tires, it’s also a good idea to get your tires rotated before your trip. For cars with front wheel or rear wheel drives, their wheels that receive the power can wear more quickly. Getting your tires rotated can promote more even wear. Your tires should be rotated every 5,000-8,000 miles – so if it’s been a while since you last had your tires rotated, it’s a good idea to get this done before you hit the road.
Have your brakes inspected
Your brakes are essential to your safety, so we recommend having them inspected before you head out on a long road trip. Some signs that your brakes need some attention include: squealing noises when braking, a spongy brake pedal, a shaking brake pedal, and pulling to one side when applying the brakes. If it’s been a while before your mechanic took a look at your brakes or you’ve noticed any of these signs, then ask your mechanic to do a quick inspection.
Check Belts & Hoses before the Road Trip
Your belts and hoses are critical to keeping your electrical, power steering, and cooling systems functioning. A broken belt or hose during your road trip can lead to a breakdown on the side of the road. Prevent any issues on your trip by asking your mechanic to inspect your belts for any fraying, or cracking. Your mechanic should also check that your belts are tightly installed, and verify that there is not a large amount of slack. When it comes to your hoses, check for any leaks and drips. Taking this small step gives your peace of mind as you travel across the country.
Check your exterior lights
Burned out headlights, taillights, and turn signals can become a safety hazard especially when traveling at night. Be sure to check your lights and replace any burned out bulb. While you’re inspecting the exterior of your car, it’s also a good idea to take a peek at your windshield wipers. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your blades every 6 months, so it’s a good idea to replace these before you leave in case you run into a summer storm.
Run an AC system check
You’ll also want to ask your mechanic to run an AC system check, especially if you’ll be traveling during the heat of summer. As long as your mechanic is checking your AC, you’ll also want to replace your cabin air filter – which traps pollen, mold, and other allergens keeping them from getting inside your car.
Top off your fluids before your road trip
No matter where you’re driving – it’s important to check your fluids regularly and replace according to your owner’s manual. Plan on checking your power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. Fill these to the recommended levels before you hit the road to ensure your car is good to go for your entire trip.
Once you check these items, you’re ready to head out and enjoy your next adventure. If you need assistance getting your car road trip ready, our team can help get your car ready to roll toward your next road trip in no time.
If you’ve had this question, you’re not alone. It happens to the best of us. We’re driving along and minding our own business when our check engine light goes on. But did you know that there are a variety of reasons your check engine light can go off – from things as simple as a loose gas cap to issues more serious like a faulty alternator. If you’ve ever had this question, then keep reading as we cover some common reasons your check engine light turns on.
A Loose or Faulty Gas Cap
That’s right. Not tightening your gas cap can cause your check engine light to turn on. Your gas cap and the valves in your gas tank keep gas from escaping. If your gas cap is loose or faulty, it may cause you to lose gas due to evaporation, or cause your fuel to circulate improperly.
Check engine light & Faulty Alternator
If your alternator is faulty, you know it right away because you won’t be able to keep driving. Your alternator works with your battery to provide power to the car’s electrical system. When your alternator is faulty your car radio will turn off, your lights will dim, and you’ll lose the ability to drive (your power steering and brakes will go out). If your check engine light turns on for this reason, your next call will be for a tow.
Faulty Catalytic Converter
Your catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide which protects the environment. When there’s an issue with your catalytic converter, you’ll experience reduced fuel efficiency, and increased emissions. A faulty catalytic converter does not always need replacing – most often it’s caused by another issue like a blown head gasket which can force burnt coolant vapor into your exhaust.
Dirty MAS Airflow Sensor
Your MAS airflow sensor determines how much fuel is needed to run the engine, and measures the amount of air entering the engine. The airflow sensor can be susceptible to dirt and oil buildup, so it may just need a cleaning. A faulty MAS airflow sensor can cause your air to fuel ratio to be off which can cause failures in other areas of the engine.
Oxygen Sensor Failure and Why the Check Engine Light comes on
Your oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in your car’s exhaust. The sensor sends data to your car’s computer which uses the information to regulate the mixture of air and fuel that enters your engine’s cylinders. If your oxygen sensor fails your car can keep running, but it will burn more fuel. If neglected over time, it can damage your spark plugs, and your catalytic converter.
Your ignition coils deliver an electrical pulse to each spark plug. When the engine’s computer sends a signal, the ignition coils release pent up energy to the spark plugs. Ignition coils are prone to failure after several years and cause your check engine light to turn on. Signs that your ignition coils need attention include poor fuel efficiency, and decreased engine power.
Fuel Injector Issues from the Check Engine Light
Each of your engine’s cylinders has a fuel injector, which is a small, electronically-activated valve that regulates how much fuel is sprayed into each engine cylinder during the intake cycle. Our fuel has impurities and when combined with carbon produced by the combustion process, it can cause the fuel injector to clog or plug. When fully clogged, the fuel injector can get stuck in the open position – causing it to continuously leak fuel into the cylinder, and making the engine run more roughly.
While there are a variety of reasons your check engine light turns on, these are a few of the most common causes. If your check engine light comes on, we recommend making an appointment so one of our mechanics can take a look, diagnose your problem, and get you back to enjoying your drive no matter where the road takes you.
As summer starts to heat up, there’s one thing we all take for granted – cooling off the inside of our car. During the dog days of summer, you’re probably thankful to have dual comfort control and that it works. But did you know that we’ve made major advancements when it comes to cars and air conditioning in the last 100 years? If you’re curious about how we got our modern air conditioning systems, then keep reading as we cover a brief history of auto AC and refrigerants.
The Earliest Cars and Keeping Cool in the Summer
The earliest Model Ts had no doors and a collapsible roof. Back then, drivers were more concerned with keeping warm in the winter over keeping cool in the summer. Drivers and passengers alike, just collapsed the roof and relied on the open air to keep them cool when driving on those hot days. The next innovation from car makers was the closed body vehicles. They differed from the earliest models with doors and open windows. These vehicles had vents installed under their dashboard that would help circulate the outside air. They did have one drawback – these vents didn’t keep dirt and dust out of the car so this option became kind of messy.
Early, but Primitive Innovations
Car makers were continuing to experiment to upgrade the cooling experience of drivers. Eventually, the Knapp Limo-Sedan fan was introduced which was an electric fan mounted to the interior of the car. Around the same time, the car cooler was introduced. This attached to the roof of the car and used water evaporation to deliver cool air through the open window. Both of these options focused on circulating the open air and could reduce the interior car temperature by about 15 degrees.
The Advent of Factory Installed AC
In the 1940s, Packard became the first automaker to offer factory installed air conditioning. The unit was installed in the trunk of the car, and the driver needed to get out of the car and manually install or remove the drive belt from the compressor to turn on and off. This was the first unit that only circulated air from inside the car. It functioned by running condensed water over head, but was not ideal because water would drip onto the car’s passengers.
Post World War II Advancements
Before WWII, there were 3,000 cars that came with air conditioning installed, and after WWII there were 1 million cars with air conditioning. This boom in cars with air conditioning started in 1953 when General Motors, Chrysler, and Packard all introduced new air conditioning systems. GM developed a new AC system that fit in the car’s engine (so no more hopping out to install the drive belt in the trunk). Further breakthroughs came in 1963 when Cadillac invented comfort control so drivers could set the inside of the car to the temperature they wanted.
In the 1970s, scientists discovered compounds called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) which were depleting the earth’s ozone layer. The AC refrigerant commonly used, called R12 (also Freon), were CFCs and contributed to this problem. Scientists knew that a new option needed to be developed, and after years of testing a new and safer refrigerant R-134a was introduced. In 1987, the U.S. government signed the Montreal Compact, which in part required manufacturers to make the switch to R-134a by 1996.
Today, we have the luxury of having dual and rear climate control AC installed in most cars. While we no longer worry about the impact on the ozone layer, running your AC can decrease your fuel efficiency by 25%. Some simple tips to save on fuel efficiency include the following. Using your AC only when driving at highway speeds, not idling with your AC on, and opening your windows before turning on your AC to let the hot air out.
We’ve come a long way when it comes to auto air conditioning and refrigerants, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need regular maintenance. Before it gets really hot this summer, it’s always a good idea to schedule maintenance so we can perform an AC output test to keep you cool all summer long.
As spring turns to summer, like many Minnesotans, you’re ready to get out there and enjoy one of our 10,000 + lakes. From water skiing to that leisurely evening boat ride, enjoying your summer on the lake is what we’ve been waiting for. But if you have a boat and need to tow it to your cabin or go fishing at that lake down the road, we’d like to say a collective “not so fast”. Your boat trailer needs some must-have maintenance before you can safely drive your boat to your favorite lake. If you’re not sure what maintenance checks your boat trailer needs, we’ve got you covered with our 5 must-have boat trailer maintenance checks.
Check your tires
One of the number one things you should inspect before hitting the road with your boat is your tires. Improperly inflated tires can be a real safety hazard or a headache if you get stranded by the side of the road. Tires will typically lose 1-2 pounds of air pressure per month, especially if your trailer has been sitting over the long winter. Inflate your tires to the maximum rating listed on your tires or your trailer capacity sticker – which is typically at least 60 psi. While you’re down there checking your air pressure, inspect your tires for any wear & tear, and your rims for any damage. Most manufacturers recommend trailer tire replacement every 6 years. You’ll also want to make sure your spare tire is inflated properly, and if you don’t have one yet, now is a great time to have one mounted.
Check your brakes
Most boat trailers have brakes installed for safe performance. If you don’t have brakes installed and your trailer weighs over 3,000 lbs, your trailer could swerve when using your towing vehicle brakes – which can cause an accident. If you do have brakes, you’ll want to inspect and then clean them of any dirt and debris that has built up over the winter. While you’re down there cleaning those brakes, you’ll also want to take a look at those brake pads, and inspect them for wear and tear. If you find any wear & tear, your local mechanic can replace them for you. Lastly, check your brake fluid to make sure it is filled to the proper level.
Check the boat trailer lights
Did you know that driving with faulty trailer lights can get you a hefty fine? Save yourself and your wallet the headache and check those lights before heading out. Inspect your lights for dimming, flickering, or simply lights that don’t work. Older trailers have light bulbs that burn out so if you notice any of these signs, be sure to have your mechanic replace your bulbs. While you’re at it, it’s a great idea to check your towing vehicle connection. Our winter weather can rust and corrode the metal pins causing your connection to malfunction. It’s a great idea to purchase a connection cover at any auto parts store to protect your connection in every season.
Check your wheel bearings on the boat trailer
Your wheel bearings can become rusted or corroded when exposed to moisture. Corroded wheel bearings can prevent your wheels from turning properly, cause friction, and a possible accident. Since your trailer has been sitting idle for a few months, inspect your wheel bearings for any corrosion and be sure to grease them for better performance. If you don’t already have one, plan on installing wheel bearing covers which can protect your wheel bearings all year long.
Check your safety chain
Your safety chain should crisscross underneath the trailer tongue and attach to your vehicle for support just in case your trailer and vehicle become unhitched. These 5 must-have checks will ensure your boat towing safety all season long. And if you discover your trailer needs some extra maintenance or replacements, our team is ready to help.
Car care is important. By following regular car care inspections, you can help save money in the long run. You may have already noticed, but spring is upon us. From warmer temperatures to blooming flowers, Minnesotans like you are getting out there and enjoying the weather. But before you get too far in planning those backyard BBQs and summer road trips, it may be a good idea to schedule your spring maintenance appointment for your car. Our long and bitterly cold winters can be tough on our cars, which is why having your mechanic take a peek under the hood is always a good idea each spring. If you’re wondering what needs to be checked, we’ve got you covered with our spring car car maintenance checklist.
Between snow, ice, & salt your tires take a beating over the winter. You’ll want to make sure your tires are properly inflated (this can be a safety hazard if they’re not) and inspect them from tread wear. While you’re down there inspecting the tread, you might as well take a look at your rims and check for any dents or damage. One last thing to check on your tires? You’ll want to take them to your mechanic to get them rotated and balanced. Checking to see if your tires are in good working order for the spring and summer will ensure safe driving and longer tire life.
Along with your tires, your suspension can take a hit during winter and early spring. From rough snow-covered roads to those pesky early-spring potholes, your suspension system may be worn out from winter. Some signs that your suspension systems need some attention include continued bouncing after hitting bumps, unusually bumpy rides, difficulty steering, and pulling to one side after turning corners. If you notice any of these signs, or it’s been a while since you’ve asked your mechanic to check your struts and/or shocks, then bringing your car into your mechanic to check your suspension is a good idea.
Winter snow hides a variety of obstacles on the road which can quickly impact your vehicle’s alignment. Bad alignment can show up in uneven and rapid tire wear, squealing tires, your steering wheel being crooked when driving straight, and pulling to one side. If you’re noticing any of these signs this spring, it’s a good idea to have your mechanic take a look.
Belts & Hoses
Our bitterly cold temperatures each winter can be damaging to your belts & hoses. They can crack and tear when exposed to the elements. Ask your mechanic to check for any wear, cracks and tears. Left unchecked, belts & hoses can tear and crack while you’re driving leaving you on the side of the road with a breakdown. In this case, it’s better to have them inspected now than paying for a tow later.
Headlights, Taillights & Turn Signals
Headlights, taillights, and turn signals can become a nighttime driving hazard after a long winter. Your headlights and taillights can form a yellowish haze which can hamper your visibility. You’ll want to have these checked and either replaced or refurbished to ensure night driving safety. While you have your mechanic checking those lights, it’s a good idea to check for and replace any burnt out lights to keep you driving safely all spring and summer long.
Interior Cabin Comfort
Your car has been locked up for several months during the winter. Spring is the perfect time to replace your cabin air filter. If your car was made after 1999, then you have one of these. The cabin air filter’s job is to keep pollen, mold, and other pollutants out and keep the interior air of your car fresh and clean. One last interior cabin tip? Ask your mechanic to run an AC output test to ensure your AC is ready to go in the heat of summer.
Fluid levels and Car Care
When was the last time you checked your fluid levels? If it’s been a while – it’s a good idea to ask your mechanic to check your coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid.
Winter weather can dull your wiper blades. Spring is the perfect time to get these replaced so you’re ready for the heavy spring and summer rains.
If you’re ready to ensure your car is spring and summer ready, then a spring maintenance check is just what the doctor ordered. Our team is ready to help. Simply make an appointment and we’ll get you back to safe driving all spring and summer long.
It seems like electric cars are everywhere recently. From TV ads to news articles, electric cars seem to be the latest up and coming option when it comes to saving money and the environment. Due to rising prices at the pump, many Minnesota drivers, like you, are looking at ways to save their budget when it comes to driving around town. While car manufacturers are promoting their latest electric car models, you might be wondering if electric cars are worth the hype or if they can really save you money. If you’ve got questions about going electric, we’ve got you covered in this article.
What are electric cars and how do they work?
Before we launch into five perks you can take advantage of by driving electric, we should start with the basics. Electric cars, also known as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), use a large battery pack to power the electric motor and run the car. These cars do not need gas, but must be plugged into a wall outlet (120V) or a charging station – also known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment. When fully charged, most cars have a driving range of about 200 miles.
If you’ve heard of electric cars, you may be wondering how hybrids compare. Hybrids, like their name indicates, use a hybrid of an electric motor and a gas engine. These cars still require a gas fill up, but due to the electric motor/gas engine combination, you’ll drive further distances on one fill up.
Perk # 1: Lower running costs
When it comes to electric cars, the first thing drivers want to know is how much money they can save by going electric. Driving an electric car can save you money at the pump, but you may be wondering if it is really worth the initial investment. On average, it costs $0.05 per mile to run an electric car vs. $0.15 per mile to run a gas-powered car. This can add up to $4,000 per year just by driving an electric car.
Perk # 2: Lower maintenance costs
Another perk of owning an electric car is lower maintenance costs. With far fewer moving parts, electric cars don’t require oil changes, new spark plugs, or new fuel filters. They are typically powered by lithium batteries which are good for 300-500 cycles and can last up to 10 years. Electric vehicles also feature regenerative braking (using the electric motor to decelerate the car) which extends the lifespan of your brake pads. Lower replacement parts and maintenance leads to more money in your pocket.
Perk # 3: Rebates and tax credits
Did you know that you can get money back with rebates and tax credits? There is a federal tax credit for electric battery vehicles depending on the battery capacity. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) also provides rebate savings for eligible vehicles.
Perk # 4: Cleaner environment
Electric cars are cleaner for the environment. Studies have shown that they are 85-90% energy efficient compared to their gas-powered counterparts which are only 17-21% energy efficient. Electric vehicles don’t have a tailpipe, and don’t emit any exhaust gasses – which reduces local air pollution from car exhaust. Overall, electric cars ensure a cleaner environment for years to come.
Perk # 5: Greater performance
Electric cars are just plain fun to drive. They boast quick acceleration while producing peak performance from a stand still. Because the battery pack is positioned in the center of the car, they have superior weight distribution and stability. These features lead to great handling and a better driving experience than gas-powered cars.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons as you consider going electric. These 5 perks can help you determine if driving an electric car is right for you.
If rising gas prices are breaking your budget, you’re not alone. Minnesota drivers are frustrated with rising gas prices, and are searching for answers on how to keep their budget intact while also getting more efficient when it comes to driving. While we can’t control the price we pay at the pump, we can take small steps that make a big difference when it comes to making our cars more fuel efficient. If you’ve been looking for some ways to make your last fill up last longer so you can drive farther, then keep reading for our best fuel saving tips.
Drive the speed limit to save on Fuel
If you like to get there faster, you may be surprised to know that slowing down helps your car become more fuel efficient. Did you know that driving at 80 MPH can use up to 25% more fuel than driving 70 MPH? For a quick money and fuel saving tip, just slow it down and enjoy the ride.
Fill up with the best fuel for your vehicle
If you’ve been assuming that the higher octane gas will make your car more fuel efficient, you may want to think again. Most experts would tell you that more expensive gas is not always more efficient. Instead, stick to the octane your car requires according to your manufacturer. If your car needs 87 octane, filling it with 89 or 91 octane won’t increase your fuel efficiency. This will simply cost more without any added benefit. Stick to what you need and keep your car running efficiently all year long.
Keep your tank ¼ full
This seems counter-intuitive, but letting your tank get below ¼ full leads to your fuel pump needing to work harder, and will decrease your fuel efficiency in the long run. Plan on keeping your tank at least ¼ full for greater efficiency while you drive.
Inspect your tires for better fuel efficiency
Your tires are not just about safety, and a smooth ride. Improperly inflated tires will decrease your fuel efficiency by 3%. While it may not seem like much, this can add up over time. We recommend checking your tire pressure every month to ensure fuel efficiency.
Check your front end alignment
If you’ve hit a big pothole or bump while driving around this spring, it’s a good idea to have your alignment checked. Poor front end alignment can decrease your gas mileage by 10%. Signs you may have poor front end alignment include pulling to one side while driving, a little extra bounce when you hit a bump, or even shaking when driving at high speeds. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to have your alignment checked by your mechanic.
Get smart about using your AC
Using your AC can weigh on your engine and decrease your fuel efficiency. This is especially true with city driving when there are a lot of stops and starts. To increase fuel efficiency, plan on opening those windows and enjoying some fresh air. On the other hand, open windows are an issue for highway driving. This can reduce your fuel efficiency by 10%. We recommend keeping these things in mind when using your AC this summer.
Lighten your load to save on Fuel
A fun fact about fuel efficiency is that the heavier your car is, the harder it will need to work. If you use your trunk or backend for storage, you may be surprised to find out that for every 100 lbs you are storing in your trunk, your fuel consumption will increase by 1-2%. Simply doing a little spring cleaning of your trunk can go a long way.
Schedule regular maintenance checks
Your car will burn up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance is not performed. Your regular maintenance check will include having most things checked by a professional mechanic including your tire pressure, front end alignment, changing your air filter, and any other issues causing your car to burn more than it needs to.
If you’re ready to get started on these best saving tips, but don’t know where to start – we can help. Our team is ready to perform your routine maintenance and check several items off this list. Simply give us a call and we’ll get you on the road to saving money at the pump in no time.
As our temperatures begin to rise, you may be ready to get out there, roll your windows down, and go for a beautiful drive. But before you hit the pavement, you’ll need to employ a little defensive driving. While spring brings warmer weather, beautiful flowers, and sunny skies, it also brings with it potholes on the road. It’s definitely best to avoid potholes as you drive around town, but you probably know from past experience that potholes can sneak up and surprise you. So, if you’ve run into a pothole this spring, we want to warn you of 4 potential problems for your car to look out for.
Tires & Wheels
You’ve done your best to avoid potholes all season when out of the blue you’ve driven right into one. The first thing to look out for after hitting that pothole is your tires & wheels. The obvious signs of damage is definitely a flat tire, but did you know that potholes can cause internal damage to your tires as well? Depending on the depth and length of that pothole, and whether your tires are inflated properly, your tires can also sustain internal damage. Look for bulges and bubbles on your tires which is a sign that the internal structure or sidewall of your tire has been damaged from the impact. Neglecting those bulges and bubbles can lead to blowouts and you being stranded by the side of the road.
While you’re down there inspecting your tires – you might as well inspect your wheels as well. Wheels are especially susceptible to a pothole run in when your tires aren’t inflated properly. Wheels can bend, crack, or break upon impact with a pothole. Since repair options are limited that typically means replacing that wheel. Whether you notice damage to your tire or wheel, it’s always best to have your mechanic inspect your damaged tires to keep you safe on the road all year long.
Suspension & Alignment issues when Hitting a Pothole
After your tires, your suspension system is vulnerable to damage when you drive over a pothole. When you run over a pothole, parts like your suspension arm and tie rod may become damaged. Also, the impact may knock your system out of alignment. Signs your alignment is not right include pulling to one side while driving, shaking when driving at high speeds, and extra bouncing after driving over that bump. It’s best to take care of this issue right away as misalignment can cause your tires to wear quickly and unevenly, which eventually causes a safety issue for your car. If you notice these signs after hitting a pothole, ask your mechanic to take a look, and inspect your suspension system.
Pothole damage to Shock Absorbers
Your shock absorbers can break on impact – making them a high priority after you’ve unexpectedly hit a pothole. Damaged shock absorbers can cause leaking oil and extra bouncing after you hit a bump while driving. One quick test for your shock absorbers is to push down hard on the front corner of your car a few times. If your car bounces a few more times after this test, it’s a good idea to have your mechanic take a peek to see if you need to replace them.
One last area to check out after hitting that pothole this spring is your exhaust system. Upon impact, your exhaust can break loose, or even bend which can cause strange noises coming from your back end. If you do notice any strange noises or you can see damage to your exhaust pipe, bring it in.
Potholes come with the territory every spring. While slowing down and driving defensively can help you avoid them, sometimes driver over that unexpected pothole is inevitable. We’re ready to help you inspect your car for any damage and get you back on the road again in no time.
Have you been asking yourself if your vehicle really needs a spring tune up? We get it. Life is busy, and for most Minnesotan families – spring is even busier. From cleaning up your yard to kids sporting activities, the average family is on the run the moment the temperature starts to climb. Let’s face it. We don’t want to slow down and do some of the basics, like take your car into the shop for a spring tune up. If you’ve been on the fence on whether your car really needs a spring maintenance check, we’ve got four reasons your car needs a tune up so keep reading.
1. Extending the life of your car with maintenance
Winter can be really hard on our vehicles. From the wear and tear from snow and salt to the bitterly cold temperatures, your car has taken a beating. Scheduling that spring maintenance check will extend the life of your car. If you intend to keep driving that vehicle for a while, there are some things that need to be checked each spring starting with the quality of your tires. When you take your car in for a spring tune up, you can get those tires and rims checked. Ask your mechanic to rotate, balance, and check for damage. You’ll also want to have them check your alignment and suspension. All of these items impact the life of your car and the safety of your family.
2. Saving money
Who doesn’t want to save money when it comes to expenses related to your vehicle? Did you know that regular maintenance checks can save on wear and tear – which in the long run saves you money on replacing parts, not to mention labor on car repairs? One little bonus: keeping your tires, alignment, and suspension in good shape can help save on gas. When you take your vehicle in for that spring maintenance check, you are providing preventative maintenance on your car – which lowers maintenance costs and puts more spending money in your pocket.
3. Ensuring safety
Safety first can be your mantra when it comes to vehicle maintenance. At your spring tune up, your mechanic will not only perform routine maintenance on your car, they can also make sure your car is safe to drive. Ask your mechanic to check your headlights, taillights, and turn signals. Our winter weather can turn your headlights and taillights yellow or hazy which can create a safety issue when it comes to night time visibility. Plan on replacing any yellow or hazy lights and replacing burnt out bulbs. One last item to ensure safety? Get your windshield wipers replaced in spring so you’re ready to see clearly out the front windshield in rain or shine.
4. Finding peace of mind by having maintenance done
Have you ever wondered what that weird noise coming from under your engine or your back end is about? Or even more importantly, is it safe for your family to drive when you hear that noise? Scheduling your spring maintenance check can give you peace of mind while you have those weird noises checked out. Your mechanic can check on how your engine is running, and if your belts or hoses have any cracks or tears from the winter months so that you avoid any side-of-the-road breakdowns this spring. Your spring maintenance check should also include topping off your fluid levels (coolant, transmission, power steering, and brake) while also replacing your cabin air filter so that you keep the allergens and pollutants out and fresh air in.
Choosing to have your vehicle checked every season is a great way to save money, extend the life of your car, and drive with confidence knowing that your family is safe and secure all year long.
Brake pedals can indicate an issue. If you have ever found your car uncontrollably shake every time you hit the brakes on a stop sign, then your rotor might be warped. Pulsating brakes is often common for drivers who utilize the brakes very often. This could be because they drive in traffic or they have an unhealthy habit of jamming the brakes.
When you see the shining object inside the rotors and you squeeze the brake for long extended period of time, your rotor will sometimes warp. This also happens when you get your rotor too hot and you run through water causing it to cool down too quick. Your rotor will sometimes warp and as it spins, the brake feels the angle of the rotor change.
The pulsating feeling that you feel while driving the car comes back through the brake line which pushes the power steering back into the cylinder. This is why you feel pulsation evidently in your brake pedal. In other words, it is like pushing fluid back through a line and your brake pedal inside fills it. You therefore feel the push back on your foot.
What to Look for when applying Brake Pedals?
When you take your wheel off, then you should notice that your disk is shiny. If you have a very bad warped rotor, you will find places in the rotor that is different in color than the rest of the rotor. You may find an area that is shiny, along with areas that are darker in shade. What you need to do is pop the rotor off and get another one.
Many shops will turn these rotors and use a special machine to smooth the surface of the rotor to get rid of the pulsation. Smoothing out the surface of the rotors ensures that the thickness is even throughout the rotors. Also make sure that your brake pads are in good condition. Worn out brake pads can also be the cause of pulsation.
If you do not make timely brake pad replacements, the brake pads lose their padding , and you get a squeaking noise when you hit your brakes. This tells you that it is time to replace your brakes. Bad brake pads will increase friction and heat on the rotor, leading to the pulsating occurrence. You may also get to the point where the caliper ends up hitting the rotor and this is why you must pay close attention.
As you can see, any occurrence or maintenance issue that leads to the increase of frictional heat to the rotor will lead to the rotor to have an uneven surface. An uneven surface of the rotor is the most common cause a surging or vibrating response when you hit the brakes. You have to really pay attention to the brakes and always have brand new brakes.
TPMS is short for tire pressure monitoring system. The system consists of small sensors that go into each of the wheels and they tell you about the pressure of each tire. This system is very important because having your tires properly inflated is vital when driving. Not having the correct pressure on your car will impact your car’s performance and also impact the fuel economy. Not only that, it will also increase the chances of a tire blow-out, and reduce your tire’s overall lifespan.
Dangers of Underinflated Tires
Under inflated tires cause about 250,000 accidents each year, and they also waste about 3.5 million gallons of gas each day. The way that TPMS works is that when there is about a 25% reduction in tire pressure, a light illuminates on the dash. The reason you do not want to rely on that is 25% reduction is very significant. It can be the cause of an unwanted accident or crash on the road.
There are wires on your tire along the sidewalls. When driving on an underinflated tire, you are bending the wires over and over again. When you do that too often, the wire will eventually weaken and break. Your underinflated tire is going to change shape and flex huge number of times at higher speeds.
If this occurs for a prolonged time, the sidewalls will get weak and you will risk the chance of a catastrophic blowout of the sidewalls. This is where you will go from tire to metal lying on the road. Thus, underinflated tires can be far more dangerous than overinflated tires.
Replacements and Maintenance when the TPMS light comes on
To check the optimum pressure limit for your tire, you can either check the driver’s manual or the side of the door jamb. This door jamb will have information of the exact PSI of your tire. Due to the Transportation recall enhancement, accountability and documentation act, all US manufacturers must install TPMS in the cars sold after September 2007.
Therefore, if your car was manufactured in 2008 or any year after that, there is a really good chance that your car already has the TPMS installed. If you have had your car for over five years, then it is best that you remove the TPMS sensor and replace it. This is because these sensors will typically last about five to ten years.
The sensor is primarily a sealed unit, and so you cannot replace the battery on them. Furthermore, the seals are also vulnerable to damages and breakage. For this reason, the best fix for a TPMS sensor is to simply replace it to a new one.
As you can see, the installation of TPMS sensor was mandated for very good reasons. If your tire loses pressure and optimum air capacity, you need to address that as fast as possible. A TPMS sensor alerts you in an instance, and this makes a quick fix to your tires possible. IN other words, these sensors can be life saving.
A snowplow refers to the blade that you mount in front of a vehicle so that you can drive across snow while moving out of the way. By doing this, you can accomplish the important task of clearing the snowy roads in the winter, making it safe for you and the other drivers on the road. When snow plow drivers drive, it is important for the rest of the drivers to take important precautions so that they do not end up getting into a fatal accident.
Driving Safe around Snowplows
It is incredibly important to leave plenty of room between you and the snowplow. This not only gives the operator courtesy and respect to do their job, it also keeps you away from possible danger. You must realize that the snow plow is clearing the route ahead so that the drivers behind can have a safer drive.
This implies that the road ahead of the snowplow is not in a good condition to drive. Therefore, driving past or around the snowplow means that you are running the risk of getting stuck in knee-deep snow, or also coming across a fatal accident. If you still wish to get around and ahead of snowplow, it is best to drive from left side of plow.
The right side of the plow is where the snow and the salts come out of. This is why driving from the left side of the plow is the better option. Instead of passing the snowplow while it is on the move, it is best to wait until the driver stops and then to go around them. Other than that, staying behind the snow plow during bad road conditions will remain the safest bet.
Snow Plow Safety
A fresh blanket of snow on the road may look very beautiful, but it does not present the winter wonderland when you driving on it. Inside the beautiful layer of snow hides a multitude of hazards that can put your life in danger. They can also cause severe damage to your vehicle and put innocent passengers and residents at incredible risk.
When you plow snow professionally, it is your responsibility to follow safe operating procedures. Regardless of the experience of a snow plow, they adhere to all safety protocols to ensure the safety of the passengers on the road.
Therefore, it is your responsibility to minimize hazards for the snow plow, and allow them to do their job without having to worry about an oncoming car. You also have to stay away from their blind spots. These areas around the truck can vary according to the size of the truck.
When driving behind a snowplow, keep in mind that if you cannot see the truck driver through their side mirrors, then they probably cannot see you too. This is a good way to judge whether you are in their blind spot.
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