How To Know If The Radiator Is Leaking

au3When the temperature gauge on your dashboard reads high or a temperature warning light comes on, you have a cooling system problem that may be caused by a leak — be it in the radiator itself or some other component.
First, make sure it’s coolant that’s leaking, not another fluid. (Coolant is often referred to as antifreeze, but technically coolant is a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water.) You can easily check the coolant level in your see-through overflow tank. If it’s empty or low, the next step should be to check the coolant level in the radiator, but that should be done only when the engine is cool.
Once you know you’re losing coolant, the radiator is a good place to start. Some radiator leaks will be easy to spot — such as a puddle underneath the radiator — but others not so much. It’s best to check the radiator from every angle, not just from above, and pay particular attention to seams and the bottom. Corrosion inside the radiator or holes from road debris also can cause leaks.
Antifreeze comes in different colors — green, yellow and pinkish-red, for example — feels like slimy water and usually has a sweet smell. If you can’t see coolant dripping or seeping, look for rust, tracks or stains on the radiator. Those are telltale signs of where it has leaked.
If the radiator appears to be OK, the cooling system offers several possibilities for leaks, including the hoses from the radiator to the engine, the radiator cap, water pump, engine block, thermostat, overflow tank, heat exchanger (a small radiator that circulates hot coolant into the dashboard for cabin heating) and others. A blown gasket between the cylinder head and engine block is another possibility, allowing coolant inside the combustion chambers — a problem that must be addressed immediately by a mechanic.
If you can’t find a leak, have it checked by a professional. Coolant has a way of escaping only under pressure when the car is running — possibly in the form of steam, which may not leave a trace.

Information About Tires for Wear and Tear

au2It only takes a penny to see if your tires are worn or losing tread. Examining your tires for wear and tear, along with checking tire pressure and alignment, are essential to ensuring your vehicle’s safety on the road and helping to improve gas mileage and performance. The non-profit Car Care Council recommends that motorists be car care aware and check tire condition and pressure regularly.

“The penny test is a simple, yet effective, way to check tire tread. If you see Lincoln’s head above the tread, you are ready for new tires,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Tires are critical to a vehicle’s handling and traction, and maintaining proper pressure is vitally important to vehicle safety. Underinflated tires are under stress and will wear unevenly, causing them to need to be replaced sooner. Routinely checking tire balance and wheel alignment reduces tire wear, improves handling, and increases fuel economy.”

According to the Car Care Council’s popular Car Care Guide, vehicle owners should check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, on a monthly basis and more often during colder weather. In addition, the tread should be checked for uneven or irregular wear as well as cuts or bruises along sidewalls. Tires should be inflated to recommended pressure levels, rotated every 6,000 miles to promote uniform tire wear and be replaced if worn or damaged.

If the vehicle shakes or pulls to one side, it could be a sign of an alignment issue. Because uneven or accelerated tire wear may indicate an alignment problem, it’s a good idea to have the alignment checked at least once a year. Wheel balance can change as a result of normal tire wear and unbalanced wheels can cause rapid wear of shock absorbers and struts.

Tips to Protect Your Car’s Interior

au1Try to add up the hours you spend in your car. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Commutes, errand runs and road trips can have you sitting in those bucket seats for hours on end, and during that time, you and your passengers are actually living in the interior. That means smudges on the windows, scratches on the dash and food in the seat crevices accumulate and leave you wondering what happened to the spotless interior you swear it had when you first bought the car.

A Quick Clean
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to keep a car’s cabin from looking a little too, well, lived in. First things first, get something to stuff your trash into. Just use a plastic bag or a container you don’t use around the house and throw it in the backseat. You can even affix a temporary hook to the door or seat to keep things even neater. Every once and awhile, take it out and relish in the fact that you haven’t spent an hour cleaning up. Keeping trash off the floor also preserves your carpets, which can get stained from any number of items.
The idea of taking a rag to your dash and leather seats is made easier if you have them on-hand. The key here is to just use a little bit of soapy water to wipe the surfaces of your car – some cleaning products contain alcohols that prematurely dry and age the materials by reducing the flexibility in the vinyl. Store a small spray bottle of your homemade cleaning fluid and a rag under your seat or in a storage bin for access when you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school or sitting in that crazy-long drive-through line. This will also come in handy when an emergency spill happens. Lastly, keep your car smelling like roses (or at least a laundromat) by adding dryer sheets under the seats.

Weather Resistant
You can’t discount the impact weather has on your vehicle either. In summer, sandy feet can quickly make a mess of an interior, and dare we mention the destruction caused by mud and snow? If you spend a lot of time ducking in and out of the elements, you might want to grab some all-weather floor mats. They’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the muck in one place.
The sun’s rays can also wreak havoc on your car’s surfaces, causing vinyl to crack over time and materials to fade. A simple solution is to regularly put a sunshade on the windshield. They’re inexpensive and help to keep your interior looking new.
Saving money on repair work and cleaning comes more easily when you take the time to make preventative care a priority. Not only will these tricks make your car a nicer place to be, keeping grime out of your ride will cut down on large maintenance costs in the future and will help to retain its value over time.

Information About How Often Do You Need to Change Brake Fluid

The recommended intervals for changing brake fluid are all over the board depending on the manufacturer, from as often as every two years to never. Really.
For example, Chevrolet says to change the brake fluid on most models every 45,000 miles, but Honda says to do it every three years regardless of the vehicle’s mileage. Three years is also the recommended interval for most Volkswagens, but Mercedes-Benz vehicles typically call for fresh fluid every two years or 20,000 miles.
In contrast, on the Ford Escape, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Camry and other models from those manufacturers, there are no recommendations for replacing the brake fluid, only instructions to inspect it periodically.
This leaves it up to the owner to consult what the manufacturer says in their car’s maintenance schedule and rely on the advice of a trusted repair shop.
Brake fluid lives in a sealed system and can survive for years, but moisture from the surrounding air can work its way in through hoses and other parts of the brake system. Water in the brake lines lowers the boiling point of the fluid, so stopping ability can diminish in hard stops as heat in the system increases. In addition, over time the moisture can cause internal corrosion in the brake lines, calipers, the master cylinder and other components.
Flushing and replacing brake fluid might cost $100 or less on many vehicles, but replacing rusted brake lines and other parts can run several hundreds of dollars, so clearly there’s value in keeping up with maintenance.
As a rule of thumb, it’s wise to have the brake fluid inspected and perhaps tested for moisture content every few years and no more than every five if you live in a high-humidity area.
You might be able to tell it’s time for a change by looking to see if the fluid is still fresh. Brake fluid is often light brown in color, but in some vehicles it’s clear (at least when new) and will darken with age, becoming murky from water contamination. A better way is to have it tested by a professional for moisture and see what they recommend.
Brake fluid is as vital to stopping a vehicle as engine oil is to keeping it going, but it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves

More Information About How Often Should Tires Be Balanced

Smooth driving is a balancing act that requires getting the wheels and tires to rotate at high speeds without vibrations. That’s not a slam dunk; a dirty little secret about wheels and tires is that they usually aren’t perfectly round, even when brand new. What’s more, their weight often isn’t evenly distributed, so they’re heavier in some spots than others.
Either issue can cause annoying vibrations. Out-of-balance tires can also cause rapid tire or suspension wear, so it’s not just about ride comfort.
That is why when new tires are mounted on wheels they’re spin-balanced to detect vibrations. Some vibrations can be eliminated by rotating the tire on the wheel so the heavy or “high” spot is in a different location that better matches up with the wheel. Small weights are attached to the wheels with adhesives or clips to counteract the heavy spots and provide a smooth ride. Over time, though, the weights can fall off. If that happens to a front wheel, you may feel vibrations through the steering wheel that typically become more pronounced as vehicle speed increases.
Many tire dealers include free lifetime rotation and balancing with new tires (something you should ask about before buying). Tire rotation is when the vehicle’s tires are removed and reattached at a different position to ensure they wear evenly, which should be done every 5,000 to 7,500 miles on most vehicles, or according to the automaker’s recommendation.
Many consumers neglect the balancing part and have their tires rotated only periodically. If balancing was included with the tires, it would be wise to remind the shop to check the balance at the same time. Even if balancing costs extra, it’s a good idea to have it checked at least every two years, or more often in areas where roads are not well-maintained.
Vibrations can also be caused by a bent wheel, a damaged tire (which won’t be fixed by balancing), worn suspension parts or worn wheel bearings, so balancing the wheels and tires may not eliminate all vibrations.
Tires and wheels are balanced before being attached to the vehicle by spinning them on a balancing machine that identifies heavier or stiffer spots that cause vibrations. Some tire dealers and repair shops use “road force” balancing machines that simulate the weight and forces applied to tires and wheels during driving conditions. They say this method provides more accurate and detailed readings that allow more precise balancing

Tips Remove a Sticker From Your Car

Stickers on cars can symbolize just about anything under the sun. They can show support for a certain political candidate, identify you as a proud parent of an honor student or the fact that you just love that one special dog breed. Others are required by local laws, like city stickers. Some even come attached to your new car straight from the dealer.

But political campaigns and straight A’s end at some point, and those city stickers need to be replaced every year.

While removing stickers isn’t as easy as putting them on, we have some advice that should make the job a little less sticky.

What you need:

Hair dryer with hot air settings
Razor blade or a box cutter (if removing from glass)
Sturdy plastic card — could be a library card, credit card, frequent shopper card or ID
Two clean rags or detailing towels
Glass cleaning solution (if removing from glass)
Tree sap remover solution
Quick detailing spray

What to do:

1. Ensure that the sticker and the surrounding area are free of dirt. Doing this removal process works best after a car wash.

2. Plug in the hair dryer, turn the heat setting to hot and hold the hair dryer just a few inches above the sticker. Do not place the hair dryer directly on top of the sticker and the car’s paint.

3. Keep the hair dryer over the center area for a few seconds, making sure the air coming out is hot and then slowly begin to move it around the rest of the sticker. You want to heat the edges of the sticker last so you can prep for the next step.

4. After you’ve let the sticker heat up, use the plastic card at an angle to gently scrape up under the sticker. You can also try using your fingertips. If the surface area is hot enough, you will be able to slide the card under the sticker’s edge and begin to peel it away.
Repeating steps 2-3 a few more times may make a cumbersome presidential campaign sticker that’s been on your bumper since the last time your party won easier to remove. You can also try moving the plastic card or razor blade back and forth while you slide it under the sticker’s surface.
If you’re removing a sticker from your car’s glass, use the box cutter or razor blade at a slight angle. Do not use a box cutter or razor blade on your car’s paint; it will cause damage. On glass you will be able to apply a bit heavier pressure, if needed, to remove the sticker.

5. Continue to push the plastic card — or razor blade — underneath the sticker until it completely breaks away from the car’s surface. It is completely normal for the sticker to break apart during this removal process.

6. Once the sticker is removed, you can repeat steps 1-4 to remove any sticky residue or remnants. Tree sap remover also works great. Just apply a few drops onto a clean rag or detailing cloth and scrub away. If there’s sticky residue on your car’s glass, use the razor blade to gently scrape it away.

7. When that part of the car is completely clear of any sticker and its residue, polish it off with some glass cleaner or quick detailing spray

Some Tips for Safe Halloween Driving

Halloween is one of the most anticipated times of the year for young children. To help keep trick-or-treaters as safe as possible, the Car Care Council reminds motorists to drive slowly, especially through neighborhoods, to be extra careful when entering or exiting driveways or alleyways, and to be car care aware by making sure their vehicle’s brakes, lights and wipers are working properly.

1. Brakes

A vehicle’s brake system is the most critical safety item on a vehicle, but brakes wear out and eventually need replacement. Several factors that affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material. Never put off routine brake inspections or any needed repairs, such as letting the brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point, which can be potentially dangerous and lead to more costly repairs.

2. Windshield Wipers & Fluid

A dirty windshield may look spooky but does not help to see children crossing the street. If the weather turns, cracked or torn wipers will also pose a problem to visibility.

3. Vehicle Lights

Check that all your lights are working for maximum performance and visibility on Halloween. This year, the end of Daylight Saving Time isn’t until Nov. 3, which means that children will be out at dusk trick-or-treating. Driving at dusk is difficult because although the sky is still bright, objects on the road can merge with shadows and fade into darkness.

4. Street Safety

Parents and adults should remind their little ghosts and goblins to get out of cars on the curb side and not the traffic side, to stop at all corners and to use crosswalks. Children should look left, right and left again before crossing, stay on sidewalks, avoid crossing through yards and wear bright, reflective and flame retardant clothing.

“We can all help keep young pedestrians safe on Halloween by checking our vehicle’s safety items, reminding children of basic safety rules and taking extra precautions when driving through neighborhoods,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Tips For a Winter Ready Car

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

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

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

– If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done before winter sets in. Winter magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.
– Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries.
– Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. As a general rule of thumb, this should be done every two years.
– Make sure heaters, defrosters and wipers work properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.
– Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly.
– Have the brakes checked. The braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
– Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.
– Check to see that exterior and interior lights work and headlights are properly aimed.
– Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil can spell trouble in winter. Consider changing to “winter weight” oil if you live in a cold climate. Have your technician check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

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

Know More About Seven Signs Your Brakes Need to be Inspected

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

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

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

1. Noise: screeching, grinding or clicking noises when applying the brakes.
2. Pulling: vehicle pulls to one side while braking.
3. Low Pedal:brake pedal nearly touches the floor before engaging.
4. Hard Pedal: must apply extreme pressure to the pedal before brakes engage.
5. Grabbing: brakes grab at the slightest touch to the pedal.
6. Vibration: brake pedal vibrates or pulses, even under normal braking conditions.
7. Light: brake light is illuminated on your vehicle’s dashboard.

Brakes are a normal wear item on any vehicle and they will eventually need to be replaced. Factors that can affect brake wear include driving habits, operating conditions, vehicle type and the quality of the brake lining material.

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

Know More About Multiply Gas Savings with Vehicle Maintenance

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

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

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

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

– Engine Performance: Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
– Tire Pressure: Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.
– Motor Oil: Improve gas mileage by 1 to 2 percent by using the grade of motor oil recommended by the manufacturer.
– Air Filters: Replacing clogged air filters on older vehicles can improve fuel economy and will improve performance and acceleration on all vehicles.
– Gas Cap: Damaged, loose or missing gas caps allow gas to vaporize into the air.
– Fix It: Addressing a serious maintenance problem, like a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent, according to www.fueleconomy.gov.

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

Tips To Make Sure Your Car is Ready if Disaster Hits

Would your car be ready if you had to leave at a moment’s notice? If you were stranded in your car, would you be prepared? During National Preparedness Month in September, the non-profit Car Care Council is reminding drivers of the importance of regular maintenance and do-it-yourself checks, as well as a stocked emergency kit.

“Emergencies and natural disasters come in a variety of forms, and you don’t always have time to prepare,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “It is important and gives you peace of mind to know that your vehicle is always ready for the task.”

The Car Care Council recommends checking the following to make sure your car is ready for the unexpected:

Tire Tread- compareTire Tread: Tire tread helps your car grip the road. Having low tire tread is especially dangerous when driving in wet, flood-like, snowy or icy conditions. Check your tread easily with a penny.

Tire pressure: Pressure that is too low or too high can affect gas mileage, tread wear and vehicle performance. Check your tires once a month when they are still cold, using the PSI (pounds per square inch) number located on the driver door or in the owner’s manual.

Fluids Check: Check your car’s fluids once a month or take a peek when you fill the gas tank. Top off fluids, such as your oil and coolant, and visit a technician if you suspect a leak.

Belts: A broken engine belt can literally stop you in your tracks. Look for signs of excessive wear or looseness.

Battery Test By A TechnicianBrakes: Your vehicle’s brakes are very important for safety; make sure they are ready in any condition. Have your brakes inspected by a technician once a year, and be aware of any signs of brake trouble, including noise, pulling and vibration while braking.

Battery: Even in a non-emergency, it is stressful when your car does not start. Extreme temperatures, such as summer and winter, can wear the battery. A technician can test that the battery is charging at the correct rate. If your battery is three years or older, it may need to be replaced.

Emergency Kit: A vehicle emergency kit should include jumper cables, a road atlas, first-aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, water, non-perishable food and blankets.

Simple Ways to Go Green with Your Car

Looking for ways to become more environmentally friendly with your car? Motorists can help protect the environment by following four simple ways from the non-profit Car Care Council.

– Follow a vehicle service schedule including steps like checking engine performance, keeping tires properly inflated, replacing air filters regularly, changing oil regularly and checking your gas cap. Routine maintenance helps reduce emissions and fuel consumption, saving money at the pump.
– Keep your current vehicle longer and limit the number of new cars you buy over the course of a lifetime. Extending vehicle life is as simple as taking care of your vehicle properly. You’ll gain years of reliable service without monthly car payments and higher insurance rates.Recycle oil MM
– Recycle or properly dispose motor oil, tires, batteries, fluids and other vehicle components to help protect the planet when performing vehicle maintenance or repairs.
– Repower your engine when faced with serious engine trouble. A remanufactured/rebuilt engine can give your vehicle new life and make it more fuel efficient for about the cost of an average down payment on a new car.

“Being car care aware and performing basic vehicle maintenance go a long way toward protecting the environment and improving fuel economy,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The Car Care Council’s free customized service schedule and email reminder service makes it easy to stay on schedule and keep your car running efficiently.”