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With AAA and other emergency roadside services, it may feel unnecessary to know how to change your own tire. But especially on road trips, knowing how to change a flat can save you hours of waiting and worry. Here is your guide to changing a tire, from blowout to back on the road.

Graphics of jack, lug wrench, spare tire, and owner's manual.
To change a flat tire, you’ll need a jack, lug wrench, a spare tire, and your owner’s manual.

Items you’ll need

(Your vehicle should already come with these items check your trunk for them before you go out and buy anything.)

Stop the car

When you realize your tire is flat, do not abruptly brake or make sharp turns. Instead, slow your vehicle and try to pull over to a safe location away from heavy traffic.

Try to find a flat space to park. Do not try to change your tire on an incline. The level ground keeps your car from rolling while you change your tire.

Hazard lights and E-brake

A big red button in the middle of the dash.
Your hazard lights should be a prominent red button on the dash, with a white triangle in the middle.

Once you realize you have a flat, turn on your hazard lights. Especially if you’re in fast-moving traffic, four-ways let others know you’re not moving normal speed and they might need to slow down or go around you. Leave them on while you’re changing the tire if you’re parked near moving traffic.

When you park, apply your parking brake. This will minimize the risk of your car rolling away while you’re trying to change your tire.

Wheel Wedges

A rubber wedge set under a car tire.
Place a wedge or something heavy behind your wheels to keep your car from rolling while you change the tire.

Place a heavy object like a brick, wheel wedge or wheel chocks in the front of, or behind, the tires to further ensure the vehicle doesn’t roll while you fix the flat.

If you’re changing a rear tire, put these in front of the front tires. If you’re changing a front tire place them behind the rear tires.

Remove hubcap or wheel cover

If your vehicle has a hubcap covering the lug nuts, it will be easier to remove the hubcap before lifting the vehicle with a jack.

You can use a screwdriver to pry the hubcap off. Just insert the point of the tool where the edge of the cover meets the wheel and apply a little force. The hubcap should pop off.

This works for most cars, but if it does not for yours, refer to your owner’s manual for the specific tool you should be using. You can also take it off with your bare hands if you need to.

Loosen the lug nuts

A person in jeans and white work gloves works to loosen the lug nuts on a black vehicle.
Loosen the lug nuts using a lug wrench.

Using the lug wrench, find which measurement fits the lug nuts on your car. Once you’ve gotten the wrench onto a lug nut, use your weight to turn the wrench counter-clockwise.

Do not take the nut all the way off; you’ll want them just loose enough that you can take them off with your hands after you jack the tire.

Jack up the vehicle

A jack lifts up a silver car with a flat back tire.
Lift your car using a jack.

Place the jack securely under the car. The correct spot on each vehicle may vary, so consult your owner’s manual for the exact spot to place the jack.

Once you have the jack properly placed, pump the jack up and down. Your car should start to lift, giving you the opportunity to change the tire.

Removing the tire

Completely remove the lug nuts by hand and put them in a safe place. Grab each side of the tire and pull it straight toward you until it completely slides off. Place the tire on its side so it doesn’t roll away.

Placing the spare tire

A red car with a small donut spare tire on the back wheel-bed.
This is a donut spare. It’s usually small and not meant for high speeds; if you’re driving with a donut, take care to drive slowly and safely.

Pick up the new tire (it may be heavy), line it up with the rim and place it on the car. Grab the lug nuts and place each one back on, tighten them as much as you can by hand.

Lower your vehicle

Use the jack to lower the vehicle so that the spare tire is resting on the ground, but the full weight of the vehicle isn’t on the tire. Take the lug wrench and tighten all the lug nuts as much as you can going clockwise. Put all your body weight into tightening the nuts.

After all the lug nuts are as tight as possible you can remove the jack.

Replace the hubcap (optional)

If your spare tire is a full-sized tire (instead of a donut), you can go ahead and put the hubcap on. Put the hubcap in place the same way you removed it initially. If you have a donut spare, it probably won’t fit, or be worth messing with until you get your permanent tire.

Drive cautiously

Donut spare tires aren’t made to drive long distances, or at high speeds, so drive cautiously until you’re able to get a new tire replacement.

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A clean white sports car with black leather interior sits with the door open.
Detailing your vehicle doesn’t mean you need fancy solutions or a professional cleaner. Use these simple tips to get it clean in no time.

If you spend time in your car at all, chances are it will get dirty. The good news is that cleaning your car doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. You don’t need fancy cleaning products or an auto detailing to get your car looking the way you want.

AMM Collision has you covered with these simple clean car tricks. With simple household supplies, you can get your car cleaned in no time!

1. Bumper stickers

Do you have faded or peeling bumper stickers? It may be time to peel them off. If you’ve ever tried, you know that it’s not always easy to get them off without damaging your paint or leaving traces.

What does the job? Hair Dryer.

Illustration of a hand holding a black hairdryer, pointed at a red sticker on the back windshield.
Applying heat to a bumper sticker can help it come off easier.

Hold the hair dryer few inches above the center area of the sticker. Slowly start moving the dryer to the corners of the sticker. Heat for about 45 seconds and the corners should peel up easily. Finally, use a credit card to peel it up from the corners. If you still have sticky residue, try spraying with WD-40, wait a minute, then wipe away. Your car will look clean and well-kept without those old pesky stickers.

2. Small crevices

Not only do the smaller areas in our cars accumulate dust, but it can also get sticky and gross over time. Plus, your car won’t look nice and clean if you have dirty crevices.

What does the job? Q-tips or Flat Screwdriver

Wrap a cloth around the head of a flat screwdriver or use a Q-tip to reach into the tight and small crevices inside your car. You’ll get all the dirt and dust out of these areas in no time!

3. Dusty interior

Dust causes allergies, and we have enough of them in Central Texas as it is. For the larger areas, you’ll want something more than a Q-tip.

What does the job? Coffee Filter or Sponge Brush

A hand swipes a white coffee filter over a dashboard, then shows the dirt it picked up.
Coffee filters make a great duster in a pinch.

Use the coffee filter to dust out larger areas and use the sponge brush to clean the vents and other tighter areas.

4. Stains

Who hasn’t taken their coffee on the road…in a flimsy to-go cup. We all have taken food or beverages with us when we’re in a rush, and some are messier than others. Getting a stain in your car doesn’t make for a great day. Having a constant reminder lingering in your upholstery is even worse.

What does the job? Hydrogen Peroxide

Illustration shows 2/3rds cup of water and a hydrogen peroxide bottle labeled 1/3 cup.
A mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide can lift upholstery stains.

Not only is it cost effective, this solution is simple. All you need is to fill a bottle with 1/3 hydrogen peroxide and 2/3 water. Spray and scrub away the stain. There’s no better feeling than getting rid of a stain and seeing clean carpet underneath.

**NOTE: If you have dark colored carpet, test an area with the hydrogen peroxide first since it can cause discoloration. If this is a problem, just add more water to dilute the solution.

5. Dashboard love

Why stop at dusting when you can make your car shine? Dashboards are a visually-prominent part of any car and keeping it from cracking will keep it looking good.

What does the job? Vaseline

Pictures show a hand dabbing a cloth into a container of Vaseline, then rubbing cloth on a dashboard.
Keep your dashboard shiny using a small amount of Vaseline.

Wipe away the dust with Step 3. Once the area is dry, massage a tiny amount Vaseline onto the dashboard using a rag. This will help your dashboard look shiny and new, and prevent cracking.

We hope we saved you time and money with these car cleaning hacks! Comment below with your own car hacks or how these turned out. Keep up with everything AMM by following us on Facebook.


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Jumper cable clamps attached to a red battery.
Knowing how to jump a car can save time and get you back on the road.

Jump starting a car is something all car owners have to do at some point in their lives. Whether we left our headlights on overnight, or just need a new battery, it’s important to know how to start your car when it dies.

The good news is that the jumping part is pretty easy. The hard part is (often) finding another car to jump your own. But once you do, just follow these easy steps.

What you need:

The stalled car, a car with a working battery, and jump cables

Directions:

Step 1: Make sure both cars are turned off: So the cables can reach, you want the engines of both cars near each other, but NOT touching.

Step 2: Connect one end of the red (positive) cable to the positive terminal (POS or +) on the car battery stalled. Do the same with the working battery.

Step 3: Connect the end of the black (negative) cable to the negative terminal (NEG or -) of the working battery.

Step 4: Connect the other end of the black (negative) cable to an unpainted metal surface on the car with the bad battery. Do not connect to the negative terminal of the car with the bad battery. This could result in the battery exploding.

Step 5: Start the car that has the good battery. Let the engine run for a few minutes before starting the car with the dead battery. If the car doesn’t start, let it run for a while longer. It may help to rev the engine of the good-battery car a bit to give it a boost.

Step 6: When it starts, remove the cables in reverse order and let the jumped car run for some time to give the battery a chance to properly recharge.

If your car does not start, you likely need a new battery.

A small portable battery charger with a cassette-sized battery and two small clamps.
Some portable battery jumpers are extremely compact.

For safety on the highway, we recommend you using a portable battery jumper. The process typically the same as mentioned above, except you won’t have to rely on another car for battery recharge power. This way, even if there is not another car available, or a safe place for another car to stop and help, you can get back on the road quickly.

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Picture shows a dark road with only the pavement, reflective lane stripes and curve markers.
Limited visibility also comes with a shorter reaction time to prevent a crash. Avoid driving in the dark, if possible.

You’re driving home and tired. To keep yourself awake, you’re jamming to your favorite rock station, but not really paying attention to your surroundings.

All of a sudden, a deer pops out of nowhere, and you to swerve around him.

Does any of this sound familiar?

It is important for drivers to revisit night driving safety and avoid accidents in situations like this. Did you know that along with the increase of drunk drivers, the chances of an accident are three times greater at night than the daytime? Whether it is rush hour or a clear road, driving safely takes a lot more effort at night.

Check out these tips to help you drive through the night safely.

Graphic explains statistics of night driving.
We can all take steps to be safer drivers, especially at night.

1. Headlight control

Turn your headlights on at least an hour before sunset. Not only does it make it easier to see in the dark, it also helps other drivers see you in the dark. Be considerate to other drivers around you and avoid using your high beams when approaching or behind another vehicle.

2. Clean headlights

A before and after photo of a foggy-looking headlight and a clear one.
Cleaning your headlights regularly can make a big difference in night visibility.

Always keep your headlights clean. Make sure they work properly; otherwise replace the bulbs as soon as possible. Without working, clear headlights, there is a greater risk of getting into an accident as someone might not see you on the road.

3. Avoid distractions

It is already difficult to see in the dark, so we want to limit as many distractions as possible. Stay off your phone and pay attention to the road and surroundings. Avoid listening to loud music to hear the approaching traffic. Since it is harder to see at night, we must rely on our other senses for a safer drive.

4. Speed control

Road sign on the side of a flat Texas road shows a normal speed limit of 80mph and a night limit of 65mph.
Slowing down at night gives you more time to react to dangers on the road.

It is harder to see where we are driving in the night than the daytime, especially in the areas without street lamps. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front of you and avoid getting too close! Slowing down will also give you a better chance of stopping safely if a deer runs onto the road.

5. Stay up, be alert!

Continuously check all mirrors when driving for blind spots and any movements. Not only is it hard to see other motorists, it’s as difficult to see animals on the road. Avoid eating a heavy meal before driving to avoid drowsiness, and stay hydrated. If you need to take a break from driving, stop by a hospital. This is a safe area for a stop.

6. Beat the darkness

Try to leave earlier than later. When it is lighter, we are more awake and attentive to our surroundings than when we drive at night. Our vision is not compromised, and we avoid the greater risks of night driving. This will accommodate the possibility of city traffic and slow-downs as well, which may set us back to arriving several hours after dark.

We all have scary stories of driving at night. These tips can help avoid future situations and keep you safe. For more driving tips and car care, follow us on Facebook.


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A young woman puts on lipstick in the drivers seat while holding her cell phone with her shoulder.
Applying makeup while driving is a common distraction.

We live in a world with constant distractions, including while we are driving. Smartphones not only consume our attention while we work or at home, but also behind the wheel. Starting September 1, 2017 in Texas, it will be illegal to text and drive.

Campaigns are also in place by several organizations nationwide and major cell phone providers to send a constant reminder that using a phone while driving leads to injuries and fatalities.

Types of distractions

There is a long list of what can distract a driver, but there are only three types of distraction that interfere with concentration – cognitive, visual, and manual. An example of a manual distraction would be a driver removing hands from the steering wheel. Cognitive distractions take the driver’s mental focus elsewhere and visual takes the driver’s eyes off of the road.

Other actions that keep someone from focusing solely on driving include changing the radio station, looking at a map, talking on the phone or to others in the car, and eating. A recent survey showed that more than 60 percent say they have watched a driver apply makeup while driving, more than 50 percent witnessed someone reading, and more than 20 percent have seen a driver take a selfie while behind the wheel.

Although these tasks were not high scoring in the survey, people also witnessed drivers putting in contacts, flossing teeth, and actually putting on a costume.

Real Risks

Action shot of a red/orange car crashes into the back of a small yellow car.
Distracted driving causes severe crashes.

A few seconds of a distraction behind the wheel can be deadly. Nationwide, there were 3,477 people who died in accidents in 2015 that were caused by a distracted driver. Since distractions can be anything and everything other than focusing on the road, it’s difficult to prevent.

How to drive safer

Most distractions are preventable. It starts with the driver making a conscious effort to focus only on driving.

Here are a few tips:


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A person in the passenger seat wearing a sweater points to a map.
When planning on a road trip, you may want to check a few items on your insurance coverage in case you run into car trouble.

A road trip is intended to be fun. No one plans on getting in an accident, and few people think ahead to what they might do if they get into one several hours down the road.

The first thing you should do is check with your insurance agent. If you need a tow, you’ll want to tow it to a nearby shop. If the vehicle is driveable, you can choose to get your car repaired where you are or back home.

Insurance coverage

Insurance coverage on a road trip depends on where your trip takes you. Before you leave on your trip, check your insurance policy to see where you are covered and review the details of your coverage plan.

If you travel anywhere in the U.S. or Canada, you are likely covered. If your trip is to Mexico, Central America, South America, or any other location, contact your insurance agent regarding coverage.

As you travel, remember that laws are different from state to state and different in other countries. Check the driving laws for the location you are going and all points in between, plus the insurance laws for those areas. The minimum requirements for coverage vary in different areas.

No matter where you are located, reporting the accident to your insurance company is the same.

Schedule a repair

If you need a tow, most insurance policies will cover the cost within a certain radius from the accident. The insurance company can also schedule the tow no matter where you are located and can reserve a rental car for you, if needed. If you choose to have your vehicle towed back home and you are far away, discuss the coverage with your insurance agent. It’s likely you will have to cover the cost for a long-distance tow.

AMM Collision is an Austin and Central Texas auto body repair shop. We will arrange a tow and rental car for you if you choose us for repair.


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a man and woman look at a clipboard in a parking lot, next to a car.
There are a few questions you should ask when looking for an auto body repair shop.

As a driver in the busy Central Texas area, it can be overwhelming to find a quality collision repair shop that you can trust. Getting the best value for what you pay is also important since collision repair shops charge different prices.

It takes some research and plenty of questions to narrow down the right body shop that will meet your needs. As you search, keep a few steps in mind that will help you determine which is a quality auto body shop.

1. Location

Everyone wants to find a repair shop that is convenient to them: one of the biggest factors here is the location. It may be more convenient to go to the closest repair shop, but prices in that area may also affect the price of your repair. If it is in an area where property is more expensive, they may charge more per hour for labor to cover the overhead costs.

2. Ask about certifications

When inquiring about auto body shops, find out if the shop is certified by the maker of your car. The certification verifies that the shop has the equipment needed to repair your vehicle and the technicians are trained properly. Manufacturers will train techs themselves to make sure their repairs meet manufacturer standards.

3. Get recommendations

Talk to people you know to find out where they take their cars for auto body repair. One of the best ways to find a good shop is to go where someone you trust has also had a great experience.

A woman in a floral button-up shirt leans back and scrolls on her phone in the backseat.
Do a search for body shop reviews on Google and Yelp. Keep in mind not all reviews will be reliable, but it will give you an idea of the experiences other customers have had.

There are also plenty of reviews online via Google and Yelp, and possibly the auto body shop’s site. Also, the Better Business Bureau can let you know if a body shop has multiple complaints. If there are several good recommendations for the same shop from sources you trust, it’s likely that shop performs quality work.

4. Warranty

A reliable collision shop stands behind the work it does to a vehicle. Inquire about the warranty to body repairs and to paint on your car. Find out specifically how long the warranty lasts and what it covers.

5. Ask about estimates

When inquiring about estimates, find out if the repair shop offers free estimates, and ask if they use the insurance company’s estimate or their own.

You’ll want a repair shop that provides their own estimate based on the technician’s interpretation of repairs, rather than the insurance company’s estimate of what work needs to be done. The insurance company has an interest in keeping their cost as low as possible, sometimes causing them to skimp on what is needed.

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