Weekly auto rail, with maintenance tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
Motorists should perform some simple car maintenance checks to protect their families from an unexpected roadside breakdown during the coldest time of the year. Checking and replacing components such as belts and hoses, spark plugs and antifreeze at the correct time and mileage intervals for your vehicle could mean the difference between a $5 part or replacing a $3,000 engine. Poorly maintained cars and trucks lead to thousands of traffic accidents each year. According to the National Car Care Council, the cost of accidents caused by vehicles that are not properly maintained is more than $2 billion annually.
- Cooling system failures are the No. 1 cause of engine-related roadside breakdowns. "Nobody likes being stranded on the highway, yet so many motorists wait until their cars break down to perform needed maintenance," said AutoZ0ne spokesperson Sarah "Bogi" Lateiner, ASE certified Master Mechanic and owner of 180 Automotive. "The engine cooling system is one of the most important yet most neglected systems in a vehicle. Replacing antifreeze at regular intervals keeps the vehicle from overheating and provides freeze protection during colder months."
- Bad belts and hoses are the second most common cause of roadside breakdowns. "It's easy to neglect your car's engine, especially when there's no visible sign of trouble," Lateiner said. "Hoses for example, usually wear from the inside out and won't always show signs of wear. That makes it even more important for motorists to proactively check and replace parts such as belts and hoses and spark plugs at regular intervals. These parts are readily available at automotive retailers such as AutoZone."
- Replace spark plugs to get better performance and fuel economy. "Driving around with a worn spark plug is equivalent to throwing gas money out your exhaust pipe, Lateiner said. "As spark plugs burn out, they do not burn fuel as cleanly, so it's important to replace them as your vehicle manual specifies."
Motor Trend recently announced its Truck of the Year, with the Ram Heavy Duty taking the prize. Here are the runners-up:
- Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
- Ford Transit Connect
- Toyota Tundra
For more information, go to www.motortrend.com.
Did You Know
General Motors is retiring the Saab line because a deal to sell the unit fell through.
Question: I own a 2002 Acura MDX and would like to put a brighter headlight in. Are there any brands you know of?
Answer: There are a couple of replacement aftermarket headlight brands that I use. Piaa, Hella, and Silver Stone are what I use. These replacement lights are DOT approved and offer a brighter, whiter light and are worth the money for nighttime driving.
-- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service