Spring Car Care

The Basics of EVs For First Time Buyers

Electric vehicles are increasingly visible on roadways around the world. According to BloombergNEF, a strategic research provider covering global commodity markets, in June 2022 there were 20 million plug-in vehicles in use across the globe. That's an increase from only one million in 2016. As more people are drawn to EVs, drivers can exercise due diligence to learn more about them, particularly if they're considering buying their first such vehicle.

Different vehicle types

The term "electric vehicle" encompasses a variety of cars and trucks. The following are some common categories.

· Hybrid electric vehicle: These are the most common type of hybrids. They have two power drives, which include a fuel-based engine and an electric motor with a larger battery. A computer determines when electricity or gas should be used. The system utilizes regenerative braking that ensures the electric battery gets a little recharge every time the driver touches the breaks

· Mild hybrid electric vehicle: MHEVs use a battery and electric motor to increase the efficiency of an internal combustion engine (ICE). An MHEV does not run solely on electric power, but the ICE can be turned off and the electric motor used while braking, coasting and stopping.

· Battery electric vehicle: BEVs are powered entirely by electricity and will have no ICE or fuel tank. Users charge the battery using an electrical outlet.

· Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle: Like BEVs, PHEVs have an electric motor that is charged by plugging it in. They also have a fuel-based ICE like HEVs. Where they differ is that PHEVs can travel a considerable distance on electric power alone, while HEVs cannot.

Driving range

The distance EVs can travel before needing to recharge depends on the type of vehicle. Most EVs have a driving range between 50 and 330 miles. Shoppers should determine the "range-per-charge" for the vehicle to assess if it will fit their driving needs and daily commutes. Drivers who frequently take long road trips may have to assess if a hybrid vehicle is more practical; otherwise, careful planning may be necessary to accommodate charging along the route.

Parking and charging situation

Individuals who live in private homes or rentals with access to outlets may be more inclined to invest in EVs. Charging can be done with a standard 120V outlet, but it will increase charging time considerably. Many people opt to have a 240V charger installed in a garage or driveway, which is known as "Level 2 ESVE equipment." With this type of setup, a charge can be reached in roughly four to 6 six hours, says Valley Clean Energy. Public charging stations utilize a 480V input and can charge many EV models in about 20 to 30 minutes. Plug-in hybrid vehicles do not typically have fast charging capabilities, however.

Reduce maintenance

BEVs require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because there are fewer fluids like oil and transmission fluid to change, and far fewer moving parts. EVs require minimal scheduled maintenance to electrical systems, including the battery and electrical motor. Hybrid vehicles still require the standard maintenance of gas-powered vehicles.

EVs are growing in popularity, so potential buyers can school themselves on these newer vehicles to determine if they're the right fit for them.

3 Simple Maintenance Strategies That Can Keep Cars Running Longer

The last few years have not proven the most advantageous times for new car buyers. According to the Consumer Price Index Summary from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, buyers paid 12.2 percent more for new vehicles in January 2022 than they had in January 2021. Faced with such a significant increase in price, many drivers understandably want to keep their current cars longer than they might have initially planned.

Data released by S&P Global Mobility in early 2022 indicated that the average vehicle on the road is 12 years and two months old, which marked the highest number in the 20-plus years such information was tracked. A host of variables affect how long drivers keep their cars, but the rising cost of new vehicles has undoubtedly compelled many drivers to aspire to keep their cars for longer periods of time.

Aging cars may require a little more TLC than vehicles that are right off the dealership lot. But the following are three simple tips that can help drivers keep their cars running longer.

1. Become a more careful driver. A careful approach when behind the wheel is safer than aggressive driving and beneficial for your vehicle. When starting, avoid revving the engine, which needlessly wears it down. When out on the road, avoid rapid accelerations, which also contributes to needless wear and tear. Even excessive idling can adversely affect the engine, so keep winter warm-ups to around 30 seconds to prevent damage to engine components.

2. Know when and how to fill up. Every driver has likely visited a filling station when an oil tanker is busily filling the tanks. That's traditionally been considered a less than ideal time to fill up, as the theory is that filling the tanks stirs up sediment that could then find its way into consumers' gas tanks, adversely affecting their vehicles. However, that's often dependent on the station itself and how much its owners prioritize maintenance of the tank and filtration systems. Drivers who trust their local station owners can likely fill up when the tankers are present without worry. In addition, avoid topping off once the nozzle clicks when filling up. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notes that topping off is harmful to the planet and the vehicle, as gasoline needs room to expand. When you top off, the extra gas may damage the vapor collection system and cause the vehicle to run less efficiently.

3. Change oil more frequently as the vehicle ages. It's true that modern vehicles no longer require oil changes for every 3,000 miles driven. However, as vehicles age, drivers and their vehicles' engines may benefit from more frequent oil changes than the owner's manual necessarily recommends. Oil changes remove dirt and metal particles from the engine, potentially contributing to a longer life expectancy. More frequent changes can be especially beneficial for vehicles that are routinely driven in stop-and-go traffic.

Rising vehicle costs have compelled many drivers to keep their cars longer than they initially planned. Some simple strategies can help drivers achieve that goal.

Car Care Activities

What to do After an Auto Incident

Car accidents occur every day. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than five million car accidents in the United States every year. Forty-three percent of car accidents resulted in injuries in 2020.

No one wants to get into an automobile accident, which can be stressful and even fatal. Even accidents that do not result in any major injuries can be traumatizing. Knowing what to do in the immediate aftermath of an accident may make such instances less stressful.

Assess the situation

The insurance experts at GEICO® advise individuals involved in an accident to first determine if any of the involved parties suffered an injury. If you are injured, stay put. If not, check on the condition of the other driver. At this point do not admit any fault or reveal any policy limits.

Next, make a call to emergency services to request assistance from the police and an ambulance, if necessary.

Move your vehicle

If possible, pull the vehicle over to a safe, well-lit public location. This is especially important if you believe you were the victim of a staged accident, says the Insurance Information Institute. If the car will cause another road hazard, it is best to move it over to the side and use flashers to alert oncoming traffic. It is important that you don't leave the scene, according to American Property Casualty Insurance Association.

Gather evidence

Have the police write up an accident report. You should take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, the other vehicle, if possible, and the scene of the accident, including any skid marks, debris and/or property damage. If there are any witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information. You'll need this information when filing an insurance claim.

Exchange information

Collect the names, phone numbers, addresses and email addresses of other drivers and vehicle occupants and exchange insurance information with all drivers involved. That includes the insurance company name, policy number and the name of the insured.

Notify a friend or family member

Even if the accident is not serious, you may want to call a friend or family member to provide emotional support. If you've been injured, a friend or family member can meet you at the hospital and/or arrange to have your vehicle towed or returned home while you get the care you need.

Automotive accidents can be nerve-wracking. Knowing the steps to take can alleviate some stress.

Maintenance Intervals Drivers Should Know

Vehicles are among the most costly expenses individuals have. According to data from Kelley Blue Book, the average price paid for a new vehicle in the United States in September 2022 was $48,094. Canadian car buyers face an equally expensive reality in their country, where the average MSRP for a new car is more than $45,000.

Since vehicles are such sizable investments, it behooves motorists to do as much as they can to keep their cars and trucks running smoothly. Vehicle owner's manuals typically recommend maintenance intervals and should be drivers' first resource for information regarding how to take care of their cars and trucks. But the following are some standard maintenance intervals drivers can keep in mind.

3,000 miles

The 3,000-mile marker used to be the benchmark for changing oil, but modern vehicles can now go longer between oil changes. However, it's still a good idea to check other fluid levels every 3,000 miles. Windshield washer fluid, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid should all be checked every 3,000 miles and topped off if levels are low.

It's wise for drivers to perform some additional maintenance checkups every 3,000 miles. Check tire pressure, inspect hoses (which should not be leaking or bulging) and clean the interior of the vehicle every 3,000 miles.

5,000 miles

Many vehicle manufacturers now recommend oil changes every 5,000 miles. Tire rotations also can be part of service visits at this interval, and drivers can ask their mechanic to check their fuel filters and batteries every 5,000 miles as well. Many may already do this as part of their comprehensive maintenance packages, but it's still good to confirm if they do and request they do so if it's not part of the plan.

Drivers also can request that cabin air filters are inspected at this point, though they can generally last a year before they need to be replaced.

Around the 5,000-mile mark, wiper blades also may begin to show signs of wear and tear, including streaking on the windshield or scratching noises when in use. Each of those signs indicates the wipers need to be replaced. However, drivers should take note of these signs regardless of when they appear. Some may not make it 5,000 miles before they begin to wear down. In such instances, they should be replaced immediately regardless of how many miles it's been since they were installed.

10,000 miles

Some vehicles may only require oil changes every 10,000 miles. That's not uncommon in vehicles that use synthetic oil, though drivers are urged to consult their owner's manuals.

Brake pads also may need to be replaced around this time, and one telltale sign of that is a squeaking noise whenever the brakes are applied.

Drivers can ask their mechanics to check the alignment of their vehicles around this interval as well. Though many vehicles won't develop alignment issues, it's best to check for such issues every 10,000 miles or whenever a vehicle feels as though it's pulling in one specific direction.

Maintenance intervals are created to serve as a guideline for drivers. Any issues that arise should still be brought to the attention of a mechanic regardless of how many miles have been added to the odometer since the most recent trip to the garage.

Gifts to Rev Auto Lovers' Engines

Since they first became widely available in the early 20th century, cars have inspired no small number of passionate devotees. Some people simply can't resist the thrills of the open road, while others love driving because of the sense of independence it provides. Regardless of what inspires their passions, come the holiday season, auto enthusiasts undoubtedly would be excited to unwrap these auto-related gifts.

· Car wash kit: It's one thing to drive, and another thing entirely to drive a car that looks like it's fresh off the dealership lot. Car wash kits come in various sizes, so they're ideal for holiday shoppers working with various budgets. Kits may include wet wax, wheel gel, glass cleaner, a short handle brush, and microfiber towels, among other supplies. Each accessory within the kit can make cars or trucks shine and look as good as new.

· Mechanics' tool kit: Many car lovers enjoy working on their vehicles almost as much as they love driving them. That makes a mechanic's tool kit a must-have for auto enthusiasts. Like car wash kits, mechanics' kits are ideal gifts because they can suit shoppers working with various budgets. Extensive kits include all the tools car lovers need, from ratchets to extension bars to sockets and more, to spend a fun day working in the garage.

· Tire inflator: All those miles on the open road is bound to catch up with tires over time, and a portable tire inflator can ensure tires are always properly inflated. Cordless varieties are popular, but so are options that can be plugged into vehicle lighters. Either way, this is a must-have item for anyone who puts a lot of miles on their vehicle.

· Autocross lesson: Of course, gifts for auto lovers needn't be restricted to helping them take care of their own cars. Autocross lessons can teach drivers the finer points of timed competitions while enabling them to get behind the wheel of an exotic car they've dreamed of driving. Autocross schools typically have classes for drivers with experience as well as novices, making this a fun gift for anyone who wants to take the thrill of driving to the next level.

There's no shortage of gift ideas to please the auto enthusiast on your holiday shopping list this year. From the fun to the functional, there's something for everyone who loves being behind the wheel.

How Motorcycles Can Stay Safe While Riding

Many people are drawn to motorcycles because of the intensity and excitement riding provides. Motorcycles are fun and routinely draw attention from other motorists.

What motorcycles add in terms of speed and excitement, they may lose in safety, especially when compared to cars and trucks. The National Transportation Safety Board says motorcycle riders and their passengers have the highest risk of fatal injury among all motor vehicle users. Per mile traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occur nearly 28 times as often as passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in traffic crashes.

Thankfully, the risks associated with riding motorcycles can be reduced with some simple safety precautions.


Motorcycle riders can improve the barrier between themselves and the road with the proper gear. Quality leather jackets and pants, helmets, gloves, and nonskid boots can protect the body from severe injuries.

Improve visibility

Reflective tape added to clothing can help motorcyclists become more visible to other drivers; otherwise, wear bright clothing colors. Also, riding with others as a group increases visibility.

Familiarize yourself with the bike

Motorcycle riders are not advised to take an unfamiliar bike into busy traffic. If the bike has never been ridden before, become familiar with its handling and responsiveness in a controlled area that isn't full of traffic before taking it on the open road.

Stay out of blind spots

Consumer Reports says roughly two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents are caused by a car driver violating a motorcycle rider's right of way. Motorcycle riders should never assume a driver sees them. Staying out of blind spots and steering clear of turning vehicles can help.

Adjust for weather

Riding in the rain or in other difficult conditions is more risky since the roads are slippery. Slow down or keep the bike at home in inclement weather.

Remove distractions

Stow cell phones away so your attention is not drawn away from the road.

Remain sober and alert

Don't ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including over-the-counter if they cause drowsiness). Also, do not drive while drowsy, as it is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Be aware of obstacles

Motorcyclists need to be very careful about road obstacles, more so than other drivers. This includes uneven road surfaces, fallen branches, oil slicks, and/or wet spots. ConsumerSafety.org says a motorcycle has less contact with the road than a car, making it more likely to skid out of control or throw a rider from the bike.

Motorcycle riders need to be more cautious on the road because they are at increased risk for injury.

Car Care Activities

How to Maintain an Older Vehicle

New cars have been costly for quite some time, but those costs have spiked considerably since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. That unprecedented rise has led many motorists to wonder how they can get more mileage out of their existing vehicles.

According to data from Kelley Blue Book and Cox Automotive, the average cost of a new car in September 2021 was just over $45,000. That marked a $3,000 increase from June 2021 and a $5,000 increase from the end of 2020.

Drivers who can't afford to keep up with the rising cost of new vehicles can take these steps to keep their existing cars running smoothly for years to come.

· Take care of the timing belt. Engines may get all the glory, but they cannot run smoothly without a fully functional timing belt. Engines need various components to do their job, and those components must do so at the right time for the engine to run smoothly. Fully functional timing belts help to synchronize movements, but belts must be replaced every so often. Owner's manuals may note when to replace the timing belt, but they generally must be replaced every 60,000 to 105,000 miles. That's infrequent, but drivers can ask their mechanics to keep an eye on their timing belts. One issue many drivers encountered in the early months of the pandemic when people were driving less frequently was timing belts that were failing long before they reached the projected mile markers. That's because infrequent driving can hasten the demise of the timing belt. This is something for aging drivers who no longer drive a lot to keep in mind.

· Take care of the brakes and associated components. The experts at Popular Mechanics urge drivers of older vehicles to replace their brake fluid every two years. Popular Mechanics also advises drivers whose cars are more than seven years old to replace the rubber brake lines when major brake work is required.

· Pay attention to oil levels. The older engines get, the more oil they're going to burn. So drivers of older vehicles should check their oil levels more often than they would if their vehicles were brand new. This also is a great way to discover leaks before they lead to potentially significant issues.

· Don't skip maintenance appointments. Even if you're still driving less due to the pandemic, it's best not to skip recommended maintenance intervals. That's true for drivers of all cars, but especially those whose vehicles are aging. Routine tune-ups and oil changes, which may need to become more frequent the older the vehicle gets, can keep cars running smoothly and protect the engine over the long haul.

The rising cost of new cars is compelling millions of drivers to keep their cars longer than they might have anticipated. Some simple maintenance measures can help those cars run strong for years to come.

Addressing Headlight Glare

Headlight glare becomes dangerous when visibility is impaired to a point where the risk of accidents is heightened. Glare is a growing problem for many modern drivers due to the increased use of light emitting diodes in headlights.

Driving at night is challenging because pedestrians, cars and other obstacles are difficult to see once the sun sets. However, a study from the U.S. Department of Transportation found that 88 percent of drivers noticed LED and HID headlight glare, with more than 30 percent saying the glare is "disturbing." While LED lights may not actually be brighter, their "cool" spectrum make them appear so. Studies have found that blue and white light tends to hit people' s eyes harder, especially at night.

In addition, human eyes do not adjust to changes in lighting very quickly, according to Pierre Paul Driving School in New York. The older a person gets, the longer his or her eyes will take to adjust to changes in lighting. In fact, it can take up to seven seconds to recover from the blinding glare of headlights. That's enough blindness to swerve off the road or potentially hit something.

While glare can be problematic, drivers can take certain steps to make it safer to drive at night.

· Clean the windshield. Dirt and grime found on the windshield can refract light and make glare worse. Therefore, clean all windows and mirrors thoroughly, inside and out.

· Repair scratches and cracks. Glare can be exacerbated by any imperfections in the windshield. Repair cracks or scratches promptly.

· Get a vision and health check. Changes to vision can impact how glare affects certain individuals. Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness, also known as nyctalopia. Eye shape changes, including a condition called keratoconus, can affect vision. Cataracts and diabetes also impair vision. Visit with a primary care physician as well as an eye doctor to diagnose conditions that can make night vision worse.

· Change your line of sight. Do not look directly into oncoming headlights. Rather, look slightly down and to the right side of the road so that you're not focusing on the beams.

· Get glare-resistant coatings on eyeglasses. Speak with an optician about eyeglasses with anti-glare coating. This will significantly reduce the amount of glare. VisionCenters.com says standard plastic lenses reflect around 8 percent of the light that reaches glasses, while high-index lenses reflect up to 12 percent of available light. Anti-glare coating allows 99.5 percent of available light to reach the eyes, essentially eliminating glare. Those who don't wear eyeglasses can purchase specific anti-glare glasses to wear in high-glare conditions, such as when looking at computer and phone screens.

· Flip the rearview mirror to "night" mode. This will make it appear as though lights coming from behind are dimmer.

These are some of the steps to take when glare becomes problematic while driving at night. Taking breaks also can help eyes recover.

Car Care Activities

Why It's Important to Wash Your Car

The first things to come to mind when many people ponder vehicle maintenance are oil changes and routine tune-ups. Though each of those things are vital components of automotive maintenance, it's important that drivers recognize the value of a thorough car wash as well.

Drivers may see a car wash as a way to make their car look good, and that's not untrue. An effective car wash can give a car a look that mirrors how the vehicle appeared the moment it was driven off the lot. But an effective wash is more than just cosmetic. According to Consumer Reports, a thorough car wash removes grit and residue, thus protecting the car's paint job and reducing the likelihood of corrosion. Though late model vehicles aren't as susceptible to rust, fading and peeling as cars made decades ago, they still need a thorough and routine wash to remove dirt, grime and bird droppings that, over time, can adversely affect the paint job and, if left unchecked, eat away at the metal.

Another benefit to routine car washes is they can prevent damage related to seasonal issues. For example, individuals who live in regions where winter snowfall is common may routinely drive on roads that have been salted. Deicing the roads makes driving safer, but salt can accumulate on the undercarriage of the vehicle and contribute to corrosion. Winter may not be a time many drivers visit the car wash, but it's important to do so after snow has melted and salt on the roadways has been washed away by rain. Most car washes now offer high-pressure undercarriage treatments that can wash off salt and prevent corrosion and the formation of rust.

But it's not just the exterior of the car that can benefit from routine washing. When taking their cars to get washed, many motorists pay a little extra to have their vehicle interiors cleaned. Sometimes referred to as "interior detailing," cleaning the cabin of the car helps to maintain the interior so it looks new longer. Routine interior cleaning also can remove dust and other particles that can serve as irritants if allowed to build up over time.

Resale and trade-in value is another factor to consider. The automotive experts at Edmunds note that the average transaction price for a used vehicle in the second quarter of 2021 was $25,410, which marks a 21 percent increase over the year prior. Much has been made of the microchip issues that have compromised auto manufacturers' ability to produce new automobiles, and that led many motorists to the preowned vehicle market. Dealerships also offered incentives to drivers willing to trade in their late model cars. By taking care of a vehicle's interior, drivers are putting themselves in position to capitalize on the increased reliance on the preowned market. Prospective buyers, whether they're private citizens or dealerships, will see more value in a vehicle with a well-maintained interior than one with a cabin that's seen much better days.

Car washes may be seen as a purely cosmetic form of vehicle maintenance. But the benefits of routine and thorough car washes extend far beyond aesthetic appeal.