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When you should replace your alternator

When you should replace your alternator

You car's alternator charges the battery and makes its electrical system work while driving.  So, how do you know if it's time to replace it? There are signs you will notice when an alternator is starting to go out. If you pay attention to them and head to a mechanic you're less likely to find yourself stranded one day when your car won't start at all. One sign is if your vehicle suddenly becomes hard to start. You turn the key and the engine just won't turn over, until finally, it does. Another sign is when your accessory lights become dim, according to online automotive resource AxleAddict.com. Accessory lights are the ones on your dashboard, dome light, headlights and clock/radio. If they dim when starting up your vehicle, it could be your alternator starting to go. Also notice if your accessory lights dim or appear to be blinking when you step on the accelerator. If you battery keeps dying, it may not be your battery that's the problem. It could be ... read more

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Alternator

Why you should keep your engine clean

Why you should keep your engine clean

Nobody sees your car's engine unless they're working on it, so why bother to keep it clean? For one thing, a clean engine is easier to work on. Even better, though, a clean engine (and the surrounding compartment) will fetch you more money when you go to sell your car or truck because it looks newer as well as better maintained. Some auto experts even say a clean engine runs cooler, according to Cars.com. One important advantage to keeping your engine compartment clean is that it makes it easier to determine where certain parts of your car may be leaking - like a valve-cover gasket, adds Cars.com. Additionally, oil and grease cause rubber and plastic parts to deteriorate, so keeping these parts clean can save you money in the long run when those people do, to check fluids, you're not going to get as dirty as you would otherwise. To start, disconnect and remove your battery cables first, starting with the negative cable. Brush off any corrosion the battery with a stiff br ... read more

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Engine

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Engine

How to adjust and aim your car's headlights

How to adjust and aim your car's headlights

If you find yourself needing to replace one or both of your vehicle's headlights (also called headlamps), you'll need to adjust them to aim correctly. Your headlights may also need adjusting if you're planning on transporting a heavy load that can make the front of your car aim upward. To do the job yourself, first, drive your car close to a wall, facing it straight on, then bounce it, front and back, to settle the suspension. Turn on your headlights, then make a T with tape in the center of each light beam on the wall, making sure the lines are level and at the same height, advises wikiHow.  Back your car 25 feet from the wall, exactly, although different manufacturer's require different distances, so check your owner's manual first. Turn on the lights and remove the trim to reveal the screws that adjust the lights, one for vertical and one for horizontal, according to wikiHow. Cover one headlight while you check the other. A clockwise turn of the screw ad ... read more

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Headlights

How to get bugs, tar and tree sap off your car

How to get bugs, tar and tree sap off your car

Summer is winding down, and you may have noticed those months of warm weather have resulted in an accumulation of bugs, tar and/or tree sap on your favorite vehicle that just won't budge in your run-of-the-mill car wash. You can remove the disgusting gunk - with all due respect to the unwilling bugs. Keep in mind, that bug stains are acidic and you can eat into your car's paint job., so it's important to do this as soon as possible. The National Auto Parts Association (NAPA) suggests using a spray bottle full of water (tap water is okay, unless you have well water, then use spring water.) Spray a fresh dryer sheet to wipe off the bugs mess. That also works for tar and tree sap. NAPA cautions that it's also important to follow-up with a car wash cleaner to remove the chemicals from the dryer sheet. Then wax your car. There's another way to remove tar, sap and bugs, and that's using a product made for the job. Road tar is petroleum-based, soap-and-water are ine ... read more

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Maintenance

How to replace your car's A/C compressor

How to replace your car's A/C compressor

If your car's air conditioner isn't blowing as cold as it used to, it could be a leaky compressor. If the oil has leaked out of it, it's time to replace the compressor with a new one.  To do the job yourself, you'll need to flush and evacuate the system, add oil and refrigerant and install a new drier, O-rings, expansion device and compressor pressure switch. First, flush the system, using an AC flush solvent. Then check for impurities by running what comes out the flush through a coffee filter. If you see debris, flush it again. If you still see impurities, replace the condenser.  Add AC oil, recommended by your owner's manual. If your new compressor comes with oil in it, flush it out and add your own. Then add the refrigerant, following directions, also specifically for your vehicle. Next, install the new drier, which filters out debris in the system. Now, install the new O-rings, which are critical in preventing leaks in the AC system, making note of ... read more

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Air Conditioner

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a/c

Three tips for cleaning your car's interior

Three tips for cleaning your car's interior

If your car is smelling a little on the funky side and looks like you've set up your own food truck inside, it's probably time for a little interior cleaning job. Here are three tips to get it spotless and smelling new-car fresh again, or almost. 1. First and foremost: Declutter, removing everything that isn't tied down so that you actually can clean - sports gear, school gear, mail, fast-food cups and wrappers, as well as floor mats. Then start by cleaning you vehicle's carpet and upholstery, vacuuming first. Then use a carpet and upholstery cleaner made just for cars. Most come with their own plastic brush to massage the foam cleaner into grungy carpet and fabric. Then vacuum again when dry to lift nap, if necessary. If you have leather seats, use a leather cleaner, following directions. 2. Clean your central console. Using household or glass cleaner, clean the dashboard and center console, cup holder, inside door pockets and gear shifter, making sure to clean the ... read more

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Maintenance

Should you change your car's power steering fluid?

Should you change your car's power steering fluid?

Your vehicle runs on fluids - oil, transmission, brake, antifreeze. But what about the vastly overlooked power steering fluid? Is it necessary to change it like the others? Simply put, power steering fluid makes it easier to steer your car. Those who ever drove a car with manual steering back in the day can attest to how difficult it was to turn the steering wheel as opposed to today's power steering. But there's more to power steering than ease of turning the wheel. Auto experts say a periodic change of steering fluid can prevent sludge and grit from accumulating, getting into your car's rack and pinion seals and destroying them, according to Angie's List. How do you know when to replace your power steering fluid? Dirty fluid or a moaning sound during steering which signals low fluid level. Both indicate a fluid change is needed. If the fluid level is low, it means there's a leak, which needs to be fixed, since power steering systems are sealed, adds Angie's ... read more

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Maintenance

How to clean your car's battery terminals

How to clean your car's battery terminals

A car that won't start can have many causes, from simple to super expensive. Before you have your vehicle towed, have your checked the battery cables? If they are corroded, that could be your problem. The corrosion may be preventing your battery cables from making contact with the battery. Corrosion will appear as a whitish powder where your battery terminals connect to the negative and positive posts on your battery. The substance is composed of sulfuric acid and hydrogen crystals that form when your battery gives off gas. You can clean it off yourself, but it's important to take certain precautions first, because sulfuric acid will burn through your skin and clothing if you touch it. First, make sure your engine is turned off. Then, use a wire brush to brush off the sulfuric acid powder. Starting with your negative terminal (your battery should be marked with a plus and a minus symbol at each terminal), loosen the nut attaching the cable to your battery with a wrench. The ... read more

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Battery

Should you buy a new or used car?

Should you buy a new or used car?

If your old vehicle is on its last tires, you may be wondering if you're better off replacing it with a new or used vehicle. That depends on a number of factors. Typically, car experts say buying used is a better deal. It's true that when you drive a new car off the lot, it automatically depreciates by thousands of dollars. On the other hand, you'll pay more in repairs for a used car. There are other things to consider, however, such as do you have enough cash on hand for a down payment? Do you have a trade-in that's worth the equivalent of a down payment? If you have good credit it may be easier to buy new with less down payment than if you buy used, according to Autotrader. There is a plethora of manufacturer incentives for new cars in the form of cash back and lower financing costs. By contrast, buying used means putting money down upfront or a trade-in with equity, so sometimes its is possible to find a new car with a manufacturer's incentive that will ... read more

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Douglas Q&A

About car warranties

About car warranties

So you're looking to buy a new car and wondering if the warranty covers any problems you may encounter down the road. Even though the warranty may say "bumper to bumper" your coverage isn't necessarily. A new car warranty typically covers mechanical defects, says Autotrader. What it usually doesn't include are what's known as wear items; things that fall under maintenance because they wear out periodically. These include tires, brakes, engine belts and hoses, headlight bulbs, rust and a clutch, if you have a manual transmission. What it does cover are issues like a blown engine, a failed transmission or windows that won't open. Warranties won't cover your car's body panels, either, so an accident, crunch or a scrape is on your, and your insurance company. Likewise, if you damage a part of the interior, you also foot the bill, unless it's a manufacturer defect. Certain new car warranties are voided if you use your car in a way it wasn't ... read more

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Maintenance
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