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Welcome to Guay's Garage Help Desk. We are currently building this page to become a wealth of informative information about buying and maintaining your vehicle.

If there is something you would like to see added to this page or have a question you'd like answered, please e-mail your suggestion or question to us and we'll do our best to add it to this page and forward the information to you.

Maintenance Tips and Tricks

Worn blades are dangerous!  Because 90% of your driving decisions are based on a clear, unobstructed view of the road ahead, it's critical your wiper blades provide you with the cleanest windshield possible.

Ozone, airborne contaminants, oil, sunlight and road film/dirt all act to weaken and reduce your wiper blades' ability to keep your view of the road unobstructed.  And exposure to sunlight and ozone cause the wipers to age, even if they're not used much.

Weather also plays a critical role in your wiper blades' deterioration.  Freezing temperatures make the rubber in your blades hard and brittle, which increases their tendency to crack or tear.  Hot weather warps the rubber and prevents the blade from wiping cleanly.

Heavy use is hard on the blades too, because dust, abrasives, road grime and even bug juice wear away the cutting edge the blade needs to wipe cleanly.  Even road dirt acts like an abrasive to wear away the flat surface necessary for a good squeegee effect.

Rubber also deteriorates over time.  As the blades age, they lose much of their flexibility and are less able to wipe cleanly.  They may develop a permanent set or curvature which prevents full contact with the windshield.

A Few Important Things to Remember... for optimum wiper blade performance and driving visibility:

Tip #1:  Replace your wiper blades every 6 months.

Tip #2:  Whenever you replace your wipers, don't forget to also check your:

- Rear Wipers -
- Windshield Washer Fluid - (Reservoir) -


While most north Americans neglect their automobile, the average U.S. car life is about 10 years (or 100,000 miles). With proper maintenance, you can double and even triple your car's life . This check list tells you what to do.

A. Every two weeks:

1. Check engine oil. Add oil if needed. Use correct viscosity.
2. Check radiator coolant level. Add water or anti-freeze if necessary.
3. Check paint for deep scratches, chips, rust. Repair any damage.

B. Once a month:

4. Check air pressure in all FIVE tires. Add air if required.
5. Check battery fluid (in UNsealed batteries). Add water if necessary.
6. Check fluid in power-steering pump reservoir. Add fluid if needed.

C. Every 3 months or 3,000 miles (whichever comes first):

7. Change entire oil.
8. Change oil filter.
9. Check automatic-transmission fluid level and condition. If necessary add additional fluid.
10. Check all drive belts (fan belts) on engine. Replace any if needed.
11. Adjust drum brakes with manual adjusters.

D. Every 6 months or 6,000 miles:

12. Check carburetor. Replace or make adjustments if necessary.
13. Check pollution-control equipment. Make any adjustments if needed.
14. Replace spark plugs.
15. Check clutch free play. Adjust if required.
16. Check oil in differential and manual transmission. Add oil if needed.
17. Check brake fluid level in master cylinder reservoir. Add brake fluid if necessary.
18. Rotate the tires.
19. Have headlights aimed.
20. Check air condition sight glass (if any). Add refrigerant if required.
21. Lubricate all locks and hinges.
22. Grease all chassis fittings.
23. Wax car body.

E. Every 12 months or 12,000 miles:

24. Inspect brake linings. Replace if necessary.
25. Time for major tune-up. Replace points, plugs,
filters, plus adjustments to carburetor, ignition system
and pollution-control equipment.
26. Repack wheel bearings.
27. Replace all air filters.
28. Replace all fuel filters.
29. Flush radiator and heater core. Replace antifreeze.
30. Have front-end alignment checked and corrected if needed.
31. Replace windshield wiper blades.
32. Clean crankcase breather cap.
33. Tighten bolts on engine manifolds.
34. Have automatic transmission bands adjusted (if possible).
35. Adjust valve clearance (if required on your car).

F. Every 2 years or 24,000 miles:

36. Replace PCV (positive crankcase ventilating) valve.
37. Bleed brake system and replace brake fluid.
38. Replace automatic transmission fluid and filter.

G. Every 3 years or 30,000 miles:

39. Replace all cooling system and heater hoses.
40. Replace oil in differential and manual transmission.
41. Test ignition cables and replace if needed.

H. Every 50,000 miles:

42. Replace catalytic converter (on cars so equipped).

These automotive repair tips are designed only as a starting point. We recommend you seek the assistance of a professional auto mechanic for all automotive repair problems beyond your capabilities.
Drive to Survive - Safety Tips For Winter Driving
In these northern parts, winter is the most dangerous time of year to be on the road. Invest a little bit of time now in learning how to become a better bad weather driver. It might save your life.

1. Prepare for the worst. Is your car in good working order? Check the brakes, battery, belts, filters, lights, tires, windshield wipers and fluid, anti-freeze, and gas ... use gas line de-icer and try to keep the tank at least half filled. Get your winter maintenance done before you have to spend an all-nighter waiting for your car to be resurrected.

2. Don't start your journey ... until the snow and ice are cleared from your hood, lights, windows, roof, trunk, and license plates. If you can't see, you shouldn't be driving. And sheets of snow blowing off the hood will blind you ... or the driver behind you.

3. Can you jump? Get yourself a good set of jumper cables and learn how to use them. The cheap cables in supermarkets and even auto supply houses are too lightweight to handle the heavy load of today's cars ... especially when winter cold slices the battery's energy in half and increases the load on your engine.

4. Carry a cold weather tool kit. In addition to the personal life savers listed below, and good jumper cables, every car should have an ice scraper, a shovel, sand, salt, or cat litter for traction, a colorful flag to announce surrender to the elements, flares to warn other drivers, a motor club card, and a CB radio or cellular phone. True, there won't be much room in your trunk, or for passengers, but trust me, it'll be worth it.

5. A lamp to light the night. Don't forget to have a flashlight in the glove compartment, and remember to test the batteries regularly.

On the subject of lights, if you should get stuck, you can leave your dome light on, as well as your hazard lights, while you wait for help to arrive. Both use very little power and won't drain a battery in good working order. In fact, even a weak battery will keep those lights going for quite a while.

6. Practice. First chance you get every year, find a large, deserted icy parking lot to practice ice driving skills.

7. Take it slow. Whether you're facing rain, fog, snow, or ice, you're far less likely to have an accident if you're traveling slowly. On wet roads, drive 5-10 mph slower than usual. In snow, cut your speed in half. On ice, crawl.

While driving over bridges and through shady spots, be especially alert for ice. These areas freeze earlier and stay frozen longer than the rest of the roadbed.

Slow down before you hit curves or go down hills -- ideally by letting up on the gas and/or driving in low. You don't want to make any sudden moves on slippery roads. Gradual is the watchword -- whether you're accelerating, slowing down, or braking.

8. Make yourself visible. Truckers do it. School bus drivers do it. Some new cars give you no choice but to do it. It's time for you to do it, too. Day or night, but especially in bad weather, turning on your headlights will make your car easier to see.

9. Make THEM visible too. When they're dirty, your headlights could be giving off only 10% of their brightness. So keep yours clean. Even normal driving causes a dirt build-up that can cut your lights' output in half. Every time you squeegee the windshield, do the front and back lights, too.

Two other light warnings: 1) Use low beams in fog, heavy rain, or snow. Brights will reflect back into your eyes ... reducing visibility. 2) Don't forget to turn your lights off when you arrive at your destination, or a dead battery may greet you upon your return.

10. Maintain a "space cushion." In bad weather, you need a lot of extra space between you and the car ahead. On snow or ice, you could travel three to twelve times further than usual before your car stops. For example, under the best conditions, you'll need about 75 feet -- 5 car lengths -- to come to a complete stop if you're doing 30 mph. On a snowy road at that speed, figure on at least 15 car lengths to stop (225 feet).

11. Summertime, and the skidding is easy. You don't need winter weather to get into a skid. After a dry spell, a light drizzle brings oil to the surface, making roads slick ... and cars skid on slick surfaces.

12. Postpone panic. On icy roads, try switching to the lowest gear you have ... before you enter a curve or head down a hill. It should keep your speed in check, sans brakes. If you find yourself going into a skid, try not to panic. It won't help. Neither will slamming on the brakes, which will just increase the danger. What to do?

Forget everything you were taught about going in the direction of the skid. That was too confusing. All you have to do is gently steer the car in the direction you want to go. It's as simple as that. Honest.

If you have to slow down or stop on an icy patch, tap the brakes lightly -- unless you have antilock brakes, in which case, you should maintain a firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal -- and see tip #19.

Some day, you'll be stuck in snow, mud, or sand

13. Freeing yourself. Try moving forward very slowly (in drive, not low ... your wheels are less likely to spin). Point your front wheels straight ahead. With snow, shoveling in front and behind each wheel, as well as under the car, may help.

14. Freeing yourself, Part 2. I've recently read about putting my emergency brake on slightly to reduce wheel spinning. It seems that on some cars, this will return power to both drive wheels ... as if you had a vehicle with traction control. Might be worth a try if all else fails but don't forget to release the emergency brake once you're back on the road.

15. Freeing yourself, Part 3. Next, you can try "rocking." Here's my method: I gently press on the accelerator as I shift from low to reverse. Do it slowly, and not for long. If you get some forward or backward momentum ... great! Just keep on truckin'.

Warnings: It's dangerous to rock a car with people trying to push. And on the subject of digging and pushing, it's counter-productive to exert yourself so much that a heart attack stops your engine!

16. Yet more on freeing yourself. Try to get some traction by putting something like cat litter or sand under your drive wheels. Again, if you get going, don't stop until you're out of the muck and mire, or you may get stuck again.

No dice? There are times when your best bet is to be towed out. Although I've been known to jack up my car and put boards underneath the wheels, a tow is far easier, especially if you belong to a motor club.

17. Sometimes, it pays to get heavy. If you have rear wheel drive it's a good idea to load up some weight in the back end for the winter.

18. If you're stranded during a snowstorm, stay in your car. The conventional wisdom says you should run the engine and heater for very short periods and always "crack" the downwind window for ventilation.

A great source of heat is body movement. Move those arms and legs, take deep breaths, clap those hands ... keep active and if you're alone, awake. If you're not alone, post sentinels ... make sure someone is awake at all times.

Warning: Carbon monoxide (CO) can build up if the exhaust system has leaks, the tailpipe is clogged, or the vehicle is boxed in by snow drifts. CO is odorless, invisible, and deadly. You'd never know.

Closed or snow blocked windows can cut off your oxygen supply -- and a car buried in snow won't be seen by rescue crews. So keep your car as free of snow as possible.

19. Safety devices can kill. While it's true that antilock brake systems (ABS) save lives, improper use of them may cause as many accidents as they prevent. Because some drivers don't know how to use ABS correctly, they "pump their brakes," just as they were taught to do in cars with the old-fashioned kind of brakes. Despite the fact that ABS may set up a nerve racking vibration when held down, that's normal. They should be held down ... not pumped.

20. A few tricks. To avoid a frozen emergency brake, park on a level surface and leave the car in gear (standard) or park (automatic). If the emergency brake is frozen, try releasing it by driving a short distance in reverse.

Got a frozen door lock? Heat the key with a match or lighter. If you use that lock de-icer stuff, don't keep it in the glove compartment. Try to pick a spot you'll remember in the house or garage. (Guess why.)

21. The best tip of all. Stay home (or wherever you are). Wait for the weather and roads to clear before you hit the highway. You're unlikely to get into a car accident if you're nowhere near a car.

Nancy and I were reminded of this yet again the other day. We set out when we should have stayed put. Will we ever learn? We're trying -- this time, at least we had the sense to turn around.

22. Dial 911. If you must get somewhere important, like the hospital, call for emergency assistance. The police are trained and equipped to brave the storm as safely as possible.

23. 4 X 4's. I love 'em but look out! They won't prevent a skid on ice any better than a 2-wheel drive vehicle. Drive just as carefully in your in your 4 x 4 as you would with any other vehicle.

And finally

24. Drive sober ... or don't drive at all. You really need your wits about you when driving ... winter, spring, summer, fall ... day or night.

Tips For Choosing The Best Used Car

1. Examine the car's exterior thoroughly. Look for rust, dents and evidence that portions of the car have rusted out and been repaired with body putty.

2. Look under car for breaks in the frame and signs that frame has been welded.

3. Check for excessive rusting of frame.

4. Examine condition of muffler, tailpipe and exhaust pipe

5. Look for signs of oil or transmission fluid leakage under the car.

6. Check for signs of fluid leakage from shock absorbers.

7. Examine condition of tires, including inside surfaces.

8. Look for signs of brake fluid leaking on the inside of tires.

9. Walk around the car and check the condition of window glass.

10. Examine the condition of lenses of all lights - front, back and sides.

11. Test all lights to make certain they are functioning - headlights, taillights, flashers, backup lights, brake lights, turn signals, etc.

12. Push down on the corners of the car, front & back, to check the shock absorbers. If the car bounces up & down several times, the shocks are worn.

13. Stand back and see if the car is level. If not, the springs may be weak.

14. From a distance, look for evidence of an accident, dents, paint that doesn't match, ripples in the fenders, etc.

15. Check the spare tire. If it is cupped or worn unevenly, something may be wrong with the front end and a front tire is being used as a spare.

16. Make sure the car has a jack and that it is in good working condition.

17. Lift the hood of the car & examine the condition of the belts & hoses.

18. Check the battery to see if it is cracked.

19. Pull out the oil dipstick to see how dirty the oil is.

20. Check stickers (on doorposts or under hood) to see when the car had its last oil change & lubrication, and whether it was serviced regularly.

21. Examine the upholstery, safety belts and carpeting.

22. If the car has seat covers, look under them for wear, tears, dirt.

23. Badly worn carpeting or upholstery may be a sign of heavy vehicle usage.

24. Check the break pedal for free play.

25. Turn on all the lights one at a time and check to see they are working.

26. Take the car for a test drive over various types of roads.

27. While on the road, test the brakes for pulling.

28. Be alert for vibrations during the drive, for signs of front-end trouble.

29. If the car has manual transmission, be alert for excessive play, grabbing or rattling of the clutch.

30. Look for vibrations or unusual noises from the engine, transmission, rear end or wheels, that may be a signal of trouble.

31. Push the gearshift through its various positions and see how the car reacts.

32. Let the engine idle and be alert to noises or vibrations that could indicate a badly tuned engine or one with bad valves.

33. Be alert for any unusual odors. These could tell you that all is not well.

34. If the automatic transmission doesn't shift smoothly or is there is hesitation when it shifts, the transmission may be in need of repair work.

35. When test driving, step on the gas & look into the mirror for smoke from the exhaust. White or bluish smoke may mean an overhaul is needed.

36. Check to see how much power the car has on a hill.

37. Turn on the heater to see if it works.

38. Check out the air conditioning to see if it is working.

39. Turn on the radio.

40. Try the windshield wipers.

41. If possible, run the car through a car wash to see if it leaks.

42. If possible, before you sign on the bottom line, have your own mechanic check out the car or take it to a diagnostic center.

43. Never buy a used car at night, in the rain or when you are in a hurry