Automatic Transmission Fluid

Transmissions! Aren’t they a nightmare?

For many people facing potential automotive damage, the phrase “I hope it’s not the transmission” is a common one. Indeed, this is a complex and delicate system that can lead to crippling and expensive repairs, so your Seattle auto body shop advises that you take the time to care for your transmission.

The number one thing to do for your transmission is check its ATF (automatic transmission fluid) levels. You can do this via a dipstick that should be located towards the rear of your engine, probably labeled as “transmission”. Check that the fluid levels are correct, and that the fluid has a good, cherry-red coloration. A bad color means that your fluid is dirty, and should be replaced.

When adding new ATF to your transmission, remember that not just any fluid will do. There are several kinds of ATF, and you will need to check your owner’s manual to be sure that you get the correct one. DO NOT USE ENGINE OIL IN YOUR TRANSMISSION.

If you can manage to change your ATF twice a year, you’re in good shape to keep up the performance of your transmission for a good, long time. Don’t be afraid to stop by our auto body shop in Seattle for some assistance and advice.

Can I Replace My Own Wipers?

Suppose your car is in perfect condition, but you develop a little crack in a windshield wiper.  You probably wouldn’t want to take such a small problem to your Seattle body shop, would you?

Fortunately, replacing the wiper by yourself is a surprisingly easy task for even the least gear-headed drivers among us.  Just take a look at your wipers; though different makes have different mechanisms, it should be fairly simple to determine how to remove the wiper from the arm that holds it against your windshield.  Simply pull this arm away from the windshield, detach the old wiper, and replace it with a new one.

The important trick to remember is that you’ll need to be sure to buy the right kind of wiper for your car.  Stores sometimes will have a machine or booklet that lets you know which wipers you need for your car depending on the year, model, maker, etc. Wipers come in different sizes, so you’ll want to identify your wiper’s size or even bring it with you to the store.  Also, the wipers on a single car are often different sizes, so don’t make the mistake of getting a matching pair. If you have trouble, you can always bring it to our Seattle body shop for a little assistance.

Car Colors and Accidents

Did you ever think that the color of your car might have an impact on your likelihood to get in an accident?  

In truth, there does seem to be a discrepancy in the colors of the cars that we service at our Seattle auto body shop.  Some of this can of course be linked to the greater popularity of some colors, but several scientific studies have shown that cars of certain colors are more likely to get into a wreck than others.

The good news is that the most popular car color, white, is one of the safer colors you can drive.  White is apparently among the more visible colors in all situations, with snowy conditions being the obvious exception.  In terms of visibility, it’s second only to lime yellow. (But who wants a lime yellow car…right?)

On the other end of the spectrum, a disproportionate number of accidents involve black, grey, or brown cars.  These tend to blend in with common driving conditions and are the most likely to end up on the other end of somebody’s “it came out of nowhere!” story.

With this in mind, consider your own situation and choose your car colors carefully. Check with your insurance company to see if colors matter.

So Your “Check Engine” Light is On…

For many drivers, the “check engine” light is a frustrating sign.  Not only does this indicate that there may be some horrible damage in your car, but it’s also not being very helpful in determining what this damage is.  It could be a matter for your Seattle body shop, or it could be a minor problem that you can fix yourself.  To help you know the difference, try following these simple steps:

  • When your light first comes on, the first thing you should check is your gas cap.  If it’s not screwed in tightly enough, it will set off your light.

  • If it’s not the gas cap, listen for any unusual sounds or behavior in your engine.  Something like this is probably a problem you should have looked at right away.

  • If there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual going on in the engine, watch the light to see what happens.  It might go away on its own, but if it sticks around for about a week or so, you should bring it in.

Avoiding Swerving

Danger can come from any direction out on the road.  Reckless drivers, small animals, and unsupervised kids can jump out at any time and send you and your vehicle on a premature trip to your Seattle auto body shop.  These are scenarios where you may be inclined to “swerve”, a maneuver that is sometimes necessary but is frequently dangerous as well.  Swerving can lead to collisions, take you off the road or even send your car into a rollover.  To avoid these kinds of disasters, try following these tips:

Firstly, you can’t beat the proverbial ounce of prevention.  Staying alert and watching far ahead of your car can help you avoid a lot of potential dangers.  Children at play, a cat that might dart out in front of you, a slippery spot in the pavement or a car poised to turn into your path, these are all hazards that you can plan for if you see them far enough in advance.  It’s also a good idea to allow for at least three seconds of space between your car and the car in front of you (more during unsafe conditions, like rainy or windy weather).

If you need to swerve, turn the wheel first and then apply the brakes to reduce the chance of rolling over.  If you’re going off the road, fight the instinct to swerve directly back into traffic.  Keep driving straight as you gradually slow down, if it’s safe to do so, and merge back into your lane when you’re under control again.

We hope that this advice serves to save you any unnecessary grief or damage.  Whenever your best driving skills should fail you, however, you can always count on the collision experts at Greenwood Auto Body in Seattle.

Should I Use High-Octane Gasoline?

Are you ever tempted to reach for the “high-octane” gas when you’re fueling up your car? Maybe you anticipate getting a better mileage, or you envision racing down the road with a get-up-and-go that you’ve only dreamed of. If this is a feeling you are familiar with, take the advice of our Seattle body shop: you’re wasting your money.

The truth is that high-octane gas is only doing you any good if your car is made to use it. Such cars have high-compression engines, which require a premium gasoline to prevent knocking during acceleration. High-compression engines are among a tiny minority of cars on the road, though; if you have to wonder whether or not your car is one of them then it’s probably not. The regular octane gasoline will give you as good of a performance as your car can get, so save your money and reach for the 87.

Knowing When to Replace your Brakes

Driving can be a lot like spelling: there’s a very important difference between a “brake” and a “break”, but it only takes a brief lapse of judgement to trade one for the other.  Our Seattle collision repair shop knows that a bad set of brakes is one of the easiest ways to get in a disastrous accident, and knowing when your brake pads need to be replaced is one of the easiest ways to spell big savings and safer driving for you and your family.

It shouldn’t be difficult to know when your pads are wearing thin.  Unless you have certain cheaper makes, your pad should come with a metal “indicator” that will start to squeal like a banshee as soon as the pad material is worn down to a quarter inch.  When you start to hear this noise, it’s good to get your pads replaced within the next few weeks.

The brake rotor is another part of your car’s brakes, and one that will generally last longer than the pads.  You’ll probably replace your pads two or three times before the rotors need to be replaced.  However, if you ever find that your steering wheel is wiggling in your hands as you stop, this may indicate that your rotors have become warped and need to be changed.

If you ever experience any problems with your brake system, or if you have other questions about your car’s brakes, contact our auto body professionals at Greenwood Collision.

Keeping the Little Ones Safe

There’s a lot depending on your car, particularly if you have tiny family members who aren’t yet big enough to effectively use a seat belt.  If you’re driving with infants or toddlers, our Seattle collision center wants you to make sure they’re riding safely.  In order to do so, we invite you to look over some of the bigger mistakes that parents make.

  • Always know how to use your car seat!  The proper use of a car seat is crucial to your child’s safety.

  • Let your child face backwards until the age of two.  It takes time for the muscles to develop in your child’s neck such that he or she can withstand the force of a sudden stop while facing forward.

  • Don’t hold a child in your lap.  In the event of a collision, it’s too easy to drop or lose your grip on your child.

  • Put one child to one seat belt.  When kids share a belt, they’re at greater risk of knocking their heads together.

  • Put your child in the back seat until the age of thirteen.

Wax or Wane!

Do you remember to wax your car?  It’s not just a way to keep your ride looking good, it’s also just a practical idea.  Waxing serves to protect your paint job, allowing it to repeal harsh chemicals, debris, moisture, wind, and the heat of the sun, all of which have the power to break down your finish and leave your car’s body vulnerable.  In case you don’t know how to wax your car properly, Greenwood’s Seattle body shop offers the following tips:

  • Park your car somewhere out of the sun before you begin.  Sunlight can react poorly with the wax, and may lead to damage to your paint job.

  • Clean your car first.  A tiny speck of dirt can scratch your finish during the waxing process.

  • Don’t apply the liquid wax directly to the paint!  Put it on your rag or your applicator, whatever you’re using, before rubbing it onto the car.

  • Divide your car into five or six regions, and wax these one at a time.  Focusing in a smaller area lets you make effective use of your wax before it dries.

  • Wax in broad strokes and circular motions.  Don’t linger too long on a single spot, particularly if you’re using an automatic device.

  • Follow up your wax job with a good buffing.

Is My Battery Dead?

If you engine absolutely refuses to respond when you turn the key, then you’re not getting any power in your system. This can be caused by a number of things, but the most likely culprit is a dead battery. Before you spend the money on a new battery, however, our Seattle auto body shop suggests that you take these simple measures to make sure that this is indeed the problem that needs to be solved.

If you have a battery tester, check to see if the voltage is weak. Your battery should be at 12.5 volts at rest, and 13.5 volts with the car idling.

Don’t have a tester? The good thing about a dead battery is that it doesn’t get in the way of jumping your car. Try performing a jump; if the car starts like normal, then your problem is in the battery. If it still refuses to start, then the problem is somewhere else.

While you’re at it, take a look at the battery connections. Is there anything built up in there that might be ruining your power flow? Try cleaning these out and starting your car again.