vehicle

5 Ways to Be Prepared in a Car Emergency

A good rule in life is to expect the unexpected. This is especially true when operating a motor vehicle. Auto emergencies can happen to anyone. A common misconception is that you only need to be prepared for these types of emergencies when taking long trips away from home. Emergencies can happen anywhere to anyone, and it’s important to be prepared should they come your way. Whether it’s due to an accident, inclement weather, or mechanical failure, we’ve listed 5 tips below to help you be prepared before auto emergencies come your way.

1. Have an action plan in place

This means that you, as the driver, know in advance what to do if an emergency should occur. Often times, this means having a roadside assistance service in place. If you do not have this service available to you, it’s important to know what to do in case of common auto emergencies such as a flat tire, a car breakdown, or running out of gas. For some that opt out of a roadside assistance service, this may mean knowing how to change a tire or add coolant to an overheated transmission. Another tip is to have an ICE (in case of emergency) number saved in your phone in case of an unthinkable incident with severe injuries involved.

2. Stock your vehicle

Keep useful items useful in case of unexpected occurrences. Plan for the worst! Imagine being stranded on a desolate road in the cold of winter. Useful items could include a flashlight, a blanket, towels, some water and even a spare phone battery or charger. Having these items stocked in your car can provide peace of mind before an emergency occurs and can provide invaluable comfort during an emergency.

3. Know proper roadside safety during an auto emergency

When you're able, pull far off on to the shoulder of the road with your hazard lights on. It’s vital to be pulled as far off the road as possible especially if on the highway. Immediately call a friend or family member to let them know your location as it’s always possible that other motorists will be stopping, and you as the driver will never know their intentions.

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4. Know what to do in inclement weather

Sometimes auto emergencies present themselves because of inclement weather. Whether it’s heavy rain, ice, snow, fog or thunderstorms, the weather can prove menacing to drivers. One of the best tips that can be offered for inclement weather is to educate yourself on how to navigate these conditions. There are many helpful videos and reputable articles that teach how to best drive in a specific type of weather.

 

5. Familiarize yourself with what to do in case of an accident or a police stop

It’s always a good tip to routinely confirm that your license and registration are with you. Remember that if you are being pulled by an officer, you have the right to put your hazard lights on and cruise into the nearest business with lights on; this is for YOUR safety. Also remember to document any accidents with pictures and a police report before moving your vehicle.

5 Tips to Pass your Vehicle Inspection

Currently in the U.S., there are nearly 20 states that require an annual vehicle inspection. Failing an auto inspection means more of your time and energy goes to waste. Here’s what the next steps look like if your car fails: make another appointment to correct the issue and this is followed by an additional appointment to pass your vehicle inspection. Not only is this tedious and time consuming, it may also cause you to miss your state’s inspection deadline. Hero has compiled 5 simple tips you can do as a vehicle owner to ensure a passing grade for your inspection. The following tips not only are easy fixes that can be done by anyone, but they will also help you avoid the headache of scheduling multiple inspection appointments for issues that could have been easily prevented:

1. Cosmetic check

Walk around your car to ensure there are no obvious areas of need that would prevent a passing grade. Verify that windows aren’t cracked and also make sure that your license plate is securely attached. An often overlooked area inside the car are the seatbelts. Make sure that the holsters are properly working and that each seatbelt is able to be securely fastened.

2. Exterior lights

Grab a family member or friend to help you out to make sure all of the car’s exterior lights are working. This includes your brake lights, headlights, taillights, and high beams. Also, remember to check the lights that illuminate your license plate because they are also required for passing inspection.

3. Internal dash lights

Your car cannot pass inspection with a service engine light on. While fixing this issue might not be something you personally can do, it’s important to know that your car will need to complete a “drive cycle” before the internal computer resets and will register a passing grade on your inspection. This drive cycle can be anywhere from 50-75 miles, so knowing this in advance can be a major time-saving help.

 4. Tires

Most states require tires to have at least 1/16 inch of tread to pass inspection. An easy way to check this is with the penny tire tread trick. According to Bridgestone Tires, a person can place a U.S. penny upside down in the groove of the tire tread and if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. This trick takes no more than a minute and can really help you plan your inspection in advance.

5. Brakes

You don’t need to be a car expert to determine when your brakes need replacing. According to J.D. Power & Associates, one of the best ways to know when your brakes need to be replaced is by listening carefully to them while applying heavy brake pressure. While driving, turn off the radio and listen to see if you hear a high pitched screeching sound during the application of pressing your brakes. This sound is called a metal shim. Even the faint noise of a metal shim is an indicator that your brakes need to be replaced. Having your brakes replaced can take some serious time, so knowing to check for them in advance can assist you in scheduling a brake replacement appointment to guarantee you meet your inspection on time.

For all of the latest car tips and hacks, make sure to check out the rest of Hero's blog

Ways to Break in a New Car

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So you finally decided to buy that brand new, shiny car but have big concerns about
how to properly break it in? There are certain tips and tricks that are easy to follow
and will go a long way to properly braking in your new car.
Breaking a new car in is a long standing practice, recommended by all auto
manufacturers. It involves different processes such as: correct driving techniques,
precautionary measures, maintenance tasks and general care. What this will do is
prolong the life of your new car. It sets the foundation for how the car will perform for the
rest of its useful, working life. The basic idea behind the new car break in period is to
allow all moving parts to settle in properly and begin to work together as a team in the
right way.


1. Low Revolutions
Initial driving style should be gentle, avoiding extremely high engine revs (the so
called red lining). This will prevent your car’s moving parts from overstressing
during this initial, crucial period. The revolutions of the engine should be kept
below 3000 revolutions per minute (RPM). This can be monitored via the
dashboard tachometer.


2. Low Speeds
On a related topic, car’s speed should initially be kept reasonably low. There
should be no harsh accelerations, racing from the red lights (should never be
done!) or any other activity involving extreme speeds. Recommended speeds
during the break in period are between 30 and 50 miles per hour.


3. Proper and Regular Oil Changes
First oil change should take place very early in the car’s break in period, much
sooner than even the manufacturer’s manual instructs you to do. To be extra
cautious, the first oil change should happen somewhere between 50 and 100
miles, but somewhere within the first 500 miles should be very acceptable. The
reason behind such a quick first oil change is that there is a strong possibility of
excess particles and wear on the engine’s moving parts. These potentially loose
debris could pose danger to the engine, causing irreparable damage.

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4. Regular and Correct Maintenance
To further extend the life of the car, proper and early maintenance is
recommended. This includes regular inspections and simply tasks. Examples
include: changing the air filter, oil filter, checking of all fluids (level of transmission
fluid, antifreeze, oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluid). Fluids should be
topped up as needed.

For more of the latest car news and tips, check out the rest of Hero's blogs

Top Signs of Engine Oil Leak

Oil leaks are not fun. Those gross, greasy stains on the garage floor or that nasty burning smell and smoke coming from the tail pipe – these are not things any car owner looks forward to. And on top of that, the annoying oil light flickering on the dashboard which signals the beginning of a possible long, time consuming battle. Although there are other causes of these symptoms, there is a good chance they are caused by an engine leaking oil. This may sound simple, but it should never be ignored since it can be a sign of something much more serious. Repairing an engine oil leak should never be put off as it can definitely lead to bigger headaches down the road and serious engine damage can happen. It can even lead to engine overheating and you getting stranded on the side of the road. Review the following signs of an oil leak so you can recognize it early and deal with it efficiently. This will also help you realize how big of a role oil plays in the engine’s life.

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1. Dark puddles under your car
When you drive out of your garage in the morning, check to see if there are any dark
brown/yellow spots or puddles where the car was. If the oil is leak straight out of the
oil pan, it will drain onto your garage floor (or wherever the car happens to have been
parked for a period of time).


2. Smoke from the engine
If the oil leak happens to be around the exhaust manifold, it will cause smoke to come from the engine compartment. This could easily damage the oxygen sensor or make the gaskets break down and disintegrate, if left unrepaired for too long.


3. Oil light on the dashboard
If the oil light flashes on the dashboard, do not ignore it. This is an alert that oil level or pressure has dropped to below what is considered normal. It may not indicate a leak necessarily, but it's very likely. This should be looked at immediately by a car mechanic.


4. Smell of oil burning
If oil is leaking anywhere on the hot parts of the engine, it will burn and you will likely smell it or even hear it sizzle. If you notice this smell (which is bitter) have the car inspected as an oil leak is very likely.


5. Engine overhearing
Oil plays a very important part in ensuring engine does not overheat. It lubricates all moving parts, including the pistons which ensure proper and smooth movement and gliding. Without lubrication, friction would very quickly increase the temperature of the
engine, causing it to overheat.

Stay updated with the latest car tips by checking out our other blogs here. 

Top 8 things to check when getting a used car

Many people consider buying a used car as a way to save some money. Used cars are usually much cheaper than a brand new car. Buying a used car is also more economically conscious because over time, the car will lose less of it’s value. However, buying a new car is not always easy. There are numerous things that you have to look out for. Here are a list of the top 8 things to check when getting a used car.

 

1. Take a test drive

Test driving a car is important regardless of whether you are buying a new or a used car. A test drive allows you to get a feel for the car and see how it handles in the real world. With a used car, a test drive allows you to quickly spot any main issues with the car. These could be things like problems with the brakes or problems with the engine.

2. Look at the exterior and interior

Take a walk around the car and look for any noticeable dents or scratches. If there are any then they could significantly reduce the cost of the car. Dents and scratches are also an indicator that the previous owner didn’t take good care of the car. Take a look at the interior of the car as well. A dirty or messy interior is another place where you could get the owner to reduce the price of the car.

3. Check for a recall

Go online and check the make and model of the car you are considering buying and make sure that it hasn’t been recalled. Some owners may try to sell a car that has been recalled which is a safety issue and is very dangerous. If the make and model has been recalled, get proof from the owner that the car as been repaired and that the issue has been fixed. If the owner cannot provide proof, do not purchase the car.

4. Ask for service records

Service records are important because they tell you how the previous owner has taken care of the car. If the service records show regular maintenance then it is a good sign that the car has been well taken care of. If the records show no or very little maintenance then it is likely that you will have issues with the car in the future.

5. Have a mechanic perform an inspection

Take the car to a mechanic for an inspection. The mechanic will be able to find any issues with the car that are not obvious from the outside. If there are issues try to get the owner to cover the repair costs. If the owner is not willing to pay for the entire repair costs see if they will split the costs with you or of they will consider lowering the price of the car.

6. Check for a warranty

Check if the car has any warranty on it that could be transferred over to you. The warranty could come in handy if there are issues with the car in the future. If the owner bought the car when it was new then it is likely that there is some warranty on the car. As the owner if it is possible for them to transfer it over to you.

7. Check for any leaks

Park the car in a dry place and let it sit there for around 30 minutes. After that time move the car and check if there were any fluid leaks in the spot where it was parked. Leaks indicate that there is something wrong with the car and that it needs maintenance. If a leak is found, ask the owner if they are aware of it and if they know what is causing it.

8. Read reviews online

Buying a car is no different than buying any other item. Do your research online and read reviews about the car. See what other owners of the car have to say about it. If they think it’s a good car or if they regret purchasing it. Reviews can also tell you about possible issues with the car that you may face in the future.

or more of the latest car hacks and tips, check out our other blogs.

Oil Changing Essentials

Changing your car’s oil is one of the most basic and critically important car maintenance activities. At its core, changing oil in a car consists of removing the old, spent oil from the car’s engine and replacing it with a new oil. It is typical to replace the car’s oil filter at the same time.

 

When?

With time and as the car’s engine operates, oil breaks down and wears out. It loses its viscosity and becomes much less capable of lubricating all of the engine’s moving parts. Furthermore, oil loses its ability to absorb and dissipate heat as it ages. This can all lead to engine parts being less protected and eventually to a break down. The goal of very vehicle owner is to replace the engine oil, before this costly break down occurs.

How?

How often should oil be changed? This depends on numerous factors: make of the car, the way the car is driven, the age of the car and even your geographical location. A typical rule of thumb, recommended by most mechanics, is to replace your oil every 3000 miles. This may be slightly too aggressive. Most newer automobile manufacturers recommend longer intervals, for example, 5000 miles. Using special synthetic oil will allow you to extend this interval up to 10000 miles.

 

Where?

Engine oil can be replaced at almost any auto mechanic garage, anything from a large car manufacturer’s dealership to a small family run shop. It depends on a person preference convenience and budget. One recommendation that should be made is that oil change be done a reputable location, especially if the vehicle is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Always have your oil changed by a trusted professional. And yes, changing oil at a registered car mechanics business will not void the warranty, despite a common myth it is not necessary to take the car back to the original dealer who sold it. There is always an option to do it yourself. Changing oil is not a complicated maintenance process and it is an easy project for anyone to do at home.

How?

Replacing the engine oil includes the following steps:

  • Buy new oil filter and sufficient quantity of new oil

  • Warm up your car

  • Park the care on a flat surface

  • Open hood, removed oil filler cap

  • Remove oil plug (under the car, see owner’s manual for details)

  • Drain the old oil into a collection pen

  • Remove old oil filter (see owner’s manual for location)

  • Install new oil filter

  • Reinstall the oil plug

  • Refill the engine with new oil

8 Ways to Protect Your Car's Exterior in the Summer

We often think that winter would be the hardest time for our cars and take extra precautions to protects our beloved cars. However, we forget that summer takes its toll as well.  Since it's right around the corner, here are 8 steps to protects your car's exterior in the summer:

 

1.  Tint your windows

If you tend to leave your car parked outside during the summer under direct sunlight, try investing in getting your windows and windscreen tinted. This helps protect the inside of your car from the sun's ray. It also helps protects yourself when you are driving under the sunlight.

 

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2. Find shade

There's only one real way to protect your car from any sun ray damage which is by parking it under a physical barrier because this blocks 100% of UV rays from damaging your car. Sun protectors are useful and affordable, so it might be best to invest in some as they can be easily folded up and put neatly in the trunk when not in use.

3. Wax

The Sunscreen For Cars Wax is the ultimate protection when it comes to cars. Choose a brand that you feel is suitable according to your time and cast investment. Although most wax usually last for only up to 2 months, the good news is that it's really easy to reapply another new coating of wax to the take on the brunt of the sunlight. One thing to take note is that price does not equal protection. Just because you spend more on a coating that claims to last for years doesn't mean that it gives you more protection from the sun compared to other products on the market.

4. Keep it clean!

Always wash your vehicle regularly! I usually wash my car at least once every week to ensure that all the stuck-on road grime is removed. For examples, bird droppings can permanently damage not only the paint but also the clear coat that you've applied.

5. Don't forget the small things

Use plastic polish to prevent hazing or cracked plastics keeping those parts fresh like you just bought it. Rubber protectants help prevent important rubber parts from going brittle. There are also sunlight shielding films which can be used to protect your headlights as they even come with spray-on versions making is easier to apply.

6. Test & clean battery frequently

The heat has been known to drain your car's batteries quite quickly and shortens the lifespans of them. Frequent testing and cleaning will help prevent yourself from getting stranded somewhere in the middle of the highway.

7. Check tire pressure

Hot pavements and under-inflated tires make a deadly combination during the summer which may lead to a burst tire while driving. Always remember to check it frequently to ensure that the pressure is optimum.

 

8. Wipe dashboard with microfiber cloth

Dust and dirt are usually the main cause of tiny scratches that become worse over time. Wipe the dashboard frequently to clean all particles. A low-gloss detailing product is more than enough to protect and reduce glare.

For more car tips and hacks, be sure to check out our other blogs here

5 Tips to Keep Your Car Battery Running Longer

Most of us have been there. You're ready to go, put the keys in the ignition, try to start the car, and there's nothing but dead silence. Then, you're often left with no other option besides paying for a new battery or roadside assistance. HERO has put together a few ways to get the most out of your vehicle's battery.

1. Keep the battery charged

This seems like a no brainer, right? Many fail to think about how a car battery gets charged. It charges while the car is running. It's best to drive your car regularly. If you have a car that you don't drive often or only use it for short trips, it might be best to get a charger.

2. Turn off lights

This doesn't apply to just head and tail lights. Make sure you're shutting off interior lights. Forgetting to do so is an easy way to drain the battery. Also, be sure to not leave any electronics charging in your car because this will use the car's battery even if it isn't on.

3. Keep the battery's connection clean

Corrosion is a very common problem that could interfere with the battery's ability to charge. It's best to check the battery and connection. If it needs cleaning, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to give the terminal a good scrub. Use one part water to three parts baking soda. Clean as needed or every few months.

4. Determine the problem before replacing or charging the battery

It's important to identify the problem before dropping (potentially) hundreds of dollars replacing a battery that could easily be repaired or recharged. We already covered the common problems that cause a dead battery. It's most likely leaving lights on, not driving the car often, or maybe even the temperature. Car professionals say car batteries can lose over 30% of their charge when temperature decreases drastically. 

5. Find the right, trusted car care professional

Regular maintenance is important when it comes to cars. A good vehicle professional will be able to identify problems such as battery failure as well as more complex problems. Going with someone you trust and who knows what they're doing can save you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars on car repairs and maintenance. Identifying the problem and being proactive goes a long way in regards to your car. Visit www.herocarcare.com to download our app and receive on demand car care!