Preparing Your Vehicle For A Summer Road Trip

Vehicle awaiting roadside assistance in wooded area

If you’re planning an exciting road trip over the summer this year, between planning and packing, remember to get your vehicle ready, too. Nothing slows down a trip like needing a tow because your vehicle’s broken down. Below are a few suggestions for what to check when you’re getting your vehicle tuned-up for the trip.

Oil

The first part of getting your car tuned-up for a road trip is changing the oil. Most vehicles need an oil change every few months or at a certain mileage. If your vehicle is nearing its next oil change date, make sure that it is changed, even if it’s slightly ahead of schedule. Whether you do it yourself or use a service, make sure a few other fluids are checked during your oil change as well. These include your vehicle’s brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid.

Coolant

Getting your oil changed is also a great opportunity to check for coolant leaks in your vehicle. Check your engine oil dipstick and if there are light colored streaks there with a yellow or greenish color, a coolant leak could be the problem. Another way to detect coolant leaks is by smell. If you notice a sweetish scent when your vehicle’s engine is warm, it could be an indicator of a leak. If your car or truck doesn’t have any problems with leaking coolant, just check that the coolant is at an appropriate level for your vehicle.

Battery

Before you go, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle’s battery checked in addition to its fluids. Car batteries are often made to last for years, but having one die during a trip can be stressful. The unexpected expenses of having your vehicle towed and purchasing a new battery can also become an unwanted bump in the road on your trip. To avoid such a situation, get your battery tested. Many auto parts stores and mechanics offer battery testing.

Spark Plugs

Another issue that may not be immediately apparent is faulty spark plugs. If you vehicle is having trouble starting, or if it’s having difficulty idling, spark plugs may be the issue. When checking your vehicle’s spark plugs, there are a few issues that can be detected just by looking. Check for residue on the plugs. Corrosion could also cause problems. In addition, check for gaps between the electrodes. If any of these issues are present, you may need to replace the spark plugs, or it may be possible to repair them.

Brakes

One of the most important things to check on your vehicle before a trip is the brakes. Having your vehicle’s brakes fail can have disastrous results. No one wants to risk an accident any time, and during a trip is no exception. Most mechanics and auto repair shops offer inexpensive brake checks that include an entire system and brake line examination to make sure that nothing is damaged, worn out, or a potential danger.

Need more information for your vehicle tune-up before a trip? Contact Will Tow, located in San Marcos, TX.

Information You Need Before Letting Your Car Be Towed

Tow truck driver changing flat tire

Whether because of an accident or just a simple breakdown, you might find yourself needing to having your vehicle towed by a local towing company. Before having your vehicle towed, there is some information you should be prepared to have, and some you should remember to ask for from your towing company.

What Info Do I Need?

When you call to have your vehicle towed, you’ll need to provide some basic information about your situation and your vehicle. For instance, you will need to provide your location so someone can reach you. You can use the address of a nearby home or business if there is one within sight. If in a rural area, know the name of the highway or road you are on and the nearest mile marker. You’ll also need to provide the year, make, and model of your vehicle so that the appropriate towing vehicle can be dispatched.

What Influences the Cost of Towing?

Before requesting a tow, ask what the cost will be. The cost of towing a vehicle can vary from business to business. Some situations can influence that cost as well. The distance your vehicle is from the company, and how far it must be towed might affect the cost. The condition of your vehicle might also be a factor. For example, if your vehicle’s tires are unable to move, a flatbed tow truck is required, so the cost will change.

Will My Insurance Cover Towing?

Whether your vehicle’s insurance will cover a tow depends on two factors. First, if your policy covers towing fees. For this you’ll need to look at your policy, or contact your insurance company. Second, if the towing company works with your insurance. Many towing companies work with most major insurance companies, but it’s a good idea to ask up front so that you’ll know if there’s a problem.

How Can the Driver Help Me?

When calling for a tow truck, be sure to describe your situation accurately. Towing companies often employ drivers who are familiar with a variety of mechanical issues that vehicle owners experience. Often if you’re stopped with a common issue, such as a flat, or an empty gas tank, your tow truck driver will be able to help. Even if your vehicle has been damaged in an accident, your driver may be able to help assess the damage to the vehicle and provide help or resources.

Where Will My Car Be Towed?

Before having your car towed, make sure that you know where it’s being towed. This could influence the cost of the tow, but more importantly, you need to know where you can retrieve your car later. In some cases towing companies will tow to their company’s lot. If you’ve experienced a mechanical failure and have a mechanic in mind, you can ask to have your vehicle towed to that location. If you aren’t sure which mechanic to use, your driver may be able to recommend a reliable service to you.

For more information about what to do when you need a vehicle towed, contact Will Tow, located in San Marcos, TX.

Photo credit: mikepetrucci on Visual hunt / CC BY-SA

Dealing With An Out Of Town Breakdown

When your car’s engine doesn’t quite want to turn over, the wiring is shot, or the gears won’t switch, it can be hard to not feel like the problem is something you can’t fix without ruining your week. This situation can seem even worse when you’re on a trip out of town. But a little knowledge makes the situation feel less like a disaster, and more like a manageable problem. Here are a few options to consider before tackling the problem.

Strategies to Consider

Repair strategy depends on cost of repairs, roadside plans, cost of towing, travel distance, and the cost of a rental car. There are often 3 main options for dealing with sudden vehicular problems when out of town, barring some prohibitively expensive ideas. Your choices will also depend on whether or not you can diagnose the problem yourself.

Taking Everything Home

One option is to take the entire issue from wherever you find yourself broken down, back to your home. This would require towing the vehicle back, and having it fixed there. The benefits of this option include less travel back and forth between your home and vehicle, and having your choice of auto repair options in your hometown. On the downside, this option is unlikely to be covered by roadside assistance. Depending on the distance you are from home, it can also be tricky to find a towing company that will take your vehicle as far as needed. Some people may have the option of having an acquaintance with a large vehicle lend a tow, but it’s usually safer to have a professional do the job.

Repair Where You Are

If you’d rather not arrange and pay for having your vehicle towed back home, an alternate option is to repair it in the town or city it’s already in. This will remove the need for long distance towing, but will leave you without a vehicle away from home. Depending on how long the repairs take, you may also have to return home and come back later to retrieve your vehicle. This will result in additional travel costs unless a friend or family member is available to provide a ride. In the event that you have to stay in the current city in order to wait for your vehicle to be repaired, you may also incur temporary living fees, such as paying for a hotel. It’s usually a good idea to compare the cost of long distance towing with the cost of having to stay out of town for a few days and see which would cost less.

The Last Resort

In the event that the cost of towing, repair, and travel exceeds the cost of the vehicle, the final option is find a way to sell or scrap the broken vehicle and make other travel arrangements. This case is unlikely, unless the vehicle was truly on its last leg. However, it such a situation does come about, consider the available options carefully. The least costly choice may be to get what you can for the vehicle, find your way home through available travel or friends and family, and use the funds to look for a new vehicle. Again, this option is usually unlikely, but it is always better to get something for your vehicle than to simply abandon it.

If you would like information about roadside assistance or towing out of town, contact Will Tow, located in San Marcos, TX.

5 Tips For Keeping Tires In Shape

Checking your tires every day before driving off is a crucial step to take in protecting your safety and your automobile. Ideally, tire inspections need to be administered monthly. But, if you often roll over potholes and debris in the road, commute in chilly weather, or drive lengthy distances regularly, you should check out your tires much more frequently. If you have never checked your tires yourself before or don’t know how to properly take care of them, then you should check out the 5 tire maintenance tips we have that’ll help keep you driving safely on the road.

Inspecting The Tires Tread

For your tires to maintain good traction on the road, the tread needs to be a good depth. Checking your tire treads monthly is recommended to monitor any uneven or excessive wear. To make an accurate measurement of depth, a depth gauge that measures tread can be purchased at automotive stores. Other options that are sometimes used to measure tire tread depth include those such as “the penny test.” To perform the penny test, take a penny and position it so that the image of Lincoln is facing you, and upside down. The insert the penny into your tire treads. If all of Lincoln’s head is visible, then you should probably consider getting new tires. Though this type of test is quick and easy to do at home, consulting a professional is always the safest choice when it comes to checking tires.

Rotate Your Tires

It is a fact that both front and rear tires of a vehicle need to be rotated at a certain amount of miles. This is due to their different amount of loads and the fact that they perform very different functions in regards to both braking and steering. These differences could result in wear patterns which are unequal. For your tires to give you the most performance, you must always remember to have all four of your tires rotated. The best mileage recommendation available is always going to be located in your owner’s manual. Typically, the recommendation is set at a maximum of 7,000 miles for tire rotation to be performed. If you own a performance car, keep in mind that your tires are designed to be rotated in only one direction. Also, if you decide on using different sizes for each tire then it will be impossible to properly rotate your tires.

Keeping Tires Balanced

Keeping your tires balanced properly will prevent uneven tire wear thus extending the life of your tires. Tire balancing is conducted by attaching wheel weights to lessen the amount of vibration as the tires and wheels turn. It is recommended that all new tires be balanced as well as at the time of any new vibrations being felt or when repairs are done.

Keep Your Tires Properly Aligned

Every vehicle manufactured has specified settings for wheel alignment based on recommendations by the manufacturer. Keeping proper alignment of your wheels will prevent a lot of driving issues down the road. Some adverse effects that could occur because of improper alignment include poor handling of your vehicle, tire wear becoming uneven, and your car’s gas mileage decreasing tremendously. Another important reason to maintain proper wheel alignment is, of course, safety. Have you ever noticed that while you’re driving, your vehicle drifts to the right or left instead of straight? Improper alignment could be the problem. If your tires are properly aligned, your vehicle should drive in a straight line.

Ensure Tires Are Properly Inflated

Keeping all four of your tires inflated to their proper tire pressure is crucial in maintaining excellent gas mileage. It is also the easiest way to extend the life of your tires. You should check the tire pressure at least monthly using a tire pressure gauge which measures in psi. Tire pressure gauges come in 3 different model types. These are the pen/stick, digital, and dial gauges. Out of the three, the easiest and usually most accurate gauges to use are either the dial or digital gauges. If you see yourself needing to fill your tires at a gas station, make sure you use your own pressure gauge as the built-in gauges are often inaccurate due to constant abuse.

For more tips for keeping your vehicle in good condition, or to inquire about towing services, contact Will Tow, located in San Marcos, TX.

Tips to Protect Your Motorcycle from Theft

People who live in busy, crowded areas often prefer using motorcycles instead of cars for convenience and avoiding congestion. Bikes are easier to park, and easier to maneuver compared to automobiles. However, it is also easier for motorcycles to be stolen since they are exposed. Thieves are always interested in taking a high value, good quality motorcycle and selling it to make a profit. Motorcycle owners must do everything possible to protect their bikes. Below are some tips for protecting your bike.

Protect Your Bike Every Time You Park

Many motorcycle owners do nothing when they park their motorcycles. Bike owners should always do something to protect the bike before they walk away, even if it’s just engaging the security device and the steering lock.

Fit a Lock on Your Machine

You can use a U shackle, disc lock, clutch group, or set a functional alarm. Installing a quality chain on the front or rear can also prevent the bike from being pushed away. If your garage has a security anchor, make sure you tie your bike onto it.

Fit a Tracking Device on Your Motorcycle

Although tracking devices can be costly, real arrests have been made with their help. Owners can always research different types and brands to find the most reasonably priced devices. Before purchasing, ensure you ask about the previous success of those devices. Be sure the signal penetration is strong since thieves may carry the bike in a van. It is also important to start following the bike as soon as possible; Thieves may steal a bike and hide it somewhere to see if it is being tracked so they can get rid of the tracker. If your motorcycle is costly then a tracking device is worth buying.

Fit an Approved Alarm or Immobilizer on Your Motorcycle

Although signals differ among areas, some have proved to be effective in preventing motorcycle theft. You should therefore consider it a way to protect your bike. There are some areas, such as parking lots, where security officers might notice suspicious activity when they hear an alarm. In addition, if the immobilizer is recognized by your insurance firm, you could get a discount if the company offers one.

Secure Your Garage

Garage thieves mostly come to steal at night. Some thieves follow you home, so it is important to keep it secure. Maintaining a thick door, security cameras, security lights, and alarms are just some of the ways to make your garage safe. You should never leave your bike outside your house since it gives thieves easy access to it. If you are away from home for some time, ask your neighbor or friend to watch the garage for you.

Other Security Options

Parking in front of a security camera can deter thieves from considering your bike, and can also help in its recovery if it is stolen.

Covering your bike when parked helps ensure that your classy bike is not overly advertised.

If you have questions about motorcycle security, or if you’re in need of towing services, contact Will Tow located in San Marcos, TX.

Avoid Being Towed at Apartments in San Marcos

Having your vehicle towed can be inconvenient and expensive. One of the many ways to accidentally end up having a vehicle towed is parking incorrectly in an apartment complex. Many of the apartment complexes in San Marcos, TX, especially those near Texas State University, enforce strict parking rules in an attempt to discourage student commuters from leaving their vehicles in the apartment parking lots during their classes. Apartment parking lots often have limited space and maintain just enough room to accommodate residents and their guests, so it can be difficult to find the right area to park. Here are some tips to make sure your car stays where you left it.

Non-Residents

If you are not a resident and you are not intending to visit a resident of an apartment complex, do not park there. Many apartment complex’s will immediately check to see if a parked vehicle has a permit for the lot if the driver is seen leaving the parking lot on foot without visiting one of the resident buildings first. While it may seem safe to park your vehicle in a visitor space for free for a few hours, being towed will cost you much more than paying for public parking.

If you are not a resident but you are visiting a resident of an apartment complex, make sure that you get information about the apartment’s visitor parking policy. If the resident that you are visiting is not informed about the policy, call the main office or visit their website. Some apartments require visitors to have a parking pass put on their dashboard. If this is the case at an apartment you are visiting, make sure that you or the person you are meeting visits the main office before they close to obtain a pass.

Other apartment complexes do not require passes but do ask visitors to park in a designated area of the parking lot. Most apartments indicate the visitor parking spaces by marking “Visitor” on the curb or in the space. Others have signs posted with arrows indicating how many spaces are reserved for visitors. Occasionally the pavement markings may have faded, or the signs may have been knocked over. If this is the case and you are unsure where to leave your vehicle, ask the staff at the main office. One quick trip inside could save you a lot of time and hassle.

Residents

It does not happen often, but occasionally even apartment complex residents can find their vehicle has been towed. The best way to keep this from happening is ensuring that you follow the apartment’s resident parking policies. If you are a new resident, make sure that your vehicle’s information has been provided to the apartment complex and is up to date. If the apartment provides a sticker to mark your vehicle as belonging to a resident, make sure that you place it in the proper place on your vehicle so that it is clearly visible to towing companies.

If you get new license plates for your vehicle after it has already been registered with your apartment, make sure to give them the updated information. You should also ensure that your inspection sticker is up to date as some apartment’s will tow vehicles that have not been inspected, even if they belong to a resident.

Another good idea for ensuring that your vehicle is not towed as a resident is to make sure that it is properly maintained. Many apartment complexes will tow vehicles if they are deemed “non-running.” If your vehicle has not been moved in a few months, or if your vehicle has a flat or a missing tire that has not been addressed, some complexes will have the vehicle towed.

For more information on avoiding having your vehicle towed from an apartment complex, visit Will Tow in San Marcos, TX, or click here.

Call A Mechanic or DIY?

CallMechanicorDIY

There are things in our life that you should simply leave to a professional, things that you simply should not do yourself. You probably don’t have any business performing your own colonoscopy, your own appendix removal, or open-heart surgery. Rocket building and synthesizing your own medicines are simply too difficult to figure out yourself even if you have the parts. But there are things that even doctors would tell you that you should self-examine to find problems early, like cancer exams or home tests for blood pressure or blood sugar. Cars are the same way.

If you have never worked on a car, you probably shouldn’t be putting in an engine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a tool to find out if the check engine light is on for a simple reason. Or if your battery won’t stay charged you shouldn’t see if a new battery fixes the problem before you put in an all new alternator. Some things you can diagnose yourself, some you can fix right there when it breaks, others you can fix yourself after buying the correct parts and getting a tow, and others need a professional hand from start to finish.

A vehicle diagnostic code reader can be plugged in directly to the car’s engine and will spit out codes that pertain to the exact problem. These codes vary and will need to be looked up, but can highlight problems from HVAC (A/C, heating, coolant), engine (not starting, idling, temperature, leaks, emissions), battery (meters, lights, wiring, charging), to brakes, steering, transmission, and more. These aren’t everything, but can really help cover a lot of your bases. Not everything is a car not turning on or any of its electronics (battery or alternator or wiring issues), or a car not turning over (likely starter or engine).

If you would like to have a chance at fixing some simple problems without a tow or need for part ordering, there are some things you should always have: a spare, jack, wrench, jumper cables, duct tape, and oil.

Repairs that you can make with parts purchased from local auto stores or online form quite a long list, but this is mainly limited to repairs that you may be able to do yourself. Headlights, brake pads, engine belt, new battery, or fluids are examples. You may not be able to do things like alternators, transmissions, engines, and things of that nature. Basically, some things are small but fatal to the car running, some non-essential in the immediate like lights, but needed, some of these can be fixed on the side of the road. Others are larger repairs, some can be done at home, but even more need such advanced knowledge and tools that it is not likely to be able to be done at home. Now, if you have a friend who is a mechanic, you may be able to borrow the tools needed to do it properly, but sometimes the cost of the tools needed to fix the car exceeds the cost of taking it to a mechanic. And honestly, that is a long list of things. Even if you had perfect knowledge, it doesn’t make sense to fix yourself if you don’t have a huge number of cars to work on.

Towing Myths Debunked in Three Minutes

Going online is a great way to educate yourself on some much-needed information. Not everything you read online is true, though. There are many times the information gets mixed in with false data. The same can be said for the data out there about towing and the services many companies provide.

Here are 7 myths about towing that require some truth seeking and a little bit of tweaking:

  1. Is it true you can increase the payload component by adding more products?

    No, this is not true. A person cannot add in extra suspension products in hopes it will increase the ratings. Are you worried about the suspension payload? There is something that can be done. Level your truck. Decrease the poor handling. Gain access to the leaf springs before you take your journey. Another thing that can be done is work on getting rid of the side-to-side away.

  2. It is not necessary to learn the towing terms?

    This is another myth that needs to be corrected. You do need to learn the terms. There are differences between the two most common terms, GAWR and GVWR. The first one details the maximum weight you can put on the axle. The second one refers to the gross vehicle weight. This includes the vehicle and every passenger on board. This limit should not be exceeded at any time. There are other terms you should educate yourself on. Click here for more details on this.

  3. I can increase the capacity by increasing my trailer hitch.

    The manufacturer has put in a maximum capacity for a reason. At no time should it be messed with. Let us say that you have a capacity of 35,000. There is an exception to this rule. Let us say your hitch is at a capacity of 20,000. At no time should you go over the 20,000 limit. In this case, the hitch capacity will override the actual capacity.

  4. Can you go by the tongue weight?

    This is the one primary cause of failure with towing. There is an incorrect estimation of the tongue weight. You should click here to find out what the tongue weight for your tow truck is. This is the only way to be sure.

  5. Is it true that tongue weight is always 10% of what is being carried?

    It is usually between 10 and 15 percent. There are many variables to consider here. Two to trucks are not one in the same. Do not place most of the weight at the front, towards the hitch. This is placing too much pressure on the hitch. You need to know the exact percentage.

  6. The bearings do not need any kind of upkeep 

    This is wrong information, once more. The bearings are outside 24/7. They need constant upkeep and maintenance. Do you want your truck to break down?

  7. You can get any old hitch extension, right?

    No. You need a proper extension for your tow truck. Not all trucks are made the same in this respect. Most are ready and available in 8 lengths. They measure between 21 and 60 inches a piece. It is best to get specific measurements for this. Your tongue weight needs the proper extension. A shorter one will be more fitting, but you still should check it out.

Are You a Conductor?

Alignment

A conductor of an orchestra has a very important job. Everyone knows they direct music, but it’s much more important than that. A conductor knows every note, the placement of every instrument and every musician and if something or someone is out of alignment in this well-oiled machine of an orchestra, it is his or her job to rectify it. It is important for you to be as diligent as a conductor with your car. If your car is pulling more to one side or the other or it is vibrating on the road, it needs to be properly aligned. Riding around with poor alignment continuously will cause you to have an uneven wear pattern on your tires. Rotating your tires helps you save money on tires and extends the life of your vehicle. You will also save money on fuel because there will be less stress on the car.

Towing, Jump Starts and Fuel Delivery

If you are in need of a tow in the Central Texas area, some companies provide 24 hour live dispatch, long distance towing, off road recovery, tire changes, lockouts, fuel delivery and jump starts. Check with your insurance to see if towing is covered or discounted. 

Separate Lockout Services

Separate lockout services provided by trusted locksmiths for Central Texas are also available. They have a quick response time for a sensible price. These locksmiths will also change locks and make new locks (for businesses or homes) while providing high quality and friendly customer service. They are available 24-7 for roadside assistance. They also offer emergency door unlocking services called PALSavesKids in case your child or pet is locked in the car. This service is free of charge. 

There is a free roadside assistance program available to motorist throughout Central Texas provided by the Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO). HERO responds to those who need help on I-35 and US 183 who have flat tires and need gas. They also assist with vehicle removals from travel lanes that have been in crashes. HERO also assist with the following: jumping dead batteries, transporting motorists to a safer location, providing cell service to persons in a broken down vehicle, removing trash from travel lanes and shoulders, helping emergency response personnel, calling tow trucks or emergency vehicles and performing minor vehicle repairs.

Although all of these resources are available in case something should go wrong with your vehicle, a responsible car owner keeps up regular maintenance on their vehicle. Regular tune ups, oil changes, brake checks, tire rotations, alignments and car inspects are just a few things that will keep your car in working order. Keep up to date service records in case of any emergencies, such as an accident or break down. Become a good conductor and orchestrate the longevity of your vehicle. 

Winter Tire Maintenance Tips

Close up of a car tire driving on snow

Due to winter weather, your tires can get strange designs on them because they are more exposed to unusual wear, which can potentially cause misalignment of the car’s suspension. There are three alignment adjustments on your car which are a toe, camber, and caster. The important ones are toe and camber settings. The caster setting is not that quite as important, but it serves a purpose as well.

The vertical tilt your car’s tires are described by camber. When the top of your tire tilts outward, that is positive camber. Similarly, if the tire tilts inward, it is negative camber. The car manufacturer’s factory settings are the most suitable for your vehicle. Your tires’ outside edge will wear too much due to positive camber. Inside edges will wear too much if the camber is negative.

The toe setting of your car describes whether or not both tires on the same axle are aligned in what way from each other: toe-in or toe-out. Most of your vehicles have rubber bushings which connect the components of suspension with the body. When your car is moving, non-driven axle tires are pulled back by rolling resistance of the tire. The driven axle tires are pulled forward by driveline torque. Rubber bushings allow slight movement in suspension which are compensated by the toe setting. Your car manufacturer’s favorite setting should also be used for the toe settings of your winter tires.

Your cars come with adjustment specifications of preferred settings which also have a tolerance limit. You should only use vehicle’s factory settings when you align your winter tires. For example, if the factory toe setting for your vehicle is one-eighth of an inch with a tolerance value of one-sixteenth of an inch then vehicle setting should be three-sixteenth of an inch. It will be the maximum limit for toe-in. In other words, both front tires will be dragged eighty feet towards each other for one mile. The ideal practice for you is to check your vehicle’s alignment twice a year. Aligning them in spring will give good performance in summer. Aligning in fall will show good results in winter.

The air pressure of your tires is very important. The air pressure inside your tires carries the weight of the car. Good traction, handling, and durability is only possible if right air pressure is maintained. Your car’s owner manual has recommended tire pressure written on it. It is the cold pressure; therefore, you should check it in the morning before driving the car.

You should check inflation pressure of your tires in early winter months and fall due to its criticality. As days get shorter and colder, the air in your tires contracts. The inflation pressure of your tire changes by one pound per square inch when ten degrees Fahrenheit of temperature changes outside. The difference between average winter and summer temperatures is almost fifty degrees Fahrenheit. It means a pressure of five pounds per square inch can occur in your tires. If you keep your car in a warm garage, the tire pressure will not remain the same when you take out your car. It is very important that you keep the valve caps of your tires on; otherwise, the air will escape as the moisture freezes.

Car Towing FAQs

If you are wondering about car towing, below are general questions that will give you an idea of what to expect.

How can you find your car if it’s been towed?

Your best option in this situation is the Police Department. If you notice that your car has been towed, you should make a point of contacting the Police Department in your city. All the companies both public and private are required to report any towing incidences that they may have undertaken within 30 minutes of towing. So, you will find all the information that you need from the department. You may also look around the area you were parked in for towing signs that may have a phone number on them for you to call the towing company directly.

What happens if a car is on a temporary hold?

When your car is towed, you are expected to pay the penalty and it will be released. However, at times the police may restrict the release of the car and place it on temporary hold. This can happen if the police need to inspect the car and validate the information provided. If your car is placed on hold, you will have to wait for 72 hours before you can get it back. At times, the hold may be shorter if the required information is provided on time, and other times longer. Keep in mind that the 72 hours do not include the weekends and public holiday. Regardless of the reason your car was towed, if the car is placed under restriction, you must obtain a police clearance before you can get it back.

What if your car was damaged during the towing?

Most of the towing companies do have systems in place to protect your car during this process. However, if you feel like your car was damaged when it was towed you are advised to get a claim form from the company in question. You will be required to provide your contact details when filing the claim. Take note that some companies may require you to sign a perjury penalty form stating that your car was damaged during towing.

What if you return before the truck removes the car, will you have to pay?

Yes, you will be required to pay the drop fee. This will only apply though if the truck had not removed the car from the property. The maximum amount of money that you can pay for that is set by your State although most of the time it’s $70. The driver of the truck is required to provide you with a receipt after payment.

What is the information that you should expect when you get your car?

Regardless of whether the car was ordered by a police or a private company, the person who towed should provide you with a hand-written invoice including the following information; details of the car, the time and date of towing, the reason for the tow, the time and date the car was released, your identification information, the location the car was towed from, an inventory of all the items found in the car, a list of all the fees and the reason for each, the name of the company or the officer who authorized the tow and notes of any pre-existing damage to the car.

Example of a properly documented 'No Parking' sign

What To Look For in a Towing Company

If you’re looking for a tow, you probably fall into one of two categories: either you have an automobile that you need to get from point A to point B sometime in the future, or you are stranded on the side of the road and things are looking pretty dire. If you fall into the first category, there are some important questions that you should ask to ensure that you find the right company; for those in the latter group, skip down to the bottom of this post.

Do Your Due Diligence

First off, find out about the company. How many years of experience do they have? Are they a member of any trade organizations? Look for Facebook pages or reviews on sites like Yelp! and Google. Towing vehicles is a cut-throat industry, so being around for a while is a sign of a well-run business.

Next, call the company. You can tell a lot about an organization just from the person who answers the phone. Are they friendly? Do they seem knowledgeable? If you didn’t find a lot of information about the company online, now’s a great time to find out more. How many drivers do they have? Are they employed or contracted?

Once you are satisfied that the company and people are good, best to move onto the trucks. What year, make, and model of tow truck do they use? Different trucks have different capabilities and capacities. If your automobile has any special concerns (e.g., it must be towed on the bed of a truck or in a certain configuration), make sure that their trucks can handle it. How often do their trucks and equipment receive maintenance? Is maintenance done in-house or contracted out? How many trucks are in their fleet and how quickly can one be dispatched if needed?

If everything checks out by this point, move onto the specifics of the job. Where do you need to be picked up and what is the intended destination? How long will it take for the truck to arrive? Will the driver be able to call you as he/she nears the pick-up site?

Finally, make sure that you discuss payment before hanging up. Are there additional fees like “hook-up” or “travel” fees? What types of payments are accepted? These days, more and more companies are able to accept credit and even debit cards, but that hasn’t always been the case, and there are companies out there that still only take either cash or check.

What To Do in a Pinch

So you’re stranded with no time to research? Here are the key questions to ask if you’re short on time:

  • My car has special needs. Are your trucks capable of towing my car?
  • Do you accept my insurance?
  • How long will it take for you to arrive?
  • Can you take my car to XYZ (or can you recommend a mechanic)?
  • What is the total cost including taxes and fees?
  • What forms of payment to do you accept?

Give Us a Call Today

Looking for the BEST towing company in San Marcos, New Braunfels, Kyle and the surrounding areas? Then give Will Tow a call! Ask for Will Cap, the owner. He’ll be glad to help! Tell him the Internet sent ya!

Roadside Assistance Options in Texas

There are a lot of ways to get roadside assistance. Families that have multiple cars save a lot of money over the long run. Sadly, however, not all of these services may be available to you. Some have certain qualifications to joining them. Though a lot of the better services have restrictions on member eligibility, not all of them do. AT&T’s roadside is obviously limited to customers that pay for the subscription. USAA used to only be available to military officers, but now is available to military personnel, their widows, their children, or the children of those who had a USAA product, but as it is more complicated than that, we cover it in more detail below.

AT&T:

AT&T’s plan is among the absolute cheapest, but that is because to enroll you must have a cellphone plan through them. It is $2.99/month for the cheapest plan. Like most other roadside companies, they can use your phone to pinpoint the location you’re stranded at. If you do not have Roadside Assistance, but do have an AT&T cellular plan, you may qualify for your first 30 days free! This list of services provided is pulled from AT&T’s website.

    • Towing for mechanical failure

    • Make minor/temporary repairs

    • Battery jump-start

    • Unlock and key service

    • Flat tire assistance

    • Winching service

    • Out-of-gas fuel delivery

AAA:

This is a great option, especially if you don’t happen to qualify for any of the other plans, for whatever reason that may be. They’re also very affordable, $16 to become an AAA member for a year, and $56 and $124 for the standard and premium plans, respectively. It is $34 to add a spouse or family member to the plan. The standard(“classic”) plan includes 4 calls a year, for things like fuel delivery, tire assistance, locksmith for your car, dead batteries, towing and mostly everything a basic plan normally has. Sadly, AAA Classic only offers 3 miles of towing. But the premium plan has extra benefits, as well as all the benefits one gets from premium. If your car breaks down 100+ miles from home, they’ll cover $1500 worth of travel fees. Traffic tickets are covered via legal representation in court and identity theft protection are also included.

USAA:

From their website, coverage is available to:

    • Active, retired and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military

    • Officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS).
    Adult children whose eligible parents have or had a USAA auto or property insurance product*

    • Widows and widowers of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy

    *Children must be 18 years or older to be eligible for USAA membership and purchase products in their own name. Children under the age of 18 can be listed as family members on their eligible parents’ auto policies.

    If you have car insurance with USAA, it is likely to only cost $12-$15 a year to add it onto an existing policy. It has everything a basic roadside assistance plan should already have. USAA is absolutely amazing, and if you qualify, should 100% be purchased.

Don’t Blame The Cold For Your Car’s Dead Battery

Dead Car Battery

We’ve all been there. You’re rushing out the door to get to work one frigid winter morning, hop in the car ready to blast the heater and get comfortable; your turn the key… and nothing happens. Your car’s battery is dead.

It’s easy to blame the cold weather for your battery’s untimely death, but did you know your battery was likely taking a beating in the summer heat long before the cool winter air rolled in? It’s true–heat, more than cold, shortens battery life and efficiency.

Most car batteries tend to last for about 5-7 years with normal use. However, extreme heat (such as a normal Texas summer) can cause the liquid in the battery to evaporate. These low fluid levels can damage the internal structure of the battery.

High temperatures aren’t the only culprit, however. If your car’s voltage regulator malfunctions, it can push more voltage than it should to the battery, which slowly kills the battery as time goes on. You probably won’t notice this issue until it’s too late–like when you’re heading to work one cold morning and your car simply refuses to start. This can be due to the fact that colder weather thickens the oil in your car’s engine, which means the battery has to work harder (and sometimes it just doesn’t have the power left to push through).

In order to keep your battery healthy for as long as possible, be sure to have your mechanic check your car’s electrical system so they can catch any early warning signs before it’s too late. Also be sure to keep the top of the battery clean, as dirt and grease build up can drain battery power.

While looking for dirt and grease build up, also keep an eye peeled for corrosion on the battery terminals. This corrosion can reduce the flow of the current and lead to more battery woes.

If your battery is on its last leg, don’t hesitate to replace it. It’s often cheaper to take care of it before it becomes a full-blown problem than after when you’re stranded in a parking lot and having to pay to have it towed to a shop to pay for a new battery and labor costs. Fortunately replacing a battery yourself is a fairly straightforward task if you have the proper knowledge and don’t mind getting your hands dirty.

If you find yourself unable to get your car started, fret not. Be sure to call a reputable local towing company to get you squared away as quickly and affordably as possible. If you’re looking for such a towing company in the San Marcos or New Braunfels, TX areas, be sure to give Will Tow a call–we’d love to help you get back up and running as quickly and painlessly as possible.

5 Steps to Properly Winterize Your Car

Winterizing Your Car

Winter seems to come a little late in Central Texas (anyone who lives in San Marcos or New Braunfels can vouch that this is fairly common), but colder days are finally set to arrive.

We’ve put together some tips to help prepare for the potentially cooler temperatures so you don’t find yourself stranded on the highway from a malfunction caused by cold weather.

First Things First: Check Your Battery

Cold weather can have a noticeable effect on your vehicle’s battery. Cold temperatures can slow essential chemical reactions that your battery uses to generate the power necessary to get your car up and running. If you’ve ever experienced the unpleasantness of trying to start your car on a cold winter morning only to be greeted with a car that wont turn over, you know all to well the hassle this can cause.

Now’s the time to have a mechanic run a battery load test to check your battery’s health. Even if it passes the test, your mechanic can clean any corrosion that might have built up and replenish any distilled water if necessary… so it’s a win-win as far as proper vehicle maintenance goes.

Check Your Car’s Tire Pressure

Cold weather can reduce the pressure in your car’s tires. A general rule of thumb is that for every 10 degree drop in the temperature, the pressure in your tire will drop approximately 1 psi. Keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer recommended levels ensures your tires achieve their best traction while driving down the road, which is crucial for safe trips.

Anti-Freeze is Crucial

While pumping pure distilled water through your car’s radiator is generally fine, when the weather starts to cool it’s important to get a 50/50 mix of water & anti-freeze. This is crucial so the water that keeps your car cool doesn’t freeze up when temperatures reach sub-freezing levels.

Keep Your Oil Fresh

The colder the weather, the less effective the oil in your car is. Colder weather means thicker oil, and thick oil doesn’t circulate nearly as well as thin oil. Your best bet is to consult your car’s manual, which usually discusses proper oil viscosity levels for different temperatures and climates.

Inspect Your Belts & Hoses

The belts and hoses that keep your car running can be weakened by cooler temperatures. A quick glance by either yourself or a professional (if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for) should be sufficient to determine the current state of these essential belts and hoses. Be sure to inspect them, or else you may find yourself on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck to come pick you up.

If you follow the above steps, you’ll reduce the risk of running into troubles on the road as the weather cools down. However, if you find yourself in a bind and are in need of roadside assistance or towing to get your car to a local repair shop, be sure to have a reliable towing company in mind. If you’re looking for friendly and affordable towing services in San Marcos, Tx or New Braunfels, be sure to give Will Tow a call and we’ll be happy to get you taken care of as quickly as possible.

Services That Towing Trucks Offer Besides Towing

Public sentiment often is irrationally against tow trucks. This stems from one-off experiences where people had their cars towed after illegally parking. But the reality is that often times when our cars break down, tow trucks are our only option. But there are ways to make sure these services don’t bankrupt you. You may actually already have roadside assistance that is offered from one of the companies you already use.

Some of the services that these roadside assistance companies offer include more than just towing. And the good news is that you can try to have them help you get your car going, and if it is unable to start, then a tow truck is right next to you to take your car to a mechanic. Tow trucks will often have battery chargers that are mobile. Even if your car is parked between two cars and can’t be reached by a car with jumper cables, a mobile battery charger will tell you if your battery is even able to be charged or if it is completely dead, or charge it up itself. This can save a lot of headache, because if it is indeed dead, the only option is getting a new one.

Another service you can have them call for you is locksmiths. Some cars, especially newer ones, can be extremely hard to open. Especially by yourself. And the problems can include locking your keys in your car, or losing your keys all together. A locksmith will be able to help you open your car, or make a new key altogether. Electronic keys will tend to cost more, as they have to be custom made to your door to actually work.

Another service commonly offered by towing trucks is replacing tires or helping you with flats. While it is normally easy to replace a tire, not everyone knows how to do it. If you are one of these people, it can be beneficial to have someone there to help you replace your tire. Especially if you do not have a jack or any of the tools needed, they can be what helps you get on the road again. If you do not have a spare tire or a doughnut, then you can always have them tow your car to the nearest tire store. This is not commonly known, but often times if you are willing to pay for a tow truck’s fee, they will bring you a gas can with gas if you happen to run out of gas. Then you can just reimburse them when they get there. Often times this will depend on the driver of that specific company, but if it is the difference between having a working car or being stranded, sometimes that is your best option to get going again.

So while the companies may call themselves “Towing Companies”, the reality is that they are generally willing to help you as much as they can with the toolset they have. It is best to always call ahead to make sure they can help you before having someone come out, of course. But hopefully this can help you get your car going again!

Preparing for a Long Distance Trip

If you are planning on taking off for a road trip anytime soon, it is imperative to make sure that your vehicle is in proper working order, as you want to make sure everything is functioning correctly before you embark on your journey. This is particularly true if the trip is going to be very extensive, as you are definitely going to be putting more exertion on the car than normal. In order to get ready for your trip, here are a few things you should do prior to leaving.

Inspect the Vehicle

A few things that should be done before the trip are checking the oil and the coolant in the vehicle. If they are low and you take off on a long trip, your car may overheat or break down, so make sure they are filled. Another thing you are going to want to do is to go around the car and check the tire pressure as well on each tire and it is always a good idea to bring a spare tire and a jack in case you do blow a tire on the road. You are also going to want to check that the headlights and the brakes are working properly, as well as making sure that the windshield wipers are in proper working order. Also, make sure that you check to see if water and fluid for your windshield wipers and make sure you have more than enough gas to get to wherever you are going. 

Have an Action Plan if Something Goes Wrong

Far too many people do not think about what they are going to do if they do in fact run into a bad situation, such as a car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, or any other type of car trouble situation. A few things you should make sure you always have with you are a cell phone and the phones actual charger, with a plug that fits into a car outlet. A ton of people bring their phones with them, but forget to bring the charger, which may be of huge importance if you break down. 

Getting the Car Inspected

There are few things that are wiser when it comes to taking care of a vehicle that preventative maintenance, as taking the steps to prevent a problem from developing is going to give you the most lifespan out of your vehicle. You should always take your car into the shop to get it checked out every now and then, even if you are not planning on going on a long trip. If you do find that you are going to be driving a long distance, it is a perfect time to take the car into the shop to have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the car and repair anything that may need some fixing or tuning up. If you do run into a major problem with your vehicle while out on the road, you may be surprised at how many times the problem could have been averted by simply taking the vehicle into a shop before leaving, simply to make sure that everything was working up to par.

What Jackknifing Is and How to Prevent It

Truck jackknifed in a ditchIf you’ve ever had to tow something, you may be aware of the risks associated with having to haul something. Perhaps you’ve even seen accidents involving 18-wheelers and wondered how it happened. One of the biggest risks while towing is jackknifing. This incident can be frightening and very dangerous for you, as well as other drivers.

What is Jackknifing?

Jackknifing can occur when your vehicle skids due to lost traction and moves in a direction that is different from the direction that your trailer is moving. For instance, imagine you are traveling smoothly down the road when suddenly your vehicle begins to skid towards the left. Your trailer will continue to move forward, and as a result, your vehicle will not just skid, but spin and collide into what you were towing. When this happens the trailer may continue to drag forward and veer off-road, invade other lanes, or even head into oncoming traffic.

Jackknifing can be avoided by following some simple guidelines while towing. Following these tips can help put you and other drivers in the safest situations. 

Prior to hitting the road, make sure to perform a walk-around of your vehicle, and check the following:

• Weather – Rain is common in Texas and can impair your visibility and reduce traction. Monitor weather patterns before you head out.

• Tires – Are your tires properly inflated? Check the manufacturer specifications regarding inflation and check the tread as well. Do this for your vehicle and trailer. If your tires are in poor condition, they can greatly increase the risk of jackknifing.

• Brakes – Have your brakes been serviced recently? Brakes are essential in allowing you to reach your destination safely. Ensure that your brakes are in operable conditions and can endure the added weight of your vehicle and cargo.

• Payload – One big cause of jackknifing is poor weight distribution. If you’re towing a trailer, distribute any items inside so that the weight is spread throughout all areas of the trailer. Having too little weight may also cause a trailer to jackknife. Ensure your cargo is properly weighted and distributed before departing and after any sudden movements you may have made while traveling.

An important rule to follow in any situation is following the speed limit, but even more importantly is to drive below the speed limit while towing. By doing so you increase your reaction time to multiple variables such as unexpected traffic, a reckless driver cutting you off, or unexpected road conditions. While driving, you should constantly monitor your rear and side-view mirrors to check for payload sway, especially while braking. When you brake you can cause your trailer to sway and increase the odds of your vehicle jackknifing. If this happens, release the brake; this increases traction and may correct the trailer. Other methods that will prevent you from jackknifing include slowing down adequately before performing any turns. Never attempt to turn and brake at the same time. Instead, slow down ahead of time before a curve. Apply the brakes gently and never attempt any sudden maneuvers.

Following these easy tips can greatly reduce your chances at jackknifing and having a safe, enjoyable trip.

The Most Common Towing Mistakes and Tips to Avoiding Them

Not everyone has adequate experience in towing. However, this fact should not limit anyone from tagging their belongings along when going on a road trip or vacation. The most important thing is that all towers learn the common mistakes that they might be penalized or fined for, and how to avoid them. Here is a list of some of the most common towing mistakes that people in Central Texas make and ways in which one can avoid them.

Improper Loading

One of the most common mistakes made by towers is the improper loading of luggage. Only a few drivers are aware of how to properly load cargo. Properly loaded cargo should be well distributed such that it balances through the truck. The purpose of this is to ensure that proper control of the trailer is maintained throughout the journey. The best way for loading your cargo is by ensuring that the bigger percentage is near the axle and that the rest is evenly distributed in the trailer.

Not Checking Your Vehicle Rating

Every vehicle comes with a rating for the goods that it is allowed to carry and those that are not advisable for it to carry. However, not many drivers take this precaution before towing their trailers. Noting your vehicle rating will help you in preventing some vehicle damages associated with improper luggage carriage. This may affect your car brakes, tires, suspension and even transmission. Damages on this area can pose great danger for the driver and the passengers. It could also mean a shorter stay on the roads.

Forgetting to Care for the Brakes

Forgetting to check the car brakes is another very common mistakes made when towing. Most drivers will forget that at while towing, the brakes of their cars or trucks respond much slower than on normal occasions. For this reason, it is important that towers have trailers with a separate braking system such that they reduce the stress on the braking system of the leading vehicle. Additionally, you should ensure that the brakes are in proper working condition and are well- lubricated before embarking on a long journey.

Speeding

Speed and towing can never go hand in hand. Remember, while towing, you are literally controlling two vehicles. This means that there is need for increased caution. And, this is not possible when speeding. Speed jeopardizes the integrity of your vehicle’s operating system, endangering both you and your passengers.

Forgot to Check the Tire Pressure?

Checking the tire pressure might seem like an obvious thing to do when embarking on a trip. However, in the midst of all the excitement associated with traveling with a trailer, one might underestimate the importance of pressuring the tires of the trailer. Particularly, because people tend to assume that the tires will be in order since the trailer is rarely in use. This is one grievous mistake that most drivers make. Maintaining the integrity of the trailer’s tires is as important as that of the towing vehicle. Otherwise, this could lead to accidents, caused as a result of increased friction, arising from low tire pressure.

Locked Your Keys in the Car?

Tow truck helping a car on the side of the roadThis is an all too common problem that many face. The odds are becoming increasingly higher that more people will continue to lock their keys in their car. Just a few years ago the yearly number of people who are in this fix was at 500,000. Now it’s gone up to a few million. Chances are, in the next few years it will go up again.

According the AAA, there are two main bad guys in this scenario. The first one is the keyless ignition. Now, some of this fall onto the owner. He or she buys the system, thinking it will have their back. When the keys are locked in, all of that falls out the window. Number two, the other culprit is the security systems. They are there to prevent people from getting in. What happens though when one of those people is the owner? The alarm sounds and chaos breaks loose. The more advanced the security system is for the car, the more problems it creates for the driver.

There are ways around this issue. Below you will find an assortment of options to look at if you have locked your keys in your car:

1) Call the police, or at least 911. This way you will be safe and you won’t have to explain anything to anyone.

2) Does anyone out there have road-side assistance? It’s going to be in the best interest of the driver to call assistance. Everyone should have some sort of plan under their driving record. In some areas there are highway patrol personnel. They often times patrol the areas looking for drivers with issues. Flag one down. Tell them the problem. More often then not, they will take the time help out.

3) You could also call a towing company. This option is for those who don’t have the money to put out. Just dial 411. Most companies have a lock-out service option. Look into at least. Even if they say no, at least you have put in the effort.

4) Make an extra set of keys. This option will probably save you from having to make all sort of arrangements. It won’t cost you anything to make the extras either, or at least it shouldn’t. Have one around your house. Have one on you at all times. This way if something does happen, you can dig into your pockets and get it.

5) If you don’t have a key, then you are going to need a replacement. This is where it could get complicated and could cost you. You will have to call a locksmith. Now, on the cheap side it’s going to cost you about $200. On the more expensive side, it’s going to cost you close to a thousand. It all depends on the car, such as the make and model.

ONE FINAL NOTE

Some of the newer models have something called a door-mounted keypad. This is where you punch in a code to unlock the door. Some also have a benefit where you call a number to have the car unlocked by a remote, no matter where you are.