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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


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.

Is Your Car Shaking When you hit the Brakes?

Pulsating brakes is a very common problem among car owners. When you hold down on your brakes, your steering wheel begins to shake back and forth while you are trying to stop. The most common cause of this issue is warped brake rotors. This is why it is important for you to know about the signs of warped rotors, along with the replacement options when necessary.

Checking for Warped Rotors

When checking the rotors, the first thing that you want to look for is the front end. To do that, you may have to jack the car up and get a better view. Normally, shaky braking or surging sensation when braking is a clear sign of warped motors. However, some front end problems can also lead to this occurrence, therefore, you have to check that before you take the wheel off for a brake inspection. A technician will usually spot the problem in an instance.

To inspect the rotor, you have to measure the various parts of it. The easiest way to do that is by simply taking the brake caliper off. You have to therefore get a 14 millimeter socket and unbolt it to slip off the caliper. Once you pull the brake pads off, you will be able to measure the rotor. Once you try feel the rotor to check whether it is really warped, then you can move forward and use a measuring device.

Measuring the rotor requires you to measure the thickness of the rotor from different parts of an angle. If you find out that the width of the rotor is not consistent all the way around, this ultimately means that your rotor is warped.

Treating the Rotor

Rotors are often coated with different compounds so they do not rust. Once you take the rotor out, you can take out a can of spray brake cleaner and start spraying it all around. You have to then get the caliper bracket and line it to the rotor. Once you have made sure that the bolts are on tightly, then you can move forth to check the brake pads.

Brakes and Issues

There are many different types of brake pads in the market. Before you replace the brake pads to new ones, make sure to check whether their padding is thinning or not. If the brake pads are in bad condition, make sure that you are replacing them from high quality new ones.

As you can see, the rotors and brake pads are often the cause of your car’s steering or seats shaking when you press the brakes. If you find this issue to be prevalent in your vehicle, then it is important that you take your car to the technician since replacements and rotor repairs require professional attention.

How to Get your TPMS Light to Turn Off?

TPMSIf you have your tire pressure light, or TPMS light flashing, then you can do a few things to turn it off. TPMS is an acronym for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. It pertains to a sensor located behind your tire gauge stem. If your tire is low on air, this sensor sends a wireless signal to the car’s computer. As soon as the car’s computer receives the signal, it triggers this light.

In September 2007, there was an act passed by the authorities that mandated all car manufacturers to install the cars in production with the TPMS light. This act was passed in response to the increasing accidents caused by driving underinflated tires. People soon began to realize how important it is to instantly address tire pressure problems for maximizing safety.

Adjust Air Pressure

The first thing that you want to check when you see this light is the air pressure. You want to make sure that all of your tires have proper air pressure. Sometimes the signal can be misleading. This is because they may show that a rear tire is underinflated, but in reality, it can actually be the front tire that you need to check.

This is because the tire position sensors are specific to each location of the car. You may have to change that if you rotate your tires. You want to make sure that all of your tires do have proper air in them.

Pressure Sensors Malfunction

You have tire pressure sensors inside your wheels. These sensors are battery operated, which means that you can expect them to go out if the battery happens to die. If you get different wheels on the car and you do not have them anymore, then this will cause the light to flash as well. Therefore, there can be many reasons why the light can be flashing in your car.

If you get brand new wheels, then the sensors inside the wheels will not match, and this can also become problematic. There is a tool that you can use to scan this problem. Ultimately, the problem can also occur if the sensors are not compatible to the particular tire. You have to therefore, take the wheel off of the rim to swap these out.


The best option is to replace the old sensors to the new ones and calibrating them. Resetting the tire pressure system will require professional help. As you can see, turning off the tire pressure light in your car can either simply require inflating the tires, or it can be a painstaking and costly replacement and calibration. The best way to find out is by inflating the tires and then checking whether the light turns off.

Snowplows and Being Aware of them this Winter

snowplowsWhen driving in the cold hostile weather, the road will throw an entirely new set of challenges your way. Driving in the cold weather is unlike driving in other times of the year, as the low temperature freezes the road and snow piles up at every corner of the street. Driving on slippery and icy snow will also require you to develop specific driving skills that will help you drive over and across all winter obstacles.

Winter Driving Tips

Driving conditions in the winters can be treacherous. The number of winter accidents on the road increase astoundingly during the worst of winter. The best bet in this scenario would be to keep off the roads and stay indoors. Unfortunately, commuting is a basic necessity that you cannot avoid completely.

This is why you must adhere to some of the most essential tips when sitting behind the wheels during the winter. They will help you where you are going safely, and enable you to drive carefully around snow ploughs, ditches, and other winter hazards.

Drive Slow, especially behind Snowplows

When driving on the snow, it is very important to not step on the gas too hard. In other words, you must drive slow and choose to be late to the destination without putting your life at risk. This is very important as driving fast on the snow can lead to the car being uncontrollable.

Whatever action you choose to perform when driving in the snow will take longer for completion. Therefore, you must stick to a safe speed and leave plenty of room for the braking distance. Driving slow provides you more time to react to common winter hazards such as snowplows and icy roads.

Make Slow Maneuvers

Driving while the snow is heavily pouring down entails a situation with little to no road visibility. This is why it is very important to slowly make maneuvers such as turns, lane switches, and reversing. Even small driving maneuvers such as these needs to be slow and steady.

A good way gauge your speed is to drive as if you have a hot cup of coffee sitting on your dashboard and you want to make sure it does not drop. Even if your car has an all-wheels drive option, it is important that you do not get a false sense of security.

An all-wheel drive system may help your car move well in snowy conditions, but it does not have any benefits when it comes to braking. To upgrade the braking feature in your car, it is best that you install anti-lock braking. These braking allow you to make the shortest brakes and do not hinder your ability to steer.

You can get used to the pulsing sensation that occurs when your anti-lock braking distance is active. When they are working, you must maintain firm pressure on the pedal.

As you can see, driving in the snow requires you to be very careful. Snowplows can come out of any where due to low visibility. You must stay away from their blind spots and drive slowly around them.

Winter and What you Should Carry in Your Car

winterA winter safety kit is important. Having a winter emergency kit in your car is not just a recommendation, but a necessity. Include common items such as shovels, scrapers and flares, if it important to add winter-specific items to your emergency kit.

Keep in mind that winter imparts a different set of challenges when you are driving. This means that you are likely to end up in threatening situations that include blizzards, storms and icy surfaces. Below are items that can be essential when stuck in a winter road-side emergency.

Winter Safety Kit and Folding shovel

These things are fairly affordable and since they turn to a compacted size, they do not take too much space as well. If you ever get caught in a situation that requires you to dig up large volumes of snow so you can escape, this tool will help you do the job much better and faster than using your hands. This can quickly cause problems if you do not have waterproof gear on.


Your emergency kit should already have a flashlight. However, adding a headlamp into the mix can be incredibly beneficial. This is because you may need to work on the engine if your car shuts off. For this, you may need to use both your hands. If you do not have someone to hold the flashlight for you, then a headlamp will work wonders.

Hand warmers for your Winter Safety Kit

Considering that your gas situation is not good, you may not be able to rely on the car’s heater for a long time. Hand warmer will allow you to make up for the time you spend in the freezing cold without the heater. Not to mention, if you are stuck in the snow for a long time and rely on the heater, you could face a fatal exposure to carbon monoxide gas if your tail-pipe does not have good ventilation. These items can be put in pockets, shoes and you can also hold them in your hand.


Similar to hand-warmers, having extra blankets can also be another good item to have if you are stuck inside the car without a heater. Whether you need to turn your car off, or you need an extra layer before getting off the car, a blanket can help you in multiple different ways. It not only helps you stay warm, but also any passengers that are travelling with you on the back seat.

Road Salt

If you get your car stuck in snow or ice, then having a bucket of road salt can be your saving grace. Road salt consists of material that increases the speed of melting. This helps you rapidly melt the ice that you are stuck in. It also helps you melt the ice on the road so that your car has good traction. Therefore, road salt can come in handy in many occurrences and emergencies.

As you can see, simple tools and equipment can enhance your already-existing safety kit and make it standardized for winter emergencies.

Winter Safety Supplies that are Unconventional, but can make Your Car Snow-Storm Ready


Winter safety kits are important. In places where the snow pours down mercilessly, the driving conditions become incredibly hazardous. Therefore, it is critical to equip your car with the necessary supplies that help you avoid emergencies.

These supplies also enable you to help others that may be stuck in a bad situation. Equipping your car with the right type of supplies requires you to recognize the dangers of driving on a snowy surface, inside of a thousand pound metal box. A winter safety kit is important, no matter how far you drive.

Window Breaker and Seat Belt Cutter Tool

Tools that allow you to escape from the car unharmed can be critical. Snow storms can be very threatening. In some instances, they can have you stuck inside a situation where you need to instantly get out of the car and escape for your life. Other alternatives to this tool are scissors, knifes and other sharp objects.

The snowy conditions may lead to accidents where some needs to instantly escape from the car and the seatbelt is preventing them. In instances such as these, seatbelts can actually put your life in danger.

Tire Pressure Tool

It is very important to have some kind of tool that checks the tire pressure of your car. Your tires need to be in optimum condition when you are driving in the winter time. Not to mention, they are the only parts that come in contact with snowy surfaces. To keep the tire pressures in ideal states, you can also resort to using automatic pumps since they have come with a gauge.


Even though this item is not very useful in critical situations, it is still great to have shelter from excessive rain and snow, especially if you are trying to fix something on your car. You will very happy to have an extra umbrella in the car just to keep the snow and water from your clothes.

You do not want to be soaking in the winter rain as that can lead to critical health concerns. The umbrella helps protect you from the elements, making it a key component to the winter survival kit because you have to endure the weather.

Bear Spray

If stranded in the cold country side of the freeway, you need to make sure that you are safe from the wild animals lurking in the woods looking for food. Wild dogs, wolves, bears are carnivores that are known to make their way into the urban parts of town in the snowy nights.

As you can see, the above mentioned items are not ones that you would normally think about when building a winter survival kit for your car. However, they can come in handy at unthinkable moments.

Dying Battery and Signs to Be Aware of

dying battery

When your battery is at the end of its life, it gives signs that it is dying. Being aware of those symptoms can help you replace the battery before it dies. Below, the article will discuss what you should look out for regarding your car’s battery.

Age of a Dying Battery

As the battery begins to age, it will start showing signs of failing. On the battery, you will find a section that will tell the time and date of battery purchase. This will help you navigate the time duration of the battery. Most batteries are only good for three or four years, and this amount of time flies by very quickly. Many car owners fail to realize it that they are running their car batteries past the lifetime.

Slow Crank of the Dying Battery

If you do not know how old your battery is, one of the best ways to find out about it is by judging the crank on it. A crank refers to how quickly your car jolts into ignition and starts. A slower crank is very evident and you can easily hear it when you try to twist your keys into ignition.

If your car displays a slower crank, you will notice that it struggles to start. This could possibly be a sign of a dying battery, and if you do not take care of it quick enough, this problem will amplify as the temperature begins to drop further.

Electrical components Getting Dimmer

A lot of times, the electrical components start performing poorly due to your battery dying out. For instance, you may notice that the windows are rolling up or down slower. You can also notice that some of the lights inside your car are no longer function. If you notice that the electrical components are not operating the same way that they use to, then this may indicate a dying battery.

Keep in mind that you do not leave your phone chargers plugged into the car. It is best that you unplug the chargers before you leave your vehicle. This is because most external phone chargers will consume power from the battery if you leave it inside the outlet overnight, even after turning the car off. Look at your accessory plugs and make sure that they are not drawing any power from the battery.


If you spot corrosion on your battery, this means that there is a leak inside the battery. You will need to disconnect the battery cables and wipe off all the corrosion using a wire brush or a cloth. Corrosion will mess up the connection between the cable and the battery. This will lead to all sorts of electrical problems in the car.

If you happen to notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms when driving your car, then make sure that you take it to a technician for a battery replacement. If your battery is on the brink of retirement, then extreme cold weather will likely kill what is left in it.

Heater Malfunctions and Three Common Causes and Solutions for the Car

heaterWinter is coming and your car heater isn’t properly working. You might think that this is the right time to visit a car repair service station. Any sign of the heater not producing warm air should always be taken seriously.

Why Your Car HVAC Malfunctioned?

But, before solving the problem, you need to determine why your car heater is blowing cold air. So let’s find the problem with your car:

  • A clogged heater core
  • A fault in the heater switching system
  • A chocked cabin air filter, disrupting the airflow

Cause and Solution of Car Heater Malfunction

Now let’s determine the issue and solve it using some simple techniques:

1.    A Clogged or Faulty Heater Core

The heater core keeps the air in the cabin warm. But, sometimes rust and salt deposited on the coolant block the fine tube. Since the fine tube is responsible for circulating hot water, the blockage will result in insufficient or no heat. In this condition, many car owners visit professionals. However, they can solve this problem at home. Here’s how you can clean the blocked core:

  • The first step would be removing the dashboard. But because this might turn off the airbags, you need to take out the battery’s terminal from the engine compartment
  • Now take out the dashboard
  • Find the heater core and take it out
  • Blow or pass water into the core and check for the blockage
  • Replace the core and put the heater core back

2.    A Faulty Switch

If you didn’t find any blockage in the heater core, a faulty HVAC switch might be the issue. To fix the heater switch we need to replace the switch and turn on the heat. Here is what you are going to do:

  • Check for the fuse in the fuse box. If you notice a blown fuse, you need to replace it.
  • If you hear the clicking sound coming from the dashboard, when you turn on the heat, try replacing the switch.
  • Sometimes the automatic climate control system is the problem. In this case, you need to tune the temperature all the way from the dial.
  • When both AC and heater are on, you won’t feel the hot air in the cabin. Therefore, you need to turn off the AC.

3.    A Choked Cabin Air Filter

The car’s air system contains air filters, which clean the air and prevent the HVAC exchanger from blocking. The heater and AC won’t work with chocked filters. Fixing this issue takes 10 to 15 minutes. Here is what you need to do:

  • Use the owner’s manual and find the cabin air filter. In most cars, you’ll find it behind the glove box.
  • Remove and check the filter for dust and leaves blocking the airflow.
  • Purchase a new filter and replace them.

Most car HVAC malfunctions because of the above reasons. Furthermore, following the instructions above, you can solve those problems. Still, if you can’t determine the main problem, you can visit a professional.

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Carlson auto?

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Cottage Grove

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


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.”

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