Weekly auto rail, with car-care tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
We all know the winter months can be hard on vehicles, and this year was no exception. Chances are your vehicle is in need of a little restoration. Returning your car to optimal condition may be less expensive and time-consuming than you think. Use these tips to get your car back in shape for a summer of smooth and smart travel.
- Winter can be tough on a car's exterior, and snow and ice may have made it difficult to see any chips or scratches in your vehicle. But now spring sunshine will reveal every nick, chip and scratch in your vehicle's paint. Restoring your ride to its original factory finish takes only minutes with scratch fix products.
- Driving on tires that are too flat or full can make summer traveling dangerous and expensive. With sky-high gas prices, maintaining optimal air pressure and getting the most out of your miles is more important than ever. You can improve gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires properly inflated, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The recommended tire pressure for vehicles is usually found on a sticker inside the driver's-side door or glove box, as well as in your vehicle owner's manual.
- Even if your windshield wipers aren't visibly worn, they may not be working effectively after the winter months. Freezing temperatures can cause rubber to become brittle, making your blades more likely to crack or split. If yours leave behind spots or streaks of cleaning fluid, they need to be replaced. If you can pull the blades away from the windshield with little resistance, you may need new wiper arms.
- With just a few basic cleaning products and a little elbow grease, you can make your ride gleam. First, remove and wash the floor mats, and vacuum the carpets and seats. Using an all-purpose cleaner, wipe down the dashboard and use canned air to remove dust and dirt from the tiny nooks and crannies in the instrument panel. Use foaming fabric soap or leather cleaner on any stains, and fix small tears with a vinyl repair kit. Next, use hot water and vehicle soap to wash the vehicle in sections from top to bottom. Remember the wheel wells, and give a final rinse to avoid soap spots. When dry, wax the body, including under door jambs and behind the bumpers. Use a toothbrush to remove excess wax from emblems or flat black surfaces, then scrub your tires and polish the rims for a head-turning exterior.
Here are the cities that are the least gas-guzzling, according to Forbes:
5. San Francisco
4. Bergen-Passaic, N.J.
2. Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
1. New York
Did You Know
China experienced its first auto-sales drop in more than two years in April.
Q: I own a 2011 E-350 MBZ. The car dealer tells me that gear hard shift adjusts by itself as more miles are driven. Is this true?
A: The transmission is computer-controlled, and these cars do have a firm shift. There will be some minor shift changes over time as the transmission adapts to your driving style. I do not think that it will satisfy your concerns. Did you ask the dealer about a reprogramming possibility?
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service