Monday, March 24, 2014

How to tell if you need new tires

With pretty weather on the horizon and road trips coming up, this great article from "How Stuff Works" gives great info on how to tell when you need new tires. Keep your tires in great condition to better ensure your safety this Spring.

"Just as your feet are sore after a long walk, the tires on your car take a beating every time you drive. This isn't a sign of bad driving --well, not usually -- but rather an inevitable fact of life. Tires get old and worn down. And because a tire failure while you're driving can be catastrophic, causing your car to go out of control or leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere without any easy way to get home, you want to know when your tires are in bad shape so you can get new ones before something goes wrong. Of course, if you have a mechanic look at your carperiodically, he or she will probably tell you if the tires need to be changed, but there are several things you can do yourself short of a visit to your localauto center to make sure your tires are in good shape.

#5: Tread Depth
The tread on your tires should never fall below 1/16 of an inch (1.6 millimeters) in depth. If you regularly drive on slick, wet surfaces, you'd be even better off with twice that much. You can buy a gauge to measure the tread depth the way the professionals do, but there's an old trick that will give you a rough idea of how much tread depth you have left and it won't cost you more than a penny. In fact, it requires a penny. Take a Lincoln-head penny, the kind you find in your change every day, and insert Abe's head (head-down) into the tread. If Lincoln's entire head remains visible, you don't have enough tread. Take your car into the mechanic and ask about getting a new set of tires.

#4: Tread Wear Indicator Bar
Newer tires have a convenience that older tires lacked. They have tread wear indicator bars built into the tires themselves. These bars, invisible or barely visible when the tires are new, gradually begin to appear as the tread wears down. They appear as flat rubber bars running perpendicular to the direction of the tread itself. If more than one or two of these are visible on a tire, the tread is getting low. This should be particularly obvious in the wet tracks that your tires leave after you drive through a puddle. Use the penny test described on the previous page to double check the depth, but if the bars are starting to appear on any or all of your tires, it's once again time to check with your mechanicor local tire dealer to see about getting your current tires replaced.

#3: Cracks in the SidewallNot all problems with the tires are going to be in the tread. They can also appear in the sidewall. Fortunately, it's easy to do a visual check of sidewall problems. Look for tracks or cuts in the sidewall -- grooves that are distinct enough to be visible to the naked eye. This could be a sign that your tire is developing a leak (or worse, that it's nearly ready to blow out). This is definitely something you want to avoid. So if the cracks in the sidewall are starting to look serious, get that car to a repair shop at the next opportunity and start talking about getting them replaced. Better safe than sorry, as they say.

#2: Bulges and Blisters on the TireSometimes the outer surface of the tire begins to weaken. The result can be a bulge or blister that extends outward from the rest of the surface. This is similar to an aneurysm in one of your blood vessels and you know that if your doctor tells you that you have an aneurysm, you'd better get to the hospital as quickly as you can before you blow out an artery. It's the same with your tire. This weak spot can cause a sudden blow out, and if you don't put the car in the hospital (or service center, as the case may be) before this happens, it may end up putting you in the hospital when the tire blows out on the freeway. So keep your eye on those tire bulges and blisters.

#1: Too Much Vibration

A certain amount of vibration is inevitable when driving, especially on poorly paved roads, but if you've been driving for a while, you probably know how much vibration feels right and how much means that something's going wrong. There can be any of a number of causes for the vibration -- maybe your tires are misaligned or unbalanced, or your shock absorbers are starting to go. But it could also indicate that there's some sort of internal problem in the tire itself. Even if the tire isn't the root cause of the vibration, the vibration could damage the tire and pretty soon you'll have a problem. So if your car has a bad case of the shimmy-shimmy shakes, especially if you notice this when you aren't driving on bad roads, take it to the mechanic right away to have it checked out. Too much vibration is almost always a sign that something is wrong."

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Four Wheel Drive vs. All Wheel Drive -- What's the Difference?

Well it's snowing like crazy here in Greeneville, and it got us to thinking "What would people want to know about driving in weather like this?" When you're on ice, it really doesn't matter what you are driving because ice is ice. Once you are goin', there's not much that can help. But in the snow, having an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle can be very useful. Below is an explanation from about what the differences are between the two options. Stay safe out there, friends!

 One of the biggest differences between all-wheel-drive vehicles and four-wheel-drive vehicles is in who decides when all four wheels get power. With all-wheel-drives, electronic sensors play this role; with four-wheel-drives, it's the driver who throws a lever or flips a switch to give power to all four wheels.
AWD is always "on," meaning that the electronic sensors can send power to all four wheels anytime they decide it's necessary.
4WD is engaged manually, and usually has a high range for highway speeds, and a low range for driving off-road or in heavy snow.
Both systems work well in slippery conditions. Indeed, both are superb, especially when compared to the performance of rear-wheel-drdive vehicles on snow or ice. AWD may have the edge for suburban drivers who don't face snow and ice very often; 4WD may have the edge in places where winter comes early, stays long, and is fairly harsh. Both systems affect gas mileage because they add weight to the vehicles, and both mean more wear and tear on tires.
With AWD, cars are generally designed for luxury and style as much as for rugged performance, ranging from the Subaru Impreza at the low end to the Bentley Continental and Lamborghini Murecielago at the high end. With 4WD, cars tend to be more utilitarian; think Jeep and Ford Explorer.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Liquid Gold and How to Not Waste It

Paying too much at the pump is no fun. Unfortunately, when gas prices skyrocket, there is little that we can do about it.
So what’s a driver to do? Obviously, an increase of even 25 cents a gallon, while significant, is probably not high enough to justify trading in Old Betsy on a new economy car unless you drive more than a couple of hundred miles a week. Odds are that any new car you choose will require a cash outlay that’s considerably higher than the increased costs for fuel you are currently experiencing. It can take a long time to amortize the cost of the new vehicle in fuel savings. Besides, it probably isn’t necessary to buy a new vehicle just to get better gas mileage. Most of the gains associated with good fuel economy happen because of driving habits and vehicle condition. In fact, just driving a little more conservatively and giving your vehicle a tune-up can decrease fuel consumption by as much as 50 percent.
If you already drive with a light pedal foot and have a vehicle in a good state of tune, don’t fret, there are plenty of other ways to lower your driving costs. For starters, follow the tips below. Each is a sure-fired money saver.
·  Make sure your vehicle is in a good state of tune. If it’s been more than a year since you’ve had your car in the shop for generalmaintenance, now’s the time to take it in and have it checked to make sure the engine is running efficiently and economically. An engine tune up can improve fuel economy by an average of one mile per gallon.
·  Keep the tires properly inflated. The air pressure in your tires has a big impact on fuel economy. Check the tire pressure weekly. The correct tire pressures for your vehicle are posted in the glove box, on the inside of the gas fill cover, or on the driver’s side door post (depending on vehicle). Keep a tire pressure gauge in the vehicle; they cost only a couple of dollars and are available at any auto parts store. Check tire pressures when they are cold (when the vehicle has not been driven for at least three hours or when it has been driven two miles or less). Having just one tire under inflated by only a few pounds can affect fuel economy by as much as 5 percent and severely shorten tread life.
·  Avoid jackrabbit starts. Being quick off the line may be fun, but it is hard on the vehicle and costs you in fuel economy. A quick takeoff from a dead stop consumes almost 50 percent more fuel as a gradual pull away.
·  Watch your speed. The higher the speed, the more fuel your car uses. Slow down and save on fuel. Driving at 55 mph instead of 65 mph, for example, can increase fuel economy by about two miles per gallon. Pacing your driving can also help. Unnecessary speedups, slowdowns and stops in heavy traffic decrease fuel economy by about two miles per gallon. Increase your following distance, and drive steadily. On long trips use the cruise control to maintain steady speed.
·  Avoid excessive idling. Letting the car warm up in the driveway or idling at the curb while the spouse runs into the store uses more fuel than you might think. Even idling at long traffic lights costs you in fuel economy. An idling engine can consume up to a gallon of gasoline an hour. Don’t let the vehicle idle longer than a minute; it wastes more gas than you’ll use in restarting the engine.
·  Plan your trips carefully. Don’t make a bunch of short trips to run errands. Instead, tally up the errands you need to run, plotting the most efficient route on a map. Then make one trip. Combining trips can increase overall fuel economy by as much as 10 percent.
·  Lighten the load. Why haul extra weight? Emptying your trunk or cargo area of unneeded items decrease fuel use by as much as 5 percent a week.
·  Turn off the air conditioner. Using the air conditioner in stop and go traffic can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20 percent under certain conditions. Instead, use the flow-through ventilation system and open the windows. At highway speeds, however, the increased drag caused by the open windows can actually increase fuel consumption.
·  Keep luggage off the roof. Unless absolute necessary, carry luggage in the trunk or cargo storage area. A full roof rack can increase fuel usage by as much as five percent.
·  Pump it yourself. Filling up at the self-service pump can save you 25 cents a gallon over the cost of fuel at the full-service pump.
·  Burn regular instead of premium. Most vehicles get the same fuel mileage on unleaded gasoline as they do on premium. Check the owner’s manual to see what grade fuel your vehicle requires. Buying regular grade fuel instead of premium can save you as much as 35 cents a gallon (depending upon area).
·  Take the bus. Taking the bus to and from work generally costs less than the cost of operating a vehicle, though it may take a little longer to get where you are going.
·  Carpool. Starting or joining a carpool can cut your fuel costs by as much as 50 percent and it is a great way to make new friends.
·  Use pedal power. Bicycling instead of driving whenever possible will save you wear and tear on the car and reduce the amount of gasoline you use. You’ll also improve your physical condition.
·  Use your feet. Instead of driving from store to store when you run errands, park in a central location and walk to the places you have to go.
·  Use your fingers. Why drive when you can stay home? Use the telephone for comparison-shopping and the computer to buy everyday items, such as groceries, online.
·  Tele-commute. If you have a computer at home, consider tele-commuting a couple of days a week instead of driving to work. You’ll save gas, time, wear-and-tear on the vehicle, be more relaxed and probably more productive. 

Article from iCarumba

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It's amazing how many people don't know how to do this......

In the world of automotive emergencies, motorists need to learn certain procedures for "safety's sake." Two of the most valuable lessons, changing a tire and hooking up jumper cables are best learned before an emergency arises, according to the Car Care Council. 

The process of boosting a battery is especially important in cold weather. Jumper cables or cables on a portable battery booster should be connected properly to avoid sparks, which can cause an explosion of the hydrogen gas emitting from a battery. Beyond this, an incorrect hook up can damage critical, and expensive, electronic components.

The procedure is simple:

Connect the positive (+) clamp to the positive terminal of the healthy battery and the other positive clamp to the corresponding terminal of the dead battery.

Next, the negative (-), or ground, terminal on the good battery and, finally, the negative clamp to the engine block, frame or other grounded metal as far as possible from the battery. You want to avoid sparks in the vicinity of the explosive hydrogen gas that emits from the battery. Do not connect it to the ground terminal (negative).

When using a portable battery booster, the process is much the same.

Connect the positive clamp of the booster cable to the positive clamp of the dead battery. Then connect the negative cable to the engine block or other grounded metal away from the battery.

The Council offers an additional suggestion: if you are buying jumper cables or a portable battery booster, buy the best quality you can afford. Look for well-insulated clamps and 8-gauge wire. (Note: the lower the wire gauge number, the heavier the gauge.) Under the heavy electrical load of boost starting, lightweight cables may not be able to deliver enough current to start some engines. In fact, they have been known to melt in the user's hand.

If your battery is three-years old or older and you haven't had it checked, it's a good preventive measure to do so, suggests the Council. A battery's power is reduced as the temperature drops. And that's when the engine's starting demands are greatest.

Come by Gateway Ford Lincoln Mazda's Quicklane to get your battery tested and ready for winter!

Article from Tuffy.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Do All Dealers Pay the Same Price for New Cars?? Lennie weighs in.....

I have been asked this question a lot in my career---and the answer is Yes, most of the time. A long time ago, a group of powerful automotive executives got together (illegally of course) and made several big decisions that shaped the pricing model for new vehicles ever since. They decided that all dealers, regardless who they were, where they were located or how many vehicles they purchased at a time, would pay the same price for cars. So dealer "A", whose store was 1 mile from the factory paid the same freight bill as dealer "B", who was hundreds of miles away. I know what you're thinking--that is stupid! Right? It may be stupid, but it has worked, and it leveled the playing field for all dealers, regardless where they were located.
Many business folks cannot understand the fact that there are no "volume discounts" for dealers who sell 1000 cars vs. dealers who sell 100. Again, it has worked and it enabled small town dealers to survive in competition with the big dealers in major metro markets. But there is a caveat...there are volume sales incentives available to dealers whose volume exceeds established goals or objectives. They are called "Stair-step" bonuses, and they are designed to incentivize dealers to order more cars and increase their "Through-put" (inventory turn, or simply "Sales"). That's one way you could end up paying less for a car at one dealer than the other, all other factors being equal. The only problem is that you, as the consumer, have no idea who has hit the stairstep level and who has not! The fact remains that Auto dealer margins are miniscule compared to other durable and non-durable goods. Who knows, maybe all this discounting and back-and-forth negotiations will go the way of the Vega and the Pinto. It sure would make things easier for everyone involved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Gateway Christmas

We wanted to post some of our Christmas decorations! We have decked out a 1966 Volkswagen Bus in Gateway's showroom, and it is loaded with gifts and ready to head to Grandma's house! Hope everyone is making the best of this rainy day!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Things to Remember When Driving on Halloween

Help protect trick-or-treaters by following these driving safety tips on Halloween, or on the night your community hosts Halloween activities. Be especially careful between 4 and 8 p.m., when most severe vehicle/young pedestrian collisions happen.
Drive slowly, and don't pass stopped vehicles. The driver might be dropping off children.
Park your mobile phone. Avoid distractions by waiting until you've stopped to call, text, or surf. 
Watch for children darting into the street. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections.
Yield to young pedestrians. Children might not stop, either because they don't see your vehicle approaching or don't know how to safely cross the street.
Communicate with other drivers. Always use your turn signals. And if you have to pull over to drop off or pick up your kids, turn on your hazard lights.
From Progressive Insurance's website