Yes, you can DIY wheel maintenance.
Alloy wheels may be stronger than the typical steel wheel but they are still affected by the same everyday roadway wear and tear. Elements such as brake pad dust, road salt and tar, can damage your wheels and cause permanent damage to your rims. Most Automobile manufacturers will recommend using soap and water as your go-to wheel cleaning method. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose the right wheel-cleaning product for your rims. So, let’s talk about how to do your own wheel maintenance.
Here are several options for you to get back that new wheel shine:
• The Lemon Juice technique is an effective method for cutting through dirt and dust on wheels that are still in fairly new shape. Just apply an even coating of lemon juice to your rims and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing
• If your rims are coated in grease, try soaking wheels in a tub of white or cider vinegar
• A great option for cutting through the tough grime is to use Oxy-Gel kitchen cleaner. However, it is an oxygenated bleach so be careful
• Avoid using the more abrasive cleaners and polishing compounds to clean your alloy wheels. Please use a wheel brush that is made specific for alloy wheels
• Another thing to remember when choosing to clean your rims is to avoid automatic car washes. They sometimes use acid-based cleaners in combination with abrasive brushes, which can permanently damage your wheels. So please check with your local car wash to avoid running your rims
Remember to protect your rims from future harm after using these cleaning methods, by applying an even coat of wax to your rims every two to three months. The best way to maintain a long-lasting and great looking wheel is to follow these tips on a consistent basis. If you’re worried your rims aren’t holding up as they should, call us and we can find the right solution for you.
Drive Safely in Hazardous Conditions
Driving in hazardous conditions does not require Nascar-grade driving skills. There is no class to train you to drive better in the fog, snow, rain or sleet. The only requirement in to be aware of hazardous driving conditions and adjust yourself accordingly. Plus, be aware that other drivers will most likely not adjust properly to the poor conditions and continue as if everything were a beautiful sunny day. Slow down, don’t follow other vehicles closely and know that the vehicles around you are more than likely going to do something completely unsuitable for hazardous driving conditions.
Rainfall is very dangerous for driving. However, most drivers don’t take it as seriously as they should. It is incredibly easy to hydroplane. It doesn’t take much at all—even with good tires you can hydroplane. It occurs when you drive too fast on rain-covered roads. It can also occur when your tires are worn down, even just a little. If a puddle is deep enough to fill in the grooves of your tires you can hydroplane. If you notice that your car is now surfing on the road, slow down. Your tires will regain traction. With anti-lock brakes, braking lightly is safe to do.
Driving in sleet, snow or ice is highly precarious. Each storm presents differently, so it’s even more difficult to drive in than rain. Furthermore, as more cars drive over the snow-covered roads, the conditions change. Just be aware of a few things when driving in the sleet, snow or ice:
• Bridges will freeze
• Change lanes only when necessary
• Stay in the far right lane
• Drive through the tire tracks of the vehicle in front of you
• Test your brakes when you first begin driving to gauge necessary reaction times
• Black ice: It’s nearly impossible to see, and incredibly dangerous. All you can do is take your foot off the brake and hope your vehicle stays straight.
Fog is also a hazardous driving condition. If thick enough, you won’t be able to see even 10 feet in front of you. It’s best to just avoid driving in fog altogether. But if you absolutely have to, treat it like any other hazardous condition and drive slowly. Do yourself a favor and turn off the radio, too. You’re going to need your ears to indicate what’s going on around you. The only other precaution is to turn on your fog lights. High beams will further obscure your vision. The fog just refracts the bright light and reduces the distance that you can see clearly. If you’re preparing to brake, tap them first to alert the driver behind you. And as with snow, stay in the far right lane. The less lane changes you have to make the better. Plan out your turns ahead of time and give yourself and other vehicles plenty of notice.
In conclusion, the best practice is to drive slowly and increase your following distance. Some accidents are unavoidable especially in hazardous conditions. Recognize less than optimal driving conditions, and adjust accordingly.
Which is best for winter: steel or aluminum wheels?
So, you’ve decided it’s time for new winter wheels. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before choosing a set of new custom wheels for your vehicle. What wheel will give you the best performance? What is the right wheel to suit your needs? What kind of style options are you looking for? There are two types of wheels that we offer at Courthouse Automotive: steel and aluminum alloy. So, what are the differences and which is best for you?
Steel wheels are the best economical choice. The price is low due to mass production and the low cost of steel. Your style choices are limited though. They come in fairly basic designs. Steel wheels can lack excitement. However, you do have the option to place a plastic hub cover over the steel that will give it that aluminum wheel look. Steel wheels also require little to no maintenance. But given that they’re steel, they may rust after a couple of years. They are also not made for every vehicle application.
Aluminum Alloy Wheels
Aluminum alloy wheels come in a vast amount of style choices. You basically have your pick of colors and finishes. For the winter, a fully painted finish is best such as silver or black. A chrome finish can be delicate and is less practical for the winter months. Machined lip wheels are also not the best choice for this time of year. Road salt and brake dust can collect and cause the clear coat to peel off. These types of wheels would require regular maintenance to preserve the finish. While aluminum wheels are becoming less and less expensive, the price ranges greatly based on style.
When choosing your new custom wheels, it’s best to consider your needs first. Steel wheels are low cost, durable and presentable. Aluminum wheels are more expensive, but stylized and can improve vehicle handling.
Proper Wheel Alignment is Important for Your Vehicle’s Performance
Everything that you own needs routine maintenance. Your air filters need to be replaced frequently for your HVAC system to work properly. You need to clean your dryer’s lint trap to reduce fire hazards. Your computer even needs to be updated frequently to work properly. Have you heard the turn of phrase, “a well-oiled machine”? Well, that’s because machines don’t work accurately when not properly cared for. Your wheel alignment is no different. It plays an important role in the your vehicle’s performance.
Your car hinges on precision to perform safely and efficiently. Your wheels can be easily misaligned. Usually, just from road conditions. But maybe you also drove forward through that parking spot, and didn’t realize until it was too late that there was a parking stop in front of you. Whatever the circumstance, your alignment requires regular check ups. Misaligned wheels can obviously cause uneven wear on your tires. But, “So? That’s only costing me more money on tires!” This may be true. But, think how challenging it can be to drive on a flooded or icy road with new tires. When your tread is worn unevenly, it becomes increasingly more challenging. Not to mention when your alignment is off, your vehicle has a tendency to pull to one side.
Besides being a potential safety risk, improper alignment also puts unnecessary stress on your vehicle. This can lead to other issues. It may also affect your brake shaft performance. When your vehicle pulls to one side, it can lead to steering system problems and cause uneven braking. Improper wheel alignment can also cause problems with your suspension. Your suspension is comprised of carefully balanced parts. When your alignment is off, your suspension is sure to go next. What was once a tune up, it now a very costly endeavor.
If you find see signs that your alignment in off, it’s time for a check up. Call our professionals at Courthouse Automotive to make an appointment today.
Tire Safety: Checking Tread, Tire Pressure and Rotating Your Tires
You know how worn out your feet feel after a long day at an amusement park? Imagine how rough your tires feel everyday after what you put them through. Treat your tires—give them a much-needed pedicure this season.
With the upcoming winter months, tire safety is a top priority. Examining them for wear, along with checking tire pressure and alignment is essential for vehicle safety, and yours. Tires affect your vehicle’s handling, traction, ride, braking and safety. They are the only part of your car that has direct contact with the road, so they take the biggest beating.
For optimum performance, your tires must first have the correct tire pressure for their type. Check the psi on the wall of your tires before filling them up. Underinflated tires can wear unevenly. This results in having to buy tires more often. On the other hand, overinflating your tires puts you at risk for a blowout. Furthermore, the psi in your tires fluctuates on their own. Tires generally lose about 1 psi per month on average, and lose or gain 1 psi for every 10 degree temperature change. This is a natural occurrence. Because of this, tire pressure should be checked on a monthly basis. Monitor the psi and adjust accordingly. Your tires should also be rotated about every 6,000 miles to ensure tire safety.
To inspect tread depth, just use the old penny trick. If Lincoln’s head is above the tread, it’s time for new tires. Relying on the wear bars to let you know when your tires need to be replaced can be a problem. Wear bars usually present themselves at around 2/32 tread depth. This can be ok for dry climates, but not for parts of the country that see lots of rain. For areas like these, it’s recommended that you change your tires at 4/32. This would be the minimum safe zone. For rainier climates, your tires need more tread to evacuate water from beneath the tire. This reduces your risk of hydroplaning. So, if you’re looking for 4/32 instead of 2/32, use a quarter instead of a penny to check the tread. If you see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time for new tires. Furthermore, for areas that see a lot of snow, 6/32 is the recommended minimum tread depth.
Your tire balance and alignment is also essential for tire safety. If your vehicle shakes or pulls to one side, that may be an indication of an alignment issue. It’s a good idea to have your alignment checked annually. And if your vehicle does pull to one side or shake, you should bring it in for a quick check. Furthermore, unbalanced wheels can cause rapid wear of shock absorbers and struts, which can be way more costly to replace than just a couple of tires.
Proper tire maintenance is essential for tire safety. Moreover, it helps improve your gas mileage and vehicle performance. This keeps you from having to visit the pump so many times in this chilly weather. Treat you tires to some much-needed monthly maintenance. Doing so could increase the life of your tires. You could even go more than five years without replacing them. This of course all depends on how and where you drive. Service life can vary from person to person. Regardless, be sure to take advantage of special offers on tire rotation and replacement. It could save you a lot of money in the long run.