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:

  1. 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.

4. 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

Many 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 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.

“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

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.

Extend the Life of your Used Vehicle

According to the 2010 Census, there are about three times more used cars than new cars sold each year. If you are among the population that currently drives a used car, you know how important maintaining you car can be. The below tips will help make your used car last longer.

Drive carefully – This may seem like a no-brainer, but the way your vehicle is driven has a greater impact on its lifespan than nature. By making sure you drive the speed limit and making smooth start and go transitions, you can reduce unnecessary wear on your vehicle, in addition to improving gas mileage.
Follow recommended maintenance schedule – 40% of American drivers delay regularly scheduled maintenance to save money. Unfortunately, putting off these important checkups can eventually lead to costlier transactions. Items such as filter and fluid replacements and fixing minor repairs will help extend your vehicle’s life, as well as help you avoid poor performance or expensive repairs down the road. Simple maintenance items can make a huge difference. For example, changing your vehicle’s air filter when needed helps the engine last longer.
Keep your car clean – Remove dirt and debris from both the inside and outside of your car as often as possible. This prevents your car from aging prematurely. In addition, regularly cleaning often helps spot potential problems earlier, and gives you the opportunity to repair them before they get worse.
Monitor your cooling system – Your car’s cooling system is very important to keeping your engine well cared for. Maintaining the system along with having the right level of coolant can potentially save you thousands of dollars in future repairs.
Keep your tires in good shape – Your tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, therefore, should be properly maintained. Make sure your tires have the right amount of pressure and tread and get them rotated per your owner’s manual. Your tires impact the way your vehicle handles, which in turn impacts the condition of its parts.
Use high mileage motor oil – Two-thirds of vehicles on the road are considered high mileage, and many of them are a quart or more low on motor oil. With older cars, burn-off (the evaporation of oil) is a common occurrence. The problem is magnified when you car has an inadequate amount of oil. When the oil breaks down, it deposits a dirty emission in your engine, which causes it to be less efficient and prone to failure. High mileage motor oil is designed to combat the burn-off, as well as maintain the proper amount of oil. It is recommended for all cars with over 75,000 miles.
Keep accurate maintenance records – Keep a notebook in your car and document all services performed on it. Keep all receipts and documents in a safe place should you ever need to refer to them.
Shelter – If possible, keep your car in a garage or carport of some kind. The sun’s rays can be harmful to your car, and can cause premature aging as with people.
Pay attention to your warranty – If you have a warranty on your used car that is about to expire, there are a number of things you should do before it does. These include repairing damaged or concerning parts, checking for recalls, and getting a comprehensive checkup. You may want to consider an extended warranty, such as a vehicle service contract, which covers vehicle repairs, or a maintenance contract, which covers scheduled maintenance.

Getting ready to buy?
• If you are preparing to buy a car, do your research. Check performance and maintenance ratings on all vehicles you are considering. Sites such as Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds can help you determine the higher rated vehicles, which typically last longer. There is a tool that calculates the True Cost to Own (TCO), which helps show the maintenance and repair costs you can expect for particular vehicles.

Let us know how we’re doing

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Hearing about the experiences of our patrons is something we value. Reviews and feedback are important to us because they help us tailor the way we do business around our customers’ needs. Without this, we are unable to improve what isn’t working, and reinforce what is.

Our over 40 years of experience would not have been possible without our customers. Please let us know how we are doing. We want to recognize our outstanding mechanics, managers, and other employees. Leave us a review on Google Places or Yelp, or send us a note- we look forward to hearing from you.

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Car-X Customer Service
1375 E. Woodfield Rd., Ste. 500
Schaumburg, IL 60173

If you have a negative experience at a Car-X location, please contact our customer service team at 800-359-2359, extension 2424, so we can help you as quickly as possible.

Synthetic Oil or Conventional Oil?

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No doubt at some point in time you may have heard the ongoing debate about which type of motor oil is best for your motor vehicle.

Functions of Motor Oil

Although the primary function of motor oils is to lubricate all the moving parts of the engine, it carries out a few other functions as well. Motor oils serve to keep the engine cool and provides protection against wear by reducing friction. It also prevents corrosion and keeps the engine free from small pieces of debris.

Conventional Motor Oil

Conventional motor oil has its origins in crude oil, which is pumped from the ground and is processed. A base oil is produced to which additives are added. This changes the properties of the liquid giving it protection properties, improved heat breakdown levels, and viscosity.

Synthetic Motor Oil

Unlike conventional motor oil the base oil of synthetic motor oil comprises artificial or synthesized components, thus its name. Like conventional motor oil however, additives are added to give it properties similar to those of conventional motor oil.

Differences Between Conventional and Synthetic Motor Oil

Although they both carry out the same functions both oils have significant differences in addition to having their pros and cons. Conventional motor oil contains minute amounts of wax, sulfur, and asphaltic material, which are by-products of its manufacturing process. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, because it is chemically produced, has none of these contaminants. Another difference between the two is that synthetic motor oils will flow at much lower temperatures making it preferable in harsh winter conditions. At these same low temperatures conventional motor oil would freeze. Being more consistent in size and shape, the molecules of synthetic motor oils better withstand extreme temperatures; hence it will take longer to break down under extreme heat than conventional motor oils. Synthetic motor oils have very low viscosity ratings and in some cases have been known to flow up to seven times faster than conventional motor oils. This comes in handy at engine start up time, as that is when the most engine wear is likely to occur.

Making Your Choice

In deciding on which motor oil you will be using there are other factors besides those already mentioned, which will have to be taken into account. One of these is the type of car that will be using the motor oil. A high performance racecar owner will obviously choose the synthetic motor oil, as that is the oil they were specifically made to use. Newer cars with smaller clearances will also lean towards synthetic motor oils. The cost of the motor oil will play a significant role in the decision on which oil to use too, as the cost of synthetic motor oil can be as much as four times that of conventional motor oil. If someone changes their car yearly they may say why bother towaste extra money on synthetic oil. The car’s age could also play a part as waxes and sludge build-up by conventional motor oil could mask worn engine seals. These could come to light with the introduction of synthetic motor oils, which tends to break down and clean away those build-ups, thus possibly causing leaks and creating problems.

For all of your oil change needs be sure to visit Car-X.com The debate is by no means over and the points here by no means exhaustive, but it is hoped that they will at least point you in the right direction when the time comes for you to buy motor oils