Why Trust Your Vehicle to a Certified Technician?

We depend on our vehicles for much of our daily necessities, whether it’s getting to work, taking kids to school, grocery shopping, or going out to dinner. Since we rely so much on our transportation, it is really important that we trust the professionals who take care of our vehicles. You need to not only count on your vehicle’s performance, but also on its ability to keep you safe on the road. Because you need to have the utmost confidence in the experience, capability, and professionalism of your auto service provider, it is a good idea to always choose a certified technician to do your vehicle service and repair.

Trust Your Vehicle to a Certified Technician

Photo credit: Jimmy Nilsson Masth / Unsplash

How Does a Mechanic Become Certified Technician? 

An independent non-profit organization called the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), has established standards to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying automotive professionals. In addition to passing an ASE Certification test, certified technicians must have completed two years of on the job training or one year of on the job training and a two-year degree in automotive repair to qualify for certification.

According to ASE.com the tests for certification are rigorous. Only two out of every three mechanics pass on their first attempt. To remain ASE certified, technicians must recertify every five years to keep up with advancing automotive technology. 

What Advantages are there to Choosing a Certified Technician?

This biggest advantage you gain with a certified technician is confidence in knowing that your service provider knows how to service or repair your specific vehicle make and model. ASE technicians receive comprehensive training on parts used in a diverse range of makes and models. Some technicians also earn original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certifications to perform repairs on globally recognized vehicle brands. These OEM certifications assure that a technician has not only been trained to repair specific makes and models, but they are also tested and evaluated.

In addition to up-to-date training, certified technicians understand and use the latest technologies when servicing your vehicle. Shops that use the most advanced technologies will complete your services and repairs with speed and precision.

Another advantage of using certified technicians is their commitment to best practices. Since certification standards must be met, certified auto body technicians develop and implement car repair best practices to keep their shops accountable. Your work will be done by a professional who cares about you and your vehicle. Technicians work hard to achieve and maintain their credentials, and they do so to provide you with confidence in their abilities and satisfaction with their work.

Don’t put off repair or essential service because you are not sure where to take your car. Choose an ASE Certified Technician with confidence.

Seven Ways to Prepare Your Vehicle For Winter

November is here and winter is upon us. As you brace yourself for dropping temperatures and snow falls, don’t forget that your vehicle needs to be prepared for winter, too. Wondering how to prepare your vehicle for winter? Think about preventative maintenance and consider stowing items in your car so you’ll be prepared for emergencies.

Preparing your car for winter

Photo credit: Julian Faist / Unsplash

Here are seven important vehicle maintenance and winter preparation items you should take care of to be sure that your car is ready for the cold weather:

  1. Check your oil: If your car is due for an oil change, consider refilling it with a lower viscosity oil, which does a better job of handling extreme temperatures. The lower the viscosity, the thinner it is, and the more it will retain its fluidity in cold temperatures.
  2. Top off your antifreeze: When was the last time you checked or refilled your antifreeze? If it’s been a while, now is definitely the time to take care of it.
  3. Check your wiper fluid and condition of your wipers: Clear visibility is essential to your safety on the road. Ample wiper fluid and good wiper blades will help keep your windshield clear.
  4. Get a wash and wax: Your vehicle will be subjected to a lot of abuse from ice, snow, and salt. Head into the winter months with a little extra protection.
  5. Gather emergency items: Preparing your car for a winter season includes packing some emergency items in your trunk/back seat. Items include: an ice scraper, blanket, first-aid kit, extra clothes, flashlight, jumper cables, and anything else you think you might need in case of emergency. 
  6. Monitor tire pressure: Even the slightest temperature changes can impact tire pressure. Make sure to check the optimal tire pressure on the label of the driver’s side door frame or in your owner’s manual.
  7. Think about new tires: Especially in adverse conditions, car tires are one of the only things keeping you from a major spin out, collision, and other roadside disasters. Chances are if you’ve been thinking about getting new ones, you probably need them.

Before holiday season activities and obligations fill up your schedule, take care of these winter car care items. You will be prepared when the winter weather arrives in full force.

Don’t Let Old Tires Sneak Up On You

What is the most frightening thing about the photo below? You might say it is the eerie red exhaust or the strange illuminated masks. Actually, it is the fact that these unfortunate souls are driving a car with OLD TIRES! Driving on old tires is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Read on to find out why.

Scary Halloween Driving on Old Tires

Why Old Tires Are Scary

Old tires may not show any obvious signs of deterioration. While they may appear to be safe, usable tires, cracks can develop both on the inside and the outside of the tire. Since the rubber compounds used in tires degrade over time, cracks will develop in the rubber, regardless of mileage and wear. Ultimately, this cracking leads to the steel belts in the tread separating from the rest of the tire.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association reports that putting an expiration date on a tire can be difficult since factors such as heat, driving, and storage conditions can greatly impact the usable life of a tire. The recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is to refer to the guidelines set by the specific tire manufacturer when it comes to tire aging and usable life.

Finding Out How Old Your Tires Are

Not unsure how old your tires are? In the United States, the Department of Transportation requires tires to have a DOT code. With this code, you can learn details about the tire, including its age.

Tire Code DOT Showing Date of Manufacture

This Edmonds video breaks down how to interpret that code, including when your tires were manufactured:

Pay Attention to Tire Condition

Regularly looking at your tire tread means you’ll be more likely to notice wear trends before excessive damage can occur. Issues can be identified by visual inspection or by running your hand over the tread and feeling for problematic areas. 

Keeping your tires inflated to the correct level is an important part of tire maintenance that will extend tire life, as is regularly scheduled tire maintenance, including wheel alignment and tire rotation.

If your tires are damaged, old, worn or otherwise compromised, don’t risk the dangers of a blowout or a wreck! Buy new tires as soon as possible!

October is Fall Car Care Month

Fall Car Care Month is the perfect time to make sure that your car is ready for winter and current on all maintenance and repair needs. Basic auto service and repairs can go a long way in improving the safety and dependability of your car. 

Fall Car Care Vehicle On Lift

Does Your Car Know Something You Don’t?

In celebration of Fall Car Care month, many shops across the country will be holding free vehicle check-up events.  According to the Car Care Council, last year, many vehicle owners were likely surprised by what they found out. Vehicle check-ups at community car care events across the country last year revealed that 80% of vehicles needed immediate service or parts.

Fall Car Care Maintenance Steps

hat you do today can go a long way toward improving the safety and reliability of your vehicle. Regular car care can also help avoid costly repairs down the road, saving you both time and money. Here are some fall maintenance procedures that will help your vehicle operate at its best before the winter season arrive:

Check all fluids – Window washer solvent, anti-freeze/coolant as well as engine oil, power steering, brake & transmission.

Check the battery – Replace if necessary. Ensure the connection is tight, clean, and free of corrosion.

Check hoses & belts – Make sure they are not loose, cracked, brittle, or even showing signs of excessive wear.

Check your brakes – Annual brake checks are suggested. As well as taking a look at the rotors, drums & brake linings.

Inspect the exhaust system – Leaks, damage & broken elements can occur. Inspect for unusual behaviors or loud noises.

Check your engine – Your vehicle craves the best balance of power & fuel economy while producing the lowest level of emissions.

Check your wipers – It’s important to see and be seen during winter driving. Check all the interior and exterior lighting.

Check heating/HVAC system – Proper heating & cooling performance is crucial for your safety.

Inspect steering & suspension – Annual checking is recommended. We would also encourage a review of other components like shock absorbers, struts, ball joints & tie rod ends.

Check your tires – Uneven wear and tears can greatly affect your safety. As can poorly inflated tires.

For more useful free content about vehicle maintenance, repair and enhancement visit the Car Care News Service website.

Why is it Necessary to Rotate Tires?

You probably already know that vehicle and tire manufacturers recommend that you rotate tires regularly. Have you ever wondered why? As it turns out, tire rotation can actually extend the life of your tires and greatly increase your safety on the road. 

Tire Rotation Service

What Does Tire Rotation Do for Tires?

It may be surprising to learn that there is a difference in tread wear that occurs on the front and  rear tires. The front tires are used in steering, while the rear tires remain relatively stationary in terms of lateral movement. Steering creates a scrubbing effect, putting more stress on the front tires than on the rear tires. In the case of front-wheel-drive vehicles, there is additional stress from the drive axle which means even faster tread wear on the front tires.

When you regularly rotate tires, it not only adds to the service life of your tires, it will improve your vehicle performance and safety.  During tire rotation service, a your technician will check the tread depth of all four tires, check the inflation pressure, and visually inspect the tires for any issues and potential problems.     

Does the Pattern Used to Rotate Tires Matter?

When technicians perform tire rotation service, they rotate tires following a specified rotation pattern. The pattern matters because the tires on the front axle need to accomplish very different things than the tires on the rear axle. Conditions encountered on a front-wheel drive vehicle are considerably different than those of a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Tire wear effects on a performance vehicle are typically more severe than what you would see on a family sedan. Each individual wheel position can create different wear rates and different types of tire wear.

The typically suggested rule for tire rotation is to cross the free rolling axle. This means that on a front-wheel drive vehicle, the front tires should be rotated straight back to the rear and the rear tires should be crossed to the front. In the case of a rear-wheel drive vehicle the opposite applies. Front tires are crossed to the back while the rear tires are rotated straight to the front. A “double x” pattern is used with four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles, so the right front and left rear tires switch positions, as do the left front and right rear.

Tire rotation service should be scheduled per the recommendations specified in your owner’s manual. Performed at the scheduled times, tire rotation will preserve balanced handling and traction, and promote even tread wear. Not only can tire rotation result in performance advantages, many tire mileage warranties require rotation to keep the warranty valid.

Tires are a substantial investment. It pays to take care of them. Properly inflated tires that are serviced on a regular basis with proper tire rotation can be expected to deliver optimal tread life, as well as excellent performance and value.

Five Ways to Improve Fall Driving Visibility and Safety

Changing of the seasons is always a good time to think about vehicle maintenance. In addition to taking your car in for its required mechanical checks, there are things you can do in your own garage to prepare for autumn. Falling leaves and tree debris make keeping your windshield clean for clear visibility a challenge. To assure you can see clearly while driving, be sure to take a few minutes to clear off your vehicle – especially at the base of the windshield and other crevices where debris may accumulate.

Leaves on a Car Representing Fall Car Care

Here are five more things you can do to assure clear visibility while driving so you and your passengers will be as safe as possible on the road.

Check Your Wipers

Fall typically brings more rain, so make sure your wipers are in peak condition to assure their effectiveness. You should inspect your wiper blades regularly, and ask your auto service professional to check them whenever you bring in your car for other service or repair. As a rule of thumb, wiper blades should be replaced every six months.

Regularly Clean Your Windshield

Leaf litter and other tree debris lead to a dusty and dirty windshield. This can be particularly dangerous at night, when oncoming lights hit the dirt on your windshield and impair your vision. Try to make a habit of cleaning the windshield every time you fill up. Most gas stations have what you need right by the pumps.

Polish Up Those Headlights

Take a moment to check out your headlights. You may be surprised by the amount of dirt and bug grime that has accumulated on them. If not cleaned, it will eventually get to the point of making your headlight beams dimmer. Regular cleaning will make clear headlights easier to maintain.

Fix Windshield Cracks or Chips

A small crack in the windshield might be annoying, but drivers tend to live with it. Unfortunately, all it takes is one bump or pothole, and suddenly that small crack spreads all the way across the windshield. Have those cracks repaired as soon as possible to maintain safe visibility and to avoid the cost of a windshield replacement.

Top Off Your Washer Fluid

For your windshield wipers to function properly they need an ample supply of windshield washer fluid. Letting wiper blades drag across a dry surface is not only ineffective, it can lead to damaging of the blades. Top off your washer fluid at every service interval or whenever the seasons change to avoid being left high and dry. Use windshield washer antifreeze in winter months to prevent damage to your washer system.

Back to School Safety Part 2 – Prepare Young Drivers

Back to school season means more young drivers on the road. New drivers have more temptations to distract them than ever, including cell phones. Young adults and teens have proven to be especially vulnerable to this risky driving behavior. 

Prepare Student Drivers

Texting and Driving Can Be Fatal

Many bad choices and risky habits only affect the person who engages in them. Texting and driving is different. Everyone around the texting driver is in danger, whether it is passengers in that car, nearby vehicles, or pedestrians in the vicinity. According to recent data

  • Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause a car accident than drunk driving
  • 4,637 people died in car crashes in 2018 due to cell phone use.

It is true that drivers of all ages can be guilty of texting and driving, but young, inexperienced drivers may be most likely to engage in unsafe behaviors. The risk-taking attitude of teens and young adults combined with their lack of driving experience tends to result in a higher likelihood of accidents.

All it Takes is a Few Seconds

According to the advocacy website, Texting and Driving Safety, the minimum amount of time a driver is distracted by a text is five seconds. In that amount of time, at highway speeds, you will travel the length of a football field. Just a few seconds can result in a huge amount of risk.

An infographic on the website provides some frightening statistics regarding texting and teen driving:

  • 77% of young adults are very or somewhat confident that they can safely text while driving
  • 55% of young adult drivers claim it is easy to text while they drive
  • Teens who text while driving spend approximately 10% of driving time outside of their lane.

If you have a young driver in your family, now is a great time to remind them of what’s at risk with texting and driving.

Back to School Safety Part 1 – Watch Out For School Traffic

It is back to school time, so it is a good time to think about safe school season driving. Though school traffic can be frustrating, it is important for everyone’s safety that we exercise patience. We also need to watch for students in school zones who may be excited or distracted as they make their way to and from school.

Children on a School Bus

Time for the Stuck-Behind-a-School-Bus Blues

No driver wants to see a school bus in their path, especially if they are on their way to work. If you find yourself in this frustrating situation, try to keep in mind that students are about 70 times more likely to get to school safely when traveling in a school bus. The National Safety Council reports that school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation for students. 

The council does caution, however, that more children are hurt or killed outside of the bus when they fail to watch where they are going, or when a motorist does not pay attention and illegally passes a stopped school bus.

Keep in mind following points to remind drivers of school traffic safety laws and procedures:

  •  It is illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to pick up or drop off children in all 50 states. Traffic in both directions is required to stop on undivided roadways when students are being picked up and dropped off.
  • State laws vary on divided roadway requirements, however in all cases, vehicles driving behind the bus, and moving in the same direction must stop when the bus does.
  • Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate the bus driver is preparing to stop to load or unload passengers. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals that the bus has stopped and children are exiting or entering the bus.
  • A required distance of 10 feet around a school bus must be observed to allow sufficient space for children getting on or off the bus.
  • Be on the lookout for children who may run or fail to observe safety rules when moving to and from the bus stop.Never block crosswalks when waiting to turn or when they are stopping for a red light.
  • In school zones be alert for warning flashers, and while you are in an active zone, be sure to yield the right-of-way to students crossing in the marked crosswalk.

If your commuting route includes an area with school bus stops, consider ways to help you safely share the road. Listen to music or a podcast to help you exercise patience with frequent stops. Leaving a bit early so you won’t have to stress about delays also helps. Remember, the most important thing is that EVERYONE arrives at their destination safely!

Tire Industry Woes Continue to Cause Supply Issues and Price Increases

The COVID-19 pandemic has been rough on virtually every segment of the economy, including tire manufacturing. Unfortunately, the problems have been ongoing for the automotive and tire industries with the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

Automovie Tires in Stacks

The conflict has not only impacted tire production in these countries, but also the European Union. Increases in inflation and interest rates, as well as rising oil, diesel and gas prices, are all factors that continue to plague the tire industry.

According to tire industry projections, improvements in the situation are not expected to come this year:

“In terms of when issues will be resolved completely, this is likely a multi-year process, given the constraints at play. Demand remaining robust will continue to be a drag on shipping times, given the increased volume of goods without the expanded capacity to accommodate the increase in volumes being transacted.”

Until these ongoing issues are resolved, manufacturers will be forced to pass on escalating costs to the consumer.

Taking Care of Your Tires Has Never Been More Important

The best way to avoid dealing with tire supply problems and rising prices is to take care of the tires you have. If you are not already following a tire service and maintenance plan, now is the time to get started!

Protect Your Tire Tread

Regularly checking the condition of the tread on your tires is essential for extending the life of your tires. We don’t often think about looking at our tire tread unless we suspect a leak or have had an encounter with sharp road debris. Regularly looking at your tire tread means you’ll be more likely to notice wear trends before excessive damage can occur. If caught early enough, improper wear patterns in the tread, such as feathering or cupping can be corrected before too much damage occurs.

Keep Tires Correctly Inflated

Proper inflation is an extremely important part of tire maintenance that will prolong tire life. If tire inflation drops to a level that is below the recommended pressure, added load is placed on the shoulder of the tire, causing premature wear. Under-inflation also generates heat build up within the tire, which in turn increases rolling resistance and reduces fuel economy.

Stay On Top of Regular Maintenance

Wheel alignment is an essential regular maintenance service you need. When tires are unable to run straight ahead, accelerated tread wear occurs on some areas of the tire. Tire rotation should also be performed on a regular basis. A consistent and documented schedule of tire rotation will promote even tread wear. Failing wheel and suspension components can also compromise tire service life. Replace shock absorbers and other suspension components as part of overall maintenance.

Consistent tire maintenance will prevent your vehicle from experiencing a variety of problems, including uneven and premature tire tread wear. Protecting your tire investment will pay off when you need to watch your budget the most.

 

Your Summer Car Care Checklist

You depend on your car to perform safely  and efficiently in a wide range of conditions. Are you giving it the care it needs to assure that performance? The extra seasonal needs of a vehicle are obvious in the winter time, with its snow, ice and freezing temperatures.  But summer’s punishing effects might not be as obvious.

Summer Driving

Excessive temperatures can cause engine overheating, which can compromise engine components and cause expensive damage requiring extensive repairs.  When the engine temperature exceeds 230 degrees Fahrenheit it is overheated. At temperatures above 245 degrees Fahrenheit, engine damage may result.  Engine overheating is also a dangerous situation that can quickly put you and your passengers in danger.  Make sure your vehicle’s cooling system is working properly to avoid overheating.

If you haven’t given much thought to car care lately, take some time to review this summer car care checklist to help your vehicle beat the heat:

  • Batteries – Have your battery tested to be sure it is strong enough to endure the heat. People think of dead battery problems in the winter, but many do not realize hot summer temperatures can be just as rough on batteries. 
  • Tires – Keep your tires inflated to the pressure recommended for your vehicle. Soft, under-inflated tires generate heat, which can result in a blowout. 
  • Coolant – Have the cooling system flushed and new coolant installed when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer as part of scheduled maintenance. Depending on the type of coolant used, this is usually required every two to five years.
  • Radiator – Have your radiator checked to be sure it is in good condition and that the fluid level is correct. Another issue to watch for is a plugged radiator core. This problem can happen when coolant flushes are not performed.
  • Cooling Fans – Cooling fans should be regularly checked to avoid engine problems. A cooling fan failure can lead to engine overheating problems. In some cases, trouble with the air conditioning system can be a sign that you have a cooling fan problem. 
  • Thermostat – Have your thermostat inspected. A bad thermostat is a common cause of engine overheating. A failing thermostat can also be indicated by the check engine light illuminating or the car heater not working.
  • Water Pump – A compromised water pump will often cause a coolant leak, so if you notice the coolant level dropping at a faster rate, you should have it checked as soon as possible. 
  • Belts and Hoses – The belts and hoses in your cooling system should be checked to make sure they are tight and in good condition.  Cracks or deterioration of the rubber are signs of trouble.