Should your College Student Take their Car to School?

taking car to collegeBack to school can be a time of big decisions for parents and students. One of the most difficult is whether or not to take a car away to college. Consider the following when making this decision:

Responsible use – Has your child done his or her part in taking care of their vehicle so far? Have they driven safely and not had a problem with speeding tickets or accidents? Keep in mind the atmosphere of college inevitably means less supervision and more opportunities for poor decisions, so trust is a major factor.

School policy – Colleges have varying policies on cars for students. Many universities don’t allow first-year students to bring cars to campus. If your student’s school does allow vehicles, the next thing to look into is parking. Will there be a nearby lot or deck they can park in, or will they have to park further away? If the parking area safe?

• Convenience to family – Does it make sense to the rest of the family that your student’s car be gone for semesters at a time? There could be younger siblings near or of driving age that may need the car.

Jobs or internships – If your student has a part-time job or internship this fall, especially off-campus, then it is important they have a reliable means of transportation.

Cost – Does your child have a way to pay for gas, parking permits, etc., or will you be covering that? Come up with a plan, such as you paying a certain percentage if your student maintains a certain GPA.

Rules – Should you make the decision your student will take their car, establish some ground rules. Classmates will surely ask to borrow or drive the car at some point.

Alternatives – Should you decide your student won’t take their car, there are several alternatives to having a car on campus to consider.

Get Summer Road Ready

Are you ready for the Summer?
Summer Road Trip
Let the ASE Certified Techs at Car-X Tire & Auto  make sure your vehicle is safe & road ready!

Get vacation ready w/ the following tips:

Battery– Have your battery checked along with the charging system. Most people feel that the cold is tough on a vehicle’s battery, but it is heat that truly wears a battery out!

Tires– Have your tires checked for wear and have them rotated if needed. Teen-agers really do not enjoy changing tires while on vacation. Swimming and boating is a lot more desirable to them then this activity.

Cooling system– Ensure that your coolant can handle the extra heat you will be asking it to absorb and make sure it is still protecting all the different metals in your engine. Have the belts and hoses checked as well. The number one reason for vehicle break down while on the road is a blown heater hose.

Fluids– Make sure that all critical fluids are full and ready to make the long trip with no problems along the way! This list includes engine oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid, and also differential fluid. Change any of these fluids that are at the end of their useful life.

A/C– No time is the air conditioning system needed more then during a long road trip with the family all on board the vehicle. Cooler inside temperatures usually mean cooler tempers and a lot more enjoyable road trip. The A/C system should be checked for proper performance including compressor operation along with the cooling fans. You need to ensure that vehicle will be properly cooled when the outside heat is 90 plus degrees. Most newer vehicles are now equipped with a cabin filter and this needs checked yearly especially if anyone in the family suffers from allergies. Lastly, the A/C system should be checked for any small leaks so that the A/C does not quit half-way through your fun filled vacation trip.

How to Maximize Fuel Economy

Improving fuel economy is a matter of changing your driving habits. The benefits range from environmental to personal and financial. Here are some easy and effective tips on maximizing your fuel economy.

  • Drive Conservatively – Rapid acceleration and hard braking can reduce your fuel economy by 15-30% at highway speeds (10-40% in stop and go traffic).
  • Use Cruise Control – Cruise control reduces the fluctuations in speed keeping your car at a consistent pace helping to saving gas.
  • Avoid unnecessary Idling – Between 1 quarter to ½ gallon of fuel per hour is used when idling. Turn off your engine until you’re ready to get on your way, restarting your engine only uses 10 seconds worth of fuel. Only shut off your engine when it is safe to do so.  
  • Practice Proper car Maintenance:
    • Remove any extra items from your car – More weight = more fuel your car needs to use
    • Change your oil regularly
    • Check your tire pressure
    • Check your engine air filter and replace if needed
    • Choose to roll down your windows instead of using AC
    • Regularly track your fuel economy

What to Keep in Your Car at All Times

Ask yourself this: If you were stuck with a flat tire, a dead battery, an empty gas tank, a blown gasket or any number of other car troubles, would you be prepared? Most drivers try not to think about the possibility of being in any of those situations, but the fact is it happens more often than what we would think. Throw in the factor of bad weather, especially come the winter months and that probability of getting stranded increases.

When these events occur having an emergency kit can make a large difference in your experience. Having some of these items can help you get yourself back on the road sooner than later or at least can help keep you safe until someone can come to the rescue.

There is no limit to what you can have in your emergency kit but there are some things that are essential to have. Below is a list of those essential items to keep in your vehicle:

  • Lighting – Flares, Flashlight, Reflective Lighting

No. 1 on your emergency kit checklist should be lighting. Reflective lighting triangle and flares will help notify other drivers of the roadside hazard. We suggest getting Led battery-operated flares, they are longer lasting and reusable. A flashlight is also very important to have on hand to help you investigate the issue with your car. It is important to keep extra batteries as well. 

  • Jumper Cables/ Jump Starter

Car batteries often die or lose juice at the least opportune moments, having jumper cables can be the difference between waiting for 10 minutes to find another driver to jump your car or hours for a tow truck to get out to you. Another option is having a jump starter. This device acts like the battery of another vehicle with jumper cables directly attached. The instructions are the same procedure as jumping your battery with another person’s vehicle. Often these devices have multipurpose uses, some come with an air compressor and a flashlight attached. The only thing that you must make sure to do if you decide to get a jump starter is to make sure to charge it. Without a charge it will be useless, so it is always good to have a separate set of regular jumper cables.

  • First Aid Kit

The first aid kit is a must have item for your emergency kit. You can find prepack kits that will have all the essentials for small to more serious injuries. It is easy to injury yourself while trying to get your car back up and going. Be prepared for the worst and always hope for the best.

  • Blankets/Warm Clothing

These items are more essential in inclement weather conditions. If your car loses power completely and leaves you stranded on a winters day or evening the temperature in your car will decrease at a very fast pace. Make sure that you keep these items easily accessible to avoid leaving your car door open for longer than necessary, letting in the cold air

  • Spare Tire & Tools

Most of our vehicles have a spare tire or at least should. You should always double check to make sure you have a spare and to make sure that spare is properly inflated. A flat tire and a flat spare tire a recipe for disaster or having a properly inflated spare tire but no tools to switch out the tires. Ensure that you have the proper tools to use your spare tire when the time comes.

Everything you Need to Know About Vehicle Recalls

Vehicle recalls occur more frequently than most of us are aware of. This results when a manufacturer determines that a car model has a safety related defect that does not comply with the government’s safety standard. The manufacturer is then required to alert owners of this problem and may offer to repair the issue at no cost to you.

These alerts are usually delivered by mail or email, but they can often be overlooked. If you have a feeling that your car may be involved in a recall but haven’t received an alert, you can go online and check for yourself.

All you need is your VIN number which can be found in a few different places: the driver’s side lower corner of the windshield, vehicle registration, insurance card, or on a placard on the driver’s door jamb. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recall page (www.nhtsa.gov/recalls) and enter you VIN. If your car has been issued a recall it will pop up on the page and if nothing populates then your car has not been recalled.

If your car has been issued a recall you should call your local dealer and schedule an appointment to fix the recalled issue. If you didn’t buy your car from that specific dealer, they will help you with the recall if it’s the same manufacturer.

Avoid Getting Stranded!

What to do if…

…Your car won’t start

There are several possible reasons your car may not start, such as corroded cables or a light left on.

• If your car makes a clicking noise when you turn your key in the ignition – This type of sound usually indicates a dead battery. Have the battery checked and/or replaced by a certified technician.
• If your car is silent when you turn your key in the ignition – Check the battery cable connections and make sure they are tightened properly. Try starting your car again.
• If your car turns over but won’t start – Check your fuel supply. If you have plenty of gas, examine your spark plugs to ensure they are getting the electrical spark.
• If your car won’t start on cold days and your car has fuel injection – It will need professional assistance.
• If your battery seems alright – Failure to start problems can also be caused by bad ignition switches or starter connections. These can be examined and/or replaced by a certified technician.

Knowing how to jump start your car is important for if you ever do end up stranded.

1. Get out your jumper cables – Always carry a set up jumper cables in your car.

2. Find someone who is willing to assist you by using their car. Place both cars in park with the ignitions turned off and the emergency brakes on.

3. Remove the caps of both batteries.

dead car battery, how to jump start your car4. Connect the cables to the two batteries. The red cable has positive clips on each end and the black cable has negative clips. They should be attached in the correct order. One of the red clips should be attached to the positive terminal of your battery. The other red clip should be attached to the positive terminal of the other person’s car. One of the black clips should be attached to the negative terminal of the other persona’s batter. The other black clip should be attached to an unpainted metal surface on your car that isn’t near the carburetor or battery.

5. Try to start your car. If it still won’t start, make sure the cables are connected properly and have the other person run their engine for a few minutes. Try to start your car again and if it still will not start, you battery may need to be replaced.

…Your car breaks down

car break downMany things can cause you car to break down. If you feel your car experiencing a problem while driving, make every possible attempt to pull over to the right-hand shoulder of the road.

• Turn on your flashers. If it is nighttime, turn on your interior lights.
• If you were unable to make it to the side of the road, remain in your vehicle and call for help. Always try to carry a cell phone with you while driving.
• Many suggest hanging a cloth or piece of paper out of the drivers’ side window. This lets other drivers know your vehicle is in trouble and to go around you, as well as alerts any police officers or highway patrol that you are in need of assistance.
• If you are familiar with your car under the hood and want to look for what the problem may be, ensure you are far enough to the side of the road and stand only on sides of the car that are far enough away from traffic. Get back in your car as soon as you’ve looked around.
• If you are concerned about getting stranded, you may want to invest in a roadside assistance program such as AAA or OnStar, which can now get to you very easily by using GPS to track your location.

An important first step to any car trouble is to refer to your owner’s manual.

Tire Season Has Begun

October Tire Month October is Tire Month at Car-X! Why? It is the best time of year to pay attention to your tires and make sure they are ready for the coming winter months. The importance of tire maintenance cannot be underestimated – they are your vehicle’s only contact with the road.

• Have your tires inspected for proper wear and tread depth. Have them rotated if necessary according to your owner’s manual.

• Make sure your tires are in good shape. If they’re not, have them replaced. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.

• Depending on where you live, you may want to consider winter or snow tires. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.

• The valve caps on your tires are more valuable than you may think. They keep out any debris and prevent moisture from entering the tire, which can cause damage if the moisture freezes. This is especially critical for vehicles equipped with TPMS.

• All four tires should have the appropriate amount of inflation and pressure. This should be checked every few weeks once the weather gets cold, as the cooler temperatures cause the pressure in your tires to drop.

• Low tire pressure also negatively impacts gas mileage. According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Energy, having properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%.

• When was the last time you checked your spare? Take a look at your spare tire to ensure it is in good condition. A time when you really need it is not a time to find out it is flat.

Making sure your tires are in good condition is important, especially when preparing for the winter months. Read our article about the other components of winterization.

Find an Automotive Brake Specialist in Your Area

Most brake specialists recommend biannual brake inspections. Why so often? Because brakes experience a lot of wear.

No one ever said stopping a moving vehicle was easy. The friction that is created each and every time a driver steps on the brakes will wear brakes down over time.

The good news is that brakes are relatively simple devices. There are really only a few things that can go wrong with them. A trained brake specialist is often able to diagnosis and correct most brake problems in short order. Where do they begin?

Like most automotive problems, brake costs get more expensive when they are ignored. If a driver hears a squeak, squeal, or scrape emanating from the brakes, he should see his brake specialist as soon as humanly possible.

The Rotors

The first thing a brake specialist will check is the brake discs or rotors. If these discs have rough spots or deep grooves on them, they may need to be replaced. Failure to do so could result in complete and total brake failure. New rotors are often affordable at only around a hundred dollars a pair, not including the cost of labor.

The Pads

Brake pads absorb most of the friction and force whenever the brakes are applies. As a result, they tend to wear down quite quickly. If a pad is less than 1/8th of an inch thick, your brake specialist will recommend that you replace it. This is always a good idea. Brake pads are inexpensive and failing to replace them could damage other, more expensive parts of your braking system. Why pay a higher brake cost tomorrow when you can settle it today?  New brake pads not only improve performance, they also eliminate most brake noise.

Brake Lines

If a brake problem is not mechanical, it may have something to do with the brake lines. Because modern braking systems use hydraulics, they rely on fluids to transfer force into pressure. If the fluids are low, the brakes will not work as they should. The most common explanation is a leak in one of the brake lines. If there is a leak, brake fluid and pressure will be lost. In extreme cases, the brake pedal will sink to the floor and the brakes will be more or less useless.

If you experience any of the aforementioned problems, contact Car-X as soon as possible.

“Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” – Sounds Your Car Is Making and What to Do About Them

Most of us have experienced a curious sound coming from our vehicle. It is always a little nerve-racking, as some sounds can be indicators of serious problems, while others have simple fixes. Responding appropriately to the sounds your car makes can prevent problems from worsening, thus saving you a significant amount of money. The following explains what each sound means and what you can do to get rid of it.

The first part of diagnosing a noise-related problem is to determine where it is originating. Then establish when the noise occurs and how your car behaves when the noise starts.  Find a Car-X near you to listen to what your vehicle needs.

Backfire loud bang– This can be caused by an uneven air-fuel mixture or incorrect engine timing (slipped timing belt).

Chirping or squealing while accelerating– Loose, slipping belts are typically the cause of such a sound.

Clicking or tapping in your engine– The most common reason for this sound is low oil. If your oil level is good, there could be a loss of oil pressure.

Flapping– This may be a belt that is decaying or something is interfering with one of the fans.

Hissing or sizzling under the hood– If you hear this right when the engine is turned off, something is probably leaking. Any fluid that leaks under the hood hisses or sizzles when it touches the hot equipment around it.

Humming or whirring under your car– This type of sound is difficult to pinpoint because of the echoes and reverberations of the parts underneath your vehicle. A mechanic will have to diagnose it.

Knocking in your engine– This can be caused by using an incorrect fuel or oil grade. Always be sure to follow the correct oil, gasoline, and tire air pressure guidelines in your owner’s manual.

Noise from the front end while steering– May indicate bearing failure or steering linkage wear.

Popping in your engine– Potential problems include a clogged fuel filter or ignition or spark plug problems, especially if the engine misfires with the pop.

Rattling from under your car– This can be caused by loose parts such as your exhaust system.

Squealing wheels while braking– Causes range from small, such as dirt on the brake pads or rotors, to serious, such as worn pads. Brake noises are safety issues and require immediate attention.

Scraping or grinding while braking– If the squealing has gotten worse and now sounds like a scraping sound, this means your brake pads are completely worn down or close to it. This causes damage each time you apply the brakes.

Thumping on hard acceleration– May be felt through the steering wheel or floor & can be caused by broken engine or transmission mounts.

Whining– This sound usually indicates excessive transmission wear.

Each of the sounds outlined above may indicate serious problems. By identifying the what, when, and where of the sound(s), you can have the right conversation with your mechanic and prevent a small problem from growing larger and more expensive.

Does anyone else remember the old “Rattle Rattle Thunder Clatter” commercials? Visit your local Car-X man today.

Holiday Driving Safety

Holiday driving, traffic Due to the excessive number of travelers driving during the holiday season, it is important to remember the following to avoid any possible trouble on the road.

Plan ahead – Plan time preceding your trip to assure your car is tuned up and ready for travel. Plan the route you will take, and leave early to ensure you get to your destination safely.

Check your oil – Depending on how far you are traveling, it may be necessary to get your oil changed.

Check your tires – Check the tread, and ensure there is sufficient tire pressure. This helps improve handling and increases your tires’ resistance to damage.

Buckle up – Passengers have a lower tendency to wear their seatbelts during long road trips. Unfortunately, holidays are one of the most vital times to be buckled up due to the increased amount of cars on the road.

Stay alert – Pull over and rest or switch drivers every so often. It is imperative to stay refreshed while driving during such a busy time of the year. Plan to make stops along the way.

Slow down – Speeding can result in a ticket, a car accident, or worse. Slowing down also increases fuel efficiency.

Avoid distractions – Do not use your cell phone or GPS while driving.

Bring a safety kit – Include a flashlight, food and drinks, jumper cables, a first aid kit, an ice scraper, and anything else you feel you may need in the case of an emergency.

Don’t over-indulge – If there will be drinking at your holiday celebration, designate a driver.

The holidays are all about family and friends. By taking a few extra steps when planning your trip, you can prevent any problems regarding travel and enjoy the festivities.