Check your Headlights this Fall

headlights

In addition to offering drivers no shortage of challenges when it comes to weather-related conditions, the seasons known as FALL and WINTER also make things tough by making general visibility tough by greatly increasing the amount of darkness Guilford County residents are forced to deal with.

Once Daylight Savings ends, night seems to come immediately at the end of the workday and the only time you get to see the sun is on weekends. Driving in darkness so often means your headlights become one of your car’s most important tools.

In addition to helping you navigate roads, headlights also serve the important function of making your presence known to other drivers. While most newer cars are equipped with automatic lights that drivers don’t tend to worry about activating, you should still regularly check to make sure they’re operating properly.

The easiest way to check to see if your lights are operating properly is simply to pull into a closed area like a garage and look for a reflection or other indicator of proper exterior lumination. Your turn signals should be inspected as well. If any bulbs on either system is burnt out, you need to get it replaced ASAP.

In the event that your headlights appear dim or weak, it probably just means they need to be cleaned.

Dirt, grime, snow/ice, etc. accumulate on your car’s exterior at a faster rate in fall and winter than in other seasons so you will need to clean your headlights more often during these months. You should also, as a rule of thumb, request your auto technician perform a quick headlight cleaning whenever you bring your vehicle in for a tuneup or inspection.

If your headlights are acting up even with a new bulb and freshly-polished lens, there could be something wrong with your electrical system and you should bring your vehicle into our shop for a full diagnostic. To schedule your next inspection, click HERE or call our team at 336.294.2137

Oil Loss Prevention

Many vehicles will experience oil loss at some point. Usually it is through small drips and minor leaks that can be prevented, but in some cases oil leaks require immediate attention from an ASE-Certified Technician.

An improperly sealed drain bolt is the most common cause of leaks. When having an oil change in Greensboro performed, your oil pan is first drained. The drain is resealed, usually with a new washer around the drain bolt. Cheap oil change services may not include a new washer, which can potentially result in new leaks emerging after the change. If a leak appears after the change and continues after a day or two of normal driving, you may need a new washer.

Small oil leaks are also common in older cars. Often the seals wear or are misshapen due to the mechanical movements and drastic changes in temperature that are common with a combustion engine. While replacing the seals may not be economical, it is very important to check oil levels frequently.

In the worst scenario, oil loss may be sudden and dramatic. Many vehicles have warning lights that indicate a loss of oil pressure. In this case, it is imperative that the vehicle is stopped and turned off immediately. Friction from oil loss will destroy internal engine components and may ruin the engine completely.

Abnormal oil loss without any prior indication such as oil stains or an oily engine may indicate a much deeper problem. It might be an indication that the vehicle is burning oil. Oil may seep past the pistons and into the combustion chamber or it may leak through a broken head gasket. These are both very serious problems that may result in a loss of power and reduced fuel efficiency.

If you think you might be losing oil, bring your vehicle in to Foreign Accents at your earliest convenience and we can assess the issue and determine the best solution for fixing it.

A well-sealed oil system is crucial to keeping your vehicle on the road – call us at (336) 294-2137 if you have any questions or concerns about yours!

Car Waxing vs. Polishing

Car polish and wax are among many products used to protect your vehicle and keep it looking its best. Unfortunately, there is a common misconception among car owners about these products and what they are used for. So what is the difference between a wax and a polish? And what’s right for your car?

Polish

A polish is used to give your vehicle a smooth, shiny surface. The primary purpose of polish is to remove imperfections from your vehicle’s paint or clear coat. Polish can clean off contaminants such as grease, dirt, and rust that normal washing cannot remove. It is also used to fix small scratches, scrapes, or swirls from the finish.

There are two primary types of car polish: chemical polishes and abrasive polishes. Chemical polishes are used to clean the exterior, removing rust, grease, and stains that normal washing cannot remove. Abrasive polishes are used to fix imperfections in your car’s paint job or clear coat and smooth out small scratches or scrapes. These polishes range from coarse to fine, with finer polishes ideal for detail work.

Polishes typically come in creams, sprays, or liquids and contain solvents to remove impurities (grease, rust). Polishing your vehicle fixes small imperfections in the finish and allows the paint to shine through. However, most polishes do not provide protection for your car’s finish.

Wax

Waxing is used to create a protective barrier on your vehicle. UV rays, pollution, dust, moisture, and corrosion can all harm your car’s paint and clear coat. Wax acts as a barrier between your car’s finish and the environment. Wax also can create the glossy look that many vehicle owners love.

Car waxes come in two varieties: natural or synthetic. Natural car waxes are usually made from caranauba wax and have great protection and shine. While both types of wax serve the same functions, synthetic waxes can last longer than natural wax.

You should always wash your car before applying wax. Wax acts as a paint sealant and will seal any dirt, grease, or rust to your car. Wax can provide protection from moisture, corrosion, and oxidation from the outside, but anything on your car when you apply the wax can still cause damage. If you find any damage after washing your car, you should use a polish to resolve any issues before waxing.

What is right for your car?

Because waxing and polishing your car serve different purposes, it is a good idea to do both. If you notice any problems with your car’s finish, you should get them fixed prior to waxing or polishing. Speedy action will help prevent scratches and nicks from causing further oxidation (rust) and damage.

Wash your car first before polishing or waxing. As you wash, you can inspect your car for any imperfections, rust, or scratches. Polish your vehicle as needed, anytime you find imperfections in the finish or when you want extra shine for your paint job. Always wax after polishing, since polish can remove the wax from your vehicle. Typically, cars should be waxed every 3 or 4 months. Follow the instructions for any products you use for the best results.

Both polish and wax can fix and protect your vehicle’s finish and your investment! If you have any questions about polishing or waxing your vehicle, call us at 336.294.2137 or stop by our shop!

Keeping your Parked Car Cool

Summer is officially here, and while that means road trips, family vacations, and spending time outdoors, it also means hot cars and sticky seats. Your vehicle spends more time parked than running, which means it spends a lot of time in the hot summer sun.

Before you get hit by a muggy wave of hot air, here are five tips for keeping your vehicle cool while it’s parked in Guilford County this summer:

Use a sun shade. When you’ll leave your vehicle parked for more than a few minutes, put up a window cover or sun shade. The shade will reflect away sunlight, keep the interior cool, and protect the dashboard from damage from sun exposure.

Cover leather seats. Leather and vinyl seats can get very hot in the sun and be very uncomfortable against exposed skin. To keep your seats comfortable, cover them with a blanket or towel when you park your vehicle.

Crack the windows. A little air flow can make a big difference. Don’t leave the windows all the way down – an inch or two is enough to provide ventilation.

Park in the shade. If there is a covered parking garage or a space protected by the shade from a tree, snag one of those parking spots. Shade can account for a temperature difference of up to 10 degrees and keep your vehicle cooler out of the direct sun.

Don’t hurry. When you get back to the car, open the door and let the hot air escape for a few seconds before you climb inside.

Do you have other tips for keeping your car cool in the summer? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Make sure your vehicle can keep you and your passengers cool on the road too. If your air conditioning is struggling to match the heat, bring your car into Foreign Accents for a vehicle air conditioning inspection. Our experienced technicians will test the A/C in your car to make sure it is in the best condition to keep your car cool this summer.

If you have questions about your vehicle or the air conditioning, call our team at 336.294.2137!

What To Do When Your Car Overheats

As temperatures heat up, so do our car’s engines. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to make sure climbing temperatures don’t permanently harm your car.

The following are easy steps to take if your car overheats:

First, always carry an extra bottle of coolant and a jug of water in your car. Usually cars overheat due to low coolant so topping it off can often fix this problem. If that doesn’t work, water can also temporarily do the trick.

If the temperature gauge goes into the red area, or a notification light comes on, immediately turn off your A/C system as the A/C puts a lot of strain on your engine. If the temperature gauge doesn’t go down, turn your heater up all the way. It may be brutal for a few miles, but transferring that heat away from your engine may save its life.

If these steps fail, pull over as soon as possible and turn off your engine. Open your hood from the driver’s seat, if you can, to allow more heat to escape the engine compartment, but never risk opening it by hand until the engine has completely cooled down, which takes at least 30 minutes.

Once the engine has cooled, check the coolant tank. If it is empty or there is a puddle or drip under the car, you may have a coolant tank leak.

If you do have leak, place a cloth over the radiator cap to protect your hand and carefully unscrew it, tipping it away from you as it opens. Refill the COOLED radiator with spare coolant or water as to not crack the engine block due to sudden temperature change. Most cars require a 50:50 mix of coolant and water so don’t drive indefinitely with nothing but water in the coolant tank. If there is no leak and the coolant tank is full, the problem is likely electrical or mechanical, and you’ll need to call a reputable auto repair shop to tow your car.

Cars can overheat no matter what age they are. Keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, storing extra bottles of water and coolant, and knowing what to do are your best tools in the event your car overheats. Avoiding your car turning into a volcano on your next summer road trip will help ensure your vacation is a good one.

Spring Tire Check

Spring weather can create unpredictable road conditions on the roads in North Carolina. Before you hit the roads this month, take a few minutes to perform a quick tire check and make sure your vehicle’s tires are ready for any condition!

1. Check the tire pressure once per month. Temperature swings can affect the tire pressure by 1 PSI for every 10 degree change. Check the manufacturer owner’s guide for the correct inflation – it isn’t always the same as the pressure listed on the tire.

2. Check tire grooves for tread and objects. Rocks, nails, and other objects can become stuck in the tread as you drive, so remove any and look for damage. In rainy conditions, your tires need at least 4/32” of tread to prevent hydroplaning. To check your tread, insert a quarter in the groove upside down. If you can see Washington’s head, your tread is too low! It may be time to replace your tires.

3. Check the sidewalls. A quick visual inspection may be able to spot potential hazards with your tires. Watch for thinning patches, especially uneven wear, that may put you at increased risk for a blow out on the roads. Cuts, bulges, and irregularities can indicate a serious problem.

4. Check the spare. Even though it’s hidden in the trunk of your vehicle, don’t forget the spare tire! The last thing we want to happen is to be stranded on the side of the road after a blow out because the spare is flat too!

5. Check the alignment, balance, and rotation. Irregular wear of the tires can be a sign for a probably with the alignment or balance of your wheels. It also means your tires will need replaced sooner! Checking your tires regularly will help you spot issues early, but make sure to include alignment inspections as part of your routine car care.

Stop by Foreign Accents for an alignment and balance check. Our technicians can quickly determine if your tires need to be rotated or need an alignment. By keeping your tires in precise alignment so that they hit the road in the exact same way for all four tires, our technicians can help ensure that you maximize the life of your tires – meaning more comfortable drives, higher fuel efficiency, and saving money!

To have our technicians inspect your tires or for advice about the warning signs to look for at home, call our team at 336.294.2137 or stop by our shop on West Market Street in Greensboro!

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!