Car Maintenance Resources

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Car Maintenance Hacks

The more technology they put into our cars, the more expensive they seem to get for the simplest of car maintenance tasks. How do you know the car maintenance you can do yourself and what to leave to the pros? Here is a list of common car maintenance tasks you can do by yourself, how to do them, and the ones that should be left to the pros:

  • Air filter replacement
  • Windshield wipers
  • Engine oil
  • Clutch
  • Air conditioning
  • Balance and rotate tires

DIY Car Maintenance

Here are some important tips to follow when you do your own car repairs:

  • Read the car manual
  • Check all the lights every week
  • Make sure you have a well-equipped tool kit
  • Make a record of everything you do with pictures, notes, and diagrams

Air Filter Replacement

In order for your engine to run, it needs air to mix with the gas in order to create internal combustion. Air filters are connected to the engine’s intake manifold and prevent dirt and particles from getting into the engine. Replacing it regularly increases fuel efficiency, prolongs engine life, and reduces emissions. You should change your air filter every 12 months or 12,000 miles, or more frequently if you live in a particularly dusty place.

How to Change Your Air Filter

The total time isn’t long to change your air filter, maybe about a minute. You’ll save a total of $10-$15. Watch this video to learn how.

  1. Check your owner’s manual to figure out which air filter to buy.
  2. Open your hood and locate the air filter box.
  3. Open the air filter box and remove the dirty air filter.
  4. Check the old air filter.
  5. Put the new air filter in.

Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades can wear and should be inspected and replaced every 6 to 12 months. They help remove mud, rain, sleet, and snow from your windshield and can take a beating during the winter months.

How to Change Your Windshield Wipers

Changing your wiper blades is an easy task. You could potentially be saving anywhere from $10 to $20, and it is a quick task. Learn how to replace them with this video.

  1. Measure the wiper blade length or check the owner’s manual.
  2. Remove the old wipers.
  3. Attach the new blades.
  4. Test them.

Engine Oil

Changing your oil in your car isn’t brain surgery, but it can still be an ugly chore. It’s the single most important task you can do to help make your engine last and keeping up with your regular oil changes is important to ensure it runs properly. On average, newer cars can go 5 months or 5,000 miles – whichever comes first.

How to Change Your Engine Oil

Make sure you have the proper tools for replacing your engine oil. If you already have them, this task could save you anywhere from $20-$60 to replace it on your own. Watch this video to learn how to change your oil.

  1. Pull out the drain plug and install a new gasket (if required).
  2. Remove the oil filter.
  3. Add fresh oil.
  4. Recycle the old oil.

Car Maintenance for the Pros

Sometimes a car problem can be too complex or too dangerous to do yourself. Leave it up to the pros to fix bigger problems that you aren’t 100% confident on.

Clutch

Every car with a manual transmission has a clutch, as well as some automatic or tiptronic transmissions. The clutch contains a large friction disc that comes into contact with the engine’s flywheel. When you don’t press down on the clutch pedal, movement will travel from the flywheel to the friction disc, then into the transmission.

Since the clutch plays such an important role in the car’s operation, you want to treat it carefully. Using it gently could increase its use by 20,000 miles. Repair costs for a slipping clutch can cost anywhere from $600 to $1,100.

Air Conditioning

The air conditioning in your vehicle is designed to keep you cool and comfortable even when the conditions outside are not. There are many components to your car’s air conditioning system like the refrigerant, compressor, condenser, receiver drier, expansion value or orifice tube, evaporator, lines, accumulator, and other components used in a heating system.

While there isn’t much you can do to elongate the life of your air conditioner, you don’t necessarily need it in your car if you don’t mind having the windows rolled down. Repairs for the air conditioner can start around $500 but can go over $1,000.

Balance and Rotate Tires

To keep your vehicle driving smoothly, it’s important to regularly have your tires rotated so that they wear evenly. Tires that are worn unevenly will be less fuel efficient and will need to be replaced soon rather than later. Tire replacement, rotation, and spin balancing require special equipment.

The need to balance and rotate your tires comes with how often you drive your car and where you’re driving it. The average tire balancing cost can be about $40, but it could range between $15 to $75 depending on where you go.

Do I Have to Replace the Engine Air Filter? If So, How Often?

There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to maintaining a vehicle properly. One of the most important maintenance practices is swapping out an old engine air filter for a new one every so often to keep the engine running properly. It is also important to know how often it is necessary to do so. Luckily, for those who are new to this aspect of proper vehicle maintenance, LoanMart is here to provide some useful insight into this important matter.

Do I Have to Replace the Engine Air Filter?

Yes. Absolutely, yes. Replacing the engine air filter on a car is a regular piece of vehicle maintenance that if not tended to, can end up being the cause of some serious problems down the line. An old filter can become quite brittle and tear, which will then let sand and dirt into the engine. This is something that should be avoided at all costs, as it might increase the financial cost later on.

How Often Do I Need to Replace It?

How often an engine’s air filter will need to be replaced with a new one generally tends to vary from vehicle to vehicle. There is no one set amount of mileage to wait through for all of the different cars out there. For example, on many Chevrolet engines, the recommended engine air filer changing schedule is every 45,000 miles. On several Ford vehicles however, the recommended changing schedule is reduced down to every 30,000 miles. It is best to check the car’s instruction manual to see what the ideal amount of time between engine air filter swap outs should be.

Signs That It Is Time to Replace the Engine Air Filter

When it comes time to replace a car’s engine air filter, there will be some recognizable signs that will tip the driver off to the situation at hand. It is important to keep an eye out for these signs because if ignored for too long, then serious harm to the vehicle may occur and cost far more than  replacing the air filter would have been. This is one of those cases where an ounce of prevention is most certainly better than a pound of cure.

Decrease in Gas Mileage

Among the most common issues that will become rather apparent when it comes time to replace an engine air filter, is that the gas mileage of the vehicle will noticeably drop. A car’s engine needs the right amount of airflow so that it can continue to work properly. When an air filter becomes filthy, the air has a more difficult time getting where it needs to go, and the engine has to work harder to get the same amount of air through. The gas mileage drop will not be noticeable at first, but it will not take long for the gas mileage to start dropping more drastically. More trips to the pump than usual are indicative of an engine air filter that needs to be swapped out.

Ignition Problems

The entire emissions system of the vehicle is negatively affected when the engine’s air filter is dirty. The vehicle’s emission will not be able to get the air through to the engine. When this happens, the spark plugs can get full of debris and become defective. As a result, this will keep them from sparking the way they should – causing the vehicle to be unable to start.  Don’t be left with a failing car, replace your air filter according to your car’s manual.

Doing a Visual Check

As anyone might be able to guess, one of the most direct ways of finding out whether it is time to swap out the engine’s air filter is by performing a visual check. For reference, a new, clean, and properly working engine air filter should be white or off-white. That said, if it is looking dirty and/or full of debris then it is more than likely time to make the switch to a brand-new engine air filter. Keep in mind that some times the particles may be too difficult to see, and it might be necessary to find a way to be able to get a closer look. The location of the filter will vary from vehicle to vehicle.

Flushes for Your Car- Coolant, Transmission, Steering and Brakes

One of the more important car maintenance tasks that a driver can do for their car as it starts to get a little older is to get various parts of it flushed out by their trusted automotive service shop. This is so that the car can continue to run as efficiently and economically as it possibly can, for as long as it possibly can.

There are a variety of good reasons as to why this is important, especially in areas like the coolant, transmission, brakes, and the power steering. LoanMart is here to help provide some handy information that will illuminate why flushes are one of the best car maintenance tasks that can be done for an aging vehicle.

Flushes for Your Car

Flushing out different parts of a vehicle is an important thing to do, as it can help the vehicle run more efficiently, getting the driver where they need to go for much longer. Although flushes might end up tacking some extra money onto the total of the next oil change or other maintenance appointment, they are a necessary  expense from time to time.

In the long run, flushes are much more affordable to do than the repairs that would result from not doing them. No one wants to spend money that they do not have to, so it is a good idea to tend to these flushes as necessary. Below are some of the most important kinds of flushes that should be done on a vehicle from time to time, and how often they should be tended to.

Coolant

Getting the radiator flushed out provides several benefits for the cooling system of a car. It is helpful to flush around 4-5 gallons of new antifreeze through the cooling system because it will push/flush out contaminants and old antifreeze out. Flushing the radiator will make it much cleaner and efficient in its operation. In addition to that, the additives in the coolant will provide some lubrication to the water pump.

A flush of the cooling system is important because allowing old antifreeze and contaminants to build up over time may end up causing the radiator to overheat, and possibly sustain some noticeable and serious damage. This should be done every 30,000-35,000 miles for a newer vehicle, and every 50,000-75,000 miles for an older vehicle.

Transmission

Getting the transmission of a vehicle flushed out will clear out all of the gunk and build-up inside of it. Doing this makes the engine run better and longer because it will not have to work harder just to get the output it needs to have. Doing this will ensure the old fluid will be completely removed from the system.

Transmission fluid is usually green, yellow, or some times blue. There should be almost no smell to it whatsoever. When it starts turning brown and smells a bit burnt, it’s time to take the vehicle in for service. Like with the cooling system, flushing should happen every 30,000-35,000 miles for newer vehicles, and every 50,000-75,000 miles for an older vehicle.

Steering

A flush of the power steering system is one of the most important flushes that a vehicle can get, yet somehow often gets overlooked by most people. If this kind of flush continues to get overlooked by the vehicle owner, it could end up leading to difficult steering, noise, hardened seals, wear acceleration, as well as leakage. Not a laundry list of problems that anyone would ever want to deal with if they can avoid it. The power steering fluid should be checked every 30,000-35,000 miles and flushed out every 50,000-75,000 miles.

Brakes

Another highly important flush (arguably the most important) that needs to be tended to is the brake system. Brake fluid will attract moisture, which in turn will rust the inside of the brake system. As a result, this will cause the brake system components to corrode. Keep in mind though, that flushing out the brake system means removing all brake fluid and putting all new fluid inside. Brake bleeding will only remove enough brake fluid to get any air bubbles out of the brake line.

When checking the brake fluid, it should be colorless or translucent. If the brake fluid has more of a rust-like color, that means moisture is getting into the brake system and a flush should be done. If  the brake fluid is black and/or burnt smelling, it is vital to get it to the mechanic right away. Nobody wants to have to deal with a failing brake system, as that can lead to even worse problems.

Do You Really Need to Warm Up Your Car in the Winter?

For some, it used to be common wisdom that you should let your car idle for quite a while before driving it to “warm up the engine” in the winter. But, do you really need to warm up your car in the winter? It actually doesn’t matter if you do or not! In fact, warming up your car in the winter can damage your engine and shorten its lifespan.

Why Warming Up Your Car Can Be Bad

Whether you are warming up your car while you get ready for work in the morning or it’s idling because you’ve always thought it can “warm up” the engine, it’s not good for it. When you’re idling in the cold, it can strip the oil from your engine’s cylinders and pistols, decreasing their lifespan.

When your car runs, the internal combustion engine uses pistons to compress air and vaporized fuel together in a mixture within the cylinder. This mix is then ignited, causing a combustion that powers the engine.

When your engine is cold, the gas is less likely to evaporate and create the correct ratio of air and fuel. So, the engine will run on this rich mixture until the engine reaches about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. But, when your car is idling, you are putting extra fuel in the combustion chamber to burn, which can get in the cylinder walls. Gas is a great solvent, so it can wash the oil off the walls when you’re idling in the cold for an extended period of time.

This causes the life of your piston rings and cylinder liners to decrease, and the use of extra fuel when the engine is running is increased. Idling your car barely does anything to warm up the engine, so the fastest way to warm up your engine to 40 degrees is to start driving it in order to switch to the normal fuel to air ratio.

How to Warm Up Your Car

Since you shouldn’t let your car idle for long, it can also be said that hopping in and just gunning it will put unnecessary strain on the engine.

  • You can start the car, take a few minutes to wipe off any snow or ice from the windows, and then go on your way.
  • For the first 5 to 15 minutes of your drive, take it easy for the first part of your drive to let the engine warm up before doing any excessive driving like accelerating in a short time span.

Nowadays, though, the newer the car is the more likely it can accommodate startup in cold weather quickly because of the sophisticated engines.

Initially, warming up your car came from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads. It’s been about 30 years since they were more common which – if you learned to drive from parents or grandparents – would explain why we’ve continued to warm up our cars under the impression it’s better for the engine. If you do own a carbureted relic, you might want to continue warming it up.

Tips for Winter Car Care

Car maintenance isn’t necessarily tied to one season anymore, especially since modern cars don’t require specific attention during certain times of the year like your parents or grandparent’s cars might have. There’s not much to do, other than things you should be doing already.

  • Check your owner’s manual – Don’t rely on your weather forecast to determine your car care. They may have some regular maintenance advice for your specific make and model.
  • Swap out for winter tires – If you live in an area where temperatures fall below 45 degrees regularly, winter tires are recommended. They can give you better traction when turning. With that said, you should also be checking your tire pressure weekly.
  • Keep more gas in your tank – This is also a long and common word of advice. Air carries moisture and water that can freeze and crystallize. The more gas in your tank, the less air which means there is less of a chance of ice forming inside where it could get into your fuel lines and cause trouble. The rule of thumb is half full or more.
  • Never use hot water to melt ice on your windows – Basic science demonstrates this technique can shatter your window.
  • Use cardboard to give your wheels tractions – If you’re stuck in the snow and have to get somewhere, sticking cardboard under your wheels will help give them the traction they need to get going.

Raise your windshield wipers – If you park outdoors, leave the windshield wipers raised up to prevent them from freezing to your windshield. Most importantly, you should never use your wiper blades to remove ice, frost, or a mountain of snow from the windshield.

How to Find the Tire Pressure of Your Tires

Having proper air pressure in your tires is incredibly important. There are so many reasons why, including: helping your tires last longer, helping your car handle better, keeping your car safe, helping you save money on gas, etc.

Maintaining proper air pressure is a relatively easy, quick, and cheap maintenance task to perform. Do this to get the most out of your tires, financially and safety-wise. LoanMart is here to help you understand how to find the air pressure of your tires, and how to address issues depending on what your checks tell you.

Signs that you May Need to Refill your Tires

You should be checking your tires air pressure at least once a month to make sure they are still at the optimal level. But if you have not been doing so, one of the tell-tale signs that it is time to check and refill your tires, is seeing one or more of them starting to look a little flatter than normal. Refill your tires as soon as you possibly can.

How to Find the Tire Pressure of your Tires

When you want to check the air pressure of your tires, you will first want to make sure that the tires are cold, or at the very least have not been driven around at all for the past several hours. Once you have made sure of this, it is key that you have pressure gauge. You can get either a digital one or a stick-type gauge for pretty cheap at your local gas station or auto parts store.

After you have gotten a hold of an accurate tire pressure gauge, you will want to find the stems of the tire, located near the base of the side of the wheel facing outward. Once you have located these stems, you will then want to adhere to the following steps to get the current pounds per square inch (PSI) levels of each of your tires:

  1. Take off the end caps on the air valves of your tires. Whatever you do, do NOT lose these. You do not want to lose them, have to replace them, and then refill your tires even more than you may have had to begin with.
  2. Push the tire pressure measuring gauge into the tire’s valve stem and press down quickly so that you can get a reading.
  3. Take a look at the tire’s PSI reading. Compare that to what your vehicle’s recommended PSI is in order to judge whether or not a refill of the tire is necessary.
  • Keep in mind that it can frequently be a difficult process to successfully get the gauge to press completely onto the valve. When it is not on all the way, it will result in an inaccurate reading. It is a good idea to take more than one reading to ensure the reading is 100% correct.

What to Do from Here

After you have procured an accurate PSI reading for every tire, you will then want to address each tire accordingly, whether the air pressure is too low, or by some chance, too high.

  1. If the reading happens to be above the listed recommendation for your vehicle, you will want to push in the valve to let out the excess air inside of the tire. You may end up having to do this a handful of times before you get it completely right.
  2. If the PSI reading is below the listed recommendation for your vehicle, you will want to be sure to fill up your tire with enough air to reach the preferred level. Like releasing excess air, this process may take a few attempts before you get it completely right.
  3. If the air pressure is within the preferred PSI range, then do not do a single thing. Your tire pressure is fine and does not need to be tampered with. Make sure all the other tires are in order, and then you are good to go.
  4. Once you have refilled, or let out enough air from each tire, make sure you put all the end caps back on. You are now ready to get back out on the road and get to where you need to be.

When it May Be Time to Get New Tires

If despite your diligent efforts to keep your tires’ air pressure at the proper level, your tires continue to leak air, you will want to talk to your trusted mechanic. It is very possible you could have a faulty valve, or other difficult to detect damage, that will need repair right away. Luckily, if you catch this problem soon enough, it could end up being a cheap fix versus a costly repair.

Quick 5 Minute Vehicle Inspection to do While you Fill Up

When you go to the gas pump to refill your tank, it is important to keep in mind that certain vehicle inspections should be done to keep your vehicle in top performing condition. LoanMart is here to provide you with a quick 5-minute vehicle inspection you can do while you fill up.

Fluids

Making sure your vehicle fluids are at appropriate levels. Checking to see they are not looking abnormal (the wrong color and texture) is a key part of proper vehicle maintenance. If you do not perform such fluid checks from time to time, you could end up doing some serious damage to your ride, and it could cost you a pretty penny to repair. But by checking each of the following fluids during a fill-up , you could save yourself all of the aforementioned trouble:

  • Brakes
  • Engine oil
  • Power steering
  • Transmission fluids
  • Clutch

Exterior Lighting and Horns

Checking your lights is of key importance. Not only do you want to be able to see where you are going when the sun goes down, but you will want other drivers to be able to see you as well. Plus, if your turn signal lights or your brake lights are not working properly, you could get a ticket by a police officer, or end up in a serious collision. When filling up,  make sure your lights are still in proper working order to save yourself any trouble.

Windshield Wipers/Washers

It is important that you check your washer fluids and your windshield wipers. Make sure to keep your windshield clear enough to see everything going on around you while out on the road. You do not want to be in a situation where you cannot wipe the rain away or wash away the remains of a bug.

Tires

Tires are important to your vehicle’s efficiency and overall well-being. Maintaining proper tread and air pressure in your tires can help them  last longer, keep your vehicle  safe, help your vehicle  handle better, help your vehicle get better gas mileage, and more. Whenever you are filling up your vehicle, always make sure to do a quick check of your tires to make sure they are looking good. Check to see if it is time to get them replaced with newer ones, as you do not want to have any tire related trouble on the road.

Gauges

Keep a close eye on your different gauges, they are located on your dash board. Of course, while you are refilling your gas tank you will already have your gas tank in mind, but it is also a good idea to check your oil pressure, voltmeter, and tachometer. Making sure your other levels are in good shape is just as important, if not more important, than monitoring and refilling your gas tank gauge. Not doing so could lead to far worse consequences than running out of gas while on the way to work.

Critical Equipment

Although regulations change, there are some pieces of vehicle related equipment that are considered essential for any motorist to have in proper working order. If these pieces of critical equipment are not up to snuff, then there could potentially be some real trouble down the line, not just for the driver and their passengers, but also for other motorists driving near them. Such pieces of critical equipment will usually include:

  • Brakes
  • Coupling devices (fifth wheel and kingpin)
  • Lights
  • Horn
  • Mirrors
  • Seatbelts
  • Steering mechanism
  • Tires
  • Windshield wipers

Emergency Equipment your Vehicle Should Carry

In addition to doing these periodical vehicle inspections, there are other things you should do to make sure you are safe while out on the road. You never know when there might be an emergency that requires you to tend to either your vehicle, someone else’s vehicle, yourself, or a passenger in your vehicle. Below is a list of items that every vehicle should be carrying in order to address almost any emergency that might come up.

  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Spare fuses
  • Jack
  • Warning triangles
  • Spare tire
  • High visibility clothing

Spark Plugs, Fuses, and Other Electrical Components

One of the key aspects of a motor vehicle is its electrical components. Without functional parts like spark plugs, fuses, starters, and batteries, there would be no ignition or movement of the vehicle whatsoever. These parts working in tandem with the mechanical and chemical aspects of a car’s machinery is what makes everything work. These mechanical aspects can be a little difficult to understand. But don’t worry, LoanMart is here to give a brief rundown of some of these parts, and how they work.

Fuses

A fuse is a small device that is used to protect the wiring and other electrical equipment that is inside the engine of the vehicle. They are usually rated for circuits that are no higher than 32 volts direct current, but there are some types of fuses that are rated for 42-volt electrical systems. Automotive fuses are some times used in non-automotive electrical products as well.

In most cases, a vehicle will have two fuse panels. The fuse panel that is in the engine compartment will hold the fuses for important devices such as the anti-lock brake pump, cooling fans, and the engine control unit. These fuses are all located in the engine compartment. The other fuse panel (which tends to be located in the dashboard by the knees of the driver) holds fuses for all of the switches and devices that are located in the passenger side compartment.

Spark Plugs

A spark plug is a device that is designed to deliver an electric current from the vehicle’s ignition system to the combustion chamber of a spark-ignition engine. The electric current ignites the compressed fuel/air mixture by way of an electric spark while managing to contain the combustion pressure inside the engine.

Essentially, the spark plug is the key part in getting your car started and on the move. It starts the chemical reaction that brings an engine to life. Without it, you are not able to be go anywhere at all.

Battery

The automotive battery is a rechargeable battery that will give an electrical current to the vehicle. The main purpose of the battery is to feed the starter, which starts the vehicle’s engine. From there, the power is supplied to the systems of the vehicle by way of the alternator.

Usually, starting a vehicle will discharge less than 3% of the capacity of the battery. Because of this, automotive batteries are designed to give maximum current for a short amount of time. These kinds of batteries are, from time to time, referred to as SLI batteries (Starting, Lighting, and Ignition). SLI batteries are not meant for deep discharging, as  a full discharge can reduce the lifespan of the battery.

Alternator

An alternator (which gets its name from the term “alternating current”) is a component that is used in modern vehicles to power the electrical system when the engine is running. It is used to supply power to the vehicle, instead of the battery, once it has been started and is steadily running.

The alternator will generate power for many of the electrical components of the vehicle, such as the exterior and interior lights, as well as the instrument panel. Alternators are usually found near the front of the engine and are driven by the crankshaft. This converts the up and down movement of the pistons into a circular movement which generates power.

Starter

The battery might be what supplies power to the vehicle when it is started, but it is the starter that actually gets the engine moving and ready to go. The battery of the vehicle gives the starter motor power, so it rotates the flywheel,  which then turns the crankshaft and makes the pistons of the engine start moving. The starter is one of the most important vehicle parts to  keep in good working order. It is another key component that makes a vehicle’s engine start.

Voltage Regulator

A vehicle’s voltage regulator is a system that automatically maintains a constant level of voltage. It can be found in or outside of the housing of the alternator. The voltage regulator is a small modern microelectronic part that will control the electric field current that is being given to the spinning rotator inside the alternator. If there is presently no electric current being given to the field, there will be no voltage whatsoever produced from the alternator. If the voltage goes down below 13.5 volts, the regulator will give an electric current to the field, and the alternator will begin charging.

Wheel Alignment and Tire Rotation

There are many different parts you need to tend to when maintaining your vehicle, especially when trying to get the absolute most out of the life of different vehicle parts. Two such vehicle maintenance tasks you need to perform from time to time are tire rotation and wheel alignment.

Doing these maintenance tasks will help you avoid spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars unnecessarily. They will also result in fewer trips to the autobody shop. In the long run, taking care of these relatively simple maintenance tasks will help  keep money in your wallet, and your vehicle on the road.

Aligning Your Wheels

Getting your wheels re-aligned from time to time is incredibly important. It affects multiple aspects of how the vehicle drives, and the efficiency it manages to maintain as you continue to drive it. When you do not get your wheels re-aligned, your steering could be adversely affected, or you could notice any number of other potential problems creep up with how the vehicle handles. Not aligning your wheels could end up costing you a lot of money in repairs if you do not take care of this important maintenance task from time to time.

How to Tell if your Wheels Need to be Aligned

There are multiple telltale signs that will let you know it is time to head on over to the local autobody shop and get the wheels on your vehicle re-aligned. That being said, you should not wait until these signs start coming up to realign your wheels. If you have not kept up on vehicle maintenance and your wheels have not gotten re-aligned, you may start to notice signs that your vehicle needs to get its wheels re-aligned. The signs are:

  • Vehicle pulling to the left or right
  • Steering wheel vibrates
  • Steering wheel is off center when driving straight
  • Uneven tread wear

Before you go ahead to get your wheels re-aligned however, there is a simple check you can do first before going to take it in to the repair shop. Checking the air pressure of your tires can end up saving you the $60-$100 that it typically costs for you to get a wheel re-alignment job done. If it turns out you just need to add some air in one or more of your tires, you could very well end up saving some money that you could   use for other bills and expenses.

Rotating Your Tires

A tire rotation is a handy preventative measure that you should take a few times per year. By doing so, you will be extending the life of your tires, and get more miles out of them than if you had not made any adjustments at all.

Tire rotation is a process where you move the tires on your vehicle to different positions on the vehicle. It helps to promote even tread wear on all four tires. Regardless of the way(s) in which you drive, all tires on a vehicle will wear at different rates.

Types of Tire Rotation

There are multiple kinds of tire rotations. Depending on what kind of condition your tires are currently in, they will get a different rotation. When it comes to getting a tire rotation, no two jobs are exactly alike. Different kinds of wear, and different kinds of vehicles, require different kinds of tire rotation. Such forms of rotation include front-to-rear, forward cross, X pattern, rearward cross, and side to side. The following is a list of each kind of tire rotation including how it is done, why it is done, and for what kinds of vehicles it is done for:

Front-to-Rear

  • Used when rear tires show uneven wear
  • Front tires move straight back to the rear
  • Rear tires cross to opposite sides on front
  • For front wheel drive vehicles

Forward Cross

  • Rear tires cross to opposite sides on front
  • Front tires move straight back to the rear
  • For front-wheel drive vehicles
  • Used when rear tires show uneven wear

X Pattern

  • Rear tires cross to opposite front positions
  • Front tires shift to opposite rear positions
  • Used when there’s uneven wear
  • For all types of vehicles

Rearward Cross

  • Front tires cross to opposite rear positions
  • Rear tires move straight up to front
  • For all-wheel, rear-wheel, or four-wheel drive vehicles
  • Used when there’s uneven front-tire wear

Side-to-Side

  • Front two tires are moved to opposite sides on front axle
  • Rear two tires are moved to opposite sides on back axle
  • For staggered wheels

Why You Should Rotate Your Tires?

Rotating your tires just simply calls for the moving the position of the tire from the front of the vehicle to the back of the vehicle, or from one side of the vehicle to the other side of the vehicle. This is to ensure that all of the tires are receiving the same amount of wear. Evenly distributing the wear across all of your vehicle’s tires, helps to promote the longevity of your tires as well.

How Often Should I Rotate My Tires?

It is recommended that you get your tires rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, particularly the lower portion of the two. Most mechanics will recommend that you get your tires rotated when you get your routine oil changed, since your vehicle is already off of the ground, and that way you won’t wait until it is too late.

What are the Different Ways to Rotate Tires?

Tire rotation is based on the number of tires the vehicle has and it is based on whether the vehicle has rear-wheel or front-wheel drive or not.

  • Front to rear– The tires are rotated from the front of the vehicle to the rear of the vehicle. This method is used for vehicles with the same size directional tires.
  • Side to side– The tires are rotated from one side of the vehicle to the other side of the vehicle. This pattern is used for vehicles with different sized wheels that are non-directional.
  • Rearward cross– The tires are rotated in a cross pattern: bringing the rear tires straightforward to the front positions, switching the sides of the 2 front tires, and then moving those front tires back to the rear position. This pattern is typically used for rear-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Forward cross– The tires are rotated in a cross pattern similar to the rearward cross pattern. Here, the front tires will be moved to the back of the vehicle in the rear positions. The tires originally in the rear, will then need to be switched to opposite sides, and then moved to the front position. This pattern is used for front-wheel drive vehicles.
  • X-cross pattern– The tires are rotated in a double cross/diagonal pattern, where the rear tires swap sides and the front tires swap sides, and then move the front tires to the rear, and the rear tires to the front. Essentially, you would just move the right rear tire to the front left tire position, the left rear tire to the front right tire position, the right front tire to the rear left tire position, and the front left tire to the rear right tire position, creating the X-pattern shape. This pattern can also be used on rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles.

If you own a truck or SUV that has an attached spare tire, you may choose to include that tire in your routine tire rotation. It is not necessary for you to do, but it does ensure that your tires are all getting the same amount of wear on them. How this tire would be incorporated depends on whether it is directional, or non-directional.

  • If you have a rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle you will use the rearward cross pattern to incorporate your 5th Move the rear tires to the front position, the front left tire replaces the spare, the front right tire moves to the left rear position, and the spare replaces the rear tire in the right rear position.
  • If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, you will need to use the forward cross pattern to incorporate your 5th Move the rear tires to the front position of the vehicle, but switch them to the opposite sides. Then, move the front left tire straight back, move the front right tire to the spare position, and move the spare to the right rear tire position.

Why are Tires Important?

Tires are an important part of your vehicle. They are the only part of any vehicle that comes into direct contact with the road. Since tires are the only part of a vehicle that comes into contact with the road, a lot of your safety, and of others around you, is attributed to your tires. Therefore, it is really important that you have quality tires on your vehicle, and you replace them as necessary.

What Happens if I Don’t Rotate My Tires?

If you do not rotate your tires, you will hear squealing noises and cause vibrations while driving on the road. These vibrations can eventually cause steering and suspension issues, if not addressed.

Tire rotation is really important, and should be done regularly. However, a regular tire rotation will not fix the issue of alignment, uneven wear to the tires, or even tire pressure problems with inflation.

Winter Maintenance Prevention Tips

The winter time can be incredibly picturesque and beautiful. The snow is falling, and the world becomes blanketed in sparkly white radiance. It truly is a sight to behold, and a time to be experienced. However, while winter might look pretty and lift people’s spirits, it can also be quite a dangerous time for motorists.

It is important for anyone planning to be out on the road during the cold, icy months to exercise proper winter vehicle maintenance and prevention to avoid having a difficult time. Luckily, LoanMart is here to provide some handy tips for doing this.

Consider Getting New Tires

Having tires that are in good shape is incredibly important during the polar freezing time of the year. In fact, tires are one of the most important vehicle components. Without proper working tires, your  car may spin out in the snow, or lose traction on a slippery spot at the most inopportune moment. Depending on what kind of snowfall your area gets, some all-season tires should do the job fine. If your area gets frequent and heavy snowfall however, buying a set of dedicated winter tires would be a much better option.

Stock De-Icing Chemicals

This is a rather inexpensive, but still important, winter maintenance and prevention tip. Having a de-icer on hand is incredibly necessary, as you will not be able to go anywhere if you cannot open the locks to get in your car. It is also important to have windshield de-icing fluid as well, as you do not want to have your view obscured by a thick sheet of crystalized ice when you need to go somewhere.

Swap Out the Wiper Blades

Winter conditions can be incredibly harsh on wiper blades. Wiper blades need to be replaced once every six months. That said, buying rubber-clad blades will help you fight ice build-up. You can occasionally wipe the edge of the blade with a paper towel to prolong its life, but this should not be done for the entire length of the winter.

Check the Oil

This is something that you should already be doing year-round, but checking the oil is especially important to do come winter. Motor oil, when left alone during the winter, will thicken due to the cold. This in turn makes it difficult for the engine to turn over, causing it to work harder to produce the same amount of output. This causes the engine to lose efficiency, and gas usage to go up meaning more trips to the pump.

Get the Battery Checked

Cold temperatures have a serious negative impact on the cranking power of a vehicle. When the temperature gets down to 0° F, the battery only has about half the cranking power that it would have if the temperature were 80° F. Make sure to test the battery’s charge and replace it if it is weak. Use the vehicle regularly so that the battery will not lose power over time from sitting stationary. Check for corrosion from cable connections and posts and scrape it away while wearing rubber gloves. Retighten all connections and clean all of the surfaces.

Check the Heater and Defroster

These are two key car components to have in working order during the winter months. If you do not have a working heater, you will have a rather cold ride to work or wherever you happen to be headed. It is important to have a working defroster as well, as you will need to be able to clear any fog or ice from your windshield and windows.

Do System Flushes and Fluid Changes

It is important to have all of your systems flushed out with new fluids periodically. This is especially important with antifreeze in the winter. You do not want to have to have your systems frozen over and prevented from working properly when you need to hit the road. During the colder weather, make sure that your coolant mixture is 60/40 or 70/30 on antifreeze and water.

Get Brakes Checked

Getting your brakes checked periodically is of the utmost importance, not just for winter time, but for any time of the year. It could not only cost you a lot in repair bills in the long run, but it could also be incredibly detrimental in a dangerous situation out on the road. It is especially important for your safety that you can come to a complete stop at a moment’s notice when the roads start getting slick and icy.

What is the Car Care Council?

If you are a car owner, you know how important it is to stay on top of maintenance and repairs for your vehicle. In order for your vehicle to last for as long as possible, it is essential to practice active car care.

If you are new to owning your car, you might be wondering what it takes to keep your car in tip-top shape throughout its life. That is where the Car Care Council comes in.

What is the Car Care Council? Well, according to carcare.org, the Car Care Council is a “non-profit organization dedicated to educating motorists about the importance of regular vehicle care, maintenance, and repair through its “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign.” That means the Car Care Council is there to give you essential information and tips that may help support the longevity of your vehicle.

As part of their “Be Car Care Aware” campaign, the Car Care Council puts out a handbook with essential guides and information such as:

  • Typical Maintenance and Repair
  • Vehicle Systems
  • Car Care and Environment
  • The Extra Mile (additional tips to keep your car running with optimal performance)

What Does the Car Care Council Do?

One of the Car Care Council’s biggest contributions to car education and car maintenance is the “Car Care Guide.” This information booklet is accessible online in both English and Spanish.

When people get a new car, many of them are left in the dark as to how to properly repair and maintain their vehicle. How often should you rotate tires? What is the best way to rotate tires? How often should you get the brakes checked? What do you do if one of the headlights goes out? These questions and more are answered in the Car Care Council’s “Car Care Guide.”

Inside this guide you will find tips on how often you should check and repair certain parts of your vehicle, directions on how to perform various procedures on your vehicle, diagrams, example questions you can ask your mechanic or technician, the guide even has advice for how to keep your driving habits and your car as environmentally friendly as possible.

If you have a basic question about your car, how to maintain it, or how to fix it, the Car Care Council’s “Car Care Guide” probably has the answer or can at least refer you to reputable sources to retrieve the information you’re looking for.

How Can I Practice Active Car Care?

If you want your car to last for as long as it possibly can, you definitely want to take a peek at the “Car Care Guide.”

The car repair and car maintenance guide has tips for drivers who habitually drive in “severe driving” conditions. If you just use your car for basic transportation, you probably think you would never be in a “severe driving” situation. However, drivers probably encounter some kind of “severe driving” every single day. The “Car Care Guide” describes “severe driving” as situations and conditions including:

  • Stop-and-go-traffic
  • Short commutes
  • Heavier loads: cargo, passenger or towing a trailer
  • Rough or mountainous roads
  • Dusty or salty environments
  • Driving the car before it’s had a chance to warm up
  • Driving in extremely hot or cold weather

So, if you have ever driven in traffic, had a short commute, or have driven in the summer or the winter—you technically have been through “severe driving” conditions.

That means you should make sure to utilize the included car repair information, car maintenance suggestions, and car care tips presented in the “Car Care Guide.”

What are Some Tips from the “Car Care Guide?”

According to the Car Care Council, there are regular car maintenance checks that should be performed on your vehicle every so often. To keep your car running the best it can, be sure to stay on top of your car repair and car maintenance.

The Car Care Council suggests that every 6 months, or 6,000 miles you check the:

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Battery and Cables
  • Belts
  • Chassis Lubrication
  • Dashboard Indicator
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Tire Inflation and Condition
  • Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Wiper Blades

According to the “Car Care Guide,” every 9 months, or 9,000 miles you should check the:

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Battery and Cables
  • Belts
  • Dashboard Indicator
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Engine Oil
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Tire Inflation and Condition
  • Windshield Washer Fluid

Lastly, the Car Care Council puts in the “Car Care Guide” that every 12 months, or every 12,000 miles you should check on the:

  • Automatic Transmission Fluid
  • Battery and Cables
  • Belts
  • Brakes
  • Cabin Air Filter
  • Chassis Lubrication
  • Dashboard Indicator
  • Coolant (Antifreeze)
  • Engine Air Filter
  • Engine Oil
  • Exhaust
  • Hoses
  • Lights
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Tire Inflation and Condition
  • Wheel Alignment
  • Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Wiper Blades

Staying on top of your car repair and car maintenance may seem daunting. But with the help of the Car Care Council and the “Car Care Guide,” it can be easy to keep your car running safely and smoothly for years to come.

What are Vehicle Inspection Laws?

The United States government does not have regulations in place or a system for vehicle inspections. Vehicle inspections are regulated from the state level only. Some states have really strict policies, while others barely have any at all.

If you are looking to move to a new state, or just want to know the rules in your state, there are a few laws and regulations you should be aware of to make sure that you are following their rules and regulations. Each state has different requirements on how, when, and where vehicles need to be inspected and tested. There are several different kinds of inspections: vehicle emissions, safety, and vehicle identification number (“VIN”).

What States Don’t Require Vehicle Inspections?

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. Iowa
  4. Michigan
  5. Minnesota
  6. Mississippi
  7. Montana
  8. North Dakota
  9. South Carolina
  10. South Dakota

What Inspections Does Each State Require?

  • Alabama
    • Safety inspection-prior to the sale of a vehicle or transfer of ownership
  • Arizona
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years in Phoenix and Tucson metro areas
  • California
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, excluding electric, hybrid, motorcycles, trailers, natural gas powered vehicles that weigh more than 14,000 lbs., diesel vehicles made before 1997, and vehicles less than 6 years old
    • VIN inspection- for any out of state vehicle
  • Colorado
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years in Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, parts of Adams, parts of Larimer, parts of Weld, and parts of Arapahoe counties.
    • VIN inspection- for any out of state vehicle, not required for cars 7 years or younger, electric vehicles, motorcycles or collector vehicles.
  • Connecticut
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years
    • VIN inspection- for any out of state vehicle
    • Safety inspection- only for commercial vehicles: taxis, trailers, etc.
  • Delaware
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years, excluding cars made in 1967 or before, and cars 5 years old or newer
    • Safety inspection- every 2 years
  • Florida
    • VIN inspection-for any out of state vehicle
  • Georgia
    • Emissions inspection- every year, in some Atlanta metro areas, cars 3 years or newer/cars 25 years or older are exempt
  • Hawaii
    • Safety inspection- every year, new cars don’t need to be inspected again for 2 years
  • Idaho
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, in Ada and Canyon counties only
    • VIN inspection- for any out of state vehicle
  • Illinois
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, in Chicago and St. Louis metro areas, cars 4 years or newer, cars from 1967 or before, electric, or diesel powered are all exempt
    • VIN inspection- every 2 years
    • Safety inspection- every 2 years in some areas
  • Indiana
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years, in Lake and Porter counties only, for cars manufactured after 1976
    • VIN inspection- for any out of state vehicle
  • Kansas
    • VIN inspection- only if registering the vehicle for the first time
  • Louisiana
    • Emissions inspection-every year, in Baton Rouge metro areas
    • Safety inspection-every year
  • Maine
    • Emissions inspection- every year, in Cumberland county
    • Safety inspection- every year
  • Maryland
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, 13 Baltimore metro areas
    • Safety inspection- only required before a sale or transfer of ownership
  • Massachusetts
    • Emissions inspection- every year
    • Safety inspection- every year
  • Missouri
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, in St. Louis, Franklin, St. Charles, and Jefferson counties
    • Safety inspection- every 2 years, except vehicles with historic plates and vehicles 5 years or newer
  • Nebraska
    • Safety inspection-for out of state vehicles
    • VIN inspection- for out of state vehicles
  • Nevada
    • Emissions inspection- every year, for Las Vegas and Reno, motorcycles, new hybrids, new vehicles, and vehicles made before 1968 are exempt
    • VIN inspection- for out of state vehicles
  • New Hampshire
    • Emissions inspection- every year, cars made after 1996
    • Safety inspection- every year
  • New Jersey
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, excluding cars 5 years old or newer
  • New Mexico
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, in Bernalillo county, diesel, electric, and vehicles from 1982 and before are excluded
    • VIN inspection- for out of state vehicles
  • New York
    • Emissions inspection-every year, vehicles 26 years or older and 2 years or younger are excluded
    • Safety inspection-every year
  • North Carolina
    • Emissions inspection-every year, in 48/100 counties, vehicles made before 1995, diesel, and farming vehicles are excluded
    • Safety inspection- every year
  • Ohio
    • Emissions inspection-based on even or odd number years, in Cleveland metro areas
  • Oklahoma
    • VIN inspection- for out of state vehicles
  • Oregon
    • Emissions inspection- every 2 years, in Portland and Medford metro areas, vehicles 1975 or before are excluded
    • VIN inspection- for out of state vehicles
  • Pennsylvania
    • Emissions inspection- every year, 25/67 counties between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia
    • Safety inspection-every year
    • VIN inspection-every year, part of the safety inspection
  • Rhode Island
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years
    • Safety inspection-every 2 years, cars 2 years or newer are exempt
    • VIN inspection-for out of state vehicles
  • Tennessee
    • Emissions inspection-every year, in Davidson, Hamilton, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties are required
  • Texas
    • Emissions inspection-every year, in Austin, Dallas, Houston and El Paso, motorcycles and diesel vehicles are excluded
  • Utah
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years, in Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties
    • Safety inspection- done at 4, 8, 10 years for the life of the vehicle
  • Vermont
    • Emissions inspection- every year, for vehicles 1996 and newer
    • Safety inspection- every year
    • VIN inspection-for out of state vehicles
  • Virginia
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years, for Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Loudoun, Prince William and Stafford counties
    • Safety inspection- every year
  • Washington
    • Emissions inspection- in Clark, King, Pierce, Spokane and Snohomish counties
    • VIN inspection- for out of state and rebuilt vehicles
  • West Virginia
    • Safety inspection- every year
  • Wisconsin
    • Emissions inspection-every 2 years, in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Waukesha, and Washington counties
  • Wyoming
    • VIN inspection-for out of state vehicles

As you can see, every state is different. If you plan to move, you need to be aware of these rules. Also, go online or go to your local Motor Vehicle Division to see what fees you need to pay for the appropriate tests your vehicle needs.

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All loans will be serviced by LoanMart. See State Disclosures for additional information. LoanMart is currently not lending in California and does not make loans or credit.

1Loan approval is subject to meeting the lender's credit criteria, which may include providing acceptable property as collateral. Actual loan amount, term, and Annual Percentage Rate of the loan that a consumer qualifies for may vary by consumer. Loan proceeds are intended primarily for personal, family and household purposes. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Consumers need to demonstrate ability to repay the loan.

2Based on consumers who received a loan from LoanMart from February 2002 to October 2018.

3Application processes could take five (5) minutes to complete. Upon completion, a conditional approval may be given pending review of documentation. Funding time is based on the time from final approval following receipt and review of all required documents and signing, prior to 2PM PST on a business day.

4To exercise the right to rescind, the consumer(s) must notify the lender in writing by midnight on the third calendar day from obtaining the loan. Within one business day from notice of rescission, the consumer(s) must return any monies received and fees paid on behalf of the consumer(s) by certified funds.

5Lenders recommend and encourage consumers to pay early and often and more in order to avoid additional finance charges.

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