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Miss Your Exit…Don’t Take The Short Cut

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Pretty close to the front of my dealership, Freeman Grapevine, there is a fair amount of construction going on at highways 121/114. Now, granted there are a lot of orange cones around and this can make driving on these roads, at times, a tad bit confusing. The construction seemingly changes almost daily, but that is no excuse for what I saw yesterday.

I was traveling on 121/114 about to take the exit that would push me up towards Grapevine Mills mall. That is Business 121. There was a white sedan traveling in the right lane. At that exit you can do one of three things. You can stay on 114 by staying in the left lane. You can use the middle two lanes to access 121 Business, the way I was going. Or, you can stay in the right lane which is an exit for the airport. The person in the white sedan was traveling at a pretty good clip in the right lane when the realized the were not taking the exit they needed. She had almost completely exited when she made a seriously dumb move…cutting across an unpaved exit median without slowing down. Instead of just taking the eit and making a U-turn, she decided it was better to pull an tricky, dangerous and illegal move which, you guessed it, cut me off. It caused me to hit my brakes hard and change lanes quickly, even though I was in the proper lane which cause everyone behind me to hit their brakes as well. For all I know, it could have caused an accident behind me.

So, this person missed their exit, veered into my lane and nearly cause an accident…why? because she was on her phone. That’s right, she cut across 100ft. of median into my lane because she couldn’t pay attention to the signs on the road that were obviously placed for the airport exit. To make it worse, as I pulled along next to her, she was laughing about her dumb move to the person on the other end of the line. She had no clue that she nearly hit me, nor did she seem to care.

Look, this is the first rule of driving, it is your responsibility to drive. It is also your responsibility to be respectful of everyone else on the road. If you miss your exit, or are exiting inadvertently, don’t make your own route across the median. Don’t take the short cut. Just exit and turn around. You may not think you are causing any problems, but clearly you are.

It made me pretty mad. I spend a lot of time railing against distracted driving and her was this aloof driver that almost took out my vehicle and others with just that. Keep your eyes on the the road and your hands on the wheel. It’s part of your responsibility as a driver.

What do you feel about this type of unnecessary aggressive driving? Tell your us what you think.

 

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Need a new car, check out used first!

 

Let’s face it; when living in Texas, it is virtually mandatory that you own a car. Here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, that is especially true. With a limited public transportation system and long distances to cover to get to wherever you need to go, you are going to have a difficult time with travel without a reliable car.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to purchase, own and upkeep a brand new, fresh off the lot vehicle. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t own a reliable used vehicle. In fact, when you decide to buy a used vehicle, you are already taking a step in the right direction. “Why is that?,” you ask. Or, maybe you are thinking, “…but I don’t want to inherit someone else’s problems”. The fact of the matter is that a major advantage of buying a second-hand car is its lower price. The moment a vehicle leaves the lot as a “new” car and is driven on the streets, its value drops immediately. That’s just the way it is, although some automobiles are driven for only a few years, their prices are considerably less than the exact same car sitting on a dealer’s lot.

This is good news for the savvy used car buyer. Looking for a car that has just come off lease is an excellent way for you to get more car for less money. In fact, you are going to have more choices, with more of the options that would probably be way out of your budget if you bought the car new. Having more choices is great because it introduces more makes and models which means you won’t have to settle for an inferior vehicle or one you just can’t learn to love.

OK, so you’ve saved cash off the top just because you went the used car route. Where else are you going to save a few bucks? Good question.

In Texas, (as in every other state) you must carry insurance on your vehicle. You are responsible, at bare minimum, to carry liability insurance. On a new car, fresh off of the lot, your insurance coverage is automatically going to be on the higher end of the payment spectrum. Buying a used car will help keep some of the insurance costs down. This is a good thing, especially with gas prices continuing to climb.

The bottom line is that when looking for a new car, it doesn’t have to really be new…just new to you. Doing some serious research and conferring with your dealer about your budget and what you’d like to have in your driveway will not only save you money and time, but you’ll have a car you can be proud of. More importantly, you’ll have a car you can rely on.

If you have any questions about buying a used vehicle: What you should look for, what your should expect etc., give me a shout. I’d be happy to help!

 

Tire Tread Depth For Maximum Safety

Understanding tire tread wear and being able to read the signs of overuse, or excessive wear is extraordinarily important  in ensuring you are driving on the safest tires possible. I’ve written about it before, and no doubt you’ve read other articles on safe tire tread depth. But today I want to find out, specifically, how much tread is needed to safely bring your car to a complete stop?

Check out the video below. This will answer the question above.

A poorly maintained set of tires is nothing to mess around with. You have to always remember that they are they only things that are between you and the road. Stopping power just isn’t in your braking system, your tires must have enough tread available to actually grip the surface you are on. You can never tell when you are going to have to use emergency, or evasive maneuvers while on the road. Even a simple trip to the store can potentially be hazardous if your tires aren’t properly maintained.

Time for a new set of radials?  Freeman Grapevine has the tire you need for less than you think.

How To Evaluate Your Shock Absorbers

Okay, Dallas Fort Worth, how do you know when  you need replacement shocks? The rule of thumb is every 50,000 miles, but it could be sooner, or even later. Your shock absorbers are an often overlooked but vital aspect to your Freeman Grapevine Buick, or GMC.

Checking your shocks is actually a very simple thing to do. In fact, it is something you can do yourself  fairly easily. Replacing shocks takes a little more technical “know how” and the right tools, but can also be done at home.

One way is by visual inspection. Inspect each shock absorber for fluid leaks, which show as dark stains in the road grime that collects on its body and mounting points. Examine the body for deep dents, and the piston rod for signs of pitting or rusting

How is your car handling while driving? For example, after hitting the bump does your new car, or truck continue to bounce up and down? If the answer is “yes”, then you will almost certainly need new shocks. Paying attention now, because shock absorber degradation may happen gradually and then worsen over time until. In fact, if you wait too long you can damage other parts and components of you car.

It is important to replace worn out shocks is because they are responsible for keeping your tires in contact with the road. Worn shocks will permit the tires to completely lose contact with the roadway. This can be especially dangerous if you hit a dip or a bump during a high speed corner. Good shocks will also help to minimize body roll, also very important during cornering.

If you think that your shock may be worn and just can’t figure it out on your own, swing by and we’ll take a look at them. Freeman Grapevine can recommend the right ones.

Front Wheel, Rear Wheel, All Wheel Drive: Their Pros and Cons

For many new car buyers, the drivetrain of their potential new car is just a given. Meaning that they buy the car for whatever reasons they may have and usually the type of drive train is a secondary consideration. I’m talking the commuter vehicles, sedans and light trucks and SUVs. If you have a perpetual mud stain on your truck or SUV from “goin’ muddin'”, then you know what section of the article to immediately skip to.

As I was looking around for some good information to really explain the pros and cons of all the different drivetrains, I ran across and article that has a pretty good desctiption. Take a look below and tell me what you think. Thank you National Motorist Association for the great article:

Rear Wheel Drive

There are two main advantages to owning a RWD car. The first is that RWD is both simple and rugged — especially if it’s a solid axle design — and can take a lot of abuse without needing expensive repairs. Accidentally run over a curb in a solid axle RWD car, for instance, and you probably won’t break anything. But hit a curb (or even a deep pothole) in a FWD car and the odds are much higher that something expensive will be damaged. This is why cop cars and other “service” vehicles are overwhelmingly RWD.

The other advantage RWD cars offer is better balance — and because of this, better handling. While a FWD car has most of the weight of the engine and transaxle (the transmission and axle assembly are one unit in a FWD car) over the front wheels, a RWD car spreads the weight of its drivetrain more evenly front-to-rear. This is why most sports cars — and virtually all race cars — are RWD.

And cons? As anyone who has owned one will tell you, RWD cars are at their weakest in poor weather — rain and snow. Even with modern traction control, a RWD car is more prone to loss of traction on slick roads. In snow, RWD cars are best left home.

Front Wheel Drive

As with RWD, FWD offers two main advantages — just very different ones. The first is economy. It is cheaper to design and build a FWD car. There are fewer parts — and the drivetrain is easier and cheaper to install as the car rolls down the assembly line. FWD also helps cut down the car’s weight by eliminating the separate transmission and axle assemblies used in a RWD car. This, in turn helps the car get better gas mileage. This is why FWD is most commonly found in economy-type and lower-cost cars.

The other FDW plus is better traction than a RWD car can deliver — especially in rain and snow. The front wheels pull the car instead of the rear wheels pushing it. And, the weight of the engine/transaxle sits on top of the (front) drive wheels, which further helps the car get a grip. FWD cars are typically very capable in poor weather — even excellent, when fitted with snow tires.

Cons? FWD cars are nose-heavy, which isn’t optimal for handling — especially high-speed, high-load handling. A related problem is that the front wheels have to do two things at once — put the power to the ground and steer the car. This, too, is not optimal for a performance/sporty car. In a high-powered FWD car, it can sometimes be difficult or awkward to keep the car pointed straight ahead as the car accelerates. The front wheels may jerk to the left or right — a problem called “torque steer.” Modern FWD cars are less prone to this thanks to electronic traction control, but it’s still not the hot set-up for performance applications — which is why very few “serious” performance cars are FWD.

The final thing to know about FWD is that it’s relatively fragile. Half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints are more susceptible to injury than a rugged lump of cast iron — as in a RWD car’s solid axle. While a RWD car’s axle may outlast the car and never require service beyond the occasional lube change, it is far more likely that a FWD car will need new CV joints/boots or something else as the years roll by.

All Wheel Drive

The best thing about AWD is that it gives you some of the advantages of both RWD and FWD — while minimizing the weaker points of either of those layouts.

The number one advantage of AWD is excellent traction — both on dry pavement and in poor weather. This is why AWD appeals to both the performance-minded enthusiast as well as the person who just doesn’t want to get stuck in the snow. Some AWD systems are based on RWD layouts (examples include the Mercedes Benz E-Class) while others are built around FWD layouts (such as any new Subaru). The RWD-based versions are usually more performance-oriented but all AWD vehicles do an impressive job of balancing handling/driving dynamics with “go anywhere, anytime” bad weather capability.

But there are downsides — the two biggest ones being weight and cost. AWD cars can weigh several hundred pounds more than an otherwise identical RWD or FWD car. This hurts the car’s acceleration — at least, when compared with an otherwise identical RWD or FWD version of the same car. And the added weight means the car will use more fuel — especially if the engine’s power has been increased to compensate for the added weight.

The last downside with AWD is the cost. AWD, when offered as an option, usually adds significantly to the car’s sticker price. If it’s standard equipment, the car will usually cost more than otherwise equivalent FWD or RWD cars. And because there are more components, there are more things that will need to be serviced — and which may eventually fail and hit you up with a big bill as the car gets older.

So, you’ll pay more up front — at the pump — and down the road. But that may be worth not getting stuck or losing control in hazardous weather conditions — and still being able to tear into corners when it’s nice out.

So, what do you prefer? We all know that Dallas Fort Worth has some very unpredictable weather, which drive train do you thing is better for TEXAS driving? Leave me a comment…better yet, come out and check them out for yourselves!

Do your homework to avoid buying a lemon

I know everyone’s fear of buying a use car is the potential of inheriting other peoples’ problems…buying the dreaded “LEMON”. It may look gorgeous on the outside, but it’s what’s under the hood that determines whether or not the car will be a money pit. Here are a few tips on what to look for when taking that potential used car for a test driving

1) Pull out the oil dipstick while the engine is running – DO NOT rev the engine! Watch the dipstick’s hole as the engine idles; if you hear or see any air, gas or oil escaping the dipstick holder it means the rings are worn. A slight escape of air from the dipstick is the first stage of ring failure which is not a serious problem but will get worse until gas and oil start escaping the dipstick holder. The result is less power and leaking oil in the sump. Look for white emulsification on the dipstick which would indicate a cracked cylinder head, which is a serious problem.

2) Look at the exhaust pipe while the car is running. White smoke from the exhaust indicates there’s engine oil remaining on the bore that the rings haven’t scraped off, which means oil could be leaking. Black smoke means the fuel injectors are dirty on a diesel engine.

3) Remove the radiator cap and check for oil. Oil in the water also means a cracked cylinder head.

4) Have a pre-purchase inspection performed! A compression test should also be done for failing rings on any used vehicle. This test requires a trained mechanic because of the equipment used and the test is complicated. The readings must be done ‘dry’ and ‘wet’, and it even depends on if you are above or below sea level.

The bottom line is, “Do your Homework!”

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to swing by and take a look at our great selection of pre-owned.

How Big is YOUR Blind Spot, Ft. Worth?

Could you see 60 children behind your car? Of course you can! Right?

Watch the video below.

It’s OK, I’ll let you change your answer.

Please be 110% aware of all of your surroundings. It is your responsibility. It is your requirement. It is your duty to be as safe a driver as you can. Yes, accidents do happen, but they usually happen when we aren’t paying attention.

Now…watch the video again.

Please re-post this as many places as you can. At Freeman Grapevine, we’re committed to protecting our children

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.

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.

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.