Great Tips For National Car Care Month

Inside-Out Simple Car Care Tips

Are you getting your car ready for spring-cleaning? April is National Car Care Month, and it’s a great way to remind all car owners of the role you play in maintaining your vehicle. After a long, harsh winter, here are some simple at-home cleaning and maintenance tips to always get you and your car in top form.

Clean the carpeting and upholstery.

Your floor mats take a beating during winter, everything from slush to road salt. Improve the appearance of your interior by removing floor mats and using a power washer to do a deep clean. Vacuum the upholstery, paying special attention to the seams of your seats.

Detail the interior.

A good wash and rinse can prevent deterioration of your interiors. Use a ph-balanced soap if you are hand washing your vehicle. It’s designed to clean without stripping the finish. Then, wax finish your car, which will keep it shiny while strengthening the paint and preventing chipping.

Inspect and replace windshield wipers.

Wiper blades can get damaged and break during winter due to constant contact with ice, snow, and sleet. Clean or, better, replace them especially if you expect significant rainfall in your area in the coming months. 

Replace winter tires.

Swap your heavy-duty winter tires, if any, with the appropriate tires for the season. Winter tires are strictly designed for handling icy roads, so using them in the spring and summer can cause the rubber compound to wear faster. Experts recommend installing all-season tires as soon as spring begins.

Clean under the hood.

Winter’s debris such as dirt and leaves can easily collect on or near the engine, impacting your vehicle’s performance and efficiency. Ensure your safety first by turning off the engine and removing the battery cables. A simple damp cloth is a good cleaning tool to use under the hood. Baking soda can remove any oxidation from the batteries.

Clean out the trunk.

Remove stuff from your trunk that you’ve used in winter – like shovels, window scrapers, boots, etc. Check your emergency kit. See if there are things you need to replace. Examine your spare tire and see if it needs fixing. 


Celebrating National Car Care Month in Seattle

Let your auto body shop in Seattle help your vehicle recover from the rigors of winter. Visit us and we’ll show you how.

Basic Car Care Tips Every Motorist Should Know

Know the Basics of Caring for your Car

Inspect your cooling system. Cooling systems have to cope with the summer heat and cold winters all year long. Look for swelled, chafed, cracked or weeping hoses. If they burst they can leave you stranded. Also make sure there’s enough coolant in the overflow reservoir; add more as required. Your system needs flushing if the antifreeze looks discolored or rusty.

Check your car belt. If it isn’t concealed by layer after layer of plastic shrouds it should be easy to give it a quick look. If the belt shows heavy abrasion, cracking across the grooves, lengthwise tearing or other obvious signs of damage you’ll want to replace it soon. You might need help to get the belt positioned exactly where it needs to be.

Replace your air filter. If it’s clogged with dirt and debris it won’t flow as much as it should, reducing the engine’s output. Without a free-flowing supply of oxygen, internal combustion simply can’t take place. However, it’s easy to replace. Many modern cars and trucks have the air filter often found underneath a large rectangular housing with a lid.

Know how to jump start a vehicle that has a dead battery. It requires a set of cables, a car or truck that’s fully charged (or a portable jump starter) and a little bit of know-how.

Make sure you don’t mix up the leads. A positive terminal must connect to a positive terminal, negative to negative; or the color red is associated with positive and black with negative. In modern vehicles, the negative cable doesn’t necessarily have to connect directly to the battery as the negative side is grounded to the engine and body structure, an engine bracket or metal part of the body will work just as well as a terminal. If in doubt, go for the battery.

Know how to change a flat tire. The ability to jack a vehicle up, remove a flat and install a spare is an important skill to have. That is even as temporary spares have become less and less common, replaced by space-and-weight-saving emergency inflation kits. A process that is time-consuming is rotating the tires. Done right can prolong tire life. You might have to reprogram the tire-pressure monitoring system so it accurately shows which tire is affected. Likewise, check your tire gauge pressure. It is best to maintain the factory-recommended pressure.

Add your oil. You should know if you are low on lube. Locate the filler cap and pour the correct oil consistency down in there, then check the dipstick again. Add small amounts at a time until the correct level is reached to avoid overfilling. Car engines typically take between four and five quarts, with variations. Check the owner’s manual for specific details. It would be great if you are able to also change the oil and filter.

Replace windshield wipers and add washer fluid. A fresh set of windshield wipers is commendable. It’s easy to swap them as they essentially clip into place. To release a blade, you can push a small button or slide it into a hook on the end of the arm. Do this simple task when you see that instead of your blades wiping, they are smearing your windshield. It’s simple to keep the reservoir filled with plenty of this windshield wiper fluid. Look for a cap with a windshield icon on it, usually blue or yellow for easy spotting. Then, just pop it off and pour your liquid.


Know More Car Care Tips and Be A Pro in Seattle

If you need to fix up your car, come by our auto shop in Seattle. We’re conveniently located in Greenwood.

Making Your Car Spring-Ready: Top 3 Maintenance Tips

Easy Spring Car Care Tips

Spring is a great time for most car and truck owners to keep their vehicles clean and properly maintained. There are simple maintenance tasks you can do yourself to help you keep your car or truck in pristine shape, saving you time and money down the line.

Did you know that a good cleaning can remove about 70% to 90% of the plugged ash in your truck’s diesel particulate filter?

Here are the top three tips to get your wheels spring-ready. 

Keep your engine clean. It’s not just the exterior of your car that you keep clean but your engine as well. The engine is the life of your car. Though you leave the inner workings of your engine to expert mechanics and cleaners, you can still keep the exterior of your engine clean and in good condition. Debris like grease and dirt can buildup and can do quite a bit of damage if not taken care of. Do invest in a good cleaning product  and give your engine a gentle but thorough cleaning a couple of times this spring. 

Check your fluids. One of the easiest things you can do to keep your car in good condition is checking and changing the fluids regularly. Look into the following – your engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluids – and see if they are still within normal limits. They should be refilled or replaced as stated in your vehicle’s manual. You can have serious issues if you neglect your fluids, as they can accumulate dirt and sludge, causing the vehicle to have to work harder to run. So changing the fluids regularly will ensure your car can run smoothly.

Replace your windshield wipers. Consider not only cleaning your windshield, but replacing your windshield wipers, too. If you have old and ripped windshield wipers, you’re not going to be able to properly see when it’s raining or snowing. Replacing your wipers is a low-cost and easy task that can make a big difference when you’re on the road.

All Seasons Car Care Tips in Seattle

When you think you need us at Greenwood Collision Auto Shop to do your maintenance stuff, drop by and we’ll show you more helpful tips.

Don’t Make These Winter Driving Errors: Part Two

Worst Winter Driving Errors

Stopping in the middle of an incline. Drivers must leave plenty of room between their own car and the vehicle ahead of them. It’s important to keep the momentum going while traveling uphill. Stopping in the middle of an incline may cause you to become stuck or start sliding backward.

Not staying in your lane. Unnecessary lane changes may cause your car to hit a patch of black ice or force you to plow through a strip of deep snow. Instead, stay safe by staying straight in your lane until you must turn off the road.

Having a panic attack. In the event that you find yourself in a skidding situation, stay calm and maintain steady pressure on the brake. If your car has anti-lock brake system (ABS), it will automatically pump the brakes for you. Hold the brake pedal down and steer smoothly, looking in the direction you want the car to go. 

Using the cruise control. Don’t use cruise control with slick road conditions. Your car’s cruise control doesn’t have a feel for loose road conditions and will often add more power when you don’t need it, leading to a loss of control. Instead, retain full control of the gas pedal, brakes, and steering to ensure a safe drive during harsh winter conditions.

Trying to power your way out. Some cars with 4×4 system plus a good ground clearance can help get you up and moving in deeper snow. If you’re stuck in snow, clear the area around the front wheels and turn off any traction system. Then, gently shift back and forth between reverse and a low forward gear, spinning the wheels as little as possible. Call for help if your attempts fail.

Stuck and still running? After clearing the snow from the base of the vehicle and any snow blocking the exhaust pipe, turn engine on periodically to keep the interior of your car warm. You could run out of gas and potentially risk carbon monoxide poisoning  if you just let the engine run. You can open the window about 2 inches down and keep warm with a blanket. 

Speeding on overpasses. Speeding on a bridge or overpass in winter? Do you know the weather’s impact on bridges and overpasses – that’s where icy conditions develop first because of the different exposure to air. Surface conditions can be worse on a bridge than on the approach road just before it, so expect less traction. Slow down before you reach all bridges and overpasses; lower speeds allow for better reaction time.


Don’t Make These Winter Driving Errors: Part One

Minding Avoids Mishaps

See what winter driving experts are saying about the worst winter driving errors that could put you, your family and your car in danger. Minding the danger can help avoid accidents and emergencies.

Not preparing your car for the trip. So you will not forget, have your car dealer’s service department prep your ride for winter. Remember to ‘Put on the BRAKES’ (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe), encourages a thorough battery check because extreme cold requires more energy to start your car. Have the following checked: your lights, wiper blades, fluids, and the tire pressure, which can drop along with the temperature.

Driving on a quarter tank. Avoid the mistake of running on or close to empty. Keep your gas tank at least half full when driving in winter. Always have a charged cell phone in case of emergency. 

Are you ignoring the owner’s manual? Dig out that owner’s manual and brush up on your car’s anti-lock brakes, traction control system, and four- or all-wheel-drive (if equipped) to make sure you are comfortable with how it all works. 

Forgetting to change your tires. Winter tires provide added traction in snow and ice, even for vehicles already equipped with four- or all-wheel drive. Winter tires use special rubber compounds that stay flexible in the cold, providing better grip and improved braking even in extreme weather.

No emergency supplies. These are must-haves in any winter trip – standard snow brush and ice scraper, snow shovel and a container of cat litter, jumper cables, flashlight, emergency flares, and a bright piece of clothing that can be seen in a storm. Have an extra set of cold-weather clothing, blankets, and spare phone chargers. Keeping some high-calorie, non-perishable snacks and bottled water in the trunk, too.

Are you sitting too low? When you must drive in winter weather, raise your driver’s seat up higher. Sitting taller in your vehicle will provide better visibility of the road conditions and potentially dangerous obstacles that may be in front of and around your car.


Being Safe in Winter in Seattle

You can have a hassle-free and safe road trip in winter time if all drivers are just a bit more cautious in driving. Keeping these potential errors in mind can make a huge difference.

The Trouble with Donuts

When you get a flat tire, you’re probably going to be replacing it with a “donut” spare. This is a functional, no-frills substitute designed to get you out of a tight spot. Your manufacturer equipped you with this spare because it’s simple and efficient, as it takes up a lot less space in your car than a proper tire. Unfortunately, this means that it is not ideal for extended periods of usage. It’s got no tread or reinforcement, so you’re likely to notice a drop in performance vis a vis cornering, handling, and braking.

When you put on a donut, your next stop should be our auto body shop in Seattle. If you’re driving for more than about seventy miles, you could be in trouble.

Selling a Car? Know Your Milestones!

When it comes time to sell your car, a big part of its resale value is going to depend on the mileage. Even if your car seems to be in pristine condition, you will likely face buyers using your mileage as a bargaining chip against you in a price negotiation. With this in mind, it pays to know the important milestones. You can generally expect the value of your car to drop at three thresholds:

  • Your first milestone will be at around 30,000 or 40,000. This is when you are first due for a major service visit.
  • The next milestone comes at about 70,000 miles. A more expensive service visit is generally required at this point, which causes the vehicle’s value to drop all the more.
  • When you finally reach 100,000 miles, your car is likely to get far less reliable. Don’t expect to get too much for your trade-in at this point.

Should you need to get your car serviced, or if you want to polish it up to be sold, bring it to our auto body shop in Seattle.

DIY Dent Removal

Occasionally, you may find a small dent on your car that doesn’t seem worth taking in to an auto body shop. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to drive around with a dented car. There are easy ways to take care of small to moderate dents in your car, some of which can be applied with items you already have around your house.

For many smaller dents, you can probably make do with an everyday household plunger. Simply place it over the dent and give it a sharp tug. If you have trouble forming a secure seal, try using a bit of petroleum jelly. Alternatively, you may consider purchasing a special car dent plunger from your local car supply store, specially designed for just such a purpose.

Of course, some dents are beyond the help of a plunger. When you encounter any body damage that you can’t handle by yourself, bring your car down to Greenwood Collision in Seattle!

Cleaning Your Headlights with Toothpaste

Over time, your headlight covers are bound to get foggy. Not only is the light of the sun harsh on the plastic, but they’re also getting constantly blasted by tiny particles that will scratch up and dull the finish. There are expensive products available in stores that promise to rectify this problem for you, but you can probably achieve the same results with materials you already have around the house.

All you need for this job is a rag and a bit of toothpaste. Simply apply the toothpaste to the rag and rub it onto your headlight covers, moving in small, circular motions. After a few passes, you should be seeing noticeable improvement in the clarity of your headlights. Once you are satisfied, consider applying wax or a sealant to the surface to protect them from further damage.

If you have any damage that cannot be as easily wiped away, bring your vehicle down to our auto body shop in Seattle.

The Importance of the Parking Brake

We’re all familiar with the parking brake. If you’re like most people, you know enough to use this brake when parking on an incline so as to keep your vehicle from rolling away. However, if this is the only time you are engaging your brake, you are not deriving the full benefit of this handy little device.

Even when your car is on a level surface, it is a good idea to apply your parking brake. Otherwise, the only thing keeping your parked car in place is your transmission. The transmission is ill-equipped to keep your car parked, and depending on it too much puts unnecessary stress on this fragile structure. Make good use of your parking brake, and bring your car to our auto body shop in Seattle for any problems you may experience.