Crack the Car Conundrum

060710FEATURE.jpg Crack the Car Conundrum
Simple steps to auto health

Whether you drive a car or sport an SUV, your vehicle takes you from point A to point B, so you might want to protect that investment. One local female auto expert shares five easy (and inexpensive) ways to keep your car safe and sound.

You spend a lot of money on it. You use it every day. You depend on it through thick (air) and thin (ice). So your vehicle deserves some attention — and you deserve to stay safe and have a healthy car.


Auto care isn't just about a $400 bill here and a $600 part there. In fact, some of the most important preventative steps cost nothing more than a couple minutes of your time. So Cincy Chic met with Ann Overbeck, co-owner of Overbeck Auto Services and AFE-certified auto service consultant, to find out the top ways to protect your car (and yourself).


1. Change Your Oil.


"There is nothing that you can do to a car that is going to extend its life like changing the oil," Overbeck says. But you don't have to take it to a full-service auto repair place every time. Check in with your mechanic twice a year (like going to the dentist), and feel free to head to the "quick change places" between those visits, Overbeck says.


So the big question: How often should that oil be changed? While car manuals might say every 7,000 miles, the better rule of thumb is every 3,000 miles or three months with regular oil or every 5,000 miles or five months with synthetic, she says.


This discrepancy stems from manufacturer motives. Less frequent oil changes decrease the annual expenses quoted by salesmen and lead to quicker turnover for cars, Overbeck says. So if your motives are to preserve your car for the long haul, you might want to stick with the more conservative estimate, especially because a couple $20 changes can keep you from needing a new $6,000 engine.


2. Check Your Oil.


Overbeck also recommends checking your oil level frequently. "General Motors will tell you that if an engine needs a quart of oil every 1,000 miles, that is normal," she says.


Be sure to let your car sit without running for at least five minutes before popping the hood and checking the dipstick so that all of the oil can return to its pan. Wait till the oil level goes below the "Add Oil" line and then add a quart of oil.


To work your checks into your routine, Overbeck recommends checking every time you get gas. But to let the car sit a couple minutes, go ahead and take care of starting the pump, washing the windshield and checking your tire pressure.


3. Maintain Your Tire Pressure.


A simple tire gauge costs a couple bucks, but it quickly can save you all that money back in gas alone, as having five pounds of pressure less than recommended can cost you a mile per gallon, Overbeck says. Beyond the gas savings and even the tire preservation, tire pressure affects how the car brakes. "The only thing between you and the road to stop you is the tire," Overbeck says.


Similar to checking your oil, the optimal time for checking your tire pressure is when your car has not been in use, as driving can cause the tires to heat up and expand the air inside. So before heading out to the gas station, check your tire pressure and determine how many pounds of air you need. Then, when you get to the gas station, expect your pressure to have risen with the expansion of the air and just add the number of pounds needed, Overbeck says.


4. Keep up Your Gas Level.


Just as low tire pressure can wear on your tires, a low fuel tank can wear on your fuel pump. The pump, covered by the gas in the tank, is cooled and lubricated by the liquid gas, which prevents the electrical device from sparking up an explosion.


If the tank is low on gas, though, the fuel pump can be exposed as the liquid sloshes back and forth around corners. That exposure causes the pump to get hot and dry out, wearing down the pump so that you need to replace it sooner rather than later. The replacement can cost $400 to $500 itself, and installing it is a labor intensive job.


So save yourself a pretty penny simply by filling up your gas tank more frequently. Overbeck recommends keeping at least a quarter tank at all times.


5. Take Care of Your Windshield.


"People don't really clean their windshield as well as it could be," Overbeck says. "You don't realize how much stuff actually gets on the windshield, and a dirty windshield affects your vision."


For a good scrub down, Overbeck recommends using double aught (00) steel wool with your basic window cleaner. For the inside (and don't forget the inside!), ditch the steel wool and use a regular squeegee or rag.


To keep your windshield clean, though, be sure to change your windshield wipers, as the rubber can break down from the elements. You can tack this on to your regular oil change service or even do it yourself. (I just changed mine!) Head to Wal-Mart; look in the automotive section; look up your car's make, model and year in the book provided; and buy the wiper blades to fit your car. To install the blades, lift up your wiper and pull the blade out of its hook and put the new one in the same hook.


For an extra safety step for your windshield, consider using a Rain-X windshield treatment, Overbeck says. This treatment enhances your vision by whisking away water much more effectively than an untreated windshield.


While all of these steps are important in your car's health, the most important step is to have routine checkups with your car "doctor." Routine inspections will allow your mechanic to see minor issues before they turn into major problems, Overbeck says.


For more information about your automotive health with Overbeck Auto Services, check out or call (513) 271-1570.




Photographer: Linda Palacios

Model: Ann Overbeck

Location: Overbeck Auto Services


Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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