We’ve all had car problems before! Just when you least expect it, you see that check engine light come on and your heart drops. Although some issues may require you to take your vehicle into for service, a lot of the issues can be handled yourself and save you a lot of money! Here are some tips to help fix issues you may be having with your vehicle.
Changing Your Coolant
Your car’s coolant won’t last forever. You should roughly expect to change it after 24,000 miles if you use green coolant and 100,000 miles if you use extended-life coolant. Although it doesn’t have to be replaced that often, keeping an eye on it can save you a lot of money because if you do drive on worn coolant, it can begin to affect your radiator, heater core, and water pump.
Changing Your Oil
Ever needed to replace your engine? Probably not. If you want it to stay that way, then I suggest you pay attention to your oil level. If you neglect to change your oil, it can begin to overheat your engine, wear out the parts, and eventually lead to it completely breaking down and not working anymore.
Changing Your Cabin Air Filter
No one likes a cold car in the winter! If your heat isn’t getting as warm as it should, it could be due to a clogged air filter, which reduces the effectiveness of your heat. You should expect to replace your cabin air filter at least once a year to make sure your cars A/C system and heating are working efficiently.
Cleaning Your Headlights
It’s important to be able to see while driving at night and foggy headlights could lead to you not being able to drive well. For a small price, you can buy a special headlight cleaning kit instead of getting your headlights completely changed.
Cleaning Your Battery Terminals
As time goes on, your battery begins to wear and could be corroding in the process. Checking from time to time on your battery to make sure there is no corrosion can help you out in the long run, as a corroded battery can also lead to computer-control system issues as well as charging problems.
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How to Tell If Your Battery Is Dead
Before you try jump starting a car, you need to determine that the battery is the reason the car isn’t starting up. If you turn the ignition and hear the engine cranking, a dead battery isn’t your problem and jump starting it won’t do a darn thing. However, if you turn the key and the car does absolutely nothing, then there’s a good chance you have a dead battery on your hands and jumping it may be your ticket to getting back on the road. Whether you left the lights on or it’s that the battery is just old, sometimes even the most reliable cars won’t start.
With a little planning, though, you can be prepared if you ever need to give your battery a charge.
Using Jumper Cables
DO NOT TOUCH the metal clamps to any metal other than as described below. Doing so could cause an electric shock.
Before you hit the road, make sure you have jumper cables in your emergency car kit. Once someone has arrived with a working car that you can use to charge your dead battery, try the following steps:
- Park the front of the two cars close together but make sure they don’t touch.
- Make sure both cars are turned off.
- Connect the positive jumper cable (usually red) to the positive terminal (usually marked with a plus sign) on the “dead” battery.
- Connect the other end of the positive cable (+) to the positive battery terminal on the vehicle with the “good” battery.
- Connect the negative cable (usually black) to the negative terminal on the vehicle with the “good” battery.
- Connect the other end of the negative cable (-) to some large metallic part of your car’s engine block.
NEVER connect it to the negative (-) post of the “dead” battery as it will cause sparks.
- Check that the cables are not near any moving engine parts.
- Start the “booster” vehicle and let the engine idle for a few minutes.
- Start the vehicle with the “dead” battery.
- Remove the cables in reverse order (negative from “dead” battery, negative from “live” battery, positive from “live” battery, positive from “dead” battery)
Make sure to keep the jumped car running for at least 30 minutes to give the battery sufficient time to recharge.
If you are not comfortable performing any of these steps, call a professional for assistance.
Call Roadside Assistance
Many auto insurers now offer roadside assistance plans for their customers, which often provide help with common situations, such as breakdowns, flat tires and dead batteries. It can be a relief to know professional help is just a call away (or click, as some providers offer apps as well) if your car won’t start. If you don’t have this service, you may want to consider adding it to your auto insurance coverage or purchasing a roadside assistance service plan.
After your car is running again, remember that a jump is meant to restart the disabled vehicle, not to recharge the battery. It may be a good idea to put the jumped battery on a battery charger, which you can buy at an automotive store, as soon as possible to help ensure that it’s charged to full capacity.
If you’re unsure about the long-term health of your battery, consult a mechanic or a professional at an automotive store for advice.
When outside temperatures reach 80-100 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in direct sunlight can quickly climb to between 130 to 172 degrees, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, there are a few simple, easy steps that you can take to keep your car cool this summer.
From maximizing your air conditioning to finding a shady spot when parking, the following tips can help you maintain a cooler vehicle on those hot and humid days.
Sun shades: Sun shades help block the direct rays coming into your vehicle, keeping the temperature slightly lower.
Tinted windows: A more expensive, yet constant way to block the sun is with window tinting. Make sure you know your state’s laws, as some have restrictions on how much or which windows you can tint.
Covered parking: Looking for a shady spot or parking your car so the sun is hitting the rear window instead of the windshield, helping keep the steering wheel and front seats slightly cooler.
Keep Your Car’s Seats Cooler
Beware of leather seats in summer! You may want to cover them with towels or use cloth seat covers to help keep them cooler during the summer, or even purchase cooling gel covers or pads.
If it’s in your budget, you might also buy a vehicle with air-conditioned seats, which circulate cool air around your backside.
Typically, this works by utilizing a porous mesh on the car seat so air can flow through it. Fans inside the seat produce air circulation, which is diffused to spread the cooling effect throughout the seat and through the mesh, cooling the seat’s surface.
Take Advantage of Air Conditioning
To maximize your car’s cooling ability, turn the air conditioner on full blast as soon as you start driving and lower your back windows for 10 to 20 seconds. helps push hot air out as the cool air comes out of the vents.
While there may not be a regular interval at which your air conditioning system should be professionally checked, but you may want to get it inspected if the air coming out of the vents doesn’t feel as cold as you remember. If the air coming out doesn’t feel cold, you may need your local auto body repair shop to top off the refrigerant to recharge your system.
Never Leave a Pet in the Car
It is very dangerous and even lethal to leave an animal in a parked car for any amount of time. According to Michael Dix DVM,
“Never leave your pet in a parked car when the outside temperature is above 70 degrees. Not even with the windows partway down, not even in the shade, not even for a quick errand. Dogs and cats can’t sweat like humans, so they pant to lower their body temperature. If they’re inside a car, recycling very hot air, panting gives no relief, and heat stroke can happen quickly.”
While you can’t change the weather, you can prepare your car for the hottest months of the year. Remember these tips this summer and enjoy a cooler car.
Summer’s here and everyone’s hitting the road to travel. The last thing you want on your trip is to break down on the side of the road and be left stranded. Keep these safety essentials in your car this summer to avoid any mishaps on the side of the road.
- Spare Tire – A flat tire can ruin anyone’s day. Most cars come with a spare donut that can be driven on for only 70 miles, just enough to hopefully get you to a repair shop. Be sure that your car is always equipped with a fully inflated donut or spare tire.
- Portable Car Battery Charger – A dead car battery can quickly turn any trip into a disaster if you don’t have jumper cables and another vehicle. Portable battery chargers are a great alternative – most are small and inexpensive.
- Warning Devices – Whether you use road flares or bright orange traffic cones, make sure you can alert oncoming drivers about your stopped vehicle.
- First Aid Kit – Always be prepared. Make sure that this kit includes the essentials, like bandages, gauze, and sunscreen.
- Portable Phone Charger – Many of us rely on our cell phones to be a GPS or to call for help. Keep a portable battery in your car in case your car isn’t able to charge your phone.
- Water – In the summer, temperatures in a car can hit record limits. These hot temperatures can increase your risk of dehydration. Be sure to stay hydrated, even if the water is a bit warm.
Extreme heat in summer takes its toll on everything, including your car. Here are some tips and general information to help protect and extend your car’s health.
- Tire Pressure: Check your car’s tires’ pressure at least once a month; they lose between 1-2 psi for every 10 degrees of change in temperature. Make sure you check your vehicle’s sticker for the optimal psi: over-inflated, under-inflated or worn down tire can be very dangerous to your car and your safety.
- Stored Cars: Check your fluids, especially if your car spent the winter months stored in a garage or wasn’t frequently used. Leaks are common in the winter, so make sure you look at your coolant, transmission, differential, power steering and brake fluid.
- Battery Cleaning: While winter’s cold air is known for killing car batteries, it is the heat of summer that truly takes its toll on batteries. Ensure it has a long-lasting life by keeping it clean.
- Air Conditioning: If your A/C can’t maintain temperature 10 degrees cooler then the outside air, something is wrong. Take it into a professional autobody shop right away.