Category Archives: Tips and HInts

Our suggestions for a last-minute Labor Day road trip

Couple driving in convertible under sunny sky
  • Image Credit: Getty Images/Blend Images

Labor Day

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but Labor Day, the unofficial start of the fall season, is today, September 4th, 2017. That means time is running out on all those ambitious plans for barbecues, lounging at the beach and road trips.

On that last matter, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve left your planning to the last minute or are fresh out of ideas for your Labor Day road trip, let us propose five great scenic routes out there waiting for you. We recommend not merely driving them, but enjoying them in a convertible, the classic summer car.

Check out our look at five classic American roads that you need to see this Labor Day:

Route 1, Key Largo, Fla. to Key West Fla.
  • Image Credit: cupprof

Route 1, Key Largo, Fla. to Key West Fla.

Distance: 127 miles.

Key West is one of America’s most notorious party towns, but in this case, getting there can be as much fun as the destination.

The most well-known site along the 127-drive from the greater Miami area is Seven Mile Bridge, which stands as one of the iconic American crossings. It greets drivers west of Marathon, Fla., and continues over a seven-mile stretch in which drivers can see a beautiful blue horizon much more easily than land at the far end.

If checking out Key West, the one-time pirate cove and home to Hemingway, sounds a little too touristy, there’s plenty of out-of-the-way stops along the drive to make the trip one for the ages. There are mangrove swamps, crocodiles, pelicans and even the rare wild orchid found along the route, as well as a fisherman’s paradise and several state parks.

Route 2, M-22 in Northern Michigan
  • Image Credit: jimflix!

Route 2, M-22 in Northern Michigan

Distance: 117 miles

OK, so the Sleeping Bear Dunes garnered a bit of national attention this past year when Good Morning America named the national lakeshore the most beautiful place in the country. But Michiganders know that the road to get there, M-22, is just as picturesque as the towering sand dunes.

Starting on the north end in Traverse City, the curvy route showcases quiet lakes, cozy vacation towns and the sand dunes, all while following Lake Michigan’s shoreline south. Much like our first selection of U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys, this route in northern Michigan also traverses some classic Hemingway country.

Need a break? At Pyramid Point, hikers can enjoy a tree-lined three-mile trail to a lookout that offers a spectacular view of the Manitou Islands, a few miles offshore. But those wishing to stay in the car will get spectacular views throughout the drive south to Manistee.

Route 3, Aloha Loop
  • Image Credit: jshyun

Route 3, Aloha Loop

Distance: 266 miles

This one may require some degree of advanced planning. But we couldn’t think of a road that better captures the spirit of the MX-5. If you can make it over to the Big Island of Hawaii, this would be a road trip worthy of any bucket list.

After ostensibly renting your ragtop at Kona International Airport head down Route 11 to Captain Cook, where you can stop off at Hookena Beach Park and do some snorkeling. Make your way around the southern tip of the island and spend ample time at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Let’s be honest: There are majestic views from just about anywhere along this road. For more points of interest, stop at Akaka Falls State Park as you make your way around the island in a counterclockwise direction and check out verdant rainforests and sugarcane fields, from which you can view Mauna Kea, one of the tallest mountains in the Pacific. (And for the adventurous, you can ski in February and March).

Jeep Wrangler
  • Image Credit: Jeep

Jeep Wrangler

The perfect road-trip vehicle – if your plans involve going off road. The Wrangler may be one of the most capable Jeeps ever made, and the standard soft top can be folded down or the hard top removed for trips along mountain trails.

The two-door Wrangler comes with four-wheel drive standard and a 285-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 engine. For those headed off road, it’s important to note that electronic stability control, traction control, brake assist and hill-hold control also come standard.

Research the 2017 Jeep Wrangler

Route 4, Monument Valley, Arizona
  • Image Credit: mosoltysik

Route 4, Monument Valley, Arizona

Distance: Approximately 208 miles.

Skip the crowds at the Grand Canyon during the peak summer season and head toward the northeast corner of Arizona and into Monument Valley Tribal Park. Long before John Ford’s classic westerns made the area famous, the Navajos knew it well. Indian artifacts and history abound here.

There’s a 17-mile route inside the park that curls around some of the sandstone towers perfect for new offroaders. It’s unpaved, rocky and rutted. And it’s the only way to access some of the best parts of the park. Merrick Butte and Mitchell Mesa, named after two prospectors killed by Ute Indians, are two of the more spectacular monuments, as is Bird Spring, from which visitors can look out over vistas and sand dunes.

Route 5, Death Valley, Calif.
  • Image Credit: Frank Kehren

Route 5, Death Valley, Calif.

Distance: 310 miles

To see the Corvette at its best, you need a flat, open expanse to test its capabilities. No better place than the arid desert of Death Valley National Park.

Start off your journey near the Panamint Springs entrance to the park – and with plenty of gas. There’s plenty of dunes to see along the way, as well as remnants of lava flows, distant peaks and overlooks across the desert.

The power of the Camaro can be harnessed as motorists make their way from the lowest elevation in the United States in Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, to one of the highest in the park, at Dantes View, at more than 5,000 feet.

Along the way, you can stop and see abandoned mines, rattlesnakes, fringe-toed lizards and hikeable canyons. One thing you will not see a lot of is water, so bring plenty for everyone.

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.

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!

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Avoiding Common Driving Annoyances

Avoiding common driving annoyances is something we all attempt to do when we get behind the wheel to face the madness of DFW traffic. But what about all of the annoying things you do as a driver? All of the things that seem to plague you throughout the day. Seriously, this sort of stuff happens to all of us at least one in our lives.

  • Can’t remember where you parked your car? : Sorry folks, this happens to the best of us. Regardless if it is because the parking is inefficient and confusing, or you just didn’t pay attention to where you parked, if this happens to you frequently, I have a suggestion. Use an app. There are quite a few to choose from. With names like ‘MyCar Locator’, ‘Car Finder’, ‘Find My Car’ or ‘Where Did I Park’, I’m sure you’ll find one you like.
  • Can’t avoid driving directly into the glare of the sun when it’s low on the horizon? : I can’t stand when this happens! There’s one point in my daily drive that’s a solid mile of setting Sun in my eyes during most of Spring. I told a friend, who is a pilot , and he told me a trick he does when he has to fly into the Sun for long periods of time. He carries a tinted translucent plastic sheets, they make them for cars too. You can find them under names like clinging shades, glare screens, or clinging glare blockers. There are types that attach to the visors as well that you can find at most automotive parts stores.
  • Can’t get that key on or off your key ring? : OK, this isn’t actually about driving, it’s more like a life hack. Remember those “snake fanged” staple removers you were likely obssesed with in elementary? Well, now they have another use! Be careful when you do this, but you can use the teeth to pry apart the loops. The harder you squeeze, the larger the opening.

These are just a few for now. I’ve got more I’ll be adding to what is looking like a 3 part blog series. It gives you some time to think about the things that annoy you whether you driving, or it has something to do with driving; I want to hear about it.

 

How Often Do You Rotate Your Tires?

I would say that the majority of people know that regular scheduled maintenance is a necessity when it comes to owning a car to keep it running properly. One of the most common maintenance produces is getting oil changed. A no -brainer, right?! Well, you’d think so, but there are a handful out there that just don’t get their oil changed. And then they end up with some major, and sometimes even irreversible damage to their vehicles engine.

But enough about the importance of oil changes. Another important maintenance procedure you need to have done is getting your tires rotated. Now this one I can understand being overlooked….sometimes!  For some reason, people seem to always forget about the tires, which is crazy to me because they are the ones doing the ground work…no pun intended!

Keeping your tires properly maintained not only keeps you safe…very important, but also helps you to get the most wear out them as well.  And if that’s not enough, rotating your tires also helps you get better gas mileage as well  which all adds up to saving money, and, in this economy is a very important thing.

If you find that you have trouble remembering to rotate your tires, I suggest you add it in when you get your oil changed. To get the most of your tires, you want to keep them on a regular rotation so that they wear evenly. But even more frequently, you should at least check the tire pressure. Driving with low tire pressure is unsafe and can make your tires more susceptible to flats and punctures and can even make driving your vehicle challenging.

If you need a service shop, then of course I recommend giving Freeman Grapevine a try and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.  And of course you’re always welcome to come check out our great selection of new and use vehicles too!

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Don’t Mess With Low Water Crossings!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/92795775@N00/5245640991/in/photolist-8Zxhj4-2W1Gg-4wn9j9-aVZpQi-aVZR2P-4VyHrz-gY9rGp-eZP3qR-bWKnKT-4TB3yX-7nfQ3J-7nfPq9-8ZQVjA-74pH8o-qF47qr-nRF2yr-7GE7Hm-aqesWE-aHBuu8-6kyKox-8S6FSf-oMi7Az-fXYURc-fQC6s6-4YjBcm-5XQgJZ-x2QrE-cBp56w-9z6YG9-5axk3q-8G3b69-fXCxq5-6pfYRJ-auk5da-e1kVW9-9aQCf2-ampfPs-gYaG2n-8KPtE3-79ifzS-92uU4K-pQMmfA-j4VCQQ-92y37G-92uVkH-92uW3k-92uUYX-92y363-92uUT6-7oJGBZ
Gavin Tapp, Flickr Creative Commons

And the hits just keep on coming!  Here we are feeling like we’re getting all our entire year’s worth of rainfall in just a couple months. A friend of mine texted me this morning and said, “My pool is about to crest so we got 4″ overnight”.

But on a serious note here folks, it’s been heavy rains all spring long, with the worst coming in this last month and a half. First responders are over-taxed with their regular work servicing car accidents and the usual problems associated with bad weather without having to add water rescues, or even worse, recoveries to their pile. You’ve seen the signs, billboards, and TV spots: “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” and “Arrive Alive”.

There’s a reason they have to tell you that bit of obvious information. It wasn’t so obvious to quite a few people before you. Moving water is a powerful force, that’s how hydroelectric dams work. Heck it’s how flour mills worked back in your great-great’s days. If flowing water can turn massive stone wheels to grind your great-great’s corn, or turn massive electric generators to create power…why would you think it couldn’t shove your car or truck around just a little bit?

So to beat this bit of obvious into your head a little bit, if there is flowing water over the road, find another way to your destination or just wait it out. There is nothing so important on the other side of the road.

Yeah, but…

But nothing. Even if your kids are in school on the other side of that low water crossing, the school KNOWS it’s raining and will plan accordingly. In these days of cell phones, there is almost nothing you cannot organize while you wait for the waters to recede. Don’t be selfish and put yourself, your property, or a first responder at risk by being in a hurry!

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Have you thought about using your car alarm for home protection?

Security and safety are things we think about everyday whether we know it or not. That’s not just security and safety while driving, but also while you are at home in the evenings. I want to share a tip to enhance your home security and honestly, this is something I hadn’t really thought of until now, but it’s so simple and easy to do, you should make it a habit.

My advice is to keep your car keys nearby, “especially when you are home asleep in your bed.”  Of course, you have an alarm system on your vehicle and most do these days.  It doesn’t have to be on of the systems that tells you to step away from the car or sounds like a storm-warning siren… just an alarm system with a panic button that makes the horn sound and the lights flash.

For example, if you hear a noise outside your home or someone is trying to get into your house, just press the panic button for your car.  The alarm will go off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery goes dead.  It doesn’t even matter if the car is in the garage. I heard this bit of advice from a from a neighborhood watch coordinator. It was like a light bulb was turned on in my head.  So, the next time you come home for the night and you start to put your keys on the counter or a key rack, think of this:  It’s a security alarm system that requires no installation and no outside monitoring. Try it for yourself.  The alarm can be set off from most everywhere inside your house and it will continue to go off until you reset it with the button on the key fob.

Just a friendly tip. Has anyone ever had to use their panic button in a an emergency?

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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.

Dallas Fort Worth Car Dealer: Unbreakable Rule #1

WEAR YOUR SEAT BELTS!

I’m astonished to hear about accidents that resulted in a fatality simply because one or more of the occupants wasn’t wearing a seat belt. As a car dealer, I understand that paramount importance of wearing your seat belt. First of all, it’s the law. Second, and I hate to be so blunt here, but you are an idiot if you don’t wear it.

If you ever get into an accident in your Dallas Buick, or GMC without wearing your seat belt, do you know the one decision you are going to regret the most? No. It’s not going to be wishing you left home 10 minutes later; or if you just drove a little slower, or even a little faster you might have been a little more lucky. It’s going to be the 2.5 seconds you didn’t decide to buckle up. Really, this is important and not to be taken flippantly. It should be second nature. Instead of throwing statistics at you, I’m posting a picture I took yesterday near Grapevine, moments after I happened upon a very serious accident.

Everyone involved in this accident appeared to be fine from my vantage point and the demeanor of the emergency personnel confirmed this by their focusing on controlling traffic.

Don’t think wearing a seat belt in your new Buick, or GMC isn’t that important? Watch the video comparison below:

I guarantee you the two people involved in this accident didn’t leave their houses thinking this was going to happen. The bottom line is that you never know when something like this will happen. However, you do know how one simple act of putting on your seat belt might save your life one day…Freeman Grapevine will be reminding all of you of this periodically. No need to thank us.

Do You Have Driving Anxiety?

Driving associated fears aren’t uncommon. We all have had those moments where driving can make us anxious. In fact, Freeman Grapevine wants to let you know that driving anxiety is a lot more common than you may think. It happens to many drivers daily. Many of whom may not understand that driving related fears are indeed common and can be controlled, even eliminated.

Check out this video. It’s really interesting and not only explains what causes driving anxiety, but also how to deal with it.

Remember, there is a difference between taking action and simple reaction when you are driving. If you are an anxious driver, you are going to want to have a plan, or strategy in regards to conquering some of your irrational fears. That’s taking action in regards to a particular driving situation, and not reacting to an anxious driving scenario. Believe me, there are a lot of irrational fears out there such as driving next to a barrier, or going over a particularly high overpass, or bridge.

Do you have driving anxiety? If so, how do you deal with it? Do you have a special routine? Do you avoid driving all together? Freeman Grapevine is interested to hear your story and how you conquer your own driving fears. Leave a comment below and know that, when it comes to driving anxiety, you aren’t alone.