Car Care – Frugal Novice
Browsing Category

Car Care

Fall Car Care Tips

This is a sponsored post partnered with Grogan’s Town Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

A lot is written about preparing your vehicle for summer, and for winter, but it’s a great idea to do a fall checkup on your car, too. If you’re a parent, you’re probably about to put a lot more miles on your vehicle with carting kids to school and activities. Check the following items (or have them checked at your local dealership) to see if you need to make an appointment to get anything fixed or replaced, and get your car in tip-top shape for back to school.

  1. Check your battery and have it replaced if necessary. Time flies and it’s easy to forget when you last replaced your battery. We had some issues with our minivan and were shocked that our battery was over 3 years old! Thankfully replacing the battery solved our problems, but it’s good to be proactive and make sure your battery is good before you end up stalled on the side of the road somewhere. Be sure and check that the connection is clean, tight and that there’s no corrosion.
  2. Check all fluids. These include: engine oil, power steering fluid, brake and transmission fluids, antifreeze, and even your windshield wiper fluid.
  3. Check hoses and belts. You want to make sure they are not cracked or showing signs of excessive wear. This is a great time to make sure everything is secured appropriately, too.
  4. Check the brake system. Do this annually (beyond just the quick check at your vehicle inspection) and also have brakes, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change. Why not have your brakes in great condition before things start to get icy in the winter?
  5. Check the wipers. Replace worn wiper blades so you can be sure and see clearly when you’re driving in the rain.
  6. Check the tires. You want to make sure the tire pressure is at the manufacturer’s recommended amount, and that the treads aren’t too low. You also want to watch out for uneven wear (and especially for bald spots where the tread is completely worn down), which indicates that you should have your wheels realigned.

Reasons Your Check Engine Light Might Be On

This is a sponsored post partnered with Texan Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’ll fully admit that I’m not incredibly savvy when it comes to car care. I know to get my oil and filters changed on a regular basis, and I know to make sure our tires are properly inflated, but when the check engine light comes on, I’m always unsure as to why.

When in doubt, it’s always good to take your vehicle in to the dealership you bought it from – they’ll have a team of mechanics adept in handling your particular type of vehicle. And according to Consumer Reports, if your check engine light is blinking rather than steady in can indicate an emergency, so pull over right away if that’s the case. In the meantime, though, here are some things that might be causing your check engine light to come on:

Your gas cap is loose. Let’s all hope this is what our problem is! If your gas cap is loose or missing, the fuel system pressure isn’t maintained within the fuel tank, and that might cause the light to come on.

You need new spark plugs or coils. Worn plugs can cause a variety of issues including an engine misfire. A worn coil can create the same symptoms, and can cause the car to shut off unexpectedly.

Your oxygen sensor needs to be replaced. An oxygen sensor helps monitor how much fuel is burned. Over time this can get covered in oil ash, which reduces the sensors capabilities. Most cars have 2-4 sensors; your dealership can scan and tell which sensor needs to be replaced.

Tips For Buying A Used Car

This is a sponsored post partnered with Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram of Abilene. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Buying a used vehicle is a great way to get a lot of bang for your buck – you’re more likely to be able to afford vehicles with all the bells and whistles, like navigation systems, heated seats, and built-in entertainment systems. I’ve bought almost all of my vehicles used, and it’s been a great choice. For some people, buying a used vehicle can seem a little daunting, though, so here are some tips for making sure your used vehicle is a smart buy:

Buy a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle. You’ll have peace of mind knowing your vehicle has been inspected, serviced, and repaired as needed. Because of this, it’s being sold with an extended warranty, and that is really valuable. Buying certified pre-owned lets you know you haven’t bought a lemon. 

Research the vehicle. You can look up the VIN number to see if it’s been in any accidents, or if it’s been damaged by a flood or fire, for example. Small fender benders wouldn’t scare me away, but a major crash in a car’s history could spell trouble. Not only that, some damage to the car could render it undrivable legally, so its best to know before you go.

Look for a car with decent mileage. This doesn’t always mean super-low mileage, because in a used vehicle that can be very hard to find. An average of 12,000 miles per year is considered the norm, so break down the total mileage by the age of the car to figure out if the car has a low or high average. 

Get Your Car Ready for Back to School

This is a sponsored post partnered with Apple Valley Hyundai. All opinions are honest and are my own.

It’s just about a month until kids go back to school (has summer flown by for anyone else?) and it’s a great time to start thinking about how to get organized. We often focus on the home – having things ready for lunches, making it easy for the kids to pick out their clothes, and creating a space for working on homework.

One often-overlooked space for back-to-school readiness is the car. If you organize your car the right way it can make drop-offs easier and pick-ups more pleasant. Here are three tips for getting your car in A+ shape before the new school year arrives:

1. Use seat organizers. I’m sure you’ve seen these before – they hang down the back of car seats and have various-sized pockets for housing different items. This can be a great way to make sure you have all the things your kids might need. Kids forget breakfast? No problem – keep granola bars or small cereal boxes in some of the pockets! Have a four-year-old with a boo-boo that threatens to derail your morning? Have Neosporin spray and band-aids at the ready. Think about what you wish you’d had on hand this past school year and make a list to stock your car well.

2. Use shower caddies to make for neater eating. You can find these at the dollar store, and they’re an amazing way to let kids eat in the car without making a huge mess. Just place all the components of their breakfast (or dinner, if you’re out running errands – last minute school supply shopping, anyone?) and it keeps everything contained.

3. Get a cooler for your car. If you’re often carting your kids around to soccer practice a car cooler can make your life so much easier! It plugs right in to your car’s cigarette lighter and allows you to have cold drinks on hand. It’s also a great way to keep fresh fruit, carrots, or cheese sticks around for healthy snacks.

Keep Your Car Clean – Even With Kids!

This is a sponsored post partnered with Junction Auto Family. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I have three children, and we are in the car a LOT – especially during the school year. Each of my children brings items into the car as we’re out and about. They like to bring toys and books, which is all good and well until we have the equivalent of a toy store in the back of our vehicle! And that’s not even starting to address the things we accumulate while we’re out. Let’s just say it gets messy FAST.

It doesn’t always happen, but it’s a goal of mine to keep our car presentable; my standard is having it clean enough that we wouldn’t be embarrassed to offer someone a ride. Here are a few ways I’ve learned to manage the mess:

Schedule car washes. Taking the car to be washed just wasn’t on my radar, but now it’s something we do at least twice a month. When we get it washed we always follow it up with cleaning out and vacuuming the interior, so this ensures that we have an opportunity for deeper cleaning every couple of weeks. If you’re averse to spending money on a car wash, you can schedule a weekend day to do it yourself at home – or better yet, make the kids do it! It can be a fun task that they might actually enjoy, and it might help the kids think twice before they make a mess in the car since they know what all goes into keeping it clean.

Make smart car food choices. I think most parents will agree it’s pretty unrealistic to suggest a no-eating rule in the car. I have instituted this rule on occasion, and it definitely makes life harder. When we’re running late in the morning, it’s easier to let the kids eat breakfast on the drive to school. I’ve learned that we have to pick the right types of food – granola bars work well; cereal with lots of small pieces does not – and that we need to package food in the right way to help keep crumbs at bay.  When the children do bring cereal, we put it in a larger baggie, filling it only about ¼ of the way. You don’t want leftovers, because those will inevitably be spilled. I prefer to give the kids drinks in cups with lids because juice boxes often get unintentionally squeezed and make a big mess.

Always throw trash away when you get gas. You’re standing around waiting for the gas to pump anyway – why not be productive? This will help keep trash from piling up and seeming like a daunting task to tackle. You can also try to create the habit of having your kids each throw trash away when you get home each day.

Provide a basket for each child in the car.  Go to the dollar store and get each of your children a small basket. Every so often have the kids bring their basket in and purge the car of various toys and items that have made their way into the vehicle over the past week.

Keep baby wipes on hand. These are great for cleaning spills, wiping down the hard surfaces in the car, and cleaning up the kids, too. Quick wipe-ups help prevent stains from setting in and can curtail a sticky mess before it spreads.

Dodge Ram Truck as a Family Vehicle? Yep – Here’s Why

This is a sponsored post partnered with Three Rivers Chrysler Jeep Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

When you think of a family vehicle, what’s your first thought? If you’re like me, it’s a minivan (and yep, our family has one!). Or if you have a smaller family, you might think of a sedan. Did any of you think truck? Before I learned more about the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500, I wouldn’t have – but y’all, with this truck your family can have the best of both worlds… and here’s why:

Great seats. The Ram features a rear seat fold-down center console (great for if you have two kids and need cupholders, available reclining rear seats (perfect for long drives when the kids might want to nap) and rear seat ventilation.

Plenty of leg room. The Ram has a generous 45.1 inches of rear legroom. I used to think trucks would be too cramped for a family, but this proves me wrong.

Loads of charging capability. When you’ve got multiple people traveling in a vehicle, that means you’ve also typically got lots of devices going down the road with you. The center console in the front row can charge up to FIVE phones – an especially amazing feature on road trips.

• Storage, storage, and more storage. Of course, when you think of a truck you know there’s a ton of room in the bed of the truck – but that’s exposed to the elements. If you put a tarp over items and pack things in plastic bins, you can weatherproof your luggage and take advantage of all that space. BUT the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500 also has more interior storage than you’d expect. You can fold up the rear seat to access available under-seat storage, with compartments that can store up to 40 liters with the fold out feature. There are also available in-floor storage Ram Bins, which are 5.5 inches longer than in the previous model. There is also a rear flat-load floor to provide additional passenger comfort, usability and extra cargo storage. As a mom, I’m allllll about storage, so this makes me happy – and it’s just one more way this truck makes for a perfect family vehicle.

Why You Should Get Your Tires Rotated

This is a sponsored post partnered with Williams Brother Dundee. All opinions are honest and are my own.

When you own a car, there are many aspects of its care you have to consider. Some things may be more common sense to people, like getting the oil changed – but many people don’t think about having their tires rotated. This is an important part of car care (you should have it done every 5,000-7,500 miles), though, and here’s why:

  1. You want your car‘s tires to wear as evenly as possible. If you don’t rotate your tires, the front tires might wear more on the outside edges, and those front tires will wear down more quickly overall. If you have your tires rotated, the front tires will be switched to the back, allowing you to keep the wear from being largely on two of the tires.
  2. When your tires are rotated and are wearing evenly, your ride will be safer and you’ll have better handling of your vehicle. While your tires are being rotated the air pressure will also be checked.
  3. One other reason to have tires rotated regularly is that your tire warranty may require it. Be sure and check warranty details to make sure if this is something you should be doing!

When you have tires rotated, here are the things that should take place:

  • Tires should be examined for wear and tear, and treads should be looked at to see if they’re too low.
  • The tire’s date code should be checked. The last four digits indicate the tire’s age – safety experts recommend not using tires older than six years, so it’s good to know what you’re working with.
  • Tires will be shifted to different positions on the vehicle than where they were before.

Get your tires rotated regularly and keep your car in tip-top shape!

Keep Your Pets Safe in the Car

This is a sponsored post partnered with Charlie’s Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

If you’ve got pets (dogs, especially) you’ve probably driven down the road with your furry friends in tow – at least to the vet’s office, if nothing else. You may not know it, but you might have put your pet at risk if you weren’t following proper safety protocol. Here are a few tips to make sure Fido is safe and sound:

  1. Use a restraint on your pet while in the car. If you’re in a fender bender, dogs can suffer broken bones or other injuries if they’re not properly restrained. There are easy step-in harnesses you can use on your dog – no matter what its size.
  2. One problem we have with our large lab/golden retriever is that she loves to try and get right up next to us while we’re driving. If she starts nudging us with her nose, or bumping into the steering wheel, she can create an unsafe driving situation, which isn’t good for anyone. There are products called back seat barriers to keep your pets in the back where they belong. This also makes it safer for passengers if there is a car accident of some kind.
  3. Make sure your pet is getting plenty of air conditioning pointed their way so they don’t get overheated. There’s a product called the Noggle which lets you extended the A/C from the front to the back seat – it’s meant for babies and young children, but works great for our furry babies too.
  4. Make sure your windows aren’t rolled down too far. Dogs love to stick their heads out of car windows and feel the breeze on their faces, but they could fall out – in fact, one of our dogs once jumped right out of a moving vehicle – thankfully he wasn’t injured, but it totally freaked my husband out!

Make sure to keep your furry friends safe while they’re on the road with you, and then take them out for lots of fun this summer!

Get Your Car Summer-Ready

This is a sponsored post partnered with Roberts Honda. All opinions are honest and are my own.

While summer doesn’t officially hit until mid-June, it’s basically here now temperature-wise for many states. And although we talk a lot about preparing our vehicles for the winter, summer preparation tips can get overlooked all-too-easily. It’s just as important to get your car ready for the hot months ahead. Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Check your car battery. Heat can be hard on your battery, so have it in tip-top shape ahead of summer. Clean any corrosion off terminals, and make sure that the clamps are still secure. If you can’t remember when you got your battery, it’s a good sign that it might be time to have it checked. You can have this done at your local dealership or at many car-part stores, and it’s a quick and easy process.

2. Check your fluid levels. Make sure your oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and more are all at appropriate quantities.

3. Make sure your filters are clean. You’ll be using the cabin air filter a lot as you blast the AC, and you want to make sure clean air is piping into your car for your family to breathe.

4. Check your tires. When the temperature changes rapidly your tire pressure can drop, and you can end up with tires that aren’t safe to drive on. Summer can often be rainy, and you want to make sure your tires are properly inflated (and that the tread isn’t too low) so you can maneuver slick roads with ease.

5. Change your windshield wipers – and put some Rain-X on your windshields, too – to be ready in case you encounter any sudden summer storms.

Now go take care of your car a bit and make sure its “beach bod” is ready to go!

Tips for Planning a Successful Family Road Trip

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller Auto Group. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I’ll fully admit that I’m a planner, so when my family goes on road trips, I’m in my happy place getting us ready for a smooth journey. I thought I’d share some of my planning approaches that have helped us have successful trips:

  1. Plan your overnight stops ahead of time. If you’re going on a long trip that requires more than one day of driving, a hotel stay – and a break from being in the car – is inevitable (if you all want to stay happy and sane, anyway). I like to use Google Maps to plot out the estimated drive time for the whole trip, and then I break our days down into reasonable chunks of driving. I don’t like for us to drive late at night, so I keep that in mind, too. By planning which cities we’re going to stay in, I’m able to research hotels – which leads me to my next point.
  2. Research hotels! I spend a good chunk of time doing this ahead of road trips, and it is totally worth it. I look for hotels that aren’t too far off our route, but I mainly look at ratings, reviews, and amenities. If we have a little wiggle room in our schedule I like to have us stay at hotels with great pools. Free (and decent) breakfasts are another amenity I look for, because it can save us money AND time by eating down in the hotel lobby instead of having to stop somewhere once we get loaded in the car.
  3. Pack separate suitcases for hotel stops. It makes life much simpler if you just have to unload one suitcase with clothes for everyone rather than several separate bags. This also allows you to contain dirty clothes in separate containers, leaving your big suitcase uncluttered for the main part of the trip.
  4. Look up fun stops along your route. These don’t have to be afternoon-long excursions, but can be something as simple as a scenic overlook to stop and stretch at, or a fun ice cream shop the kids would enjoy. These little moments break up the monotony of being in the car, and they re-energize everyone. They can also be used as rewards for kids if you’re having a hard time with behavior in the car.

Hopefully these tips will help your road trips be smooth and a lot of fun!

Texas Road Trips

This is a sponsored post partnered with Star Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Texas is a HUGE state. It would take 10-12 hours to drive from the most Eastern point to the most Western point, and even a little longer to drive from the Southern tip to the top of the panhandle. You don’t have to drive your car to the ends of the earth Texas to have a vacation, though – here are a few great road trip options all within 2-3 hours of the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Waco: Roughly 90 minutes away from Dallas/Fort Worth, this city has gained popularity recently due to a certain show from HGTV. People are flocking to Magnolia Market, and it’s a fun stop for shopping – and now Magnolia Table is open for dining, too. The store sits alongside a plot of land that houses food trucks and benches with tables, and a big patch of faux grass for kids to run and play. The adjacent lot houses a bakery so you can satisfy your sweet tooth. You can visit the Cameron Park Zoo for a less-crowded animal-viewing experience, stop by the Dr. Pepper museum, enjoy a stroll across the suspension bridge, and even take the kids to see a real mammoth excavation site.

Rough Creek Lodge and Resort: This resort is nestled on 11,000 acres in Glen Rose, in the foothills of the picturesque Texas Hill Country. Located 90 minutes southwest of Dallas Fort Worth, Texas the lodge boasts exquisite grounds. There’s hunting, fishing, paintball, and even a spa.

The Inn at Dos Brisas: This luxury resort is located in the Hill Country. Visit the full service equestrian center for carriage tours, riding lessons, and trail riding, or play a match at their tennis court. Relax next to the outdoor heated infinity pool. The inn’s romantic restaurant is the only Forbes five-star restaurant in Texas, serving organic dishes made with ingredients from the resort garden. You can have an action-packed outdoor vacation or a quiet escape, complete with private accommodations and a patio for taking in the panoramic views.

If you feel like you can’t take a long vacation this summer, venture out for a weekend getaway to one of these locations, or the many other options available across Texas.

Make Your Car Feel New Again

This is a sponsored post partnered with Legacy Jeep Dodge Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

When you’ve had your vehicle for a while, it’s easy for the “shine” to feel like it’s faded since when you first drove it off the lot. If you take a few steps, though, you can freshen your vehicle right up and make it feel almost like new again! Here are a few suggestions to spruce up your ride.

Get it detailed. If you’ve never had this done before, you may think it’s just a glorified car wash. You’d be thinking wrong, my friend. A car detailing gets into every single nook and cranny. Your dashboard will be gleaming; your upholstery will look refreshed. This can cost a lot, but do your research and you can find good deals. There’s one place in my city that charges around $150 for detailing, but I recently discovered another that charges half that (and has a good reputation; you want to make sure you’re putting your car in good hands.

Change out your floor mats. This can be a safety issue as much as an aesthetic one, so you can kill two birds with one stone by replacing your vehicle’s floor mats. They can easily look grungy, but for drivers it can be a danger if mats have holes in them that feet could get snagged on.

Scrub your upholstery. Think about it – upholstery makes up the largest surface area for most vehicles. So even if you don’t see noticeable stains on your seats or floors, giving them a good scrub can really brighten the fabric and give it new life. You can buy cans of cleaners with a built-in scrubber, or you can use a carpet cleaner machine with an upholstery attachment to get it really clean.

Wipe down all windows inside and out. Often times our vehicles’ windows only get cleaned on the outside, but it’s just as impactful to clean the interior side of windows. Fingerprints, smudges, and more can make your car feel dingy and dated. When your car’s windows are sparkling, they’ll look brand new.