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It’s important for Houston motorists to know battery basics. First, let’s talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold TX weather. Most Houston motorists think it’s cold weather because that’s when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold European Car engine.
However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short Houston trips because the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. Houston auto owners can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the TX summer and every three months during the winter.
As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren’t capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your European Car alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.
If you’re pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your honest Lucas Auto Care technician for a battery test to see if it’s recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, but you’ll save unnecessary wear and tear on your European Car alternator.
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Lucas Auto Care
12600 Grant Road
Houston, TX 77429
Safe TX travel starts with preventive maintenance and good car care at Lucas Auto Care. But there are other things Houston drivers can do to prepare for emergencies on the road. Here’s some auto advice that can help you plan for emergencies, and just may save your life — or someone else’s.
First, Houston motorists should consider keeping an auto emergency kit in their car. The kit should contain items that will allow you to deal with common emergencies on the road.
Some vital items you should carry in your European Car include jumper cables (or a booster box), flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools. Other useful items include gloves, two quarts of oil, some antifreeze, water and everything you need to change a tire. You might also consider a can of tire inflator, which is a great temporary fix for minor flats.
But taking care of your European Car is only part of emergency preparedness. It is essential to take care of the people in the car, too. For this reason, you should carry a first aid kit, drinkable water and blankets. Other items to consider include high-calorie food items (like energy bars), toilet paper, a towel, a hat and boots. And, of course, when you travel in TX and out-of-state you should always have your cell phone, some emergency cash and a credit card.
Depending on where you live, you may need to add other key items to this list. For example, sunscreen, sunglasses, and extra water would be good to have on hand in a hot climate. For the cold and snowy TX season, some salt, a hand shovel, emergency blankets and matches might be in order. Also, if your TX area is prone to severe weather or earthquakes, you should check with your local Red Cross or disaster preparedness office for their recommendations on what to keep on hand in your European Car for emergencies.
When you travel away from your Houston home, you should check the weather forecasts before you leave, and pack appropriate emergency supplies. Also, do some research about the areas you will be traveling through so you can be prepared for the climate and terrain. Remember the basics: heat, water, shelter, light, and food.
When you travel, it is critical to leave your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member. Check in periodically at prearranged checkpoints. That way, if something does happen, someone else will quickly know you are in trouble and will be able to send help. These checkpoints will also help rescuers find you quickly, as they will have a better idea as to where you are.
The automotive professionals at Lucas Auto Care want Houston drivers to be safe. Preventive maintenance, proper planning, smart communication: these are the basics of safe travel.
Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Houston TX area (zip code: 77429) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At Lucas Auto Care we hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.
If you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Houston area, bring it in for high-mileage maintenance:
Lucas Auto Care
12600 Grant Road
Houston, TX 77429
Many people in Houston are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern European Cars are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn’t have to be a painful experience.
Local car owners in Houston with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask which service intervals they should follow. Let’s start with the special needs of the older vehicle…
The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There’ll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.
All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.
So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they’re worth it.
In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.
Talk with your Houston service advisor at Lucas Auto Care about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.
Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.
If anything, following recommended service intervals for your European Car is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.
So, have your Houston auto service advisor at Lucas Auto Care help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven’t gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it’s time to start taking care of those things. It’ll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles.
Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Houston motorists to prevent.
The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine, and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fins on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.
The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.
Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner’s manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.
Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Houston car owners to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.
This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don’t realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at Lucas Auto Care in Houston.
If your European Car sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs an inspection. This service is key and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.
In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your European Car so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, owner’s manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.
Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to your Houston service center or Lucas Auto Care where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks, and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in the first place and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Regular maintenance of a vehicle’s cooling system is just good auto advice for Houston auto owners. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take long at Lucas Auto Care. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.
Talk to your Lucas Auto Care service professional for more information.
Houston motorists may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks in Houston come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles around Houston have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system – called TPMS – consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.
If tire pressure drops 25 percent below the car maker’s recommended pressure, the sensor sends a signal to a monitoring unit that causes a warning to light up on the dashboard. When Houston auto owners see the warning light, they know it’s time to put some air in the tires.
There are many benefits to Houston drivers who drive with properly inflated tires around Houston. First is cost savings. Running at the correct air pressure improves gas mileage. Driving on under-inflated tires is like driving through sand – it drags down your gas mileage. Houston auto owners will also see longer, more even tread wear so your tires’ll last longer.
Another important benefit of properly inflated tires is increased safety for Houston drivers. Under-inflated tires become hotter and that heat can actually lead to tire failure – possibly resulting in an accident. Your car and the tires themselves will just perform better and more safely around Houston with properly inflated tires.
Local Houston consumer groups, law-makers and auto manufacturers advocate TPMS systems hoping that they will save lives, property damage and inconvenience. While you can’t put a value on saving a life, Houston car owners should keep in mind that TPMS systems aren’t free.
The systems themselves are added into the price of the car. The batteries in the sensors will have to be replaced from time to time. Parts will break and need to be replaced. In colder climates around TX, ice and salt are frequent causes of failure.
In addition, there are other behind-the-scenes costs we want Houston car owners to be aware of. Every time a tire is replaced, repaired, rotated or balanced, the tire technician has to deal with the TPMS system.
Houston service centers such as Lucas Auto Care must purchase pricey equipment used to scan and reactivate the TPMS system after every tire service. Because older tire change equipment can damage TPMS sensors, your Houston service center may need to buy expensive, new tire changers.
Since there is no uniformity among automakers, techs need to be trained on several TPMS systems. These behind-the-scenes costs are very real to Houston service center managers like Tyger Lucas at Lucas Auto Care.
That’s why the team at Lucas Auto Care is anxious for Houston drivers to understand the key financial impact of TPMS systems. In the past, we’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide tire services to auto owners, and then pass the low cost on to Houston customers as an expression of our good will. But now even these simple jobs take much longer and require expensive equipment.
Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. Even a tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.
So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up in TX, please keep in mind that it’s because of this vital new safety equipment. The team at Lucas Auto Care just wants to keep you safely on the road – and we’re committed to doing it at a fair price.
It’s critical to remember that the TPMS warning only comes on when a tire is severely under-inflated. You’ll still want to check your tire pressure regularly. At every fill-up is best, but you should check pressure at least once a month. Here’s wishing you safe travels.
Contact Lucas Auto Care for more important information about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.
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