Car Games for the Kiddos to Keep You Rolling this Summer

Summer is upon us, and for many families that means more time in the car with the kids, especially if you’re planning a summer road trip. Yes, we have iPads and portable DVD players to keep children occupied during long car rides, but sometimes good old-fashioned car games are just as good at keeping kids entertained, not to mention excellent for family bonding. So, plan some quality family time in the form of old-school car games, and plan to have your vehicle inspected before any long summer road trips. Even the most rousing game of eye-spy is no match for a vehicle breakdown.

The Name Game

Start by naming an animal and ask the kids to think of another animal that starts with the same letter. Players receive a point when the other players can’t think of a name within 30 seconds. For older kids, do the same but perhaps with tougher topics, like geographical areas, song titles, or celebrities.

Eye-Spy

“Eye-spy with my little eye something… red!” This classic game is especially fun for younger children and when you’re stuck in traffic.

Spot the Car

Ask the kids to look for cars of a specific color and tally up the points when they spot them. For older children, ask them to identify vehicles according to make and/or model. For example, “SUV” with bonus points for Ford Explorer. This is a great way to help children develop automotive knowledge.

Alphabet Shout-Out

With this game, each player’s goal is to get to the end of the alphabet by naming a word they see outside that starts with each letter of the alphabet. The words may be on other vehicles, billboards, exit markers, etc. For example, “A – Acura”, “B – Best Value Inn”, and so on. Whoever gets to the end of the alphabet first wins. Often, players get stuck for miles on letters like “Q” and “Z”.

Restaurant Race

Name a restaurant chain, like McDonald’s or Cracker Barrel. For a designated amount of time, everyone’s goal is to spot signs for that restaurant. Whoever spots the restaurant the most times the fastest, wins. You can also designate half-points for calling out similar restaurants, such as Burger King instead of McDonald’s.

Map Quest

No, not that Map Quest. Bring along an actual road atlas (you should have one in your vehicle anyway in case of emergencies), and have one child identify a town, city, or landmark on the map. The other player has 60 seconds or so to locate the spot him or herself. This is an awesome (and fun!) game for developing map-reading skills.

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True or False? You must go to a dealer for service if your car is still under warranty.

New car owners often assume auto maintenance performed at an independent auto repair shop will void their vehicle warranty. But do cars under warranty require auto maintenance at the dealer? After all, many people have a local mechanic they’ve trusted for years, and who wants to upgrade their vehicle only to downgrade on customer service? The fact is you don’t have to—you can have your car serviced wherever you like without jeopardizing your new vehicle warranty. The law protects your right to choose where you want to get your car serviced.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Protects Your Right to Choose Where You Get Your Car Serviced

A federal law known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allows car owners to service their vehicles at an independent auto repair shop, and neither the dealership nor the auto manufacturer can void your warranty because you had a repair or tune-up performed at a third-party servicer. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also prohibits vehicle manufacturers from voiding a warranty because the owner used recycled, refurbished, or aftermarket parts. In most cases—not because we recommend it, but to show the intent of the law—you can do maintenance work yourself without invalidating your warranty.

However, while you’re protected by law to choose your auto service provider, you should always keep records of all servicing from an independent auto shop. If you file a warranty claim, the manufacturer may ask for proof of servicing, and your receipts show that servicing was done by a reputable provider and in accordance with manufacturer specifications. Also, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act does not apply in absolutely every instance. For example, vehicle manufacturers can nullify warranties due to some specific cosmetic changes.

Is your car still under warranty? Bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive for maintenance and repairs, maintain your warranty, and enjoy exceptional customer service!

A lot of the information you find online about auto maintenance is incorrect. Please ask us if you have questions about your vehicle’s warranty and your options for handling auto repairs and maintenance. We always give honest car care advice because one of our goals is to help customers make smart, informed decisions to get the most from their vehicles. And if your car is still under warranty, don’t fret about having to go to a dealer for service. You have options, and the right to choose what’s best for your needs.

 

 

 

 

Slow Down for Speed Bumps— Not Only for Safety, But Also to Avoid Damaging Your Car

We know, sometimes speed bumps can seem like a nuisance when you’re driving along at a reasonable pace, and there’s no apparent reason to suddenly slow down. However, failing to put on the brakes for a speed bump is not only irresponsible, it puts tremendous wear on your car. So, next time you’re tempted to zip right over a speed bump, consider the following damage you may be doing to your vehicle, and the expensive auto repairs such damage may require down the road.

Ways Speeding Over Speed Bumps Can Harm Your Vehicle

The four components/parts of your car that are most likely to be damaged by speed bumps are your shocks, steering, exhaust system, and tires. Here’s how…

  • Shocks – Your vehicle’s shocks are responsible for absorbing unevenness in the road, such as potholes and rocks but also speed bumps. However, your shocks may not be able to absorb all the impact of a sudden bump or dip at high speeds, causing your shocks to bend and shatter and leaving your car with less protection.
  • Steering – If your shocks are compromised and ineffective, your vehicle’s other components and systems become vulnerable—particularly, your steering. Once your steering is susceptible to vibrations, a leak in the power steering reservoir may develop, your steering rack mounts may be damaged, and/or your wheels may be thrown out of alignment.
  • Exhaust – Your exhaust system is located right underneath your car. When you drive faster than you should over a speed bump, your vehicle may launch off the road, and when you land, your exhaust system can strike the pavement, hard, causing serious damage.
  • Tires – When your vehicle lands with force after hitting a speed bump, the impact can cause your tire’s sidewall to contact the pavement. Because the sidewall is much thinner than the tread, your tires will wear prematurely as the result of weakening the sidewall.

Call Aardvark Automotive for Help with Shocks, Steering, Exhaust & Tires

At Aardvark Automotive, our auto repair technicians are skilled at identifying and fixing issues involving shocks, steering, exhaust, and tires—no matter how they are caused. However, we hope after reading this article, your auto repairs won’t be necessitated by driving too fast over speed bumps. Let’s keep our cars in safe and reliable condition and our neighborhoods even safer. Don’t let a speed bump get the better of you by damaging your vehicle.

Does Modern Automotive Technology Affect Driving Proficiency?

Over the last 30+ years, automotive technology has evolved by leaps and bounds. Features from antilock brakes to parking assist have made driving safer and easier. However, the numerous options, advancements, and upgrades now offered by auto manufacturers have led some to wonder if modern technology is creating less proficient drivers. In this blog, we’re going to look at how auto technology affects driving skills, especially when it comes to younger drivers.

What Studies Show About Technology & Driving Skills

A study from a few years ago found that 1.5 million drivers veered into oncoming traffic while they were looking at their GPS navigation systems. The same study revealed that drivers who regularly use GPS are also more likely to lose their sense of direction when they don’t have GPS, even when they’ve made the same trip multiple times. So, while GPS helps you get where you need to go with fewer wrong turns and less traffic, it may also lead to more accidents, and more difficulty if you find yourself without your GPS for some reason.

It’s also been found that car technology disrupts certain parts of the brain because the technology makes people work less. In other words, drivers rely on GPS instead of forming a mental map in their brains. When you listen to the voice from the navigation system, you simply follow directions instead of putting your cognitive abilities to work. Even worse, studies show that keeping your eyes on a smartphone map or infotainment screen can affect your peripheral vision and ability to react to road hazards.

Implications for Young Drivers

Many teenagers have never been in a vehicle without some level of modern automotive technology. Our advice is to teach teenagers to drive without using any of the tech features, such as parking assist and GPS. Teach your son or daughter how to rear park and parallel park without using a rearview camera, and make sure there’s a map in the vehicle—that he or she knows how to use. In addition, show your teens how to check oil levels and other simple maintenance items, such as adding air to the tires. We bet they’ll thank you in the long run.

Call Aardvark Automotive for All Your Car Care Needs—Tech or Otherwise

If you notice anything wrong with your vehicle’s gadgetry, bring your car to Aardvark Automotive. While modern automotive technology can affect driving proficiency in some ways that are negative, we believe tech does have its place so long as you don’t rely on it too much. Together, we can find the balance between making driving simpler and easier and maintaining the skills you need to be safe on the road.

Should You Drive or Tow Your Car to the Auto Repair Shop?

You’re driving along, and suddenly you detect something wrong with your vehicle—maybe the temperature gauge starts going up, or it begins to make a strange noise. Clearly, you need to get your car to a mechanic. But should you drive or have your car towed to the auto repair shop? Even if your vehicle is still operable, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should continue to drive it. Here are some tips for deciding if you need a tow.

Why get my car towed if my mechanic is local?

While your car may still get you from point A to point B after it starts showing symptoms of a problem (point B being Aardvark Automotive), continuing to drive a vehicle with an existing issue can exacerbate the damage. Avoiding a towing fee is generally not worth doing further harm to your vehicle. In fact, it could result in costlier repairs that could have been prevented if you had your car towed to the shop.

But when it comes down to it, whether to get a tow is a judgment call, and you need to rely on your familiarity with your vehicle to make the decision. Factors to consider include the extent of the symptoms, such as:

  • Smoke coming from the hood or tailpipe
  • The smell of burning oil
  • Screeching, whirring, or knocking from under the hood
  • How far the car temperature falls or increases according to the temperature gauge
  • Intermittent stalling or slow acceleration
  • Rotational noise that increases with acceleration
  • Grinding noise from the brakes when applied
  • Vehicle warning lights displaying on the dashboard

While not always, any of these symptoms could indicate a severe problem with your vehicle—one that could become worse if you continue to drive. A $75 tow could end up saving you several hundred dollars in repairs. Not to mention, it could be dangerous to continue operating your vehicle if it’s not running well. To us, the old maximum “better safe than sorry” holds true in the driving versus towing debate.

Don’t wait to take care of car problems—it’ll cost you in the long run!

Whether you decide to drive or tow your car, what’s most important is to get your car to a professional mechanic as soon as possible. At Aardvark Automotive, we specialize in high-end European cars, as well as the most common makes and models.

What, My Car Won’t Start?!

Some auto parts wear out even if you don’t drive a lot…

Maybe you’ve been there before. You haven’t driven your car for a week or so, and you go to start it, and nothing—likely a dead battery, but it could be something else as well. Unfortunately, some auto parts wear out even if your vehicle is sitting in the garage most of the time, and it’s simply not true that driving less is the key to prolonging the life of your car. For this reason, it’s important to bring your vehicle in for a tune-up now and again, even if it’s only used occasionally for running local errands.

Auto Parts Prone to Wear When You’re NOT Driving

  1. Most obvious is the battery. Eventually, batteries evaporate fluid, especially if they are not used a lot. An aging battery is also more likely to leak and suffer from corrosion. It’s smart to replace your battery every four to five years rather than wait until it dies, and your car won’t start.
  2. Next, let’s talk about the fuel pump. Your fuel pump can fail without warning, and should be inspected every 60,000 miles. Symptoms of a worn fuel pump include engine sputtering at high speeds, and jerking during acceleration from a stop. These issues can be taken care of by a trained mechanic during routine maintenance.
  3. Your vehicle’s timing belt is made from rubber. Rubber degrades over time due to temperature fluctuations, which cause constant contraction and expansion. If your timing belt breaks while you’re driving, it can cause serious damage to your engine valves.
  4. Of course, tires wear with rough use, like driving over potholes, and not keeping them inflated to the recommended PSI can cause damage. However, tires are also made from rubber (like timing belts), and are vulnerable to contraction and expansion from temperature changes, no matter how much or how rough you drive. Therefore, you should inspect your tires annually once they reach the six-year age mark.

 

Our Technicians Know When You Need to Replace a Part

When you don’t drive a vehicle frequently, it can be difficult to know when something’s not right. Before anything goes wrong with your car, schedule a tune-up at Aardvark Automotive. A vehicle inspection will identify any parts that are near the end of their lifespan, so you can get them replaced before they fail. We promise to give you honest recommendations for keeping your car in safe and reliable condition.

Summer is the season for baseball, barbecues, and breakdowns… but not if you follow our summertime car care advice!

Yay! Summer is upon us. We’re ready for baseball games, barbecues, camping, swimming, and spending lots of time with friends and family. Unfortunately, another hallmark of summer is an increased number of broken down vehicles making an appearance at our shop. Please heed our summertime car care advice and avoid being stranded with all your beach gear on the way to the lake. You can thank us later. 😉

  1. Get your oil and filter changed regularly. If you’ve been driving a lot (as we often do in summer), base your need for an oil change on the number of miles you’ve driven, not the date you last had your oil changed. A fresh oil filter and clean oil will help your car run better in the heat.
  2. Tire pressure increases in warm weather, so check your tire pressure often, but only after your car is rested to ensure an accurate reading. With correct tire pressure, you’re less likely to experience a flat, and you’ll enjoy improved gas mileage.
  3. Summer in Amarillo without air conditioning is not an option. Get your A/C and cooling system checked to make sure you don’t have any leaks or bad hoses, and you do have proper levels of refrigerant and coolant fluid.
  4. Speaking of hoses, you should have all of them inspected, and your belts too. If your belts and hoses overheat, your vehicle cannot lubricate itself properly, and a breakdown is likely.
  5. No vehicle inspection is complete without checking the braking system, as your brakes are critical for your safety, your passengers’ safety, and everyone else with whom you share the road.
  6. Change your wiper blades if you haven’t recently—you need to be able to see in the event of a summer downpour.
  7. Do you own a front window shade? If not, get one, and if so, use it. It will protect your vehicle’s interior from sun damage (think of it as auto SPF), and help keep you from boiling when you get in the car on a hot day.
  8. Now is a good time of year to change your cabin air filter to get rid of any springtime leaves and pollen.
  9. Want to know a great summertime chore for the kids—washing the car once a week. Dirt and grime make it difficult to see when the sun is glaring through your windshield, and keeping the exterior clean helps protect your paint from damage caused by insects and birds.
  10. Last—but definitely not least—drive safely. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re on a long road trip or out driving with friends. Please pay attention when you’re behind the wheel, and help ensure everyone has a safe and happy summer.

Thank you for reading, and happy summer from all of us here at Aardvark Automotive!