Browse Month

October 2018

Car Maintenance

Whether it is a brand new car or a used car, buying a vehicle can be expensive. For this reason, you must do what you can to keep it in good condition and retain its value. To achieve this, you must focus on providing the proper maintenance and repair work for your vehicle.

Proper maintenance and repair can be quite costly and time-consuming. You should find a qualified, skilled, and knowledgeable mechanic from a car maintenance shop. However, there are also certain maintenance tasks which you can easily do on your own.

Car maintenance is typically the replacement and inspection of wearable parts and the repairs performed on already worn parts. The regular maintenance tasks are needed to ensure that the vehicle will stay in good condition and offer its maximum performance.

Among the most important regular maintenance which you can do on your own are to check the oil level and the brake fluid of your car. Checking your oil level is essential since the oil is like the blood of your vehicle. If the oil is too low, your car can be seriously damaged and it won’t go far.

For this reason, you should always check your oil level. To check your oil level, you must first open the hood and look for an oil dipstick. Clean the dipstick with a rug and place it deep into the chamber then pull it out again. The oil level usually falls in between the upper and the lower limits.

Another important maintenance task which you need to perform is to check the brake fluid. The braking system must be replaced periodically. This will help prevent the development of potential brake problems. If the brake system fails, you can be involved in a very serious and devastating accident.

To avoid such dangers, you have to check your brake fluid first. You have to locate the cap to the brake fluid reservoir. Once located, you must then wipe the cap and top the reservoir to prevent any contamination. Look into the reservoir and determine if the brake fluid is low.

These are just simple guidelines on two of the most important maintenance tasks that you can perform.

Save Money When You Buy Your Next Car: Part Two

As a follow up to Part One, I want to make it clear how knowing what you want saves you money when purchasing your next car.

There are basically three reasons why people go to an automobile showroom.  One, they are there solely to look at different models on display.  Two, they are there to gather information, i.e., fact finding, and, three, they have already finished steps one and two and are ready to buy the car, either today or soon.  The trained sales person qualifies potential customers to find out why they are in the showroom, and, since it is this third group of people who are the ones most likely to buy a car, the sales person’s focus is directed exclusively to them.  Customers who are “just looking around” or strictly there to gather information are least likely to get a competitive price from the salesperson because they are not willing, at this time, to commit themselves to purchasing a car today.  The customer who is “looking around”, getting information and asking for prices and not committed to buy, will not get a competitive price: the sales person will quote (and I know this from personal experience as a retired car salesman) an approximate price.  For example, the 2018 Toyota Camry LE is “around” $25,000 plus taxes and fees.  If a customer was not ready to purchase the car that day, some sales people are instructed, by their managers, to not quote prices at all unless the customer disclosed they were ready to buy the car today.  This was the conclusion of Part One:  No customer commitment to purchase equals no competitive price.

Commitment means that the customer tells the salesperson, up front, that they are interested in purchasing a car today; or, that they have already received quotes from other dealers and are ready to buy, now, if your price is competitive.  Note: it is the salesperson’s job to find out what the customer’s time frame is for buying a car, if the customer has not disclosed this.

This brings us to another way in which the customer can save money: get at least three quotes, in writing, from the salesperson at three different dealerships, make sure that each quote has the make, model, trim level desired equipment and/or packages and MSRP of the exact car you are interested in.  By doing this, you are guaranteeing that you get each dealer’s best price on the car that you want.

I also purchased many cars before I became an auto salesperson and for years I didn’t know that this was the best course of action in securing a “good” price, and, as a result, I paid too much for the car.  Being in the car business for many years, I learned that the best way to get the best price from each dealer was to get at least three quotes on the exact car you are interested in.  Many customers purchase from a dealer with the lowest price.  But others, like myself, will compare quotes and purchase the car at the dealer whose price is competitive and whose salesperson I preferred because the salesperson treated me with respect. Keep Reading

The Evolution of 4-Cylinder Engines

Four cylinder engines became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily because of several major gasoline shortages.  Prior to that, American manufacturers traditionally offered V6 and V8 engines in their cars as American consumers were accustomed to powerful, gas consuming cars.

It wasn’t  until Toyota and Honda imported “econo boxes” into this country, starting in the 1970s, did American manufacturers realize that they had better change their thinking regarding engine size and fuel economy.  Toyota introduced the Corolla and Camry and Honda countered with their Accord and Civic.  The “sub-compact” Toyotas and Hondas all came with small block, lightweight 4-cylinder engines.

The Toyotas and Hondas were extremely popular, and, within a few years, captured up to 30% of the American auto market.  Their cars were in demand because they offered consumers an alternative from the large, heavy gas guzzling V6 and V8 cars that were the only cars on the market up until this time.  The imported Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans were very reliable, low maintenance and, because of their small 4-cylinder engines, were much more fuel efficient and they were fun to drive!

Because of the tremendous sales gains of the imported cars in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, GM, Ford and Chrysler revamped their small car line-ups to compete.  Chevrolet introduced the Vega, Citation, Chevette and Cavalier.  Ford came out with the Pinto and the Maverick, while Chrysler offered the Plymouth Valiant.  What do these new American made cars have in common?  One, they were more compact in size and two, they all featured small displacement, more fuel efficient 4-cylinder engines.

Four cylinder engines have become more and more popular.  They are more refined and sophisticated and starting around the late 1990s and early 2000s, every manufacturer featured 4-cylinder engines as standard equipment in their sub-compact and compact models, and some mid-size and luxury models offered 4-cylinder versions as well. Keep Reading

Observations On Current Auto Exterior Design

Is it just me or have the auto designers gotten together and compared notes regarding auto exterior design?  Have you noticed that many of the major brands have incorporated similar design “cues”?

Design Cue 1:  Sculpted Side Body Panels

Upon close examination, you will notice that every auto brand – as of 2018 – has sculpted side body panels (doors).  Here is an example:

Design Cue 2:  Front End Styling

Lexus and Toyota emphasize the “radical” or “far out” front end design.  The 2018 Toyota Camry and Avalon have blacked-out front grills in the shape of a large “shark’s mouth”, giving the car a “mean”, almost menacing effect.  The 2018 Ford Focus, 2019 Hyundai Veloster, 2018 and 2019 Audi A6, 2018 and 2019 Audi A4, 2019 Chevrolet Cruz, and 2018/2019 Honda Accord are a few of the many models that tout this popular styling trend.

Design Cue 3:  Front Grill Design

The three and/or four section front grill is also an often used styling cue as seen on cars such as the 2018/2019 Honda Civic and 2018/2019 Hyundai Elantra and Sonata to name a few examples.  Another popular front-end styling trend is the “tapered” front headlights as seen on Nissan, Lexus, Toyota, Ford, Mazda, and numerous other brands.

Design Cue 4:  Sleeker Automobiles

Over the years cars have become sleeker and more aerodynamic in large part due to the federal government’s stringent fuel economy specifications.  Sloping hoods sharply angled front windshields, and sculpted body panels are a by-product of the government’s higher fuel economy standards.

Design Cue 5:  Elimination of the “Separate” Chrome Bumpers

Starting in the late 1970s and early 80s we have witnessed the elimination of the attached front and rear chrome bumpers.  Instead, auto designers have integrated bumpers so that they are “hidden” by smooth and curvaceous facades.  In doing so, safety has not been sacrificed as manufacturers have adhered to the federal government’s increased front and rear impact standards for slow speed impacts.

Design Cue 6:  Lowering of Vehicle Height

The lowering of overall height is another contributing factor to the overall sleekness of exterior auto design.  This lower body profile not only contributes to the current model’s sleeker appearance but also is a big factor in new car improved fuel economy because of lower co-efficient of drag.

Design Cue 7:  Aluminum Alloy Wheels

Aluminum alloy wheels are more attractive and more durable then the outdated plastic hub caps or wheel covers from years ago.

Design Cue 8:  Rear End Styling

Integrated rear-lipped spoilers have taken the place of “stand above” spoilers in many models.

Design Cue 9:  Dual Exhaust Ports

Many new cars come standard with dual exhaust and some have 4 exhaust outlets.  Exhaust pipes have been incorporated into the lower bumper area, which has been “blackened out”.

Keep Reading