How to Survive a Car Trip with the Kids

Long car rides can be challenging for anyone, but for kids, they can be nothing short of torture. However, with a little planning and some supplies, you will not only survive your next car trip with the kids, you will enjoy it. Let’s take a look.

How to Survive a Car Trip with the Kids

1. Give Yourself Extra Time

Whether they’re buckled up or in a car seat, sitting still for hours on end isn’t fun for anyone. Make sure you give yourself extra time to make plenty of stops along your route.

Highways will usually have rest stops every so often with bathrooms and picnic tables that you can take advantage of. Bring a ball for a quick game of soccer or catch to help your little ones get rid of some of their energy.

2. Travel During Nap-time

So while you’ve gone ahead and scheduled your stops ahead of time, also keep in mind nap schedules. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you—a sleeping child is a happy child and this is especially true during a car trip. So try your best to schedule your travels during regular nap times, or later at night, when they’d be going to bed anyways.

3. Everyone Loves Snacks

Hunger can make even the most level-headed kids get crazy in the car. Not to mention the fact that you’ll probably start to get cranky after not eating for a while as well. Bring plenty of yummy bits to munch on. Things like fresh fruits, veggies, pretzels, small sandwiches, and slices of cheese are all good options. Bring plenty of water and some juice as well. It’s important to stay hydrated and you’ll probably be stopping regularly anyway.

4. Don’t Forget the Entertainment

Electronics like your iPad are going to come in handy here if your child is old enough to be trusted with it. You can set them up to watch a show or play some games for a while to keep them occupied.

If you don’t want to give them electronics, art supplies are great. Try to invest in a magnet doodler or twistable colored pencils so that your kids won’t need to sharpen them and can color and write as long as they please.

5. Maintain the Mess

Sticky fingers, spills, and diaper leaks are all inevitable parts of roadtripping with kids. Before you set off, make sure you have the following:

  • Baby wipes
  • Easily accessible diapers
  • Paper towels
  • Waterproof car seat protector
  • Gallon-sized resealable bags (for diapers)
  • Sippy cups with lids

6. Get Your Car Checked Out

If you think driving with the kids is a challenge, imagine the car breaking down on the side of the road. It’s not going to be pretty. Thankfully, we at Ken’s Automotive and Transmissions are here to help you. We are an experienced auto repair shop in Frederick, Maryland, so bring your car to us and we’ll make sure you’re ready to roll.

Why is a Coolant Flush Important?

Flushing fluids is a repair some auto owners tend to overlook. After all, you can’t see or hear your fluids. It’s easy to tell when you need to replace brake pads or when you need to have an oil change. However, flushing your fluids should be a regular maintenance option just like brakes and oil changes.

One of the most important fluids you’ll need to keep an eye on is the coolant. Coolant flushes are necessary aspects of keeping your vehicle healthy, and are required in order to make sure your car stays running safely.

Read on to learn more about your vehicle’s coolant and how coolant flushes can help your vehicle live a long and happy life.

Why is a Coolant Flush Important?

What is Engine Coolant?

Your vehicle’s coolant is what keeps your car at a regular temperature—it is also frequently referred to as anti-freeze. Without it, a car with unregulated temperatures can run the risk of overheating or freezing depending on the climate. So, needless to say this fluid is crucial to keeping your engine running optimally.

What is a Coolant Flush?

Keeping your coolant system in good shape with regular flushes is incredibly important. A coolant flush is essentially the removal of all the old coolant, and subsequent chemical buildups, from your engine. Then, the entire system is filled with new coolant which help the engine run smoothly once more.

In some instances, conditioners are also added to increase the lifespan of your coolant. These conditioners prevent rust and corrosion.

Why Should I Flush my Coolant Fluid?

Your vehicle’s coolant fluid needs to be flushed every two years or 30,000 miles to ensure it is working at peak efficiency. It your coolant does not work well, your car can be put at risk. A coolant fluid flush helps to remove any rust deposits, scale deposits, contaminants, and any other dangerous buildups present in your coolant system.

Additionally, a coolant flush will also ensure newly added fluid will be able to avoid these problems for as long as possible. Old coolant will eventually lose its anti-acidic properties, making it a huge danger to the inside of your vehicle. Corrosion is a very real problem; it can also occur when there is too much chemical buildup.

It is very important that you avoid the possibility of your coolant becoming acidic. Too much acidity in your cooling system can lead to parts of your system breaking down. Acid will eat away at the water pump, aluminum components of your engine, and rubber hoses. This is expensive to repair, but it is also extremely dangerous to continue driving under these conditions. To make matters worse, it’s often hard to tell whether or not acid is eating away at your car’s insides before it’s too late.

To determine whether or not you need your coolant flushed, visit Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions today. Your local Frederick, MD auto repair shop is here to help you with your coolant system, and we can work together to find a solution. Call us today and make an appointment!

Are You Ready for Summer Driving?

Things are heating up and that means it’s time to hit the road!

However, whether you’re heading off for a trip or visiting a cool summer spot, there are some things about driving during the summer that may require your attention. Here’s are some things to keep in mind this summer.

Safety in the Summer Months

auto repair near me car battery Frederick auto repair 21701 tune up mechanic near meFor a trip to the park or the beach, you need to make sure nothing unexpected ruins your afternoon.

For example, a quick tune-up service before you head off on a long journey could prevent a major break down. Similarly, have a local auto repair service in Frederick, MD look at your vehicle and tell them it’s for a road trip. They’ll give it a once-over to ensure it is roadworthy and ready for the journey.

You should also make sure to keep an eye on how you pack your car for a vacation. Distribute the weight evenly among the different areas of your car to minimize strain on your vehicle. If you’re using a roof rack for excess luggage or other accessories, make sure you know the height and weight limits for the vehicle and any areas you will be driving through.

Take an Emergency Kit

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Before you run into a major issue on the road, you need to make sure you’re prepared. Things like flares and a battery pack can assist you in getting help if you need it on the road. Make sure you also have a little bit of food and water in case you get stranded for a longer period of time.

A first-aid kit and flashlight are also essential to your safety in the event you run into trouble.

Try and find a set of jumper cables that come with their own batteries so you don’t have to risk waiting for a helpful stranger.

Kens Automotive & Transmission is Your Frederick, MD Auto Repair Service!

Whether you have a problem with your car, or you just want to be safe for your trip, Ken’s Automotive & Transmission is here to help you. We’ve been around for 50 years and when you work with us, you’ll see why. Stop in today or give us a call at (301) 662-5100.

What’s the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?

This is a question we get a lot. Many people believe that struts and shocks can be used interchangeably, but that just simply is not the case. Hopefully this blog will be able to inform you on the uses for both shocks and struts, when they need service, and why.

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What is a Shock and What is a Strut?

Shocks and struts work similarly and both accomplish the same goal. They dampen the movement of the spring and stop bouncing and oscillation.

Having said this, it is important to note that shocks and struts are completely different parts, and are not interchangeable. Think of it like the difference between gasoline and diesel engines. They both do the same thing, propel a car, they just do it differently.

Can a Car Have Both Shocks and Struts?

Yes. While most cars will typically have one or the other, some have both. These vehicles commonly have struts in the front and shocks in the rear.

How Do I Know if I Have Struts or Shocks?

The only sure way to know would be to look under your vehicle. A shock will be vertical and look like similar to an air pump. Struts will be horizontal and will look like an extension of the wheel.

When Should I Check my Struts or Shocks?shocks and struts Frederick 21701 shocks and struts 21701 shocks and struts near me

Every time you service your vehicle, you should have your mechanic inspect the suspension system. However, there are some things you can look out for on your own. These include:

  • Poor Ride Quality – Meaning your car is bouncier and bumps more than usual. This is a sign of a damaged suspension system.
  • Nose Diving – Your car lurches forward and the front points towards the ground. This could mean your shocks or struts are faulty.
  • Body Roll – Body roll refers to the overall feel of your car, how much the body is shifting. When you turn, it will feel like the body of your car is shifting as well.
  • Squats – A squat happens when you go to accelerate. Your shocks or struts should be able to compensate as you accelerate, but might not if they’re faulty, resulting in your car lifting into the air.
  • Visible Damage – If you’re ever inspecting your shocks or struts and see any dents or cuts, that could be serious damage, as the hydraulic fluid can leak out. Have your car serviced immediately.

If you feel like your car is suffering from any of these problems, or something just doesn’t seem right, it’s probably best to have your vehicle serviced. A damaged shock or strut can be a big safety hazard, so it’s better to play it on the safe side. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle, give us at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions a call today at (301-662-5100).

How Do I Know if I Have Shocks or Struts?

This is a great question—and one we get a lot at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions. Shocks and struts are both integral pieces of an automobile, so it’s never a bad idea to get a little more information on them. Hopefully this guide will help answer any questions you may have and help you determine if you have shocks or struts on your vehicle.

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What’s the Difference Between Shocks and Struts?

Before we can decipher if your car has shocks or struts, we need to know what these components are. Both shocks and struts work as part of the suspension system, where they help to reduce bounce and oscillation.

While shocks and struts work similarly, they are different systems. Typically, this means your car will have one or the other. Although it is important to note, some vehicles have both: shocks in the front and struts in the rear or vice versa.

How Can I Tell Shock from Struts?

There are a number of reasons why you would want to know if your car has shocks or struts, but how can you tell? If you have your vehicles manual, you could always look in there at the suspension system section. If you don’t, the most sure-fire way is to check under the carriage.

Both shocks and suspensions will be located near the tires. Shocks will be vertical and resemble a pneumatic pump. Struts are horizontal and look to be just extensions of the wheels.

I Think Something Might Be Wrong With My Shocks or Struts

If you think your shocks or struts are damaged or are not functioning properly, then that’s something you need to have inspected. A malfunctioning shock or strut is not only bad for your car’s health, it’s dangerous. Your suspension keeps your carriage from sliding all around, and if malfunctioning, it could result in a serious accident.

Why Have A Professional Inspection?shocks and struts Frederick 21701 shocks and struts 21701 shocks and struts near me

As we said before, damaged struts or shocks are safety hazards. When it comes to safety and ensuring your vehicle is safe to drive, it’s always better to trust a professional mechanic, like the Frederick auto-maintenance specialists at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions. Don’t take the risk by doing it yourself or using an amateur mechanic, ensure your car’s, and your own safety, and hire a pro.

If you have any questions about your vehicle or think your shocks or struts may be malfunctioning, don’t hesitate to call Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions at (301-662-5100). We’d be happy to speak with you about any questions you may have, and hopefully will be able to help keep your car on the road!

The 50th Anniversary of Ken’s Automotive and Transmissions

50 Years in the Making

Ken's Automotive and Transmissions 50th Anniversary

Wow. We’ve been in business for 50 years! A lot can happen in 50 years—a lot can really change. But one thing that hasn’t changed, is our dedication to doing the job right, no matter what.

Here at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we have served the Frederick, MD community for 50 years, and we plan on serving it for many more to come!

Built from the Ground Up

Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions started from humble beginnings in 1968. Our founder, Ken Mead, started out without much, just a little repair shop. But through hard work and determination he built the business up and passed it along to his son, Mark Mead.

The transition between the owners was seamless, and the values which founded Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions were passed on to the next generation.

Way Back in 1968

With it being our 50th anniversary, we’ve been thinking a bit about the past. We’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic. The start of Ken’s wasn’t the only thing that happened in 1968. Here’s a bit of what else was happening, way back in 1968:

  • The average cost of gas was $0.34/gallon.
  • 50th anniversary of Kens Automotive and Transmissions in Frederick, MDThe Chevrolet Camaro cost $3,500.
  • The National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, Clean Air Act, and Vehicle Air Pollution and Control Act all go into effect in 1968.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
  • Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated after winning the California Democratic primary for the Presidential election.
  • Intel Corporation was founded. Today, Intel continues to lead in the technology world, developing processors used computers.
  • Tommie Smith and John Carlos took a stand at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City. After winning the gold and bronze metals in the 200-meter dash, the athletes raised their fists and wore pins as symbols in support of African-American civil rights.
  • Former Vice President and Republican nominee Richard Nixon won the Presidential election.
  • The Beatles released The White Album, featuring experimental music recorded during a trip to India, the album immediately topped American album charts.
  • The Tet Offensive begins in Vietnam.
  • Apollo 8 was the first spaceship, with humans inside, to orbit the moon. The iconic “Earthrise” picture was taken during this mission.
Kens Auto 50th Anniversary

Keep on Looking Forward

No matter how much we like reminiscing on the past, we need to look forward as well. Here at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we plan on continuing our high level of service, and to continue satisfying our customers. If you have any questions about your car’s maintenance or feel your car might need a check-up, call us today at (301-662-5100).

What are Shocks?

What are Shocks and What Do They Do?

Shocks make your car drive smoother. Shocks, also know as shock absorbers, are an absolutely vital aspect of your vehicle’s continued functionality. Their sole job is to absorb the bumps and imperfections of the road so that your vehicle doesn’t rattle apart going down the road.

what are shocks and what do they do

Sure, you may feel it when you drive over a pothole. But, think about all the bumps, hills, and crevices you drive over each and every day. Why don’t you feel those to a larger extent? The answer is shock absorbers. These are an important part of your vehicle that help to ease your driving experience, making it more comfortable and safer in every respect.

Are you curious about how shock absorption works? Let your local Frederick auto mechanic explain.

What is a Shock Absorber?

When you drive over a pothole or something similar, it creates what is called kinetic energy. This energy travels into your vehicle. Without a way to absorb and disperse this energy, the ride would be incredibly uncomfortable, your tires could even lose contact with the road, and your vehicle would rattle itself apart.

How Do the Shocks on my Car Work?

A shock absorber works by using springs in conjunction with a hydraulic system. When your car hits a bump, hydraulic fluid is forced through tiny holes of the piston, which slows the piston and then slows your car’s spring movement. In essence, the shock absorber is absorbing kinetic energy and dispersing it so the impact on your vehicle is much less.

How To Tell if Your Shocks are Worn Too Thin

Now that you know how important shocks are, you’re probably wondering how to maintain them. Like any part of your vehicle, your shocks must be regularly inspected by your local auto service center. However, there are a few warning signs you’ll want to be aware of in case your shocks are experiencing an issue:

  • Mild gusts blow your car. If you need to correct your car’s trajectory during mild gusts, this could have to do with poor shock absorption. Worn out shocks will not be able to adequately absorb a mild gust quick enough so that you don’t notice.
  • Vibrating, rocking, and rattling. These noises while driving are signs your shocks aren’t functioning properly. Obviously, with any noise such as these it’s best to bring your vehicle into your local Frederick, MD auto repair specialist right away.
  • Uneven tire wear. If you replaced your tires all at the same time, and only one or two is wearing to a significant degree before the others, it’s possible you could be having an issue with your shocks. This is one reason to have your regular mechanic always replace your tires for you. Your mechanic can spot any abnormal wear on your tires and notify you of these concerns.

In short, your shocks are important, and require just as much attention as other aspects of your vehicle. If you suspect you are experiencing a problem with your vehicle’s shocks, head to your local Frederick, MD shock repair service. Here at Ken’s Automotive & Transmissions, we have extensive experience in dealing with vehicle suspensions and shocks. Give us a call to schedule an appointment at 301-662-5100, today!

What Fluid is Leaking from my Car?

Are you noticing unusual spots that are appearing underneath your car where you park? Occasionally, this could be a sign that something is very wrong with your vehicle. In this case, it’s important to know exactly what fluids could be underneath your car, and you should be aware of how it can affect your driving. Unidentified car leaks can be benign, or very serious, which means that you need to know the difference in order to keep your car and yourself safe from harm.

What Fluid is Leaking from my Car?

Read on to learn more about the different types of fluids that could be leaking underneath your car, and whether or not you need to visit your local Frederick Auto Mechanic.

Coolant or Antifreeze

This liquid will be bright green in color, and indicates that your antifreeze, or coolant, is leaking. While this leak doesn’t necessarily mean that your car is impossible to drive, it is the liquid that keeps your engine from overheating. If you leave this leak unchecked, it could easily lead to your car smoking on the side of the road in an undrivable state. Coolant can also be extremely attractive to animals, and they will lap at the liquid without realizing that it is deadly to them.

Brake Fluid

This is a much more serious leak that means you should not be driving your car at all. Brake fluid is yellowish in color and has a relatively thick consistency. Your brake fluid is what lubricates your hydraulic brake system, which means that, if it is leaking, it could lead to brake failure. Brake failure is one of the most serious types of vehicle malfunction, and can be deadly. Have your car towed if you suspect it is leaking brake fluid.

Windshield Wiper Fluid

And, this fluid is why you should always check with a professional if you are unsure what kind of liquid is leaking underneath your car. Windshield wiper fluid is bluish in color, and might look like a serious leak at first glance. However, this usually just means that there is a minor tear or leak somewhere, and is not a serious problem. Getting it fixed means you’ll be able to use your windshield wiper fluid properly again. You don’t want to be caught without it!


This one is easy to identify. If your car is leaking gasoline, you’re going to smell it even when you aren’t driving the car. A leak underneath of your car will give off an odor that can be fairly obvious. However, it’s also possible you haven’t even noticed that your vehicle is leaking gasoline. The main issue that arises with leaky gas tanks is that you’re spending way too much money on pathetic mileage. It can drain away at your funds, making a quick trip to the mechanic well worth your time.

Wondering what kind of fluid is leaking underneath of your car and you can’t figure it out? Don’t worry! Ken’s Automotive and Transmission is here to help. As professional Frederick auto mechanics, we understand each and every fluid that could be leaking from your car. We’ll also know whether or not it is an immediate danger to you. Call today and keep yourself safe!

Why Are My Headlights Cloudy?

Have you noticed recently that your headlights are cloudy, hazy, or yellowed? You might have even tried to wipe them down, only to notice they seem to be fogged from the inside. Foggy headlights can severely reduce your visibility on the road, creating a dangerous situation. Here’s why your headlights get foggy and what you can do to fix it.

Why Are My Headlights Cloudy?

Why Do Headlights Get Cloudy?

Headlights went from being made of glass to being made of plastic, and that’s where our problem originates. Glass was resistant to fogging, but it was not nearly as strong as plastic. Plastic headlights are covered with a protective film that is meant to keep them from fogging, but this film only lasts for so many years before it begins to deteriorate. Without the film, the polycarbonate plastic begins to oxidize, leading to a foggy and hazy appearance.

What’s the Big Deal?

The big deal is that foggy headlights don’t put out enough light. This reduces your ability to see the road as well as be seen on the road by others. Foggy headlights reduce visibility so much that it is believed 9 out of 10 accidents at night are somehow related to headlight problems. This is why it is so desperately important to have not only working headlights, but clear headlights as well. If you want to avoid serious accidents on the road, it’s time to look into ways to get your headlights clear once more.

What Are Some Solutions?

There are plenty of DIY ways to clean your headlights such as cleaning kits or toothpaste—but these are only temporary solutions. However, the best option will be to have your lenses replaced for the longest lasting option. It might cost a little extra, but it gets the job done right and keeps your headlights sparkling for years. Not to mention you’ll be safer on the road than you would be if you were using toothpaste.

Visit Your Maryland Auto Mechanic!

If you’re in Frederick looking for a way to fix your cloudy headlight problem, Ken’s Automotive & Transmission is the right place for you. Here, you can get your headlight lenses replaced at a very competitive price. We can ensure quality service and even better customer service. Regardless of what state your headlights are in, we can do an inspection and make sure they’re working as well as they should be. We look forward to hearing from you—call us today and make an appointment!

Are You Ready for Winter Driving?

Regardless of how you feel about winter weather, no one wants to drive in it. Snow and ice might be beautiful, but they hold danger and peril for those on the road, and it takes some effort to combat it. Fighting against nasty driving conditions is no easy task. However, it can be done so long as you know a few tips and tricks.

Here are some helpful hints that will aid you when you must drive in wintry conditions.

Are You Ready for Winter Driving

Gas Tank

Keep your gas tank filled above halfway at all times. It might be tedious, but it can also save your life should you be introduced to a survival situation. If you are stranded in the snow, your car’s heat will be vital.

There’s also the possibility you’ll be stuck in unexpected traffic, and you won’t be able to fill up your tank when you need to. Therefore, keeping that tank filled above halfway will make a serious difference.

Keep a Winter Safety Kit

A winter safety kit is something you can keep in the trunk of your car so it’s available when you need it. The contents should include water, small snacks, kitty litter, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and whatever else you think might be helpful.

Additionally, ensure you always have a snow brush and scraper in your vehicle, as you never know when you might need it. If you don’t want to use sand or kitty litter to give you traction in a slippery situation, your car mats will work just as well.

Stick to Main Roads

If it’s possible, driving only on main roads can help to keep you safe. Getting stranded on a major parkway is not as life-threatening as being stranded down a dark country road. If you know that the main roads are going to extend your commute, give yourself more time to drive. Having more time also allows you to focus on safety.

When driving in poor conditions, you need more time to stop. Be sure there’s plenty of room between you and the person in front of you. Stay clear of trucks, as well. They have a much harder time coming to a stop, and rely on you to keep yourself safe.

Drive With Headlights

Even if it’s during the day, you should always drive with headlights on. It easily alerts other drivers of your presence. If the weather gets bad, and your headlights are off, you might not remember to flick them on, making you nearly invisible on the road. Headlights are vital in that they can shine through the snow and create a safer driving environment for everyone.

Is your car tuned up and ready for winter? Call Ken’s Automotive & Transmission today for a seasonal Frederick, MD car inspection. Having your car checked regularly is important. Don’t trust that process to anyone else. Ken’s Automotive & Transmission is waiting for your call!