Your Car’s Ultimate Roadtrip Checklist for Summer Travels

roadtrip checklist

Summer is officially here; the kids are out of school, and families are looking forward to summer roadtrips and vacation plans. We at Tischer Auto want you to be able to enjoy your summer travels in a manner that is, of course, fun but also safe. So we’ve rounded up some of the best car prep and travel advice around the Internet and compiled all in one place—this post. The more prepared you and your cars are for travel, the more likely your trip will go smoothly.

1. Car Maintenance and Service: Before your travels, we recommend your local car professional or you inspect various aspects of your vehicle such as:

  • Engine oil and filter
  • Transmission fluid
  • Antifreeze/coolant
  • Radiator coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Air filter
  • Belts and hoses
  • Air conditioning
  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Lights—headlights, brake lights, blinkers
  • Tires and tire pressure

Some of these maintenance checks can be done yourself, while other inspections might be best suited for your local mechanic or dealership. Either way, it’s best to have a properly-serviced vehicle before you hit the road. The nature and time of your last service on your vehicle will determine how far out you will need to schedule service. We suggest a minimum of two weeks before your travel plans, and one-month out if you want to be extra cautious in the event your vehicle is long-overdue for service.

2. Check your spare tire. Nobody likes to get a flat tire, but the situation will be all the more bearable if you’ve made sure you have a properly inflated spare tire on hand, as well as a wheel wrench, jack, and wheel lock key (if applicable). If you don’t know how to change a tire on your car, also plan on speaking with your local car professional about that process. Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, many tire-changing demo videos can be found online as well.

3. Have an emergency kit. In the event of a true emergency, it’s best to have an emergency kit on hand and a few car emergency essentials.

4. Have roadside assistance. While we’re on the subject of emergencies, make sure that you have some sort of backup assistance such as an AAA membership in the event the going gets tough. If you’ve added roadside assistance to your insurance plan with your local insurance provider, we suggest double-checking the nature of this coverage with your insurance company. We speak from experience; we’ve had customers who thought they were paying for roadside assistance as part of their insurance coverage only to find out during an emergency that this was not the case!

5. Have a GPS navigation system or road atlas. Most cars today come with a built-in capability for navigation, but depending on the package you may or may not have purchased with your dealership, not every driver takes advantage of this option. At Tischer, our Acura models have AcuraLink® options and our Nissan models have NissanConnectSM with Navigation options. But no matter what car you drive, anyone can purchase a third-party navigation system for their car. If you’re feeling extra adventurous and are looking forward to truly “hitting the open road,” buy a road atlas. About.com makes a good point: “Getting off the beaten path can add an entirely new dimension to your trip.”

6. Pack your smartphone and car charger. One way to handle navigation is through your smartphone! Having your smartphone with you for summer travels is probably a no-brainer, but don’t forget to also invest in a car charger if you’re heading out for a long trip. Plus, many new cars have the ability to stream music via smartphone or iPod connections these days. Good tunes will make all the difference when cooped up in the car!

7. Download essential automotive apps. There are a ton of travel apps these days. In fact, Tischer has its own car care app and we’ve written previous blog posts about essential apps for both Nissan and Acura drivers. However, even if you’re not a Tischer customer, Nissan driver, or Acura driver, apps are your friend when venturing into new territory. For example, Gas Buddy will help you find the most affordable gas prices wherever you are. This list from Edmunds.com might be a good place to start.

8. Know the texting and cell phone laws wherever you go. If you’re not sure what the laws are in the state/city you’re visiting, just play it safe. Use hands-free options whenever possible and don’t ever text and drive.

9. Have all your paperwork in order. By paperwork we mean making sure you have your license in your wallet, and your up-to-date proof of insurance and car registration in the glovebox (or wherever you prefer to keep it). Also, having an owner’s manual on hand is probably prudent (although we realize most people don’t take the time to check it out). If you’re renting a car, make sure that you have been told where these documents are kept in the rental.

10. Smart-load extra cargo. Naturally, when people are traveling they pack extra luggage which can create quite a hefty load for your car. Distribute extra weight evenly throughout the vehicle and in the trunk. Here’s a great explanation from Consumer Reports:

Check your vehicle’s load capacity to make sure you aren’t putting too much weight in the car. On most new cars, the total weight you can carry is printed on the door placard inside the driver’s door jam. This load rating includes all the passengers and cargo. Be aware that fuel economy is reduced with extra cargo. Roof-top cargo boxes should only be filled with light bulky items. Heavy loads on the roof can make the vehicle more difficult to handle in emergency situations and increase the risk of a roll over. If not in use, remove the roof rack as if can significantly worsen your fuel economy.

11. Fill the gas tank. If you make smart use of the mobile apps we’ve referred to, you should be getting the most bang for your buck at the pump. However, it’s always smart to fill up the car before you go. Prices can be higher in cities and tourist-y areas, and gas stations are notorious for marking up gas prices just in time for holiday travel.

12. Have a schedule. If you’re planning a long trip, you’ll want to take a break. Having a driving schedule will help you stay on track but also keep you safe and alert. Decide how long you will drive, when you will take breaks, and where you’ll stop.

13. Have a clean record. We found this tip from the DMV (of course!), but it’s a good point: “Make sure all traffic tickets are paid. The cleaner the driving record, the better for you if stopped.”

14. Clean your car inside and out. While cleaning in general isn’t usually associated with vacation plans, we all know that extended car travel can result in accumulated stuff in the car—gum wrappers, food and beverage containers, personal items, etc. Giving your car a thorough cleaning inside, and even a car wash on the outside, will leave you feeling all the more prepared. Plus, it’s a good feeling to start off with a fresh, shiny car!

15. Don’t forget something for the kiddies! Four words that grate on parents’ nerves: Are we there yet? It’s tough to keep young ones entertained for more than a couple of hours in the car. Having music, games, and snacks for the kids will help distract them during travel time. So, load up the iPod and iPad with plenty of fun before you head out. Here’s something else to consider: certain models we sell at Tischer such as the Nissan Rogue, Nissan Quest, and Acura MDX, among others, have optional Entertainment Packages that are ideal for keeping kids and other company entertained during travel.
For additional tips on traveling with kids, check out “10 Tips for a Stress Free Road Trip with Kids.”

16. Relax. Planning a vacation, budgeting for vacation, and travel itself can indeed be really stressful. Most people don’t focus on relaxing until they arrive at their destination. Try to incorporate a positive attitude prior to that moment and enjoy the travel time with your friends and family. You’ve earned a vacation, so why not start relaxing immediately?

We at Tischer hope that you enjoy your summer plans and vacations this season. We hope the tips we’ve shared help you plan effectively and safely. If you have more tips to add, please feel free to do so in the comments below or share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. Make it a great summer!

*image courtesy of Floor/Flickr.com

 

Tips to Protect Your Car from Pollen Damage

pollen-damage

Here in the Baltimore and DC Metropolitan areas, we are all too familiar with pollen. With spring underway, it’s a safe assumption that many of you have already begun feeling the effects of pollen—allergies being the most common sign.

Another sign that pollen is all around us is that we can see it on our cars. And while our cars don’t suffer allergies, did you know pollen can actually damage your car’s exterior?

How Can Pollen Damage My Car?

pollen-closeup

If you look at pollen under a microscope, you will see it isn’t a smooth object; it has spores that act as little “hooks”—hooks that can latch onto our hair, our clothes, and—you guessed it—onto our cars.

Pollen can also be highly acidic and that acidity can eat away at the paint on your car.

What Not to Do

It might seem like an easy answer would be to simply wipe the pollen off your car with a non-abrasive cloth. The problem is that while the cloth may not scratch your car, those microscopic hooks can.

Secondly, a water bath won’t fully do the trick either. As we stated earlier, pollen is acidic and when it comes in contact with water, the water can activate the acidic qualities of the pollen. This acidity will begin to ruin the paint job on your car and may eventually even lead to rust in some areas!

How to Protect Your Car

What a headache a little yellow dust can cause! But don’t worry—there are some very manageable and easy things car owners can do to offset the lousy effects of pollen.

1. Use warm, soapy water and give your car a proper wash. Check out these dos and don’ts of home car washes from Consumer Reports.

2. After your car is dry, apply wax. This will add a protective layer making it harder for pollen to “latch” onto your car. We recommend using the following products.

3. Park in a garage. While no area is completely pollen-proof, parking in a business garage or in your home garage means less exposure of your car to pollen in general.

4. Buy a car cover. Maybe you thought car covers were just for those individuals who pamper their cars as much as their own children. While that may be the case for some car enthusiasts, car covers also add a protective guard against the elements of Mother Nature, such as that pesky pollen.

5. Don’t park near/under trees. We know as the temperatures warm, it’s going to be very tempting to park in the shade, and we don’t blame you. That seems like pretty sound logic. However, parking under or near trees is a danger zone for your car if you’re trying to avoid pollen exposure as much as possible in the coming months.

Bonus tips—Protect Yourself!

6. Check your cabin air filter! You can have this replaced during service at your dealership or do it yourself—just check your owner’s manual for details. A clean cabin air filter means less pollen getting on the inside of your car.

7. Keep your windows up whenever possible, even when parked, to lessen pollen infiltration in your car’s interior and fabrics.

8. When using the air conditioner, use the recirculate setting. This will mean less pollen-filled outside air coming inside your vehicle.

Pollen is like the evil twin of fairy dust—it brings us down! It irritates our allergies, leaves our cars coated with that horrible neon yellow sheen, and when left untreated, can wreak havoc on our automobiles. No—there’s no happy thoughts when it comes to pollen! Hopefully we’ve given you some very simple, actionable tips that you can put to use to protect your car from pollen damage. And remember, if you’re not so great at maintaining your car, make sure you schedule service or have your car professionally detailed.

Do you have other car-saving tips when it comes to pollen? Let’s hear them! Share them below or share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading, and always protect your car!

Product Review: Pinnacle Leather Care Products

leather care

For this week’s product review post, we’re going to focus on leather and vinyl care products for the interior of vehicles. Most vehicles have some sort of vinyl and/or leather trim accenting the interior and, just like the exterior, sun exposure can wreak havoc on dashboards, seats and door panels if they aren’t protected.

Pinnacle Waxes & Polishes make an entire line of products dedicated to cleaning, protecting and conditioning the leather and vinyl components of a car’s cabin. For more than 20 years, Pinnacle has been making some of the finest detailing formulas and supplies for protecting and preserving your vehicle. From its line of leather care products, to vehicle covers, microfiber buffing and polishing products, and guide books, they have been trusted by car enthusiasts everywhere!

Pinnacle Leather & Vinyl Cleaner – Removing stains from leather and vinyl care can be very challenging, especially if you use the wrong product. Petroleum-based cleaning solvents can end up causing more damage than good on dashboards, seats, and door panels. Pinnacle Leather & Vinyl Cleaner is a pure cleaner without any silicone oils, petroleum solvents or gloss agents. Instead, the formula uses water-based surfactants and non-alkaline cleaning agents to deeply clean and gently lift out dirt, grease, and oils from delicate leather and vinyl surfaces.

Check out what some our readers had to say about Pinnacle’s Leather & Vinyl Cleaner:

“I bought this product after an extensive review of other products. I have a mobile detailer come to wash my cars and he applies this to my wife’s leather seats. This product leaves a clean smell in the car without the glossy sheen or slippery feel of some products. Leaves the seats looking like new. Definitely get this product!”  D. Cripe

“I have to say that this product is as good as, if not better, than any other leather product on the market. Very easy to use, doesn’t leave the seats greasy or it doesn’t give you the wet look.” – L. Sanchez

Pinnacle Leather Conditioner – Interior leather, especially that of leather seats, has a certain supple texture and appearance that adds luxury and class to any vehicle.  Because leather is a natural skin, it is sensitive to many of the same things as our own skin, including overexposure to the sun and other elements. The VOC compliant formula in Pinnacle’s Leather Conditioner is rich in lanolin and natural oils. These oils absorb into the leather’s pores, replenishing the natural oils that are lost through processing and subsequent cleaning. It re-hydrates leather to help retain its softness and improve its resistance to cracking.

See what our readers are saying about Pinnacle’s Leather Conditioner:

“This is an outstanding leather conditioner that I’ve been using routinely on the seats in my Infiniti M35x. The car is 4 years old, is driven daily and all the leather seats look like new. No cracks, stains, or spots. The leather has remained quite soft. The fragrance this product leaves in the car is so nice that you’ll be tempted to apply it for that reason alone. Really a 5 star product that I initially purchased based on strongly positive automotive website reviews that were obviously quite correct. It is a bit expensive, but I think it is worth the investment.” – Michael B.

“I did some internet research two years ago when I bought my Mazda 3. I knew I was going to be rough on the leather bolsters, and I thought keeping them conditioned would be a good idea. Pinnacle seemed to have a great reputation, so I gave it a try. I’ve been a fan ever since. This stuff leaves my leather feeling soft, and it has a very clean scent that’s similar to that of a new car. If I remember correctly, this conditioner also had the UV protection that I was looking for.” – Kyle E.

Pinnacle Leather Cleaner & Conditioner – For those car care enthusiasts who are short on time, Pinnacle’s Leather Cleaner & Conditioner can provide adequate cleaning and protection of leather car interiors. Gentle cleansers penetrate the pores of the leather to lift out stains and dirt while moisturizers sink into the leather, restoring and hydrating from the inside out. While not as effective as the two-step cleaning and conditioning process, this formula is designed for quick and easy application for on-the-spot treatment.

This is what our readers thought of Pinnacle’s Leather Cleaner & Conditioner:

“This is the first leather cleaner and conditioner AIO product I have tried. The solution has a new leather scent which is quite pleasant. Pinnacle Leather Cleaner & Conditioner worked well on the seat and steering wheel. It surprised me how well it conditioned the leather seat & steering wheel. This is another great product from Pinnacle.” – John W.

“I’ve been using this stuff for quite a while and get the same successful results each and every time! You can really see in your seats how well it conditions the leather. I have always been impressed how well it cleaned being it’s a cleaner/conditioner combo.” – Chris B.

In addition to the products that we featured in this post, Pinnacle’s product line also includes waxes and polishes, application products and detailing guides. For a complete list of products, be sure to check out the website at pinnaclewax.com. Also, be sure to keep an eye on this blog in the weeks to come as we look into some of the other products Pinnacle makes!

Have you ever used any of these Pinnacle leather care products? Let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!

Product Review: Mothers Tire Care Products

Mothers Tire Car Products

Continuing with our blog series of product reviews, today we’re going to check out tire care products from Mothers Car Care. Since the early 1970s, Mothers has been producing some of the best aluminum alloy and chrome polishes and tire cleaners available to consumers today. Beginning with Mag & Aluminum Polish, Mothers has grown to encompass a product line of more than 70 items.

For the sake of today’s blog, we’re going to focus on the three tire care products designed to protect and bring out the shine in one of the most overlooked areas of a vehicle.

Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner – Mothers Wheel & Tire Cleaner is a foaming, non-acidic spray formulated to quickly and easily clean both wheels and tires, including blackwalls and whitewalls. The formula is safe for painted, clear-coated, color-coated, steel, modular, chrome, or factory-coated wheels and hubcaps and is designed to safely penetrate, dissolve and remove brake dust, grease, dirt, and grime.

Here is what some of our readers have had to say about the Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner:

“Though nothing beats the use of a brush and elbow grease, [Mothers Foaming Wheel & Tire Cleaner] really helps with the calipers, spaces my brush can’t reach, and especially the tires before I clean them. Just don’t expect this to wash your wheels for you, you still need to get down and scrub, this just helps a lot.” – Justin W.

“I tried this product after a failed attempt to remove heavy, track-use brake dust from my BMW’s wheels and all I can say is WOW! I used a rag to work the nooks and crannies and the wheels look new again. After the difficult time I had with regular car wash soap, I thought that Mothers would only remove some of the brake dust, but the wheels look new. Powerful stuff!” – Shay M.

Mothers Back-to-Black Tire Shine – Back-to-Black Tire Shine is formulated to provide a high-gloss, long lasting, protective barrier and to keep your tires looking blacker longer. Back-to-Black encapsulates cleaning agents designed to dissolve and lift stubborn browning, dirt, soil, grease, grime, road film, brake dust and old dressings from any color or brand of tire, including whitewalls, while still remaining gentle and safe on your tires.

Check out what our readers have to say about Back-to-Black Tire shine:

“This product is great! All you have to do after cleaning the tire is spray it with Mother’s Back-to-Black and let it dry. Amazingly easy and excellent results!”- Rick C.

“I’ve tried every blackening product out there, Black-Magic, Armor All, Meguiar’s, and even my own concoction and none work as well as this. Not only that, it lasts about 3-4 weeks outside in the weather, which I find amazing. Also it seems like the more you use it, the better it looks and the longer it stays black.” – Brooks J.

Mothers FX Tire Shine – FX Tire Shine is a formula which contains custom-crafted polymers and advanced coating agents designed to bind with the tire’s surface, shielding it from UV oxidation, brake dust and road grime. It provided a high-gloss surface that not only looks great, but protects as well.

Readers report:

“Mother’s FX Tire Shine really lasts. It worked its way into the tire and stayed strong for a few days. Even after the shine faded the tire had a nice rich black look to it. I have used Black Magic in the past, and that product would sling all over the wheel after driving. Have not experienced any sling with the FX! Very good product.” – Chad M.

“This is absolutely the best tire shine I’ve ever had and trust me, I’ve had a lot. I use the sponge to apply and it works great. It’s nice and thick and does not make a mess like liquid spray bottles, goes on smoothly and evenly, tires look awesome and stay like that for a long time. Very happy with this product.” – Jimmy K.

In addition to the three tire care products we featured today, Mothers’ line of products includes car washes and waxes, leather care products and even professional cleaning accessories. For more information on their products, check out Mothers website and be sure to check back in the next few weeks for reviews of their other products.

If you’ve ever used any of these or other tire care products, let us know how they compare in the comments section below!

*image: MiromiTintas/Flickr.com

Product Review: Turtle Wax® Automobile Waxes

car wax

For the second in our series of car-care product reviews, we’re hitting the exterior today and taking a look at automobile wax – specifically, those made by Turtle Wax®. Founded in Chicago in 1941, Turtle Wax® is the largest automotive appearance products company in the world, distributing its products to more than 90 countries worldwide.

Over the course of its more-than-70-year history, Turtle Wax has expanded its product line to include wash formulas, interior protectants, wheel and tire treatments, scratch remover, compounds, chrome and metal polish, headline restoration formula and bug & tar removers. For this post, we’re going to focus on its first product – from which they took their name – their line of automobile waxes.

Turtle Wax® Super Hard Shell Wax – This is Turtle Wax’s top-of-the-line protectant wax. It is available in both a liquid wax and a paste. Super Hard Shell adds a water-resistant coating that protects vehicle exteriors for the build-up of grime, while providing a high- gloss finished that lasts for up to 3 months with the liquid and 6 months with the paste. Both are relatively easy to apply and work best on the clear-coat painted areas of the vehicle.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used Super Hard Shell have to say about it:

“Turtle Wax® is in most every garage in America for a reason-it works and it’s cheap. One tub will go over three small or two large cars, shine will last all summer.” – Derek H.

“[Turtle Wax is] still the best. I’m one of those psychos who even polishes his John Deere tractor. Turtle Wax always does a great job protecting my car from grime and UV radiation. Forget the fancy designer waxes – this is the one to buy.” Hanz B.

Turtle Wax® Carnauba Cleaner Wax – For those car enthusiasts looking to sacrifice a little protection for the extra amount of shine, Turtle Wax’s Carnauba Cleaner Wax is exactly what you’re looking for. Available again in both liquid and paste form, Carnauba Cleaner Wax combines the power of the Turtle Wax cleaning formula with the shine of their wax to bring about the restored look of a vehicle right off the assembly line. The wax still provides UV protection and a water-resistant coating, but uses a carnauba-enriched formula to remove dead paint cells for the surface of vehicles. This product requires a little more time to apply and is slightly more difficult to buff off than the Super Hard Shell, but that is due to removal of the dead paint.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used Carnauba Cleaner Wax have to say about it:

“I chose this product mainly because of its price. I haven’t used any other wax before, but this wax produced great results. It came as a jello-y paste and with a nifty applicator pad that absorbs the wax so it applies it evenly on the surface. This won’t take out swirls, scratches, or shine up the paint if it was neglected for years and years. However, if this was used in the final step of a detailing job, it will protect your finish from the elements.” – James M.

“The shine is great. It took some work to buff it off with a towel by hand, but it was totally worth it.” – Jesse N.

Turtle Wax® 1-Step Wax & Dry – This is the quickest and easiest-to-apply wax in the line-up. It provides a nice shine and good protection at a fraction of the time required of Super Hard Shell or Carnauba Cleaner. The shine and water resistance lasts about 1-2 months (due to it being a less viscous, spray liquid) and basically only requires you to spray it on and then wipe it down, one section of the vehicle at a time, while the car is wet.

Here’s what some of our readers who have used 1-Step Wax & Dry have to say about it:

“I use this as a spray detailer. I have tried many other detailers but they don’t really compare to this. What makes this better to me is that, as a detailer, it wipes off easily and leaves no streaks or swirls. It actually can remove swirls. I use it right after I run my car through the wash to remove any water spots left and to touch up missed spots. I also use it in between washes as a touch-up. It’s a good way to help protect the paint in between waxing.” – Carroll D.

“This is a solid product to use in between washings (if you wash frequently), or to use as a light coat of wax after washing while your car is still wet, either way works great.” – Andrew K.

In addition to the three products that we featured today, Turtle Wax® also offers several other types of waxes. For more information, check out Turtle Wax’s website under the “Wax” drop down menu. Be sure to check back in the next couple of weeks for more reviews of Turtle Wax’s line of products.

If you’ve ever used any of these waxes, let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!  We value your comments and thoughts!

*image courtesy of ReneS on Flickr.com

Product Review: The Armor All® Interior Line of Products

Armor All

This post is the first in a new series of product reviews showcasing different lines of popular interior, exterior, and wheel & tire products available to automobile owners who want their vehicles looking their best.

Armor All® is one of the most trusted brands of car-care products on the market today. Founded in 1972, the product line is specifically designed to clean, shine, and protect most interior and exterior automobile surfaces. For the first part of this series, we’re going to take a look at some of the interior products made by Armor All®.

Armor All® Original Protectant – As the first product produced by Armor All®, the formula hasn’t changed much from the original protectant (40 years ago), but was recently improved to increase UV protection due to the increasingly stronger effects of the sun. This product is designed to prevent cracking, fading, discoloration, and premature aging, while revitalizing older vinyl, rubber and plastic found in the interior of cars.

Check out what our readers are saying about Armor All® Original Protectant:

“Armor-All® is a miracle worker for tired, dried, old upholstery. It cleans, seals, protects, covers scratches, and makes leather and vinyl look new again. I’ve been using it since the early 1980s, and highly recommend it. I use it on the seats, dash, inner doors, and even on the tire sidewalls. I’ve also used it on leather and vinyl purses, an office chair, and leather book covers.” – Lisa K.

“If you liked the old Armor All®, you’ll like this one better. The original formula was too runny. This one is a little more viscous so it doesn’t just flow like water when you spray it on something. I use it for the interior of my car and it leaves a nice shine that lasts. Can’t go wrong with this. Love the results.” – Paul G.

Armor All® Protectant Gel – A different take on the original, Armor All®’s Protectant Gel provides all of the same restorative and protective qualities as the Original Protectant, but adds even more UV protection for areas constantly exposed to the elements – such as those in convertible vehicles. In addition, the gel provides a little more application control than the spray for more confined spaces.

Check out what our readers are saying about Armor All® Protectant Gel:

“This stuff is fantastic and much more concentrated than the regular spray bottles. I used it for years to maintain my 10 year old car and it drastically slowed the bleaching of plastic on the outside of my car, as well as keeping the inside in excellent condition. If you have plastic or vinyl parts that have faded you will see an immediate difference when you use this product.” – Robert F.

“This is thick enough so it doesn’t run. It’s especially good for gaskets around car doors and windows. I use it to polish my stainless steel and leather accents in the interior of my new car.” – Jan M.

Armor All® Cleaning Wipes – For cleaning the interior surfaces of your vehicle, Armor All makes easy-to-use disposable wipes that provide a natural, matte finish to surfaces in preparation for applying the protectant products. The wipes won’t dry out, damage, or fade interior surfaces like some harsher household cleaners and provide a lint-free clean when finished.

Check out what our readers are saying about Armor All® Cleaning Wipes:

“These Armor All® Cleaning Wipes have made my life a lot simpler and have actually saved me a fortune. I keep a “can” of these things stashed in my car at all times and even have a reserve in my workroom. I have found that if I hit the dashboard, seats and other exposed areas each time I enter the car, then the time lapse between major cleanings is greatly extended. This stuff makes the dash, console, door parts, and seats shine like new. It does, as advertised, clean quite well and removes grime and dust almost instantly.” – Donald B.

“I like these wipes for cleaning the interior of my car. I use this “cleaning wipe” to clear off all of the dust and dirt that accumulates on the surfaces of my car’s interior, and then I use the protectant wipe: Armor All® Protectant Wipes to give it a shine. The combination works well and leaves the car looking clean for a decent amount of time. My only complaint about these is that they usually dry up before I get through the whole bottle of wipes. The cap isn’t the tightest closing lid I’ve ever seen.” Rick T.

In addition to the products that we featured here, Armor All® also makes a line a air fresheners, leather-specific care products and glass cleaners. For more information, check out Armor All®’s website.

Have you ever used any of these Armor All® products? Let us know what you think of them in the comments section below!

*images courtesy of  dno1967b and lmnop88a on Flickr.com

Advantages of Servicing Your Vehicle with Your Local Repair Shop

local repair shop

In our last post, we talked about the advantages of servicing your vehicle at the dealership service center. In this post we’re going to cover the flip side of the coin – servicing with your local repair shop. Just as there were advantages to working with the dealership where you bought the vehicle, there are also advantages to shopping around or working with a local repair shop that you know and trust. One of the biggest advantages of servicing your vehicle with a local repair shop is that a level of trust may already exist!

Chances are, the vehicle in need of service is not your first and over the course of your vehicle ownership history, you probably have had to seek service that was outside of a dealership. If you already have a mechanic that you know and trust, it may be to your advantage to continue have your vehicle serviced at that shop. Aside from the obvious factors of knowing you can accept their diagnostics and evaluations, there is also the possibility of loyalty discount programs offered by repair shop. With the economy being what it is, more and more local business are rewarding repeat and loyal customers who continue to solicit their services.

Along those same lines, more and more business are turning to Groupon, LivingSocial and other retail-incentive websites to attract customers to them and, as a customer (loyal or otherwise) you can also take advantage of those deals. Most dealerships are not in the habit of discounting their services to the general public.

Another advantage of local repairs shops is the “local” part. Repair shops are often more conveniently located than dealerships. There may be dozens of small shops to choose from between your home and the dealership. If the repair or service that you need isn’t major, it’s a lot more convenient to drive a short way to your neighborhood repair shop than it is to go to the dealership, especially if you need to leave your car for repairs.

Plus, if your vehicle does need repair, there is a good chance that you will have a variety of parts options to choose from, whereas dealerships only offer customers original equipment parts for repairs. In most cases parts will have to be ordered, so the local repair shop fulfillment department spends extra time looking around for the best price and most practical parts to cover the repair.

For performance-oriented car owners looking to do aftermarket work to their vehicles, local repair shops provide a unique advantage in that some of them will modify your vehicle to your specifications and install parts that you purchased on your own. Most dealerships will not risk installing aftermarket products that are not backed by the manufacturer, simply because they need to cover themselves in case of potential damage or injury as a result of installing the aftermarket part.

Finally, labor costs for local repair shops tend to run on the cheaper side since most mechanics at dealerships have had specialized training. That specialized training is provided by the manufacturer and is often very expensive and that expense is usually passed on to the consumers in the cost of labor. In fact, it could run you $15-$20 per hour more than at a local shop.

Well, there you have it – we’ve given you both sides of the coin in regard to servicing your vehicle. The choice is really up to you, as the vehicle owner, how and where you have the vehicle serviced.

Have you used the same mechanic for all of your vehicle repairs? Have some past experience, positive or negative, about dealing with a local repair shop? Let us know in the comments section below. We love to hear your feedback!

*image: Somar International Ltd. on Flickr.com

Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle
Before Winter Really Hits!

winterizing your vehicle

Have you ever heard the expression, “Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you”?  Although we haven’t experienced full-force winter weather yet, the first day of winter is rapidly approaching – and so are the holidays!  What better way to take care of your vehicle than to be sure that it is fit and ready for the weather outside when it gets frightful? You still have time to put some car-care measures into place before the weather gets rough.

Your car needs to be prepared for this weather in much the same way that you become prepared for cold weather.  For example, you wouldn’t even consider going outside without bundling up in the cold weather – so why would you expect your vehicle to function properly without preparation?

What can you do to prepare your vehicle?  Well, you can gain an understanding of how things under the hood change or adapt to the changing of the temperature from hot/warm to cold/freezing:

  • Engine Oil – engine oil reacts to the engine running temperature, so be sure that you’re using the proper oil for the conditions.  This information is included in your owner’s manual.  Further, check the oil viscosity – this is the thickness of the oil – because it directly affects engine performance (too thick – engine runs hot) – and, of course, we recommend an oil change about every 3,000 miles.
  • Engine Coolant – this isn’t just for cooling off the engine in the summer months, it also ensures that your engine is protected in the cold/freezing temperatures of winter.  Be sure that you are using a coolant with ethylene glycol to protect your engine.  Also, be aware of the coolant to water ratio for your vehicle.  Again, this is found in your owner’s manual or one of our service staff would be glad to help you to determine this.
  • Battery – Battery capacity is reduced by the cold weather, so a thorough inspection of the battery, cables, terminals, connections and fluid will make sure that it will run at its full potential.  Also, determine how old your battery is – knowing this will give you a clue when it will begin to lose charge.  If you should need a new battery, never buy a battery with a six-month-old manufacture date!
  • Windshield – Did you know that it’s recommended that your windshield wipers be changed every 6 months or so?  It’s a great idea to get new windshield wipers at the start of winter and the start of summer.  In addition, be sure your washer fluid is full – especially in snow, sleet, heavy rain and the like.  This is a safety issue that it seems we don’t think about until there are massive amounts of slush, mud, and dirt flying up onto our windshield and if we have no washer fluid left, could cause an accident.
  • Tires – make sure that you have the proper tread and pressure on your tires to handle slippery conditions.  All-season tires are recommended due to their ability to grip the road in a variety of different weather conditions.
  • De-icing – be sure to have some type of de-icing solvent nearby – of course, if it’s locked in your car that has frozen locks, it’s not very helpful!
  • Emergency Kit/First Aid Kit – consider putting a box of some basic equipment that you may need in the trunk of your car, such as:  flares, blankets, engine oil, washer fluid, coolant, flashlight, a small first aid kit and more.
  • 4-wheel drive – if you own a vehicle with 4-wheel drive capability, be sure that it is working properly BEFORE winter weather starts.  A functioning 4-wheel drive system will improve tire traction on snow and ice and will decrease the possibility of getting stuck.
  • Belt/hose check – have all belts and hoses checked before the winter weather sets in because cold weather can weaken them and increase the change of them bursting or leaking.
  • Check defrosting and heating units for any issues and check around your windshield and windows for air or water leaks.
  • Keep a full tank of gas if you can – this lessens your risk of getting stranded should you get stuck in the ice or snow.   Also, a near-empty gas tank can cause condensation to build and eventually freeze up, blocking gas transfer to the engine.  So keeping your tank full will not only help your car run properly and efficiently, but will also help your wallet!
  • Know what to do if you get stranded – don’t leave your car unless you’re completely sure where you are and how far away help may be.  Also, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes of each hour and leave at least one window open a little so that snow and ice don’t seal the car shut.

We hope that we have given you some food for thought about preparing for this winter’s weather!  Click below to schedule an appointment for our Winterization Package.  We’ll check out all the things mentioned above as part of this service.  So, while no one really enjoys driving in snow, sleet, hail and freezing rain, we do need to get to work and/or school, shuttle the kids around and all our other errands and driving trips!  Let’s make sure that our car takes care of us this winter!

Schedule your appointment today for Tischer’s Winterization Package!

schedule service appointment

In the meantime, if you have any other tips to ensure that your vehicle is running smoothly this winter, please share with us below.

*image courtesy of jm3 on Flickr.com