Another round of Drivers’ Education classes start in the next few weeks in communities across Minnesota, and St Michael / Albertville (Go Knights!) is no exception. Getting a driver’s license is a pretty big deal for most kids, and it is a means to more independence for many teens. With the privilege of driving, also comes new responsibilities, including driving safely, understanding the laws and rules of driving and transportation, and accountability. Below are some outstanding education and maintenance tips we think will help any new driver (regardless of age or experience) stay safely on the road.
1. Read the Owner’s Manual – Most of us have never read an owner’s manual from front to back, so I wouldn’t suggest that to your new driver, either. HOWEVER… they should browse through it enough to become familiar with the different sections and topics, so that if and when they have car trouble or something seems not quite right, they know where to start looking for answers. It will also help them navigate conversations about their car and how it works with others, including their parents and / or a mechanic.
2. Gauge the Gauges – Teaching your new driver to understand what the various gauges are for the car(s) they are driving, what they tell the driver AND what can go wrong if they are ignored is one of the most important things a new driver can know.
3. Change the Oil – This is the most important maintenance item for any vehicle out there. Newer cars have different mileage thresholds for changing the oil, so be sure that you and your new driver both know the manufacturer requirements for your cars and that they help keep track of when the oil needs to be changed and that it gets done.
4. Pay Attention to the Other Fluids – Cars have several different kinds of fluids that need to be properly maintained, and every driver needs to be aware of this. Teach them to monitor them and also how to physically check said fluid levels. Show them how to check the oil, the coolant reservoir, power steering and brake fluid reservoirs. Create a regular schedule with your driver about checking these fluids, even if the car is running smoothly.
5. Road Safety Kits for Car and Driver – We often tell our kids the importance of a winter driving kit for their own safety, but we should also teach them to keep some essentials in their car for it’s sake, as well. Things to include: containers of car specific fluids (oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant, etc,), paper towels, gloves, a funnel, flashlight and jumper cables to name a few. Tuck it in a crate in their trunk and they will be prepared for more situations than they other wise would be, including helping out a stranded friend.
6. Check Tires and Lights – Teach your new driver how to check the air pressure in their tires when they do their scheduled fluid checks. Another good lesson is to show them how to evaluate the tread on their tires using a penny. Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires.
7. Take Care of the Battery – Batteries are one of the main reasons most drivers end up stranded, and this can be especially scary for new drivers. Have the battery charge checked whenever the oil is changed, and teach them the importance of not running their battery down while listening to music, etc., when the car is on but not running.
These seven items are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding car maintenance and repair prevention, but it will get them off to a good start.
When you bring in your car to Precision Auto for most types of service, we issue a digital inspection report that evaluates the health of your car, and lets you know what items need to be taken care of now, in the near future, or that are working well. The categories and items on this report can also be a great way to help educate your new driver about the care and maintenance of their car.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call!
Rob Rich, Owner, Precision Auto Repair
Cars overheating are mostly a hot weather problem. Thanks to safety mechanisms in newer automobiles it is not nearly as much of a problem as it used to be, but it can still happen.
The most important sign to watch for before it actually overheats is the temperature gauge on your car rising, or the temperature light comes on.
Here is a list of things to do at the first sign of overheating:
If you see the temperature gauge climb or the light come on, immediately shut off the air conditioner and radio and open the windows. This will decrease demand on the engine and lessen the heat being generated.
- Strangely enough, if it keeps overheating, turn the car heater on and turn up the fan. This will redirect heat from the engine into the seating area of the car. You won’t feel any better, but your engine will.
- If you can, put the car into neutral or park and then rev the engine a little bit. This will help draw more liquid and air through the radiator, helping to cool it off.
- If things worsen, pull off on to the shoulder of the road (safely), and open the hood. Be careful when opening the hood because of excess steam, and under any circumstances do NOT try to open the radiator cap. This can be very dangerous and result in burns, and you also do NOT want to add water to the radiator when the engine is hot. It must cool down first.
Sometimes the cause of overheating is simply the weather. However, other problems can also cause a car to overheat, especially if it isn’t extremely hot outside. Here are some likely culprits:
- Low water and / or coolant level in the radiator
- Leak in the cooling system
- Malfunctioning thermostat
If you find your car overheating repeatedly or significantly, cooling it off may not be enough. At that point, we’d recommend having your car evaluated by a certified Auto Repair Technician.
Many of us have good intentions of following the recommended maintenance schedule when we buy a new car. Whether brand new or new to us, it’s easy to have good intentions when it comes to car maintenance, but we often become complacent or listen to others who like to share their wisdom when it comes to car maintenance.
People often ask us what car maintenance services are really necessary and when should car maintenance be done.
The answer is really pretty clear and simple:
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine when you should have specific maintenance done, and make sure that you follow the scheduled laid out for you in your owner’s manual as closely as possible.
Properly maintained automobiles are safer and stay on the road longer. If you are unsure of what scheduled maintenance should be done when, give us a call! We’d be happy to help you out. Additionally, if you are a Precision customer, we will have all of the records necessary to let you know when your last services were done and what is coming up, PLUS send you an email when scheduled services are coming due.
Extend the life of your car and avoid costly and unexpected repairs with proper and regular maintenance. It’s much easier and less expensive than waiting until your car is breaks down.
Every type of engine needs oil, and modern automobile engines are no different. Today’s vehicles are designed and built to use oils that meet very specific industry and manufacturer standards. When using the right type of oil and changing at the right intervals can help extend the life of your car. Additionally, failing to use the right type of oil and not documenting its use can void a new car warranty.
There are two main types of oils used in most cars today:
- Synthetic-blend oils
Learn more about synthetic vs conventional oils.
The right oil for your car must have the correct SAE viscosity grade, meet performance and regulatory stands, and comply with the manufacturer’s specifications. You can find this information in your owner’s manual or online (search by vehicle, made, model and year).
Vehicle age, type of oil used and driving conditions combine to determine proper oil change intervals. While 3,000 miles used to be the norm, that is no longer the case with newer cars. Some cars recommend intervals of 5,000 or 7,500 miles. Full-synthetic oils can also extend the time between oil changes for those cars that recommend full-synthetic oil.
You cannot judge oil condition by color. The best protocol is to follow your car or truck’s factory maintenance schedule for oil changes.
Oil Change Intervals: Older Cars
Older cars typically have oil change intervals based on mileage, and have two maintenance schedules, one for cars driven in “normal” operation and another for those used in “severe service.” The latter category involves operating your car under one or more of the following conditions:
- Primarily short trips (5 miles or less)
- Extremely hot, cold, or dusty climates
- Sustained stop-and-go driving
- Carrying heavy loads or towing a trailer
If your vehicle use falls under the severe service definition in your owner’s manual, you will use the more frequent schedule provided by your manufacturer. If your usage is normal, be sure that you aren’t changing the oil TOO frequently.
Oil Change Intervals: Newer Cars
The best way to determine when you need your oil changed in a newer car is to simply pay attention to the oil-life monitoring system in your car. Early systems in cars were time and mileage based, but newer vehicles have systems that can actually analyze vehicle operating conditions to identify when the oil first begins to degrade.
Whether you or a service technician at your local auto shop change your oil, reset the oil-life monitoring system by following the instructions in your owner’s manual.
Still Check Oil Monthly
It is still important to check your oil levels monthly. Failure to do so can result in damage due to low oil will not be covered by a new car warranty.
If you do not drive your vehicle often, most manufacturer’s recommend an oil change every 12 months, even if the maintenance reminder light has not come on.
Precision Auto Oil Change Services
• Oil Change
• Reset Oil-Life Monitoring System
• Digital Maintenance Inspection
• Check and refill all fluids
• Check tires
Precision Auto features Mobil1 oils and also carries a full line of national brand oils.
When your check engine light comes on, it can mean anything from a loose gas cap to something serious. Here’s what to do when it comes on while driving:
Check your dashboard panel for signs of a serious problem.
Is the temperature gauge above normal (indicates overheating)? Does your car suddenly show low oil or any other oil related warning? If so, you should pull over immediately and call your mechanic. They can help you determine if you can drive to the shop or if a tow truck is needed.
Check your gas cap.
If it is loose, tighten and see if the check engine light disappears.
Check your trailer.
Reduce your speed, and if you are towing something, pull over and remove whatever you are pulling from your vehicle. If you are experiencing a loss of power, have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent serious engine damage.
If your vehicle has an Onstar subscription, they can often read the code remotely and tell you what the issue is, and how serious it may be. They can also help you determine if you can drive your vehicle in for service or if a tow truck is needed.
Don’t ignore it.
If the check engine light goes off while driving, don’t ignore it. When it does reappear, if you have been driving the vehicle without service or repair, the amount of additional damage you can do to your car or truck can be significant, and so can the price tag for repair.
Don’t add to the cost of your repair by ignoring or continuing to drive a car with a solid or blinking check engine light.