Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Of The Road

I’ve been hearing plenty of reports of police officers starting to pull people over for looking at their phones while driving. Not talking, just looking! I, for one, totally agree with the decision to crack down on looking-and-driving. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard stories about people who have ‘almost’ gotten into an accident because they were checking their Facebook account, getting directions from Google Maps, or checking their email. You may think you’re a pro at sneaking a peek at your phone when you aren’t in any danger, but after you have one fender bender, you’ll come to realize that sending that last email wasn’t worth the thousands of dollars of damage to your vehicle and the poor person you hit’s vehicle. If you think a fender bender is the most damage you’ll do, then consider that there are thousands of people across the U.S. who have been severely injured or lost loved ones due to people not paying attention when they are behind the wheel.

So what can you do to stop the temptation of checking your phone while you drive? I know that there are a lot of people out there who use navigational apps to help them get from Point A to Point B and they often cause problems when you are trying to get where you are going and heed the maps directions. I suggest turning your radio down and letting the app speak the commands while you are driving. Sure, we think it’s annoying but it’s way better than taking your eyes off the road to verify that you’re going in the right direction.

If you’re not using your phone for directions, keep it in your pocket while you drive. It’s the best place for it and it will stay out of your eyesight, so you won’t be tempted to check out the new notifications you’ve received.

What do you do to keep yourself from looking at your phone while you drive?

 

 

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Keeping Your Interior From Cracking

Photo courtesy of carcomplaints.com

For anyone who’s had a car for over a few years, you dread the day that your dashboard begins to crack and exposes the foam underneath. Once that starts, it all downhill. Your dashboard and seats will keep cracking and getting worse as time goes on. Here in Texas, our harsh Summers make it even, the high temperatures and Sun’s rays do a number on those dashboards and leather seats. Here are a few things you can do to extend the life of your dash.

1. Use a protectant

You can pick them up at just about any auto store or general retail store. Armor All is probably the most popular one on the market. They do a great job of keeping your interior protected from the Sun’s harmful rays. But you can’t just do it once, you have to be vigilant and apply it often. For leather seats, get a leather conditioner and apply it as often as you can, no one likes the feeling of torn and cracked leather.

2. Buy a dashboard cover

I used to have one in my old truck and it looked a little funky, but it kept my dashboard from cracking! You can get these made specifically for your car so it fits in all the right places and doesn’t cover your window vents.

3. Use a Sun shade

Using a reflective Sun shade not only keeps the UV rays off of your car’s interior, it also keeps your car a few degrees cooler. If you park your car out in the sun while you’re at work, you should definitely invest in one. Parking your car in the Sun for many hours per day will only shorten the life of that dash.

4. Get your windows tinted

If you are still driving around without tinted windows, you’re asking for it! The film that auto detailers use for tinting windows will protect your interior from those harmful UV rays, too!

What do you do to protect your car’s interior from cracking?

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Battery Terminals Are More Important Than You Think

Photo courtesy of partsmaster.com

I went out to my car, just the other day, to go home after work and my car wouldn’t start. Naturally I suspected it was the battery. So I yanked it out of the car and took it over to the service department and told them what was going on. They tested the battery and told me that the battery is fully charged and not the culprit. So I thought to myself, “What could be causing my car to not start if it isn’t the battery?” Alternator is good, starter is good. Then, my guy looks at the battery posts and asks me if I noticed any corrosion on the terminals when I took the battery out. There was my “a-ha” moment. My battery terminals and connectors were so corroded that they couldn’t get a proper connection to start the car!

If you have ever had this happen to you, you know that it’s frustrating finding out that your car won’t start because of corrosion. After you’ve determined that’s the problem, here’s run down of what you need to do to get your car back in running order

1. Disconnect the terminals

Using a wrench, loosen the bolts that secure the wires to the terminals to the posts on your battery.

2. Clean off the terminals

Using a wire brush (most auto stores even carry a wire brush that specifically designed for this) and scrub all the gunky white powdery stuff off of the terminals and inside the round connectors that attach to the battery. Don’t strike or hit the battery with anything to try to get the build-up to break off, you run the risk of causing a spark.

3. Apply petroleum jelly or grease to the terminals.

This will slow down the corrosion process and hopefully you’ll never have to do this again!

4. Reattach the connectors to the terminals.

Using the wrench you used to remove them, tighten the bolts to make sure your  connectors are tight and have a good connection with the terminal.

5. Start your car up!

Have you ever had to deal with corrosion on your car’s battery?

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How to get Rid of that Stinky Car Smell

Photo Courtesy of Discovery.com

There’s a reason they call it the ‘new car’ smell. Once it’s not new anymore, your car begins to emit a distinctive smell that mostly the contents of the car. Some cars fare better than others, depending on their owner’s cleaning habits. If you don’t take the time to clean out your car, yes, it will probably be an olfactory nightmare. Here are few tips to keep your car smelling just as good as it did the day it came off the lot.

Give it a good clean

I can’t stress this enough. Clean out your car! If you’re a smoker and you use the ashtray, there’s a high probability that it’s causing your passengers to hold their noses when they ride with you. Clean every part of the car. The seats that house all of the crumbs from you eating while driving, the floor mats that absorb whatever it is you stepped in, the steering wheel that gets covered in sweaty palms, all of it needs a good vacuuming or spray of cleaning solution. Check under the seats. I, personally, always find French fries under my seats and there’s really no telling how long they’ve been there.

Invest in a good smell neutralizer

Those trees you see hanging from the mirrors? The clip-on fragrances that you can put right on the air conditioner’s vent? Those just cover up the problem. For about $10 you can get a bag of odor absorbing materials that suck up whatever the smell is, be it cigarette smoke, mildew or month old French fries. I keep one under my seat at all times and I have yet to smell anything that makes me pinch my nose.

Check your in-cabin air conditioning filter

Those things are notorious for housing some of the worst smells of all mankind. If it’s been a few years since you’ve had it checked, bring it in to us and let us scope it out and see what’s causing that awful smell in your car.

What do you do to get rid of bad odors in your car?

 

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Have You Heard Of The Elio?

Photo Courtesy of eliomotors.com

Check this out! I saw a friend of mine post an article about this car/motorcycle hybrid called the Elio. I think it’s a pretty neat idea, especially in a world where Smart cars are available. It looks like a good alternative to gas guzzlers. On their website it shows that they get 84 miles per gallon and cost less than $7,000!

I bet it would be super fun to drive, almost like driving a go-kart to work every day. If their specs are right, then it can go from 0-60 in 9 seconds, which isn’t very fast. Then again, when driving to work, you don’t ever hit 60 anyways.

With an 8 Gallon tank, you can conceivably drive 672 miles without filling up your gas tank. You could make it from our headquarters here in Grapevine to Albuquerque on one tank of gas. That’s pretty amazing.

Best of all, they’d all be made right here in America. When production starts on these little 3-wheelers, it’ll be based in Shreveport, LA. As of June 22, 2014, there are already 22,000 pre-orders for them!

I realize that by looking at the picture above, you’re probably thinking that it can’t be a safe drive. According to their research, it actually is. Take a look at this video and see for yourself.

What do you think about the Elio? Would you drive one?

 

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Traffic Stinks!

Photo Courtesy of Navigation.com

We all have complained about traffic before. I do it, you do it, everyone does it. Because it stinks. There’s really no way around it. It’s a time-waster and we can all think of other places we’d rather be than stuck behind an old car with a bad exhaust problem for an hour or so after work. To put things in perspective, TomTom has released a very informative study that they’ve conducted that shows the worst cities for traffic. Some of it may surprise you, some of it probably won’t.

Top 10 Most Congested Cities in the United States
(report is for both North and South America)

4. Los Angeles (no shocker there)
6. San Francisco
7. Honolulu
8. Seattle
10. San Jose
11. New York City
14. Miami
15. Washington D.C.
16. Portland
17. New Orleans

The real shocker?

39. Dallas-Fort Worth

Maybe I think it’s worse when I’m stuck in it, but I was surprised by DFW being ranked number 39. It also makes me not want to travel to Los Angeles or San Francisco anytime soon. The top three most congested cities across the Americas are Rio De Janiero, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. That makes feel wonder just how bad it is down in Brazil with the World Cup going on right now.

A few more interesting findings on the report are the lightest and heaviest days for traffic. In Dallas – Fort Worth, the lightest morning commute is on Friday, while the heaviest is Tuesday. The lightest evening commute is Monday, while the heaviest is Friday, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Anyone who has been in traffic here in DFW on a Friday evening knows that it’s a parking lot all over the metroplex.

Houston and Austin are both above Dallas-Fort Worth on the list (number 23 and 25, respectively).

Check out the full report here and see where your city ranks!

 

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More Fuel Saving Tips!

Photo Courtesy of HomeGuide411.com

It’s getting into the Summer months and the price of gasoline has been hovering around $3.50 per gallon here in North Texas. I can’t complain, it’s much higher in the Western states ($4.40 in Hawaii). It’s still a beating on my wallet when I have to fill up my tank, though, and I’m always looking for good fuel saving tips without having to go buy a hybrid or electric vehicle. I’m just going to touch on 3 of the most effective tactics for releasing some of the strain on your wallet.

1. Slow Down, Speedy Gonzales

I realize that that’s not what you want to hear, but slowing down noticeably decreases your fuel consumption. There’s no need to go 80 on the highway or try to get to work as fast as possible. You’ll more than likely get there around the same time if you were to take your time and keep your foot off the gas.

2. Lighten Your Load

We know you like to carry your bowling ball in the trunk of your car, just in case someone challenges you. But if you think about it, when’s the last time you actually used it? If it’s been clunking around back there for a few weeks, it may be time to take it out and give it a rest. That’s 20 lbs of weight that the car is no longer having to spend gas on. Cleaning out your car of heavy, bulky items not only helps with your miles per gallon, it also makes your parents think that they didn’t raise a crazy person.

3. Don’t Drive

Easy as can be, right? If you can stay home all day and keep your car in the garage, then why go out? It’s the easiest and simplest way to keep gas in your tank and money in your pocket. If you start to go stir crazy, go for a walk instead of a drive.

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What Exactly is E85?

Photo Courtesy of CarlsVanRentals.com

I was filling up my car the other day and I noticed an E85 pump. Being in the auto industry, I knew this was coming, but it still made me do a double take, so I wanted to write a post about what exactly E85 is and what happens if you put it your car and it’s not equipped to handle it.

What is E85?

Some cars being manufactured today are being equipped to run on a special ethanol-gasoline mix. E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. With the United States trying to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, E85 is a way to reduce our intake.

Can I put E85 in my vehicle?

Unless your car is Flex Fuel equipped, more than likely, no. Your engine must be tuned and equipped to handle the the mix. If you accidentally put E85 in your car, you could damage your engine and be forced to make costly repairs. E85 is more abrasive and produces more oxygen than your typical gasolines. Some cars out on the road can handle E85 without any modifications, but always check with your manufacturer or dealer to verify.

Are there benefits to using E85?

Using E85 in a car that is built for it will spend less money on gasoline in the long run. E85 is anywhere between 15-25% cheaper than normal gasolines. However, flex fuel vehicles do get less gas mileage due to ethanol not being able to produces as much energy as higher grade gasoline.

Again, do not put E85 in your car without verifying that it is equipped to handle it. But next time you’re at the pump and you see a strange pump off by itself, you’ll know what it is!

Do you know of anyone who drives a Flex Fuel vehicle?

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Keeping Your Car Cool During These Summer Months

Photo Courtesy of ThermalWireandCables

We got into the 90s this week and it’s not fun. Sure, it’s nice pool weather, but it’s no fun when you get into your car after work. The hot steering wheel, the steamy air inside, the feeling like your air conditioner will never cool your car down. Us Texans are familiar with all of them, and it’s a way of life. But, there are a few things you could do to minimize the heat in your car. If you take a couple of seconds, each time you get out of your car, to do some minor additions to your routine, you may not hate Summer so much.

1. Use a sunshade. I cannot recommend this one enough! Next time you’re in any auto store, Wal-Mart, or Target, purchase one of those aluminum-looking sunshades that you extend and put in your windshield. You’ll notice a big change in the temperature of your car after it’s been sitting in a parking lot for a few hours.

2. Crack the windows. If you keep the same air trapped inside your car all day, then it will continue to get hotter and hotter. By providing a little bit of ventilation, and a place where the air can escape, you lower the temperature significantly.

3. Park under shade. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I see people park in broad daylight instead of a nice, tree-shaded spot because it’s too far away. Parking under that canopy, garage, or carport will be well worth it when you realize just how much of a difference it makes to keep your car out of the sun.

4. Cover your seats. If you’ve got leather or vinyl seats, they absorb a lot of the heat, so the rest of the air inside suffers. Get a blanket and cover those seats! After all, if you’ve experienced a Summer with leather seats, you’ve probably regretted the decision to leave the house and take a seat on your flaming hot seats.

These are just a few ideas on how to keep your car’s interior from reaching the same temperature as the Sun. What do you do to minimize the Sun effects on your car’s temperature?

 

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Ozzie’s Q&A: Air Filters

Photo Courtesy of CarID.com

Welcome to the newest installment of Ozzie’s Q&A! Air filters are a vital part that keeps your engine running at it highest capacity. By keeping a clean air filter, you prevent having to make expensive repairs on your investment. Here are a few questions I get on a regular basis, to help you understand exactly what it does and when you should get it replaced.

How does an air filter work?

Your vehicle’s engine requires oxygen for burning the fuel that you put in your gas tank. We all know that there’s particulate matter in the air we breathe, insects, pollution, pollen, you name it, it’s probably in the air. A quality air filter keeps these unwanted particles out of your engine. If you didn’t have an air filter, your engine efficiency would go down the tubes and you would have to be replacing parts on a regular basis.

What are the benefits of replacing an old filter?

Changing your air filter is helpful if you’re looking for better fuel efficiency because fresh air is integral to keeping your engine running smoothly. A new air filter can increase your fuel efficiency anywhere from 6-11% in some cases! Other benefits include a longer engine life, due to less stress on your engine and your engine emitting less pollution.

How often do I need to change my air filter?

Depending on the air filter, every 30,000 to 60,000 miles is an ideal interval to replace your disposable filters or thoroughly clean your reusable filters. Checking your air filter when you get your oil changed is a good idea, because you never know what can jam up your air intake.  Double check the filter manufacturer and set a reminder to replace it!

What kind of car questions do you have? Find us on Facebook and send us a question, maybe I’ll answer it on next week’s Q & A.

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