Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

After what has seemed like an extra long winter, Memorial Day weekend is finally here. First and foremost, Memorial Day is all about gratefully remembering those who have given their lives in service to our nation. It is also a time for gathering with family and friends to enjoy fun and relaxation. For many, the long weekend provides the opportunity to take a road trip.

If you are planning to travel this weekend, take some time to make sure your vehicle is ready for the road.  Check your tires, and confirm that they are in good condition and properly inflated. Not only will you be safer on the road, you will also get better gas mileage.  Here are a few additional tips:

  • Test your battery
  • Check your lights to make sure all are working
  • Make sure wiper blades are in good shape
  • Check fluid levels
  • Pack roadside emergency items like jumper cables and travel compressor

Here are a few additional suggestions to consider for a smoother trip:

  • Download an app like GasBuddy to make sure you find the best gas prices along the way
  • Check out the Waze app for real-time traffic info
  • Pack snacks and drinks for the car to save time and money
  • Make sure your maps are up-to-date – whether paper or GPS
  • Plan your route and stops before you leave
  • Bring along a cell phone charger with a car adaptor
  • Bring an umbrella – no matter what the forecast says

Whatever your plans are, have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!

Summer Time, Summer Tires?

Dear Tracy,

I live in the Midwest and as long as I’ve had my car, I’ve always put on snow tires during the winter and changed over to all-season tires for the spring, summer, and fall. Recently a friend told me he was shopping for a set of summer tires for optimal driving performance in the summer months. I’d never heard of summer tires and now I’m wondering if the all-season tires are best for spring and fall only. Can you shed some light on these different types of tires and how to make the right choice?

-Chuck A.

Dear Chuck,
Understanding the differences between winter tires, summer tires, and all-season tires will help you in selecting the right tire type for your vehicle. The climate in which you live, the season, and the type of driving you do are important factors in your decision.

Winter or snow tires are a necessity in areas that get a significant amount of snow and ice. The softer rubber used for winter tires is developed to grip better in low temperatures. The tread design features small tread blocks with tread cuts called siping, to promote better traction and help prevent hydroplaning. Winter tires wear faster because of the soft rubber, so they should be only used during the winter temperatures and conditions.

Though called summer tires, these performance tires are not necessarily the best choice for all summer driving. The name “summer” is more of a limitation than a recommendation, meaning  that these tires are appropriate for warm seasons and climates only. Summer tires do offer excellent driving performance by enhancing handing, acceleration, and braking response. These features aside, they are probably not the most practical choice for the typical driver due to expense. The rubber used in summer tires is soft like winter tires, but summer tires are subject to more heat and friction so they wear out  even more quickly.

All-season tires are designed to provide the best ride and driving performance in a range of climates and weather. The rubber composition and tread design are engineered for reliable handling and grip in a variety of temperatures and road conditions. I’d say your current tire game plan is probably the best approach for you.

Transmission Service – Tune Up & Spark Plug Replacement

The combustion and power needed to move your vehicle  is initiated by its spark plugs. The combustion drives clean gas and air to the vehicle’s cylinders. Overtime, the fuel injectors can become clogged, fuel filters get dirty, and the spark plugs can become corroded. When parts are compromised, your engine will not perform as it should, and your gas mileage will suffer.

Tune up service gives your auto professional the opportunity to inspect your car and to follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for replacing components such as fuel filters, PCV valves, and spark plugs if they are no longer working at maximum efficiency. Maintenance that is not part of the regular tune up may also be needed, so a tune up provides a good opportunity to check the brakes and clutch, fluid and oil levels, and any other systems that are not regularly used or inspected. Getting a tune up in spring or early summer may be a good idea so you can have the air conditioning system checked before you need to use it.

Why are tune ups necessary?

Having a tune up will restore your vehicle’s power and efficiency. Your engine relies on many components working together to ensure proper starting and functioning. When these components wear out or fail to function, the result is lost performance and inefficient fuel economy. Tune up  service performed by your auto service professional will help maintain and extend auto life.

How often are tune ups  needed?

Generally speaking, you should have a tune up every two years or every 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.