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Ask Ozzie: The Gas Cap and The Check Engine Light

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Jim Larrison/Flicker Creative Commons

 

So, what’s the relationship between your gas cap and your check engine light? I have, on occasion had to field this question: “Does removing my car’s gas cap while the engine is running trigger my check engine light?”

It’s actually a question that has one answer in two parts. First, with many of today’s modern cars, trucks, SUVs and vans this is often true. The gas cap might be the culprit, but cause is escaping vapors. If the fuel tank is between one quarter and three quarters full and the engine is running, the car’s emissions monitoring system will illuminate the “Check Engine”, or “Service Engine Soon”, or “Malfunction Indicator” lamp (depending on the vehicle) if it detects fuel vapors escaping into the atmosphere. So, yes, removing the gas cap will often cause the system to think it has detected a vapor leak.

Now if you are certain that your gas cap is secured, then you could be looking at a myriad of issues. While this particular warning light can indicate a vapor loss from your gas tank, it can also mean you are having a completely different issue. That’s why when your “Check Engine” light goes off, it’s a good idea bring your car in to your local dealer who can do a thorough inspection, fix and find your issue and TURN OFF THAT LIGHT! I know you don’t want to see it anymore.

Here’s something else that you may, or may not know. If you go for your Texas Vehicle Inspection and this light is illuminated, they will not inspect your car. You should be getting it checked ASAP as to prevent any long term damage to your vehicle.

Just some more friendly advice from your Grapevine, Southlake, Keller Buick GMC Dealer.

source: wqad.com

Bedford, Tx Distracted Driving Ordinance

source: wqad.com
source: wqad.com

Another Metroplex city has taken the noble action of putting constraints on distracted driving. When you read the number of causalities that are a direct result of distracted driving, I’m sure you’ll understand why. Myself and everyone else at Freeman Grapevine applaud  the efforts of our cities to stop distracted driving.

On November 18, 2014, the Bedford City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting distracted driving practices as they relate to portable electronic devices (which is defined as any handheld wireless communication device, laptop computer, tablet, media player, handheld gaming device, or any electronic device capable of displaying text-based communications, games, pictures or video).

In 2012, there were 3,328 people killed in distracted driving incidents. Statistical data reflects a significant correlation between cell phone use while driving and an increase in motor vehicle accidents. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that a person is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash by looking away from the forward roadway for just two seconds; a risk that is comparable to driving with a blood alcohol content level of 0.15. Another NHTSA report shows that while texting, the average person’s eyes are off the road for five seconds. At 55 MPH, those five seconds equate to traveling the length of a football field while blindfolded.

The intention of the ordinance is to prohibit drivers from interacting with any electronic device in their hands, whether it is viewing, typing, or talking while operating a motor vehicle upon a public roadway. This includes while vehicles are stopped at a traffic signal.

Types of actions that are considered “use” in the ordinance are as follows:
- viewing the display screen of a portable electronic device
- holding a portable electronic device in a position to talk into or listen on
- manipulating a portable electronic device by interacting with its display screen or pushing any button to enter text, dial numbers, or to engage in any other function.

The ordinance DOES NOT prohibit GPS devices affixed to a vehicle, a hands-free device, or the utilization of a portable electronic device in an emergency situation.

Be smart folks. chances are, that text can wait. It’s not worth destroying your life and the lives of others because you we’re to distracted with being social. There is no excuse. Pull over if you have to use your phone. Remember, you are driving, so why not actually focus on driving?

Fuel Efficiency Myths

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Now that fuel prices have come back down to Earth. I’m going to talk a little bit about some common questions I get from people here at the dealership. There are lots of myths about how to save gas, and I want to try to dispel some of them.

Does filling up before your car is empty help stop with fuel evaporation?

While it’s never a good idea to run your vehicle down to the ‘E’ (because no one likes running out of gas), filling up before it gets there doesn’t stop evaporation from happening. Modern cars have vapor recovery systems that stop the fumes from escaping your tank. Nowadays, just about any car you drive will trip the check engine light if your gas cap is not securely fastened or missing. You can fill up your gas tank with any level of fuel already in the tank and not notice a difference.

Does a manual get better gas mileage than an automatic?

This is a tough one to answer. A skilled driver who can control the engine with precision and times their shifting perfectly can get better mileage than an automatic transmission, yes. However, a normal, everyday driver who does not pay particular attention to those details will waste gas by shifting too late or over-revving the engine. Automatic transmissions have come a long way and are more efficient than ever, which leads to less gas wasted.

Should I fill up my gas tank when it’s cooler?

The theory behind this myth is that when a liquid is cooler, it’s denser, meaning you get more fuel for the money. Good theory, but bad practice. The gas you buy from a gas station stores their fuel underground, insulated from the elements, where there is little temperature variation. Purchasing gas in the morning, when it’s cooler will have no noticeable effect on your wallet.

Do you have any fuel myths you want dispelled?

Fall Foliage Drives in North Texas

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Being located here in Grapevine, Texas, means that we aren’t exactly a treasure trove of great fall foliage sightseeing. Our weather errs on the warmer side of the spectrum so we very rarely have a window of time to enjoy the changing of the colors. Not to say that we don’t enjoy it, we just have to search a little harder and be a little better at planning ahead. For us, late November, right around Thanksgiving is the best time to take a drive to see the colors. After living here for many years, here are a few places I’ve found that can provide us North Texans with a glimpse of Fall foliage.

Fossil Rim State Park

South of Fort Worth, about an hour’s drive, you’ll hit Glen Rose, a tiny town of about 2,500. In that town is a great park called Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. In that park is a drive thru wildlife and foliage lesson. If you pick the right time of year, you could witness a changing of the colors and see some antelopes, rhinoceroses, giraffes, and plenty of other wildlife. This wooded preserve is a great drive regardless of the time of year, but if you’re a fan of the oranges, reds and yellows that Fall has to offer, then you can’t go wrong at Fossil Rim.

Cedar Hill State Park

Just south of Dallas on I-20 and 1845 near Cedar Hill is Joe Pool Lake. A small lake that is surrounded by wooded areas, a preserve and plenty of opportunities to catch some fall foliage. Don’t forget your camera because you’ll have tons of chances to capture the essence of Fall. The short drive between I-20 and Cedar Hill alone is worth the drive. Rolling hills, fresh air and plenty of trees are the highlight. Just thinking about it is making me itch to take a trip down there!

Tyler State Park

East of Dallas, about 2 hours of driving, is Tyler State Park. A small, wooded state park that surrounds a lake. This is the perfect place to spend a cool, Fall weekend and enjoy the outdoors. You can bring an, RV, pitch a tent or stay in one of their screened cabins. Either way, you’ll have the perfect vantage point to see tons of colorful Fall changes. The drive out to East Texas isn’t too bad itself. Once you get out of DFW, it’s nothing but trees for miles.

What about you? Where are some of your favorite places to enjoy Fall foliage in North Texas?

Tips for Winterizing Your Car #3

Photo Courtesy of KatieOnCars.com

With the oncoming Winter season in front of us, it’s a good idea to take a few precautions to make sure your car can handle the harsh temperatures and (possibly) even the snow and ice. Be sure to check out post number 1 and 2 for more tips!

Check your tires and tire pressure

If it’s time to get a new set of tires, just before the cold sets in is the best time to do it. Your tire’s tread is needed to keep control of your car if you hit a patch of ice. The more tread your tires have, the better traction you have during a snowstorm or ice-storm. You may even consider switching out to a set of studded snow tires, if your Winters are super harsh.

If your tires have a good amount of tread on them, then you must ensure that your tires have the proper amount of tire pressure. If they are under-inflated, then the tread on your tires shore up and don’t make contact with the road, increasing your chances of skidding if you hit an ice patch. Check your owner’s manual for the proper tire pressure.

Get a tune-up

The belts and hoses under the hood are important to keep it running at its best. The problem with harsh winters is that it takes its toll on those belts and hoses. If you spring a leak or have a frayed belt, it will only worsen in the Winter. Harsh temperatures and the necessity of running your engine tougher than usual could very easily mean a busted belt or an engine that can’t hold it’s liquids. Both of which are very bad and, potentially, very costly. Your engine depends on anti-freeze and other liquids to keep everything working properly (brakes, transmission, etc..). If your hoses are leaky, then you’re running the risk of having a major problem on your hands. It’s best to get all of your belts, hoses, and liquids checked before winter so you know your car will be up to speed and ready to go during those chilly days.

Tips For Winterizing Your Car #2

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Winterizing your car is a must for any of you who live in areas where you experience debilitating snowfalls and sub-zero temperatures. Be sure to check out the first installment of my series of winterizing your car to keep it running smoothly and lessening your chances of getting stranded.

Change your oil

During Winter, the lower temperatures make the oil in your engines tougher to flow and lubricate the moving parts that you don’t want to seize. To prevent that from happening, you should consider using a motor oil that is thinner than what you usually use. The key to figuring out what you should look for, pay attention to the first number on the bottle (10-30, 20W-50). The lower the number, the thinner the oil, and the easier it is to flow through your engine. If you are lucky enough to have an oil with the “W” indicator after the first number, then your oil is fine for Winter use and there is no need to switch to a different viscosity.

Double Check Your 4 Wheel Drive

I can’t tell you the number of times I wish I had a 4 wheel drive vehicle during the Winter. They can go just about anywhere and since they use all 4 wheels to grip the road, you can easily get out of a patch of ice. You should always avoid getting out on the road when it’s icy anyways, but when the time comes to strike out on the ice and snow, you’ll be glad your 4WD is working properly. With any 4WD vehicle, it’s a good idea to shift into 4WD about once a month to make sure there are no clogged lines and everything is running properly. Trust me, once you spin your wheels a couple of times, you’ll be glad you’ve got the ability to switch into 4WD and get home safely.

Stay tuned for more tips on winterizing your car!

Tips for Winterizing Your Vehicle #1

Photo Courtesy of TheAA.com

With the temperature dropping at a rapid pace, that can only mean one thing: Winter is on its way! The snow, the chilly weather, and the hot chocolate are all things that we look forward to here at Freeman Grapevine. On the flip-side, we also see plenty of car owners in our shop who neglect to take care of their vehicles during the cold weather. With that being said, I have a few tips to pass along to help you avoid getting stranded, keeping your car running and saving you money.

Keep an emergency weather kit in your car

You never know when the snow and ice will take its toll and accumulate on the roads, leaving you stranded for a few hours until the salt trucks can help you get back on the road. Nonetheless, you need to keep an emergency weather kit with you at all times, just in case you have an accident and/or get stranded. A good kit has most or all of the following products:

  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Jumper Cables
  • Reflective Triangle
  • Shovel for snow removal
  • Salt for traction on ice and snow
  • Travel Blanket
  • Ice Scraper
  • Tow Strap

Check with Amazon and see what kind of deals they have on a kit that includes all of most of these items.

Change your windshield wipers and check your wiper fluid

While you should never use your windshield wipers to remove ice, a new set of wipers and proper ice melting wiper fluid are critical for keeping ice from accumulating on your windshield while you are driving. We’ve all done it, we sit in our cars while it’s warming up and turn the wipers on hoping it will take a chunk of ice off of the glass, but instead, it just damages your wipers and limits their effectiveness. A good ice melting wiper fluid will aid in the process and help remove any build-up of ice and snow will help keep your windshield free and clear, eliminating any visibility issues. After all, driving in snow is a task in itself, having ice and snow in your line of sight certainly doesn’t help.

Keep your eyes peeled for a few more posts on winterizing your vehicle.

before-you-drive-2

Take The Pledge To End Texting and Driving

Photo courtesy of ItCanWait.com

I know I talk about this a lot, but I think it bears repeating until we can get a grasp on the problem. Texting and driving accidents are at the highest point they’ve ever been and we need an intervention to help us stop the madness. AT&T has created a campaign to get drivers all over the country to pledge not to text and drive.

ItCanWait.com is a great resource for showing you how to create the shortcut “#X” so you can quickly tell someone that you’re about to be on the road and that you’ll get back with them in due time. AT&T has also created a couple of different apps to help you keep your eyes on the road and not answering texts or phone calls. One of them is the DriveMode app (available for Androids), in which all incoming calls and texts are silenced, no phone calls can be made and text messages cannot be sent out. Thereby, keeping your eyes on the road!

There are also plenty of other driving apps available, for both IOS and Android phones, that render your phone inoperable while you’re behind the wheel.

We hear about it on a daily basis, here at Freeman Grapevine and we really wish we didn’t. Not only are you at risk when you text and drive, but you’re also putting everyone on the road at risk, as well.

Check out this video for the “#X” pledge and visit the website today!

 

Source: www.wisegeek.com

Combating Highway Hypnosis

Source: www.wisegeek.com
Source: www.wisegeek.com

The idea of traveling long distances is a good one. Packing up your suitcase, getting your dogs in the car, then hitting the road. Driving across the state, or even across the country is one of America’s past-times. But there’s one thing that will end your vacation quickly: highway hypnosis. After an extended period of time out on the road, seeing the cars drive by, and staring at the road in front of you, even the most experienced drivers tend to get dreary and sleepy. Highway hypnosis is dangerous because you could very easily drift into another lane, or off the road completely, and we don’t want to think about what happens then. Here are a few ways to combat that sleepy feeling.

1. Sing Along With The Radio

If you find yourself getting dreary, crank up the radio and belt out your best rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing“. It puts your mind to work in areas other than driving. You won’t be taking your eyes off the road, but your brain will be jolted back to life and you’ll be more alert.

2. Take A Break

It’s good to get out of the car and walk around for a bit. Maybe you could make a phone call and walk around a store for a few minutes, just to get your blood flowing. If you’re running low on gas, it’s time to fill up and take a break.

3. Avoid Heavy Meals

There’s a reason everyone takes a nap on Thanksgiving. It’s because we eat so much. Our bodies are using energy to digest the massive amounts of food we just put into our bodies. In turn, that makes us tired and sleepy. If you’re heading out for an extended trip, avoid the heavy meals that make us want to pull over and take a nap.

4. Roll the Windows Down

If the weather’s nice enough, you can always roll your windows down and give your senses something more to focus on. The smell of the outside, and the wind rushing in will give you a lift and you’ll be more awake.

Next time you’re traveling, be sure to remember these tips.

safedrivingspace

Tailgating is a Dangerous Hobby

We’ve all seen them. We look in the mirror and we see a car cruising a mere 6 feet away safedrivingspacefrom your bumper. Tailgaters. The aggressive drivers who want to go faster than you and want you to be out of their way. Truth be told: tailgating is one of the most dangerous habits that drivers have. Just think about the last time you were out on the road, I can almost bet that you were driving to close to the person in front of you. After years of driving, we tend to forget what we were taught in Driver’s Ed.

Tailgating is dangerous at any speed, from a 20 mph school zone to a 85 mpg highway. A sudden stop, or even just a slight deceleration could end up being a disaster. If you find yourself in an accident with you being the aggressor, you will stand to lose more than a few dollars. It will cost you money to repair your car, pay your fines and likely have a hard time finding a new insurance company.

We recommend keeping a 1.5 – 2 car distance between yourself and the car in front of you for every 10 mph you are traveling. For instance. If you are going 60 mph on the highway, then you want, at least 9 car lengths between you. Sure, there will be some hiccups along the way (merging traffic, drivers who cut you off, etc..), but that shouldn’t stop you from slowing down and letting the other drivers get far enough ahead of you so if they realize they are going too fast and hit the brakes, even for an instant, you won’t slam into their bumpers.

Here’s a fun fact for you! Not tailgating will actually help your car’s fuel mileage. If you aren’t flooring the accelerator and keeping up with the speed fluctuations the car in front of you has, your engine will maintain a steady pace and use fuel accordingly.

I realize that it may be hard to do with our congestion here in Dallas-Fort Worth, but rest assured, when you remember to keep your distance from the cars in front of you, you’ll have less of a chance of causing a minor (or major!) accident.

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