So summer’s right around the corner, and summer means road trips and vacations in the family car. Is your car up to the job? Here are some things you’ll want to check over before you pack up and hit the road…
Fluids: That means coolant, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, motor oil. You’ll need to make sure you’ve got plenty of each, and that they’re clean, free of contamination and in good shape. Coolant and motor oil, in particular, are essential to dissipating heat and keeping your vehicle at a normal operating temperature.
Tires: This one’s really important, because long miles, a loaded-up car, and high temperatures are very stressful on a set of tires. Examine your tires ...[more]
In the old days, a tune-up was necessary about every 35,000 miles. It would usually consist of setting the ignition timing, replacing the mechanical breaker points in the ignition, cleaning and adjusting the carburetor and replacing the plug wires and spark plugs. Today, of course, the carburetor’s job is done by fuel injection and the ignition timing and spark are controlled by the engine computer. Few vehicles still have plug wires anymore either, as the distributor was replaced by the computer and a coil-on-plug design which delivers a spark at each spark plug.
But what about the spark plugs themselves, though? How often do they need to be replaced now?
Manufacturers tout an 80k-100k mile service interval on spark plugs now, thanks in part to improvements in plug design and materials. That might be stretching it, however. Remember that if you have a 100,000-mile spark plug, its electrode is worn down 4/5 of the way at 80,000 miles. A worn ...[more]
At Don Owen Tire, we’ve seen a lot of change in the automotive world in the last 30 years. Yes, that’s how long we’ve been in business.
We opened our doors way back in 1986, with Don himself and his wife Carole establishing Don Owen Tire Service, Inc. at 620 West Olive St in Bloomington. Don was 45 at the time but already had 23 years in the tire industry under his belt, at both the commercial and retail sales/service levels. We had a modest little business at first, with just one service bay on a side street close to the railroad tracks. Between ’86 and ’95, our operation grew to over 30,000 square feet, expanding from a one-bay shop to 17 bays! Our little 10,000 square foot space where we started is now the Truck Tire Service Center, and Robert Owen, Suzanne and Jamie Schwoerer are serving as managers of the Olive Street location.
In the mid-90s, Don Owen leased a ten-bay Firestone service facility at 1502 E Empire i ...[more]
So you come out to start your car one morning and the Check Engine light on the dashboard comes on…and doesn’t go back off again. You can’t really notice any difference in the way the car runs and drives, but it’s on anyway.
What does it mean?
Since the late 80s, most engine functions have been controlled by a central drivetrain computer. This includes emissions controls, fuel metering and delivery, ignition timing, shift points and many other elements of drivability and performance. The drivetrain computer relies on information from a chain of sensors that monitor exhaust composition, camshaft position, throttle position and many other factors.
The voltage readings from any of these sensors are supposed to fall within a certain range. When ...[more]
It can be a lot of work and attention to detail to get your car really clean…especially if it’s pretty dirty to start with…but here are some ideas for truly thorough cleaning that you may not have thought of!
--A cheap foam paintbrush can get into crevices (like A/C vents) that might be impossible otherwise. As you loosen up dust from these spots, keep a vacuum cleaner nozzle at work in your other hand to suck up the dust and prevent it from settling other places.
--A soft-bristled brush is perfect for cleaning around radio knobs and other buttons.
--While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to locate your cabin air filter and replace it. A dirty cabin air filter can lead to a lot of odd smells and stinks. Check your owner’s manual; cabin a ...[more]
Yeah, yeah…your vehicle’s fairly new and you take care of it, and you’ve even got a membership in AAA. That doesn’t mean that your chances of ending up in a tight spot are zero. It’s just common sense to be prepared with a trouble bag in your car. Here’s a pretty good rundown of things you should keep in a car emergency kit:
Fully charged cell phone: You may want to consider a cheap prepaid “burner phone” with a long battery life and keep it strictly in the car. If nothing else, at least keep a charged-up power bank on hand.
First-aid kit: At a bare minimum, a first-aid kit should include gauze pads and bandage tape, aspirins, antiseptic wipes, scissors, antiseptic cream or ointment, Band-Aids, rub ...[more]
Yes, there are plenty of traffic laws in certain areas that don’t make much sense. Here, though, we present a collection of traffic laws from other parts of the world that are just bizarre:
--In Thailand, the law states that no driver, male or female, shall ever drive without a shirt.
--In South Africa, “the driver of a vehicle on a public road shall stop such vehicle at the request or on the signal of a person leading or driving any bovine animal, horse, ass, mule, sheep, goat, pig, or ostrich on such road.” Or face a $500 fine.
--Splashing a pedestrian with water is illegal in Japan.
--In Montana, you can forget about driving with a sheep in the truck unless the sheep has a chaperone... and the state of Alabama had the presence of min ...[more]
Around the holidays (and after, while you pay the bills), everyone’s trying to get a dollar bill to go a little farther. Here are a few ideas to help you squeeze a little more out of a dollar while you drive:
--Starting your vehicle and letting it warm up isn’t really that great an idea. The engine’s actually going to warm up a lot quicker once you’re rolling and it’s under load, not while it sits there and idles. If anything, it’s not good for your engine as the idling engine generates water vapor, which mixes with the oil.
--Change your air filter. The air filter needs to be there, filtering out particulates that could make their way into the fuel system and engine…but when it becomes too saturated and dirty, it can restrict airflow to a point where ...[more]
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