7 Tips for Driving in the Spring Sunlight

Spring is Coming in Minnesota 

Do you know how to drive safely in the bright spring sun?


With spring quickly approaching the days are getting longer – this means longer amounts of daylight each day. Fall and winter present drivers with the challenge of driving in lower sunlight conditions, however, spring and summer present the opposite problem – where drivers have to spend more hours driving in direct bright sunlight.

When thinking of driving hazards snow, hail, rain, mud, and wind are the typical suspects – but bright, blinding sunlight can cause reduced visibility and create a visual illusion for drivers that increase the risk of a crash.

As the days get longer this spring there are several things you can do to say safe driving in the bright sun. Here are our top 7 tips for staying safe on the road this spring.

sun shining down with a blue sky over a road


Use Your Visors

Your sun visors are there for a reason – and nearly every car has them.

Most car’s sun visors can be positioned to block out the sunlight coming through your car’s windshield as well as turned to block out sun coming in from the left. Sun visors are specifically designed to block sunlight without hindering your ability to see the road.


Get a Pair of Sunglasses

Sometimes the angle of the sun simply can’t be blocked out with your cars visors alone.

When conditions get really bright it can help to have a pair of sunglasses on hand so that you are never caught off guard. If possible, opt for sunglasses with polarized lenses, these are going to be more effective than normal lenses than combatting glare.


Keep Your Windshield Clean

Dirt, dust, and pollen on your windshield can make the glare from the sun worse.

Debris on your windshield scatters the sunlight even further. It’s always a good idea to make sure your windshield is full clean inside an out. Make sure your windshield wiper blades are in good working order and your fluid is topped off.


Get Tinted Windows

Tinting your windows put a thin plastic film over them that help to block some of the sun’s rays.

It is pretty easy to find specialty shops anywhere that will do this service. It is important to note that most states, including Minnesota, have laws about how much you can have your car windows tinted, and you need to comply with the law or risk getting a ticket.


Give Yourself More Room

When the sun is in your eyes it is harder to see what the car ahead of you is doing.

Slow down – when your visibility is limited you are not able to react as quickly to the car in front of you making a sudden turn or stop. Make sure you are keeping a safe distance between yourself and the car in front of you when stopping as you may not be able to judge the distance correctly when the sun is in your eyes.


City Traffic in the blinding afternoon sun

Account for the Time of Day

If possible, avoid driving at the times when the sun is often the brightest,

typically the hour or two after rising and the hour or two right before setting. Since this may fall right at rush hour for many people – and therefore be unavoidable – consider taking alternative routes with more shaded areas (such as trees or tall buildings) or routes that run north and south rather than east and west).


Pull Over If You Can’t See

It’s a no-brainer –pull over if you can’t see the road.

If the bright spring sunlight begins to hurt your eyes in a way that begins to be detrimental to your ability to drive in any way you should find a safe place to pull over and wait for the conditions to change and it safe for you to drive again.


Spring Saftey with AAMCO Minnesota

Planning your next spring road trip? Let AAMCO Minnesota keep you safe on the road this season – check out our great money-saving offers. Bring your car to your nearest AAMCO Minnesota location for your FREE spring safety check. Call or book online today.

Are You Guilty of These Dangerous Driving Habits?

Everyone has different driving habits – good and bad.

However, some drivers may have a few more bad habits than others and not even realize it. While sometimes dangerous driving habits can stem from being a new driver without experience, often times poor driving habits can be the result of long-time drivers feeling overconfident.

Regardless of how long you have been on the road, you should never stop paying attention to what is going on around you while driving. Something unexpected can happen in just a few seconds. These are the top 11 dangerous driving habits – are you guilty?


Using Your Cell Phone While Driving

21% of all accidents in the USA are attributed to drivers being on their cells phones while driving.

This makes it one of the of the most dangerous driving habits. Between spending the day answering emails, talking on the phone, checking social media and more – we are wired to our phones. However, if you are fiddling with your phone while driving, you are not paying attention to the road – both your eyes and your mental attention are distracted. Remember – that text, tweet, or phone call can wait until you arrive at your destination safely, or you are putting your safety at risk and may not arrive at all.

man looking at the phone while driving his car


Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is one of the leading causes of car accident fatalities.

Driving under the influence compromises your decision-making skills, judgment, perception, and reaction time. Always choose a designated sober driver and never let a friend drive under the influence if you have been drinking.


Tired Driving

Driving when you are tired, or feeling drowsy, can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence.

Your body needs sleep to survive, and to keep your mind sharp. If you are driving while exhausted, your reaction time will be slower – and in severe cases, you may even fall asleep at the wheel.

If you are planning a long drive make sure you get a good nights sleep and have scheduled in regular rest stops.

Related: 5 Safe Driving Tips You Never Think Of – Infographic


Speeding is a habit that nearly every driver is guilty of at some point. Speeding reduces your ability to maintain complete control over your car and increases the distance needed to stop safely. Know the rules of the road and always obey the posted speed limits.


Accelerating Through Yellow Lights

It can be tempting to accelerate through a yellow light to avoid having to stop.

Traffic accident where one driver on the mobile phone, second expressing anger

However, this can be a very dangerous habit. Often when a driver speeds through a yellow light they don’t quite make it before the light turns red. Traffic lights are often timed differently based on location, some lights may be longer or short than others. This may lead you to think that you have time to make the light when you really don’t. So, not only are you holding up other drivers who now have a green light, it can lead to major collisions from drivers who don’t expect you to still be in the intersection. If the light turns yellow – do the responsible thing and slow down.


Eating While Driving

Eating while driving may seem convenient.

With how little time we often have in our busy lives, it can be tempting to try and multi-task and have a snack while you are driving. When you are behind the wheel your full attention should be on driving, and both of your hands should be on the steering wheel. Trying to eat, while keeping your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel is a near impossible task.


Driving Without a Seatbelt

Seatbelts are the most effective way to prevent injuries in the case of an accident.

Your car’s airbag system is designed to work in conjunction with your seatbelts. In the event of an accident, your seatbelt can prevent you from jerking forward causing injury – and in extreme cases may prevent you from being tossed through your car’s windshield. Most modern cars come equipped with a seatbelt alarm, basically, a beeping sound that will continue to go off in your car until you buckle up.

Always remember to put your seatbelt on before beginning to drive. You should be wearing the lap belt low across your hips and the shoulder belt over your collarbone and away from your neck.


Putting on Makeup or Changing Clothes

When pressed for time, we often find our morning routines being cut short.

Many people combat this by getting ready in their cars – putting on makeup, changing clothes or doing their hair while driving. If you are engaging in any of these activities while driving, your focus is not on the road. While staring at yourself in the mirror to apply your mascara you could miss seeing the brake lights ahead of you or children walking in the crosswalk.


Driving with Headphones

The average driver has two ways to determine what is going on while driving – sight, and sound.

If you are driving with headphones on that takes sound out of the equation. If you are unable to hear what is going on around you while you are driving you may miss a horn honking, emergency vehicle sirens, the screech of brakes, and more.


Driving with Your Knees

When you learn to drive, any good driving instructor will teach you to keep your hands on the wheel at 10 and 2. There’s a good reason for this – the 10 and 2 position allows for the most control over your car. If you are driving with your knees, your hands aren’t on the wheel at all – and you risk losing control of the wheel.


Not Using Turn Signals

Your turn signal is your way to communicate with the other drivers on the road.

They give other drivers a warning of your intention to change lanes or make a turn. Failing to signal to other drivers can cause an accident – as your behavior will be less predictable.


Safe Driving with AAMCO Minnesota

At AAMCO Minnesota we want you to stay safe on the road. This means that not only should you practice safe driving habits, but also your car should be in good working order. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. 

Take advantage of our special offers – we offer a free multi-point inspection that includes a complete computer scan and road test. Don’t be caught off-guard and find yourself in danger while driving. Schedule an appointment with your local AAMCO Minnesota location today.



What’s in a Tune-Up?

Prevent and Detect Problems

Regular tune-ups can help prevent problems, and catch problems earlier before they become big costly repairs.

Taking your car in for tune-ups can make the difference between expensive breakdowns and keeping your car running smoothly for years to come. While a tune-up isn’t a cure-all, it can help you and your mechanic stay on top of any potential problems before they cause permanent damage,


What Happens When I Take My Car in for a Tune-Up?


Performance Checks

White car cornering in mountain road with speed blurEvery tune-up should include a series of performance tests to get a baseline of how your car’s engine is performing. These performance tests look at:

  • Battery voltage – your batteries ability to charge and hold charge
  • Power balance – identifies mechanical problems like worn rings, bad head gasket, bad cams, and leaky exhaust valves
  • Engine vacuum – detects air leaks and exhaust restrictions
  • Faulty codes – verifies that no fault codes are present
  • Exhaust emissions – tests your car’s ability to meet emission standards
  • Idle speeds – checks how your vehicle idles and what mixture of fuel it is using while it idles
  • Ignition timing – detects possible sensor and computer problems related to your ignition



While a tune-up could help you find any number of things that need replacement as needed, there are three main areas you should be focusing on.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs need to be changed periodically as they wear down every time they fire. After about 45,000 miles your spark plugs have fired 60-80 million times and they have begun to erode. Instead of having sharp edges they will become rounded and dull and the distance between spark plugs will have increased, causing potential misfires.

Oxygen Sensors

Underperforming O2 sensors can cause a variety of problems with the drivability of your car. If your vehicle needs new O2 sensors it might not pass emissions. To prevent these problems your mechanic should check if your O2 sensors need to be replaced at your tune-up.


Fuel filters, air filters, PCV valve and breather filters should all be checked at your tune-up and replaced as needed.



While the need to clean your fuel injectors and intake system is not as important as it once was, it is still good to make sure they are cleaned if needed.

Fuel residue deposits on your injectors and this can restrict the amount of fuel delivered to your engine. This can result in misfire and deterioration of engine performance. This residue can also accumulate on the back of your intake valves causing hesitation problems with your engine. Cleaning is suggested if you are noticing performance issues or you have reached over 50,000 miles.

Related: Signs of Bad Fuel Injectors


How Often Should You Get a Tune-Up?

Tune-up intervals vary between cars.

image - mechanic working on underside of car on lift in repair shop.If you have an older vehicle with a non-electronic ignition you should consider tune-ups every 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Newer cars that have electronic ignition and fuel injection systems have a much wider range – 25,000 to 100,000 miles. If you do a lot of stop and go driving or are regularly pulling heavy loads then you may need tune-ups more often.

You should always refer to your owner’s manual, or a trusted mechanic to determine your recommended tune-up intervals. It is in your best interest to adhere to these directions in order to keep your car working at its peak efficiency.

 3 Signs You Might Need a Tune-Up

  • Car stalls a lot
  • Engine runs rough when idling or accelerating
  • Car is hard to start


Tune-In and Tune-Up with AAMCO Minnesota

A tune-up with your local AAMCO Minnesota location means our mechanics will inspect every system in your vehicle. Our tune-ups include:

  • Installation of new spark plugs
  • Inspection of spark plug wires and distributor cap
  • Idle speed adjustments
  • Comprehensive diagnostic checks to verify that no computer system trouble codes exist
  • Our 36-point ProtectCheck® inspection on all of your car’s critical systems

Schedule an appointment with your local AAMCO Minnesota location for your next tune-up.

Should I Repair or Replace My Transmission?

Transmission troubles can be both frustrating and costly.

Your transmission is one of your car’s most complex and essential engine components.

Your car’s transmission carries the engine’s power to the drive axels by using different gears. This allows your engine to rotate at various speeds.

Automotive transmission gearbox with lots of detailsOnce you have determined that it is your car’s transmission that needs to be fixed you will need to decide if you want to have your transmission repaired, replaced, or rebuilt. It can be hard to decide if you can have your transmission repaired, need to have your transmission rebuilt, or if you need to replace your transmission altogether. However, knowing the difference between these options doesn’t have to be a source of frustration.

Related: 5 Transmission Problems You Need to Know

Many car owners will bring their car to any transmission repair shop that is able to complete the job quickly and cheaply. However, it is important to make sure you select a reputable shop that is able to correctly diagnose what has failed with your transmission. Come into your local AAMCO Minnesota location to have your transmission diagnosed properly by our transmission repair experts.


Options for Transmission Fixes


Transmission Repairs

When repairing a transmission you are replacing the bare minimum amount of parts to bring your transmission back into working order.

Often with a transmission repair, you are only fixing one specific part of the transmission. This repair can take place without having to rebuild the entire transmission. This option typically costs less than a rebuild or a replacement. However, this option is often not available as there may be too much damage done to your transmission.


Transmission Rebuilds

A transmission rebuild is where the entire transmission is taken apart and inspected.

Any worn, failed, or damaged parts are then replaced and the transmission is reassembled and replaced into your car. Transmission rebuilds are custom processes for each individual car and require a transmission specialist.


Transmission Replacements

A transmission replacement means that you are replacing your entire transmission.

Sometimes this option is called having your transmission “re-manufactured”. Often there are not brand new transmissions available on the market, so you will be purchasing a refurbished transmission.

When you replace your transmission, all of the parts of your transmission are replaced not just the parts that have failed or worn out. This is an option for transmissions that cannot be rebuilt because they are too damaged.

Transmission replacements are done in a controlled, factory setting. When you replace your transmission your transmission will be updated to the pre-built factory settings. This is often the most expensive transmission fix.


Factors That Affect Transmission Fix Cost

It’s no secret that transmission fixes can be costly. Often, they are the most expensive repairs you will ever have to make to your vehicle. If your transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced you can expect to pay more for parts and the skilled labor needed to complete the fix.

The cost of transmission repairs can vary widely based on a number of factors such as:

Extent of Damage

What parts are damaged and to what extent they are damaged is the main factor in transmission repair costs. A newer, well-maintained car is going to cost less to repair than an older car that has been used heavily.

Manual vs. Automatic

Manual transmission typically cost less to repair than automatic transmissions.

Make and Model

The make and model of your vehicle can impact the cost of your transmission fix. A domestic model is going to usually cost less than a higher-end or imported car such as a Volkswagen, Audi, BMW or Mercedes.

Older or Rare Cars

Older or rare cars are going to cost more in repairs as parts are going to be harder to find.

Location and Transmission Repair Shop

The location where you live will affect the cost of your repair. Locations with higher costs of living, or higher demands in services will typically see higher repair costs. This is also true for the transmission repair shop you choose, each shop will have different prices for different services. Your local AAMCO Minnesota transmission experts can diagnose any transmission problems and recommend the repairs that are right for your vehicle. We won’t recommend costly fixes until we know exactly what is causing the problem.

Related: Why Transmission Repairs Are So Difficult


Need to Repair, Replace or Rebuild Your Transmission?

As with any purchase, you want to get the best value for your dollar. When deciding whether to repair, rebuild, or replace a transmission it’s important to know which option is going to be the most cost-effective while getting the job done correctly the first time.

Detail of a mechanic using electronic diagnostic equipment on a carDue to the complexity of transmission fixes, choosing the right mechanic to handle your transmission makes all the difference. When you are looking for an expert to repair your transmission, trust in AAMCO Minnesota. At all of our AAMCO locations, we take the time to diagnose and suggest the best path to fix your transmission the right way. Our AAMCO transmission technicians use only the highest quality parts to make sure you are back on the road in no time.



Schedule an appointment with your neighborhood AAMCO Minnesota to have your transmission diagnosed or repaired today.

Check Engine Lights

A check engine light indicates a problem with your vehicle.

A check engine light is one of the first warning signs of a problem with your car.

Check engine light technology has been included in all cars manufactured in the U.S. since 1996. Your check engine light is part of program in your car’s computer system that is constantly checking your vehicle’s sensors to look for problems.

If your check engine light comes on it could indicate any number of problems and means that it is time to come into AAMCO Minnesota for your free check engine light diagnostic test.


What Does a Check Engine Light Mean?

The check engine warning light is there to help you know when there is a problem with your cars engine and other systems. Your check engine light can indicate a huge number of problems, from a serious repair to a loose gas cap.


5 Common Causes for a Check Engine Light

While your check engine light can indicate hundreds of problems all with different causes, there are five common reasons why check engine lights turn on.

1) Spark Plug Wiring Problems

Spark plugs wear out over time and this can cause your engine to shake, stall, choke or chug. Your car’s spark plugs are what cause the explosions in your car’s engine that allow the cylinders to move. No sparks means no combustion and no combustion in your engine means you aren’t going anywhere.

2) Mass Airflow Sensor Malfunction

Your mass airflow sensor measures the amount of air flowing into your engine, without this sensor your engine can really suffer. If this sensor is malfunctioning your car may become hard to start, drag, jerk or hesitate when accelerating, you may idle too fast or too flow and your engine can hiccup.

3) 02 Sensor Replacement

Your 02 sensors determine the amount of oxygen (02) that goes into your car’s engine to fire the pistons and power your engine. The 02 sensor reads measurements and is able to make adjustments to the mixture of fuel and oxygen. If your 02 sensors need to be replaced, your engine may not be receiving the right mixture of oxygen and fuel.

5) Loose Gas Cap

While it may sound silly, a loose gas cap is one of the most common culprits for a check engine light. If your check engine light comes on after pulling away from the gas station, pull over, turn off your engine and tighten your gas cap. Once you have tightened it, restart your car and if the light stays off you have fixed the problem. If the light stays on, then it indicates there is something else wrong, but at least you have ruled out one easy cause!

Catalytic Converter Replacement

This is one of the more expensive reasons not to ignore your check engine light. Your catalytic converter is a part of your car’s exhaust system and helps to change harmful pollution into less harmful emissions. If the catalytic converter has gone bad it has to be replaced, or you risk your car not running. If you are experiencing trouble with your exhaust system, schedule an appointment with your local Minnesota AAMCO location for expert muffler and exhaust repair.

Related: Reasons Your Car Won’t Start


Flashing Lights vs. Static Lights

Typically there are two types of check engine light alerts, one light that is flashing and one that is not flashing. A non-flashing check engine light typically indicates a less serious problem than a flashing check engine light. While a non-flashing light may indicate a less severe problem, you should still get this checked out as soon as possible.

image - An extreme closeup of an illuminated yellow-orange check engine indicator dashboard light isolated on black background.

While many of today’s cars are smart enough with computer technology to compensate for performance when there is a problem, you still don’t want to drive around for too long with a check engine light. Driving your vehicle with a non-flashing check engine light could increase your car’s emissions and decrease your car’s fuel economy. Ignoring these warnings for too long could lead to a more critical, and expensive issues.

AAMCO Minnesota can help you diagnose your check engine light, flashing or non-flashing, with our free check engine light diagnostic test.


What To Do If Your Check Engine Light Is On

It’s important not to simply ignore your check engine light if it comes on.

Even if your car is running fine at the time, leaving the problem could lead to bigger problems down the line.

If your check engine light comes on, look for a problem that requires immediate attention. Is the light flashing, or red? This indicates a serious problem. Also, check for any other warning lights on your dashboard and your dashboard gauges. In some cars, a yellow check engine light means there is a problem that needs to be investigated and a red or flashing light means there is a serious problem and you need to stop right away. Your gauges will help you to determine problems like overheating and low oil pressure. If your car is indicating there is a serious problem you should pull over and turn off your engine as soon as possible.

When your check engine light comes on, you should bring your car to a mechanic as soon as possible to have your check engine light diagnosed. If you check engine light is on, AAMCO Minnesota offers a free check engine light diagnostic test.

Find your local AAMCO Minnesota location or schedule an appointment online today to keep your car on the road.

Should You Run Your A.C. in the Winter?

Most drivers use their car’s air conditioning in the summer.

So why would you need to run the air conditioning in your car when it’s cold out?

Running your car’s air conditioning periodically can help to prolong its life, as well as provide important safety benefits during the winter months.  

Not Just for Cooling

Your car’s air conditioning system is not just for cooling.

It’s a common misconception that your cars air conditioning system is only for cooling down the air in your car when it’s hot out. Your air conditioning system does exactly what the name implies – conditions the air inside the vehicle. Your car’s A.C. system pushes dry air out of your vents and defroster.  

Winter Safety

In cold, wet, winter weather conditions you might notice your car windows fogging up more often.

Foggy winter road warning The mixture of cold outside air, your damp clothes and shoes, and your warm breath causes the inside of your car to get very humid. This results in your windows getting covered in condensation.

The goal of your defroster is to defog your windows – in other words, to remove that condensation.

In order for your defroster to work most efficiently the air coming out of your vents needs to be as dry as possible. Your car’s air conditioning acts as a dehumidifier as it blows out dry air. Being able to quickly defog your windows in the winter will help provide you with better visibility and keep you safe. AAMCO Minnesota’s car air conditioning repair services can help keep you cool in the summer and fog-free in the winter – find a location near you to schedule an appointment.  

Bacteria and Mold

Bacteria and mold can build up in your car’s air conditioning system if it is not regularly used.

If you’ve ever turned on your A.C. after not using it for a while and noticed a bad odor coming out of your vents – you guessed it, that’s mold. Run the A.C. every so often especially during the winter months when condensation can accumulate in your car. This will dry out that condensation, preventing mold and bacteria from growing in your air vents.  

Prolonging the Life of Your A.C.

Your car’s air conditioning system is built with parts that are made to move.

The moving parts in your car’s air conditioning can be compared to the human body – if you don’t use it regularly then parts may begin to seize.

Your air conditioning system contains refrigerant and oils.

These fluids need to be circulated regularly to keep the moving parts of the system lubricated. If you aren’t using your A.C. for months at a time then the lubricant can’t reach those parts, which can lead to costly repairs down the road. We suggest running your A.C. for about 10 minutes on high every few weeks to keep the coolant circulating through the system.  

Winter Safety with AAMCO Minnesota

Though the cooling features of your A.C. might not be needed in winter months, running your A.C. periodically throughout the season still has its benefits. Consider running your air conditioning periodically throughout the winter as part of the regular maintenance of your car. Don’t end up with unexpected repair costs – come into your local AAMCO Minnesota location today for an appointment with one of our air conditioning repair specialists. Be sure to take advantage of our free winter safety check to keep you and your family safe on the road this winter.