A Winter Checklist For Drivers

<b>A Winter Checklist For Drivers</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As the temperature drops, car batteries produce less power, belts and hoses become more brittle, tires lose air pressure and engine oil thickens. In a few words, winter is tough on vehicles.

“Marginally operating systems can fail outright in extreme weather,” notes Martin Lawson, editorial director for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

The following tips from ASE will help motorists prepare for winter’s toughest conditions:

Cooling System. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked to prevent breakdowns and potential engine damage from freezing or overheating. The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps and hoses should be checked at the same time.

Oil. Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual. In extremely cold regions, switching to winter-grade oil, which has a lower viscosity and makes starting your vehicle easier, may be necessary.

Engine Performance. Get engine problems, like hard starts, stalling and rough idling, corrected early, since cold weather makes existing problems worse.

Windshield Wipers. Replace worn, streaking blades. If your winters are especially harsh, get rubber-clad (winter) blades. Carry extra windshield-washer solvent and a quality ice-scraper.

Battery. Can’t recall when you bought a new battery? A weak one is likely to fail in the winter. Have its charge checked at a good repair shop to be sure.

Tires. Balding tires are useless in winter’s snow and slush. Replace them with all-season tires, or snow tires if your region gets heavy snow. Check the air pressure of all tires including your spare.

Emergencies. Carry gloves, boots, blankets, a winter coat, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, a flashlight, a cell phone, and some non-perishable snacks.

Safety. Clear all snow and ice off your vehicle before driving. Keep headlights and taillights cleaned of snow and road grime for visibility — yours and the other drivers’.

ASE was founded in 1972 to improve the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. ASE-certified technicians wear blue and white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact area(s) of certification, while their employers display the blue and white ASE sign. They can be found at all types of repair facilities from dealerships to independent garages and franchises. Visit www.ase.com for more seasonal car care tips.

Get More Miles Out of Your Car or Truck

<b>Get More Miles Out of Your Car or Truck</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Due to the current economic climate, many Americans are becoming less willing to make expensive purchases. Even the nation’s long-held love affair with the automobile hasn’t escaped the penny-pinching trend.

The latest trends demonstrate that Americans are trying to stretch the mileage of their current vehicles. In 2006, the average car owner drove their car for 68 months before trading it in for a new vehicle. By the fourth quarter of 2008, the average trade-in was 76 months old.

The following simple and inexpensive preventive checks provided by The Automotive Service Association (www.ASAshop.org), which represents thousands of repair shops nationwide, will greatly extend the life of the vehicle and ensure safer operation:

– Always consult your owner’s manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil and filter changed regularly, every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.

– Have all fluids checked, including brake, power steering, transmission and transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. These fluids play a large role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.

– Keep your engine tuned. A fouled spark plug or restricted fuel injector can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent.

– Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle’s suspension system.

– Check battery cables and connections for corrosion, and clean them as needed.

– Have the lighting system checked frequently, including headlights, turn signals and brake and tail lights.

– Check windshield wiper blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them approximately once a year or sooner if streaking begins.

– Inspect engine belts regularly. Worn belts will affect the engine performance. Look for cracks and missing sections or segments.

– Have the air filtration system checked frequently. The air filter should be checked approximately every other oil change for clogging or damage. This system ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.

Always consult the vehicle owner’s manual for individual service schedules as manufacturer maintenance requirements will vary.

Automotive Service Association members agree to follow ASA’s Code of Ethics, which is the automotive service industry’s standard for professional business practices with consumers in mind. For more information, visit ASA at www.ASAshop.org.