Car Care: Saving Fuel

With gas prices remaining stubbornly high, drivers can still reduce their operating costs. There are plenty of little things you can do to improve the fuel efficiency of the vehicle you’re driving, without spending a lot of money.
In the old days, a thorough tune-up on a regular basis could go a long way toward making an engine run better. Thanks to modern electronics, tasks like adjusting points, checking the distributor timing and adjusting the carburetor are in the past.
While modern cars may not need old-style tune-ups, your dealer’s service technicians can still help make your ride run better. The sensing systems on contemporary engines are constantly checking for problems, and when something isn’t as it should be, the “Check Engine” warning lamp will illuminate in the dashboard. When this happens, the adaptive control systems revert to default values so you can usually get to a service center, but the engine will typically use more fuel in the process. When the engine light comes on, getting the problem corrected promptly can save a lot of gas.
Cars and trucks, no matter how new or old, are still mechanical devices that require energy to move. If everything works smoothly, it takes less energy, in the form of fuel, to operate them. Even with the most sophisticated sensor and control systems, reducing friction can go a long way to increasing the time between visits to the pump.
Following the factory recommended maintenance schedule for oil changes will help ensure that that the engine doesn’t have to expend as much effort just moving its own parts. Your dealer’s service department will ensure your oil is replaced with lubricant approved by the automaker’s engineers for durability and efficiency. On engines with distributorless ignition systems, the spark plugs are typically good for 100,000 miles, but they should be checked and replaced according to the schedule to make sure the fuel you use is properly ignited.
Weight is huge factor in determining how much work the engine has to do. A lighter vehicle is easier to move. Whether you drive a subcompact or a full-size pickup, check the trunk and the bed for extra stuff that you are carrying around but don’t need. If you have sandbags for extra winter traction, golf clubs you’re not using or tools you won’t need on the road, take them out and leave them at home. The EPA estimates that every extra 100 pounds you haul around reduces fuel efficiency by about two percent.
Moving a vehicle through the air also takes a lot of energy, and the work increases exponentially as your speed increases. Consider sticking closer to the speed limit to save at the pump. Driving 70 mph on the highway instead of 80 mph will only increase a 25 mile commute by about two and a half minutes, but it could increase your mileage by up to four mpg.
Americans love to show their support for their favorite sports teams, often with flags sticking up from the top edge of the windows. While athletes certainly appreciate the fan support, those flags can cost a lot of gas.
At highway speeds, up to a third of the fuel a vehicle uses goes to overcoming air drag. Open windows and uncovered truck beds can dramatically increase the workload for the engine. If you have air conditioning, using it on hot days can actually save you gas compared to driving with the windows down on the highway. If your air conditioning isn’t working, head over to the dealer service department and get it checked out. The cost of a recharge could be less than a tank of gas.
If you aren’t carrying tall items in the back of a pickup, consider getting a tonneau to cover it up and smooth out the airflow. Dealer parts departments typically sell custom-fitted covers to fit your truck and they can even do the installation.
With the air flowing easier around your ride, and the engine running properly, it’s easy to overlook the suspension and tires. Keep a tire pressure gauge in the glove box and check the tires at least once a month. Be sure to keep them inflated to the pressure listed on the sticker on the driver’s door jamb. A tire that is just 10 psi under the recommended pressure can increase fuel consumption by three percent.
The tires also need to be rolling in the right direction. If your tires are not properly balanced or your wheels are out of alignment, it not only affects the ride and handling, the tires are also dragging and making the engine work harder. Have your dealer check and correct balance and alignment for optimal fuel economy and reduced tire wear.
If the tires are ready for replacement, talk to your service manager about new lower-rolling-resistance tires. The latest generation of tires from most manufacturers will run longer, quieter and save you gas.
Taking care of basic maintenance tasks and keeping your car up to spec will keep it running properly for many years and save you money, too.

Car Care: Brake Service – Your brakes are crucial to staying safe this summer!

As you hit the road this summer, it’s important that your vehicles are ready for safe and reliable operation. While many of the safety systems in your car or truck don’t require any regular maintenance, an exception is the brake system.
Since the very earliest motor vehicles in the late 19th century, friction brakes have been used to slow down and stop vehicles. Today, modern vehicles utilize the braking system for much more, including functions such traction and stability control, adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation systems.
A moving object such as a car has kinetic energy, and the brake system uses friction that converts that kinetic energy into heat. Every time the brakes are used they heat up, causing brake pad linings to wear down little by little.
It’s particularly important to make sure your brakes are in tip-top condition if you plan to do any towing or any driving in the mountains. A vehicle’s kinetic energy is proportional to its weight, so the extra weight of a trailer means the brakes much work much harder. Similarly, driving down mountain roads or other steep grades means the brakes have to work against gravity as well.
Automotive brakes consist of three main parts – the disc or drum braking surface, the linings and the hydraulic apply system. The linings have a friction material designed to wear off that is riveted or glued to a solid metal backing (together, the lining material and metal backing are commonly called brake “pads”). The apply system clamps these linings against the steel or iron disc or drum when the brake pedal is applied, slowing the vehicle.
Over time, the linings will eventually wear down and require replacement. Depending on the driver’s style, the brake linings will generally last anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 miles. As the linings wear, the metal surface of the discs or drums can also be worn down. The brake linings typically have a little metal clip that will rub against the brake surface when the linings wear to the point that they need to be replaced. When this happens they will squeal, providing an indicator that service is required.
Every 5,000 to 10,000 miles when the tires are being rotated, the brakes should be inspected while the wheels are off the vehicle. The brake linings should be wearing relatively evenly. If the lining material is heavily tapered, it can reduce the effectiveness of the brakes and cause extended brake pedal travel. In this case the pads should be replaced as soon as possible. If the linings have become too thin, they can become completely worn away and leave the metal backing plates rubbing directly on the rotors/drums. This, too, can cause extended stopping distances, as well as loud squealing when the brake pedal is pressed.
The surface of the linings that presses against the drum or rotor should have a relatively smooth but dull appearance. If the lining has consistently overheated it can take on a shiny, glazed look which indicates reduced friction and longer braking.
In addition to the linings, the rotors or drums should be inspected. Brakes can overheat, which can cause damage to the metal, and rotor/drum surfaces can become warped or develop hard spots from the heating and cooling. This can cause a pulsation in the brake pedal and knock back the linings so they don’t work as well. The rotor surface can also become grooved if stones or sand becomes jammed between the lining and the rotor while driving on dirt or gravel roads.
If the rotor surface is thick enough, superficial damage can removed and warped or grooved surfaces can be machined smooth. If the rotor gets too thin or
is too badly damaged, it will need to be replaced.
If the brake pedal feels mushy when pressed, but firms up when pumped a couple of times, it is a sign that there is air in the hydraulic lines. Unlike brake fluid, air is compressible and won’t transmit the force a driver applies to the pedal to the brakes at the wheels. If there is air in the brake lines, the system will need to be bled and refilled with more fluid for the brakes to work properly. Brake lines can also deteriorate over time and should be regularly inspected, especially where they may run underneath a vehicle and be exposed to road salt and other corrosives.
Modern cars and trucks depend on good brakes more than ever for performance and safety. Before you head out on a summer road trip, have your dealer’s factory-trained technicians inspect your vehicle’s braking system to make sure it is fully operational and up to whatever conditions you may encounter.

This is a Chevrolet Million Mile (plus) Story… told by Frank

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Recently, we posted a blog about a Chevy Silverado hitting a million miles. Soon after this went live we received a phone call from a gentleman named Frank. Frank had an amazing story to tell about his Chevy Silverado nearing 1,300,000 miles! We were honored to hear his story and repost it for everyone to read.

This is a Chevrolet Million Mile (plus) story… told by Frank.

“Frank, I think I found the truck for you! ” Jim Thornton told me over the phone. Nobody could have known the significance of those words uttered by Jim, in June of 1996. I was, (and still am) an independent seafood and steak distributor in need of a newer truck at the time. I had over a quarter million miles on my then current truck. Jim being retired could take time to search out a suitable truck for me. He located it at Scaffiddi Motors in Steven’s Point; Wi. The Service Manager had used it as his personal truck when I purchased it with 41,000 miles on the clock. The original owner bought it new and when he passed away – his widow traded it in. All of the maintenance records were included when I bought the truck. I got a loan for 3 years and at the end of 3 years I had way over 300,000 miles on the truck. Now, I hate debt, and here I had just made my last payment on a truck with way over 300,000 miles and I didn’t know anybody with that many miles on anything, ever!

So, I had to make it last. To that end, I developed a plan. First off I’m a consistent driver, easy on the gas and easy off of the gas. I’m easy while braking and warm up my engine thoroughly before starting out. I’m also very consistent with my preventive maintenance and always go to the same facility for my truck’s service. I believe all of these things are important to extracting all of the value out of my truck. My truck is powered by one of the Truly Legendary Engines of all time, the Small-Block Chevy engine. When it’s 350 engine was built at the Van Slyke Road Plant inFlint, Mi. (since torn down) it was assembled with great care and attention to detail. I drive fromMinn. through the U.P. ofMichigan, Northern Indiana,Illinois, as well as most ofWisconsin. I’ve towed a trailer for a good part of my truck’s operational life, and never give it a second thought that my Chevy might let me down.

When I finally realized that this truck was in for the long haul, I made sure to get lifetime replacement parts when things wore out. Things like exhaust systems, alternators, starters. Some have said that since parts have been replaced that the truck is no longer original, and therefore it’s no big deal. What IS a big deal is that my truck’s engine has never been overhauled! It has its, original bearings, rings, pistons, valves, guides, gaskets and seals and cam. It also has its original timing chain! This was confirmed by GM Engineers in July 2008, as well as June, 2011.

My truck still drives smoothly, idles smoothly and still turns heads. I have retained all of my records, receipts and logs. I use an engine additive with PTFE and an oil system cleaner as part of my regular maintenance protocol without fail. I drove 1400 miles in June 2011 to take part in a film project for General Motors celebrating 100 years of Chevrolet. I told the interviewer there was no way to fit my story into a 45 second commercial. I added, I have such confidence in my Chevy that I just spent over $ 1,100.00 on new tires, wheel bearings, bushings, brakes etc. on the front end because I plan on driving it and relying on it … 1,289, 882 miles, and counting!

Vehicle Details: 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Summer Fun

Ah, summertime – the perfect season to exercise a high-performance sports car. There’s no better way to enjoy summer in America than driving America’s world-class sports car, the Chevrolet Corvette. Whether coupe or convertible, performance is always at the heart of this machine. For 2012, Chevrolet has increased the performance abilities of the Corvette and baked further refinement into the interior, as well.
Advancements in performance and technology for the 2012 Corvette are spread across a model line that includes Corvette Coupe and Convertible, as well as Grand Sport Coupe and Grand Sport Convertible. Then there are the 505-hp Z06 and 638-hp ZR1 Corvette models, with their individually hand-built engines and stunning performance, to choose from if you’re very serious about uncompromised handling capability or looking to drive what amounts to an American supercar.
For 2012, Chevrolet has added two new exterior colors to the lineup: Carlisle Blue Metallic and Carbon Flash Metallic. Both are sure to stand out on the way to the beach or heading for the mountains. Carbon Flash metallic is available exclusively with the Chevrolet Centennial Special Edition package, which is available on all 2012 Corvette models and adds a sharp-looking black color scheme underscored by unique design elements. You’ll be able to spot Centennial Special Edition Corvettes easily by looking at the badge. On the Corvette emblem itself, the traditional fleur-de-lis has been replaced with “100” for these special edition cars, and they also have special badging on the B-pillars, wheel center caps and steering wheel. Centennial Satin black wheels with red stripe outline fill out the fenders, with red brake calipers tucked behind them.
Centennial Special Edition Corvettes also get Magnetic Selective Ride Control as standard. The console, seats and mats have exclusive Centennial embroidery and are upholstered with leather and sueded microfiber accents. The steering wheel, shifter and armrest are also covered in microfiber suede, a deluxe ,racing-inspired touch that complements the leather-wrapped instrument and door panels. Red contrast stitching ties it all together.
All Corvette models feature redesigned seats with larger bolsters to hold you in place as you exercise the high-performance tires on your favorite winding road. You’ll be piloting your Corvette with a newly-designed steering wheel that features integrated audio controls. Those audio controls give commands to the standard audio system or the new Bose Premium Audio System with nine speakers and Bose Nd next-generation bass performance. A new technology package combines Navigation Radio, Head-up Display, premium Bose audio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity into a single package.
Corvette Convertible buyers can enjoy the soundtrack provided by the 6.2-liter LS3 small block V8 (and the outstanding 26 mpg highway fuel economy it delivers) without the filtering effects of a roof. The roar of 430 hp and 424 lb/ft of torque is one of the most intoxicating summer sounds ever. The optional dual-mode exhaust system increases power to 436 hp and 428 lb/ft of torque and has a satisfying bark that turns up the volume for both Coupe and Convertible drivers. A Corvette can be your perfect summer dance partner, with your choice of a standard six-speed manual transmission – featuring launch control, to optimize your off-the-line acceleration should you find yourself at a track – or an available six-speed automatic transmission that features paddle shifters for manual control.
Even the ZR1, the fastest, most powerful car General Motors has ever produced (zero-to-60 in a blistering 3.4 seconds, top speed of 205 mph) returns 21 mpg highway, and it provides you with a sophisticated and luxurious cabin in which to enjoy your off-track travels.
With a chassis that’s laid out like a supercar’s – with a hydroformed steel backbone, aluminum cockpit structure and a rear-mounted transmission for optimal weight distribution – the 2012 Corvette is one of the finest handling automobiles ever designed. Two suspension choices are available for the Coupe and Convertible. The standard suspension tuning balances ride and handling precision for a surprising amount of comfort and accuracy. The optional Z16 Performance Package features stiffer springs and up-rated stabilizer bars, re-tuned shock absorbers, six-piston front and four-piston rear brake calipers with cross-drilled rotors, high-performance tires, a re-worked six-speed manual or performance axle-ratio for automatics, and extra cooling capacity. Grand Sport models have the Z16 Performance Package as standard equipment.
When the question is “How did you spent your summer vacation,” there is no better answer than, “Behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Corvette.”

Five Best Swimming Spots in Ohio

When soaring temperatures and sticky humidity hit Ohio during the summer months, nothing beats an afternoon dip in one these five best swimming spots.
Ride the waves
If you’re seeking an authentic beach experience, Headlands Beach State Park is the place to go. Located at 9601 Headlands Road in Mentor, Headlands Beach offers the largest natural beach in Ohio. More than one mile of beach area lines Lake Erie’s coastline. When you’re worn out from swimming, take part in a game of beach volleyball or spend the afternoon picnicking, fishing or hiking the trails located in the park. For additional information, visit or call the park office at (216) 881-8141.
Get soaked at Soak City
If adventure is more your style, take advantage of the attractions at Soak City in Sandusky. Located at Cedar Point, Soak City is a water amusement park perfect for all ages. Little ones will enjoy the water playground. Teens will gravitate toward the towering waterslides, while the lazy river may be more mom and dad’s style. More information is available by visiting
Get lost in nostalgia
Step back in time with a trip to Coney Island. Built in 1925, the Sunlite Pool offers the world’s largest, flat-surfaced recirculating pool. With more than an acre of water and numerous waterslides, the day is sure to be filled with fun in the sun. After swimming, take time to enjoy some of Coney Island’s other attractions including the Ferris wheel, amusement rides and bumper boats. Coney Island is located at 6201 Kellogg Ave. in Cincinnati. Hours vary throughout the summer. More information is available at or by calling (513) 232-8230.
Take a ride on the wild side
If you’ve ever visited central Ohio, you know your options for swimming in natural water sources is limited. A visit to Zoombezi Bay Water Park will help you beat the heat this summer. Owned and operated by the Columbus Zoo, Zoombezi Bay is an African Safari-themed water park. Numerous slides, pools and playgrounds guarantee a good time for all ages. Located at 4850 West Powell Road in Powell, the water park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. For more information, visit
Consider roughing it
Also located in central Ohio, Alum Creek State Park is known for its serene environment and 3,000-foot beach along Alum Creek Reservoir. In addition to swimming, Alum Creek is popular for camping and fishing. The state park is located at 3615 S. Old State Road in Delaware. Additional information is available at or by calling the park office at (740) 548-4631.
Don’t let humidity and heat keep you indoors this summer. Gather some friends and get outside to enjoy some of Ohio’s best swimming spots.