Car Maintenance Tips for the New Year

CAR MAINTENANCE TIPS FOR THE NEW YEAR

The New Year is here. Along with watching the ball drop at midnight, New Years is the time for resolutions. Promising to take better care of your body through exercise and dieting is a tried and true New Year’s resolution, but what about your trusty vehicle? While you’re reassessing and planning for the New Year, it’s a great time to get on top of your routine car maintenance. Whether or not you endure a harsh winter, here are some things you should keep an eye on while maintaining your car – especially over the colder months.

1. Oil Change Oil Change

Getting your car’s oil changed regularly should be Car Maintenance 101, right? Without an oil change, your car’s engine will wear out a lot faster. The oil lubricates the car’s engine, which can be affected by the type of climate that you are driving in. The colder the weather, the thicker your car’s oil will get. In order to prepare for this, you may want to consult with your mechanic about using a thinner formula of oil for the winter months.

2.  Air Filters Air Filters

Your vehicle’s air filter prevents unwanted contaminants from getting sucked into your engine. When it’s not working properly due to clogging, your car’s mileage can be reduced as much as 14 percent. The rate of replacing air filters vary, but it can be anywhere from 30,000 – 45,000 miles.

 

3.  Tires Tires

All of the things on this checklist are vital to meeting the conditions of the winter road, but having quality tires is absolutely essential. As ever, you need to make sure your car’s tire pressure is right; cold weather can affect tire pressure levels. Maintaining proper tire pressure will ensure a longer tire life and protect from excessive wear and tear. Worn out tires are all but useless in the snow, so make sure that your tires have enough tread to hand the winter weather. Here’s an easy tire tread test: slide a penny head-down into the center tread. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, you have less than 2/23 in tread. If that’s the case, it’s time to buy some new tires!

4.  Brakes Brakes

This one kind of goes hand-in-hand with maintaining your tires: your brakes are your car’s most important safety feature. Worn-out brakes are dangerous and require a longer anticipation for stopping. Have a mechanic check your vehicle’s brake pads and rotors for wear or damage and to make any needed repairs.

5.  Cooling System Cooling System

Even if it’s cold outside, you still need coolant because your car’s engine runs hot! Engine coolant is just as important as your engine’s oil. Your radiator should be filled with at least a 50/50 mix of water and anti-freeze to protect against sub-zero temperatures. You can have a mechanic perform a pressure test on your cooling system. This will let you know if you have a faulty thermostat, a cracked hose or a leaking radiator cap.

6.  Wipers and Fluid Wipers and Fluid

Windshield wiper blades should be replaced every six months. Depending on where you live, it might not be a bad idea to invest in some winter blades for your windshield. Your car’s washer reservoir should be filled with freeze-resistant washer fluid so it can still get the job done during the winter.

7.  Heater and Defroster Heater and Defroster

You car’s heater and defroster are your best defenses against the mounting snow and dropping temperatures of the winter. Before you head out into the elements, make sure that both of these are working properly. Have a mechanic inspect and order any necessary parts that need replacing.

8.  Battery and Electrical System Battery and Electrical System

Being stuck on the side of the road with a dead car battery is never an ideal situation, but it could be much worse if it’s during some nasty winter weather. Severely cold temperatures can reduce your car’s battery power by 50 percent. Get ahead of the weather and do a quick visual inspection on the battery yourself. Make sure that everything is properly connected and pay attention to any corrosion or build-up on the terminals. If you don’t feel confident in your evaluation, many battery retailers offer complimentary battery assessments.  

9.  Exterior Lights Exterior Lights

This one should be a no brainer for whenever you’re out driving, but you should make sure that your car’s lights work: head lights, tail lights and hazard lights. When the snow is coming down fast and thick, you’re going to want to be able to see all cars around you on the road. Beware of flashing your high beams in snowy weather, as they obscure the road ahead.

10.  Full Gas Tank Full Gas Tank

You might want to keep your gas tank at least half-full during the winter months. The reason for this is that less fuel in your tank runs a higher risk of built up condensation freezing. To prevent the fuel lines from freezing you might consider adding antifreeze to your system when filling up your tank. Consult with a mechanic in case you’re not sure of your vehicle’s limitations.  

So while you’re taking care of your body post-Holidays, don’t forget that your car needs some love and attention too! Frigid temperatures and snow add all sorts of new and dangerous obstacles to the road, so it’s best to be prepared. Have a Happy New Year and make sure you keep your vehicle happy too!

Further Reading

  1. Basic Car Maintenance Checklist
  2. Is Your Car Ready For Cold Weather?
  3. Winter Car Safety & Tips To Maintain Its Value – 5 Winter Maintenance Tips For All Cars
  4. Top 5 Winter Car Maintenance Tips + Giveaway!
Car Maintenance Tips for the New Year
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History of the Toyota Tundra

History of the Toyota Tundra

Toyota has long been a strong competitor in the North American pickup truck market. Beginning in the 1950s, it made a name for itself with a number of successful compact pickups, including the Stout, Briska and Hilux (also known simply as the “Toyota Pickup”). Today, their lineup consists of the mid-size Tacoma and the full-size Tundra.

The Tundra began as a successor to the T100 pickup, and the early prototype was initially known as the T150. The name was later changed because it sounded too similar to Ford’s competing F-150 pickup.

The Tundra was more successful than the T100 from the start, and its popularity has only grown since its introduction in 1999. It currently accounts for 17 percent of the full-size half-ton market, and its sales peaked in 2007 with just under 200,000 trucks sold.

Let’s explore the Tundra’s production journey over 16 years and two vehicle generations.

First Generation: Model Years 2000 – 2006

image012000-2002 Tundra Access Cab

The first generation of the Tundra was assembled at Toyota’s plant in Princeton, Indiana, and shared many similarities with the older T100 and the Tacoma, though it was a little larger. The 2000 model truck was available in the 2-door Regular Cab as well as the Access Cab, which featured two additional rear-hinged doors and seating for four. It came standard with a 3.4-liter V6 engine that produced 190 hp. It was also available with a 4.7-liter V8 engine that produced 245 hp. This was the first time a V8 engine was available in a Toyota truck. Transmission options included 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

The Tundra was well received, and Toyota sold just over 100,000 units in the first year, doubling the sales of the older T100. It produced the highest initial vehicle sales in the company’s history. Even so, the Tundra was perceived as small and underpowered compared to competing pickups from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, Chrysler and Nissan.

For the 2003 model, Toyota introduced an updated grille as well as the Stepside Cab, a stepside version of the Access Cab. The Double Cab was introduced the following year, featuring four regular doors and additional room for backseat passengers.

Changes were made to the transmission and engine options in 2004. Beginning with the 2005 model, the 5-speed manual transmission was upgraded to 6 speeds, and the 4-speed automatic transmission was replaced by a 5-speed automatic. The same year, the 3.4-liter V6 engine was replaced by a new 4.0-liter V6 that produced 236 hp. The existing 4.7-liter V8 was updated with Toyota’s variable valve timing technology and rated at 282 hp. For the 2006 model, the V8 was rerated at 271 hp.

The first generation Tundra achieved a towing capacity of 6,900 lbs for the Double Cab version and 7,100 lbs for the Regular and Access Cab versions by the 2006 model year. It was a strong step forward from the T100 and received positive safety evaluations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but it didn’t offer full-size truck buyers enough of what they wanted and needed from a pickup. Toyota had plans to change that.

 

Second Generation: Model Years 2007 – 2013

image02.jpg2007 Tundra CrewMax

The second generation Tundra was first introduced at the Chicago Auto Show in February 2006. It was larger than the previous generation and took styling cues from the Tacoma and the Toyota FTX concept truck. It was manufactured at the existing Princeton, Indiana plant as well as at a brand new plant in San Antonio, Texas. The redesigned pickup had a towing capacity of up to 10,000 lbs depending on engine and body configuration, and a payload capacity of 2,000 lbs.

A brand new engine was featured with the 2007 model truck: a 5.7-liter V8 that produced 381 hp and was mated to a new 6-speed automatic transmission. Also available were two carryover engines from the first generation: the 4.0-liter V6 rated at 236 hp and the 4.7-liter V8 rated at 276 hp.

The new Tundra launched with many customization options and 31 possible configurations. Cab options included the 2-door Regular Cab, the Double Cab (which replaced the first generation’s Access Cab), and the new CrewMax Cab, which replaced the first generation’s Double Cab and was intended to compete with the Dodge Ram Mega Cab. Toyota also offered new options for bed length, with 6.5-foot regular and 8-foot long beds available for the Regular Cab and Double Cab, and a 5.5-foot short bed for the CrewMax.

In addition to the new 6-speed automatic transmission, consumers also had the option of the older 5-speed automatic transmission that was compatible with the 4.0-liter V6 and 4.7-liter V8 engines. Three different wheelbases were available with the 2007 model.

The second generation was designed in part to be more useful for construction workers. To this end, it featured extra large door handles, a deck rail system, integrated tow hitch, and headrests that would fit a person wearing a hardhat. Other standard features included an electronic automatic limited-slip differential, Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, anti-lock brakes and tailgate assist. Tow mirrors, Bluetooth functionality, a backup camera, and extra-large disc brakes and calipers were optional add-ons.

Production of the Tundra at the Princeton plant ceased in 2008, at which point the San Antonio plant became the sole manufacturer of the vehicle. To this day, the Tundra is the only full-size pickup manufactured in Texas.

The second generation Tundra underwent fewer year-to-year changes than the first generation. Thirteen new variations were added with the 2008 model year, bringing the total number of configurations to forty-four. The 4.7-liter V8 engine was replaced beginning in the 2010 model year with a 4.6-liter V8 that produced 310 hp and was paired with the 6-speed automatic transmission. The same year, the Tundra received a restyled grille and taillights, and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger became standard.

 

Design Update: Model Years 2014 – Present

image002015 Tundra CrewMax (Image Credit: order_242 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Tundra underwent a major interior and exterior design update beginning with the 2014 model. Some may consider this the beginning of the truck’s third generation, but in reality no changes were made to the chassis or powertrain, so whether the newest iteration of the Tundra should be considered the third generation is up for debate. Though the mechanical heart of the car remained largely unchanged, the appearance was overhauled and modernized.

On the outside, the Tundra received a larger and more prominent grille, more prominent front and rear fenders, a redesigned tailgate and tail lights, and a raised hood line that gave the truck a chiseled appearance. Changes to the interior included new seats with improved ergonomics, new controls, new gauges, and a redesigned dashboard. Additionally, Bluetooth connectivity, a 3.5-inch dashboard screen, and a backup camera became standard features.

Toyota also included a handful of performance improvements: the suspension was retuned with new damping rates for better ride quality, and the steering rack was re-valved to improve handling. The Regular Cab variant with a 6.5-foot bed was discontinued with the 2014 model. The 4.0-liter V6 engine was re-rated at 270 hp, but it was discontinued the following year, leaving only the 4.6-liter V8 and the 5.7-liter V8.
As you can see, the Tundra has already had an exciting history in its short lifespan. From its imperfect but promising first models to its very successful second generation, and continuing with the new 2016 model, Toyota’s premier full-size pickup has proven itself a safe, reliable and innovative choice for workmen and truck lovers alike. What’s in store for the Tundra going forward? Time will tell, but it’s a safe bet to expect good things.

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Holiday Events in Rochester, NY

Holidays in Rochester

Snowflakes have filled the air, bright lights have adorned the trees and that holiday cheer is so undeniable it’s almost tangible. Ready or not, the holidays are upon us Rochester. As the weather becomes more frigid we tend to become less sociable, wouldn’t you agree? Ok it’s not Lilac Fest, but so what?! It’s the holiday season, so get on some layers, heat up the car and get into the holiday spirit! Rochester has more than enough entertaining events for all ages to keep that spirit alive. Here are a few of the holiday events you don’t want to miss before the end of 2015.

Gingerbread Houses at George Eastman Museum

The Sweet Creations Gingerbread House exhibit is celebrating its 20th holiday season this year. Come to the George Eastman Museum and prepare to be amazed by this Rochester tradition that showcases over 70 gingerbread creations crafted by professional and novice bakers alike. Make sure you don’t show up on an empty stomach though!

Garden Factory Holiday Music & Light Show

If you’re really in the holiday spirit, you won’t want to miss this fantastic light show. The Holiday Music & Light Show is home to over 100,000 LED lights that adorn trees, snowflakes and snowmen. Prepare your eyeballs as the unimaginable number of lights dance to the beats and rhythms of music both new and old. The show runs every weekend from now until Christmas, so load the family into the car and get going! Also, it should be noted: prepare for lights.

A Christmas Carol at GEVA Theatre Center

What’s the holiday season without a retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol? Presented by the GEVA Theatre, you have plenty of chances to see Scrooge’s curmudgeonly old heart melt from now until December 27. Who can say no to Tiny Tim?

Liberty Pole Lighting

Partake in another Rochester holiday tradition: the lighting of the Liberty Pole. On December 5, join in as Mayor Warren flips the switch and turns on the lights of the Liberty Pole outside of the Sibley Building. If you miss out on any of your holiday favorites like Santa Claus or Rudolph, make sure you stick around for the Holiday Parade from Liberty Pole to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park Ice Rink.

Lighting of the Menorah

Come and show your Jewish pride this Hanukkah season for the annual public menorah lighting. The celebration will take place on December 6 at Washington Square Park and December 8 at Twelve Corners Park. There will be music, doughnuts, latkes, dreidels, hot chocolate and prizes! L’chaim!

Holidays at the Market

Spend the Sundays leading up to Christmas at the Rochester Public Market for Holidays at the Market. Holidays at the Market is a perfect family outing with horse-drawn carriage rides, cookie decorating and plenty of food. If you’re looking to start your own holiday traditions or buy something for a loved one, there’s a plethora of holiday gifts and souvenirs available.

Granger Homestead Festival of Trees

The Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum hosts their annual Festival of Trees. Whether you’re competing in the contest, itching for decoration inspiration or just curious, the festival is a great holiday spectacle. The Festival itself runs from now until December 13, and also has a silent auction for trees, wreaths and other holiday decorations. Though it’s a little bit of a drive it’s certainly worth the trip.

Yuletide in the Country Tour

Travel to the historic Genesee Country Village and take in a little bit of New York holiday history. The Yuletide in the Country Tour provides a unique experience where you travel back to 1849 when New York declared Christmas, Independence Day and New Years Day as state holidays. It’s a blend of performance art and history that you won’t find at most other holiday celebrations. Just because the kids are on vacation doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a history lesson!  

New Year's Eve Family Celebration and Fireworks

New Year’s Eve can become an expensive endeavor if you’re an adult. So skip the cover charge at the bars and do something with the family instead. The Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center hosts a FREE New Years’ Eve celebration full of ice skating, bounce houses, music and a fireworks show at 10PM. And guess what else? There’s plenty of garages that will provide free parking.

Meet Santa

As a parent there are two ways of looking at a Breakfast with Santa: 1) a chance to get my child excited about Christmas; or 2) a chance to see my child get over his fear of Santa Claus – we’ve all been there. You won’t be surprised to see that there are plenty of opportunities for the little ones to meet with Kris Kringle. Some of the locations include: downtown Batavia, Holidays at the Market and Genesee County Village.

Ok, if you’re not in the holiday spirit by now then what is wrong with you Rochester? There is certainly no shortage of holiday happenings going on in our town to keep you wanting. These are perfect things to do with your family, friends or loved ones. If you don’t have a family, then you at least have SOME ideas for holiday date nights, right? Happy Holidays Rochester – stay warm, be merry and enjoy!

 

Further reading

  1. Freetime Magazine – Holiday Happenings
  2. Master Guide to December Holiday Fun in Greater Rochester, NY
  3. Rochester & Genesee Valley Parent – Upcoming Events

 

Holiday Events in Rochester, NY (1)

Best Car Washes in Rochester

Car washes Rochester

Those of us who love our cars love for them to be sparkling clean. A clean car indicates that the owner takes pride in their vehicle and wants to keep it looking its best. The most reliable way to get an exceptional car wash is to do it by hand, as that’s virtually the only way to hit every crevice and problem spot on your vehicle. Unfortunately, hand-washing is very time-consuming. Automatic car washes sacrifice thoroughness for speed and convenience.

That’s not to say automatic washes don’t do a great job considering their speed and the wide array of vehicle shapes and sizes they can accommodate. Indeed, automatic washes have become very sophisticated, using computers and sometimes lasers to calculate the precise timing and adjustment of equipment necessary to achieve a superb wash.

But enough of the technical talk. The point is you need to wash your car to keep it looking great, and if you’re looking for good places to get it washed in the Rochester area, check out the following list and see which business best suits your needs. Some companies offer additional automotive services besides the wash, which means you can knock out two errands (or three) in one stop.

1.  Royal Car Wash

Locations: Greece (just down the road from us), Brighton, Henrietta

Slogan: “A new level of clean for your car, with service worthy of a bygone era.”

Website: http://www.theroyalwash.com/

The Skinny: Royal Car Wash is all about bringing the kind of customer service you saw decades ago to the modern day. The staff is friendly, helpful, and will not try to upsell you on your wash. They offer three wash tiers as well as the option to add a hot wax treatment, and you select and purchase your wash at a touch-screen kiosk. The more expensive washes come with a 24-hour or five-day guarantee. Your car is dried by high-powered blowers at the end of the wash, eliminating the “guilt-trip you for tips” treatment you may receive from staff who hand-dry your vehicle at other establishments. Using only the best cleaning products from Simoniz, ArmorAll and Rain-X, Royal Wash is the perfect choice if you want a car wash with excellent service but without all the extra frills.

 

2.  Buckmans Car Wash

Locations: Brockport, Spencerport, Greece, Brighton, Chili, Penfield

Slogan: “Your hometown car wash!”

Website: http://www.buckmanscarwash.com/

The Skinny: Buckmans prides itself on being locally owned and community focused. They offer four wash tiers with satisfaction guarantees and hot wax treatment with the highest tier. The Brockport and Spencerport locations also feature four coin-operated, self-service bays open 24-7. Detailing services are additionally offered at the Brockport, Chili, Brighton and Greece locations, with options including interior cleaning, carpet shampooing, Rain-X window treatment, and more. If you want the choice between an automatic or self-service wash and the ability to get some detailing done while you’re there, go to Buckmans.

 

3.  Classy Chassy Car Wash

Locations: Brockport, Greece (2 locations), North Gates, Westgate, Rochester, Irondequoit, Fairport

Slogan: “The most technologically advanced car wash available!”

Website: http://classychassycarwash.com/main/index.html

The Skinny: All Classy Chassy locations are self-service and open 24-hours. Most locations provide standard self-service bays complete with vacuum stations, but the real gem of this operation is the automatic laser wash. First, you select your wash and pay at the automated machine, and then you pull into the completely open wash bay–there’s no need to line up with any tracks. The computerized wash system uses lasers to determine your car’s dimensions and cleans your vehicle without the use of any brushes. High-pressure water jets blast the dirt away, eliminating the possibility of your paint being scratched or damaged. The wash finishes with a laser-guided air dry. If you want a no-touch wash you can visit at any time of the day or night, give Classy Chassy a try.

 

4.  Delta Sonic Car Wash

Locations: Greece, Irondequoit, Rochester, Henrietta, Webster, Penfield

Slogan: “The kissing clean car wash.”

Website: http://www.deltasoniccarwash.com/

The Skinny: Delta Sonic offers a wide array of services, maximizing the value you can get out of a trip to one of their locations. To begin, they offer three touchless wash tiers, and the “Super Kiss” washes include vouchers for an additional one or two free washes of the same kind within a specified period. All locations also sell gasoline so you can fill up right after your wash. The Greece, Henrietta, Webster and Penfield locations offer detailing services (such as rustproofing, express details, and full details), auto restyling (upholstery repair, wheel rim repair, and dent repair), and oil changes complete with 18-point inspections. Delta Sonic offers just about any standard automotive service you could want, short of full-fledged repairs. Go there if you want to get everything done at one place.

 

5.  Evergreen Car Wash

Location: Downtown Rochester

Slogan: “Only locally owned and operated car wash and detail shop!”

Website: http://evergreencw.com/

The Skinny: This family-owned car wash has been operating for more than 50 years in the same location, and its management boasts 20 years in the business. It offers three tiers of soft cloth washes with guarantees ranging from 24 hours to 2 weeks, and it also provides interior and exterior detailing services (including shampooing, buffing and polishing, engine steam cleaning, and headlight polishing). Evergreen also offers two unique services: self-storage rentals, with two sizes of units to choose from, and Budget moving truck rentals in 10’, 16’, and 24’ sizes. Check them out for convenient storage and moving solutions near Edgerton, Maplewood, Upper Falls, 19th Ward and Lyell-Otis. Aside from these amenities, Evergreen Car Wash delivers the kind of personal touch you would expect from an experienced, family-owned business.

Now that you know a few of the best car washes in Rochester and what they have to offer, you should be able to choose the establishment that’s right for you. It all comes down to where you are, what you want, and what your preferences are.

Do you know a car wash we missed on our list? Or maybe you just disagree with one of our choices? Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to let us know what you think in the comments. And as always, check out the rest of our website if you want to schedule service, order a part, or simply ask us a question.

 

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6 Tips for Maintaining Your Car This Winter

6 Tips for Maintaining Your Car This Winter

Already one month of Fall has come and gone, which means it will be winter time before we know it. Winter is a particularly troublesome time for drivers and their vehicles. Cold temperatures put extra strain on your car’s moving parts, and snow and ice create dangerous conditions on the road. It is also the worst time of the year to deal with breakdowns, collisions, and unexpected maintenance.

The best way to avoid these emergency situations is to be proactive. If you make the effort to perform some preparatory maintenance before the weather turns nasty, and if you follow some simple guidelines throughout the season to keep your car safe on the road, then you can significantly reduce the chances of running into problems. Just abide by these six tips, and you’ll be ready to face the worst winter can throw at you.

Check your battery before it gets cold

Winter is very hard on your car’s battery. In cold weather, the battery’s ability to generate power is reduced, and a very old battery may not able to produce any electricity at all. If this happens, you won’t be able to start your car.

Most batteries have a lifespan of around 5-7 years. The battery can last longer if the car is driven frequently, or shorter if the car sits unused for long periods. If your vehicle is difficult to start or if you know the battery is several years old, you should consider replacing it before winter arrives. An automotive shop can test your battery to determine for sure if it needs to be replaced; visit our battery page to learn more and to set up a service appointment.

Make sure you have antifreeze mixed into your engine coolant

As its name implies, engine coolant keeps your engine cool and prevents overheating. It is possible (though not advisable!) to use water alone for the coolant in the warmer months. However, it is more or less standard to use a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze year-round. It is imperative that you have enough antifreeze in your coolant during winter, or else it could freeze in your engine block!

Coolant can go for several years or longer without being changed, and your vehicle’s owner manual should indicate its specific schedule. If you’ve been driving on the same coolant for a very long time, consider changing it this Fall. Otherwise, just be sure to keep your recovery tank full. You can also purchase an inexpensive antifreeze tester that will let you know the freeze protection of your coolant.

Use the correct grade of motor oil and don’t skip your regular changes

An important characteristic of motor oil is viscosity, which is a liquid’s resistance to flow. The lower the viscosity, the more easily a liquid flows. For example, water has low viscosity and molasses has high viscosity.

Cold temperatures increase your oil’s viscosity, which makes it more difficult for the engine to circulate the oil and can cause serious damage. Most modern oils are multi-grade and are suitable for use in both warm and cold weather, but you should consult your manual to be sure you are using the recommended grade.

Additionally, winter is the worst time to skip oil changes or run on low oil; using dirty oil or not enough oil when the engine is already combating the cold increases the chances that it will become damaged. Don’t neglect your regular service appointments and check your oil level periodically. If it is low, top it off.

Check the tread on your tires and keep them inflated

When outside temperatures drop, so does the temperature of the air in your tires, and this will decrease their pressure. As a general rule, pressure decreases by 1 pound per square inch (PSI) with every 10°F. If you see the sidewalls of your tires bulging out, then the tires probably need air, and you should fill them up at your local gas station. The correct PSI will be listed in your owner’s manual or on a plate on the inside edge of the driver’s door.

It’s also important to make sure you have enough tread on your tires. The depth of the tread will decrease over time as the tire wears, and less tread translates to worse traction. Traction affects acceleration, braking, and handling, which are all the more important on wet or icy roads. Your tread should be 5/32” or deeper on all parts of the tire; if it is shallower than that, you should replace the tire.

Fill up your windshield washing fluid and check your wiper blades

You may be able to get by without using any washer fluid during the rest of the year, but winter is usually a different story. Salty, dirty slush has a way of getting flung onto your windshield, and in the absence of regular rainfall, washer fluid is your best friend. Make sure you use a “winter mix” or “all season” fluid that contains antifreeze. Fill up the reservoir before the first snowfall and refill it as needed throughout the season so you don’t run out on the road. Though, you may want to keep an extra jug in your car just in case.

Also, examine your wiper blades to ensure they are working as intended. If they are old and dried out, cracked, or chipped, then they may not work as well as you need them to. Another way to tell if you need to replace the blades is if they leave streaks on your windshield. A typical lifespan for a wiper blade is one year.

De-ice your windows and clear any snow off your car before driving

Unless you park in a garage overnight, you will inevitably have to clear your car of frost (and sometimes snow) each morning. It’s very dangerous to drive without completely clearing off your car because reduced visibility increases your chances of having a collision. You should allow an extra ten minutes in the morning to warm up your car, defrost and scrape all of the windows (side windows, too!), and remove any snow. Be sure to clear any snow covering the headlights, taillights, and all other exterior lights, as it will impair your visibility and other drivers’ ability to see your car on the road. Police reserve the right to fine you if your license plates are not visible, so make sure they are not covered with snow. Finally, consider using a de-icing spray on your windows when needed to help loosen thick ice or very hard frost.

Follow these easy tips and you will be in good shape when Old Man Winter comes knocking. Of course it never hurts to be prepared for the worst, so take a look at our list of emergency items to keep in your car and consider putting together a kit. As always, head over to our website to schedule a service appointment, order parts, or contact us with a question.

6 Tips for Maintaining Your Car This Winter pin

7 Tips for Creating the Best Tailgating Experience

7 Tips for Creating the Best Tailgating Experience

Autumn is officially upon us. With autumn comes football, and with football comes many fans’ favorite pre-game celebration: tailgating. This wholly American tradition is all about good food, good fun, and plenty of team pride. It’s the sports lover’s chance to socialize and get hyped before the big game.

But great tailgate parties don’t just happen on their own. You have to put in the effort if you want to create a rewarding and memorable experience. Some of it has to do with planning, and even more of it has to do with attitude.

We’ve put together seven tips that will help you ensure your tailgating experience is extraordinary. Follow these guidelines, and your game day party is sure to be a hit.

Plan ahead and use a checklist to be sure you bring everything

There’s nothing worse than arriving outside the stadium or your designated party spot, beginning to unpack the car and set up your equipment, and realizing you forgot something. Maybe it’s something really important–like the grill–or maybe it’s your favorite can koozie with your team’s logo on it.

It doesn’t take that much time or effort to put together a list of everything you need to bring, and it will make packing quicker and easier as well as ensuring you don’t forget anything. You can check out these sample checklists for inspiration, but you should compile your own custom list to suit your individual needs and desires.

Cook as much food as possible before arriving

If you show up to the party with nothing but raw hamburger and bratwurst, you’re going to be spending a lot of time standing over the grill. That’s all well and good if you just really love to cook, but chances are good that you may want to walk about and check out the setups of your fellow fans.

For this reason, you should try to cook most of your food at home and bring it to the tailgate. Naturally you will need to keep it warm, so consider buying a few Sterno cans, or else reheat the food on the grill under a low flame.

Prepare your best dish and come hungry

And speaking of the food, you really shouldn’t settle for ordinary fare. Hot dogs may be a classic cookout staple, but you should try to up the ante by preparing an original dish. If you have a secret recipe for pulled pork, chicken wings or potato salad, break it out. Even better, prepare extra and encourage others to try your food. Be adventurous and look for other tailgaters who are offering to let you taste-test their own recipes. In short, put in the extra effort to cook and eat some truly delicious food that you don’t have any old day. Your taste buds will thank you.

Bring furniture and decor to make your space feel like home

Tailgating may have originated with people eating out of the backs of their trucks, but the ritual has come a long way over the years. For hardcore tailgaters, truck beds have been replaced by tables and tents. If you want to give yourself a great experience, you should follow their lead.

Comfortable seating is a must. Televisions, sound systems and festive lighting are icing on the cake. Do everything you can to make your space cozy and inviting, and also try to get interesting with your decorations. (For example, how about a unique, homemade centerpiece for your table?) Finally, don’t forget that everything should be in your team colors.

Compile an awesome music playlist

Everyone loves music, so why wouldn’t you want to have some killer jams playing while you eat, drink and socialize? Bring your best audio equipment, whether it is a complete sound system, a boombox, a Bluetooth speaker and an iPod, or your laptop. Be sure to create the playlist beforehand. Classic rock and country are the most iconic tailgating genres, but feel free to mix it up by including whatever you like. Are you into hip hop? Add it to the list. 80’s pop? Go for it. Electronica? Why not! Whatever gets you pumped up deserves a spot on your playlist. If you need ideas, try running an internet search for “tailgating playlists.” Here is a website that lists 127 playlists submitted with a “tailgating” tag.

Meet new people and make new friends

Most people tailgate with their family and friends, and that’s great. Who else would you rather celebrate with than the people who are closest to you? But that shouldn’t be an excuse to stay in your bubble. After all, you will be surrounded by many other people who are just as passionate as you are about the game and their team. So why not make to effort to talk to them?
Go out of your way to strike up a conversation with other fans. Talk about the state of the team this season and make predictions about the game. Invite them to come over and try your homemade barbecue sauce and enjoy your color-coordinated furnishings. You might be surprised how much you enjoy interacting with strangers–maybe even fans of the other team–and you just might make a few friends in the process.

Do something to surprise people and create a spectacle

This tip is the most difficult to pull off, but it will be the most rewarding if you can manage it. Try to think outside of the box. Maybe it’s as simple as surprising all of your friends with their favorite beverages. That’s a good start, but try to go bigger. Here’s an idea: why not set up a table with generous helpings of your prized dish and invite everyone to try it–while it lasts! Or you could go around asking people to cook up their best burger, and then designate judges to determine whose tastes the best. Or how about using your sweet tailgating playlist to start an impromptu dance competition. 

The idea is to do something out of the ordinary that will get people excited. It will be a real treat to go above and beyond standard tailgating fare, and you’ll create a memory you will look back on fondly for years to come.

Do you have essential tailgating tips we failed to cover in this article? Feel free to post them in the comments. Also share with us your favorite tailgating experiences and memories.

Until next time, happy partying, and here’s to the game!

For Creating the best tailgating experience pin

19 Things You Should Keep In Your Car In Case of Emergency

19 Things You Should Keep In Your Car In Case of Emergency

When you’re out driving, there’s no telling when you might find yourself in an emergency situation. From mechanical problems to bad weather to a car accident, a number of unforeseen things could happen that would leave you in a tough spot. In such an occasion, your situation will only be worse if you are unprepared.

That’s why you should always keep supplies in your car in case the worst happens. We’ve gathered a list of 19 items you should have in your car at all times. Store them in your trunk, under your seats, or wherever they will be out of the way but easily accessible should you need them. If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to use these items, but if you do, you’ll be grateful you stocked up.

 

GENERAL ITEMS:

1.  Drinking Water
Water is essential if you become stranded for a long period of time, especially during warm weather. Keep at least one gallon. You should bring more if you are going on a long trip, and if other people are travelling with you, bring along enough water for everyone to have their own supply.

 
2.  Nonperishable Food
Food is second only to water in importance. Keep packaged and canned goods that will last a long time and will not spoil. As with water, bring extra food if you are travelling, and have enough for each person who is travelling with you.

 
First Aid Kit3.  First Aid Kit
This is a necessity in case you should happen to have an accident on the road and you or another passenger is injured. A number of pre-assembled kits are available for purchase online; alternatively, you can put together your own kit following recommendations from the Red Cross. It’s a great idea to stock your kit with antibacterial wipes or liquid hand sanitizer, and don’t forget to include extra doses of any prescribed medications you take.

 
4.  Flashlight
If you become stranded at night, you will be glad you brought a flashlight along. Handheld illumination is also a godsend if you have to perform any mechanical repairs. Some people may prefer a headlamp for its hands-free use; as long as you have one or the other, you should be set.

 
5.  Blankets or Sleeping Bags
You need something to keep you warm in case you have to spend the night in your car, especially in colder climates or during winter. It is good practice to keep one blanket or sleeping bag for each seat in your car so that everyone will have their own, just in case you break down with company.

 
6.  Rags, Paper Towels, Napkins and/or Toilet Paper
Old rags, paper towels or even fast food napkins are helpful to have if you end up getting your hands dirty changing a tire or working under the hood. They’re also great for cleaning up any other messes you may create. And you should definitely consider keeping a roll of toilet paper in your vehicle in case nature calls while you are waiting for help to arrive.

 
7.  Cell Phone Charger
An operational cell phone is often your best means of getting help in an emergency. Keep a charging adapter in your car so your battery won’t run out when you need it most.

 
Compass and Maps8.  Compass and Maps
Don’t think these items are obsolete just because we now have GPS devices and smartphones. If your device runs out of battery or can’t find a satellite signal, then you will be out of luck if you become lost–unless you keep up-to-date road maps and a compass in your vehicle. Naturally, you should have some knowledge of how to use these items to navigate.

 
9.  Rain Poncho
If you have a breakdown or accident and need to walk to get help, it’s nice to have a lightweight poncho on hand in case you get caught in a downpour. Buy one with a hood so you can keep your head dry.

 
10.  Cash Money
If you become stranded and need to pay for a tow truck or buy gas from a country service station, you shouldn’t have to cross your fingers that the payee accepts credit cards. Paper money is versatile currency that you can be sure is valid everywhere and to everyone. Hide a few bills in your glove compartment for peace of mind.

 

AUTOMOTIVE ITEMS:

Spare Tire, Jack, and Lug Wrench11.  Spare Tire, Jack and Lug WrenchThis one should be a no-brainer. Most cars used to come standard with a spare tire and the equipment needed to change it, but automobile manufacturers are beginning to opt-out of including them. You might also want to keep a tire inflator product like Fix-a-Flat, which will plug a hole and keep the tire inflated long enough for you to drive home or to a mechanic.

 
12.  Jumper Cables
When your car battery dies because you accidentally left the headlights on, jumper cables can get you going again so long as there’s someone around to give you a jump. You should invest in a high-quality set because they typically have a heavier gauge of wire, which will allow more current to pass between the batteries. As an alternative to jumper cables, you could purchase an automatic jump starter, which will allow you to jump start your battery without using a second vehicle.

 
13.  Tow Strap
If bad weather, a near-collision, or an animal causes you to swerve off the road and get stuck in a ditch, a tow strap will allow someone in another vehicle to pull you out. Be sure to get a heavy fabric strap with no metal parts, as a tow chain or a strap with metal hooks on the end could kill someone if it snapped under tension.

 
Basic Auto Tool Kit14.  Basic Auto Tool Kit
There are few things more frustrating than not having the right tools to make an automotive repair, and when you are broken down on the road, the stakes are raised considerably. For this reason, you should keep a small tool kit tailored specifically to vehicle maintenance so you will at least have the most basic tools in case you need them. As an alternative to a tool set, a good multi-tool will do the job in a pinch.

 
15.  Seat Belt Cutting Tool and Window Breaking ToolIn cases of a severe accident, it may be necessary for you and your passengers to exit the car in a hurry, or you may be put in a situation in which exiting the car has become difficult. There are special tools made for cutting seat belts and breaking vehicle windows that can save your life in a dire situation. You should keep these tools inside the passenger compartment of your car–not in the trunk–and close-at-hand.

 
16.  Road Flares
Nighttime is an especially dangerous time to be broken down at the side of the road because visibility is reduced and incoming drivers may not see your car until it is too late. Two or three road flares placed at intervals in front of your vehicle can reduce the risk of collision and also signal others that you need help.

 

WINTERTIME ITEMS:

17.  Warm Coats, Hats and Gloves
There are a few emergency items that are only necessary to have during the winter months. First among them are winter coats, hats and gloves to keep you warm in case you must wait for help to arrive or go out in search of help. Ideally, you should have winter gear for each seat in your car; if you can’t manage this, at least make sure everyone brings their own cold weather clothing if they are traveling with you.

 
18.  Ice Scraper and Snow Brush
Winter spells daily windshield scraping for anyone who doesn’t park in a garage overnight. And if a snow storm rolls through while you are at work, you may find your car covered at the end of your shift. Always keep an ice scraper and a brush or broom in your car so you will have them when you are away from home. You may also like to use a de-icer spray, which is great for loosening very hard frost or thick ice.

 
Folding Shovel19.  Folding Shovel
Finally, a compact snow shovel is handy when heavy snow blocks in your car, or in case you swerve into a drift and have to dig yourself out. Get one that folds or telescopes so it doesn’t take up so much space.

 
 
 
 
 
 

This list is certainly not comprehensive, but these are the items we believe to be the most essential pieces of emergency equipment. Other similar lists can be found here and here.If we left out one of your favorite emergency items or one that you believe to be very important, let us know in the comments. And if you have ever been in an emergency and needed to use one or more of these items, please share your story with us!

19 Things You Should Keep In Your Car In Case of Emergency (1)