Don’t Make These Winter Driving Errors: Part One

Minding Avoids Mishaps

See what winter driving experts are saying about the worst winter driving errors that could put you, your family and your car in danger. Minding the danger can help avoid accidents and emergencies.

Not preparing your car for the trip. So you will not forget, have your car dealer’s service department prep your ride for winter. Remember to ‘Put on the BRAKES’ (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe), encourages a thorough battery check because extreme cold requires more energy to start your car. Have the following checked: your lights, wiper blades, fluids, and the tire pressure, which can drop along with the temperature.

Driving on a quarter tank. Avoid the mistake of running on or close to empty. Keep your gas tank at least half full when driving in winter. Always have a charged cell phone in case of emergency. 

Are you ignoring the owner’s manual? Dig out that owner’s manual and brush up on your car’s anti-lock brakes, traction control system, and four- or all-wheel-drive (if equipped) to make sure you are comfortable with how it all works. 

Forgetting to change your tires. Winter tires provide added traction in snow and ice, even for vehicles already equipped with four- or all-wheel drive. Winter tires use special rubber compounds that stay flexible in the cold, providing better grip and improved braking even in extreme weather.

No emergency supplies. These are must-haves in any winter trip – standard snow brush and ice scraper, snow shovel and a container of cat litter, jumper cables, flashlight, emergency flares, and a bright piece of clothing that can be seen in a storm. Have an extra set of cold-weather clothing, blankets, and spare phone chargers. Keeping some high-calorie, non-perishable snacks and bottled water in the trunk, too.

Are you sitting too low? When you must drive in winter weather, raise your driver’s seat up higher. Sitting taller in your vehicle will provide better visibility of the road conditions and potentially dangerous obstacles that may be in front of and around your car.

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Being Safe in Winter in Seattle

You can have a hassle-free and safe road trip in winter time if all drivers are just a bit more cautious in driving. Keeping these potential errors in mind can make a huge difference.


Traveling for The Holidays: Driving Smooth

Driving Tips for The Winter

Travelers who prepare themselves and their vehicles well for winter trips expect minimum trouble and maximum enjoyment on their journeys. Since we’d expect millions of US travelers to hit the road in the coming cold days, we are sharing a list of ‘must-dos’ for your safe and successful winter travel.

Be sure you have your car checked for winter readiness. Inspect your tires, including your spares, the oil, timing belt, battery, lights, windshield wipers, among others. Pay particular attention to your headlights and taillights, as well as your defrosters. Keep windows, exhaust pipe and defrosters clean. Remove all snow build-up before you go.

Bring along some extra items in your car, like extra clothing and emergency items. These will be handy if you break down in cold weather. Have a basic kit including a pair of gloves, weather-resistant pants and/or coat, an old pair of boots, blanket, jumper cables, flashlight with extra batteries, and a windshield scraper. Toss in a few nutrition bars in, heavy with calories or other foods that won’t spoil. Important in cases of emergencies.

In bad weather conditions,  some SUVs and four-wheel-drive vehicles may have better traction when the vehicle is under way, but the four-wheel drive won’t help you stop any faster. Also, you may have the cruise control feature that may accelerate when you don’t need to, such as when you are climbing an icy bridge. So better skip the cruise control.  You can also put a bag of kitty litter in the trunk, both for added ballast to offer better traction, and to put under the wheels to get out of a slippery spot.

Stranded and you have to stay in your car? Run the engine for heat. Or if not, close the windows to keep heat in, and run the car for 10 minutes every hour, opening a front window when you do so.

Slow down by about 50% in bad weather as recommended by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In case of slippery roads, always keep distance from the car in front. 

When available, always opt for indoor parking when you stay in hotels or other establishments.

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Need to fix up your car?

So when you find yourself among the unfortunate many who will need to call upon a collision specialist, seek out the auto body professionals at Greenwood Collision.


Car Maintenance: All You Need To Know Tips

You Can Do These Tips

If you want your most-prized car to last as long as it should, you obviously need to have the know-how in order to maintain it in top form. While you may be able to send your vehicle off to the repair and maintenance shop if the need arises, it’s good to keep tab of the more important essentials in car maintenance. Here are the top tips.

Inspect your car’s cooling system. Inspect for swelled, chafed, cracked or weeping hoses. A burst hose can leave you stranded. Make sure there’s enough coolant in the overflow reservoir. Add more as required. Your system should need flushing out if the antifreeze looks discolored or rusty. That’s a sign it is long overdue.

Check your car’s timing belt. If you notice heavy abrasions on the belt, cracking across the grooves, lengthwise tearing or other obvious signs of damage there’s the need to replace it as soon as you can.
Examine your car’s air filter. Your engine’s output can be reduced if your air filter is clogged with dirt and debris because it won’t flow as much as it should. Without a free-flowing supply of oxygen, internal combustion simply can’t take place.

Change your flat tire. Every driver should be able to change a flat tire, though, unfortunately, temporary spares have become less and less common. The ability to jack a vehicle up, remove a flat and install a spare is an important skill to have. Also, be able to rotate those tires, a bit more time consuming, though the payoff is prolonged tire life. Reprogram the tire-pressure monitoring system so it accurately shows which tire is where. And also, check your tire pressure.

Add oil regularly. If the engine is low on lube, every driver should also be able to top off the crankcase. Pour your oil and make sure it’s the correct viscosity. To avoid overfilling, add small amounts until the correct level is achieved. Car engines typically take between four and five quarts. Further, you could also change the oil and filter.

Replace your windshield wipers. Occasionally, you’ll need a fresh set of windshield wipers. Look for tears, warped edges or if the blades smear already rather than wipe the glass. Helping ensure your vehicle’s windshield is clear of precipitation and road grime is washer fluid. Unobstructed visibility is critical to safe driving.

More Car Maintenance Tips in Seattle

Get more car maintenance tips from your local auto repair shop in Seattle at Greenwood Collision. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.


Being Smart About the Sounds Your Car Makes

Strange Car Sounds

Most car owners bringing their vehicle in for repair will describe or imitate any noise they perceived the car made resulting to a malfunction or breakdown. Yet, however accurately the problem was described and how well it was understood by technicians in the first place, it may still result to unsuccessful repairs. You see, it’s all about context.

When the noise occurred, what was happening to your ride? It might be as important or more important than the noise itself. You have to give details like speed, road and weather conditions, if your car is loaded with passengers or cargo, plus whether or not you’re turning, braking or accelerating, etc. And can the exact location of the noise be pinpointed? It is a common confusion from incorrectly communicating whether it’s a noise heard or a vibration felt.

If it is a noise heard, can it be correctly described? Was it a grind or a groan, a clunk or thud, squeal or squawk, rap or bang? Even if you’re point-on, it’s still a question if it can be communicated correctly by your consultant to the technician or mechanic. You can always ask for a road test first but most shops won’t offer or consider that until at least one repair attempt has been made.

If you hear the noise or noises made by your car, unusual or funny as they are, you can become frustrated with your inability to accurately describe it, much less actually pinpoint the source. You think that if only you can be more specific, your troubles are half over. It may also save some valuable assessment and diagnosis time your technician will afford the trouble. You might not realize it, but an obvious solution is just right there in your pocket, or your purse.

Your smartphone! Most, if not all drivers, carry around their smartphone, and amazingly don’t use it to record their car’s strange noises. You can easily record the sound and dictate a few details, such as speed and conditions, then have your technician review it. You can open your hood and do a close-up recording of your engine sound or record any sound inside the vehicle. Can your smartphone diagnose your car troubles? This easy solution can do a lot for you and your tech, saving some valuable time for both.

Make sure you don’t use your mobile devices while you’re driving.

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Visit our Seattle Auto Body Shop

So now you know that your smartphone recording can tell you what those strange car sounds are all about. Let us know to help your car get its proper fix. Here at your auto body shop in Seattle, we too, work smart.


Windshield Wipers: When Little Things Matter to Your Safety

Care Tips: Making Your Wipers Work for You

Windshield wipers are inexpensive and quite plain but they play a role in keeping you safe. Because they’re on the front line between you and the elements, it’s important to take care of your wipers and keep them in good shape .

Always check your wipers for damage. Periodically check your wipers, looking for damage especially the rubber on the blades. They may have tears, cracks or deformity from wear. The rubber is the part that wears down the fastest. You have to replace them as soon as possible if you note some damage, if any portion of rubber is missing from the blade, it’s time to replace them. or your wipers may not be able to do their function. Replace also if the edge of the blade have deformed, which can compromise the blade’s ability to make contact with the glass.

Never use your wipers if your windshield is dry. They are meant to be used on a wet surface. If they are used on dry surface they can cause a lot of friction and drag and cause them to wear down fast, as well as cause damage to the rubber. Spray wiper fluid first if you need to use the wipers to clear your windshield of pollen or some other debris.

If your windshield is dirty, don’t use them. Using wipers on a dirty windshield can damage the blades and may leave marks or scratches on the glass. Hardened debris and sticky spots can damage the blades. Scrub your windshield down with the squeegees at the gas station or a sponge at home to keep it clean.

If there’s ice or frost on the glass, don’t scrape it off with the wiper. It’s tempting but this can quickly and permanently damage the blades. Instead, use a ice scraper (or an old credit card) to remove the frost or ice, then you can use the wipers to sweep the remains away provided the glass is wet.

Routinely replace your wipers. Windshield wipers, like any other part on the car, will need to be replaced on a regular basis because they wear down over time and with use. Typically change them twice a year unless you put them through a lot of wear and tear. If there is streaking or they are making squeaking noises, then these are signs that you need a replacement.

Looking After Wipers in Seattle

Your windshield wipers make up a part of your car maintenance program at Greenwood Collision. We don’t neglect looking at the littlest of things when checking. Experience this in Seattle.