Archive for Car Tips

The Importance of Changing Your Oil and What Can Go Wrong

Importance of changing your oilLearning the importance of changing your oil will only help you extend the life of your vehicle.

The oil in your car not only lubricates the working parts that keep it moving and the engine, but it also absorbs heat, ensuring that your vehicle doesn’t become too hot and break down.

That is why the importance of changing your oil really cannot be understated. Without fresh oil, many aspects of your vehicle can be affected and even break entirely, causing you costly repairs – or worse – a collision.

Additionally, any dirt or grit that makes its way into your car can get into the oil, ultimately spreading throughout the inside of your car. Simply replacing your old oil with fresh oil should wash out most of this debris.

Fortunately, oil is easy to check and replace, and most vehicles come with an owner’s manual that specifically states how frequently the oil needs to be changed. Of course, if you drive on harsher roads than average, you may want to change the oil more frequently.

If you are ever worried about the state of your oil, be sure to have it checked out by a professional. For more service information, contact us at Steet-Ponte Mazda.

Be Safe Going Trick-or-Treat this Halloween!

Trick-or-Treat safety tips this HalloweenHalloween is almost here and we want to make sure you and your kids are safe while going trick-or-treat this year! Below are some tips on how to keep safe this year when you are out and about!

  1. Drive Safely – Slow down and being very alert when driving in residential neighborhoods. Take extra time and look for kids at crosswalks, intersections and on the curbs. If you run out of candy halfway through and have to run out and get more, make sure you back out and enter your driveway slowly.
  2. Keep Costumes Safe – Make sure that your child’s costume is the right size. If it is too big they can easily trip and fall over it and hurt themselves. Avoid masks if possible so that your child’s vision is obstructed. Choose an alternative like makeup or face paint. Also put reflective paint or stickers on their bags to help drivers see them quicker.
  3. Walk Safely – When you are out and about on trick-or-treat night, look left and right before crossing the road. Use traffic signals and crosswalks if they are available. Watch for cars that are backing up and teach your kids to never dart out in the street or between parked cars.
  4. Go with an Adult – If you think your kid is mature enough to go without you, advise them to go in a group of friends and stay to areas they are familiar with and that are well lit. If you kid is under 12, accompany them on their trick-or-treat adventure.

These are some of our Halloween safety tips for when you are going trick-or-treat with your kids! We hope you have a fun and safe Halloween!

Fall Road Hazards – Beware!

We all know the notorious dangers of driving in the winter – icy roads, blinding snow, stalling engines. But, did you know that there’s a laundry list of fall road hazards as well?

Fall Road HazardsWatch out for these troublesome autumn surprises when you’re on the road this season:

Weather

Fall weather isn’t just pretty sunlight shining through the changing leaves – it’s hard rain, frost, and foggy mornings, too. Always have your lights on in rain and fog, but beware the use of high beams, especially in the fog. The bright lights will reflect off of the fog bank and just make your visibility tougher.

Leaves

Leaves are a danger during the fall for two reasons. The obvious reason is that they fall onto the roads and mess with your car’s traction and stability. But, the less obvious reason comes from other drivers. People love to slow down, sometimes stop entirely, to gawk at the beautiful colors all around. These beautiful views are just accidents waiting to happen; when you’re looking at the trees, you’re not looking at the road.

The Sun

Summertime gets all the credit for sunshine, but as the days get shorter in the fall, the setting sun aligns perfectly with your work commutes. The low position of the sun puts it perfectly ahead of your windshield or in your rearview. Always bring proper sun protection!

These fall road hazards might seem like nothing, but don’t take them lightly. Stay safe on the road this season!

How to Change the Oil in Your Car

How to Change the OilYou can always take your car to a mechanic to get an oil change, but knowing how to change the oil yourself is a useful skill. Keeping up with oil changes is an important part of keeping your car healthy and your engine going for as long as possible.

First, make sure you get the right type of oil for your car, which you can find in the owner’s manual. Don’t be cheap when it comes to the filter—the better ones aren’t much more expensive, and they do last much longer and will save you money in the long run.

When you go to change the oil, jack your car up, climb under, and put a pan under the drain plug to catch the oil. Next, use a wrench to unscrew the drain plug.

Once the oil has drained out, put the drain plug back in and tighten it, being careful to avoid stripping it. Then remove the oil filter and install the new one, and you’re done under the hood. Pour in your oil, screw on the filter cap, and voila!

Spring Car Care Tips

It’s official. Spring is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to get your car ready for the hot summer months ahead. Winter can be rough on your car (especially here in New York), and you’ll be saving yourself headaches down the road if you address any issues now, before they become major problems.

Here are three car care tips for preparing for summer.

Car Care TipsHave the suspension and alignment checked. Potholes seem to take over our roads during the winter and spring. Potholes can cause serious damage to our car’s alignment and suspension when we hit them, even at low speeds. Ignoring an alignment issue can cause your tires to wear down prematurely.

Remove your snow tires. Snow tires are specifically designed to offer enhanced traction in snowy, icy, and wet conditions, but also reduces efficiency. It’s always best to remove your snow tires after the season’s last snow fall in favor of summer tires, so that your snow tires will last as long as possible.

Check your lights, windshield wipers, battery, and summer tires. Prepare for summer rain and fog by making sure that all burnt-out lightbulbs are replaced, your windshield wipers are effective, and your tires aren’t over-worn. Also have your battery tested – if it’s nearing the end of its life, we recommend having that replaced sooner rather than later.

Check out Consumer Reports for more spring car care tips.

Stop by Steet Ponte Mazda today to learn more about spring car care, and how to make sure your car is prepared for the coming months.

What to Pack in Your Roadside Emergency Kit

With the surprising amount of snow we’ve recently seen on the East Coast, it might be time to consider carrying a roadside emergency kit. These kits can help you with simple maintenance, as well as save your life in an emergency. You shouldn’t leave home without one.

Roadside Emergency KitAccording to Consumer Reports, the kit should consist of safety, survival, and maintenance supplies. At the bare minimum, drivers should carry with them a fire extinguisher, as well as something to signal with. That includes flares, triangle reflectors, and a flashlight with good batteries.

Safety supplies should always include a first-aid kit you’re familiar with. Aside from this, consider putting an old cell phone in your car. In an emergency, almost all phones let you call 911 for free. Just keep it off and safe from any damage.

Survival supplies can save your life if you’re stranded in a blizzard. Always have food rations, like granola bars or trail mix, and a blanket. Consider carrying matches and a pocket knife as well. Last but not least, water can keep you hydrated, as well as come in handy for your radiator.

That brings us to our last portion. Always carry a little extra oil, brake fluid, and a spare tire. Consider an adjustable wrench, duct tape, and a screwdriver as well. With all of this in your kit, you should be safe from most danger on the road.

How to Winterize Your Car

Let’s face it, here in upstate New York, we face some of the toughest winters in the country. Every year around this time, we begin dusting off our snow boots and digging those heavy winter coats out of the closet. As we prepare ourselves for the bitter cold temperatures headed our way, let’s not forget about our cars.

Winter is a tough season for your car. Below-freezing temperatures, salty roads, and heavy ice and snow can wreak havoc if you don’t properly prepare and maintain your vehicle through the winter months.

Here are our tips on how to winterize your car:

Check your oil. The oil that should be used in your engine is dependent on how hot or how cold your engine is running. During the winter months you’ll want to switch over to thinner, less viscous oil. Refer to your owner’s manual or check with your service department to see what is best for your car.

Winterize Your Car - Steet Ponte MazdaRefresh engine coolant. Your engine coolant not only keeps your engine cool, but also protects your engine against corrosion. Make sure you have a coolant that’s appropriate for winter (contains ethylene glycol), and make sure you have the ideal coolant to water ratio for winter.

Check your battery. Cold weather is rough on car batteries, so before the temperatures dip uncomfortably low, have your battery tested. If your battery is at the end of its life, get it replaced sooner rather than later – you don’t want to be caught in a snow storm with a battery that won’t start.

Get snow tires. Utica receives more snow than almost anywhere else in the United States, so if there’s one thing you want to do before winter, its get snow tires. These tires are specifically engineered to grip to snowy and icy roads, offering more traction and control.

Replace windshield wipers: Make sure you have wipers that cleanly wipe away water, snow and ice. Old wipers can leave behind moisture that can obstruct your view.

Create an emergency safety kit. Make sure you keep a flashlight, car cell phone charger, water, high-energy snacks, blanket, gloves, sand or kitty litter, and small shovel in your car, just in case.

For more tips on how to prepare your car for winter, visit dmv.org.

Ready to make an appointment to get your car all set for the season? Call 866-207-5035, visit our service department online, or stop by Steet Ponte Mazda today!

September is Baby Safety Month!

September is baby safety month and we know how important it is to keep your child safe while driving. Here at Steet Ponte Mazda, we understand that protecting your child while they’re in the car is a top concern for parents, especially those new parents with a newborn. We wanted to give you some great tips when it comes to getting the right car seat for your child!Baby Safety Month - Car Seat

  • Choose the Right Direction – Parents should keep their child in a rear-facing car seat for as long as possible. This usually lasts until the child is around 2 years old. Kids who ride in rear-facing car seats have the maximum protection for their head, spine and neck and they are facing away from the airbag if it is deployed.
  • Check the Label – Check the label on your child’s car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight. Each car seat has an expiration date that is usually around six years. Find yours and make sure that it is still safe.
  • Know Your Car Seat’s History – If you are looking to buy a used car seat, make sure you are buying it from someone you know. If the car seat has been in an accident it needs to be replaced. Buying one from a thrift store or over the internet is risky and could be unsafe.
  • Install Your Car Seat Correctly – Perform both the inch and pinch tests. One your car seat is installed give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through. If you can move it an inch either side to side or front to back then it is installed incorrectly. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch. To perform the pinch test, make sure that the harness is tightly bucked and coming from the correct spots; use your car seat manual. With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you cannot pinch any excess webbing your seat is properly installed.
  • Check Your Car Seat – Roughly seventy-three percent of car seats are installed incorrectly. Before you hit the road with your child, make sure that yours is installed properly.

If you’re looking for more advice on car seats or baby safety, visit this website. Steet Ponte Mazda is proud to be a family-oriented business and wants to make sure your family is safe too! Visit our website for a huge selection of our crossovers, SUVs and sedans that make for great family vehicles!

Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists – Do’s and Don’t’s

MotorcyclistsFor many, sharing the road with motorcyclists can be intimidating. Despite the “tough guy” attitude we often associate with motorcyclists, they seem so much more vulnerable than those of us protectively encased within our four-wheeled vehicles. That’s because they are. But that doesn’t mean we have to be nervous driving around them. Here are a few of our Steet Ponte Mazda do’s and don’t’s for safe driving with our two-wheeled friends.

Do: Give Them Space

When following any vehicle, it is important to leave enough space to react to sudden changes – last minute turns, sudden braking, etc. When following a motorcycle, it is even more important. Make sure you have at least four seconds of space between you and the motorcycle in front of you. That means when the motorcycle passes a given road sign or building, you should be able to count to at least four before you pass the same point.

Don’t: Anticipate Their Movements

Motorcycles don’t have self-canceling turn signals like our cars, so don’t assume you know which way a motorcyclist is headed. Especially at intersections where you are crossing paths with a motorcycle, try to make eye contact with the driver and wait until you know for sure where he or she is turning before you proceed.

Do: Check Your Blind Spot

As in any case, be sure to check your blind spot before merging or switching lanes. If you know there is a motorcycle near you, make sure you locate it before you move. The driver could be maneuvering through traffic and trying to switch lanes as well.

Driving around motorcycles doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience. Essentially, you want to follow the same safe driving habits you normally practice with a little more caution and giving them a little more space. The road is big enough for all of us to share.

Preparing Your Car for Annual Vehicle Inspections

annual vehicle inspectionsFor many, summer is not only the season for vacation; it’s also the season for annual vehicle inspections.  While we admit that taking your vehicle to be inspected is a lot less fun than taking your car on a road trip with family and friends, we do have a few tips to make the process as painless as possible.

  1. Before you take your vehicle in for inspection, check to make sure all of your lights are working. If a light is out, this can be an easy fix that will help your vehicle pass inspection the first time around.
  2. Examine your tires. Be sure the air pressure is at the recommended level. You’ll also want to check your tire tread. If it is worn, be advised you may need new tires before your vehicle will pass inspection.
  3. Not surprisingly, the condition of your brakes plays a key role in your car passing inspection as well. Take a look at your brake pads and make sure they aren’t worn and in need of replacement.
  4. The inspector won’t ignore the warning lights on your dashboard, so neither should you. We at Steet Ponte Mazda would be happy to diagnose any issues your vehicle may have. It could be something as simple as a routine oil change.
  5. Before you go, gather your insurance and registration documents. You’ll need to present both before your car is inspected.

For more information on what to expect during inspection, check out the New York DMV website.

With a little bit of preparation and diligence in paying attention to the messages your car is sending, vehicle inspections don’t have to be a dreaded part of the season. You can quickly pass the test and look toward your next summer destination.