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Main: 866-277-0159 Service: 866-312-0166 Parts: 866-418-5048
Main: 866-277-0159
Service: 866-312-0166
Parts: 866-418-5048

Summer Car Care Tips From Joe Cotton Ford


You may get a summer vacation, but car care doesn't take a vacation between Memorial Day and Labor Day.


Actually, the warmer months present some challenges for your vehicle and actually it works hard in the

summer so it may need more maintenance, but this list will help with a little preventive

maintenance keep you on the road and not on the side of the road.


Here are our top 10 tips to keeping your car -- and its passengers -- in good shape this summer.


Air conditioning - Obviously an essential for us on a hot summer day

Typically, a car’s air conditioning doesn’t die without warning. It provides signs that let you know repair is needed. Heeding these signs can help you get ahead of problems before the system fails completely. Acting quickly to correct issues will prevent you from driving your car in hot weather without air conditioning.


1. Air isn’t as cold as it used to be – Your car’s refrigerant may need to be topped off or recharged. Not enough refrigerant in the system, means you have a leak, older systems could be leaking freon into the atmosphere which is not good.

• Because AC systems are pressurized, they must be completely sealed to function properly. Over time, these pressurized systems can eventually develop leaks.

• Once any sort of leak has begun, they will eventually cause enough refrigerant to leak out to the point where the AC will no longer be able to produce cold air.

• Usually an AC system will begin to display a few symptoms when it needs to be recharged.

2. Foul smell like mildew coming from the AC vents – This could be an indication of mold in the system.

• An aged or filthy cabin filter can trigger this problem. Funky odors also can be caused by mold that has accumulated on the air conditioning system’s evaporator case.

3. Unusual banging or rattling sounds – The condenser or fan belt could be worn out, or debris could be clogging the fan.

• Your car’s compressor also uses a clutch, and this component suffers lots of wear and tear over time. If your compressor’s clutch is worn out, you’ll hear a rattling sound. In cases like this, it may be possible to solve the problem by installing a new clutch. But sometimes the entire compressor will need to be replaced.

4. Puddles or stains from water on your car’s floorboard under the dash – Your car could have a clogged drain hose.

• An air conditioning system with a blocked drain can cause water to pool under your car’s front floor mats or beneath the dash. Water stains or pooled water in these areas may indicate your vehicle’s air conditioning needs professional attention. With enough time this smell in the summer can get horrible.


Keeping an eye out for the symptoms discussed above can help you nip certain problems in the bud before they have a chance to cause complete failure of your car’s air conditioning system. If your vehicle exhibits any of these warning signs, give us a call as soon as possible and let us get you in, to see what is going on.


Air filter - Keep it clean and your engine will love you for it!


Before your singing a little Jason Aldean and chilling on a dirt road better make sure your air filter is ready for the trip. A properly functioning air filter helps stop contaminants from getting into the engine, helping to extend its life. It also lets the engine breathe easier, which can help enhance performance and efficiency.


1. Ford Motor Company recommends that you replace this filter every 15,000-30,000 miles, depending on your vehicle model.

2. Replace or have checked if:

• You drive on dirt roads (like Jason Aldean) or in excessively dusty conditions.

• You see a lot of dirt or debris in the filter or note oil contamination.

• You experience a rough idle or sluggish acceleration. If you notice the vehicle vibrating or coughing or slipping sound, these could be conditions from damage spark plugs resulting from a clogged air filter.

• You experience decreased efficiency. Your car’s gas mileage is a common symptom of a dirty air filter.

• Service engine light comes on, inadequate air can result in deposits accumulating on the engine, which can trigger your service engine light.

• If your car does not respond normally when you press the accelerator or if you notice jerking movements, this is a sign that your engine is not receiving the air it needs to perform.

• If your car does not respond normally when you press the accelerator or if you notice jerking movements, this is a sign that your engine is not receiving the air it needs to perform.

• Rodents love air filter material for nesting, so always be suspicious if you see mouse droppings or nesting materials under the hood of your car.

3. If you know how to check your filter you probably know how to replace it. – Your car could have a clogged drain hose.

• If so, give our parts department a call and they can get you the right Genuine Motorcraft air filter or an Omnicraft part for your Non-Ford vehicle.

Like everything else we mention in this article: When in doubt, give us a call to set up an appointment with a qualified technician.


How do you know it it's time for a wheel alignment?


When your car rolled off the manufacturer assembly line, it came preset with special angles that position your tires correctly. And for good reason. In order for your vehicle to travel the way it’s supposed to; it will need precise alignment. Mis-alignment can lead to uneven tire wear, poor handling and shorter tire life. Tires are expensive. Keeping them aligned isn’t.


1. How do I know if my vehicles alignment is off and it is time to get it checked?

• If your vehicle pulls to one side or the other.

• If your steering wheel vibrates.

• When your steering wheel isn’t centered when driving straight.

• Uneven or rapid tire wear.

• Squealing tires

• By the way there is not warning light but all of these things you can notice on your own. Better to check now then it cost you gas money and new tires later.

2. Which brings up – How will a wheel alignment help my vehicle?

• A wheel alignment ensures optimal drivability. It helps tires last longer, your vehicle drive smoother. If your vehicle is pointed in the right direction and driving smoothly, it will require less energy to keep it going, which means saving money on gas. Which right now is huge in Illinois!

• Poor alignment can shorten a tire’s life by thousands of miles and compromise very crucial steering and suspension parts. That’s a big hit to the wallet. If you don’t want to replace tires as often and enjoy the benefits of better fuel economy, have your alignment checked, at the very least, with every other oil change or at the first sign of uneven or premature tire wear.

3. Are you curious if your driving conditions affect your vehicle’s wheel alignment? You bet they do!

• Bad roads can be your wheels’ worst enemy. (Hmmm, do you drive anywhere in Chicagoland?) If, you drive down poorly maintained roads, drive through pot holes, or even hit a curb (or your young driver hits curbs), your alignment will be greatly affected.

• This can cause even the slightest, tiniest alignment issue, which can accelerate uneven tire wear. Make sure you have your alignment checked every 6000 miles or so. Your tires and your wallet will thank you later.

4. Is there anything you can do to avoid alignment issues?

• Winter is over – finally! Remove the salt or sand you had in the trunk or anything else that might me extra weight. Alignment is based on tire angles, which go hand-in-hand with vehicle chassis height. If you have too much weight loading down your back end, that lowers your vehicle height, throwing off your alignment. Remove what you don’t need, and make sure to have your alignment check since your alignment can’t adjust itself.

• Maintain correct air pressure in your tires.

• Embrace conservative driving. (Not easy in Chicagoland, but heed your mother’s advice.) It will place less strain on steering and suspension components which are key to maintaining proper alignment.


If you think your alignment is out of whack, give us a call and schedule an appointment for a Free Summer Alignment Check – tell them Pam sent you. Expires 8/31.


Tires - You know it's on your mind after the last section


Remember to check your tires once a month for the following 3 things and before you head out on you summer vacation – Wear, Air & Spare.


1. Tread Wear

• A penny can buy you peace of mind when it comes to your tires and safety. Place a penny head first into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If this is the case, your tires need to be replaced. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread depth remaining. This means you probably don’t need new tires.

• Rotating your tires ever 6,000 miles helps to prevent uneven tire wear and tear.

• Cracks, cuts and bulges in sidewall are warning signs that you need to get new tires.

• Treads should be free of stones, stray nails, etc.

• When your tire treads are worn, your car may respond poorly in adverse weather conditions like rain and snow. With good treads your car will grip the road better. Also, having insufficient tread is considered illegal in many states. And finally, worn treads can make other parts of your car wear prematurely.

2. Tire Pressure

• It is especially important to check your tire pressure in the summer and having proper tire pressure is beneficial to your fuel economy, safety, and to avoid blowouts on hot pavement.

• It’s easy to check your tire pressure yourself. You can find the recommended PSI located on the driver’s side door jam.

• Cracks, cuts and bulges in sidewall are warning signs that you need to get new tires.

• Benefits of properly inflated tires include optimization of fuel economy and better traction.

• Under inflated tires wear out much more quickly and generate heat which increases the risk of a blowout.

• You should check your tire pressure once a month.

• To get the most accurate reading on your tire pressure, you should measure it when the tires are cool.

3. Additional Items

• Check your spare.

• Is it there?

• Is it old? Is it cracking because it’s been in the trunk for 10 years?

• How are the trends on it?

• How is the pressure in it?

• Grab a can of Fix-A-Flat to throw in your trunk for everyday and for you summer vacation.

• Tire Age - How old are your tires? Regardless of tread wear, vehicle manufacturers generally recommend you replace your tires at six years. Most tire manufacturers recommend you replace your tires at 10 years.


When it’s time to change your tires, Joe Cotton Ford wants to make purchasing a new set as simple as possible. We have the best selection of quality tires to fit your vehicle, your budget and your driving style.


Your battery - You're not going anywhere without it this summer


“Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, which can leave you stranded without warning,” says Steve Fox, Director of Automotive Services for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Most people don’t realize that heat is the number one cause of battery failure and reduced battery life,” he adds.


1. Battery problems don’t always occur in the winter. In fact, summer heat can have a more negative impact on your battery than freezing winter temperatures. Wow, 2 things we have a lot of in Chicagoland.

2. The summer heat and vibrations can lead to internal breakdown and eventual failure, and if you’re not careful, you could be left stranded without warning. Mount your battery securely to reduce vibration and double check that the clamps are tightly secured so they don’t move.

3. The heat can speed up the evaporation of the battery fluid, which causes corrosion, so you should clean up any corrosive build-up when it does appear.

4. If your battery is more than 3 years old, it is a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine how much longer if will last.

5. To find out for sure, come get your battery tested at Joe Cotton Ford.


Inspect your brakes - Condition of your brakes could make the difference in a life or death, quick-reaction situation.


In both bumper-to-bumper traffic and sudden stops at high speeds, worn brakes can let you down. There are many signs of bad brakes and it’s time for new brakes, here is a list of some of them.


1. Brakes feel spongy or squishy under your feet, or you hear unusual noises, that’s a sign that you need new pads and a system bleed.

2. Hear squealing or grinding noises when you stop.

3. Car pulls to one side when you brake or the other.

4. Smell something burning or brake pads are discolored or crumbling.


Drastic changes in temperature from season to season negatively impact your car’s brakes. This is the perfect time of year to get them inspected.


Coolant system - This one seems like a no brainer on the summer car care tips list


Warm weather can take a toll on your vehicle, and a malfunctioning cooling system can lead to overheating and damage to your radiator. Keeping cool is paramount, not just for ourselves but also for our cars.


1. Warm weather uses up coolant more quickly, make sure to check your coolant fluid levels, in addition, go the extra mile and inspect the state of the hoses and the coolant reservoir. Keep an eye out for leaks, especially at joints and connection points, such as where a hose connects to the engine block.

• Squeeze the hoses (when the engine is cool) every once in a while, to make sure they feel firm and not excessively squishy or soft.

2. Coolant loses its effectiveness over time.

3. Warning signs of coolant issues include the temperature gauge rising near red zones, steam, white smoke, hissing under the hood, and/ or a strong, sweet or burnt sugar scent.

4. Get system checked and flushed, especially as debris collects and can clog the system.


Warm weather can take a toll on your vehicle, and a malfunctioning cooling system can lead to overheating and damage to your radiator. Come in and get it checked out before you hit the open road.


Engine belt


1. To find out for sure, come get your battery tested at Joe Cotton Ford.

2. Extremely warm weather increases the chance that engine belts will become loose or misaligned, wear out, or be exposed to fluids from leaks.

3. Visually check belts for missing chunks, cracks, embedded debris, and glazing, which indicated wear or oil on the belt.

4. Belt problems are indicated by a burnt rubber smell, screeching or squealing during acceleration, or chirping at low speeds.


Oil and oil filter | Other fluids


1. All intense weather conditions (wet, hot, or cold) put extra demands on oil and the oil filter. Oil works to keep engine parts lubricated.

2. The oil filter works to capture harmful debris, dirt, and metal fragments that have managed their way into the system.

3. A clean filter will pick up more material, resulting in cleaner oil and ultimately a happier and healthier engine.

4. Check oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washing fluid regularly because these fluids never stop being used.

5. Seasonal weather changes can lead to lower transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid.


Wipers | Dashboard sunshade


1. Thunderstorms can roll in out of nowhere (especially here in Illinois), and it’s important that your wiper blades are up to the task when they do.

2. By the time spring rolls around, snow and rain have likely worn out your wiper blades.

3. Wiper blades are cheap and easy to replace by yourself, but if it’s too tricky or you don’t have the time, you can always get it done at Joe Cotton Ford.

4. Check and refill wiper fluid.

5. When your wiper blades are cracked and torn, they leave streaks across your windshield that affect your vision while driving and you should replace them.

6. If your wipers start chattering or streaking, you need to get them replaced.

7. While we are talking about the windshield, might as well mention, grab a sunshade and keep your car cooler during these hot summer days.


Bonus Tip - Be prepared just in case for summer breakdowns


A well-stocked emergency kit will make things easier if a breakdown happens.


1. Water

• Store in heat resistant and BPA – free container.

2. Non-perishable food items

• Granola Bars, etc…

3. Roadside kit

• Flares

• Emergency beacon and/or Warning Triangle

• Spare tire

• Tire Jack & Lug Wrench

• Tire Patch Kit

• Flashlight

• Jumper Cables

• Bungie Cord

• Electrical Tape

• Zip Ties

• Small Towel

• Whistle

• USB Charging Stick

4. Basic hand tools

• Swiss Army knife

• Multi-tool kit

• Quality knife

5. First Aid Kit

• Make sure to put painkillers, antihistamines (Benadryl), BandAids, antiseptic wipes, antibiotic ointment, gauze, burn cream, and tweezers.

6. Blanket and/or emergency foil blanket

7. Rain Poncho

8. Sweat Shirt

9. Sunscreen

10. Bug Spray


Even with preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so Joe Cotton Ford recommends drivers have a well-stocked emergency kit in their cars.


The Summer Car Care WORKS® Synthetic Blend Oil Change and More*
With THE WORKS, you’ll get virtually everything you need to maintain the performance of your Ford including tire rotation and pressure check,

brake inspection, vehicle inspection, fluid top-off, battery test, filter check and belts and hoses check.

Sounds like just what you need before you head off on a great summer road trip!

Give us a call or schedule an appointment now.

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Testimonials - 5 Stars

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"Fast, quick and never met nicer people to deal with. I don't believe I will go anywhere else."

Dealer Rater - 5 Stars

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"Best sales and service at Joe Cotton Ford. Best Ford dealership to buy a new or used car. Best price and best service. Employees are all great."

Google - 5 Stars

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"Everyone was very kind! I was in and out for an oil change in 45 minutes. Great service :)"

Google - 5 Stars

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I've been a customer for nearly 30 years. Most of my business is service now. I think they're honest and forthright people. The auto business is tough and very competitive. Joe Cotton continues to get my business because they know my car very well.

Google - 5 Stars

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The entire buying process was easy to understand, there was no pressure and went smoothly. Rich the salesman was friendly, knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. I would not hesitate to buy another vehicle from Joe Cotton Ford or to recommend them to family, friends or neighbors. I got a good deal from professional and friendly people!

Dealer Rater - 4.8 Stars

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Brought vehicle in at 66800 miles for brake replacement. Vehicle was not having any problems. Replaced rear brakes same day. Zack in service was professional and knowledgeable.

Google - 5 stars

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They were able to fit me in for an oil change last minute and was quicker than they said it would take as they were pretty busy. I will be back!

Dealer Rater - 5 Stars

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I went to Joe Cotton Ford to buy a 2019 Ford Edge because I liked the way they treated me when I bought a new Mustang last year. They really do treat you right like no other dealer I've ever dealt with before. Salesman Jason Conn truly cares about the customer, finding the exact car I wanted through dealer trade. I used to dread car buying in the past from other dealerships but I don't at Cotton Ford.

Google - 5 stars

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Haven't bought a new truck in yrs! They made the experience fenominal!! Larry is a no BS salesman. I will shop at Joe Cotton Ford from now on!!! Also, they offer free oil changes for life with purchase!! Thanx guys

Google - 5 Stars

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Best service, best sales. Mike krawec and mike diehl are exceptional they really work with you and really care about what you think and want

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I love getting my car serviced here! Always quick and easy with lots of smiling faces!

Google - 5 Stars

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These are the people you want to work with when you're buying a car, they aren't forcefull at all and genuinely want you to get the right vehicle for you. If you're local, it really pays off too because they throw in a years worth of free oil changes with the purchase of your car.

Dealer Rater - 5 Stars

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The service department treated me and my ailing Ford Focus just like royalty. The clutch, transmission control module, and fuel system recall were all replaced in a timely manner. Every car dealership should be as professional as Joe Cotton Ford. The technician that repaired my car must be an expert.

Google - 5 Stars

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The people at Joe Cotton Ford are great, so great that we purchased two vehicles from them in less than a week! A 2019 Ford Escape, and a 2019 Ford F-350 Pick Up Truck! Ken, Mike, and Bob were knowledgeable, curtious, and honest! You can't go wrong with these guy's!

Facebook - 5 Stars

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They are a great dealer for sales and service. We got a great deal on our truck years ago.. Also their service center is good too fixing our (in warranty) ford focus and doing a great job of it.. thanks!

Facebook - 5 Stars

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I just bought my car from them and I had no problems .. and they was really good to me And my kids!!! And I got a great deal!!!!!!! Thank you all!!!! I'm loving my new car!!!!!!

DealerRater - 5 Stars

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I highly recommend Joe Cotton Ford. This very accommodating dealership with an absolutely laid back sales staff & a no pressure sales approach made this experience an absolute pleasure when purchasing my new F150 truck. I will be utilizing their service department for all scheduled maintenance in the future & can't wait to start customizing my truck through the parts department. Truly a pleasant car buying experience. Customer Care: Joanna Sales :Rick Financing : Steve Manager: Tracy

DealerRater - 5 Stars

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My service for my car was done efficiently. I was kept informed of length of time it would take to complete. My husband’s family has bought over 33 cars from Joe Cotton Ford and one of the reasons they keep coming back to purchase is because of their service on their cars.

Facebook - 5 Stars

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Dave Malloy & Zak are both 1st Class guys. Helped with some Issues that just seemed to be getting worse at another local dealership. They both listened to my concerns and went above and beyond to be sure my issues were addressed.

Google - 5 Stars

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I rarely go to a dealer. None of my 4 cars are in warranty so I do most of the work myself. When it is something I cannot do I have a friend who is a private mechanic and he solves the rest of the problems. My 2005 Ford GT was a special case and needed an expert to help with my issues. I am lucky enough to know Dave Malloy, Joe Cottons Service Manager and he encouraged me to bring the car down and he and his SVT certivfied mechanic Todd would help me out. I could not have been more pleased with the whole experience. I was treated like Royalty! My car received the best care of possible. It was fixed promply and properly. The charges were very much in line with the high quality of service I received. Dave was also MOST gracious in taking me around and interducing me the whole support team at Joe Cotton. Including Pam who runs the whole operation. I was impressed to say the least. Although I hope I don't need any serious service in the near future I will definately go back to Joe Cotton Ford when any events occur that require service for my Ford GT. I am convinced that they are the best. Also, should I need a new vehicle. Joe Cotton will be my first stop. I know the great treatment would continue. Sincerely Karl Ayer

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