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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rust is a big problem for your car. Be it in the engine or the body, this is the slow and silent killer for an automobile. Our auto body shop in Seattle can check your vehicle for rust as part of your regular maintenance, but it also pays to periodically inspect your own vehicle for signs of this corrosive blight.
It can be easy enough to spot signs of rust on your car’s exterior. However, the biggest problems tend to occur out of sight, on the underside of the vehicle. This is where problems frequently go unnoticed for long enough such that it effectively destroys the car. Take the time every so often to look under your car, and schedule a visit to Greenwood Collision as soon as possible if you find any signs of rust.
The major gas companies spend a lot of money on their advertisements, many of them trying to convince you that their fuel is worth the extra pennies because of some elusive additives that the bargain brands don’t have. Some people come to our Seattle auto body shop and wonder: is this all marketing, or is there an actual benefit to buying costlier gas?
In truth, you’re not likely to see much of a difference between two different brands of regular gasoline. Though one may boast the power to clean out the gunk that the other one supposedly leaves behind, this represents a somewhat dated notion of the effects that gasoline has on your engine. There is still some debate on the issue, but there have been tests conducted wherein the long term effects of using cheaper gas have been shown to be apparently identical to those of gasolines with more specialized additives. If you need advice, simply buy from whatever pump is giving you the best deal and the most convenience.
Many pickup truck owners believe that, by riding with their tailgates lowered, they can improve their gas mileage. After all, it seems logical enough that a lower tailgate is more aerodynamic and therefore requires less work from your fuel. However, this may not be the great boon you think it is. Our Seattle auto body shop advises that you may not be getting the mileage you were hoping for from your lowered tailgate.
Research has demonstrated that, when you drive with your tailgate up, you may actually be enjoying superior aerodynamics over a lowered tailgate. As air flows over a pickup truck in motion, it rushes over the cab and pushes forward on the back of the vehicle. This benefit is largely lost when you don’t keep the tailgate up. Meanwhile, replacing your tailgate with an aftermarket net is even worse, as it subjects your truck to a surprising amount of drag. Keep your tailgate up, and enjoy better mileage!
For many drivers, the “check engine” light is a frustrating sign. Not only does this indicate that there may be some horrible damage in your car, but it’s also not being very helpful in determining what this damage is. It could be a matter for your Seattle body shop, or it could be a minor problem that you can fix yourself. To help you know the difference, try following these simple steps:
When your light first comes on, the first thing you should check is your gas cap. If it’s not screwed in tightly enough, it will set off your light.
If it’s not the gas cap, listen for any unusual sounds or behavior in your engine. Something like this is probably a problem you should have looked at right away.
If there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual going on in the engine, watch the light to see what happens. It might go away on its own, but if it sticks around for about a week or so, you should bring it in.