Car maintenance 101: show your child the basics.

Advance Auto PartsDealing with a bored teenager? Homeschooling a child?

It’s never too early to teach someone the basics of auto maintenance, or to answer common auto repair questions.

 

But, you need to be careful where you begin.

Teaching a youngster (who may not even know how to open the hood!) about how to replace a timing belt isn’t a smart move. Your child can easily become overwhelmed, and feel that do it yourself auto repair projects are too difficult.

That’s the wrong message to convey.

On the other hand, if you start with a simple project, your child can gain some confidence, along with a sense of accomplishment. That’ll make your child more eager to learn the next lesson.

Try these “starter” auto maintenance projects.

  • Test the condition of the wiper blades. Install new blades, if necessary.
  • Check the air pressure of the tires, along with the tread depth. Point out signs of tire wear. Rotate the tires if it’s time.
  • Inspect the air filter. Insert a new one if it’s clogged.
  • Check the fluid levels–such as oil, brake, windshield wiper, coolant and transmission–and top them off.
  • Complete an oil, lube and filter job.
  • Demonstrate how to put on the spare tire. Check its tire pressure.
  • Test your battery, and check its fluid levels.
  • Inspect the belts for signs of fraying or cracking.
  • Put together a car emergency kit.
  • Perform a tune-up (a little more advanced task).

Continue your car maintenance 101 lesson at our stores.

Let’s say you checked the air filter as one of your teaching lessons. You find that it’s filthy.

Next, you could take your child to your nearby Advance Auto Parts store where you can get all your auto repair questions answered. Show your child how to look up the correct size air filter for your vehicle, select the right brand and bring the filter home. Then complete your lesson by replacing the old filter with the one you just bought.

Again, completing these relatively simple do it yourself auto repair projects can give your child some confidence–and spark a desire to take on more complicated tasks down the road. Plus, if your child or teen is part of a homeschooling group, you could give lessons to all of them, positively influencing an entire group of young people and teach them valuable real life skills.

Editor’s note: it’s also time to get schooled in the art of savings cash! Visit Advance Auto Parts for great deals on quality auto parts, accessories and more.

Graphic courtesy of MomTrends.com.

It’s time to name your car!

Advance Auto PartsThat’s right. October 2, 2013 is National Name Your Car Day. No one seems to know how this holiday got started–which means that you can’t really celebrate it in the wrong way. (Now, that’s my kind of holiday!)

History of vehicle naming

People have been naming their vehicles for thousands of years, with the oldest known example the formal-sounding Praise of the Two Lands, which was the name of an Egyptian ship in 2,613 BCE. Meanwhile, ancient Romans preferred ship names such as Mars, Hercules and Victoria.

And, as soon as cars began being manufactured for mass consumption, the manufacturers began brainstorming catchy names for different models. These names ranged from the Curved Dash Olds to the Model T, and from the Benz Velo to the Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

Popular car names

A statistic floating around online says that 61% of people name their cars. If you surf around, you’ll even find advice from a self-proclaimed “automobile psychologist” suggesting that you wait to understand your car’s personality (and know its gender!) before choosing a name.

People in Great Britain have apparently taken to car naming with great enthusiasm, with Confused.com listing the top 10 favorite names for male cars and the top 10 for female cars. Here is the entire list, with “Charlie” winning the jackpot for males and “Ruby” for females.

The site also offers another fun feature, whether you already have a name for your car or not:

  • If you don’t, use this car naming generator that asks you a few simple questions before giving you a name and then select the option to print out a birth certificate.
  • If you have already named your vehicle, then you simply enter in the name and print out your car’s birth certificate.

Famous cars

Cars that are featured in movies and television shows are often named, including:

  • General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard
  • KITT from Knight Rider
  • Batmobile from Batman
  • Bumblebee from Transformers
  • Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters
  • Christine from the Stephen King horror film of the same name
  • Herbie from The Love Bug

Editor’s note: What about your car names? Share the most creative ones in the comments below. 

Graphic courtesey of Carstache.com.

Peace of mind with FREE electrical testing*

Advance Auto PartsWhile no one “invented” electricity, geniuses such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla made amazing strides in harnessing it for human use and convenience. In fact, much of your car’s operation relies upon electricity, which includes your battery, starter and alternator–and much frustration occurs when any of these systems don’t have enough power.

Avoid the frustration through free electrical testing at Advance Auto Parts stores.

Auto battery testing

We’ve all heard horror stories about dead batteries, often in miserably cold (or hot!) weather and/or at a time when the driver needed to be somewhere, stat. Maybe it’s happened to you.

To prevent such scenarios, have your battery tested at Advance Auto Parts. It’s fast and it’s free, and will help to save you from being stranded.

Starter testing

If your engine is turning too slowly when you’re trying to start your vehicle and/or if it’s making some scary noises–or if you just want to be proactive about your electrical testing–stop by Advance Auto Parts today.

As far back as 1952, Popular Mechanics recognized the starter as a car’s “nervous system” and acknowledged that it’s the system that’s “most taken for granted” in a vehicle. Don’t make that mistake. Request starter testing at Advance Auto Parts today.

Alternator testing

The alternator transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy and works with the battery to power areas of a vehicle that rely upon electricity. It’s possible that your car will continue to run for a short amount of time, even after the alternator goes bad–that is, until the power stored in the battery is used up.

So, when your battery “dies,” it may in fact be an alternator problem. Ask for alternator testing at your local Advance Auto Parts store to keep track of this vital car part.

Get peace of mind by having alternator, starter and battery testing done on your vehicle today.

Find the Advance Auto Parts store closest to you now.

 

*Free services available for most automotive vehicles, most locations, unless prohibited by law. Free installation with purchase only. Visit your local Advance Auto Parts store for complete details.

Name That Part revealed – Starter Solenoid

If you guessed this week’s mystery part as a “Starter Solenoid,” congratulations are in order…because you are correct!

For more information about this Starter Solenoid, visit Advance Auto Parts.

We’ll see you on Facebook next Monday for another round of Name That Part!

Starter Solenoid

Starter Solenoid

Show what you know by playing Name That Part at the Advance Auto Parts Facebook page every Monday. How it works: we post a shot of an auto part, and you submit your best guess for a chance to win the admiration of DIY’ers across the globe.

If you’re a “pinner” on Pinterest, follow our Advance Auto Parts Pinterest boards!
Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts to get those projects kicked into higher gear! Save time – buy online, pick up in store!

 

Auto battery recycling made easy

Advance Auto PartsWhen it’s time to replace your battery, it’s important to recycle your old one. That’s because auto batteries are basically made from three elements: acid, plastic and lead – and, when they are improperly disposed of, the chemicals and heavy metals found within them can seep into soil and contaminate groundwater, streams and lakes. If burned, these noxious substances pollute the air.

These chemicals and heavy metals can have dangerous consequences for people’s health and the environment alike. Because of these dangers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped to pass the Battery Act in May 1996 to encourage recycling of old batteries.

Fortunately, it’s easy to be green: you can simply drop your old battery off at the local Advance Auto Parts store (most vehicles, most locations, unless prohibited by law) and we’ll take care of the rest.

The battery recycling process

According to the Battery Council International, the first step in recycling auto batteries is smashing them to smithereens using a device called, appropriately enough, a hammermill. The pieces of the batteries go into a container, with the heavier materials, including lead, falling to the bottom and the plastic staying at the top. The plastic is removed and liquids siphoned.

A recycler then melts the plastic pieces and extrudes them into pellets. The pellets are sold to manufacturers who make new batteries out of them. Lead pieces are smelted and then poured into ingots, which are also sent to manufacturers for use in new batteries. The acid becomes neutralized with the addition of an industrial product that turns it into water; the water is treated before being released into sewer systems. The acid can also be turned into sodium sulfate that can be used in multiple ways, including glass and textile manufacturing, or in the making of new auto batteries.

This is considered a closed loop system, because it can be repeated over and over again, allowing new products to be made from the old.

Legal matters

Auto battery recycling is a great move for the environment, but it’s also smart from a legal sense. Thirty states, according to National Geographic’s Green Living site, ban people from throwing away lead batteries in their trash.

Automotive oil recycling

Advance Auto Parts also recycles used motor oil. And, according to the American Petroleum Institute and quoted by the Environmental Protection Agency (AAP), “Recycling just 2 gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours.”

Editor’s note: Learn more more about automotive oil recycling, plus save with Advance’s Oil Change Specials.

Name That Part revealed – Fuel Injector

If you guessed that this week’s mystery part is a Fuel Injector,” you got it!

For more information about this Fuel Injector, visit Advance Auto Parts.

We’ll see you on Facebook next Monday for another round of Name That Part!

Fuel Injector

Fuel Injector

Show what you know by playing Name That Part at the Advance Auto Parts Facebook page every Monday. How it works: we post a shot of an auto part, and you submit your best guess for a chance to win the admiration of DIY’ers across the globe.

If you’re a “pinner” on Pinterest, follow our Advance Auto Parts Pinterest boards!
Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts to get those projects kicked into higher gear! Save time – buy online, pick up in store!

 

Advance Author Series: Sarah Lee Marks and The Complete Internet Car Buying Guide

Advance Auto PartsSarah Lee Marks—also known as “MyCarLady”—has a grandfather who used to sell auto parts. Her other grandfather was in the oil business, so it makes sense that cars are in her blood–and not surprising that she grew up to create a consulting business (Automotive Business Services, Inc.) where she helps people buy or sell their cars at the best possible price, addresses their service issues, and advocates for them when problems arise.

And, in 2001, she wrote a book that discussed using the Internet as part of the car-buying process. “Nobody knew what info online was valid,” Sarah said, “or how to process that info.”

The book, The Complete Internet Car Buying Guide (previously titled The MYCARLADY Car Buying Guide: Everything You Need to Know but Didn’t Know to Ask), has been updated five times, the last of which in an e-book form. Today’s she will be sharing current car buying trends and advice with Advance Auto Parts readers.

Car trends by MyCarLady

“The biggest trend,” Sarah says, “is that consumers are coming back into the car-buying market after an extended period of time, two to four years longer than they used to, and are shocked to find out there is less negotiation going on.”

That’s because, Sarah explains, there is less inventory. With less selection, the process becomes more of a “take it or leave it” situation; where once a buyer could negotiate a price down by $2,000-$3,000, he or she may only successfully negotiate the price down by $500 in today’s market.

As a tip, Sarah says that, if you have a choice between a rebate or zero percent financing, take the latter, as that will save you more money, unless you can pay off the car quickly. Zero (or very low percentage) financing is typically only offered to people with outstanding credit who can pay off their loans in 60 or fewer months. “Interest rates go up, by automatic default, if the loan will last for 72 months,” she explains. “And, nowadays, it’s very difficult to get a decent car loan if you’ve foreclosed or defaulted on a house. Banks are showing their muscle about being serious about credit.”

“Here’s a strange trend,” she continues. “Lately, I’ve noticed that people decide on a color for a particular car and pass up good deals because the color wasn’t right. The reality is that, in these uncertain economic times, manufacturers aren’t making extra cars, so you may need to go to multiple dealers to find the color you want–and, by that time, the incentives you were offered the first time might have expired. Do you really want to be inflexible about a color?”

When asked about finding quality car information online, Sarah warns that there is in fact a tremendous amount of DISinformation about car buying online. “Many times, a source borrows from another source who borrows from another, and then you don’t know who to trust or how to analyze the data.”

Then, there are the dreaded typos. “CarFax and AutoCheck, to use two examples,” Sarah says, “get some information from the vehicle registration processes, some from factories and so forth. But it is entirely up to the factories whether or not they will provide the info–and I’ve seen typos, including when a car with 8,000 miles was advertised to have 80,000 miles on the odometer. With incorrect info, buyers are negotiating from the wrong place. So, a huge trend is that people rely on online info as gospel without reading between the lines, and that can be dangerous.”

When asked for one more example of a trend, Sarah talks about buying American, which many people in the United States want to do. “It’s getting harder and harder, though, to define what buying American really means,” she says. “Do you want to buy cars that have their parts manufactured in the United States? that are assembled here? that come from companies that are wholly owned by Americans? that have plants that employ Americans?”

That’s a lot to think about. Let us know your thoughts on buying American, or any other car issue on your mind.

Editor’s note: As you’re pondering the latest in car trends, visit Advance Auto Parts for a wide selection of quality auto parts, tools and accessories. Buy online, pick up in store.

Name That Part revealed – Cylinder Head

This week’s part is a “Cylinder Head!” Did you get it right? If not, what did you think it was? Let us know in the comments!

For more information about this Cylinder Head, visit Advance Auto Parts.

We’ll see you on Facebook next Monday for another round of Name That Part!

Cylinder Head

Cylinder Head

Show what you know by playing Name That Part at the Advance Auto Parts Facebook page every Monday. How it works: we post a shot of an auto part, and you submit your best guess for a chance to win the admiration of DIY’ers across the globe.

If you’re a “pinner” on Pinterest, follow our Advance Auto Parts Pinterest boards!
Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts to get those projects kicked into higher gear before summer ends! Save time – buy online, pick up in store!

 

Name That Part revealed – HVA/C Air Door Actuator

If you guessed this week’s part as a “HVAC Air Door Actuator,” you are correct!

For more information about this HVAC Air Door Actuator, visit Advance Auto Parts.

We’ll see you on Facebook next Monday for another round of Name That Part!

HVA/C Air Door Actuator

HVAC Air Door Actuator

Show what you know by playing Name That Part at the Advance Auto Parts Facebook page every Monday. How it works: we post a shot of an auto part, and you submit your best guess for a chance to win the admiration of DIY’ers across the globe.

If you’re a “pinner” on Pinterest, follow our Advance Auto Parts Pinterest boards!
Editor’s note: Visit Advance Auto Parts to get those projects kicked into higher gear before summer ends! Save time – buy online, pick up in store!

 

September is National Preparedness Month

Advance Auto PartsIf you ask almost anyone if it’s good to be prepared, the answer would be “yes.” And yet, one article from Emergency Management estimates that only 10 percent of people would be prepared to deal with an emergency situation such as an earthquake–meaning that only one in every ten people is prepared for 72 hours of self-sustained living after a disaster.

That’s probably because no one likes to think about emergencies, much less full-blown disasters. Because it’s National Preparedness Month, though, emergency preparedness is more in the news right now, and so more front of mind.

The team at Advance Auto Parts was impressed with the emergency preparedness information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–and would like to expand upon this sentence: “During an emergency, your local Emergency Management or Emergency Services office will give you information on such things as open shelters and evacuation orders.”

But . . . if you received evacuation orders today, would your car be ready to go?

Hypothetical scenario

Let’s say that it’s been a hectic week at work and your spouse is out of town, so your home responsibilities are much bigger than normal. Because of that, you’ve let minor things go for now–until next week only, when your spouse returns. For example, you didn’t deal with your car’s overdue oil change and you didn’t stop to fill up your gas tank. You had to get to the day care in time and so those tasks, you figure, can wait until tomorrow.

Then, the emergency–no, the disaster–strikes. Let’s say that a fire begins raging out of control in your neighborhood, and you and your children need to get out, now. It’s likely that all gas stations will be closed in the area; and, even if you find one open, can you imagine the line?

Evacuation safety tips

FEMA offers this great advice: “If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.”

Other evacuation safety tips from Advance Auto Parts include keeping the following items in your car at all times:

  • An emergency kit containing such things as:
    • First aid items
    • Cell phone chargers that work in your car
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Flares
    • Basic tools
    • Jumper cables
    • Flashlight and batteries
    • Battery powered radio and batteries
    • Clean cloths
    • Blankets
    • Water
    • Cat litter to gain traction
    • Loose change for any tolls you’d need to pay or vending machines that you can access after you leave the immediate danger zone

If you have a baby, make it a practice to keep a car seat in each vehicle at all times and to include powdered formula, jars of baby food and a spoon in your emergency kit, along with diapers.

If you aren’t already, get into the habit of regular car maintenance so that, if you need to evacuate in a hurry, your car is a reliable form of transportation.

What emergency preparedness or evacuation tips can you share? Leave a comment below!

 

Editor’s note: Be sure to visit Advance Auto Parts for a wide selection of roadside assistance kits and other essentials.

 

Photo courtesy of Ready.gov.