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.


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.

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.


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.

Your Car’s Most Important Maintenance Checks

The Checklist You Can’t Ignore

Basic car maintenance is so important, yet many car drivers are below par where it comes to conducting regular maintenance checks. Cars have so many moving parts, it’s hard to keep track of every single service item. Here’s a listing of service items that should not be ignored by car owners.

Oil and fluid changes. This is one of the most ignored maintenance checks. Yet your car can gain as much as 20 horsepower with a good oil change alone. This is more important especially if your vehicle is high-performing. Since every vehicle has a different oil change period depending on what type of oil it uses, your owner’s manual and other vehicle forums can tell you how long you should go between changes. Other fluids including transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid, even windshield wiper fluid are equally important to check.

The air filter. Checking the air filter also goes with your oil change. In most cases, these are very easy to swap out. Change your air filter every 12 months or 12,000 miles. However, if you live in a dusty climate or drive a high-performance car, it has to be changed more often.

Brake pads and rotors. Brakes should be in good order since they stop you when you have to, especially in an emergency. Different cars have varying levels of brake life, plus they last as long as they tolerate your driving style. It’s time for a replacement if you notice a pulsating feel from the brake pedal.

Tire replacement and rotation. It’s important to check tire wear and pressures regularly and change out tires when they are worn. Check tire tread depths as well to ensure they are not close to balding or you can lose road traction. Also, rotate your tires to ensure they wear evenly unless your car has different wheel sizes in the front and rear, which means you’ll need new tires more frequently.

The battery. Batteries generally last three to five years, so this is one important item that could be easily forgotten to check. Be sure to keep tabs on your battery in every one of your maintenance checks.

Hoses and belts. They need to be changed during the life of the car, and if they are forgotten, can drastically impede performance. The timing belt can sometimes last up to around 70,000 miles, and are one of the more significant items to forget to change.

Maintaining Services for Top Items in Seattle

Rest assured that under our care, your car’s top maintenance items are checked and documented carefully and prudently at Greenwood Collision, your auto body shop in Seattle.

Are Your Car Tires Holiday-Ready?

Tips for Car Tire-Ready Season

The winter months do not only bring chilling temperatures and jingle bells, but also tis’ the season to be car and car tire-ready. Can your car take on the Christmas rush, with all the shopping and the parties to do? Remember, the air is ice cold and the roads are slick with snow outside. Your car tires should be in tip-top shape and are responsible for safely getting you from point to point. All car drivers should take the responsibility of checking the condition of their tires.

Conducting tire maintenance is absolutely important. The tread should be in good shape and your tires are properly inflated. Well kept tires help increase traction on wet and icy roads, which is especially important during the fall to winter season. Check out these tips that should be top-of-mind all year round.

Do check your tire pressure once monthly at least. Make sure you’re using an accurate tire gauge and consulting the owner’s manual or that sticker on the driver’s door to ascertain proper tire pressure. Depending on the type of car you drive, the tire pressure level will vary. Especially when the tires are cold, or at least 4 hours after the car’s been driven, check the tire pressure. Correct tire pressure enhances vehicle performance, improves gas mileage, and decreases the risk of a blowout or a flat tire.

Do check your tread depth. Many states have laws requiring car tires to carry a minimum amount of tread depth to be legal on the road. That is because bald tires have a very hard time maintaining traction, especially in wet conditions. In short, they’re unsafe. Check your tread depth by placing a penny upside down into a tread groove. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tire’s tread has worn down to the legal limit and you need to buy a new tire.

Do rotate your tires regularly. Why? Because rotating your tires regularly promotes even wear of the tread. Tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Periodical tire rotation keeps wear even and balanced. Cars with front-wheel drive typically have increased wear on the front tires. Even wear on tires helps the engine run more efficiently and allowing it to use less gas. Gas mileage also goes up when there is less tire pulling and road friction.

Do check your tire alignment at least once a year or sooner, especially if the vehicle is pulling to one side. This will help avoid uneven wear on tire tread. It also contributes to smoother driving, increases fuel efficiency, and extends the life of your tires. Tire balance should also be monitored.

Checking Tire Health When in Seattle

Over at Greenwood Collision in Seattle, we are your go-to place when your car needs repair or repaint. We check and maintain your car performance, and that includes tire care.