“Everything Auto” Blog – You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

Our focus is to keep you and your family safe on the road. We employ the most qualified people who will accurately determine your needs, clearly communicate the best solutions and execute all work with integrity.

When you have questions, please use us as a trusted resource for honest information. We will provide high-quality auto repair work and trusted pre-owned auto sales, we love this stuff so much we even want to blog about it!

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What Does the Tire Pressure Warning Light Mean?

Most newer cars and trucks have a tire pressure warning system that alerts the driver if tire pressure falls below 25 percent of the recommended pressure.

tire pressure warning light

This symbol in your dash cluster indicates one or more tires has low air pressure.

Sometimes referred to as TPMS for Tire Pressure Monitoring System, the light is designed to help reduce accidents and other issues that happen from low tire pressure. Continue reading

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Spring is for Cleaning off the Salt

If you are wondering, “Does all that salt on the road from the snowstorms damage my car?” the answer is yes.  Salt can cause rust and corrosion to your vehicle’s underbody, leading to premature aging and other issues.

Here are a few tips for spring cleanup of all that salt, and a few tips to keep you driving safely when you’re caught in bad weather.

Continue reading

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More Great Press Coverage for Family Service Day

We’re so proud of our employees and community partners who have made Family Service Day such a huge success.  Now, the program is going national, and the local media is giving us some great coverage.

You can read the latest article in Williamsburg Yorktown Daily online, here.

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State Inspections are Safety Inspections

All vehicles operated in Virginia are required to pass an annual safety inspection and display a valid inspection sticker on the windshield (or other location in the case of motorcycles).  In some counties and cities an emissions inspection is part of the process, but not in the greater Hampton Roads area.

Safety inspections are just that — checks of common safety items.  The annual process is designed to make sure vehicles meet and maintain minimum safety standards, and that protects you, your passengers and others on the road.

The inspection includes:

    • brakes, including the parking brake
    • headlights and other lights and reflectorsturn signalssteering and suspension
    • tires, wheels and rims
    • mirrors
    • windshield and other glass
    • exhaust system
    • hood latch and functions
    • air pollution and control system
    • drivers seat, seat belts and air bag
    • doors
    • fuel system
    • floor pan

As you can see, there are a number of items reviewed.   However, a state safety inspection is not a substitute for an overall vehicle performance inspection or update.  In other words, if your vehicle passed a safety inspection, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have mechanical issues that should be addressed, or that may appear in the near future.

Often younger drivers assume that a recent safety inspection means they don’t have to worry about vehicle warning lights coming on (check engine, or low oil, for example), or that they can ignore oil leaks, smoke or steam coming from the engine compartment or similar issues.  Mechanical and other systems (heating and air conditioning, transmission, etc.) should still receive regular attention and preventive maintenance, regardless of safety inspection success.

Your car, truck or van is important to you in so many ways — transporting family and friends, commuting to work and just day-to-day activities.  We recommend regular preventative maintenance so you can take comfort that you have dependable, reliable transportation when you need it. If you’re not sure what maintenance  you should be doing, give us a call at any of our three locations. We’ll be happy to talk with you about your vehicle, the mileage and your driving habits.

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Family Service Day is Growing

When we started Family Service Day in 2009, the goal was simple: do what we can to help single-parent families.  Our employees rose to the challenge and if you’ve ever been here during one the Family Service Day events, you’ve seen people giving from the heart.

More importantly, you’ve seen moms and dads who are so thankful and appreciative.  We’ve been spreading the word, and recently partnered with TECH-NET (you may have heard of them as CarQuest) to roll out Family Service Day nationally!  There is already one event planned at a shop in Arizona and we couldn’t be more proud to see the concept taking off and having even more impact.

In case you aren’t familiar with the program, here are a few links, including this article in The Virginia Gazette.  Thanks to all for your support!

 

Family Service Day website

Family Service Day on Facebook

 

 

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Go for the Gold in the Winter Car Care Olympics (Part 2)

Annnnnd we’re back to live coverage of the Winter Car Care Olympics! American Pride is doling out the best advice for winter car upkeep and smart maintenance. Last time we covered the following cold-weather automotive care guidelines:

  • Pay attention to signs of battery trouble. 
  • Head to the car wash after a snowstorm. 
  • Check tire pressure frequently. 

In this edition of the Winter Car Care Olympics, we’ll tackle three more gold-worthy steps that you can take to preserve your vehicle and keep it running well all year long.

  • Get the brakes checked. Icy conditions are a car’s worst enemy, and if the brake pads are worn down or no longer existent, that car won’t stand a chance in wintry weather. If your brakes are squeaking or (worse) grinding, head to a mechanic as soon as possible to have the brake pads replaced. A brake check is an essential part of all routine maintenance, so make sure that your auto repair shop takes a look at the next service appointment.
  • Run the A/C every once in a while. It may be total car heater weather but it’s important to let the A/C run during the winter time as this helps keep the system lubricated. Turning on the defroster fulfills this function too (as long as it is working via the air conditioning system).
  • Drive safely. Do we sound like a broken record yet? The best way to keep your vehicle in good shape (along with scheduled routine maintenance) is to have smart driving habits. Accelerate slowly, don’t speed and make turns with care. These guidelines are especially important during wintertime thanks to earlier sunsets and icy roads.

Concerned that your car isn’t humming along as well as it used to? Looking for a new auto mechanic for vehicle maintenance? Call or contact the caring and competent ASE-certified technicians at American Pride Automotive. We have 3 Virginia locations in Toano, Yorktown and Williamsburg.

Well, that’s it for the Winter Car Care Olympics. You got the gold! (P.S. 37 days till spring.)

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Go for the Gold in the Winter Car Care Olympics! (Part 1)

As the Sochi Olympics open today and the world gathers to celebrate athletic excellence and international unity, you can compete in in the 2014 Winter Car Care Olympics right in your own driveway. Let the games begin!

If you want to win “gold” for keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape for the rest of this winter (39 days), follow these simple tips in addition to routine maintenance and safe driving techniques.

  • Pay attention to signs of battery trouble. Like we mentioned in our last blog post (Below Freezing?: Be Battery Aware), winter is a tumultuous time for automotive batteries. Freezing temperatures slow, and in some cases halt, the chemical processes in the battery that a car run smoothly. Signs of trouble include a vehicle that won’t start right away in the morning, a clicking sound upon ignition and a silent starter. It’s important to get the battery tested periodically and replaced according to manufacturer specifications. 
  • Head to the car wash after a snow storm. This winter has been a particularly cold and snowy one in Hampton Roads and on the peninsula. After the recent snowstorms, you may have noticed a salty/dirty coating on your vehicle’s exterior. Left to sit, that residue can damage paint. Wash the car as soon as possible.
  • Check tire pressure frequently. At least once a week, use a quality tire gauge to make sure all four tires are inflated properly. Rapid temperature fluctuations tend to deflate tires and the way weather in Virginia works, we experience plenty of those fluctuations! For your safety and your vehicle’s  longevity, all tires should be relatively equal in pressure. Consult the owners manual for ideal pressure levels.

This was just the opening ceremony for our Winter Car Care Olympics. Check back this weekend for more car care tips and remember to call American Pride for any and all of your car repair and maintenance needs. We have three convenient locations (Williamsburg, Yorktown and Toano) and friendly automotive experts ready to serve you. Call or contact us today.

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Below Freezing? Be Battery Aware.

With the string of bitterly cold mornings (See: Getting Your Car Ready for Winter) we’ve experienced over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an upsurge in calls about dead vehicle batteries and stalled cars. Winter takes a toll on cars’ most critical mechanisms, including the battery, engine and starter.

When it’s cold, the chemical reaction required to draw energy from the battery is slower and less intense. Freezing weather thickens oil and therefore makes it more difficult for the engine to turn over. This puts even more demands on the battery, leading to a car that won’t start on a chilly winter morning.

In order to avoid this kind of predicament, get your battery tested. An old or damaged battery is far more prone to failure than a new one. But even new batteries are no match for Jack Frost. Here are a few tips for starting a car in the cold.

  • Turn off anything that pulls power from the battery. This means the heat, defroster, radio and any cabin lights.
  • Turn the key and hold it there. 20 seconds should suffice.
  • See your owner’s manual.  Most vehicles include cold-starting instructions in the manual.
  • Give the battery a break. If you’ve tried to start the car multiple times to no avail, wait 10-30 minutes for the battery to gain amperage and try again. If this doesn’t work, you may have to jump it.
  • Park in the garage, if you can. Obviously, a car stored indoors will stay relatively warmer than one parked in the driveway.

(Source: WikiHow)

Have you tried these cold weather tricks and still struggle with a non-starting car? Call American Pride. We’ll look at your starter system, test your battery and replace it if necessary. We’ve still got a whole lot of winter ahead of us. Contact American Pride today!

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The Best and Fastest Ways to De-ice the Windshield

icy

Last week we talked about the effects of cold weather on tire pressure. This week we’ll focus on another vehicle issues that arises in winter: icy and snow-covered windshields. Have you ever been in a rush to get to work on a chilly morning, only to find a thick coating of ice crystallized on your windshield? Not only is this debacle annoying, it can also pose a huge safety hazard.

You have a few options in this situation. you can start the car, turn on the defrost and hope the sun helps to melt away the ice. You can also whip out the ice scraper (or CD case, credit card, spatula…whatever you have!) and push the process along by sloughing off the frost.  Or you can  plan ahead by doing the following things.

Cover the Windshield. Considering that icy conditions are often news in Williamsburg, Toano and Yorktown, it’s likely that you’ll have a heads up to the next morning’s weather conditions. If stubborn frost is expected, cover both the front and back windshields with a tarp and secure with bungee cords. This is the most direct option.

Pretreat the Windshield.  Most auto care stores carry chemical solutions that you can spray on before a frost to prevent buildup, but making your own works just as well and is certainly more cost effective. Mix 3 parts vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle and apply at night (The Dollar Stretcher).

Remove the Ice in Record Time. Didn’t anticipate the frost? No worries. Start the defroster and apply a mix of water and rubbing alcohol to the windshield. It should slush right off after a little time.

One big defrosting “don’t!”: Especially when temps or wind chills are far below freezing, never pour hot/warm water on an icy windshield. You risk cracking the glass, which is a costly annoyance that is definitely worst than waiting for the defroster to do its job.

That’s it for our latest winter car care tip. Call, contact us,  or stop by to make a service appointment so our technicians can make sure your vehicle is ready to face the rest of the season!

Image: freedigitalphotos.net/Salvatore Vuono

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Tire Pressure and Temperature

isolatedtiresIt’s a common occurrence, but many people wonder if they should worry when the “tire pressure” light comes on after a cold snap. Especially in extreme temperature changes like the kinds we experience from week to week in Virginia (“polar vortex” to 72 degrees anyone?), a loss of tire pressure is to be expected. According to Goodyear, “air pressure in a tire typically goes down 1 to 2 pounds for ever 10 degrees of temperature change.”  It’s physics.

While you shouldn’t freak out when your vehicle alerts you to low tire pressure in this situation, you also shouldn’t ignore it. Take the time to check pressure in each tire before the morning commute (when the tires are cold) and refill them with air according to manufacturer specifications. A good rule of thumb is to do this once a month regardless of crazy weather changes in order to keep your car riding smoothly and safely.

Riding on under-inflated tires can lead to uneven tread, poor fuel economy and even a damaged suspension system. Always keep a tire gauge on hand just in case. Also, be aware of the difference between a sudden loss of pressure (as in, you just ran over a nail) and a semi-gradual loss like the one described above. Tire damage could lead to a dangerous flat or even a blowout on the highway.

American Pride Automotive specializes in diagnosing vehicle problems of all sorts. If you’re concerned about the possibility of a serious tire or suspension system issue, call, contact, or come on in to any one of our three locations (Toano, Yorktown or Williamsburg). American Pride’s ASE-certified technicians will pinpoint the source of the problem and get you back on the road in a secure and reliable vehicle.

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