Thursday, March 31, 2016

First-Ever IIHS Headlight Ratings - IIHS News

First-ever IIHS headlight ratings show most need improvement

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Toyota Prius v is the only midsize car out of 31 evaluated to earn a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s first-ever headlight ratings. The best available headlights on 11 cars earn an acceptable rating, while nine only reach a marginal rating. Ten of the vehicles can’t be purchased with anything other than poor-rated headlights.

Monday, March 28, 2016

5 Reasons You Need To Get Your Car's AC Checked Before Summer

There is nothing as amazing as the feeling you get taking a casual drive on a hot summer day with your windows rolled down and the music turned up. With all the places to see and the things to do this summer, the last thing you want to do is have your car breaking down on you or simply refusing to start. It is for this very reason that you have to make sure that you get your car checked and necessary repairs made.

One of the most important checks is the auto air conditioner check. It goes without saying that the AC is one of the most important parts of the car especially over the summer when there is nothing but heat and humidity inside and outside the car. This makes getting an auto AC check and repair something that should be at the very top of your priority list.

5 reasons you should get your car's AC checked

1. A good AC will keep you cool in the hot weather

Driving on a hot summer day can be absolute torture if your auto air conditioner is not working. Getting it checked ensures that it is in good enough shape to keep you cool and supplied with fresh air as you enjoy your drive.

2. The AC keeps other parts of the car from overheating and malfunctioning

Some parts of the car are at risk of damage from excess heat and humidity in the car. A good AC system ensures that the cool air in the vehicle also benefits these parts by cooling them and allowing them to function properly.

3. It is more cost effective to find and fix problems early

AC checks allow you to identify potential problems early and to have them fixed as soon as possible. This will save you a lot of money in terms of costs that might be incurred fixing the problem when it gets bigger.

4. It is possible to discover other issues during the checks

Given the position of the AC in the vehicle, a certified technician can come across other problems with other parts while performing the check. This is a major advantage and allows you to fix these problems as soon as they are found.

5. AC checks and repairs prolong the lifespan of the AC itself

Automotive AC repair work is part of the recommended maintenance practices for most of the systems and ensures that you get to enjoy the cool fresh air breeze in the car for as long as possible.

Bottom line

With all these advantages, there is no reason why you shouldn't get you car's AC checked. It is sure to make a difference in your summer and for as long as you have the car.

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Friday, March 25, 2016

The Top Eight Check Engine Light Issues

According to CarMD's 2013 Vehicle Health Index, the cost for car repairs has increased 10 percent this year. Putting off car repairs is a bad idea because unfixed problems often lead to repairs that are more expensive. If the check engine light comes on in your car, take the car to a qualified mechanic immediately. Here are the top eight most frequent reasons for the check engine light activation.

1. Oxygen sensor failing

Oxygen sensors keep engines performing at peak efficiency levels, and they manage emissions. O2 sensors monitor gasses leaving the engine. Engines need exact ratios of fuel and air for the most efficient operation. Malfunctions can drop your fuel economy by up to 40 percent. Engine performance is also negatively affected.

2. Ignition coil problems

Ignition coils take electric current from the battery and ignite the spark plugs. Without properly functioning coils and spark plugs, the electric current powering your car's engine are disrupted. All the parts in the car's electrical system take a lot of wear and tear from the electricity passing through them.

3. Spark plugs and spark plug wires

Along with the ignition coils, spark plugs and wires are critical components of the vehicle electrical system. Symptoms of problems with plugs and wires include rough engine idling, engine misses or pings, erratic engine power including power losses and power surges. When engines misfire, fuel economy drops. Ignoring spark plug and plug wire problems can permanently damage the car's catalytic converter, leading to very expensive repairs.

4. Mass airflow sensor malfunctions

The mass airflow sensor, or MAF, measures the air coming into the engine and calculating how much fuel to add to the mix. This data goes to the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Without correct information from the MAF, the ECU cannot correctly balance or deliver the right amount of fuel to your engine. The result is very poor engine performance and 10 to 25 percent decreases in fuel efficiency. Replace this critical component immediately if it begins to fail.

5. Faulty vacuum hose or evaporative emission control system

The evaporative emission control system (EVAP) of a car keeps gasoline vapors from the fuel system and gas tank from release into the air. Leaking vacuum hoses and vents, defective valves and faulty gas caps all contribute to EVAP system problems.

6. Exhaust gas recirculation valve and ports are dirty

The exhaust gas recirculation system (EGR) controls your car's emissions and helps cars run more efficiently. Rough idling, engine hesitation and misfires can indicate an EGR problem. Worsening performance and fuel economy often result from EGR problems. Often the components of the EGR system are dirty or clogged.

7. Catalytic converter failures

Catalytic converters are often the most expensive mechanical repairs made to vehicles. As a part of the exhaust system, it converts dangerous chemicals in car exhaust into less harmful compounds to release into the air. Catalytic converters should last for the lifetime of the car. Most problems with catalytic converters come from underlying problems such as those that occur with bad spark plugs or ignition coil problems.

8. Dead battery and charging system problems

Most cars have computer systems that monitor voltage in the electrical and battery systems. The computers activate the check engine light when anything appears amiss in the charging system of the car. High temperatures in the engine compartment contribute to rapid aging of batteries.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Car Maintenance

If you think winter weather is hard on you and your family, just imagine the toll it takes on your car each and every day. After months of travelling through snow, sand and salt, you may not even be able to remember what color your car is, let alone what it feels like to have it look all shiny and clean.

When the weather warms up it's time to give your car a fresh, clean look, and while you're at it, make sure the winter months didn't do any internal damage that may cost you a lot of money to fix later on.

Packing your car with an emergency winter weather kit is a great idea, but once the snow is gone the kit should go too. Don't clutter your car with an extra snow shovel, ice scraper, sandbags and whatever else you certainly won't need now that the weather is more hospitable. This will not only free up space, but will also get you better gas mileage if you're not toting around unnecessary items.

As long as you're de-cluttering your vehicle, now is a good time to wipe down the interior and get rid of the layer of dust that has settled on everything. And really, let's find out what color this car is with a really good exterior wash and wax as well. Make sure whether you wash the car yourself, or get it done professionally, pay attention to the undercarriage of your car where rust-causing salt and sand were slopped all over during the winter months.

Get that warm-weather check over. Fill your wiper fluid, coolants, and check your car's other fluids to prevent overheating and other nasty problems.

You also should check to make sure winter didn't wipe out your windshield wiper blades. Make sure the rubber part is still stuck to the plastic or metal, therefore ensuring your wipers will work to maximum effect.

Winter is also very hard on your tire tread. With a wet, rainy spring coming up shortly after winter leaves, a good tire tread is very important. Tires with 2/23rd of an inch of tread or less are dangerously balding. To test how much tread a tires has, take an upside down penny and place it in the center of the tread in the thickest part of the tire. If you can see the hair on the top of Lincoln's head then your tread is too worn. If the penny sinks down as far as Lincoln's forehead your tires are still good. Of course you could also use a tread depth gauge that is somewhat more scientific. Air pressure is also an important thing to check as long as you're checking your tires. Maintaining the proper air pressure will help improve your gas mileage and keep your car handling safely.

Avoiding the pot holes that cold weather creates isn't always easy, yet each time you dip into a pothole, the inner workings of your car are jostled and tested. Therefore, a good internal inspection of certain parts is a good idea. Belts and hoses are particularly vulnerable to temperature changes, and brakes and suspension are affected by uneven terrain, so these are good parts to take a closer look at for cracks and other damage.

One thing you don't think about after the weather warms is your car's battery. Even though the bitter cold won't be affecting the battery any longer, corrosion and filth that built up over the winter still may have taken a toll. After the hard work your batter put in over the winter it doesn't hurt to clean and test it now.

A few simple tests and cleanings can keep your car running smoothly through the seasonal transition.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Lowest-Rated Cars in 10 Categories | Consumer Reports

Each year, Consumer Reports reveals its Top Picks, the best-scoring cars. But there's a group of cars at the other end of the spectrum, the Bottom Picks. Here are the cars you'll want to stay away from.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

6 Tips to Minimizing the Cost of Car Service Appointments

For most Americans we depend on our vehicles to get us from place to place. Yes, we can walk, take a train, bus or other form of public transportation but for many situations having a vehicle means the ability to get from one place to another. However, that mobility is seriously hindered if our vehicle is in need of repair or if proper maintenance is overlooked. Consequently, it is necessary to plan on frequent car service appointments to ensure that your vehicle is in top working condition.

Of course, it is not always needful to take the car to a shop to be serviced. There are many actions you can take to help maintain your vehicle's reliability. Here are a few to get you started.

· Don't ignore the check engine light. When the light first comes on, it can be easy to overlook it or think you will get to it later. However, whenever this light comes on, it is best to go ahead and see a mechanic. These lights are designed to come when there is a problem. Early discovery can mean spending a little vs. spending a lot.

· Check the tire pressure. Take time on a regular basis to see that your tires have the correct amount of air. Tires lose 1 to 2 pounds of air for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. Know what the proper air pressure is for your tires and see that they stay at optimum levels in order to get better gas mileage and give you better traction.

· Get the oil changed. Motor oil and car engine technology has advanced so much over the years that, depending on the recommendations of your vehicle's manufacturers, it may no longer be necessary to get an oil change every 3,000 miles - the average oil change interval is around 7,800 miles for today's cars. However, just because the time frame is longer, it doesn't mean that you don't need to change the oil! If it is left too long, then it will affect the engine's performance.

· Check the fluid levels. Take time at least once every couple of weeks to check fluids such as transmission, brake fluid, power steering fluid coolant and other fluids are topped off, as doing this will help your vehicle to run at its best.

· Don't drive if the vehicle is overheated. When the engine is overheated, it will affect how it performs. Pull off the road, turn it off, and call for a tow.

· Use the right filters. There are specific filters designed for your car's systems. Use the correct ones, and be sure to change them according to manufacturer's instructions.

Having your car serviced is an important part of extending the life and reliability of your vehicle. If you take the time to see that these and some other, vehicle maintenance steps are taken then you can depend on your vehicle to last for many years. If you have questions about car servicing talk to a local garage. But, whatever you do, don't ignore your vehicle! Being proactive is much better than having to be reactive.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Car Seat Safety in Cold Weather | Consumer Reports

Puffy coats and snowsuits can make car seats less safe. We tell you how to protect your child when it's cold outside.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Auto Alignments And Repairs

Auto alignments and repairs as performed by a professional auto repair shop will ensure that your tires perform better and last longer. Otherwise referred to as tire alignments, these wheel alignments will also improve handling. Additionally, they keep your vehicle from vibrating strangely and/or pulling in a single direction.

About Tire Alignments

Auto alignments and repairs typically involve adjustments to the car's suspension. This suspension refers to the system that connects your vehicle to its wheels. Although most people assume that tire alignments involve adjusting the tires and wheels, this is not the case. Instead, the automotive repair technician will alter the angles of the wheels so that they make proper contact with the road.

Knowing If You Need an Auto Alignment

There are many ways to tell if your vehicle needs an alignment. In case you notice any of the following indicators, check your car in with a licensed auto alignment and repair service technician immediately:

a) Steering wheel vibration

b) Uneven tread wear

c) When the car pulls either to the right or to the left

d) If you notice that your steering wheel is off-center while you are driving straight

Camber, Caster, and Toe

Qualified auto alignment technicians are typically concerned with 3 main things, the camber, the caster and the toe.

1. Camber

Camber refers to the outward or inward angle of the wheels as viewed from the front of your car. Too much outward or inward tilt indicates improper alignment. If you notice either or both of these on your car, get an auto alignment.

2. Caster

Your vehicle's caster angle balances cornering, stability and steering. Caster is the angle of your car's steering axis as viewed from the side of the vehicle. Should you notice that your steering wheel is tilted towards you or towards the front of the car, get your vehicle aligned.

3. Toe

Toe alignment refers to the extent to which the wheels turn outward or inward from above. Both toe-out and toe-in alignments have to be adjusted.

The Importance of Auto Alignments and Repairs

Improper tire alignment will cause your wheels to wear out prematurely and unevenly. In the same way, your tires will feather, meaning that the tread will be sharp on one side and smooth on the other.
Similarly, tires that are not properly aligned are susceptible to camber wear and toe/heel wear. In both cases, your wheels (as well as your car) will not drive optimally.

In conclusion, you need to talk to an auto alignment and repairs expert. Make sure that the expert is a trained, experienced and licensed auto repair professional.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Maintain Your Auto With Regular Car Service

Your vehicle is likely a significant expense due to the initial price and the cost needed to keep it running. To efficiently maintain your automobile, take it in for regular car service from a professional. Hiring an expert for maintenance tasks can be a key to the overall function and life of your vehicle.

Maintain Safety

The overall condition of a vehicle contributes directly to its safety. An automobile that does not run correctly can present serious safety risks for the people inside of the car and occupants of other vehicles. In addition, manufacturers periodically issue recalls due to part malfunctions or safety issues. Taking your vehicle to a mechanic for regular car service will give a professional an opportunity to inspect it for any malfunctions or potential issues. It will also enable the mechanic to inform you of recalls so you can have the required work performed to resolve issues.

Improve Performance

A car that receives ongoing maintenance according to the manufacturer's recommended schedule will typically continue to perform at a higher level than one that does not receive regular maintenance. For example, regular oil changes are of paramount importance to ensure that enough lubrication exists for engine components for the best operation. Without fresh oil, lubrication will eventually fail, and friction will cause serious damage to engine parts. You can also expect to have improved fuel efficiency when you perform regular service. The improved fuel efficiency occurs due to the finely tuned engine parts, which require less fuel to operate the automobile. Improved fuel efficiency also occurs due to regular maintenance of fuel lines, changing of filters, and maintenance of proper air pressure in tires.

Extend Value

As you drive your automobile, the value will continue to decrease. Although you cannot stop this from happening altogether, you can slow this natural progression. Resolving problems quickly before they become more serious can extend the value of your car. It's generally more expensive to fix bigger and more serious problems than it is to fix smaller ones when they first begin. A well-maintained vehicle usually has a higher value on the market than one that has not been maintained correctly. This can translate into a higher return on your initial investment when it's time to sell the auto.

Increase Lifespan

Operating a vehicle under the mindset of preventing malfunctions instead of fixing them can have a dramatic impact on the overall lifespan of the automobile. When you schedule regular car service, the mechanic can adopt a proactive approach to the wellbeing of the car, looking for potential issues that have not yet resulted in damage to engine components. Checking the electrical system, brakes, lights, and battery on an ongoing basis will keep the vehicle running smoothly, which will benefit it in the long run.

Find a mechanic you trust to perform regular service for your automobile. With this arrangement, you and the expert can partner together in maintaining and caring for your car to ensure maximum safety and value over the long term.

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Friday, March 4, 2016

2016 Top American Car Picks | Consumer Reports

If you're in the market for a car from Chrysler, Ford or General Motors, look no further. Here's a list of the American cars with high Overall Scores in seven key categories.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Five Most Commonly Replaced Car Parts

Every automobile owner will tell you that maintenance is critical. By taking care of your vehicle, you can dramatically increase its lifespan. There are some car parts that should be at the forefront of your mind during road trips or even your daily commute. Here are five automobile components that need to be replaced frequently.

Spark Plugs

Some manufacturers suggest you change your spark plugs every three years in order to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Engine idling, engine misfiring, high fuel consumption, engine surging, or a lack or acceleration all indicate that it's time for new spark plugs.


In order to see properly and drive safely at night, you need working headlights. As technology changes, owners have seen a decrease in the frequency of replacing the car parts associated with headlights. That is because more manufacturers are using LED technology, which outlasts traditional lamps. Of course, these do cost more, so when the time comes to replace the bulbs, you probably will spend a little more money if you have a newer vehicle.


Depending on the brand of your tires, you could have to replace them after as little as 30,000 miles of travel. You should regularly check the tread for signs of wear. If you place a penny in between the treads of a tire and can see the head of Abraham Lincoln, then the rubber has worn down too much.

In addition, if you have a newer vehicle with a tire pressure monitoring system, you will eventually need to replace this component. Over time, the sensor will wear out. This system offers significant benefits, as it warns drivers when the pressure is too low. Even though the replacement of this system adds to an automobile's maintenance pricetag, many choose to pay the extra price.


Stopping your vehicle takes its toll. Brake pads eventually wear down and have to be replaced. In order to avoid incurring additional expenses, you should have your pads replaced at the first sign of wear. This could be a noise or noticing that it takes more pressure or time to come to a complete stop. If you wait too long, not only will you have to replace the pads, but you may also have to replace the rotors underneath.


New technology is making it so that your vehicle's battery does not have to be replaced every three years. However, even if you have a five-, seven-, or ten-year battery, you should make sure the battery gets testing during your annual maintenance tune-up. By checking it annually, you can replace the battery before it dies, avoiding the hassle of finding your automobile dead one morning.

There are many different car parts that you will eventually have to replace. However, these five are the most common and will need to be changed more often than other components. If you perform regular maintenance on your automobile, it will last for years.

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