Heed The Warning of Windshield Chips, Cracks

Published on October 01, 2022 06:30 PM in Safe Driving

Heed The Warning of Windshield Chips, Cracks

Your vehicle’s windshield has been subjected to an onslaught of opponents all summer–gravel chips, flying debris, summer hailstorms, overhanging limbs.

Those small chips and cracks can turn into big problems if left unattended. Sometimes, window chips and cracks can be repaired instead of replacing the entire windshield.

But it depends on a variety of factors.

Type, size, depth and location of the damage determines what kind of service is required. For example, a small ding or small crack in the lower right corner of your windshield may be fixed using a chip repair service.

Larger cracks and chips generally require windshield replacement. A vehicle windshield plays an integral role in airbag deployment, and replacement is paramount for crash safety.

“A broken windshield isn’t something you should put off fixing,” said Melina Metzger, public relations manager for Safelite AutoGlass. “Windshields are a major part of a vehicle’s structural integrity, and damaged glass reduces your visibility.”

Of course, many factors determine whether it is possible to repair the windshield or if it needs to be replaced.

Repair or Replace?

Are there less than three chips? Is the edge of the windshield unharmed? Is the damaged area smaller than a dollar bill? Is the damaged area out of the driver’s line of sight?

If you answered “Yes” to all of these, your windshield most likely can be repaired rather than replaced. If you answered “No” to any of these, or the chip is in your line of vision, windshield replacement is recommended.

Leaving chips or cracks unaddressed allows moisture, dirt and other contaminants into the exposed area. As a result, the glass may require replacement rather than less expensive repair.

Marcus Pace, owner of Pace’s Chip & Rock in Sacramento, Calif., said technique and patented materials play pivotal roles in proper windshield repair. He urges drivers to ask technicians if they will guarantee their work in writing.

Pace offers the following advice when it comes to finding someone to repair that chip or replace that windshield:

  • A windshield is more than just a pane of glass. Automakers say a windshield accounts for roughly a third of the vehicle’s structural support, and that figure creeps up quickly during a collision. Windshields make up about 45 percent of structural support during a front-end in crash and up to 60 percent during a rollover.
  • Check with your insurance company about no-cost repair. Because it’s quick and relatively inexpensive, insurance companies often waive the deductible for windshield repair.
  • Know what to look for when the job is finished. Make sure the molding is straight and there’s no sign of adhesives or resin.
  • Keep the vehicle in park for several hours after a windshield replacement. The adhesive used for windshield replacement takes time to dry. You’ll also want to wait around a week before taking your vehicle through the car wash
  • Repaired windshields are good to go. A repaired windshield is ready for the road the minute the tech is finished.

Schedule your maintenance or repair today
, to give your vehicles the care they need!

12 Ways To Keep Your Vehicle Ready For Autumn Travel

You’ve stowed the camping equipment, racked the canoe and already set your sights on winter sports gear. What about taking stock of your vehicle?

River City Fleet Services Winter Checks

“In late August we already had snow showers,” said Joshua Lewis of the Colorado State Troopers. “The biggest problem we see on autumn roadways is drivers who are not prepared for the arrival of inclement weather.

“Vehicles don’t have proper tires or tread depth.”

Trooper Lewis blamed tire issues for one of the most common autumn accidents: vehicles sliding into center meridians or street guardrails.

Faulty brake systems were identified by Trooper Lewis as another major issue. Hot summer roads wear down brake pad lining and put strain on other brake system components that can leave vehicles stranded.

“That tow truck you call may take hours to arrive.”

Those problems can turn up unexpectedly during autumn road trips, especially for trucks and large recreational vehicles.

“It comes down to knowing your vehicle and how it is supposed to operate,” said Trooper Lewis, who has worked as an officer for the past 15 years. “We perform regular inspections of vehicles for work, ideally daily.

“For me, I’ve found that the cost of routine maintenance and fixing minor problems on my personal vehicles saves a lot of money, time, and heartache later on.”

Officer Lewis rattled off a list of items he includes on his fall inspection list: tire tread depth, brake performance, windshield wiper replacement, battery charge, topping off fluids, properly functioning headlights.

An autumn inspection establishes the baseline for Officer Lewis’ vehicle’s health and also help him avoid surprises. It addresses issues related to summer driving–road construction, hot weather, miles piled up on the odometer.

Inspection report printout offers observations made by technicians. It helps keep your vehicle reliable for travel throughout Thanksgiving and into the New Year.

By revealing minor issues before they become major problems, the inspection report provides a roadmap for budgeting maintenance and repairs. Preparing for winter may uncover some additional considerations not needed for spring and summer travel.

For instance, areas prone to extreme cold may require coolant and windshield wiper fluid specially designed for sub-freezing temperatures. Winter fluids can help your vehicle perform better and start easier.

Routine inspection offers the most efficient way to monitor your vehicle’s overall health. A certified or factory-trained technician can help identify issues before they become expensive or life-threatening problems.

Talk to your service advisor before heading out on upcoming autumn excursions. Include the following items in your autumn multipoint inspection:

“Remember to slow down during those first storms of autumn,” Trooper Lewis said. “Pack some patience along with your cargo and family.”

  1. Tire tread wear. Rubber compounds wear fast on hot summer roads. Do you tires have enough tread to drive safely on slick roads? The inspection report and your service advisor can help decide.
  2. Inspect leaks, frayed hoses and worn belts. Cold weather makes old rubber as well as plastic parts harden and crack. As a result, minor leaks detailed on your autumn inspection report can turn into major repair bills if ignored.
  3. Test battery voltage. Vehicles require more starting power in winter. Also, cold temperatures can cause a failing battery to go dead overnight.
  4. Check battery cable connections and other charging components such as the alternator. Rust, corrosion and crusty terminals can reduce battery power.
  5. Replace wiper blades. Ultraviolet rays of summer dry out and crack wiper blades, rendering hardened blades ineffective during autumn storms. Old blades can scratch your vehicle windshield and create screeching sounds. They also reduce visibility.
  6. Consider specialized blades. If you live in an extremely cold environment, consider blades intended for ice and snow. They are made with rubber compounds intended to remain pliable in freezing temperatures.
  7. Inspect the climate control system for leaks and proper fluid. Also, make sure the window vents are free of obstructions and that the fan is operating properly.
  8. Ask about winter coolant intended for extreme cold temperatures. Usually, a 50/50 mix of coolant to water may suffice in most climates, your vehicle may need a different mixture in extreme zones. “No-freeze” fluids are not available in all states or counties.
  9. Check the windshield washer reservoir and fill to the recommended level. Wiper fluid gets used quickly during a single snowstorm or if you are traveling along grimy roadways.
  10. Inspect wiper spray nozzles for clogs or obstructions that may prevent proper operation when you need them most.
  11. Review the following tire-related concerns:
    • Make sure tires are properly inflated (check manufacturer recommendations) and make sure there’s plenty of tread; check for uneven wear. It’s a sign something may be wrong with the tire and alignment.
    • Do you have a spare tire? It needs to be inspected as well.
    • ​Tire rubber degrades after several years. Older tires may need to be replaced even if they have not been used.
  12. Review your vehicle manual for seasonal recommendations. Ask whether your vehicle is due for a climate control system flush. If antifreeze hasn’t been replaced in several years, the fluid may have lost its effectiveness. Rust particles may clog the system and cause failure.

Schedule your maintenance or repair today, to give your vehicles the care they need!

Autumn Prep Guide: 11 Steps To A Clean, Healthy Ride

Published on September 07, 2022 12:54 PM

Autumn Prep Guide: 11 Steps To A Clean, Healthy Ride

Oil, dirt, sand, sap, chemicals, tar, radiator fluid–summer travels accumulate a lot of contaminants.  Come the first rains for autumn, those chemicals slosh against your vehicle, damaging its finish as well as coating wheels and windows with grime.  

Don’t despair. 

By applying some preventative care, your vehicle can shine through all the early season weather. A bit of interior maintenance also can help improve cabin health for you and your passengers. 

For drivers who live or drive to places where autumn arrives early–Canada, New England, mountainous regions–problems with grime surface in early September. By taking early preventative steps, drivers can protect the exterior and interior of their vehicles. 

Same is true for other regions as well, especially places which experienced frequent summer rains. All of the accumulated grime can damage exterior finishes. Moisture can lead to mold and odors if left unattended. 

Keep your vehicle shining throughout fall and improve the health of your vehicle cabin with some simple car care steps this September: 

1. Remove accumulated grit on the undercarriage, wheel wells and wheels. Contaminants readily cling to metal and cause corrosion. 

  • Use a power washer or wand at a coin operated vehicle wash to attack the problem.

2. Give your vehicle a thorough washing, either by hand or taking it through an automated vehicle wash. The initial wash eliminates most contaminants so you can focus on detail later. 

3. Clean wheels separately. Automated car washes tend to pass lightly over wheels and leave grime in the rim barrels.

  • That sooty-looking film is corrosive and can permanently damage your expensive rims. Look for products designed specifically for wheels since household chemicals can harm clear coat, painted and chrome surfaces. The latest products do not require a hose and bucket.

4. Did you drive through a swarm of insects recently? Insects can cake on all surfaces of your vehicle during autumn harvest no matter where you live and especially while traveling through agricultural areas.

  • Bug goo is acidic and can readily stain surfaces. Treat areas with an insect solution designed for automobile surfaces.
  • Then, as with wheels and undercarriage, use a power washer or con op wash to spray away the problem

5. Run your hand over the vehicle surface and look for rough patches. Do some areas feel like sandpaper? Consider using a “clay bar,” a synthetic material designed for vehicles that feels like putty.

  • Those rough spots are contaminants which have bonded to the vehicle surface. Left unattended, embedded contaminants can cause permanent damage to your vehicle’s painted surfaces. A clay bar gently breaks the bonds and leaves the surface smooth.

6. Apply a coat of wax and give your vehicle the “bead test.” 

  • That is, does water bead up and roll off the vehicle surface? If not, then it’s time for another cleaning and coat of wax.
  • You have a lot of easy-to-apply choices. One of the most recent technologies is called “ceramic coating” labeled “SIO2 technology” or “ceramic-infused.”
  • Read the product label thoroughly. Some ceramic coatings are applied right after the wash cycle before the vehicle dries. It wipes off readily and leaves a glass-like shine that can last through fall even in tough environments.

7. Treat yourself to a healthy cabin. Dirt, dust, fur and spills from summer road trips fill your vehicle cabin with allergens and mold spores.

  • Vacuum the cabin and dry out areas of moisture on and under carpeted areas. Wipe up those coffee or sugary drinks spills before they cause stain or mold growth.
  • Also, remove soiled sports gear promptly to eliminate moisture in the cabin. Don’t forget to vacuum dirt and remove damp sports gear from the trunk area.

8. Apply a protective spray to carpeted areas. Autumn adventures can turn into wet hikes or bike rides.

9. Use upholstery cleaner and protectant for seats and other interior surfaces. Moisture from wet clothes can seep into the seat cushions and creates a petri dish for mold growth. 

10. Keep a clear view of the world while driving. Use window cleaner designed for automobile glass to prevent streaks. Clean both sides of the glass. Hazy film accumulates on interior glass surfaces during summer months and can turn the windshield into a sheet of glare. 

11. Avoid rainwater spotting by wiping down your vehicle after autumn storms. Beads of water can leave pale stains on vehicle surfaces and tend to attract contaminants.

Driving In Fall Weather – Tips For Teens And Parents

Ahh, the fall weather. Things cool off, the holiday season is here, fireplaces are burning, and, well, the roads are becoming more dangerous!

Driving in fall weather is no joke with the unique and temporary hazards it provides. For example, wet leaves on the pavement can act just the same as ice, and as soon as those wet leaves are gone, it will be replaced with actual ice!

If you’re the parent of a teen driver, all of the above might have you cringing.

Due to your age and experience in driving, you may already know by now that driving in fall weather poses some unique challenges, but your teen has yet to experience that.

Why is it that there are so many events and things to do when the weather is the most likely to be challenging? Football games, school dances, even drama productions go on during the fall!

What are you supposed to do when your teen gets his driver’s license? Turn him into a reverse vampire who stays in at night and only goes out in the daylight?

Since we all know how unrealistic that is, we’ve come up with a few ideas that might ease your worried mind and help make your teen a better driver when it comes to the adventures of autumn.

The Challenges Of Driving In Fall Weather

First, let your teen driver know that there are several things that can make driving in fall weather trickier than driving in the summer.

Back to school season means more buses,, more pedestrians, and more cars on the road causing more traffic jams and stops.

Falling leaves make roadways slick, hide potholes, and cover lane markings.

And when it rains? They get wet enough to feel like diving on ice.

Speaking of ice, the frost is on the pumpkin and the roadways, so look out for icy patches on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas.

Fog becomes a consideration as the nights are chilled while the days are still warm, making visibility treacherous.

Sometimes fog can last well into the late morning until the sun can burn it off. But as the sun burns off the fog, it causes its own host of problems, such as high glare from midday to setting.

Lastly, don’t forget that this is mating and migrating season for deer so you might find them out and about more often than not, especially in early darkness.

So Long, Cell Phone

The best way for your teen to watch out for the changes that happen while driving in fall weather and every other season is for them to be alert and aware at all times.

If you’ve never put your foot down over cell phone usage while driving before, do it before she gets behind the wheel.

A “quick” text is no match for the quickness of a leaping deer.

Looking up from the keypad into the suddenly shifting and glaring sunshine can be a disaster. Make it clear that there are no negotiations on this one.

You might sound like a nag, but you’ll keep your kid alive and nag able for years to come.


Preparation For Driving In The Fall Makes Perfect

Other things to talk to your teen about before he starts driving in fall weather, and for you to consider when you drive, is all about preparation:

  • Stay within the speed limit; less if conditions or visibility are poor
  • Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you to allow reaction time
  • Skip the high beams and stick with low which are better in fog and won’t cause glare
  • Clear windshields of dirt and debris inside and frost and ice outside
  • Keep your eyes peeled for deer and other wildlife in early morning and evening hours
  • Checking and regulating your tire pressure is essential as the temps fluctuate and affect the pressure daily

Driver’s Ed Online Programs Can Be Beneficial

There is much to be said about driver’s Ed online programs.

Though you can take your pick of multiple courses out there, we’d like to suggest driversed.com.

This company has been around for more than 20 years already. They have made it big by repackaging the material from your usual in-person driver’s ed courses into an online traffic school. 

So what’s the advantage of taking the course online through DriversEd? Isn’t it the same as taking the course in a classroom setup?

Content-wise, yes. You’ll learn everything that you’ll need to learn from a driver’s education online, just the same if you take the class in person.

But an online driver’s ed has a lot of perks in store for you.

The first one, of course, is convenience. You can take this online course 100% online. This means that you can finish the course even without getting out of bed. You can take the course on your phone or your laptop, and you can access the materials 24/7. No need to go to an actual, physical school! Yay!

Another advantage here is that online courses are more entertaining, and in a way, enjoyable. 

Your teen will love the graphics and animation with a cool 3D look that will hold their attention. The best part is, your teen can learn as she goes, on her busy schedule.

We like driversed.com for many reasons.

The Interactive courses are full of graphics and easy-to-understand content to ensure drivers retain knowledge, which is of the utmost importance when it comes to teens who can barely remember to throw their clothes into the hamper. 

And with teens who live and breathe on their electronic devices, they have multiple platforms available; he can start a course on his computer, continue on his tablet, and finish on his phone. 

For you, it’s important to know that friendly US-based agents are there for support wherever (and whenever) you need them, 24/7. 

Plus, this company offers practice permit tests if your teen hasn’t quite gotten that far yet. This way you know that she’ll nail the test and not just luck out with good guessing!

Practice Makes Perfect

When it comes to driver’s Ed online programs, you can’t go wrong with one that prides itself on being well rounded, engaging, and completely certified.

Reviewing the material with your teen can be helpful so that you’ll both be on the same page when you go out driving together.

It will surely give you something better to talk about other than the latest queen-bee drama at school, or something better to listen to than the silence that comes from teenage boy hormones!

Best of luck to you both and we hope you enjoy the thrills of fall before the chills of winter set in. But that’s a whole other set of driving tips!

Have Fun Driving in Fall Weather

With all that said, driving in fall weather can be fun, despite the dangers and hazards that you and your teen may come across.

The key to enjoying driving in this season is in your own hands. Just keep on following the basic rules of safe driving and you’re on the safe side of things.

Accidents can happen, but it’s less likely to happen if you’ve taken proper measures in becoming a responsible driver.

As a parent, you’d want to keep your teen safe from harm. However, you should always relax when they take the wheel. Your teen may not be at your level of experience right now, but they’ll get there. The important thing is you’re there to learn with them.

Best of luck to you both and we hope you enjoy the thrills of fall before the chills of winter set in. But that’s a whole other set of driving tips!Don’t Forget To Prepare Your Vehicle For Winter!

Driving In Fall Weather: Prepare Your Car For Winter
Winter Prep Tips

Schedule your maintenance or repair today, to give your vehicles the care they need!

As Days Get Shorter, Check Vehicle Lights, Wipers

November 4, 2020

Winter is quickly approaching and that means fewer hours of daylight. To be sure you can be seen by others and your visibility is not compromised, check your vehicle’s lights and wipers, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

“The days are getting shorter, so it is a good time to check that your vehicle’s wipers and lighting are working properly because the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen,” said Nathan Perrine, executive director, Car Care Council. “From the driver’s seat you may not notice a light that isn’t working, so check all of your car’s lights and replace those that are out. Also, be sure to inspect and replace wiper blades so you can see clearly when wet weather hits.”

The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow and dirt from building up on the windshield, maintaining clear visibility. Many factors can accelerate the replacement interval of wipers, including operating conditions (winter conditions are tough on wiper blades), frequency of use, material and type of wipers and sunny weather. In fact, wiper blades can deteriorate faster and need more frequent replacement in desert states.

Lights are normal wear items that require periodic inspection and replacement. The lighting system provides nighttime visibility; signals and alerts other drivers; and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior. In addition to replacing dimming, rapidly blinking and non-functioning lights, the following tips can help keep you safe: 

  • If there is any doubt on whether or not your headlights should be on, turn them on. Lights not only help you see better in early twilight, they also make it easier for other drivers to see you.
  • Keep headlights, tail lights and signal lights clean. External dirt and debris can dim operational lights from being seen by others.
  • Make sure that your headlights are properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights; you should be able to stop inside the illuminated area, otherwise you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.

For more information about keeping your vehicle in safe, dependable operating condition, visit the Car Care Council website at www.carcare.org.

The non-profit Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For the latest car care news, visit the council’s online media room at http://media.carcare.org. To order a free copy of the popular Car Care Guide, visit the council’s consumer education website at www.carcare.org

Schedule your maintenance or repair today, to give your vehicles the care they need!

‘Cone Zone’ Season Can Be Tough On Vehicles

Summer is the main season for “cone zones,” road construction where you will likely hit a bump or two, or come across loose stones and other hazards. These rough road conditions can be tough on a vehicle’s steering and suspension system and can throw out the alignment, while loose stones have the potential to damage the vehicle’s exterior or windshield, according to the non-profit Car Care Council.

“Even the most careful motorist, who is driving slowly and carefully through road construction, is bound to hit an unexpected bump or other road hazards,” said Nathan Perrine, executive director, Car Care Council. “Be sure to pay attention to your car and if you think there’s a problem, have it taken care of as soon as possible.”

The main symptoms of steering and suspension or wheel alignment problems are uneven tire wear, pulling to one side, noise and vibration while cornering or loss of control. The council recommends that motorists have their vehicles checked out immediately if any of these symptoms exist, as steering and suspension systems are key safety-related components and largely determine the car’s ride and handling. Regardless of road conditions, these systems should be checked annually and a wheel alignment should be performed at the same time.

Motorists also should do frequent visual checks of their vehicle’s exterior and windshield to identify any chips, dings or cracks. These are small problems that can become costly repairs and safety hazards if they aren’t taken care of immediately.

For information to help you keep your vehicle running dependably and protect its long-term value, visit the Car Care Council’s website at www.carcare.org and sign up for the free custom service schedule.

Schedule your maintenance or repair today, to give your vehicles the care they need!

What Are the Most Important Car Fluids to Check?

Liz Kim | Oct 13, 2020

Under every car’s hood, you’ll find a veritable nest of hoses and reservoirs filled with fluids, every one of them engineered to fulfill a specific role. And a part of being a responsible car owner is checking the fluid levels and replenishing them when necessary. 

Important Car Fluids to Check

Older cars need more frequent checks and maintenance because they tend to use more of these fluids and develop leaks with age. But their engine bays allow for easier identification of the various fluid reservoirs and easier access to measurement dipsticks. They’re also simpler to work on if you’re a do-it-yourself type.

Newer cars often have a plastic engine cover or shroud covering the mess of mechanicals. This makes the engine bay look neat and finished, and also makes it more challenging to identify and check various components. Apparently, automakers assume that a professional will service more complex modern vehicles at specific intervals outlined in the owner’s manual, or when a sophisticated self-diagnostic test warns you of a particular problem through an alert appearing on your smartphone.

In either case, opening your vehicle’s hood and acquainting yourself with the various fluid reservoirs can help you proactively keep your car in top shape. These are the primary fluids that a vehicle needs to run at peak performance.https://f7693b8d5dcba2e5862faa04b95cd3e2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Engine Oil

Inside of your engine, many moving parts create friction. Oil lubricates these components and reduces friction, making it the lifeblood of your engine. It is normal for a car to use a little oil, and for oil to get dirty. This is why you should check your oil regularly to make sure your engine has enough of it, and that it remains clean. 

You can check your engine’s oil using the dipstick. Park the car on a level surface, pull the dipstick out of the engine’s oil reservoir, wipe the dipstick clean, put the stick back into the reservoir, and pull it out again. You’ll find fresh oil at the bottom of the dipstick, along with markings that indicate whether the reservoir contains an adequate amount of it or not.

If the engine oil is low, unscrew the oil cap and add small amounts of the proper oil until the dipstick measurement shows enough in the reservoir. Also, the oil on the dipstick should be light brown with a fluid viscosity. If the oil is dark brown or even black, or doesn’t easily drip from the dipstick, you are well beyond the time to get an oil change.

Older vehicles require more frequent oil changes than newer vehicles. Oil change frequency also depends on how you drive the car. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the car manufacturer’s recommendations.

Engine Coolant

An internal combustion engine creates a series of explosions to make its power. As you can imagine, this process also creates plenty of heat, as does the friction of the engine’s moving parts. Coolant, or antifreeze, is what disperses this heat, making it the second lifeblood of your car’s engine.

Coolant flows through the engine, carrying the heat to the radiator. Fresh air flows into the radiator through the front grille, chilling the coolant before it makes another trip through the engine. It is vital to make sure nothing blocks your grille and other air intakes to maximize engine cooling.

Never check your coolant when the engine is hot, as this could result in injury. When the engine is cold, open the hood and inspect the coolant reservoir. This component is typically made of opaque plastic and has measurement indicators that tell you whether there is enough coolant or if you should add coolant.

Optimally, you’ll need to check your engine’s coolant every 50,000 miles. Also, the process and the type of coolant can vary by car, so be sure to check your owner’s manual to make sure you’re using the correct method and materials for your vehicle.

If the coolant gets low, the car might overheat, which will damage the engine. A temperature gauge or warning light on your dashboard will let you know if the engine is overheating. Pull over as soon as it is safe to do so and turn off the engine. As logic dictates, and to avoid injury, allow the engine to cool off before opening the coolant reservoir or the radiator.

Transmission Fluid

Similar to the engine, a car’s transmission has many moving parts that create friction. Transmission fluid lubricates these parts, reducing both friction and premature wear. A change in transmission shifting behavior merits a check of the transmission fluid. 

Older cars have a dipstick that allows you to check the fluid level and fluid quality using the same methodology for checking the oil. Newer cars require a mechanic to check the fluid level and quality, and some modern vehicles have completely sealed transmissions that never require a fluid check for the lifetime of the car.

Brake Fluid

Car braking systems use hydraulic pressure to apply the brakes. Brake fluid moves through chambers and hoses to translate the driver’s request for braking at the pedal into the application of the brakes at the vehicle’s wheels. But irregularities in the fluid, whether the system has a leak, water has seeped in, or air is stuck in the system, can negatively affect braking performance. 

Check your brake fluid if your brake pedal feels mushier than usual, or if you experience a decrease in stopping action. The fluid could be contaminated or at lower levels than required. Making sure your brake fluid is in top condition could be as important as the effectiveness of your brake pads and calipers. 

Power Steering Fluid

While many modern cars use electric steering systems, there are still plenty of vehicles on the road equipped with traditional power steering. To make it easier to turn the steering wheel, power steering uses a hydraulic system with power steering fluid. If your car’s power steering suddenly feels heavy and hard to turn, this may indicate low power steering fluid levels or a leak somewhere in the system. The condition merits a check of the power steering fluid reservoir before visiting a mechanic.

Windshield Washer Fluid

Most likely, the most common fluid you’ll check underneath your car’s hood is the windshield washer fluid. Depending on where you live and how much you drive, you’ll regularly consume this fluid as you clean your windshield of bugs, grit, and dirt. Running low on this fluid impacts your ability to drive but doesn’t harm the vehicle’s mechanical components. 

You’ll know when it’s time to add washer fluid. You’ll see a warning light on your dashboard, and the windshield washer jets will stop working. Experts recommend refilling the washer fluid reservoir with official washer fluid instead of water. Except in extreme temperatures, washer fluid doesn’t freeze. It’s also easy to find at just about any gas station or auto parts store. Adding more to your car is as easy as finding the proper reservoir, opening the cap, and filling it up.

While most modern vehicles require little in the way of problem diagnosis or action on the part of their owners when it comes to vehicle maintenance, it’s always helpful to understand what the most important car fluids are to check, and why. Proactively examining the various fluid levels in the reservoirs under your car’s hood can help to prevent expensive repair bills later, while offering added peace of mind while driving your car today.

If you would like River City Fleet Services to make sure your vehicle fluids are OK, or for any other maintenance or repairs, please schedule an appointment today.

April 22nd is Earth Day, but You Can Celebrate All Year with These “Green” Auto Tips

By changing a few habits, you can do their part in helping the environment, say the experts at the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE recommends regular vehicle maintenance and better driving habits as two easy-to-implement strategies. What’s more, improved automotive habits will help your vehicle last longer and command a better resale price.

The following tips from ASE can put you on the road to environmentally conscious car care:            

  • Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the owner’s manual.  
  • Don’t ignore that ‘Service Engine’ light. Today’s vehicles have much cleaner tailpipe emissions that they did 30 years ago, but a poorly running engine or faulty exhaust system will cause your vehicle to pollute much more than it would otherwise.  
  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. Not only will you reduce the engine’s effort and, thus, gasoline consumption, your tires will last longer too, saving you money and easing the burden at recycling centers.  
  • Have your vehicle’s air conditioner serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
  • Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both of these habits guzzle gas. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to one trip to eliminate unnecessary driving.  
  • Remove excess items from the vehicle. Less weight equals better gas mileage. Remove that roof-top luggage carrier after vacations to reduce air drag, too.  
  • If you do your own repairs, properly dispose of engine fluids and batteries. Some repair facilities accept these items from consumer. You can also contact local government for hazardous material drop-off/recycling stations. Remember too that improperly disposed fluids such as antifreeze can harm pets and wildlife.  

Schedule your maintenance or repair today, and help the environment and your vehicle!

If your gas-powered vehicle’s acceleration has gone from “zoom, zoom” to “putt, putt,” there’s probably a spark plug problem. Poor fuel economy is another indication the plugs or spark plug wires likely need replacing.

Although modern spark plugs last considerably longer than those produced 30 years ago, they don’t last forever and need to be replaced at regular intervals. It’s best to check the owner’s manual.

How Do I Know If My Spark Plugs Need Replacing? - Kelley Blue Book
River City Fleet Services Replaces Inefficient Spark Plugs

How Do I Know If My Spark Plugs Need Replacing?

ByRick Kranz 03/02/2022 4:00pm

spark plugs

What Does a Spark Plug Do?

A spark plug is screwed into each engine cylinder; it is needed to start the engine and keep it running. The biggest demand on an ignition system is to start the car and make it run. The portion of the plug that sticks out from the engine is connected to the vehicle’s ignition system, which must provide a specific amount of electric current to generate a spark inside each of the engine’s cylinders. The opposite end of the spark plug has two exposed electrodes that are located inside the cylinder. The electrical current from the ignition system travels to the plug’s center electrode. A high-voltage spark jumps a small gap to reach the second electrode.

That spark ignites the fuel-air mixture inside the engine cylinder. Each time a spark is created, a small explosion occurs inside the cylinder that pushes down against the top of the piston. If your vehicle has four cylinders, it has four pistons; six cylinders, six pistons, etc. each served by an individual plug.

The spark plug is a reliable workhorse. For example, at idle, say 800 rpm, the spark will fire 200 times per minute in a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine. As engine speed increases, say to 2,000 rpm, the plug fires 500 times per minute.

Types of Spark Plugs

As you probably know, different gas-powered cars boast different engines — which means they need different types of spark plugs. Depending on the number of cylinders your engine has will determine how many you need. It’s one for one. For example, if you drive a 4-cylinder engine, you need 4 spark plugs.

To go along with engine fit, most spark plugs get made from different types of metal, some being cheaper than others. However, cheap ones tend to last a shorter lifespan than ones made from more expensive metals. Manufacturers will typically recommend the type of spark plugs your gas-powered vehicle needs. It’s best to check your owner’s manual.

Get to know the types below.

Copper Spark Plugs 

Copper spark plugs, around for decades, are the most common and cheapest on the market. However, these tend to have a short lifespan, so you will need to replace them more often. 

Iridium Spark Plugs 

Iridium spark plugs offer a very long lifespan, which is reflected in the price. They are often the most expensive spark plug type on the market today. So, if your manual says you need iridium spark plugs, that’s what you need, because anything less might affect performance. 

Platinum Spark Plugs 

Platinum spark plugs last longer and typically run hotter. That means these spark plugs reduce carbon buildup in your engine. Since these are made with hard but high-quality metal, you can drive about 100,000 miles before needing to replace platinum spark plugs. If you drive a newer gas-powered car, some manufacturers will recommend this type.

Double Platinum Spark Plugs 

Double platinum spark plugs got their name not from a double coating, but because they are platinum on both the center electrode and the side electrode. These were made specifically for cars with “wasted spark ignition systems,” meaning two spark plugs are fired at once. This causes increased wear and tear on the spark plugs, which is why this type is necessary. You can use a regular platinum spark plug in a wasted spark system, but it will impact both performance and longevity. This type of spark plug also costs more. 

Silver Spark Plug Systems 

Silver spark plugs use silver at the electrode tip. These are pretty uncommon and are typically found in older European performance cars and motorcycles. Nonetheless, they are around but are often less durable than platinum and iridium spark plugs. Your vehicle will most likely not need these, but always double-check the manual. 

8 Signs the Spark Plugs or Spark Plug Wires Need Replacing:

1. Regular Maintenance

Check the owner’s manual for the replacement interval. Some automakers require a change at 18,000 miles, some at 30,000 to 35,000 miles, and others at 100,000.

2. Spark Plug Wires

Really old vehicles use a distributor, distributor cap, and spark plug wires. Some later models have an ignition system without a distributor, but they still have traditional spark plug wires. Newer vehicles use a coil-on-plug ignition system that eliminates electrical problems caused by worn-out spark plug wires. The industry now requires a more accurate control of spark and fuel delivery because of the need to annually boost fuel economy and reduce emissions.

Owners of older vehicles with spark plug wires may need to replace them because they become brittle and tend to crack. At that point, they are no longer providing the proper amount of electrical current to ignite the spark plugs and adequately burn the gasoline.

3. Fuel Economy Degradation

Dirty or fouled spark plugs reduce fuel economy because the plugs are not efficiently burning gasoline in the combustion cycle. Miles-per-gallon can drop by as much as 20% to 30%. A mechanic will replace the plugs and adjust each plug’s gap to factory specifications using a special tool.

4. Slower Acceleration

If it takes longer to accelerate, there’s less power to pass a car, for example, the issue could be worn spark plugs, they need replacing. However, a bad fuel filter, dirty or clogged fuel injectors, as well as issues with the oxygen sensor and ignition system can slow acceleration.

5. Rough Idling

If the engine is making a pinging, rattling, or knock-like noise, or if there is a strong vibration, the spark plugs and/or the spark plug wires could be to blame.

6. Engine Misfires

Replace the plugs more frequently if there’s oil on the plug’s tip when removed from the engine. The presence of oil is due to a cracked valve cover gasket, degradation of the spark plug O-ring, a faulty head gasket, or defective or worn valve guides. A repair is necessary because oil can cause the engine to misfire or prevent it from starting. An engine that continues to misfire could damage the catalytic converter, which might cost $1,000 or more to replace.

7. Difficulty Starting

Worn-out spark plugs can be the cause. Have a seasoned mechanic determine if the plugs need replacing. Simply, the engine will not start if the spark plugs can’t produce enough spark to start the combustion process. Some of the other causes for difficulty starting include issues with the ignition system, a battery needs replacing, or worn-out spark plug wires. Replace the car battery if it fails to produce enough voltage to start the engine.

8. Warning Lights

Finally, don’t ignore the “Check Engine,” “Malfunction,” or engine silhouette symbols. These warning lights may illuminate if the spark plugs fail, or if the spark plug wires need replacement. However, it depends on the automaker’s purpose for the light. It might be limited to warning the gas cap is loose, the vehicle is emitting emissions above U.S. regulations, the oxygen sensor or the mass airflow sensor may need replacing, and/or the catalytic converter is not operating properly.

One last reminder: If one of the lights mentioned above flashes, immediately shut off the engine and call a tow truck. The flashing light may signal a serious problem with the catalytic converter. Ignoring this warning could result in an expensive repair bill. Check the owner’s manual to know all the warning symbols for your vehicle.

If you prefer not to do the work yourself, you can check the average price for spark plug replacement for your vehicle, plus find a nearby auto shop to perform the service for you using Kelley Blue Book’s Service and Repair Guide.

River City Fleet Services can help you check and replace your spark plugs if needed.

Signs that your air filter needs a replacement

Signs that your air filter needs a replacement
Signs that your air filter needs a replacement

The air filter is an important part of the engine because it helps the engine to breathe clean air, and clean air is important because it helps the engine to run efficiently and properly. Usually, air filters are replaced on every service. Still, sometimes if the car is being heavily used under dusty conditions like construction sites or heavy traffic areas, then the air filter can get clogged up much faster. Because of this, you would have to replace the air filter sooner than usual.

Signs that your air filter needs a replacement

Today, we list down five signs that can help you to identify if your air filter needs a replacement.

Dirty air filter

The most important and most easy way to identify that you need a replacement filter is to open up the bonnet of your car and inspect the air filter. If your vehicle is new or the filter was replaced recently, then the air filter will be white or almost white. If the filter is covered with dust and debris or it has gone dark or dirty, then it is time to replace the filter.

Low fuel efficiency

Your fuel efficiency will drop because the engine will not be getting enough oxygen that is required to function properly and efficiently. The engine has to burn a mixture of fuel and air, and if the air is not in an optimum amount, then the combustion will not be in its most efficient way. This will lead to reduced fuel efficiency from the engine. However, if your car comes with fuel-injection, then this should not be a big problem because the fuel injection system calculates the amount of air that should go into the engine.

Check engine light turns on

Signs that your air filter needs a replacement

Well, there is nothing much that you can do if the check engine light turns on. This is because proper tools and proper knowledge is required to figure out why the light has turned on as it can be turned on for numerous reasons. Modern engines require a lot of air, and when the air is inadequate, the carbon deposits can accumulate, which can trigger the check engine light. The best thing to do in such a scenario is to contact your service station because they will be able to assist you.


One of the reasons for an engine misfiring is an improper mixture of air and fuel. If the air supply is restricted, the quantity of fuel increases in the mixture, which means that the spark plugs cannot spark the mixture effectively. Due to this, the engine misfires and jerks. Replacing the air filter might solve this problem.

Reduced power

If you have been driving your car for quite some time, then you start to understand it and feel if it behaves abnormally. If your vehicle is not responding to the throttle inputs as it used to do earlier, it means that the engine is not receiving the air that it needs. Just replacing a clogged air filter with a new one can increase the performance of the vehicle by up to 11 percent. On this same science, the performance air filters are based. Performance air filters provide more air and smoother airflow for the engine, which increases the performance of the engine and help it breathe even better.

These are the five signs that your car may need a new air filter. Replacing the air filter is beneficial for the engine as it helps smoother running and better longevity of the engine. The air filter protects the engine from the dust and debris that might enter the engine and helps to provide optimum fuel and air mixture. You must be attentive while driving and keep observing how your car is reacting to your inputs if you think that there is something wrong or abnormal. You should consult a mechanic as soon as possible and periodically check the status of the air filter.

Schedule an appointment today to get your air filter checked.

River City Fleet Services, Inc.

River City Fleet Services, Inc.