Many college students are prepping to go to college. Part of the preparation process is eyeballing their vehicle and trying to figure out just what it will take to make it ready for the upcoming college semester.
Most students will change the oil, top up the gas tank, and consider themselves prepared. The smart students who understand just how tight time and money will use the next few weeks to make sure all the major and minor work their older car needs are taken care of.
If you’re a college student that’s taking a car to school, here are few things you should do before the fall semester kicks off.
Get a Complete Fluid Flush
Just before you leave for college is the perfect time to have all your car’s fluids flushed and changed...
There was a time when timing belts were found in all vehicles. The strong, ribbed belt was essential to making sure that both the cranks and the camshafts were properly timed. A damaged timing belt resulted in the upper and lower sections of your vehicle’s engine to fall out of synch with one another.
Which Cars Have Timing Belts
Car manufactures have been moving away from timing belts. Nearly all vehicles manufactured during or before the ‘90s had a timing belt. Audi is one company that still uses a traditional ribbed belt. Other manufacturers have replaced the rubber belt with a strong chain. The hope was that the chain would last throughout the vehicle’s life.
While the chain isn’t as likely to break the way traditional timing belts, things can still go wrong.
Knowing the early ...
While cars can’t speak to us, they do their best to tell us when something is wrong through the lights on the dashboard. Some vehicle owners may choose to ignore those signals when they come on, but it’s important to always listen to what your car is telling you.
For example, we often hear about the tire pressure light coming on at the start of winter. Your tires may have been checked not too long ago, however, freezing temps cause pressure fluctuation. A change in tire pressure is a natural reaction that can be monitored with routine checks. It may not be an emergency fix, but it’s good to stay on top of it.
Some choose to see the engine light turning on in the same way.
When the engine light comes on, you shouldn’t ignore it...
When your car’s cabin starts to smell sweet or like something is burning when you run heating/cooling, that’s a sign that it’s time to get your coolant flushed. If you think you can just power through the smell to save money, you’re running the risk of your vehicle breaking down due to overheating. Coolant doesn’t just help adjust the temperature in your cabin—it also works to reduce heat levels in the engine and radiator. If that coolant is compromised by age, debris, or anything else that ensures it’s not working properly, then you’re risking some costly damage.
What causes coolant to get to the point where it stops working properly or causes an odor in your car cabin? It’s mostly due to the natural aging of the liquid and rust from the engine’s parts...
Taking your car in for a smog test can be nerve-wracking. If your car doesn’t pass, it could mean costly repairs, late DMV registration fees, and all the stress that comes with unexpected expenses. Unless your car is brand new, you might think that passing is up to fate. But there are actually several steps you can take to increase your chances of passing the California smog check:
1. CHECK THE “CHECK ENGINE” LIGHT
If your “Check Engine” light is on, that’s an automatic smog test failure. Fortunately, many car repair shops (and even some auto parts stores) now offer free “Check Engine light checks” with equipment that interprets the specific malfunction code...
Here are some of the things you can do to ensure improved gas mileage for your car:
- Keep your car clean. Mud on the undercarriage can weigh a significant amount and slow you down.
- Consolidate your daily trips and errands. This will also save you the cost of restarting your engine, which uses a lot of gas.
- Avoid air conditioning when possible. However, when driving at higher speeds, having your windows open also creates drag.
- Don’t throttle the gas or brake pedal! Sudden starts or stops use more gas than gradual changes in speed.
- Don’t idle for too long. Turn off the engine if you anticipate a lengthy wait.
- Limit car warm-ups in winter.
- Clear out the trunk. More weight equals more drag.
- Avoid high speeds...
Smog inspections are generally required during a vehicle’s first registration in California and after, every 2 years, afterward. This inspection cycle will continue for as long as the automobile is registered in this state. The Smog Check Program applies to 1976 and newer passenger vehicles and trucks powered singly or in conjunction with petrol, propane, natural gas, diesel, methanol fuels, ethanol fuels, hybrid, and electric.
Smog inspections are also required anytime a vehicle is offered or purchased in California. During a name transfer, the DMV will not allow a car to be registered unless it is delivered with a valid smog certificate. You will find specific testing processes for such vehicles, which can be categorized as “Gross Polluters”...
What is Smog Check?
The Smog Check Program is an important part of the State’s efforts to improve the air we breathe. Smog Check inspections are designed to identify vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired. The Program has greatly reduced air pollution created by millions of cars in California.
Who oversees the Smog Check Program?
The California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) administers the Smog Check Program. Vehicles are inspected each year by more than 7,000 State-licensed and independently owned stations located throughout the State.
Is my vehicle subject to a Smog Check?
Gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles, and alternative-fuel vehicles that are model year 1976 and newer require a Smog Check, with the following excepti...
When it comes to vehicles and their annual emissions test, California doesn’t take failure lightly. Your vehicle has to pass the test in order to stay on the road. The idea is that not only does the strict emissions test help reduce smog, but it also keeps older vehicles that are in danger of falling apart off the road.
An emissions test isn’t a big deal right up to the moment when you’re told that your car didn’t make the cut. Now it’s time to make some big decisions.
What the State of California Does
When a vehicle fails the emission test, the state of California doesn’t straight up say you can no longer drive it...
Before you take your car in for a smog check, is there anything you can do to give it a better chance of passing? The obvious answer is to make sure your car is running well in the first place. A well-maintained car, with all its systems operating correctly, will probably pass the smog test.
If you think your car isn’t running at 100 percent but you want to avoid the expensive repairs that would be required if you fail, there are simple steps you can take to tilt the odds of passing a smog check in your favor.
Here are the top tips from our experts to prepare your car for a smog check:
1. Clear that “Check Engine” light.
If your car displays a “Check Engine” light, that’s an automatic smog check failure. You’ll need to get a diagnosis and fix before you test.
The most common reason for a C...