Building Your Car Disaster Kit

Being prepared for when live doesn’t go quite right is a critical part of being a safe driver and living a prepared life. This is definitely true here in Myrtle Beach were we are in crosshairs of hurricanes for several months throughout the year.  Many area residents know the importance of a good car disaster kit.  Not only will having a car disaster kit help when a storm is off the coast, it will also help the day-to-day little disasters that you face.

There are are already countless sources for good ideas for how to start and what to include in a disaster kit. offers some great advice as to what to include in a car disaster kit, as well as what should be included in a general at home disaster kit.

In this article we are going to build a typical kit you might find from and then add in several items we at Turn Key Automotive feel should be in every car disaster kit.

Car Disaster Kit: The Container

One of the biggest drawbacks of having a car disaster kit is keeping it stored in your vehicle.  If it’s not convenient your kit will very likely end up in the garage where it won’t help anyone.   Choose a container that will fit into the unique little spots of your vehicle.  If necessary, spread it around as well.  For instance, something like a small portable air compressor, can be stored in your spare tire area.  We have found that the waterproof Sterilite gasket plastic tubs that you can find at Target are a great way to organize your kit.  Because they are clear you’ll easily see what’s inside and being waterproof means you don’t have to worry about spills.  If a tub is not what you need, consider any number of duffle bags or convenient back packs.

Car Disaster Kit: The Usual Contents offers a great start for a car disaster kit.  These include the following items:

  • Water- a few bottles or a gallon jug.
  • Food – simple energy food that can withstand the wide temperature fluctuations of being left in your car.  The original Nature Valley hard granola bars are great for storage.
  • Hand crank radio with NOAA Weather Radio channels
  • Flashlight – include extra batteries as well. Important: Only use the highest quality lithium batteries.  Stay away form alkaline batteries that will leak.
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask
  • Baby wipes and/or moist towelettes
  • A few trash bags
  • Small tool kit
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone chargers – have connectors for both android and iOS
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares or reflective triangle
  • Ice scraper
  • Cat litter or sand for better tire traction

Car Disaster Kit: Great Additions

As you can see the above list from is a great start for a car disaster kit.  However our belief is that it is severely lacking and we recommend beefing up the kit to include the following.

  • Portable air compressor – A little compressor, like this one for less than $40 at Amazon, are a great way to help air up a flat and get to someplace safer to call for help or change a tire. Personally we would opt to upgrade to something like the Viair 300p or larger, but the convenience of a very small air compressor is nice.
  • Small gas can – Keep an empty one or two gallon can on hand
  • Jump starter pack – Sure you’ve got your jumper cables, but that only works if there’s someone willing to help you out.  Our ideal kit would include a jump starter battery pack as well.
  • Towels or blankets – They’re not just for emergencies, having a few in your car have countless uses from an impromptu visit to the beach to protecting your back seat during a move.
  • Tool kit – Having a few tools on hand is always a good thing.  However… know your limitations
  • Duct tape – There’s few problems in life a little duct tape won’t fix
  • Car escape kit – a seatbelt cutter and window punch should be part of any vehicle’s car disaster kit.  A great place to store this is actually at the bottom of your seat belt so it’s easily accessible when needed.
  • Sanitation – Keep a roll of paper towels and toilet paper in your kit.  Sometimes a good roll of TP is the only thing that will help in your personal little disaster!
  • Documentation – Keep a documentation packet in your kit with any information you may need.  This may be copies of utility bills or anything you see fit.  These can easily be encrypted as well or placed on a USB drive.
  • Tow straps and rope – Sometimes a simple tow strap or length of good quality rope can help get you back on the road.  Again, know your limitations.
  • Cash – In today’s day of ApplePay, Paypal, and credit cards more and more people are walking around with no physical money at all.  That’s a huge mistake, and one you don’t have to make.  Ensure you have a few $20s, $10s, $5s, and $1s hidden in your car. Sometimes the best way out of a problem is little cold hard cash.
  • AAA Membership – All the above are great and should absolutely be in your vehicle’s disaster kit.  However the best tool you will likely ever need is a membership to AAA.  A single call can get you a tow, gallon of gas, roadside repair and so much more.

Hurricanes, traffic jams, storms and more have happened in the past… and they will happen again.  Start putting your car disaster kit together today so when it does happen to you, you’ll have the tools you need to get home safely.

The most important thing you can do to prepare for disasters is make sure your vehicle is in good repair.  That’s where the team at Turn Key Automotive come in.  Be sure to stop by for your regular maintenance so you can rest easy knowing your vehicle will be ready to go when you are.  Schedule your next visit with us by calling (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment today!

Don’t Ignore That Check Engine Light

When your Check Engine light comes on it’s not a suggestion and it’s not a reason to cover up the light with a piece tape either.  Typically your vehicle, especially newer cars and trucks, will very clearly tell you what you need to do, be it low tire pressure, oil change time, door ajar, and more. However at times, you will see the dreaded check engine light… What does that mean though?  Are you about to be hit with hundreds of dollars in car repairs?

Vehicle with Check Engine Light IlluminatedDon’t worry about that check engine light too much, but definitely don’t ignore it either.  Oftentimes your vehicle will trigger a check engine warning when something very minor is causing an issue.  Here are the most frequent causes of a check engine light.  Regardless, if you see that dashboard’s orange glow take action and call or connect with your local mechanic to get it addressed quickly.  The more quickly you get it addressed, the more likely you can avoid costly vehicle damage.  If you’re in the Myrtle Beach area, call us at Turn Key Automotive at (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment to have the check engine light checked out and turned off.  In most cases you’ll be in and out in no time.

Check Engine Reason #1: Loose Gas Cap

Yep, a loose gas cap can cause your check engine light to come on. Before you worry or call your mechanic, turn off your car, check your fuel cap, and restart.  If the light is off, do a little dance, you’re in the clear.

Why does a loose gas cap matter?  Simply put, your gas sloshes around a lot in your tank and not only will you end up losing gas, you’ll be putting gas fumes directly into the environment.  On top of that you will be altering the pressure with your fuel system that may result in reduced vehicle performance.

If the free fix (checking the gas cap) didn’t work you will need to head into the mechanic to have them diagnose the issue.  Any reputable mechanic, such as Turn Key Automotive, will be very open and show you the diagnostic report and what repairs are needed.

Check Engine Reason #2: Oxygen Sensor

A bad O2 sensor is a relatively inexpensive repair, typically around $200 (depending on your vehicle), but one that if not addressed quickly can lead to more costly problems down the road.  Your vehicle’s oxygen sensor measures the amount of unburnt oxygen in your fuel system and works with your vehicle’s computer system to optimize your performance. If you have a bad O2 sensor you’ll experience:

  • Lower fuel economy (less miles per gallon)
  • Burn more fuel than needed resulting in a exhaust issues
  • Cause premature wear to your catalytic converter
  • Cause damage to your spark plugs

Check Engine Reason #3: Catalytic Converter

The next most common cause for a check engine light is a bad, or failing, catalytic converter.  Your car’s catalytic converter is part the exhaust system and is critical for keeping both your car and your environment in good condition.  It’s job is to convert harmful carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide.  Since your car or truck is designed to run with a functioning catalytic converter, if you have a bad one you will see increased emissions, a vehicle that runs hot, and a significant loss in fuel economy.

Unfortunately replacing a catalytic converter is not the cheapest repair.  Depending on the make and model of your car or truck you will be looking at anywhere between $400 t0 $800 for the entire job.  Fortunately Todd and the team at Turn Key Automotive will do everything they can to keep your costs to a minimum so you’ll be able to get back on the Myrtle Beach roads with a little cash left in your pocket.

Check Engine Reason #4: Mass Airflow Sensor

You may not even know what a mass airflow sensor is, but you be assured that your car or truck does it one, it is also a common cause of the dreaded check engine light.  The mass airflow sensor is what determines how much air your vehicle needs for optimum fuel efficiency.  A failing mass airflow sensor (also known as a MAS) will cause several issues that you’ll notice:

  • Trouble starting your vehicle or getting your engine to turn over
  • Stalling engine, typically after starting
  • Engine does not accelerate smoothly or is jumpy
  • The engine constantly hiccups and doesn’t run smoothly

Replacing your MAS will run a few hundred dollars, around $300 depending on your vehicle.  However if you have a bad MAS you most likely won’t need your check engine light to tell you something is wrong.  You’ll know you have an issue and should be planning a trip to the mechanic as soon as possible.

Check Engine Reason #5: Spark Plugs or Plug Wires

Like your mass airflow sensor above, you’ll know you have a problem if your spark plugs and/or wires are starting to fail.  And just like your MAS, bad plugs or wires will trigger your check engine light.  Standard spark plugs have a life between 30-50,000 miles.  If you see that engine line come on it is very likely that your plugs are starting to fail.  The good news is replacing your plugs and possibly wires is not that expensive.  Like all repairs it depends on your specific vehicle but oftentimes replacing spark plugs can be done for under $200.

There are plenty of signs of your plugs starting to go bad, but typically you’ll notice a decline in performance, engine sputtering, and not starting easily.

Fixing Your Check Engine Light In One Easy Step

We’ve covered the most common causes of check engine light, but many more exist. Your best, and easiest, bet to solve your check engine light issues is to take your car to a certified mechanic.  They will be able to diagnose your issue quickly and give you an estimate in advance for repairs.  If your engine light is on, give us a call here at Turn Key Automotive.  Our staff of ASE certified mechanics can lend our decades of experience in Myrtle Beach to you and get you back on the road.

Need help with your check engine light? Give us a call at (843) 293-6793 or request an appointment today!

5 Ways To Keep Your Car Running In The Summer Heat

Summer can be a tough time on a car.  The 100+ degree temperatures, the stop and go traffic and salty conditions make Myrtle Beach a rough environment on a vehicle.  After decades in business, Turn Key Automotive has found that if your car or truck is not ready for summer, than sooner or later you’ll be on the side of the road.  In our area, it’s not just the heat, but also the traffic.  Sitting in stop and go traffic puts extra stress on your engine, breaks, and cooling systems.  Then, add the humid summer heat and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.  This is why keeping up with your vehicle scheduled maintenance is so important. Here’s 5 ways to make sure you car is never stuck on the side of the road this summer.


Cars, like your body, need to stay hydrated to run well.  Make sure all your fluids are topped off and regularly changed based on your vehicle’s owner’s manual.  This goes  beyond just your oil, which is obviously important.  making sure your coolant is in good shape.  You may not know it, but the coolant in your radiator will degrade and most late model cars should have theirs changed at 100,000 miles, and then ever 50,000 after that.  If you’re rolling around in a new car, you’re likely fine, however we do recommend a quick check to ensure your levels are good. The good news is with your scheduled maintenance every oil change at Turn Key Automotive also includes a free multi-point inspection where we check your fluids, along with other key vehicle systems.


Over time your vehicle’s air conditioning system can lose efficiency and will need to be “recharged.”  While you vehicle will run just fine with out an air conditioner, if you’ve ever driven around in Myrtle Beach without one you know it’s not a pleasant experience.  When your AC is running good, you can expect your car or truck to cool off within just a minute or so, and then keep you cool regardless of traffic conditions. Learn more about keeping your vehicle AC running in our article here.


Fresh air is critical to a well running vehicle and it one of the most common ailments for vehicles in Myrtle Beach.  Regular maintenance and cleaning of your air filter, cabin filter and other air cleaning systems will help your car run better and keep that AC working at it’s peak.  Don’t skimp on your air filters either, just like you fresh air keeps your car or truck healthy.  Consult your owners manual scheduled maintenance for how and when to replace or clean your filters.


100+ degree temperatures, humidity and salt can quickly wear down the belts and hoses in your vehicle.  Nothing will leave you stilling on the side of the road faster than a broken belt or cracked hose, so check them now before they let you down.


In the Myrtle Beach area there are a lot of cars on the road.  With everyone going to the fun place at the Beach, brakes become one of the critical components on your vehicle.  Low speed collisions are the number 1 traffic incident in our area and a good set of breaks will give you the few extra inches of stopping distance between a spilled cup of coffee and a call to your insurance company.  Breaks, like your AC, don’t also just “go out,” over time they slowly degrade in performance and it is very easy to fail to notice the warning signs.  Be sure to ask about the condition of your vehicle breaks on your next scheduled maintenance.  The great news is break services is not too expensive and doesn’t take a very long time at all.


Why Do You Need An Oil Change?

Oil changes At Turn Key Automotive

Your car dashboard has that same annoying light again, it’s time for your six month, or 3,000 mile oil change.  But do you really need an oil change? It’s not as if your vehicle is burning oil, in fact your car us running great, so why bother taking it to the mechanic and spending money just to change our your oil?

Why your vehicle needs an oil change?

Full service oil changes in Myrtle BeachOil is the lifeblood of your engine, sure it burns fuel to go, but it bathes in oil to run smoothly. And just like a bath you would enjoy, draining the water in your tub and filling with fresh is pretty important.  Otherwise, you (and in this example your engine) will start to get pretty nasty.

Oil serves a critical role in your vehicle’s health.  Not only does it lubricate the moving parts of your engine, it also keeps your seals from drying and cracking and removes dirt and grime from your system.  All that dirt and grime has to go somewhere and your oil system’s job is to bind to those little pieces of junk and keep them from doing harm.  However, the oil in your car’s system can only handle so much before it starts becoming thick and gunky.  When your oil starts getting dirty, and going from a golden clear color to a dark black hue, it can no longer efficiently keep your engine running smoothly and clean.

That’s where your regular oil changes come in, by removing the old contaminated oil and replacing with fresh keeps everything in your car running in top condition.

When does your vehicle need an oil change?

Oil change At Turn Key AutomotiveThis is a very common question and one that will highly depend on your vehicles make and model.  A large diesel engine will need a different oil change schedule than a small four cylinder commuter car.  The best answer to how often you need to have an oil change is in your car or truck’s manual.  However it is a good rule of thumb to change your oil every 3,000  – 5,000 miles or every six months.

Oil change frequency also depends on you driving conditions and habits.  Remember oil’s job is to lubricate and sweep away dirt and grime, so if you’re driving in dusty/dirty conditions you will need to change more frequently than someone who simply drives highway conditions to and from work.

Lastly, the type of oil you use will dictate how often you visit the auto mechanic for a change.  Sure, conventional oil is cheaper and what you may be used to, but it often doesn’t last as long and not as efficient in binding to dirt and impurities in your engine.  Talk to your mechanic about switching to a synthetic oil  that will offer better performance and last longer.  In many cases, depending on your vehicle’s recommended service, an engine with synthetic oil may only need to have a change every 7,500 miles or more!  Yes, it’s more expensive during the oil change but saves money over time with less frequent changes and better/longer engine life.

How do you change your oil?

To be honest oil changes are very easy and mechanics, such as the ones at Turn Key Automotive, will complete several in any given day and thousands each year.  Many people try to change their own oil and you can too, after making sure you have the right tools, filters, replacement oil, and a plan for disposing of old oil.  However even the most seasoned “car guys” will often bring their cars into the shop for a change.

Why? Well for the cost, only $24.99 for an oil change at Turn Key Automotive in Myrtle Beach, and just a half hour of time a certified mechanic can put your car on a lift, grab the needed oil and filters off the rack, drain and replace your oil, and dispose of your old oil properly.  At the same time any good mechanic will also perform a multi-point inspection and filter check to ensure everything else on your vehicle is running as it should.

Ready to get your oil changed?

Hopefully you see why getting an oil change is so important.  If that light on your dash is telling you it’s time, consider contacting the ASE certified auto mechanics at Turn Key Automotive.  Before you call us, check our our car repair coupons and save on your next oil change!

Have more questions?  Just call us at (843) 293-6793 and we can answer all your questions and make schedule an appointment that’s convenient to you.

Myrtle Beach Spring Car Care

Spring in Myrtle Beach can be tough on both a car’s exterior and interior.  The ever changing weather can make the roads a mess and the arrival of the thick yellow pine pollen can make keeping your vehicle clean next to impossible.

So, now that the weather is getting nicer, the pollen is starting to subside, and beach season is right around the corner; how can you keep your car looking new?  The team at Turn Key Automotive has the car care guide specifically for Myrtle Beach.

Exterior Car Care

No doubt that the springtime pollen and dust have been hammering the exterior of your car or truck.  The solution, don’t worry so much about washing your car often since it’s only going to be covered in pollen again within hours.  Instead, follow these two steps to keep your vehicle looking new in Myrtle Beach.

A Good Wash & Wax: Before the spring kicks in, make sure you have a good wash and wax and your finish is in the best shape possible.  If you’re going to do the waxing yourself consider using your garage or other covered area.  This will keep your vehicle cooler, and away from dust and debris that can easily get caught in your vehicles finish while you’re waxing.

Better yet, invest a bit of money to have a professional do the job.  A good detail can cost upwards of $100, but will give you a professional look that is sure to impress.

From there, the pollen will often just blow right off when you drive, and if it doesn’t $5 and a quick drive through at a car wash will get you back to new in no time.

Lastly, one of the quickest ways to keep a car “looking” clean is keeping the tires shiny.  Products like Meguiar’s Tire Shine or Black Magic are easy to spray on and will get your tires looking new.  If you really need new tires, Turn Key Automotive can help there with our best prices on the top tire brands.

Interior Car Care

Pollen doesn’t stop at your exterior; it seems to infiltrate every square inch of your car here in Myrtle Beach.  The solution, just like your exterior, a bit of preventative maintenance before spring can really help.  While you are waxing your exterior, take sometime to condition your dashboard and seats.  This will help make clean up a breeze later on.  Then, one a week or so just wipe a clean damp cloth across your interior and you’re good to go.  Better yet, Armor All interior wipes are an easy way to keep your interior looking beautiful.

Myrtle Beach can be tough on cars and if you are having any issues your team at Turn Key Automotive are here to help you with repairs both big and small.  Can we help you, contact us today.