New Car Battery? Follow These Tips to Help it Last Longer

There is nothing like having a fresh, new car battery. You can rely on this battery to not die anytime soon without the added concern that you will go to start your car one day, only to find out it no longer has any juice left. However, even with a new battery, it is important to take good care of it in order to help it last as long as possible. With these tips, you will be able to extend the life of your new car battery.

Protect the Battery From Extreme Temperatures

Your car battery can handle a lot, but you should protect it from extremely hot or extremely cold temperatures. If your car tends to run hot or you live in a desert area where the temperatures are in triple digits all summer long, you might want to get a thermal blanket. This is a type of wrap that goes over the battery and keeps it protected from getting too hot. You also want to protect the battery from freezing temperatures in the winter, also by using a thermal blanket. You should also let your car warm up after starting it instead of just driving off right away.

Clean the Battery Routinely

Every time you are planning on working on your car with routine maintenance, make sure you also check your car battery. You want to keep the terminals of the battery clean, as they can get buildup and dirt that will then drain the battery’s power. Far too many drivers just ignore the battery and terminals completely, letting the buildup essentially kill their battery. Whether you are checking fluids on your car or getting a tune-up, these are good times to check the battery and clean it. All you need is a wet rag to remove the dirt buildup.

Only Use Accessories When Operating the Vehicle

Another common mistake people often make is using the car accessories even when not driving the car. You should keep the radio and GPS unit turned off completely until you have started the car and are about to start driving. Before you turn the car off, turn off these accessories so they aren’t using extra battery power when the battery isn’t being charged by driving. Also make sure no lights are being used when your car is not running.

It is a good idea to have mechanics take a look at the battery every time you have your car serviced. They can test the voltage and let you know ahead of time when it might be time for a new battery.

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A Few Simple Tips for Keeping Your Diesel Engine in Good Shape

A diesel engine is typically considered stronger than a standard petrol engine, so it’s often chosen when you’ll be consistently towing something and for heavier vehicles themselves. A diesel engine also doesn’t use spark plugs to start, so it doesn’t need the standard tune-up that other engines need. However, this doesn’t mean your vehicle’s diesel engine is indestructible. Note a few tips for keeping that engine in good shape so it lasts for years to come.

Replace gaskets in sets 

Because diesel engines usually work harder than standard petrol engines, the gaskets of the engine may get leaky sooner than you would see in other types of engines. If you notice that one is getting leaky or brittle or is sliding out of place, it’s good to change all of the gaskets at the same time. These are what keep the fuel in the engine and help keep it separate from oil, and when one starts to break down, there’s a good chance they’re all breaking down. If you replace them in a set, you’ll always have quality gaskets that protect your engine from damage.

Check the glow plugs

A diesel engine starts with heat, not a spark. Usually the outside temperature is warm enough for the engine to start, but for cold weather, your engine will rely on glow plugs. These are small plugs that create a tiny bit of heat around your engine, so it can start in winter months and cold climates. If the glow plugs wear out, your engine may not have enough heat to start and you may be putting extra wear and tear on it by trying to start it cold. Have the glow plugs checked every year before wintertime or if you’re taking your vehicle to a cold climate, and replace them as necessary.

Have a water separator installed

 A water separator is located near the fuel filter and it strains out excess water in the fuel. Not all diesel engines have one installed, but this can mean having only high-quality fuel delivered to your engine and not something that is watered down. In turn, your engine won’t struggle so hard to run, as it would with watered-down fuel. Once the water separator is installed or you find that your engine has one, be sure it’s emptied every time you take your engine in for an oil change so it’s always operating optimally.

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The Benefits of Rotating Car Tyres Regularly

You may be wondering whether or not it is necessary to rotate the tyres on your new car regularly. Read on and discover some of the benefits that you are likely to realise if you rotate the tyres on your car on a regular basis.

Tyres Wear Evenly

The different tyres on your car wear out at different rates. For instance, the front tyres on a front-wheel drive car wear out more quickly than the rear tyres. This is because the drive wheels experience greater wear as you accelerate the vehicle. Transferring such tyres to the rear enables them to wear out at a slower rate as those tyres that were at the back undergo the accelerated wear of being used as drive wheels. Consequently, all four tyres will last longer if you keep rotating them as part of your routine car maintenance activities.

Less Damage to the Suspension System

When tyres are not rotated regularly, they wear out unevenly. This can cause vibrations that can strain the suspension system of the car. The vibrations result from the weight of the car resting on tyres that differ in size due to the extensive wear on some of those tyres. This strain can cause various components of the suspension system, such as the shock absorbers, to wear out quickly.

You Benefit from Mileage Warranties

Some car manufacturers may void the warranty on the car if there are no records to show that the tyres on that car were rotated regularly. Such manufacturers may even prescribe how you should rotate those tyres in order for the warranty to be valid. Thus, rotating the tyres will enable you to take advantage of the car warranty if the vehicle develops mechanical problems during the period when the warranty is still applicable.

Early Detection of Undercarriage Problems

Removing the wheels gives you an opportunity to observe the undercarriage of the car. This visual inspection can enable you to identify developing problems, such as corrosion, before they cause extensive damage to the car. Such problems can be rectified at a fraction of what it would have cost you if the problem hadn’t been tackled in time.

As you can see, several benefits may accrue from rotating the tyres on your vehicle regularly. Contact a car service professional for advice about the tyre rotation pattern and interval that is suitable for your make and model of car.

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What to Do If You Think Your Vehicle Has Been Towed

It’s a traumatic experience to return to where you parked your car, only to be greeted by an empty space. Your car might have been towed, or it might have been stolen. You need to act quickly to ensure that the necessary action is taken. So what do you need to do?

Checking the Signs

Look for signage that dictates any parking restrictions for the area. This signage might not be located right next to where you parked, so you should walk down the street until you spot the necessary information. The signage will have a telephone number to call. This might be a number for the appropriate department of the local council, or it might be for the towing company that is authorised to remove improperly parked vehicles.

Stolen or Towed

If you can locate such signage, call the number immediately to find out where your vehicle has been taken. If no signage can be found, or if the towing authorities are not in possession of your vehicle, you should call the police to report the vehicle as missing.

Retrieving the Vehicle

You will need to go to the appropriate impound yard to retrieve the vehicle. Find out if you need to make an appointment first, but it will generally be possible to do so immediately. You will need to provide photo ID to retrieve the vehicle. You will also need to pay a hefty release fee to retrieve your vehicle, and this amount will vary depending on which authority has impounded the vehicle. For example, small towns might charge less than if your vehicle was impounded in a large city. It just depends on which council oversees the process.

Additional Fees

It’s in your best interests to pay the retrieval fee as soon as possible, even if you plan to dispute the towing at a later stage. There are usually a certain number of days when the vehicle is held for a flat fee, and additional storage charges might be imposed if the vehicle is not retrieved within this timeframe. Query this fee and timeframe with the towing company or the local council.

Disputing the Towing

If you wish to dispute the towing, you will usually need to do so with the local council. Find out their process for this, and you will generally need to fill in a specific form. Your options for successfully disputing a towing are limited. You might be entitled to a refund of the towing fee in extenuating circumstances, which are generally limited to medical emergencies (for which you will be required to provide proof). Incorrect or missing signage can also be grounds to successfully dispute a towing.

While traumatic, it’s important to take quick action if you discover that your vehicle is not where you left it.

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Is Paintless Dent Repair the Right Choice for Your Car?

If your car has a scratch, dent, or ding, you might not relish the idea of paying lots of money to have it bumped out, but you might also not want to drive around with a beat-up car either. This might especially be true for those who may be thinking about selling their car and who know that even a sight nick can mean a reduced asking cost. Whatever your reasons for wanting to fix every minor scratch on your car, you might note if paintless dent repair is an option for you. 

1. Is paintless dent repair a quality fix?

In truth, paintless dent repair might be the highest-quality fix you can get for your car, as it means massaging out the dent from behind or the front, using special tools. There is no bonding agent, fillers, epoxy, or touchup paint involved in paintless dent repairs, so your car will look like it was never dented in the first place. You don’t need to worry about the bonding agent or filler getting cracked and brittle down the road, or about the paint not matching completely when you choose paintless dent repair.

2. Does paintless dent repair damage the paint?

You might think that the paint of a car would get chipped or cracked when the car is dented or dinged, but most of today’s car paints are meant to be very flexible so that they can actually bend slightly. Paintless dent repair shouldn’t crack or chip the paint if it’s still intact when the work begins.

3. Can all dents and dings be fixed with paintless dent repair?

If a dent is very big then it may have chipped the paint and you would need to have new paint put over it, even if you could massage it out. Some dents and dings are also so deep that the metal cannot be massaged out completely and it would need filler material. Also, if rust has been exposed from the dent, this usually needs sanding and new paint even if the dent is somewhat small. Your repair tech can tell you your options and note why paintless dent repair won’t work, if that’s the case.

4. Does paintless dent repair compromise the vehicle’s strength?

Massaging a dent out of a panel doesn’t somehow make the panel weaker; some very large dents might compromise a vehicle body strength and in those cases, you might want to have the panel replaced completely. However, massaging the dent back out of the panel doesn’t leave weak spots along the outside area of the dent or mean that you’re more likely to develop holes in that area.

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Why is my check engine light on?

Modern vehicles have an inboard computer analytical system that continually monitors the key operating systems, especially your engine and transmission system. The key reason for checking these systems is to make sure that the car is operating at maximum efficiency with the least possible emissions. Given that emission control and fuel economy have become more important, your car’s electronic system needs to continually adjust and tweak several parameters based on the existing driving conditions, including vehicle load, air or fuel mix and temperature to name just a few. When any of these parameters fall outside the tolerable range for operating a car, your check engine light will come on to notify you of an existing problem. As the vehicle owner, you should take your vehicle to a certified auto mechanic to restore it back to manufacturer specifications.

Possible reasons behind the check engine light

Issues with the mass air flow sensor

Initially, you may not encounter any severe driveability issues, though you may notice sluggishness or a reduction in power in your car’s system. This may be traced back to the mass air flow sensor which may be defective.

Lean condition

Modern vehicles use oxygen sensors to detect whether the air/fuel combination is too lean or too rich. If excess oxygen is detected, the computer assumes the mixture is very lean which means there’s not adequate fuel. Some of the lean symptoms include poor power output and the engine system running hotter than usual among other symptoms.

Rich condition

Likewise, if small amounts of oxygen are detected, the computer assumes the air/fuel combination is too rich, meaning either excess fuel or little oxygen. Symptoms include poor fuel mileage, excess fuel thinning, which quickly causes fresh engine oil to turn black, and build-up of sooty carbon residues on spark plugs. This condition is as a result of a defective or dirty mass air flow sensor.

Cylinder backfire

You may experience difficulty starting your engine, or the engine might idle, stumble or dillydally among a host of other driveability problems. This could be traced back to a defective spark plugs, a faulty ignition coil or an engine problem.

Knock sensor circuit breakdown

The knock sensor serves to evaluate spark knock. If a spark knock exists, the sensor generates a voltage signal that is detected by the computer and the check engine light illuminates on. With this failure, you may experience driveability complications such as power output failures and engine hesitation. Possible reasons could be a faulty knock sensor circuit. 

Whenever the check engine light comes on, have an auto mechanic inspect your car immediately.

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