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Surefire Ways To Save Money On Gas

Gas is still hovering around $3 per gallon here in Texas and with the summer coming up, those prices are just going to get higher. There are a few things that are often ignored that we can do to keep our vehicles running at maximum fuel efficiency. These are simple fixes, nothing too complicated or that requires anything outside of regular maintenance. Give them a shot and see if it lessens the load on your wallet!

Tire Pressure

If your tires aren’t properly inflated, you’re losing money every time you fill up. Consider this: There’s a 1% loss of fuel efficiency for every 2 PSI under maximum pressure (usually in the 35-psi range). So if you’re currently at 26 PSI, you’re losing about 5%. In a truck or SUV, that’s about 1/2 MPG, but in a smaller car, that could conceivably be 1-2 MPG.

Slow Down

When were out on the highway, we often see people driving faster than the speed limits. Not only are they asking for a ticket, but they’re also draining their gas tanks quicker than needed. Higher speeds may get you there quicker, but at what cost. Keeping your vehicle at the speed limit and using cruise control makes sure your engine uses gas more efficiently to maintain a steady speed.

Regular maintenance

Replacing the belts, hoses, and oils in your vehicle ensures that most moving parts of your engine are properly lubricated and can move without hesitation. Once you start skipping tune-ups or oil changes, you’ll begin to notice your MPG heading south. Keep a regular schedule and make sure those moving parts get the proper attention they need to keep your car

Synthetic Motor Oil

Some people have reported seeing a 3-5% jump in their MPG since they have switched over to a synthetic oil. Better driving through science!

Lighten Your Load

Take that bowling ball that rolls around and bangs into the side of your trunk on every turn out of the car! We tend to use our cars as storage from time to time and it affects our gas mileage. For every 100 lbs, you’re losing about 2% in MPG.

What have you done to raise your MPG?

 

 

Road Trips With Your Furry Friend

Photo Courtesy of autoevolution.com

Nobody wants to leave their pets with someone for a few days while you go on a road trip. Surely, you don’t want to have them boarded, that costs money and your pet will be uncomfortable going into a place with strange people and strange animals. Luckily enough, taking a dog with you on your road trip isn’t as hard as you think it is! If you follow a few simple rules, a trip with your dog will be fun for both of you.

Crate your dog

Crating your dog is the smartest option for traveling long distances with them in the car. Not only does crating help keep your dog calm, but they cannot be a distraction while you’re driving. Dogs tend to get nervous in moving vehicles and oftentimes they will try to climb in your lap for reassurance. Once they are in your lap, your focus is now on your furry friend, which is bad for your driving. Keeping them in a crate is better for everyone.

Don’t feed them

Dogs are prone to have motion-sickness and if you give them a big meal before heading out, you may have a mess on your hands (or your seats)! You may give them a small treat when you’re stopped for gas or for a meal. Otherwise, wait until you’ve reached your destination or are done for the night.

Take them for a walk

Before you head out for a few hours and you’re stuck in the car, take them for a long walk. Getting them to exercise before a long trip will help them relax and stay calm while in the crate. Also taking them for a walk during rest stops and breaks will help them stay relaxed and rest while you’re traveling.

Taking your best friend with you is always a bonus when you get to travel. Have you traveled with your dog? How did they handle it?

How Not To Get A Ticket

Image courtesy of carinsurance.org

When’s the last time you got pulled over for running a stop sign? Maybe you were caught going a few miles over the speed limit, or forgot to put your seat belt on when you went to the convenience store. Getting pulled over for minor infractions is always a stressful undertaking and no one looks forward to it. When you do get pulled over, how you handle yourself and your attitude towards the police, can possibly get you out of a ticket!

1. Don’t lie.

When you’re nervous, you tend to tell fibs and police officers can tell when you’re lying. As a police officer, they are lied to on a daily basis and would appreciate the truth without having to ask you 100 questions.

2. Pull over when it’s safe.

Don’t stop in the middle of the road. Just because you see the flashing lights in your rear-view mirror doesn’t mean you have to pull over immediately. If there is no safe place to pull over and get out of traffic, then acknowledge to the officer that you are being pulled over and continue driving until you find a suitable spot. The officer will likely thank you for keeping traffic flowing and not causing a logjam.

3. Treat them with respect.

Whether or not you agree with me, the police are there for your safety and it takes a special kind of person to put themselves in the line of fire on a daily basis. Saying “yes, sir” or “yes, ma’am” is always appropriate. No back-talking or rude comments. If you do, you’ll likely find yourself with a ticket in hand.

4. Don’t make any sudden movements.

Police officers are killed during traffic stops at an alarming rate and it likely they are just as nervous or leery as you are. If you must open a glove compartment or search through your purse or backpack for your wallet, notify the officer so they know what to expect, don’t just reach back and grab something in your bag.

Getting pulled over is inevitable, we all do it. If you follow these tips, you may be able to drive away without a ticket.

Potholes Really Are the Pits!

Winter is the season for the holidays. Families getting together and enjoying each other’s company is a common theme throughout the winter season. Unfortunately, so are potholes. Snow, cold temperatures, and rain all contribute to these unsightly and dangerous road hazards. They may not look like much, but those craters in the roadway are dangerous, not only to your driving, but to your car. How many times have you driven over a monster pothole and though to yourself, “Something just broke on my car!”? Next time you ask yourself that, remember these warning signs to see if something actually DID break.

  • Loss of tire pressure. Potholes are taxing on tires and if you hit one just right, you may puncture even the newest tires. Even if you don’t puncture it, you might notice a bulge or a blister on the tire. If so, have your tire guys check it out to make sure there is no internal damage.
  • Pulling to the right or left. This means you’ve got an alignment problem. Hitting a pothole can cause and worsen any alignment problem you may have. If your car is noticeably pulling in one direction, it’ll only get worse and potholes will offer no help.
  • Loss of control, swaying, bottoming out. These are indicators that your steering or suspension may have been damaged. If you notice a considerable change in the way your car is steering or the ride, have your car checked by a professional. Struts, shocks and ball joints (plus countless others) are all very important components of controlling your vehicle while it is in motion. If one of them is damaged or broken, you’re putting yourself and others at risk.

Potholes will happen. Until there is a new breakthrough in the way our roads are designed, the winter season will bring on a number of new ones. Here in Texas, we can go to our Department of Transportation website and report a pothole to make its existence aware to the state so they can assign a contractor to fill them in. If you’re outside of Texas, check with your state’s DOT and let them know about any new potholes you come across. If you need to get your car checked out after running over a massive pothole, don’t hesitate to bring it in, we’ll take a look.

It’s Time To Winterize Your Car!

It got a bit chilly last night and that got me thinking about the things I need to do to make sure my car is prepared for the colder temperatures. I’ve compiled a list of the things that I could think of, off the top of my head.

1. Check your tire pressure.

When the temperatures drop, your PSI drops too. Every 10 degrees lower than normal drops it by about 1 PSI. Since winter always presents the opportunity for running into an ice patch, traction is of the utmost importance.

2. Check your battery

Colder weather means less power coming from your battery. Double-check the terminals to make sure corrosion isn’t preventing your battery from connection to the cables. You can always read the article I wrote a couple of weeks ago to help with this.

3. Inspect your windshield wipers and wiper fluid.

The morning after a freeze is the worst time to find out that your wipers are in terrible condition. With our harsh summers, your blades could probably stand being replaced. In freezing weather, you run the risk of rain and snow re-freezing on your windshield while you’re driving. To combat that, use a de-icing wiper fluid. It will help with melting standing ice and prevent re-freezing.

4. Check your anti-freeze mixture.

The ideal mixture of water to anti-freeze is 50:50. If you deviate from that, you run the risk of freezing in the event of a deep freeze. Properly mixed anti-freeze won’t freeze until -34 degrees. Most store bought anti-freeze is premixed, but always double check. If you’d like to check your mixture levels, you can get a tester at your local auto parts store.

5. Check your hoses and belts.

Cold weather can harden the rubber that your belts and hoses are made of, so check them before the big freeze gets here.

6. Check your owners manual for changes in oil viscosity.

Some engines need thicker oil during the winter. Check with your owner’s manual to be sure you’re using the correct weight engine oil.

If you can think of any other tips to make your vehicle’s life easier during the upcoming winter months, find me on Facebook and tell me about them!

What’s The Real Difference Between Gasoline Octane Ratings?

This is a common question I get asked when people are buying their new cars. I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions about octane rating and the effect it has on your car. Commercials will often have you believe that a higher octane rating means a higher output, but that’s simply not the case. First of all, always check your owner’s manual for the type of fuel the manufacturer recommends. The reason for that is because some higher performing vehicles require higher compression to run at peak levels.

Octane Explained

With modern spark-induced engines, your car’s pistons compress air and gasoline and when the spark hits, it forces the piston away, creating the power that your vehicle has to go down the road. The temperature at which your engine operates during this time is very high and can often ignite the fuel within the compression chamber without the use of a spark, causing your engine to ‘knock’. Higher octane fuels ignite at a higher temperature so it will resist the ‘knock’ of prematurely ignited fuel. As I said earlier, some high performance vehicles recommend higher octane fuels due to the fact that their engines are finely tuned and regular gas may cause a ‘knock’.

Here’s a great video I found going into a bit more detail than I did.

There you have it! Higher octane fuels do not give you better gas mileage or higher power output, it’s all dependent on the engine that’s in your car. Again, be sure to check out your owner’s manual before coming to the conclusion of which octane rating gasoline you need to put in your car. The extra $4-5 per fill-up of higher octane gas is just not worth it if your engine is designed to run on regular gasoline.

If you have any auto-related questions, visit our Facebook page and ask!

How Do Run-Flat Tires Work?

Run flat tires

A common question I get asked here at work is “How do run-flat tires work?” Run-flat tires are a great invention that allows you, the driver, to make better decisions as to what you do when you realize you have a flat tire. First, the sidewalls of these tires are designed to withstand the weight of the car when your tire loses pressure. After all, when you have properly inflated tires, the air is what carries the weight of the car, not the tires. Secondly, these tires have a redesigned bead to maintain the connection between the tire and the wheel, so once you lose tire pressure, your tire stays attached to the rim. This also prevents your wheels from ever hitting the ground.

Most run-flat tires can withstand about 50 miles, but some have been shown to go over 200! With that being said, these tires are not meant to be driven without proper tire pressure, they are merely a safety precaution to allow you to get off the side of the road and to a tire dealer or repair shop.

There are a few things you should take into consideration before purchasing a car with run-flat tires.
1. These tires are heavier and will hamper your car’s efficiency.
2. These tires are NOT cheap!
3. Once a run-flat tire has been punctured, it cannot be patched.

Check this video out for a little bit more in-depth analysis!

We recommend tire pressure monitoring systems that will notify you, while you’re driving, if one of your tires is dangerously low. The combination of run-flat tires and a TPMS is your best defense against ending up on the side of the road with a flimsy jack underneath your car. Come by and let us show you some of the models that they come standard on.

How To Keep Your Kids Entertained and Keep Your Sanity

The summer is upon us and so are road trips.  While vacations are fun, getting to your destination may not always be enjoyable.  Whether you are going near or far  you will most likely hear, “Are we there yet?”  Luckily, I know a few ways to keep the kids entertained.

  • Movies!  If your Buick/GMC didn’t come with an in-car entertainment system, invest in a portable DVD player and few pairs of headphones.  The kids will love watching their favorite movie for a few hours and you will love the silence from the backseat!
  • Hit the library up before you go.  For a free mode of entertainment take your kids to the library the day before you leave and let them pick out a few books to bring on the trip.
  • Have an in-car scavenger hunt.  Make the kids a list of things to look for as you drive.  Examples: a red car, a license plate from another state, a horse, a pink flower, anything you might see as you drive.
  • Pack trivia cards. Each kid can take turns reading a card and guessing the answer.
  • Always pack music.  Even though the Barney sing-a-long may not be your favorite music, let the kids have 20 or 30 minutes of their favorite music.
  • Zitch-dog!  Every time someone sees a dog they yell zitch-dog! The person who sees the most dogs first wins a prize at the end of the trip.

Do you have any other suggestions for keeping kids entertained?