Weekly auto rail, with spring car-care tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.

Tip of the Week

April is National Car Care Month, the time of year that serves as a reminder for drivers to think about the condition of their vehicles. Alan Gustafson, crew chief of veteran NASCAR driver Mark Martin's No. 5 car, recommends a few simple checklist items to help keep your car running at optimal performance leading into the expected busy spring travel season:


- Motor oil is a must: Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on an engine if it is not cared for properly, as cold startups are among the most severe conditions that engines undergo. Drivers need to protect their vehicles with a quality motor oil to endure the varying temperatures as most of the country changes from cooler to warmer temperatures. The changing of seasons serves as an excellent reminder of the importance of using high-quality motor oils in your engine.


- Make a date to inflate: As the weather gets warmer and temperatures increase, tire pressure changes. Under-inflated tires reduce a vehicle's fuel efficiency by an average of 3.3 percent, according to www.fueleconomy.gov. Tires should be checked monthly to make sure that they are inflated to manufacturers' recommendations, which can typically be found on the vehicle door placard or in the glove box. Be sure to avoid over-inflating the tires, as this can lead to premature or irregular tire wear.


- Clean your fuel system: Many drivers use a fuel system cleaner in the winter to combat the cold weather conditions and to ease the stress on their engines during cold startups. Continuing the use of that fuel system cleaner after the colder months is also a good idea, as gunk and deposits collect in the fuel system.


- ARA


The List


Here are 10 things to ask yourself or do when looking for a car that’s right for you, according to www.edmunds.com:


1: What kind of car do you need?


2: How much can you afford?


3: Should you lease or buy your next car?


4: Have you considered all vehicles in that class?


5: Have you considered all of the costs of ownership?


6: Research your options.


7: Schedule an appointment for a test drive.


8: Test drive it in the conditions you usually drive in.


9: After the test drive, leave; don’t be pressured into buying right then and there. Then test drive another car.


10: Get ready for the buying cycle.


Did You Know


General Motors reported a loss of $4.3 billion in 2009 but says it should make a profit in 2010.


Car Q&A


Q: I own a 2003 Jeep Liberty. I believe that it has a GPS tracking device in it. I would like to know how to find it. Where would it be hidden?


A: Companies install GPS units for checking location of vehicles. These are small devices smaller than a pack of cigarettes. The GPS has to be wired so when the ignition is switched on it gets power. The most common point of key-on power will be found at the fuse box or by the steering column.


- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist


GateHouse News Service