Category Archives: How To

How to improve your truck’s gas mileage

With a sluggish economy and the consistently high cost of fuel, many owners of used trucks in New Jersey may be looking for ways to save money at the pump. With preventative car maintenance and some simple driving techniques, pickup truck drivers can increase their fuel economy by as much as 10 percent.

The best, and possibly most overlooked way of improving your truck’s fuel efficiency is checking and changing your oil, fuel filters and air filters on a regular basis. Clean oil can reduce friction, remove harmful substances and will ensure that your engine is running at peak performance, according to Car Junky. Routinely changing your vehicle’s fluids and filters can increase your gas mileage by more than 5 percent.

In addition, you should consistently check your tires to make certain that they are aligned and fully inflated. Low tires can decrease your truck’s mileage by as much as 3 percent.

Before putting the first drop of gasoline into your used truck, consult your owner’s manual to find out which type of fuel the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle. The majority of pickups run best with regular gasoline – filling your vehicle up with premium grade gas will not improve your truck’s performance, reliability or fuel economy.

Another underrated way to enhance your fuel efficiency is to make your truck is as aerodynamic as possible. Installing a truck bed or liner can decrease your vehicle’s drag and gas consumption, About.com reports. Also, either remove your truck’s roof rack or keep it as empty as possible unless you are actively hauling something. Unnecessary weight in your roof rack, truck bed or cargo area can significantly alter your vehicle’s fuel economy.

Finally, with spring just around the corner, remember to only use your air conditioning unless you absolutely need it. AC makes your truck use more gas – simply rolling down your window can save more money at the pump than one would think.

“Reduce the AC’s load by parking in the shade so that the truck doesn’t heat up as much during short stops,” says the news source. “Leave the windows or sunroof cracked slightly if you’ll be right back or if you’re close enough to run out and shut them if a rain shower erupts.”

By making these minor changes to your routine, you can increase your gas mileage significantly.

How to avoid damage when hitting a pothole

The extensive delays at last weekend’s Daytona 500 stand as an abrupt reminder that pothole season is just around the corner. To avoid considerable repair costs, it is crucial to know how to drive through potholes and how to best react after doing so.

If you are driving at a fast enough speed where you cannot avoid hitting a pothole, there are a few things that you should do before impact to save your car from unnecessary damage.

Although it may sound simple, the best thing that you can do before hitting a pothole is slow down. Many drivers subscribe to the theory that one can avoid a pothole by flying over it with great speed, but unfortunately the laws of gravity rarely allow this theory to come into play.

After slowing your vehicle as best as you can, make sure to take your foot off of the brake before impact.

“That will increase the damage severely,” said Larry Rubenstein, owner of Route 1 Auto Service in Peabody, Massachusetts, quoted by the Boston.com. “Now, in addition to the wall stopping the wheel, your brakes are stopping it, too. You’re just going to have to ride the pothole out.”

Also, to avoid losing control of your vehicle, be certain to tightly hold the steering wheel with two hands before entering a pothole.

“Hitting a pothole when you’ve got a loose grip on the wheel can snap the wheel left or right, and your car into another car, or off the road,” says Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council, quoted by AOL Autos.

Meanwhile, after hitting a pothole, it is important to do a quick quality check of your vehicle’s major systems. If your car is pulling in one direction or the other, you may have an alignment problem, a common occurrence after a violent impact.

“Also, if you feel a loss of control, if you feel the car bottoming out or bouncing excessively on rough roads, those are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged,” adds White.

If your car does incur damage, contact your insurance company to see if you are covered. Local and state-maintained roads have different statutes concerning public liability.

How to invest in the health of your used car

With each year that goes by, a plethora of new automotive care products come on the market promising improved performance and reliability. The difficulty, of course, is differentiating which premium products are worth the cost and which are not.

There are a select few areas of car care where investing in a premium product makes sense. With wiper blades, buying a generic low-cost replacement is never advisable.

“There is a noticeable performance difference in low-cost wiper blades versus those specifically designed for rough weather conditions,” says CarJunky.com. “Premium wiper blades are significantly sturdier and more durable than low-priced blades.”

If you live in an extreme climate where rain and snow are commonplace, upgrading to high-quality wiper blades can actually save you money in the long run.

Moreover, you can increase the durability of your windshield wipers by taking proper care of them. Each time you wash your car, you should be cleaning your wipers.

When at a gas station, wet a paper towel with windshield cleaner and run it along the edges of the blades, HubPages.com recommends. Also, from time to time, use rubbing alcohol and a clean rag to remove the salt and dirt that accumulates on your wipers.

Another good place to invest your money is in your engine. Over the last few years, there have been significant improvements in synthetic motor oil technology. High-performance long-life motor oils can save money and time as well as improve fuel economy by as much as 3 percent, Car Junky reports.

Make sure to read your owner’s manual to find out which oil viscosity you should be using. Do not use a non-recommended viscosity unless the engine is very worn. In that case, always favor a thicker oil.

Finally, when it comes to gasoline, do not purchase premium grade unless your owner’s manual specifies that you do so.

“The bottom line is that if you use higher octane against manufacturer’s recommendations, you could be paying up to 40 cents more a gallon, which could add up to over $300 a year in extra expenses with no added benefits,” says the news source.

Remember, investing in your vehicle can save you money in the long run, but be careful. There are many premium products on the market today that won’t necessarily help the performance of your car.

How to best maintain the worth of your car

For most Americans, their vehicle is their first or second most valuable investment. However, many car owners continue to make maintenance mistakes that may affect their safety, the value of their investment as well as the look and feel of their automobile.

An often overlooked yet critical maintenance procedure is rotating and pressure checking your tires. Underinflated tires will hurt your fuel economy, wear out sooner and can be dangerous to drive on, says Tom Wilson of MSN Autos. Moreover, front and rear tires will wear differently and need to be rotated accordingly.

Also, while cleaning up your vehicle, there a few things that you should be aware of. Surprisingly, washing your car on a bright sunny day can actually be counterproductive.

When tepid water is applied to the scalding metal surface of your vehicle, the finish can actually be boiled off along with dirt and soap.

“The end result is not pretty,” says Eric Peters of AOL Autos. “Cosmetics aside, you’ve cut into the resale and trade-in value of your vehicle by flailing its finish. Only an expensive repaint will fix things.”

It is always best to wash your car in the shade, on a cloudy day or in the late afternoon when the sun’s rays are less strong.

When hosing down your new or used vehicle, always be certain to keep aggressive streams of water away from the engine. Although it may sound obvious, many owners will pressure wash under the hood to remove any debris that has accumulated.

In modern cars, strong jets of water can affect the sensitive electronics that are fitted to each computer-controlled engine.

“Excess moisture can short-out electrical parts, cause intermittent malfunctions (including stalling for no reason, hard-starting, rough-running) and make dashboard ‘check engine’ lights flash for no apparent reason,” says Peters.

He adds that it is reasonable to utilize a garden hose to keep your engine clean, but you should always avoid using a high-powered pressure sprayer as it can force water through rubber seals and weather stripping.

Finally, make sure to replace your wiper blades on a regular basis. If your blades are cracking, bent or simply not doing their job, replace them immediately.

For being one of the simpler and most inexpensive maintenance procedures, thousands of accidents occur each year due to driving with damaged wiper blades.

Best ways to keep your car out of the mechanic’s shop

Since the beginning of the economic recession, fewer consumers are purchasing new cars than in years previous. In fact, in 2008, new car sales in the U.S. dropped by more than 18 percent compared to 2007.

Fewer new car sales means that more people are now buying used cars and are taking greater care of their purchase. If you plan on buying a used car in New Jersey, there are several key methods of protecting your investment.

Almost every expert will tell you that the best way to insure the health of your vehicle is to change the oil on a regular basis.

“Changing your vehicle’s oil is one of the most important things you can do to avoid bringing large bags of money to your mechanic later on,” says Cars.com.

Owner’s manual recommendations for oil changes will vary anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 miles. However, you may want to consider changing your oil more frequently if you drive aggressively, live in extremely hot or cold climates or commonly carry heavy loads, according to the news source.

Another great way to increase the life expectancy of a used car is to change the air filter on a regular basis.

An air filter, which costs roughly $15 at any auto parts store, should be changed every 15,000 miles, says AOL Autos.

“What people don’t realize is that [driving with an old filter is] like choking your engine,” says Lori Johnson, owner of Ladies Start Your Engines, an automotive repair class for women.

“If air can’t get into the engine because it’s blocked by this dirty air filter, then you’re not going to get as good of performance, and you might even feel hesitation when you’re driving, or it will just feel like the car is dragging,” she added.

Moreover, keeping a careful eye on your transmission is one of the best ways to save costly trips to the mechanic. An automatic transmission is one of the most complicated and least reliable parts of a car.

To save wear and tear on your transmission, you should never change gears until the car comes to a complete stop, always hold the brake down when shifting from park and regularly check your parking spot for leaks. Also, an automatic transmission can be damaged if your vehicle is improperly towed. Be certain to take your car out of four-wheel drive before it is taken away.

How to improve your credit score

For consumers in the market for a used car in New York or New Jersey, having bad credit does not mean that you can’t afford your vehicle of choice. However, improving your credit score can make it easier to obtain a car loan and can lower your monthly payments.

If you have bad credit or even no credit, don’t feel that you are alone. Currently, there are over 30 million people in the U.S. that have significant blemishes on their credit report. Taking the steps to improve your credit score will take some time, but it is not an overly complicated process.

The easiest way to improve your credit is to pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments can have a negative impact on your score– being punctual with your bills can help eradicate past mistakes.

“The mantra for getting a great score is pay your bills on time [and] keep account balances low,” says Craig Watts, consumer affairs manager for Fair Isaac Corp, quoted by BankRate.com.

“People who do that faithfully have very high scores. It usually means you’re being conservative and cautious about credit. It’s not a toy and it shouldn’t be a hobby,” he added.

Moreover, be certain to pay off any past-due notices before they are forwarded to a collections agency. Any bill sent to a collector will stay on your report for the next seven years. If you feel that your bill is inaccurate or unjustified, make sure to contest it before it becomes past-due. Even if you are absolved of a particular charge, interest payments and late fees may show up on your credit report.

Another good tip for raising your credit score is to keep your credit card balances as low as possible. Holding on to debt from month to month will not only increase your interest payments, but will also harm your credit score. Also, do not simply move your debt to other credit cards – it will not help lower your score, reports MyFico.com, a consumer credit advice website.

Furthermore, check your credit card limits before making a purchase that will involve your credit score. “Your scores might be artificially depressed if your lender is showing a lower limit than you’ve actually got,” says Liz Weston of MSN Money.

The good news is that car loans can be much easier to obtain than personal loans. If you have good credit or bad credit, New Jersey State Auto Auction has the financing resources to get you approved.