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Midwest weather is a headache. Summers are long, muggy and hot. Winters are frigid, windy and full of snow. It seems like there are only a few months of mild weather in between. As summer reaches its conclusion, you might want to consider winterizing your vehicle ahead of time. Here’s what to inspect before the frigid winter hits.

Battery and charging system

Winter weather reduces battery capacity. The cold temperatures not only make it more difficult to start your engine but slow down the reactions in your battery. Stop by your local, certified repair shop and have the mechanics run a battery load test to see if it needs replacing. In addition, check the manufacture date to make sure the battery isn’t too aged. If the battery is older than three years old you should strongly consider replacing it.

Belts, hoses and any rubber parts

Double check and inspect all the rubber components within your engine. Rubber isn’t the most durable of materials, especially in regions with drastic temperature changes like the Midwest. Look for any cracks, frays and general signs of wear and tear. These materials are relatively easy to replace but can leave your car inoperable if they go out.

Tire Tread and brakes

Winter driving conditions require effective brakes and good tires. Make sure your brake pads and tire treads are not too worn as aged parts can cause accidents. Consider switching to snow tires or installing anti-lock breaks before winter arrives.

Tire Pressure

Tire pressure varies drastically with the weather and sub-optimal air pressure can affect fuel efficiency, tire grip and make winter driving difficult. Tires typically experience a 1 PSI drop for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to check your owners manual for proper tire pressure, not the tire, and do not forget to inspect the spare.

Coolant Levels, fluids and adjust oil viscosity

Keep your anti-freeze levels up to par during the winter months. Consider a 50/50 to 70/30 antifreeze/water ratio. Check your owners manual and ask a technician what coolant is best for your vehicle, situation and engine.

Professionals recommend using a thinner oil with a lower viscosity in your vehicle during the winter months especially if the temperatures get very low like they do in the Midwest. Nebraska experienced a low of -17 and Iowa saw -8 degrees during last December. Thinner, synthetic oil is your best bet for surviving winter weather.

Lights

Winter weather compromises other drivers’ vision. Make sure all of the lights on your vehicle are functioning properly to help other drivers see your signals.

Heater, AC and BOTH defrosters

If you become stranded, the heater is the only thing keeping you warm—make sure it works. Faulty defrosters compromise your vision and create unsafe driving conditions, don’t forget to inspect the front AND rear defrosters. Also, consider running your AC for 10 minutes each week to prepare it for later use, keeping it “in shape” for the summer months.

Wiper Blades and fluid

Consider purchasing winter wipers with anti-freezing rubber. Remember to remove these wipers after the winter as they’re heavier and can take a toll on the wiper motor. Also, remember to keep your wiper fluid stocked with anti-freezing wiper fluid.

Emergency kit

You should keep an emergency kit in your car at all times, but make sure to alter its contents for each season. Your winter kit should hold

    • A winter coat/extra winter gear
    • Toolkits
    • Flares
    • First Aid
    • Pack of matches
    • Flashlight & batteries
    • Ice scraper
    • Non-perishable food & water
    • Jumper cables (you should always keep these)
    • Bag of sand & a shovel
    • Cell phone & a charged, portable charging brick
    • Extra antifreeze

Gasoline

Keep gas levels above half a tank. A half-full gas tank will not only prevent freeze-ups, but if you do get stranded you’ll still be able to use the heater to stay warm. Plus, keeping the gas tank half-full might even improve your fuel efficiency.

Keep up with regular maintenance

While it’s important to keep up with regular car inspections throughout the lifespan of your car, it’s especially important in the winter. Constantly check to ensure all fluids are at least half full to avoid freezing and be sure to monitor every area listed above. You never know what damage is done and avoiding winter breakdowns can be as easy as inspecting your vehicle for 5 minutes each week.

Service your vehicle

As you can tell, a lot can go wrong in the winter months. Stop by Shadow Lake Collision and Repair to get a second set of certified, professional eyes on your vehicle.

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Most gas stations offer three choices to customers: regular, premium and diesel. While you know diesel is not the right fuel for most cars, you might wonder if pay a dime or two more per gallon for premium grade gasoline is worth it. While most cars can operate with both regular and premium grade gasoline, not every car will benefit from premium grade. Gas prices always increase in the summer due to demand caused by travel. Knowing the difference between regular and premium gas is useful information, as you can save a few bucks at the pump using regular, or your car may actually need premium gas for performance purposes.

So what is premium grade gas?

The differences between the gasoline types really come down to their octane ratings. It costs more to make gasoline with higher octane ratings, which is why premium comes with a slightly higher price. You probably do not care so much about the chemistry and make-up of RON, so we will stick to how it affects your car.

For the most part, gasoline with higher octane levels is designed for high-performance engines or vehicles in need of a more efficient pull, such as turbo, supercharged, or non-gasoline pick-ups meant for hauling. This is why two of the major benefits or premium grade gasoline is that it improves engine performance, better pulling at lower revolutions and smoother and quieter rides. Premium fuel burns slower than regular, making it optimal for high-performance engines. The slower burning fuel increases torque and pulling power due to its more efficient combustion, and also leads to a slight, but mostly unnoticeable, increase in fuel efficiency.

Another benefit to premium grade fuel is it helps reduce engine knocking. Engine knocking occurs when unused fuel in the engine combusts early, which could lead to damages on internal materials. High-performance vehicles are more susceptible to engine combustion than the average sedan.

Certain engines are built to run on premium and high octane fuels. If your car’s performance seems underwhelming, check the operators manual for information on which fuel your car requires to run efficiently.

If you are an owner of the average sedan and still curious on how premium grade can help your vehicle, there are a few benefits. To start, premium grade fuel comes with additives that help keep your engine clean. In addition, it is actually recommended that vehicles with high miles should use premium grade fuel to milk additional miles out of the engine. But even if your vehicle has low miles, premium fuel coupled with synthetic oil can have a lasting and noticeable impact on your vehicle’s longevity.

Consumer Reports recently put these different types of gasoline to the test by using quality sedans—2015 Acura TLX four-cylinder and a 2016 Nissan Maxima V6—and monitoring performance. At the conclusion of the test, Consumer Reports found that vehicles with premium-grade recommendations in the owners manual can operate the same with regular-grade. But cars with premium-grade requirements must absolutely use premium-grade gasoline, no ifs, ands or buts. That being said, if you currently use premium gasoline, but notice performance issues and knocking when switching to regular fuel, then switch back to premium permanently.

To wrap it all up, premium grade fuel is mostly intended for high-performance vehicles, but any non-diesel vehicle can use and even benefit from it. If you only use regular-grade gasoline, it might be a good idea to try premium-grade at least once to look for any noticeable performance changes.

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When people think of a vehicle’s performance, they think of their engine. But tires are often the most overlooked part of a vehicle’s performance. They’re your vehicle’s only point of contact to the road (or at least they should be). They control tread, fuel economy, acceleration and stoppage, and a list of other things.

From a teen’s first car to the family minivan, choosing the right tire for your vehicle’s situation plays a vital role in vehicle performance. Listed below are the pros and cons of common tire types.

Snow Tires

Studded: If you haven’t seen these tires, you’ve probably heard them without knowing it. These tires are equipped with metal or rubber studs to improve grip. Check with your local guidelines before purchasing, as these tires are regulated because they can damage roads. Here are the laws in the four states nearest to Shadow Lake:

  • Nebraska & Iowa: Permitted November 1 through April 1
  • Kansas: Permitted November 1 through April 15
  • Missouri: November 2 through March 31

They may come in metal or rubber studs, but metal studs might be overkill. In fact, Alaska only allows rubber studs throughout the state and they experience significantly more snowfall than the lower 49 states.

Studless: These winter tires are equipped with small cuts in the rubber called sipes. The increased amount of edges within the tread grab and grip, hugging the road during unfavorable weather conditions. In addition, the deep grooves disperse precipitation and deflect it away from the sipes, increasing traction.

Chains: Tire chains are a popular option because they’re affordable. Chains are relatively easy to install and can be simply placed over all-purpose tires. Certain chains must be wrapped around for installation, other can be simply driven over. Chains offer the best traction in snow but can be annoying to put on, especially when it’s cold outside. One major tip is to never go over 30 mph with snow chains. Those speeds practically guarantee the chains will fall off. If you commute through town, chains are okay but stick to winter tires if you exceed 30 mph during your drive.

Pros: Winter tires are made for gripping the ground while on snow or ice, not open roads. These tires will help you slow down and accelerate on uncleared or under-cleared roads.

Cons: Since these tires are built for grip, they make your vehicle harder to control on open roads compared to all-season tires. It’s important to note that it’s not a significant loss of control; you’re only commuting around town, not playing real-world Mario Cart.

If your region experiences snow for extended periods of time, as the Midwest does, snow tires are a good purchase.

Summer Tires

Built for speed and agility, summer tires are mostly utilized in high-performance vehicles. The tread has fewer grooves and maximizes rubber contact with the road. Since these treads are built for performance and less for weather, you do not need them for your minivan. Owners of performance vehicles often avoid bad weather. Since it frequently rains in the summer, all-season tires are the better option for your commuter vehicle.

All-season tires

Pros: All season tires are built for the average commuter. They perform well in all-season conditions, are durable, provide stable handling in wet and dry conditions, and require less maintenance. In addition, these tires are cheaper than snow tires and will save you money since you will not have to purchase multiple sets of tires.

Cons: Since these tires are more balanced, they do not perform well during heavy snow, ice or extreme weather conditions. The shallowness of the grooves makes handling anything past light snow a challenge.

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One of the lesser-talked-about benefits of college is that students learn to become independent. College acts sort of as a minor league system where students in their late-teens and early-twenties get the chance to discover themselves and learn independent life skills before they become a full-fledged, tax-paying citizen.

Understanding basic car maintenance is a great skill to have in the adult world and especially for college students. Since your child will be away from you, surrounded by similar aged kids, teaching them basic car maintenance can help save them time and money. Since they’re mostly surrounded by similarly aged friends who might not know car maintenance, they could become a great asset to for their peers as well. Follow this checklist for what your newly enrolled college student should know before their big move-in day.

Check, change and refill all essential fluids

Consult with your owners manual to learn how to check some of the easier fluids on your own. College gets busy and a student could feel overwhelmed at first and forget about the vehicle. Consider hitting the reset button and refueling these liquids before the school year so they do not forget to do so while being wrapped up in the significant life changes they will experience in the upcoming months.

Test & Clean Battery

Inspect all 5 tires

No, that was not a typo. Check all 5 tires including the spare. A flat tire is already a headache, but that headache turns into a migraine you have a faulty spare. Checking the spare is any easy way to avoid getting stranded.

Monitoring tire pressure is essential for not only fuels efficiency, but for safety and preventing blowout (speaking of blowouts, check the spare tire, again). While your tires will state a recommended PSI, your owners manual lists the correct PSI for the vehicle—follow the owners manual.

Show your newly collegiate student how to look for damaged, low tread and other elements to the tires that may could lead to problems. Worn tires can be a serious safety rick.

Take them on a car-care crash course

  • Changing a flat

College is a whirlwind of experiences—a series of random, storyful events. Don’t let “being stranded because I didn’t know how to change a tire” become one of those stories. Everyone blows a tire at some point in their life, so changing a tire is a necessary skill. Knowing this skill may actually come in handy when a friend needs a tire changed as well.

  • Checking oil

Oil is an essential lubricant to a cars engine. While it’s not necessary to your young student them how change the oil (many newer models need a professional change anyway) checking the oil is simple and can be done in minutes.

  • Jumpstarting the battery

First, buy your student a pair of jumper cables to keep in their car at all times. It will come in very handy. During my first few years in college, I ALWAYS forgot to turn my lights off and probably needed a jump once a month. Luckily, I knew how to jump my car, mostly from trial and error, but this is a great skill to learn.

  • Check the tire pressure and how to refill

An under-inflated tire can cause problems. An under-inflated tire lowers a vehicles fuel efficiency and can lead to a complete blowout (good thing you taught them how to change a tire). Go over the necessary stems to monitoring air levels and make sure to check the car manual, not the tire, for the accurate air pressure levels.

Understand the importance of washing

Your young driver might not understand the importance of washing their car. While it might seem tedious, washing a vehicle is vital to it’s maintenance. To start, excess dirt and dust acts as sandpaper, slowing wearing down the paint layer by layer. This is only magnified when mixed with rain or pollutants. Bird and tree sap also accelerates the paints aging process. When the paint is finally worn away, the cars body biomes exposed to the weather, leading to rust and other damage to the body.

It’s a good idea to get their vehicle professionally inspected before sending them off to school. Bring your vehicle into Shadow Lake Collision and Repair to make sure the car is in good shape. College is a time for growing and learning, take some weight of their shoulders so they can focus on this transition, not vehicle maintenance.

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It’s one thing to have a beautiful leather interior. It’s another thing to keep it beautiful. Check out some of these handy tips to help you maintain your leather interiors to keep them in pristine condition

Use a Sunshade

This is a go-to low-cost option for when you park in the open. Sun shades are simple to use and the ever increasingly smaller shades are easier to store out of the way. Placing them in your windshield takes a few seconds but can cool the inner temperatures in your car and reduce the amount of direct sunlight on your leather seats. Plus, your car won’t be unbearably hot when you get back in it.

Park in the shade when you can

Even better than a sunshade, simply parking in the shade works wonders. Now, obviously parking in the shade is not always an option so keeping a sun shade on hand helps, too, but parking in the shade prevents extra wear and tear related to direct sunlight on your vehicle,

Crack open a window

Your car works like an oven when it’s completely sealed, heat builds up due to lack of air circulation, and pretty much bakes and cracks your leather seats like a pan of chocolate chip cookies. Cracking a window or two—or all of them—increases air circulation and reduces the temperature of your vehicle’s interior. If possible, park in the shade, use a sunshade, and crack a window to allow your leather seats to breathe.

Clean Your Leather Seats Regularly

Cleaning is essential to maintaining everything, especially leather seats. Here are the steps to take while cleaning your leather seats.

  1. Vacuum all of the loose dirt and dust in your car, especially on the seats. Make sure to use a vacuum attachment with soft bristles to avoid scratching your seats.
  2. Wipe down the leather seats with a damp washcloth or wipe. This will remove the rest of the dirt and dust that the vacuum failed to pick up. This is a very important step as leather treatments will be less effective and can even damage the leather if the debris scratches or corrodes the material. In addition, make sure to wipe the seat dry after removing the remaining dirt and dust. Water dilutes liquids, which will make the leather conditions less effective.
  3. Apply a leather upholstery to deeply clean the seats. This is comparable to the soap you use to wash your vehicles, except leather upholstery applies to its own material and is gentle on the leather, whereas soap may damage it. Spray the leather upholstery on the seats and wash it down with a bristled brush, reaching into any hard to reach problem areas to clean the seat from every angle. After this step, wipe the leather dry.
  4. Apply a leather conditioner to the dry material. If leather upholstery is your soap, leather conditioner is the wax, apply it generously but evenly. Conditioner protects your leather, shielding it from cracking and UV rays, all while keeping the material moist. Allow your seats four to six hours for absorption and wipe the seats dry after.

Experts recommend cleaning dark-colored leather interior three to four times per year, while light-colored may need to be cleaned up to once a month.

Install Seat Covers

Seat covers protect any material well and can give car-owners the chance to add some personal flair to their interior, such as your favorite sports team. The obvious downside is that you cannot show off your leather seats. Also, you must still clean your leather seats in the same manner listed above for the best preservation as seat covers do not shield the material from heat.

Tint your windows

Check local ordinances beforehand, or ask the experts at Shadow Lake what your state’s tint limitations are. Window tint acts as sunglasses, limiting the amount of UV rays entering the car while adding a customized flair to it.

Aging, wear and tear will inevitably lead to leather break down, but you can prevent this by following these simple, easy steps to protect your leather interior for years.

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You’re stopped at a red light. As you patiently wait for the light to turn green, you hear squealing tires followed by an abrupt jolt. After realizing a negligent driver rear-ended your vehicle, you get out to access the damage and exchange information. But there’s a problem, the other driver is uninsured.

So what are your options?

An accident involving an uninsured or underinsured driver is always a headache, but you can still numb that headache with the proper insurance coverage. It’s obvious things go smoother when every party is insured but that isn’t always the case. Fortunately, there are multiple options you can take to ease the burdens of working with uninsured drivers.

Nebraska law requires drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. That said, the law doesn’t specify the minimum and an expensive accident caused by an uninsured driver can still hurt your wallet. Also, the road is usually occupied by drivers from different regions and states—such a Virginia and New Hampshire, who do not require car insurance—with different insurance requirements.

At the scene

If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, the first step is to make sure all parties involved are okay and alert authorities. Once authorities are on their way, only move your vehicle if it endangers traffic, you want the accident to remain as authentic as possible for police to access the situation. You can keep your vehicle as is if the accident is on a multi-lane inner-city road or residential street, but it’s especially important to move your vehicle to the shoulder in high-speed areas such as highways or interstates.

The next step is to exchange information with the involved vehicle(s). You may discover that the driver is uninsured at this point, but will likely only find out if they’re underinsured when you file a claim. Never accept cash at the scene of the accident. This might look appealing if you’re in a hurry, but expensive damages may lie beneath the body of your car. If the at-fault party refuses to file a claim or only accept a money exchange and leaves—or commits a hit and run—take down as much information as possible before they leave. Writing down or remembering the license plate number is your best option to identify the vehicle and its driver if you wish to receive full compensation.

After the accident

Premiums should stay the same if you were not the at-fault driver as it’s illegal for many states to raise premiums in that scenario. Your next steps will be to fully file a claim with your insurance company. We recommend to not do this alone as uninsured motorist claims are complicated and filled with legal jargon. Your insurance company will cover any damages thanks to your uninsured motorist policy. If you do not have uninsured motorist insurance, you will likely have to sue in order to receive full compensation for damages caused to your car or personal injuries. If you choose not to sue, then you will definitely pay out of pocket for these damages, and that could be expensive.

Head to Shadow Lake Collision and repair

Our expertise is stated in our name. In addition, we give free estimates to your damaged vehicle. Consider stopping by for a second, expert opinion so your insurance company fully understand the damages and costs to repair them. No matter what the damages are to your vehicle, our quality, state of the art equipment can get your car back on the road. Give us a call, stop on by or schedule an appointment online today.

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If you’ve ever planned a lengthy vacation with the family, you know the stress that comes with it. From double checking your own luggage, quadruple checking your kids’ luggage to making sure you packed all the necessary documents. But don’t forget about the most important checklist: your means of transportation.

You can do all the preparation in the world, but your entire vacation can be foiled with a vehicle breakdown. Even if you drive it every day, vacations have a different impact on your vehicle than your daily commute. Here’s a list of everything you should check before your vacation.

GPS System

Smartphones usually come equipped with their own GPS system. If not, you can definitely find one on its app store. But these apps run off your phone, driving up data usage and might not function in unfamiliar regions where your service provider lacks service. Unless you’re a map guru, consider purchasing a GPS navigation system— such as a TomTom or Garmin—so you don’t end up stranded without phone reception or a navigation system.

Engine Oil, Lubricants & other coolants

Check your current oil levels and when you’re next oil change is due. Most oil changes are done after a specific amount of miles. There is a good chance you could meet your oil change milestone while you’re traveling. Consider taking the necessary tools needed to make a quick pitstop and complete the oil change along the way, or take your vehicle in beforehand and get the oil changed a little earlier than needed to avoid problems.

Also, consider the other lubricants under the hood that keeps your engine properly functioning. These tend to last significantly longer than motor oil, so if your car is on the newer side, you’re in the clear. But if your car is approaching that 100,000-mile mark, or has surpassed it without a check-up, definitely measure these levels before your trip.

Batteries

Summer heat can cause corrosion to accumulate on your battery. In addition, the vibrations during everyday trips and your upcoming road trip could help to cause multiple problems along the way. Use a wire brush to remove built-up corrosion and make sure the battery is secured to its mounts.

Tires

Check to make sure your tires are not too worn for the trip ahead and have the proper air pressure. Worn tires can blowout at any time and low-pressure can affect your fuel efficiency, increased heat while traveling can cause a blowout. In addition, make sure your tires aren’t wearing abnormally as this could be a sign of a much-needed wheel realignment.

Belts & Hoses

These are made of rubber and become worn rather easily, especially while under the immense heat of your engine and recent summer temperatures. If you find any wear and tear on the belt or weak points—such as bubble—in your hoses, replace them. A blown belt or hose is a vacation nightmare and easily preventable. Consider buying a hose patch kit that acts as a quick fix to get you to a nearby repair shop.

Emergency Kit, Jacks & Spare Tire

Always check the spare tire, make sure your jack is properly functional and always carry an emergency kit in your car. Make sure your emergency kit includes enough water for everyone, flares, weather appropriate clothing, non-perishable food and a first-aid kit.

Check the load capacity

You read your owners manual right? Well, you should. Pull that back out of the glove box and check the load capacity of your vehicle. Your family will have tons of luggage for vacation, especially if it’s a few weeks long. A vehicle operating with an oversized load will have poor fuel efficiency, it’s very hard on the vehicle and could lead to breakdowns. You might have to remove unnecessary luggage or heavier objects you have stored in your vehicle daily.

Brakes

Check your brake pads and lubrication before and during the trip. The last thing you want is your brakes to go out, especially if you’re traveling through the Rockies. A brake malfunction could be deadly and is easily preventable with a quick checkup.

Take the car out for a test-drive

Turn off the radio, maybe even the air conditioner and drive in complete silence. Listen for anything that sounds abnormal in your vehicle. If something seems out of whack, take your vehicle in for a tune-up

Whether you’re a novice or a vehicle guru, even the best DIY mechanic can miss a much-needed fix. Bring your car into Shadow Lake for a thorough inspection to make sure your vacation is smooth and safe.

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It’s Friday afternoon in mid-July. You just wrapped up your work week and are looking forward to a weekend of activities with your family.

You open your car door, start the ignition and warm air blows out your AC. Your air conditioning is out. With no check engine light to warn you and a busy weekend ahead that will now be spent in an oven of a car, all you can think is: “what’s wrong with my air conditioning?”

Like most systems under a car hood, a vehicle’s air conditioning system is complicated. Here’s a list of the common malfunctions wrecking havoc on your air conditioning system.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant leaks are significantly harder to spot than other leaks such as oil. Oil leaks leave puddles under your vehicle, whereas refrigerants evaporate once they are no longer under pressure of a vehicle’s air conditioning system. This can come from a loose or corroded hose or even a broken seal.

The best way to find a coolant leak in the air conditioning system is to monitor your vehicle’s refrigerant levels. If you notice these coolant levels are dropping faster than normal, contact Shadow Lake for a consultation.

Problems with the electrical system

The air conditioning system consists of hundreds of wires, fuses, relays and pressure switches keeping everything under control. All it takes is one of these components malfunctioning to throw off the entire system and leave you sweating on your commute.

A worn out compressor or evaporator.

Think of the compressor as the heart of your air conditioning system. It helps circulate the coolants throughout the air conditioning system. Like most things, it wears out over time.

Many assume the AC simply blows cool air into the vehicle, but forget about the evaporator. The evaporator works in harmony with the rest of the AC unit by removing hot air out of the vehicle. Your AC unit might be perfectly pushing cool air into your vehicle but fail to properly circulate air with a malfunctioning evaporator.

Like your car’s electrical system, the mechanics involved are complicated as well. Any slight malfunction in the mechanics can throw off the entire system.

Preventative AC maintenance

While car maintenance isn’t in everyone’s field house, there are some steps you can take to maintain your AC and prevent any future problems.

Make it a habit to run your vehicle’s AC and defrost at least once a week, no matter what the temperature. This is similar to physical activity and your body. Soreness after physical activity is less frequent when you remain active, but can feel like the end of the world after a period of sedentariness. Like your body, a vehicle’s AC unit needs this once a week activity to avoid any kinks or build-ups within the system. This might mean having to bundle up for a 10-minute commute in the wintertime but will save you time and money spent fixing any AC failures.

It’s also good practice to take your vehicle in for service once a year. Ask the mechanic if they service the AC, if not, simply let them know to check it as well. The few extra dollars spent checking the AC will help you avoid a broken AC.

At Shadow Lake Collision Center, we treat your vehicle with care and respect from the time we receive it to the time that you pick it up. In short, we treat your vehicle like it was our own. There is a difference in body shops and we’re proud to say we set the standard in craftsmanship, quality, and customer service.

Contact us at 402.763.5200 for your vehicle repair needs.

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Summertime is officially upon us. While most parents can’t enjoy the beloved summer vacation we all miss, teens do. This is the time of year where your teenager, and every other teen, has more opportunities to be out on the road than at any other time of year. You might be worried, but don’t sweat, there are plenty of tips you can use to make sure your teen driver gets home safe.

Summer Traffic

Summertime means other teen drivers, vacationers, and locals will take to the roads to have a little fun in the sun. While you might not be able to enforce every rule and guideline for your teen to follow, the least you can do is educate them on the consequences and ensure they know how to handle this traffic. Take your young driver out on the road beforehand and guide them through different situations they encounter along the way.

Defensive driving

As you may know, there are some drivers who never truly get the hang of it. There are probably a few that come to mind. If you live in an area with many attractions, you will likely share the road with vacationers unfamiliar to the local roads. In the summer, drivers have to be alert for more than just bad drivers, but pedestrians as well. Children of all ages are out of school and more people are spending time outside.

Your teen could very well be a good driver, but you didn’t teach everyone. Practice and review situations with your teen driver on defensive driving to help them avoid any collisions with a negligent driver.

Distracted driving

The dangers listed above only intensify when a driver is distracted. Teens are more apt to text and drive or have friends in the car than any other age group. Luckily, some states have curfews and laws limiting the number of friends young drivers can have in the car. In the case where your teen does have passengers, encourage them to let the passengers control the music so your driver can focus more on the road.

Drivers Ed

Drivers education courses offer many benefits for teen drivers and their parents. To start, the course might lower your insurance costs based on your provider. Along with your guidance, your teens can learn from a certified instructor and most likely will practice with other peers in the car as well. The additional driving experience can improve your teen’s comfortability on the road and in different situations. Plus, you’ll know where they’re at while enrolled in the course.

Pay attention to the weather

Summer weather in Nebraska is about as unpredictable as it gets. It can be sunny and cloud-free one moment and hail the next. Drivers must stay on their toes during times of severe weather and you’re teen might not have the necessary skills to handle these situations. Plus, you really don’t want to spend money on a hail damaged vehicle when avoidance is as easy as checking the weather. Turn on weather notifications on your phone and alert your teen driver on any changes in the weather.

Buckle Up

It might not be the “cool thing to do” but it’s one of the easiest and convenient life-savers ever invented. Young drivers wear seatbelts less often than any other age group. If you feel the need, go over the pros and cons with your driver. If necessary, there are certain technologies out there that prevent the vehicle from starting until the seatbelt is on.

Car Maintenance

Take advantage of the nice weather as an opportunity to educate your young driver on car maintenance. Not only is it warmer and gives you the opportunity to be outside, there’s plenty of maintenance checks specifically related to the summer that should be periodically reviewed. From checking proper fluids to tire pressure, there’s a lot that can go wrong, but more that can be learned.

Lead by example

Over the years, we all throw certain laws out the window as our driving experience increases, mostly speeding. Now is a good time to make sure your driving is on point so your teenager can learn from you. Whether you believe it or not, parents do have the largest influence on a child’s life, even socially.

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Unless you’re new to Nebraska, you’re probably familiar with the excruciatingly hot summers. While you’re busy worrying about sunburns, expensive air conditioning bills and how the kids will stay busy over summer break, don’t forget to protect your vehicle from problems caused by the summer heat.

Fortunately, periodical car check-ups do not take much time and can prevent time-consuming inconveniences. Here’s what you should monitor during the summer months to keep your car in prime condition.

Keep your engine cool

If you have the time, consider taking your car in for an inspection and engine check. Nebraska’s weather is unpredictable, one week it’s freezing and the next it’s practically boiling, and the quick transition from winter to summer doesn’t help either.

For instance, winter road salt can lodge into the engine and build up in the coolant systems, leading to restricted or even clogged coolant flow. It’s also a good idea to check all coolant levels periodically throughout the summer. The increased summer heat accelerates the evaporation process and depletes coolant levels faster than usual, causing your car to overheat.

Constantly inspect any rubber parts under the hood

This is crucial to preventative car care since the high heat levels can cause cracking and other damage to the belt and rubber hoses. Replacing belts and hoses is a job for the mechanic, but even the least car-savvy person can monitor these parts. If you find any problems or concern, it’s a good idea to just replace the parts to avoid full blow-outs and a day wasted on fixing a preventable problem. Shadow Lake mechanics can replace these parts in a jiffy.

Prepare your batter battery for high temperatures

Summer temperatures can have more detrimental impacts on car batteries than winter weather. Heat and vibration are a battery’s nemesis, leading to breakdown and failure. Like coolants, increased heat causes battery fluid to evaporate faster and corrosion build up on terminals and connectors.

You obviously cannot control heat. If you can, I would advise contacting Marvel Studios. But what you can do is ensure your battery is securely mounted to help minimize vibration that can loosen your connectors. A clean battery is a healthy battery, use wire brushes to clean off any corrosion. Make sure to get your battery tested by a professional or buy a replacement back up if your battery is three years old.

Wash. Rinse. Wax. Repeat.

A vehicle’s top coat protects the paint from fading or peeling in the sun. It’s essential to keep this top layer clean, as dirt and dust damage it and leave your vehicle’s exterior more susceptible to rust. Wax is an excellent way to prevent all of this as it creates an additional layer to protect your car from the elements. Plus, you can do this in your driveway and get a tan at the same time! Frequent car washes are a cheap, effective way to protect a vehicle’s exterior through all seasons.

Protect your interior

It’s common knowledge that summer heat damages interiors and no material is safe. There are multiple preventive solutions you can use to avoid heat-related interior damage to your vehicle.

  1. Invest in a steering wheel, seat and dash covers. Note, it’s important to properly clean the interior before placing these covers. Like paint, the combination of dust and heat can cause the interior to corrode and crack even under protective covers.
  2. Clean the entire interior to rid the car of any spills, stains or odors acquired in recent months. The heat will turn last month’s coffee spill into an unbearable order. No one wants to sit in a hot and smelly car on the drive home from work.
  3. There are plenty of conditioners available to protect leather seats from the sun’s rays. It’s a good idea to condition leather seats before placing seat covers to avoid further heat-damage.

Prepare for summer breakdowns

No matter what preventative measures you take, sometimes life just happens. In this case, it’s a great idea to keep a well-stocked emergency kit in your car. Make sure to include a flashlight, water, road flares, basic hand tools, first-aid and plenty of water.

Shadow Lake offers routine inspection and maintenance. Give us a call or visit our location to schedule an appointment with our vehicle experts.

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