Have you ever considered how much time you actually spend in your car? Many Americans spend more time in their cars than in most of the rooms in their homes, yet our rides get neglected when it comes to "housekeeping". Cars, trucks, and minivans, our main source of transportation, become a "junk closet" or "trashcan on wheels" but still remains the second largest purchase after our homes that consumers make in this country!
Do you need to clear off a seat or a floorboard to have a passenger in your car - or both? If someone looked in your windows can they tell where you picked up breakfast, lunch, or grabbed a coffee this week? Or month? Are you spending excessive time in the driveway or parking lots looking for something you KNOW you put in there "somewhere"? Does your trunk or cargo space look like something from a junk yard? Are you a truck owner with a truck bed of moving items rolling around or maybe even flying out while you are cruising down the road? These are some indicators that it's time for a wake-up call to take action and clean-up.
At Aspen Auto Clinic our ASE Certified Technicians have seen every combination imaginable in our Colorado drivers vehicles! If you answered yes to any of the above questions, let's get you going with some spring cleaning strategy for your car.
Here's five action steps to take that will get you more organized, cleaned up, and save you time once completed.
Step one: Get your supplies ready
You will need:
1. 3 - 5 boxes or containers (or space to make piles)
2. small box about the size of a shoe box
3. Trash Bags
4. Vacuum cleaner
5.Disposable cleaning/disinfecting wipes or rags and cleaner, (Armor-All has a cleaner and protectant all-in-one that works well)
Step two: Empty, Sort, and Clean
Take everything out the vehicle! This includes car seats, seat covers, items stored in the glovebox, seat pockets, door pockets, floor mats, etc. Don't forget the trunk and cargo areas!
While you are emptying out your car, throw the trash away!
All other items sort into one of these categories in the boxes or containers you have ready:
*things you use all the time
*things you need occasionally
*things you need in case of emergency
*floor mats, cup holders, trays, - pieces from car that can be removed and cleaned
*use the shoe box for things that come out of the glove box
*things that belong somewhere else (like house, garage, or need to be returned somewhere)
Once the car is emptied out completely, it's time to clean!
Let's start with the pile of items with the floor mats, cup holder parts, trays, etc that you removed.
Place in sink with soapy hot water to soak while you clean the inside of the car. The floor mats, if they are rubber can actually go into the washing machine! Be sure to shake off all the excess dirt first. Add an old towel or rags to the load with your rubber mats, laudry soap and have the washer clean the mats while you vacuum and wipe down the inside of the car and vacuum.
Wipe down and disinfect the cabin of the car. Clean the inside of the windows. Don't forget the air vents and inside the glove box. Wipe down the doors and handles, even to pedals for gas and brakes! Vacuum out the car very well. Now is a great time to spot clean the seats and carpets too. Seat covers in most cases can also be washed in the washing machine. Check the care labels first.
Now go to the "belongs somewhere else" box and put all of those items where they belong. We all get busy and accumulate many things in the car and just haven't taken the time to return items where they belong. Take that time now.
Step Three: Analyze and Prioritize
Next, once the car is all cleaned out, it's time analyze and get real with yourself. Think about how you use your car. What's your life like? Are you a salesperson with lots of samples and literature you need to keep at the ready? Are you a full-time mom with toddlers and car seats? Are you the one carting all the teens to and from practices and sporting events? Are you a realtor taking clients around town? Do you make a lot of short trips or are long road trips the norm for you? What things do you struggle to find while in the car? The answers to these types of questions will determine your priorities and how you get organized.
Depending upon your needs, go through your remaining boxes (or piles) and prioritize the most important items in each group. What do you need to have close by and what can be relegated out of the front seat/driver area to the second row or back of the car? Pay attention to multiple items. Everyone should have drinking water in the car but that doesn't mean several half-empty bottles. Check for seasonal items too. Just like your clothing items in a closet that get switched out for seasons, the same can be done for your car to save space and stay organized. Items like tire chains and ice scrappers can be put in a container in the garage and stored during the summer months. Label the stored items for the car and it will be easy to bring them out in time for winter weather.
Step Four: Containing your items
Loose objects in your car can be dangerous. In the event of a sudden stop or a crash, they can cause damage to the car or worse, injure yourself or your passengers. Loose objects in the car also lead to disorganization and mess. There's a large variety of cargo containers and organizers on the market for every part of the car, from leakproof pop-up litter bins, storage and trunk organizers, to drink coolers, kids' entertainment centers, and on-the-go office organizers. Talus has a great line of car organizing products, including the CarGanizer. They also have a line for your pets-on-the-go too! Other stores like The Container Store, and Target also have great items that can make a world of difference to your "in the car" experience! You can even color coordinate and add some decorating flare to your organizing if you'd like, try CarDecor.com for some great products that are fun and fuctional!
Sort through the items in the shoe box that were in your glove box. Your glove compartment should have your important documents, such as insurance and registration for the vehcile. Consider your owners manual, and other documents like AAA membership, roadside assistance information, and vehicle warranty information. A small flashlight in case of emergency is also a good idea.
Step Five: Organize and Set Up
As a driver, the front seat area is your "primary real estate" space. This space should only contain items that you as the driver need to access at a moments notice or that you need most frequently. Do you have a rag within reach like under the driver seat to access for those inevitable spills? Do you have tissues within reach? A large box of tissues can be replaced with a tissue cup that dispenses them one at a time and fits in a cup holder. Or how about a travel size soft pack that fits in your door storage area? Do you have a place for your car chargers for your mobile devices? USB ports? Or were they just floating around in the car and hard to find and access?
Be creative about storing the items that don't need to be in your primary real estate space. These are items that you need occasionally and should be in your "secondary space" like the backseat or cargo area. Most cars have nooks and storage areas around the spare tires or in the rear walls of the vehicle that can hold an emergency roadside kit, roadside flares, or jumper cables. Why not get a kit that has those items packed together for you like this one available at all Aspen Auto Clinic locations?
Your ride should also have a first-aid kit inside somewhere too. Check to be sure you have a jack in the car and you know where it is located. Keep a tire gauge and extra batteries for flashlights in the car too. Most of these items are already in Aspen's choice kit for you. Pick one up at our counters for only $59.95 and take all the stress from this part of your organizing knowing we have done this part for you! This has been Aspen ASE Certified Technician approved!
Other items for the "secondary space" would include dvds for the kids, toys, and other items passengers use in the car. Some other storage items you might find useful include pocket organizers that hang from the seatbacks to store these items neatly. Find a container to hold jackets and umbrella especially for those notrious weather changes in Colorado. Keep a storage bin in your cargo area for groceries and other items you pick up at the store and keep things from spilling our of those plastic store bags while you are driving. Keep reusable bags to carry your purchases in the bin too. Designate a place for a small pad of paper and a pen, hand sanitzer, and other things you and your family use on a regular basis when on the road. Here are some photos to help inspire ideas for you.
Once your have it all your items repacked and organized in their assisgned areas, here are some more tips to complete the spring cleaning project for this "room" that is used almost everday.
Now is a good time to schedule an annual inspection for your car, truck or minivan if you haven't already. All cars need a physical just like you do.
Show your car some love with this spring cleaning project and you will be much happier in your well used room and so will your passengers. Your vehicle takes care of you, spread some love your vehicles way. You'll be glad you did!
Colorado is warming up and spring is finally moving our way! Packing up the winter sweaters, coats and boots to make room for shorts, sandals and outdoor items and making plans for summer fun to come is on everyone's list. Have you remembered to add your vehicle to your spring cleaning list? Your car needs the same benefits and attention that your closets and homes get this spring season. The warmer weather means long weekend getaways, longer road trip vacations, more driving and time spent in your vehicle. Taking time now to perform seasonal maintenance today will help avoid costly trouble with your car later.
Aspen Auto Clinic has these tips for Spring Cleaning and Maintenance for your car. Some of these tips can be done yourself, others are best left to expert mechanics, some will help your car look better. Most of these tips will help your car perform better and can increase your gas mileage. We have even added some tips that will save you time!
14. Clean the cabin
The way your car looks on the inside is important for many reasons. For one, if it's clean you feel better mentally as well as physically, no matter what season of the year. Most importantly, keeping clutter and trash out of the car keeps you safer. If you have to brake quickly items that are unsecure can fly around or if in an accident can cause serious injury to you and your passengers. For some great organizing ideas see our previous blog post Aspen's Tips for Spring Cleaning and Organizing Your Car.
A few other things to do to prepare your car for spring and summer are to check your spare tire and see if it needs air. Vacuum out the entire car including under the seat and the cargo areas. Use a vinyl cleaner and soft cloth on the dashboard, steering wheel, door panels and vinyl seats. This helps protect against cracking, sun damage and fading. Use a quality household upholstery cleaner for fabric seats. If you have leather seats follow the manufacturers recommendations for cleaning. Next use an aerosol silicone spray to treat the weather stripping around the outside of doors, windows and the trunk. Make sure you wipe away the excess spray. Now you're ready to wash and wax the body of the car. Use two different sponges for the body and the wheels. Buff dry with a soft cloth and apply a protective coat of wax if needed. Once done you should treat yourself to a leisurely ride - you'll have earned it by this point!
There you have it, 14 tips for preparing you car for spring and summer. If you would like to take the shortcut version of all of the above try these simplified steps instead:
Aspen Auto Clinic in Centennial, Colorado is currently making a transition to focus its specialty on European and Asian Import Vehicles. They will continue to serve the Centennial, Englewood, and the surrounding areas near Denver with the excellent customer service that so many have come to know and love.
In addition to focusing on Import vehicles, we have more technicians on the Aspen Team with specialties in handling European and Import cars and trucks. You may notice our signage has changed and our logo is a bit different now too.
We promise to keep the most luxurious customer lounge, all the snacks and beverages, and most importantly the promise of our mission statement: Redefining excellence in automotive repair, maintenance and customer service. No changes will EVER be made there!
Stop by and meet our fantastic Team at Aspen Import Auto Clinic in Centennial. We will be happy to give you a tour and show you around, even in the shop area. We have the experts that your European vehicle deserves to have care for them. We take great care and pride in the work we perform on all makes and models of vehicles especially, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, MiNi Cooper, Land Rover and other European cars, trucks, and mini-vans. We would love to meet you and answer any questions you may have about your car.
We are open Monday - Friday 7am to 6pm to serve you.
Today's vehicles are quite complex and most now have that light in the dash that says "check engine". If this light could talk, it may spit out obscenities at you for ignoring it when it's trying to tell you something and help you out.
Your "check engine" light is your car's way of sitting you down for an intervention. It's trying to tell you that something is wrong and you better take some action before it gets worse.
Most of us just hope that the little LED bulb will burn itself out so we can go about our business as if all was well with the world. After all, how bad could it really be? Or if it is bad we really don't want to know about it. If something were really wrong we'd hear something, right? If we hear something then maybe we could just log on to YouTube type "car noise" in the search bar and watch a video on how to fix it ourselves.
This is exactly how car repairs have increased for the second year in a row. Major car repair data sites report that auto repairs have increased 6.7% overall last year, including a 13% raise in labor costs and another 3% in parts costs. Places like the Northeast and the Midwest where temperatures plummet, brought a 9% increase in average car repair costs last year.
Some of the most common "check engine" light repairs in 2013, reported in the Vehicle Health Index by CarMD, could have been prevented by simple, inexpensive, routine maintenance. This is a sad fact, but true.
The internet is a great source of information but will never take the place of an ASE Certified Technician taking a look at your vehicle. In the past year, all of the "self-certified" (do-it yourself) mechanics out there failed to diagnose the following problems. Please note that the prices within the list are based on averages.
10. " Inspect For Faulty Vacuum Hose and Replace As Necessary"
Average repair costs: $122
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 2.22%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: +14.1%
The hose connects to the intake manifold and vacuums the extra air from parts of the engine. Vacuum hoses heat up when the engine is running. When they heat up, they can crack and leak. Cracked hoses let excess air get into the engine and can cause engine hesitation, stalling and rough idling, plus damage to the oxygen sensor and eventually to the engine itself.
9. "Replace Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve and Clean All EGR Parts"
Average repair costs: $351.97
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 2.32%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: +7.9%
Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) helps control emissions and keeps your car running more efficiently. The EGR valve recirculates part of the exhaust back through the combustion process, lowering the combustion temperature and the formation of nitrous oxide emissions. An EGR valve that is faulty, or a blocked EGR passage can cause poor fuel economy, rough idling, and make your engine hesitate or misfire.
This is one of the most expensive repairs on this list; ignore it and you spend even more money on lost vehicle performance and gas money all to a valve!
8. "Inspect Battery and Charging System and Repair/Replace as Necessary"
Average repair costs: $110.82
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 2.54%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: +10.1%
Your car’s computer is sensitive and it monitors voltage on charging systems. With increased sensitivity it will trip the check engine light when things are not perfect. That means a lot more cars in the shop. This also means that we also know a lot more about why batteries act up now than we ever have before.
The basic rule of thumb is to replace a car's battery every three years. But most people just wait until something happens before giving it serious consideration or worse, we get left stranded somewhere! Extreme cold and heat gives that three-year limit a little more urgency, though, and may even decrease it depending on how you're treating your car. Colorado is one place that is considered to have extreme conditions. Colorado Springs and Denver not only have rapidly changing weather but we also have a very dry climate, both take a toll on your vehicle and its parts, especially the battery.
7. "Replace Ignition Coil(s) and Spark Plug(s) if needed"
Average repair costs: $420.34
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 2.89%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: +32.7%
Look at that cost! You have to realize it could have been very minimal if you took the time to simply replace a tiny little part such as a spark plug. Instead, by ignoring it, you let it snowball until your ignition coil was shot and now it costs you upward of $400 to get everything fixed. You own the car, and you're better than this. Just replace a spark plug when the light comes on or, better yet when you go in for your oil change or a tune-up have it checked and replaced as needed. At Aspen Auto Clinic and Aspen Auto Import Clinic checking the spark plugs is standard with an annual inspection.
6. "Replace Ignition Coil(s)"
Average repair costs: $250.94
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 3%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: No change
Over $250 to replace only the ignition coil! If you're the procrastinator type, just ignore and neglect the spark plugs until something more expensive goes wrong, but you shouldn't see this happen until well into your car's sunset years.
Ignition coils help the engine start and keep running by taking the battery's 12-volt current and step it up to ignite the spark plugs. Sometimes cars have just one, but there are vehicles that have one for each cylinder in the engine. Surprisingly, even this isn't always a fatal problem for your car. But when it destroys your catalytic converter completely, you will really pay some costly repair bills!
5. "Replace Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor"
Average repair costs: $423.61
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 3.35%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: 3.2%
Another small issue in the beginning but if left alone it can grab money out of your wallet every time you fill the tank with gasoline.
The mass air flow sensor controls the air coming into your car's engine and determines how much fuel to inject into that engine. When it goes bad, your fuel economy can drop by 10% to 25%.
Losing fuel economy at that ratio is like heading to the gas station, putting three gallons into the tank and pouring the fourth gallon's worth of cash down the drain. $423 isn't cheap, but neither is throwing that much cash away on gas you're squandering!
4. "Replace Spark Plug Wires and Spark Plugs"
Average repair costs: $361.95
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 3.35%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: 5.7%
Even if your car is seems to be running fine, stop ignoring the "check engine" light!
Even if your car is running fine, stop ignoring the “check engine” light!
Spark plugs make the combustion in your internal combustion engine happen. When the spark plugs conk out, their misfires kill gas mileage and eventually destroy far more expensive parts. Living in colder parts of the country, you probably already know the damage that cold weather can do to a spark plug. Fuel needs to vaporize for the spark plugs to work and when it doesn't, those drops just collect and mess up the plug.
3. "Replace Catalytic Converter(s) with new Original Equipment
Average repair costs: $1,154.23
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 2.22%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: 6.1%
The most expensive repair on the list often is caused by one of the least expensive parts to replace in your whole vehicle.
(Four catalytic converters from a Mclaren F1 pictured)
More than 6% of you have this problem but who could have saved yourselves a four-figure repair. Responding to an earlier issue instead of putting some tape over your "check engine" light would have helped save your this big repair bill. Hopefully you didn’t reduce it to a pleasant little beacon in the background -- ambient red mood lighting for your dashboard. AAA reports that a catalytic converter is one of the five most-stolen car parts in the U.S., because the metals in it are so valuable. Give your catalytic converter the same respect a thief or chop shop would, if not, you deserve every bit of financial pain you get for abusing and ignoring it.
2. "Inspect for Loose Fuel Cap and Tighten or Replace as Necessary"
Average repair costs: $0.11
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 7.17%
Loose gas caps were the cause of 9% of all "check engine light" repairs in 2010. The overwhelming majority of them just needed to be tightened. If you're tightening it and it's still not working, a replacement is only a few bucks. Tip: Put a little extra into it when you're done filling up. If however, you're in New Jersey or Oregon and aren't filling up yourselves, it may be worth your while to see what your fuel cap actually looks like so you're not troubling a mechanic with this more than once.
1."Replace Oxygen Sensor(s) (O2S)"
Average repair costs: $261.61
Percentage of all "check engine light" repairs: 7.55%
Change in repair cost from a year ago: -10.9%
This little sensor does a lot, and there are a whole lot of ways to foul it up. The O2 sensor measures the amount of unburned oxygen in the exhaust and tells a car's computer when there is either too much, or not enough fuel as compared with oxygen for ideal operation. But when you don't bring a car in for routine maintenance, skip oil changes and are missing things such as oil and coolant leaks, you are just inviting disaster.
Ignore that O2 sensor warning, especially if it feels like there's nothing wrong with your car and it will cut your mileage by 40% - talk about a waste of gas money! A little pain upfront or a long slow bleeding approach, which will you choose?
Top Ten Ways to Kill Your Car all listed out for you and most can be avoided with some extra attention to your check engine light and some intervention on your part. At Aspen Auto Clinic we don't just repair your car, we work with you to help you keep your car in excellent running order for many years to come!
Contact one of our expert Service Advisors if you have any question or to schedule an appointment for your car. Bring your car to us, we'll earn your trust! We stand behind our parts and labor with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty.
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