Category Archives: Tips and HInts

Can you Really Drive a manual?

OK. So you put it off long enough. Freeman Grapevine thinks it’s time to fulfill a resolution you should have fulfilled a long time ago. Learning to drive a stick shift. That’s right car enthusiasts, there really are some people out there that still don’t know how to use a clutch, pending they even know what a clutch is. If this is you, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The only shame is not learning.

I will admit that I didn’t always know how to drive a manual transmission. It was pretty entertaining at 28 years old to finally be learning how to drive a manual transmission and someone younger than you is teaching you how to do it. Not to mention the fact that I dumped the clutch probably 5 or 6 times before I got the hang of it. I was so close to giving up it wasn’t even funny. I stuck with it cause I knew I needed to learn. I had a lot of friends and family that drove cars with manual transmissions and I kept wondering what would happen if for some reason one day they were hurt and I had to drive their car. What would I do? So as you can see it was mandatory that I learn how to do that.

Have you learned yet?

I found this great video on how to teach yourself how to drive a manual transmission and I think it is very helpful.

Driving a car with manual transmission requires a good balance between engine power and the throttle, as the clutch is pressed to disengage the engine power during gear shifts, and it is gently released while the gas pedal is pressed.

Looking for a great manual transmission car? See Freeman Grapevine.

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Busting A Couple Popular Gas Myths

As a Texas GMC Dealer, one of the biggest concerns with my customers is how they can get the most mileage out of their cars gas tanks. Now there are a lot of car myths out there that we need to wade through. We’ve all heard them… whether it’s from a family member, a friend or John Doe. These “tips” have been around for ages, and that’s exactly the problem with most of them. They’ve been around for ages! For now, let’s focus on gasoline myths.  Here are two of my favorites.

Running on Empty

Myth: Once your gas gauge hits empty, you have at least one more gallon of gasoline.

Reality: Most cars actually have about two gallons in their tanks when the gauge hits empty! This myth is actually true! Though we’d like to think that car manufacturers did this to be helpful to those of us who seem to always find themselves running on E with no gas station in sight, it’s really just a marketing ploy. Have you ever noticed how your gauge seems to stay on the full side much longer than it does on the empty?

National auto writer Paul Duchene said,

“Gas gauges aren’t linear. They are set up so they actually stay on ‘full’ for a long time, mosey on down to half, then plunge quickly to about a quarter, then gradually make their way down to zero, at which point you have about two gallons left.”

However, running on empty is definitely not something you should do on a regular basis… especially in the summertime.

Premium Gas Pays for Itself

Myth: Use only the best gas and your car will need fewer tune-ups and get better mileage.

Reality: The only think that using regular gas could cost you is a few extra horsepower at high speeds. But the odds are, you aren’t going to notice anyway.  Most engine fuel-management systems are perfectly prepared to handle lower-octane fuel.

“The difference between 87 and 93 octane is so insignificant that you will realize neither better mileage nor fewer maintenance bills by buying supreme,” said Duchene.  “It makes no difference unless the car is supercharged or it is absolutely specified that it needs higher octane.”

Check out the video below for a few more hints on saving at the pump:

Have any other tips? I’d love to hear them, swing by your Texas GMC Dealer, Freeman Grapevine and let’s talk about how you can save more at the pump.

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!

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Keep your dogs safe in your car during travel

dog safetyTraveling with your pets can be easy and enjoyable, but it can also be dangerous for you and them without the proper restraints. You wouldn’t drive around without using your safety belt and the same should hold true for your dogs while traveling. Unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents annually, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), and the Travel Industry Association of America says 29 million Americans have traveled with a pet on a trip of 50 miles or more in the past five years. With those kinds of numbers, it’s important to remember that pets have special needs on the road.

Of course, the best place you can keep them is in a secured crate, but there are many harnesses on the market that can secure your best friend in the back using your backseat seat belt.

One of the biggest hazards, not only to pets but also to their owners and even other drivers, is the motorist who insists on keeping Fluffy on their lap, which makes it impossible for drivers to respond immediately to road emergencies. The animal can also be hit by passing cars if it bolts out of the vehicle after a crash.

It also goes without saying that you should never leave an animal alone in your car unattended. We’ve all heard countless stories about how hot your vehicle can get and how quickly it can get there. Having a dog succumb to heat exposure isn’t just dumb, it’s cruel. So think first before you leave Fido in the car, even if your errand takes just “a second”.

Questions? Comments? Leave them here!

 

5 Tips For Driving In The Rain

These past couple of weeks we have seen a bit of rain, to say the least. It has put a good amount of water on the ground and snarled traffic all throughout the metroplex. I happened to get caught in the rain and it got me thinking. Some people just don’t know how to drive safely in the rain. I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 tips for driving in the rain.

  1. Turn on your headlights. If your car has daytime running lamps, then there’s a good possibility that your rear lights are not on. Be sure to turn them on so people who are behind you can see where you are!
  2. Slow down! This is a no-brainer. The faster you are going, the less time you have to react to someone hydroplaning or slowing down.
  3. Don’t follow large vehicles. The spray from their tires reduces your visibility drastically. If you must pass them, do so quickly.
  4. Replace your old windshield wipers. I cannot stress this enough. Wipers are the key to your visibility in any amount of rain. If you can’t see, you shouldn’t be driving.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get off the road. If you don’t feel comfortable driving, no one will think less of you for pulling over and waiting for the rain to let up.

The weather in North Texas can be unpredictable much like the downpour we have seen these past couple of weeks. Knowing how to drive in sudden rain-storms is a very valuable skill that we all need to have. There are so many more factors that go into driving safely in the rain, this list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Whatever you do, don’t be this guy!

Do You Know The Real Use Of The Left Lane?

How long has it been since you taken a driving course? Unless you’ve had to take some sort of defensive driving class for a traffic violation, then I’m guessing it’s probably been awhile. I swear, 98 percent of the population thinks that they are an amazing driver. Then you have the other two percent who will willingly admit they are terrible drivers and even go on shows like America’s Worst Drivers. Pretty entertaining show by the way if you haven’t seen it.

Imagine a world where everyone remembers every single thing they learned from driver’s ed and applied it to their everyday driving. Pretty sure we’d see a significant drop in cases of road rage. I’m a realistic person, though, and I know that’ll never happen. But in the meantime, I can share some mini refresher courses on the areas I think need the most attention — starting with the rules of the left lane.

Left Lane Rules

When it comes to the left lane, there are two things people seem to forget: how to use the left lane and how to pass someone in the left lane.

  1. Usage of the Left Lane
    Driver’s ed taught us that the left land is for faster-moving traffic and passing.  You probably don’t belong in the left lane if one or all of the following three things occurs: someone is dangerous tailgating you, one or more cars is weaving in and out of traffic in the other lanes just to land themselves directly in front of you or you see the person behind you making hand gestures or yelling at you. Regardless of how fast these other drivers may be going, the proper thing to do is yield to faster moving traffic in the left lane. Failure to do so results in impeding the flow of traffic, which is not only dangerous, it’s also illegal in most jurisdictions.
  2. Left-Lane Passing
    Have you ever been stuck on a four-lane highway or road because two vehicles are driving at the exact same speed? This is one of my biggest pet peeves and is usually a result of the “cruise control pass”.  Here’s how this happens… John Doe decides that he wants to pass Joe Black so he pulls into the left lane to do so. However, John Doe is attempting to pass Joe Black with his cruise control set at 65 mph. Since Joe Black is only going 62 mph, it takes forever for this pass to be complete which is only two mph faster than the car he is attempting to pass. Remember, when passing someone in the left lane, you must speed up sufficiently enough to get past the other guy quickly.

So there you have it, the rules of the left lane. Know them, learn them, live them. Stay tuned for more lessons in driving.

Please Read! Tips for Parking Your Cars!

I don’t know if people have stopped caring about how they park their cars or what, but I think a refresher course in parking is a must! Even if you think you are good at parking your vehicle I still think you should have a read of these great tips on how to correctly park your cars!

Something that I’m sure not only annoys just me is when is when people double park their vehicles. It always happens when you’re running late and that super close parking spot that would be just perfect for you is only half the size you need it to be because someone decided to use just part of it.

In attempts to rid of people of doing that, here are some great tips parking tips for your cars!  Some of these tips may be pretty basic, but heck, you’ve got to start somewhere!

  • Park where cars are allowed to be parked.
  • If there are painted lines for your parking spot, try to park in the center of them. Never park across them.
  • Use your parking brake. You never know when you might end up with an escape artist.
  • If you have an automatic vehicle, put it inpark. If you have a manual, leave it in gear.
  • If you park on flat surface leave your wheel straight. If you park facing downhill turn your wheels to the right (towards the curb) just in case your car gets loose it will just run into the curb and stop itself.
  • Park uphill by turning your tires away from the curb. Turn wheels to the right if you have don’t have a curb and are uphill.
  • When you are exiting your parking place always look out in the traffic before you move. And use your turn signal well.
  • Don’t try to squeeze into a parking space. This will only result in door dings and possibly some angry folks who can barely get into their own car.

Use common courtesy when it comes to parking your vehicle. Bad parking can ruin someone’s day and could even result in some unnecessary door dings. And no one likes door dings! If you have any parking tips or stories you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you! Comment below or stop by Freeman Grapevine Buick GMC today!

Do you know how to handle a tire blowout?

If you’ve never experienced a tire blowout, let me just tell you that it’s beyond scary. This is especially true if you don’t know how to handle the vehicle in this situation. There are several reasons a tire may blow out. The two most common reasons have to do with the air pressure.  Too low of pressure causes the tire to flex more than they are designed to, and if the pressure if too high, the tires a stressed beyond the designed limits.

The easy way to avoid a blowout, is to check your tire pressure at least once month (especially during the summer). However, checking the tire pressure is not a sure-fire way to avoid a blowout. There could be a defect in the tire itself or the wheel, in which case you’d be none the wiser.

The best thing I can suggest to you is to be prepared. Know what to do and what to expect when it happens.

Step 1: Stay cool.

Ignore your natural instinct to hit the brakes or jerk the steering wheel when you have a blowout.

Step 2: Accelerate slightly.

Accelerate slightly to maintain control of the vehicle. Keep going straight.

Tip: Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands at 10 o’clock and two o’clock on the wheel to avoid losing control.

Step 3: Decelerate.

Ease off the accelerator slowly.

Step 4: Coast.

Maintain your course while the vehicle slows.

Step 5: Apply brakes.

Apply the brakes gently when your car slows to 30 miles per hour.

Step 6: Turn on right turn signal.

Tip: Never stop on the left side of the road, if possible. This is the most dangerous place to be.

Step 7: Pull over.

Pull your vehicle off to the side of the road, and breathe a sigh of relief…you’ve just survived a blowout.

[How Cast]

What’s the right Child Safety Seat for your Baby?

Researching information regarding safety for children, I came upon an article written by the American Academy of Pediatrics on car seats and wanted to share it with you.

All parents have the same worry when traveling with children – safety. What happens if I am in a car accident, will my child be safe? Every year we have accidents that injure or kill young children.  It goes with out saying that the proper use and installation of child safety seats have helped keep children safe. Now, the question is, with so many safety seats being sold, which no doubt overwhelms most new parents, which seat is the right one for your child? The article helps with many questions a parent may have regarding safety seats.

The right safety seat for your child depends on several things like child’s size and type of car you have.  Below is a quick guide produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics on the different types of car safety seats to help you start your search.  But you still need to read more about the features and how to use your car safety seat.

Age Group Type of seat General Guidelines
 

Infants

 

Infant seats and rear-facing convertible seats

 

Infants should ride rear-facing until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer. At a minimum, children should ride rear-facing until they have reached at least 1 year of age and weigh at least 20 pounds. When children reach the highest weight or length allowed by the manufacturer of their infant-only seat, they should continue to ride rear-facing in a convertible seat.

 

 

Toddlers/preschoolers

 

Convertible seats and forward-facing seats with harnesses

 

It is best for children to ride rear-facing as long as possible to the highest weight and height allowed by the manufacturer of their convertible seat. When they have outgrown the seat rear-facing, they should use a forward-facing seat with a full harness as long as they fit.

 

 

School-aged children

 

Booster seats

 

Booster seats are for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing car safety seats. Children should stay in a booster seat until adult belts fit correctly (usually when a child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 and 12 years of age).

 

 

Older children

 

Seat belts

 

Children who have outgrown their booster seats should ride in a lap and shoulder seat belt in the back seat until 13 years of age.

 

 

If you have any questions about proper car seat installation, you can always swing by and I’d be more than happy to show you the right way to secure the seat and keep your child safe.

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.