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Electric or Hybrid Car Maintenance: Worth Making the Switch?

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018
Car maintenance is less expensive for hybrid and electric cars than for a gasoline-powered car.

The biggest reason people buy a hybrid or electric car is to save money on gas. And sure, with a hybrid, the electric motor reduces the work and thus the fuel consumption of the gasoline engine — the electric motor doesn’t use any gasoline at all. But what about electric or hybrid car maintenance? Will these models cost you more than a gasoline-powered car in upkeep and repairs?

The Down-Low on Hybrids

Good news here: Not only do most hybrids not require any special car maintenance, but the hybrid system may also reduce normal wear and tear on some conventional parts of the car. When the electric motor takes over, the gas engine shuts down. In fact, the latter will end up having far fewer miles than the reading on the odometer (some hybrid manufacturers call for longer intervals between oil changes as a result).

You’ll save money on the parts that stop your car, too. Hybrids use regenerative braking that re-directs the friction involved in stopping the car to replenishing the battery. That energy would otherwise be heat on your brakes and brake pads. So brake jobs will be fewer and farther between in a hybrid. You aren’t completely off the hook though, as you will still need windshield wipers, tires, light bulbs, and cabin air filters.

Hybrid-specific parts are covered by a warranty of at least eight years and 100,000 miles. Some states, including California, have mandated hybrid warranties of ten years and 150,000 miles, which includes the battery pack. As more hybrids have taken to the road, these packs have become less expensive. And there are stories of many hybrids still on the road with their original battery packs at 200,000 miles or more.

Electric Car Perks

With no gasoline engine at all,

And, like the hybrids we mentioned above, electrics use regenerative braking, which converts the friction into energy to replenish the battery instead of letting it become heat on your brakes and brake pads. Similar to the hybrid cars, electrics will require fewer, less frequent brake jobs.

Electrics come with generous warranties, some state-mandated, that include the battery packs that power the vehicle. And, as with hybrids, there are a growing number of owners who are reporting that their battery packs are far outlasting the estimates of their lifespan.

Why Isn’t Everyone Buying One?

While the economics of an electric or hybrid car versus a gasoline car are very good in terms of maintenance, there are other things to consider. Is there an electric or hybrid version of a car that best suits your needs? In the case of hybrids, is the cost difference low enough to be offset by the savings in gasoline and maintenance? For electrics, you need to consider range. Can the car get you through a typical day without needing a recharge? How many places in your town have car charging stations? Is there a charging station at work? Are you willing to pay to have one installed at home?

If the answers to these questions are mostly “yes,” then you may have a hybrid or electric car in your garage sooner rather than later.

Check out all the electrical system products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on hybrid and electric cars, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

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Zinc Oil Additive: Why Your Classic Car Needs It

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
Unlike modern cars, classic cars need zinc oil additive to keep their engines running smoothly.

Chances are your classic car needs zinc oil additive to stay running strong. While the formulations of modern oils have changed, along with the innovations that keep the automotive industry moving forward, your older car’s specific lubrication requirements were frozen in time the day it was built. This means that not all current oils are appropriate for antique autos — or even for those built a few decades ago.

Let’s take a quick look at how zinc in your oil can impact your engine.

Flat Tappet

Before the 1980s, most engines were outfitted with a camshaft design that used “flat tappets,” which generated more friction than later, roller-cam designs. If left unprotected, this friction can generate damaging levels of heat, and also wear down a cam so much that performance and efficiency are negatively affected.

This wasn’t an issue back in the day, because oil manufacturers employed additives called ZDDP and ZDTP, which used zinc and phosphorus, respectively. Together, these heat-activated additives provided protection for hot spots on a cam where metal-on-metal friction was at its maximum. But they were gradually removed from lubricants as tech changed, which means that modern oils aren’t always as good at providing an effective barrier in certain older motors.

Modern-Day Options

Fortunately, there are several oil companies that have recognized the need for motor oils that address the concerns of owners with flat tappet camshafts in their cars. Zinc oil additive content, or ZDDP, is typically expressed in parts per million (ppm). To meet the standards required to protect an older motor, you’ll want to look for a ZDDP level of between 1,000 ppm and 1,400 ppm, with a similar rating for ZDTP phosphorus content.

As a side note: Many engine builders also recommend high levels of zinc oil additive during the break-in period for a new motor. Some crate engines and fresh builds push ZDDP to 2,000 ppm during the first 500 miles of use when the engine is most vulnerable to uneven wear.

Isn’t it worth using the oil that your engine was originally designed for? Make sure to investigate zinc oil additive in your vehicle’s lubrication options before committing to a specific brand. You’ll be grateful when your classic car keeps running smoothly.

Check out all the chemical products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on zinc oil additive, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

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Rouse Captures First Career K&N West Win at All American Speedway

Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
Rouse Captures First Career K&N West Win at All American Speedway

Cole Rouse captured his first career win in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with a victory at Bill McAnally Racing’s home track of All American Speedway on Saturday night – winning the NAPA AutoCare/Roseville Toyota 200 presented by TriCo Welding Supplies and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.

The 21-year-old from Fort Smith, Arkansas pulled away after a late-race restart and won a five-lap dash to the finish – taking the checkered flag in the Bill McAnally Racing No. 99 NAPA Belts & Hoses Toyota Camry by a margin of victory of .506 seconds.

The victory marked the eighth win by BMR at the team’s home track.

 

 

Rouse led a contingent of four BMR drivers in NAPA-branded entries in the 200-lap event on the tight, third-mile oval. Hailie Deegan, who started beside Rouse on the outside of the front row, battled back from being a lap down late in the race to finish seventh in the No. 19 Mobil 1 / NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry.

 

 

Chris Eggleston, the 2015 series champion who was making a return to BMR and the series for Saturday’s event, qualified fourth in the No. 50 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry and worked his way into the lead in the second half of the race. His night came to an abrupt end, however, when his throttle appeared to stick and he hit the Turn 3 wall on Lap 150.

 

 

Derek Kraus qualified seventh in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and was making his way to the front early on when contact from another car sidelined him for repairs through much of the race. He returned late in the event, but ended up finishing 15th.

 

Derek Kraus

Start / Finish: 7 / 15
Points Earned: 29
Points Standing / Total: 4th / 495 pts.

 

Next Race: Kern County Raceway Park, Bakersfield, Calif., October 27
How to Watch or Listen: NBCSN

 

Derek Kraus: @derek9kraus
NAPA Racing: @NAPARacing
Bill McAnally Racing: @BMR_NASCAR

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How Does a Car’s eLSD Work?

Monday, October 15th, 2018
An eLSD stands for electronic limited slip differential, and it gives your vehicle increased traction on slippery roads.

The acronym eLSD stands for electronic limited slip differential. Essentially, this system gives your vehicle increased traction. It can be incredibly useful when you’re traveling on wet or icy roads, and it can improve handling for high-performance vehicles.

Below, we’ll take a look at how this system works, and we’ll examine the benefits it provides in various driving situations.

Control Issues

If a car’s wheels were forced to spin at the same speed while making a turn, this would put an incredible amount of pressure on the axle. A car’s differential prevents this kind of stress from occurring, because it’s a gear assembly that allows each of the vehicle’s driven wheels to rotate at a different rate.

With an eLSD, the differential is upgraded with the addition of an electronic control unit. Basically, this is a computer that oversees a portion of the car’s electronic systems and helps improve the way the differential performs.

Key Benefits

An electronic limited slip differential provides the following benefits:

1. It boosts handling in high-performance vehicles.

High-performance vehicles build their reputations on the kind of handling they’re able to provide. For high-performance choices like Chevrolet’s Corvette Stingray and Camaro ZL1, an electronic limited slip differential plays a crucial role. This system boosts handling in the following ways.

  • By continuously monitoring the amount of torque sent to the car’s driven wheels, an eLSD can improve traction as a vehicle is accelerating out of a corner.
  • It can enhance steering responsiveness and turn-in.
  • At the track, an eLSD can help you improve your lap times by providing greater stability for your vehicle at high speeds.

2. It optimizes the performance of certain safety features.

Active safety features that use semi-autonomous driving technology are popular with today’s car buyers. These features include adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Without the aid provided by an electronic limited slip differential, a car’s handling would likely feel coarse and jarring when certain semi-autonomous active safety features step in to govern the vehicle. This differential helps maintain smooth, seamless handling when these features are in use.

3. It facilitates better handling on slippery roads.

Maintaining safe traction can be difficult for a driver when traveling on a road that’s slick with rain, snow or ice. An electronic limited slip differential receives input from sensors that monitor things such as steering angle, wheel speed and yaw acceleration. The differential’s sensors can quickly and efficiently determine if a vehicle in on the verge of spinning out of control. If instability is detected, the differential sends exactly the amount of torque needed to each driven wheel to stop the spin in a smooth and measured manner.

An eLSD uses the precision of computer technology to provide traction that can boost your vehicle’s performance, whether you’re driving on slippery roads or simply looking for keener handling.

Check out all the drivetrain parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on differentials, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

The post How Does a Car’s eLSD Work? appeared first on NAPA Know How Blog.

NAPA Nightvision Lamps Lead the Way to Capps’ 60th Funny Car Victory

Monday, October 15th, 2018
NAPA Nightvision Lamps Lead the Way to Capps’ 60th Funny Car Victory

After qualifying second in a special NAPA Nightvision Lamps livery, Ron Capps raced to victory at the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Sunday afternoon. The triumph was the third of the season for Capps and earned him a milestone 60th Funny Car Wally trophy. The NAPA team’s strong performance enabled Capps to pick up 121 crucial Countdown points and advance to third in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoff standings, injecting new life into his bid for a second career Funny Car world championship.

 

 

Along his way to the zMAX Dragway winner’s circle, Capps defeated Dale Creasy Jr. and three of the top-ranked 2018 Funny Car championship contenders – Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson, and J.R. Todd – in crucial matchups with major Countdown implications.

The milestone victory and 61st overall triumph which includes one Top Fuel win, came after two disappointing consecutive first-round losses, but Capps and his Rahn Tobler-led team were determined not to let their early Countdown stumbles deter their hopes for the 2018 title.

 

 

“In St. Louis we lost on a holeshot first round, and I’m sick to my stomach when that happens,” said Capps. “I go home, I don’t sleep, I’m up in the middle of the night watching frame-by-frame of when my blades open compared to the person I lost to on a holeshot, and it’s not fun. I live it; I breathe it. I just could not wait to get to the next race after St. Louis. We really had a great car there, and we really had the opportunity to make a lot of points up, and we didn’t, and I wore that. I probably aged a year that week. Then we got to Dallas, had a great car, and just got outran by John Force first round.

 

 

“Tobler and I left Dallas, shook hands, gave each other a little hug like we always do when we leave the track, and he said ‘let’s just go win the last three. If we win, they can’t,’ and I’m just so glad we came here and did what we talked about doing.”

 

 

With 321 points up for grabs in the final two events, Capps enters the next stop on the NHRA tour sitting 109 points out of first. The remaining events on the NHRA schedule are contested in Las Vegas and Pomona, California, two historically cooler-weather events, and Capps has more confidence than ever in Tobler’s cool weather tuning capabilities.

 

 

“To make over 330-mph runs two times in the middle of the day today is big for Rahn Tobler. We always talk about race day and hot, adverse conditions, and that’s where he shines, but to throw down those speeds and E.T.s in the cooler weather today when we needed it was huge.”

 

 

Capps’ Carolina Nationals victory, his third of the season, was won in a one-off NAPA Nightvision Lamps livery, and his previous event win in Seattle was also achieved in a special look – the Pennzoil Synthetics/NAPA AUTO PARTS paint scheme. At the upcoming Las Vegas event, Capps will be back behind the wheel of the Pennzoil/NAPA Dodge, and he feels the special livery will provide his team with a little extra luck going into the race weekend.

“We always do well when we bring these special paint schemes out. In Seattle, we had the Pennzoil car and we won it, and we’ll have that again at the next race in Vegas.

 

 

“We have a lot of business left to do. It’s not over. Points-and-a-half in Pomona. Anything can happen, and we’re going to go down fighting. I can’t wait to celebrate with my race team, get to the next race and finish the year strong.”

 

Start / Finish: Qualified No. 2 / Defeated J.R. Todd in the final round
Points Earned: 121
2018 NHRA Mello Yello Series Points Standing / Total: 3rd / 2,336 pts.

 

Next Race: October 26 – 28, Las Vegas, Nevada, NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: FS1; NHRA All Access

 

NAPA Racing: @NAPARacing
Ron Capps: @RonCapps28
Don Schumacher Racing: @ShoeRacing

 

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Elliott Finishes 31st after Being Collected in Last-Lap Accident at Talladega

Monday, October 15th, 2018
#9: Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro NAPA NIGHTVISION LAMPS

Chase Elliott and the NAPA Nightvision Lamps team raced inside the top ten for much of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway before a last-lap accident relegated the No. 9 to a 31st-place finish.

Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA Nightvision Lamps team took the green flag in fifth at Talladega Superspeedway. When an early caution came out on Lap 12, the NAPA team elected to visit pit road for fuel only. Elliott returned to the track and took the ensuing restart from eighth. He maintained his top-ten position through the duration of Stage 1 to take the green-checkered flag in seventh despite coasting across the line after running out of fuel coming out of Turn 4.

Due to the No. 9 team’s fuel situation, crew chief Alan Gustafson called Elliott to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel before pit road was open. Elliott was penalized for pitting before pit road was open and was forced to take the Stage 2 green flag from the rear of the field.

 

 

Elliott went to work quickly in Stage 2. By Lap 87, he was back inside the top 15. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native tried on multiple occasions to get a high line rolling, but couldn’t gain any momentum. After a quick caution on Lap 105, Elliott went three wide and eventually moved to the bottom line, settling in behind teammate Alex Bowman before ultimately finishing the segment 15th.

During the stage break, Elliott visited pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment and the NAPA Nightvision Lamps Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 lined up 21st for the ensuing restart. The No. 9 driver steadily climbed his way back inside the top ten and was up to sixth by Lap 131. Elliott continued his charge to the front and worked to keep the high line rolling, but two laps later it fizzled out, dropping Elliott to 12th.

Following a caution with under 30 laps remaining, Elliott reported he was happy with the handling of his NAPA Chevy. After a quick pit stop by the No. 9 team, Elliott lined up 11th for the restart on Lap 165. He gained some momentum and was scored sixth as a 12-car breakaway began.

 

 

Elliott remained persistent in trying to make the high line work but was once again unsuccessful as he fell to 11th. The No. 9 NAPA Chevy continued to race inside the top 15 when the final caution of the race waved at Lap 187. Elliott received minor damage from the on-track accident that brought out the caution and sent the race into overtime.

On the final lap, Elliott was involved in a multi-car accident, resulting in a 31st-place finish.

 

Start / Finish: 5 / 31
Points Earned: 10
Playoff Points Standing / Total: 8th (advancing on to Round of 8) / 3066 pts.

 

Next Race: October 21, Hollywood Casino 400, Kansas Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 2:00 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90

 

NAPA: @NAPARacing
Chase Elliott: @ChaseElliott
Hendrick Motorsports: @TeamHendrick
No. 9 Team: @Hendrick9Team

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What Type of Trailer Wiring Connector Is Right for You?

Saturday, October 13th, 2018
A close-up of a trailer hitch and trailer wiring connector

A trailer wiring connector is what links your car’s electrical system to the trailer, allowing other drivers to see your lights even with the trailer blocking the rear of your car. This is not only a safety measure; it’s also the law. Requirements vary from state to state, so double-check the laws in your area to make sure you’re in compliance. Here’s a rundown on the most common types of trailer wiring connectors and how they work.

Types of Plugs and Sockets

In your house, you plug appliances into wall sockets. With your car, you plug your trailer into a vehicle socket. The shapes of the plugs and sockets vary, with the most common types being flat, round and RV blade.

  • Flat: Flat connectors have all the pins lined up in a single row. Generally, you’ll find that flat connectors have a lower number of pins and are used for towing smaller loads, which don’t require as many functions.
  • Round and RV Blade: Both of these connectors are round with the pins arranged in a circle. On six-pin connectors and higher, there’s also one in the middle. Though these do sometimes come with smaller pin counts, they most commonly have a higher number of pins and are used for larger loads that require additional functions.

The shape of the outlet and plug are the same for round and RV blade connectors, but the shape of the pins and holes changes. Round plugs have round pins and holes; RV blade plugs have rectangular pins and holes.

Number of Pins

Let’s go back to what you have in your house. Household outlets work with two-pronged or three-pronged plugs. With trailers, think pins instead of prongs. So, imagine a four-pin trailer wiring connector as if it’s simply a household plug with four prongs. The most common trailer connectors have four, five, six or seven pins. The more pins in the connector, the greater the number of functions it can handle.

  • Four-Pin and Five-Pin: Every connector has one pin that’s a ground, so a four-pin connector controls only three things, a five-pin connector only four things and so on. It’s all about lights with a four-pin connector, which controls the turn signals, brake lights and taillights. Move up to a five-pin trailer wiring connector and you add reverse lights or electric brakes, depending on the plug.
  • Six-Pin: Once you get to a six-pin trailer wiring connector, you add a 12-volt connection, which is more about convenience than safety. Rather than controlling the lights, this sixth pin is what’s called a hot lead, and it will let you charge the battery in your trailer. It’s unnecessary if you’re towing something like a boat, but it comes in handy if you’re hauling a small camper trailer.
  • Seven-Pin: A seven-pin trailer wiring connector adds even more capacities. It includes the capabilities of the various smaller pin sizes, so you have all the lighting functions, electric brakes and the 12-volt outlet. Again, this isn’t something you need on a smaller trailer, but when you’re towing a camper or an RV, it becomes much more important.

The variety of available trailer wiring connectors ensures that you have the right features no matter what kind of load you haul. Tow safely and legally with one of these types.

Check out all the towing products available on NAPA online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about trailer wiring connectors, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

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What Happens When Your Timing Belt Breaks?

Friday, October 12th, 2018
Replace your car's timing belt before it causes big problems for the engine.

What happens when your timing belt breaks? I can answer that one firsthand. I was taking one of those flyover connector ramps that goes from one freeway to another when all of a sudden, there’s a lot of noise and no power. Twenty seconds later, I’m at a dead stop, still on that ramp, blocking traffic and wondering what just happened. Here’s what I learned.

What IS a Timing Belt, Anyway?

It’s a continuous loop of rubber with ridges cut into it. It goes around the teeth of the camshaft, which controls the valves, and the crankshaft, which connects to the pistons, and keeps them in sync with each other. In other words, it regulates the timing of the opening and closing of valves with the up-and-down motion of the pistons.

Why Does Timing Matter?

Without a belt doing its job, the valves and pistons on most engines are on a literal collision course with each other. And with your engine turning at thousands of revolutions per minute, something can go wrong in the blink of an eye.

What Happens When Valves and Pistons Collide?

The valves take the worst of it, usually bending when the piston strikes. But the damage can also affect the piston and the cylinder walls. It means catastrophic engine damage and extensive repairs. Fortunately, it can also be avoided.

How Do I Know When to Replace the Timing Belt?

Check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation about when to change your belt. Most auto mechanics suggest switching it between 60,000 and 100,000 miles (mine went at 66,000). Next, look at your odometer and see how close you are to this mark (or how much borrowed time you’ve been driving on). Finally, check under the hood. See if there’s drying, fraying or discoloration. Knowing your belt’s condition and changing it before there’s a problem can double the life of your engine.

What’s My Next Move?

If you do a lot of your own work on your car, changing a belt might be in your skill set. Look for a timing belt kit that has everything you need for the replacement. If you’d rather leave it to a pro, turn to your local NAPA AutoCare who has the parts, tools and know-how to get the job done right.

Nobody wants a complete engine rebuild (or a replacement engine) at 100,000 miles or less. Replacing your timing belt is a great way to avoid the inconvenience of disastrous engine failure.

Check out all the belts and hoses available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on replacing your timing belt, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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New Sensors and Body Repairs: What’s the Connection?

Thursday, October 11th, 2018
Car owners should understand the relationship between new sensors and body repairs in order to get the proper fixes after an accident.

Many car owners may not be aware of the connection between new sensors and body repairs. Amenities that use semi-autonomous driving technology have quickly become essential equipment for a wide swath of car buyers. This technology is used in driver-assist features such as blind spot monitoring, forward-collision mitigation systems and adaptive cruise control.

Semi-autonomous driving technology typically relies on sensors to function effectively. Below, we take a look at the role played by these sensors and the ways in which they impact body repairs.

Watchful Eyes

For semi-autonomous driving technology to do its job, the system needs to achieve a certain level of situational awareness for the vehicle. This means there needs to be technology in place that allows the car’s computer to figure out where the vehicle is located in relation to neighboring vehicles, buildings, objects and pedestrians.

Sensors handle the critical task of ascertaining the vehicle’s placement relative to objects and people that could obstruct its path. These sensors use innovations such as radar, lidar and GPS technology to give the car’s computer the information it needs to help you avoid accidents when you’re behind the wheel.

It’s estimated that some luxury vehicles are equipped with roughly 100 sensors and cameras. This equipment is typically found on the body of the vehicle, and its placement can present challenges if a collision results in the need for repairs.

Complicated Solutions

Sensors can complicate even the most basic repairs. According to information published by

I-Car states that the following sensors and related equipment need to be properly calibrated after a collision:

  • Adaptive lighting.
  • Blind-spot sensors.
  • Forward radar sensors.
  • Park-assist sensors.
  • Steering angle sensors.
  • Surround-view camera sensors.
  • Forward-facing camera sensors.

Even minor events can necessitate calibration. For example, blind-spot sensors are usually located on a car’s bumper. These sensors will need to be adjusted if the bumper is removed for any reason.

The Importance of Diagnostic Scanning

If sensors are involved, determining whether your vehicle is as good as new after a repair can be difficult for a technician.

In situations like this, diagnostic scanning is critical. Scanning allows a technician to quickly evaluate the electronic health of your vehicle after it’s been repaired. Calibration and scanning work hand-in-hand to ensure that your car’s beloved semi-autonomous features function properly after the vehicle has suffered damage.

Fortunately, diagnostic scanning is being offered by a wider range of auto repair shops. Some places handle scanning in-house, while others outsource this service to a mobile or remote technician.

Sensors provide your car’s semi-autonomous technology with the information it needs to help you travel more safely. If a collision occurs, it’s important to make sure they are given the care required to restore their capabilities.

Check out all the relays, sensors and switches available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 16,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on new sensors and body repairs, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

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WINTER PREPARATION 2018 — FORGET THE FORECAST

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018
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When considering winter preparation plans this season, many look for forecasts to get an idea of what to expect. Earlier this year, the NOAA‘s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Climate Prediction Center predicted higher-than-average precipitation across the northern States, including the northern Rocky Mountains, eastern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Interestingly, most NOAA predictions oppose those from the Farmer’s Almanac, another popular guide. Still, people in those northern climes know that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes, which is why NAPA Know How suggests forgetting the forecast and making winter preparation plans right now. Here’s how.

Snow Tires

Getting caught on a snowy road in summer tires could cost you much more than good all-season or snow tires. Make sure all-season tires have at least 6/32″ tread depth remaining. Summer tires should be replaced with all-season or snow tires, as summer tires offer less traction when temperatures drop.

Charging System

Cold temperatures put a car’s electrical system to the test. A weak battery might start a car in the summer, but winter-cold oil could be too much. Have the battery tested for SOC and SOH (state of charge and state of health), and replace it if it fails the tests. Check the charging system output and the generator drive belt condition and tension, and don’t forget to clean up power-robbing corrosion.

Air Conditioning

Forget, for a moment, that air conditioning cools the air, and remember that it also dries the air. The best way to keep your windshield fog-free is with hot dry air. Have your air-conditioning system checked for proper pressure, cycling and drive belt condition. For the outside, get a pair of winter wiper blades.

Driving Tactics

Driving on dry, sunny roads is different from driving on cold, wet roads, and icy roads can be particularly dangerous. Brush up on winter driving tactics, and maybe practice in an empty parking lot, if there’s snow on it. If it does snow, remember the single best practice is to simply slow down.

Emergency Kit

In case you’re unexpectedly caught in poor conditions, having a winter emergency kit will get you back on the road and could even save your life. Because of the cold, this goes beyond the typical first-aid kit and warning triangles. A battery booster or jumper cables might make up for a weak battery, and a snow shovel and salt can help you get unstuck. Don’t forget blankets, bottled water and trail mix.

Winter preparation is all about getting ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you and expecting the unexpected. If the NOAA says more snow for your area, but Farmer’s Almanac says less, then prudence demands preparing for the unforeseen. The truth is no one really knows what’s going to happen this winter, so prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winter preparation, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.