How to Plan Rest Stops for a Long Trip

How to Plan Rest Stops for a Long Trip

It’s great to visit family and friends residing in other places or states. You get to see the country and enjoy time with them. Before hitting the open road, make sure to check several things in your car.

Make sure that your vehicle’s tank is full. Prepare the apps that will help make your trip bearable and enjoyable. Download the apps and movies you need. This is even more important if you have small kids. Always perform the essential checks before a long drive.

Apart from these things, you also need to plan your rest stops along the way. It doesn’t matter if you will just be driving for three hour or 24 hours. It’s important to schedule breaks and rest to keep your journey safe. On long trips, you will need to stop every few hours to stretch your legs and arms. And if you are really sleepy and drowsy, a 15-minute power nap can be heavenly! Read more

How To Clean Corrosion In Your Car Battery

How To Clean Corrosion In Your Car Battery

If your car battery is corroded, it will affect the car’s performance and hamper its running speed. Prevention is always the best way to keep your battery clean and safe from corrosion. However, there is always a solution if you discover corrosion in your car battery. Below are proven ways to clean your car battery when it’s been corroded.

Before you begin, you’ll need a petrol jelly, locking pliers, a wrench, water, baking soda, toothbrush or steel wool, safety glasses, and rubber gloves. Read more

10 Tips to Improve Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency

10 Tips to Improve Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency

Sure, it’s fun to go on a long road trip this summer. Lounging at the beach with your friends seems nice, but the high prices of petrol may make you want to postpone those plans.

You don’t have to break your wallet, because there are several techniques for you to squeeze more mileage out of your gas tank.

Here’s a list of 10 tips to improve your car’s fuel efficiency:

1. Know your car’s recommended octane level.

Fuel economy starts with choosing the right fuel. There’s a myth going around that says your car becomes more fuel-efficient if you load up with fuel that has a different octane than what is recommended by your car’s manufacturer. Don’t believe that, though. A lower octane will make your engine work harder, and may cause damage to it. Then a higher octane is just a waste, because your car will not be able to take full advantage of it. Read your car’s manual so you can stick with what’s recommended.

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7 Car Dangers and Hazards in the Summer

7 Car Dangers and Hazards in the Summer

Summer is just right around the corner. It’s the perfect season to go on a road trip with friends and family. Go to the beach. Enjoy the mountains. Just go and take a break. But before you put pedal to the metal, please remember that there are many common dangers on the road this season.

Here’s a list of 7 car dangers and hazards in the summer to watch out for.

1. Watch out for construction.

Construction projects are in full swing during the summer for two reasons. First, there could be a lot of repairs needed to be done on roads that have been damaged by the previous winter. Second, there are a lot of houses, buildings and other structures that are being built because construction crews are taking advantage of the clear weather.

This raises the possibility of being stuck for hours in mile-long traffic because several lanes are closed. Dangers can also come from hot-headed drivers that make reckless maneuvers to escape the construction-induced traffic, like counter-flowing or driving over sidewalks.

You should also look at for possible falling debris from the top of buildings that are just being built. Always be on the lookout for signs to know if it is safe to pass thru a certain area.

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10 Essential checks before a long drive

10 Essential checks before a long drive

A long road trip could be good for the family–you get to see the country, visit scenic spots along the way, and maybe pass by historical spots. But if you’re single, sometimes a long trip could be a great experience for thinking and doing some introspection while traveling.

But before you take your car out for a long ride, make sure you check it. Nothing ruins a good vacation like a car that refuses to run.

Here’s a list of 10 essential checks before a long drive.

1. Engine Oil

A lot of newer cars already have built in reminders in the dashboard. When the Maintenance Require light comes on, you better go to a shop to have it serviced. But even if your car has this automatic check, you should still check your oil levels manually. If it is lower than the recommended

Take a look at the sticker posted by your mechanic to see if you are approaching the next mileage level for your change oil. If it’s close and you think that it will hit the number of mileage for your scheduled oil change while you’re traveling, go ahead and have an oil change.

2. Transmission fluid and other fluids

In addition to your engine oil, do check the other oils and fluids such as the transmission fluid, brake fluid, and heck, even your windshield washer. When you get an oil change, just mention to your mechanic that you also want to have the transmission and other fluids checked. If you hear any squeaking under your car, ask them to check all the parts that need grease.

3. Hoses & Belts

All the fluids in your car need to go to the right places where they are needed. The hoses–with different sizes–help do that. The rubber and plastic components of hoses are subject to temperatures around boiling point. At different times, seasons, they are also subject to freezing cold. As they go through this cycle, the hose gets hard, it may crack, which will compromise the performance of your engine. Look at the ends of the hoses where they connect to different components such as the radiator.

Look for blisters, bulges, cracks, or even holes. If you find any, then have them replaced. You can search some DIY videos or instructions online and see if you can do it yourself. Otherwise, get the help of your mechanic.

Also look for signs of cracks and tears in your engine belts. Feel them with your hands. One big symptom of a loose belt is a loud screech when you try to speed up after stopping at a traffic intersection.

4. Coolant

A lot of cars have overheated, or even caught fire because many a driver forgot to check their coolant level. Newer cars have engine coolant that can go up to 150,000 miles. Check your coolant reservoir under the hood and see if the level is still topped up. If it is below the recommended level, get an engine coolant appropriate for the season and top it up.

Don’t just put water in your coolant reservoir, consult your owner’s manual on the right type of coolant to use for your car.

5. Tires

You can’t go far with tires that are defective or those that are nearing the end of their life-cycle. Don’t fill your tire with the maximum air pressure. With the heat of the tires’ contact with the road, it might explode if it is inflated a little too much. Instead, leave for some room for the air inside to expand. Check your driver’s side door, the glove compartment, or even the door of the fuel tank for the tire pressure recommended for your tires.

Remember that low tire pressures will waste fuel and will lead the tires to become hotter due to the friction. Then measure the tread of your tires. Make sure it is not too worn out. The simplest way to measure tread is by using a penny. If the depth is under the shoulder of Lincoln, then time for new tires! If there are bubbles or bumps in the tires, you better get a new one. I often see worn out rubber on the Interstate and I wondered what happened to the cars and the people who were in those cars when the tire decided to suddenly unravel.

5. Brakes

If you have not flushed your brake system in over 3 years, go visit your mechanic and ask for it to be done. Brake fluid tends to attract moisture and if there’s too much water in the brake fluid, it may lead to the rusting of the components of your brake system. Besides, if there’s too much water in the brake fluid, the brake pedal will become squishy. Newer cars that use DOT5 brake fluids have less to worry about moisture absorption. But it would still be better to have your brake fluid checked. If you’re passing through the mountains, you don’t want to slide on your way down.

6. Battery

Check the terminals of your battery. They should be free of corrosion. If some corrosion buildup have crept into them, clean it up. If you are having some trouble starting your car, do check your battery for corrosion and for overall health. If you feel like your battery is about to give out, consider getting a portable jump starter.

7. Lights

While driving at night from Washington, DC to Nashville, TN, we got stopped by a state trooper somewhere in Virginia. The officer took a look at my license. Thankfully, he did not issue any tickets. But he told me that the light illuminating my license plate has gone out. He just told me to have it fixed.

If you intend to travel at night, you cannot afford to be blind. Make sure that all your headlights are working, as well your blinkers and other lights.

8. Clean your car inside out

It’s time to clean your car inside out. Remove anything that you don’t really need to bring. Extra weight in the car will lead to poor mileage. Besides, having a clean car is definitely nicer for everyone traveling with you. Sure, your traveling companions may leave some crumbs on your car floor, but removing molds, or any dirt is always a good practice in maintaining your car.

9. Emergency tools & numbers

Your phone may already have these numbers, but keep a printed copy of the phone numbers you need–police, family, roadside assistance from your insurance or any other provider. You also need to check the tools you’ll need in case of emergencies–do you have a cross wrench for your car? Is your hydraulic jack working? How about your spare tire? Do you have something that will help you cut the seatbelt and break the glass in case of emergency? Do check out our article on the essential accessories for your car here.

10. Map and Route

We are living in the age of technology, which is a far cry from the printed maps from MapQuest just a decade or so ago. But you should still plan for your routes. Specifically, look for places to get food and gas along the way. If you’re driving through the desert or places without cities or people, make sure you have enough gas, food, and water to sustain your trip. Nothing ruins a vacation than an overconfident driver and getting stuck somewhere.

 

If you’re traveling to a far place, always remember to keep safe. And part of keeping safe is ensuring that your car is road-worthy for thousands of miles.

 

 

How to Make a Car Last Forever

How to Make a Car Last Forever

Cars these days last longer than in the past. It’s quite normal to find 11-year old cars still road-worthy and taking their owners from Point A to Point B. And if you do a quick online search of used cars being sold in the market, you will see cars with mileage exceeding 200,000. The truth is, those cars can still be in good condition. Before buying any used car, make sure to have it checked by a mechanic.

How to Make a Car Last Forever

But if you have a car with a few hundred or thousand miles in it, you can make it last a really, really long time.

how to make a car last forever

Follow the Recommended Maintenance Procedures in Your Owner’s Manual.

The company and the people who built your car may know more than a little about the operation of your car. Check the manual, and take note of the recommended maintenance per number of miles driven. If you neglect the recommended maintenance, you are courting some problems in operating your vehicle. This is especially true for cars manufactured in the past 5 years or so with electronic monitoring for most car components.

We are all busy, and the busiest people may even neglect maintenance matters, and then when the car breaks down, their schedule would go haywire because they cannot keep their appointments.

Be proactive and address the potential problems in your car long before they happen.

Check Fluids Regularly

Engine_oil_dipstickIt’s easy to check your oil. Make sure the engine is cool and that it is parked in an even pavement. Get a rag, open the hood, and pull the oil dipstick out. Wipe it clean. Put it back into its sheath, then pull it back out. This time, you will be able to see where the oil leaves a mark on the indicator. It should tell you if the oil level is low. If the oil level is within the correct levels, don’t overfill it.

Here’s another tip: it may be more expensive, but if you want to have your car for the long haul, use synthetic oil.

Other fluids you need to check include the brake fluid, the coolant/antifreeze, and power steering fluid. Do check out our post on the 5 Most Important Vehicle Checks.

Don’t floor your gas right after starting it.

Pumping your gas all the way to the floor won’t really help your engine heat up. Instead, keep the car’s rpm to the minimum and just let it run for a minute or two before driving off. This will be time enough for the oil to get pumped to all the places it needs to lubricate.

Look all over your car.

Take a look at the hood, trunk, sides, and under your car. Notice anything that might be out of the ordinary. By going around your car, you will be able to see scratches and areas where rust is starting to build up. When you look under your car, you can also see any potential leak.

Listen to Your Car Engine.

You can tell if your car is starting to come off its hinges: just make sure to listen to it–while driving and while idling. Sometimes, the noises that your car make can help you understand what needs to be replaced or repaired. Unless you’re a trained mechanic, you probably won’t know where the noises come from and what they mean. If you hear odd noises for the first time, schedule a trip to your mechanic.

Avoid Short trips.

Most Americans can’t live without their cars. That’s probably because most American cities do not have train systems and other means of efficient and reliable public transportation system. To help your car reach those high-number mileage, avoid short trips, which the AAA defines as “trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures, or less than ten miles in freezing temperatures.” With shorter trips, the car will not reach its optimal operating temperature, which means that it will not be able to burn down oil, water, and exhaust, which could lead to it becoming nasty sludge.

Drive with Care.

Driving with care does not mean driving like your grandma. Don’t go alternating between pushing the accelerator down hard and the braking hard. This practice won’t give you good mileage for your car. And it won’t be good for your car, too. Besides, drivers who act like they’re always on a race even on the interstate and in country roads tend to be involved in accidents.

Speaking of being careful, if your car is getting older, its safety features may become outdated. That means you will also need to read up on safety rules and whether your car meets them or not.

car-washKeep it clean.

A clean car is good to look at and it inspires confidence. If you see a shabby, dust and mud-ridden car, you would expect its driver to step out looking like someone who got out of bed and forgot that they have some appointment! But a clean car evokes confidence and attention to detail.

But keeping your car clean has another important benefit, especially if you do it yourself. You will be able to notice scratches, cracks, and other small things you would otherwise miss.

Replace Some Parts.

Since your car has lots of small components. These components may break down over time. The only way to ensure the longevity of your car, you’ll need to replace them. Be prepared to replace bearings, bushing, suspension, and belts. The parts themselves are not very expensive, but labor could drive your costs up. As much as possible, try to replace them all together at the same time.

 

Forever might be overstating a little bit. But the point is that if you want your car to last for a long time, you need to take care of it, and set aside time and some money for maintenance procedures you need to make. Who knows, your grandchild just might be able to turn into a vintage car 20 – 30 years from now.

5 Most Important Vehicle Checks

5 Most Important Vehicle Checks

Drivers, especially the ones who have experienced a car breakdown, know why car maintenance is important. It may sound like there are a gazillion things you should remember about maintaining your car, the truth is, you could just go to a trusted mechanic and have them inspect your car and your good to go.

5 most important vehicle checks

5 Most Important Vehicle Checks

Dentists are helpful, but you also need to regularly brush your teeth to keep it clean and in good working order. Similarly, in between visits to the mechanic, you should be aware of the important vehicle checks you can make.

Oil, Antifreeze/Coolant, and Other Fluids

You should know by now that the oil functions as the blood of your car’s engine. Oil ensures the smooth working and rotation of all the moving parts of your engine. As you drive across hundreds and thousands of miles, exhaust gasses from the cylinders, tiny pieces of metal will mix in with the oil. If that happens, the oil’s effectiveness will be reduced significantly.

Also, since the engine heats up every time you drive, the viscosity or thickness of the oil will be reduced. And without the right thickness, or if the oil gets significantly thinned, if you don’t change it when it’s due, the engine parts will wear out faster, and will lead to your engine’s breakdown sooner than you would expect.

Oil can be changed within 5,000 to 10,000 miles depending on the kind of oil you used on your car, and on the recommendation of the manufacturer. Consult your owner’s manual to be sure. Newer cars also come with electronic monitoring now, so you will need to rely on your car’s dashboard system if that’s the case.

In addition to your oil, do check your Antifreeze/Coolant to make sure it has the right amount. If it goes below the recommended amount, your engine may overheat and you will have bigger problems on your hand. Remember, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.

You should also check other fluids: brake and clutch (for manual transmission cars), power steering, and transmission. If you let these fluids go below the recommended levels, your car will deteriorate much faster.

Check under your car for any leak. Those are potentially dangerous if left unchecked. They may also lead to rusting and other problems under the hood.

Brakes

brakepads

Whether you drive mainly in the highway or in hills and country roads, your brakes can spell the difference between safety and a life-threatening accident. It’s just one of the those things that are easy to take for granted. You step on the brakes and you slow down, or grind to a halt.

Take it for granted at your own risk. You don’t want to be in that position where you step on the brakes and your car keeps going.

Keep in mind that the more you brake, the faster the wear of your brake pads. So you better check them when you start hearing some metallic screeching noises when you step on the brakes. Even without that grating sound, it’s always a great idea to check them regularly. You can go to places that offer free brake checks for your car, or when you have your oil changed, you can ask them to take a look at the brake pads, too. Not all cars have them. But some newer cars come with a built-in electronic indicator that will light up when your pads are all worn out.

Tires

You don’t need to rely on guesswork when checking the status of your tires. Every tire actually has wear indicators. Check in between the treads. You should be able to see and feel ridges that are about 1/16th of an inch. Your tires should not go deeper than this because it would be unsafe to drive. Thin tires are prone to punctures and they would also be prone to overheating.

Make sure to check your tires every month. It’s not very difficult and it only takes a minute or two. just run your fingers over the tread on the inner and outer edges. If you feel anything out of the ordinary, go to your tire shop and ask them to check more thoroughly for you.

Air Filter

Air plays a very important role in your car engine. As the engine burns fuel, it needs air. Don’t let the air filter get clogged with dust and dirt. That would lead to lower mileage for your car. Not only that, the way your car runs would become sluggish and rough.

You will need to change your air filter between 5,000 to 7,000 miles driven. If you drive through lots of dust, mud, and in places with really bad pollution, you may need to change it more frequently. Fumes from your own engine will also affect the longevity of your air filter.

Check Engine Light

You should really pay attention to your dashboard. If you notice any indicator light that lights up, you should check your manual to learn what that is all about. Some of those are more serious than others. It wouldn’t hurt to learn about basic maintenance that will address those matters.

 

Maintaining your car regularly will help you make it last for a long time. Don’t fall into the trap of taking your car for granted. The right time to keep your car working is when the problems have not yet appeared.