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Advertising Supplement to the Sun Journal, Friday, March 23, 2012

Clean for spring By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer

headlights and the bumper, get every inch of the vehicle.


Once the outside is done, it’s time t ack le t he i nter ior. For ma ny people, the car is where they spend a good part of their work day, and it shows. For some people, the vehicle is used to transport kids to school and activities, and it shows.

pring cleaning is a term most of us have heard. It means that you have spent the winter stuck inside, letting the dust pile up and the dirt get ground into the carpet, and now it’s time to clean up. But, there is another place where you spend a lot of time that gets even dirtier than your home – your vehicle.

Start with a garbage bag and collect all the cups, fast-food containers, pens, business cards, half-eaten doughnuts, last week’s spelling test, action figures, soda cans and the garage door opener that you yelled at your spouse for losing.

Vehicles take the punishment of winter on both the inside and the outside. Snow, sleet, and, most of all, salt cover your vehicle in the winter, and by the time spring rolls around, it needs more than a run through the automatic car wash. Your vehicle deserves the handson approach. The soap you use to wash your car can be ordinary dishwashing liquid or special soap designed especially for washing vehicles. The point is, roll up your sleeves and give it a good wash. Start on the roof and work your way out. Wash everything – get the tires and side view mirrors, get the

A f ter t he ga rbage a nd st u f f is collected, pull out the f loor mats and plug in the vacuum. Try to get the big stuff like paperclips and French fries by hand, then start sucking up the rest. Don’t forget behind and under the seats as well. If you are like most people, you’ll probably find an average of $3 in change. Next, clean the seats, dashboard, doors and console. If the seats are

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Returning to the outside of the vehicle, there are many products available to clean your tires. These products will give your tires a wet and shiny look. Finally, you may consider waxing or polishing your vehicle. Waxing a car is in essence adding a layer of protection. Waxing will add shine to the car and give it that wet look, but it will also protect the car from the elements and ultraviolet light. W hen you polish a car, you are

cleaning it. Polishing eliminates scratches, rust, dirt and wa x. It contains abrasives that actually remove a thin layer of the car’s paint. Polishing also brings out the color and adds shine. Follow the directions on the bottle when waxing or polishing. Spring is good time to start driving fresh and clean. Clean your vehicle now and ma ke room for beach balls, f lip f lops, lawn chairs and coolers later.



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vinyl or leather, many different types of cleaners can be used. If it is fabric, you will need a good upholstery cleaner. A nice way to top off a good interior cleaning is with an air freshener.

LIGHTING AND WIPERS What is it? Lights and wipers play a major role in safe driving – the chances for accidents increase if you can’t see or be seen. Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers, as does Maine. If you detect any problems with your car’s lights or wipers, have them checked out at once.

What does it do? The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow or dirt from building up on the windshield and removes them to maintain clear visibility through the windshield. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility, signals and alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior.

Typical wear and tear: Lights and wipers are normal-wear items that require periodic replacement. Factors affecting replacement intervals include: Operating conditions (winter conditions are tough on wiper blades); frequency of use; material and type of lights and wipers; sunny weather – wiper blades can deteriorate faster and need more frequent replacement in desert states. Symptoms: • Chattering or streaking wiper • Rapid signal blinking • Dimming lights (Car Care Council)

Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

Things that are bad for your car’s paint M

ost people purchase a car for its looks and performance. However, unless the auto is kept in a garage and never driven, it is impossible to keep it in pristine condition. In many cases, damage to the clear coat or enamel paint on the car is something vehicle owners expect.

Rinse promptly with automotive soap. Tr y to avoid construction zones whenever possible.

A car owner who decides he or she wants the car to remain in the best shape possible will have to take an active role in maintenence and damage prevention.

The U.S. Geological Survey has said that water is a universal solvent because it ca n d issolve more substances than any other liquid. W henever the car becomes wet, it should be dried with a towel or chamois and not allowed to air dry.

One of the key things to remember is to never allow any substance to remain on the paint for too long; ot her w ise t he risk for da mage increases. A lso, it may be ver y difficult to clean if the offender is allowed to sit on the paint. Here are some other factors to consider.

UV light: Just as UV light can affect skin, hair and other parts of the body, it also can affect the paint on a car. UV rays oxidize the paint and cause a white, powdery film to form on the car. Washing the car frequently enough and applying the best quality wax will help keep UV rays from penetrating through the paint.

Over sprays: Life does not stop to allow cars to drive through, particularly when it comes to construction zones. It’s possible for a car to be doused in paint spray, tar, concrete, and other chemicals that are routinely used in construction. Do not allow these substances to harden on the car.

Rain: Both acid rain and regular rain water (and other sources of water) can dissolve paint over time.

Natural substances: Tree sap, bird droppings and splattered insects contain compounds that can erode the paint on a car. Avoid parking under large trees where sap and bird droppings may be prevalent. In terms of bug splatter, try to wash it off as soon as possible to alleviate damage.

Washing off harmful substances promptly can reduce the chances of damage to a car’s paint job.

Eggs: Oftentimes, rambunctious children think it is funny to egg a car. However, the enzymes and sulfur content in eggs can cause paint and clear coat to dissolve, leaving white spots in the wake of the egg. Because egg can be sticky and very hard to remove once dried, it is helpful to wash it off as soon as pos-

sible. It takes only a few hours for the damage to be permanent.

Bleach: A lt houg h a ble ach-a nd-w ater solution is often heralded for its abilit y to clean many things, it should not be used on a car. Bleach is an oxidizer and it will pit metal

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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

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Have a look at what’s under the hood By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer

different. You’re going to pop the hood and get your trust y steed ready to take to the road.

With preparation, money and mechanical skills, your vehicle survived the winter.

Checking the tire pressure and w iper blades a nd clea ning t he interior are Maintenance 101 for you. You’re more concerned with the inner workings of the vehicle. Start with the battery. Check the post s a nd con nect ions. Ma ke sure they are free of corrosion and making good contact.

Spring has arrived, and once again, you w i l l need to prepa re your vehicle for the upcoming season. Many people will take their vehicle to a shop and say, “Call me when it’s done,” while others won’t maintain their vehicle at all. But you, you’re

T he sa me goes for t he spa rk plugs – clean them if necessary. Spark plugs can fire three million

times every 1,000 miles, so proper operation is crucial. Check the oil and oil filter. Your v e h i c l e ’s m a n u a l w i l l h a v e recommendations on how often to change the oil and filter. A good rule of thumb is every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Make sure you are using the correct grade of oil. The outside temperature is now warmer, and as you probably know, oil gets thicker when it’s cold and thinner when it’s hot. Using an oil grade of 10W40 means that the oil will f low at a 40-viscosity rate

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during the warmer spring months. A not her f ilter to check is your vehicle’s air filter. The air filter keeps dust and other debris from getting into the engine’s moving parts. Dust and debris in your vehicle’s engine can cause it to be less efficient and underperform.

It is a good idea to replace the air filter annually or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Next, check the coolant level. The radiator on a cold engine should be completely full. The reservoir should be at the “cold” level. Check t he vehicle ow ner’s ma nua l to determine when the system should be flushed and fresh coolant added.

The next level to check is the brake f luid level. If the level has fallen below t he “low ” ma rk, it may indicate excessive brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system. Unless you are certified to repair brake systems, you should take the vehicle to someone who is. This function of the vehicle is too important to not be overseen by a professional. Check all the belts a nd hoses. Wi nter cou ld have damaged these parts. Replace any fraying belts or bulging hoses. Being a do-it-yourselfer can be rewarding and save you money. But keep in mind that your vehicle is one of the most expensive things you own. It can also be dangerous if not properly maintained. Do your best to do it yourself, but consult a professional if you’re not sure what you are doing.

TRANSMISSION What is it? The transmission works with the engine to provide power to you car’s wheels. W hether automatic or manual, the transmission plays a major role in the overall dependability of your car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.

What does it do? A t ra nsm ission/t ra nsa x le keeps t he eng i ne’s out put optimally matched to the speed and load conditions. The torque converter, connected to the automatic transmission/ transaxle input shaft, connects, multiplies and interrupts the flow of engine torque into the transmission. Universal joints connect to the driveshaft to transmit output power from the transmission to the rear axle on rear-wheel-drive cars.

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Universal joints also allow the driveshaft to work at an angle. Automatic transmission f luid serves a multitude of purposes. It cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish buildup and continually protects the transmission. There are several different types of automatic transmission f luid. Reference your owner’s manual for how they should be used.

Typical wear and tear: Wear and tear on the transmission can be influenced by: • Driving habits • Towing or excessive loads • Operating conditions • Condition of the transmission fluid • Frequency of regular maintenance

Symptoms: • Slipping • Hesitation • Bucking • Grinding gears • Difficulty shifting (Car Care Council)

Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

Easy steps toward green driving “Green driving” may be easier to achieve than many people think. It’s important to know this because, according to the Environmental P r ot e c t i o n A g e n c y, h i g h w a y vehicles account for 28 percent (1.5 billion tons) of U.S. CO2 emissions each year. For t u nately, even i f get t i ng a “green” or emissions-friendly vehicle isn’t in your budget, you can still reduce your car’s footprint on the planet.

Here are some tips to consider:

Stay tuned. Keep your car in shape by following the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance. Fixing a vehicle in need of a tune-up can improve gas mileage up to 4 percent.

Take care of your tires. Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pre s su re. Ke epi ng you r t i re s a ligned and ba lanced can a lso i m p r o v e y o u r v e h i c l e’s f u e l economy up to 3 percent. Don’t inflate your tires to the maximum

pre s su re pr i nte d on t he t i re sidewall. Properly inflated tires are safer and will last longer.

Replace older, clogged air filter. If you have an older vehicle with a carbureted engine, replacing a clogged air filter can improve your fuel economy up to 6 percent. Air filters keep impurities from damaging the interior of the engine, so replacing the dirty filter will save gas and protect your engine.

Upgrade your motor oil. Try high-performance synthetic oi l. Premium automot ive products such as sy nthetic oils a r e f or mu l a t e d w it h u n iq ue advanced additive technology that can improve the performance of the vehicle and allow for longer intervals between changes. With fewer oil changes, not only are you keeping the water and ground clean by reducing waste of used oil, you’re saving money by spending less time in the shop. New synthetic motor oils have been repor ted to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5 percent compared to ordinar y petroleum-based or synthetic lubricants.

Re-refined oil facts

It’s also been shown to produce notable horsepower and torque increases, so you can switch to an environmentally friendly product without sacrificing performance.

Recycle. If you do your own oil changes, find a place that will accept your used motor oil. Royal Purple has partnered with Earth911 to provide recycling centers that take items such as used motor oil bottles, motor oil and oil filters. Get more information at http:// and http:// w w w.roya lpur To f ind a nearby recycling location, visit (NAPSI)

Upgrading lubricants can improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.


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What is re-refined oil? Re-refined oil is used motor oil that undergoes an extensive re-refining process to remove contaminants to produce a good-as-new base oil. This base oil is then sold to blenders who add additive packages to produce lubricants such as motor oil, transmission fluid, and grease. The main difference between re-refined and virgin oil products is that re-refined represents the responsible choice for the environment.

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Are re-refined lubricants safe to use? Lubricants made from re-refined base stocks must undergo the same testing and meet the same standards as virgin lubricants in order to receive the certification of the American Petroleum Institute. Vehicle and engine manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and Detroit Diesel have issued warranty statements that allow the use of re-refined oil as long as it meets API standards. Many government and private fleets have used re-refined lubricants in their vehicles for years and report no difference in performance from virgin lubricants.

Preserve a non-renewable resource – oil. Demonstrate your commitment to a cleaner environment through rec ycl i ng a nd proper wa ste ma nagement. Help protect t he environment against pollution.

Re-refined oil by the numbers: • It takes one gallon of used oil to produce 2.5 quarts of re-refined oil. • If all used motor oil generated by public consumers was collected and re-refined, it would provide enough oil for more than 8 million cars each year. (Car Care Council)

Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

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How to maintain a healthy environment inside your vehicle


ver the last several years, homeowners have increasingly emphasized clean air in their homes. The growing popularity of home air purifiers suggests today’s homeowners want to make certain the environment inside their home is as healthy as possible. While protecting the environment in a home is important, it’s equally a s i mpor ta nt for motor ist s to maintain a healthy environment in their vehicles. T he average A mer ica n spends roughly 10 to 15 hours per week inside a car, where dust, odors, smoke and other potentially sour smells can make riding in a car rather unpleasant. In add it ion, a i r pol lut ion a nd allergens inside a vehicle can pose a significant health risk to drivers and their passengers. Fortunately, t here a re severa l steps drivers can take to maintain a healthy environment inside their vehicle.

Don’t fall in love with the “new car smell.” Few consu mers ca n resist t he famed “new car smell.” Though ent icing, t he new ca r smel l is actua lly an outgassing of tox ic chem ica ls f rom newly for med plast ics, a nd t he chemica ls in these gases have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births, and early puberty in laborator y

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Clean the vehicle’s interior. Ma ny automobi le ow ners pay pa r t icu la r at tent ion to t he appea r a nce of t hei r veh icle’s ex ter ior. However, t hose sa me drivers don’t spend nearly as much time, if any, tending to the vehicle’s interior. But a neglected interior doesn’t just fall victim to spills and dirt or other particles brought in from the outside. Over time, a neglected interior might begin to grow mildew, which is both unhealthy and unpleasant. In genera l, clea n t he vehicle’s interior once a month to prevent mildew growth and the buildup of dirt and grime.

Vacuum carpets, floor mats and between seats. Carpets and seating are another c ol le c t ion poi nt for d i r t a nd pol luta nts a nd need to be vacuumed thoroughly. Make sure to get the floor mats, the floor under

An air purifier in a vehicle creates a healthier environment for drivers and passengers alike. the floor mats and all the way under the seats. Pound your seats with something large like a baseball bat to loosen and knock out all the dirt and soil that has settled into the creases and stitching.

Protect newer vehicles on hot days. Hot weather can take its toll on drivers, and it can also wreak havoc on their vehicle’s interior. Heat from the sun can cause the vehicle’s plastics, vinyl or leather parts to emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, can produce both short-term and long-term adverse health effects. W henever possible, park in the shade or use a sun shade on the

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Improve air quality. Perhaps the best way drivers can en su re t hei r pa ssengers have a hea lt hy env i ron ment w h i le traveling in a car is to improve the air quality within the vehicle. The GoPure Automotive Clean Air System from Philips quickly and effectively purifies the air inside a vehicle by eliminating harmful gases, dust, pollen, smoke, odors, and bacteria. Employ i ng a 3-stage f i lter i ng process, the GoPure system, which

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can be easily placed beneath a seat, in the rear of the vehicle or on a seatback, captures big particles, such as human hair and pet hair, during the pre-filter stage before t he HEPA f i lter removes t hese particles and others, including pollen and pet dander. In the final stage, GoPure’s advanced HESA filter removes harmful gases and even bad odors, such as those caused by smoke, ensuring the vehicle’s interior is not only healthy, but also pleasant for drivers and passengers alike. More information about the GoPure Automotive Clean Air System from Philips is available online at or 800-257-6054. (Metro)

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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

Extend the life of your tires: Learn the proper way to rotate your car’s tires By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer


weather is warmer and it’s time to see how your vehicle survived the winter. Spring is a great time to make those repairs, check those fluid levels and see how the winter has treated your tires. Your tires are something you can check and maintain, even if you aren’t mechanically inclined. The first thing to do is check the pressure. You should do this every couple of weeks and before road trips. If you don’t check your tire pressure on a regular basis, spring is a good time to start. First, you need to determine the recommended PSI (pounds per squa re inch) for t he t ire. This can be found on the tire or in the ow ner’s ma nua l. To check t he pressure, you will need a tire gauge. Most pressure gauges you can buy today are digital and easy to read. Unscrew the cap on the tire stem and put on the pressure gauge. If it reads “35 psi,” that means the tire requires 35 pounds of pressure per square inch. I f a i r is needed to reach t he recommend PSI, add air to the tire until you reach that number ... but do not OVER INFLATE it. Under inf lated tires have greater f r ict ion w it h t he road, wh ich causes your vehicle to work harder. A vehicle that works harder uses more gas and costs more money.

Next, check your tires for wear; a worn tire is smooth. Hopefully, your tires are not completely bald. But, if they do still have some tread, is it enough? A way to check wear is to reach into your pocket, take out a penny and place it into the tire’s groove, with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing toward you. If you can see the top of “honest Abe’s” head, it’s time to go shopping for new tires. The way you drive affects your tires. To ensure they last as long as possible, keep t hese t hings in mind. Driving at high speeds generates heat and will reduce the life of the tread. It’s also important to consider what you encounter on the road. Avoid going over pot holes a nd hitting curbs when you turn. Also keep an eye out for road kill. They may already be flattened, but don’t run over those unfortunate critters.

moved to the back passenger side position. The same thing will occur on the driver’s side. There’s a reason for this. Tires have unique wear patterns that are related to the suspension and the alignment. Should you switch the tires in a criss-cross pattern, it could affect the alignment and lead to a bumpy ride.

Consult with a service station to determine the best pattern for rotating your tires and the ideal time interval between rotations.

A not her way to extend t he life of your tires is to rotate them. By rotating your tires, you allow them to wear more evenly. A good rule of thumb is to have them rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

notice a problem with the car’s per for ma nce. A n i mpor ta nt component of veh icle upkeep, rotating tires not only extends the life of the tires, but it also helps ensure safer driving.

Spr i ng mea ns t he f lowers a re bloom i ng a nd t he weat her i s warmer. Take the time to make sure your vehicle is operating at its peak. By taking care of your tires, you can make sure it runs its best from the ground up.

There are some who are unfamiliar about how and when to rotate the tires and the benefits this routine maintenance can prov ide. This also could be a factor in why people procrastinate on tire rotation.

The frequent use and requirements of the tires produces friction on the road, and eventually heat. The front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. In order to extend the life of the tires, drivers must periodically rotate them.

One may not realize that the front tires often bear the brunt of the work in vehicle operation. Making turns or parallel parking requires

Tire rotation essentially means moving the front tires to the rear and v ice versa. This means the front passenger side tire will be

Rotating tires is something that many people do religiously while others put off the task until they

the force of the front tires. Vehicles that are front-wheel-drive have front tires that supply the main mot ive power for t he veh icle, according to

These scenarios can depend on the vehicle and the tire, however. Cer ta i n veh icles have t i res of different sizes in the rear and front, w h ich prevent s f ront-to-back rotation. There are also cars that have tires that are unidirectional, where they are specific to one side of the car and asymmetrical, with a tread pattern that changes from the inside of the tire to the outside. Though these tires are rare, you can’t rotate them at all. Ti re rotat ion is adv iseable to pre s er v e ba l a nc e d h a nd l i ng , traction and even outer tire wear. But how often should it be done? Many tires should be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, even if they don’t show signs of wear. Some service stations will do tire rotation at the same time that oil changes are done because the car is already on a lift. Don’t ex pec t t i re rot at ion to correct wear problems due to worn mechanical parts or as the result of improper inf lation pressure. Rot at ion i s not t he on ly t i re maintenance task to do to ensure safe tires. (Metro)

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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012



Your options on the road: Invest in a GPS or use your smartphone By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer


pring is here and it’s time to enjoy driv ing again. Gone are the icy roads, blow ing snow and brown slush. You may be considering a trip to enjoy the warmer spring weather. You know where you want to go; you just don’t know how to get there. That’s where a GPS can help. A GPS or Global Positioning System is a marvel of modern technology. It’s a device that computes your location using triangulation. The GPS unit in your vehicle is actually just a receiver that receives signals from orbiting satellites. Once the unit knows where you are, it can instruct you on how to get to your destination. A fter putting your destination information into the device, it will give you step-by-step instructions on how to get there. Before you buy any technology, it is important to ask yourself a few questions. As with most things, you get what you pay for. The more you spend on a GPS, the more features it

will contain. Some GPSs come with a “bundle,” which contains extra components. Of course, a GPS can also be purchased by itself. Consider warranty, support and upgrades. The longer warrant y you can get, the better. If you are thinking about buying an extended wa r ra nt y, ma ke su re it covers something that is likely to break down. Make sure there is toll-free or Internet support. Some people don’t do well with written instructions, so it’s nice to be able to talk to another human being. Talk to whoever is selling you the device about upgrades. Will it require an upgrade? Approximately when will it need an upgrade? What will it cost? Find out if the device is “plug and play.” This means it is ready to use right out the box. Consider where you will mount the device in your vehicle. Does the unit come with what you will need to mount it? One of the coolest things about many GPSs is that they can speak. Having a unit that can speak is

convenient. It allows you to keep your eyes on the road while it gives you directions. Keep in mind some devices will simply say, “Take the next right,” while others will have the ability to give you specific street names, “Turn left on Washington Street.” Some units can be programmed to speak in an American or English accent or in a male or female voice. Many units can speak multiple languages. If you can’t speak Japanese, this really isn’t helpful, but it can be entertaining on long trips.




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Smartphones haven’t quite taken over the world yet, so we know there’s a chance that you’re still rocking a retro-chic flip phone or something. There’s nothing wrong w it h t hat, but a sma r tphone’s Internet browser and apps can be a real boon in unfamiliar territory. M a p s a nd d i r e c t ion s ? E v e r y smartphone’s got those, so there’s no need to bother with an extra portable navigation system. Local restaurant reviews? Check out the Yelp app. And everything else is available online. Plus, there are a bunch of apps out there that help you optimize your road-trip experience, whether you want to record your fuel economy, keep abreast of the weather, or avoid traffic jams.


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Older cars in particular will benefit from a smartphone’s feature set.

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The right apps on your mobile device (top two photos) will give you more options than a GPS (above). One of the coolest features about many GPSs is that they can speak to you while you drive.

This is by far the easiest way to turn a pre-digital-age vehicle into a technological tour de force. For more tips about traveling by car, visit

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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

What to do with a cracked windshield


scenario is all too com mon. Dr ivers are traveling down the road, and a pebble gets kicked up and hits their windshield, causing a small chip to appear. Slowly but surely that chip turns into a spreading, snaking crack that only gets worse with each bump and pothole. Hav i n g a br ok en w i nd s h ie ld is not only unsightly and a big i nconven ience, it ca n a lso be illegal. That’s because the crack reduces the efficacy of the window safety composition, meaning it may shatter in the event of an impact accident a nd c au se ex ten sive i nju r ie s. T he c r ack a l so may impede a driver’s ability to see the road clearly. It’s important to note that liability car insurance typically doesn’t cover a cracked windshield that occurs in a collision. Instead, drivers hoping to be covered need to have collision insurance on their vehicle. However, not a l l w i nd sh ield s crack in a car accident. Many are damaged in nonaccident-related circumstances, whether this be a tree branch that falls on the car or a rock kicked up from the roadway. It’s important to read an insurance policy thoroughly to be sure that nonaccident-related cracks to the windshield will be covered. Even if the damage is covered, it may not be worth the expense of paying the insurance deductible and filing a claim, which may end up raising your rate in the long run.

Sounds that mean trouble High-pitched squealing Most modern brakes have a metal “squeal� tab built into them to alert you that the pads are worn. The squeal occurs when the wear indicator clip or pin rubs against the rotor because the pad is too thin. The sound might be intermittent at first, causing some confusion over what the source of it is. But as you continue to drive and use your brakes, the sound will become more steady – and you’ll hear it every time you step on the brakes. Sometimes you might hear intermittent squeals due to the construction of the pad and the wear against the rotor, which isn’t an indication of a larger problem. What to do: At minimum, check the brake pad thickness (or have a professional check for you). If they are worn down, change them. The longer you drive with worn brake pads, the more likely it is that there will be damage to the rotors.

Mechanical sound with loose steering A windshield crack is something that should be remedied as soon as possible. Many small nicks can be repaired easily with a kit purchased from a n a ut omot i v e s u ppl y s t or e . Inexpensive and user-friendly, the instructions guide users through the process of sealing the crack and preventing it from spreading. If the crack is beyond the scope of a do-it-yourself fix, a windshield repair service that specializes in this type of work might be necessary. These companies use products that harden quickly and reglaze the windshield so that the crack may not even be noticeable afterward.

Upon inspection, a mechanic or a windshield replacement company may determine that the crack is not something that can be mended. The entire windshield will have to be replaced at this point. In some cases the w indshield can be removed and replaced in the same day. W hile there is no way to prevent a cracked windshield entirely, there are certain ways to reduce the risk. This includes avoiding running over any debris on the road that can be kicked back at the windshield. (Metro)

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This one is a combo act. If you feel that the steering wheel has loosened up and at the same time you hear clicks in the front of your vehicle, it probably means you have worn joints. Most commonly, it will be either your tie rod ends or your upper and lower ball joints that have gone bad. What to do: It’s very important that you take your vehicle to the mechanic right away if you notice these warning signs. It can be dangerous to drive with your car in this condition.

Mechanical, knocking sound when turning This knocking, metallic noise can be heard coming from the front of your vehicle. If you hear it only when making turns, it often signifies that you have a worn or failing CV joint. What to do: Take your vehicle to your mechanic and get the CV joints checked. Once again, this is another repair that needs to be taken care of sooner rather than later to prevent further damage and potential accidents. (

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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

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Your view on the road By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer

of gas allows the filament to burn longer and thus extends the life of the headlight.

Many of us take our vehicles for granted.

The next evolutions in “gassy” bulbs are xenon headlights. Like halogen, xenon headlights use gas to achieve a whiter light. Unlike halogen, xenon headlights don’t use filament. They use electrodes instead. These electrodes are encased in a bulb filled with xenon gas. This technology also allows the bulb or headlight to burn much longer. As you can imagine, xenon headlights are more expensive.

There are many types of headlights available, and while you get your vehicle ready for spring, you may want to consider your options. The incandescent headlight is the most common used by American car manufacturers. The light comes from the filament. As an electrical current runs through the filament, it glows and gives off light. Another popular type of headlight is halogen. Halogen is a newer technology. It shares the use of a filament with the incandescent light, but its differences make it better. First, it uses a thinner filament. This allows the light to produce br ig hter w h ite l ig ht t h a n it s incandescent cousin. Second, it is filled with halogen gas. This type

Standard driving lights provide a visual range of about 1,000 feet. Pencil-beam headlights can double that range. The bulbs are usually for off-road use, and in many states, they are not street legal. They burn so bright that they are considered a danger to other drivers. Fog lights are another type of headlight. It’s all about the angle for fog lights. They are designed to be pointed downward to increase visibility during rain, snow or fog. Light is not reflected off the elements and back into the driver’s eyes. As you begin your spring car care, think about your headlights. You have many different options. Make sure the light that lights your way is right for you.

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But, do you ever stop to think how hard it would be to go any where at night without headlights? Sure, most streets are lit, but it would be very difficult to drive at night without illumination.

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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring driving safety tips By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer

You survived winter, and now that spring has sprung, you think you have it made. Wrong. Spring showers bring more than May f lower s ; t hey a l so br i ng treacherous driving conditions. From rain to fog, construction to wildlife, spring has its share of driving obstacles. Spring can bring torrential rain and f looded roads. The dangers of these are obv ious. Excessive speed on a drenched road ca n cause your vehicle to hydroplane. Hydroplaning occurs when the vehicle loses traction and slides like a sled over snow. Also, keep an eye out for potholes. If a pothole is filled with water, you cannot judge how deep it is. Going through a pothole at high speed can cause damage to your vehicle as well as cause you to lose control. It is also important to watch for puddles of water along the side of the road.

eliminates v isibilit y. The most important rule for driving in fog is to SLOW DOWN. You must be able to stop within your sight distance. Be sure to slow down BEFORE you enter the fog, not after. Keep your low-beam headlights on in the fog and don’t hesitate to put on your hazard lights. The key to driving in fog is to be seen. Whether you are driving in rain or fog, it is important to keep a safe distance bet ween your car and others on the road. A good rule of thumb is the two-second rule. As a vehicle in front of you passes a stationary object, begin counting. At least two seconds should pass before you pass the same object. Keeping a two-second distance between cars is always a good idea, but it is especially important in inclement weather. Warmer weather also brings road construction. The orange barrels will be out, so take special care to give the road crew the space they need. Obser ve a ll construction speed limits and be prepared for delays. Pay attention and don’t wait until the last minute to merge into one lane.

While it was fun jumping in puddles as a kid, it can be dangerous to drive through them as an adult. If you have ever driven through a puddle, you know how it can completely shift your vehicle and send you spinning to regain control.

Spr i ng mea ns t he f lowers a re blooming and animals are being born. Deer and other wildlife will be out and about and running into roadways. Animals tend to run into traffic, not away from it. Keep an eye out and reduce your speed in areas animals are known to habitat.

A not her da nger f rom Mot her Nature is fog. As temperatures rise, fog can form over ground which is cooler. Fog restricts or completely

Winter may be over, but spring brings its own driving risks. Be sure to stay vigilant as you drive your way into summer.

Repairs: My car needs what? CV joint boot replacement The CV (constant velocity) axle boot covers the critical joint, keeping out contaminants and holding in the lubricating grease. They tend to fail over time, leaking grease and exposing the joint to the elements. Replacing the boot will ensure maximum life from your CV axles. This is usually moderately expensive, but cheaper than replacing the complete axle unit.

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The cylinder head gasket is the main engine seal between the engine block and cylinder head(s). This is a critical seal and very labor intensive to replace.

Fuel pump replacement This device pumps fuel from the gas tank to either the carburetor or fuel injection system. If it fails, the car will sputter and come to a stop, much like the feeling when a car runs out of gas. The fuel pump is located in the fuel tank, making repair or replacement a labor intensive job. (

Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

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Slow down and save

over 60 mph will decrease your gas mileage. It has been estimated that every 5 mph over 60 you drive, your car is going to consume more fuel.

By Craig W. Armstrong Feature Writer

Besides how fast you are driving, consider HOW you are driving. If you rapidly accelerate or brake, your car is using more gas and this will lower your mileage by more than 30 percent.

a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.”

Spring is the time to sha ke off the cold of winter and enjoy the warmer weather. Just remember, it may be warmer outside, but gas prices are still the same or rising. With no end in sight to rising gas prices, consumers who modif y their driving habits and properly maintain their vehicles will get more miles per gallon. Driving less doesn’t have to be a consumer’s reac t ion to r isi ng ga s pr ices, according to the Car Care Council. While consumers can’t control the price of gas, they can control how much gas they use by following some si mple a nd i nex pensive vehicle maintenance. “Most motorists don’t have the option of driving less when gas prices rise, but they can cancel out the increases by making sure their vehicle is getting maximum fuel economy,” said Rich W hite, e x e c ut i v e d i re c tor, C a r C a r e Council. “Fuel consumption is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior and both can have

FUEL SYSTEM What is it? You car’s fuel system works with the rest of the engine control system to deliver the best performance with the lowest emissions. Check your car’s fuel system regularly or immediately if you smell gas or suspect a problem.

What does it do? The fuel system transfers fuel from the fuel tank and passes it through a fuel filter for cleaning before it arrives at the injectors. A pressure regulator controls fuel pressure to ensure good engine performance under a variety of speed and load conditions. Fuel injectors, when activated, spray a metered amount of f uel i nto t he eng i ne. Some vehicles use a return-line system to return unused fuel back to the tank.

Slow down and save. The faster you go, the fewer miles you will get to the gallon. Driving

Keep the pressure under control. Correct tire pressure is crucial to good gas mileage. Make sure that your tires are properly inf lated. The correct PSI (pounds per square inch) can be found on the tire, on the sticker on the door or in your owner’s manual.

Change your oil regularly. The classic rule of thumb is to change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles. This rule is a source of great debate. The point at which oil breaks down has improved over the years and many experts feel today’s oil lasts longer. The best way to judge when your oil needs to be changed is by consulting the vehicle owner’s manual. Change oil regularly and gain about another mile per gallon.

Pace yourself. If you do a lot of highway driving, use you r cr u ise cont rol. T h is feature will allow you to keep a constant rate of speed and improve your gas mileage.

Lighten your load. During the winter months, you may have put bags of salt or sand in your trunk for added weight and traction. Now is the time to get rid of them. A lighter vehicle is a more fuel-efficient vehicle. Don’t haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by anywhere from one to two percent.

The Car Care Council recommends a few ways to drive smart and save gas money:

Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.

Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer multi-purpose trip.

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Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and five percent in the city.

Check the gas cap. Damaged, loose or missing gas caps allow gas to vaporize into the air.

Replace filters and plugs. Replace dirty or clogged air filters on older vehicles to improve gas mileage by as much as 14 percent. Replace dirty spark plugs, which can reduce mileage by two miles per gallon. “Some motorists think they are saving money when they put off needed veh icle ma i ntena nce. W hat they don’t rea lize is that neglecting routine maintenance can end up costing a lot more,” sa id W hite. “Keeping your ca r running efficiently and adjusting your driving behavior are the best ways to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy and keep more money in your pocket.” For more information, go to: http://


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Advertising Supplement, Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine, Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Car Care 2012