Winter Reminders for Every Driver: The Right Maintenance Steps (Part IV)

December 18, 2008

Note to Reader: The following tips apply to “pre-winter” and ‘middle of the season’ winter maintenance. Now, just because winter has started, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your duties as a car owner. I was actually looking for a better word apart from “duties” to describe what you need to do to help keep your car in tiptop condition during these cold months, but I couldn’t find any. Yes, you have a duty to keep your car in great shape. While vehicle maintenance may not seem like a pressing duty these days, neglecting simple things like auto tune ups can eventually lead to costly reparations, or worse, expensive auto-part or entire-vehicle replacement.

Tip #8: Conduct a Tune-Up!

Now if you’re a responsible vehicle owner, then you already know the importance of regular tune ups. But in case you missed my previous posts on this topic (multi-posts at that!) then I’ll give you two reasons why you should conduct regular auto tune ups: (1) It helps keep your car performing at its best by making sure your engine and ignition components are in great shape, and (2) it helps you catch small auto issues before they become full-blown, migraine-inducing, automotive problems—possibly saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

While a couple of auto breakdowns during the warmer seasons may seem like “petty issues” to some of us, it’s a completely different story when you find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter with a busted car. When you feel

every muscle in your body starting to freeze when you step out of your car, then you’ll know you’re in deep trouble. Avoid turning into a human popsicle by making sure your car is in great shape before, during, and even after the winter season.

Because broken fan belts, hoses-gone-bad, frozen water pumps, arcing ignition wires, and malfunctioning distributor rotors and caps, are the usual culprits when it comes to auto breakdowns, it’s better to make sure each one of these auto units are in good condition before embarking in any long winter trips.

I know that the word “tune-up” can encompass virtually anything and everything that has to do with repairs and replacements, that’s why we’re going to be tackling some of the most important steps you shouldn’t forget when conducting a tune-up. If you decide to do a little “extra” work on your car, then that’s good news for both you and your car! If you don’t have the time to go through every single component in your vehicle, then I suggest checking at least the following:

Misc. Tip

Its widely known that winter time brings with it more auto expenses. Auto accident rates skyrocket with snow and icy conditions. Proper maintenance will certainly help you and your auto be better prepared for these conditions. In the mean time you might want to check out some cheap auto insurance savings tips as there is a very good chance you will have even minor accidents this winter.

Step #1: Check your tire pressure levels. If you don’t have the tools to check your tire pressure levels, then you can ask your local mechanic to do it for you—sometimes even for free! But since it’s Christmas, you might want to leave a nice tip for your mechanic.

If your vehicle has built-in tire pressure monitors, then you won’t have to worry about frequent tire checks, since these monitors should alert you when there are drastic changes in your car’s tire pressure levels. But if you notice one or all of your tires going soft gradually, then it’s best to still conduct a manual check once in a while.

Spark Plug Wires

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Winter Reminders for Every Driver: The Right Maintenance Steps (Part III)

December 11, 2008

Note to Reader: Still don’t have my train horns in place, but I’m pretty sure I’ll manage to install it by the end of the year. <<< Now, see the importance of planning things in advance? Setting your auto-related “goal” well in advance gives you time to plan out your actions. Right now, I’m still a bit busy winter-proofing my neighbor’s vehicle—for a pretty good price too! I’m still trying to decide whether to say “yes” to Rum Raisin Apple Pie (?) or Bittersweet Choco Pecan Pie. What do you think? Which one would be better for Christmas Eve?

Okay, with that question having been asked, let’s get back to our winter tips, shall we? So in the last post about winter reminders, you were asked to keep your headlights fully-functioning, keep your gas tank as close to FULL as possible, and to check your tire pressure levels. The next few tips should cover winter-proofing your engine cooling system and windshield. So, without further ado, let’s get back to business.



Tip #6: Inspect your Cooling System and Check your Water-Coolant/Antifreeze Levels.

Coolant or antifreeze, is basically the (usually) bright-colored solution that goes inside your vehicle’s radiator. Most of the time, cars run using a 50/50 mixture of water and coolant—but to be sure, it’s always best to check your owner’s manual for specific instructions regarding the correct water-coolant mixture.

Now, during winter, it’s always good advice for you to keep your water-coolant levels as close to full as possible. You’re probably wondering:

“Why add water-coolant mixture when it’s winter?” Well, even if it’s winter, your engine still heats up pretty fast, especially when you’re traveling long distances. I say, just don’t risk it! An overheating engine can cause a lot of problems under your hood. Plus, coolant helps keep your engine operating properly—it’s the best way to winter-proof your cooling system and to prolong your engine’s life.

Also, don’t make the mistake of adding 100 percent pure coolant into your radiator. Coolant freezes easily. The water’s there to help keep your coolant well below freezing point. If the coolant freezes up, expect it to expand and to kick out your engine block faster than you can say “mother-quacker”. And if you’re not sure about the freeze rating of your vehicle’s coolant, then I suggest you get one of those itsy-bitsy testers they sell in your local garage or parts store. Try to stay as far away from your coolant’s freezing point to avoid shelling out for a new engine block.

I hope you remembered to perform your annual radiator flush last spring! And now that we’re done with antifreeze/coolant discussion, let’s head on to the next topic: winter-proofing your windshield wiper!

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Train Horns Are Honking

December 10, 2008

As we cautiously approach a railroad crossing, there’s this primary signal that we are extremely vigilant for. No, this is not the red and green warning lights. I am talking about the sound that has been blaring over the railroads all across the country for over a century now. We all know this my fellow drivers; this is the sound of the train horn.

Now all along I thought that train horns are just for trains, right? Well I was wrong. You see friend of mine started to, from his own words, “pimp out” his old mini-vans with locomotive horns. It’s kinda cool you know, when he installed the horns onto his Chevy Astro. It looked vintage but with a twist. He said he would also install a megaphone and take the van to the Superbowl next year. It’s an awesome idea. Now imagine what the horns would like in a Ford F-150 on a stadium parking lot. Sweet.

Aside from the aesthetic value of train horns, these honkers do their work real good. A long sound blast could definitely gain the attention you need. Just be careful when and where to blast these horns. Better not cause inconvenience and attract unwanted attention.

I would like to do an installation myself and as soon as I do one, I’d post a tutorial here. I checked online and found this online store carrying super loud Train Horns. The site, offers free shipping on all purchases, so if ever you’re planning to get one better check out their website. I plan to get one just before New Year’s eve.