Posted on 07, February, 2014
With six more weeks of winter on the way, according to Punxsutawney Phil, you can’t predict if you’ll find yourself stranded like motorists recently were in Atlanta. It’s best to be ready for the unexpected and make sure your vehicle is performing reliably and properly equipped with an emergency kit.
When unforeseen events occur, like severe weather or a major accident, your car could become your home for hours. By reviewing a quick checklist, you’ll be better prepared to handle unpredictable winter weather conditions that can leave you stranded.
Before leaving the driveway this winter, the Car Care Council recommends you do the following:
- Be sure the heater and defroster are working properly.
- Stock an emergency kit with an ice scraper and snowbrush, jumper cables, flashlight, flares, candles and matches.
- Bring along blankets and extra clothes, bottled water, dry food snacks and essential medication.
- Check the tire tread depth and tire pressure, including the spare in the trunk.
- Fill washer fluid and change wiper blades that are cracked or torn, or that chatter, streak and don’t properly clean your windshield.
- Check to see that the headlights and taillights work and are properly aimed.
- Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system.
It’s never good to gamble with safety when it comes to your vehicle, so if you haven’t had your vehicle checked recently, now is the time to “be car care aware” and get a thorough vehicle inspection including a brake inspection, battery check and tune up.
Posted on 24, January, 2014
Winter is pothole season and this year, they are packing a powerful punch. After hitting a pothole, most drivers wonder, “Is my car OK?” While the tires and wheels can be visually inspected, there could be damage to the steering, suspension and alignment systems that you just can’t see. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for the following warning signs.
- Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
- Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
- Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.
Snow, cold temperatures and rainfall can lead to potholes, and with the wintery weather that has covered most of the country this year, navigating the streets could be difficult. If you have hit a pothole and suspect that there may be damage to the tires, wheels, steering and suspension or wheel alignment, it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make any necessary repairs.
As a general rule of thumb, steering and suspension systems should be checked at least once a year and wheels should be aligned at the same interval. Motorists who live in areas where potholes are common should be prepared to have these systems checked more frequently.
Potholes occur during the winter and spring months, when water permeates the pavement - usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic - and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles, which accelerate the process. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.
Posted on 10, January, 2014
Wether you are a new driver or a seasoned veteran it is never too late to lean the ABC’s of care care.
- A - Always follow a preventative vehicle maintenance plan.
- B - Be sure to have your car inspected when you suspect there is a problem.
- C - Correct the problem to help avoid the inconvenience and potential safety hazards of breaking down away from home.
Most young people can’t wait to drive, but their car care education should begin well before their parents hand over the keys. “Understanding the basics of car care before taking the wheel will help keep new drivers safer on the road.”
Check out these 10 car care inspection procedures that are an important part of any preventative vehicle maintenance plan:
Posted on 20, December, 2013
- Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
- Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
- Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
- Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
- Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
- Schedule a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
- Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
- Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
- Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
- Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.
Why not resolve to be car care aware in the coming year? By spending a little time now on preventive maintenance, drivers can save a lot of headaches in the long run and make for a great year on the road.
At Palo Alto Shell we believe regular auto care shouldn’t be one of those New Year’s resolutions that goes by the wayside. Preventative vehicle maintenance pays off all year, every year.To be car care aware, the council recommends incorporating the following service interval schedule items as part of your New Year’s resolution:
Posted on 06, December, 2013
- Perform monthly checks of tire pressure and the condition of tires, lights and windshield washer fluid. The vehicle should also be cleaned monthly.
- Every three months or per the owner’s manual, check the engine oil and filter, check the levels of other fluids including automatic transmission, power steering and brake, and check the battery and cables, belts and hoses. The exhaust and fuel filter should also be checked at this interval.
- Every six months or 6,000 miles, the chassis lubrication should be checked and windshield wipers should be replaced.
- Every 12 months or 12,000 miles, the brakes, spark plugs, coolant and steering and suspension should be checked.
Treat your car to a tune-up and get better gas mileage in return. Even today’s modern vehicles need a periodic tune-up and that can save big at the pump.
Regular tune-ups are an investment that really pays off. A well-maintained vehicle is not only more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly, but performs better and is safer and more reliable.
Palo Alto Shell suggests tune-up during which the fuel, emissions and ignition systems are checked, as well as the battery, charging and starting system, and the engine mechanical and powertrain control systems. Keeping a car properly tuned can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
In addition to performing a tune-up, keeping tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by 3 percent. A clean air filter can improve fuel efficiency by as much as 14 percent on older vehicles and also helps the environment, as do regular oil and oil filter changes. Air filters are usually inspected during an oil change, which should be performed regularly as recommended in the owner’s manual. Tire pressure should be checked monthly.
Many fluids and components replaced during vehicle service should be properly recycled or disposed of, including oil and oil filters, coolant, batteries, tires, and brake, transmission and power steering fluids.