Madison, WI. Cars, just like humans, need an annual checkup, and there’s no better time to do that than during National Car Care Month, which occurs throughout April.
National Car Care Month aims to get cars healthy and running in top shape to keep automobiles functioning efficiently through the increased driving that occurs in the summer months. Some simple checkups can increase gas mileage and add to the lifetime of a car.
“Car Care Month is just a really good time to make sure your car is running its best,” says Brett Cooper, service manager of Smart Motors. “A car is an investment and paying attention in taking proper care of it is much better than paying thousands of dollars to replace it later.”
Cooper cites several common trouble areas as spots to pay attention to during Car Care Month and any other time of the year. Tires, filters, oil, interior, and exterior.“The great part about these is just about anyone can perform these functions at home—specialized tools aren’t really necessary,” says Cooper.
The Department of Transportation estimates five million gallons of fuel per day are wasted due to underinflated tires. Because when tires lose air, they just don’t perform properly. With a simple tire gauge that costs under $10, people can see if they are at the manufacturer’s suggested level.
And it is good to be at the proper level. For every three PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) below that level a car tire loses, it becomes one percent less efficient and wears 10 percent faster. These numbers add up cumulatively, so if a car is 10 PSI under, that’s over three percent of wasted fuel every time someone gets behind the wheel. If someone doesn’t want to get a tire gauge, just keep in mind, looks aren’t deceiving. If the tire looks low, it is most likely low.
All cars have internal combustion engines. And the science behind combustion requires both a fuel source and air. If this air isn’t clean, it will hamper the combustion process, which is why cars have engine air filters. However, if these filters are dirty, they will let these impurities through and decrease efficiency by up to seven percent.
To check the air filter, look in the owner’s manual and find out where the filter is located. Then pop open the hood and remove the filter. Hold it up to the sun; if light streams through, the filter is good. If not, drop it on the ground several times and retest. If sunlight is still not visible, a new filter is required.
Everyone knows cars need oil changes, but why? The purpose of oil in a car engine is to keep all internal parts lubricated and running smoothly. As oil ages or gets used, it breaks down and its lubricating properties diminish. An oil change replaces the dirty oil and allows parts to be freshly lubricated with new oil.
Almost all models of cars include an engine oil dipstick to allow people to check the vehicles engine oil level. Locate the dipstick, pull it out, and place it back in the engine, ensuring it goes all the way down. Pull it out, and without changing the orientation, see where the oily part meets the dry part, if it’s between the two marks on the stick, the oil level is good.
A winter season full of salt and sand can do a number on the exterior and can even lead to rusting. As temperatures rise, it’s advised to visit a good car wash, one that gets all of the random debris not only off the car, but from underneath the car as well. Waxing a car helps the exterior paint last longer and shine. Instead of applying one heavy coat of wax, apply several thin coats, after the previous coat has cured. This technique will bring out the vehicles best color and depth.
A good thorough cleaning of carpet and upholstery will remove stains, and winter’s tracked in salty residue. This will leave the car clean and smelling fresh. A word of caution when cleaning windows, do not use a glass cleaner to clean the rear window, as this can cause damage to the rear window defogger heater wires.
About Smart Motors: Founded in 1908, Smart Motors is one of the nation’s oldest automotive dealerships and the Midwest’s largest hybrid dealer. In Wisconsin, Smart Motors is the No. 1 volume dealer for both Toyota and Scion. Located at 5901 Odana Road, in Madison, Smart Motors is Wisconsin’s only two-time President’s Cabinet Award recipient from Toyota Motor Sales for superior customer service and sales volume. For more information visit www.smarttoyota.com