Category Archives: New Cars

Do you know when seat belts became standard?

Do you know when seat belts became standard? Consider this a history lesson. I found it pretty fascinating. I can’t guarantee you will too, but if you have kids, have them read it. In my opinion, the seat belt is one of the greatest automotive inventions second only to the internal combustion engine.

DFW, did you know that there were no seat belts in cars when most of the ”baby boomer” generation was born, post World War II.  For that matter, there weren’t any Interstate Highways either.  That was a program championed by President Eisenhower after he took office in 1953.  Here’s an interesting time line.

In 1956, Ford tried, unsuccessfully, to interest Americans in purchasing safer cars with their Lifeguard safety package. (Its attempt nevertheless earned Ford Motor Trend’s “Car of the Year” award for 1956.)

In 1958, the United Nations established the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, an international standards body advancing auto safety. Many of the most life saving safety innovations, like seat belts and roll cage construction were brought to market under its auspices. That same year, Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin invented and patented the three-point lap and shoulder seat belt, which became standard equipment on all Volvo cars in 1959. Over the next several decades, three-point safety belts were gradually mandated in all vehicles by regulators throughout the industrialized world.

In 1966, the U.S. established the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) with automobile safety one of its purposes. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was created as an independent organization on April 1, 1967, but was reliant on the DOT for administration and funding. However, in 1975 the organization was made completely independent by the Independent Safety Board Act.

Volvo developed the first rear-facing child seat in 1964 and introduced its own booster seat in 1978.

In 1979, NHTSA began crash-testing popular cars and publishing the results, to inform consumers and encourage manufacturers to improve the safety of their vehicles. Initially, the US NCAP crash tests examined compliance with occupant-protection provisions. Over the subsequent years, this NHTSA program was gradually expanded in scope. In 1997, the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) was established to test new vehicles’ safety performance and publish the results for vehicle shoppers’ information. The NHTSA crash tests are presently operated and published as the U.S. branch of the international NCAP program.

In 1984, New York State passed the first US law requiring seat belt use in passenger cars. Seat belt laws have since been adopted by all 50 states, and NHTSA estimates increased seat belt use as a result save 10,000 per year in the USA.  In fact, fewer people died in on US roads and highways in 2008 (37,261) than in 1952 (37,500), despite an enormous increase in the number of drivers on the road.

Here’s what happens when you don’t wear your seat belt.

Hope you enjoyed this little history lesson from Freeman Grapevine.  Now buckle up, or you might be History.

Do you Know What Steps to Take When you Sell your Car

buying used car, selling used carsBuying and selling a car can be a laborious and often frustrating task. It’s not like you can just knock on your neighbor’s door and sell them your vehicle. The State of Texas has certain requirements and protocols that must be followed or your risk voiding the transaction. That’s when the real mess starts.

Of course, if you decide to sell your vehicle it is much easier to bring it to Freeman Grapevine. We have bought and sold a countless number of vehicles, so we have a pretty firm grip on the State of Texas Requirement for vehicle trans actions.

If you are considering buying a new vehicle, but are looking to sell your old car on your own, there are a few things that you need to know. First, before you do anything check the FAQS section of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles web site. They answer almost all of the questions you may have when deciding to sell. The also have the answers to the question you never even thought about asking, so check there.

I pulled this excerpt from txdvm.gov for your convenience. Take a look at it, so you know what you are in for when trying to sell your Dallas or Fort used car.

Keep your license plates and transfer them to your new vehicle.

When you keep your license plates, the buyer has to transfer the vehicle title and this helps to protect you.

When you take off the plates, the buyer will need a Vehicle Transit Permit to drive the vehicle to the county tax office to re-title the car or truck.

Provide the buyer with all the documents needed to transfer the title:

  • A signed title
  • A signed vehicle title application
  • The vehicle’s latest registration receipt
  • Any other supporting documents, such as a release of lien, power of attorney, etc.Then, accompany the buyer to the county tax office to verify the buyer files a new vehicle title application under his/her name. If you sell or trade in your vehicle to a dealer, or if the buyer can’t go to the tax office, you need to notify us of the sale by filing a vehicle vehicle transfer notification within 30 days of selling the vehicle.

Now this was a dealership video, but the same information holds true. Be honest and understand the laws inherent in selling a used car in Texas. Expect to make multiple phone calls to the tax office in regards to transferring your title and relinquishing ownership of your vehicle.

Of course, If you’d rather not go through the hassle of selling your car yourself, you can bring it to Freeman Grapevine and we’ll buy it from you and get you a great price towards a new Buick Or GMC.

Is Your Steering Wheel Covered In Bacteria?

clean steering wheel
How clean is your steering wheel?

The short answer is, “Yes.” Keeping the last theme of car cleanliness going from my last post, have you ever thought about how much bacteria and unpleasant microbes are covering your Buick or Gmc’s steering wheel? Probably not. When was the last time you actually gave your steering wheel and antibacterial rub down? Never? Think about this scenario for a second…it’s happened to all of us. You get in the car and turn the steering wheel and you feel something sticky on the back of it which probably came from your hands in the first place. Remember that big greasy burger you ate in the car before your last meeting? However, you kind of just ignore it but eventually your hand touches it again, and again, and again. When you stop touching it and realize that you should probably clean it off? Or, do you even care? Maybe you should.

Researchers at Queen Mary University in London claim that there are, on average, 700 different kinds of bacteria per square inch of steering wheel. That compares to 80 distinct bacteria types on a public toilet seat. Even worse, the trunk has 1,000 bacteria types per square inch. The most common form of bacteria was bacillus cereus, which can cause food poisoning.

The reason cars are filthy is simple; we simply don’t clean them. While we vacuum, dust and disinfect our home on a semi-regular basis, only one third of study participants cleaned their vehicle once a year or more. That sounds pretty crazy (and a bit lazy), but think about it. You may jettison the trash and vacuum the carpet on a somewhat regular basis, but how often do you wipe down that nasty steering wheel? And when you think about how many Americans regularly eat in their vehicles, our cars could be a reason why we are sick as often as we are. Now we know why valet parking attendants tend to wear white gloves.

As a side note, even beyond cleanliness, the study also shows that many drivers know next to nothing about their vehicles. For example, two-thirds of us don’t know how to change a tire, while one third of those surveyed don’t even know how to put air in the tires. It’s a sad, sad world.

So are you officially grossed out? You better run and get your car cleaned!! Let me know if you are interested in keeping your Buick or GMC bacteria free.

New Car Maintainence Tips for New Drivers

If there’s one thing we know here at Freeman Grapevine, it’s that both young drivers and those who’ve recently obtained their licenses need to learn the basics of keeping their cars properly maintained. After all a new license is pretty much useless if your car isn’t road-worthy. There’s no doubt that everyone is eager, when they get their first car, to just jump in it and go. Surely all it takes is gassing up the tank and going, right? Well, not en-“tire”-ly, there is a lot more concerned in basic car maintenance besides filling up. Let us look briefly at some basic car maintenance pointers and advice for new drivers.

Checking your tires is one of the most important steps associated with basic car maintenance. It is essential to remember that your tires are one of the most important parts on your car. Buy and USE an air pressure gauge. Keeping the air pressure at the recommended PSI will help increase fuel efficiency, extend the lifespan of your tires, and help prevent tire related accidents. Also keep an eye on that tread wear. A tread-less tire can separate and cause a lot of damage to your wheel wells. Use the “Quarter Technique”…just type that into YouTube and you’ll see what I’m talking about if you don’t already know this trick. Remember, your tires are the only thing between you and the road.

In order for your car to run properly, all of its belts must be in good, working order. Belts are often made of rubber, and rubber will, at some point, weaken and fail. It is recommended that your belts be examined every 25,000 miles, and they should be replaced every 50,000 miles. Remember, it is much simpler to check and replace your belts than it is to be stranded somewhere when they break.

Keep that engine running smoothly by monitoring your fluids! Most cars have warning gauges, to let you know when you are low on fluids such as oil and coolant. However, these gauges are not foolproof. It’s extremely easy to manually check your fluid levels. get in the habit of doing this on a regular basis.

For example, checking your oil level is simple. Be sure your car is parked on level ground, and allow the motor time to cool. Once your motor is cool, locate the “dip stick”. Once you find it, pull it out and wipe it down. Now you can get an accurate reading. Insert the dip stick back into its place, and pull it out once again. When you look at it, you will be able to determine how much oil your car may or may not need. You’ll also be able to tell if the oil is old and needs replacement. It should be light translucent yellow. Anything darker, have it changed.

Checking your coolant is even easier. As with monitoring oil levels in your car, let your engine cool before you check your coolant. DO NOT open the cap while your motor is still hot, the coolant is still under pressure from the heat and will shoot everywhere. You will be burned. On most cars, it will not be necessary to remove your radiator cap in order to check your coolant. You will clearly be able to see if levels are between low and high.

Maintaining your car at this simple level is a must for all new and young drivers. Trust me, taking a few extra minutes to maintain your car can save you from having to make costly repairs. Freeman Grapevine has seen the types of damages first hand when something as simple as changing your oil is neglected.

Blown Head Gasket…NOT FUN!

Texas Heat, Cars and Pets Don’t Mix

“…not even for a minute”

With Summer temperatures recently reaching over the 100 degree mark all across Texas, our cars are easily reach temperatures of 150 degrees or more. That’s hot enough to melt plastic and is certainly not an environment for your pets to be in.

I don’t like the fact that I have to write articles like this, but every year it seems that Texas drivers and pet owners need a reminder. It pains me…strike that…INFURIATES me when I see dogs left in cars by themselves. First off, your dog’s temperature is already roughly 100.5°F to 102.5°F. In order for them to diffuse heat, they have to pant and cool the blood flow through their tongue since they have no sweat glands and do not perspire. As if that isn’t enough, they are wearing a fur coat!

What many people don’t know is that even on moderately cool days, the temperature inside a car can be fatal. Even when its only 70 degrees outside, in just one hour, the temperature inside a car can soar to over 110 degrees, and cracking the windows doesn’t really help.

If you think that your four-legged friends would be “OK” for a few minutes as you ran in to a store, think again. In fact, don’t think about it. Go ahead and sit in your car with no air running for 10 min. and then see if you feel the same way. I’ll even let you crack the windows. Sweat much?

No one is immune to catching a case of “the stupids”. You may think it will only take a few minutes to grab those groceries or chat with a friend, but that few minutes can translate into life threatening heat exhaustion for your best friend:

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

If your dog has heat stroke he will progressively show these signs:

  • Excessive panting;
  • Pale gums, bright red tongue;
  • Disorientation and your dog doesn’t respond to his name;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Thick saliva;
  • Vomiting;
  • Breathing difficulties;
  • Collapse;
  • Coma;
  • Death

Dogs Prone to Heatstroke

  • Young puppies and older dogs;
  • Overweight dogs;
  • Dogs with an existing illness or recovering from illness or surgery;
  • Dog breeds with short faces – Bulldogs, Shar pei, Boston Terriers, Pugs – have narrow respiratory systems that easily get overwhelmed in hot and humid conditions;
  • Double coated breeds such as Chow Chows; and
  • Dogs bred for cold climates such as Malamutes, Huskies and Newfoundlands.

If you suspect that your dog may have heat stroke:

Make sure your dog is out of the sun and has access to water but don’t let him drink too much.

Cool him with cool/tepid water – either immerse him in a bath, gently hose him or apply cool towels to his body. Importantly do not leave wet towels on your dog and do not use very cold water – both prevent your dog form being able to cool himself.

Move your dog to an area where there is cool air circulating, such as an air conditioned room or stand him in front of a fan. The cool circulating air will help your dog to reduce his temperature.

Remember, your dog can’t tell you that he is uncomfortable, so you’ll have to use common sense. Under no circumstance should you leave your dogs unattended in a car. Regardless of how hot you believe you car will “actually” get, you are going to be wrong. Then you will be left with a tragedy that is not only emotional, but quite possibly legal as well. You will get fined for endangering an animal by leaving them in a hot car, or could even be arrested for animal cruelty if they die.

Keep your pups safe, keep them out of your hot vehicles. If you have any comments, questions or advice, leave a comment below or see me at Freeman Grapevine!

Do you use child restraints properly?

I found a perfect example of the how important it is to not only use a protective child seat, but to understand how to install it properly. Read below. I found this story at consumer reports. Not only does it emphasize the importance of child restraints, but also wearing YOUR seat belt as well!

You never think it’s going to happen to you. I was driving up to visit a friend for a playdate, both kids, 2 and 4, in the back. This was a tough winter in the northeast, and the roads were not perfect.

I was trundling along at the speed limit, not talking on the phone, not texting, when I hit some ice on the road. I completely lost control of the car, which hit the snow bank on the side of the highway. The car rolled one-and-a-half times and ended up upside down on the side of the highway.

I was trapped in the seatbelt (thank goodness!) and the kids were suspended from their carseats. Four or five cars stopped, reaffirming my faith in human nature, and helped us all out of the car, which was totaled. The kind strangers stayed with us until the police and ambulance arrived. Bottom line, we were all OK (except for the car).

This is what I took away from the incident: We were very lucky, but it wasn’t just luck that protected us that day. I was driving a Consumer Reports recommended vehicle. The kids were in Consumer Reports’ top-rated, carseats, which happen to be inexpensive. The seats were properly installed. The kids were correctly buckled in. My 4 year old, being just under 40 pounds (he’s a skinny one), was still using the 5-point restraint.

Things could have been, and likely would have been, very different if I didn’t use Consumer Reports ratings and follow Consumer Reports advice. My kids and I walked away from a horrific accident without a scratch. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I owe my life and my family to the people here who work day in and day out to provide this information to the public.

This is just one story out of the 1,000’s of serious accidents that happen every year. Luckily, this one had a happy ending, but not all are as lucky.

A properly used and installed car seat is paramount when driving with children. Further, you can teach them the importance of using their seatbelts as they get older. Hopefully, by the time hey start driving, using their seatbelt will be automatic.

Just have a baby? If you have any questions on how to properly install your car seat, swing by and we’ll show you!

How to Escape a Sinking Car

how to escape a sinking car

This is something we hear on the news from time to time. A car loses control, crashes through a retaining barrier and into a body of water. Would you know what to do if this happened to you?

This type of accident is rare, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. Thinking back on what you know or what you’ve heard, do you think that you would have the presence of mind to recollect the escape tactics that you’ve “heard” about and not panic? For sake of argument, I’m going to say “no”, you won’t. That’s OK, because until I did a little refresher research, I would have fallen into the same category as you: Knowing the theory of escape, but that’s about it.

Check out the video for a visual refresher:

Here’s a website dedicated to this very subject written from a person who’s experienced being trapped in a submerged car first hand. It’s definitely worth looking at.

The bottom line is that you have to remember to stay calm and memorize this simple course of action:

Here’s one more thing to consider. There are small, inexpensive, and convenient-to-carry tools available to the public that are made specifically to shatter a car window to free a trapped victim. I suggest you look into getting one for your vehicle.

From Saveyourlife.us

One is called a LifeHammer. It is only 7 ½ inches in length and weighs 4.9 ounces. It is shaped like a small hammer but with a dual conical shaped hardened steel point at one end. A strike with medium force will shatter a side window. I had my 10 year old daughter try it and she broke the window on the first try. The LifeHammer also has a seatbelt cutter built into the other end. The LifeHammer should be mounted in the vehicle either on the side of the console or anywhere it can be easily reached in an emergency. You can view one by clicking anywhere you see the word “LifeHammer”.

The other tool is called ResQMe. It performs the same functions as the LifeHammer but it is only 3 inches long, weights just over ½ oz. and easily attaches to your keychain. One advantage of ResQMe is that it can go with you wherever you go as long as you have your keys. You can view one by clicking anywhere you see the word “ResQMe”. The Life Hammer is a little more robust and can be used to clear out some of the shattered glass once the window is broken. I keep ResQMe on my key chain and a LifeHammer in my car.

Be prepared, stay calm and know your escape routes. If you have any questions or comments, let me know. If you’d like to share any experience you may have had that is similar, tell us that too…you may save some one’s life one day with your information.

Everybody, drive safely.

Rain, Rain go away save your hail damage for another day!

Pretty clever title, huh?

Living in Texas, we are all too familiar with “Texas Weather”. To put it simply, it can and usually does change on a dime. Nice and sunny one moment and the next you are being pelted by penny to softball sized hail. I’d go as far as to say that the “Hail Sale” was invented here in Texas.

So what do you do of your poor new car gets pelted by an unexpected deluge ice nuggets and ends up looking like a golf ball? One of two things. You can watch the video below for a look at what it takes to get your ride back to it’s unblemished self. It shows the tools you’ll need and how you might want to go about prepping your dent removal project.

To keep it interesting, they challenged the tech to do 6 dents in under a minute. As a novice, I’d plan for a much longer amount of time for your project. Also keep in mind that this is just the hood. Chances are if you’ve sustained hail damage it will probably be on your roof and trunk as well…as this point, I’d really consider bringing it in to have a professional take a crack at it.

Check out the video:

As you can see, if you know what you are doing, restoring your car after a hail storm takes a little patience, the right tools and some mechanical ability (removing hoods, liners, paneling etc.).

If you’ve sustained any hail damage (it’s crazy weather season in Texas) and don’t want to tackle a dent removal project yourself, then don’t hesitate to give me a call and I’d be happy to help you get your pride and joy back too showroom condition.

 

Why Is Car Buying So Hard? Part 2: Trades.

In my previous blog, I discussed the three parts of buying a car price, trade and finance. The last time I talked about how negotiating the price really is the easy part.  What I’ll cover today in this post is trading in your car.

It goes without say, if you trade in a vehicle, your gonna want the best price for it. They key points to take into consideration is the year, make, model, mileage and condition of the vehicle you are looking to trade in. There are a couple of great resources for looking checking the value of your vehicle on sites like Kelly Blue Book or NADA guides to get a rough estimate before bringing it to their dealer. One thing to remember is that this is not an exact science, that these sites do have the tendency too mislead you into thinking your trade is worth more than it really is. Most dealers will assess your car and look for signs of any body repair, painting, misalignment, and flooding. Dealers often also run a car history check accidents.

Other aspects that affect trade-in value include whether the dealership has a strong used car operation, or if they have to sell the vehicle at whole sale.  This matters because a dealership that has a good used car operation will often need a wide variety of makes and models. This usually leads to a better price for the consumer market of the vehicle.  Fort Worth, if the dealer has to sell the vehicle for wholesale, it may be because the cost to repair the vehicle is not worth paying, or simply have no demand for the brand and model.

As I said, the negotiation of your vehicle is more difficult than pricing. When you buy a new car, do you trade your old car or sell yourself? How was your experience? What do you think the dealer could have done better?

We’re always trying to improve the value for our customers, so your feed back would be great!

Why does buying a car seem so hard?

Recently a customer came by our store and, in idle conversation, asked, “Why is car buying so difficult?”  I understand why she said that, because it can be very challenging, not to mention a bit scary and can be as equally frustrating for both a customer and the dealer.  As an insider, let me explain why.

There are three main components to buying a car:  price, trade in and financing.  Today I’ll review price.

Are You a Frustrated Buyer?

Price should be the easiest part of the car buying process.  When a customer researches & test drives a car, truck, SUV or crossover and gets quotes from multiple dealerships, they should compare apples to apples. Meaning that you want to make sure you’re comparing the same vehicle with the same equipment and options.  A simple way to do this is to make sure the MSRP’s are the same.

As a salesperson, the hardest question to answer for a customer is “what’s your best price?”  When asked that question, I’ve told my sales people to show customers the invoice.  This shows what the dealer paid on that car.  Most good dealerships will gladly show you the invoice so you see in black & white where their numbers are coming from.  You should calculate in any rebates, as well as a small profit, which all dealers are entitled to make.  It’s that easy.

Here, check out this video..the audio isn’t Grammy quality, but you can still learn a lot from it

Has your experience been that the price is the most difficult part of the car buying process? Share your experience here and check back for part two:  trading in your vehicle.  Of course, if you want to talk in person, just swing by and I’ll make it the easiest experience you’ve ever had.