Author Archives: Greenwood Seattle Auto Body Shop

What is the Lifespan of a Tire?

Everybody knows that a tire will gradually wear down with use. However, our Seattle auto bodyshop wants you to be aware that there are forces outside of your driving habits that are taking their toll on the rubber you’re riding on.

Indeed, even a tire that is sitting in your trunk, doing nothing, is eventually going to become unsafe. It’s aging, in much the same way that a rubber band ages. The rubber is becoming brittle and cracked, and the steel belts in your tread will gradually pull away from the rest of the tire. When this happens, it’s no longer suitable to support your car.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to pin down exactly how long a tire can be expected to last. There are several significant variables at play, one of the biggest being heat. It’s been observed that tires age more quickly in a warm environment, or when stored in direct sunlight. Your best bet is to be mindful of the temperature of your spare tires, never buy used tures, and remain vigilant for signs of aging.

Getting the Stink Out of Your Car

Our auto body shop in Seattle has encountered many cars that have developed stubborn, offensive odors.

Maybe the owner spilled something, maybe there was a leak, or maybe something even crawled into their engine and died. Whatever the source may be, it can often leave behind a stench that simply will not go away with conventional cleaning. Fortunately, there are measures you can take against such smells.

First of all, it’s good to be aware of what might cause your car to stink. Dry up wet patches before they encourage the growth of mildew. Clean up food before it attracts mold. Avoid eating, smoking, and transporting pets around in your car whenever you can.

Should you find yourself stuck with an objectionable odor, identify its source and remove it. Dry out mildew, or steam clean spots that might be infected with bacteria. If the smell has worked its way into the fibers severely enough, you may need to replace carpeting or underpadding. There are also some commercial products available which claim to be able to eliminate odors; consider these as appropriate.

Don’t Top Off Your Tank!

Are you in the habit of topping off your gas tank at the pump?

This is a common practice among motorists who are hoping to squeeze as much fuel as possible into their cars. However, our Seattle auto body shop cautions you away from topping-off, as you are ultimately doing more harm than good.

The fact is that your gas station pump automatically shuts off for a good reason. After this point, any further gasoline you pump is going into the gas station’s vapor recovery system. The only think you’re doing for your vehicle is possibly damaging your evaporative emissions system.

It won’t hurt to make a habit of putting in gas when you’re quarter or third full and fill it up to 3/4 or 2/3 full.

Save your money, and trust your fuel pump when it tries to cut you off.

Are Your Keys Killing Your Ignition?

Do you have a lot of key chains on your car keys?

Over time, a lot of us can develop a serious case of “janitor-keys”. Between our house keys, office keys, mailbox keys, and more, the keys to our cars’ ignition have a lot of neighbors on our keychains. You may not think about this too much, but our auto body shop in Seattle advises that this has implications for your car.

The fact is that a heavy keychain is taking its toll on your ignition. The weight of your keys, combined with the jostling action of your driving, is gradually inflicting damage on the tumblers. Sooner or later, this is going to add up to ignition failure. You can prevent this by separating your car key from the rest of your keys, driving with nothing but your ignition key in the keyhole.

Maintaining Your Car in the Winter

The cold months are upon us, and this means that there are many more potential threats to your car. Hash weather and extreme temperatures can take its toll on your vehicle, so you’ll want to take extra precautions to make sure you and your car get through winter in one piece.

To this end, our auto body shop in Seattle offers the following tips:

  • A good broom can be the best way to clear snow off of your car. Try finding a short-handled broom to store in your trunk.
  • If you get stuck in the snow, a hubcap can serve as a shovel to dig yourself out.
  • Try to avoid putting air in your tires when the temperature drops to ten below. The valve may stick and let all of the air out.
  • You can keep frost from building up on the inside of your windows by leaving a window open a crack.
  • If you track road salt on your carpeting, you can clean it out with a solution made from equal parts water and vinegar.
  • Is your washer solvent freezing? Mix your own with one quart of rubbing alcohol, one cup of water, and two tablespoons of liquid detergent. This solvent will serve down to thirty-five degrees below.

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Transmissions! Aren’t they a nightmare?

For many people facing potential automotive damage, the phrase “I hope it’s not the transmission” is a common one. Indeed, this is a complex and delicate system that can lead to crippling and expensive repairs, so your Seattle auto body shop advises that you take the time to care for your transmission.

The number one thing to do for your transmission is check its ATF (automatic transmission fluid) levels. You can do this via a dipstick that should be located towards the rear of your engine, probably labeled as “transmission”. Check that the fluid levels are correct, and that the fluid has a good, cherry-red coloration. A bad color means that your fluid is dirty, and should be replaced.

When adding new ATF to your transmission, remember that not just any fluid will do. There are several kinds of ATF, and you will need to check your owner’s manual to be sure that you get the correct one. DO NOT USE ENGINE OIL IN YOUR TRANSMISSION.

If you can manage to change your ATF twice a year, you’re in good shape to keep up the performance of your transmission for a good, long time. Don’t be afraid to stop by our auto body shop in Seattle for some assistance and advice.

Mountain Driving

If you live in Seattle long enough, you’re going to eventually have to learn how to drive in the mountains. It can be a daunting experience, and nobody knows better than your auto body shop that a minor slip up on a level road can easily translate to a catastrophe on a winding mountain path. We want you to stay safe up there, so bear these tips in mind whenever the call of the wild brings you and your vehicle up to where the air starts to thin.

First and foremost, properly maintaining and preparing your car is all the more important for mountain driving. You want to pay particular attention to the brakes, tires, radiator, and suspension. Depending on where you’re going, it may also pay to keep your snow chains handy and otherwise prepare yourself for cold conditions.

Care should be taken when navigating the steep grades and sharp turns of mountain roads. Your car behaves differently than it would on a level street, so be prepared for this if you’re unaccustomed to mountains. Pay attention to your transmission; find a gear that feels comfortable and try to keep it there if you can. When going downhill, try to control your speed with the transmission instead of freewheeling or riding the brakes. This will afford you the best control over your vehicle, and keep your brakes from wearing out too fast.

Also, be aware of your engine’s temperature. If it begins to overheat, do not make the mistake of turning on the air conditioner. The A/C actually creates more heat than it cools, and all this heat goes into the engine. Turn off the A/C if it is on. Turn on the heater if you can stand to.

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Your Garage is For Your Car!

Our Seattle body shop sees it all the time these days: driveways and residential roadsides filled with cars. Our lives can so easily become overwhelmed with excess clutter that it can be easy to forget that a car is supposed to be parked in the garage. After all, it’s easier to park your car outside than to pile up stacks upon stacks of cardboard boxes on your front lawn.

However, you can do yourself a great favor by finding a way to squeeze that car of yours back into its rightful place. Your car may very well be one of your most valuable pieces of property, as well as one of the most prone to breakdown. Such an asset needs to be treated properly. Only by housing it in your garage every night can it be best shielded from nocturnal break-ins, harsh weather effects, and the odd bit of flying debris. Save yourself some trouble in the long run, and reclaim your garage for your car.

Can I Replace My Own Wipers?

Suppose your car is in perfect condition, but you develop a little crack in a windshield wiper.  You probably wouldn’t want to take such a small problem to your Seattle body shop, would you?

Fortunately, replacing the wiper by yourself is a surprisingly easy task for even the least gear-headed drivers among us.  Just take a look at your wipers; though different makes have different mechanisms, it should be fairly simple to determine how to remove the wiper from the arm that holds it against your windshield.  Simply pull this arm away from the windshield, detach the old wiper, and replace it with a new one.

The important trick to remember is that you’ll need to be sure to buy the right kind of wiper for your car.  Stores sometimes will have a machine or booklet that lets you know which wipers you need for your car depending on the year, model, maker, etc. Wipers come in different sizes, so you’ll want to identify your wiper’s size or even bring it with you to the store.  Also, the wipers on a single car are often different sizes, so don’t make the mistake of getting a matching pair. If you have trouble, you can always bring it to our Seattle body shop for a little assistance.

Car Colors and Accidents

Did you ever think that the color of your car might have an impact on your likelihood to get in an accident?  

In truth, there does seem to be a discrepancy in the colors of the cars that we service at our Seattle auto body shop.  Some of this can of course be linked to the greater popularity of some colors, but several scientific studies have shown that cars of certain colors are more likely to get into a wreck than others.

The good news is that the most popular car color, white, is one of the safer colors you can drive.  White is apparently among the more visible colors in all situations, with snowy conditions being the obvious exception.  In terms of visibility, it’s second only to lime yellow. (But who wants a lime yellow car…right?)

On the other end of the spectrum, a disproportionate number of accidents involve black, grey, or brown cars.  These tend to blend in with common driving conditions and are the most likely to end up on the other end of somebody’s “it came out of nowhere!” story.

With this in mind, consider your own situation and choose your car colors carefully. Check with your insurance company to see if colors matter.