Auto Repair & Tires Blog
Is there a new driver in your family? Or maybe you've been behind the wheel for years but would like to feel safer on the road. If so, consider sharing these tips and applying them yourself.
1) Signal before you stop. You already know to use your turn signal before turning or changing lanes, but many people don’t know to signal well before they apply their brakes. A turn signal communicates your intentions to other drivers. When the driver behind you sees your turn signal before your brake lights, he won’t have to guess why you’re stopping or if you’re slowing down to steer clear of road debris that he, too, will need to avoid.
Also, signaling a few seconds before changing lanes gives other drivers enough time to react to your lane change and, if necessary, sound their horn to warn you that they’re nearby.
2) Stay right. Being forced to follow slower drivers who linger in the left lane is one of the most frustrating aspects of driving. California law states, “To drive faster, pass, or turn left, use the left lane. When you choose to drive slowly or enter or turn off the road, use the right lane.”
3) Don't tailgate. It can be stressful for the driver in front of you if you’re following her car too closely. It also puts both of you at risk for a dangerous and/or expensive accident. And if you’re the driver who was tailgating, you will be held responsible for all damages.
4) Keep it quiet. When backing out of a parking space blindly, turn off any music in your vehicle. You need to be able to hear the warnings of car horns and pedestrian voices. You should also keep your music volume low while driving through parking lots, school zones, busy intersections and in any other situation when hearing well will keep you and others safer.
5) Be patient. Don't pull into traffic if doing so will make oncoming drivers apply their brakes to accommodate you. Waiting your turn will lower your risk of an accident and keep traffic flowing. It may keep your fellow drivers from expressing road rage in your direction, too.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests vehicles to determine their crashworthiness - how well they protect occupants in a crash - and crash avoidance - how well the vehicle’s technology helps you avoid a crash or protects you and your passengers from injury.
The IIHS website features a Vehicle Ratings section that gives each new model a rating in the following categories:
• Side impact test results
Accessing the information is easy. Just visit www.iihs.org/ratings/ and enter the make and model of the vehicle you’re considering. (Once you start typing, a drop-down menu will populate, making it easy to find a specific car, truck or SUV.)
And if you're considering a pre-owned vehicle, drive it to the nearest Mountain View Tire location. We'll be happy to inspect it before you buy it.
1) How to recover from a skid. It can be scary to lose control of your vehicle, but try to keep cool. If you start to skid on a wet road, don't slam on the brakes. And if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes (ABS), don't pump them. Instead, apply firm pressure to the brake pedal and steer the car in the direction of the skid.
2) How to recover from hydroplaning. When the water on the road is relatively deep or the tread on your tires is shallow, your vehicle may actually lose contact with the pavement. When you're riding on the water - or hydroplaning - you won't have control of your car. Again, don't be quick to brake. Instead, pull your foot off the gas and steer the car where you want it to go, while gently applying the brakes. If you have a manual transmission, you can also push in the clutch to slow down the car.
3) Slow down. Driving at highway speeds is dangerous enough in dry weather. When you add rainwater to the oil and grime already on the road, you get a slippery combination. Reducing your speed keeps more of each tire on the road, which improves traction.
4) Keep a safe distance. On a wet road, you need about three times the distance to come to a complete stop. So keep at least two-and-a-half car lengths between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
5) Take care of your tires. Keep them properly inflated, and check the tread depth at least once a month. Inspect your tires for damage and signs of uneven or premature wear, and have them rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. (Make an online appointment here.)
It's true that batteries can last four to five years, but most of today's vehicles are loaded with electronic features that can drain a battery quickly – and even shorten its service life – if the battery isn't cared for properly.
So, to keep your battery fully charged, keep these tips in mind.
1) Don't idle for long periods. If you're waiting for your spouse in the grocery store parking lot, shut off the engine. It takes less gas to start up the car again than to let it run. Another benefit: you'll put less carbon monoxide into the air.
2) Don't let your car sit without driving it for more than a week. Those electronic goodies - keyless entry systems, anti-theft systems, etc. - draw a pretty good amount of power from the battery 'round the clock. If you don't drive the car regularly, you won't give the alternator a chance to re-charge the battery.
3) Don't leave any lights on when the engine's not running. Your vehicle may shut down its own interior lights a few moments after you turn off the engine; just make sure all your doors are completely shut or the lights will stay on all night and drain your battery.
By the way, a weak battery (or malfunctioning alternator) doesn't just reduce the likelihood of your car starting in the morning. It can cause the engine to misfire or stall. The ABS and airbag warning lights might come on unnecessarily, or the turn signals may not work properly.
If you need help with your battery or if it's time for a new one, pull into any Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location.
Maybe your friend doesn’t have enough time during the day to pull his vehicle into a shop.
Or you might know of a family member who feels completely overwhelmed by the idea of talking with an automotive pro about technical vehicle maintenance issues.
Or it could be an elderly neighbor who doesn’t have the money to take her car in for service or repairs. As a result, she’s sacrificing her safety every time she drives.
If any of those scenarios sound familiar, consider giving the gift of car care this holiday season.
You may think that’s an unusual present, but it’s the kind of gift that could mean a lot to the recipient. It might relieve your loved one of a lot of stress.
Offer to bring your friend’s car into the shop for her and cover the costs of any necessary service or repairs, or wrap up a Mountain View Tire gift certificate for your relative. They’re available at any of our Southern California locations.
We hope you have a very merry Christmas and a new year filled with safe travels.
Have your tires rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. By regularly changing their position on your vehicle, you’ll help your tires wear more evenly, which will prevent the need for premature replacement. (Here’s your coupon for a free tire rotation and pressure check.)
Check your tire pressure once a month. Ideally, you’d use a high-quality gauge to check the pressure when your car has been parked for at least three hours. Testing “cold” tires gives you a more accurate reading, but you can always pull into any Mountain View location and we’ll check your tire pressure for you free of charge.
Keep an eye on your tread depth. Driving on balding tires is like running on ice: neither one is likely to end well for you. The deeper your tread, the more effectively your tires can funnel water and grip the road. Once the tread reaches a depth of 2/32nds of an inch, it’s time for a new set of tires.
Don’t rely on TPMS as a replacement for pressure checks. Your vehicle’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System is a nice feature, but by the time that warning light pops on, one or more of your tires could be as much as 25% underinflated. By that point, your tires could be irreversibly damaged.
We can help you with tire rotations, TPMS repair, tread and pressure checks, and every other related service. Make an online appointment or pull into one of our dozens of Southern California locations. We're open seven days a week.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and the rest of the holiday season can be hectic enough. There's no need to add car trouble to what can be the season's long to-do list and frantic pace.
So, especially if you'll be traveling to see family or friends over these next few weeks, take some time now to have your vehicle inspected for potential problems. It makes sense to have any nagging issues fixed, too, so they don't leave you stranded and ruin your holiday plans.
A Quick Checklist
1) Oil Change - Having your oil and filter changed as often as the vehicle's manufacturer recommends is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to extend the life of your engine. (Check our Coupons page to save on your next oil change.)
2) Radiator Flush - New coolant and - if necessary - a new radiator hose will keep your engine from overheating. Flushing the old coolant regularly also prevents corrosion build-up and helps your cooling system components last longer.
3) Brake Inspection - There's not a more important system in your vehicle than the brakes. So, if the pedal feels soft or you hear squeaks or other unusual sounds when slowing or stopping, have your brakes checked as soon as possible, and definitely before you leave for a long trip. (Save $25 on brake work with this coupon.)
4) Tire Pressure Check - This is another quick, easy step that makes driving safer and saves you money. Have your tire pressure checked at least once a month. Properly inflated tires allow for better handling and fuel economy, and reduce the chance of a blowout.
We'll be glad to provide all those services for you, as well as any other repair or maintenance your vehicle may need. Stop in any day of the week or make your online appointment.
Did you know that roughly 200 types of raw materials are used to make a single tire?
Many new tires must pass several months’ worth of testing and inspection before a vehicle maker will agree to use the tires as original equipment.
And all tires are put through a battery of quality and safety checks before they make it to market. They’re cut apart, x-rayed, road tested and run on test wheels, all to make sure they’re safe, provide a smooth ride and deliver a long service life.
Our thanks to the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association for that information. They also provided the video on how tires are made. It’s an interesting process. Check it out.
There are lots of car parts that need to be replaced now and then: filters, belts, hoses and those little metal and ceramic things that play a key role in the ignition process: spark plugs.
“Spark plugs are one of the hardest working parts of a vehicle,” said Rich White, Executive Director of the Car Care Council. Each plug “can fire 400 times per minute per cylinder or 1,600 times a minute on a four-cylinder engine.”
But despite the constant strain spark plugs are under while a vehicle is running, White says many drivers don’t replace them as often as necessary, even after they’ve failed. “This is a mistake since fouled, damaged or worn out spark plugs can lead to engine damage, reduced fuel efficiency and poor performance.”
Plugs in older cars should be changed every 20,000 to 40,000 miles, while the spark plugs made for newer vehicles can last between 60,000 and 100,000 miles.
If you notice any of these problems, pull into your nearest Mountain View Tire and Auto Service location.
Stubborn starts - Engine not turning over as quickly as it should? The problem could be worn plugs.
Filling up too frequently - There can be many reasons for poor fuel economy, from under-inflated tires and a dirty air filter to speeding and jackrabbit starts, but old spark plugs also contribute to lower MPGs.
A sluggish feel - If your plugs aren’t firing as frequently as they should, you’ll know it when you try to accelerate. Your car may not respond as quickly as it normally would.
Too much noise - Those rattling, pinging or knocking sounds you’ve been hearing from under the hood lately? Yep - probably bad spark plugs.
The good news: replacing spark plugs is one of the more affordable types of maintenance you can have performed on your vehicle. And when you consider that new plugs can improve your gas mileage and prevent engine damage, it’s a type of service you shouldn’t put off.
Give us a call or stop in if we can help.
Dirty, weather-worn tires are to your car as a pair of beat-up old shoes is to your wardrobe.
So, if keeping your vehicle looking good is important to you, treat your tires to a little TLC now and then. It’s pretty easy.
1) Limit sun exposure - Sure, that big ball of gas we call the sun is 93 million miles away, but it’s close enough to beat the life out of your tires over time. Consider that when parking. Look for shady spots or, if you pull into the same lot every day, change the direction your car faces to limit your tires’ exposure.
2) Give your tires a bath - All it takes is water, a washcloth and some dish soap. You don’t need anything fancier than that. In fact, other cleaners may contain chemicals that can break down a tire’s compounds.
3) Make ‘em shine - There are plenty of products you can buy to give your tires that showroom appearance. Just check the label first to make sure they’re not petroleum-based. Those can damage the rubber and cause premature cracking.
4) Store them properly - If they’ll be off your vehicle for a while, store your tires in a cool, dry space out of direct sunlight. When possible, cover them to provide even more protection. Read our post “Tips on Storing Your Tires.”
5) Keep them properly inflated - Of course, if the tread on your tires is too low their appearance won’t matter at all. So, to extend their life, always keep your tires properly inflated and have them rotated every 6,000 miles to spread the wear evenly over all four tires. Pull into any Mountain View location for a free pressure check and find our coupon for a free rotation here.
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