How Do I Prepare My Car for Winter?

Winter Road Travel

Preparing Your Vehicle for the Frigid Conditions of Winter is a Must, Especially for Travelers.

What should you do to winterize your car? This is a question we hear every year as cold weather starts to settle in. While California may be light on snow, there’s no shortage of potential problems on the road during frigid weather. For the prepared, there’s little reason to worry. For those who set out into the winter season without any contingency planning, disaster could be one sharp turn away. Today we’ll talk about winter car maintenance, protecting your vehicle in cold weather, and preparing that oh-so-important winter emergency car kit.

How Do I Take Care of My Car in the Winter?

Start with the little things! Warming up your car in winter weather is one of easiest, yet essential practices you need to adopt this season, especially if your vehicle is an older model. Running your engine for a few minutes before driving allows your carburetor heat up and properly vaporize fuel. Your engine should run more efficiently as a result. If your car needs to handle any sort of steep incline or breakaway acceleration within the first few minutes of ignition, at least give your vehicle two minutes to warm up.

Next comes the oil check! Remove the dipstick from the oil pan and wipe it off with a paper towel. Then reinsert it into your oil reserve and check the color. Lighter brown oil is perfectly fine, but black icky oil means you need to replace it (or have a pro do it for you).

Are your wiper blades worn down? Protect your vehicle and yourself by installing a fresh set of blades whenever the old ones don’t cut it anymore. If you need to park outside overnight, you can protect your blades from freezing to the windshield by leaving them up (like you’re replacing them).

Car Maintenance Checklist for Winter

One of the common misconceptions we’ve encountered is that the cold temperatures makes it okay to ignore certain maintenance requirements. To prepare your car for winter, maintenance is a must! We’ve already talked about some of the habits you can adopt to protect your vehicle, but these next steps are essential.

Tire Check

Roadside Emergency and Changing a Tire

Checking Your Tires on a Regular Basis Will Help You Prevent a Roadside Emergency.

First of all, don’t forget to check those tires! Be on the lookout for bulges or cuts in the sidewalls, as these could indicate your tire are close to failing. Use the penny test to examine the treading. If you’ve never heard of it, insert a penny (head first) into the treading of each tire. Should Abraham Lincoln’s head disappear, your tread is alright. When Lincoln is completely visible however, you need to replace the tire.

Many drivers don’t realize this, but tires actually expire six years after their manufacturing date. “Big deal!” you might think. Ya, it is a big deal. Expired tires a many times more likely to spontaneously fail, and we all know what happens when tires give out on a busy highway. That’s why you should always check the expiration date when you buy a new set of tires! 

Battery Test

Batteries can’t give out as much juice in cold weather. According to Consumer Reports, …at about 0° F, a battery has only about half the cranking power it has at 80° F.” If you find yourself in a rough driving situation, you’ll want all the power you can get! Take a look at your battery’s owner guide and check the steps for testing your battery. You don’t necessary have to replace your DieHard car battery immediately, but it may be prudent to have your local service recharge it for you. A little basic car battery maintenance in winter can save you from a frustrating tow off the highway.

Watch Your Fluid Levels

Can my car overheat in winter? When your engine spins into action, it’s going to heat up just like it would any other time of the year. That means you need to make sure your coolant, antifreeze, and oil levels are where they need to be, and that they “check engine” light is off. Coolant circulates throughout your engine, absorbing heat and facilitating continuous operation. Oil prevents interlocking parts from generating too much friction as they move back and forth.

Of course, there’s all the other fluids to look after, such as your power steering, antifreeze (very important in winter), wiper fluid, etc. If you need help checking these levels, consult your car manual or talk with your local mechanic.

What Should I Keep in My Car for Winter?

There are certain items you should always keep in your car all year round, and the winter season is no exception. These include a phone charger, signal booster (if you frequently go on long road trips), spare tire, lug wrench, car jack, jumper cables, flashlight, and first aid kit. Those are just the basics. For winter travel, you’ll need to include a handful of additional safety items.

Prep Your Winter Emergency Car Kit

Driving in Winter Alone at Night

Even if You Live in a State With Mild Winters, Basic Preparations Could Save Your Life!

The California Highway Patrol kindly compiled a list of items to include in your crisis kit. These include:

  • A Blanket
  • Small Took Kit
  • Nylon Rope
  • Duct Tape
  • Plastic Tarp
  • Vehicle Fuses
  • Bottled Water
  • Energy Bars
  • A “Help” Sign
  • and Rags

You should definitely add an ice scraper to your list, so that you can clear off your windshield before you set out in the morning. Pack a rain poncho to help you stay dry in the rain, and a pocketknife for general use. A spare set of basic winter clothes is also a prudent addition to your emergency kit. Few people find themselves in a life-threatening crisis on the road, but it always pays to be prepared. Consult your local government’s travel advisory page and make sure you examine the weather predictions during your trip. 

Make sure you keep up to date on your winter car maintenance! If you or a loved one requires vehicle service before the cold weather hits, our team at Rick's German Performance would love to help you.

Give us a call today at (805) 466-3236.

What Happens When You Put Off That Oil Service

Performing Oil Service Check With a Dipstick

Oil Should Come Out in a Clear Brown Color. Dark Brown or Black Oil Should be Changed.

There are many fluids that vehicle owners must carefully manage to keep their vehicles safe, including:

  • Radiator Coolant
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Wiper Fluid
  • Transmission Fluid
  • and Oil

What happens when you forget about replacing your car oil? While you may be able to get away with it for a time, there are some serious consequences for putting off your oil service.

Consequences of Oil Burnout

Imagine you’re made it halfway through Texas on a road trip from California to Florida when your engine starts to rapidly heat up. Suddenly, your engine completely seizes up. By then, the local Fort Worth, TX oil change service won’t be able to save your engine! The result is thousands of dollars in repairs or complete engine replacement.

While driving on old oil for a time is acceptable, it can still diminish the performance of your vehicle. Fresh, clean oil allows all the parts of your engine to move freely as they were made to. It’s crucial that you get your oil changed on a regular basis.

How Do I Know if I Need My Oil Changed?

One of the first signs of aging oil is increased engine noise. As oil degrades, its ability to lubricate interlocking metal parts fades. The older the oil gets, the louder the noise will become. You may also start to see smoke emitting from your exhaust pipe, or a whiff of burning oil inside the cabin. You’ll definitely want to drive to your nearest oil change service as soon as you are able.

For those drivers who fancy popping beneath the hood, you can perform a DOI exam of your oil. Pull out the dipstick from the oil pan, wipe it off, reinsert the stick, then pull it out to examine the color. Newer oil will appear light brown, while degraded oil comes out dark brown or black. 

Call and Schedule Your Oil Service Today!

Is it time for your oil change? We’d be happy to do the job for you! Give our Rick's German Performance team a call at __PHONE__ and schedule your oil change in , CA

The Worst Car Problems You Can Have

Car Problems

Certain Car Problems Are Catastrophic, and Require Major, Expensive Repairs.

If you have a broken down car, you likely dread the appointment with the mechanic. Sometimes, however, car problems simply require an easy fix. This is especially true in the case of newer cars, where the key components simply are not old enough to fail. If you’ve owned your car for many years, however, there exists a list of problems you do not want your mechanic to diagnose. These major repairs not only cost a great deal of money, they can also signal the end of the road for your car.

The Most Serious Car Problems

Occasionally, we get lucky with our car problems. There was simply a loose wire or gas cap, and your trusted mechanic went ahead and performed the fix free of charge. Other times, however, the source of car problems is a seized engine, or a failed transmission. When this happens, the expense of repair should lead you to seriously consider a new vehicle. To learn more about the most serious issues that a vehicle can face, consult the list below.

  • Seized Engine from Lack of Oil: Improper oil maintenance has destroyed your engine.
    • The Cost: $3,000 to $10,000
  • Hydrolocked Engine: You’ve driven through water deep enough to infiltrate your cylinders.
    • The Cost: $3.000 to $10,000
  • Overheated Engine: You’ve ignored the signs of overheating long enough to cause major damage.
    • The Cost: $100 to $10,000
  • Failed Transmission: Old age, overheating, or aggressive driving has destroyed your transmission.
    • The Cost: $300 to $5,000
  • Broken Timing Belt: The belt was not replaced as recommended, and finally wore out.
    • The Cost: $1,500 to $3,500
  • Transmission Fluid in Brake Reservoir: A cracked cylinder has leaked transmission fluid.
    • The Cost: $800 to $2,000
  • Fried Computer: You’ve reversed the polarity of jumper cables to fry the computer, ruin the battery, and possibly cause an explosion.
    • The Cost: $1,000 and up
  • Worn Out Clutch: Aggressive driving and a lack of maintenance has burnt out your clutch.
    • The Cost: $1,000 to $2,500

Local Solution for German Automobiles

At Rick's German Performance, we provide the service you need to address major problems. You can actually avoid most mechanical issues through the practice of scheduled maintenance, which we also provide. To learn more or schedule service for car problems in , CA, give us a call today at __PHONE__.

What To Do if Your Car is Overheating

Engine Overheating

Engine Trouble? See if These Symptoms Ring a Bell.

Having problems with engine overheating? It’s a little more common that you realize. What’s worse, there are numerous potential causes for overheating that can leave you confused and frustrated. To help you get a grasp of what’s going on with your engine, here are some useful tips on understanding the problem and fixing it.

Engine Overheating Causes

There are some many reasons for an engine to start overheating, but the majority can be narrowed down into two common categories: low fluids and part failure. When it comes to fluids, two essential components of your car system are coolant and oil. Oil allows your key parts of your engine to generate power without creating excessive friction and additional heat. Coolant absorbs heat throughout your engine and safely expels it without harming performance. Thinks can get hot really quickly when either of these fluids is too low.

While fluid problems tend to cause a gradual buildup of heat, part failure is more likely to cause sudden engine overheating headaches. As our friends at Car Throttle previously pointed out, two frequent causes of overheating include faulty thermostats and radiator woes. Your engine thermostat serves as a mediator between your engine and the radiator, activating a steady flow of coolant when the engine starts to heat up. If this thermostat shorts out, your radiator won’t activate the coolant circulation. Basically, your engine would be in serious trouble. Many car owners also have problems with their radiator. A loose part or a leaky hose can cause coolant to gradually spill out of your vehicle. This will lead to reduced performance and (eventually) engine power loss.

How Long Does it Take for a Car to Cool Down?

When you’re stuck on the side of the road in the summer heat, you’ll probably feel tempted to drive away after just a few minutes. Stop right there! If you try driving away without giving your car a chance to cool down, you could end up seriously damaging your engine and aggravating a bad situation. According to a recent article by Esurance, who also has several helpful tips on roadside emergencies, “It typically takes a solid 30 minutes for an engine to cool down enough for it to be safe to handle.” If necessary, take a moment to top off your coolant.

Your Auto Repair Specialists

Worried about your vehicle? If you’re having problems with your engine overheating, feel free to talk with one of our experts at Rick's German Performance. You can contact us at (805) 466-3236 or bring your vehicle in for a tune-up. Stay safe!

The Benefits of a Coolant Flush

There is a lot that goes into maintaining your car. From making sure the brakes work to getting your oil changed, there are different parts and areas that need a lot of attention. One of those areas includes your cooling system, which needs a coolant flush in order for the cooling system to work properly. Not only does it make the cooling system work as it should, a coolant flush also has other benefits. Below are some of the benefits of getting your cooling system flushed out.The Benefits of a Coolant Flush

Gets Rid of Old Coolant

Coolant prevents from your water pump from becoming corroded. After a while, your coolant will lose that ability and the buildup of coolant will not be able to prevent rust. Getting your cooling system flushed can remove the old coolant and in turn avoid any rust.

Prevents Corrosion

Older forms of coolant didn’t have the ability to prevent corrosion or rust in your water pump, but now with newer forms of coolant, you don’t have to worry about your water pump becoming damaged by rust.

Protects Your Water Pump

Because of the ingredients in the coolant, whenever your cooling system is flushed out, it can help keep your water pump working as it should and keep it in good shape for a lot longer.

Flushes Leftover Particles

A coolant flush not only prevents rust, but it can also remove any buildup that has developed due to old coolant in the cooling system.

If you need a cooling system flush in Atascadero or Paso Robles, CA call Rick's German Performance today at (805) 466-3236.

Tire Rotation Benefits For Your Vehicle

Tire Rotation

There is nothing better than heading out on the road in your car, whether it be out of necessity or for a fun summer trip. Many car owners know that keeping their car road ready requires maintenance and service. However, one of the most overlooked services when it comes to vehicles is tire rotation. Rotating your tires can actually play an important role in your car health and preventing future issues with your car. When you choose to avoid a tire rotation, you can actually be leaving your vehicle open to suspension issues and tire failure. There are many benefits you could be missing out on.

What Tire Rotation Can Do For You

  • Keep You In Warranty – When you get new tires, they may come with a warranty that allows you to replace them before a certain date. However, you may not realize that keeping that warranty means rotations are required. Get regular rotations to ensure your warranty is active for when you need it.
  • Create Even Wear – Wear is natural for tires when in use. However, uneven wear can cause many different problems from weakening your tires overall to causing vibrations in your steering wheel. Tire rotation ensures that the wear on your tires will stay even, preventing damage to your vehicle and accidents.
  • Keep You Safe – Safety, especially your own, should always be a priority when operating a vehicle. Because it evens wear, tire rotation gives your car better handling, allowing for a smoother and therefore safer driving experience.

Tire rotation can help you keep your car at its best. Rick's German Performance is your source for quality vehicle service in Atascadero, CA. Give us a call today at (805) 466-3236 for your tire rotation and service needs.

Detect What’s Wrong With Your Car By What Color The Leak Is

If you pull away and notice a puddle where your car was, you have a leak coming from somewhere in your car’s mechanical system. But where? Leave the repairs to a professional, but you can figure out how much services will cost by noticing what color the leak is. Certain colors indicate fluids coming from specific locations in your car.

Brown: Engine Oil or Brake Fluid

One of the most common liquids to drip from underneath the center of cars. It often produces a bad odor when the oil is burning, which can help differentiate it from brake fluid. Brake fluid looks slimy and clearer than engine oil. If the leak looks clear brown, get it fixed immediately as brake fluid is critical to running a car.

Orange: Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid has an orange to reddish brown tint which can make it hard to identify. If the leak is under the center of your car, it is transmission fluid.

Red: Power Steering Fluid

Very similar in color to transmission fluid, the power steering fluid can be identified by its location. If it is by the front of the car, it is the power steering. If it is around the center of the car, it is transmission fluid.

Clear: A/C Water

You will see these leaks under all cars, especially on hotter days. That is because condensation from the air conditioning built up and when you turn the car off and it gets hot, it melts.

Yellow, Green, or Pink: Coolant

The most easy fluid to spot as it is neon in color, leaks often appear under the car where the hood is. Coolant is used to cool the engine off when it gets too hot.

Call Us For Repairs If Your Car Has A Leak


If you are having a fluid leak in your car in Atascadero , CA, contact Rick's German Performance at (805) 466-3236

Signs You Need to Get Your Brakes Checked

Our car’s brakes are important to the function of our car as the brakes help our cars from coming to a complete stop. Due to their importance, it’s critical to get your brakes checked every six months. If you don’t remember the last time you had your brakes checked, there are indications that let you know when services are needed for your car’s brakes.

Brake Warning Light Comes On

If the brake warning light comes on, that’s a clear sign your brakes need to be looked at. The brake warning light comes on when there is something wrong with the hydraulic system.

Your Car Is Pulling

Have you tried to brake only to have your car pull to the right or the left? While a car pulling from one side to the other could have something to do with your wheel alignment, it can also be a sign that the components in your brakes are damaged.

Noise When You Push On the Brakes

When you use your foot to push on the brakes, it shouldn’t make a noise. However, if you hear squealing or grinding noises, it’s important to have your brakes looked at immediately. Squealing and grinding usually have to do with your brake pads.

Your Brake Pedal Is Soft When You Push Down

When you push down on the brake, is it really soft? When its super easy to push down on the brake pedal could be problems with the hydraulic system or there is air in the brake lines.

If you need brake services in Atascadero, CA, call Rick's German Performance today at (805) 466-3236.

3 Reasons Your Battery Light is On

Check Battery Light

Call Our Office If You Need Service for Your Battery.

Having a good battery in your car is very important. Not only does it provide the electrical power for your dashboard and radio, but it also powers your headlights and all the computers inside your engine. If the battery light on your dashboard turns on, it is an early warning sign that something in your electrical system isn’t working correctly. Don’t wait until the battery is completely dead to bring it into the shop. Bring it by Rick's German Performance today and we will do a full diagnostic to determine what is wrong with your battery.

What Does the Battery Light Mean?

The warning lights on your dashboard are designed to signal you when there is a problem with something under your hood. Here are three problems that could trigger the battery light.

Dirty Terminals
The terminals on your battery provide the connection for the electric current in your car. If these get too dirty or corroded, your battery won’t be able to get the proper connection. This could turn on the battery light.

Bad Battery
Batteries don’t last forever. Eventually, they need to be replaced. If your battery isn’t producing enough juice to power your car, the battery light will come on to warn you that you need to change out your battery.

Bad Alternator
Once you start your car, the battery switches power over to the alternator, which provides the electrical current for your car while it is running. At the same time, it charges the battery. If the alternator isn’t working, it won’t be able to charge the battery properly.

Whatever the problem, if your check battery light is on, let us help. Call our office at (805) 466-3236 to schedule an appointment today.

4 Signs You Need Vehicle A/C Repairs

Car A/C

Many parts of your vehicle require regular maintenance services to stay in good condition. You vehicle’s air conditioner is not one of those things, so sometimes it can be difficult to know when to have it looked at. Today we will go over 4 surefire signs that mean your car’s air conditioning is in need of service.

Blowing Hot Air

First and foremost, the air conditioner is in place to provide cold air. If it is no longer providing cold air, there is certainly a problem. For the most part, this can be fixed with more refrigerant or a simple fan replacement, but make sure you have it looked at quickly. to make sure there isn’t a more serious problem damaging it.

Puddling Water

If water puddles underneath your vehicle when the A/C is running, that’s normal. However, the water should never puddle inside the vehicle! If your A/C is causing condensation or puddles of water inside of your car, bring it in for replacement right away.

Strange Sounds

Cars aren’t known for being quiet, but if you drive yours regularly, you recognize what is normal and what isn’t in terms of vehicle noise. With that in mind, if your vehicle’s A/C starts making strange noises it can indicate a problem.

Foul Smell

If when you turn on your vehicle’s A/C, you start to smell a foul odor, be sure to have it looked at right away. It could indicated mold or mildew in the tubes, which can lead to respiratory problems. Getting the system flushed or replaced is essential.

If you need help with your vehicle’s A/C repairs, give our team a call today at (805) 466-3236!