Proper Car Washing

Washing your own car doesn’t just make you feel great because your ride looks great. Keeping the exterior clean maintains the new-car finish that could translate into a higher resale value. That extra value can’t be realized if you only pull out the bucket and sponge when mud and grime accumulate. Weekly car washes will remove the dust, dirt, pollen, pollutants, bird droppings and other contaminants that chip away at your car’s finish.

Man washing his car with proper technique

Five do’s and don’ts of car washing

Washing a car isn’t too complicated, but there are definitely a few best practices to take into consideration. Some traditional ways of cleaning cars – perhaps even what mom and dad taught you (No, it’s not ok to use dish soap! Ever!) – can actually damage your car’s exterior. Follow this list to clean your car and help boost its value:

  1. Don’t wait until your car is visibly dirty.
    Bugs, bird droppings, acid rain and pollutants can dull your car’s finish and, in extreme cases, strip the paint. Don’t think of the weekly car wash advice as all or nothing. Monthly washes are likely sufficient to maintain your car’s appearance. The exception is in areas where there is acid rain. Always rinse your car after acid rain or the paint could be permanently scarred.
  2. Don’t wash a hot car.
    High temperatures can make cleaning more difficult and cause deposits that eventually damage paint. Park your car in the shade or wait until the heat of the day passes before getting started.
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How to Clean Car Wheels

Car wheels, often made up of an aluminum or magnesium alloy, are what serve to hold the tire. On some cars, a plastic wheel cover or hubcap is affixed to the wheel itself. Both require cleaning to keep up appearances. And your car’s wheels take some of the heaviest abuse on your car, generally needing much more care than is provided. That’s one reason many relatively new cars have dull, dusty wheels. If you spend a little time and money maintaining your car’s wheels, then they’ll have that new-car look.

Person washing car wheel hubcap with a sponge

From an expert: Why you should clean your car wheels

Corrosive brake dust builds up on the wheels, starts to etch into the finish and causes staining, peeling and discoloration, said Todd Cooperider, President, Esoteric – Fine Auto Finishing. Even if you don’t need to replace the wheels, discolored wheels and pitting will surely lower any trade-in value. Cooperider noted that professional detailers – not local car washes – know the best cleaners to use on individual wheel types and finishes.

Detailing costs more than DIY cleaning, of course, but remember that replacing a wheel that was pitted or damaged by improper cleaning can cost about $150 per wheel. If the wrong cleaner is used, it can also be “catastrophic and expensive” to the brakes, said Cooperider. Owners of high-end cars may opt for professional detailers to coat their wheels with the latest quartz/ceramic wheel coating technologies, making cleaning much easier. Those coatings, which can cost between $300 and $600, are generally used on high-end cars with wheels that cost thousands, but that treatment is available for all wheels.

The good news is that most drivers can safely clean their wheels and rims at home as long as they use care and the correct products. That will certainly cost less than detailing, but Cooperider cautioned not to buy the cheapest cleaners. He recommended a relatively new segment of wheel cleaners that are pH neutral and neutralize the iron deposits from brake dust that attach to the rims. These wheel cleaners are far more effective than what is typically available at your local auto parts store, and they are much safer as well.

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Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Problems?

Guide to understanding, troubleshooting and diagnosing your ABS

Evolution of ABS

Anti-lock braking technology has been around for nearly a century. Since World War II, aircraft have had anti-skid braking systems, and the earliest anti-lock braking systems on automobiles date back to the 1920s. Anti-skid or anti-lock braking first became more commonplace on cars and trucks in the 1990s as a positive step toward improved safety and vehicle control during hard braking in slippery conditions.

Although ABS seems complicated, it’s actually quite simple in function. If you encounter a skid while braking, the ABS control module senses a slowdown or pause in wheel rotation, modulating brake application to help you steer out of trouble. In a conventional skid, steering control is lost and the vehicle continues to travel in the direction of the skid. Then, anti-lock braking pulses the brakes, which results in an improved measure of control out of the skid.

A typical ABS consists of four wheel sensors (sometimes two or three), an anti-lock electronic control module and a hydraulic control unit. Under normal conditions, this system applies master cylinder hydraulic pressure to all four brakes, and pulsing pressure to each brake when a skid is detected.

ABS function

Early anti-lock braking systems were non-electrical, hydromechanical models. They were mechanically controlled to modulate brake application. Contemporary anti-lock braking systems are computer-controlled, electrohydromechanical brake hydraulic systems. The ABS electronic module or controller can be integral with the hydromechanical braking controller or it can be separate. There can also be electrical relays that fire when the system is called to duty.

Anti-lock brake sensors are typically magnetically triggered. As the reluctor’s teeth pass the sensor, the normal pulsing rhythm of wheel motion indicates normal operation. It is when the reluctor speed across the sensor changes dramatically (wheels slow down or stop) that the ABS will pulse brake application. When the ABS pulses, it pumps hydraulic pressure to the brakes in rapid-fire succession, sometimes as rapidly as 15 times a second depending on the system. This function produces intermittent braking and some level of steering control.

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Fuel Economy Tips for Better Mileage

Driver behind the wheel improving gas mileage on the road

Seems we’ve been focused on fuel economy for decades. And that’s a good thing. The question then becomes how to get better gas mileage. If you want to know how to improve fuel economy, aim for the obvious in your fuel consumption habits and be willing to try what you haven’t tried. Here are some tips to keep in mind.


1: Tire inflation

It is an old saw but you would be amazed how many of us overlook this one. Tire pressure must be checked once a month. Most of us check it once a year and only if we see a bulging sidewall. Tire pressure must be maintained for fuel economy, and also for your safety. The latest thing is to inflate tires with nitrogen, which runs cooler and maintains pressure better than air. Checking tire pressure periodically when filling up is a good habit to develop.


2: Modify driving habits

We’ve heard this one before, too, yet it applies now more than ever. Drive like there’s an egg between your foot and the accelerator. Drive with a light throttle, and do your best to stay in overdrive or final drive once you get rolling.

Other fuel economy driving tips include aiming for the smoothest pavement, which requires less power. Consolidate errands and take the UPS approach to planning each journey to the letter. Are you a left foot braker? Left foot brakers tend to ride the brake pedal while accelerating. Maintain a steady throttle and make finite adjustments to power.

What Will My Payments Be?

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Use our loan payment calculator to help you decide what vehicle price range might work best for your monthly budget.

This calculator is intended solely for general informational purposes and is provided as a rough estimate based on the information provided above by the user. You should not take action based on the information provided through this interest calculator alone. Please note that title, registration, and other fees were not considered in the calculations and when available, we recommend using interest rate information provided to you by your dealer or lender.