Car Maintenance Checklist

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Mazda of Arlington.com.

Used Car Tips

How well do you know your car? Perhaps you need reacquainted and to spend some one-on-one time with each other. Setting some “dates” with your car could continue the relationship a bit longer!

Every month you should check your:

  • – Oil level – Add oil if it’s low, and take it in if it’s very low as there may be a leak.
  • – Hoses – Replace them if they’re brittle.
  • – Belts – Replace them if they’re worn or frayed.
  • – Tire pressure – Check the pressure and add air if it’s too low.
  • – Coolant/antifreeze – Add more if it’s low.
  • – Air filter – Replace if it’s dirty.
  • – Tires – Looks for damage or uneven wear.

Every 3 months you should check your:

  • – Oil and oil filter – Change every 3,000 miles or as is recommended by manufacturer.
  • – Windshield washer fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Power steering fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Transmission fluid – Add fluid if it’s low.
  • – Battery terminals and cables – Clean if corroded.
  • – Lights – Check to make sure all lights and turn signals work. Easy one!

Every 6 months you should check your:

  • – Wiper blades – Replace them if they’re worn out and brittle.
  • – Horn – Beep, beep!
  • – Brakes – Have them inspected for unusual the wear and tear.
  • – Spare tire – Make sure it’s fully inflated and accessible.
  • – Exhaust system – Inspect for damage or loose parts.Shocks – Inspect for wear.

Winter Auto Maintenance

Winter Auto Maintenance

This helpful post is sponsored by Hiley Mazda of Hurst

With winter fast approaching, your first thought might be to go out and buy a new coat and hat. Dig out your gloves and double check the pipes are wrapped on your house. While these are all important, don’t forget your winter auto maintenance.

Cold weather is hard on your car and winter driving can take a toll on your auto. Some basic preventive maintenance will ensure that you have a stress free driving experience and make it safely home each trip rather than frantically checking if you have enough gas to keep the heat on until the tow truck arrives.

1. Get Your Oil Changed
Never underestimate the value of this one simple maintenance task. Don’t procrastinate it and wait for the check engine light to come on. Keeping your engine lubricated with clean oil will help ensure that it fires up every time you jump in. Most professional oil changes come with complimentary fluid checks.

2. Check and Replace Windshield Wipers
Driving in tumultuous weather on dark cold days is challenging enough without trying to see through a 6 inch smear on your windshield. Check and replace your wipers early to allow for the extra precipitation that falls during the cold winter months. If you need new wipers, refer to your owner’s manual as to correct size to ensure a clear driving experience.

3. Check Tires
Have your tires checked to ensure that you have sufficient tread left to grip slippery roads. Replace them as needed. If they are still in good shape, inquire if they are due to be rotated and balanced for optimum performance.

4. Get a Break Check
While they are checking your tires, have them do a break check. Most tire dealerships will check automatically with a rotation and balance, but if not ensure that your breaks are checked and any needed replacements are completed before the weather turns icy.

5. Stock a Blanket and Water in the Trunk
Even if you don’t live in northern parts of the U.S. a break down can often lead to a lengthy cold delay until the tow truck arrives. Ensure that you and your family don’t suffer if you are left waiting for a period. Small children especially are susceptible to the cold.

With a little pre-planning, you can ensure that you and your family arrive safely to all of your winter travel destinations.

How to Winterize Your Vehicle

This post is brought to you by Earnhardt Chrysler Jeep Dodge

Winterize a Vehicle

Preparing your vehicle for the cold winter months is essential. You don’t want to risk breaking down in the snow or ice. You also want to make sure your car is safe for winter driving. Read on to find out how you can winterize your vehicle to avoid any problems!

1. Check the battery and cables.

Make sure there is a good connection between all of battery cables. Look for any cracks or breaks in the cables as well. Remove the cap of the refill hole to check the fluid level of your battery. If needed, refill with distilled water.

2. Get the right tires put on your vehicle.

If you live in an area where there is lots of snow, make the switch to stronger tires in the winter. Make sure you change all four. It’s not a good idea to drive with two winter tires and two summer tires. If you live in a very rural area, you may want to look in snow tires with studs so you can make it to work safely every day during the winter.

3. Replace washer fluid and wipers.

Driving in the ice and snow can make it difficult to see where you are going. This is especially true if you get behind a vehicle that is slinging the mushy ice and dirt your way. Replace your wipers so you have fresh, strong ones to take on the winter. Refill the washer fluid basin with an antifreeze solution, to keep your windshield clean at all times.

4. Create an emergency kit.

If your car were to break down in the cold of winter, there are a few things you need to have on hand. Water, non-perishable food, blankets, boots, and a change of clothes are all things you need to include in your winter car kit. Keep these items in your trunk all winter, just in case.

5. Don’t forget the ice scraper!

You don’t want to sit in your cold car for several minutes, waiting on the ice to thaw. Especially when you need to get to work or home! Place an ice scraper in your glove compartment or door pocket, so it’s easy to grab every morning when you need to use it.

6. Switch the oil.

Make sure you get an oil change when it is recommended for your car. In the winter, your vehicle needs thinner oil. So, for example, if you usually use 10W-30 oil in the warmer months, switch to 5W-30 oil during the winter.

Car Accessories for Girls

This post is brought to you by Beck Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Car accessories are an easy and fun way to express yourself.  These are some adorable accessories that girls may like…and guys too, of course.

Gold Cell Phone Charger

  • –  Cell Phone Charger – First up on the list is the one car accessory everyone needs, a mobile cell phone charger!  This gold beauty is from Amazon for $6.99.

Rear View Mirror Cell Phone Holder

  • –  Rearview Mirror Cell Phone Holder – If you’ve given up your GPS for your phone’s Maps app then you’ll want this genius cell phone holder that mounts easily to your rearview mirror.  This is only $11.99 on Amazon.

Seat Gap Filler

  • Seat Gap Filler – This accessory is a practical one.  It keeps things from falling between your seats.  What a fabulous and simple little invention!  This set is only $19.99 on Amazon.

DIY Car Fabric Interior

  • –  DIY Car Interior Fabric – There is a fun tutorial on Builders for Eternity on how to redo the fabric interior of your car.  Who would have thought?  I love the idea and the writer said they held up well!  Price of fabric varies but this should be a pretty inexpensive project.

Sassy Southern Gals Car Mats

What car accessories do you just love to have?

5 Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Chevy.

Tips to Make a Used Car Look New

So you picked out that perfect used car. It’s the one that ran well, had less miles, and you hate to admit it, but the biggest reason you chose it over the one at the other dealer is because it was prettier. Follow these five tips for keeping your used car looking new, so your car keeps being as pretty as the day you picked it out.

1. Wash the car often throughout winter, and even more often if you live near salt water. This helps prevent rust caused by salt on the roads and in the air. Be sure to get an undercarriage wash in winter, since most of the damaging salt will be under your vehicle.

2. Wax your car to give it a nice clean shine. The wax will also prevent dirt buildup, and even protect from salt damage. I suggest going even further and applying a window treatment like Rain X as well. The windows will be less likely to fog or ice up, and rain and snow will slide right off.

3. Clean your headlights. There are numerous tips and tricks online for clearing up your headlight lenses, but a store bought kit is best. A kit will contain not only what you need to clean and clear the lenses, but also treatments to preserve and protect them from weather and UV damage so they don’t cloud up again in a month.

4. Keep plastic bags in the car. Their uses are endless – keep your trash tidy, collect your things when heading in the house, put wet clothes from the beach or gym in them – all help keep your car sparkling clean. With all the work we do outside and around the house, bags get the most use as shoe covers when dirty or muddy feet have to ride in a clean car.

5. It would be a shame if you did all that hard work, only for the elements to wear down your car’s appearance anyway. To protect your car’s looks, park in a covered or shady area as often as possible. Don’t park under trees for long periods of time or you’ll have wet leaves and tree sap sitting on the paint. Parking in the shade of a building or in a garage will even protect your interior materials from the sun. If you don’t have access to a garage, tint your windows within the legal limits of your state and use a sun visor for the windshield. This will keep the fabric, leather, and plastic inside the car from breaking down, cracking, or fading.

These simple protective measures will keep any used car looking like new for years to come. Do you have any easy tricks for keeping your car sparkling and fresh?

6 Ways to Prepare Your Used Car for Winter

This post is brought to you by Reedman Toll Subaru.  

6 Ways To Prep Your Used Car for Winter

It’s that time of year now, where just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the next month is hotter yet.  With all this heat, followed closely by back to school excitement, sports and extracurricular activities, and countless holidays, it’s easy to forget the cold season ahead.  Make sure you’re prepared for the first cold bursts ahead of time with these 6 ways to get your used car ready for winter.

– Keep a cold weather kit in the car.  Hand warmers, a scarf, warm hat and gloves will all be needed if you have to change a tire in winter.  Blankets will help the whole family if you’re stuck on the roadside a while.  Sand or ice melt will help you get out of a slippery situation, and make sure there are jumper cables in there in case your battery gives out from the cold.

– Speaking of the battery, have the battery and oil checked and replaced if necessary.  A battery on the brink of death will not last through winter, and a freezing day is not the time to be stranded in a parking lot with no power.  Old and dirty oil can thicken and prove harmful when it’s cold,

– Windshield washing fluid is a necessity at all times of the year.  In the winter months, you’ll need a fluid that will not freeze.  While you’re at it, get a fluid that acts as a de-icer to help clear your windshield in the morning.

– Wax and wash your car before the ice begins to form on roadways.  This will help protect against the elements as well as the salt that will cover the roadways.  Wash your car regularly after snow storms or periods of ice, and be sure to get an undercarriage wash.  Keeping the salt off will prevent rust and extend the life of your car.

– A preowned car means someone else cared for it before you.  Have moving parts, such as bearings and joints, inspected before winter.  A good starting point would be to check the parts that should have been serviced by the current mileage per the manufacturer’s suggestions in the book.  Moving parts need lubrication to prevent wear, and cold weather is hard on these parts.

– Changes in temperature cause condensation.  Condensation in gas lines is a bad thing.  Make sure to keep your car half full or more at all times.  A low gas tank can allow condensation in the lines, and introduce water in the engine.  A low gas tank will also leave you without heat if you happen to be stuck on the side of the road in the cold.

How to Prepare Your Used Car for Summer Vacation

This post is in partnership with Dulles Chrysler Dodge Jeep

How to Prepare a Used Car for Vacation

It’s summer time again – the kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and for many families, it’s vacation time! The last thing you want on a family vacation is for the car to break down on you. Used cars are a great way to save money and get more value for your dollar, but since you aren’t the first owner, you’ll want to make sure things are up to your standards before a trip. Here are some important ways to prepare your used car for your family’s summer vacation:

Check the brakes before any long trip. If the brakes are visibly worn and thin, or if they squeal or pulsate when you press the brakes firmly, you probably need to get them replaced. If you are going on a cross country trip, you might want to have your brake lines checked for leaks or worn areas, too. Brakes are probably one of the single most important items on the car – even if the engine goes out, you need the brakes to get yourself stopped safely.

Check your fluids and tires to make sure everything’s full and in good condition. You may get the oil changed regularly, but have you checked the brake fluid and power steering fluid? How about the washer fluid? It’s easy to overlook until you need to wash something off the windshield and no fluid comes out. Make sure the fluids and tires are all filled according to your car’s manual, and you won’t have to worry about them while on vacation!

Inspect for worn belts, hoses, and leaks, especially for long trips. Replace a worn belt now to save money. Not only will you likely pay more for a replacement and labor or tools while out of town, a broken belt can damage other parts in the engine compartment. Check that all hoses are attached firmly and aren’t leaking. If you’re unsure about a potential leak, make note of it so you can monitor fluid levels each time you stop along your route.

Look over the electrical system. Many auto parts retailers will test your battery and alternator for free to make sure it’s not going to quit on you during the trip. Check all of your lights and turn signals. Then check your dash for any of those pesky warning lights that may need attention.

Get the junk out of the trunk. It’s an easy place to clutter, but you won’t want to wade through a winter’s worth of clutter to find what you need on your trip. While cleaning it out, make sure to check your spare tire (your spare may be under the vehicle or attached to the rear). Make sure it’s inflated, and holds air. Check your compartments to make sure you have a safe jack and a lug wrench, and a jack stand is a great idea to add in there.

5 Tips to Make Your Used Car Feel New

This post is in partnership with Dulles Kia.

Tips to Make Your Used Car Feel New

We’ve all heard the saying that a new car loses its value the instant it’s driven off the lot. That’s why you bought your used vehicle – to save money and get more bang for your buck on a reliable car! But we often fall prey to another tempting saying, “new car smell.” Here are five tips for making your used car feel like it’s new again.

1.  Get an inspection. Whether you are able to inspect it yourself, or prefer to take it to the shop for a once over, get your “new to you” car checked out. If there are any fluids leaking, that new car smell will fade when you open the door to the smell of hot burnt oil. New tires will grip the road more comfortably than worn ones, and feel better when turning and stopping. A lot of items are “wear and tear” parts, and can be replaced cheaply and quickly to make things go smoothly. These include the brakes, spark plugs and wires, fluids, and windshield wipers. Don’t forget the rear wiper if your vehicle has one!

2.  Wash the car, including the engine! Don’t just start spraying under the hood at the car wash, though. Disconnect the negative battery cable and cover sensitive components like the alternator and battery. Then use a degreaser mixed with water to cover the engine and scrub lightly with a nylon wire brush. Wash away the grease with the hose or a pitcher of water. A clean engine allows you to detect leaks and problems sooner, lets the engine cool more easily, and prevents the smell of burning fluids.

3.  Use a detailing or upholstery cleaner on the interior of the car. Be sure to test anything you put on fabric in an inconspicuous place first. Then use the cleaner and a nylon brush (many cleaners have a brush built into the cap) to gently clean the seats and floors, even the ceiling if you are feeling ambitious!

4.  Vacuum the interior to get that final clean! Many upholstery cleaners suggest vacuuming after application. I usually vacuum before cleaning to make sure I’m not scrubbing crumbs into the seats, then I vacuum again afterwards to get any dirt I worked out of the seats. Don’t forget those nooks and crannies between seats and doors or the center console!

5.  Add a personal accessory to complete the package. Set your used car apart from the others with an accessory you wish it had. Whether it’s a third party Bluetooth adapter, a phone mount, or even your favorite scent of air freshener, that little touch of you will make the car really yours.

5 Tips for Buying a Used Car

This is a partnered post with Kayser Chrysler Center of Watertown.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Every year around this time, people start taking advantage of the nice weather, new inventory, and subsequent sales, and shop for a great price on a used vehicle.  And why not?  Used cars are an amazing deal, and the weather makes for pleasant test drives!  But when you’re searching for a used car, how do you make sure you’re getting a reliable car, instead of a lemon?  Follow these 5 tips for buying a used car to make sure you get the deal without the hassle.

  • –  Check reviews, both online and word of mouth.  Ask your friends and family where they buy their vehicles and how they enjoyed the experience.  Then look online for reviews of the dealerships you are considering buying from.  If reviews are split, you can’t be sure you’ll get a good experience.  If you are able to find someplace consistently well reviewed, or where your friends all had great help and a smooth process, you’re bound to have success as well.  A reputable location won’t lose their good reputation just to make a quick buck off you!
  • –  Too good to be true? Probably.  You’ve heard this one before: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  If a car is priced significantly lower than others with similar features, age, and mileage, some red flags should be popping up.  Or maybe the car is listed at an average price, but lists “new tires, new radiator, new alternator, new AC, new starter…”  Practically a whole new engine!  Something happened.  Maybe it was an accident, or perhaps it was just someone restoring the car, only to move on to a different project.  Don’t run away from these red flags, but do approach them with caution.  Ask a lot of questions to learn the whole story behind the car.  If you aren’t completely comfortable with the situation, back out and keep looking.
  • –  Test cars out.  If you find a car you like, test another one similar to it.  It could be another used one in the area, or if it’s a recent model year you can test a new model.  This will give you an idea of how the car should drive as you notice little differences between them.  A seller won’t be able to tell you “oh that’s how this model year is… they all idle a little rough,” because you’ve already tested them out yourself.  Then test the car you want in multiple scenarios; drive slowly and test the brakes on an empty street, then through town for stop-and-go traffic, and make sure it doesn’t wobble or have trouble at high speeds by driving on the highway.
  • –  Check it out.  Talk to a trusted mechanic before you start looking at cars and ask if they’ll take a look at some used vehicles for you as you test them out.  When you decide on a car, bring it to the mechanic and have it checked out.  Many will do this for free, and it will give you peace of mind about a vehicle before buying.  Make sure to ask the seller if you can take their vehicle to your mechanic to have it checked out first – it’s their car, after all.  But if they refuse, it’s likely they have something they don’t want you to find.  Keep the list the mechanic gives you, so if you do purchase the car you know exactly what needs done.
  • –  Negotiate.  Most sellers, both dealerships and private, list at a higher price in hopes that you’ll pay it.  They expect some amount of negotiation, and that’s worked into the price.  Don’t be afraid to point out a similar vehicle at a lower price somewhere else, or to mention items your mechanic found as a reason to lower the price.  They have a price in mind that they’ll sell for, and it’s almost always lower than they initially listed.

4 Things to Update When Buying a Used Car

This is a partnered post with Kayser Chrysler Center

Used Car Tips

So you’ve just bought a used vehicle.  You got a good price, saved a ton off the sticker of a ‘new’ car, and got the perfect car that’s ‘new to you’!  But, as much as you might take care of your new vehicle, you don’t know how the previous owner did things.  A report can show whether it’s been in an accident, but not whether the owners kept up with scheduled maintenance or fixed parts on the brink of failure.  Follow these four things to always update when you get a used car to make sure you’re ready to go anywhere, anytime.

  • –  Replace the maintenance items first thing, if they’re looking worn or you can’t tell if they’ve been kept up.  Depending where you buy your used vehicle, you may not know if the brakes have ever been replaced, for example.  Check your car’s manual to see what items should have received maintenance up to the current mileage, then inspect or replace them promptly.  Some of them might surprise you, like lubricating and cleaning the seat belt retractor!  These items are in the manual for a reason, and keeping them up to date will help keep your family safe.
  • –  Check the commonly worn down items to make sure they’ve got some life left in them.  Fluids might need topped off or replaced.  Have the battery and alternator checked, especially before winter!  And make sure your tires are inflated properly and still have enough tread left on them.
  • –  Change any worn belts or hoses to prevent a breakage at the worst moment.  You know, like in the middle of a hot or freezing day, with kids in the car, on your way to work.  Having all your hoses in good condition will help prevent leaks and reduce the amount of upkeep you have to do, too!
  • –  Add in the ‘extra’ items.  These items are ones you typically don’t think of until you don’t have them.  Extra fuses of various sizes can be stored in the glove compartment or special slots near the fuse box.  Maybe you like to keep a tire inflator or jump starter in the car?  And always ensure the spare tire, jack, and lug wrench are present and in good condition.  You won’t enjoy that hot or freezing day on the side of the road taking a tire off, only to discover you have no working spare to put back on!

These are my top four things to update when buying a used car.  Did I leave anything off that you would include?