Road Trip With Your Pet: 8 Tips

Pets play an important role in our lives; emotional support, cuddle buddy, and a fun companion. It can be hard to be away from our pets for a long period of time, which is why people often bring their pets along for the adventure. There are some critical safety tips to keep in mind if you travel with your pet in order to ensure their safety and well-being while on the road. Here are 8 safety tips for road tripping with your pet:

  • Make an appointment with vet before trip.  Make sure all vaccinations are up to date and necessary medicine is on hand. Tranquilizing a pet is generally not recommended because it could interfere with breathing. Consult with a vet for tips to keep your pet relaxed on the road.
  • Get them used to the road. If you’ll be taking a several hour road trip with your dog or cat, it is advisable to get them acclimated to the car and driving on the road beforehand. Start with short drives around the neighborhood, and gradually increase the drive time.
  • Pack a pet-friendly travel kit. Include food, a leash, portable water bowl, plastic baggies, necessary medication, a few favorite toys, and grooming supplies.
  •  Feeding. Always opt for bottled water, as tap water in new areas could result in an upset stomach. Feed your pet a light meal a few hours before departure to aid in digestion.
  • Never leave your pet locked in the car. You should never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle- especially in the heat or freezing cold. Even with the windows open, the trapped heat or cold could cause heatstroke and/or hypothermia.
  •  Invest in a USDA-approved travel carrier. You may want to let your pet roam free to have enough room, but this is more dangerous and can lead to injury. You should secure a dog or cat in a suitable crate that leaves them with enough room. Check out crash-tested and approved crates and harnesses here.
  • Keep pets in the back seat. The backseat is safest for animals because of the possible injury that could occur from the front-seat airbags. If the backseat is full of luggage or already occupied, make sure you turn off the passenger airbags and secure your pet in a crate.
  • Stop every two hours or so. Let them stretch their legs, run around for a bit, and go to the bathroom. These quick breaks are also good times to give your dog some water in order to avoid dehydration.

It is also advisable to get a routine maintenance check of your car before going on a long road trip. Make an appointment with us today!

Safety Tips for Driving In Heavy Rain

Wipers clearing rain, and roads busy with traffic.

Spring has finally arrived- along with an increase in rainy days. Heavy rain may be beneficial to flowers, but it is not the best weather to drive your car in. The roads become slick and visibility can be limited due to rain and fog. Use these tips to ensure a safe trip during heavy rainfall.

  • Slow down! Be sure to drive at or below the speed limit when the roads are slick.
  • Avoid hard braking, turn slowly, and ensure ample distance between the car in front of you.
  • Turn on headlights (but not the brights) In 18 states it is illegal to use your windshield wipers without turning on your headlights during inclement weather. Some of those states include Illinois, Missouri, and Ohio.
  • If you feel uncomfortable, pull over. Sometimes it is best to wait until the rain slows down before you continue your route. You should never drive when stressed out or uncomfortable about your safety.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires have less pressure pushing the car down on the road. You will you have less tire-to-road contact than a properly inflated tire, which increases your risk of hydroplaning.
  • If you find yourself hydroplaning- don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, ease off the gas pedal and use a light pumping method on the brakes.
  • Rain causes humidity. If you need to quickly de-fog your windshield, turn on the A/C to cool down the interior of the car.
  • If you hydroplane, steer in the direction your car is going. This will help your tires realign and gain traction back.

Above all, it is important to remain cautious and calm while driving through heavy rain. Stop in to your local Car-X if you need a headlight or wiper blade replacement, brake repair, or a general inspection of your car.

Why You Should Avoid Potholes on the Road

The months of December- April are considered pothole season. Potholes are formed in the pavement due to the expansion (freezing) and contraction (thawing) of ground water from rain and snow, and from heavy traffic.

While potholes usually only develop to a depth of a few inches, if they become large enough, they can cause damage to your car’s tires, wheels, suspension, and undercarriage.

How Potholes Affect Your Car

Tires and wheels Potholes typically have rough edges which can compress the tire. The impact could cause tread separation of the tires or even a flat. Running over a deep pothole can scratch the rims or bend and crack the wheels.

Suspension Repeated jolts from potholes accelerate the rate of wear and tear on your steering and suspension system. Your car’s suspension is made to absorb impact but sometimes an unruly pothole can cause damage. Misalignment, broken ball joints, or damaged shocks are all possible outcomes. Look out for any strange noises, vibrations, or pulling in one direction while driving.

Undercarriage Smaller cars are lower to the ground which makes damage to the low-hanging bumpers and sidings more likely. While this damage is mostly cosmetic, it can be a costly repair.

Exhaust pipes Your exhaust pipes are one of the lowest-hanging parts of your car. This makes them a perfect target for potholes. Damage to the exhaust system includes scraping or puncturing of the pipes. You’ll know right away if the exhaust system is damaged from a lot of noise and possibly loss of power. Concerns about the exhaust system should be addressed as soon as possible.

How to Avoid Potholes

Sometimes running over a pothole is unavoidable- they can come up quickly and are sometimes impossible to maneuver around due to surrounding traffic. Swerving or braking quickly can do more harm by causing a collision with other cars on the road.

Your best bet is to slow down while driving and if you must go over a pothole- keep your wheel straight. If there is no surrounding traffic, carefully check your mirrors and maneuver around it.

Avoid flat tires or bent wheels by making sure your tires are properly inflated. Check your vehicle’s proper inflation level on the sticker found in the driver-side doorjamb or owner’s manual. If you notice any loud noises, uneven rolling, or a bulge or dent in your tires, get your vehicle inspected immediately at a local Car-X Tire & Auto.

Air Conditioning: What’s that smell?

Have you been experiencing a mildew like odor when your air conditioning is on? We promise this more than likely is coming from your air conditioning, and not yourself or your passengers. That smell often is deriving from a growth of bacteria in the air conditioning system. Frequently, this occurs in older vehicles or a vehicle that gets seldom use. The bacteria build up can also come from excess moisture, caused by the air conditioning regularly being on the maximum setting.

Don’t worry this is can be fixed. Replacing your air filter will help take care of this issue. Your air filter collects dust, dirt and water and is a perfect place for bacteria to live. Best practice is to replace your air filter every 12,000 – 15,000 miles. If replacing your air filter does not eradicate the odor, your air conditioning evaporator may require a good cleaning as well.

Your local Car-X is here to help, so call or go online to schedule an appointment at https://www.carx.com/request-an-appointment/ and we’ll investigate that pesky smell for you.

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance

spring car maintenance

Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!

Spring cleaning checklist:

Undercarriage flush – With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.

De-grunge – To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.

Clean and Seal – If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.

Treat – If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.

Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The anti-static elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.

Chrome & Windows – To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.

Hubcaps – To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.

 

Spring Cleaning & Maintenance

spring car maintenance

Wash winter’s grit & road salt away and enjoy the Spring weather in your clean ride!

Spring cleaning checklist:

Undercarriage flush – With the onset of spring, all car owners should have their car’s undercarriage flushed.

De-grunge – To remove grunge you need to wash your car with a strong detergent; most car wash solutions do not have the strength to cut through the dirt. Try a solution of 1 ounce of dish-washing detergent to 3 gallons of cool water to wash your car.

Clean and Seal – If your car’s paint feels rough, you need a cleaner. If your paint has scuffs and scratches, you need a heavier polish.

Treat – If your car has a leather or vinyl interior, it needs to be treated before the onset of summer’s heat.

Dashboard Shine the dashboard with a clean fabric softener sheet. The anti-static elements will help repel dust from the dashboard.

Chrome & Windows – To clean chrome & glass, sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp rag, scrub, & rinse clean.

Hubcaps – To clean dirt & grime from hubcaps, spray with Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. Let sit for 15 seconds and rinse clean.

 

Help local Minneapolis Franchisee Car-X team return to the East Lake community!

The Bernstein family have enjoyed doing business as a Car-X Franchise in the Lake Street neighborhood since 1980. The first 20 years on West Lake Street and the second 20 years on East Lake Street.

Their team of Pat, John and Billy have been with the Bernstein’s company for a combined total of almost 50 years. The Covid-19 impact and reduction of work has been painful for many including Pat and his team.

The riots, destruction and looting of the East Lake Street store and neighborhood is like salt in an open wound. Please help them REBUILD. They want to get back to servicing their community as soon as possible. These funds will help their technicians get back to work by helping them replace tools and personal items, and keep them working while they clean and rebuild their shop. Thank you for your consideration. Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd!

Thank you from Car-X Tire & Auto on behalf of the Bernstein Family and the East Lake Street Car-X Team

Should your College Student Take their Car to School?

taking car to collegeBack to school can be a time of big decisions for parents and students. One of the most difficult is whether or not to take a car away to college. Consider the following when making this decision:

Responsible use – Has your child done his or her part in taking care of their vehicle so far? Have they driven safely and not had a problem with speeding tickets or accidents? Keep in mind the atmosphere of college inevitably means less supervision and more opportunities for poor decisions, so trust is a major factor.

School policy – Colleges have varying policies on cars for students. Many universities don’t allow first-year students to bring cars to campus. If your student’s school does allow vehicles, the next thing to look into is parking. Will there be a nearby lot or deck they can park in, or will they have to park further away? If the parking area safe?

• Convenience to family – Does it make sense to the rest of the family that your student’s car be gone for semesters at a time? There could be younger siblings near or of driving age that may need the car.

Jobs or internships – If your student has a part-time job or internship this fall, especially off-campus, then it is important they have a reliable means of transportation.

Cost – Does your child have a way to pay for gas, parking permits, etc., or will you be covering that? Come up with a plan, such as you paying a certain percentage if your student maintains a certain GPA.

Rules – Should you make the decision your student will take their car, establish some ground rules. Classmates will surely ask to borrow or drive the car at some point.

Alternatives – Should you decide your student won’t take their car, there are several alternatives to having a car on campus to consider.

Get Summer Road Ready

Are you ready for the Summer?
Summer Road Trip
Let the ASE Certified Techs at Car-X Tire & Auto  make sure your vehicle is safe & road ready!

Get vacation ready w/ the following tips:

Battery– Have your battery checked along with the charging system. Most people feel that the cold is tough on a vehicle’s battery, but it is heat that truly wears a battery out!

Tires– Have your tires checked for wear and have them rotated if needed. Teen-agers really do not enjoy changing tires while on vacation. Swimming and boating is a lot more desirable to them then this activity.

Cooling system– Ensure that your coolant can handle the extra heat you will be asking it to absorb and make sure it is still protecting all the different metals in your engine. Have the belts and hoses checked as well. The number one reason for vehicle break down while on the road is a blown heater hose.

Fluids– Make sure that all critical fluids are full and ready to make the long trip with no problems along the way! This list includes engine oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid, and also differential fluid. Change any of these fluids that are at the end of their useful life.

A/C– No time is the air conditioning system needed more then during a long road trip with the family all on board the vehicle. Cooler inside temperatures usually mean cooler tempers and a lot more enjoyable road trip. The A/C system should be checked for proper performance including compressor operation along with the cooling fans. You need to ensure that vehicle will be properly cooled when the outside heat is 90 plus degrees. Most newer vehicles are now equipped with a cabin filter and this needs checked yearly especially if anyone in the family suffers from allergies. Lastly, the A/C system should be checked for any small leaks so that the A/C does not quit half-way through your fun filled vacation trip.

Tire Season Has Begun

October Tire Month October is Tire Month at Car-X! Why? It is the best time of year to pay attention to your tires and make sure they are ready for the coming winter months. The importance of tire maintenance cannot be underestimated – they are your vehicle’s only contact with the road.

• Have your tires inspected for proper wear and tread depth. Have them rotated if necessary according to your owner’s manual.

• Make sure your tires are in good shape. If they’re not, have them replaced. Tires that are worn, cracked, or out of balance can seriously hinder your ability to drive and control your car. The majority of winter accidents are caused by loss of control of the vehicle on snowy or icy roads.

• Depending on where you live, you may want to consider winter or snow tires. Snow tires can provide up to 20% better snow traction than all-season tires. With snow tires, you receive the benefits of shorter braking distances as well as more predictable and controllable turning.

• The valve caps on your tires are more valuable than you may think. They keep out any debris and prevent moisture from entering the tire, which can cause damage if the moisture freezes. This is especially critical for vehicles equipped with TPMS.

• All four tires should have the appropriate amount of inflation and pressure. This should be checked every few weeks once the weather gets cold, as the cooler temperatures cause the pressure in your tires to drop.

• Low tire pressure also negatively impacts gas mileage. According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Energy, having properly inflated tires can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3%.

• When was the last time you checked your spare? Take a look at your spare tire to ensure it is in good condition. A time when you really need it is not a time to find out it is flat.

Making sure your tires are in good condition is important, especially when preparing for the winter months. Read our article about the other components of winterization.