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How to Prep a Car for Your Summer Road Trip

Summers are made for the Great American Road Trip. Long days and short nights mean plenty of time for fun in the sun after driving to get there. Before you embark on your road trip, you need to make sure your vehicle is ready. Here is a maintenance checklist you can use to ensure your vehicle is up for the job.

Summer Road Trip Maintenance Checklist

Before you hit the road, you need to make sure your vehicle can handle being on the highway for many miles at once. You should start by checking these components under the hood:

✓ Engine Oil
When you’re going on a road trip, the first thing you need to do is check the oil. After you check your oil levels, notice the date you had your oil checked. There should be a sticker in the top left-hand corner of the windshield. If you do not have a sticker and are not sure when the last time you changed your oil was, have it changed to be on the safe side.

✓ Fluid Levels
The drive axle and transmission have unique lubricant systems, but you need to make sure both have a steady flow of fluids. Fluids that are clean and filled to the appropriate level help the car continue to run smoothly, especially on a long road trip.

✓ Hoses
Check the input and output hoses for the radiator as well as the hoses attached to the engine. Check to ensure these hoses are not hard. When hoses become hard, they can crack and begin to leak hot water.

✓ Belts

When you are checking the engine belts, look for signs of friction by turning the belts sideways. Engine belts need to be replaced when they reveal fiber cords, become cracked, ragged or torn. If you are driving an older model car, the vehicle will have more than one belt that controls many different accessories for the vehicle, including power steering and air conditioning. Cars that are newer models will only have one belt for these accessories.

✓ Battery
Vehicles with a battery that exceeds four years-old need to be checked for corrosion. If corrosion is present, Pepsi and a toothbrush can help remove it.

✓ Brakes
Have your brake fluid flushed if you have not done so in the last three or four years. Make note of the color of the fluid and how much is left. The fluid should be at or close to the full mark.

Where to Have Your Vehicle Serviced

Imported vehicles should be taken to a repair shop specializing in import auto repair. At Import Auto Repair, we can handle Mercedes repair, BMW service, BMW repair and service for other imported vehicles.

Gas Mileage and Your A/C

With summer here the price of gas continues to increase daily. In addition to this, as the temperature rises you use your air conditioner more often, which burns more fuel. The Department of Transportation estimates that your imported car burns approximately 20% more fuel while driving with the air conditioner on, as opposed to driving without it.

Since running the AC can increase gas mileage so much,  you should have your BMW, Mercedes, or imported car checked over by a professional at Import Auto Maintenance to keep it running as efficiently as possible. We specialize in import auto preventive maintenance, import auto repair, BMW service, BMW repair, and Mercedes repair. Your car may have a simple issue that can be repaired quickly.

Ways to Increase Gas Mileage

There are several ways you can increase your car’s gas mileage. The first and probably most important way to increase your gas mileage is to slow down. If you have a lead foot, you will be pulling up to a gas pump a lot more often than you want to. According to fueleconomy.gov, every 5 mph that you drive over 60 mph, you are paying roughly 24 cents more per gallon of gas. Speeding can result in a 7 – 23% decrease in fuel economy. Driving 5 mph under the speed limit can save you between 21 to 71 cents per gallon of gas.

While driving on highways use the cruise control to save up to 43 cents a gallon. Fill your gas tank up early in the morning or late at night. The gas will be more dense than it is in the middle of the day when it is hot outside. You will get more gas than you normally would for the same amount of money.

Make sure your tires are inflated with the correct amount of air pressure and that they are aligned. Tires that are properly aligned and have the correct amount of air in them save on average of 3 – 9 cents per gallon. This may not seem like much, but when you add in the other factors you could save close to a $1.00 on a gallon of gas.

Is your car making you Sick?

It might not be a question you ask yourself very often, but it’s an important one. Preventative maintenance is important for the health of your vehicle, but what your health?

Avoiding routine maintenance can actually put your health at risk. we discuss two factors below, air filters and exhaust, and stay tuned for two more in next month’s newsletter…

Dirty Air Filter – Allergens

Your cabin air filter is a quick and easy fix, but it’s just as easy to put off. Many people wait to change filters to save a few dollars, but it could be harming more than your vehicle.

The cabin air filters catches bugs, dirt, and dust to prevent it form entering the cabin where you sit. Dirty air filters can cause respiratory system issues, including sneezing, sore throats, shortness of breath, and allergy symptoms. They can even become a breeding ground for bacteria.

One surefire way to know it’s time to replace the air filter is that the car smells musty when you turn on the face, a/c or heat. Stay healthy — stop by our shop to change your filter!

 

Exhaust – Toxins

It’s hard not to imagine that cloud of fumes coming out of your tailpipe is bad for your health… The catalytic converted in your exhaust system works to remove most of the harmful properties before exhaust leaves your vehicle, but ignoring maintenance can cause toxins to leach out into the environment and your body.

If you notice smells or exhaust fumes, bring your vehicle in as soon as possible. Our certified technicians will check for leaks, perform any repairs, and get your car back on the road safe and healthy!

 

Keeping up with preventative maintenance is the best way to keep your car, your passenger, and yourself health!  For more advice or to schedule your next appointment, call our team at 615-327-9600.

 

$10 off Cabin Air Filter

Summer Vehicle Maintenance, part 3

Before you load up for that long awaited cross country trip to the mountains or the seashore, take a few minutes to make sure the activities you are planning are the only ones you will be experiencing.

We are talking about your trusty traveling companion–your car. Today’s automobiles are incredibly reliable but also incredibly complex. Kicking the tires is no longer nearly enough to make sure all is OK. While most car owners can take care of the basics, if you are planning a really extended trip, it might be wise to visit a professional.

Here’s what you can do yourself:

Check tire condition

Look straight on to he front of the tire and see if both sides seem even. Uneven wear indicates more serious problems, but that is often just an adjustment. Tire pressures are on the door jam of your car and a good tire gauge can be had for under $5.

Check the orphan tire

Do not forget the orphan-the one that lives alone in the trunk-yes your spare. Seldom used, you want to make sure it is in goo condition before taking a trip. Also make sure you know how to use your jack to change a tire. This task is better is there are two people and while it is unlikely you will be out of range to call a towing service, this is a good thing to knowhow to do

Check Fluid Levels

CAUTION. Before you open that hood, make sure the engine is cooled down as even checking the oil can burn you. Your owner’s manual will tell you the location of the oil stick, which is usually marked with a yellow handle.

The same goes for the transmission. Read your manual as some manufacturers advise checking this fluid level while the engine is running. Unless you are experienced, let your local service dealer check this as it is dangerous to be under a car hood with the engine running.

Inspect belts and hoses

Generally, if your car is five years old or less with under 50,000 miles, these components are in good condition. Look at where they attach to see any signs of leaks or green antifreeze stains.

Lights

Often overlooked this is a big safety issue. If you step on the brake or signal and the light is out you could be asking for an accident. Just have someone operate all the lights as you walk around your car.

Summer and Import Auto Mainentance

Your local car dealer will often perform a simple check at little or no charge. Gas stations will do this also for regular customers-but keep in mind that this is just a simple check. More comprehensive check ups can be at the shop rate of $125/hour but well worth it if you have your entire family in the car and are miles from home.

If you are on the road, you are less likely to find a local dealer for your luxury import than a domestic model, so consider scheduling a summer-izing maintenance appointment before you set off for any summer trips.