Category: Auto Detailing

Prepare Your Vehicles For Harsh Weather

As the seasons change, motorists must take steps to safeguard their vehicles, especially when the season changes from fall to winter. Each winter, many vehicles are subjected to sub-zero temperatures, snowfall and icy roads, and such conditions can take their toll on vehicles over time. Taking steps to prepare vehicles for winter weather is a vital step that can make cars and trucks safer for drivers and their passengers.

Battery

Old batteries should be replaced before winter begins. Without a strong, properly functioning battery, engines cannot turn over. Most batteries last between three and five years. However, extreme cold can compromise batteries, especially those that have been around awhile. Batteries are made up of acid and water, and cold temperatures can freeze the water, thereby affecting battery performance. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 32 F, the average battery loses 35 percent of its strength. Newer batteries can be protected by starting the vehicle each day to warm up and recharge the battery. Let the car run for at least 10 minutes if you cannot take an extended drive.

Exterior Maintenance

Keeping a car waxed and sealed can help maintain a durable exterior finish. This includes not only the paint, but the rubber and vinyl parts of the car’s exterior. Winter is a good time to switch to a heavy-duty synthetic wax that can shield against water and road salts. High-quality sealants can be used on bumpers, trim and rubber door seals as added protection. Speak with an automotive retailer or even the car dealership if you are unsure which products will make your car’s parts most durable for winter weather. Do not stop washing your car just because the weather is cold. Slushy, wet roads and snow-melting salts can speed up the formation of rust or other decay on the undercarriage of the vehicle. These materials will need to be periodically cleaned off. Flush the underside of the vehicle whenever possible, taking advantage of any dry, slightly warmer days.

Tire Pressure

According to the automotive retailer Pep Boys, vehicle tires lose a pound of air pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Many modern cars will alert to changes in air pressure, and drivers should be diligent in maintaining the proper tire pressure. Fuel economy as well as handling ability can decline when tires are not inflated properly. Tires can be refilled at many gas stations for little cost.

Wipers

Visibility is key in hazardous weather conditions, and keeping the windshield clean is a priority. This means ensuring there is enough windshield wiper fluid in the car and that it is a product that will not freeze. Wiper blades can freeze and crack in the winter. Older blades may be more susceptible to damage. It’s a worthy investment to replace existing wiper blades at the start of each winter. When vehicles are parked, pull the wipers off of the windshield to safeguard them from sticking and cracking.

Cold weather requires drivers to amp up their vehicle maintenance routines. Consult with a mechanic or automotive retailer for more ideas and products that can help your vehicles operate safely and efficiently this winter.

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A Key Component of Spring Check-Up

When warm weather arrives, many people enjoy a collective sigh of relief. Just as people welcome the end of the cold, snow and ice, cars and trucks also can benefit from more moderate temperatures.

Salt, grime and pot holes can take a toll on tires over the course of a typical winter. Drivers will not get far this spring and summer without tires in good repair, which is why tire maintenance should be part of any seasonal repair checklist.

Inflation levels

Now is the time to use a tire pressure gauge to see if tires are at the ideal inflation levels. Many tires indicate the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) on their sidewalls. Cold temperatures may cause tires to deflate a little. Esurance states that winter weather can cause tire pressure reduction at about one PSI for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Driving on improperly inflated tires can be dangerous, potentially affecting handling and braking distances.

Check tires when they are cold for the most accurate reading. Properly inflated tires also will improve fuel economy, so drivers may even save a little money by inflating their tires.

Tire rotation/realignment

Examine the tires for tread wear. Any uneven or abnormal tread wear could indicate that the tires need to be rotated and the wheels realigned at the very least. Take the vehicle to a qualified mechanic to get their opinion on how to remedy the situation. Mechanics may recommend rotating tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles, or about every six months for the average driver.

Wheel realignment may be necessary after a season of driving over potholes and other irregularities in the road. Misaligned wheels can cause handling problems, like the car “pulling” to one side.

Tire replacement

Drivers may discover extreme tread wear, bulges or even cracks in the sidewall during a tire inspection. These signs indicate that it’s time to replace the tires. Failing to replace old, worn down tires can increase the risk of automobile accidents.

Thorough cleaning

Once tires are inspected and possibly serviced or replaced, treat the car or truck to a washing and thorough detailing. This will help tires shine and get the vehicle road-ready for spring trips.

Safety in Numbers: Replace Headlight Bulbs in Pairs

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, the rule of two has long reigned among professional automotive technicians and driving safety advocates. In accordance to this rule, drivers replacing important parts in their cars and trucks, such as tires, brakes, shocks and wiper blades, should always do so in pairs.

Replacing parts in pairs can ensure vehicles are properly balanced and functioning safely. But it’s not just tires, brakes and other big-ticket components that should be replaced in pairs. Vehicle lighting plays an integral role in keeping drivers and their passengers safe, and motorists should exercise the same caution regarding their vehicles’ headlights, taillights and turn signals that they do when maintaining the rest of their cars and trucks.

Why replace aging headlight bulbs?

Few drivers include headlight bulb replacement in their vehicle maintenance routines. But old headlight bulbs can drastically compromise visibility at night, when drivers’ visual acuity is naturally reduced by as much as 70 percent. As headlight bulbs age, the effects of exposure to sunlight, ozone and pollution can significantly reduce their light output. According to Philips Automotive, a leading manufacturer of vehicle lighting components, headlight bulbs begin to project significantly less light within two to three years of their initial usage, producing dimmer light outputs that compromise the safety of drivers and their passengers. For example, new headlight bulbs capable of projecting 240-foot beams in front of a vehicle may see that projection dwindle to just 160 feet within two to three years.

Why replace bulbs two at a time?

In an effort to promote the importance of changing headlight bulbs two at a time, Philips developed the “Change In Pairs” safety campaign, which aims to educate motorists about the dangers of dimming lights while promoting the many reasons that changing bulbs in pairs makes the road safer for all travelers. To support this safety initiative, Philips also packages its Upgrade Headlight Bulbs in pairs.

Though replacing two headlight bulbs when only one is dimming may seem unwarranted, maintaining a consistent light output in both headlights makes the road safer for drivers, their passengers and oncoming motorists. When only one bulb is replaced, the resulting light output can be both unbalanced and unpredictable, providing inadequate lighting that can compromise driver visibility. In addition, oncoming motorists may experience difficulty seeing vehicles with just one headlight operating at full capacity, and some may even mistake oncoming cars and trucks for motorcycles, creating positioning issues for drivers on both sides of the yellow line.

How else can drivers improve visibility?

In addition to replacing headlight bulbs in pairs every two to three years, drivers can take the following proactive measures to reduce the likelihood that their vision will be compromised while on the road.

· Replace worn out wiper blades. Wiper blades need to be changed each season or in three-month intervals. Rubber wiper blades can grow brittle rather quickly, potentially compromising driver visibility at times when they need their vision to be as strong as possible, such as when rain or snow is falling.

· Clean interior glass and mirrors. Over time, interior glass can develop a film-like buildup that reduces vision and creates hazy reflections from the sun. Smokers may notice such buildup is especially thick in their vehicles. Periodically clean interior glass and mirrors to prevent this film from compromising your vision.

· Don’t hang accessories in your vehicle. Fuzzy dice, photos and other items hung on rearview mirrors can prove distracting and block you from seeing the road.

Learn more about the “Change In Pairs” campaign by visiting www.philips.com/automotive. SC163980