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.

Spring Tire Check

Rain or shine, your vehicle’s tires have to work hard to keep you safe and in control on the roads in Greensboro. Changing seasons is a perfect reminder to check your tires for key warning signs to help you get the longest life for your vehicle’s tires.
Here are a few tips:

  1. Visual Check. Check the grooves of your tire to make sure there are no rocks or objects stuck in the tread. Make sure there is enough tread to handle road conditions in Greensboro (2/32” minimum, 4/32” for wet or slick conditions). Look for gouges, cuts, or bulges along the sidewalls of the tires. If there are any irregularities, bring your car or vehicle into our shop for an inspection. These can be signs of a problem that leave you at greater risk for a flat tire.
  2. Tire pressure. We recommend checking the tire pressure at least once per month. You can purchase an inexpensive, easy to use tire pressure gauge and check in your own garage or when you fill up at the gas station. Under inflated tires puts extra stress on the tire, while over inflation causes uneven wear and handling problems.
  3. Spare Tire. Don’t forget to check the spare! Perform the same visual inspection on the spare tire, and make sure it is properly inflated.
  4. Rotation. Rotating the tires helps to control the wear on the tread from normal driving and prevent irregular wear. Our auto and tire experts can inspect your tires and let you know if they need to be rotated.
  5. Alignment. Uneven tire wear may be a sign that you need an alignment. When you bring your vehicle in for an alignment inspection, our auto technicians will take precise measurements to ensure the tires are hitting the road at exactly the same angle and position.

Regular tire checks can help you maximize the life of your tires! In addition to checking your tires at home, bring your vehicle into Foreign Accents for a tire check with your next oil change or maintenance service. Request an appointment online or call 336.294.2137.

Warning Signs for Shocks and Struts

Why does your vehicle need shocks and struts?

These components are designed to make your ride more comfortable by keeping your tires on the road. Without them, your vehicle would bounce with every bump in the road. Shocks and struts allow you to remain in control with easier handling on uneven road surfaces.

Unlike other components (like filters or spark plugs), there is not a specific mileage interval when you need to replace the shocks and struts. But like every mechanical component, they will eventually wear down and need to be replaced.

Have your vehicle inspected by a professional auto repair shop, like Foreign Accents in Greensboro! Symptoms and warning signs of shocks and struts damage include:

  • Leaking. Oil and wet spots outside of the shocks and struts may be visible. Never ignore leaking fluid — doing so could turn a simple fix into an expensive repair!
  • Damage. Look for physical damage to the shocks and struts. A broken mount or dented housing could spell big trouble!
  • Handling. If your vehicle has been excessively bumpy or sways from side to side, that could be a sign of a problem. Other signs include the nose dipping when you brake and the suspension bottoming out in your driveway.

To test your shocks and struts at home, try the “bounce test.” Push down hard at each corner of your car. If it bounces back more than two times after you release the body, the shocks may need to be replaced. Bring your vehicle to Foreign Accents for a detailed inspection.

Replacing worn shocks and struts not only makes your driving more comfortable, it also can improve performance! Your vehicle will stop faster when braking, be more stable on wet and icy roads, improve gas mileage, and protect the life of your tires and suspension.

To schedule an inspection, including shocks and struts, call our auto repair shop in Greensboro at 336.294.2137 or request an appointment online.

New Year, New Habits that can Improve Your Car

As you consider your resolutions for the New Year, don’t forget your car! For most people, it’s the second most expensive investment they’ll ever make, and resolving to keep a few new habits can help protect that investment for years to come! Here are some easy ways to care for your car…

Learn to love your tire pressure gauge. Starting at just $5 for an analog version or $10 for digital, a tire pressure gauge might have the best cost-to-savings ratio of any tool you can own. After all, checking and correcting your tire pressure during each fill up at the gas station can not only mean improved MPG and savings at the pump, it can also ensure that your tires don’t wear out prematurely!

Do your spring cleaning more than once each year. Cleaning the clutter out of your car is more than just therapeutic — it also means reduced fuel costs as you reduce the weight your car has to cart around all day! If you make a point to clear out the junk weekly, you can save at the pump all year long.

Lighten up on the lead foot. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can assume that each 5mph you’re traveling over 50mph is like spending an extra $0.24 per gallon at the pump! Going 50 may not always be practical on the highway, but spending less time in the left lane can certainly add up to savings this year.

Car washes are more than just cosmetic. Washing your car regularly this year can protect the finish on your vehicle, helping to preserve its resale value down the road. But regular car washes aren’t just cosmetic. Washing your vehicle helps prevent rust from forming which could mean an early end for your vehicle. Washing also helps prevent corrosive build-up from forming on the rims of your tires that can lead to an incomplete seal, meaning low tire pressure, decreased MPG, premature wear, and even a flat tire at the worst possible time.

The surest way to catch problems on your vehicle while they are small and fixable instead of catastrophic, expensive, and inconvenient is with regular inspections by ASE-Certified Technicians. This year, if you resolve to have your oil changed every 3 months / 3,000 miles and have your car thoroughly inspected each time, you’re also resolving to protect your investment, save money and reduce your frustration in the new year!

To schedule your next vehicle maintenance service, request an appointment online or call our auto repair shop in Greensboro at 336.294.2137.

Drive Safely this Holiday Season

Happy Holidays! We hope you are fully enjoying this season, spending time with your family, and driving safely on the roads. Winter is here – the days are getting colder and shorter. Whether you’re commuting daily or planning a cross country road trip to visit family, here’s some advice to stay safe this winter:

Turn your headlights On – Winter days seem shorter with fewer hours of daylight. As the sun goes down earlier, it is very important to use your headlights! Even if you don’t usually have to think about turning them on for the drive home from work, you may need to adjust your habits for this season. Your lights help you to see and to be seen by other drivers.

Slow down – On slick winter roads, the biggest change for your vehicle is traction. Especially if you drive on snow or ice, your car won’t be able to grip the road as well requiring careful steering and braking. Check your tire pressure – a ten degree drop in temperature can drop PSI by as much as one pound. You can easily top off your tires yourself, or bring it in to us for a quick fill. Have your tires and brakes inspected to make sure they can handle the road conditions, and know your limits.

Check your emergency kit – You should always keep a basic emergency kit in your vehicle. Check to make sure the components are still gathered and in good condition (you may want to replace emergency food periodically). Add in winter layers, gloves, and other tools to keep you safe and warm in emergencies.

Use common sense – If the roads look treacherous, stay inside. Know your limits and those of your vehicle, and have a safety inspection performed before any long drives. When in doubt, SLOW DOWN or stay at home.

Our ASE Certified Technicians want to help you prepare your vehicle for winter roads in Greensboro – give us a call at 336.294.2137 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Test your Heater BEFORE It Gets Too Cold

Winter is coming to Greensboro, which means cold temperatures will soon be here to stay. Is your car heater up for the challenge?

Being warm isn’t only a matter of comfort, it keeps you safe! Cold body temperatures reduce your ability to react quickly in an emergency, slow your response time, and leave you more prone to distraction. Shivering and heavy layers also make it difficult to concentrate while driving. For your comfort and safety, make sure you can stay warm in your vehicle this winter.

After several months of warm summer temperatures and not using the heater, latent problems with the heating system start showing up in the fall.

Before your car gets too cold this winter, test your heater to make sure it is working properly!

On the next cold morning, turn your heater up. Pay attention to how quickly it heats your vehicle. Hold your hand up to the vents to make sure warm air is coming through each vent.

If it takes too long to warm your vehicle, bring your car in for an inspection. Our technicians will test the system and look for problems that could be preventing it from working properly. A faulty heater coil could be the cause, or it could be as simple as blocked air flow in the vents. A dirty cabin air filter could reduce the effectiveness of your heater but can easily be replaced.

There are many reasons the heater may not be keeping up with the cold temperatures. To keep your vehicle warm this winter, test your car heating system early. Bring your car to Foreign Accents in Greensboro and our certified technicians will inspect the heater in your vehicle. If you need any other services to prepare for winter weather in North Carolina, request an appointment online or call our auto shop at 336.294.2137.

Fall Car Care Tips

Fall is here, and pumpkin-spiced goodies are popping up in grocery store aisles across Greensboro… so we’re jumping in with our new pumpkin-spice oil changes!

Just kidding – pumpkin flavors might mix well with your coffee, but instead we’re offering advice to keep your vehicle safely on the road this fall.

Read our tips below, then stop by Foreign Accents for a fall safety inspection to make sure your vehicle is ready for changing fall weather!

First, think about your suspension and alignment. With road trips, construction, and potholes during the summer, all those bumpy roads can wear down your shocks and struts. When your wheels slip out of alignment, you’ll get lower gas mileage and be at risk for more slips and slides on wet fall roads.

Next, look at your battery. Damage from summer heat isn’t always easy to spot, and may not be noticeable until the first very cold day in the fall. Before you’re stuck with a car that won’t start, have your battery tested at our reliable auto repair shop during your next inspection to make sure it can handle the swinging temperatures of fall weather.

Before the next rainstorm, make sure you’ll be able to see clearly on the road. Stock up on wiper fluid, and stop by Foreign Accents if you need new wiper blades or headlight bulbs. Test your windshield wipers regularly so you’re never caught in a storm with poor visibility.

Want to make sure your vehicle is ready for changing road conditions this fall and winter? Give us a call – 336.294.2137 – our experienced technicians will do a complete inspection to make sure there aren’t problems lurking, just waiting until that first freeze to leave you stranded in the cold.

Stop by our auto repair shop in Greensboro or request an appointment online.

Falling Tire Pressure

As temperatures start dropping on Fall evenings, vehicles need to consider a new danger: falling tire pressures.

Tires can lose 1 pound of pressure for every 10 degrees in temperature drop. This isn’t usually a problem in the summer or winter, when the temperature only waivers by twenty degrees.

But in the fall, when days are still hot but nights are cooler, that can mean temperature swings of 40 degrees or more!

A change of 4 pounds of pressure can make a big difference in a tire. Under-inflated tires can cause a car to take much longer to stop and provide sluggish handling on slick roads covered with rain and leaves.

More than that, under-inflated tires wear unevenly — meaning tires need to be prematurely replaced — and cause decreased gas mileage. Both mean wasted money!

All of this means that during fall it’s especially important to do regular tire pressure checks.

The secret? Keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment. They’re cheap, small, and they mean you can check your tires at home, while they’re still cold. That’s an important distinction, because after you drive on them and the tires warm up, the pressure is artificially higher.

By checking at home before driving, you can know how much to fill them when you get to the gas station.

Be sure to check tires regularly this fall (and all winter long) to make sure you’re not wasting money or making your family unsafe!  And if you’re still not sure how to check the pressure or need help filling them, stop by and let us help.

Bring your vehicle into Foreign Accents in Greensboro. Our auto repair experts will show you how to check the tire pressure and know the optimal tire pressure for your vehicle and your specific tires. As part of a thorough vehicle inspection, our auto repair experts will let you know about any other issues that may be affecting your tires. Call us at 366.294.2137 to schedule an appointment.

Organizing your Car for Back-to-School

Making lunches, buying school supplies, and packing backpacks mean families have a lot to think about this season. As kids are going back to school, parents are busy managing schedules and making sure everyone in the family gets where they need to be, when they need to be there.

How can you stay on top of this much stress? Get organized! Here are a few tips to help you keep your car and your family organized this back-to-school season.

  1. Empty the trunk. By the end of the summer, all sorts of belongings may be collecting in your trunk. Removing excess items, like lawn chairs or camping supplies, can help you get more miles to the gallon. Plus, you’ll need that space for school backpacks, band instruments, and sports equipment!
  2. Schedule drivers. Keep track of rides and cars on the family schedule. When you list out school events, soccer practice, rehearsals, carpools and more, also indicate the driver and car responsible. Color coding or highlighting can help for an at-a-glance view of your car’s schedule.
  3. Carpool. Parents can support each other by sharing the load. Setting up a carpool takes a little extra time upfront, but can be a huge benefit to all families involved. Not only does carpooling reduce the stress of multiple schedules, it saves you money!
  4. Pack car supplies. There are some things you want to keep in your car during the school year, like an emergency kit, umbrella, or grocery bags. Instead of leaving these things free-floating in the trunk, organize them using bags, boxes, or a trunk organizer. This helps you keep track of the items in your trunk and find them quickly when you need them.
  5. Check your emergency kit. Keep your family safe, even in an emergency. Your car emergency kit should have some cash, a phone charger, jumper cables, and the phone number for Foreign Accents – 336.294.2137. Make sure you check and replace used supplies, like snacks or water, to keep them fresh and stocked.

You and your car can be ready for the school year, even if your kids aren’t! A little bit of organization can help keep your family on track for this busy season. Share your back-to-school organization tips on our Facebook page.

To make sure your vehicle is ready for the year ahead, stop by Foreign Accents for an inspection. Our ASE-Certified technicians will review the results with you so you can take care of any needed maintenance before the busy school schedules are too far under way. Get peace of mind this school year! Request an appointment online.