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A Driver's Guide to Maintaining A Healthy Car

Make Your Car…

Run Forever  AVOIDING


Keep Yourself…

Safe on the Road

32 Car Care Tips You Need to Know



Healthy in the Seat  INSTANT


Store Copy: Please Do Not Remove From Waiting Area Winter 2009

High Performance?

Or high mileage?

Available in 5W-30, 10W-30 and 10W-40 vis grades.

Available in OW-20, 5W-20, 5W-30 and 10W-30 vis grades.

Two great ways to offer a high level of protection, without the high price. CITGO® SUPERGARD® SYNTHETIC is a fully synthetic motor oil at a better price. SUPERGARD SYNTHETIC is a premium quality product designed to provide the ultimate protection for high-performance gasoline engines. Even turbocharged and supercharged models. SUPERGARD SYNTHETIC prolongs engine life by reducing wear and minimizing oil breakdown, and is compatible with all conventional and synthetic motor oils. For high-mileage engines, there’s CITGO SUPERGARD UltraLife™. Specially formulated for vehicles with 75,000 or more miles, SUPERGARD UltraLife conditions and seals older engines, protecting them against excessive wear, helping to prevent leaks and enabling you to get the most out of your car. Check out SUPERGARD UltraLife and SUPERGARD SYNTHETIC from CITGO. They couldn’t come more highly recommended.

more protection for people

VehicleMD Staff:

Steve Hurt, Publisher Barbara Tinsley, Associate Publisher Garrett McKinnon, Editor Tammy Williams, Features Editor Sheila Beam, Advertising Director Misty Dolan, Production Director Eliseo Torres, Advertising Sales Mai Lee, Circulation Assistant Bethany Hurt, Staff Assistant Adriana Lum, Circulation Assistant 4418 74th St. #66 Lubbock, TX 79424 800.796.2577 or 806.762.4464 Fax: 806.762.4023 E-mail: Published four times a year by NOLN, Inc., 4418 74th St., Ste. 66, Lubbock, TX 79424-2336. Postage Paid at Shepherdsville, KY. Postmaster: Send address changes to VehicleMD, 4418 74th St., Ste. 66, Lubbock, TX 79424-2336. Editorial information: info@vehiclemd. com © Copyright VehicleMD 2009. Reproduction is allowed only with permission of the editor. Views expressed by columnists and guest writers do not imply VehicleMD endorsement. Every attempt is made to provide accurate and reliable information. VehicleMD will not assume liability for any products or services described or offered herein, nor can VehicleMD verify accuracy of advertising claims made herein. The purpose of VehicleMD is to educate automotive service customers about the maintenance services available to them. Additional copies — Interested parties may purchase additional copies of VehicleMD, including bulk quantities. E-mail Mai Lee for more information: Advertisers — Advertising rates are available upon request. Please contact Sheila Beam for display advertising deadlines and other information: Internet — Advertising rates are available upon request. Please contact Eliseo Torres for information. All correspondence and inquiries should be directed to our busi-


Facebook and Long, Cold Montana Winters This title may seem a little odd, but it’s simple enough—one of my favorite things and one of my least favorite things. I’ve had a Facebook account for more than five years, and I really don’t know how I would live without it today. Nowadays I even find myself “Facebooking” friends instead of calling them. It also makes it easy for me to keep in touch with friends all across the country. Incidentally, many of my Facebook friends live in my home state of Montana. Not too long ago, those friends started posting updates about how cold and snowy it was already, while I looked outside to a wonderful 80-degree day. It really made me think about those nasty Montana winters—once I even saw the Mercury drop below minus-55° F. So what did I learn from all those months of cold? Always keep an ice scraper and a pair of gloves in your car because you never know when you might need them, and don’t give your vehicle a chance to leave you stranded. It’s important to get your vehicle geared up for winter weather. There are a lot of tips in this issue to help you do just that—everything from oil that helps ensure your engine is protected on cold winter mornings to how a glass treatment can make it easier to remove those layers of snow and ice. There’s some great information in this issue to help ensure your vehicle will keep you safe this winter. If you don’t get a chance to read the entire issue before your service is finished, don’t worry. You can read the entire issue of VehicleMD online anytime at If you want to receive updates about how to keep your vehicle running at its best in the winter—and all year round—that’s where Facebook comes in (see I told you I couldn’t live without it). VehicleMD is now on Facebook. I will keep you updated on how to take the very best care of your car, and I might throw in a few interesting stories, as well. Check it out at: If you prefer Twitter over Facebook, you are in luck. You can follow VehicleMD’s tweets (@VehicleMD), where you can get even more updates about the latest and greatest in vehicle maintenance. No matter where you spend your winters, vehicle maintenance is extremely important. And if you need a little help along the way VehicleMD is always here!

ness offices: 4418 74th St., Ste. 66 Lubbock, TX 79424-2336 Phone: 1.800.796.2577 or 806.762.4464 Fax: 806.762.4023 E-mail:

Winter 2009 Volume 1, No. 2 ISSN 1948-4674

Tammy Williams 3




B e S afe

K eep I t R unning F orever

6 Avoiding the “Big Chill”

Like most of us, your car doesn't like to crank up on cold mornings. Learn how synthetic motor oil can help your vehicle spring to life—and protect it in the process—on even the coldest of winter days.

8 Spic & Span

The inside of your car’s engine can be a dirty place. Find out how to keep it clean, and running like a top, with an oil system cleaner.


10 Tender “Lotion” Care

How high-mileage motor oil’s special conditioners can keep your engine’s seals fresh and supple, and avoid leaks in the process.

R oad

14 The Invisible Windshield Wiper

Seeing through winter precipitation can make all the difference, and water-repellent glass treatment is here to help.

16 Are You Listening to Your Car?

Your car may be trying to sound a warning, but it can be hard to know what to listen for.

18 Let There Be Light!

See and be seen through winter’s gloom by making sure your headlights are back to their peak effectiveness.

B e H ealthy

in the

S eat

20 Instant Freshness

12 Quick Questions

It’s as simple as 1-2-3 (sort of). Answer three quick questions to find out the best service intervals for your vehicle and the way you drive it.


on the

Eliminate allergy-causing mold and mildew with a new service that’s literally a breath of fresh air.

T he B ack P age 22 Winter Service Tips

A few of our favorite tidbits of wisdom when it comes to getting your car ready for winter.

Index of Advertisers Company Name

VehicleMD On Call Have a car question for the VehicleMD “doctor“? E-mail:

4 VehicleMD

Page No. Phone Number


Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA)



BP Lubricants USA, Inc. (Castrol)






Lubegard by International Lubricants



Shell Oil Company - Rain X



Smart Blend by Life Automotive Products, Inc.









Now that you've seen our printed version, check out our website: An Online Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Car

Don't worry if you don't get a chance to finish browsing VehicleMD, because we're online! Visit to find a host of resources, including an online version of VehicleMD you can read from your web browser, a list of helpful links and a glossary that can help you learn to speak "car," so you're not totally confused the next time your technician tosses a load of technical terms your way. — It's your guide to maintaining a healthy car, now online!

Run Forever With…

Synthetic Motor Oil

Avoiding the “Big Chill” Protect Your Car from Winter’s Wrath

By Garrett McKinnon VehicleMD Staff Writer



old mornings. Is there anything worse? You’re warm of the wear your engine will and cozy in your bed when the alarm clock beckons, experience will occur as a direct forcing you into the chill of another winter day. result of cold starts. Believe it or not, your car hates cold mornings, too. Like most liquids, the motor oil in your car thickens as the temEngineers create synthetic motor oil by carefully manipuperature drops. Imagine leaving a bottle of honey in your lating, or synthesizing, the molecules in a base oil. When refrigerator overnight and then trying to pour it. Motor blended with a precise mixture of chemical additives, this oil doesn’t get that thick, but especially on very cold morn- synthetic motor oil provides superior mechanical and chemiings it does take a while to warm up and begin flowing as it cal properties compared to conventional motor oil. In other should. words, it simply works better. Unfortunately, during that brief interval your car’s engine One of the biggest benefits of synthetic motor oil is its is being assailed by friction. Without that protective layer ability to flow at low temperatures. Compared with convenof motor oil, the insides of your car’s engine are essentially rubbing against Imagine leaving a bottle of honey in your refrigerator one another. The guys and gals who study such things tell us that as much overnight and then trying to pour it. Motor oil doesn’t as 80 percent of the wear your engine get that thick, but especially on very cold mornings, it will experience will occur as a direct does take a while to warm up. result of cold starts. Thankfully, there is a solution that tional motor oil, synthetic can start flowing and reach/procan help protect your engine on cold winter mornings (or tect critical areas of your car’s engine much quicker in cold even afternoons when your car has been sitting outside in the temperatures. cold all day waiting for you to get off work). That solution? “Synthetic motor oil has superior cold temperature perforSynthetic motor oil. mance,” said Timothy Miranda, a senior engineer with BP


Fast Facts 4Synthetic motor oil can reach critical parts of your engine quicker than conventional motor oil. 4Synthetic motor oil can help ease the burden on your car’s battery in the cold.

6 VehicleMD

Lubricants. “It lets the engine crank easily, and the oil flows quickly to critical parts within the engine.” This reduces wear, protecting your engine and extending its life. Plus, by allowing easier engine cranking, synthetic motor oil eases the burden on your car’s battery during the cold winter season. Your car set you back a big chunk of change. Why wouldn’t you spend a little bit more to give it the best protection possible—especially during the winter, when cold temperatures put additional stress on your car’s engine? 

Run Forever With…

Oil System Cleaner

SPIC & SPAN How to Keep the Inside of Your Car’s Engine Clean By Tammy Williams VehicleMD Staff Writer


generally like things clean: We like clean clothes, clean dishes and clean towels. Don’t you agree that these items are much better fresh and clean than dirty? So why should your engine be any different? An oil system cleaner helps clean out all of the grime and deposits that can build up on various parts of your engine between oil changes, helping to make its insides cleaner.


Performing an oil system cleaning will not only help your vehicle feel like it just rolled off the car lot, but it can also help your vehicle last longer.

The oil system cleaner is added to your “old” motor oil. This combination is run through the engine for about five minutes, helping to ensure the cleaning solution reaches all the crevices in the engine, and then the oil system cleaner is drained out of the engine with the motor oil. Add clean new motor oil and, voila, you’re done! During this process, the oil system cleaner removes contaminants in your engine that can rob your vehicle of performance. When gasoline is burned, it doesn’t completely combust, meaning it leaves behind traces of carbon and varnish in your engine. Over time, these tiny bits can really start to build up. If left too long, they can even start to harm parts of your engine. “It’s always worth a little extra effort to maintain the opera8 VehicleMD

tion, performance and efficiency of your vehicle,” said Steve Farr, vice president of Smart Blend Synthetics. “The engine is generally considered the heart of the vehicle, so consider an oil system cleaner as Lipitor for your car.” Just as cholesterol medications can help a person live a longer healthier life, an oil system cleaning can help your vehicle live a longer, healthier life, too. When a vehicle is new, the engine is free of contaminant buildup, so it operates at maximum efficiency. As contaminants build up in the engine, they add weight to the parts, so the parts don’t move as freely as they once did. However, an oil system cleaner can get rid of this contaminant buildup, helping your engine function like it just rolled off the new car lot. Performing an oil system cleaning will not only help your vehicle feel like it just rolled off the car lot, but it can also help your vehicle last longer. By removing all the contaminants in the internal parts of the engine, an oil system cleaning promotes extended service life via reduced parts wear. If you are leery about performing an oil system cleaning because your owners manual says not to add anything to your motor oil, you can feel at ease. Unlike engine oil additives, supplements or treatments that are added to fresh motor oil in the vehicle, and thus stay in the vehicle, an oil system cleaner is a cleaning agent. It cleans the internal parts of the engine and is drained out with the “old” motor oil—it does not remain in your engine. The “old” oil captures the contaminants in your engine and carries them out with the oil. So, when considering an oil system cleaning, simply ask yourself, “Why put clean oil in a dirty engine?” 

Run Forever With…

High-Mileage Motor Oil

Tender “Lotion” Care By Tammy Williams VehicleMD Staff Writer

How a Specially Formulated Motor Oil Can Keep Your Higher Mileage Car’s Engine Seals Feeling Young

Engines have many moving parts. Oil must get to all of those parts to keep your engine functioning at its best. In order for the oil to get where it needs to go, seals are located at various places throughout your engine to keep the oil from leaking out as it moves from place to place. Believe it or not, these seals need extra care as a vehicle ages, and high-mileage motor oil can help you give them just that. High-mileage motor oil has special properties that set it apart from other oils. One of these is a special additive—seal conditioners. Think of these conditioners like hand lotion. Applying lotion regularly will keep your hands from becoming cracked and dry. The conditioners in high-mileage motor oil work in much the same way, helping to keep the seals in your engine from becoming cracked and brittle. Every time you drive, your engine goes through a cycle of hot and cold. It is cold when it first starts, but as you drive it warms up. All these cycles of hot and cold can take their toll on a higher-mileage vehicle, especially on the seals, which can dry out, crack and, eventually, even allow oil to leak out. “Seal conditioners, just like hand lotion, help prevent seals from drying and cracking, so they do not leak,” said John Ackerman, associate brand manager for Valvoline MaxLife Motor Oil. Leaking engine seals can lead to oil loss; hence you may start to notice spots of oil on your driveway. Oil is the lifeblood of the engine, and if an engine starts to lose oil, it becomes less efficient and may even stop functioning all together. Oil loss can be devastating to any vehicle, especially a high-mileage vehicle. To keep high-mileage vehicles— and their engines—running their best, they need special care. So, ask your technician if high-mileage motor oil is right for your vehicle. 

10 VehicleMD

FAST facts n Engine seals help channel oil to its correct destination inside an engine. n As your car’s engine ages, these seals can become dry and brittle, eventually cracking and allowing oil to leak. n Specially formulated high-mileage motor oil can help condition these seals, allowing them to last longer. n High-mileage motor oil is recommended for cars with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer.

Run Forever With…

The Correct Service Interval


t can all be a bit confusing. The service sticker on your windshield says to come back in three months or 3,000 miles. But your oil change light doesn’t come on for about 6,000 miles. Or you saw that commercial on TV that says using such-and-such an oil can let you go 7,500 miles between oil changes. What’s the right answer to the question, “How often should I have my car serviced?” In a nutshell: It depends. The long and short of such a complex topic is that there are almost as many different types of service recommendations as there are types of vehicles on the road. Each company that builds cars has its own ideas on how often those vehicles should be maintained, and many of those ideas are contradictory. The only real way to know how often to have your car serviced is to read through the owners manual. But who has time to do that? (And who would really want to!) So to help you sort things out, we’ve come up with a few quick questions that can help you determine what service interval is right for you.



uick uestions

Choosing the Best Service Interval for Your Vehicle

12 VehicleMD

By Garrett McKinnon VehicleMD Staff Writer

How do I drive?

In years past, most automakers recommended two distinct types of service recommendations, “normal” and “severe.” The only problem is that most of us who live in urban or suburban areas predominantly drove in conditions that fell into the “severe” category (like stop-and-go driving, frequent short trips, etc.) even though we considered ourselves “normal.” Today, automakers have attempted to eliminate that confusion by either recommending a single service interval for all conditions (like Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo and others do), using a computer program to estimate when you need to have your vehicle serviced (like GM, Honda, Mercedes and newer Chrysler vehicles, which use a dash light to indicate the need for service), or using very specific language to differentiate between the “normal” stop-and-go urban driving the vast majority of us do and the “special operating conditions” (as Ford terms it) that require more frequent service intervals. Examples of “special operating conditions,” as defined by manufacturers like Ford, Nissan and Hyundai, include:

3Repeated short trips of less than five miles in

normal temperatures or less than 10 miles in freezing temperatures. 3Stop-and-go traffic in hot weather or lowspeed driving for long distances. 3Driving in dusty conditions or on rough, muddy or salt-spread roads.


the second largest we’ll ever make. And, in today’s economy, most of us are planning to hold on to the cars we have and drive them for a few extra years rather than trade them in. If that sounds familiar, definitely consider keeping your service intervals shorter. After all, it’s not all about the actual oil change. Frequent ser-


People who love their cars and want to keep them in the best shape possible will definitely want to stick with shorter service intervals—possibly even shorter than recommended by the automaker. Why? Simple. Peace of mind.

3Towing a trailer or using a camper or car-top

carrier. 3Use of E85 ethanol fuel more than 50 percent of the time. 3Driving on uphill, downhill or mountain roads. 3Driving as a patrol car, taxi or other commercial use, or vehicle towing. We admit, the terms can be a bit ambiguous, so when in doubt, it’s our recommendation to stick to a shorter interval to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. Which leads us to our next question:


How much do I love my car?

A lot of the issues revolving around vehicle service intervals simply come down to honestly answering that question. People who love their cars and want to keep them in the best shape possible will definitely want to stick with shorter service intervals—possibly even shorter than recommended by the automaker. Why? Simple. Peace of mind. Your car is an investment. For most of us, it’s

vice also allows your car to be inspected several times per year, giving technicians an opportunity to catch and fix small problems before they become big, expensive problems. Speaking of money, our next question is:


How much do I want to spend?

Several VehicleMD staffers drive European models that have a single service recommendation, but the mileage for that recommendation is such that we might only have our cars in for service once or twice per year. Which is why more than one of us has decided to step up the protection level for our car by investing in synthetic motor oil and up-scale oil filters. Sure, they cost more. But it comes down to the peace-of-mind factor. If we really want the best protection for our cars (and we do), then it only makes sense that we’ll spend a little bit extra to keep them running perfectly. (One of Nissan’s three service interval recommendations is a shorter interval called “Premium Maintenance” that is targeted at drivers who want to take the utmost care of their investment.)

Spending a little more on maintenance now can save you big money down the road when it comes to repairs.  For more information on service intervals, including a history of intervals, visit our website:

Automakers with Fixed or Vehicle-Specific Service1 Interval Recommendations: 3Suzuki 3Audi 3Toyota 3Jaguar 3Volkswagen 3Lexus 3Volvo 3Scion

Automakers with Two or More Mileage-Dependent Service2 Interval Recommendations: 3Mazda 3Ford 3Hyundai 3Mercury 3Mitsubishi 3Infiniti 3Nissan 3Kia 3Lincoln 3Subaru

Automakers with Service3 Interval Reminder Systems4: 3Acura 3GMC 3BMW 3Honda 3Buick 3Jeep 3Cadillac 3Mercedes-Benz 3Chevrolet 3Mini 3Chrysler 3Saab 3Dodge 3Smart

 These automakers generally recommend service at fixed intervals, though some models may also feature a maintenance-reminder light based on that interval. Some automakers like Audi and Volkswagen recommend a shorter “break-in” service interval followed by longer periodic service intervals. 1

 These automakers generally recommend two or more distinct service intervals based on mileage and driving conditions. Some automakers like Subaru may also recommend intervals based on specific vehicle models. 2

 These automakers generally recommend service intervals based on a maintenance monitoring system that tracks conditions that affect vehicle fluids like engine speed, ambient air temperature, trip length, etc., and calculates the useful fluid life remaining. 3

 Older GM makes like Pontiac, Saturn, Oldsmobile and Hummer also feature an automated oil life monitoring system.

4 13

A water-repellent glass

Be Safe With…

Water-Repellent Glass Treatment

treatment can help improve driving response by a full second in wet conditions. That’s about four car lengths extra stopping distance.

Save your fingers from frostbite! A water-repellent glass treatment can help make ice and snow easier to remove on those bitterly cold winter mornings.



14 VehicleMD

is vital to your safety and the safety of your passengers.

Windshield Wiper

The winter season is here. ing driver safety through increased visibility.” Are you ready for it? One of the worst things about winter is the precipitation. Many parts of the country spend long weeks buried under snow and ice—and even those who don’t see increased frozen precipitation often see more rainy days. Because as drivers we make the vast majority of our decisions from visual cues, a clean, clear windshield can be vital to our safety. Which is where water-repellent glass treatment comes in. These specially formulated chemical solutions are applied to windshields, where they form a bond with the glass and help to repel rain, sleet and snow, in effect creating an “invisible windshield wiper” that can vastly improve visibility in wet, wintry weather. When water hits the surface of a windshield treated with this product, the chemical compound in the treatment causes the water to bead and roll off the windshield. The benefits of water-repellent glass treatment are many: improved all-weather visibility and safety; increased driving comfort; and easier removal of visibility-hindering objects like frost, ice, salt, mud and bugs. “You can see better through your windshield (by using a water-repellent glass treatment),” said Warren Augenstein, a product manager at Shell. “It acts as a third, invisible wiper blade that clears your view by repelling water, increas-

A clean, clear windshield

ing serviced. The treatment is generally applied Of course, you don’t have to take our word with a sponge or other applicator and allowed for it. A university-administered test found that to dry briefly. water-repellent glass treatment improved the Depending on the climate where you live, the driving response of a person up to a full second water-repellent glass treatment can last as long by increasing visibility in wet conditions. To as a year, but on average it should be reapplied put that into perspective, that’s about four car every six months for best results. lengths of extra stopping distance at highway “It depends on the local weather conditions speeds—a distance that can mean the difference and climate. If you live in Southern California, between a close call and a bumper-crunching ac- where it hardly rains, it may last (a year or more). cident. But, if you live in the Northeast where it rains Because water every other day, it is more easily remay only last about moved, these treatthree months,” AuThe benefits of water-repellent ments can also make genstein explained. removing snow and “I recommend a glass treatment are many: ice easier, saving new application improved all-weather visibility your fingers from every six months, and safety; increased driving frostbite on those or as soon as viscomfort; and easier removal of bitterly cold winter ibility starts to bemornings. In addicome impaired in visibility-hindering objects like tion, the treatment wet weather.” frost, ice, salt, mud and bugs. helps wiper blades Safety is no small be more effective by matter on wet, slick beading any moiswinter roads where ture on the windshield so the wipers can easily every last bit of visibility can help you avoid an whisk it away. accident. Make sure you’re as prepared as posApplication of the treatment is quick and easy, sible for winter driving by asking your service something that can easily be performed by your technician for more information about waterautomotive technician while your vehicle is be- repellent glass treatment.  

IMPROVE WET WEATHER DRIVING VIsIbIlITy WITH RAIN-X® ORIGINAL GLASS TREATMENT Rain-X® dramatically improves wet weather driving visibility by repelling rain, sleet and snow. Ask to have Rain-X® Original Glass Treatment applied to your windshield today!



The Invisible Windshield Wiper® O U T S M A R T


E L E M E N T S !

© 2009 SOPUS Product. All rights reserved.

Be Safe With…

Signals From Your Car

Are You Listening to Your Car? Sixteen Noises You Need to Be Concerned About — And Two You Don’t!


Noises. Every car makes them. Most are routine, everyday sounds we’re used to. But some catch our attention, telling us that things may be amiss. But identifying a noise and describing it to your service technician can be difficult. To identify what component on your car may be making the offending noise, it helps to answer a few questions for yourself first: • Where is the noise originating? (It can help, especially if the noise only starts up when the car is in motion, to use the ears of a passenger in the back seat to pin down where the sound is coming from.) • What is the car doing when the noise starts? Is it sitting still? In motion? Turning? Braking? Accelerating? Be as specific as possible. • When did the noise occur? Is it ongoing or intermittent? Did you hear it when you first started the car, first put it in gear, etc.? • What was the outside temperature and weather like when you heard the noise? Believe it or not, these factors can play a major role in the occurrence of strange noises. Once you’ve got the noise pinned down, describing it is your next step, which is where we come in. Following is a list of noises, sorted by location, that can help you describe problems to your automotive technician or mechanic.

Underhood Noises

Squeal — A rubbery squeal, especially one that is intermittent but growing worse over time, usually means a loose or worn serpentine belt, but it could also indicate a problem with a more expensive accessory component like the car’s air conditioning compressor, power steering pump or water pump. Growl — Also could be a whine that is audible at all times, even at idle. This could mean one of the car’s accessories is failing. A groaning when you turn the car could also mean the power steering pump needs to be checked for proper 16 VehicleMD

fluid level or fluid condition. Hiss — Can also be a whistle. Hearing this under the car’s hood usually means a leak in a vacuum hose. Alternatively, a highpitched whistle coming from the area near the serpentine belt could indicate an alternator that is being stressed. Clatter — A metallic clatter coming from inside the engine could mean the engine’s valves are loose, or it could indicate a low oil level or the need for an oil change (old oil tends to “foam,” meaning it doesn’t coat the insides of an engine correctly, which could lead to valve “clatter”). Bubbling — A bubbling or gurgling sound means air is trapped inside one of the vehicle’s fluids, most commonly the antifreeze/coolant. You may also hear this sound from inside the vehicle, as the same liquid circulates through the car’s heater core to provide heat. Flapping — This could mean the serpentine belt is coming apart. Have it checked immediately. Clicking — A clicking sound in the engine could indicate valves that are slightly loose from wear, an issue that, while noisy, is not particularly worrisome or indicative of broader mechanical problems. Many older engines exhibit this noise, which can sometimes be “cured” by installing specially formulated “high-mileage” motor oil (see story on page 10 for more information) or even synthetic motor oil.

Undercar Noises

Rattle — A rattling sound coming from beneath the car usually indicates loose exhaust components. It can also

indicate a failed catalytic converter. Clunk — If you hear this when the car shifts gears, it could indicate transmission problems. Alternatively, if you hear a clunk when you put the transmission in gear, it could indicate worn U-joints. Whine — A constant whine when the car is in motion could indicate worn gears in the driveline, usually in the differential. It could also mean the differential fluid needs to be replaced. Ticking — That ticking noise you hear whenever you turn the car off? It’s just the exhaust system cooling off. For once, nothing to worry about!

Tire/Suspension Noises

Knocking — This can also be a clicking or groaning. If you hear it from the tires or suspension when you’re at speed (say, above 40 miles per hour), it could mean a worn constant velocity (CV) joint. If you hear it at low speeds, especially when you’re turning, it could mean a wheel bearing about to fail. Squeak — A squeak coming from the suspension whenever you go over a bump usually means the rubber bushings that dampen vibration in the suspension system are worn. Can also mean the shocks or struts are in need of a closer inspection. Clicking — If you hear a clicking sound that changes frequencies as you change speeds, chances are you have some foreign object either stuck in a tire

or lodged between a wheel and brake or suspension component. Howling — A tire that “howls” at high speed likely indicates an alignment problem. Alternatively, it could mean a worn shock or strut is allowing the tire to move slightly. Can also be accompanied by a vibration in the steering wheel.

Brake Noises

Squeal/Squeak — The most common brake noise (by which we mean noises you only hear when you apply the brakes). Usually this means that a metal wear indicator in the brake pad has been exposed, indicating it is time to have the brakes replaced. Can also mean a brake is hanging, which can be caused by old or worn brake fluid. Clunk — Usually means that one or more of the brake components is loose. Requires immediate attention. Grinding — A rough grinding noise indicates metal-to-metal contact, which usually means the brake pad has been worn through. Have your brakes checked immediately. Today’s automobiles are mechanical marvels that emit all sorts of pleasant sounds (the whir of a finely tuned engine or the rumble of a sports car’s exhaust) and, occasionally, the nottoo-pleasant (the ones we’ve catalogued here are the most common but by no means the only troublesome noises you might encounter). By identifying where and what the sounds are, you can have an honest conversation with your technician or mechanic and potentially keep a small problem from turning bigger and more expensive.   17

Be Safe With…

Headlight Restoration

Let There Be Light! Headlight Restoration Can Make Your Headlights Work — and Look — Like New

18 VehicleMD


car takes a beating. Unless it’s gadollars less than replacing the actual laminate cover. raged 24/7—and it wouldn’t be Plus, if your taillights or turn signal covers are yellowed and something you drive then, would oxidized, those can often be restored, as well. it—your car is under constant assault from the elements. Sun. Wind. Rain. Dirt. Road grime. Salt. Many drivers will first start to notice this assault 4 Tests have shown restored headlights will shine 90 percent or taking its toll on their headlights. Most modern more of the headlights' original candlepower. headlights are protected by a clear piece of plastic laminate. Unfortunately, this laminate is particular4 Yellowed lenses may only be shining at 50 percent efficiency— ly susceptible to things like ultraviolet rays from the or less. sun, acid rain, road salt, etc. After your car sits out4 This drop in luminosity usually happens gradually as a headlight side for a few years, waiting patiently for you while you toil away at work, shop or run errands, this ages, so you may not even notice it. laminate can begin to become yellow or cloudy. Not only does this make your car look less than perfect, it also affects how well your car’s headlights work. Thankfully, there is a new service on the market that can Not only will the service make your car look a lot better, restore your car’s headlights to nearly new condition. It’s called but the headlights will work better, as well. Tests have shown headlight restoration or headlight cleaning, and it works by that restored laminate covers will shine with 90 percent or carefully removing the dull, oxidized outer layer of the lamimore of the headlights’ original candlepower. Compare that nate headlight cover and then applying a protective coating to with the yellowed lenses your car currently has, which may seal the surface. be shining at less than 50 percent efficiency. Some drivers have compared it to driving in the dark with your sunglasses on. Unfortunately, Most modern headlights are protected by a clear piece of plastic the drop in efficiency as the headlight covers age comes on so gradually, most laminate. After your car sits outside for a few years, waiting drivers don’t recognize it. patiently for you while you toil away at work, shop or run With the winter driving season meanerrands, this laminate can begin to become yellow or cloudy. ing longer nights, it’s more important than ever to make sure your headlights Your automotive service technician will begin by sanding are working at peak efficiency, allowing you to see the road in the headlight cover with gradually finer grits of sandpaper, front of you—and allowing other drivers to see you coming. removing the cloudy, yellowed layer of laminate. Once the In the vast majority of cases, a headlight cover can be restored damaged layer is removed, the technician applies a resin or in about 10 minutes or less, and the cost is nominal compared resurfacing product that restores the lens coating. The final to the hundreds you might spend on a replacement. product will appear almost like new, but will cost hundreds of So give your car the once over, and if its headlight covers are yellow or cloudy, ask your service technician about headlight restoration, a service that will make your car look better and keep you safer.  

fast facts


after 19

Keep Healthy With…

Air Conditioner Odor Service

Instant Freshness Get a Clean, Fresh Scent and Health Benefit All In One

By Tammy Williams VehicleMD Staff Writer


ext time you get in your car and turn on the heater, take a deep breath. What do you smell? Is it fresh and clean, or does it smell a little musty? If your answer is the latter, you may have some silent invaders—mold and mildew—hiding in your car. Mold and mildew spores are everywhere. They are constantly flying through the air, but it isn’t until they find a damp, dark place to grow that they become a problem. One place they love to grow is in your car’s heating/cooling/air conditioning (HVAC) evaporator box. This evaporator and heater core is the area where the air from your A/C and heater blows out through the vehicle’s interior vents. Whether it is cold outside or warm, the air that enters your car’s passenger cabin comes through the evaporator and heater core, and the air that resides in this area is generally moist and warm—an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.

An A/C odor elimination service allows your service technician to eliminate the harmful mold and mildew—as well as their unpleasant odors—built up in


percent of chronic sinus problems are caused by mold and fungal infections.

your evaporator. This service only takes about 20 minutes, and it can be performed at the same time your technician is changing your oil, adding little to no time to your vehicle’s service. “When you think of the fact that the air you breathe inside a vehicle can be as much as five times worse than the air outside, using this service to eliminate the hazardous mold and mildew coming from within the evaporator box can greatly help any vehicle’s interior to

An A/C odor elimination service provides instant benefits that you can actually smell. One benefit is, of course, the clean, fresh scent coming from the vents. Another, perhaps more important benefit, is that the service reduces allergens and organic toxins entering the interior of your vehicle's cabin. If you smell a musty or moldy smell when your heater or air conditioner is turned on, that is a telltale sign of mold and mildew growth. These moldy and musty odors are waste products given off by actively growing molds—and a good sign it’s time to do something about their infestation. 20 VehicleMD

be a healthy one,” said Kristen Clark, marketing manager for International Lubricants, Inc. This particular service provides instant benefits that you can actually smell. One benefit is, of course, the clean, fresh scent coming from the vents. Another, perhaps more important benefit, is that the service reduces

100,000 Some sources say there are more than

species of mold.

allergens and organic toxins from entering the interior of your vehicle’s cabin. The A/C odor elimination service eliminates odors that air fresheners can’t. It also reduces allergens and contaminants in your vehicle’s cabin, improving air quality and making it a healthier place for you and your family.

Health Effects of Mold or Mildew • Stuffiness • Runny nose • Shortness of breath • Coughing or wheezing • Sneezing, nasal drip and sinus infection • Headache • Fever • Skin rash • Upper respiratory infection Why are mold and mildew so dangerous? Oftentimes they are dangerous because people don’t realize it is mold and mildew causing their symptoms—these pesky invaders can seem almost invisible at times. Most health problems caused by mold involve the spores getting into your lungs. Stuffiness or a runny nose may be the sign of a mold allergy, along with shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing. In more

severe cases, exposure to mold may cause headaches, fevers or skin rashes in some people. Mold may make people who do not suffer from asthma have asthma-like symptoms, and for those who do suffer from asthma, mold can aggravate their symptoms and even bring on severe attacks. Mildew is a fungus that is often mistaken for mold because they both grow in the same environments and, for the most part, cause many of the same health problems. When mildew spores are breathed in through the nose they may cause sneezing or nasal drip, or even lead to a sinus infection. If mildew spores are breathed in through the lungs, they could start to irritate, resulting in coughing and wheezing. Excess mildew spores could lead to an upper respiratory infection, especially in people with allergies or a disease that weakens the lungs. If you suffer from any of the aforementioned symptoms when you are in your vehicle, there’s a good chance it is the mold or mildew in your HVAC system causing your symptoms. An A/C odor elimination service would be a start to terminating mold and mildew, and help you start feeling better. If you don’t suffer from these symptoms, but simply want to keep your family safe and healthy—with an added benefit of a vehicle that smells clean and fresh— an A/C odor elimination service is your best choice. Remember, it’s not the moldy, musty smell itself that could be the problem. It’s the mold or mildew behind the smell that could be threatening the health of you and your family.   21



winter service

Is your car ready for Old Man Winter‘s arrival? Make sure these critical items are checked out before you hit the road this winter. After all, a bitterly cold day is the last time you want to have car trouble! And for more winter driving tips, visit our website:

Has your car’s MOTOR OIL been changed lately? Wintry conditions are murder on vehicle engines, because motor oil thickens as the temperature drops. For the best protection in very cold climates, try synthetic motor oil, which flows better at low temperatures.

Click, click, click. Not a noise you want to hear when you turn the key. Ask your service technician to test your car’s BATTERY and clean and inspect the battery terminals before winter arrives in force, because cold tends to shorten the lifespan of already weak batteries.

The nights get long in winter, which means it’s more important than ever for your car to be seen. Which is why it is so important to have your vehicle's LIGHTS inspected and any burned out bulbs replaced. After all, the best way to avoid an accident is to let other drivers see you coming.

Water expands when it freezes. We learned that in physics class. So the last thing you want is the ANTIFREEZE mixture (which is half water) in your car’s cooling system to freeze and expand, potentially damaging very expensive parts like water pumps, radiators, etc. Have your technician check the freeze point of your antifreeze, and consider replacing if it is too weak to protect your vehicle in cold temps.

22 VehicleMD

Winter usually means frozen precipitation like ice and snow that can damage ordinary windshield WIPER BLADES. Ask your vehicle service provider about the availability of specially designed winter wiper blades that can stand up to the punishment ice and snow dish out.

Is your WINDSHIELD WASHER FLUID up to the task of keeping ice and snow off your windshield? Ordinary washer fluid can freeze, so make sure to request specially formulated washer fluid that can also act as a de-icer for your windshield.

aoca membership matters

Do you really know who is performing the maintenance on your family’s cars?

You depend on the vehicles you and your family drive to be safe, fuel efficient, and long-lasting, so it is critical that they are properly maintained. When you choose an AOCA (Automotive Oil Change Association) member fast lube center to perform your oil changes and other preventive maintenance, you are choosing technicians and managers who are: Ethical—AOCA members show a dedication to their industry and to you by agreeing to abide by a code of ethics. Knowledgeable—AOCA members gain valuable resources for information, trends and tools that help them serve you more effectively. Well Trained—AOCA members have access to expert training at all levels. Trust AOCA certified managers and technicians to provide peace of mind for your car care. Environmentally Aware—Regulatory compliance, safety training and information, and green initiatives guide AOCA members in being stewards of our environment. You depend on your car, so you should depend on an AOCA member for all of your preventive maintenance needs. AOCA members are right around the corner and a big part of your community. Get to know one today! To find an AOCA member near you, or for more about AOCA, its membership and why you should take your car to an AOCA member fast lube center, go to

Choose an AOCA Member Fast Lube Center Today!

AOCA members provide Professional Service at Your Convenience.

WHAT IS THAT SMELL? Eliminating the Foul Odors from Mold and Mildew in your Vehicle

Mold spores magnified

Anyone who drives has come across that one vehicle, where, once you turned on the A/C or heater, an odor of the foulest proportion raced out the vents and filled up the cabin with a putrid musty smell. Rolling down the windows was once the only option until your senses were stunned into blocking the smell out. This smell is a tell-tale sign that it is time to flush out the bacteria, fungi and other microbes that are happily residing in the moist, dark and dank areas of the vehicle’s evaporator core. When mold and fungus spores are sucked into the A/C of your vehicle

The air you breath inside a vehicle could be up to 5 times worse than the air outside!

Mildew magnified

they land on a damp surface (the evaporator and its enclosure) and begin to grow and proliferate. In a system with a plugged up A/C drain or one that is in constant use, the box and evaporator will never dry out enough for the organic invader to die and go away. This is not just a superficial problem, either. It is actually hazardous to your health! Several studies have cited fungal and mold infections as the source of over 90% of chronic sinus problems. Not to mention, the EPA now classifies indoor airborne allergens as one of our most important environmental concerns.

Ask your service provider get rid of the smell today! • • • • • •

Leaves a clean, fresh scent Eliminates odors air fresheners can’t Reduces allergens and contaminates Improves air quality Maximizes cooling system efficiency Quick and convenient, can be done while waiting for any other service • Unlike other products, no drilling is required. • Ideal for cars, trucks, vans & RV’s This facility doesn’t carry Kool-It? Have them contact us! International Lubricants Inc. / (800) 333-LUBE(5823)

A look inside a typical evaporator system

dor! O s e t a Elimin Allergens! s Reduce rilling! No D Part # 96030 KOOL-IT® is released into the HVAC system and its super foaming action flushes out and neutralizes unwanted contaminants that live in A/C and heater systems.

mold and mildew ©2009 International Lubricants, Inc. All rights reserved.

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