Christmas Tree Chaos: Spread Holiday Cheer, not Fear

christmas-tree-christmas-1796131_640As December quickly approaches and everyone here in Polk County has Christmas on the brain, signs of holiday spirit are popping up all over town. Christmas light displays adorn houses, shops are stocking all their Yuletide goodies and Christmas trees are beginning to fill each home throughout Florida. However, getting those trees home can be a bit of a problem, as one family in Massachusetts found out (read more about that here). While their case might be a little extreme, the precautions that need to be taken when hauling home a Christmas tree, or any large Christmas decor item, remain the same.

So, how can you get your tree home safely, without replacing holiday cheer with holiday fear?

  • BYOR (Bring Your Own Rope). Cinch straps work too, as would strong bungee cording. Whatever you choose, it’s best not to rely on the thin, inexpensive twine offered at the tree farms/ stores. One snap of a piece of twine and your tree could end up on the highway (or on someone else’s windshield).
  • Don’t choose a tree that’s bigger than your car. If your home requires a large-scale tree and your vehicle isn’t up to the challenge, ask around to see if a friend with a large SUV or truck is willing to help you out. For optimum safety, choose a vehicle with a roof rack or cargo basket, and secure the tree with the aforementioned straps or rope. If you don’t have a friend with a suitable option, you can always rent pickup trucks by the hour from local big-box hardware or home improvement stores.
  • Wrap it up. The mesh netting supplied where you purchased the tree isn’t a waste of time and effort. Having the tree bundled in the netting means loading (and unloading) will go much faster and be easier than battling rogue branches and bristles slapping you in the face and scratching walls. Having the tree bundled also makes it much easier to secure on top of your vehicle.

Another big kink in your holiday tree shopping? Having your car break down in the middle of hauling it home. Don’t end up stuck on the side of the road with part of the forest attached to your car. Keep your vehicle running at its best, and avoid unexpected surprises by investing in maintenance and car care. Adkins Automotive is proud to supply the Winter Haven community and the greater Polk County area with top-quality mechanic services of all kinds, from topping off fluids and doing brake checks, to fully rebuilding your engine. Give us a call for an appointment or stop by our local shop!

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Know Before You Go: Preparing for Successful (and Safe) Trick-or-Treating

IMG_8333With Halloween less than a week away, we know that people throughout Polk County are preparing for the fun of trick-or-treating. Adults and children alike enjoy the evening of dressing up, visiting with neighbors and friends, and collecting plenty of candy. It seems like preparing for the night would be simple. After all, once you have your costume put together, and your candy bucket is ready to go, all that’s left is grabbing a flashlight and hitting the streets, right?

Actually, there are a few more things you can do to make this Halloween a little safer for you, and for the there fun-goers you’ll encounter throughout the evening. Employ these tips to make this holiday fun AND safe:

  • Check on your car lights. Headlights, signal lights, brake lights, etc. are all very important when driving at night, and are especially vital with driving around lots of pedestrians like those found on the streets during Halloween. Make sure you are seen long before you approach groups of people crossing the streets.
  • Give your kids glow-sticks. These aren’t just a fun accessory for your little ghosts and goblins. Glow-sticks provide a fun way to keep your kids visible to other drivers, and are easier for them to manage than a large, bulky flashlight. Glow sticks can even be formed into bracelets, necklaces, etc. so they are completely hands-free!
  • Take along a simple first aid kit. Skinned knees happen (those costumes can trip you up you know!) and when they do, being prepared with some ointment and a bandaid will make the evening much better for all involved. Having a simple first aid kit in your bag as a parent or caretaker ensures that you are ready for what comes your way.
  • Keep your cell phone charged! Having a fully-charged phone with you isn’t just great for picture opportunities. It’s also important for any emergencies that can arise. You’ll be able to get help faster if your phone is ready to go.

We hope this will help you feel more prepared and secure as you head out for trick-or-treat fun this year. If your signal lights are giving you trouble, or if your car needs a tune-up to avoid scary breakdowns on the big night, we are ready for you. Adkins Automotive is proud to serve the greater Winter Haven area with personal, quality automotive service. Call us to make an appointment or stop by our shop.

Happy Halloween from Adkins Automotive!

Hurricane Ready: Is Your Car Prepared?

attention-2584482_640Hurricane Irma was a wake up call for many of us here in Polk County that we are NOT immune to hurricanes and their devastation. Our entire county, and the greater Central Florida region, felt the wrath of the storm as it headed up the state, and left behind destruction, no power, and thousands of dollars in home and automobile damage. With hurricane season still having months to go, and Hurricane Maria lurking in the Atlantic, we figured this was a great time to give you some tips about making sure your vehicle is “hurricane ready”, no matter what storm comes our way.

  1. If possible, get your car inside! We understand that your garage is likely more crowded than usual with lawn furniture, your grill, your kids’ sandbox, and more. If at all possible though, get your vehicle into the garage. Being inside means your car is much less likely to sustain damages from a storm. If you don’t have a garage, or your vehicle won’t fit in your garage, you have some other options. Ask around among friends and family to see if someone has extra garage space, or will be evacuating and leaving their garage vacant. They’ll likely be glad to help you out. As a last resort, consider renting a storage space temporarily if you have enough time to prepare for a storm. This is really only necessary if you are expecting a severe hurricane, and/or if you live in an area with lots of overhanging trees or likely debris that would hit your vehicle. The best rule of thumb for your car in bad weather though, is: “When in doubt, don’t leave it out!”
  2. Invest in a high-quality car cover. This is really important regardless of weather, as a car cover will protect your car’s paint job from the intense Florida sun, and will protect it from the elements on a daily basis. These covers are also good to have during severe weather though since leaves, branches, and other debris can hit your car and leave scratches or dents that would likely be padded and/or deflected by a good vehicle cover.
  3. Park parallel to your garage door. If you have to leave your car out, try parking your car sideways along the garage door. In other words, your car is running parallel to the garage door and front/side of your home. The closer your car is to your house, the more it’s protected from wind, rain, and debris. This won’t be a guarantee safe zone for your car, but it’s better than leaving it out on the street or in the middle of the driveway where it’s out in the open and a target for anything flying by.

We hope these tips help you feel better prepared the next time a hurricane is headed our way. Whether it’s this year, or another 20 years from now, preparation and knowledge are key in making it through the period before, during, and after a hurricane. We are proud to be part of such a strong community here in Polk County, and we are rebuilding right alongside you after Irma blew through. If you’re dealing with damages to your vehicle, or simply need a tune-up or checkup for our car, we are open and ready to help. Call us for an appointment or stop by our Winter Haven shop.

Hit The Road with Your Pet: Tips for Travel

dog-2379878_640Throughout Summer here in Central Florida, people use their time to travel, and often, that means their pets will be hitting the highway right along with them! Your pet can be a wonderful travel companion, and can offer company during the long hours spend on the road. However, did you know that your vehicle can also pose some serious risks to your dog (or cat)? Here’s how to protect your beloved pal when you head off on your next adventure:

  • Watch out for doors! Dogs especially are prone to suffering broken bones when they are accidentally caught in a door being slammed. Avoid this risk by keeping your pet secured until you are ready to get him/her out, and double check before closing any door of your vehicle.
  • Clean out your car before you leave. Old food scraps, paper products, cleaning wipes, etc. could be hiding out in your floorboards and under your seats, and if your pup (or kitty) finds one and takes a taste, it could end up making them terribly ill. Give your car a good cleaning before you leave to make sure all debris is cleared out of the reach of your pet. Not only will it keep your pet safe, but a cleaner car makes for a much more enjoyable trip!
  • Secure your pet. Whether you choose to purchase a specific seatbelt attachment meant for pets, or use a crate system, keeping your pet secured when you are riding is of utmost importance. Not only does it protect them in the case of an accident, but it also protects you, as well as any other passengers in the car. A pet can become deadly if it hits you with the force put out during a collision. Keep your pet secured whenever the car is in motion.
  • Make a packing checklist, and check it twice! Make sure you have plenty of food and water for your pet, based upon how long your road trip trip will be. Be sure to include a dish for serving water while on the road, and consider adding some extra stops into your trip for your pet to burn off energy, take a potty break, and perhaps eat a little snack.

We hope these ideas will better prepare you for your next fun time on the road with your pet! Another important preparation for any road trip, whether your pet is along for the ride or not, is making sure your vehicle is in the best possible condition before heading out on your next adventure. A breakdown is always a hassle, but if your pet is accompanying you, it can complicate the entire process. Adkins Automotive can give your car a thorough inspection to make sure all parts are fully operational and in great condition, so you know you can enjoy your road trip worry-free. Call us for an appointment or stop by our Winter Haven shop on Dundee Road. We’ll be glad to see you before you hit the highway!

Road-Tripping: Tips Before You Hit the Highway

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Here in Central Florida, we well into summer break, and Polk County families are packing up for vacations over the next few weeks before school is back in session. Vacations are fun, but they can take a toll on you, and on your vehicle, if you aren’t properly prepared.

Just as you pack and prepare for time spent away from home, packing and preparing for the trip to get you to your destination is just as important. So, how can you best prepare for the hours and miles ahead of you?

  • Have a “car care” kit in your vehicle at all times. Good items to include are: a jack and any needed tools for changing a flat tire, gloves to protect your hands, a plastic funnel (good if you have to replace any fluids), flares and/or reflectors for nighttime safety, and a good flashlight with extra batteries.
  • During the summer, temps can soar, especially here in Florida. Don’t forget to keep bottled water on hand for those unexpected breakdowns or the days when you are far away from any other provisions.
  • Bring your cell phone and keep it charged. Your cell phone not only serves as your means of contact in an emergency, but also serves as a GPS device and an aid with finding car service, gas stations, etc. quickly on road trips.
    First aid kits are a must. Keep a well-stocked kit in the trunk of your car for everything from bumps and scrapes to an emergency situation. Restock as needed so you never have to go without!
  • Cash is important! In the age of credit and debit cards, cash is a lost art. However, some places (especially small stops along road trip routes) might not take cards, and you could be left stranded. Keep at least some cash on you at all times during your road trip to cover minor needs that your card might not work for. A good rule of thumb is to keep between $20 and $50 spare cash on you during a trip. That’s enough to cover a full tank or partial tank of gas, depending on the size of your car, and/or snacks, additional water, etc.

The best thing you can do to prepare for any trip is to have your car serviced beforehand. Routine maintenance is key to the life of your car, and scheduling a service “check up” before any long trip is part of that maintenance since it involves looking at your fluids, tires, engine, brakes, etc. If your car isn’t functioning at its best and you hit the highway, you risk breaking down, and causing expensive damage to your vehicle.

Adkins Automotive offers a full range of service options to the greater Polk County area, and we value our clients highly. We make sure that every vehicle we send out of our garage is running at its best, and is ready for anything, whether it’s a daily commute across Winter Haven or an adventurous trek across the US.

Enjoy your summer travels, and stay safe!

Heading Toward a Bright Future: What to Do Before Your Graduate Hits the Road

graduation-879941_640.jpgSchool is coming to a close here in Polk County, and parents throughout Central Florida are preparing to say goodbye to their graduates and pack them up for college or their budding career. While this season is exciting for students, it’s often bittersweet for the moms and dads they leave behind, since up until this point their lives have revolved around the well-being of, and care for, their child. We understand that it’s hard to let go, and we know that you still want to provide protection for your kids, regardless of whether or not they are still under your roof. Wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind that your student is safe and cared for when they’re away from home?

While we can’t speak for their new living arrangements, Adkins Automotive can give parents the peace of mind that their students will be safe while on the road. We can help you check off your list of concerns about your child’s vehicle before you ever send them toward campus or another town. What will we check?

  • Tires. We will make sure there are no punctures or damage, and will check to see if their tire pressure is where it needs to be. We can also balance and rotate tires to keep them at their best for longer.
  • Hoses and cables. Battery cables, brake-fluid lines, emissions hoses, etc. are all components of a car running efficiently and safely. We will check under the hood to ensure that all looks as it should and is ready for a road trip.
  • The engine. We will take care of an oil change, and give the engine a thorough checkup before we ever close the hood.
  • Brakes, brake lights, etc. are all part of our inspection process.
  • Fluids of all kinds will be checked and topped of as needed.

Our mechanics at Adkins Automotive can take care of just about any worry you have about your child’s car. Our goal is to keep them safe on the road, whether they are heading toward a bright future, or coming home for a holiday visit.

Congratulations to the class of 2017!

After Market Upgrades for Your Vehicle: Is It Worth Your Money?

range-rover-2176929__340.jpgWhen purchasing a car, whether new or used, you probably have a list of “requirements” or criteria for the vehicle that’s best for you.  While new cars are easier to tailor to your specifications, used vehicles can be made more like your ideal choice with after market upgrades.  However, there are a plethora of upgrades available on today’s market, from tinting for your windows to help with glare and temperature control, to specialized sound systems that offer all types of listening options.  So, what is worth spending your time and money on, and which ones are better to pass by?

The first big factor is determining your end goal.  Do you plan to one day sell the vehicle? Are you hoping to receive your investment in the after market upgrades back in the sell price?  If that’s the case, you need to be selective about which upgrades you choose to spend your money on.  Things like (tasteful) professional window tinting, upgraded protective floor mats, or travel and storage accessories (roof racks, trailer hitches, etc.) are all great ways to upgrade your car, and you will likely see some return on that investment if you choose to eventually sell.  Don’t plan on selling, or don’t care about getting your money back from the upgrades?  Feel free to be as frivolous as you want with upgrading your car!
Another factor in deciding on vehicle upgrades is how you plan to utilize the vehicle.  Do you have several young children and are looking to maximize usage of your family vehicle?  Upgrades like additional cupholders, parent/child mirrors, etc. can be huge helps when taking long (or short) road trips.  Plan on using your SUV or truck for camping trips and adventures?  Adding a towing package, luggage rack, and high-quality seat covers could be a great way to keep your vehicle at its best and make it work for you.

Finally, decide on your budget, and prioritize what you want to accomplish.  If you can’t afford all the upgrades on your list, narrow down what will really give the highest return, whether monetary or through usage on a daily basis.  Perhaps you can do a few upgrades at a time as your budget allows, and knock out your list over a period of time. Regardless of what you choose, and how long it takes know you can call on us to help!

Adkins Automotive can install your after market upgrades on your vehicle, or point you in the right direction to get your car maxed out to its very best.  We also offer services to keep your vehicle like new, both under the hood, and on the surface with our headlight restoration, and other external repair and maintenance options.  Give us a call for an appointment or stop by our Winter Haven shop for all your automotive needs!

We’re Hiring! Benefits of Joining the Adkins Automotive Family

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Adkins Automotive is excited to be growing, and all that growth means we are hiring.  We are currently seeking an experienced automotive technician to join our team, and we know that there a plenty of quality applicants to be found.  You can check out our Facebook page here (link to the Facebook job post) for more information about the position, but we thought it would be a good time to offer a few reasons why it’s great to work for Adkins Automotive.

  • Great pay.  While it’s important to love what you do, it’s no secret that your pay scale can either make or break your career in the long run.  We believe in compensating our workers for their hard work, their knowledge, and their skills.  If you work with us, you know you will be taken care of and treated fairly for the job you do each day.
  • On the job training.  Continuing your training is important, and we are firm believers in “lifelong education”.  Our employees can learn from one another, and from those higher than them, because your training really never ends when you step into the bay.  The best part is, our trading doesn’t come from a textbook or from behind a desk.  Hands-on, work-related training is best, and you’ll get plenty of it with us.  We know we can learn from what you bring to the table as well.
  • Working alongside a great staff.  Adkins Automotive is proud to offer personal and professional service to the greater Polk County area, but our emphasis on building relationships starts right here in our own building.  We encourage our staff to work together, and we consider ourselves a team.  From the office admin. to each automotive technician under the hood, we need each person here to keep our business running at its best.

Think you might be right for the job here at Adkins?  We’d love to hear from you!  Apply for our current opening on our Facebook post linked above, stop into the office to drop off your resume, or give us a call to learn more.  We can’t wait to hear from you!

Show Your Sweetie Some Love This Valentine’s Day

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The day of love is right around the corner, and with only days to go, many of our Polk County friends and neighbors are looking for just the right way to say “I love you” to their significant other.  While flowers and candy are nice, what if you could really make their day by taking care of their car.  That’s right, showing their vehicle some TLC is a great way to show them you care!

How?  Consider some of these ideas…

  • Get their car serviced without them asking.  Scheduling a tuneup here at Adkins Automotive means we will check fluids, hoses, belts, etc. and make sure everything is running at its best and you won’t encounter unexpected breakdowns.  Knowing you care about their safety is a great way to show your sweetie you love them!
  • Fill their car up without them knowing!  Getting behind the wheel when you’re running a few minutes late only to realize you don’t have to stop for gas like you thought can completely turn someone’s day around!  This is a great way to show your love to your spouse, children, or even a close friend for Valentine’s Day!
  • Get their car detailed.  Again, this is good for the romantic love in your life, or simply for a parent, sibling, or child whom you care about.  Something about getting into a freshly detailed car just puts you in a good mood, and we’re willing to bet your Valentine will be VERY appreciative of your effort.  Don’t have the cash to fork out for a professional detail?  There are some great options to walk you through the process online with simple tools that you probably already have around your home and garage.  The work you put in will make the gift even more special.

If you want to schedule that Valentine tune-up, or if your car needs a little affection before the big night (who wants to break down on their way to their Valentine dinner reservations?), Adkins Automotive is ready for you.  Give us a call and we’ll get you in ASAP, so you can enjoy your heart day with the ones you love most.

When Your Car Isn’t Ready To “Jingle All The Way”: Show Your Car Some Love Before Your Holiday Travels

christmas-tree-1856343_640Christmas is almost here, and as you prepare for out-of-town travels by preparing gifts, sorting luggage, making lists (and checking them twice!), and arranging for pet/house sitters, it can be easy to forget about your vehicle.  After all, your car is always there for you.  You rarely have to think about whether it will/will not start or run properly on your trip.

Imagine this scenario though: you hit the road, make it a few hours away from home, and suddenly realize that the jingle you’re hearing under the hood isn’t exactly the kind that brings about the holiday spirit, or you find that your tire that might have looked a little under-inflated, but passable, has now gone flat and you are left stranded in the cold.  This is a quick way to put a damper on your Christmas fun, and it could easily be prevented.

To ensure that your holiday travels go as smoothly as possible, why not give your car (and yourself!) the gift of some TLC this Christmas season.  Take the time to do a “once-over” of your car, looking for anything out of the ordinary.  Low air pressure in your tires, any lights coming on in your dashboard, brake lights that have burned out, etc. are all issues that could ruin your trip if not taken care of ASAP.

Want the peace of mind that you are hitting the highway to leave Winter Haven with your vehicle being in the best possible shape?  Adkins Automotive can give your car a “check-up” to monitor fluid levels, lights and gauges, tire pressure, oil quality, etc.  If there are any issues to be found, we can take care of them quickly, at an affordable price for you, so you don’t end up spending your Christmas money before you ever leave town.  We are open Monday-Friday by both appointment and drop-in, and if you can call ahead, we even take limited appointments on Saturdays!

Let Adkins Automotive make your holiday bright by giving your car some much-deserved attention before you take it on your Christmas journey.