Spring Car Care
Learn how to get your vehicle ready for the season. Tips to keep your auto in top condition.
Spring Car Care Saturday, March 22, 2014 Muskogee Phoenix Advertorial Page 2 — Saturday, March 22, 2014 Muskogee Phoenix Spring Car Care Prepare your car for spring’s surprises Replace wiper blades, just for a start With spring rolling in and summer right around the corner, now is the time to make sure your car can handle the elements. James Jenkins, the service manager for James Hodge Ford, said one of the most important things car owners can do to equip themselves for the rainy weather ahead is simply change the wiper blades. “You won’t be able to see if you don’t,” Jenkins said. “Ford recommends you change the blades every three months, and Ford blades even have a black tab on them that turns yellow when you need to change them.” Jenkins also said making sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated is important to driver safety. “If your tire is low, it can heat up faster,” he said. “That can cause them to melt in hot weather. The same goes for tread depth. The treads on your tires are like tiny radiators that keep them cool. When you don’t have enough air flow, they heat up. Also, especially during the rainy season, you don’t want bald tires.” The James Hodge Ford Service Department does not service just Ford vehicles. Jenkins said if a customer chooses an authorized Ford replacement part for their vehicle, it automatically comes with a two-year unlimited mileage warranty. “We have price match guarantee on our tires as well,” he said. “It’s a lowprice guarantee. We try to do everything by appointment so we don’t have people waiting too long. You call the service department, and they’ll get you set up.” When it comes to experience, Jenkins said he’s got quite a lot of it tucked into the shop between sales rooms. “I’ve got a couple of guys in there who have been working here since the ’80s,” Jenkins said. “I’ve got one guy who I know has been here since the (See PREPARE, Page 6) Mark Bollinger looks over service paperwork behind his desk at the James Hodge Ford dealership. In the background, several cars are being serviced. Spring Car Care Muskogee Phoenix Saturday, March 22, 2014 — Page 3 Tires need to be inflated properly If its tread is thin, get a new one Mark Goad said he thinks the most important way you can prepare your vehicle for spring and summer is to focus on tires. “Being a tire shop, our main service is tires,” Goad said. “You need to make sure you have the right air pressure in your tires, first of all. You can get way better mileage that way. The tires also run cooler with the right air pressure.” Goad, who owns Goad’s Tire Shop, said there are telltale signs your vehicle’s tires are dangerously underinflated. “When a tire is underinflated it will start chewing up the sidewall,” he said. “That’s when tires get ruined. You start running into a lot of problems then.” Spring is in the air, and summer is right around the corner. Vehicle owners are busily washing off the winter’s sand and salt residue, and to make sure your vehicle is ready for the more temperate months, the proper preparations are necessary. Goad said another way to prepare your vehicle is to pay close attention to the depth of tread on your tires. “When it gets down to 2/32 of an inch most experts consider it (the tire) gone,” he said. “We have a gauge that measures that, but it’s also about to the head of Lincoln on a penny. We just tell people to come by, and we’ll look at the tires for them.” Michael Morrison, a tire specialist at Goad’s tire, puts a tire back on a rim after repairing it. Goad’s Tire has been in business in Muskogee more than 40 years, and Mark Goad said it’s because customers aren’t just numbers to him. Goad also said his shop is different because of the way they help customers. “We try to work with customers any way we can,” Goad said. “We give them our honest advice.” Christi Alexander, a loyal customer of Goad’s, said she’s been coming to the shop for years because of the way they treat their customers. “For one, they’re just nice,” Alexander said. “They’re good people. I just got a heck of a price on four tires. I’ve never had a bad experience with them. I would recommend them to people, and I do recommend them to people all the time. This is a good business in Muskogee.” Alexander also said she stays conscientious of her tire wear and tear. “If I think I need new tires, I come here and let them check for me,” she said. “If I need them, I change them.” Goad said other things vehicle owners need to (See TIRES, Page 6) Page 4 — Saturday, March 22, 2014 Muskogee Phoenix Spring Car Care Hazy headlights pose danger The road can be unpredictable, and many things can compromise driver safety. Although some of these things, like smartphones and loud music, are easily avoided distractions, some safety risks require a little more effort to overcome. Such is the case with cloudy headlights. Cloudy headlights can compromise a driver’s vision, putting motorists and their passengers at risk of accident and injury. Although it’s easy to overlook headlights when performing routine vehicle maintenance, drivers should know that, as headlights age, they become discolored and develop a hazy or yellowed appearance due to exposure to the sunlight, pollution, ozone and chemicals used in car A cloudy headlight (left) and a clear headlight (right) after use of the Philips Headlight Restoration Kit. washes. As headlights become increasingly hazy, they emit less light and glare increases significantly. “Driving with headlights that have become clouded over time leaves drivers vulnerable to risky driving conditions,” said AnnMarie Hines, Senior Marketing Manager of Philips Automotive. “These dim headlights function improperly for drivers, limiting the amount of light on the road, and actually dramatically increase the glare that other drivers see.” Fortunately, ensuring optimal headlight per- formance can be relatively simple and dramatically improve visibility, ensuring the safety of drivers and their passengers. • Clean headlights before driving in inclement weather. Drivers know to clean their windshields (See LIGHTS, Page 6) Learn to tow cargo safely Warm weather is on the horizon, and people from all over are preparing their vehicles for another season of road trips. In addition to packing the interior cargo areas full of equipment and luggage, many road-trippers also haul gear and recreational accessories with them. There’s more to towing than hitching a trailer and hitting the road. A number of factors come into play, including the towing capacity of the vehicle doing the hauling. The following are some safety tips for hitting the road with trailer in tow. Tow vehicles While many vehicles have towing capabilities, not all of those vehicles (See TOW, Page 5) Spring Car Care Muskogee Phoenix Saturday, March 22, 2014 — Page 5 Be cautious when there’s rain on road Rainy weather can arrive any time of year. While an afternoon spent indoors watching the drops fall can be relaxing, driving in the rain is anything but. It requires extra concentration and improved reaction time. Rainy conditions can be challenging and treacherous, and drivers should proceed with caution on rain-slicked roads. Rain is blamed for many accidents, but many of these situations are largely preventable among drivers who adapt to the weather and roadway conditions. Here are some things to consider. • Reduced visibility occurs from wiper blades, glare (particularly at night) and heavy downpours. When you are unable to see the road ahead, including other vehicles, reduce your speed. If the rain is coming down in torrents, pull over to the side of the road and wait for a respite. Turn on your lights to ensure you are visible to other cars on the road. • Recognize that rain can cause slick conditions. A film of water develops on the roadways, and that can affect the performance of your vehicle’s tires. Less traction means the car can slip and slide. Hydroplaning, or coasting on the surface of the water, is common. Another, lesser-known condition is slickness caused by grease and oil in the asphalt. During a long dry spell, these substances build up on the roads. When it rains, the oil and water doesn’t mix, bringing the oils to the surface and exacerbating slick conditions. The first few hours of a rainstorm can be quite dangerous until heavier rains wash the oils away. • Water spraying up onto tires and brakes can compromise braking ability. That means it could take longer to stop under wet conditions. Do not tailgate and leave extra room between vehicles. If you drive through a puddle of water, pump the brakes and test them out to be sure you can stop. Wet pavement is slick, making collisions more likely. Drive with care. Brake earlier so that other drivers understand your intentions and can react accordingly. • Avoid extremely large puddles. First of all, you cannot judge the depth of the puddle and you may end up getting stuck, especially in the event of roadway flooding. Water splashing into the engine compartment may damage electrical components. Steer around puddles to be on the safe side. • Use extra care watching out for pedestrians. A normally observant person ages may include certain types of hitches, batteries, flasher systems, extendedview side mirrors, and even special axles and tires. In many areas, a trailer with a loaded weight of more than 1,500 pounds requires a separate braking system and a breakaway switch on the tongue of the trailer that activates the trailer brakes may be distracted by the rain, puddles and wrangling an umbrella and veer into the path of cars. Be mindful of the side of the roads and where pedestrians may be, such as around parked cars. • Change wiper blades twice per year. You do not want to be caught with shoddy wiper blades in poor conditions. Without an effective wiper blade, rain cannot be cleared effectively from the windshield. • Limit distractions inside of the car to focus even more of your attention on the road. While some have become accustomed to answering phone calls or fielding questions from the backseat while driving, avoid such distractions when driving in the rain. Turn down the radio if you must and encourage passengers to remain quiet until safely home. • Leave extra time to get to your destination. Rain causes slowing down of traffic. Rushing may increase your risk of being in an accident, so always leave extra travel time when driving in wet conditions. • Make way for emergency personnel. Accidents and bad weather are common. Slow down or pull over to allow emergency vehicles to pass by. If there are flashing lights on the side of the road, move into the left lane to give a wide girth around first responders. Driving in the rain requires drivers to exercise caution. Making a few adjustments improves safety on the roadways. the only inspection drivers must conduct before hitting the open road. The vehicle doing the towing should be serviced, and any repairs should be made. Check fluid levels, particularly the transmission fluid. Make sure the water level in the battery is acceptable and have the motor oil changed if it is nearing its mileage limit. ing something large and heavy, such as a boat or a recreational vehicle. You may need more horsepowContinued from Page 4 er to maintain a safe drivare necessarily right for ing speed when towing the job. Review the towing especially heavy cargo. capacities of various vehicles depending on the type Equipment Different manufacturers of trailer that will be towed. A larger, more pow- offer towing packages erful vehicle may be nec- equipped to work with essary if you will be tow- your vehicle. Towing pack- Tow if it separates from the tow maneuver their vehicles vehicle. differently than they would in more typical conAbility ditions, and that they drive Having a lot of power more slowly while leaving and the right equipment is room for a larger turning not enough. Recklessness, radius. Drivers must also which includes speeding, is accommodate for the extra a recipe for an accident. It weight when braking. typically takes time and practice to grow accus- Vehicle check tomed to towing cargo. Verifying that the trailThis requires that drivers er hitch is secure is not Page 6 — Saturday, March 22, 2014 Muskogee Phoenix Spring Car Care of are belts and coolant levels, Jenkins said. “All the inner belts need to be checked and replaced if they are worn,” he said. “The serpentine belt particularly. If it gets too worn and breaks, it could damage the engine by overheating. You’ll know when it starts to get worn out because it utes. The video, which can be found at www.philipsautolighting.com/headlightkit, can help drivers restore their headlights to “like new” quality while increasing visibility and reducing glare. • Replace headlight bulbs. Much like light bulbs used in a home, headlight bulbs tend to wear down over time. Humidity, electrical resistance, filament fatigue and general usage combine to reduce the light output of headlight bulbs, which experts recommend should be replaced every two years. When replacing headlight bulbs, drivers can upgrade bulbs with a new generation of high performance light bulbs that mark will start to squeak. “We have a coolant special right now where we flush out the old and put in new for $90 on most vehicles,” Jenkins said. “You want to make sure your coolant levels are where they need to be or that could cause your engine to overheat also.” a dramatic improvement over the traditional halogen bulbs which are standard on many vehicles. Philips Upgrade Headlight Bulbs are designed to put substantially more light on the road while creating a better beam pattern that is much longer than that produced by standard halogen bulbs. Available in a variety of brands, these uniquely designed bulbs are even tailored to meet specific driver’s needs, ensuring commuters, soccer moms and sports enthusiasts won’t fall victim to poor visibility no matter where their travels take them. • Routinely clean your vehicle’s glass and mirrors. Dirty and aging headlight lenses are not the only thing that can compromise a driver’s vision on the road. Debris and film buildup on windshield glass and on rearand side-view mirrors can reduce vision, especially for drivers who smoke inside their vehicles. Make cleaning the glass and mirrors inside and outside of your vehicle part of your routine vehicle maintenance. Such cleaning won’t take very long, but it will significantly improve visibility. When cleaning side-view mirrors, be sure to properly adjust them to eliminate blind spots. More information is available at www.philips. com/automotive. Tires Continued from Page 3 check to prepare their cars and trucks for the rainy and hot seasons are oil and coolant levels. “Another thing you can check is the alignment on your car,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know their car is out of alignment until they pull a tire off. Alignment and rotation is the life of the tire. If you keep them rotated, they’ll wear better. There are a lot of factors involved in getting the maximum life out of your tires. “We’ve been familyowned and -operated for over 40 years,” Goad said. “We enjoy our customers, and we’ve built relationships. When a customer comes in, they’re not a number or money to us, they’re our neighbors.” Prepare Continued from Page 2 ’70s. We get guys in here who start when they’re 16 and stay here. We have a lot of experienced mechanics and a lot of knowledge in our shop.” Jenkins said other advantages to bringing your vehicle to the James Hodge Ford Service Department are that you get factory trained technicians who work on your vehicle with factory tools. Other things vehicle owners need to be aware inevitably wear down over time, drivers can still take preventative measures to improve the performance of their headlights so their visibility is not compromised. The Philips Headlight Restoration Kit includes a pre-treatment that provides long-lasting UV protection for headlight lenses. Thanks to the kit, which also includes a cleaner/polish and restorer/protector, drivers can restore a headlight lens in as little as 30 minutes. Drivers hesitant to perform their own restoration can calm their nerves by taking advantage of a short how-to video that shows motorists how to restore headlight lens clarity in a matter of min- Lights Continued from Page 4 before hitting the road in snowstorms, but few drivers exercise the same caution with their headlights. Salt from snowy roads or debris blown about from seasonal winds can accumulate on headlight lenses, decreasing their effectiveness and light output as a result. So before hitting the road in inclement weather, be sure to remove any dirt or film from headlight lenses that might have built up over time. • Address headlight issues before they appear. Though headlights will Spring Car Care Muskogee Phoenix Saturday, March 22, 2014 — Page 7 Time to get a new car? Consider this Buyers often find the process of finding a new car fun. Test driving vehicles and playing with all of the gadgets that today’s increasingly tech-heavy vehicles have to offer can be akin to kids visiting a candy store and being given carte blanche to fill up their baskets. But as enjoyable as finding a new car can be, the financial commitment that such a purchase requires can make the process somewhat nerve-wracking as well. Buyers often assign the most risk to preowned vehicles, and rightfully so. But some buyers even regret their purchases after buying a new car, whether the car does not suit their lifestyle as much as they had hoped or the vehicle simply isn’t living up to the expectations drivers had for it at the time of purchase. Savvy buyers will consider the following factors before taking the keys to their next new cars. • Additional costs: Many new car shoppers plan to finance or lease their vehicles, but the down payment and monthly payment is not the only number buyers must confirm before buying a vehicle. After the purchase price and monthly payments have been figured out, the two most significant costs buyers must consider are insurance and gas. Some vehicles cost more to insure than others, and the cost of a policy will depend on more than just a buyer’s personal driving history. The vehicle’s safety features, where a driver lives and the type of vehicle, both its make and model and the category it fits into (i.e., sports car, luxury vehicle, etc.), are all going to be used to determine the cost of an insurance policy. Buyers also must considProspective buyers should consider a host of factors before purchasing a new vehicle. er how much a vehicle will cost to fuel up before making a final decision. Many a driver has grinned when driving a brand new SUV off a dealership lot, only to frown on that first trip to the filling station. Insurance companies typically provide free estimates to prospective customers, so do your homework on the different makes and models you’re considering, getting an insurance quote for each vehicle. In addition, consider the expected fuel costs of each vehicle before making a decision. • Reputation: Thanks to the Internet, today’s vehicle buyers have a valuable tool that those of yesteryear rarely had: fellow drivers. When considering certain makes and models, go online to see what drivers and professional reviewers have to say. Sites like Edmunds.com and Safecar.gov offer professional assessments of various makes and models, and various message boards allow drivers to review the performance of their vehicles. Such resources can paint a realistic picture of what it might be like to own and drive a particular automobile. • Resale value: While selling a car you don’t even own yet is probably not foremost on your mind, it is important to consider a car’s potential resale value before buying it. The high costs of new vehicles has pushed many buyers out of the new car market, making preowned vehicles a more affordable and attractive option. So considering a car’s potential resale value before buying it new is a smart move that can pay dividends down the road when you’re back on the market for a new vehicle. Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) is a valuable resource to gauge the resale value of vehicles, and buyers can even calcu- late the resale value of a car over its first five years. This can help consumers determine which options to get on their new cars and even help to govern their driving habits in an effort to keep the vehicle’s resale value as high as possible. When buying a new vehicle, it can be tempting to buy the most visually stunning or gadget-heavy vehicle on the dealership lot. But buyers should consider more than just appearance and accessories before buying their next new car.