30 June 2010

Vacation Trip Check

When the last beach towel was loaded, the family pulled out of the driveway and headed on vacation. That’s when an unsettling moaning noise caught their attention.

Chances are the moaning noise was a result of low power steering fluid. But without a professional technician to check it out, how could the travelers be certain that topping it off would fix it?

A free trip check is the smart way to begin a vacation or road trip. Long before the dog goes to the sitter and the neighbors are asked to pick up the newspapers, it’s important to make time for Coppell Tire & Auto to examine your vehicle.

Fluids are an important part of any vehicle checklist. Expect our technicians to check and perhaps replace or top off the following: antifreeze/coolant, transmission, engine oil, brake fluid, washer fluid, and power steering fluid. The transmission fluid, oil and fuel also have filters that will need to be examined.

Air filters
Other important filters to examine in a check up is both the engine and cabin filters. A clean engine air filter improves performance and gas mileage, while a clean cabin air filter screens out toxins and allergans that you breath as well as improving air conditioned or heated air flow.

Not surprisingly, it’s a driver’s vision, not his hearing or smell, which guides 90% of driving decisions. That’s why something as simple as a misdirected or burned out headlight can spell disaster on a rainy night. Now is the time to make sure headlights, windshields, window glass, signal lights, mirrors and wipers/blades are in good shape.

Although most brake pads are constructed with built in “squealers” to alert you to declining conditions, it’s a good idea to have them examined before a trip. Brakes also should be checked at regular intervals (see owner’s manual) and whenever they begin feeling abnormal.

Unlike many of your vehicles components, a simple $24 battery check can determine if it needs to be replaced prior to a trip. While many think cold weather affects a battery’s starting ability, hot weather actually shortens a battery's life much quicker.

At any given time, a motorist is connected to the road by the few square inches of rubber that are in contact with the road. Make sure that the tire tread is deep enough; the tires are properly inflated and have been correctly rotated, balanced and aligned.

Don’t put your car’s reliability and your family’s safety on the line. Give us plenty of time to have your vehicle checked out and repaired, if needed. It’s some of the cheapest insurance around.

24 June 2010

Summer Car Care Tips

Summer can be tough on vehicles, especially during high temperatures when heat can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires. As a precaution, these vehicle components should be checked periodically during summer to help avoid breakdowns.

Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of a battery. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery. To get the most life out of a battery, have the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. If your car’s battery is the type that needs to be topped off (rare nowadays), check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water if necessary. Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can become a conductor, which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator and inhibits the current flow.

The cooling system also works harder during hot temperatures to prevent overheating of the engine. To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant and distilled water mixture for a vehicle’s radiator should be 50:50. AS A REMINDER, NEVER OPEN A HOT RADIATOR CAP TO CHECK COOLANT LEVEL. Most vehicles have a coolant reservoir that can be safely checked. As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles. This will keep the cooling system fresh and clean inside, which helps to prevent corrosion and rust, and assures that the coolant has the proper boiling point and protection. A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked for cracks, bulges or frayed edges. The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.

Tires also need special care in warmer weather as high temperatures put added stress on them. To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure monthly, and have the tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Summer heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise, therefore, it’s important to check the pressure when tires are cold. The owner’s manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle’s tires.

And one last note...the vehicle’s exterior can be damaged by the summer extremes including sunlight, UV radiation, acid rain, dirt, and air pollution. To protect the paint and finish, vehicles should be washed weekly and waxed every six months. If you already have damage, stop by for a free estimate from our full service body shop - Coppell Collision Repair.