Car Hacking: A Modern Roadside Threat for Tacoma Commuters

car hacking

People take great measures to protect their laptops and mobile devices from viruses and hackers. Why not do the same for your vehicle? With integrated smart technology, car hacking is a greater threat than ever. What can you do to protect yourself?

Car Hacking Is on the Rise

Hackers can exploit a car’s vulnerability points, including its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. Just how vulnerable is your vehicle? In a controlled demonstration, security researchers successfully hacked into a Jeep SUV while it was on the road. They were able to remotely control the car’s dashboard functions, wipers, and air vents.

More alarmingly, they were able to take control of the brakes and transmission, causing the vehicle to crash into a ditch. The researchers gained control via the SUV’s Uconnect infotainment system. 

All modern vehicles are vulnerable, regardless of brand and model. This includes classic cars fitted with modern technology and infotainment system.

Prevention Measures

Auto manufacturers have made tremendous strides in automobile safety technology. Unfortunately, the same strides have not applied to remote hacking prevention. Motorists, however, can take their own preventive measures. Consider the following:

  • Enable automatic software updates
  • Stay up to date with your car’s manufacturer regarding recall of electronic components
  • Shut off the car’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use
  • Scan all USB drives for viruses before inserting them into your vehicle
  • Keep up with regular auto servicing, which should include the car’s ECU.
  • Store your keyless remote in the fridge or a faraday bag. This prevents hackers from amplifying the remote’s signal and tricking it into believing you’re within vicinity of the car.

Protect Yourself from Remote Threats

Cyber risks aren’t our specialty. However, as an auto repair center, Jones Automotive Clinic knows vehicle hacking is becoming increasingly commonplace. Total safety on the road should take into consideration both safe driving practices and car hacking awareness.

Auto Servicing for all Model Types

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Should Tacoma Motorists Switch to Winter Tires?

winter tires

Some motorists stick to all-season tires year-round. We’ll admit winter tires are not absolutely essential in a region like Tacoma. However, making the switch does make handling a bit more manageable on icy roads.

What Are Winter Tires?

As suggested in the name, winter tires are intended for winter use. The treads are deeper with larger gaps, giving them better traction and the ability to move water more easily.

Winter tires are an absolute must in regions that experience a lot snow. While Tacoma winters hardly ever entail snowfall, they do bring rain that causes slippery surfaces. Winter tires are not expensive, and most auto services install them.

Winter Tire Statistics

If you’re unsure about switching to winter tires, here is some data that might be helpful food for thought. The data comes courtesy of Consumer Reports and Michelin.

  • Most drivers consider winter tires beneficial whether they drive a front-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicle.
  • Drivers with snow tires worry less about losing traction than other drivers.
  • 67% of drivers believe winter tires are unnecessary if they have all-season tires. However, road tests from Consumer Reports confirm that winter tires have superior traction.

Can You Use Winter Tires Year-Round?

Some people make the switch to winter tires but never return to all-season tires in the spring. We do not recommend this. Winter tires have more pliable tread rubber. While this increases grip in winter, it also wears more quickly in warmer weather. That means replacing an entire set of tires more frequently.

Most auto repair services will re-install your all-season tires at a low cost.

We Provide and Install Winter Tires

We have winter tires in inventory for most car makes and models. View our gallery to see our crew in action. Bring your car to Jones Automotive Clinic to switch to winter tires; the move will drastically improve your safety on the road.

Tire Repair and Replacement

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

How to Defrost Your Car Windows During a Tacoma Winter

defrost car windows

Tacoma isn’t the coldest region, though it does get cold enough to cause the windows to frost. You need to defrost your car windows. Not doing so greatly limits visibility and is a serious hazard. We’ll go over some simple ways to clear your windshield of morning ice.

1. Pour Warm Water on the Glass

This is a simple hack; pour warm water over the windshield. The key is to use warm but NOT boiling water. The latter can cause the window to crack. Warm water melts the ice enough for you to scrape away using a scraper or a credit card.

Our auto service also recommends a more effective hack. Instead of using plain warm water, use a solution of one-third water and two-thirds rubbing alcohol.

2. Let the Engine Idle

When you start the car, let the engine run for two to three minutes. While running the engine, turn on the defroster. This helps defrost the windows on the sides and rear, which motorists tend to forget to do. You should also roll down the windows a crack. This lets in some dry outdoor air, which mixes with the warm humid interior air and speeds up results.

3. Prevention

Prevention is the best remedy to keep frost at bay. If you park your car outside, then cover the windshield with cardboard. This shields the glass from moisture that causes frost formation once the temperature dips. Similarly, you can wrap the windows with a towel.

Defrost Your Car Windows and Stay Safe on the Road

Winter is also a good time to address auto repairs. This is the season when hidden problems tend to manifest themselves. Bring your car to Jones Automotive Clinic; we work on all car types, especially Subaru and Toyota models. Defrosting your car windows is critical for road visibility.

Winter Vehicle Maintenance

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

How to Spot and Minimize Pothole Damage in Tacoma

pothole damage

Anyone who commutes daily on Tacoma streets can attest to the number of potholes. This is especially problematic during this time of year because most potholes are difficult to detect because leaves and puddling water disguise them. Learning more about potholes will help you minimize pothole damage.

What Causes Potholes to Form?

Water that accumulates on the road during fall and winter seeps into the cracks in the pavement. Then it freezes. Then it thaws. As this process repeats itself, it causes the road to contract and bulge. When cars drive over the bulge, the weight causes it to crack apart and the tires dig out the cracked pieces.

How Do Potholes Cause Damage?

Driving through a pothole causes a sudden shift in air pressure in the tire. In severe instances, this can lead to a blowout. Potholes may also cause a bend or crack where the rim meets the tire. Finally, hitting a pothole may lead to a misaligned suspension or uneven wear. If the vehicle begins veering in one direction, then you have an alignment problem. Bring your car to an auto repair center right away.

How to Avoid a Pothole

Obviously, if you spot a pothole ahead, slow your vehicle to minimize the impact or drive around it if possible. However, not all potholes are clearly visible. Pooling water is often a sign of a pothole. Also, slow down when driving through leaf-strewn roads. You can never be sure what the fallen leaves are concealing.

You should also leave ample space between you and the car ahead. Tailgating minimizes reaction time to a pothole if you spot it at all. 

We Repair Cars from Pothole Damages

Our auto service routinely inspects potential vehicle damage from potholes. See our gallery of our crew members in action. Jones Automotive Clinic advises motorists to be cautious drivers so you can avoid pothole damage

Fall and Winter Auto Maintenance

Serving Customers in Tacoma, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Auburn, Federal Way, Des Moines, Gig Harbor, University Place, Fircrest and Ruston

Desert Driving Safety Tips For Tacoma

desert driving, desert driving safetyWashington isn’t exactly known for its deserts, though they do exist. Fall is actually a good time to travel to such areas since the weather is far more bearable. Before heading out on an excursion, be sure to adhere to safe practices for desert driving.

Bring Plenty of Water

You need to be prepared if your car breaks down. You don’t know how long you’ll need to wait for tow assistance, which can take hours in an off-road region. Bring an entire case of water because desert settings can lead to dehydration even in the fall. You should also keep coolant in the trunk for your radiator.

Know Your Vehicle

Most vehicles have features that the owners rarely use. You’ll be surprised at the number of drivers who are unable to locate, for example, the hazard lights. Others may not know where to locate the tools for changing a flat tire. Familiarization with the vehicle is even more important if driving a rental car. Continue Reading →

Safe Driving in Foggy Weather in Tacoma

foggy weather driving, driving in fogTacoma residents know the city is prone to morning fog especially during the fall season. This poses a serious safety hazard. Nevertheless, life goes on and you still need to commute. Here are three tips for driving safely in foggy weather.

1. Create More Distance

The general rule is to maintain a two-second distance between you and the driver ahead of you. This applies to clear road conditions. If you can make out the vehicle in front, increase the distance to four or even six seconds. Even in deep fog, you should be able to see the taillights.

2. Do NOT Use the High Beams

Conventional wisdom is to switch to the high beams under poor visibility. We do not recommend this for dense fog. High beam lights reflect off the fog and can make visibility worse.

With respect to old lights, consider replacing the headlights at our auto service. Older bulbs or faded light covers can decrease the lights’ brightness. Continue Reading →

What to Do With a Car Breakdown on a Tacoma Highway

highway breakdownOne of the biggest commuting nightmares is experiencing a car breakdown in the middle of a busy interstate. This is certainly a cause for alarm and no doubt a dangerous scenario for you and other drivers. We’ll explain what to do in the event of a car breakdown on the highway.

Pull Over

Your car can still operate even with a blown tire or overheated engine. Pull over when safe to do so. If a freeway exit is nearby, take the exit and look for a parking area. You can also scout for an auto service in the vicinity.

If you have to pull over in the middle of a busy road, exit from the right side of the vehicle. Increase your car’s visibility by turning on the hazard lights. Continue Reading →

How to Handle a Tire Blowout

tire blowoutBlowouts occur more frequently in the summer because heat causes the tire rubber to expand; but who thinks about this? So here you are, going 65 mph+ on the freeway when you hear a pop. The car slows down drastically; you immediately recognize you have a tire blowout. What do you do in this precarious situation?

How to Recognize a Tire Blowout

Not everyone immediately recognizes the signs of a blowout. You may hear a banging pop followed by reverberation inside the car. Also, expect repeated flopping and flapping as the flat tire smacks the road.

Other points to keep in mind:

  • The car may pull to one side.
  • Expect more difficult steering if a front tire blows out.
  • Expect strong vibrations and bumpiness in the seat if a rear tire blows out.

How to Drive Through a Blown Tire Continue Reading →

Four Common Car Air Conditioning Problems

car air conditioning problems, car AC problemsWith summer in full swing, expect to become reacquainted with your car’s AC. You may notice, though, that something about the air coming out the vent just feels off. Car air conditioning problems are actually quite commonplace. Our auto service shop deals with faulty ACs all the time.

1. Moisture

Do you feel moisture in the air when flipping on the AC? This may be a sign of trapped moisture or solid particles in the AC system. If a musty odor accompanies the damp feeling, then you may also have bacteria or fungi growing inside the AC vents. At this point, not only are you not receiving cold air but the vent is emitting illness-inducing mold spores.

2. Barely Cool Air

Do you turn the AC on max but only feel air that is mildly cool rather than cold? You may have a clogged cabin air filter or bad condenser. If you are more mechanically inclined, then check the condenser and cooling fan while the car is running. You should also examine the condenser for signs of obstructions, such as leaves or bug parts. Continue Reading →

Why Summer Car Care Matters

summer car care, air filterIs your car ready for the upcoming summer? Your car undergoes more stress during operation under high temperatures. This is why summer car care matters to responsible vehicle owners across Tacoma.

Check Your Tires

According to the Rubber Manufacturer Association, only one in 10 car owners regularly check tire pressure. You absolutely cannot disregard tire pressure checks in the summer. Factors like under-inflation, misalignment, and worn treads all increase risk of a blowout. For every 10-degree increase in temperature, tire pressure increases by about 2 psi. This increases over-inflation, which can cause a rupture in the rubber.

Change the Air Filter

The air filter probably collected a lot of debris and road salt over the winter. A dirty air filter reduces fuel efficiency by as much as 10%. Unless the vehicle manual specifies otherwise, we recommend an air filter replacement every 12,000-miles. Continue Reading →