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An Insider’s Perspective

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Recently a customer came to us at Freeman Grapevine and asked, “Why is car buying so difficult?”  I understand why she asked that, it can be very challenging, and can be as equally frustrating for both a customer and the dealer, but it doesn’t have to be.  As an insider, let me explain why,

There are three main components to buying a car: price, trade in and financing.  Let’s review each.

Price

This should be the easiest part of the car buying process.  When a customer researches a car, and inevitably gets quotes from multiple dealerships, they should compare apples to apples.  In other words, 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?”  I’ve told my sales people to show customers the invoice when asked that question.  This shows what the dealer paid on that car.  Most good dealerships will gladly show you the invoice so you know 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.

Trade-In

If you’re trading in a vehicle, you’ll want top dollar for it.  Determining the trade-in value isn’t an exact science.  The year, make, model, condition and mileage all factor in to the equation.  Most customers research their vehicle’s worth on Kelly Blue Book (kbb.com) or NADA Guides (www.nadaguides.com) to give them a ballpark estimate before bringing it to the dealership.

Financing

The last piece of the puzzle is financing.  A customer’s credit score is the biggest component of this.  Whether you have a good financial history including paying off creditors on time & every month, your monthly income and how many outstanding balances you have, all affect your credit score.  A dealer’s relationship with its lenders is also important.  If they work with several lending institutions that offer a variety of financial programs depending on a person’s credit, can make the difference between going to one dealership or another.

A tip if you’re credit isn’t as great as  you’d like:  the higher down payment, the better.

Of course this is the process in a nutshell, however, it really is this easy. There is no reason buying a car should be stressful, or uncomfortable. In fact, buying a new Buick, or GMC from Freeman Grapevine will be one of your most pleasant car buying experiences ever. Trust me. We know how to take car of our new Buick and new GMC customers.

Learn to Tell The Difference Electrical VS. Mechanical Problem

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The electrical systems in new cars have definitely made driving a lot easier over the decades. The seemingly endless innovations in electrical systems have helped us enjoy a more comfortable and easier drive. However, it can’t be Peaches and Cream all of the time. Let’s say, you have problems starting your car and notice other problems with the electrical system. Let’s cover some of the issues that you could face with your new  vehicle’s electrical system:

Common Automobile Electrical System Problems Are :

Car’s Battery Is Dead – This is the most common problem…and most obvious. Check your battery by engaging your headlights and judge by the illumination.

No Power Stored in the Battery – When you turn the key, what do you hear? A little click? Does it sound like it want’s to turn over? It is possible that your car’s battery does not have ample power to crank the starter. You need a new battery.

Alternator is Not Working – A damaged or broken alternator could be the culprit. No alternator? No battery recharge. If your car suddenly start to lose “juice” while drive, you’ll know it could be your new car’s alternator.

Problem with Starter or Solenoid – Good parts gone bad parts. If it’s the starter, it won’t turn over. If you have Solenoid issues, you might find it harder to brake.

Battery Cables Might Be The Problem – A loose cable might be the root of the problem…give them a wiggle before you run out and buy a replacement.

Electrical Fuses – Check for any blown fuses in your fuse box. Also, feel around for any loose wires.

Cracks In Alternator Belt – Too much or too little tension, as well as cracks in the alternator belt cause trouble.

Ignition System Has Problems – You have a busted ignition switch. Give your mechanic a call.

Loose Spark Plugs – Loose or old plugs will certainly affect the operation of your vehicle. Are you loosing power as gears change? Does it lurch as if the gears aren’t engaging? It might be the internal combustion and the culprit is usually the plugs and cables.

Now these are just guidelines you can crosscheck with a Freeman Grapevine Service Consultant any issue you might have experienced. I you can talk with your mechanic about your new car logically by doing a little research, you help him help you even faster. Just give us a call to set up an appointment.

Fishy Hit and Run: Cause…”New Car Smell”

I just ran across this story and it seems a little fishy to me. Let me first preface the quoted article below from the New York Times by saying, this is the first time I’ve EVER heard this happen…let alone used as a defense in court. Read the article and tell me your opinions, I curious.

Many drivers enjoy the so-called “new car smell,” a mix of volatile organic compounds that rise from the plastic, leather, cloth, wood and other interior components of cars fresh off the assembly line. The aroma is so popular that some companies even sell new car smell air fresheners.

But does new car smell have a dark side? More specifically, is it intoxicating?

That appears likely to be an element of the defense of a Colorado driver charged in a nighttime hit-and-run accident, according to court documents filed this week, The Vail Daily News reports. The driver, Martin Joel Erzinger, a financial manager, allegedly fled the scene of a crash with a cyclist in July.

The new car smell from a month-old Mercedes-Benz may have contributed to Mr. Erzinger’s losing consciousness before the accident, his lawyers say.

Really? Maybe Mr. Erzinger was tired and fell asleep, maybe he had been drinking or under the influence of an inebriant…He certainly had the presence of mind to flee the scene of the accident after being rendered incapacitated. Now, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but I wonder if this will hold up in court? Has anyone ever experienced a loss of consciousness while driving due to your New Car Smell? I haven’t and I’ve been in 1,000’s of new cars…literally.

Can you Diagnose A Bad Fuel Pump?

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Check out the great video below by Eric the Car Guy!

I think one important issue that isn’t included in the video is the presence of sediment. Sediment can and will collect at the bottom of your fuel cell. A great way to avoid sediment deposits is actually quite easy. Keep your tank at least a quarter of the way full at all times. This small attention to detail might just save the life of that fuel pump.

If you’ve run through your diagnostic checks and you think you may have a fuel pump problem, call Freeman Grapevine before your issue gets worse. A broken fuel pump will certainly leave you stranded roadside, or worse..in the middle of the road.

It’s Time To Change Your Cabin Air Filter

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Now keep in mind, not all Buicks and GMCs have cabin air filters. However, many do and if your Buick or GMC has a cabin filter, it should be changed once a year.

So, where is the cabin air filter? If your Buick or GMC has one, it will be behind the glove box. Consult your vehicle’s handbook for it’s location.  If you’ve lost or misplaced it, call your Freeman Grapevine.

Using online sources, like YouTube are also incredible place to find information.

Rather not deal with it? No problem, we will take car of it for you. Just give service a call and book an appointment. Having purified cabin air is really going to improve your comfort level by filtering out unwanted spores, dirt, dust and fumes.

Ten Traffic Safety Improvements DFW takes for Granted

It’s really easy to complain about traffic. It’s really easy to complain and whine about construction. In fact it seems like Freeman Grapevine is in the epicenter of construction central. One thing that we have to try to keep in mind is that, for all of the inconvenience, our “problems” with traffic and construction are actually because improvements are being made. So that got me thinking, What are some of the GOOD things about improving the safety and conditions of our roads.

Some of these, I’m sure you haven’t even put second thought to as being developed for your benefit.

1.    Divided Highways

2.    Median dividers and barriers engineered to turn vehicle wheels back into the proper lane of traffic.

3.    Improved and increased lighting for roads and highways

4.    Energy absorbing crushable barricades around fixed objects

5.    Small grooves or buttons down the side of the highway to alert drivers drifting off the road.

6.    High speed, multi-lane interchanges (instead of intersections or traffic circles)

7.    Improved signage and use of reflective materials.  (If the buttons down the middle of the road in front of you are red reflectors, you are going the wrong way.)

8.    Expanded use of improved guardrails

9.    Brighter LED traffic signals with pedestrian control lights.

10.  Improved reflective paints for highway lanes, crosswalks, and directional arrows.

I know we’ve all noticed these improvements, so it’s not just our vehicles that are safer these days.  Highway safety engineers have been working overtime for years to improve both traffic flow and highway safety.  Improving traffic flow contributes to safer roads as well as getting you to your destination more quickly.

Before the Interstate Highway program began very few highways were divided.  Roads were one solid strip of asphalt divided only by a line painted down the middle. Learning to pass slower vehicles by moving into and back out of the on-coming lane of traffic was a very important part of driver training.

Short wooden poles, strung together by a single strand of steel cable, were all that separated drivers from the road and a deep ditch or sharp curve.  The guardrails and barriers of today weren’t yet invented.

There was much less street and road lighting and some of the light bulbs were always burned out.  Halogens and LEDs have been a huge improvement.

One of the big killers in the past was drivers dozing off while driving and drifting into on coming traffic or bridge supports. The addition of median dividers, crushable barricades, and road shoulder grooving has significantly reduced head on collisions.

Highway safety engineers will continue to make improvements, but we shouldn’t take all the improvements we have now for granted.  Despite all the traffic, our roads and highways are built to be a lot safer for us than for our parents and grandparents.

Let’s say something good about highway and road development! Leave me a comment if you can bring yourself to do it.

Convex Driver’s Side Mirrors…Why don’t you see them in DFW?

So why don’t you see driver’s side convex mirrors on Dallas Fort Worth cars or anywhere else in the US? Quite frankly, they are illegal here. Why?  Anyone who has driven a car in Europe has seen that their driver’s side mirror are convex. In contrast to the United States, where vehicles must have flat (or planar) outside mirrors on the driver’s side, European cars can have convex, wide-angle mirrors on both sides of their vehicles.

What’s the big deal? With two convex mirrors, blind spots are virtually eliminated, they can virtually eliminate the need to twist one’s head toward the left when looking to turn left or changing lanes to pass.

Apparently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would consider permitting convex driver’s-side mirrors on vehicles, the change might finally be on the horizon. Both General Motors and Mercedes-Benz, have argued that drivers with convex mirrors on both sides will have a much wider field of view. The companies support the idea that the United States simply adopt the European rules for driver’s-side mirrors.

This endorsement of convex mirrors comes on the heels of a tentative proposition that would require all future United States bound vehicles have rear cameras. This is an added cost that will be passed on the consumer. With both driver’s side and passenger’s side mirrors convex, US bound vehicles can forgo the costly addition of rear cameras.

At the present time in the United States, drivers and automakers can install convex

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Additional installation of a convex mirror exposes blind spots flat mirrors cannot capture

mirrors as long as the mirrors also have the required flat portion, as some manufacturers, including Ford, have done.

According to the New York Times:

“The agency intends to re-evaluate existing side-mirror requirements (FMVSS No.111) to determine whether convex mirrors should be harmonized with European requirements,” said Karen Aldana, an N.H.T.S.A. spokeswoman.

If you are looking for a broader field of view in your driver’s side rear view mirror, consider adding a convex mirror to your existing flat mirror. I’m sure most auto parts stores in Dallas and Fort Worth have them. If you are having problems getting the right one for your Buick or GMC car or truck then just swing by Freeman Grapevine so you can stop driving blind.

Dallas, Fort Worth: This is your wake up call

You know what? I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of hearing all of the DWI related accidents and injuries that we are bombarded with on our evening news channels. Let me rephrase that a little. I’m tired that the news continues to have DWI stories to report. I mean, what will it take for people to learn that the combination of alcohol and driving is not just stupid, it’s deadly…and guess who has to pay the price seemingly all of the time? Is it the intoxicated driver? Nope, it’s the family he just sideswiped. It’s the 16 year old who just got his license he t-boned at an intersection. It’s the bride and her parents on the way to her ceremony he ran off of the road.

You see, you don’t just affect your life when you lose control of your vehicle while under the influence, you affect others as well. You affect their family, their friends, their teachers and their employers. You destroy lives of people you’ve never met. You’ve change their futures with your short sightedness. You change your future because of your selfishness.

The “Think before you drink” campaign, or the “know when to say when” have been literally flooded into our brains, so much that I think we’ve become desensitized to the reality of Driving while impaired.

How many of you notice the memorial markers along our interstates and highways? How many of you think about what happened there? How many of you realized that the family of those memorialized had to erect that memorial and live with their loss daily for the rest of their lives?

It’s time for a change Dallas. It’s time for a change Fort Worth. It’s time for a change America.

Drunk drivers do not belong anywhere near a vehicle unless it is a cab and it is taking you home.

What’s a consequence of having one too many?

We here at Freeman Grapevine take the hard line in regards to this very serious and ever growing epidemic.

Let me know your thoughts and tell me your stories.

Fort Worth, this is how you buy a used car

You won’t see this guy at Freeman Grapevine

So, you’ve gotten as many miles out of the old girl as possible. She’s starting to cost too much to maintain, but buying a new car is not an option. What do you do? We’ll you can drive that old beater until you finally decide to leave it, abandoned and forgotten on the side of the road as you hoof it to the nearest sign of life, or you could have thought about picking up a used car for less than new…and you still would have had something to trade in.

Here’s a step by step check list:

Step 1: Starting out.

If you’ve decided to buy a used car, you’ve already made a smart decision. You can get a car that’s almost as good as a brand-new one, without suffering the depreciation that wallops new car buyers as soon as they drive the car off the lot. Used cars — even those that are only one year old — are 20 to 30 percent cheaper than new cars.

Step 2: Locating the right used car.
At the beginning of the car-buying process, many people already have in mind the car they want. It’s possible that you need to expand your horizons when considering what to buy. You might want to think of other vehicles in the same class. These cars were built for the same market, but they often have different features at lower prices.

Step 3: Used car bargains.
The cost of a used car is based on its condition, mileage, reliability, performance and popularity. Of course, you want a car that is reliable and performs well.

Step 4: Research your prospective used car.
One vital step to getting a great used car deal: you have to run a vehicle history report on any used car you are considering buying. Several companies sell these reports, which are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), but Carfax seems to be the most comprehensive. You will find out the vital information about the used car including whether or not it has a salvage title (it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company) or evidence to reveal if the odometer has been rolled back. This is also the time to decide if you want a Certified Used Car.

 

 

 

 

Step 5: How much can you afford?
The smart shopper will consider how to finance the car at the beginning of the shopping process. This will avoid unpleasant surprises later in the game and help you make an unemotional decision that fits your budget.

Step 6: Set up financing for your used car.
You have three ways to pay for your used car: Financing through a bank, on-line lender or credit union, financing through the dealer, or cash.

Step 7: Used car markets.
There are advantages to buying a used car from a new car dealership. Many used cars, on new car lots, are trade-ins. Dealerships usually get these cars at rock-bottom prices. If you make a low offer — but one that gives them some profit — you just might get a great deal. Furthermore, many dealerships offer certified used cars that have been thoroughly inspected and are backed by attractive warranties.

Step 8: Test driving a used car.
Used car shopping will involve inspecting the vehicle to determine its condition. This process is simplified if you buy a certified used car that has passed a thorough inspection and is backed by a manufacturer’s warranty. But while buying a certified used car removes a lot of the guesswork about the vehicle’s mechanical condition, you pay for this service. Try to arrange your test drive so that you start the engine when it is completely cold. Some cars are harder to start when they are dead cold and, when doing so, will reveal chronic problems. Turn off the radio before you begin driving — you want to hear the engine and concentrate on the driving experience.

Step 9: Negotiating for a used car.
Whether you are buying a used car from a dealer or a private party, let them know you have the cash in hand (or financing arranged) to make a deal on the spot. Preface your offer with a statement like, “I’m ready to make a deal now. I can give you cash (or a cashier’s check) now. But we need to talk about the price.”

At this point, you need to have a persuasive argument about why the price is too high. So let’s talk about pricing. The foundation of successful negotiation is information. This is particularly true when buying a used car. And yet, the condition of used cars means prices will vary widely.

Step 10: Closing the deal.
Once the contract is ready, review it thoroughly. In most states, it will contain the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, a smog fee, a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees (also known as DMV fees). Make sure you understand the charges and question the appearance of any significant, sudden additions to the contract.

Finally, you should inspect the car before you take possession of it. If any repair work is required, and has been promised by the dealer, get it in writing in a “Due Bill.” Make sure the temporary registration has been put in the proper place and — you’re finally on your way.

There you have it…trade secrets revealed. If you need a used car, show you appreciation for the tips above by swinging by and taking a few for a test drive.

Ultra-Easy New Car Maintenance Tips

What do we all want while driving? It’s not just to provide for our families and loved ones transportation, but a family car that is always 100% reliable. At least that’s what we strive to give our customer’s at Freeman Grapevine.

The most important thing you can do for your car is make regular auto maintenance check-ups, service all the automotive liquids. That means your oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and transmission liquids. Make checking your tires a habit too.

Refer to your new car owner’s manual often. The new car owner manual is like the bible of your vehicle. If you don’t already have one, get one. You’ll wish you had one if your car breaks down. There is a lot of trouble shooting you can do when you consult your manual.

Your car engine will thank you with better performance and quicker reaction times, which is an essential part of keeping you and your family and friends safe on the road. Make yourself aware of this info. It may save the life of your engine one day. It will save you money on gas and auto maintenance.

Choose the right fuel. Your vehicle is designed to take regular unleaded fuel, which will have this symbol (87) on the pump at the gas station. The 87 symbol refers to the level of octane in the fuel. Using lower grade of fuel will jack up your car engine and will cause heavy knocking, which could easily damage your engine.

Higher grade fuels will protect your fuel system from rusting and protect against fuel lock in the fuel system (causes engine to hesitate/stall and hard to restart). In addition, it will minimize fuel deposits in fuel injection system, and prevent your engine from knocking/pinging.

Finally, increase you gas mileage by not driving at life-threatening highway speeds. That can dramatically lower your fuel economy. Plus, gradually increasing your speed will save you precious fuel. And the way gas prices have been, it is nice not having to cram all your money into your gas tank. Extended idling of your engine will lower your miles per gallon.

I hope theses tips allow you to spend more time with your family and friends. As well as save money on gas, and auto maintenance.