If you have ever had the “check engine” light come on in your car, chances are you probably thought, “What is wrong with my car?” If you have ever asked that question, you have one thing correct, there is something wrong with your vehicle. A recent study shows about 10 percent of cars on the road currently have their check engine light on. The light has a variety of meanings and there could be a number of issues wrong with the vehicle.
A check engine light is one of the many lights on your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics. When the car’s computer system detects a problem, the light comes on, and the computer stores a code. This code can be read with a diagnostic computer at a repair shop to tell them what’s wrong.
What does the check engine light mean?
There are several reasons why a check engine light comes on in a car. In general, the light is an indication there is a problem with your vehicle’s emissions system. More specifically, it could mean there is a loose gas cap or the engine is misfiring. Other reasons include needing to replace the O2 sensor, catalytic converter, mass airflow sensor, or spark plugs.
What to do
If your check engine light illuminates, the vehicle should be checked by an automotive repair technician to determine the problem. If the light is blinking, there could be a serious problem with the vehicle, such as a misfiring engine, and the car should be stopped as soon as possible.
A steady light could be one of the less urgent issues, but the car should still be taken to an automotive repair shop for a diagnostics check. There may be a problem that could further damage your engine or consume excess fuel if not addressed. Either can cause more costs in the long run.
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Have you ever found yourself lusting over luxury car features you know you could never afford? New technology has made cars more comfortable, safe, and connected than ever.
The good news is that many of these features can be added to your older vehicle. We’ve compiled a few of our favorite add-ons that can make your car feel up-to-date.
On cold days, seat warmers are the envy of every bum. These seat warmers sit on top of your seat and often have extra cushioning as well. Just slip over your seat and plug into the cigarette lighter and your buns will be toasty in no time.
You don’t have to have a newer car to have a backup camera. Plenty are now available from popular electronic retailers. Just place the camera on your back bumper or license plate and you’ll be able to watch from your in-car screen. No need to be afraid to back into a parking space anymore.
Lane assist and collision warning sensors
Not only are these helpful to give you peace of mind, but crash-prevention sensors are shown to reduce collisions. These are often on the pricey side, but often cheaper to add on your own than buying the car with the features built in at the dealership.
This Garmin camera works as both a dash cam and a lane-assist device. Some devices come with sensors for each corner of your car that improve the accuracy of collision warning.
There are several options for connecting audio in your vehicle, but the easiest by far is using a Bluetooth receiver. The receiver sticks to your dash via magnet and plugs into the audio input in your car. It allows you to play music or make hands-free calls through your car speakers.
Bluetooth connection is a gamer changer for both convenience and safety – and in some cities/states making a call is only legal hands-free.
Though it requires installation, it’s easy and affordable to get a remote start system put into your older vehicle. Starting remotely can help you heat up or cool down the car before you get in. Many also come with a GPS component that can help you locate your car when you forget where your car is in the parking lot.
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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
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.
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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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.
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
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
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 Twitter @ammcollisionctr.
In-car screens, often referred to as vehicle infotainment systems, are becoming a common built-in feature on most newer cars. Like many other devices, including cell phones, these are adding to driver distractions, and consequently leading to accidents.
The AAA Foundation conducted a study recently that showed while the technology is convenient in some ways, it results in some startling statistics related to distractions while driving.
No-texting law in the Lone Star State
The most commonly talked about distraction while driving is a cell phone. That’s why legislation was created in Texas, and other states, to address this issue. As of September 1, 2017 in Texas, it is against the law to text, read, or write messages on your phone while driving. This law refers to handheld communication devices and does not address the in-car systems.
As with any device, officials urge drivers to only focus on the road while operating a vehicle.
Greater chance of having a collision
In the past, AAA has conducted studies on driver distraction and discovered that if a driver stops focusing on the road for just two seconds, it can double the chance of having a car wreck.
The recent study found that when drivers use the in-car technology systems, they had more than 40 seconds of mental and visual distraction. And about 40 percent of drivers nationwide use these systems.
The study compared drivers using 30 different types of systems, including those that allowed web surfing and checking social media sites. Any of these can lead to a serious car accident.
No one wants to experience an accident caused by distracted driving. If you do get into an accident, AMM Collision is here to repair your car so you can safely get back on the road again.
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It’s the season for family and friends to come together and enjoy time with one another. This can mean travelling by car, along with many others who will head out on the highways and roads. Increased traffic on the roads means greater chance of an accident. here are a few safety tips to stay on the road and out of the body shop.
Always have patience in traffic. It helps to leave early for your destination so you don’t feel rushed. Speeding on the road increases your chance of an accident, and puts others in danger too. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Don’t make the experience of the road trip more stressful than necessary.
Get a good night’s rest
Never take a road trip while drowsy. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 72,000 accidents nationwide are caused by drowsy drivers.
If you do travel overnight, consider traveling a short distance and then stopping for a rest break. Do not drive if you’re having trouble focusing on the road. If that is the case, pull over somewhere you feel safe and take a break. Well-lit grocery stores, shopping centers and even casinos often have lit and monitored parking lots where no one will bother you.
Monitor the roads and weather
Prior to leaving for your road trip, take a look at the road and weather conditions to determine if you might encounter any hazardous weather. Pay attention to travel warnings, and if it is unsafe for driving, wait until the conditions improve. Follow this same step on the return home.
If you do not feel comfortable driving in specific weather condition, like snow, look for alternate methods of travel or different routes so you can avoid having an accident.
Watch your surroundings
Accidents can happen on residential roads, rural roads, and major freeways. No matter the time of day, pay close attention to everything around you while driving. If you are on a busy freeway, pay attention to other cars and anything on the road. When a route takes you down a wooded area, watch for animals that could dart in front of your car. Watch out for children riding bikes or playing on the road residential areas.
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Annually across the country, there are more than one million deer-related accidents. The Central Texas area is no stranger to these types of collisions and as a local auto body shop, AMM Collision repairs dozens of cars involved in accidents with deer each year.
Any time you are driving, it is important to keep your eyes on the road. Pay close attention when driving in hilly and wooded areas where deer may suddenly come out and run toward cars. This is common in the Hill Country, especially in the evenings when animals are hard to spot outside your immediate line of sight.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid hitting a deer.
Deer typically roam more often during dusk or dawn, so pay attention if you are driving during these hours. If you are not familiar with the area where you are driving, look for caution signs that alert drivers to wildlife in the area.
Remember, if you see one deer there may be more nearby. They normally travel in packs.
Make a bright path
If the roads are not well lit and you do not have oncoming traffic, use high beams to create a brighter path and give you a better opportunity to see a deer before you come upon it.
If you see a deer, slow down and brake firmly, but never swerve. Swerving can cause you to hit another car or lose control. Instead, brake and honk your horn loudly, which can potentially scare the animal away.
The deer may move, but since you won’t know what direction they may go, swerving can make the situation worse.
If you hit a deer…
Using extra caution can help to avoid an accident, but it still may not be enough. If you do hit a deer, call law enforcement and the local game warden.
Don’t touch the animal if it is injured as it could hurt you. It’s best to have trained professionals care for an injured deer. If the deer is dead, it is OK to move it off the road, but it is against the law in Texas to take it with you.
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Texas implemented a state no-text law for drivers in September 2017. While many counties already had cell phone bans, this new law bans reading and writing text communications across the state.
For some, it is an adjustment to wait to text or use hands-free devices, which is why we’re providing some tips.
Understanding the new law is not only important to avoid a fine and ticket, but also for safety.
Out of sight, out of mind
If you are a driver who feels the need to immediately respond to a message, it is time to kick the habit. The easiest way to avoid the temptation is to commit to safe driving and place your cell out of reach. Either put it in the glove box on silent, or put your phone on airplane mode so you can’t receive messages. Removing the temptation from your immediate reach will encourage you to wait until later to check your phone.
Mount your phone, but don’t touch it when moving
Though it’d be ideal to turn your phone off or put it out of sight, some people use their phones for navigation or screening calls. For this, we recommend a magnetic dash mount for your phone, placed in a spot that’s close to your line of vision. This way, even if you need to look at your phone for navigation, you aren’t taking your eyes far off the road.
Your message alerts will still pop up if you’re using your phone or navigation features, however. Some phones have the option to turn off alerts for specific apps. If you’re most tempted by your messaging app, turn off the alerts when you’re about to drive.
Know the law
City ordinances that were in effect prior to the state law are still enforced, including hands-free ordinances. Invest in a Bluetooth device if your car is not equipped with this feature. This will allow you to talk and also send messages through a voice-to-text app or feature on your phone.
With the no-text law, drivers can still make and receive phone calls, however, if you are making a call while driving it must be hands-free. Use a voice-activated feature on your phone to dial the number for you.
The no-text law does not prevent you from texting or reading while stopped, but once the car is in motion you must put the cell phone down. If an officer sees a driver in motion with their head looking down, or the car not maintaining a lane, the officer can pull the car over.
Texting and driving accidents can be prevented. Share these tips with other Texas drivers and make our roads safer.
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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.
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:
- Make seat, mirror, GPS, and radio adjustments when you get into the vehicle, before you drive.
- Put your phone on silent and out of reach. Taking the temptation away from your immediate access will force you to wait to check it until later.
- Use hands-free features on your phone if you must make a call.
- Finish grooming/dressing before getting into your car. Running late isn’t an excuse: It’s better to arrive late than not at all.
- Eat before you drive. If you must take food with you on the road, choose snacks that are easy to manage with one hand and easy to contain.
- Get your passengers to help you out. If they’re being distracting, ask them to quit the behavior causing the distraction. If you want to check something, change the radio station, navigation, etc. enlist the help of your passenger instead of doing it yourself.
- Find a noise background that helps you focus. For some people, this could be ambient music. It could be listening to an engaging podcast for others. It could be simulated background noise like rain or white noise. Figure out what audio distracts you and what engages your focus.
Tire quality is a serious safety issue. Insufficient tread or air pressure leads to more than just a flat tire. In 2017, tire-related crashes resulted in 738 fatalities nationwide. While the number of tire-related crashes has dropped in the past decade, maintaining tires and preventing a blowout will help drivers avoid serious collisions and a trip to the auto body shop.
Every car owner should take a few routine steps to check and maintain the quality of the tires on a vehicle.
Maintain air pressure
Experts recommend that you check your air pressure at least once a month, and always before a long road trip. If you own a vehicle that was made within the past ten to 15 years, it likely has tire monitors that alert the driver if a tire has low air pressure, but it is best to manually check the air pressure to see exactly how the air pressure is in the tire.
The recommended air pressure can be found on the tire, the inside of the door frame, or in your owner’s manual. Under-inflated tires can lead to tire damage, but over-inflated tires can lead to a blowout.
Measure tire tread
Good tread is necessary for traction and to maintain the durability of a tire. When tires look smooth, they need to be replaced.
A simple way to measure the tread on a tire is to insert a quarter with George Washington’s head facing down into the tread. If the top of his head shows, the tire is worn and should be replaced.
Having tires rotated regularly helps them wear more evenly and not as quickly.
Alignment and balance tires
Maintaining proper alignment and balance on a vehicle can prevent a tire from wearing excessively and prevent a blowout.