Your Car Maintenance Schedule

admin 2020-02-10

Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about a regular car maintenance schedule until something goes wrong. But if you get in the habit of planning upkeep, you’re less likely to experience unexpected breakdowns that also break the bank. No one wants to be that person stranded on the side of the road with their hazard lights blinking.  

The Owner’s Manual

Every vehicle comes with an owner’s manual, but if your copy is missing, an electronic version might exist online. The manual should include a section detailing the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. This will give you an overall idea of how often tasks need to be performed so you can get them on the calendar in advance.

Another thing to consider is that if your vehicle is exposed to extreme temperatures, or you frequently haul heavy loads or drive on rough terrain, it’s best to switch to the “severe maintenance schedule.”

Car Maintenance and Motor Oil

Motor oil can cause damage to an engine when it’s not changed regularly. The oil acts as a vital lubricant that keeps parts from grinding together, but accumulated contaminants eventually lead to friction. This is also an ideal time to swap out old air filters. Twice a year is usually a good rule of thumb. The air filter is responsible for keeping small particles out of the engine.  

Top Off Tires

Properly inflated tires reduce the risk of a blowout. You can find the proper tire pressure listed in the owner’s manual, as well. For accuracy, it’s best to add air to tires before driving, preferably not after you’ve been on the road all day. This is because tire pressure is affected by temperature. It’s not a bad idea to double-check your spare tire, too.

Car Maintenance for Fluids

Washer fluid is usually topped off during an oil change, but don’t forget about your vehicle’s brake and transmission fluids. As a side note, never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot. You could be scalded by boiling coolant as the pressure is released.    

Keep an Eye on Belts and Hoses

Belts and hoses need to be examined regularly and most should be changed every three to four years, depending on how many miles you put on your car. It’s important to check hoses for cracks or bulges. Similarly, belts need to be inspected for signs of wear.

Of course, there are other things to be conscious of when creating your upkeep schedule, such as the battery life, and windshield wipers. Stay organized with a car maintenance log, or even download a phone app.

A good mechanic can also help you keep track of your vehicle’s needs. Please contact us at (925) 284-3390 to plan your car maintenance schedule.  

How to Clean Foggy Headlights

Foggy Headlights
admin 2020-01-15

Foggy headlights are not only a safety hazard on dark roads, but they also make your car look worn out. Luckily, the solution is usually pretty simple. This quick guide walks you through the DIY steps to restoring your car’s shine.

What Causes Foggy Headlights?

The lenses in car headlights used to be made of glass, but today they’re mostly comprised of a thick plastic. This means they’re more durable, but UV rays from the sun eventually degrade the outer layers of plastic, giving foggy headlights that yellowy, opaque look.

What You’ll Need

Auto supply stores sell headlight restoration kits, which provide a bottled cure for foggy headlights. But there are also home remedies that you can use in a pinch. Plus, most people already have these supplies just lying around.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Old towels
  • Toothpaste
  • Disposable gloves
  • Masking Tape
  • Water

Once you’ve gathered supplies, follow these simple steps:

  1. Rinse headlights and pat them dry.
  2. Protect the paint and plastic around your headlights with masking tape.
  3. Put on latex gloves, if you chose to wear them. Scrub foggy headlights with a dab of toothpaste and a little water, using a clean cloth, or soft-bristled brush.
  4. Rinse both headlights, and allow time for them to air dry. If you have it at hand, it’s all right to apply a small amount of car wax to protect your clean headlights.

Overall, this quick tip is a simple process that should only take about ten minutes, and next time you’re out for an evening drive, you’ll definitely notice better visibility.

If you have any further questions about headlight maintenance or replacement options, please contact us at our shop. We can be reached at (925) 284-3390.

How to Make Your Tires Last Longer

make your tires last longer
admin 2019-12-19

New car tires aren’t cheap, but they’re vital to your safety. Before you hit the road, check out these maintenance tips to make your tires last longer.  

  1. Rotate Tires
    Uneven tire wear is common, even with all-wheel drive vehicles. Tires last longer when they’re rotated. The general recommendation is every 4,000 miles. A technician can move them to a new position during a routine oil change. It’s not a bad idea to have this done prior to a long road trip.
  2. Tire Pressure
    Maintaining the correct air pressure is the simplest way to ensure tires last longer. Extreme weather can affect tire pressure. Regardless, they’ll lose at least a pound of pressure per square inch (PSI) every month. This matters because the wrong air pressure can increase wear and breaking times. Additionally, it makes a blowout more likely.
    You’ll also get fewer miles to the gallon if there isn’t enough air in your tires, so check once a month.
  3. Alignment
    You can be sure your alignment is off if your car pulls to one side or the other, or the steering wheel shakes. Sometimes neither of these signs will be present when the alignment is off, though. Little things can shift the alignment, like driving over a pothole, or bumping the curb, so a mechanic should adjust your car’s alignment every six months.
  4. Tread: The Penny Test
    It’s dangerous to drive on bald tires. Check for uneven wear or flat spots, as well as any cuts or cracks. You can use a tread depth gauge. There should be a 2/32 inch tread depth. If you don’t have a gauge, you can use a penny. Slide the coin into the tread upside down and facing you. If you see all of Lincoln’s head, you need new tires.
  5. Balance Tires
    While you’re having your wheels rotated, you might as well get them balanced, too. Your mechanic uses a special machine to do this. Even new tires aren’t perfect. Regularly balancing them will promote even wear.

If you follow these five tips, your vehicle will be safer and handle better, and your tires will last longer. Just remember to keep track of maintenance so you can stay on schedule. If you have any questions, please give us a call at (925) 284-3390 or request an appointment.

Tips for Keeping Your Car in Storage

admin 2019-11-16

Cars need to be driven on a regular basis or they begin to break down. Issues can range from ruined tires to rodents nesting under the hood. But fortunately, if you plan on placing your car in storage, there are some steps you can take to protect it. Follow these simple tips to secure your car while you’re away.

 

Disconnect the battery

The battery is one of the first things to go when a car is in storage for too long. If there’s no one to periodically start the car, it’s a good idea to just disconnect the battery because otherwise it can leak corrosive acid that damages the engine. In particular, older batteries lose a charge more quickly, but jumper cables can be used when you’re ready to drive your vehicle again.

 

Tires

Jack stands take weight off the tires, which will prevent flat spots from forming. Otherwise, as tires lose air pressure, the weight of the car can create permanent flat spots where tires meet with the ground. This happens more quickly in cold weather.

 

Change the oil

Change the oil before leaving your car in storage for longer than thirty days. Dirty engine oil can thicken, making it difficult to start a vehicle that’s been parked for weeks.

 

Use a car cover

A car cover is an easy precaution. Wash and wax your vehicle to remove any grime that might damage the paint then cover your car for added protection.

 

Top off the tank

A full tank of gas prevents rust from forming while your car is in storage. It will also keep the seals from drying out. A stabilizer can be added to preserve the fuel for up to several months.

Whether you’re traveling for an extended time, or have a spare vehicle that just isn’t suitable for winter roads, carefully planning to put your car in storage will save you time and money later on.

3 Questions to Ask an Auto Body Repair Shop

Walnut Creek Car Repair, auto body shop
admin 2019-09-26

It’s stressful when your car needs collision repairs, but you’re not sure which business to trust. It’s also inconvenient to be without wheels. “How long will it take?” is the first thing we want to know, but as you search for a reputable auto body shop, keep these other questions in mind.

What credentials should a reputable auto body shop have?

Most reputable auto body shops will display certifications from associations in the industry, such as the Independent Auto Body Association (IABA), AAA, or the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS).

It requires considerable skill and knowledge to repair a vehicle. Not all technicians regularly work with classic models, or certain foreign cars. Some specialize. Consider how long they’ve been in business, and ask if they have experience with your vehicle, as well as the type of repairs that are needed.

Is there a warranty for repairs?

A reputable body shop will offer a written warranty that guarantees the repair work and parts used for a minimum of one year. Make sure to ask what their warranty policy is, and how long it’s valid for. This can tell you everything you need to know about a business. If they don’t trust in the lasting quality of their work, neither should you.

What will it cost?

Most shops will provide a free quote. Your insurance company may have standing agreements with certain businesses, but to find a reputable auto body shop, it’s a good idea to get a few estimates. This process of elimination prevents you from being overcharged, although the lowest quote is not necessarily ideal. We tend to get what we pay for in quality. A technician should explain your options in detail, and put the estimate in writing.

Upon completion of repairs, request an itemized bill. Compare the statement to the original quote you were offered, and question any discrepancies.

It’s worth taking the extra time to find a reputable auto body shop. Asking the right questions will give you confidence in your decision. You can also check reviews online to find out if other customers are satisfied. Hopefully you never need their services again, but you’ll know where to send friends and family if they do.