Weekly auto rail, with costly car mistakes to avoid, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
Car care is no longer defined by the season. Modern cars don't need special attention during the winter months with the exception of changing to winter tires depending on where you live. Instead, the reliability and life of your car depends on you following good maintenance practices. Avoiding these common car care mistakes will help keep your car on the road longer.
- Oil change intervals matter: Improvements in engines and motor oil have made the old standard of "3,000 miles between oil changes" no longer applicable. According to ConsumerReports.org, "Under normal driving conditions, most vehicles are designed to go 7,500 miles or more between oil changes." Check your owner's manual for the recommended interval and oil viscosity.
- My tires look fine: Don't ignore the air pressure in your tires until they "look like they're low." Consider purchasing a digital tire gauge. A good one will cost you about $15 and can be easily stored in your glove compartment. Make sure your tires are inflated to the correct pressure that is recommended by the manufacturer for proper ride and handling. These numbers can usually be found inside the driver's door, and are based on taking readings when the tires are cold. AAA recommends that you check your tire pressure on a bi-weekly basis.
- Check your coolant: The coolant in your radiator keeps the engine cool while it's running and can keep the engine block from freezing if you live in an extremely cold climate. The most important reason to change your coolant is because over time, dirt and contaminants can build up in the fluid, making it less effective. Ideally you should change your coolant every four years depending on your driving habits. In extremely hot temperatures you will want to change it more frequently. If your car manufacturer calls for a mix of coolant and water, make sure you use the right proportions. Using different water to coolant ratio can change the effectiveness of the coolant.
According to the Wall Street Journal, here are the top 10 2013 cars with the best resale value:
1. Toyota FJ Cruiser
2. Toyota Tacoma
3. Jeep Wrangler
4. Honda CR-V
5. Toyota 4Runner
6. Toyota Land Cruiser
7. Porsche Cayenne
8. Lexus LX
9. Honda Civic
10. Scion tC
Q: I own a 2002 Buick Century with only 80,000 miles. The shift indicator and odometer stopped illuminating. I went to the dealer and they said I need to replace the dash cluster at a cost of $500. Is there any other solution?
A: We work on a lot of dash cluster failures, and we remove and send out the dash clusters to a company in Taunton, Mass., called BBA Remanufacturing. They rebuild the dash cluster for a third of what GM charges. There may be a local company in your area that also can rebuild the dash.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service