Recognizing the Signs of Vehicle Engine Damage

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It’s not always easy to recognize when your vehicle is suffering from engine damage as symptoms can be overlooked and seen as “normal.” While not all sounds and smells may threaten the life of your engine, there are some obvious warning signs that require a vehicle inspection right away.

Early diagnosis of engine damage can most likely be treated, but it is important to be aware of potentially damaging symptoms and have the vehicle inspected if something doesn’t seem right. By acting quickly and making necessary repairs as soon as possible, you could be saving yourself from the cost and hassle of breaking down along the road.

One of the signs of engine trouble is an illuminated check engine light. This light indicates that a vehicle system, such as the ignition, fuel injection or emission control, is not operating properly, even if the vehicle appears to be running normally. Ignoring the check engine light can negatively impact your fuel economy or cause damage resulting in more costly repairs.

Many motorists are familiar with the noises their vehicles make on a daily basis. However, any noise that is new, different or suspicious may indicate a problem, including a high-pitched squeal, grinding or thumping. Sounds under the hood, such as hissing, can also indicate that your vehicle is in need of attention.

Although all cars burn fossil fuels that create undesired emissions, these odors should remain outside of the car. Unusual smells that could signal engine damage include: burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, sweet smell of syrup, burning carpet and rotten eggs. When you smell any peculiar odor, you should not ignore it.

Another symptom of engine damage is excessive amounts of smoke or steam. Although some smoke is normal, excessive amounts of dark smoke in particular indicates that oil is leaking into the combustion chamber and is being burned along with the gasoline.

Get More Life Out of Your Tires with Proper Care and Maintenance

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Everybody wants a little more bang for their buck, and similarly – when it comes to automobiles and driving – everybody wants to be as safe as possible.

Well there is one aspect of your vehicle that can be manipulated into achieving both of those goals at once!  Proper tire maintenance can prolong the life of the tire treads by as much as 50%, according to industry leaders, and not only does that mean that you will have to replace your tires less often, but your vehicle will operate at peak performance longer and at the highest standards for safety.

Moreover, not only will maintaining your tires lead to more money in your pocketbook, but it also helps to increase the overall life of your vehicle’s engine and is healthier for the environment!

In order to maximize the life of your tires, you need to take the time to maintain proper inflation levels and be mindful of any unusual tire tread wear and over the life of those tires, thousands and thousands of miles will be gained, not to mention countless extra trips to the gas station.

Here are a handful of tire maintenance considerations that virtually any driver can make in order to prolong their utility and safety:

Inflation

The biggest issue regarding tires on the road right now is under-inflation.  Not only do under inflated tires pose a safety risk, but underinflated tires run hotter than normal, leading to quicker and more abnormal tread wear.  Industry leaders say that underinflated tires can cost you up to a mile per gallon in fuel efficiency (think of how much $$$ that is over the course life of your vehicle) not to mention that it can cause your vehicle to handle in a dangerous fashion and could possibly lead to tire blowouts.

Over-inflation

Savvy drivers are constantly checking their tire pressure to guard against under-inflation, but sometimes if they aren’t careful, they can be causing extra harm to their vehicle.  Over-inflation just might be more dangerous than under-inflation.   Overinflated tires are more prone to blowouts, and the tread wears out in even quicker fashion than with poorly inflated tires.

Alignment issues

Sometimes you can maintain pitch-perfect tire inflation, but still witness abnormal tire wear or other issues that diminish the life of your tires.  These are most likely due to an issue with in or around your vehicle’s chassis.  For instance, cupping and feathering wear often begins to show when a vehicle’s suspension is misaligned.  Other issues that can lead to inconsistent tire performance include bad shock absorbers, struts and out-of-balance tires.  Your best bet is to make sure you keep an eye on your tires for abnormal wear patterns, and if you observe anything out-of-the ordinary, quickly get to a mechanic to get your alignment inspected.

Taking the time to check in and take care of your tires is one of the investments you can make.  It’s good for you, your bank account, and the environment.  It’s a no-brainer.  Devote a few minutes each week to tire safety diligence, and you will be repaid in a plentiful fashion over the course of your tires life!

Car Insurance Day!!

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It can’t compete for romance with Valentine’s Day. It can’t inspire the joy of Christmas. And it’s almost impossible to find an appropriate costume. But if you remember it, Car Insurance Day will keep you covered the whole year round.

Some celebration days, you suspect, have had a little industry help in getting started. It’s fair to say that Car Insurance Day doesn’t have deep folkloric roots. Even so, in reminding us of something important, it’s right up to date. Around the world, we spend billions on car insurance every year, yet few of us understand exactly how it works, or have the time or patience to question what we pay.

Why not “celebrate” with a quick price comparison – or just a phone call to ask for a better deal. Then test the smoke alarm, tidy the garage and enjoy the peace of mind.

Do Hybrid Cars Really Save Money?

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The ever climbing cost of fuel in today’s volatile marketplace has sent many of us running out to buy a hybrid car in the hopes of saving money. Initially it is easy to believe that buying a new hybrid will save you money, unfortunately you may find that it will take several years to actually save any money. In order to decide if a hybrid is right for you, a careful look at the following is essential.

How Far Do You Drive Monthly?

On average a hybrid vehicle will allow you to go three times farther on a tank of gas. For the sake of this article let’s say that you drive 300 miles a week. With your new hybrid you can travel approximately 900 miles on the same amount of fuel.  If a tank of fuel costs you $50 then you will spend $200 a month in your current car or $75 a month in a hybrid. This will amount to a savings of $125 a month on full. The average cost of a hybrid car is $15,000 dollars higher than its’ standard equivalent. That means that it will take you 10 years to make up the difference.

Do You Currently Need A New Vehicle?

If you have a vehicle that works fine; is it beneficial to buy a new hybrid? I am going to have to say no. Based upon the information above, you can see that it will take several years to offset the added expense of buying the hybrid version of a new vehicle. When you take into consideration the expense of purchasing a new vehicle only to save money on fuel, you can see it is not practical. I know that many of you may be thinking; but my current car is a gas guzzler. Purchasing a standard vehicle that gets better gas mileage is a far better choice if you are looking for a return on your investment. In addition, you could opt for something like a used Toyota Camry. This would yield a good increase in gas mileage and allow you to avoid the rapid depreciation of buying a new vehicle.

Is Carpooling an Option?

The desire to save money is very understandable in today’s economy. That being said, using a ride share program could be a great way for you to save money and see the return sooner. The majority of us commute to work 20 days a month and depending on the length of your commute, it could be quite costly. By joining a carpool or similar group you could cut your fuel consumption in half. Since you won’t have to invest in a new vehicle, the savings will be immediate.

Again, it is easy to get wrapped up in the hyped up claims of hybrid car manufacturers and believe that it is the only right choice to save money on transportation. Before you decide if a hybrid is right for you, I highly recommend that you take the time to figure out just how long it will take you to get your money back and consider some better alternatives.

Paying for Emergency Car Repairs

A broken down car can be a big headache; commuting, carpooling, running errands, all can be interrupted when your vehicle is down for the count. Car repairs can be expensive too. Not only are you paying for the repairs, you’re paying for parts and labor as well. There are ways to manage this unexpected expense if you’re willing to take a deep breath and bite the bullet.

Never Procrastinate

Regular car maintenance will help you to avoid a lot of stress. A car that is well taken care of will take care of you. Change your oil regularly, check your fluids and have your car checked once or twice a year by a mechanic. You can never be too sure when it comes to your vehicle.

Always acknowledge when your car is not running correctly. We have all noticed when it takes a little longer for the battery to turn over, when the engine makes a funny sound, or the power locks stop working. Addressing these problems when you notice them may result in a quick, inexpensive fix.. Unfortunately, automobile problems don’t go away; they grow. Pay attention to your check engine light and other warning signs and you can repair your car on your timeline and within your budget.

Emergency Fund

Try to set aside a little money every month which is dedicated to car repairs. You know that you don’t need to purchase premium gasoline for your car, so put the difference in a savings account for emergencies. Those dollars will add up! Car repairs become much less stressful if you have the funds saved up to cover the costs.

Shop Around

If you find yourself in an emergency car repair situation, stay calm. If you do not have triple A or some other road side assistance, spend a few moments calling different towing companies for a quotes. If you jump at the first company you call, you may miss out on some savings.

Know where you want to have your car towed. If you have a dealership or mechanic that you trust go there. You may be able to negotiate a price or payment plan if you bring your car to an establishment or service center with whom you already have relationship.  Call your insurance company too. They may cover some repairs or the cost of a rental car, so you are not without transportation while your vehicle is being fixed.

Explore Your Options

Once your mechanic has given you an estimate of the work, discuss all your options, He or she may be able to get your car up and running by fixing part of the issue, but leaving some more detailed and more expensive work for later. If you go this route, make sure you start budgeting for the repair and schedule the maintenance for sooner rather than later, so you don’t end up in the same situation in a month or two. See if your mechanic can offer financing or a payment plan/. The interest rate might be lower than putting the repairs on your credit card. Discuss the overall health of your vehicle. At some point, the law of diminishing returns comes into effect, and it will make more financial sense in the long run to purchase a new (or new to you) car than repair your current vehicle.

Car repairs are inevitable. Every vehicle ends up in the shop at some point. With some scheduled maintenance budgeting, and planning, car repairs don’t have to break the bank, your budget, or cramp your style.

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