Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When Should I Replace Shocks Or Struts?

It is not always easy to determine when it is time to replace worn shocks and struts. Since it is difficult to see or hear the effects caused by worn shocks, you may wonder how you can determine when it is time to replace them. It is impossible to say how long shocks and struts will last. This is determined by several factors such as road and weather conditions, driving habits, condition of suspension and tires, vehicle load and road contaminants. It is best to have a certified mechanic inspect and test the shocks, struts and suspension system of your vehicle at least once a year or every 12,000 miles. There are also some signs that you may notice yourself.

An obvious sign is excessive bouncing as you drive. Test specifically by bouncing each corner of the vehicle. If it bounces more than 1 ½ times after you release, your shocks and struts could be worn.

Tire wear is another sign. Test by running your hand over the tire tread all the way around. Worn shocks, struts or suspension parts will cause a cupped tire wear pattern. Worn suspension parts will cause a random cupping pattern. Worn shocks or struts will cause a repeated cupping pattern.

Shocks and struts should always be replaced in pairs as they are exposed to approximately the same amount of wear and abuse. It is important to replace worn shocks and struts as soon as possible because they are responsible keeping the tires in contact with the road surface. The amount of contact your tires with the road directly affects your vehicles ability to stop, steer and maintain stability.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tips To Protect Your Vehicle's Finish

With the arrival spring, warmer weather is right around the corner. After a full winter of driving through snow, slush and salt, your vehicle’s appearance is probably suffering. Many of us like to wash our vehicle at home rather than use a carwash. If you fall under this category, the following tips might be helpful to you.

A lot of vehicle owners use a non-automotive product such dish detergent to wash their cars and many never wax their vehicles. Dish detergents contain harsh chemicals that, intended to cut through grease, will strip away the wax finish on your vehicle. Some are difficult to rinse off and will leave streaks in your vehicle’s finish. A formulated automotive wash product is recommended. These products are designed to gently lift the dirt and grime while protecting the finish.

Many people believe they do not have to wax their vehicle because it has a clear-coat finish. Unfortunately, this is not true. A clear-coat finish is only as thick as a piece of paper and can become damaged from the effects of sunlight, UV radiation, acid rain, salt, dirt and air pollution. Using a wax formulated for clear-coat finishes will help protect it from damage.

By washing and waxing your vehicle on a regular basis, you will not only help protect your car’s finish, but its value as well. According to the Kelley Blue Book, a clean, well maintained car can be worth up to 50 percent more than one that is in “fair” condition.

Some other tips to remember when washing your car include; use warm water, wash with a soft terrycloth towel or washing mitt, spray the car often with water, complete one section at a time and rinse repeatedly to prevent soap from drying on the paint, wash in a shady spot to prevent water spots and use a soft terrycloth towel or scratch-free fabric to dry the vehicle.

Why Should I Repair or Replace a Cracked Windshield?

Many of us have had the following scenario happen. We are driving down the road, when suddenly a rock or other piece of debris hits our windshield. Within hours or days, a crack starts to creep across our field of vision to remind us of our unfortunate encounter. Most of us simply call our insurance company and have our windshield replaced. Others, for a variety of reasons, decide to not to concern themselves with the damage. Those in the latter group could be making a deadly mistake.

Most people may not realize that in addition to protecting us from wind, noise and debris while we drive, our vehicle’s windshield also is a vital part of its safety restraint system (SRS). Your windshield works in conjunction with your vehicle’s airbags and seat belts to help protect you if you’re in an accident. The windshield serves to keep occupants inside the vehicle as well as to help support the roof to prevent it from collapsing should the vehicle roll over. In some vehicles, the windshield helps support the passenger side airbag during deployment. A damaged windshield may not be able to function as it is designed to in the event of an accident.

But what if your windshield is simply scratched, pitted or dinged, do you need to be worried about seemingly minor damage? Even this relatively minor damage can have major consequences if it affects your vision and leads to an accident. The best advice is to have a technician certified by the National Glass Association determine if your windshield can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced. A repair will preserve the factory seal between the windshield and vehicle. If your vehicle’s windshield must be replaced, be sure to use a glass shop that endorses the Auto Glass Replacement Safety Standard (AGRSS) and trains their technicians to that standard.

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