oil change

Keeping Your Teen Safe On The Road This Summer

teen driver

Did you know that summer is the most dangerous time of year for teens to be on the road? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for drivers between ages 15-20.   It makes sense, less time in school, more time for parties, going to the beach, road trips, and endless other places to drive to during the summer season. Don’t let your teen become another statistic, share these safety tips with them and help them practice safe driving this summer!  Remember to set a good example as well, teens pick up habits from other drivers that they observe and you don’t want them to think it’s ok to send a quick text or ditch their seat belt just because they’re going somewhere close.  These tips may seem like common sense to some, but new drivers  don’t have as much experience behind the wheel and may not consider things that drivers with a little more experience would consider obvious.

  • Click it or ticket!  Wearing your seat belt is not only a good idea, but it’s also the law here in Massachusetts.  New drivers may think it’s no big deal to hop in the car and ride down the street to the store without their seat belt just because it’s close, but accidents can happen anywhere. Make sure your teen knows just how important it is to wear your seat belt.  Did you know that drivers and passengers increase their risk of injury or death by up to 50% by not wearing a safety belt?  Those are odds you don’t want to gamble with so remind your teen of the importance of their seat belt and set a good example when you’re driving as well!
  • Talk To Your Teen About Car Maintenance – Again, some things that may seem obvious to experienced drivers may not be so clear to teens.  Make sure your teen knows how to check their tire pressure, put air in the tires, knows how often they need an oil change and tire rotation, and knows how to check and replace the car’s fluids.  A problem as small as low tire pressure can cause the car to handle differently, and may even potentially lead to an accident.  Make sure your teen knows exactly what to look for when it comes to their car.
  • Understand the Dangers of Distracted Driving – Although teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, they are typically the most likely to use their cell phones when behind the wheel.  Averting your eyes from the road for even five seconds, or the amount of time it takes to send a quick text, can lead to a major accident.  Even having too many passengers in a car can be a major distraction, paying attention to friends, music, and the road all at the same time is difficult for any driver, but especially those with little experience. If your teen still has their junior operator license, make sure they are following the rules and regulations that go along with that, which can be found here.
  • Communicate the Danger of Drinking And Driving – Again, this may seem obvious but it’s still a good idea to sit down with your teen and make sure they understand exactly how important this is.  Underage drinking continues to be an issue and although there are attempts to crack down on it, teens still find access to alcohol and it’s important that parents communicate how dangerous and deadly drinking and driving can be.  Make sure your teen knows not to drive themselves, or get into the car with anyone that has had a drink.
  • Limit Unnecessary Trips – Unless your teen has a purpose for their outing, they shouldn’t be going out “just for a drive”.  The less time they spend on the road, the less likely they are to be in an accident.
  • Make Sure Your Teen Knows Where They Are Going – If your teen is taking a trip to the beach or a concert, make sure they know exactly how to get there to prevent getting lost.  If their destination is nearby, take a test drive out there with them and make sure they know exactly where they’re going. If their destination is too far for a convenient test drive, make sure they have a GPS system, and fully charged cell phone to use in case of emergency.

These tips will help your teen make smart decisions and stay safe on the road this summer.  Make sure they understand how important it is for them to give the road their undivided attention, distractions while driving have caused fatal accidents in the past, and the sad thing is that they are typically preventable.  The sooner your teen understands these tips, the safer they will be!

Photo By: State Farm

Time For An Oil Change? Find Out Why They Are So Important!

Getting your oil changed is necessary if you want to keep your car performing its best.  Think of an oil change like spring cleaning, you have to get rid of some junk so that things can run as efficiently as possible.  If you don’t do your “spring cleaning”, the junk will just continue to pile up and create an even worse situation. So, get the facts and learn why an oil change is so important, how often you should get one, and what happens if you don’t.

Making sure you have fresh oil is so important because it lubricates the many parts that comprise the engine.  It also acts as a cooling agent and prevents the engine from overheating.  Over time, oil becomes less effective thanks to exposure to heat, air, and moisture.  This results in the oxidation of the oil which causes it to thicken and become sludge like, once this happens the oil has lost its effectiveness and can no longer combat the dirt and metals that are constantly moving around the engine.  This debris is corrosive and slowly breaks down the engine.  If debris continues to scrape against the inside of the engine, it can lead to expensive repairs that could have easily been avoided by paying the $50 or so that it costs to get your oil changed.

There are many different types of oil to choose from, which can be overwhelming if you are unfamiliar with cars.  Basically there are two major types, conventional and synthetic.  The major difference is that the “base oil” used in synthetic oil is considered to be more “pure” because the molecules that comprise this oil are all made to be an ideal weight and consistent size.  All oil also has additives, which are mixed into the base oil to change the viscosity, protection properties  and heat breakdown levels of the oil.  The oil that is used in synthetic oil has more sophisticated additives that allow it to perform more consistently in extreme weather conditions.  Synthetic oil flows through the engine more easily which improves its lubricant properties which leads to it protecting the engine better than conventional oil.  Your owner’s manual should tell you the best option for your car, but it’s also important to take into account how many miles are on your car and what type of climate you live in.  If you have over 75,000 miles on your car or live in an area with extremely hot or cold temperatures, it may be wise to consider getting synthetic oil during your next oil change, even though it is slightly more expensive.

So how often should you change your oil?  There are mixed reviews out there, but the general consensus is that conventional oil should be changed every 3,000-5,000 miles, and synthetic oil (which lasts longer) should be changed every 5,000-7,000 miles.  However, every vehicle is different and your owner’s manual will give you the most accurate estimate for an oil change.  It’s also good to take into account factors that can shorten the life of your oil, such as extremely hot weather or frequently taking short trips.  So, be aware of your mileage and if you see the “change oil light” come on, change your oil ASAP!

We can’t stress enough how important it is to get your oil changed in a timely manner!  Putting it off can cause major damage to your engine which is one of the most expensive parts of a car to repair.  So keep watching your mileage, and definitely consult your owner’s manual to figure out which type of oil is best and to get a better idea of exactly how often your car is recommended to get its oil changed.  Taking these simple steps can save you some serious headaches and money in the future!

Information from: Firestone Complete Auto Care and Ezine Articles

Photo By: Robert Couse-Baker




Get Your Car Ready For Winter!

Car Ready for Winter?

Winter weather is here! Is your car ready?  When the temperature drops it can have some seriously negative effects on your vehicle, which is why it is so important to winterize your car.  Basic maintenance and simple adjustments make a world of difference when it comes to prepping a car for winter and safe winter driving.  To make it easy for you, we’ve listed some of the most important steps to winterize your vehicle in the upcoming months:

  • Get your tires checked.  Cold weather causes tires to lose their air quicker than usual.  Checking the air pressure is crucial during the winter season, especially because roads are so slick and icy, you need your tires to be at top performance more than ever.  If it is an option financially, snow tires are a great option as they can reduce travel time while increasing safety of the vehicle.
  • Winter wiper blades are a cost effective preventative measure as they usually range from about $8-$10 each.  These blades have a thicker and wider rubber covering and are able to power through snow and ice more effectively than normal wiper blades.
  • Check windshield washer fluid levels!  Switching to a winter grade solvent windshield washer fluid during this time of year is helpful because it doesn’t freeze.   It is also especially important in the winter because it is able to assist in clearing away snow and ice on the windshield if you are in a rush and don’t have much time to scrape off ice.
  • Keep your gas tank as full as possible during the next few months.  This prevents the gas line from freezing.  Condensation typically builds up inside a gas tank but during the winter it is especially dangerous because it can freeze.  Should this happen, the water will sink to the bottom of the tank, freeze, and consequently make it impossible to drive.  If you are not able to pump a full tank’s worth of gas, adding a bottle’s worth of fuel de-icer to the tank can keep the line from freezing.
  • Salt is one of the most harmful elements to cars during the winter.  It is necessary for keeping the roads safer and less icy, but in turn salt gets into the undercarriage of a car, causing parts to rust and erode over time.  Getting your car washed (at least once a week) in the winter washes away the salt which can be detrimental to both the car and your wallet should it cause erosion.  Be sure to ask for an undercarriage rinse for best effects.
  • Despite the cold temperatures, an engine can still over heat in the winter.  The cold causes oil to thicken which makes it move more slowly between different parts of the engine, which results in it getting too hot.  A simple oil change, which is recommended about every 3,000 miles, is the best way to keep this from happening.
  • On the other hand, you don’t want your engine to freeze either, which is why antifreeze is essential to ensure that your vehicle survives the cold.  Putting the right amount is crucial to the engine’s performance as well.  Creating a mixture of about 50% antifreeze and 50% water is the ideal fluid to put into the engine.
  • Check the battery, belts, and hoses.  The engine has to work much harder in the cold which puts extra strain on the battery.  They typically last about 3-5 years but it is important to keep track so that you don’t end up stranded in the snow.  Belts and hoses are weakened by the cold which makes it easier for them to snap or break.  Have a mechanic take a look at these when you bring your car in for an oil change.
  • Should you ever find yourself stranded in the snow with a broken down car, one of the most important things to have is an emergency kit specifically for winter.  This should include blankets, boots, gloves, flares, a flashlight, ice scraper, spare tire, and energy bars.
  • Make sure your Mass auto insurance policy is squared away before hitting the road, just in case. Call your MassDrive agent today to learn more.

This season can result in extremely dangerous winter driving conditions which is why it is so important to be sure that your car is in the best shape possible!  These tips not only make driving safer in the present, but help to prevent potentially serious damage to your car in the future!

Photo by wanko

Maintaining your Auto: Oil Change

Depriving your car of the necessary maintenance will cause it to malfunction or even worse stop working. The longer you wait past the due mileage for your routine maintenance and oil change, chances are damages will be greater and repairs more expensive. To be sure and change an auto’s oil at the appropriate time always refer to the owners manual.

When a driver neglects to preform regular oil changes the old oil goes under thermal breakdown, meaning when the engine is turned on it repeatedly heats the oil making it less effective as a lubricant. Without a good quality of lubricant parts of the engine rub against each other causing significant, unnecessary wear. This additional wear may also give the engine a shorter life span.

In addition to regular oil changes, drivers should regularly check the oil every few hundered miles. Sometimes a dry oil stick can be worse than neglecting to change the oil. If your oil is frequently low this may be an indicator there is another problem with your auto and you should be taken into a mechanic. Routine oil changes and becoming aware of your engine’s oil usage are great ways to keep an auto’s engine in best possible shape.

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