Our Japanese Auto Repair Blog

Best Stops Between Seattle & Portland

Road trips make for amazing adventures whether you go with a group of friends or that one special someone. Although you likely have an ultimate destination you want to reach, the best parts of any road trip are sometimes the stops you make along the way. One of the most famous road trips people make in Seattle is to Portland as it is not too far, with many wonderful sights to visit along the way.

Here are some of the best places to see at least once in your life, found between Seattle and Portland:

Lan Su Chinese Garden

You will find a true oasis in the heart of Portland at the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Portland’s sister city is Suzhou, China, with a transported piece of China found stateside. This botanical garden features incredible architecture, and you are bound to learn a lot about nature during your visit. The Lan Su Chinese Garden is considered to possess the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China.

Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

In 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, creating the largest landslide in recorded history. You can learn all about this eruption at the visitor center located in Castle Rock, Washington. There are a few different centers, each one offering something unique and interesting. You will get some great views of the surrounding area, and the best part is that visiting is free.

The Olympic Flight Museum

All aviation aficionados will want to check out the Olympic Flight Museum located in Olympia, Washington. You will get to see over 20 vintage planes ranging from historical helicopters to military aircraft; all of which have been kept in superb condition. You will want to swing by during the museum’s annual air show as people flock from all over Washington to see amazing planes take flight.

Point Defiance Park

Spend an entire day taking in all that Point Defiance Park in Tacoma has to offer. The park includes a boardwalk, various trails, petting zoo, and beaches. Both adults and children love visiting the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as there are all kinds of animals to see, including Sumatran tigers, Asian elephants, and pygmy owls.

 Lake Sacajawea

Outdoor enthusiasts love the majestic landscape at Lake Sacajawea. With 3.5 miles of hiking trails, it makes for a great way to work up a sweat after sitting in the car all day. There are many activities permitted in this area, including canoeing and fishing. There are also Japanese gardens where you can see plants found nowhere else in the state.

Lewis and Clark State Park

The Lewis and Clark State Park allows visitors to spend the night. Spanning 621 acres, you can give yourself a self-guided tour of all the amazing trees and see the stars like never before when camping. With five miles of hiking trails, this park is a must for anyone with a love for the great outdoors.

How To Properly Prepare for a Road Trip

Now that you are excited for all that you can see throughout Washington and Oregon, it is time to get practical. Before embarking on a road trip of any length, make sure your vehicle is in optimal working order. Bring your car to the professionals at Greg’s Japanese Auto. With locations all over the Puget Sound, contact us to learn about our array of services.

How to Winterize Your Car – Winter Car Safety Tips Every Driver in Washington Should Know

With the fall season gradually approaching, winter will blow in before you know it. Just as preparing your wardrobe to keep you warm and comfortable during the cold months is essential, it is just as important to prepare your car with specific winter car safety tips.

The experts of Greg’s Japanese Auto are here to teach you how to winterize your car with these winter car safety tips to keep it up and running safely this―and every other―winter driving season.

Tire Inspection

winter car safety

Tires need a strong grip when roads are covered in snow and slick with ice. Therefore, driving with winter tires is recommended. As they are designed specifically for snowy, icy conditions, winter tires ensure safety between your vehicle and the road. No matter what kind of tires you have, whether they be snow tires or regular, they should always have the proper amount of pressure in them; too much air is as bad as having too little. To guarantee your tires hold the correct amount of pressure, schedule a checkup every couple months to give you that peace of mind.

Windshield Wiper Repair

There is vital importance in having quality windshield wipers. While they may seem like a minor aspect to your vehicle, they are dependent on ensuring the visibility of everything and everyone on the road ahead of you. Snow and ice can cling to your windshield and blades, making it hard to see, leading to unnecessary and preventable accidents. Much like winter tires, there are windshield wiper blades explicitly designed to wick away snow and ice to give you a clear view while you are behind the wheel. To properly manage the avoidable incidents involving your vehicle and its visibility, schedule a time to have your wipers tested.

Fluid Check

With the drop in temperature comes many complications. Cold weather can affect the fluids in your engine, impacting its operation. To ensure your vehicle operates at peak efficiency, lubricate your machine and change the current oil for one with different viscosity. Doing so will grease the machine up with a thick oil base, preventing any freezing from happening. It is also recommended to change your windshield wiper fluid to one that leaves your windshield streak-free and protected from various types of condensation as snow can freeze to the glass just as easily. Be sure to have all the fluids in your vehicle checked before the season’s first cold snap with a scheduled maintenance appointment.

Battery Check

Should your battery freeze over, it will not matter how much air you have in your tires, whether you have the right windshield wipers, or if all the fluids in your vehicle are winter-ready. If your battery is ineffective, you will not be going anywhere as your car will not have the power necessary to get itself up and running. Have your battery checked regularly to ensure it is in tip-top shape, and be sure to ask professional technicians what steps you can take to protect your battery from frigid, unforgiving winter temperatures properly.

 

Emergency Kit

Should your situation take a turn for the worse, you could find yourself on the side of the road this winter. Having an emergency kit tucked away in your vehicle can keep you safe, acting as the perfect piece to get you back on the road. Specifically, your kit should include:

  • Snacks and water
  • A flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Engine coolant
  • A small shovel to dislodge snow
  • Blankets, a thick hat, and winter gloves
  • A bag of kitty litter
  • A windshield ice scraper and brush

In addition, it is also recommended to have access to emergency roadside assistance for events like a flat tire, dead battery, an empty gas tank, or situations where your car breaks down several miles from the nearest reliable auto shop.  

Winterize Your Car in Washington

For more winter car safety tips and additional preparation methods, contact Greg’s Japanese Auto or schedule a free consultation for the car services you know you need.

 

 

drive safe

How To Drive Safe This Holiday Season

Whether you are headed to sunny beaches or frozen mountains, driving during the holiday season can be full of fun, adventure, and occasional danger. There are lots of reasons to enjoy a road trip over the holidays. However, to ensure you and your family drive safe and make it safe and sound to your destination, consider these five important tips for safe holiday driving.

1. Make a Plan, Follow Through

As most things do, holiday driving tends to go a lot smoother with a well-made plan. Even if you are only driving a few miles, it is important to outline your driving. Driving plans can include simple items, like where to eat or fill up your gas tank. Distracted driving is dangerous, especially with vacation traffic and bad weather. Therefore, it is important to overestimate your arrival time and account for stops to check your phone.

2. Check Your Tires, Gas, and Headlights

Check, double check, and triple check your headlights, fluids, and tire pressure before traveling because you can never be too careful. If you are going on a long road trip, take your car to a professional mechanic for a complete inspection. As extra miles can sometimes bring issues to light, it is a set idea to check your vehicle before taking off. You do not want your car to break down over the holidays.

3. Sleep Well, But Not on the Road

Sleep is an essential part of any holiday vacation. While it is nice to sleep in and feel rested, it is particularly important to sleep properly before traveling. Get a full night’s sleep before driving, and try to avoid night driving as much as possible. If you feel like you are getting drowsy, have a plan in mind for staying awake. Whether you take a break and switch drivers, drink coffee, or blast Christmas music, make sure you are able to remain fully alert when driving. Once you have reached your destination, it is okay to dream about whatever you want for however long you want ― you are on vacation, after all.

4. DD Rules Still Count

A “DD”, also known as a Designated Driver, is just as important ― if not more important ― over the holidays. Know who is going to be driving and who is not before you begin the festivities. If you are the DD, remember to drink your eggnog without any rum and save the mulled wine for another night. Drunk driving over the holidays is a real threat and can be particularly dangerous due to weather conditions, additional drivers, and late nights in unfamiliar areas.

5. Watch Out for Vacationers

Spending quality time with your family may cause you to forget about the world around you. Be sure to drive safe and always watch traffic patterns. Many other families will be traveling for the holidays, bringing plenty of cars who have never traveled these roads before. Drive defensively and respectfully to make sure everyone gets home safe.

Prepare Your Car For The Holidays

From Thanksgiving at the grandparents’ to New Year’s Eve in the big city, be sure your car is ready for all of your holiday driving plans. Call or stop by Greg’s Japanese Auto for a complete inspection of your vehicle. Located in Western Washington, our team of highly trained specialists can help you keep your Japanese vehicle running efficiently.

If you have been neglecting any maintenance on your Japanese vehicle, our ASE certified technicians will be able to handle any major or minor repair work expertly, as well as equip you with any other safe winter driving tips. As a family-owned business, we understand how important it is to spend the holidays with the people you love the most. Let us help you prepare your car to ensure your safety.

October Car Care Month: Prep For The Rain

In the United States, a driving exam is required to become a licensed driver and hit the road driving alone. It is required for one to know the rules of the road and how to drive in a way that keeps everyone, both the driver and other travelers, safe. However, no matter the extent to educate drivers on safe driving, there are a lot of situations one can not prepare for. You may comprehend the meaning of all the road signs, but what happens if you are unable to see them?

Remembering how to turn out of a skid is important in high-pressure situations, but it may be of no use when when your tires are too worn out to gain the right amount of traction to help you. No matter how aware you are with knowledge on driving in bad weather, you may still be put in danger. Your vehicle must be prepared at all times, just as you have to refresh your memory on helpful, hazard tips consistently. Luckily, October is Car Care Month; The perfect time to equip your car with everything it needs to drive safely in the rain.

October Car Care Month Means Check, Double Check, and Triple Check

Hopefully your car receives regular maintenance so that in the case of an emergency it will be ready; However, regardless of whether you are scheduled for maintenance or if your engine light is on, it is still recommended to double check certain parts of your car on your own.

Windshield wipers and wiper fluid – While windshield wipers act as the most obvious help amid a storm, they often go unchecked the longest. Your car may tell you when your wiper fluid is low, but it is recommended to routinely check to ensure your wipers work well and do not smear on your windshield. If they do, visit Greg’s Japanese Auto during Fall Car Care Month for $20 off on your windshield wiper blades.

Tires – According to Washington State law, driving a car when its tires have less than 2/32 inch treads stands as a traffic infraction. To measure this, you can use a tread depth gauge. Another easy way to check the tread on your tires is to take a penny, turn it so that President Lincoln’s head is upside down, and place the penny inside the tread. If the top of his head is concealed, you have the required depth, but if you can see his whole head, you are at a higher risk of losing traction on a wet road.

Brakes – Your brakes will likely be checked when you take your car in for its scheduled maintenance, however, it may be a good idea to have them checked every time your oil is changed as well. It is also important to be aware of the type of brake system your car has as your response in an emergency will differ in a car with an automatic brake system versus one without it. Come and visit Greg’s Japanese Auto during Fall Car Care Month for a free brake inspection and $20 off your brakes.

Lights – Aside from the fact that broken lights stand as a reason to be pulled over, your car’s lights are incredibly important in many situations. Taking proper care of your lights is one of the most significant car safety tips. Checking your lights may require the help of an additional person, but it is always worth it. Inspecting your lights for cracks on the lenses may save you from a bulb going out while you driving in the rain; Those few extra maintenance efforts could save your life on the road.

When Driving Is Daunting

Driving tips are not only for new drivers. No matter where you are or how long you have been driving, your safety is of paramount importance. Whether you need help checking your vehicle or you know something needs to be replaced, Greg’s Japanese Auto is here to help. The easiest way to make sure your car is ready for rain is to entrust it to the expert at Greg’s Japanese Auto. With their products and services, you can be confident that your safety comes first. Greg’s Japanese Auto is so concerned with your safety that they offer a free Roadside Assistance Program to their Rewards Members. Call us today to learn how we can take care of you and your car on the roads this fall.

Tips for Driving in the Rain in Washington

Tips for Driving in the Rain in Washington

Washington sees an average of 38.15 inches of precipitation per year, much of it being rain. This can lead to hazardous driving conditions, especially if your vehicle is not serviced correctly. While many people have been behind the wheel for years, learning how to drive in the rain is a special skill that can be honed over time. These safe driving tips are an excellent place to start.


Pay Attention to Depth

Make sure you pay attention to the depth of the water around you, especially during heavy rains. Driving in water that is too deep can cause your car to get stuck and can create several mechanical issues, including a stalled engine. As long as you can clearly see the markings on the road, it is safe to drive. Once they are completely covered by water, you need to find an alternate route.


Turn on Your Headlights

Whenever visibility is low, you should turn on your headlights. Even if it does not help you see any better while driving, it can help other cars spot you. If the rain becomes bad enough that you need to pull over and wait for it to lighten up, be sure to keep your headlights and four-way lights on.


Watch for Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning happens when your tires have more traction on the water than the road. As a result, you lose control of your vehicle as it grips the water instead of the solid concrete. Hydroplaning can happen with less than a twelfth of an inch of rain, so be careful and take it slow. If you do find yourself in this condition, steer straight and ease off the accelerator until you regain control.


Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition

Vehicles in need of maintenance are dangerous on the road, regardless of weather. They become particularly hazardous in the rain, as you have to navigate unclear driving conditions while also maneuvering a car that is not functioning correctly. Regular maintenance also ensures that vital features, such as your windshield wipers and defogging mechanisms still work well.

Stay safe while driving in the rain by getting regular vehicle maintenance. At Greg’s Japanese Auto, we have years of experience with diagnostic and maintenance services. Our service advisors and technicians pride themselves on their dedication to the job, ensuring that each and every customer stays safe on the road. Greg’s offers additional protection on the road with their free 24-Hour Nationwide Roadside Assistance Program. All customers are eligible. If you are searching for ways to keep you and your family safe in poor driving conditions, contact us today to arrange for vehicle maintenance or to learn more.

 

Image Credit: Pierluigi.Palazzi/Shutterstock

AC running in car

The Benefits of Your Climate Control System in the Winter

The climate control systems in your vehicle can help make the seasons easier to endure in Western Washington. Your focus is likely more on the heating component during the winter months, but it’s important to take care of the air conditioning system all year round. If you neglect the A/C for too long, it can stop working completely by the time summer comes around. Luckily, running the unit even during the winter can prolong the life of your car’s air conditioner.

Use Your Car’s A/C Regularly to Prevent Breakdown

You certainly wouldn’t want your car to be any colder than it already is on one of the chilliest winter days in Washington. You should still make a point to run the A/C on full blast for at least ten minutes or so every couple of weeks. The activity keeps a few different components of your A/C in good health. Luckily, you can run the A/C and then immediately turn the heater to warm to avoid making your car unnecessarily cold.

Keep Rubber Seals and Pipework in Good Condition

Keeping your climate control system active will help coolant circulate throughout the system. Long periods of inactivity can cause coolant to settle into one place, and the lack of flow might damage the system. The coolant contains a lubricant that helps keep all the parts of the system oiled. If those pieces don’t get lubricated, it might create cracks and leaks. These kinds of flaws in the air conditioning system make it easy for necessary elements like cooling gasses to escape. If your vehicle loses too much of the coolant, the air conditioner won’t get your car very cold when summer rolls around.

Avoid Moisture Buildup in Vents

Long periods of inactivity can cause moisture to settle and collect in the vents of your climate control system. This collected moisture might harbor mold and bacteria. Developing such a problem creates an unpleasant odor in your car and can even pose a health hazard. Drying out the air a little bit serves other purposes too.

Any moisture that collects in your air conditioner can also lead to fogged windows. A foggy windshield is annoying at best, and it can even cause dangerous vision impairment at the worst. If you’re having a hard time clearing moisture from your A/C system, it may be time to contact a professional mechanic.

Vehicle Maintenance in Western Washington

Greg’s Japanese Auto offers a wide array of services to make sure your car stays up and running through even the harshest Washingtonian winters. Come in to one of our 8 Western Washington locations today if you need maintenance or diagnostics for your car cooling system.

 

Image Credit: Pavel L Photo and Video/ Shutterstock

Safe Winter Driving Tips for Washingtonians

Safe Winter Driving Tips for Washingtonians

Living in Washington exposes a driver to all sorts of nasty conditions throughout the year. Keep yourself and your passengers safe by brushing up on some safe winter driving tips. There are a few key things you need to know before taking to the roads this winter.

Black Ice

Dealing with black ice is one of the most common winter driving tips for good reason. Black ice is dangerous because it’s nearly impossible to see on the road. The best way to prepare for black ice is to know where it might be. It typically comes from moisture that freezes once it’s already on the ground, so expect to find it where liquid can accumulate.

Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, and at the bottom of hills. Black ice is more common in shady areas where the sun can’t melt it. Go slowly and avoid sharp turns to minimize danger.

Heavy Rain

Downpours of rain can reduce visibility and create slick conditions. Stay prepared by keeping your car well equipped. Replace your tires as needed and keep them well-inflated to create maximum traction. Windshield wiper blades see a lot of action in this part of Washington, so make sure those are in top condition too. If your wipers are fresh and you still can’t see in the rain, it might mean you need new headlights or additional fog lights.

Snow

Snow can reduce the contact between your tires and the road. This makes it harder to control your car, so it’s important to make sure all your equipment is in great condition. Check tire tread and pressure before driving in snow. Since skidding can be an issue, double check that your brakes are in great shape as well.

Disaster Kit

In case of emergency it’s good to have some extra supplies on hand. Getting prepared with a small disaster kit can help you be ready for anything. Be sure to include the following:

  • Water and Snacks
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blankets and Warm Clothes
  • Shovel
  • Cell Phone Charger
  • Gas Can with Extra Fuel
  • Ice Scraper
  • Jumper Cable
  • Tire Chains
  • Road Flares or Reflective Signs
  • Greg’s Japanese Auto Roadside Assistance Card

Best Vehicle Maintenance in Western Washington

Regular maintenance is the best way to make sure your car is ready for anything winter can throw at it. Greg’s Japanese Auto offers premium services in all areas including safety diagnostics and routine maintenance. We’ll make sure your vehicle is tuned just right to handle any driving conditions you might encounter, but we’ll never try to over-sell you services you don’t need. Before you leave make sure to ask your Service Advisor about our complimentary Rewards Program that includes 24/7 Nationwide Roadside Assistance. Come see us today at one of our 8 locations in Western Washington.

 

Image Credit: Alexkick/Shutterstock.com

Greg’s Japanese Auto

Tired of auto repair shops that don't understand your car? Want a car mechanic who does? Come to Greg's Japanese Auto.

We only work on Japanese makes and models, and we have the experience and knowhow to give your car the service it deserves. Call us today to schedule your appointment.

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For quality service of your Japanese car model, rely on Greg's Japanese Auto Parts and Service. Call to schedule your appointment today at 1-800-794-7347.