Tag Archives: tires

Winter Maintenance – Don’t Let Your Battery Leave You Out in the Cold

With cold weather right around the corner, Autumn is the best time to schedule a battery test.

Old Man Winter can be tough on any vehicle, but the battery, specifically, takes a beating. Your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.

Expert Advice on Winterizing Your Battery

  • Seek Professional Help—for your batteries, that is. These aren’t your typical AA batteries, so it’s important to have us check the battery and electrical system. Sometimes the naked eye cannot detect the presence of corrosion because it is hidden under the metal between the connection and the post.
  • Protect Your Battery from Mr. Freeze. The cold weather can dramatically reduce a person’s energy level and it can do the same to a battery’s available starting power. It’s a good idea to have your car’s starting and charging system tested every six months.
  • Charge It. Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. A fully charged battery will not freeze until -76°F; however, a fully discharged battery could start to freeze at 32°F.
  • Small Maintenance Chores are Necessary. Preparing your car for the winter doesn’t end with the battery itself. You need to inspect your battery cables, posts, and fasteners. Make sure your cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery.

Winterization Checklist
To maximize protection against cold-weather conditions, now’s the time to make sure you not only winterize your battery, but your vehicle too.

We recommend all vehicle owners to check the following items for a safe winter:

  • Replace worn windshield wipers every 6 months.
  • Refill washer fluid often. Winterize with a 50/50 mix of washer fluid and water.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
  • Inspect all bulbs and lights for proper operation.
  • Check condition of tires, including the spare.
  • Measure your tire air pressure regularly.
  • Change oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Examine exhaust system for leaks.
  • Flush and refill cooling system with a 50/50 mixture.
  • Check drive belts, clamps and hoses.

Everyone should carry emergency gear such as gloves, boots, tire chains, battery booster pack, cell phone, blankets, flares, flashlight and some high-energy, non-perishable snacks.

Take The Penny Test

Tires are designed with treads that provide your vehicle with traction. This traction keeps your vehicle driving along the road – even in inclement weather. Without tread, the elements would literally lift your tires off the road. When you drive through snow or a puddle, the grooves in between the tread blocks of the tires become channels that divert the water or snow away from the tires, allowing the tires to maintain traction in these slick conditions.

When the tread gets worn down, the water, snow, and other slippery substances don’t have anywhere to go except directly under your tires severely decreasing your vehicle’s traction. If your tires are nearly bald, traction will be eliminated completely. Decreased traction will negatively affect your control over the vehicle, making it unsafe for you and your passengers. Tread depth will determine whether or not you require new tires. You can easily tell if your tires’ tread is too worn by using a penny.

Take The Penny Test
Who says a penny doesn’t buy you anything? With this easy test, a penny can buy you peace and mind when it comes to your tire safety.

Place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If this is the case, your tires need to be replaced. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining. This means you probably don’t need new tires.

Why Worry About Tread Wear?
The most important reason to worry about tread wear is safety. When your tire treads are worn, your vehicle may respond poorly in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow. With good treads, your vehicle will grip the road better. Also, having insufficient tread is considered illegal in many states. And finally, worn treads can make other parts of your vehicle wear prematurely.

Potential Problem Areas

  1. Excessive wear in the center tread indicates over inflation of the tire.
  2. Excessive wear on the shoulders may signal problems such as under inflation of the tire.
  3. Uneven tread wear indicates poor wheel alignment.
  4. Excessive wear on one side of the tire signals incorrect camber angle.
  5. If the treads on the outer section become knobby, it may signal problems with the toe-in value.

 

Tire Tread: Will Your Tires Pass The Penny Test

Take The Penny Test

Tires are designed with treads that provide your vehicle with traction. This traction keeps your vehicle driving along the road – even in inclement weather. Without tread, the elements would literally lift your tires off the road. When you drive through snow or a puddle, the grooves in between the tread blocks of the tires become channels that divert the water or snow away from the tires, allowing the tires to maintain traction in these slick conditions.

When the tread gets worn down, the water, snow, and other slippery substances don’t have anywhere to go except directly under your tires severely decreasing your vehicle’s traction. If your tires are nearly bald, traction will be eliminated completely. Decreased traction will negatively affect your control over the vehicle, making it unsafe for you and your passengers. Tread depth will determine whether or not you require new tires. You can easily tell if your tires’ tread is too worn by using a penny.

Take The Penny Test
Who says a penny doesn’t buy you anything? With this easy test, a penny can buy you peace and mind when it comes to your tire safety.

Place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If this is the case, your tires need to be replaced. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining. This means you probably don’t need new tires.

Why Worry About Tread Wear?
The most important reason to worry about tread wear is safety. When your tire treads are worn, your vehicle may respond poorly in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow. With good treads, your vehicle will grip the road better. Also, having insufficient tread is considered illegal in many states. And finally, worn treads can make other parts of your vehicle wear prematurely.

Potential Problem Areas

Why Worry about tread wear?

  1. Excessive wear in the center tread indicates over inflation of the tire.
  2. Excessive wear on the shoulders may signal problems such as under inflation of the tire.
  3. Uneven tread wear indicates poor wheel alignment.
  4. Excessive wear on one side of the tire signals incorrect camber angle.
  5. If the treads on the outer section become knobby, it may signal problems with the toe-in value.

How To Spring Your Vehicle Out of Winter

With record snowfalls and cold temperatures this winter has been a tough one, so it’s nice to know that Spring is just around the corner. That thick layer of dried road salt is a good reminder of just how hard winter has been on your vehicle, making the transition to spring an important time to give your car some much-needed TLC.

Battery: If you’ve started your car during extreme cold, you’ve heard the hesitation. Winter weather can be tough on all the starting components in your car like the alternator and starter. In turn, this increases the strain on the battery. Spring is a good time to get your battery tested and, if needed, replaced. If you’ve noticed that your interior lights are a bit dimmer or that your power windows move more slowly when the engine is off, this can be a sign that the end of your battery is near.

Brakes: Winter weather and road salt can be rough on your brakes. This is an important time to get these crucial safety items checked, including lines, hoses, parking brake and brake fluid.

Alignment: With potholes and heaves in the payment, there’s a good chance that winter may have knocked your car out of alignment. Getting your wheels realigned can save wear and tear on your tires and improve your gas mileage. Also a car that is out of alignment can be more difficult to steer and stop which can jeopardize your safety.

Tires: When the temperature changes, you may notice that your tires are a bit soft. Keep them at the right pressure for optimal gas mileage. Give a visual inspection to ensure that you have plenty of tread left, as well. Spring showers will mean wet and flooded roads, so be sure your tires can grip. If you are not certain what the tire pressure should be, check the information on the inside of your door.

Belts and hoses: Extreme temperatures can shorten the life of these vital engine components, leading to cracks and peeling on the belts and hoses. A quick inspection can help ensure that you won’t be surprised by a broken belt or hose.

Filters and Fluids: As part of your regular maintenance, be sure to have your filters and fluids checked, including engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and antifreeze.

Wipers: Check your wipers for wear and cracks, and replace them if needed. Be sure that the wiper fluid reservoir is refilled.

Exterior: After months of sand and salt, it’s likely your car is well overdue for a washing. Winter’s road grime can be especially harsh on the exterior of your car, making a car wash a great idea. Besides, it will look great, too!

Under Your Vehicle: During winter vehicles are subject to rust and corrosion due to tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your vehicle. Rust is an example of corrosion. Rust is a serious problem and spreads like a rash. It can shorten the lifespan and value of any vehicle. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart. The best time to prevent rust damage to your vehicle is in Autumn: before the first snowflake falls and Spring: after the first heavy rain fall; a little vehicle maintenance will help keep the rust away.

Get Ready For Winter: Tip #1

Get Ready For Winter- Tip #1

Tip #1: Check Your Tire Pressure and Consider Snow Tires

Wet or icy roads can cause dangerous accidents in the winter, so it’s very important to make sure your tires are equipped to handle adverse weather conditions. If you choose to use regular tires on your car, check the air pressure on each tire. Deflated tires close up the tread and significantly decrease traction, increasing the likelihood of sliding on icy patches. Many gas stations have the tools available for you to check tire pressure, and it costs nothing or next to nothing to fill your tires with the right amount of air — again, the owner’s manual should list the suggested pounds per square inch (PSI). Here are some other tire tips and suggestions:

  • Some people keep salt in their cars — if your car is stuck in snow or on ice, sprinkling salt in front of your tires can offer some more traction and get things moving.
  • If you ever find yourself skidding on an icy road, don’t put on the brakes, even if your instincts tell you to do so. Instead, take your foot off of the accelerator and guide your car to safety by turning the wheel in the opposite direction you’re skidding.
  • If you live in an area that gets hit particularly hard in the wintertime, purchasing snow or winter tires and replacing regular tires can be helpful, as they offer improved traction, braking and control.

Winter Maintenance – Don’t Let Your Battery Leave You Out in the Cold

With cold weather right around the corner, Autumn is the best time to schedule a battery test.

Old Man Winter can be tough on any vehicle, but the battery, specifically, takes a beating. Your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.

Expert Advice on Winterizing Your Battery

  • Seek Professional Help—for your batteries, that is. These aren’t your typical AA batteries, so it’s important to have us check the battery and electrical system. Sometimes the naked eye cannot detect the presence of corrosion because it is hidden under the metal between the connection and the post.
  • Protect Your Battery from Mr. Freeze. The cold weather can dramatically reduce a person’s energy level and it can do the same to a battery’s available starting power. It’s a good idea to have your car’s starting and charging system tested every six months.
  • Charge It. Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. A fully charged battery will not freeze until -76°F; however, a fully discharged battery could start to freeze at 32°F.
  • Small Maintenance Chores are Necessary. Preparing your car for the winter doesn’t end with the battery itself. You need to inspect your battery cables, posts, and fasteners. Make sure your cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery.

Winterization Checklist
To maximize protection against cold-weather conditions, now’s the time to make sure you not only winterize your battery, but your vehicle too.

We recommend all vehicle owners to check the following items for a safe winter:

  • Replace worn windshield wipers every 6 months.
  • Refill washer fluid often. Winterize with a 50/50 mix of washer fluid and water.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
  • Inspect all bulbs and lights for proper operation.
  • Check condition of tires, including the spare.
  • Measure your tire air pressure regularly.
  • Change oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Examine exhaust system for leaks.
  • Flush and refill cooling system with a 50/50 mixture.
  • Check drive belts, clamps and hoses.

Everyone should carry emergency gear such as gloves, boots, tire chains, battery booster pack, cell phone, blankets, flares, flashlight and some high-energy, non-perishable snacks.

Tire Tread: Take The Penny Test

Take The Penny Test

Tires are designed with treads that provide your vehicle with traction. This traction keeps your vehicle driving along the road – even in inclement weather. Without tread, the elements would literally lift your tires off the road. When you drive through snow or a puddle, the grooves in between the tread blocks of the tires become channels that divert the water or snow away from the tires, allowing the tires to maintain traction in these slick conditions.

When the tread gets worn down, the water, snow, and other slippery substances don’t have anywhere to go except directly under your tires severely decreasing your vehicle’s traction. If your tires are nearly bald, traction will be eliminated completely. Decreased traction will negatively affect your control over the vehicle, making it unsafe for you and your passengers. Tread depth will determine whether or not you require new tires. You can easily tell if your tires’ tread is too worn by using a penny.

Take The Penny Test
Who says a penny doesn’t buy you anything? With this easy test, a penny can buy you peace and mind when it comes to your tire safety.

Place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If this is the case, your tires need to be replaced. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining. This means you probably don’t need new tires.

Why Worry About Tread Wear?
The most important reason to worry about tread wear is safety. When your tire treads are worn, your vehicle may respond poorly in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow. With good treads, your vehicle will grip the road better. Also, having insufficient tread is considered illegal in many states. And finally, worn treads can make other parts of your vehicle wear prematurely.

Potential Problem Areas

Why Worry about tread wear?

  1. Excessive wear in the center tread indicates over inflation of the tire.
  2. Excessive wear on the shoulders may signal problems such as under inflation of the tire.
  3. Uneven tread wear indicates poor wheel alignment.
  4. Excessive wear on one side of the tire signals incorrect camber angle.
  5. If the treads on the outer section become knobby, it may signal problems with the toe-in value.

Prepare Your Mobility Equipment For the Colder Weather

Cold temperatures not only slow wheelchair users down, but can also slow down their vans and accessible equipment. For example, if you use a hydraulic wheelchair lift, you may have noticed that the colder the weather, the slower the lift reacts. The cold thickens the fluid, making it move slower through hoses, valves and cylinders.

There’s not much you can do about that, but preparing other equipment for cold weather is important to help avoid accidents and breakdowns.

If you live in the New England area · call our Mobility Center today (508) 697-8324 · We’ll rust proof your wheelchair accessible vehicle, give you an oil change, tune-up, and/or semi-annual ramp/lift service and have any other accessible equipment checked before the temperature dips. If you ask we can also check your battery, antifreeze level, heater, brakes, defroster and thermostat.

Do It Yourself:

  • Purchase winter wiper blades that cut through snow and ice.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full. It reduces condensation and makes your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
  • Buy tires that have MS, M+S, M/S or M&S on them, meaning they meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association guidelines and can bite through mud and snow.
  • For better traction and control, rotate tires so the best ones are in the front.
  • Get an electric engine block heater. It warms the engine so the motor can start. It connects to normal AC power overnight or before driving. In extremely cold climates, electrical outlets are sometimes found in public or private parking lots. 
  • Cold weather is tough on accessible van batteries. Buy one with greater starting power, higher cold cranking amps and reserve capacity for energy when the engine isn’t running.
  • Use synthetic oil to make starting a cold engine easier.

Before you drive:

  • Keep rock salt on hand to melt ice off walkways for a safer wheelchair ride.
  • Clean the snow off the roof and hood so it doesn’t “avalanche” onto the windshield and block your vision.
  • Clear the head and tail lights for best visibility.
  • Scrape the ice off mirrors and windows.

················································

Here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations we’ll service and repair your wheelchair accessible vehicle and/or equipment even if you didn’t buy it from us! So bring us your mobility van no matter the year (old or new), chassis (Honda, Dodge, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, excreta..), or conversion (Side Entry, Rear Entry, VMI, Braun, Ricon, Rampvan, Elorado, Amerivan, excreta..)!!

10 Simple Ways to Get Your Conversion Van Ready for winter

Winter Driving ahead

For anyone living in a northern state, Winter means rain, sleet, slush, snow and ice. Driving along icy roads is tricky at the best of times, and there’s not always a plow available to get your road clear in time to go to work for the day. Why not make your life a little easier now, by preparing your conversion van for the coming winter? You can do many small things before the snow starts to fall to make your winter that much easier to handle.

1. Get an oil change. Specifically, get the right sort of oil change. Oil won’t freeze in the kind of temperatures we see in the north, but it will get thicker. Thicker oil does a worse job of keeping your engine lubed up, which means more wear and tear on the moving parts you definitely don’t want to replace. Dirty oil gums up even worse, so get that oil changed before the temperatures drop.

2. Take steps to ensure visibility at all times. The most important and most neglected fluid for visibility is windshield washer fluid. Topping up that tank will save you plenty of headaches when you have to scrape frost off the glass or wait for a heater to melt it. A blast with wiper fluid and a few passes of the wipers will clear it right up. It helps if you clean your windshield inside as well. Of course, you should also have a good snowbrush and ice scraper stored away in the trunk or back seat. 

3. Perk up your battery. The cold and wet conditions of a typical winter can wreak havoc on a battery. Connections will corrode and the batter may lose the ability to hold a charge. The older a battery is, the more likely you’ll run into issues along the way. Most auto shops can test your battery’s ability to hold a charge, and can tell you if you need a new one. Get it looked at before you end up stalled on the side of the freeway.

4. Check the belts and hoses in your engine. Belts and hoses are made of rubber and plastic, which tend to get brittle as they age. The addition of road salt and icy water splashing up onto them only makes the process faster. Take your conversion van in to have it services and pay special attention to the belts and hoses, so you don’t end up dropping fluid or finding a snapped belt while you drive. 

5. Monitor your tire pressure. In wet and icy conditions, traction is key to keeping your conversion van on the road. Your tires are made to function best at a certain level of inflation, which varies depending on the tire. As the temperatures get colder, the pressure of the air in your tires will drop, at about 1 PSI per ten degrees. Keeping your tires inflated properly keeps them working as best they can. 

6. Switch to snow tires, if applicable. Snow tires aren’t for everyone. If you live in the middle of the city and the roads are plowed several times a day, you probably don’t need a lot of extra traction from your tires. On the other hand, if you live in an area with plenty of hills and the plows come few and far between, winter tires might be a good option. 

7. If you have four-wheel drive in your vehicle, test it out. Make sure the system engages smoothly. Since you probably don’t use the system much during the summer, it might have an issue that you don’t notice. Better to get it tested now than to discover it doesn’t work when you need it. Don’t forget to make sure that anyone driving your vehicle knows how to turn the system on and off. For new drivers experiencing their first winter in their parents’ conversion van, this can be all new. 

8. Check your engine coolant. Most conversion vans run on something between pure antifreeze and a half and half mixture of antifreeze and water. Diluted antifreeze is perfectly fine. It would take ridiculously low temperatures to freeze even a half and half mixture, so there’s no sense in wasting half a gallon of coolant when you don’t need it. You can test the mixture of antifreeze yourself, or take it to a mechanic. Check to see if your vehicle uses a special kind of antifreeze as well. Just remember that if you replace your antifreeze yourself, you need to dispose of the old coolant properly. It’s harmful to the environment and illegal in most places to pour antifreeze down the drain. 

9. Stock up on supplies and put together an emergency kit. In the event that something breaks and you’re stranded, having an emergency kit is a lifesaver. Here’s an idea of what you should have in your kit:

  • Blanket, boots, gloves and warm clothes
  • Emergency food and water
  • A snow brush, ice scraper and a small shovel
  • A flashlight with spare batteries and a set of road flares
  • Windshield wipers and extra fluid
  • Repair items like jumper cables, a tool kit, a tire pressure gauge and a spare tire
  • A first aid kit

10. Don’t forget your training. All the tools and supplies in the world won’t help you if you don’t know what to do when you’re broken down. If you’re likely to be stranded for an extended period, light flares for the front and back of your vehicle. Run the engine and heater only for short durations to save gas. Wear your warm clothes to keep warm instead. To prevent your conversion van from freezing shut, crack the window slightly. If you have hard candies with you, you can munch on them to keep your mouth from drying out. Of course, make sure you have contact numbers and a way to call for help if you do end up stranded.