Do you want to know more about what happens when you get your car serviced? Here are some of the main tasks a mechanic performs during a tune-up.
Change the filters
Your vehicle is equipped with oil, fuel, air, and cabin air filters. Their primary function is to prevent contaminants from damaging components in the engine or other vehicle systems. During a tune-up, your mechanic will check the various filters and replace them if needed.
Replace the fluids
The fluids in your car, including the engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid, are essential. In fact, they’re responsible for keeping your car running smoothly. It’s important to change these fluids at regular intervals to prevent potential breakdowns and damage to the engine.
Service the parts
Your car’s ignition system is made up of a variety of electrical components that are susceptible to wear and tear. Issues with the ignition parts can result in the engine misfiring or not starting at all. During a tune-up, your mechanic will check to see whether the spark plugs, ignition wires, and ignition coils are in good condition or need to be replaced.
Check the diagnostics
When an issue occurs with the engine, your vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) system stores a repair code that can only be read by a specialized scanner. During a tune-up, your mechanic will scan the OBD system for repair codes in order to address potential engine problems.
To sum up, scheduled maintenance helps ensure that your car runs smoothly and may prevent unexpected breakdowns and the need for costly repairs.
At-home charging options for your EV
Every year, more charging stations are added along major highways and in other high-traffic areas across the country. However, when it comes to everyday use, the most convenient and inexpensive option is to charge your plug-in hybrid or electric car at home using one of these three power sources.
1. A 110/120-volt wall socket
Most electric vehicles come with a charging cable that can be plugged into a regular three-prong 110/120-volt household socket. This will supply your car with about five miles of range for every hour of charging time, making it the slowest option. However, an overnight charge generally provides enough power for a daily commute. Just make sure nothing else is plugged into the same circuit.
2. A 240-volt appliance socket
Another option is to charge your electric car using the same type of 240-volt socket you used to run a dryer or other heavy-duty appliance. Referred to as level two charging, this method usually provides about 20 miles of range per hour, which significantly cuts down on charging time. If you don’t have a 240-volt socket in your garage, you’ll need to hire an electrician to install one and possibly upgrade your breaker panel.
3. A 240-volt charging station
You can also purchase a home charging station that operates at 240 volts. These units are typically wall-mounted and can include smart features that allow you to power up remotely and view data on your usage. To ensure the station is safely installed, you’ll need to hire a licensed electrician. Fortunately, many governments offer rebates for the purchase and/or installation of home charging stations.
Always consult the owner’s manual for your electric vehicle before plugging it into an unfamiliar power source.
What the check-engine light really means
It can be nerve-racking to see the check-engine light flick onto your dashboard. However, it’s important that you remain calm. Here’s what you should know.
What it indicates
The check-engine light connects to your vehicle’s diagnostic system, which is an onboard computer that monitors vehicle performance and automatically repairs issues. If it encounters a problem it’s unable to fix, the diagnostic system turns on the engine-shaped orange or yellow light. This indicates that you need to get your car professionally serviced.
What you should do
If your check-engine light comes on, there’s no need to panic or call a tow truck. It rarely signals an urgent problem such as a complete engine failure. Rather, in most cases, the check-engine light is merely warning you of an impending issue.
When you see it come on, you should make an appointment to have your car serviced as soon as possible. A qualified mechanic will be able to tell you what the problem is and perform the necessary repairs.
4 essential car care tips
April is National Car Care Month, which makes it a perfect time to highlight the importance of keeping your ride in top shape. Here are four tips for taking care of your car.
1. Wash it regularly
Washing and waxing your car helps prevent the body and paint from getting damaged by corrosive debris such as road salt. Additionally, keeping your windshield, windows, mirrors, and lights spotless improves how well you can see while driving.
2. Clean the interior
It doesn’t take long for dust, dirt, and crumbs to collect inside your car. In addition to causing odors, contaminants can lead to bacteria growth and compromise the air quality in your car’s cabin. Keep the interior of your vehicle tidy by regularly vacuuming the seats and carpets, wiping down surfaces with a disinfectant cloth, and replacing the cabin air filter as needed.
3. Keep up with routine care
To prevent breakdowns, make sure to get your car regularly serviced. Refer to the user’s manual to determine the recommended maintenance schedule for your type of car. Even better, find a reliable mechanic who can suggest a maintenance timeline after inspecting and servicing your vehicle.
4. Look out for problems
Is your car making weird noises? Does it handle differently? Or maybe a dashboard warning light has come on? Addressing issues right away, even if they seem minor, can help you avoid costly repairs and keep you safe on the road.
Last but not least, make sure to practice safe driving to protect your car as well as yourself, your passengers and other road users.
The pros and cons of manual cars
Although less common than they used to be, manual-transmission cars, with their gearboxes and clutch pedals, remain popular among a passionate subset of drivers. If you’re thinking about joining the club, here are the pros and cons of driving a stick.
What are the perks?
Manual cars have several notable advantages over their automatic counterparts, including the following:
• Greater control. A manual car will provide you with full power over accelerating and braking. This isn’t the case with an automatic, as the torque converter constantly propels the vehicle forward.
• Simpler maintenance. Manual transmissions are less complex than automatic transmissions. As a result, they generally require less frequent servicing and are cheaper to repair.
• Improved gas mileage. Having more control over your engine allows you to optimize fuel economy. An efficient driver of a stick shift can improve their gas mileage by as much as 15 percent.
• Lower price. Except for high-end sports cars, stick shifts usually cost less than their automatic counterparts.
What are the drawbacks?
There are also some potential downsides to opting for a stick shift:
• Steeper learning curve. It takes some initial instruction and practice to be able to drive a manual car. Drivers can expect to stall, jerk and face other obstacles when just starting out.
• Greater demands on your attention. Driving a stick requires more focus and an ability to multitask. In addition, it can be tedious if you’re frequently in stop-and-go traffic, as you’ll constantly have to shift gears.
• Smaller selection. Stick shifts are harder to come by than automatics, with only 13 percent of new cars sold in North America offering a manual-transmission option.
Do you think you’d enjoy driving a stick? If so, consider taking a few driving lessons. You’ll be able to learn the basics and see whether it suits you.
5 tips for maintaining your idle car
Even if you don’t regularly drive your car, it’s important to attend to its upkeep. Here are five tips for maintaining your vehicle while it sits idle.
1. Charge the battery
The electrical systems in today’s cars continue to draw on the battery even when the engine is off. To ensure that your battery doesn’t suddenly die, let your car run for at least five minutes every two or three weeks. It’s best if you actually drive the car, so take it for a spin around the block. Alternatively, you can invest in a battery maintainer.
2. Change the oil
Continue to change your oil at the recommended time intervals. Oil deteriorates over time, regardless of whether you drive your car regularly.
3. Fill up the gas
A full tank of gas prevents harmful condensation from building up in the tank. It also keeps the gaskets and seals from getting dry and brittle. You may also want to consider adding a fuel stabilizer to prevent the gas from breaking down.
4. Look after the tires
If a car remains parked in the same spot for too long, the tires can develop flat spots. It’s therefore important to move your car periodically, even if it’s just a couple of feet. Also, before operating a car that has been idle for a while, always check the air in the tires using a tire pressure gauge.
5. Wash the exterior
To protect your car’s paint job and prevent rusting, regularly wash away the dirt and debris that builds up over time. Alternatively, consider investing in a quality car cover.
Finally, you should continue to have your car professionally serviced according to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. This will help ensure that your car is road-ready when you next get behind the wheel.
8 ways to stay focused on the road
In the United States, about 3,000 people die every year in crashes that involve a distracted driver. While cell phone use is the leading cause of these accidents, any activity that takes your attention away from the road can have disastrous consequences. For Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which takes place every year in April, here are some steps you can take to avoid being distracted while you drive.
1. Plan your route in advance. Program your GPS beforehand and turn up the volume, so you don’t have to look at the screen for directions.
2. Get ready before you leave. You shouldn’t be straightening your tie, checking your teeth, or fixing your hair and makeup once you’re on the road.
3. Eat before or after your trip. It might be convenient, but snacking on the road splits your focus and prevents you from keeping both hands on the wheel.
4. Make yourself comfortable. Adjust the mirrors, seat, sound system, and climate controls before you leave, so you don’t have to fiddle with them later.
5. Secure animals in the back. Pets should be harnessed or put in a crate to keep them safe and ensure they don’t block your view or bump into the steering wheel.
6. Put your phone on silent. If you don’t hear any notifications, you’ll be less tempted to check your phone. Place it out of reach for good measure.
7. Store your bags securely. This will prevent them from falling over. If items do end up rolling around on the floor, don’t reach for them while you’re driving.
8. Pullover to help your kids. Reaching into the backseat to retrieve a toy or open a snack can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
To prevent car accidents, you need to remain alert. By following these precautions, you’ll help keep yourself, your passengers, and other road users safe.