What to do if…. – Common Car Problems and What to Do

The first time I ever got a flat tire, it was while my car was parked at my house. At some point, I’d run over a construction nail, but the tire didn’t start deflating until I’d gotten home and parked the car. At least I wasn’t stranded somewhere when I had to change a tire for the first time. The driving school I attended didn’t teach us how to change a tire—I only had the owner’s manual to rely on. Luckily, I had the manual in my car and the instructions were thorough. Not every is as lucky. Here are some of the most common car problems that regular drivers encounter and what to do if you encounter them:

The Flat Tire

You can probably feel and hear when you get a flat tire. The car starts to wobble and there’s a loud thump as the tire goes around. If you’ve never changed a tire before, this might seem difficult, but the process is actually pretty easy. Your manual will have detailed instructions customized for your vehicle, but in general, you take out your spare, you put the jack under a metal part of your car near the wheel you need to replace, and remove the nuts, take of the wheel, and replace the nuts, then slowly lower the car back onto the road. If you don’t have a full-size spare, drive immediately to the closest place you can get your tire repaired.

CWas_BDXAAAoQaQA Light Goes Out

Annoying, but not necessarily dangerous—though you could be pulled over and given a ticket if a cop notices that you’re driving at night and one of your headlamps is out. If your light is starting to go out or is already out, your blinker may blink extra fast. Like changing a flat tire, the instructions for how to replace bulbs in your lights will be in your manual. If you don’t feel you’re car savvy enough to do this task, you can usually find someone at a car parts store who can do it for you for a small fee.

Your Battery Dies

There’s nothing more annoying than getting into your car, turning the key, and hearing nothing but clicks. If your electrical systems are not working, that probably means that your battery is dead. The best way to fix the issue is to get a jump from a kind stranger or to call a friend or family member to come jump the car or pick you up. Jumping a car is neither as difficult nor as scary as it initially seems—just follow the steps in your manual and you’ll get your battery working again. Keep in mind that this might be an indication that you need a new battery or that you’re leaving lights or other electrical systems on.

Your Alternator Is Dead

The symptoms of having a dead alternator are the same has having a dead battery—your car just won’t start and none of your electrical systems will light up. If jumping your car doesn’t work, but the car is still acting like you have a dead battery, your battery might just be too dead to revive (not just mostly dead, but all dead), or you have a real problem with your alternator. Calling a tow truck and having the alternator checked out and maybe even replaced is usually the best course of action here.

Squeaky Brakes

Squeaking is how your brakes tell you that they need to be replaced. If you can hear your brakes squealing as you glide to a stop, it’s time to have them checked out. You can change your own brake pads, or you can bring your car into our service department to have them professionally looked at. Because there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to your breaks, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Your rotors might be worn, your pads might be worn, there might be uneven wear that is causing uneven friction, etc. Most of the time, problems with brakes can be solved simply by installing a new set of pads, but if you do this and the problem persists, it might just be best to let a professional take a look.

There’s A Puddle under the Car

Unless you live in an apartment complex and do not always park in the same spot, it is generally pretty easy to tell if your car is leaking something. Oil is pretty easy to identify—it looks like oil. It leaves a big oil stain on your concrete. But that’s not the only thing that your car might be leaking. Among the fluids it could be leaking are brake fluid and antifreeze, too. You don’t want to lose too much of either of those two fluids. Antifreeze is usually green, while brake fluid has a slight amber tint and will be slightly oily. It is pretty corrosive, so if your car’s drips are eating a hole under your car, this could be the cause. Unless you know exactly where the leak is coming from and how to fix it, take your car in for an inspection and a repair.

Overheating

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Most cars, especially new ones, do not overheat for no reason. It usually indicates that they’ve used up their coolant or that the coolant has leaked out. If you suddenly notice that your car is running hotter than it usually is, don’t ignore it until it becomes a serious problem. Have this issue checked out by a professional, too.

10 Things All Car Owners Should Know

car tipsOwning a car is a responsibility—I’m sure all of our parents told us that when they first handed us the keys to a car, whether that car was just the family car or a car specifically for us. We’re all older and wiser now, and if you’re bought yourself a Kia, you’ve already take one great step to stay safe on the road. Here are ten things that all car owners should know that they won’t teach you in driver’s education:

1. When your oil needs changing – One of the biggest benefits of buying a new Kia from our New Jersey dealership is the ability to get a car that will tell you when it needs an oil change. These cars have advanced monitoring and diagnostic features that will send a signal up when your oil is getting low. In general, however, knowing that most cars need an oil change every 5000 to 10,000 miles, or every three months, depending on how often you drive and how far you drive, can prevent you from driving off on a long road trip and having it ruined by a break down.

2. What your check engine light means – When my check engine light flipped on, just as we were leaving New Jersey, I was first, worried and second, annoyed. It had to turn on now? While we were leaving the state on a road trip? Your check engine light doesn’t always mean that disaster is eminent, however, which is something I wish I’d known at the time. What it does mean is that the diagnostics systems have detected a problem and that you should have the car looked at as soon as possible. If the light is flashing, this usually indicates a more serious problem than if the light is simply solid.

3. How to replace the windshield wipers – I was away at college the first time I needed to replace my windshield wipers and I was so pathetically bad at it that my attempts to remove the old ones and put on the new ones attracted the attention of my dorm’s RA, who came out and showed me how to do it and gently chided me for not looking in my car’s manual for the instructions. Knowing how to do this quickly will prevent you from losing a windshield wiper when you need them the most.

4. What’s under the hood – You don’t have to know what everything under the hood is, but you should know, at the very least, where the oil goes, where your radiator is, and what your normal fluid levels look like. When I bought my first Kia, I was lucky enough to buy it from a salesman who wanted to make sure I knew what a pristine engine and correct fluid levels looked like. This information will help you quickly diagnose a problem if your vehicle is giving you trouble.

5. Your ideal tire pressure – I recently took my car to have its oil changed at a local quick-oil-change shop. When they were done changing the oil, they told me that they had checked my tires and inflated them all to 32 psi. Great—except that my tires are supposed to be at 38 psi. Knowing what your tire pressure is supposed to be can prevent you from driving around on tires that are either too low or too high. Both of these situations can be dangerous. You can find the right tire pressure for your Kia vehicle in your owner’s manual.

6. How to replace your headlights and taillights – This is one of the more complicated processes, but it can prevent you from getting a ticket because you are driving around with burned out taillights or headlights. The specific steps for your car in the manual, and most new cars come with LED bulbs that are much less likely to burn out, but this is still good information to know if you drive your car a lot.

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7. Where your spare is – Where does your vehicle keep its spare tire? Is it underneath the body of the car? In the trunk? On the top or back? This may seem obvious, but when you have a flat tire, the last thing you want to be doing is searching for your spare and for the gear that you need in order to replace your tire. Know where all of these items are before you start driving.

8. What’s in your owner’s manual – The first time I cracked open my owner’s manual was because I needed to change the time on my car’s radio for Daylight Saving’s. These manuals are full of great resources. They tell you what all of the lights on your dash means, how often you need service, the brands of parts used in your vehicle, how to change your tire, etc. This information can be integral in an emergency so take some time to familiarize yourself with the manual.

9. How to jump start a car – I got “lucky.” There was a summer when I was a teenager when the car I was driving had to be jumped about eight times. I got really good at jumpstarting cars that summer and it’s a skill I’ve relied on since then. Even the best cars can be stalled by a dead battery. Knowing the basic steps can make getting back on the road much faster.

10. How to get out when you’re stuck – Getting stuck on ice, in snow, or mud can be scary and frustrating. Knowing how to get even the smallest, lightest of cars to move can be helpful. The most effective is the rocking technique. Shifting between drive and reverse and going as far as you can in either direction before you get stuck again will usually help you get out of a sticky spot.

A Very General Car Service Schedule

car servicesEvery car and the kind of service it will need and when it will need it are a little bit different. Drivers themselves are different, too. Some will use all of their windshield wiper fluid until it is completely gone. Others will continually top it off so that they never run out. The same principles apply to just about every other bit of routine maintenance that occurs on a car. Some drivers will hold out until the car absolutely needs maintenance. Others will get that maintenance as soon as the owner’s manual tells them to, whether or not the car actually needs it.

Many drivers might not know what kind of maintenance their car needs and how often the car needs it. This can lead to being duped by quick oil change places into maintenance you might not need or it can lead to putting of necessary service because you did not think that your car needed it. Here is a very general schedule of maintenance that your car might follow. Keep in mind that these dates will fluctuate depending on how often you drive your car, how far it is driven, the type of car you purchase, and other factors. In general, however, surveys of car service have shown that about a quarter of cars are driven with low or contaminated engine oil and that almost 90% of all cars on the road are in need of some kind of maintenance.

1. Tires – You should always be aware of how full your car’s tires are and how much tread they have left. This is something that can be done on your own, in your driveway, with a few simple tools. A tire gauge should be part of every car’s essentials kit, and should be used often to make sure that you have neither too much nor too little air in your tires. The tread on your tires can be tested with a penny (if you put the penny in, Lincoln’s head upside down, and the president’s head is covered, you have enough tread). Do this weekly or every two weeks. Tires should be replaced as soon as the tread is worn down below this point.

2. Windshield washer fluid – Some newer Kia vehicles will tell you when your windshield washer fluid is low. With an older model or different brand, you may have to actually pop open the hood and look underneath. Figuring out which container is your windshield washer fluid is usually very easy and it will have marks that tell you how full it should be and what level you should not let it get below. If you do not use your windshield washer fluid very often, you can probably do this check once a month or once every two months.

3. Engine oil levels – Again, if you have a newer Kia model, your vehicle will probably tell you when your oil levels are below acceptable limits. If your car starts to give you warning light or other indicator, this probably means that you should take your car to a service station as soon as possible. While many cars will give you a few weeks’ notice, many may not show you an indicator light on your dashboard until the problem is emergent. You can always check your own oil levels by following the instructions in your owner’s manual.

4. Battery – Most batteries need to be replaced every three to four years. Depending on where you live, how often you drive your car, how far you drive your car, and what type of batter you have, your battery might last much longer or might die on you every year. You can check your battery with a voltmeter (when the car is running). You should also check the connections (when the car is off) every three months or so to make sure there is no corrosion on the pegs or the connectors.

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5. Rubber components – Your vehicle will probably have a few vital rubber components, ranging from your windshield wipers to your hoses and belts running in or around the engine. These components do wear out and they are susceptible to changes in weather. Check the hoses and belts in your vehicle every three months to make sure they are not cracked and do not need any replacements or repairs.

6. Air filters – No matter where you go to get your oil change, the service shop will probably check your air filters for you. Air filters, both for your air conditioning and for your engine are both extremely important and keeping these filters clean is a necessary part of keeping your vehicle running smoothly. Most air filters will need to be checked every six months. If you get your oil changed every three to six months, you probably will have this check automatically done for you.

7. Power steering fluid – Power steering fluid is that ensures that your car is responsive when you turn the wheel to tell it to do something. Like all other fluid in your car, it gets used up or contaminated over time. It should be checked every nine months to make sure the fluid is at the proper level and that it is not contaminated with anything.

Most vehicles will have a maintenance schedule in their owner manual. If you have not been recording your dates of service or you cannot find your owner’s manual, use this general guide to make sure that your Kia is getting the service that it needs, when it needs it.

10 Awesome Gifts for Kia Owners

gift for kia ownersIt might not quite be time for the holidays yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about presents for the car lovers in your life. Those who have birthdays or other occasions during the fall will definitely appreciate one of these gifts just as much as those who receive them during the winter holidays. If you’re looking for a great present for someone who drives a Kia (or any kind of car), here are ten awesome gifts any car lover would definitely appreciate:

  1. Gift certificates for service – While servicing a car is rarely expensive, giving someone a gift certificate to cover an oil change or another type of service that you know their vehicle needs is a great way to show them that you care about them and their car. Most Kia service departments sell gift certificates, but you can also simply take their car in for the service and pay for it as your gift. Either way, someone who loves their car will love that you took the time to think about that car and get it the service it needs.
  2. A travel bag – It’s always a good idea to have a spare bag in your car, whether for toting groceries or simply for throwing a few things into for an impromptu road trip or day trip. If you have a Kia lover on your gift list, you might consider getting them a branded Kia travel bag. They’ll have a bag that matches their car, which is a great way to keep track of that bag and so that even when that bag is empty and being stored in the car, they never have to worry about it feeling like clutter.
  3. Sunglasses – You might not think that sunglasses are an appropriate gift for the driver in your life, but if you have someone in your life that loves to drive, they are probably in need of a great pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses are as useful during the winter as they are during the summer. Glare from the sun can be as blinding off of snow as it is off of other cars. Grab them a stylish, functional pair of sunglasses to keep their eyes protected during all weather and all driving conditions.
  4. A great travel mug – Just because someone is on the road a lot doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be able to enjoy their morning coffee. A great travel mug that keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold is the very best way to make sure someone who loves to drive is also able to get their caffeine fix. Look for a mug that closes securely, but is also easy to open and close, so the driver can drink their coffee even while driving.
  5. A GPS – If your driver has a one of Kia’s newer models, he might already have GPS built right into the vehicle. This isn’t always the case, however, depending on what trim he went with and what model year he purchased. If he doesn’t have GPS, having a dedicated one can be a great way to avoid traffic jams, beat construction, and find new locations. Smartphones might include some of these features, but they are rarely as accurate as real GPS.
  6. Battery jumper – You can now buy little packs of energy that you can simply clip onto your battery to jump it back to life if it dies. With cold weather approaching, it is always a good idea to have something on hand that will kick start the car if it refuses to start one cold morning. While Kia vehicles are at the head of the class when it comes to reliability, most people don’t change out their batteries on a regular schedule, but then do not have any recourse when that battery refuses to produce a spark. A jump pack can be a great way to make sure your car lover is never stranded.
  7. Driving gloves – Driving gloves might be a little old school, but if you are trying to find a gift for someone who seriously loves their car, it might be exactly what they are looking for. Even if your car owner doesn’t have a vehicle that sports the old wooden steering wheel that is often associated with these gloves, the gloves will make driving on very hot and very cold days alike—he’ll never burn or freeze his hands on the steering wheel again.
  8. Driving shoes – Like driving gloves, driving shoes aren’t something that you see very often, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still applicable to the modern’s driver. The right pair of shoes can make switching from gas to brake easier and more accurate, and can just simply make driving more fun.
  9. Road kit – There’s nothing that can make driving safer or more fun than having the right tools. That means jumper cables, tape, a flashlight, some band aids, charging cables, and screwdrivers. In case he ever needs to make a quick repair, change a tire, or jump his car or another, he’ll have all of the tools he needs.
  10. Kia maintenance journals – If you have someone on your gift list that loves to keep track of their maintenance, mileage, gas usage, and more, there’s no better gift than a Kia branded notebook. These little journals fit right in a Kia vehicle’s jockey box and can help the car-obsessed keep that car healthy and happy.