FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2012
AUSTIN DAILY HERALD
Complete Tire & Alignment Services BFGoodrich • Michelin • Continental • Toyo • Uniroyal
Preventive Maintenance Oil Changes • Batteries • Filters • Fluid Exchange • Fuel System Cleaning • Original Scheduled Maintenance
Repair Services A/C System • Belts & Hoses • Brake Service • Diagnostics • Shocks & Struts • Steering • Suspension
Special Services Complete Foreign & Domestic Repair • Specializing in Honda & Acura
What a cruel joke: Car picks bad time to puke I always joked my 2000 Ford Taurus would die on me at the worst possible time, and that I would end up either dead in a ditch or stranded in the middle of nowhere. Much to no one’s surprise, that tall tale became reality for me last week. I was approaching Exit 187 on Interstate 90 when the car started to slow down on its own. It hovered around 70 mph for a bit before downshifting, and no amount of pressure I put on the gas pedal would
Trey Mewes Herald writer
make that car go faster. The car died completely close to the turn-off, but at the time I was too preoccupied to notice, as smoke started to rise from the back of my car’s front hood. I remembered the time my friend’s old car burst into flames in high school, and fearing
the same would happen to me, I quickly got out of the car and moved 20 feet down the ditch before calling the fire department. Though there was no fire in my car, my bank account lit up like a Christmas fireplace after the car was towed to a local auto shop. Auto shops and I have a long and storied history, unfortunately. I once spent more than $1,500 to replace the power steering and rack and pinion system in my car during college, and it seemed like
every winter brought numerous trips to the repair shop and a drain on my wallet. That’s not including last winter, where an unfortunate accident years ago — someone drove into my parked car, causing me to replace the driver’s side back door with another one that never did fit right — was causing my car to pull and potentially veer off the road at high speeds. Needless to say, my car and I had been through a lot. This time was no differ-
ent. A steel rod broke off from the motor, puncturing my coolant hose which sprayed coolant everywhere, including some of my heat gaskets (at least one of which was warped to begin with). I couldn’t understand it. I took the car in every 3,000 miles for an oil change, got an occasional car wash, and tried to keep every fluid topped off at the recommended level. Yet here the car was, unfixable, and I was in need of new transportation.
I’m sure there was something I could have done to prevent it. I could have used more gas stabilizer in the gas tank during winter. I could have checked the coolant levels more often. But I guess it was simply time for the car to hit the junkyard in the sky. Now that I’m getting a new (read: used) car, I’m going to make sure to have that baby in at least once a year for a checkup. I wouldn’t want to be stranded in a ditch on the side of the freeway again.
Local mechanics offer expert advice on car repairs, preventive measures Spencer Medgaarden Southwest Sales
Q. What should vehicle owners do themselves to prepare their car for winter? A. The big thing is batteries, antifreeze, tires. Make sure your tires are good scoming into winter, make sure your antifreeze is good for temperatures 35 degrees and below, and make sure your batteries are properly charged [and working]. Being a car dealer also, I always like to tell people body-wise to save them, get a car wax. People donʼt realize how salt can damage a car, too. A car mechanic will always be concerned with making sure it works, but a dealer will look at the body.
Q. What are the most common winter repairs you perform on vehicles? A. People want to make sure their batteries are up to the right [charge level], antifreeze is down to 35 below, the tires are good coming into winter.Alot of these things are common. Batteries, radiators, things like that, and definitely tires. Q. What should people do to extend the life of their tires, and are there any warning signs that a tire could give out soon? A. Rotate your tires and have the
alignments checked at least yearly. As far as warning signs, thereʼs a little wear bar on the tire. When that gets down, itʼs time for new tires.
Q. For people who store a vehicle for the winter, what precautions and methods should they use? A. Put some gas stabilizer like Seafoam into the gas tank, and itʼs not a bad idea to disconnect the battery. You want to make sure your battery is charged as well.
Brian Madsen Holiday Dodge
Q. What should vehicle owners do themselves to prepare their car for winter? A. In preparing your vehicle for winter, an owner should check to make sure that they have their emergency kit of candles, blanket and high-energy snack in an easily accessible location.They should also make sure that their snow brush and ice scraper have been put back into the car from over the summer months. As far as car preparation, checking and topping off your windshieldwasherfluidandcheckingthe condition of your wiper blades will help to beat all of the upcoming slush.Havingashopcheckyourengine antifreeze level and condition to make sure that it is in good shape
for the cold as well as inspecting your tires for adequate condition and tread depth.Anormal winter inspection will also include the inspection of your fan belts and condition of your engine radiator and cooling hoses.
Q. What are the most common winter repairs you perform on vehicles? A. By far the most common repairs that we see during the winter months are battery replacement. The cold temperatures work your battery in two ways, it will actually decrease the stored power inside of your battery and make the battery work harder to turn your engine over when you want to start it first thing in the morning. Q. What should people do to extend the life of their tires, and are there any warning signs that a tire could give out soon? A. Proper tire inflation and yearly tire alignments are crucial in getting the most life from your tires. Early warning signs of tire failure can range from visual signs like bubbles on the tread surface or sidewall of the tire indicating internal damage to hearing a howling sound that gets louder the faster you go due to the tires not wearing correctly and cupping.
Q. For people who store a vehicle for the winter, what precautions and methods should they use? We recommend if someone is going to store their vehicle for winter, to fully charge and then disconnect the battery to prevent it from being run down over the winter. Just because you do not drive or start your vehicle over the win-
ter does not mean that the modules inside of the vehicle stop working, they do not demand as much power consumption, but they still do draw on the battery. We also recommend if possible to get the vehicle up in the air on jack stands to take the weight off of the tires to prevent the tires from flat spotting once the vehicle comes out of storage. We also recom-
mend that as soon as you bring it out of storage to make sure that you get the engine oil changed to flush out any moisture that may have accumulated inside of the engine over the winter. You have seen frost form on the outside of metal during the winter before, and the same thing happens to the inside of your engine when left to sit over the winter months.