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How to improve visibility while driving

visibility

Whether it’s a clear sunny day or fog at night, being able to see the road clearly is important to all drivers. Visibility is an important factor when it comes to getting home safely – regardless of the roads you travel. Improving your visibility while driving can help you see potentially dangerous situations on the road up ahead, as well as, assess any changing road conditions. Greater visibility can be the difference maker when it comes to driving accident free. If you’ve been wondering what you can do to increase your visibility, we’ve got you covered with some simple steps you can take to ensure your safety while driving on the road.

Minimize your blind spots and improve visibility

Newer cars have a blind spot warning system built in, but if your car doesn’t have this feature – it’s a good idea to take some steps to minimize your blind spots and improve your visibility. For starters, make sure your side mirrors are out 15 degrees from both sides. For your left mirror, lean your head so that it’s even with the driver side window and adjust the mirror so you can see the side of your car. For the right mirror, you can do the same from the center of the car. Making these small adjustments to your side mirrors, will give you greater visibility when cars are approaching on either side.

Uncover your windows

This may seem like a no-brainer, but covered windows (especially in your back seat) can become a visibility challenge. Be sure to roll up those sun shades before hitting the road. In addition, you’ll want to pay attention to any belongings that cover your windows – for example, when you’re moving boxes, hanging clothes, and the like. When your belongings are packed in your back seat or the trunk area of your SUV, you’ll want to load these on both sides of the car – leaving the middle open for you to see out the back window. You can also consider investing in organizational items for your car like a hanger that attaches around your headrest allowing you to hang clothes without blocking your view.

Clean your windshield regularly

Keeping your windshield clean while driving is an easy way to improve your visibility. Dirty windshields can be dangerous especially at night – as smudges and haze can reflect off the windshield in the face of street lights and oncoming traffic making it hard to see. For peace of mind, we recommend making a habit out of cleaning your windshield every time you fill up on gas.

Improve visibility by Inspecting your wiper blades

While you’re thinking about your windshield, it’s a good idea to inspect those wiper blades. Did you know that windshield wiper blades can dull over time leaving dirt, ice, and debris on your windshield while you drive? We recommend replacing these every 6 months, so if it’s been a while since you’ve replaced them now would be a great time. While you’re checking those blades, also check your windshield washer fluid levels and fill it to the proper levels – ensuring that you’ll be prepared no matter what hits your windshield while driving.

Keep your headlights clean

Did you know that dirt and debris can accumulate on your headlights? Any buildup can make your lights dim which can cause issues for night time visibility. You’ll want to regularly clean your headlights to make sure they shine brightly all year long. While you’re cleaning those lights, you’ll also want to check and replace any burned out bulbs.

Repair cracks and chips immediately for better visibility

We’ve all had this happen a time or two. You’re driving down the road when all of a sudden a small rock flies into your windshield leaving a small chip or crack. Leaving this small issue unattended can develop into a large crack that impedes your visibility. We recommend getting that small chip or crack repaired as soon as possible to prevent it from becoming a bigger visibility problem.

When it comes to improving visibility, these steps will give you peace of mind and ensure your safety while you drive. If you’re ready to improve your safety and visibility, our team is happy to help. Simply make an appointment and we’ll inspect your car for safety, and get you back on the road in no time.

6 ways to get your car road trip ready   

Summer is here, and if you’re like most Minnesotans, you’re ready to plan some summer fun. From weekend trips to the cabin to picnics in the park, summer is a time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. Summer is also a great time to plan that family road trip. Before you pack up the car and stock up on those road trip snacks, it’s also a good idea to get your car road trip ready. If you’re ready to check getting your car ready off that to-do list, then keep reading for our 6 ways to get your car road trip ready.

Tires

Your tires are what makes this whole trip roll – literally. But improperly inflated tires can cause stress to your engine, add unnecessary wear and tear on your brakes & suspension, and uneven wear & tear to your treads. In addition, improper inflation can make your tires susceptible to blow outs and decrease your fuel economy by 1%. Check your tire pressure and make sure they are filled to the manufacturer’s recommendation. And while you’re thinking about your tires, it’s a good idea to have them rotated. For cars with front wheel or rear wheel drive, rotating your tires will help them wear more evenly – and should be performed every 5,000-8,000 miles.

Belts and hoses

Your belts and hoses are critical to keeping your electrical, power steering, and cooling systems functioning. Ask your mechanic to inspect them to determine if they are frayed or cracked. You’ll also want to verify that your belts are tightly installed and don’t have a large amount of slack.  When it comes to your hoses, you’ll want to inspect for any leaks or drips. Left unattended, broken belts or hoses can leave you with a breakdown on the side of the road – which stops the fun of any road trip.

Brake check before your road trip

Your brakes are essential to your family’s safety on your road trip so it’s a good idea to have them inspected before you hit the road. Some warning signs that your brakes need some attention include: squealing noises which indicate worn brake pads, a spongy brake pedal, pulling to one side while braking, and a shaking brake pedal. If you notice any of these signs or it’s been a while since your mechanic has taken a peek, then it’s a good idea to take your car in and ask for an inspection.

Lights

You’ll also want to check your interior and exterior lights to make sure they are working properly. Be sure to replace any burned out bulbs and to make sure your tail lights and turn signals are in working order. While you’re checking the outside of the car, it’s a good idea to check your windshield wiper blades in case you run into any summer rain storms. Most car manufacturers recommend getting a new pair every 6 months, so if it’s been a while since you’ve replaced them – now is the perfect time to get it done.

Air conditioning system

With the dog days of summer approaching, no one wants to be on a long road trip when your AC system is not working. Ask your mechanic to do an AC system check. While you’re there, now is also the perfect time to replace your cabin air filter. This air filter keeps allergens, pollutants, and mold out of the inside of your car to keep your breathing clean air. Some signs you need an AC check include: an AC that’s not blowing as cold as it used to, a musty smell inside your car, and poor air flow.

Top off your fluids before a road trip

One last thing to check is to fill your fluids to the appropriate levels. You can start with having your oil changed to make sure your car is ready to go. After that, check the following fluid levels: power steering, transmission, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

Once you’ve checked off these 6 items to get your car ready for that road trip, you’re ready to go. And if you need some help getting your car road trip ready, we’re ready to help. Simply give us a call for an appointment, and our team will get your car ready for that road trip in no time.

Possible reasons your check engine light is coming on

If you’ve ever been out driving and your check engine light comes on, you know that sinking feeling that your car has some problems that need to be taken care of. Like most drivers, you probably make a note of it and plan to call for an appointment with your local mechanic. There are many possible reasons your check engine light can come on, so if you’ve ever been curious about why your check engine light goes off – then keep reading for some possibilities.

Engine Thermostat

Your engine typically runs between 195-220 degrees fahrenheit, and your engine thermostat regulates your coolant temperatures. As engine temperatures reach the right zone, the thermostat opens allowing coolant to flow to the radiator. A faulty engine thermostat can cause overheating when the thermostat doesn’t open properly.

Fuel Injector

Each engine cylinder has a fuel injector which is a small, electronically activated valve that regulates how much fuel is sprayed into the cylinder during the intake cycle. Our fuel has impurities and when these are combined with carbon from the combustion process – it can cause the miniscule holes in the injector tips to plug or clog. Complete clogging can force the fuel injector to stay open and continuously leak fuel into the cylinder which can cause the engine to run roughly.

Ignition Coils and the check engine light

Your ignition coils deliver an electrical pulse to each spark plug. When the engine computer sends a signal, the coil releases pent up energy to the spark plugs which ignites the air + fuel mixture. The ignition coils are prone to failure after several years, so if you notice poor fuel economy or decreased engine power – it’s a good idea to have your mechanic check it out.

Vacuum Leak

Your vacuum system helps decrease emissions by routing the fumes from gas evaporating through the engine. Vacuum hoses can crack or dry out when exposed to intense heat or cold. If this is the reason your check engine light turns on, you’ll also want to ask your mechanic to check for cracked fittings and loose connections in your vacuum system.

The Check engine light & Oxygen Sensor Failure

Your oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in your car’s exhaust. It sends data to the car’s computer which uses that data to regulate the mixture of fuel + air that enters engine cylinders. If your oxygen sensor has failed your car can keep running, but it will burn more fuel and over time can damage your spark plugs and catalytic converter.

Dirty MAS Airflow Sensor

Your MAS airflow sensor determines how much fuel is needed to run the engine. It measures the amount of air entering the engine, and can be susceptible to oil and dirt clean up. When not working, it can cause your air to fuel ratio to be off which can cause failures in other areas of the engine like decreased fuel economy and engine performance.

Loose or faulty gas cap

Your gas cap and valves in your gas tank keep gas from escaping and functions to circulate your gas. If your gas cap is loose, it may cause you to lose fuel due to evaporation or for your fuel to circulate improperly.

Faulty Catalytic Converter & Check Engine light

Your catalytic converter changes carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide which helps protect the environment. When your catalytic converter is faulty, it reduces your fuel economy and engine performance. It’s important to note that replacing it is not always the answer. Typically, issues with your catalytic converter can be caused by something else – like a blown head gasket which can force burnt coolant vapor into your exhaust.

When your check engine light turns on, these are just some of the common causes to look for. For your peace of mind, it’s always best to make an appointment with your mechanic so they can run tests and diagnose the exact issue. The next time your check engine light turns on, simply give us a call – we’d love to check it out and get you back on the road again.

AC and refrigerant History with your Car

As summer gets underway, you and your family may be planning outside activities from that backyard summer BBQ to taking in a summer baseball game. Whatever you may be planning, you can have peace of mind that when you get back in the car to drive home – your AC will be ready to cool you off as you head home. That wasn’t always the case when it came to driving and AC – just under a century ago, cars were just being invented and AC was not even a thought in anyone’s mind. If you have some questions about the history of cars and AC, then keep reading as we answer some common questions.

How did drivers of the very first vehicles keep cool in the summer?

The earliest Model T’s had no doors and a collapsible roof. Most drivers back then were more concerned about keeping warm in the winter instead of keeping cool in the summer. When drivers wanted to cool off, they would simply collapse the roof and let the open air cool them off.

What happened when car makers started adding doors and a more permanent roof?

Shortly after the first Model Ts, car makers began to make closed-body vehicles with doors and windows. At this time, they would still use open air to cool them off, but these cars came equipped with vents under the dashboard that circulated the outside air. The one complaint consumers had about this is that it didn’t keep dirt and dust from getting inside the car – it was kind of messy.

What were the first innovations toward the AC we know today?

Next came some primitive cooling options for drivers and passengers. The Knapp Limo-Sedan Fan was introduced which was an electric fan mounted to the interior of the car which would blow on car passengers to keep them cool. In addition, car owners could purchase a car cooler which was attached to the roof and used water evaporation to cool air that came through the open windows. While getting more comfortable in the summer, this system was only able to reduce the car temperature by 15 degrees.

When were drivers able to purchase a car with a factory installed AC?

Good question. In the 1940s, Packard became the first car maker to offer factory installed AC. The unit was installed in the trunk of the car and required the driver to get out and manually install or remove the drive belt from the compressor to turn on and off. This unit could only circulate air inside the car, and the condensed water ran overhead which could drip on car passengers from time to time.

When did air conditioning become standard for new cars?

Before World War II, only 3,000 cars had an AC system installed, but after WWII over 1 million cars had it installed. In 1953, General Motors, Chrysler, and Packard all introduced new AC systems. More specifically, GM developed a revolutionary system that fit in a car’s engine. In 1963, Cadillac made a breakthrough with the invention of comfort control – drivers were finally able to control the temperature in their car.

Were there any concerns environmentally with these new advances?

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that compounds called Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were depleting the earth’s ozone layer. The primary AC refrigerant used in cars at that time was R12, also known as Freon, which was a CFC. Scientists knew that a new and safer option needed to be developed. After years of testing, a suitable replacement was found in the refrigerant known as R-134a. In 1987, the U.S. government signed the Montreal Compact, which in part required manufacturers to switch away from R12 by 1996.

Are there any modern-day environmental concerns because of the AC?

Today, our vehicle AC systems are highly advanced with dual and rear climate control. And while we don’t have the environmental concerns we had in the 1970s, using your AC decreases your fuel efficiency by up to 25%. Some simple tips to be more fuel efficient when using your AC include: using your AC only when you’re driving at highway speeds, not idling with your AC turned on, and rolling down your windows to let the hot air out before turning on your AC.

We’ve definitely come a long way when it comes to having the modern convenience of air conditioning while we drive, but it’s always important to have your AC checked to make sure it’s in working order before the dog days of summer arrive. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your mechanic run an AC system check, we’d love to help. Simply give us a call and we’ll ensure your AC is ready to go no matter where you drive to this summer.

Everything you need to know about maintaining your boat trailer this summer

boat trailer

It’s officially June and summer is in full swing. If you’re like the average Minnesotan, you are gearing up to enjoy the great outdoors with activities like heading to your cabin, fishing, and a little water skiing fun. But before you get to all that fun, you’ll need to tow your boat to your favorite lake. Enter boat trailer maintenance. If it’s been a while since you did some maintenance on your boat trailer, now is the time to press pause on those summer water plans so you can make sure your trailer is ready for the journey.

Check your trailer lights

Before you hit the road with your boat, you’ll want to fully inspect your trailer lights. Your lights are a safety measure letting other drivers know that you are carrying a boat and to keep a safe distance. Driving with faulty lights can get you a hefty fine so now’s a great time to make sure your lights are in working order. You’ll want to look for any dimming or flickering lights, and even lights that aren’t working at all. Older trailers have lights that can burn out so you can get these replaced. If you haven’t already done so, spring is a good time to inspect your connection to your towing vehicle. Our winter elements can cause the metal pins to corrode. If you don’t already have one, you can install a cover to keep your connection clean and dry no matter what weather you drive in.

Check the tires on the Boat Trailer

Improperly inflated tires can be a big cause of trailer trouble this summer. Check your air pressure to ensure that your tires are inflated properly. Tires can lose 1-2 pounds of air pressure every month so it’s a good idea to check how your trailer tires did over the winter. Fill your tires to the maximum rating listed on the tire which is typically at least 60 psi. While you’re down there checking air pressure, it’s a good idea to check for wear and tear. Most manufacturers recommend replacing your trailer tires every 6 years – so if it’s been a while or you notice any wear and tear, your mechanic can get those replaced for you in no time.

Check your brakes

Most states require you to have brakes installed on at least one axle of your trailer, and if your trailer weighs over 3,000 lbs – your trailer will swerve when using just your vehicle brakes. To ensure safer driving when towing your boat, you’ll want to check your brake pads for any wear and tear. Now is also a good time to check your brake fluid levels and fill them to the proper level before heading out on the road.

Boat Trailer Wheel Bearings

Your wheel bearings help your trailer wheels turn properly. Winter weather can cause your bearings to corrode due to moisture so you’ll want to check these each year. Corroded or ungreased bearings can cause friction when your wheels turn and can cause accidents. To ensure your safety and the safety of other drivers, you’ll want to grease your bearings and add wheel bearing covers to protect them from moisture and other weather all year long.

Safety Precautions

You’ll also want to check some safety precautions before you hit the road. Your safety chain should crisscross underneath your trailer tongue and attach to your vehicle for support in the case that your trailer becomes unhitched. You’ll also want to inspect your bunk rollers to make sure they are in good condition and can support the hull.

Once you’ve inspected and performed these maintenance items, you’re ready to get on your way to a safe and enjoyable summer on the lake.

 

Step into car care with our maintenance checklist

car care

We all love summer, don’t we? It brings warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, and family BBQs. It can also bring long to-do lists from spring cleaning to planting your garden and everything in between. One must do every year should be your car’s spring maintenance check.  Winter can be harsh on our cars so before we hit the road for that family vacation or the picnic at the park, it’s important to step into car care with maintenance. If you’ve been wondering what kinds of maintenance checks your car needs in spring, keep reading for our car care checklist.

Tires

Snow and ice can cover bumps and holes in the road leaving your tires susceptible to damage – which is why it’s important to add your tires to your spring maintenance checklist. You’ll want to inspect your tires for tread life and check your tire pressure to make sure they are properly inflated. Neglecting these issues now can lead to safety issues later. While you’re down there checking your tire pressure, be sure to inspect your rims for dents or damage. Lastly, ask your mechanic to rotate and balance your tires for a more enjoyable ride this spring and summer.

Suspension

Whether you’ve just hit that pesky pothole or had some rough driving on snow & ice over the winter, your suspension can take a little beating. Some signs that your suspension system needs some attention include usually bumpy rides, pulling to one side after turning corners, difficulty steering, and continued bouncing after hitting bumps. Spring is a great time to have your mechanic check your struts and/or shocks to make sure your suspension system is in working order.

Alignment

If you’ve inadvertently hit some snow-covered obstacles on the road this winter, you may need to have your alignment checked as well. Signs your car’s alignment needs checking include squealing tires, pulling to one side while driving, noisy steering, and uneven or rapid tire wear. If you notice any of these signs or if it’s been a while since you had your alignment checked, ask your mechanic to check it out.

Fluid Levels

After a long winter, it may have been a while since your fluid levels were last checked. Ask your mechanic to check your coolant, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluids are filled to the proper level.

Air Conditioning

It’s been a while since you’ve needed to use your air conditioning. Ask your mechanic to perform a simple AC output test to make sure your AC is ready to go during the dog days of summer.

Wipers

The winter elements can dull your wiper blades over time. Spring is the perfect time to replace those dull blades for new ones to ensure you’re ready for those heavy spring and summer rains.

Headlights, Taillights, & Turn Signals

You’ll want to have your lights inspected to make sure they survived the winter. Winter weather and salt for the roads can cause your headlights and taillights to yellow which can reduce visibility and create a night time driving hazard. Ask your mechanic to refurbish or replace any yellowed headlights and replace any burnt out bulbs for a safe ride all summer long.

Cabin Air Filter

If your car was manufactured after 1999, then you have a cabin air filter. These filters keep pollen, mold, and other pollutants out of your car’s interior cabin to keep your inside air fresh and clean. Spring is the perfect time to have your mechanic replace this for your comfort in the coming summer months.

Belts & Hoses

Our bitterly cold temperatures can wreak havoc on your belts & hoses. Winter elements can cause cracks and tears which leave your belts & hoses vulnerable. A broken vehicle belt or hose can cause a breakdown no matter where you’re driving. Save yourself the headache and ask your mechanic to inspect them this spring.

If you’re ready to ensure safe and enjoyable driving all spring and summer long, then now is the time to bring your car in for a spring maintenance check. Simple call to make an appointment – our team is ready to help!

Electric Car & 6 Reasons to start driving them

Electric cars are rising in popularity right now. From TV commercials to car dealers developing better technology, electric vehicles are starting to be the next wave of what people are driving. One added factor in their rise in popularity is sticker shock at the pump. Gas prices are reaching an all-time high which has drivers investigating the money saving options of driving an electric car.

Electric cars, also referred to as battery electric vehicles (BEV), use a large battery pack to power an electric motor. They don’t require gas, but run on electric charging from a wall outlet or charging equipment called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). You can work with your utility company to install a wall outlet in your garage or use charging stations. Most electric cars have a driving range of 200 miles before they need a recharge.

Because they don’t run on gas, there are a variety of reasons to start driving one.

Fuel savings

The main reason to start driving electric is lower fuel costs. Since these cars don’t run on gas, you’ll be saving by eliminating that stop for gas every week or so. On average, an electric car costs $0.05 per mile to run vs. $ 0.15 per mile to run a gas-powered car. While it may not seem like much per mile, this cost can add up to about $ 4,000 in fuel per year.

Maintenance costs of an Electric car

Electric car owners not only save money on gas, they can also save on maintenance costs. Electric cars have fewer moving parts and don’t require oil changes, new spark plugs, or fuel filters. They also use regenerative braking – where the car uses the electric motor to decelerate the vehicle, which can extend the lifespan of your brakes. These lower overall maintenance costs will lead to increased savings for the life of your car.

Cleaner for the environment

Electric cars are more energy efficient and cleaner for the environment. Since they don’t run on gas, and have no tail pipe – they don’t emit any exhaust fumes which reduces local air pollution. As far as energy efficiency goes, electric vehicles are 85-90% energy efficient vs. the 17-21% efficiency of a gas-powered engine.

Rebates and tax credits

Did you know that electric vehicle owners may qualify for tax credits and rebates? There is a federal tax credit for electric battery vehicles depending on the battery capacity. The Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) also provides rebate savings for eligible electric vehicles.

Electric car & Higher performance

Electric vehicles can be fun to drive. They have quick acceleration, and produce peak torque from a standstill. Most drivers report great handling as the battery pack is positioned in the center of the car, which decreases the car’s center of gravity and produces more stability.

Better resale value

Electric vehicles boast a better resale value than other cars which make it a great investment when it’s time to sell. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, there may be some great deals on a 2nd hand electric vehicle.

One additional question you may have is about hybrid vehicles and how they compare. Hybrids are similar to electric vehicles in that they both use an electric motor. However, hybrids combine an electric motor with a gas engine to help you save. You’ll still pay at the pump, but notice more time between fill ups because it helps you go further on one fill up.

If you’re ready to take the leap into electric, these 6 reasons are some of the great benefits you’ll experience no matter where you drive your new car.

Simple steps you can take to beat rising gas prices & make your car efficient

If rising gas prices have you down, then you’re not alone. Minnesota drivers are paying higher prices at the pump, while they search for answers on how to make their car more fuel efficient. Let’s face it. We can’t control the price we pay for gas, but we do have some control over our vehicle’s level of fuel efficiency. If you’ve been searching for ways to make each fill up last longer while getting your car further, then we’ve got some quick tips that can help.

Efficient tire pressure

Did you know that properly inflated tires can not only extend the life of your tires, but also increase your car’s fuel efficiency? On the flip side, improperly inflated tires can decrease your fuel efficiency by 3%. While it doesn’t sound like much, this can add up and cost you at the pump. Increasing your fuel efficiency can be as easy as checking your tire pressure every month to ensure those tires are properly inflated.

Inspect your front end alignment

It’s pothole season. If you’ve run into one lately or hit a nasty bump in the road, that can mess with your front end alignment. If your front end alignment is off, that can decrease your gas mileage by 10%. Some signs that your alignment may be off is pulling to one side while driving, a little extra bounce when you hit that bump, or even shaking when driving at high speeds. If you notice any of these signs, ask your mechanic to check it out so your car can maximize its fuel efficiency.

Fill up with the right octane to make it efficient

It may be tempting to start filling up with higher octane fuel – thinking that the higher the octane, the better the efficiency. But the octane that makes your car the most fuel efficient is the one set by your manufacturer.  For example, if your owner’s manual states that your car requires 87 octane fuel, filling your car with 89 or 91 octane won’t help it become more efficient. This will simply cost you more without any added benefit. Stick to the octane your car needs and you’ll be good to go.

Quicker fill ups

Did you know that keeping your gas tank at least ¼ full is better for fuel efficiency?  When your car gets below ¼ full, your fuel pump has to work harder which makes your car less efficient. If you want to save money at the pump, plan on refilling at ¼ of a tank.

Efficient car and Cleaning out your trunk

The more you’re hauling around in your trunk, the harder your car has to work to get you where you need to go. If you store a variety of items in your trunk, it may be time to clean it out and lighten your everyday driving load. For every 100lbs you’re driving around within your trunk, it increases your fuel consumption by 1-2%. Consider cleaning out your trunk before you hit the road this spring.

Stop the idling

You may be tempted to let your car idle while waiting for your friend, checking your messages, or even waiting for your next appointment. Idling, however, consumes ½ gallon of gas per hour. Instead of leaving your car on, consider rolling down your windows, turning it off, and enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

Schedule your spring maintenance check

Here’s a fun fact for you. Your car can burn up to 30% more gas when proper maintenance is not performed. If filling up with gas is killing your budget, then it’s time to give your car some TLC. Your spring maintenance check will include ensuring that your tires are properly inflated, checking your frontend alignment, changing out your air filter, and additional items which decrease your car’s efficiency.

These quick tips can help you save more at the pump while getting the most out of every pitstop.  If you’re ready to get your spring maintenance appointment on the books, our team is ready to help you take your fuel efficiency to the next level as you get on the roads this spring.

Potholes and Everything You Need to Know if you Hit One

potholes

It’s pothole season again – a time where Minnesota drivers do everything they can to avoid falling into one. Potholes are formed at the end of winter and beginning of spring when temperatures start to warm up followed by a freeze. The pressure of freezing water underneath pavement and the weight of cars driving over these areas form the perfect storm when it comes to potholes on the roadway. While we recommend avoiding them altogether, some of those pesky potholes are unavoidable, causing damage to your car. As you head into pothole season, we’ve got a few things you need to know to be ready to keep your car on the road this spring.

Check your tires immediately

It’s no secret that your tires are the most susceptible part of your car when it comes to damage caused by potholes. The most obvious sign that you have some damage to look over is a flat tire. Plan on changing that tire, but there may be some other damage to look for. If your tire isn’t flat, it’s best to also inspect for internal damage. Running over potholes can break the interior structure of your tire, or even tear the sidewall. Signs of internal damage include bulging and bubbles in your tire. Left unchecked, this can result in the headache of blowouts and waiting for a tow by the side of the road. So if you see any of these signs, it’s a good idea to have your mechanic check it over.

Inspect your wheels

While you’re down there looking at your tires, you might as well inspect your wheels. Wheels, like your tires, can take a direct hit when running into a pothole. Wheels can bend, crack or break from the impact, so be sure to check for any dents, bends, or cracks. Repair options are typically limited for wheels so you may be looking at replacing these if you notice damage.

Check your suspension & alignment

Your suspension and alignment is designed to give you a smooth ride no matter how rough the road. When you hit a pothole, parts like your suspension arm and tie rods can get damaged or knocked out of alignment. Look for signs like pulling to one side while driving, extra bouncing after hitting a bump, and even shaking when driving at high speeds. These are all signs that your suspension and alignment need to be looked at.

Take a look at your shock absorbers

Your shock absorbers can break on impact, especially those potholes in the road. Some effects of damaged shock absorbers include leaking oil and extra bouncing when you hit those bumps. If you notice either of these after hitting a pothole, be sure to ask your mechanic to take a look.

Watch for extra fluid leakage

Potholes can create damage to the interior of your car by denting things like your oil pan and other low lying parts. Once you’ve hit a pothole, make sure to watch for extra fluid leakage on your garage floor or in your driveway.

Listen for strange noises

Your exhaust system can take a beating from that run-in with a pothole. Your exhaust pipe can break loose or bend upon impact. Listen for any noises coming from the back of your car, and if you notice any, be sure to take your car in for an inspection.

You can navigate the roads and potholes this spring armed with this information. If you happen to fall into one while driving, simply make an appointment so we can inspect for any potential damage and get you taking those springtime drives in no time.

 

3 Benefits of Getting a Spring-Time Maintenance Check

As the temperatures warm up, you may have noticed a few signs that spring is making its return. All that snow is melting, the trees (if you look closely) have a few buds, and quite frankly, Minnesotans are getting outside and doing things. While there’s a lot to look forward to in Spring, there are a few things we may overlook. If you’re like the average American family, the warmer temperatures include busier schedules with spring sports, family bike rides, and planning for summer. Before you check off your spring-time to-do list for good, there’s one more thing we recommend making time for…a spring vehicle maintenance check.

Winter can be harsh not only on the roads and our outdoor activities, but also on your car. If you feel like getting a spring maintenance check is just one more thing to add to your busy schedule, then keep reading for our top 3 benefits for why it’s worth the effort.

1. A more enjoyable ride

From potholes to salt on the roads, your car may need some TLC after a long winter.  One of the first signs your vehicle needs a tune up is a rougher ride. Whether it’s tires that are damaged, alignment that needs to be checked or suspension systems that have seen better days, a spring maintenance check will help.  Some common maintenance checks your car needs right now:

  • Tire rotation and balance
  • Tire and rim inspection for dents and other damage
  • Alignment especially is your car pulls to the left or to the right
  • Inspection of your struts and shocks

If you need any of these adjusted, you may have already noticed a rougher ride, pulling to one side when you drive, shaking at high speeds, or even nose diving when you come to a stop. Taking the time to check these each year will help you extend the life of your tires and rims while enjoying a smoother, safer ride.

2. A safer ride

Everyone wants their car to be safe for driving all year long. When you neglect regular maintenance checks with your mechanic, you put your car and your family at risk while on the road. Taking the time to get a spring maintenance check can keep you safe and alert you to potential problems in the future. Your next tuneup should include these safety checks:

  • Cabin Air filter replacement.  If your car is a 2000 or newer vehicle, there’s a good chance you have a cabin air filter. The cabin air filter’s job is to keep allergens and pollutants out of your car cabin so you are breathing fresh air – no matter how long your commute is. It’s a good idea to get this checked and replaced each spring.
  • Lights: Spring is a good time to check headlights, taillights, and turn signals to ensure they all survived the winter. Have your mechanic check to make sure they have not yellowed or hazed over which can be a nighttime visibility hazard, and replace any burnt out bulbs
  • Windshield wipers: After a long winter, new wipers are a must to keep your windshield clear as those spring rains arrive.

3. Peace of mind

The last thing you want in any season is a breakdown on the side of the road. From torn belts to a flat tire, getting stuck and waiting for that tow truck can be a drag.  When you schedule a springtime maintenance check, you get peace of mind knowing that everything’s been inspected, and is in great shape for the spring and summer months of driving. So, what else should you ask your mechanic to inspect?

  • Belts and Hoses: Our bitterly cold temperatures can wreak havoc on your belts and hoses. Having them inspected for wear, cracks, and tears can help prevent broken belts and breakdowns on your way to that great outdoor activity.
  • Fluid levels: One last thing before your mechanic closes the hood and hands back the keys…check your fluid levels. You’ll want to make sure your fluids are filled to the proper level including coolant, transmission, power steering, brake, and in some cases, hydraulic fluids.  Knowing these are filled correctly can extend the life of your car as you get out there and enjoy the warmer weather.

Getting your vehicle scheduled for a spring maintenance check can save you time, money, and a headache down the road.  If you’re ready to get your spring tune up scheduled, we’re ready to help get you back on the road with the peace of mind you deserve.

Why choose

Carlson auto?

It is easy to schedule an appointment online. Choose a location below and complete the form. We will call you to confirm your appointment. Couldn’t be easier! See you soon.

Cottage Grove

651-458-5158
8799 E Point Douglas Rd S
Monday-Thursday: 8AM-6PM
Friday: 8AM-5PM

Maplewood

651-578-0885
275 Century Ave N
Monday-Friday: 8AM-6PM

“Great service and friendly staff. They fixed my car at a very reasonable cost. It was ready when they said it would be. I highly recommend this shop. -Susan B.”

“Honest guys and good price. Good prices for professional services. A rare find. -Diana T”

“They have always treated us well. Glad to have them in the neighborhood. Honest and do their best to fix it right the first time. Thanks. -Rachel P.”