Every vehicle is built with an exhaust system designed to convert the harmful fumes and chemicals it produces into less harmful chemicals, and to safely release them into the air. As the vehicle is driven, the exhaust system wears out over time, but there are things you can do to help boost it, and keep it working better, longer, and to protect yourself and your environment from the harmful exhaust fumes.
Change Your Oil and Oil Filter Regularly
Oil helps to lubricate your vehicle, keeping its parts clean, prevent overheating, and minimize excess wear due to friction. In addition to these issues, old oil and an overused filter can lead to burning excess oil in your engine, which in turn leads to excess exhaust, further straining your exhaust system. To prevent burning oil, make sure to change your oil and oil filter as often as recommended in your manual.
Change Your Fuel Filter Regularly
To run properly, the engine requires clean air and clean fuel. Dirt and debris can be introduced at several points, which is why fuel and air filters are necessary. If the fuel filter is too old and clogged, it cannot clean the fuel that enters the
Change Your Air Filter Regularly
The air filter helps to purify the air that enters your vehicle’s engine. When it’s dirty or clogged, it’s hard for enough air, and enough clean air, to enter the engine. This means your engine will require more gasoline to run, and more gasoline leads to more exhaust.
Change Your PCV Valve Regularly
Your engine’s PCV valve, which helps to control emissions that are released from the engine to the exhaust system, can get dirty, clogged with oil, and filled with debris. To keep it running properly, it’s necessary to make sure it’s clean and replaced as often as required. This part’s job is simply to reduce emissions, so it’s an easy way to keep your emissions low.
The faster you accelerate, the more you drive, and the more your car is running, the more emissions you produce. Drive safely, follow the instructions in the manual, and don’t leave your car running when you’re not driving.
When you’re involved in a collision for the first time, you’ll probably have a lot of questions about how to handle it! We’ve put together a list of some common collision related questions to help get you through it.
Can I have my car repaired at any shop?
Yes! Legally, you have the right to repair your vehicle at a shop of your choosing. Don’t let an insurance company tell you otherwise.
What is a DRP?
DRP stands for Direct Repair Shop. Direct repair shops are collision repair shops that have made an agreement with an insurance company to provide certain services or follow certain regulations in exchange for fast or guaranteed payment from that insurance company. These deals are intended to provide faster service with less paperwork, but they may have downsides as well. If you select a DRP, make sure to ask what their policies are with the insurance company.
How do I get an estimate?
In order to truly determine how much damage has been done, an estimator needs to examine your vehicle, and estimates are just that – estimates. They aren’t always 100 percent accurate. You’ll need to bring your vehicle into the shop, where the estimator may need to take it apart to determine the damage and the cost of repairs.
How do I deal with my insurance company?
When you call your insurance company, they should give you a claim number. Bring it with you when you take your vehicle to the repair shop, and the shop should talk to the insurance company for you. If the shop and the insurance company have any issues, they should let you know. Both you and the shop can be in contact with the insurance company, and the claim number will let them know which vehicle and insurance claim you’re calling about.
How do I pay my deductible?
Usually, you’ll pay your deductible directly to the shop, because the insurance company will not pay that portion of your bill for you – it’s your deductible and they don’t want to front it for you. If you aren’t sure about the amount or about how to pay, don’t be afraid to discuss the specifics of your claim with your shop, or with your insurance company.
How long will my repairs take?
The answer to this question can vary immensely depending on the specifics of your accident, your vehicle, the damage, which shop you choose to perform your repairs, and your insurance company. Depending on your insurance policy, you may be able to get a rental car during the repair process. Ask your insurance company!
Have you ever wondered what qualifies a repair technician to fix your car? The truth is, every repair technician has an education, but much of what they do is learned on the job, and through certain certifications the repair shop can qualify for.
Basic Education Requirements
High school diploma – as with most jobs in the United States, completing high school is a requirement to become a collision repair technician.
Two- year degree – there are many technical schools and community colleges that offer two year degrees related to automotive repair. While not always required, having a degree can help an auto technician start working at a better job sooner, although on the job training is probably still required.
Not all repair technicians are created equally, but there is required training!
Like in most professions, a successful auto repair technician should have a balance of experience, in the job training, and formal education.
A formal education is intended to educate technicians about repairing the inside of a car. However, as vehicles become more and more complex, incorporating a number of computers and complex safety and convenience features, an in depth knowledge of computers and the inner workings of a car are becoming more valuable.
Once hired, technicians receive on the job training. They can also continue their training on their own! There are tons of certifications that both repair technicians and repair shops can earn. Each certification requires a financial and time commitment, and usually the training will need to be updated after a period of time.
ASE (Automotive Service Excellence)
ASE is one of the most common training and certification programs that technicians go through, and it’s the closest thing that the industry has to a uniform standard. There are many different certifications and levels of certification that a tech can receive through ASE, each one qualifying them for a different area of expertise in auto repair.
Another way to get certified, especially as a technician at a dealership, is to go through the manufacturer certification program. This familiarizes a repair technician with a specific brand of vehicles.
Depending on where a repair technician works, he or she may be a part of other certifications as well. In order to maintain certain qualifications in the industry, techs at certain shops may be required to go through training from OEMs (original equipment manufacturers, or car companies), refinish companies, insurance companies, and more.
If you’re curious about the certifications that your repair tech has, don’t be afraid to ask! Different repair technicians have different areas of expertise.
In the US, nearly seven percent of drivers on the road are between 15 and 20 years old. Nearly 250,000 teens were killed or treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained in car accidents in 2013. Although 15-24 year olds account for only 14 percent of the U.S. population, they are responsible for 30 percent of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries according to the CDC.
Fortunately, teen car accidents are preventable! Preventing collisions is the best way to keep your family safe. The biggest causes of teen accidents are distractions and driving under the influence, but there are several things we can do to help keep teens safe on the road.
Teens don’t usually appreciate restrictions, but when a new driver is learning, it’s best to keep their focus on the car and the road, not on distractions like cell phones. Cell phones are distracting at all ages, and should be used for emergencies only while on the road.
Another distraction for teens is friends, who don’t always respect the driver as well as they should. Limiting passengers is one of the best ways to keep young drivers safe.
Limit Driving at Night
Driving during the day can be challenging enough for new drivers, and eliminating light doesn’t make it any easier. Until teen drivers are comfortable driving safely during the day, limiting their time behind the wheel after dark is a good way to keep them safe.
Follow the Speed Limit
Speed limits are set for a reason. Especially while they’re learning, teens should follow the speed limits – and all traffic rules.
Don’t Drive Under the Influence
Alcohol or drugs of any kind can impair judgment and reaction times. It’s important to educate teens about the dangers of driving under the influence – not only to themselves and their passengers, but to other drivers and pedestrians on the road.
Practice Safe Driving in Inclement Weather
Rain, sleet, fog, hail, snow, and other kinds of weather can make it difficult to see and drive safely. It’s important to practice driving in bad conditions with a teacher in the vehicle, but it’s also important to know when to get off the road and wait it out.
Always Wear a Seat Belt
Seat belts do save lives! Children, teens, and adults should always wear a seatbelt in the car, but especially when a teen driver is behind the wheel. If an accident does happen, it’s the best way to stay safe.
Education is Key
Ultimately, driving requires some maturity that many teens just don’t have. As a parents, teachers, and members of a global community, it’s our job to set a good example and educate children and teens.
As technology advances, vehicles become more and more complex. According to Brian Wayne, of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the new Chrysler Pacifica has over 200 computers built into it!
At the annual NACE expo this summer, a panel of industry professionals representing OEMs and insurance companies discussed the recent official statements of several OEMs regarding the need for diagnostic scans both before and after all collision repairs.
Mike Anderson, owner of of Collision Advice, moderated the panel, which included representatives from State Farm and Farmers Insurance, as well as Audi of America, American Honda, Toyota, Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Nissan, and Collision Diagnostic Services.
Why Are Scans Necessary?
Because vehicles today are so complex, manufacturers are concerned that the fragile systems inside them won’t function correctly following an accident. Dashboard warning lights exist to warn drivers when something isn’t working properly, but not every system sets off a warning light. Even when warning lights do go off, a scan tool is required to identify the problem.
Some of the systems installed into newer vehicles are there for safety. During the panel, participants discussed the Seat Weight Sensor as an example of one that can easily be thrown off in a collision. This system weighs the front passenger and determines whether it is safe to deploy the front airbag in the case of an accident.
Chris Toby, the panel representative from Honda simplified the issue, comparing the Seat Weight Sensor to a bathroom scale. He said, “Would you throw your bathroom scale against a wall and expect it to weigh you accurately afterward?”
Early in the discussion, Anderson asked, “How would a shop know that there is a problem with a vehicle if there is no dash light? How else can they tell? Can they do a visual inspection?”
Audi rep, Mark Allen, replied, “Those systems are there for safety and collision avoidance. Scan the car.”
Insurance Carrier Opinions
The insurance representatives who were present at the discussion indicated that they would appreciate a little more clarity regarding when scans are actually necessary.
State farm representative, Chris Evans, said, “A scan isn’t always necessary… We don’t always want to have to pay for one. What if you replace something where no embedded technology exists?”
Collision Repair Techs: Stuck in the Middle?
In the panel, all of the vehicle manufacturers discussed recent and upcoming official statements, and all of them support both pre and post collision repair scans. Unfortunately, this leaves collision repair shops in the middle of a battlefield.
Scanning technology, insurance expectations, and safety requirements are not yet standardized across the industry.
In recent years, more and more people are cycling to get around than they were in the past. Cycling accidents are almost always detrimental to the cyclist, but they’re nearly always the fault of the driver! So, how can you stay safe on the roads with cyclists?
Bikes are Vehicles Too
Although bikes may have their own bike lanes, they are considered vehicles on the road, and it is not always safe for them to ride on the sidewalk. Cyclists have rights and responsibilities on the road, but you should need to treat them as vehicles too.
Don’t Risk It
With cyclists, it’s important to play it safe. If you aren’t sure what they’re doing, wait instead of moving forward. This can mean that you should avoid tailgating, recognize that potholes and other road hazards may affect the way a cyclist rides, and allow time and space for cyclists to ride safely.
Bike Lanes are For Bikers
Bike lanes exist for bikers to ride safely and stay out of your way, while car lanes are designed automobiles. In order to stay safe on the road, you need to respect that bike lanes are for bikers only. If you’re in a bike lane, a cyclist may swerve into traffic, leading to dangerous accidents.
Check Mirrors and Blind Spots
Whether you’re moving or parked, always check your blind spots and your mirrors before driving, turning, or even opening a door! If you don’t see a cyclist on the road, you could cause a collision.
Double Check When Turning
Generally, cyclists ride on the right, and when you’re making a right turn in a vehicle, you need to cross the bike lane, and check for cyclists, to do so safely. However, you’re making a left hand turn, make sure to wait for cyclists crossing the intersection from the other direction too! They may be going faster than you think, and for a cyclist, a fast stop can be dangerous.
Pass with Caution
Yes, in many cases, cyclists aren’t going as fast as automobiles. That doesn’t mean you have the right to pass them at any time. Always leave plenty of space, avoid tailgating, and wait until you can legally pass with enough room to do so safely.
Change Your Attitude
Have you ever been a cyclist on the road? Different cyclists have different reasons for biking, whether they want to do their part for the environment, exercise more, or they want the ease of parking close to wherever they’re going. Consider the benefits of biking, even for you! Cyclists are not a nuisance on the road, they are driving vehicles just like you. Remember that every bike on the road means one less car!
While maintaining your vehicle can help to prevent major issues, even a fender bender can create or exacerbate major and minor issues. Even if you think you’ve just dented the side panel or broken a headlight in an accident, it’s a good idea to have your vehicle examined after a crash.
To protect the passengers inside, vehicles today are designed to direct the flow of damage from one part of the car to another, which can lead to hidden damage. Sometimes, you can tell that your car has an issue just by a certain smell, especially while you’re driving. If you’ve been in an accident and you’re noticing a strange smell, the sooner you have it looked at, the better, especially when it comes to insurance!
If your car smells like rotten eggs…
The smell of sulphur or rotten eggs often indicates an issue with your exhaust system, specifically the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter helps eliminate some of the harmful gases produced by the engine, so a malfunction could be hazardous to your health and the environment. Waiting too long to have this fixed can be extremely costly.
If your car smells sweet…
It could indicate that your coolant is leaking! Coolant is critical to keeping your engine at the right temperature while it’s running, and if it overheats, you’ll have a much bigger and more expensive issue on your hands.
If you smell gasoline away from the pump…
Gasoline can signal one of several issues. If you’ve just tried and failed to start your car, it could mean you’ve flooded the engine and you’ll need to wait a few minutes before trying again. If you smell gasoline at another time, you may have a leak in your fuel injector line, or in your gas tank. Any fuel leak is a fire hazard – have it checked out as soon as possible.
If you smell something burning…
Usually, a burning smell is a sign that there is an electrical short, or that oil is leaking and burning. Oil leaks can usually be seen on the ground below your vehicle, especially if it’s left sitting for a short period of time. Either issue should be repaired quickly to avoid further damage or excessive heat.
If you smell burning rubber…
Usually, burning rubber is an issue with brakes. You may not think a collision could cause brake issues, but anything from unbalanced tires to a misalignment can lead to uneven wear on the brakes and tires, leading to a burning smell. To be safely driven, every vehicle needs functioning brakes, so don’t waste time in having them repaired.
Of course, the answer to this question completely depends on the specifics of the accident that your vehicle was in. However, if you have any question as to whether it is safe to drive or not, it is always a good idea to have it inspected! Your collision technician can tell you if it is damaged beyond repair or not.
Once your vehicle has been inspected and, if necessary, repaired, is it safe to drive? There are a few things you can do and questions that you can ask during the repair process to help ensure that it will be.
Ask your technician what kind of parts can be used to repair your vehicle.
There are several different ways that repair shops can fix the broken parts of your car. They can repair them, they can replace them with aftermarket or recycled parts, or, they can replace them with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.
Each of these has different benefits and drawbacks, from cost to safety to compatibility. However, OEM parts are not always safest, and recycled parts are not always the most affordable. Discuss your options with your technician.
Work with a repair shop you know and trust.
If possible, work with repair technicians that you know, or that you have been referred to. Especially with modern vehicles, it’s important for repair technicians to have the proper training to work on today’s vehicles and fix them to meet the current safety standards.
Ask and understand what happened, what is being repaired, and what needs to be replaced.
Even though you trust your technician, you are the one who will be driving your vehicle, and the best way to ensure that it’s repaired well is to be involved in the process. A great technician will answer any questions you have, explain to you what is wrong and how it should be fixed, and involve you in any major decisions that need to be made.
Listen to your vehicle.
Often, listening to your vehicle and paying attention to the way it drives are the best ways to tell when something is wrong. Even if you’ve taken your vehicle to a shop that you trust and you’ve been involved in the repair process, it can’t hurt to ask or have it checked out if you think there is an issue.
Fixing Little Issues Before They’re Big Issues
Owning a vehicle can be one of the most useful choices a person can make, but it can also be one of the most expensive and technical if you don’t take care of it. Like most things, a little bit of regular preventative maintenance can go a long way in preventing a lot of little problems that lead to major damage, costly repairs, and a short-lived vehicle.
So, what do cars require as far as maintenance? Of course, they all need their brakes checked, oil changed, tires rotated, and dash lights checked out. But there are other systems that need love and care too! Not every vehicle is the same, and some may require a little more love than others. The more basic your vehicle, the less you need to worry about. As cars grow complex, their maintenance schedules are changing with them. Check your owner’s manual for information that is more specific to your car.
Check Under the Hood
Every three months, or about as often as you get an oil change, take a look under the hood of your vehicle. There are some small signs you can look for as parts of your vehicle wear out so that you can replace them when they need it, and not when they’ve broken and caused damage to other systems too.
● Is your automatic transmission fluid at the correct level? If not, it’s time to top it off.
● Look at your battery. Are your battery connectors corroded? Are the cables damaged? Battery damage can be dangerous, and a malfunctioning battery can cause other problems within electrical systems in your vehicle.
● Run your hand along the belts. Are there cracks or tears in the belts? Cracked belts are more likely to snap, especially with dramatic changes in temperature.
● Pull out your engine air filter. Can you see light through it, or is it dirty and ready to be replaced?
Examine the Exhaust System
This one is a little harder to do on your own, and you might be able to tell there is an issue from the sound your car makes easier than you can from looking at it.
● Is your exhaust system really loud? It might sound louder when you press the gas pedal than at any other time, signaling that there is a hole, and it’s time to have it repaired.
● Do you see any holes in your exhaust system?
● Is your exhaust pipe leaking? If so, you may have a problem with your catalytic converter, which is one piece that helps to convert harmful gases into less harmful ones before releasing them into the environment, so it can be harmful to you and others if it’s malfunctioning.
The Basics of Car Insurance
In the United States, most states require vehicle owners to have some kind of car insurance, but the laws regarding what kinds of car insurance you need vary from state to state. Your auto insurance company won’t sell you anything less than what is legally required, but they will offer all kinds of additional coverage options if you choose to purchase them.
Understanding what all the different options cover can be confusing, but our list of common car insurance coverage options can help. Generally, there is no insurance that is called ‘full coverage’, but full coverage is considered a combination of liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance coverage.
Insurance coverage for liability covers the cost of damage that you or your vehicle cause to others. Usually, a portion of liability insurance covers bodily injuries, or physical injuries to other people, and a portion covers property damage. Liability insurance can also pay for your legal bills if you’re responsible for an accident. Usually, liability insurance is legally required.
To cover your own injuries, you’d need Personal Injury Protection, or, your own medical insurance.
Collision Coverage is usually not required by law, but it covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle after an accident or collision.
Comprehensive coverage is usually not required by law. It covers the cost of repairing your own vehicle after damage caused by something other than a collision. Depending on your policy, what is covered under comprehensive coverage and what isn’t can vary, but usually it covers things like theft, vandalism, weather damage, fire, or hitting an animal that damages your vehicle.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Unfortunately, not everyone follows the law and has car insurance, and not every insurance policy covers 100 percent of the damage that an accident can cause. Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverages helps to cover the cost of your medical bills, and possibly property damage, if the other driver’s insurance doesn’t.
It can also come in handy in a hit and run, when you don’t have the other person’s information.
Car insurance companies can offer you coverage for nearly any expense related to your vehicle or an accident, from rental car reimbursement to roadside assistance. However, there is not insurance that covers general maintenance like oil changes and brake changes.
Roadside assistance can help cover the cost of towing and getting you where you need to go if your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road.
Rental reimbursement can help pay for a rental car if yours is in the shop, stolen, or damaged.