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A Little Auto Care Goes a Long Way

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Performing simple preventative maintenance on your vehicle will go a long way toward protecting your vehicle investment, says the non-profit Car Care Council.

Buying a new car today comes with a hefty price tag when you add up the down payment, monthly car payments and higher insurance rates. Neglecting its care can mean even higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs and lost resale value,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “By following a proactive auto care plan, the typical car should deliver at least 200,000 miles of safe, dependable, efficient and enjoyable performance.”

National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time of year to give your car some extra attention. The Car Care Council recommends following a vehicle service schedule, keeping a free copy of the council’s Car Care Guide in the glovebox and performing the most common routine maintenance procedures to keep your vehicle performing at its best.

  • Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
  • Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
  • Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
  • Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
  • Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and safety reasons, such as defrosting.
  • Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.

Be sure to fully inspect your vehicle annually, including performing a tune-up and wheel alignment,” continued White. “If you ever suspect there is a problem, it’s a good idea to address it quickly before minor repairs become more complicated, expensive repairs.”

Invest Tax Refund in Auto Care and Earn Valuable Dividends

Woman with car keyAlthough you may be thinking of ways to splurge with your tax refund, the Car Care Council recommends something more practical – invest some of that money in auto care and reap the financial benefits.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average tax refund is over $3,100. By simply allocating a portion to vehicle maintenance and service, you will realize big dividends in the form of safety and dependability. The benefits of auto care don’t stop there. Your vehicle will perform more efficiently, saving money at the pump, and its useful life will be extended, postponing the major expense of purchasing a new car.

With proper care, the typical vehicle should deliver at least 200,000 miles of safe, dependable performance. The most common routine maintenance procedures and repairs include checking the oil, filters and fluids, belts and hoses, brakes, tires and the HVAC system. The non-profit Car Care Council also recommends an annual tune-up and wheel alignment.

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Does Oil Quality Matter?

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You probably already know you should change your engine oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and it’s a job that even a green DIYer can do in about 30 minutes. It seems like such a simple job, and maybe you don’t even think twice about what parts and supplies you’re using. If you visit a mechanic for an oil change, what kind of parts and supplies may he suggest? Does oil quality matter to your engine or only to your wallet? Can’t you just use whatever’s on sale?

How Does Oil Quality Differ?

You can use any oil that meet the industry standard API class required by the manufacturer of your car, but there are better options to protect your engine and help it last even longer. Engine oil is specially formulated to lubricate, clean and protect in an extremely harsh environment. Temperature can vary from -50 °F to near 300 °F in a matter of minutes. Oil is pumped through the system at up to 60 psi, squeezing through spaces as small as 0.0005 inches — just 12.7 m or a quarter the width of a human hair — at which point the pressure skyrockets to hundreds of psi before dropping to zero and draining into the oil pan.

There are dozens of engine oil brands and each carries a range of varying oil quality. Whether it’s the cheapest conventional oil or most expensive synthetic blend, all engine oils are the product of specialized refinement. Additional processing gives each oil specific qualities — some engine oils contain up to 30 percent additives — such as higher resistance to oxidation (sludge) or improved stability in extreme temperatures. It’s only logical that more refining and processing adds to the price of each quart of oil that you put in your engine.

What Kind of Oil Should You Use?

When comparing oil quality, take note of its intended application and how you use your vehicle.

  • If your vehicle requires a synthetic oil, stick with what the manufacturer recommends.
  • If your vehicle doesn’t require synthetic oil, conventional oil will do, but practically any engine can benefit from the detergent and lubricant qualities of synthetic oil.
  • If you drive a high-performance vehicle, choose a high-performance oil.
  • If your engine is turbocharged, look for an oil rated for turbocharged engines.
  • If your vehicle is older — the average vehicle in America is over 11 years old — consider a high-mileage formulation to improve lubrication and prevent deposits.

As always, make sure you change your engine oil and oil filter regularly, depending on vehicle recommendations and how you use your vehicle. Using the right oil, you’ll keep your engine running for years to come.

The 20-Minute Tech Inspection

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Modern cars need little routine maintenance, compared with the cars of two or three decades back. However, that doesn’t mean no maintenance. For instance, a car’s radiator can be filled with “lifetime” coolant that never requires changing. But that doesn’t matter much if a radiator hose leaks and the engine destroys itself for lack of the coolant. Catch the leak early and you can prevent an inconvenient and perhaps costly breakdown.

First, peek under your car, which contains a wide assortment of fluids. All should remain in the car, not drip on the garage floor. They’re a colorful bunch—red, green, yellow, orange, brown—and if you spot one of them on the ground, note what part of the car it seems to come from and have your repair shop track down the leak and stop it. The only fluid you should see under the car is clear water—normal condensation from the car’s air conditioner after you shut it off.

Now, with the car on a level surface and the engine off, pop open the hood. Can you see the engine? Good. That’s an accomplishment, given all the covers and paraphernalia automakers put in the engine compartment these days. Find the oil dipstick. If it seems to be missing, consult your owner’s manual, because it might be. Some cars now have an electronic oil-level gauge.

Dipstick or sensor, if the level is down more than a quart, ask your mechanic why. If the oil on the dipstick is a nasty black color, it’s time for an oil change. Look up oil-change intervals in the owner’s manual.

Your vehicle also has reservoirs for windshield washer, radiator, transmission, brake, and power steering fluids; your owner’s manual will tell you where and how to check each. As with engine oil, these fluids should be relatively clean. Coolant that looks like dirty dishwater or transmission fluid that smells burned should be changed.

The manual will indicate what kind of fluids to add, if needed. Be sure to add them in the proper place. An oil company did a survey and discovered that car owners put fluids in the oddest places—motor oil in the radiator, transmission fluid in the engine, and water just about everywhere. Not good. Modern car batteries are usually sealed. But see that the battery terminals don’t have mosslike stuff growing on them and that the cables are tight. Examine any belts you find for cracks or fraying, and any hoses for cracks or odd bulges. Now switch on the engine. Does it settle into a smooth idle? Do you hear any ominous sounds? Close the hood and turn on all the lights. Walk around the car to make sure they work; you’ll need a friend to help check the back-up and brake lights.

Turn the steering wheel to one side and shut off the engine. Examine the tires. Do they have plenty of tread? Are the sidewalls cracking? Are there any nails or screws in the tread that could cause a slow leak? Inspect the front tires closely for uneven wear that could indicate an alignment problem.

With a tire gauge (it costs less than $10 at an auto parts store) check the pressures—including the spare. Correct pressures are listed in the owner’s manual, on the driver-side doorjamb, the fuel-filler door, or the glove box door. Finally, make sure the windshield wiper blades are intact and flexible. Follow this routine once a month, fix any issues you discover in your inspection, and I’ll wager that you’ll avoid trouble down the road.

 

Watch out for Road Debris

dreamstime_s_53673846.jpgBlown tires, hubcaps, ladders, landscaping tools, and even large furniture are seen on our roads every day, particularly on freeways, where a poorly secured load can go airborne if the vehicle carrying it reaches a high speed. Not only can debris damage your vehicle, it can also cause a collision as vehicles swerve to avoid it. What can you do to help prevent contact?

Slow down. Exceeding the speed limit is not only against the law, it also reduces the time you have to react to unexpected situations while behind the wheel, such as having to avoid roadway debris in your travel lane. Wet or icy roads in winter can add extra danger, since your tires have less traction.

Watch all lanes, not just the one you’re driving in, in case you need to quickly change lanes to avoid debris ahead of you. Sometimes the safest choice is to veer onto the shoulder rather than dart into another driving lane. If other vehicles have you boxed in, your only choice is to hit the brakes.

Don’t tailgate. If the vehicle in front of you swerves to avoid hitting an object, you may not have enough time to follow suit if you’re driving too close. Be cautious when following vehicles that are carrying a load such as tools, equipment, or furniture; if not properly secured, these items could fly out of a truck bed and toward your vehicle.

Sometimes there is no way to avoid hitting debris. This is particularly true if the roads are wet, if you are driving a tall vehicle with high rollover capacity, or if you’re unsure of your ability to safely maneuver around the object. If you run over debris, you should have a trusted mechanic inspect the underside of your vehicle for damage.

 

Blind Spot Detection

gallery_sorento_2016_exterior_033-kia-1280x-jpgIn the new Sorento, when blind spot detection senses another vehicle or object in your blind spot, the system will warn you with a visual signal on your side mirror.

2017 Sorento Details

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A front end that commands attention. The 2017 Sorento, commands a larger more aggressive signature tiger-nosed grille complete with a 3D pattern.

2017 KIA Sorento

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Redesigned to be sleek, strong, and adaptive to your needs, the 2017 Sorento has elegantly sculpted surfaces, more cabin space, and a wraparound dashboard for distinctive appeal. From finely crafted seating to intuitive advanced technologies, it’s the car you drive to seek out adventure.

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