It’s already plenty nerve-wracking buying a used car. You might wonder if there’s an underlying mechanical problem or worry about the after-effects of a previous accident. Now, with the recent flooding along the Missouri River, there’s one more thing to worry about: whether or not the car you’re considering has been damaged by a flood. It’s an unfortunate reality for some shoppers, as thousands of cars from all over Kansas City have been damaged by water, then cleaned up for sale. How do you spot one of these vehicles?
Signs of Flood Damage in a Used Car or Truck
A few specific signs can indicate an issue with past water damage:
- Water lines or condensation in the lights. Unless the lights were completely replaced, you may be able to detect the faint signs of water lines or condensation on the lens or reflector of the front or rear vehicle lights. These are hard to clean completely.
- Damp, musty carpets & mats (or brand-new carpeting). The carpets can give you a great clue about past water damage. If they were not removed right away and carefully dried, they’ll still smell like dirty water or mold. Check underneath the floor mats for any sign of unusual grime or mud. Obviously, if carpeting was just replaced, you might inquire as to why, as this is not normal.
Who’s down with OBD? Yeah, you know: Me!
When DIY mechanics troubleshoot a car problem, they rely on experience, their guts, and what their code scanners spit out. But what do all those OBD-II codes mean? With help from some friendly Kansas City service technicians at McCarthy, here are 7 of the most uncommon OBD2 diagnostic errors they’ve encountered, plus a list of symptoms, causes, and potential fixes for each.
When you pull into a gas station, you probably fill up with the same type of fuel each time. But have you ever wondered which type is best for your car? Have you ever wondered what those numbers meant? Have you ever wondered what the purpose of life is?
Well, a friend of mine tweeted recently, asking what the difference was between these fuel grades. So, after speaking with the friendly technicians at a friendly Kansas City auto service center, I’m ready to give you some answers to two of those three Qs (you can guess which ones). Here are some of the key differences between 87, 89, 91, and other fuel grades. Continue Reading…
A dealer friend of ours recently recounted a terrifying tale in which the protagonist failed to change his oil over the course of 8 years. We’ll spare you the gory details, but know this: the story didn’t end well for the owner of that poor car.
So, let us ask you: When’s the last time you changed your engine oil? If it was when St Louis still had a pro football team, we’re here to push you into the service center, like, yesterday. You don’t even want to know
what happens to an engine when its oil and filters aren’t changed (but we’ll tell you anyway).
When to Change Your Oil
First, you need to know when to change your oil because “never” is not an acceptable length of time.
Although the traditional rule is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months, modern vehicles are typically a bit more lenient, requiring you to get an oil change after 5,000-plus miles. While that extended maintenance time is nice, it can also cause unintended consequences—namely forgetfulness camouflaged as peace of mind, leading to a missed oil change here and a skipped oil filter replacement there.
If you’ve noticed that you aren’t getting as far on a tank as usual, there might be a few key reasons to consider. If you’re getting bad gas milage, it means your car is not running as efficiently as it could. Take a look at some of the reasons why you might be guzzling gas, and learn how to get more bang for your buck.
Highway driving. If there isn’t traffic, I find myself charging down the highway. Experts say that most cars get the best gas mileage around 40 to 60 mph. Anything more than that decreases your fuel efficiency. Slow down and keep the gas in your tank!
Idling. It’s not good for your car, and it’s not good for the environment. Whether you’re picking up your kids from school or pulling up at the ATM, turn off the engine. The A/C might be nice at the moment, but it’s killing your gas mileage.
Gasoline type. If you’re using E85 ethanol, it can seriously hurt your gas mileage. Also, if you’re pumping your expensive sports car full of regular gas when it calls for premium, you’re not going to get the fuel economy that the car is supposed to deliver.
Maintenance. A clogged air filter or a malfunctioning oxygen sensor are both killers of fuel economy. Other factors to consider are under-inflated tires and/or suspension that is out of alignment. Keep up with regular maintenance and your gas bill with thank you!
Winter is hard enough without having to walk to work in the ice and snow… which is exactly what will happen if your car breaks down due to poor maintenance. Many people don’t realize how much extra care and attention a car needs during the colder months. Here a few tips to make sure you don’t get snow stranded:
Check the battery. Cold temperatures significantly reduce your battery’s cranking power, especially if you park your car outside. Make sure you’re regularly checking your battery’s fluid level. On a conventional battery, remove the plastic caps on the top. If the fluid is low, add distilled water. On maintenance-free batteries, check that the window at the top of the battery displays a fully-charged status. If you’re unsure or having trouble, go to your local service station. There is usually little charge to test your battery (haha).
Replace wiper blades. Even the most efficient wiper blades lose their effectiveness after about six months. When you know you’re gearing up for a season of icy windshields, go ahead and replace them. They are pretty easy to install, but if you have questions or prefer a professional, most service and auto part stores will change them out for free when you purchase the blades.
Change the oil. Cold weather causes motor oil to thicken, which makes it harder for your car’s engine to turn over. Before winter sets in, make sure to visit your local service station for an oil change. They will also check your coolant levels (sometimes referred to as “antifreeze”), inspect your radiator and heater hoses, and do an overall “winter health” check.
Inspect your tires. Tire pressure drops by about one pound per ten degrees of temperature, so monitor your tire pressure at all times. Additionally, your tread level is extremely important during the winter, as your safety depends heavily on tire traction. In mild to moderate snow, a new set of all-season tires should do the trick. If your area receives heavy snow, you might want to consider buying dedicated winter tires. These tires don’t last as long as all-season tires, but they have tread patterns and rubber compounds that are specially designed to grip snow and ice. I know that new tires are an expensive investment, but you and your family are valuable cargo!
The above maintenance and preventative care tips will help you have a safer winter! They’ll also keep your car drivable for years to come.
Getting an oil change is generally a pretty common and uneventful experience. However, it can be costly depending on the type of oil your car should have. You will likely hear your mechanic talk about synthetic oil, but before you give the go-ahead on this pricey job, make sure you know what the difference is.
Synthetic oil is, at the base, a cleaner oil. It’s refined, distilled, and purified to get rid of any debris and impurities that regular oil possesses. This means that the oil circulates through your engine and comes out cleaner. If your engine is running cleaner, that usually means it’s going to run longer. Synthetic oil also performs better at more extreme temperatures. It is able to flow smoothly through the cold and the heat, while regular oil can break down and expose your engine to damage.
However, it may not be worth the money. The biggest difference you will see with synthetic oil versus regular oil is how often you need to change it. It is recommended that you change your oil about every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, but with conventional oil it’s about 7,500. It all really comes down to how long you want your vehicle to run on a single oil change.