Are Run Flat Tires Right For You?

One of the latest advances in car tire technology has been the advent of “run flat” tires. These are tires which are designed to run for 50 miles or more after receiving a puncture that otherwise would lead to a flat tire. They are constructed from very stiff materials in the sidewall, allowing them to support the weight of the car even with very little weight. Run flat tires now come standard on new car models such as the BMW 3 series, Toyota Sienna and Chevrolet Corvette.

There are some disadvantages to run flat tires. For one thing, the stiff construction that makes them be able to run with little or no air also makes the ride occasionally rough and bumpy. In addition, many car owners have complained that the tires have uneven tire wear, leading to them needing to be replaced more frequently. Some tires need to be replaced every 15,000 miles while typical all-weather tires can last for 40,000 miles or more.

However, the safety advantages of run flat tires easily outweigh the potential drawbacks. A tire blowout can put you and your family at danger, especially if it happens on a freeway or other high-speed roads. Run flat tires will reduce the risk of this along with saving you the hassle of being stuck on the side of the road trying to replace a flat tire.

Warning Signs to Change Your Spark Plug

If your car isn’t starting the way that it should be, one problem could be your spark plugs. Spark plugs create an electrical spark inside of internal combustion engines, which ignites the compressed fuels and get the engine moving. If spark plugs are old or not all of them are working, this can create rough starts or make it impossible to fire the engine at all.

Most spark plugs should be replaced every 30,000 to 45,000 miles. However, the more expensive platinum spark plugs can last up to 100,000 miles before they need to be replaced. A rough start is a sure sign of old spark plugs but there are other signs. A lack of a spark can create poor fuel efficiency or cause your car to vibrate or even stall while idling or accelerating.

Finding out if your spark plugs need to be changed is easy. Any mechanic can quickly hook your plugs up to an oscilloscope to check their secondary ignition pattern. Worn spark plugs will cause a sudden spike in voltage that is simple to detect. Replacing spark plugs is cheap, easy and can have a major impact on the quality of your ride.

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Three Tips for Improving Fuel Economy

With the high cost of gas today, people are always looking for ways to save money on their fuel costs. Buying a hybrid or electric car is a great way to save on gas but even if you have an SUV there are some basic steps that you can take to save money on gas:

Use lower-octane gas:
Using a higher-octane gasoline is only necessary if you drive a sports car, luxury vehicle or other car where a higher octane is specifically called for in the owner’s manual. For the vast majority of passenger vehicles, putting in the higher grade of gas is useless since there will be no increase in performance.

Park in the shade: Not only does parking your car in the sun during the summer months make your car uncomfortable but it also can cost you gas. Excess heat can cause your gas to evaporate from your tank. Parking in shaded areas can eliminate this problem (while also making your car cooler to drive).

Inflate your tires: Driving on underinflated tires makes your engine have to work harder in order to pull the car. Having your tires properly inflated can help improve your fuel efficiency by up to 15 percent.

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Great auto repair resource

Cars are a necessity of life which also frequently can be the bane of our existence.If they run properly, they are great.When they need service or quit unexpectedly, they can be nothing but frustration.This is usually compounded by the emotional toll taken in getting them serviced properly and at a reasonable cost.

With the expansion of the Web comes a site which offers all kinds of assistance.Find a reputable shop, get an estimate, track your service records, replace your owner’s manual, and even find shops while traveling.All these services are available at www.repairpal.com.Even better, they are all free just for joining.And the membership is also free.

When you join, you enter the data about your vehicle(s), such as a Acura TL .A list of repair shops which service your make and model are then made available.Many of the shops have ratings and reviews from previous/present customers.

Estimates of the cost of various services are readily accessible.There are even descriptions of problems and their solution services so you have an idea of what’s coming before you bring in the car.For instance, if your car is ready for an oil change , the description of the service to be performed and an estimated cost are both available.Or if the brakes are squeeking and your card needs a brake job, you can get an idea of the approximate cost, before you even call the shop.Imagine how much less stressful that visit will be!

The need for repairs while traveling can be another major headache.Once you are a member of repairpal.com, you have access to the same list of shops in most major markets such as Houston auto repair.This could easily be the difference between a wonderful vacation and one which taxes a relationship.

Rarely is there a free service that really lives up to its claims.Usually you get what you pay for.In the case of repairpal.com, you pay nothing and get exactly what you need to ease one of life’s major frustrations.

Pay Attention to Warning Lights

The warning lights on your dashboard are there for a reason – they serve to let you know about a potential problem with your car. However, many people choose to simply ignore the warning lights, even going as far as to put tape over their dashboard in order to avoid seeing the flashing lights. This is a terrible idea! Ignoring warning lights will only make a bad situation worse and could lead to major car troubles.

It’s important that you immediately take your car into a mechanic if you get a “check engine” light or other warning on your dashboard. A mechanic can run a diagnostic check to see exactly what the problem is with your car. In many cases, the problem will only get worse as time goes on. If not fixed, many minor issues which can trigger a warning light can turn into significant problems down the road.

For example, the oil light is a sign that your car does not have enough motor oil to function properly. This is not a sign that you need to drive home and then check the situation but a warning that your car is in serious danger. Driving without enough motor oil can cause your engine to seize up and create major damage. Pull your car off the road immediately and call a tow truck to take you to a service station immediately if you get this warning sign.

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When to Replace Your Shock Absorbers

Shock absorbers are one of the most easily overlooked parts of an automobile. However, they can also cause a major safety concern if they are worn out or broken. Shock absorbers help to control the kinetic energy of a car as its weight shifts through corners, travels over uneven terrain or encounters bumps, potholes and other urban obstacles. Shock absorbers that don’t work properly can have a serious impact on handling and make it more difficult for you to control your car in case of an emergency.

Of course, riding in a car with poor shock absorbers also just isn’t fun. The most common problem with shock absorbers is worn out seals, which let fluids and air leak into the areas around the pistons and stop the effect of dampening the spring movement. The easiest way to check for a leak within the springs is to compress the shock absorber by hand. If it compresses easily and without much force, this means that you either have a fluid leak (which should be visible) or an invisible air leak and that it is time to replace your shock absorbers.

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Breaking in Your New Car

If you’ve bought a new car, your first instinct might be to “see what it can do” and see how fast it can go. Don’t! Not only will this put you in danger of getting a speeding ticket, but it’s also potentially very bad for your car. Car salesmen will warn you about the “break-in” period for a new car and they aren’t kidding. New cars need to go around 1,000 miles before all of the parts and fluids are working at maximum efficiency. Taking your car to the limit out of the lot is a recipe for disaster.

During the 1,000 miles of use, it’s a good idea to not drive faster than 55 mph. You’ll also want to check the owner’s manual of your new car for further advice – certain cars will require that you drive even slower. Placing additional strain on the drive train is also a bad idea – this includes towing trailers or other vehicles or loading the roof rack and truck with heavy items.

It’s also a bad idea to let your car idle for long periods – this decreases the oil pressure in the engine, meaning that oil might not be getting everywhere it needs to be in the system. In fact, avoiding lengthy periods of idling is good for the car at all times.

In general, you’ll want to baby your car for the first 1,000 miles – including keeping your engine under 3,000 rpms. If you do this, you and your car will have a long and wonderful relationship.

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Choosing the Right Tires

When it comes to purchasing new tires for your car, the choices can seem endless. However, it doesn’t have to be a confusing process if you do a little research and know what you are looking for ahead of time. There are five key components to consider when purchasing new tires. Understanding what they are will give you an advantage when you head to the tire store:

Tire Wear: You need to go beyond the manufacturer’s tire wear ratings to understand the truth behind how long a tire will last, since manufacturers use different standards for testing – making it difficult to compare between different brands. A better idea is to look at the Uniform Tire Quality Grading rating. These independent tests are done under U.S. Department of Transportation-approved guidelines and give you a better baseline for comparing the expected rate of tire wear.

Weather Requirements: People who live in warm weather states probably won’t need to worry about purchasing tires based on winter weather. However, this should be a consideration for drivers in other parts of the country. Wet-weather tires are a must in the Pacific Northwest, while people in the Midwest and Northeast might want to consider all-weather tires for additional traction during the snowy season.

Tire Profile: A lower-profile tire will often give a bumpy and uncomfortable ride. The trade-off is looks and performance versus comfort. For the everyday passenger car, you are better off with a higher-profile tire.

Speed Rating:
This is one element that you can ignore, since even the lowest speed rated tires are adequate for speeds under 100 mph – and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be going faster than that in your passenger car (at least, legally).

Noise: You want a smooth ride in your car, and different tires make different levels of noise. However, there is no one rating for this, so you’ll have to rely on feedback on tire review websites and salespeople to give you a sense of how noisy a tire is.

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5,000 Mile Maintenance Tips

Whether you have just bought a new car or are trying to keep your current car on the road as long as possible, it’s important to follow a maintenance schedule. Car parts need love too, and if you ignore the basic upkeep of your car, chances are that you will run into significant problems that can leave you stranded and paying a major repair bill. Putting in a little bit of effort ahead of time to service you car will help you significantly down the road.

Some of these maintenance steps are larger and will be done fairly infrequently (like replacing spark plugs) but others should be done on a regular basis. Here are a few car care steps that should be done every 5,000 miles:

Replace the engine oil and filter. Many people forget about their air filter when they change their motor oil. However, having a clogged or dirty air filter can be just as damaging to the performance of your engine that old motor oil.

Service the Battery: While you might not need a new battery every 5,000 miles, it’s a good idea to have it serviced (such as cleaning off dirty connections). You can also have it tested to see if it is starting to wear down – it’s better to fix it before it dies.

Rotate the Tires: Rotating your tires every 5,000 miles helps to prevent uneven wear caused by improper alignment. In addition, front tires will wear differently than rear tires, and changing positions will allow your tires to last longer.

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How Often Should You Change Your Motor Oil?

When you got your first car, chances are that your father gave you a list of things that you needed to do. At the top of the list was probably to change your oil every 3,000 miles. That number has become an industry standard – if you go to a mechanic to have your oil changed, chances are that they will give you a reminder to come back and have your oil changed again within three months or 3,000 miles.

But do you really need to change your oil that often? The answer is that you don’t, even though 3,000 miles was a good standard until recently. However, improvements in oil quality and the ability of modern engines to operate well at higher heats and stresses that are closer to their maximum tolerances mean that motor oil can last longer and that your engine doesn’t need fresh oil every 3,000 miles.

How often you decide to change your oil depends on several factors. If you have an older car or a work vehicle that is under high stress, then it’s still a good idea to change your oil close to 3,000 miles. Newer passenger cars can go significantly longer depending on the type of oil used. If you are using a regular, petroleum-based motor oil, you should change your oil around every 5,000 miles. If you use a synthetic oil, you can get up to 7,000 miles out of one oil change.