Tips for safely celebrating America’s independence.
The Fourth of July is a wonderful time for family and friends to kick back and relax together. Many people roll out blankets and watch local parades while others show off their skills behind the grill. No matter what your tradition, the day is bound to be filled with food, sun and fireworks, and the best way to enjoy it all is to enjoy it without interruption, so here are a few tips from the experts: 1. Brush Up on BBQ 101: Make sure you protect yourself before chowing down. To prevent harmful bacteria from causing foodborne illness, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends a few simple steps: First, make sure food (especially meat) is kept cold while being transported. Insulated coolers or ice packs should keep items at 40 degrees or below. If you’re precooking food in the microwave or oven, remember that it needs to find its way to a preheated grill immediately afterward. Meats should be cooked thoroughly and checked with a food thermometer to ensure they are ready for consumption. Excited to eat? Just be careful to grab a clean plate and utensils that haven’t touched raw meat – and enjoy. For more food safety tips from the USDA, visit www.fsis.usda.gov. 2. Have Safe Fun in the Sun: The Fourth of July is all about being outdoors; from parades to cookouts, it’s a time to enjoy all that summer has to offer. Unfortunately, however, strong ultraviolet rays can be a dangerous addition to your festive events. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge the public to keep skin health in mind during all outdoor festivities. The group recommends liberal use of sunscreen with at least SPF 15, hats with wide brims to protect the face, neck and ears, sunglasses with 100 percent UVA and UVB block and ample sources of shade to give your body a break from the sun. Learn more about skin cancer prevention at www.cdc.gov. 3. Enjoy Fireworks Without Starting a Fire: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the risk of a fireworks-related injury is two-and-a-half times as high for children ages five to nine and teens ages 15 to 19 as for the general population. With thousands of adults and kids suffering from these injuries every Fourth of July, the NFPA is rightfully motivated to get the word out about fireworks safety. Their first tip is to leave the show to the professionals, and make sure children are not able to reach fireworks leftover from the display afterward, since they may still be active. Sparklers and firecrackers are also dangerous, and burn at temperatures hot enough to cause third degree burns. So, while the bright bursts of color are always an Independence Day necessity, most experts would agree that they are best enjoyed from afar. Check out www.nfpa.org for more info. Whether the celebration includes lots of kids or activities for the older crowd, protecting your skin, stomach and more are vital to having a great day. Many folks like to spend the entire day outside, so make sure you’ll last the entire morning, afternoon and evening safe and sound. For more information about July 4, as well as safety tips related to boating, camping, swimming, traveling and more, visit www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence_Day.shtml.
Direct Auto Mall e-Newsletter
Tips for safely celebrating America’s independence.
Independence Day events are sizzling in New England.
One of summer’s biggest holidays, Independence Day, is just around the corner. Beach trips, barbeque’s and fireworks are all hallmarks of this celebration and there is no shortage of any of these fun activities in New England. With so much to choose from, the hardest part of planning your festivities will be figuring out how to fit everything in. Even if you aren’t a Massachusetts resident, heading to Boston for Independence Day is well worth the drive. This year marks the 30th annual Boston Harborfest, an award winning festival with over 200 daily events. This six-day extravaganza starts on June 29 and culminates on the Fourth of July. The opening ceremonies take place in Faneuil Hall, while the other main events will occur at City Hall Plaza. There is one main event each day of the festival, including Children’s Day, The Redcoats are Coming!, Extreme Sailing Series and Chowderfest. Topping it all off is the Fourth of July Concert on the Esplanade, where you can hear the sounds of the Boston Pops Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, while watching a spectacular fireworks performance. Check through the schedule of daily events ahead of time so that you can plan your trip to include all of your favorites. The schedule can be found at www.bostonharborfest.com/dailyevents.html. Rhode Island residents also have the opportunity to combine a concert with a fireworks show. The Rhode Island Philharmonic will be performing a Summer Pops concert on July 4 at India Point Park in Providence. The celebrations begin at 7:30pm and the fireworks show will begin at 9:15pm. For a list of other places in Rhode Island where you can see fireworks, head to www.centralrichamber.com/fireworks.htm Grilling a perfect cut of steak and finding the best fireworks show are probably at the forefront of your mind this Independence Day, but if you want to learn more about the history of this national holiday, you can take your family on an educational tour to learn about the Revolutionary War. The Backroad Discovery Tours, based out of Manchester, Vermont, will take you on a trip to discover sites of local importance for both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Tours set off daily, so you can schedule an excursion the week before the big day and then impress your friends with your new knowledge at your celebrations. For more information, you can go to the company’s website at www.backroaddiscovery.com. The festivities don’t end as soon as the calendar turns to July 5. If you head to Hartford, Connecticut, on July 9, you can continue your celebration at Riverfest. This event is packed full of free fun for kids, live music and clowns. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the spectacular fireworks display over the Connecticut River. The schedule of events can be found at www.riverfront.org/events/festivals. Many New Englanders like to take advantage of the beautiful, warm weather in July and combine their Independence Day celebrations with a beach trip. Hampton Beach in New Hampshire is a great place for summer fun for the whole family. Kids and adults will marvel at the sights of the sand sculpting competition, ending on June 29. If you are heading to the beach on the Fourth of July, you can walk along the boardwalk and play arcade games before seeing the firework show happening that evening. See what else there is to do at www.hamptonbeach.org.
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Experts at Castrol recommend flushing antifreeze every two years.
Like all other fluid in your car, the antifreeze/coolant used by your radiator to keep your engine at peak operating temperature requires periodic replacement. There are some key differences between an oil change and changing your antifreeze, however, that make the process a little bit more involved than simply pulling the plug and draining out the old coolant. According to the fluids experts at Castrol, one of the key aspects of cooling system maintenance is flushing out old antifreeze in order to keep ahead of rust and sludge formation. Your engine bay contains tubing and piping that is designed to transport coolant to and from the engine, and through the HVAC system, and the motor itself also features channels, which circulate antifreeze on a continual basis. Over time, these passages can get clogged up with corrosion or sludge – stuff that doesn’t always drain out easily on its own. Fortunately, your dealership offers the specialized equipment and expertise required to flush out any cooling system contaminants and ensure that the antifreeze mixture running through your radiator is as pure as possible. Dealership technicians don’t just remove old coolant and fill your car up with a new mixture; instead, they employ a machine designed to run a unique mixture of antifreeze and distilled water through your engine’s entire cooling system and then vacuum it all out, creating enough pressure during the process to also remove any debris that might be lurking inside your radiator or its associated plumbing. There are a number of other benefits associated with going to the dealership for a coolant flush. The first is the time savings involved. Using a computerized radiator flush machine can cut the amount of time required for the entire flush and fill process to as little as 15 minutes, which is significantly shorter than the hours required for a gravity drain, garden hose refill, second drain for flushing purposes and then filling everything up again in the driveway at home. More important, using a dealership’s fluid flush service is much safer, both for you and for the environment. You don’t have to worry about dealing with the scalding hot antifreeze coursing through your motor, nor do you run the risk of spilling the used ethylene glycol coolant on the ground where it can seep into the water supply or even poison pets, which are attracted by its sweet smell and taste. Even if your car features “non-toxic” propylene glycol coolant, the coolant has still picked up nasty contaminants and trace metals inside the engine, so simply pouring it on the ground is extremely detrimental to the environment. Dealership antifreeze flushes are a convenient, inexpensive and important aspect of your vehicle’s routine maintenance schedule. Castrol recommends flushing your coolant every two years, which gives you plenty of time to set up an appointment at your local dealer and benefit from the peace of mind that this type of service offers.
Delicate under hood cleaning is typically best left to dealership pros.
There’s no feeling like driving your sparkling clean, fully detailed car. Gleaming paint, bright chrome and a spic-and-span interior can make an automobile look and feel like a million bucks. Some enthusiasts, however, want to take things one step further and make sure that when they pop the hood, the engine compartment looks just as spectacular as the rest of the vehicle. Engine detailing can do a lot to bring out the beauty of a well-engineered engine. Especially now that engine bays are as highly styled as the interior, there’s no denying the visual appeal of cleanliness under the hood. Many people are intimidated by the idea of tackling such a delicate cleaning job, though, due to the complexity of modern engines and the number of sensors and other electrical components present underneath the hood. For this reason, many people turn to the detailing services offered by their dealership when it comes time to deep clean their engines. The detailing professionals employed by new car dealerships are specially trained to safely and effectively remove dirt and grime from a motor and its surrounding components without risking any damage to delicate electronics. How do they do it? One of the first steps taken when detailing an engine is to let it cool down. Even an engine that has been running for only five to 10 minutes can build up a significant amount of heat, and introducing a stream of cool water or chemical cleaning products to a warm engine can result in potential cracks in rubber, gaskets and even metal. The detailing gurus at Autogeek.net strongly caution anyone against cleaning a hot engine under any circumstances. The next phase of preparing an engine to be detailed involves locating and protecting any parts that could potentially be harmed by liquids or chemicals. Typically, this means wrapping the vehicle’s alternator, cold air intake filter or ECU box. Sometimes, exposed sensors are also covered to prevent potential water damage. Next, a generous dose of liquid degreaser is sprayed onto the engine and is allowed to sit for a short period of time. Degreaser works to dissolve grit and oil residue that may have baked onto the engine over thousands of miles of use. When it’s time to rinse off the degreaser, forget power washers or even a stiff spray from a pistol-grip garden hose attachment; engine detailing is all about the gentle touch. Dealership detailing pros always use a low-pressure stream of water when rinsing down a motor. If the water sprays out with too much force, there is always the chance it could displace a sensor or wiring harness attachment point. A direct blast of water can also work its way between engine seals, potentially leading to water inside the block or intake. This can be difficult to dry out and could, in a worst-case scenario, lead to engine damage. A spray of water won’t take care of all the dirt under the hood, so detailers typically have to get in there with a cleaning mitt or a soft brush to agitate dirt in all of the nooks and crannies. A second rinse is usually done after this step, which is then followed by drying via an air blower and a set of shop towels. Finally, the motor is given an application of the same protectants and waxes that are used to give your car’s paint and trim a deep shine and glossy appearance. A clean engine doesn’t just look great; it also helps avoid heat buildup and other problems caused by dirt and contaminants that get layered on while driving. And if it’s trade-in time, it’s well worth the few bucks to have your car look its best. Call us today for an appointment, so our detailing professionals can keep your engine looking and performing its best.
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Exciting ideas that will make this Mother’s Day extraordinary.
Planning the perfect Mother’s Day is easy with so many fun options available in New England this year. Mothers just want to spend some quality time with their families, no matter the activity, but why not get creative and plan some new surprises this year. There are so many possibilities that it will be easy to find things for the whole family to enjoy. Brunch is the quintessential Mother’s Day activity, and for good reason. What mother doesn’t love an extravagant meal that she doesn’t have to cook or clean-up after? Kick this holiday standby up a notch by taking a brunch cruise. There are boats all over New England offering this special treat. Bostonians should check out the Odyssey Cruise Line(www.odysseycruises.com/Boston/mothers-day), which offers balloon artists and goodie bags for children, live entertainment for adults and gorgeous views of the harbor. Residents of New Hampshire can hop aboard the M/S Mount Washington for a fabulous champagne brunch that explores the sights of Lake Winnipesauke. For information on booking tickets, head to www.cruisenh.com/brunch.html. A unique way to combine eating with sightseeing is to take Mom on a hot air balloon ride. High 5 Ballooning in Derry, New Hampshire offers a champagne picnic following each ride, making it the perfect treat for this holiday. Schedule your trip at www.high5ballooning.com. Mothers that prefer to stay on the ground while celebrating might enjoy sitting and listening to some classical music. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston is hosting a concert to honor all moms on May 8 titled “Paganini the violinist/Paganini the guitarist.” A link to purchase tickets can be found at www.mfa.org/programs/music/mother’s-day-concert-paganini-violinistpaganini-guitarist. The book Make Way for Ducklings is a classic that is at the center of many fond mother and child memories. Families can, but don’t have to, dress up as their favorite character from the book and retrace the steps of these famous ducklings at Boston’s Make Way for Ducklings Mother’s Day Waddle. This parade will be led by the sounds of the Harvard University Marching Band. A per-family donation, benefiting the Friends of the Public Garden organization, will cover snacks and a toy for each child. Visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org/kids/ for more information and other Boston events. There is something for everyone at Mom’s the Word, an event held at the Connecticut Convention Center on April 30, 2011. There will be gift bags, a spa hour and even a station where kids can put together handmade gifts for their mothers. If you want to do your gift shopping at the event, there will also be consultants to lead you to the perfect pick. There is much more happening at this event including a panel discussion about motherhood, so go to www.ctconventions.com/events/event_page.php?event_id=433 for the full scoop. Glamorous moms should head up to Maine for the Lipgloss4Lives Mother’s Day Family Gala on May 7, 2011. She can bring her own dancing shoes to enjoy the dance floor and live music, or she can sit back and watch a professional dance team strut its stuff. Information on buying tickets can be found at www.lipgloss4lives.com/mothers_day_family_gala. The proceeds of this event go toward the organization’s scholarship fund. Put a little pizzazz into your Mother’s Day plans this year and show her how special she is.
(Direct Auto Mall eNewsletter)
Advice for the perfect travel experience.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a once-a-week business traveler or love cross-country road trips – regardless, certain precautions while spending time away from home can keep you at your best. There’s nothing worse than feeling ill, especially when matters are complicated by unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, however, there are steps you can take to ensure a safe and successful excursion. Here are a few to get you on the right track: 1. Think before you eat or drink: If you’ve ever visited a developing country, you’ve been warned to stay away from the tap water. You may be surprised, however, to find that discretion is advised regarding liquids and foods wherever you are in the world. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises travelers to drink plenty of liquids (boiled or bottled if the tap water is questionable), they also suggest you avoid overindulging in any type of food, as well as substances containing alcohol. Eat normally to prevent gastrointestinal issues, and don’t forget to bring vitamin supplements if you’re worried about getting your daily dose of nutrients. Find out more at www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049047.htm. 2. Work in a vacation workout:You may be looking forward to relaxing on the beach for your next getaway, but don’t forget that staying active makes for a more enjoyable trip. Livestrong.com recommends utilizing all your vacation amenities such as the hotel pool and gym, to treat yourself to an invigorating workout. You’ll feel better physically and mentally, and will have more energy for sightseeing and other activities. Don’t forget to take some risks, either: Cruise down a zip line or take a kayak lesson for an adventure that won’t even feel like exercise. 3. Study up on the local bugs: Infectious diseases can be a major threat to tourists, so be sure to get both pre- and post-travel exams by your doctor. According to University of Wisconsin Health Services, travelers should be well informed on diseases specific to the time and place of their visit. Rabies is a major problem among domestic animals in Southeast Asia, for example, while influenza is prevalent in the southern hemisphere during our spring and summer. Before your trip, be sure to consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/travel for destination-specific advisories and updated vaccination and disease information. Also, talk to your doctor about any special circumstances like asthma, pregnancy or diabetes that may impact your ability to travel safely. Don’t let poor planning slow you down while abroad; with the right information and a little common sense, you can enjoy a fabulous vacation or seamless business trip. Even minor pre-trip steps can get you ready to conquer the world and help you feel relaxed by the time you return home. More valuable travel tips for the whole family can be found at www.travel.state.gov.
(Direct Auto Mall eNewsletter)
Basic maintenance and subtle changes to driving habits can add up to reduced fuel consumption.
As fuel prices continue to rise, many drivers are looking for ways to improve the gas mileage of their vehicles and stretch each tank as far as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks that have been proven effective time and again that you can use to help squeeze a few more miles out of each drop of gas. The U.S. Department of Energy maintains an extensive website at www.fueleconomy.org/feg/drive.shtml dedicated to helping American drivers maximize their gas mileage. One of the most effective methods of improving fuel economy is to change your driving habits in a number of small, but important areas. First, it’s important to make sure that your car isn’t carrying anymore of a load than necessary. This means that you should clear out your trunk or hatch area of any items that might have accumulated there over time. This can include sports equipment, old toolboxes and even snow scrapers that have hung around well into the summer months. Every 100 pounds that you can pull out of your cargo area can save you as much as two percent on your fuel bill. Another driving tip involves momentum and smoothness. Gasoline engines are most efficient when maintaining a constant speed, which is why fuel economy typically goes up during highway driving. Keeping your speed as consistent as possible on the freeway, by avoiding speed-ups and slow-downs, will go a long way toward extending the range of your tank of gas. Around town, where stops are unavoidable, gradual acceleration versus stomping on the gas from streetlight-to-streetlight will have a similar effect on lowering fuel use. In both cases, it’s also important to keep in mind that slower speeds equal reduced gasoline consumption. You might be able to get away with not getting a ticket, but you can never escape the extra fuel used by high rpm driving. Properly maintaining your car can also help reduce your gas use. Underinflated tires can rob you of as much as 3.3 percent of your automobile’s fuel mileage rating, according to U.S. Department of Energy figures. Matching your tire inflation to the number listed on the door sticker is a great way to help save gas. Using the correct viscosity oil for your engine – and changing it at the factory recommended intervals – can additionally play an important role in keeping your motor running at peak efficiency. Information on correct viscosity is located in your owner’s manual. If you can’t find it there, visit your dealership’s service department and ask the experts. While a two to three percent increase in fuel economy might not sound like much, using each of these tips in conjunction with each other over the course of a year can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings at the gas pump. With the summer gas price surge just around the corner, every little bit of extra fuel efficiency can help keep more money in your pocket. These tips are sure to help, but it’s all for naught if your car isn’t running at its peak efficiency. Contact us at the dealership today to see what else we can do to help your car run as efficiently as possible.
(Direct Auto Mall eNewsletter)
What exactly is a carbon footprint?
We hear a lot about “carbon footprints” these days, but no one seems to explain just what this green buzzword really means. We know we should try to decrease ours, but where do we begin? Here is an introduction to this hotly debated topic. According to The Carbon Trust, a not-for-profit, eco-friendly company that helps private and public organizations reduce their carbon emissions and “commercialize low carbon technologies,” a carbon footprint is “the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person.” “Greenhouse gases” include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydroflurocarbons and others. Human activity has generated an enormous increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the last 200 years. Reducing these emissions is what lowering carbon footprints is all about. When looking to decrease carbon footprints, the most crucial factors to address are population, economic output and energy and carbon intensity in a given economy. By decreasing either the total energy necessary for production or our personal dependence on CO2-emitting fuels (or, ideally, both), we have our greatest chance at decreasing our carbon emissions and therefore, decreasing our carbon footprints. Each footprint can be looked at as the sum of two parts – the primary footprint and the secondary footprint. The primary footprint is about 46 percent of our total emissions and is wholly controlled by our own actions. Our secondary footprint, responsible for approximately 54 percent of total CO2 emissions, is the result of actions made on our behalf. The primary footprint measures your direct emissions of CO2. These come from the usage of fossil fuels to heat our homes, power our vehicles (cars, planes, trains, etc.) and keep our lights on. These are the emissions over which we possess individual control. According to Carbon Footprint Ltd, the primary footprint for most individuals can be broken down as follows: · Home, gas, oil & coal – 15 percent· Home electricity – 12 percent· Private transportation – 10 percent· Public transportation – 3 percent· Vacation flights – 6 percent The secondary footprint measures your indirect emissions, the ones associated with the production and breakdown of goods and services from which you benefit. This includes: · Recreation and leisure – 14 percent· Share of public services – 12 percent· House (buildings and furnishings) – 9 percent· Car manufacture and delivery – 7 percent· Food and drink – 5 percent· Clothes and personal effects – 4 percent· Financial services – 3 percent What can be done to improve our own carbon footprints without detracting from our quality of life? The answer is “carbon offsets.” According to the Collins English Dictionary, a carbon offset is “a compensatory measure made by an individual or company for carbon emissions, usually through sponsoring activities or projects which increase carbon dioxide absorption, such as tree planting.” While simple behavior modifications are encouraged such as using public transportation, unplugging household items when they are not in use and cutting back on unnecessary energy consumption, another simple way to improve your carbon footprint is by planting trees and supporting reforestation work efforts such as American Forests’ Global ReLeaf and Carbonfund.org. Reduced carbon emissions aren’t the only benefit of these efforts; reforestation and carbon offset projects also create jobs, preserve wildlife habitats, protect biodiversity and improve local environmental quality. It’s a win-win for you and your environment. To determine your personal carbon footprint and find out how you can help with the reforestation effort, visit www.carbonfootprint.com.
(Direct Auto Mall eNewsletter)
Events in New England to get you into the swing of spring.
The extent of snowfall in New England this winter, while beautiful, surely has given everyone a serious case of spring fever. Fortunately, there are spring-themed events that will have you making maple syrup, planning this year’s garden and viewing beautiful new blossoms – plenty of fun to tide you over while you wait for the weather to fully warm up. Seeing the first Swan Boats gliding through the waters of the Boston Public Garden has been a sign of spring for more than 130 years. You will be able to relax on the calm water while enjoying the beautiful flowers of America’s first botanical gardens. The Swan Boats first open on April 16, 2011 and tickets can be purchased right at the dock. Visit www.swanboats.com for more information. From March 25 through 27, 2011, the Connecticut Expo Center in Hartford is hosting the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. More than 200 artisans will display their wares for purchase, and there will also be interactive presentations to demonstrate artistic techniques including metal spinning and wheel-thrown pottery. There will also be live music, children’s entertainment and gourmet food to keep everyone full and happy. A full list of vendors can be found at www.sugarloafcrafts.com/festivals/hartford/spring/area_information.html. If you prefer to enjoy the beautiful landscaping of classic New England, there are many botanical gardens that can fulfill this desire. Head to Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, Massachusetts to view the all-season landscapes. If you plan your trip for April 2, 2011, you can attend a special class on sustainable rose growing in the New England climate. Visit www.towerhillbg.org/thwebdir.html for more information. You can experience two types of amazing views at the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island, which combines picturesque landscaping with vistas of Narragansett Bay. This romantic property was named one of the five best public gardens of New England in 2010 by Yankee magazine. The gardens of this estate are open all year, but if you wish to visit the mansion during your trip, check www.blithewold.org for the announcement of the mid-April opening date. Due to its year-round availability in grocery stores, many New Englanders may not realize that maple sugar and syrup is made from sap collected in a four to six week season, usually in late winter and early spring, when the temperature is just right for collection. For an extravaganza of all things maple flavored, head to the Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans on the weekend of April 15 through 17, 2011. The festival includes crafts and specialty food shows, live entertainment, contests and more. You can find the updated schedule of events at www.vtmaplefestival.org. You can learn to tap a maple tree and experience the process of syrup making for yourself during the New Hampshire Maple Experience at The Rocks Estate in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. These classes are held on March 12, 19, 26 and April 2, 2011. Information on booking classes can be found at www.therocks.org/events-programs.php. Winter in New England is coming to an end; prepare for spring by getting outside and enjoying Mother Nature in her glory.
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Things to take care of once warmer weather rolls around.
The changing of the seasons is often one of the best ways to time basic automobile maintenance. According to Edmunds.com, the dawn of spring is the perfect reminder for you to verify that your windshield wipers are still in good shape, your tires are holding air and your air filter is still clean enough to do its job properly. Spring is also a great time to rotate your tires, particularly if you live in a region where you don’t need to swap on a set of summer rubber once the winter is over. Warmer weather makes it easier to take care of all the cleaning you may have put off during the winter months. It is often far too cold to regularly wipe down the interior or hose off the exterior of your automobile during the December to March period, which means that the dirt, dust and grime associated with regular use can really build up. Of course, winter brings with it several additional cleaning concerns that should be taken care of once spring rolls around. First and foremost, for those who live in a region where road salt is a fact of life, it’s important to make sure all traces of this corrosive substance is removed from your vehicle, inside and out. Road salt is tenacious; it clings to every nook and cranny of your vehicle’s undercarriage. Be sure your carwash, whether you do it yourself by hand or visit a self-serve or automatic carwash, includes your automobile’s wheel wells and underside, which means that it is very important to make sure that whatever carwash you choose, offers the ability to liberally blast your chassis with strong jets of water. Since salt accumulation is one of the biggest contributors to rust, keeping it off your vehicle goes a long way toward protecting your investment. Salt, snow and ice are also very easy to track into your vehicle over the course of the winter where they melt together on carpets and floor mats. It can be frustrating to try to remove salt and mud stains from carpeting using traditional shampoos; fortunately, there are special enzyme cleaning products that are specifically designed to handle road salt, breaking it down so it can be removed from fabric. Simply spray on, wait and then wipe to take care of even the most frustrating lumps of road salt in your vehicle’s interior. Spring cleaning isn’t just for houses and garages – your car can also seriously benefit from some extra care and attention. Taking the time in the spring to handle the little things can make a big difference in your car’s appearance and performance, and lengthen its lifespan. Of course, if you don’t have the time or the inclination for this kind of labor, your car dealer offers state-of-the art cleaning and detailing services specifically tailored to your make and model. Specialized cleaning products, tools and techniques can make short work of even the most neglected vehicles, rewarding you with what might look like a brand-new car. For the do-it-yourselfer, your dealer is a great resource for advice, and for the products your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends for use on its cars and trucks.
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Regular dealership inspections can help avoid problems down the road.
The job of your automobile’s cooling system is to keep your vehicle’s engine operating within the temperature range specified by its manufacturer. Cooling systems are not highly complicated, but regular maintenance is needed to ensure their proper operation in all types of weather conditions. There are a number of signs that could indicate that your vehicle’s cooling system might require professional attention. The first is if the temperature gauge or warning light on your dash indicates that your vehicle is overheating. Even slight overheating can have a negative effect on your car’s performance and the longevity of your engine. If your car is overheating, it’s important to shut it off immediately and contact your dealer’s service department to have the problem checked out as soon as possible. An engine that never fully heats up to standard operating temperatures (especially during the winter months) could also indicate a problem with your cooling system. Stuck thermostats and coolant loss – usually due to a leak – are two of the more frequent causes of both overheating and underheating issues. Signs that you could be leaking coolant or have a thermostat problem include dried green or yellow coolant spray in the engine bay, or the automobile’s heater blowing cool or cold air, no matter how long the vehicle has been running. One of the best ways to keep your cooling system in top shape is to have it regularly inspected and maintained by the technicians at your dealer’s service department. These individuals are specially trained to be able to detect any of the telltale signs that your car’s cooling system might require service. What exactly do dealership personnel look for when attempting to pinpoint a cooling system problem? According to the Automotive Service Association (ASA), there are a number of basic steps that can help diagnose any vehicle coolant issues. Technicians start with an engine’s coolant hoses, which can dry out and crack over time due to heat and vibration. The same can be said of an engine’s drive belts, which power important cooling system equipment like the water pump that circulates an antifreeze and water mixture throughout the motor. The thermostat needs to open and close properly, the vehicle’s fan blades need to spin freely without any bent or cracked blades and the fan clutch should not be loose, (which could indicate a worn bearing). An inspection of the radiator for any leaks when the system is pressurized is also usually performed. In addition to these individual parts, the condition of the coolant fluid is critical to how a cooling system operates. As with most fluids, coolant can degrade over time and become less effective at regulating engine temperatures and inhibiting corrosion. It’s also critical to understand that all coolant isn’t created equal. Many manufacturers – especially those with diesel engines in their product mixes – require specific low-silicate glycol antifreeze that also requires the addition of specific additives. Nobody knows these requirements better than your dealership. Rather than risking potentially catastrophic engine damage, visit your dealer and have your coolant replaced with the correct formula and additives. It is always a better idea to have your cooling system regularly inspected by dealership personnel than to have to deal with unexpected component failures and other issues. Catching a problem before it causes equipment damage or failure is easy enough to do if you stick to the regular cooling system maintenance schedule recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
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Simple checks and basic maintenance to help ensure a safe and happy winter driving season.
Winter might not mean snow and ice across the entire country, but the colder weather means it’s time to take care of a few preventative and general maintenance items, so you can enjoy stress-free winter traveling.
Start by checking to make sure you’re riding on safe tires that offer enough tread to get through the season. Winter tires are recommended if the temperature is consistently below 40 degrees in your region at this time of year, even if you don’t get much snow.
The experts at Road & Travelmagazine provide a reminder that sometimes it’s the little things that can make the difference between smooth sailing and frustration. Your vehicle’s fluids are a perfect example. The coolant in your radiator may not offer the same level of protection in the winter as it does in the summer, depending upon its ratio of water to antifreeze. A simple test, which can be performed by your mechanic, can help you determine whether you need to add additional coolant to your automobile to prevent possible engine freezing and damage at sub-zero temperatures.
The same precaution should be applied to your windshield washer fluid, as summer formulations don’t always offer enough alcohol content to prevent them from turning into a solid block of ice in your reservoir tank – especially at night when the weather is at its coolest. Winter washer fluid formulations are just as inexpensive as their summer equivalents, and make for cheap insurance during an unexpected cold snap.
If you live in a very cold area of the country, there is one more fluid you might want to consider protecting during the winter months – the gasoline in your car’s tank. In extreme temperatures, moisture in the fuel tank and in your vehicle’s fuel lines could freeze and make your car difficult to start. Keeping your tank full helps prevent moisture accumulation and the addition of a small amount of inexpensive fuel-line antifreeze from time to time can also take moisture out of the picture.
It is a good idea to have the dealership verify that your engine hoses and belts are in good shape when the seasons change, as plastic and rubber tend to become more brittle when exposed to low temperatures, increasing the chances that they might fail. Streaky windshield wipers should be replaced, as dealing with snow and ice is harder on wipers than just cleaning off rain and water. Finally, it’s worth adding a winter emergency kit to your trunk. A simple bag packed with a blanket, hand warmers, a small shovel, extra washer fluid, a combination scraper/snowbrush, snacks and extra water can help make getting stuck in a snow bank or buried during a sudden storm that much easier to deal with. An extra pair of gloves, boots and a winter hat never hurts either, as keeping warm and dry is a big part of fighting off the dangers of the winter cold.
Your dealership can help you inspect your car and put together a checklist of any issues that should be addressed. Their expert technicians will make sure that your car won’t hit you with any unexpected surprises halfway through the season, keeping you motoring safely until the spring thaw.
The great tire debate pits safety and security against cost, comfort and performance.
In certain instances, car technologies spark healthy debates. One such case concerns run-flat tires, which represent the most highly developed tire designs currently available.
Essentially, run-flat tires are built to do exactly what their name suggests: keep on rolling despite having been punctured or otherwise deflated. Run-flat tires allow for far more than just limping to the closest service station in the event of an emergency – most designs are good for distances of at least 50 miles at highway speeds. That can easily mean the difference between spending the night in a gas station parking lot and making it all the way to a hotel, or even your planned destination.
The safety advantages of run-flat tires are clear: no stopping on the dangerous highway shoulder to slap on a spare, no waiting for a tow truck after a blowout and increased mobility that is especially useful when driving far from home. This list of positives would seem to indicate that the entire industry should have, by now, moved over entirely to run-flat technology.
Clearly, that hasn’t happened yet, as standard tires still enjoy the majority share of the market. You might be wondering what particular aspects of run-flat tires have prevented their wider acceptance. Actually, there are a few factors that have kept run-flat tires from putting a stranglehold on the tire industry.
The first has to do with price. Most run-flat tires are able to keep going after a puncture because they feature an extraordinarily strong sidewall that is internally reinforced to the point where it is capable of bearing the entire weight of the car. The additional engineering that goes into this type of design, combined with the specialized manufacturing and extra materials used, typically boosts the price of a run-flat tire above that of a comparable standard tire.
While car companies might be able to absorb some of these extra costs by not having to include a spare with a new vehicle, drivers facing the prospect of replacing a worn-out or damaged run-flat tire often find themselves facing sticker shock. In addition, once a run-flat tire has been driven on while flat, it must be replaced – repair is impossible. Costs can quickly escalate in the event of an incident.
The reinforced sidewall design on a run-flat tire also has an effect on driving feel. As it is stiffer than a regular tire, some drivers find that run-flats offer a rougher ride. Performance cars outfitted with run-flat tires are particularly singled out as being poorer performers than the same vehicles featuring high-end, standard-design tires. For many drivers, the increased cost and rougher ride of some run-flat tires is more than outweighed by the security and peace of mind the tires provide in the event of a blowout.
If you are considering moving to run-flats, or going the other way and swapping out your current run-flats for a set of traditional radials, you should make sure to consult with your dealership’s technicians prior to making your final decision. These automotive experts know more about your car than anyone else does – the Internet and tire-shop salesman included – and they are in an excellent position to advise you as to whether you will see a substantial benefit from the change.
Car ownership is a necessity in much of the United States with spread-out urban areas and lack of efficient mass transit options. Along with car ownership come the required repairs and maintenance that can get costly, especially with today’s advanced and complicated electronic parts. Once your car is out of warranty, paying the exorbitant prices charged by dealerships isn’t so appealing. That makes it time to find an independent auto repair shop that you can trust to provide the knowledgeable, expert care your car needs and the fair prices and honest service that you deserve. With many independent auto repair shops from which to choose, how does one find that reputable shop? The first thing to do is to find one before you have a problem. Don’t wait until there’s an emergency. One of the most dependable ways of finding a great mechanic is to ask co-workers, friends, or families where they take their cars for service and get their recommendations. Ask about their experiences and level of satisfaction. Are they glowing or just so-so? Once you get several recommendations, choose the one that sounds the best or is most convenient and go there for your next routine oil change. Were you treated courteously? Were you kept waiting? Most auto repair shops have advertised prices on oil change and other promotions to get your business. Is the price promised what you actually were charged? As soon as possible after you leave, check your oil dip stick. Is the oil clear? Is it over or under the full mark by a significant amount? This simple test can tell you a lot about the quality and honesty of the auto repair shop to give you the confidence you need when more costly maintenance or repairs are required.
Car ownership is a necessity in much of the United States with spread-out urban areas and lack of efficient mass transit options. Along with car ownership come the required repairs and maintenance that can get costly, especially with today’s advanced and complicated electronic parts. Once your car is out of warranty, paying the exorbitant prices charged by dealerships isn’t so appealing. That makes it time to find an independent auto repair shop that you can trust to provide the knowledgeable, expert care your car needs and the fair prices and honest service that you deserve.
With many independent auto repair shops from which to choose, how does one find that reputable shop? The first thing to do is to find one before you have a problem. Don’t wait until there’s an emergency. One of the most dependable ways of finding a great mechanic is to ask co-workers, friends, or families where they take their cars for service and get their recommendations. Ask about their experiences and level of satisfaction. Are they glowing or just so-so?
Once you get several recommendations, choose the one that sounds the best or is most convenient and go there for your next routine oil change. Were you treated courteously? Were you kept waiting? Most auto repair shops have advertised prices on oil change and other promotions to get your business. Is the price promised what you actually were charged? As soon as possible after you leave, check your oil dip stick. Is the oil clear? Is it over or under the full mark by a significant amount?
This simple test can tell you a lot about the quality and honesty of the auto repair shop to give you the confidence you need when more costly maintenance or repairs are required.
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