Improve Your Car’s Fuel Efficiency This Winter!

Old Man Winter has definitely arrived in Colorado and before he makes his presence *too* obvious, here are a few tips on how you can save some money at the gas pump in the coming months:

Check your tires’ air pressure. Maintaining your tires’ air pressure at the factory-recommended levels can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3%.

Slow down! In addition to running the risk of getting a ticket, driving above the speed limit is unadvisable from both a safety standpoint and in terms of optimizing your gas mileage. Staying within a few MPH of the posted speed limit can significantly boost your vehicle’s MPG efficiency. Using cruise control is also recommended as it will cut down on how often your car accelerates.

Inspect your air filter. When your filter is dirty, not as much air makes its way to your engine which will make it harder for your car to accelerate. A clean air filter can save you as much as 10% on your fuel costs.

Lighten your load. Keeping fewer items in your vehicle both reduces clutter and saves you money at the pump since lighter cars are more fuel efficient. If you have 100 extra pounds of cargo in your car you’re costing yourself 1-2% in fuel efficiency which might not sound like much but can definitely add up over time.

The most effective and simplest way to optimize your gas mileage is to stay up to date on your vehicle’s preventive maintenance needs. Our ASE-Certified technicians here at JJ Tracks have the tools and know-how to make sure your car is operating at its most efficient and not wasting any fuel by working too hard. Make an appointment ONLINE or call us at 719-481-4393 to set up a maintenance schedule that will keep your vehicle running at an optimal level year-round!

Survival Guide for New Winter Drivers

For drivers who aren’t accustomed to snowy or icy road conditions, winter in Colorado can be both frightening and intimidating. Whether you recently moved to the Centennial State or are just visiting for the Holidays, knowing how to stay safe on wintry roads is extremely important.

Here are a few tips for negotiating the challenging road conditions El Paso County drivers can find themselves confronting during the winter months:

Slow down. “Better safe than sorry” is definitely an idiom that can be applied to driving in Colorado during the winter months. Reducing your speed will allow you to react better to whatever challenge may suddenly appear on the road before you. Be sure to stay in the right lane as well so that more experienced winter drivers are able to pass you if necessary.

Winter tires. Hydroplaning on slippery roads is a major risk for inexperienced winter drivers. In order to adequately negotiate icy conditions, it is recommended that your tires have at least 1/8” of tread on them. If you’re worried about your tires’ ability to grip the road during unfavorable conditions, be sure to contact an auto technician or visit a repair shop at your earliest convenience.

Cat litter. Even if your tires are top-notch, a lack of winter driving experience can still lead to your car getting stuck in the snow. A good product to have on hand if this indeed happens is cat litter. Spreading cat litter along the snow or ice by your tires can boost its traction level to allow you to escape your predicament.

Be prepared. The Scout Motto can definitely be utilized when you’re getting ready for the challenge of negotiating winter roads in Monument. The best way to make sure your vehicle is prepared to face Old Man Winter is by bringing it by JJ Tracks for an inspection – give us a call at (719) 481-4393 or click HERE to book your appointment today!

Treat Your Car!

Fall is of course the beginning of amazing foliage and temperate weather, but it’s also the start of giving season! Coloradans most likely already have items in mind to give to friends and family this season but have you made a list of treats you can get for your car?

A car treat could be something you want or need for a safer, more comfortable ride, or something special for the gearhead in your life. Get inspired by these unique gift ideas:

1 – USB Charger

Everyone appreciates an extra power charger. Universal devices offer many different uses, and are very reasonably-priced. All sorts of devices can be charged or operated through a USB plug these days. This gift is sure to please anyone who spends a good amount time on the road and uses their devices regularly!

2 – Emergency Kit

If you don’t already have one, treat yourself to a basketful of items that will come in handy during any potential unforeseen event on the road. You can make one for yourself and one for someone you love at the same time. Blankets, jumper cables, flashlights, first-aid kits and water are a good start.

3 – Cell Phone Mount

It’s a small, affordable and pivotal upgrade but one that many people haven’t yet considered. Keeping your phone up and out of your hands will help you focus on driving. Whether you’re using it to navigate or make calls in speaker mode, you’re less likely to be distracted by a phone that is mounted.

4 – Hitch Bumper Step

A hitch bumper step is a small ledge, just big enough to stand on, that is attached to your car’s hitch mount. It allows you to better reach items stored on the roof rack like bikes, skis, etc. It also helps you refrain from standing on, and potentially damaging, the less durable areas of your car.

5 – Car Seat Gap Stopper

No more dropping your phone and digging around for it blindly! A car seat gap stopper covers the space between the car seat and the console, which prevents anything from slipping into this no man’s land. It will keep chapstick, change, and all those french fries that somehow end up lost down there right where you can see them.

6 – Vinyl Floor Liners

Most cars come with cloth mats that provide some protection between your car’s flooring and everything that touches it (mud, coffee/food spills, dirty shoes, etc.) but vinyl flooring provides a huge upgrade for not much money. Vinyl floor liners are better at protecting your car, are easier to keep clean (just rinse or wipe them down) and they last significantly longer than cloth.

7 – Blind Spot Mirror

Make your everyday driving experiences easier and safer with blind spot mirrors. For as little as a few dollars, you can affix these small mirrors to your current side/rear-view mirrors and get a much better view of the road behind you.

8 – Sun Shade

Keep your car cool and protected from the sun’s damaging UV rays with a sun shade. Prevent cracks and damage to your car’s dashboard while also protecting your skin from leather seats that can get too hot to touch quickly and easily. Shop around to find a shade with an image that you or the person on your gift list would enjoy!

Each of these treats are nice additions to keep you safe and comfortable on the road, but what’s the absolute best treat for your car? Letting a technician take a look under its hood to see what it needs most!

Grab a loved one’s car and take it in for a tune-up. A safe, well-maintained car is a gift that will give back all season long. Come by or call us at 719-481-4393 to schedule an inspection!

Five Must Have Tire Repair And Maintenance Tips

Tires are often an overlooked item for car maintenance, but are critical for the proper operation of your car and an essential safety item. Far too many poorly maintained tires are leading causes of car accidents every year. Poorly maintained tires can even make it hard to drive and cause a drop in gas mileage. Here are five must have tips for the proper maintenance and care of your tires:

Routine Tire Inspection

Every time you get in and out of the car, whether it is to just get gas or just park, it’s important to do a quick physical inspection of your tires. Look for things like uneven wear, bulges, bumps, or items protruding from the tire itself such as nails or other debris. If you see any of these, bring the car in quickly to an auto repair shop to have the tires checked by a professional.

Monthly air pressure check

An easy inspection item for your tires you can do yourself is to check the tire pressure monthly. Each car and tire is unique so you will have to check your vehicle owners manual as well as the technical specifications right on the tire itself. Of particular note is you see a tire than continually loses pressure, you need to bring the car in professional to have it inspected right away.

Uneven Wear Check By A Professional

Tires that are unevenly worn may be a sign that your alignment needs correcting.This can cause poor gas mileage and even lead to driver fatigue and tires not lasting as long as advertised on their warranty. Often, an alignment check and balance will fix this. You can even use what is known as the penny test to see if the tire is worn too thin.

Tire Balance with New Tires

A brand new tire can disturb the balance among the remaining older tires. A proper tire balancing can fix this and make sure that there will continue to be even wear and proper handling and steering.

Spare Tires

An all too often a forgotten maintenance item is checking the spare tire. Checking it for proper inflation as well as making sure you have the correct jack, lug wrench and other safety items required to safely change the tire.

If you’d like to have your tires or other components of your vehicle inspected, contact us online or call us at 719.481.4393

Four Wheel Drive & All Wheel Drive – What Does It Mean?

Just because a vehicle boasts 4-wheel drive capability doesn’t necessarily mean that it is capable to explore off road in the areas around Monument, CO.

Better Traction Under Power

What it does mean is that you have better traction under power? When your car is distributing power to all four wheels, your chances of getting stuck in snow, ice, mud, etc. go down. However, in most cases, this doesn’t necessarily translate to better safety. Four-wheel drive doesn’t mean there is more clearance under your vehicle (it sits just as far off the ground as a two-wheel drive), any extra braking (all vehicles have brakes on each wheel, whether 2- or 4-wheel drive), or improved steering or handling.

A difference between a four-wheel drive vehicle and a two-wheel drive one is maintenance, mainly because a four-wheel drive vehicle involves more parts.

Four Wheel Drive Parts

For example, a typical four-wheel drive car has the following:
• Transfer case (which needs periodic fluid changes);
• 2 Differentials or gear boxes (which require periodic fluid changes);
• Transmission (which needs fluid changes);
• 2 sets of hubs and bearings (that need to be cleaned and re-packed with grease);
• Drive shafts (that needs lubrication): one for the front wheels, one for the rear

On the other hand, a typical 2-wheel drive vehicle only has one differential, one axle of hubs and bearings needing grease, and one drive shaft).

However, take heed! Most cheap lube places don’t have ASE Certified technicians who understand how to properly inspect and maintain these extra moving parts and their lubrication needs. Find the most reputable shop in your area to ensure that your vehicle will be serviced correctly the first time you bring it in. The experts at JJ Tracks are very familiar with drivetrain service and repairs, especially the needs for Colorado adventures.

If you’d like to talk to experts in four wheel drive vehicle, contact us or call us at 719.481.4393

6 Ways You Could be Killing Your Car

Whether you own a new car or an older model, your car requires regular care and maintenance in order to stay safely on the roads. Ignoring warning signs and key services is the quickest way to send a vehicle to an early grave… The Car Care Council offers the following warnings about 6 ways you could be killing your car:

Ignoring the check engine light. Ignoring an illuminated check engine light can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting your miles per gallon.

Failing to change fluids and filters. Many fluids are required for the operation and protection of vehicle systems and components. Checking fluid levels regularly, along with the filters, helps ensure that your vehicle runs dependably and extends vehicle life. Check your cabin air filter – if it’s clogged, it can prevent your air conditioning from keeping you cool as it heats up this spring.

Neglecting your tires. Your vehicle’s tires should be checked frequently for proper inflation and tread depth. Under- and over-inflated tires wear unevenly, meaning they need to be replaced sooner. Improper inflation can also negatively impact safety and gas mileage.

Not following a service schedule. Because many car parts and components wear out or become damaged over time, vehicles need to be routinely serviced in order to perform optimally. As temperatures rise this spring, your battery is more prone to corrosion. Routine inspections and timely repairs will help keep your car running efficiently and will help you avoid more expensive repairs down the road.

Keeping a dirty car. Allowing your car to go too long without a wash leads to buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt, increases the potential for rust from ice melting chemicals and interferes with proper visibility needed for safe driving.

Being an aggressive driver. Whether it’s stop-and-go traffic, extreme weather, rough roads or heavy loads, it can sometimes be difficult to limit severe driving conditions. However, you can drive smart and improve fuel economy by observing the speed limit, avoiding “jackrabbit” quick starts and stops, and not hauling unnecessary items.

Preventative maintenance is the best way to save money, avoid expensive repairs, and protect the investment you’ve made in your vehicle.

Don’t kill your car! Visit JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center and get the inspection and advice you need to make an educated decision about how to keep your family’s vehicle safely on the roads.

Request an appointment online or call 719-481-4393.

Spring Danger: Wet Roads

April showers bring May flowers. While we find comfort in this phrase on gloomy days, it doesn’t make the rain go away… To help you prepare for spring rain showers, our auto repair experts are offering three tips for your vehicle.

1. Tires – Wet roads mean your vehicle is at increased risk for hydroplaning. This happens when your tires seem to float or slide uncontrollably on the wet surface of a road. Your tires need more tread to properly grip the road in wet conditions, approximately 4/32” minimum. Check your tread and tire pressure as part of your routine vehicle inspections. When the roads are very wet, slow down to remain in control.

2. Brakes – Your car’s brakes rely on friction to stop your moving vehicle. Wet conditions mean less friction. If the brake rotors become wet, the brake calipers may not be able to grip them as strongly to slow and stop the rotating tire. Hard braking also is more likely to lose control of the vehicle. If the tires lock up while braking, your vehicle may hydroplane on the road and you’ll have very little control over the vehicle. If you’ve noticed problems with your brakes, like slower response times or screeching noises, bring your vehicle in for a brake inspection and service right away. On wet roads, leave extra space between your vehicle and the vehicles around you and allow extra time to stop.

3. Windshield wipers – In heavy rain storms, visibility can become impaired. It is critical that your windshield wiper blades can clear away accumulated water on your windshield to keep your vision clear. If your wiper blades leave streaks along your windshield, you may have to duck or lean to see the road clearly. This can be a real hazard! Before you’re caught off guard in a rain storm, check your windshield wipers regularly and replace them as soon as possible.

Between low visibility and slippery conditions, wet surfaces and rain storms can cause havoc on the roads. Make sure your vehicle will keep your family safely on the roads in Monument by checking your tires, brakes, and windshield wipers. For a full spring safety inspection, request an appointment at JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center or call our experienced team of car care experts at 719.481.4393.

Check your Headlights

Whether you’re embarking on a road trip to visit family or commuting to and from work, winter has its own set of driving challenges and safety considerations. One of the biggest is almost one of the most forgotten – it is dark.

Winter days are short and matched with long, dark evenings. As the sun goes down earlier in the day, traveling home in the evenings is darker and colder this time of year. And while you may not think about it most days, it is especially important to turn on your lights!

Street lights and other cars may make it possible for you to see the road as you drive, but even if you can navigate without them, your headlights serve another purpose – to help other drivers to see you.

Many newer cars are equipped with automatic lights, or day running lights, so the driver doesn’t have to think about turning them on and off. Even with these lights, you still need to turn on the headlights when driving at night for the best visibility.

To easily check your headlights, pull up to your closed garage door and look for the reflection. Get out of the car, walk around, and confirm that your lights are working properly (or have a passenger check before you head out). Don’t forget to test your turn signals too. If a bulb is burnt out, have it replaced right away for the safety of yourself, your family, and other drivers.

If your headlights are looking dim, have them cleaned! Wipe away the dirt, snow, and ice that accumulates from driving with a brush or wet rag. Next time you drop off your car for an oil change, ask our techs for a headlight cleaning. This quick service makes a remarkable difference, leaving your headlights looking like new while helping you see better and stay safe on the road!

We’re through the shortest days of the year, but we still have dark evenings ahead of us through the last weeks of winter. See and be seen, avoid accidents, and stay safe all winter by checking your headlights!

To schedule your next appointment, call our team at JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center at (719) 481-4393.

Winter Road Hazards

Whether it’s snow, rain, or ice, the roads in your neighborhood may be feeling the brunt of the harsh weather making its way through the country. These road hazards that tend to appear this time of year can put you and your car at risk and could end up costing you thousands in repair bills. Here are a few things to look out for when you’re driving around Monument this winter:

Curbs: Heavy rain or snow can make many obstacles on the road invisible, especially when driving at night. Curbs are one of them. Running or even sliding into curbs can lead to broken shocks, damaged struts and/or misaligned wheels. When any of these things are out of whack, you may end up with a large repair bill.

Black Ice: This stuff is just clear water that has frozen on dark roads. This unseen trap catches many motorists off-guard and can easily cause you to lose control on the road. Black ice is most common on bridges, below overpasses, and around wooded areas. It’s important to know that black ice forms very quickly. The best defenses against black ice are to slow down and to have good traction on your tires.

Potholes: Try to avoid potholes as best you can this winter. Hitting them can severely damage your steering and suspension components and your tire rims; however, it’s your shocks that get the brunt of the blow when you hit a pothole. Large potholes can cause your shocks to bottom out, resulting in costly structural damage.

Salt on the Road: Though road salt is put on the roads to help cars get traction, it’s important to get salt off your car as quickly as you can. Not only can it damage your vehicle’s paint job but can also cause corrosion underneath the car. If left unattended, a little bit of road salt can end up costing you a lot more than a car wash by damaging your brake and/or fuel lines. It’s best to leave your car in a garage if you can. Another way to combat road salt is to visit a car wash that will clean the undercarriage of your vehicle.

To keep your vehicle safe this winter, stop by JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for a vehicle inspection. Our experienced technicians will recommend services if they are needed to help you stay safe from winter road hazards in Colorado. Request an appointment online, stop by our auto shop in Monument, or call (719) 481-4393.

5 Tips to Stay Safe this Winter

Happy Holidays! We hope you are fully enjoying this season, spending time with your family.

Winter is here, which means the days are getting colder and shorter. Whether you’re embarking on a road trip to visit family or commuting to and from work, here are a few tips to stay safe this winter:

1. Slow Down
On slick winter roads, your car will have less traction. The tires won’t be able to grip the road as well, so steering and braking will take longer. Give yourself enough time to react to changing road conditions and other drivers on the road.

2. Check Visibility
Winter days are shorter and darker. Make sure you turn on your headlights! Wipe away snow, dirt, and mud that collects on your headlights to make sure you can see and help other drivers see you.

3. Pack an emergency kit
A basic emergency kit, with snacks, water, batteries, a phone charger, and spare change is always good to carry in the car. In the winter, you may want to add in warm layers, lights, and cat litter for added traction when you need it on slick roads.

4. Trust your instincts
Know your limits and the limits of your vehicle, and don’t push those boundaries. If the roads look dangerous, stay inside. When you notice a change in your vehicle, like a strange noise or difficulty steering, bring it in to JJ Tracks Tire & Auto Center for an inspection right away.

5. Get ready for Winter
Have a safety inspection performed on your vehicle – check our specials page for savings on vehicle maintenance – to make sure it is ready to keep you and your family safe all winter in Monument.

Our ASE-Certified Technicians are here to help you get your car ready for winter roads! Give us a call at (719) 481-4393 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment. Wishing you a fun and safe holiday season!