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The Greeneville Sun Car Care Edition April 17, 2021

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Filter Maintenance Modern vehicles rely on multiple filters to capture debris before it reaches critical operating components. The most well-known filtration device is the oil filter, which is typically changed at intervals of 3,000 to 5,000 miles as the fluid enters the end of its life cycle. Don’t overlook the importance of other essential parts that help your vehicle breathe, protect the fuel system and enhance the air surrounding your cabin. Before picking up new filters and attempting a DIY replacement, ensure you’re up for the task. Check the owner’s manual for installation instructions or watch online tutorials to see the process in action. If the new components appear too challenging to replace on your own, recruit help from a local repair shop. They can professionally complete the swaps while you’re in for other maintenance or schedule a separate appointment.

AIR FILTER Your car’s air filter requires less frequent replacement than


oil screens but is still critical to change regularly. According to the American Automobile Association, those in suburban or city environments can wait until about 20,000 miles before replacements. However, dusty rural conditions will require more attention. You can check it periodically by removing it from its housing, holding it up to bright light and making sure the rays pass easily through the filter. If the filtering media is clogged or dense, you should consider

a replacement.

FUEL FILTER Most modern vehicles use a non-serviceable fuel filter that is located in the gas tank. However, some cars and trucks, generally those that use diesel, require general maintenance on external filtration components. In addition to changing it during regular service intervals, the experts at Kelley Blue Book suggest a fuel filter may be the culprit if:

• The vehicle has trouble starting. • You experience rough or slow speed while cruising. • The engine shuts down during operation. • You face excessive vibration while idling. Once the fuel filter becomes clogged, it will ultimately inhibit the vehicle’s performance.

CABIN AIR FILTER You may not realize that another filter is fitted to your

vehicle and is used to maintain the air that enters your cabin. It’s generally located in the glovebox and can usually be replaced with little automotive knowledge. You’ll know it’s time to change the filtration device when you notice reduced airflow from the climate-control system, unpleasant odors or increased dust. An excellent general replacement interval is between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or when you experience early signs of failure.

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Making Sense of Additives You wouldn’t invest in vitamins or supplements to put into your body without understanding the benefits or risks. Treat your vehicle with the same grace by researching additives before pouring them into its intricate mechanisms. While most chemicals provide enhancements, you can save money by knowing which ones are required to solve issues your car is facing.

FUEL TREATMENTS If you’ve navigated the chemical aisle of your local auto parts store, you have noticed rows of products that claim to enhance a vehicle’s fuel system. Performanceenhancing concoctions often claim to boost performance, improve fuel mileage or condition numerous components. If you’re aiming to increase your mileage per gallon, the Federal Trade Commission warns vehicle owners to take a buyer-beware approach. The group states that while different products may show some impact, most results will be so minimal that drivers won’t notice the benefits. However, fuel treatments that claim to condition and clean the system can be beneficial to extend your vehicle’s performance. Some quality products are intended to be poured into the gas tank and ultimately scrub carbon and other buildups from crit-

ical components like the fuel injectors. For diesel engines, you should choose conditioners based on your region’s temperatures. While an all-season injector cleaner is a great idea, make sure to use an anti-gel product during the winter. The chemical reaction reduces diesel fuel’s freezing point to avoid serious issues when the weather is frigid.

OIL STABILIZERS Engine oil treatments are another popular option for those who want to promote better operation for their vehicles. Typically, a quart of stabilizer substitutes a quart of oil during a fluid change. It’s efficient when helping oil maintain its viscosity for longer intervals and thoroughly coating and lubricating the engine components. Some manufacturers claim that their products can increase the life of oil by 50%. However, to maintain your manufacturer warranty, ask a local dealership about their policies regarding using additives and the extended oil change intervals.


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Inspect Your Spare Tire Setup from the Department of Motor Vehicles about changing a flat safely and efficiently. • Find a safe spot to park the vehicle, like a side street or the shoulder of a road. • Use safety equipment like reflective triangles and The inconvenience is turn on your hazard lights. usually noticed as you • Loosen but don’t head out the door with remove the lug nuts before intentions to drive, or jacking up the car. during the commute. • Reference your ownWithout ensuring your car er’s manual to find the is equipped with an adeproper location on the quate spare tire, you may vehicle to begin lifting it CHANGING A TIRE face expensive towing or with the jack. One of the essential road-service charges. • With the vehicle skills to learn for yourself Many older vehicles raised, remove the lug and teach to loved ones is nuts and detach the flat include a donut tire, a how to change a tire. scissor jack and a lug nut tire. Understanding the prowrench to complete an • Align the spare onto installation. Depending on cess can save you time the wheel bolts, hand during emergencies and the automobile type, the tighten the nuts and lower help you get to a repair setup can usually be the car. shop for a permanent found in the trunk or • Next, use a tool to repair and avoid expensive tighten the nuts in a star installed on the chassis’ towing bills. undercarriage. pattern to ensure even Check out these tips If you would rather alignment. avoid using a temporary spare, consider investing in a fifth full-size matching tire to keep on standby. Remember to incorporate the wheel into your vehicle’s rotation scheduling, so it wears at the same rate as the other tires. Automakers are pressed for space and fuel economy on some cars, so many

There is never an ideal time to discover you have a flat tire.

are instead offering onboard tire repair kits. Most options include an air compressor and tire sealant that plugs small holes, making it possible to reach a repair shop. Before hitting the road this spring, make sure to analyze your vehicle’s emergency tire system. Become familiar with how to use the provided components and tools that make the replacement task easier when the time comes.

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Check your Brake Fluid A vehicle’s braking system offers multiple warning signs when attention is required. From squeaking pads to grinding rotors, drivers typically receive generous alerts that help them prepare to invest in a replacement. However, one aspect that is often overlooked is the brake fluids’ capacity and condition. Without this vital hydraulic fluid, the entire system can become ineffective and create a dangerous inability to stop. You can quickly check the fluid level by looking under the hood and locating the vehicle’s master cylinder. Typically, it is located on the driver’s side, near the firewall. The reservoir’s cap will usually have “brake fluid” clearly showcased to make it simple to identify. Before topping it off, you should understand its role in your vehicle and how to ensure the system isn’t already compromised.

BRAKE FLUID’S ROLE Your vehicle comprises numerous components that work together to complete a stop once the pedal is pressed. The non-compressible fluid can withstand the high heat that is produced in braking systems.


Its primary purpose is to travel through lines to force a caliper to push the brake pads into the disc rotor, ultimately causing the automobile to stop. Over time, its chemical makeup can break down, allowing the hydraulic fluid to overheat and create air bubbles in the system. If ignored,

this is a problematic issue as the liquid will compress the air, significantly compromising your ability to stop.

HOW TO CHECK BRAKE FLUID Generally, adding brake fluid to a vehicle isn’t part of routine maintenance. However, you should check

the reservoir periodically to ensure it is at full capacity according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If the system is low, it typically means a leak at a connection or throughout the brake lines. Another common reason for lack of fluid is that the brake pads require replacement.

You can check the levels by finding the master cylinder reservoir underneath the hood. Ensure it is filled to the correct minimum/maximum line inscribed on the plastic bottle. If your container is metal, you should be able to remove the cap and determine its capacity by looking inside.

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Choosing a Local Mechanic If you don’t already have a trusted local mechanic who ensures your vehicle is operating correctly and safely, find a reputable provider this spring. As you build a professional relationship, you may discover regular customer discounts, honest discussions about repairs and an expert who becomes familiar with your vehicle. With regular inspections and maintenance, your mechanic can diagnose significant issues before they require more expensive remediation. An easy way to get to know the local shops in your area is by researching their locations. Check review websites to discover feedback from current and previous customers. Ask your friends and family about their experiences with mechanics. It’s imperative to avoid deciding based on prices alone. Ensure they are wellversed in your specific vehicle brand, offer warranties for parts and labor and make you feel comfortable while visiting. Here are some other factors to consider when choosing a dedicated mechanic.

ASE CERTIFIED Mechanics who participate in a national program conducted by the National Institute for Automotive


Service Excellence receive ASE certification. To receive this honor, one must pass national tests and complete a two-year work experience requirement in a skilled occupation. Jobs include independent garages, auto part stores, municipal fleets or dealerships. The difficult test includes questions regarding all significant areas of vehicle repair. After the initial certification,

mechanics can pursue Master Technician status by completing additional exams and fulfilling experience requirements. You can quickly identify shops in your area that employ an ASE-certified mechanic as they are permitted to display an ASE sign at their place of business.

WORKS WITH YOUR SCHEDULE If you work a Monday-

Friday schedule, finding a shop that works with your weekly routine can be difficult. Find out if they offer a shuttle service that can take you to your job after dropping off your vehicle. Once the repair is complete, find out if they will use the courtesy carrier to bring you back to the shop or if they can deliver the car to your place of work. You should also find out if they have an available tech-

nician on the weekend.

WARRANTY Most reputable shops offer guarantees on parts and labor. Find out if their warranties are covered nationally, as breakdowns can occur when you’re far from home. Quality providers can work with the distant repair shops to get you back on the road and reimburse you for charges at a later time.

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Fuel-Saving Tips As winter’s road conditions begin to fade, many travelers can’t wait to hit the American highways during the spring. You can save money in your travel budget by implementing fuel-saving tips. Check out these ideas from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence to increase your car’s miles per gallon.

MONITOR YOUR TIRES Most modern vehicles use tire-pressure monitoring sensors to notify drivers if their tire loses the recommended amount of air. Generally, a dashboard warning light that depicts a tire with an exclamation mark in the middle will illuminate. If you notice this issue, it’s imperative to refill the compromised tire to the manufacturer’s specifications and monitor it to find out why it depleted. Often, cold weather can cause the air inside to condense and take up less space, causing a drop in the psi (pounds per square inch.) The United States Environmental Protection Agency suggests that keeping your tires properly inflated can improve gas mileage by 0.6% and up to 3% in some cases. While the tire’s maximum


pressure is typically printed on its sidewall, drivers should reference the sticker on their door jamb to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

REMOVE EXCESS WEIGHT Some drivers add heavy equipment and supplies to their vehicles to help gain traction and increase safety during wintry conditions. These can include snow shovels and extra

blankets or clothing. However, the extra weight can significantly decrease a vehicle’s fuel economy. Once the ice and snow threat is over, remove the additional weighted items and emergency equipment.

replacing the vital parts can bring your motor back to life. Consider visiting your local repair shop to get an inspection on your starting and operating system.



Well-maintained engines are designed to operate at their peak performance. As spark plugs, coils and other critical components begin to wear,

When traveling, it’s essential to anticipate incoming traffic and plan alternative routes if your main path is obstructed by an accident or highway

repair. Avoiding excessive idling and stop-and-go driving can improve your vehicle’s overall fuel economy. It would help if you also considered driving with a gentle approach. When you aggressively accelerate after a stop, vehicles require a larger gulp of fuel to meet the driver’s commands. Instead, advance higher speeds slowly and gradually meet speed limits to maximize efficiency.

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Get your Car Trade-In Ready When planning to buy a new or used vehicle, the question of what to do with your current car arises. You can quickly make a transition by trading in your old ride right at the dealership, or owners can sometimes earn more money by listing it for public sale. Regardless of how you plan to go out with the old and in with the new, you must consider numerous factors to complete the move.

FIND YOUR VEHICLE’S VALUE The first subject to tackle is understanding how much your current vehicle is worth. You can get a general idea by utilizing free tools that provide a value based on the year, make, model, features and condition. When entering your information, be honest about its integrity for both the interior and exterior. You should become familiar with what constitutes poor, fair, good or excellent condition. Another avenue to consider is hiring a professional to perform an expert appraisal. While it may cost a small fee, understanding your vehicle’s worth gives you efficient bargaining power when it’s time to make a deal. Before beginning the process of searching for a new car, follow these tips to ensure


access commercial-grade vacuum systems to quickly pickup small debris like pet hair, SPRING CLEANING Of course, you should get rid wrappers or even loose of any personal items or waste change. Remember to adjust accumulated in the back seats your seats back and forth so and trunk. Once the car is you can get the hard-to-see clear of belongings, contact a mess. professional detailer for a deep Next, use your favorite clean, or save money by percleaners to clean and shine the forming the job yourself. dashboards, seat materials and Visit a local car wash to interior trim. Don’t forget to your ride is trade-in ready.

give the exterior a deep clean and wax before visiting the dealership.

FIX MINOR REPAIRS Dealership appraisers will immediately deduct dollars off the trade-in value if they notice repairs are necessary. Consider analyzing your vehicle for these easy-to-overlook imperfections.

• Small cracks on the windshield or paint. • Wiper blades that need replacing. • Non-working light bulbs. • Low fluids. Store your maintenance and service records in the glovebox. Make sure to mention that the vehicle is well taken care of and in excellent working condition.

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Battery Basics Batteries are an essential part of your vehicle and can cause some issues if not fixed before the winter months roll in. Here are some tips to help you check your battery and keep it lasting through the winter. BATTERY MAINTENANCE Batteries lose power over time. The longer you have had your battery, the more inclined you should be to check it. Check all the cables connecting your battery to the vehicle for damage or corrosion. Battery cables should fit tight on the battery. If there is corrosion making your battery cables loose, use a wired brush to clean off the corrosion. Vehicle batteries usually last around three years. Check to see how long you have had your battery in your vehicle. Most local parts stores can test your battery’s charge for free. Replace the battery at your local auto care store if it exceeds three years and is showing signs of degrading. Cables, connectors and other parts for your battery can all be found and replaced at your local parts store. Invest in a portable battery charger that you can place in the trunk of your vehicle in case of emergencies.


KEEPING YOUR CHARGE Batteries can lose their charge if your vehicle is stored or parked for too long. If you store your vehicle for an extended time during the fall and winter seasons, you might consider purchasing a trickle

charger. The device connects your battery to a wall outlet and gives your car enough power so that it does not lose charge. Trickle chargers can be found in most local parts stores. A less expensive way to

keep the charge in your battery is to have someone drive your vehicle for about 15 minutes or more a day. This helps keep not only your battery but the rest of your vehicle and engine running smoothly. One other low-tech option

you may have if you cannot find someone to help run your vehicle for you everyday is to disconnect the negative cable from your battery only. Doing so does have its cons. You will more than likely lose time, stereo and other settings.

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Storing your Vehicle If you have a summer car or vehicle that you store during the winter, be sure that you properly prep the vehicle for longterm storage. There are a number of steps and precautions you should take to ensure the vehicle’s condition does not lessen while in storage.

STORING OPTIONS There are different steps to take depending on whether you have a garage or not. Keeping your vehicle sheltered during the winter months is one of the most important precautions to prevent declines in performance and looks. A garage is the ideal place to store your vehicle to protect it from the harsh elements of winter. If you do not have a garage, there are a couple of options. Consider investing in a storage facility. There are some that keep storage units air conditioned. The most important thing is that you keep your vehicle clean and dry. If a unit is out of the question, you can purchase an all-weather cover to put over your vehicle to help you keep your vehicle clean and dry throughout the year. Note that these covers do take damage over time and will need to be replaced from time to time.


STORAGE PREP Before you store your vehicle, there are measures that need to be taken to ensure quality in your vehicle. Here are some tips for prepping your vehicle. Water damage, bird droppings and tree sap can cause

paint damage to your vehicle. Cleaning and detailing your vehicle is an easy step to take to keep your car looking good and fresh. If you are storing your car for an extended period longer than 30 days, consider changing the oil in your vehicle. Engine oil

contains contaminants that can cause damage to the engine. Fill the tank before storing your vehicle for more than 30 days. Filling your gas tank will prevent your vehicle from accumulating moisture in the fuel tank.

Tires can lose pressure over time by developing flat spots. Check the tire pressure every month while in storage to make sure the vehicle does not develop these flat spots. Take off the tires and rest the vehicle on jacks if it will be in storage for more than 30 days.

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Be Prepared for Emergencies Vehicle breakdowns during the winter are more dangerous due to weather conditions. Take the fall season to prepare a number of items that can help you during breakdowns.

EMERGENCY ESSENTIALS Drivers should keep equipment in their vehicle in case of emergency or vehicle breakdown. The National Safety Council shares a list of some emergency essentials you can store in your vehicle. Jumper cables are a necessity to have in your vehicle because a dead battery will happen without warning. Batteries lose charge over time and sometimes have trouble starting in cold weather. Be prepared with jumper cables in case you need help charging your vehicle. Flat tires can also strike without any warning and can be a dangerous breakdown during the winter months. Check your tires during the fall and replace them if necessary. Most vehicles come with an emergency tire, but they are only good for 30 to 50 miles. Instead, buy an extra all-weather tire in case of a flat occurs. The investment will be well worth it if you ever find yourself stranded. A first aid kit is another emergency essential that many people do not think to have in


their vehicle. First aid kits should come with gauze, tape, bandages, antibiotic ointment and more. First aid kits can come in handy if you ever cut yourself while changing a tire or if a collision occurs.

EMERGENCY KIT Along with emergency essentials, drivers should pre-

pare an emergency kit to keep in their vehicle. This emergency kit should contain a variety of products. Here are some items that you can keep in your emergency kit. Be prepared to change tires or inspect a breakdown in the rain by keeping rain poncho and rain boots in your emergency kit. Purchase a poncho

with reflective colors at your local auto parts store. Breakdowns can happen at any hour. Pack a flashlight and extra batteries in your emergency kit in case you ever experience a breakdown at night. You need to be able to see what you are doing. Phone lights aren’t enough, and you want to preserve your phone

battery for as long as you can. Pack drinking water and non-perishable snacks in your emergency kit in case you ever have to wait long hours for help to arrive. Other items in your emergency kit should include windshield washer fluid, emergency contact numbers, a blanket and extra clothing.

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Tire Care Essentials Keeping your tires in safe condition will keep you safe on the road during winter, when conditions can be most challenging. Your tires are exposed to harsh driving conditions, so it is important to know how to check tire quality.

TIRE PRESSURE You don’t need to be an expert mechanic to check your tires’ performance and quality. Stick to these essentials shared by the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA).

TIRE PRESSURE Tire pressure is one of the most important tire conditions to monitor. Maintaining proper inflation pressure in your tires can help you maximize fuel economy and gives the tires the ability to support maximum performance. Use a tire gauge to check inflation pressure. You can find recommended pressure on a label on the inside of the driver’s door or in your owner’s manual. You should check your tires at least once a month if they do not look low. USTMA recommends checking your tires’ pressure when they are cold, meaning parked for at least three hours or more. Inflation pressure increases in warm weather and decreases in cold weather.


TREAD DEPTH Tire tread gives your tires grip while on the road. It is important to check tire tread because if you lose too much, it can result in you losing control while on the road. Check your tire tread a few times each month to look for any signs of uneven wear,

smooth areas or damage. USTMA shares an easy and quick way to test your tire tread anywhere you are. Take a penny and place it upside down into a tread groove. If part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, your tires are in good condition. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s

time to change your tires.

TIRE ROTATION AND ALIGNMENT Rotate your tires based on the recommendation in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. If no rotation period is stated, USTMA recommends every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Potholes or other hazards can cause alignment issues in your vehicle, leading to uneven and rapid tread wear. Your tires’ alignment should be checked anytime you hit a road hazard. Refer to your owner’s manual for any specific periods of time it is recommended to change your tires’ alignment.

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$15 OFF any service including oil change Valid thru May 31,2021.

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Profile for The Greeneville Sun

Spring Car Care 2021  

This 16-page special section is a service of The Greeneville Sun. © 2021 THE GREENEVILLE SUN | Greeneville, Tennessee | 423-638-4181 | webma...

Spring Car Care 2021  

This 16-page special section is a service of The Greeneville Sun. © 2021 THE GREENEVILLE SUN | Greeneville, Tennessee | 423-638-4181 | webma...


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