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Auto Repair & Tires Blog
Before I go on a road trip, I have to clean my car. It’s a must.
I’m the kind of guy who likes a neat environment anyway, but when I know I’ll be spending several hours or even a few days in the relatively small driving compartment of my car, it’s especially important to me that the area be clean and organized.
Even beyond the satisfaction of the end result, there are a few reasons it feels good to clean your vehicle.
A clean car is safer. You don’t want all your work gear flying through the air or those extra coffee mugs rolling around the floor when you hit the brakes hard. That can be distracting and dangerous.
A clean car is more organized. It’s frustrating when you can’t find a pen in the car. Or your sunglasses. Or that repair receipt. So, use a large envelope to hold important car-related papers and store larger items in a bin that you keep in the trunk or on the floor of the back seat.
Cleaning your car provides a sense of accomplishment. Do you like the sensation that comes from checking items off your to-do list? Then washing, waxing and vacuuming your vehicle should make you feel great!
Cleaning your car is a different kind of work. If you sit at a computer all week, the physical and detailed task of caring for your car on the weekend can provide an entirely different type of satisfaction. I have a few friends who even think of car washing as relaxing and therapeutic.
A clean car is a source of pride. Not a “car person”? That's okay. You can still take pride in the work you’ve put in to maintain your vehicle, whether you’re driving down the street or giving a lift to a friend.
A clean car holds more of its value. No one wants to buy a vehicle that’s obviously seen better days. Even if you can sell or trade in your beat-up ride, you won’t make as much money as you would have if you had cleaned and detailed it regularly. Caring for your car’s appearance - as well as its mechanical well-being - is likely to pay off for you in the end.
Most of us will never rely on an emergency kit in the trunk of our car, but if one day you need to, you’ll sure be glad it's there.
A roll of duct tape - You can use it to temporarily wrap blown hoses or re-attach side mirrors and other plastic parts that break off.
A can of Fix-a-Flat - This product can quickly plug and re-inflate a flat tire, but it’s only a temporary fix, as the manufacturer notes. For a safe, permanent repair, pull into your nearest Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location as soon as possible.
You affect how far your vehicle can travel on a tank of gas.
Sure, there are factors you can’t control, such as the weight of the car, it’s body type and aerodynamics. But with minimal effort, you can improve your fuel economy.
Start with these basics: keep your tires properly inflated, limit stop-and-start driving, and take the fastest route to your destination. Then, add these…
1) Use Your Cruise Control - Continually accelerating and decelerating during a long trip burns more fuel than necessary. By keeping your speed consistent, cruise control prevents surges of higher gasoline consumption. It can boost fuel economy by as much as 14%.
2) Replace Old Spark Plugs - Worn plugs can cut fuel efficiency by a whopping 30%. The experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence suggest that bad spark plugs are usually to blame when gas mileage drops suddenly. We can fix that problem for you.
3) Shut Down Your Vehicle - This is an easy one! If you’ll be idling for more than 10 seconds, turn off your engine. According to the California Energy Commission, idling costs you about five cents per minute. That may not seem like much, but it certainly adds up over time. Shutting it down also reduces the amount of pollution your car generates.
4) Have Your Alignment Checked - When your tires aren’t perfectly pointed in the direction you’re driving, they don’t roll as easily as they should. That causes drag, which can lower your MPG by about 10%. Misalignment reduces the service life of your tires, too.
5) Cut Back on the AC - On very hot days, running your air conditioner can slice your fuel economy by 25%. So, to keep your car’s interior cool, park under a tree or in a garage, or use a sunshade. Leave your windows down until you reach highway speeds. Then, when driving faster, use your AC, but try to keep it set at a warmer temperature.
Q: How often should I have my automatic transmission fluid changed?
A: As always, we suggest checking your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. Generally, though, automatic transmission fluid should be changed every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. If you tow regularly, drive hilly or mountainous roads, or put excessive strain on your transmission any other way, have the fluid level checked frequently.
Q: Does my standard transmission require fluid?
A: Yes, it does. Typically, it should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles; more regularly if you make your transmission work harder.
Q: What happens if I don't have my transmission fluid changed?
A: Over time, metal shavings that come off your transmission are suspended in the transmission fluid. As that fluid moves in and around the unit, the shavings can wear down the other components of the transmission, shortening the system’s service life.
Q: Why is my transmission slipping out of gear?
A: Transmissions are designed to stay in a specific gear until either the driver or the vehicle’s computer shift at the appropriate times. “Slipping” can occur as a result of a low fluid level, burnt fluid, worn gears or transmissions bands (the metal that links the gears together), and other mechanical failures.
Losing power on the highway can be dangerous, so if your transmission is slipping, pull into a Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location as soon as possible.
STOP what you’re doing and think about this: what if you were driving and suddenly realized that you couldn’t stop? Despite all your efforts, your brakes just wouldn't work!
Talk about terrifying! That’s why you can never afford to ignore the signs that your brakes need repair or replacement. Like these...
A Consistent Noise - A squealing noise when you press the brake pedal doesn’t necessarily mean your brakes need attention. However, a scraping or squealing sound when you’re driving may mean your brake pads have had it.
The irritating noise is generated by wear indicators - a built-in warning system that lets you know when your pads need to be replaced. A clicking or rattling sound may indicate that the pad is loose.
A Soft Pedal - If you now need to push the brake pedal closer to the floor to stop your car, your brake fluid may be low. If the problem returns in a short amount of time, that may be a sign that your master cylinder has a leak.
Longer Stopping Distances - Over time, your brake pads and rotors will wear down, losing their ability to generate enough friction. Less friction = more time required to stop your car.
If it’s been a while since your brakes have been installed, try this: drive through an empty parking lot at a safe speed and then brake suddenly, trying to stop the vehicle as quickly as possible. If you can’t stop on a dime, it may be time for a brake inspection.
Pedal Pulse - Does your brake pedal push back against your foot in short pulses? The cause could be dirty or damaged brake pads, old discs, misaligned wheels, or worn suspension parts. Each of those problems could lead to more serious issues down the road, so if your pedal is pulsing, stop into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location so we can check into it.
It's easy to put off vehicle maintenance. Maybe you’re busy. Money could be tight. Or you might just forget.
And, sometimes, you may not even realize that part of your car needs attention.
Tires can be tricky that way. With a quick glance they can appear to be in fine condition, but to prevent costly damage down the road - and maybe even an accident - you need to look at them closer (or pull in to let us do it for you).
Don’t Believe Your Eyes - Your tires could appear to be fully inflated and still be a dozen pounds or more under the manufacturer’s recommended PSI. So, have the pressure checked with a reliable tire gauge at least once per month.
Look Around - If you only check your tires by looking at the sidewalls you may not notice wear in the middle of the tread or on the inner edge. Uneven tread wear can be caused by misaligned wheels, improper balancing, faulty suspension components and, yes, under-inflation and over-inflation.
To prolong the service life of your tires, have them rotated each time your oil is changed or every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, whichever comes first. And remember those monthly pressure checks and inspections.
You’ve probably heard how important it is to maintain proper pressure in your tires and inspect them regularly for cuts, bulges and other types of damage. But you may not have heard these three suggestions from Cooper Tire.
1) Roll Through Holes. Potholes can tear up your tires and suspension and, over time, throw your wheels out of alignment. But sometimes, steering clear of road craters isn’t safe or even possible. If you’re headed for a pothole, don’t slam on the brakes right before hitting it. Instead, slow down as you approach the hole, then release your brakes just before striking it. That allows your tire to roll through the hole easier, softening the impact. Of course, you should always consider vehicles behind you before braking unexpectedly.
2) Lighten Up. When you put too much weight in or on your vehicle, excessive heat can build up inside your tires. That can lead to sudden tire failure - a potentially fatal problem. Your tires’ maximum load rating is listed on the sidewall, in your owner’s manual and/or on the placard mounted on the door jamb. Before buying new tires, check their load-carrying capacity to make sure it’s equal to or greater than your vehicle’s original tires.
3) Care for Your Spare. Your spare tire won’t do you any good if it’s not properly inflated when you need it. So, check its pressure and condition each time you inspect your other tires. If it’s a full-size spare, it should be put into service when you rotate your tires.
With minimal effort, you can maximize the service life of your tires and make the most of your investment. If we can help with your new tires or any type of tire repair or service, let us know. There are dozens of Mountain View Tire and Auto Service locations across Southern California.
When you’re on vacation, you’d like to leave the “real world” behind for a few days, right? You don’t need worries or stress to interfere with your travels.
One way to increase the likelihood of a hassle-free trip is to plan ahead: map out your route, make hotel reservations, and buy any tickets you’ll need in advance.
And since the last thing you want during your vacation is car trouble, your planning should also include an inspection of your vehicle.
A recent study by AAA shows that cars at least a decade old are twice as likely to break down on the road and many times more likely to need a tow.
"All vehicles - even the newest ones - are prone to typical roadside headaches like dead batteries, flat tires and misplaced keys, but vehicles 10 years and older are four times more likely to encounter a problem serious enough to require a tow to a repair facility," said John Nielsen, AAA's Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.
Battery issues, cooling system trouble and tire damage are the problems that most commonly derail road trips.
Even the newest tire can pick up a nail and lose pressure; there’s no way to guard against that. But older or underinflated tires with lower tread or exposed belts are more susceptible to blowouts and they’re far more dangerous on wet roads. That’s why a tire inspection is so important prior to a family getaway. (Read "How to Survive a Tire Blowout.")
You can’t tell how much life is left in your car’s battery just by looking at it, but we can test it to determine its status. And when you pull in for an inspection, we’ll check your radiator, hoses, water pump and other components for leaks and other problems.
Peace of mind comes from preparation. So, prepare for a carefree vacation with a vehicle inspection at any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location. Schedule your online appointment or call the location nearest you.
When you leave lots of room between you and the vehicle in front of you, you’ll have more time to react to any road debris that may be in your shared lane.
Flip on your turn signal well before you apply your brakes. The driver behind you will then understand that you’re slowing down to turn, not to avoid a road hazard or other type of problem that he might have to deal with.
Like those driving tips? Here are five more from a few of our store managers.
1) Braking Good. “To gradually slow your car, apply the brake pedal and release it; then apply and release again as necessary. By starting to stop sooner and following the apply-and-release method, you’ll allow your brake system to cool, which will reduce squeaks and brake pedal pulsation, and help your brake pads live longer.” - Jim Mellin / Mountain View Tire Palm Desert Monterey
2) Drive Right. “Don't travel in the left lane unless you’re passing another vehicle, moving left to allow traffic to merge, preparing for a left turn, or passing an official vehicle or broken-down vehicle on the side of the road.” - Bryan Buenger / Mountain View Tire Camarillo (Pictured at left)
3) Be Prepared. “When going on a trip, plan ahead. Have a safety inspection performed on your vehicle. Also, get familiar with your route and have a second option. You may even want to take a paper map or road atlas in case your phone battery dies or you can’t access GPS.” - Mike Bakalian / Mountain View Tire Granada Hills
4) Keep Cool. “The fastest way to cool your car is to immediately open your windows. The outside temperature will be lower than the temp in your car. After you’ve driven for a few minutes, turn on your A/C, making sure it’s on the ‘recycle’ setting.” - Jim Mellin / Mountain View Tire Palm Desert Monterey
5) Check It. “Start your day smart with a quick vehicle walk-around. Many warning signs are easy to see and fix when they’re caught early, including potential tire trouble. A simple inspection every day can keep you on schedule and put safety first.” - Bryan Buenger / Mountain View Tire Camarillo
MVP stands for Maximum Vehicle Performance. When you pull into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service store in Southern California, our car care experts can provide this exclusive service for you free of charge.
The MVP Check includes four steps.
1) We'll look for brake drag. It's a problem that has many causes, including corroded calipers, broken springs, an aging master cylinder, and frozen emergency brake cables. They can all result in brakes that don't fully disengage once you take your foot off the pedal. That “dragging” of the brake shoe can lead to lower gas mileage, as well as premature brake wear.
2) We'll check your tire pressure. Tires can lose two pounds of pressure per month even when there's nothing technically wrong with them. If just one of your tires is underinflated by 10 pounds per square inch, your fuel economy will be cut by about 3.3%. If all four tires are each 10 pounds low, your MPG could easily drop by 10% or more.
3) We'll inspect your air filter. A dirty air filter can rob you of horsepower and, according to some sources, as much as 10% of your gas mileage. Over a year, that could cost you hundreds of dollars in wasted gasoline. That's a whole lot more than the price of a new filter.
4) We'll check your wheel alignment. Whenever your wheels and tires aren't perfectly parallel with each other and perpendicular to the road, your vehicle has to work harder than it should to move forward. It uses more fuel in the process, too. Improperly aligned wheels also shorten your tires' service life.
Yes, there are other considerations that affect your vehicle’s performance and how much gas it uses, from the weight and design of your car, to the speed you drive, even weather and road conditions. But, after your free MVP Check at Mountain View Tire and Auto Service, you'll have the most up-to-date information about four of the controllable factors that impact fuel economy and performance.
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