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Prepare Your Car for the Winter

Winter is coming as the popular memes say!

For many drivers that means car challenges are coming too. From freezing temperatures to icy roads let’s make sure your car is well cared for and ready to take on the winter month’s challenges.

Here are some tips for getting ready:

Lights
It gets dark so early! A major hazard with winter driving is that the sun goes down earlier in the day, and you will be driving more after dark especially on your commute home. Make sure all of your vehicle’s lights are in excellent shape, providing the brightest illumination possible. If you have a bulb out, get it replaced now. If there’s snow covering any exterior light, make sure you remove it before driving anywhere. If your headlights are cloudy or yellow, consider replacing them or look into an easy restoration kit.

Battery
Cold weather can make it more difficult for your battery to function. A battery that’s weak during the summer could turn into a dead battery during the winter. Have a volt test performed on your battery to confirm it is in good working order. If it isn’t, buy a new battery as soon as possible so you don’t need to worry about being stranded or left in a cold parking lot with a car that won’t start.

Coolant/Antifreeze
This keeps the engine from freezing in cold temperatures. Check your levels and make sure your car isn’t low on coolant and if you notice fluids leaking beneath your car, stop in to have your car checked for a leak.

Gasoline
Try to keep your tank more towards full during the winter months, a good guideline is not lower than half a tank when possible. You should try to keep your gas tank full for several reasons, like the fact that a full tank may prevent accumulated water from freezing inside your fuel pump and can help you stay warm by allowing the engine to stay running in case you get stuck because of bad road conditions like snow or ice.

Washer Fluid & Windows
You should also keep you’re an eye on your windshield fluid, keeping it on the full side as well because a full windshield-washer reservoir is tremendously important, as messy road debris from a snowstorm can sometimes necessitate constant window washing to see where you’re going. You should also carry an ice scraper and snow brush combo to help make sure you can clear off windows before driving. If you park outdoors, leave the wipers in the raised position to prevent them from freezing to the windshield. Never use your wiper blades to remove ice, snow or frost from the windshield; use the ice scraper instead.

Tires and Tire Pressure
Snow or not, if you live in an area where temperatures regularly fall below 45 degrees, you should consider changing to winter tires for better traction while turning or stopping on cold pavement. At least check your tread, one easy way is the penny test. Simply insert a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and it’s time to replace your tires. It’s incredibly important to keep track of your tire pressure as temperatures get colder. This is because tire pressure can drop along with the air temperature, losing up to one pound per square inch with every 10-degree drop in air temperature. Driving around with low tire pressure could mean premature tire wear or potential tread separation, which could lead to a major accident. Also, your car handles less predictably with underinflated tires. If you check your tire pressure and find that one or more of your tires are low on air, fill them at a gas station air pump and don’t forget to let out a little air as temperatures start to climb again in the spring.

Survival Kit
Along with your car being prepared we recommend that you are prepared if you are stuck in your car. Consider a survival kit to be kept in your vehicle. Especially motorists in rural areas might find themselves stuck on a deserted road with heavy snow falling and few vehicles around for miles. In urban areas, heavy snowfall or ice can stop traffic for hours. So, if there’s even some possibility you’ll end up stuck on the road, a survival kit is a good idea. Stock yours with a blanket, extra gloves and hats, chemical hand warmers, a first-aid kit, a knife, a flashlight, jumper cables, flares, and a cellphone charger that works in your vehicle’s 12-volt outlet. Water and non-perishable food items in single serve bags can be packed to offer a variety of options. We also suggest keeping a shovel, possibly a bag of kitty litter for traction in your vehicle’s trunk. Keeping some sort of de-icer spray handy is a good idea too, so you can easily access the engine or trunk in case they’re frozen shut.
Oxford Automotive is offering a Winterization Special for only $99 (a $149 value). Just ask for the Winterization Special or use code “winter17” when scheduling your appointment. Expires 12/31/17

The Winterization Special includes:

  • Perform a full vehicle digital inspection
  • Run a diagnostic scan for any fault codes lube chassis
  • Inspect tires for winter performance
  • Rotate & balance tires
  • Complete brake inspection
  • Inspect front & back wiper blades for proper operation
  • Check antifreeze for proper freeze point
  • Perform a computerized battery & charging system analysis
  • Replace washer fluid w/ Rain-X fluid (good for up to -25F)
  • Oil service (additional charge for synthetic oils, trucks & vehicles using more than 5 quarts*)
    Call us at 1-740-747-2841 to schedule an appointment

Our Customer Promise: Stress Free Auto Care

We promise to make your experience with us as stress-free as possible by:

1. Be Honest and Transparent. We will communicate promptly, openly, and honestly. We will only
perform services that are needed and authorized by you. We will give fair and up-front pricing before
starting any work. If there are any changes to promised completion time or cost due to variables
outside of our control, we will communicate promptly. We will keep accurate and accessible service
records. All repairs records are given to you, kept in our system, and reported to Car Fax.

2. Be Skilled and Professional. We will give knowledgeable advice from our certified technicians that
fits your needs. We will use industry standard tools and practices to service your vehicle. When
necessary, we will research multiple industry repair databases to determine the best repair solution for
your vehicle. We will honor our written guarantee.

3. Be Respectful and Attentive. We will respect you as our customer, valuing your opinion and
perspective. We will listen intently to understand the plans for your vehicle and exactly what concerns
you want us to address. We will take the necessary time to explain all services that we are
recommending on your vehicle.

4. Be Conscientious and Thorough. We will perform a thorough digital inspection of your vehicle,
notifying you of all service and recall recommendations. We have high standards for our workmanship
and hold our technicians accountable to these standards. Your vehicle will be inspected for quality
before it is returned to you. We will treat your vehicle like it is our own, and return it cleaner than when
you entrusted it to us.

5. Be Accommodating and Stress-Free. We offer rental cars so that you never have to be without
transportation while your vehicle is in the shop. We keep an open schedule and perform quick turn-
around times to get your vehicle serviced and back to you in a timely manner. We also offer valet
service so that you don’t need to take time out of your busy day getting your vehicle in to our shop. We
make your service experience as simple and convenient as possible!

Spotting a Flood Damaged Car

Flood damaged cars.

Most expert agree, a vehicle that has been in a flood is one to avoid buying.  With massive hurricanes like Harvey in Texas, Irma in Florida, Maria in Puerto Rico, and now Nate heading for the gulf coast, we have a lot of flood damaged cars.  Estimates are totaling over half a million cars have been damaged. Even if you don’t live in these states these vehicles make their way to most regions and eventually are sold to unsuspecting buyers.

When cars are “totaled” by an insurance company they are supposed to get a new title, but sometimes this isn’t communicated to buyers.  The new title is called a salvage title and should be marked “salvage’ or “flood.” These cars cannot be registered for consumer use until necessary repairs are made and the vehicle is re-inspected by officials. Unfortunately rebuilt wrecks get sold with clean titles by unscrupulous sellers, so carefully review any used car you are going to purchase.

Even if the car is rebuilt the long-term effects of water can haunt buyers for the life the car. Water can ruin electronics, lubricants, and mechanical systems. It can take months or years for corrosion to find its way to the car’s vital electronics, including airbag controllers. Consumers need to carefully inspect any used car before buying it (or pay their mechanic to do it—Oxford Automotive can carefully review any used car before your purchase it). Also keep in mind that parts from the scrapped cars could well end up in yours, as in a situation where a body shop cuts corners in a collision repair by using parts from a scrapped car instead of new parts. A fender or hood that spent time immersed in fresh water might not be a problem, but a transmission that took a salt water bath could well turn up with bearing or seal failure.

Here are a few of options to start screening a car:

Carfax offers a free flood damage check: HYPERLINK “https://www.carfax.com/press/resources/flooded-cars”https://www.carfax.com/press/resources/flooded-cars, in addition to the vehicle history report they sell. Based on the flood area history from registered addresses on the car the check shows the “possibility of flood damage.”

For a free check, The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a VINCheck, but it doesn’t use as many data sources as some of the paid providers do. You can find it here: HYPERLINK “https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck”https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck

Another free option, is to contact your insurance agent and ask if there are any insurance claims that have been paid on the vehicle (VIN number will be needed). There is a national insurance database that insurance companies have access to. Your insurance agent should be able to tell you the date of the accident/incident and how much was paid out in damages. Some insurance companies are more helpful than others when it comes to sharing this information. Another caveat is of course if the owner had a vehicle repaired at their own cost, the insurance company won’t have information about the amount paid, or possibly won’t know of the repairs at all.

We recommend a detailed inspection by a mechanic as the best protection because although history reports are a valued aid for screening, there are no guarantees with vehicle history reports that the car will be problem-free.

Here are a few tips to spot a Flood Damaged Car:

• Caked-on mud and a musty odor from the carpets. New carpets in an older vehicle may be another red flag.

• A visible water line on the lens or reflector of the headlights.

• Mud or debris trapped in difficult-to-clean places, such as gaps between panels in the trunk and under the hood.

• Rusty exposed screws under the dashboard. Unpainted metal in flood cars will show signs of rust. Especially check to see if screws have been removed or replaced around the carpet or seats

• Rubber drain plugs under the car and on the bottom of doors that have been removed. That may have been done to drain floodwater

• Search the engine compartment, often hard to clean spaces, like behind the engine will show signs of water lines or debris.

If you are going to be selling your car, and your car isn’t flood damaged but you are from an area affected by flooding, keep in mind that buyers might suspect it was damaged. You may consider having a mechanic inspect your car before you put it up for sale so that you can provide a clean bill of health to the potential buyer.

Now that you have found a reliable car to purchase, remember to stop into Oxford Automotive for your regular oil changes and to have our technicians do a review to check for any maintenance needs. Our Auto Vitals Digital Inspection, which is our paperless process, that tracts your car from drop off to completion will text or email you the vehicle condition report that provides information about what is in good condition, what needs immediate attention, and manufacturer recommended maintenance. Our report includes photos and details. Staying on top of your regular maintenance, along with keeping your car clean, will keep you safe on the road and will best protect your investment for when you are ready to sell it.

Tips for Detailing Your Car

Tips to Detail Your Own Car

Detail your car to keep it in top shape and looking like new. Here are some tips to do it yourself. The benefit of car detailing is that it cleans your car more thoroughly and should involve restoring and waxing the car too. Inside and out, your car should be sparkling. You will enjoy driving around in your clean car, and by keeping it clean and in top shape, you will get top dollar for it when you are ready to sell it.

Below are 5 tips that you could follow to do your own car detailing job without getting it professionally done somewhere else and paying lots of money to do so.

Clean the Interior First–
Clean the inside of the car first so that it has time to dry as your cleaning the outside of your car. First, take two bags to the car, one for trash and one for items that have been left in your car but need put away in your home. Start by using a microfiber cloth to dust and wipe down the hard surfaces, you can use a product that will help protect it from UV and give it a nice sheen too. Then use tools like toothbrushes, makeup brushes, barbecue skewers and q-tips to get the dust and dirt out of the crevices, don’t forget the cup holders, they can be the dirtiest. Remove the floor mats and shake them out, clean off any spots, and then vacuum the interior. Use leather cleaner or fabric cleaner on the seats. Last, clean the inside of the car’s windows.

Washing the exterior–
Keeping the exterior clean protects your investment as dirt, bird droppings, dead bugs, road gunk, tree sap, and other contaminants can harm the paint if left on for too long, leaving permanent blemishes in the finish. Using mild soap and a microfiber or lambswool mitt, work from the top down. The best way to dry your car is to use microfiber towels rather than standard cotton towels. Use two buckets, one with water and soap, and a second of clean water to help rinse the car. Dry the exterior with microfiber towels to ensure that no swirls or streaks are left behind as you wipe, and these are also great for drying the glass of your windows as well. Now is good time to check your windshield wipers to make sure they are not fraying and are ready for action.

Wheels & Well Cleaning–
Clean your wheels, and you should clean the wheel wells as well. All you need to do is use a hose to spray the interior of the wells and then use a brush to scrub this area. Just make sure to use a clean brush that was not used to clean any other location on your car. The wheels are among the dirtiest part of your car, collecting road grime, brake dust, road salt, all which can cause corrosion and damage to your wheels. The easiest way to clean the wheels is with a cleaner designed for the type of wheel you have—such as chrome, mag, or aluminum—to prevent damaging the wheel. Many are currently sprays that you simply spray on, wait a few minutes and wipe off or brush off, rinse and dry well.

Waxing–
When you have removed every particle of residue from the finish of your vehicle, you can make this cleanliness shine more with just a little bit of wax. You can use the quicker conventional car wax that just sprays on or you can use a special polymer sealant that fills every micro flaw in the finish to make it look perfect. Just remember to do this on an overcast day or in the shade, waxing in the sun makes the job more difficult or you could even have to start over as the products don’t perform well in the heat and direct sun.

Avoid Auto Car Washes–
It may seem quick and easy but be careful of which car wash you choose, the ones that have brushes or vinyl/rubber strips can build up dirt and leave more on your car than they remove, or leave marks in your paint. There are no touch car washes that can be helpful when you are short on time.

Now that you have your car clean and sparkling, remember to stop into Oxford Automotive for your regular oil changes and to have our technicians do a review to check for any maintenance needs. Staying on top of your regular maintenance, along with keeping your car clean, will keep you safe on the road and will best protect your investment for when you are ready to sell it.