Lauren Fix, The Car Coach, answers viewer questions.
My car has been sitting during COVID, is there anything special I should do before starting and moving it?
Yes, start by checking the tire pressure. Check the tire pressure against the number on the sticker inside your driver’s door. Check fluid levels, if in doubt how to check the fluid, your owners manual. The vehicle may have trouble starting. If it’s struggling, you will need to jump-start it and let it run. If you hear just clicking, then you will need a new battery.
I need your advice on buying a car. I found a 2017 Ford Explorer in the local paper. Should I just make an offer, or what should I do to make sure I’m not getting a lemon?
Honestly, look at Ford dealers, so you get more than a 90 warranty, check CarFax and spend $150 and have an ASE certified mechanic go through the vehicle. If the seller balks or says no, there is something wrong, and they are trying to cover it up.
How Often Should I Check My Tire Pressure?
A good rule of thumb is to check your tires once a month (every 30 days), or anytime there is a drastic change in temperature. Check the number inside your driver’s door, never ever use the number on the tire. Check the tires’ pressure in the morning when the tires are cold. It’s worth buying a dial or digital gauge to get accurate pressures. Never assume, each vehicle is different.
Is there any other way to lower my car insurance premiums?
There are two other methods that come immediately to mind. First, you could pay your premiums annually or semi-annually. Some car insurers offer anywhere from a 3% to 10% discount for doing so. The other thing you can consider is increasing your deductible. That’s the amount of money you pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in, so you’d pay more in case of an accident, but your monthly premium would be lower.
I’m moving out of a big city, and I want to buy a used SUV. I’m afraid of buying something that will cost me a lot to repair. Can you offer a few suggestions on what to look for in a used SUV?
Purchasing a used vehicle always comes with some risk. Did the original owner trade in their vehicle because it was constantly causing headaches?
If you’re looking to buy a used car, you’re far from alone. Between private-party and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used vehicles change hands each year. With so many choices, finding that one right car for you can be a challenge.
You’ll want to avoid buying vehicles with salvage titles, mileage over 200,000, inconsistencies on the odometer, and no maintenance records. A vehicle history report can help you spot many of these issues. You’ll also want to do some research on models with reliability issues.
Low mileage cars with services records are your best bet. Know that European cars are more expensive to insure and repair. Look for domestic, Japanese, and Korean brands as they typically cost less to insure and repair.
How often do I need an oil change?
Each manufacturer has different recommended intervals. Check with your owner’s manual in the maintenance section to get the proper oil and the proper interval. Don’t cut corners and use regular oil in vehicles that require full synthetic oil. Blends are NOT full synthetic. Always make sure that the oil filter is replaced. When a mechanic changes the oil it should state on the invoice what type and weight were used. If not, you will never know if you got what you paid for, and that is important to know.
Owning a vehicle can be stressful, but a majority of us don’t know much about how vehicles work. And that’s okay—that’s why we are answering your questions. If in doubt, have a professional do the work.
Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news, and safety issues.
Lauren is the CEO of Automotive Aspects and the Editor-in-Chief of Car Coach Reports, a global automotive news outlet. She is an automotive contributor to national and local television news shows, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN International, The Weather Channel, Inside Edition, Local Now News, Community Digital News, and more. Lauren also co-hosts a regular show on ABC.com with Paul Brian called “His Turn – Her Turn” and hosts regular radio segments on USA Radio – DayBreak.
Lauren is honored to be inducted into the Women’s Transportation Hall of Fame and a Board Member of the Buffalo Motorcar Museum and Juror / President for the North American Car, Utility & Truck of the Year Awards.
Check her out on Twitter and Instagram @LaurenFix.