Back-to-School Safe Driving Tips

Already?!

Already?!

Kids are back to school on Monday, August 24—a big adjustment not only for children and parents but also for drivers on Amarillo roads. Traffic gets a little bit crazy during the school year, especially in the first few weeks as everyone gets used to buses everywhere, kids on bikes, and harried parents trying to drop their kids off before work.

When children are present, particularly before and after school, drivers must slow down and pay attention. Here are some more tips for driving safely during the back-to-school season and beyond.

Dropping Kids Off at School

Most schools have specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know the rules for your child’s school and observe them for the safety of all kids. The following rules apply to all school zones:

  • Don’t double park (it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles).
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re on foot—they are hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. Here are precautions to keep young pedestrians safe:

  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you (this could put them in the path of moving traffic).
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.

Sharing the Road with School Buses

Watch for school buses starting Monday

Watch for school buses starting Monday

If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load to unload children. Here are some other guidelines for sharing the road with school buses:

  • Never pass a bus from behind (or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road) if it is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children (stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus).
  • Be alert at all times, as children are often unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

Please follow these tips for a safe school year, and call Aardvark Automotive when you need auto repairs and maintenance!

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Father’s Day Car Care Treat

Father’s Day falls on Sunday, June 21st this year. If your dad spends a lot of time behind the wheel, maybe servicing and sprucing up his vehicle is the perfect gift! You could treat him—and his car—to new seat covers or floor mats, or if part of his vehicle’s interior is old or damaged, such as the steering wheel or dash, you could have it repaired, replaced, or recovered. He may also love a GPS navigation system, remote starter, or satellite radio.

aardvark_june2015

Our June Special

On the service side of things, you could arrange to cover the cost of oil changes and any other routine maintenance his vehicle needs. Maybe give him a fun coupon book, and he can redeem the coupons with you when he needs a maintenance service.

Or you could give the very simple, but very considerate—and always appreciated—gift of a clean car. When cleaning the car, approach the inside first and follow with the outside. Remove all trash, including what has accumulated in the trunk, vacuum the inside, and clean the windows.

People__Washing car

Get the whole family involved!

For  the outside, include the tires and wheels and the underside and fenders to eliminate any road salt or grime. Wheels and tires should be cleaned with a mitt other than the one used to wash the body. This step will avoid contaminating the vehicle’s paint with debris from the wheels and tires.

Wash the car in the shade and use a product sold specifically for cars. Wash one section at a time, thoroughly rinsing away the soap as you go. Clean the fenders and bumpers last since they will have the most dirt and grime that can contaminate the wash mitt.

Give the car a final rinse by letting water cascade down the surfaces of the vehicle. To avoid water spots, use a chamois or other product made for drying to dry the car. If you have time, you may also want to wax the car according to the manufacturer’s instructions for application. Waxing should always be done out of direct sunlight and every six months.

Once you’re done, a new air freshener and trash container are the perfect finishing touches!

Honor Earth Day with Eco-Friendly Car Care All Year Long

Did you give Mother Earth a little extra love yesterday? You can help protect the planet all year long by following a few simple strategies when it comes to driving and servicing your vehicle. Along with being good for the environment, these easy-to implement practices will help your car last longer and command a higher resale price.

Take care of your car; take care of the planet.

Take care of your car; take care of the planet.

  • Keep the engine running at peak performance. A misfiring spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30%. Replace filters and fluids as recommended in the owner’s manual.
  • Don’t ignore your “Check Engine” light. Today’s vehicles have much cleaner tailpipe emissions than they did 30 years ago, but a poorly running engine or faulty exhaust system will cause your vehicle to pollute much more than it would otherwise.
  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned. Not only will you reduce the engine’s effort and, thus, gasoline consumption, your tires will last longer too, saving you money and easing the burden at recycling centers.
  • Have your vehicle’s A/C serviced only by a technician certified to handle and recycle refrigerants. Older air conditioners contain ozone-depleting chemicals, which could be released into the atmosphere through improper service.
  • Avoid speeding and sudden accelerations. Both of these habits guzzle gas. When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Consolidate daily errands to one trip to eliminate unnecessary driving.
  • Remove excess items from your vehicle. Less weight equals better gas mileage. If you have a roof-top luggage carrier, remove it when you’re not using it to reduce air drag too.
  • Make sure your auto repair shop properly disposes of engine fluids and batteries. Improperly disposed fluids, such as antifreeze can harm pets and wildlife.

Is Your A/C A-OK?

Early spring is the perfect time to make sure your air conditioning system is working properly. Who wants to be stuck in a hot car once the temperatures rise, or worse, when you’re taking a summer road trip or vacation? Conducting a periodic under-hood inspection can help you spot A/C issues before they cause you to break a sweat—literally.

Here’s what to look for:

  1. Are A/C component mounting bolts in place and tightly secured?
  2. Are caps installed on the A/C system service ports? This keeps out dirt, and also provides a seal for refrigerant.
  3. With the engine running, does the compressor clutch engage when the A/C is switched on? If it doesn’t, this usually indicates a low (or empty) refrigerant condition, or an electrical problem. Also, listen for rapid clicking or cycling noises at the compressor when the A/C is switched on. If this is happening, it could also indicate low refrigerant or some other problems. A technician here at Aardvark can check it for you.
  4. With the engine running and the A/C switched off, listen for knocking or rumbling sounds in the vicinity of the compressor. These could indicate a failing compressor clutch, and/or loose mounting hardware.
  5. Check all belts for cracks, wear, and glazing. Have them replaced at the first sign of any of these conditions. Also, check for belts that vibrate while the engine is running and the A/C is on. This may indicate a belt that needs to be tightened, or a defective automatic belt tensioner.
  6. Examine all A/C and cooling system hoses for cuts, abrasion, weak spots, and signs of leakage. Leakage from A/C system hoses is often indicated by an accumulation of dirt and oil, particularly at connections and fittings.
  7. Make sure the condenser (in front of the radiator) is free of any obstructions, such as leaves or insects. This could reduce airflow, resulting in reduced A/C performance. You can rinse the condenser clean with a garden hose.

Even when your air conditioning system is working properly, it can still take some time for your car to cool down on a hot day, especially if it’s been sitting in the sun. Open the door for 30 seconds to let out some of the built-up heat. Start your car and turn on the A/C with the fan on high speed and the windows up, closed completely. Leaving the windows down will actually take longer to cool your car’s interior. If you need help with your A/C give us a call!

Spring cleaning: How to spruce up your car with household items

Cereal container trash can

A cereal container with a lid makes a spill-proof trash can

Our auto technicians can make your car run like new, but there’s actually quite a lot you can do to keep your car looking and smelling like new – no ASE certifications required.

Keep reading for a list of 4 extremely simple ways to spruce up your car in time for the new season using items you probably already have around the house. Best of all, each item costs $4 or less, so your budget won’t take a hit.

Ready for your inexpensive guide to one good-lookin’ car? Let us know if you have any car tips or projects that can save money in the comments below!

*As always, if you ever need actual car fixing, bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive, where we will take care of you right away! Call (806) 242-1073 to schedule an appointment today.

1. Nail polish for cracks and scratches

The next time you get a small crack in your windshield, reach for your nail polish collection. No matter how often you paint your nails, chances are you’ll always have extra nail polish in the bottle.

Move your car into the shade, and then apply clear nail polish to the crack on both sides of the glass. Pull the car into the sun to dry. This will seal the crack and prevent it from getting bigger until you can take your car to the shop.

Important: Nail polish is only a temporary solution; only a body shop can repair cracks properly.

Nail polish can also cover and protect scratches, chips, and nicks. Simply coat the imperfection with a clear nail polish to seal out moisture and prevent rust.

2. Sprinkle baking soda in your car’s ashtray to absorb odors

The baking soda will keep your car smelling fresh. Remember to replace the baking soda every 30 days.

3. Use shampoo to wash off dirt

Shampoos are formulated to clean effectively yet gently, and can do the same for your car. Rinse your car with water, then clean with a mixture of 2 teaspoons shampoo and 2 gallons water. Use a soft cloth.

4. Turn a cereal container into a trash can

Convert a plastic cereal dispenser (whatever size fits into your space) into a handy trash can by lining it with a small plastic bag and replacing the lid. The snap-cover lid prevents trash from spilling out.