Drive Safety on Wet Roads this Spring

While we’re grateful for the warmer weather that the dawn of springtime affords us, March and April also typically contain a fair amount of rainy days that can be hazardous to driving conditions here in Guilford County. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe on wet and slippery driving surfaces this spring:

Keep Both Hands on the Wheel. While this is always a good idea, it’s especially important when driving conditions are less-than-ideal. In addition to maintaining your own course, you should be more alert and be in “defensive driving” mode while the possibility of contending with erratic drivers, lane-swervers and unpredictable elements. You should keep a good amount of distance between yourself and the car in front of you as well in case you aren’t able to break as quickly as you’d like on a wet road.

Have Healthy Tires. Your tires’ tread should be in good shape in order for you to retain solid traction when driving on a wet road. Ideally, you should have 1/8” worth of tread in order to navigate slippery conditions. A simple way to check the depth of your treads is to insert a quarter into the crevice – if the top of George Washington’s head is covered, your tires should be okay to grip wet roads; if not, it might be time to consider investing in new tires.

Stay Calm! In the event that you do start to hydroplane, refrain from slamming on the brakes as this will make things worse – simply ease off the accelerator and gently steer your vehicle in a favorable direction until you feel your tires regain traction. You should avoid using cruise control when driving in wet conditions as it’s a lot harder to adjust your acceleration in the event of hydroplaning.

If you have any questions/concerns about your vehicle’s drivability in the rain, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at 336-294-2137; we’re dedicated to keeping you safely on the road year-round.

Gas Saving Tips

Nobody likes having to fill their gas tank up, but, if you drive a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, it’s an unavoidable occurrence.

While there’s no avoiding having to feed your car with the fuel it needs to operate, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your gas mileage and save a few dollars at the pump:

Accelerate in Moderation. Higher RPMs during acceleration burns more fuel so try to use cruise control whenever possible and don’t put the ‘pedal to the metal’!

Lighten your Load. Excess weight in your vehicle will force your engine to work harder and increase the amount of fuel it needs to operate. An extra 100 pounds in your backseat or trunk can lower your fuel efficiency by 1-2%.

Maintain your Tires. Simply by keeping your tires at their recommended PSI settings and getting them rotated/aligned regularly, you’ll be extending their lifespan AND cutting down on fuel costs as your ride will be smoother and require less effort – talk about a win/win!

Change your Filters. Both your air and fuel filters contribute to your vehicle’s MPG efficiency – changing them regularly yields a high ROI, saving you up to $5 per fill-up.

Clean your Fuel Injectors & Spark Plugs. Dirty spark plugs impede the combustion process and ultimately waste fuel while dirty fuel injectors lead to gas leaking from your engine, which is bad for a variety of reasons.

Keep your Shocks & Struts in Good Shape. Worn-out shocks require more energy to operate, which means they’re draining more fuel resources than necessary.

Replace your Gas Cap. This should be done every four years or so – a small amount of fuel can evaporate through the tank while you’re driving and this amount increases the older your gas cap gets!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, be sure to give our ASE-certified technicians a call at (336) 294-2137 or click HERE to request a service appointment!

Battery Corrosion FAQ

As car batteries age, they will begin to corrode. While a small amount of corrosion will generally not affect your battery’s performance, larger buildups can be highly problematic for your vehicle.

What can cause batteries to corrode faster than normal?

The vast majority of corrosion will occur on your battery’s terminals. As hydrogen gas is emitted by the sulfuric compound found within batteries themselves, it can become trapped beneath your hood and instigate corrosion.

Loose terminals and/or leaks can also lead to battery corrosion. If your battery is cracked in any way, it can start leaking acid which is extremely dangerous to your engine.
A major warning sign for battery corrosion is the appearance of green, blue or white material on its terminals.

What impact does corrosion have on your battery?

In order for your vehicle to properly run, the electrical charge produced by your battery needs to be transferred to your engine. Corrosion can negate the fluidity of the transfer process and limit the current’s effectiveness which will affect the internal power dynamics within your engine.

The inability to start your vehicle is the most common problem that arises from battery corrosion. If you have to jumpstart your car multiple times, you need to have your battery replaced. Continuing to rely on jumpstarts could cause accessories such as cabin lights, onboard computer or your audio system to suffer long-term damage.

What preventative steps can you take?

When you first notice corrosion on your terminal(s), be sure to clean it off right away using a wire brush along with a water and baking soda solution. If you’re uncomfortable doing this or are unsure how to properly clean your battery, bring your vehicle to a professional mechanic and have them perform the cleaning as well as a quick inspection of the system.

If you have any questions regarding your vehicle’s battery or any other component, call Foreign Accents at 336-294-2137 – our ASE-certified technicians are here to help keep you safely on the Piedmont Triad roads year-round!

Five Ways to Avoid Car Theft

While not as traumatic as a write-off crash or dramatic breakdown, the experience of having your vehicle, or its contents, stolen is nonetheless one of the worst ordeals a car owner can endure.

Should your vehicle be recovered after it’s stolen, there are still myriad headaches to endure as you get repairs taken care of, fill out forms and paperwork galore and contend with insurance claims.

In order to avoid this gauntlet of annoyances, remember these five tips when you’re parking your car here in Guilford County:

1 – When on the hunt for parking spaces, aim for a spot that’s in a well-lit area with lots of traffic. Thieves tend to target out-of-the-way lots or dark alleys so the few places for a burglar to hide the better.

2 – Try not to leave anything of value in your car but, if you do, make sure they aren’t visible through your windows. Lock them in your glove compartment, put them under a seat, cover them with a loose blanket – just make sure they’re out of sight!

3 – Don’t leave your keys in the car. You never know who may be watching you so giving a potential thief an opportunity like this should be avoided at all costs.

4 – If your car has a customized stereo or anything else that could fetch a pretty penny on the black market, refrain from advertising that fact with stickers or other advertisements on the body of your vehicle. Thieves know what to look for when it comes to valuable toys and such your car may have onboard so drawing attention to these is like adding a break-in magnet to your bumper.

5 – Purchase and install an anti-thievery device like “The Club” or a “Lo-Jack” and DO advertise their presence with decals! If your car has an alarm, promote that fact as well and remember to activate it every time you leave your car unattended.

In conjunction with some good common sense, you can reduce the odds of your car being stolen by following these simple steps!

Aging Timing Belt Warning Signs

A rubber belt festooned with teeth, timing belts are designed to keep your vehicle’s crankshaft in sync with its camshaft and ensure that engine valves and pistons are operating in proper sequence. While relatively durable thanks to its typically nylon-reinforced innards, your timing belt will still need to be changed out every 90,000 miles or so.

Here are a few warning signs to look for when it comes to an aging timing belt:

Engine Won’t Turn Over. Timing belts need to be in good working order for your car to start. If your belt has been damaged, you will most likely hear the starter engage when you turn your key but the motor won’t ignite.

Engine Misfires. Worn-out timing belts will affect the fire rate of the engine they’re conducting. Older belts can slip along your engine’s camshaft and cause pistons to malfunction due to valves being out of sequence.

Ticking Noise. Since the timing belt is attached to the cam/crankshaft vis-à-vis a series of pulleys, when it starts to break down it can cause combustion issues as the cylinder head valves that transfer burnt fuel through the exhaust chamber are out of sync. This will result in an audible ticking sound that should definitely be considered a red flag for your timing belt.

Frontside Oil Leak. If your timing belt is cracked, motor oil could seep through its cover, which is held in place by nuts/bolts that can become loose over time. The gasket between your engine block and timing belt cover can also wear out if your engine overheats while the timing belt is failing.

If you are worried about your timing belt or have any questions at all about your vehicle, give us a call at 336-294-2137 or click HERE to schedule a service appointment to ensure your vehicle stays safe on the road this winter!

The Importance of Proper Wheel Alignment

If you want your car to handle properly then having properly-aligned wheels is of paramount importance.

Your vehicle’s suspension system connects the wheels to the body and helps provide a steady ride even along an uneven driving surface. Over time, your suspension will start to bend or warp after you’ve hit enough pot holes, curbs, etc. When this happens – and it will – your wheels will be misaligned which can cause your car to veer in a given direction which is obviously dangerous for you and your passengers.

Wheel alignment procedures will fix the shape of your suspension and ensure that your vehicle will steer straight again. Auto technicians have special calibration machines that straighten out your suspension and give your car back its proper handling feel.

A car’s “camber” is the angle of a wheel as it appears when the vehicle is being viewed from the front. Negative cambers (also known as “toe-ins”) occur when wheels are pointing towards one another, as if magnetized. Positive cambers occur when the top of a wheel leans out away from the body. While these phenomena can be tough to notice while you’re driving, wheels suffering from positive/negative camber effects can negatively impact steering performance and cause extra wear on tire treads.

Another issue misaligned tires can cause is subtle skidding along roads, which will reduce your tires’ lifespan significantly. This will also hurt your vehicle’s fuel efficiency as it will require more power to make turns which also adds to the safety concerns of wheel misalignment.

A quick and easy way to check your vehicle’s alignment is to simply drive on a straight, flat road. If you veer to the left or to the right, you most likely have misaligned wheels.

It is recommended that you get an alignment check at least once per year but if you think you have an issue sooner, be sure to get it checked ASAP. If you have any questions about wheel alignment or anything else related to your vehicle’s safety, give us a call at 336.294.2137 or click HERE to request a service appointment!

Computer On Board!

Cell phones, refrigerators, washing machines…virtually everything that we plug into an outlet these days comes equipped with its own computer. Why would our cars be any different?

All cars produced today come standard with at least one computer. Car computers aren’t the same as the personal computers and laptops we use to work and access the internet however. These are simpler machines that, while not quite as advanced, serve a crucial function – keeping you safe.

Your car’s main computer likely controls these systems:
● The engine’s emissions
● How the spark plugs operate
● The fuel injection system
● Sensors for oxygen, throttle position and engine temperature

More expensive cars include an additional set of computers, which may include one for each of these systems:
● Climate Control
● Anti-Lock Brakes
● Navigation
● Transmission
● Radio
● Cruise Control
● Air Bags

Each individual computer works the same way as the main computer in your car. They read information from sensors and send you an alert about any problem or potential problem in the form of an error code.

The computers in your car compile information from these systems and sensors and automatically change how the engine operates in response. Built-in computers can warn you about any current or future problems. The car’s computer scans the various components checking for issues and, when it discovers one, sends you a warning. It may also send a code to turn on one of various warning lights, or the check engine light.

Computers are integral components to how modern cars function, providing a safer, more efficient driving experience for today’s drivers. These computers will only become more and more advanced. Self-driving cars are already here, and will eventually be commonplace.

Our technicians have the most current technological tools available in the auto repair industry so they can read any code that your car’s computer is trying to communicate. Computers and technicians now work together to keep cars running smoothly, removing any possible guesswork that might’ve taken place in the past. Technicians take the information from your car’s computer and perform the necessary repairs. Your car performs better and you remain safe on the road – everyone wins. Thank you, technology!

To learn more about your vehicle’s computer/s or schedule your next appointment, stop by our auto-repair shop in Greensboro or call us at 336-294-2137.

Easy Steps For Jump Starting A Car

One of the absolute most frustrating things is to jump into your car and learn that you have a dead battery, exactly when you need to get going and on the road. Luckily there just a few items that you need and a few steps to follow to get your car up and running again.

Items Needed:

  • Jumper Cables
  • Vehicle Owner’s Manual
  • Additional Car With Functioning Battery
  • (You may also want to add work gloves to the list, but that is optional)

Before we go ahead and get started, make sure to check your owners manual first for any specific instructions on jump starting your vehicle. Different cars can have different electrical systems and some manufacturers may even advise against jump starting the car yourself.

Also, inspect the battery to make sure it is in good working condition, and isn’t frozen, leaking, cracked, damaged, etc. If this is the case, do not attempt to jump start your car. Take your car to a shop and have an ASE certified technician replace the battery.

Here are the steps to jump starting your car:

Step #1) Open the hood of the vehicle & inspect the battery as we discussed above. If need be, refer back to your owners manual to determine exactly where and how you can open your hood.

Step #2) Find the battery terminals and determine which terminal is positive and negative. Your battery should have two terminals, a positive, which can be indicated by a + sign and may be red, and a negative, indicated by a – sign and is black. These battery terminals may be convered by plastic covering the metal under it.

Step #3) Park the additional car next to the vehicle with the dead car, ensuring that the jumper cables can reach both batteries at the same time. Turn off the additional car you will be getting power from.

Step #4) Connect the jumper cables:

  • Connect the positive end of the jumper cable to the dead batteries positive terminal.
  • Connect the other end of the cable to the additional vehicles battery, first connecting the positive cable clamp to the positive terminal.
  • Connect the negative clamp on the cable to the same kind of negative terminal on the additional working battery and car.
  • Finally, connect the black (negative) cable clamp to some kind of metal surface on the engine block of the car with the dead battery. Look for some kind of nut or bolt that helps with the clamp on the cable.

Step #5) Double check all of your connections to make sure they are secure

Step #6) Start the additional vehicle and keep them connected for at least 3-5 minutes. Once you have done that, try to start your own car, with the jumper cables still connecting the vehicles. Try again after a few minutes if the first attempt at starting your car doesn’t work.

Step #7) Now that the car with the original dead battery is running, disconnect the cables in reverse order that you attached them, black cables first. Never let the cables touch each other while they are connected to any batter.

Step #8) Take the newly started car for a short drive to recharge your once dead battery.

If you do find that you have to keep jumping your battery, you may need a new one. Take your car in to a certified shop to have it inspected by an ASE technician. Contact us online or call us at to have your car inspected right away at 336.294.2137

Summer Vehicle Maintenance Tips

Before you begin a road trip this summer in or around North Carolina, you’ll want to make sure your car is in the best possible shape before venturing out. What starts out as a minor car problem can quickly become a nightmare after driving hundreds of miles. Even if you are not super car savvy, there are a few simple things can you can do to ensure your car is up for the challenge of the open road.

Read Your Vehicle Manual

While it may not be an exciting read, your car owner’s manual is one of your best sources of specific information regarding your car. You want to be aware of the maintenance schedule of how often certain parts should be replaced and services should be performed. Following this schedule can save you unneeded breakdowns and big repair bills. Furthermore, keeping a maintenance record of when and what you have done to your car can help remind you and stay on top of your car’s needs.

Change Your Car Engine Oil

Staying on top of your oil changes is one of the best things you can do to care for the longevity of your car. The recommendation of most cars is to have the oil changed every three months, or 3,000 miles. Most shops put a sticker on your windshield of when your car is due to be serviced again. While some shops will try to upsell you extra services at this time, knowing your car’s maintenance schedule will help you stay on top of what you really need done right away.

Check Car Fluid Levels

While you may not feel comfortable changing every fluid in your car, you don’t need to be a car expert to be able to check your fluid levels. Most fluids in your car can be checked by merely pulling out a dipstick to see if the fluid is near the FULL line. If it is low, simply fill it up.

Other fluids are in containers that can be visually inspected to see if the fluid levels are low. Your car’s manual will tell you what’s where, how to check it, and what levels are right. Most important in summer is your car’s engine coolant. Make sure this is topped off, especially before hitting the road for any summer driving during hot months.

Replace Your Windshield Wipers

If your wipers are starting to streak on your windshield, it is time to replace them. Getting caught in a rainstorm is a horrible time to remember that you didn’t change them yet. You can buy new wipers at any auto store or big box store, and the directions for how to change them out can be found either in your car manual or on the wiper box.

Check Your Tire Condition

Checking your tires’ inflation and wear before doing any long distance driving is important for both your safety and the upkeep of your car. Check the air pressure in each tire when your car is cold and compare it to what your car’s manual says is the appropriate pressure.

Also, give your tires a physical inspection for anything that jumps out. If the tread on your tires is worn, they likely need to be replaced. If the tread is unevenly worn from tire to tire, your car could need an alignment. Furthermore, if the tires are out of alignment, your car may pull to the right or left when you drive. Whether you need one tire replaced or all four, take your car to a trustworthy auto repair shop for replacement, rotation, or balancing. Correcting tire issues can mean better gas mileage and more savings.

If anything has been concerning you about how your car drives or is running, your safe bet before taking it out on a road trip is to have a reputable shop give your car a good once over. Foreign Accents has a reputation built over 40 years of excellent care. Ask us to inspect your vehicle before your hit the road for your next adventure. Contact Us or call us at 336.294.2137

Keeping it fresh! Cabin Air Filters

Most late-model cars and trucks have cabin air filters. The cabin air filter might not be on your radar for vehicle maintenance, but it does play an important role in your vehicle’s systems.

The cabin air filter cleans the air entering your vehicle that comes through the ventilation, air conditioning, and heating systems. This special filter captures pollen, dust, and other airborne debris. Cleaner air is especially important for those who have allergies or respiratory challenges.

If it has been a while since the filter was last changed, you will see a lot of dirt, soot, leaves, dead insects, and lint trapped in the filter. If the “ick” factor isn’t enough of a reason to change, there are other problems with a dirty filter. A filter that is not performing will limit the efficiency and capacity of your heating and cooling systems, as well as put a strain on your fan motors when the air does not flow freely.

If you notice reduced air flow, lots of noise when you turn up the fan, or your vehicle smells, if might be time to replace the cabin air filter. Manufacturers recommend changing this filter between 12,ooo and 15,000 miles. However, this can vary depending on driving conditions and weather. During the spring, more pollen and allergens may mean you’ll want to replace the cabin air filter more frequently.

Before you attempt to do it yourself, keep in mind that cabin air filters are not always easy to access. Our technicians perform this change regularly and are aware of the delicate plastic trim and clips for proper removal and replacement.

If you are unsure whether you need to replace your cabin air filter, our technicians at Foreign Accents make it part of our inspection process to look, evaluate, and educate you on the status of these maintenance items.

To schedule your next maintenance or have your cabin air filter inspected, request an appointment online or call our Greensboro auto repair shop at 336.294.2137.