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Seasonal Driving Tips


Frequently asked Maintenance Questions

Ford Roadside Assistance 1-800-241-3673
Lincoln Roadside Assistance 1-800-521-4140

How often do I need to change the oil in my vehicle?

There are many variables that determine how often an oil change is needed (climate, drive time, highway or city street driving, etc.) You should refer to the Scheduled Maintenance section in your vehicle's owner's manual.

Should I consider using synthetic motor oil in my vehicle?

Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for high output, turbocharged or supercharged engines. Or for vehicles that are used for towing (especially during hot weather), and vehicles that operate in extremely cold or hot climates. Although more expensive than mineral-based oils, synthetic motor oils can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes.

How often should I rotate my tires?

Your tires should be rotated every other oil change, or every 6000 miles. Neglecting to rotate tires is a major cause of premature tire wear.

Is it really necessary to replace my timing belt at the recommended interval?

YES. The failure of a timing belt in many cars can result in major engine damage. The cost of repairing an engine with a broken timing belt is much greater than the cost of a timing belt replacement.

I have a belt making a very loud squeal on my car. Should have it changed?

Inspect and replace belts regularly. The belt system in your car helps such things as your alternator and air conditioning compressor to operate correctly. When a belt breaks, they can cause costly damage. To avoid this, inspect them regularly for wear. If they are showing signs, go ahead and replace them before they become a problem.

What does it mean if my "check engine" or "service engine soon" light comes on?

There are many sensors and computerized components that manage your vehicle's engine performance and emissions. When one of these fails, the check engine light is illuminated. Although your car may seem to run fine, it is important to have the issue addressed to prevent long-term problems.

What should I do if my car starts to overheat?

This is a very serious problem – if your car overheats for too long, you can damage your engine. As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and shut the engine off! Do not attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator; the hot fluid can cause severe burns. The best thing to do is have your car towed to your nearest Ford or Lincoln dealership .

Why is engine oil milky brown?

Milky brown engine oil is an indication of coolant in the oil. This can be caused by a blown head gasket (or other gasket), a failed transmission cooler, or cracked casings. This condition is very serious and needs to be checked by a professional technician immediately.

How do I make sure my car battery has a good electrical connection?

Battery cables and terminals should be cleaned and inspected periodically to make sure they provide a good electrical connection.

When should I replace my car's fuel filter?

To help ensure dependable, trouble-free performance, replace your car's fuel filter approximately every 30,000 miles or as recommended in your vehicle's owner's manual.

When should I change my spark plugs?

For maximum fuel economy and peak engine performance, your spark plugs should be replaced every 30 months or 30,000 miles.

Seasonal Maintenance Tips


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Winter Tips


It’s silly to head out in a poorly maintained vehicle in the middle of winter, of course, but even vehicle owners in temperate zones need a car care check as the days grow shorter.

Regular routine maintenance can help improve your gasoline mileage, reduce pollution, and catch minor problems before they become big headaches.

Before you do anything else, read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.

Get engine performance and driveability problems like — hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc. — addressed at Liberty Ford Lincoln’s Service Department. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.

Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel, and PCV. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.

As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming. This can be found at most gas stations and in the automotive section in many department stores.

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. Regular oil and filter changes is one of the most frequently neglected services, yet one that is essential to protect your engine.

The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. Do-It-Yourselfers: Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked regularly by a professional technician.

The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

Replace old blades regularly. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent — you’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months. And don’t forget to always carry an ice scraper.

Have your battery checked. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. However, most motorists can perform routine care: Wear eye protection and protective rubber gloves. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; retighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. A word of caution: Removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles, so always check your owner’s manual first. Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid.

Inspect all lights and bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Clouded lenses can be refinished by many service outlets or by using a DIY kit found in major auto parts outlets.

Exhaust fumes inside your vehicle’s cabin can be deadly. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift. The trunk and floorboards should also be inspected for small holes.

Worn tires are dangerous in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good working condition. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excess gasoline.

Have your brakes checked periodically for safety and to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.

The transmission is often neglected until a major failure. Routine checks and fluid changes at prescribed intervals can prevent very costly repairs down the line.

Always carry an emergency kit with you: extra gloves, boots and blankets; flares; a small shovel and sand or kitty litter; tire chains; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a cell phone and extra car charger. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.

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Spring Tips


Spring and summer showers may mean flowers, but wet pavement contributes to nearly 1.2 million traffic crashes each year.

Here are some tips you’ll want to follow the next time you’re caught driving in the rain.

Safety starts before you drive, and your goal should be to see and be seen. Replace windshield wiper inserts that leave streaks or don’t clear the glass in a single swipe. Make sure all headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals are properly functioning so other drivers will see you during downpours. Turn on your headlights whenever you drive.

Proper tire tread depth and inflation are imperative to maintaining good traction on wet roadways. Check tread depth with a quarter inserted upside down into the tire groove. If you can see above Washington’s head, start shopping for new tires. Check each tire’s pressure, including the spare, at least once a month… and be sure to check the pressure when the tires are cold.

Avoid Cruise Control

Most modern cars feature cruise control. This feature works great in dry conditions, but when used in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle can increase. To prevent loss of traction, the driver may need to reduce the car’s speed by lifting off the accelerator, which cannot be accomplished when cruise control is engaged.

When driving in wet-weather conditions, it is important to concentrate fully on every aspect of driving. Avoiding cruise control will allow the driver more options to choose from when responding to a potential loss-of-traction situation, thus maximizing your safety.

Slow Down and Leave Room

Slowing down during wet weather driving can be critical to reducing a car’s chance of hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a film of water. With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speed to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. At speeds as low as 35 mph, new tires can still lose some contact with the roadway.

To reduce chances of hydroplaning, drivers should slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you. Also, it’s important for motorists to allow ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance of the vehicle in front of them and beginning to slow down to stop for intersections, turns and other traffic early.

Responding to a Skid

Even careful drivers can experience skids. If a driver feels their car begin to skid, it’s important to not panic and follow these basic steps: Continue to look and steer in the direction in which the driver wants the car to go. Avoid slamming on the brakes as this will further upset the vehicle’s balance and make it harder to control.

If you feel the car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. Don’t panic, and avoid slamming on the brakes to maintain control.

Overall you want to be extra cautious in wet weather. Slow down, avoid hard braking or turning sharply and allow ample stopping distance between you and the cars in front of you. Also, do these things one-at-a-time. Brake, then turn, then accelerate.

Springtime Auto Tips

Spring is one of the prime times for auto maintenance. That first wash-n-wax on a warm Saturday afternoon is liberating. Winter's gloom (to say nothing of grit and road salt) is literally washed away. Take out the snow shovel, the gloves, and heavy boots and store them 'til next season. Surely summer can't be far away.

Some preparation now will help ensure that your summer driving plans go as smoothly as you envision then now. ASE offer the following tips on getting your vehicle ready for summer.

Read the owner's manual and follow the recommended service schedules. Have hard starts, rough idling, stalling, etc. corrected before hot weather sets in. Flush and refill the cooling system (radiator) according to the service manual's recommendations. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for repair facilities that employ certified automotive technicians. The tightness and condition of belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a qualified auto technician. Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced by a qualified technician to reduce the likelihood of more costly repairs. Change the oil and oil filter as specified in owner's manual. (Properly dispose of used oil.) Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended. Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Always check tire pressure when the tires are cold. Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs. Replace worn wiper blades and keep plenty of washer solvent on hand to combat summer's dust and insects.

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Summer Tips


Summer weather leads to rising temperatures. Millions of Americans are expected to take road trips during the summer months. Be prepared this summer and take the following precautions:
Check your tire pressure at least once a month and especially before a long trip maintaining the manufacturer recommended pressure (all 5 tires, including the spare tire) Check and clean your car battery terminals Replace wiper blades and refill washer fluid Do not overload your vehicle ~ overloading can create excessive heat inside your tires and result in vehicle damage and/or personal injury Check the tread and sidewalls of your tires, watch uneven wear pattern. “Uneven” means the tire is more worn on one edge. This usually means you need a wheel alignment. Also, run your fingers along the tread and feel for lumps. The presence of lumps could mean that the tire is not balanced correctly.
Driving during a summer storm Severe thunderstorms and tropical weather systems can dump heavy rainfall over a short period of time making it extremely dangerous to navigate an automobile. Rivers, lakes, and ditches fill with water and overflow into low-lying or poorly drained areas. Urban and small stream flooding can occur in less than one hour. Do not attempt to drive though the water if you cannot see the road or its line markings. You will not be likely to judge the exact depth of the water or be certain that the road is intact underneath it. Moving water exerts pressure on a car. As water depth increases or a greater area is exposed to moving water, the pressure exerted increases and can wash the car away. The surface of the road is affected as it becomes slippery. Water, sand and mud are now what the vehicle is resting on and can cause it to be swept away. As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your car and potentially stall your engine. One foot of water can move most cars off the road. SUVs are even more prone to be swept away due to their size and larger tires making them more buoyant. If your vehicle stalls or is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer
Summer's heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance...Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!

Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.

Air Conditioning

A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner's manual for location and replacement interval

Cooling System

The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.

Oil

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.

Engine Performance

Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drive-ability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.

Windshield Wipers

A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.

Lights

Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.

Tires

Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they're cold before driving for any distance. Don't forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there's uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side. Brakes Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly. Battery Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly.Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves. Emergencies Carry some basic tools — ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight.

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Fall Tips


Car Care Tips from the Pros Prepare You for Fall and Winter Driving

It’s foolhardy to head out in a poorly maintained vehicle in the dead of winter, of course, but even vehicle owners in temperate zones need a car care check as the days grow shorter. Regular, routine maintenance can help improve your gasoline mileage, reduce pollution, and catch minor problems before they become big headaches.

Before you do anything else, read your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommended service schedules.

Get engine performance and drivability problems — hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc. — corrected at a reputable repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse.

Replace dirty filters, such as air, fuel, and PCV. A poorly running engine is less efficient and burns more gasoline.

As the temperature drops below freezing, add a bottle of fuel deicer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Keeping the gas tank filled also helps prevent moisture from forming.

Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual — more often if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips. Regular oil and filter changes is one of the most frequently neglected services, yet one that is essential to protect your engine.

The cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water is usually recommended. Do-It-Yourselfers: Never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses also should be checked regularly by a professional technician.

The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility.

Replace old blades regularly. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent — you’ll be surprised how much you use during the winter months. And don’t forget to always carry an ice scraper.

Have your battery checked. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. However, most motorists can perform routine care: Wear eye protection and protective rubber gloves. Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; retighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. A word of caution: Removal of cables can cause damage or loss of data/codes on some newer vehicles, so always check your owner’s manual first. Be sure to avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid.

Inspect all lights and bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag. Clouded lenses can be refinished by many service outlets or by using a DIY kit found in major auto parts outlets.

Exhaust fumes inside your vehicle’s cabin can be deadly. Have the exhaust system examined for leaks and problems while the vehicle is on a lift. The trunk and floorboards should also be inspected for small holes.

Worn tires are dangerous in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressure once a month, letting the tires “cool down” before checking the pressure. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget to check your spare, and be sure the jack is in good working condition. Under-inflated tires or poorly aligned wheels makes your engine work harder and thus use excess gasoline.

Have your brakes checked periodically for safety and to prevent costly repairs that can be caused by neglect.

The transmission is often neglected until a major failure. Routine checks and fluid changes at prescribed intervals can prevent very costly repairs down the line.

Always carry an emergency kit with you: extra gloves, boots and blankets; flares; a small shovel and sand or kitty litter; tire chains; a flashlight and extra batteries; and a cell phone and extra car charger. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.