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Do You Really Need to Change the Transmission Fluid?

 The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for many automatic transmissions doesn’t call for fresh fluid until 100,000 miles or, with some Ford transmissions, even 150,000 miles. A lot of mechanics say that is too long and it should be done at least every 50,000 miles. Manual transmissions may be on a different schedule, so it’s best to consult the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual.

Like other vital automotive fluids, transmission fluid deteriorates over time. Hard use — such as frequent stop-and-go city driving, hauling heavy loads, trailer towing — will accelerate the deterioration. That kind of driving raises the operating temperature of the transmission, and heat puts more strain on the transmission and the fluid, which helps facilitate gear shifts, cools the transmission and lubricates moving parts.

If you do a lot of driving under high-stress conditions, you should check the transmission level more often and have a repair shop check the condition of the fluid. Transmission fluid often is red but can come in other colors, and as it deteriorates it tends to turn darker. It may also acquire a burned odor that could indicate it needs to

Is Cheap Gas Bad for Your Car?

 Gasoline is expensive and you’re looking for every way possible to save money at the pump. You already shy away from premium fuel, knowing that your car doesn’t require it. You’d like to save a few pennies per gallon more by going to an off-brand gas station. But you can’t get rid of the nagging fear: Is the cheap gas going to damage your car’s engine?

Edmunds.com put this question to experts in several fields, including an automotive engineer at a major carmaker, gasoline manufacturers and two engineers with the American Automobile Association (AAA). It boils down to this: You can stop worrying about cheap gas. You’re unlikely to hurt your car by using it.

Because of the advances in engine technology, a car’s onboard computer is able to adjust for the inevitable variations in fuel, so most drivers won’t notice a drop off in performance between different brands of fuel, from the most additive-rich gas sold by the major brands to the bare-bones stuff at your corner quickie mart.

Still, spending a few extra pennies per gallon might provide peace of mind to someone who just

How Old and Dangerous Are Your Tires?

 More recently, an investigation into the cause of the accident that killed the actor Paul Walker revealed that the Porsche Carrera GT in which he was riding had nine-year-old tires. The California Highway Patrol noted that the tires’ age might have compromised their drivability and handling characteristics, according to the Los Angeles Times.

These incidents illustrate not only the potential danger of buying used tires but also the perils of driving on aging tires — including those that have never spent a day on the road.

For years, people have relied on a tire’s tread depth to determine its condition. But the rubber compounds in a tire deteriorate with time, regardless of the condition of the tread. An old tire poses a safety hazard.

For some people, old tires might never be an issue. If you drive a typical number of miles, somewhere around 12,000-15,000 miles annually, a tire’s tread will wear out in three to four years, long before the rubber compound does. But if you only drive 6,000 miles a year, or have a car that you only drive on weekends, aging tires could be

3 Things That Can Wait Until You Are Done Driving

We live in a do-it-now society

Remember when phones were connected by a cord? When you needed to call someone, you waited until you got home. Or perhaps you had those family vacations where dad drove all day and you stopped for a picnic lunch and for supper in a roadside diner.

Not anymore. We live in a do-it-now society. When you think of something, you do it. We have access to a variety of very convenient things that allow us to multitask. It’s not always bad. But the temptation is to multitask when driving.

Here are four things that you shouldn’t do while driving. Wait until the vehicle is stopped before you do these things

Calls: Increasingly, laws are being passed to ban handheld mobile devices while driving. This is a good idea. Our attention is diverted and so is one hand while driving. Wait until you stop the vehicle before making or taking a call

Eating: Who needs a side-of-the-road picnic anymore when you have fast food that is carefully wrapped and ready to eat? Unfortunately, we end up more focused on our burger and cola (and perhaps finding that dropped pickle)

What to Do After a Collision

Statistically, nearly everyone will be involved in some form of collision in their lifetime. Thankfully, most accidents that occur are minor and involve minimal injuries and auto body repair. Getting into a vehicle accident can be an overwhelming experience. However, having vehicle insurance in place, protect you from repair expenses to your vehicle and may cover you in case of injury.

If you get into a vehicle collision, there are a few things that can be done post-collision to ensure your safety and minimize stress during the insurance claim process and to ensure a seamless collision repair experience.

Move Your Vehicle

At the time of the collision; most drivers feel that it’s best to leave the vehicle where the accident took place. However, if it’s safe to do so, the vehicle should be moved out of the flow of traffic, as this can help avoid further collisions (by pulling onto a shoulder or side street). Be sure to turn off your vehicle as soon after the collision as possible to prevent further danger from potential leaking fluids which can be combustible. Be sure to turn your hazard lights on to warn drivers of the collision

5 Tips for Driving at Dusk

The Challenges of Driving At Dusk

One time of day we don’t think about is dusk. Unfortunately, dusk is a very difficult time to drive. Here are five top tips to drive at dusk:

1. Be aware of the quickly changing light conditions. One moment might be extremely sunny so we are forced to wear sunglasses, but within moments, the sun can darken and our sunglasses end up doing more harm than good. If we don’t have sunglasses, be aware that the rapidly changing light conditions can be very difficult on our eyes (which have a hard time adjusting to those fast-changing conditions). There isn’t a lot you can do about it but awareness helps.

2. Be aware of the setting sun. Have you ever had momentary blindness after a camera has flashed? The same thing can happen if we look into the sun while. This can happen if we are driving west during sunset or if we are driving east (and see the sun reflected in our mirrors). If possible, use your vehicle’s shades and adjust the mirrors. Consider pulling over to the side of the road to wait for sun to set, or

Top Reasons to be a Safer Driver

There Is A Disconnect Between What We Say and What We Do

Not because we are necessarily hypocritical by nature, but when we are behind the wheel, we might be in a hurry and therefore have an “incentive” to rush and make riskier driving decisions.

One of the ways that you can be a safer driver, is to provide an incentive to be a safer driver. This needs to be greater than the incentive to rush when we get behind the wheel.

How can we create a stronger incentive?

Here’s one:

Take out your wallet. Now pull out the pictures of your spouse and your children. Before you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, think about them. Consider how your safe decisions behind the wheel right now will ensure that…

  • You get to see them today
  • You get to see the joy on their faces when you drive them to play sports
  • You get to continue to provide for them by going to work
  • You get to go on family vacations with them

Now consider the opposite… the “cost” of making unsafe driving choices…

  • You may become hurt or killed and therefore

How to Preparing for Winter Driving

Be Prepared!

  • Pack the appropriate gear in your vehicle (like survival gear for longer trips and salt or sand plus a shovel for in the city). If you never need it, great. But the one time you do need it will make it worthwhile.
  • Winter driving requires extra time. Plan to leave an extra 15 or 20 minutes earlier whenever you drive. You’ll need a couple of minutes to brush the snow off the car and the roads will require a little extra care when navigating.
  • Be extra careful at intersections. Intersections are extremely dangerous in the winter! Leading up to the intersection, the roads become polished from constant braking so they can be extra slippery. As well, snow banks can block your vision… and keep other drivers from seeing the stop sign! Brake early when approaching an intersection, assume that other drivers aren’t going to be able to stop on time, and edge out slowly when snow banks keep you from seeing clearly around corners.
  • Remember that it is slippery out! This might be a “no brainer” to you, but even the most careful drivers need to remember that other drivers are less careful. Therefore, even if you are

Five Ideas for an End-of-Summer Road Trip

Here are a few tips to enjoy one last end-of-summer weekend road trip

These iseas won’t break the bank or require that you burn up any more vacation time, but will put the finishing touches on a great summer.

• The explorer. Get out the map and sit down with your travel partner and find a place that is a three to six hour drive away… but it must be a place that neither of you have ever been to. Call ahead to locate a place to stay. On Saturday morning, head out on your trip and discover an entirely new place! Return home Sunday morning but take a different route.

• The scavenger hunt. This is a day-long in-town road trip! You and your travel partner each write out a secret list of 20 or more things you might see around town and put each item on a separate 3×5 card. (Some ideas include: a pond, a cathedral gargoyle, a sequence of street address numbers, a cell phone tower, a mailbox of a specific color, etc.). On your “road trip”, the driver pulls a card from the secret list created by the passenger and

Tips to Organize a Local Car Show

Tips for Organzing Local Car Show

• Decide on a theme. Do you want a classic car show? Do you want a motorcycle show instead? Do you want an antique car show? Or maybe just a general car show that auto enthusiasts of any type can participate in?

• Gauge interest. Talk to potential participants to see if they are interested in taking part. Check a calendar of local events to make sure that there aren’t other car shows at the same time.

• Choose a charity or local cause to raise money. You’ll also need to decide how to raise support — will you charge admission? Will you hold a raffle? Will you take donations? Remember, it doesn’t have to be financial support; your local food bank will probably welcome donations of canned goods.

• Find a good location. Your location should be central to the area you hope to draw a crowd from. Talk to the owner of a restaurant, ice cream shop, or coffee shop; they might welcome a car show in their parking lot if it will draw crowds to their establishment.

• Start advertising! You’ll need to advertise

Tips to Stay Safe While Driving in Winter

So how do you drive more safely in the winter? Here are some top tips to help

  • Keep a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. In the summer, your vehicle might be able to stop on a dime but in the winter, your vehicle takes much longer to stop as ice and snow reduce the friction of pavement. It gets even worse around intersections. By maintaining a greater stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, you give yourself room to stop if the road is icy
  • Ease out at every intersection. All intersections get icy in the winter. In many jurisdictions, snow plows push snow onto the corners to clear it off the roads. So visibility is dramatically reduced. Slowly ease out of each corner and listen for vehicles as you go
  • When you hit an icy patch, steer into the skid. This is one of those lessons that every Canadian is taught but it’s so easy and instinctive to forget. When driving (and especially when turning) your back tires can start to slide around to one side or the other. When this happens, turn into the skid to correct
  • Carry a snow shovel

Tips to Cleaning Your Car

For many vehicle owners the task of washing a car by hand is therapeutic and an act of pride. Many owners take great pride in the appearance of their vehicles, which in-turn may extend the lifespan of their vehicle. By washing a vehicle frequently it maintains the new-car finish for a longer period of time. While washing a vehicle may seem like a simple task, vacuum, wash with soap and rinse it off, it’s best to start from the inside and work your way out. The following are some tips so that you don’t accidentally scratch or ruin the finish of your vehicle.

Interior

Be sure to give your carpets and upholstery a good vacuuming to remove as much dirt and debris as possible. If you want to clean the carpets more aggressively, you can scrub them with a stiff brush (but don’t scrub too hard, because it could damage the carpet) then give the carpet one final vacuum.

Before you start wiping the interior of your vehicle, it’s important to do a patch test of cleaners first to ensure that your vehicle’s interior doesn’t react poorly to the cleaners that you will be using. Start

Five Tips for Fall Car Care Month

Why not take a little time to be car care aware and make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh winter weather ahead? Taking a few simple steps now can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later, says the Car Care Council.

 Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends five proactive steps to make sure your car is ready for winter driving.

  1. Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it’s wise to check the battery and charging system. Because batteries don’t always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.
  2. Heater, Defrosters and Wiper Blades – Check that the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly as heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting. Fall is also a great time to check your air filters. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don’t properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should

Time to Change Your Vehicle’s Cabin Air Filter

Before winter sets in is a good time to check your cabin air filter, after it’s been working hard all spring, summer and fall. Cabin air filters clean the incoming air and remove allergens, and according to the Car Care Council, should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, or per the owner’s manual.

The cabin air filter helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle’s air conditioning and heating and ventilation systems. The filter also prevents leaves, bugs and other debris from entering the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.

A dirty or clogged cabin air filter can cause musty odors in the vehicle and cause contaminants to become so concentrated in the cabin that passengers actually breathe in more fumes and particles when riding in the car compared to walking down the street. A restricted cabin air filter can also impair airflow in the HVAC system, possibly causing interior heating and cooling problems, important for staying comfortable this winter. Over time, the heater and air conditioner may also become damaged by corrosion.

Most filters are accessible through an access panel in the HVAC housing, which may be

7 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

9 Steps 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

4 Easy 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 steps from the non-profit Car Care Council.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Recycle or properly dispose motor oil, tires, batteries, fluids and other vehicle components to help protect the planet when performing vehicle maintenance or repairs.
  1. 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

Tips to Protect Your Car’s Interior

Try 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.

Six Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Owning a car can be a dream or a nightmare depending on how well you take care of your vehicle, says the non-profit Car Care Council. The following are six things that many motorists do that can harm their car and their wallet.

  1. Ignoring the check engine light.Ignoring an illuminated check engine light can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy.
  1. Failing to change fluids and filters. Many fluids are required for the operation and protection of vehicle systems and components. Checking fluid levels regularly, along with the filters, helps ensure that your vehicle runs dependably and extends vehicle life.
  1. Neglecting your tires. Your vehicle’s tires should be checked frequently for inflation and tread depth. Underinflated tires can wear out more quickly, needing to be replaced sooner, and can negatively impact safety, gas mileage and performance.
  1. Not following a service schedule.Because many car parts and components wear out or become damaged over time, vehicles need to be routinely serviced in order to perform optimally. Routine inspections and timely repairs will

Tips to Properly Check and Fill Tires

While it may seem like a mundane task, inflating tires is much more crucial to your car than you may think, and it results in a safer and more economical experience on the road. Your vehicle’s handling also will be greatly improved as the larger a tire’s inflated footprint, the more responsive and comfier the ride balance will be.

Because it’s National Tire Safety Week, it’s the perfect time to check your car’s tires.

Before starting

To find your tires’ proper inflation level, look for a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. It displays the vehicle weight restriction and tire information. The info is also found in the maintenance or car-care section of your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Don’t refer to the sidewall markings on your tires, which in part specify the maximum tire pressure — not the recommended pressure.

Unless your tire is visibly flat, don’t judge tire inflation just by looking at it; you have to use a tire pressure gauge to get the correct pounds per square inch reading. There are three types of tire-pressure gauges: digital, internal slide and dial. Prices range from $5 for a basic gauge to more than