Tag Archives: maintenance

The Super Easy Essentials of Preventative Maintenance

Do you know simple preventative maintenance can increase your vehicle’s reliability and make the dollars in your wallet last longer? Occasional TLC goes a long way! The reason behind this is simple: when a car is running smoothly and performing as it should, the engine and other critical components are less fatigued, which means you can focus on the road instead of that worrisome dashboard light. American Car Center is here to share the basics of essential car care to enhance your ride and improve your family’s safety.

Read the owner’s manual. No, really. It is jammed with information explaining your vehicle’s features and functions, including the important maintenance that needs to be regularly done. This ranges from how and when to change your motor oil, belt inspections, changing filters, and more. The manual will also outline all safety measures to take as you go through your car tune up checklist.

The 2-minute inspection. A walkaround can reveal issues with headlights, taillights, and turn signals (have them on during the inspection), and shows underinflated tires, and body and undercarriage rust. Under the hood, do a quick car battery check, looking for any frayed cables, cracks in the casing, corrosion, dirt, and other signs of damage. It’s also important to check your fluid levels, such as motor oil and windshield wiper fluid. Should you see a leak, get it checked out right away to lessen any further damage and costly repairs. While under the hood, check that the hoses and belts are snug and free of cracks and excessive wear.

Check and change motor oil regularly. This is the most important thing you can do to ensure that your ride runs smoothly. Take the dipstick out of the holder and clean it with a cloth or paper towel. Reinsert it into the holder and remove it again to see if the level is between the two notches on the dipstick. If the level is below the bottom notch, more oil is needed. Refer to the manual for how often you should change your oil and what type is best suited for your vehicle. If the oil is really dark or muddy, have it changed. All vehicles leased from American Car Center have oil changes included for up to 3 years!

Check engine coolant, antifreeze, and steering fluid. These all come with dipsticks or gauges, making it easy to check fluid levels at a glance. Even if you have a mechanic refill them, knowing your levels can prevent unnecessary damage.

Check – rotate – change..Proper tire inflation will improve your ride and fuel economy. Using an inexpensive tire pressure gauge, it is easy to measure your tire pressure and adjust it according to the levels specified inside the driver’s door. Tires should also be rotated about every 6,000 miles according to a set pattern for tire type. By rotating regularly, the pace of wear is not increased in any given section of the tread, and traction (and safety) is increased. The lifespan of a tire has two parts: usage/mileage and time since manufacture. A typical all-season tire has a warranty of 60,000 miles, but even if the tires are only lightly used, the rubber compounds deteriorate to unsafe levels after about seven years.

Replace filters. Automobiles have filters to enable flows and catch impurities. The cabin filter cleans the air that comes into your car by keeping out dust, pollen, and more. The air filter prevents debris from reaching the engine and ensures a quality mixture of air and fuel to sustain performance. New filters keep your vehicle more efficient by preserving its systems and improving fuel economy. Replacing the filters about every 12,000 miles is easy.

Replace spark plugs. These small components help maintain engine efficiency, but gunk build-up eventually decreases their capability. Your owner’s manual will tell you how often spark plugs will need to be replaced and where they are located under the hood. They may need to be replaced sooner if your vehicle struggles to accelerate, has trouble starting, worsening fuel economy, or makes popping misfire sounds.

Replacing windshield wipers. Wipers can take a real beating. Once water starts to streak the windshield after every swipe, it may be time to swap them out for new ones. Wipers are made of two parts – the metal arm and the blade – so you may only need to replace the blade and not the arm. Lengths and sizes vary but wiper manufacturers and auto part retailers make it easy to find the proper model for your vehicle, often with online selector tools on their websites.

Regular preventative maintenance is such an easy and inexpensive way to get the most out of your vehicle to sustain its performance, reliability, safety, and value.

If your vehicle requires increasingly constant maintenance, come visit American Car Center now to find a terrific late model and low mileage used car, or SUV with a great limited warranty. All of our nearly 70 conveniently located stores have a fantastic selection of vehicles – and one just right for you!

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Change Your Cabin and Air Filters with Ease

Automobiles have filters to enable flows and catch impurities. The cabin filter cleans the air that comes into your car by keeping out dust, pollen, and more. The air filter prevents debris from reaching the engine and ensures a quality mixture of air and fuel to sustain performance. New filters keep your vehicle more efficient by preserving its systems and improving fuel economy. 

Replacing the filters about every 12,000 miles is so easy.  

The cabin filter change is simple do in minutes. If behind the glove box (check your owner’s manual), remove the stopping arm of the glove box by sliding off the pin then squeeze its front and back sides together so that it can drop down to reveal the cabin filter area. Lift the latches on the faceplate to pull out the filter. Clean the filter chamber and check the seals and gaskets for cracks. Slide in the new filter with the arrows pointing in the same direction as on the old. Last, reverse the steps taken to remove the glove box to reattach. 

Changing the air filter requires only a few tools – flat-head and Phillips screwdrivers, an adjustable wrench, pliers – and a few minutes. Under the hood, find the air filter housing connected to a large air intake hose. Remove the cover by releasing the screws or clamps with the appropriate tool. Lift out the filter, clean inside the housing, and inspect the seal and hose for cracks. Insert the new filter same as the old filter was removed and re-fasten the cover with the screws or clamps. 

And you’re done!  

American Car Center has the perfect vehicle for your summer driving dreams. With over 60 stores across the Southeast – each with a huge inventory of amazing low-mileage late model vehicles with up to a 3-year/36,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and included oil changes! – American Car Center is conveniently located where you live or work.

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DISCLAIMER: Maintain your vehicle according to manufacturer’s specifications. American Car Center is not responsible for any damages or injuries sustained while following the steps in this guide.

A Guide to Winterize Your Ride

Modern vehicles are more reliable and durable than ever but for added safety and peace-of-mind there are some easy ways from American Car Center to winterize your ride:

Change the windshield wipers and refill the wiper fluid. Working windshield wipers and a solid supply of wiper fluid help to ensure clear sightlines. Replace frayed or worn wipers and top up your wiper fluid tank with a lower-freezing temperature fluid.

Check the battery. Cold weather is tough on your vehicle’s battery. Check and clean up areas of corrosion on connections and posts. Consider running a battery load test on batteries more than five years old.  

Adjust engine oil viscosity. In the winter, your engine will run more effectively with a thinner engine oil. Check your owner’s manual for information on proper viscosity levels for colder temperatures.

Check belts and hoses. Cold temperatures can weaken the belts and hoses that help make your engine run; examine them for cracks and wear and replace worn parts.

Verify the anti-freeze mixture. The ratio of anti-freeze to water in your radiator should be about 1:1 to prevent the coolant in your radiator from freezing. To check the composition of your radiator’s fluid, pick-up an inexpensive anti-freeze tester at an auto parts store.

Examine the four-wheel drive. Working correctly, Four-wheel drive can provide better traction when driving on snowy and icy roads. Have it examined by a mechanic before winter weather sets in to ensure the system engages smoothly and that transmission and gear fluids are at their correct level.

Check the tire pressure. Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop. A properly inflated tire ensures the best traction essential for driving in wintry conditions.

Stock emergency supplies. You never know when you will need them so be prepared by having your vehicle ready with emergency supplies, such as, a blanket, new flashlight batteries and booster cables.

Consider winter tires. Snow tires are made of a softer rubber than all-season tires which allows them to retain flexibility in the cold and have channels and grooves designed to grip into snow and ice. Winter tires improve safety at temperatures below 44°.

When the weather is frosty, the roads are likely to be slippery. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, slow down and keep space between your vehicle and others. Take a few simple steps to winterize your vehicle to increase safety and performance this season.       

American Car Center has more than 67 stores conveniently located throughout the Southeast. All locations have an amazing selection of low mileage, late-model vehicles each with a limited powertrain warranty of up to three years or 36,000 miles, oil changes included.  

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Keep Your Car Cool in Hot Weather: Inspect Your Hoses & Belts

In summer, car and trucks are a lot like people – they are happiest when kept cool. A belt or hose failure can cause an overheated engine, the loss of power steering and loss of the electrical charging system, potentially requiring expensive repairs. Thankfully, easy preventive maintenance of hoses and belts can help keep your vehicle’s engine cool under the sun and your summer driving vacation plans on track.

Made of flexible rubber compounds which absorb vibration, hoses are the cooling system’s weakest structural component. Manufactured to hold coolant under pressure, hoses are subjected to the extremes of hot and cold, dirt, oils, acids and sludge. Hoses slowly deteriorate from the inside; a weakened hose may rupture from pressure, heat, or constant flexing. The most susceptible areas of the hose are nearest to clamps where it connects to the engine or radiator.

Simple and minor maintenance can help prevent coolant hose failure:

  • Check the white coolant-recovery tank’s markings to confirm correct the fluid level. Also check for white, pink, blue or light green, blue, or pink coolant residue in the engine bay – a sign of leakage.
  • When the engine is cool, give the hoses a squeeze near the clamps, feeling for soft spots. A good hose will be firm yet pliable.
  • Inspect for visible cracks, nicks, depressions or bulges.
  • Look for oil contamination or fraying near the connection points.
  • Inspect for parallel cracks in bends, a hardened glossy surface or abrasive damage.
  • Flush & replace the coolant according to the owner’s manual as clean coolant will lessen deterioration.


Many of the same things – heat, ozone, oil and abrasion – that damage hoses also harm a vehicle’s belts. Most cars and trucks have one multi-grooved serpentine belt to drive the alternator, water pump, power-steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor. A belt should be changed when it shows signs of excessive wear.

You can help prevent costly repairs from a worn-out belt:

  • Inspect the serpentine belt for cracks, fraying, or splits on the top cover.
  • Look for signs of excessive glazing on the belt’s sides. Glazed or slick belts can slip, overheat or crack.
  • Twist the belt to check for separating layers, cracks, or missing chunks of the grooves on the underside.
  • Listen for the sounds of a belt-tension problem: high-pitched whining, chirping and vibration.

Speak to a qualified technician about any cooling issues and always consult your owner’s manual for routine maintenance procedures.

It’s that simple. A quick under-the-hood inspection of your vehicle’s hoses and belts, lends peace-of-mind that your summer driving will be smooth and carefree!  

Visit a conveniently located American Car Center today for exceptional service and let us find for you a great vehicle from our vast inventory of late-model, low-mileage cars, trucks and SUVs. We make it easy for hard-working people across the Southeast to drive a high-quality vehicle no matter their credit history.

Make Your Wipers Worthy!

6 Steps to Replacing Your Windshield Wipers

 

Replacing your windshield wipers always seems like the last item on the to-do list, but fresh wiper blades are essential to good rainy-day visibility while driving. It’s easy and cheap to replace those wipers – why not take a few minutes to follow these steps and make your vehicle safer?

  1. Use your owner’s manual or look online to identify the correct replacement wipers.You’ll need to know the year, model, and make of your vehicle to ensure you get blades that fit.
  2. Purchase the blades from an auto parts store.Any respectable auto parts store should also have an in-store guide for different wiper brands according to vehicle make, model, and year.
  3. Lift the old wipers away from the windshield.They should fold out so they’re perpendicular to the glass.
  4. Press the small button as you pull the old wiper blades down, toward the glass.Removing the blade this way is a bit counter-intuitive – it seems like you should pull up, but these blades are attached via hook so you’ll need to unhook them.
  5. Attach the new blades by pulling them up, onto the arm.You’ll need to slide the blade onto the arm first, then pull up firmly to hook it in place. It’s just the opposite of the previous step.
  6. Test your new wipers.Use some windshield washer fluid so you don’t get that awful squeaking noise.

And that’s it! Enjoy your wiper-fresh car and come to American Car Center for a huge selection of recent model, low-mileage vehicles with windshield wipers included!