Automotive Maintenance

Whether your car or truck is brand new, a vintage classic, or a second-hand beater; to keep it running smoothly requires a consistent maintenance plan.

In the fast-paced society we live in, it is easy to over-look the need for regular maintenance on our automobiles. Too often we run them steadily until an engine light comes on, or an unfamiliar sound catches our attention; sometimes leading to an expensive repair.

Avoid Costly Repairs

To avoid an expensive interruption in our own personal transportation system, there are a few things we can do, that will prevent a costly repair bill.

One of the first things for you to consider, following your purchase of a new or used car or truck, is to learn all you can about your specific vehicle; not all makes and models are created equally.

If your vehicle came with an owner’s manual, take some time to read through it; you may learn a great deal about your car or truck that you were not aware of.

Be sure and read the maintenance section; it will give the specifics regarding the type of oil to use, the frequency of oil and filter changes, and other maintenance related items.

Perhaps you bought a used car and there is no owner’s manual; a quick search online will help you to locate a copy.

Check Oil Regularly

Take a few minutes to learn how to check your engine oil. You can refer to your owner’s manual, or stop at your local parts store, or visit your mechanic, and they will gladly show you how to check your oil.

Your car or truck needs to have regular oil changes to keep that engine healthy. With many brands of oils and filters; coupled with new synthetic oil blends available, it can be a little confusing to decide which oil is best suited for your vehicle.

Take a few minutes and talk with a good mechanic, or consult your local car dealer to find out what the best oil and filter would be for your car. High mileage cars may benefit by having a synthetic blend; while a newer car may require a very specific oil type.

Be sure and ask how often you need to change your oil; most mechanics recommend changing the oil every 3000 miles, but this can vary depending on your specific vehicle, and the type of oil you use.

If you change your oil on schedule, each and every time, your engine will be very happy!

Check Your Coolant

A well-maintained cooling system is essential to your car or truck. Your combustion engine gets very hot and needs to be cooled consistently; whether it is 110 degrees outside or 25 below!

It is a good idea to check your radiator fluid from time to time; always do this when the engine is cold and has not been running; otherwise, the internal pressure may cause the hot water to scald you.

If you live in an area where the winter temps get into the negative digits; it is a good idea to have your fluid tested to see if the solution is strong enough so it will not freeze.

If you happen to change your own fluid; be sure to dispose of the old anti-freeze properly. The glycol tastes sweet to animals and if your pet drinks it, it can be fatal!

Consider a Maintenance Log Book

A good Automotive Logbook can help keep your maintenance on track. We offer a Logbook that may help. A simple and easy way to track your vehicle maintenance projects, with plenty of space to write notes and comments concerning your project.

Convenient size 8.25” x 6” fits easily in most glove-boxes.

Record the following:

  • ENGINE OIL – FILTER
  • TRANSMISSION OIL – FILTER
  • AIR FILTER
  • FUEL FILTER
  • RADIATOR CHECK – COOLANT
  • HOSE REPLACEMENT
  • BRAKE REPLACEMENT
  • SPARK PLUGS – WIRES – DISTRIBUTOR CAP
  • BELT REPLACEMENT
  • FRONT END ALIGNMENT
  • BATTERY CHECK – REPLACEMENT
  • WIPER REPLACEMENT
  • TIRE REPAIR – REPLACEMENT
  • TIRE ROTATION

Safety First – Tire Check

Before you jump in your car and head out in the morning, take a quick walk around, and look at your tires. A tire with low air pressure can cause your car to handle improperly, and in rainy or snowy weather, this can be outright dangerous!

If you happen to notice a low tire, be sure and get to a service station and have it checked out. Often a tire will pick up some road debris, causing a small puncture, or you may have a faulty valve stem, causing air to escape slowly.

You can pick up a tire gauge at your local auto parts store, and you can check your tire pressure yourself. Properly inflated tires will keep you safe, and even save on gas mileage too! Be sure and talk to a mechanic to find out what your tire pressure should be for your specific tire and vehicle.

Windshield Wipers

Maintaining your windshield wipers is essential to safe driving. Worn or dirty wipers can smear and streak your windshield, making it very hard to see, especially at night!

When selecting a wiper blade for your vehicle, avoid the cheap, low-cost blades. Ask your mechanic, or trusted parts store clerk, what they would recommend for your ride.

Premium wipers may cost you a few more dollars, but it will be money well spent, keeping you and your family safe in all weather conditions.

Check Your Lights

It is also a good idea to check your lights too; do a quick walk around making sure your high and low beams are working, along with your taillights and brake lights too.

If you happen to be driving along one day, and you flip on your turn signal, and you notice that it sounds like it is flashing extra fast; this is an indication that you have a burned out turn signal bulb.

Drive to a lighted location where you can get safely off the road, turn on the signal, and locate which light is not working properly.

Head to your local automotive parts store and grab a new bulb. If you are not comfortable changing the bulb yourself, most reputable parts stores will put it in for you.

Be sure and get this replaced as soon as possible, and always use your turn signals when making a turn!

Maintain Your Braking System

Making sure that your brakes are properly maintained is essential to your safety, and the safety of others around you. If you live in an urban area with lots of stop and go traffic, your brakes will wear out quicker than if you live in a rural setting.

Many brake pads come with a wear plate that will begin to make an annoying screeching sound when it touches your brake rotor; if you hear that sound, it is time to get to your service center and have your brakes checked.

When selecting a set of brake pads or brake shoes, go ahead and spend a few extra dollars on a quality brand, after all, your life depends on your ability to stop, and to stop in a hurry if you need to! Depending on your driving situation, most brake pads will last between 20,000 to 40,000 miles.

About Shocks and Struts

If you notice that your vehicle is getting a little bouncy when you hit a bump, or when you come into a corner it tends to “dive in” or sway a little; this is an indication that your shocks, and or struts, are getting weak and may need replaced.

The shocks and struts keep your vehicle stable while traveling down the highway, absorbing all the bumps, potholes, and other imperfections on the road. After time, these essential components wear out and need replaced.

Since these components wear out gradually, you may hardly notice the change over time. Once these items are replaced, your car will handle like it did when you first drove it.

Exhaust Fumes

If you begin to smell exhaust fumes, or your vehicle seems to be sounding a little louder than usual; it most likely is an exhaust failure somewhere. Your exhaust system takes hot gases from the engine, conveying them through a catalytic converter, which makes sure all the fuel is burnt before passing through.

The exhaust travels on through a muffler, quieting down the noise of combustion and then out the tailpipe. If any of these components get a hole, or begin rusting through, it is time to get to a shop and see about repairs.

A faulty exhaust system may also cause your engine light to come on as well, as various sensors measure the mixture of oxygen in the emissions.

Remember, exhaust fumes contain carbon dioxide and can be deadly, so if you begin to smell fumes, get to a service center and have it checked out!

Does That Emergency Brake Work?

Every car comes with an emergency brake; however not everyone uses them. If your vehicle is an automatic, most people simply toss it into park. If you have a standard transmission, you cannot always rely on the gearing to hold your vehicle, especially if you are parking on a hill.

Parking brakes that are not used, often get corroded, and do not work properly, some won’t release fully, causing the rear brakes to drag a little.

The next time your car is in the shop, make sure to have a mechanic adjust your emergency brake, making sure everything works as it should; and then by all means use it.

You never know when a little kid may jump in and play around a little; and that could be disastrous!

Adjust Those Mirrors Too

Just 30 seconds, that’s all the longer it takes for you to check and adjust your mirrors before you head out. It is essential for safe driving to have your side mirrors and center rear view mirrors adjusted so you can behind you.

In snow or icy conditions, make sure you clean the mirrors so you can see, before going on the road.

Trying to clean or adjust your mirrors while driving can be a distraction; one that can be avoided by a 30 second look before you begin.

Put Down Your Phone!

We live in a world where everything is digital and we are connected to everyone and everything. It is important not to let our communication devices become distractions while we drive; even our on-board navigation systems can be distracting.

The National Safety Council reports that cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year, with 390,000 injuries!

Remember this; a car traveling 65 miles per hour, will travel over 95 feet in one second! While trying to read, or send a text traveling at this speed, you will easily travel the distance of a football field with your eyes off the road; enough time for a fatality!

Make sure that your devices are secured properly and won’t bounce on the floor if you hit a bump. If you feel you need to make, or take a call, find a safe spot to pull over, and right beside a busy road is NOT a safe place.

The old saying; “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies here; you be careful out there!

Travel Prepared for the Unexpected

When traveling, you never know what you may encounter, and being prepared can make a big difference. Put together a small travel bag to toss in your car or truck. Include a first aid kit, flashlight, a jacket or sweater, pair of gloves, a hat, small thermal blanket, a small collapsible shovel (especially when traveling in winter)

It is a great idea to have a small tool kit, which includes socket set (standard & metric) adjustable wrench, pliers, and a couple of screwdrivers; flat head and Philips’s head. If space allows, a set of jumper cables and a small fire extinguisher may come in handy too. Make sure you know where your spare tire is, and if you have the proper tools to change it if need be.

If you love to go off the beaten path and explore less traveled roads, be sure and let someone know where you went, and always carry a little extra water and snacks.

                Suggested Vehicle Maintenance Schedule – (refer to your owner’s manual)

5,000 – 10,000 Miles

Change Oil and Filter (check your oils specs)

Inspect Brake Pads and Shoes

Inspect Tires Inflation/Wear

Inspect Belts for cracking/fraying

Inspect Transmission Fluid Level

Inspect Power Steering Fluid

Inspect Brake Fluid Level

Inspect Battery/Cables Clean

15,000 – 20,000 Miles

Rotate and Balance Tires

Wheel Alignment

Inspect Engine Air Filter

Inspect Ball Joint

Inspect Driveshaft Boots

Inspect Steering Boots

Inspect Exhaust System

30,000 Miles

Change Cabin Air Filter

Change Engine Air Filter

Change Transmission Fluid

Change Battery (if needed)

Change Brake Pads/Shoes

Inspect Front Differential Oil

Inspect Hoses (Brittle, Cracked)

60,000 Miles

Change Timing Belt

Inspect Drive Belts

Change Spark Plugs

Change Engine Coolant

Help Prevent Human Trafficking

As a person who loves to travel, you have the opportunity to be the eyes and ears along the highways and byways of America, and beyond. Human trafficking is a growing problem, and if we can condition ourselves to be aware of the telltale signs of this epidemic, we may be able to make a difference.

Be alert to the signs

Victims of human trafficking (especially children) are not likely to call out for rescue, or even seek help.  That is why we need to be aware of the signs; this is a big industry, and many of the victims live in fear of their life.

Children are particularly vulnerable (although any child could be a potential victim of sex trafficking) Certain groups of children are more vulnerable than others:

  • Those involved in the child welfare or foster care systems
  • Refugee and migrant children
  • LGBTQ youth
  • Homeless and runaway youth
  • Children who have experienced prior abuse, sexual assault, or rape
  • Children with unsupervised access to internet

NOTE: Any child (under 18) performing commercial sex acts is a victim of trafficking – regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion. Remember, there is no such thing as a child prostitute.

How to identify a child who may be in trouble

  • Showing signs of physical abuse such as burn marks, bruises, cuts, walking with a limp
  • Appear malnourished; have obvious health issues
  • May have large sums of cash, multiple cell phones
  • Miss school often; be easily distracted at school
  • Might lie about their age, even have false ID
  • May void eye contact, be fearful around people, and especially law enforcement
  • Talk as if scripted or practiced responses in social interaction
  • Unable or unwilling to give local address or information about parents
  • Dressing in a seductive or sexually alluring fashion
  • Behave withdrawn, depressed, distracted or checked out
  • Social media accounts may contain sexually explicit photos or language

How to Identify a trafficker

It is possible that you may be more likely to encounter the one trafficking, than the ones being trafficked; here’s what to look for:

  • Most likely be much older than their male or female escorts
  • May appear jealous, controlling, and even violent or threatening
  • Not allowing the boy(s) or girl(s) to speak for themselves
  • Wear flashy and expensive items

Know the Risk Factors

It is possible that you could encounter human trafficking anywhere, there are certain venues and locations where this type of activity is often more likely to be encountered.

  • Hotels and motels
  • Airports/airplanes and busses
  • Truck stops and gasoline and service centers
  • Emergency rooms

You can Report suspected trafficking

If you suspect you are witnessing trafficking, do not intervene directly.

In case of emergency, dial 911.

In a non-immediate situation, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline:

1-888-3737-888 or text INFO or HELP to “BeFree” (233733)

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