New Year’s Car Care Resolutions

As we head into a brand new year we find ourselves thinking about starting or getting back into some good habits. For 2015, why not add a commitment to car care to your list? Not only does good car and tire care make sense for protecting and prolonging the life of your vehicle and tires, it also means that you and your passengers will be safer on the road.

Here is my suggested list of simple car and tire care actions:

Check Tire Pressure & Tread Depth

At least once a month, make it a point to check your tire pressure. You can find the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires listed in your owner’s manual. Keep in mind that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure.  Don’t forget to also check the pressure of your spare tire.

Two or three times a year you can check the tread depth by using the penny test. Hold a penny so you can read “In God We Trust” across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire and look at Lincoln’s head.  If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time for a new set of tires. If Abe’s head is covered to about the forehead hairline, the tread is in good shape and you probably do not need new tires.

Tire Balancing & Rotation

Tire balancing and rotation should be part of your regular service and done according to your owner’s manual recommended schedule. Tire balancing provides a smooth ride and assures even tire wear by properly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle. Tire rotation is an important maintenance step that will greatly extend the life of your tires. Manufacturers have specific recommendations, so it is advisable to refer to your owner’s manual tire rotation guidelines to ensure proper tread wear.

Keep Up on Regular Maintenance

To keep your car running properly and performing at peak levels, it is essential to stay up-to-date with recommended regular maintenance services. Like us, our vehicles need regular check-ups to maintain good health and catch potential problems before they become serious issues. The following is a list of typical services – consult your owner’s manual for your vehicle’s recommended services and frequency.

  • Coolant Flush and Replacement
  • Oil Change
  • Fluid Checks – Power Steering and Brake
  • Brake Inspection
  • Check Belts & Hoses
  • Filters – Air and Fuel
  • Battery & Cables
  • Lights
  • Exhaust System
  • Windshield Washer Fluid & Wiper Blades

Once you establish a solid car care routine, you can drive with added confidence that you are traveling safely and cost efficiently wherever the road takes you. Happy New Year!

Home for the Holidays – Make it a Safe Trip!

Image courtesy of Pintrest

The American Automobile Association Year-End Holiday Travel Forecast reports that 98.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holidays, and that year-end holiday travel volume will reach the highest peak since AAA began recording holiday travel stats in 2001.

According to the AAA forecast, nearly 91 percent of all travelers will celebrate the holidays with a road trip, which is an increase of 4.2 percent from last year. With today’s national average price of gas at $2.53 per gallon (70 cents less than last year), the report also says that lower gas prices will help boost disposable income this holiday season.

Holiday road trips can be a fun part of the season’s festivities, as long as you are safe and prepared. Whether you are driving home or to another special destination for the holidays, here are a few preparation tips:

  • Make sure your vehicle is ready! Get a service check including: battery, brakes, wipers, lights, oil, coolant, fluids, and tire pressure.
  • Download an app like GasBuddy to help you find the best gas prices along the way.
  • Whether it means updating your GPS, printing a fresh set of Mapquest directions, or picking up a paper version from a gas station, make sure your maps are current.
  • As you pack the car, you might be tempted to remove things you normally keep in the trunk in order to make room for packages and luggage. Be sure not to leave behind roadside emergency items such as jumper cables or a folding shovel.

Whatever your plans might be, have a Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays!

All-Wheel and Four-Wheel – Nice for Snow and Ice

Dear Tracy,

What is the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive? Are these systems better than two-wheel drive?

Larry K

Dear Larry,

All-wheel drive and four-wheel drive are different, but similar types of systems. The drivetrain of an all-wheel drive vehicle has a front, rear, and center differential to provide power to all four wheels. The four-wheel drive vehicle’s drivetrain has two differentials and a transfer case to supply power to all four wheels. The systems are similar in that they both can enhance acceleration in wet or icy conditions and improve handling in some driving situations. Cars and crossovers will feature all-wheel drive, while trucks and sport utility vehicles tend to have four-wheel drive.

Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive can offer significant advantages, depending on the type of driving you do and the climate in which you do your driving. If you encounter a great deal of rain, snow, and ice, four-wheel drive can be a life-saver.  A-wheel drive or four wheel drive also provide superior traction with towing and add to the resale value of a vehicle.

On the down side, all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles tend to have lower fuel economy and require more maintenance than standard vehicles. Both consume more gas, but four-wheel drive, unlike all-wheel drive,  can be turned off so there is the option to only use it, and the extra gas, when you need it.