Spring Car Maintenance Madness Rules – HT Auto Care

ht autoAs we head into Spring of 2014, the impending warmer days are welcomed as well as the feeling of rushing around! Before you know it, March Madness is upon us and life is in full swing.

Today it takes talent, planning and a measure of luck to balance home, career and life. An essential element in keeping that juggling act going is having reliable transportation. Losing a car for even half a day would be disastrous for many people. It is never a good time to discover a problem with you vehicle. However with a little planning, it is possible to prevent some common problems.

If you think your vehicle has a problem, trust your instincts. Have a professional check it out. Ignoring problems in life does not make them go away and the same is true for your vehicle.

A few good rules to follow:

  • Red warning lights mean pull over.
  • Yellow warning lights mean get the car checked out as soon as possible.

Engine overheating is the number one cause of engine failure; any overheating is bad and should be checked before it gets worse. If the temperature gauge goes all the way to the top pull over and get it towed. If your car starts smoking for some reason never open the hood, wait until it stops smoking and never take a radiator cap off a hot vehicle. The cap is under pressure and could burst hot coolant fluid on you if opened while it’s hot.

What do you do when your vehicle won’t start?

The most common reason is a dead battery. Car batteries are not too dissimilar to cell phone batteries. Phone batteries weaken over time and the length of charge lessens as time goes on. The average life of a car battery is 3 ½ to 5 years. Once your vehicle is about 4 years old have a shop test the battery. Ironically, a new battery is just about as expensive as a tow!

Check your vehicle’s oil level. Every owner’s manual states to check the oil level every time gas up. Most people don’t do that nor have the time to check it that often. The message here is to check from time to time, especially for older vehicles. What you need to look at is the proper level of oil on the indicator on the oil stick and if the oil.

The second leading cause of engine failure is lack of oil. With newer vehicles that have extended oil drain intervals (anything over 3000 miles) checking is more important than ever. I can’t tell you how many newer cars have come into the shop with the low oil pressure warning indicator on way before the oil change was due.

If your vehicle has any oil leaks they need to be addressed. Not only for the longevity of your engine but for the longevity of the planet. Check you tire pressure once a month as directed by the owner’s manual.

The changing weather, especially cold weather, affects tire pressure. Improper pressure will shorten the life of your tires, lessen fuel mileage and lessen the comfort of your drive! Inflate tires to the pressure listed on the door jamb of your vehicle. Not the maximum pressure number found on the tire.

Only use “liquid flat tire repair in a can” products when you are in a desperate situation. If you have to drive on a flat tire, it is likely that rim will damage the tire beyond repair and will need to be replaced. Take care if attempting to change a tire on the side of the road. Pedestrians have been struck, be careful.

To save time and money we recommend:

  • Keep a set of jumper cables, a tire pressure gauge and your owner’s man- ual in your vehicle.
  • Know how to change a flat tire.
  • Check your oil regularly and keep a spare quart in your vehicle.

If you would like to know how to properly jump start a car, check air pres- sure or check your vehicles oil level, stop by one of the shops. Valuable lessons await you.

Safe driving!

– Matt O’Donnell, Co-Owner HT Auto Care and Grease Monkey, Sterling, VA

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