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Keeping up with the Joneses

News and Helpful Hints from Jones Automotive.

Vehicle Neglect Takes the “Pun” Out of Thanksgiving

Don’t let gas prices gobble up your hard earned money this Thanksgiving weekend; carve out some time to perform some simple fixins on your vehicle for better gas mileage, advises the Car Care Council. Or how about:

•Before stuffing your family in the car…
•Don’t hit the road on a wing and a prayer…
•Get a leg up on the traffic by…
•More miles per gallon is all gravy…
•The dinner and the driving – it’s all about the gas…

OK, had enough? Put a fork in it already? Got your attention? Seriously though, Thanksgiving is one of the most heavily traveled holidays by vehicle. Your gas mileage can be easily improved by checking a few basic items on the car.

Start with the tires and make sure they are inflated properly. When they aren’t, it is similar to driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon. Tire pressure should be checked at least once a month and don’t forget the spare.

Air filters should not be clogged with dirt, dust or bugs. A dirty filter will choke off the air and create a “rich” mixture – too much gas being burned for the amount of air – that wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. A rule of thumb is to have the air filter inspected at each oil change and replaced when dirty, torn, water or oil soaked, or when showing other signs of wear. Replacing a clogged air filter will improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

Spark plugs are an often-neglected maintenance item because of their long-life expectancy. They are one of the hardest working parts of the engine and when functioning properly, they improve reliability and maximize engine performance and fuel economy. Plugs that are worn or fouled can cause the engine to lose power or misfire, which wastes fuel. The replacement interval for spark plugs can range from 30,000 to 100,000 miles.

A check of the spark plugs is usually part of a routine tune-up during which your automotive technician makes sure other ignition system and/or emission system parts, as well as the on-board computer control system, are working properly. A well-tuned engine delivers the best balance of power and fuel economy and produces the lowest level of emissions.

Gas caps should not be damaged, loose or missing. About 17 percent of the vehicles on the road have loose, damaged or missing gas caps, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.

In addition to proper vehicle maintenance, motorists can also get better gas mileage by avoiding aggressive driving, which can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and five percent on city streets, and avoiding excessive idling as a vehicle gets zero miles per gallon when sitting idle. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.

Motorists should observe the speed limit as gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mph driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. Cruise control helps maintain a constant speed on the highway.

Combining errands into one trip will also save gas and time. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance.

Avoid carrying unneeded heavy items in the trunk as an extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by a percent or two.

Call us today for a winter check-up, 402-345-8383.

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Beware of Potholes!

They’re back and they’re bad. Potholes have returned and hitting one with your car can do a number on tires, wheels, steering and suspension, and alignment. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for the following warning signs provided by the Car Care Council.

  • Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.
  • Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.
  • Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.

“Every driver knows what it feels like to hit a pothole. What they don’t know is if their vehicle has been damaged in the process. If you’ve hit a pothole, it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make the necessary repairs to ensure safety and reliability,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.
Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement - usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic - and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles, which accelerate the process. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.

Jones Automotive can exam your car for any damaged from a pothole. 402-345-8383

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An Ounce of Protection...

Change the Oil Regularly
First up is the simple oil change. Bottom line – if you change your oil on schedule, your engine will be properly protected. Go past the recommended mileage interval, typically every 3,000 to 5,000 miles depending on driving conditions, and sludge begins to build up in your engine. This sludge can clog small oil passages that keep important parts of the engine from being cooled and lubricated. That is never good for your engine. If your engine has variable valve timing, as most do nowadays, or a turbocharger, then these expensive components are at high risk for failure and expensive replacement. If you’re not sure how often you should change your vehicle’s oil, please give us a call.

Change Timing Belts and Chains Timely
Many vehicles come equipped with a timing belt. These belts wear out over time and must be replaced, along with the belt tensioner and other system components. If this belt breaks, you could end up with extensive engine damage that can cost thousands in repairs. Most manufacturers recommend changing the belt or chain every 60,000 to 100,00 miles, depending on the make, model and age of the vehicle. If you don’t know if your engine has a timing belt, as opposed to a timing chain, or when it should be replaced, we would be happy to look this up for you.

Clean Fuel Systems Regularly
More than half of all new vehicles sold have Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines, which can be susceptible to extensive hard carbon buildup on the intake valves. Regular fuel system cleaning can keep the deposits in check, and improve fuel economy, performance, and emissions at the same time. Neglecting this important service for too long may require an engine teardown to media blast, or “sandblast,” the carbon deposits from the valves and cylinder head. And yep, that costs a lot.

Trust Your Check Engine Light
This last item may seem harmless, but it could have serious consequences: your vehicle’s Check Engine Light. Many of the troubles that can trigger a Check Engine Light are related to emissions. The light warns you when the engine is not running efficiently, due to unburned fuel and oil vapors accumulating in the exhaust system’s catalytic converter. When these accumulations get hot enough, they can burn up and damage the catalytic converter. The initial problem may be something as simple as a failed oxygen sensor or even an extremely dirty engine air filter. Ignoring that Check Engine Light could lead to some very expensive repairs.

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