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6 Benefits to owning an Electric Car

With gas prices continuing to rise, consumers everywhere are looking for ways to save money at the pump as they stick to their budget. While there are a lot of ways drivers can save money, electric cars seem to be gaining in attention and popularity. If you’re wondering if electric cars are worth the investment, then you’re not alone. We’ve got you covered with our 6 benefits you experience when you own an electric car.

How does an electric car work?

Often referred to as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), electric cars use a large battery pack to power the electric motor of the car. Electric cars must be plugged into some kind of wall outlet or charging equipment and the average driving range before recharging is about 200 miles. Electric cars come with several benefits which can be worth the challenge of needing to charge your car.

Lower running costs for an electric car

The biggest benefit of an electric car is its source of fuel and the savings that come with it. Electric cars are built to obviously run on electricity which eliminates a need for gas fill ups. It costs about $0.05 per mile to run an electric car vs. $0.15 per mile for a gas engine. The savings add up to on average $ 2,000-$4,000 per year.

Cleaner environment

Electric vehicles have no tailpipe and don’t emit any exhaust gas. This reduces the amount of pollution emitted by your vehicle. In addition, electric cars are 90% energy efficient compared to the 17-21% energy efficiency of an internal combustion engine.

Lower maintenance costs

Because electric cars don’t have as many moving parts, they require less maintenance. They don’t require maintenance like oil changes, spark plugs, and fuel filters. They also have regenerative braking (using the electric motor to decelerate the vehicle), extending the lifespan of brake pads. Lower overall maintenance costs lead to increased savings in the long run.

Increased performance for an Electric car

Electric cars are not only cost effective, but are also fun to drive. They boast quick acceleration – producing peak torque from a standstill. Most drivers report great handling and performance over their gas powered vehicles.

Bonus rebates

When you purchase an electric vehicle, you get cash back. There is a Federal Tax Credit for electric vehicles. There is also a Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) which provides rebate savings for eligible vehicles.

Better resale

Resale on electric vehicles is better than their gas powered counterparts. If the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle is offsetting, 2nd hand electric cars can be a great option.

How do they compare to Hybrid vehicles?

We know what you’re thinking. Is a hybrid vehicle a better option? Hybrid vehicles are built with some minor differences. Hybrid cars have an electric motor and a gas engine. They are still powered by gas, but can get you further with less fill ups. Hybrids drive similarly to regular cars as the electric motor supplements the gas-powered engine. They also have regenerative braking as the engine recaptures energy  to recharge the battery while braking. Some hybrids can be plugged in, while others are refueled by gas alone.

If you’re looking for fuel savings that are great for the environment, electric cars are an investment that pays dividends.

How to increase your car’s fuel efficiency in the midst of rising fuel prices

Filling up your car has always been costly, but with current gas prices starting at $ 4 per gallon – let’s face it, buying gas has become an investment. Drivers everywhere are looking for ways to save money at the pump, while they keep more cash in their wallet. While one idea is to cut back on how far you drive, there are a few additional tips that can help you increase your car’s fuel efficiency no matter how far you drive.

Check your tires

This is not the place most people look when it comes to making their cars more fuel efficient. But did you know that improperly inflated tires can decrease your fuel efficiency by 3%? While 3% may not seem like much, this can compound quickly when combined with other inefficiencies. It’s a good idea to check your tire pressure once a month. One other thing to watch out for? If you’ve hit a pothole or a bump in the road recently, it’s a good idea to have your mechanic check your front end alignment. A front end that is not in alignment can decrease your gas mileage by 10%.

Change your engine air filters for better Fuel Efficiency

Your engine runs on clean air and fuel. Without properly filtered air, your car’s fuel efficiency can start to consume more fuel, which will decrease your car’s efficiency. A good rule of thumb is to have your air filter changed regularly to keep your engine running efficiently.

Clean out your trunk

Did you know that a heavier car is a car that will work harder to maintain speed and efficiency? Every 100  lbs  that you carry in your car’s trunk will increase fuel consumption by 1-2%. Consider lightening your load by cleaning out the trunk and getting more efficient as you drive.

Turn off your AC

In a nutshell, your AC can consume more gas  when it’s running. This is especially true for the  stop and start of city driving. If you’re doing a lot of stopping and starting, consider turning off the AC and opening those windows. You’ll get some fresh air, and save on gas – that’s a win win!

Pay attention when you fill her up

While it may be tempting to pay for the higher octane gas at the pump, spending more doesn’t always mean more fuel efficiency. If your car requires 87 octane, using 89 or 91 won’t make it more efficient. It will just cost more without any added benefit. One other tip on filling that gas tank is to keep your tank about ¼ full. When your gas tank levels fall below ¼ full, your fuel pump has to work harder which makes your vehicle less fuel efficient. Buying the correct octane gas and keeping your tank filled up can go a long way in saving you money at the pump.

Fuel Efficiency improves when you Schedule a tune up

A well maintained vehicle is a car that runs efficiently. Taking your car for preventative maintenance regularly can help keep your car running smoothly and efficiently all year long. When you incorporate these tips into your vehicle maintenance, you’ll save on gas at the pump  and make your full tank last longer. If you’re ready to  schedule maintenance and get these things checked out on your car, our team is ready to help you keep your can  running efficiently  all  year long.

6 Signs Your Vehicle Has Pothole Damage

It’s that time of year again. Snow starts to melt and potholes start to form on the roads. Whether you’re driving down the street or driving across the country, potholes can be a hazard to your vehicle. If you’ve been paying attention as you drive, you may have even noticed one on the road or even driven over one. But did you know that even the most harmless looking potholes can cause damage to your car? If you’ve been thinking about what kind of damage your car sustained from that last pothole hit, then we’ve got you covered with 6 signs to look for after hitting that pesky pothole.

1. Flat tire Signs

One of the earliest, and most common signs that your car has sustained damage when driving over a pothole is a flat tire. Once a tire falls into a pothole, the damage is caused when the tire exits the pothole, and can be either external or internal. If you notice a flat tire after hitting that pothole, it’s best to not only get that flat fixed, but also check for other damage to your vehicle.

2. Tires that bulge or have bubbles

While a flat tire is a visible sign of damage, your tires can have interior damage after hitting that pothole. If you notice any bulging or bubbles, it’s time to take your car in and ask your mechanic to take a look. Neglecting bulges and bubbles can lead to a blowout, which no one wants when they are out for a drive in the spring.

3. Signs of Bent Rims

In addition to tire damage, your wheel rims can get bent or damaged after running into a pothole. Be sure to check for dents and other damage which can affect the lifespan of your tires.

4. Suspension and Alignment

A pothole encounter can not only damage your tires, it can damage your suspension and alignment. Look for signs like your car pulling to the right or left when driving, a shaking steering wheel when driving at high speeds, or even extra bouncing while you drive. All of these are signs that your suspension and/or alignment is off. Ensuring correct suspension and alignment will provide safety while you’re driving all year long.

5. Strange Exhaust Noises

Something we tend to forget about unless it’s making some noise is our exhaust system.  Depending on the size and depth of the pothole, your exhaust system can experience damage. If you notice loud and strange noises coming from the back of your car after hitting a pothole, be sure to get that checked out.

6. Fluid Leakage

One last sign that your car has sustained damage after a pothole is fluid leakage. Depending on how fast you were driving or the depth of the pothole, your car may experience some new fluid leakage.  This can be caused by dents to the oil pan or other interior parts. If you notice new fluid leaking from your car, it may be a sign that you have some pothole damage.

With pothole season upon us, it’s best to slow down and drive carefully. If one of those pesky potholes is unavoidable, these 6 signs will alert you to any potential damage and indicate it’s time for your mechanic to take a peek under the hood. If you’re looking for a mechanic that can help with pothole damage, we’re ready to help. Simply call for an appointment today.

Your Spring-Time Automotive Comprehensive Inspection Checklist

When the snow starts to melt and spring is in the air, you probably have a lot on your to-do list.  From yard clean-up to taking that much needed drive with all your windows down, we’re ready to get outside and breath the fresh air after a long winter.  Before you start checking off your spring-time bucket list, it’s a good idea to get your car a spring-time inspection to make sure everything is in working order before those spring and summer months.

If you’re wondering what you should have inspected in addition to your regular oil change during your spring tune-up, we’ve got you covered with our Comprehensive Inspection Checklist.

1. Tires & Rims

Make sure you get those tires and rims inspected.  Your mechanic should rotate and balance your tires, as well as inspect your tires for tread life and your rims for any damage.

2. Suspension

Ask your mechanic to inspect your vehicle struts and/or shocks to prevent future damage and ensure a smooth ride.

3. Alignment

Winter snow can hide many obstacles on the road from damage in parking lots to spring potholes that can quickly impact your alignment. Proper alignment can extend your tire life and provide safer handling while driving.

4. Fluid Levels

Fluid levels can affect wear and tear on your vehicle.  Make sure your coolant, transmission, power steering, brake, and in some cases hydraulic fluids are filled to the proper level.  Proper fluid levels can ensure long life for your vehicle.

5. Air Conditioning

If you live in Minnesota, your vehicle’s A/C is something you haven’t used in a while. It’s best to ensure your A/C is in proper working order in Spring before you need it for those dog days of summer

6. Windshield Wipers

Winter can dull your wiper blades. We highly recommend getting new wiper blades before those spring rains arrive

7. Lights

Winter weather and all that salt from snowplows can wear down your lights’ effectiveness and can impact your nighttime visibility.  Check to make sure headlights, taillights, and turn signal lights haven’t yellowed or hazed over, and that your bulbs are in working order.

8. Cabin Air Filter

If your vehicle was made in the year 2000 of after, you probably have a cabin air filter. After a long winter, your cabin air filter will need replacing to keep that air inside your vehicle fresh and healthy.

9. Belts & Hoses

Our winter cold snaps are tough on your vehicle’s belts and hoses – and a broken belt while you are driving is an experience you don’t want to have on the side of the road.  Make sure your mechanic inspects your belts and hoses for cracks and tears before you hit the road this spring.

Regardless of the age of your vehicle, it’s always a good idea to take your car in for a Spring Comprehensive Inspection.  When you do make an appointment, ask your mechanic to inspect these nine checklist items for a safe and smooth driving experience this spring & summer.

Brake Pads and Pulsation

A brake pulsation is the vibration effect that you get from pressing down on the brakes for too long. This effect is often a sign of friction and heat that often comes from two mechanical components pressing down on each other. The best way to tell which rotor and brake pad are causing the pulsation effect is by holding down the brakes and feeling the vibration.

Signs and Indication of a Brake Problem

If you feel that the vibration is generated on the steering wheel, then this means that the fault is stemming in the front rotor and pad. However, if you notice that the pulsating or surging vibration is felt more in the seat or rear end, then a rear rotor and pad are likely causing it.

Reputation of Brake Pad Formulations

Ceramic pad has the reputation of being very quiet and also have a reduced rotor wear. On the other hand, a semi metallic pad is one that comes with a performance reputation where it can stop a vehicle numerous times and at a very short distance.

As you press on the brakes, it latches on to the rotor, and due to friction and heat, it leaves a transfer layer on the vehicle. Over time, the brake pad loses its pad material and you have to replace it for new ones. This is why it is very important to know about lateral runout and disc thickness variation when you are trying to diagnose brake pads and pulsation.

Lateral Run-out and Disk Thickness Variation

If you have lateral runout on the vehicle, or in other words the rotor is going back and forth, then you will have a high spot of run-out and a low spot of run-out. As the brake rotor goes past the brake pad, it removes a little bit of the rotor over time.

Similarly, it could also be causing the same type of wear on the low spot of the tire. This type of wear removes material from the rotor, and when it is removed, you are ultimately changing the thickness of the rotor. When the thickness of the rotor changes, it exposes the piston inside the caliper every time the spot goes by the brake caliper.

This is what causes brake pedal pulsation. For this reason, a ceramic brake pad is better at controlling the pulsation. One of the reasons why is that it is using a transfer layer, which means that you have lower rates of rotor wear. Moreover, as it passes the high spot, it loses a little material to it. Changes are that the thickness variation is not as great as if you are using a semi matte pad.

No matter what type of brake pad you install on your vehicle, you have to make sure that it matches the OE specifications. More than anything else, make sure that you install it properly. Not to mention, you also have to be careful of the runout and wheel bearing. All of these considerations can be difficult. This is why you must get technical help.

Things you did not know about the TPMS Warning Light

TPMSWhen it comes to TPMS systems, many people often tend to ignore it. You may believe that this amber light does not mean that much but that is far from the truth. This is why it is critical that you know a few integral things about the TPMS sensors and why they are so important.

Not All Cars have These Systems

If you had a car that was manufactured in 2005 and older, there is a chance that your car will not have this system at all. The government put this system in place and required it for vehicle manufacturers to start and integrate these systems at 20% volume of their fleet. By September 2007, this percentage moved to a 100%. If you do not have this system in your car, then you can resort to after-market systems to add to your car.

Direct and Indirect Systems

There are two different types of TPMS systems, direct and indirect. When it comes to direct or indirect, the distinction differs when checking if your wheel has a sensor or not. If your car has a sensor in the tires that is relaying the pressure back to the car. If it does, then it is a direct system, and if it doesn’t, then it is indirect.

Some of these systems use other mechanisms such as an ABS sensor, or rolling diameter sensors to check the tire pressure. If you have a direct system, then the sensor is vulnerable to a life expectancy. At some point, the sensor inside the tire will die. When that happens, you will have to replace it otherwise the TPMS warning light will never go out.

The average life expectancy on this sensor is more or less ten years. Many cars will have sensors that last much longer than that. However, you should understand that at the 10 year mark, if your TPMS light does not go away even after adjusting to the right pressure, then you will have to seek assistance from a professional.

You Cannot Change Their Batteries

Once you take the car to a professional, they will hook up a TPMS scan tool and find out whether your sensor has battery life. If they are low on battery life, you cannot replace the old batteries to new ones. This is because these TPMS sensors are completely sealed. Therefore, these are components that you would want to simply replace.

They are a Big Safety Feature

TPMS systems make sure that you do not suffer from catastrophic blow-outs and you are fully aware of your tire’s air pressure. They are ensuring that you have no trouble with handling or steering the car. They also help save you money from the expenses that come with tire replacements and repairs.

These sensors will sense your tire’s air pressure when it is low and not depleted. This means that you can quickly prevent depletion from happening thanks to the TPMS systems.

How to Stay Away from Snowplow Blind Spots when Winter Driving?

snowplowSnowplows are simply trucks that have a plow mounted in front to scrape away the ice and snow from the roads. Therefore, driving safely during the winters also means that you need to watch out for the snowplows and avoid their blind spots on the road.

Staying out of Blind Spot with a Snowplow

On the road, making yourself visible involves more than just using your turn signals. Drivers need to position themselves in the lane in ways that other cars can see them. They also need to be aware of a truck’s blind spot when trying to get around it. They should also leave extra space behind the truck so that they position themselves in more visible ways.

Keep in mind that larger vehicles will have larger blind spots, therefore, you have to make sure that you pass larger snowplows carefully. It is best to move around them from a distance and not beside them from a close proximity. This rids your chances of a collision if the truck decides to suddenly shift lane or turn.

Another important thing to note when driving behind the truck is that if you cannot see the side mirror of the truck, then the truck driver probably cannot see you. This problem is further elevated in the winter because there is very little visibility during the winter.

In the midst of heavy snow, it is very important that you are maintaining safe distance from the snowplow, and also keeping away from its blind spot. This will require you to maintain a reasonable space cushion between the surrounding cars and the snowplow.

Common Errors

There are a few common errors that you need to watch out for when new drivers practice keeping away from blind spots. First mistake is not being able to recognize that bigger vehicles have larger blind spots and moving too close to comfort. Overall, the blind spot is the area that snowplows and other cars cannot see in the mirror.

Snowplow Awareness

Weather hazards during the winter will make life very challenging for the snowplow driver. They put their lives at risk, deal with icy roads, work with poor visibility, and also sacrifice their sleep so that you can have a better road to drive on. They complete this thankless job by strategizing each route and making precise decisions to schedule their plowing.

The best that you can do in terms of appreciating them is not try to put them under pressure by honking at them and trying to get past them. Letting them work and keeping a safe distance until they do not stop is the best thing that you can do for the snow plow drivers, and also for your safety.

Trying to pass the snowplow puts you in the risk of getting in their blind spots along with many other risks. Thus, make sure that you are considerate to them when on the road.

Preparing your Car for the Winter

preparingPreparing for any winter driving is important. Safety must always be a priority when driving in the winters. When commuting on the icy and snowy roads, your car must be equipped with the right equipment. For instance, simple tools such as snow shovels and ice scrapers can prove to be life-saving at particular occasions.

Other items such as snow chains help provide your car with the necessary traction to drive over an icy surface. Equipped with the right resources, along with knowledge over potential hazards will help you deal with all the unwanted situations that you may encounter.

Inspect Battery Health

The snow and cold temperatures are very harsh on battery health. It is important for you to realize that smaller batteries may not have enough CCA to power up your engine in the cold weather. CCA or cold cranking amp is a measure that determines your battery’s ability to crank up power in colder temperatures.

This is not to say that higher CCA is better. Larger batteries not only cost more, but also weigh more. CCA is only a factor that you need to pay close attention to if you happen to reside in a location where the weather touches extreme levels. If your battery is starting to get old, you may want to consider replacing it as it may have lost its CCA rating. Having an efficient battery helps when you are preparing for winter driving.

Inspect your Tires

When driving in the extreme cold conditions, you must prioritize the condition of your tires. As the temperature drops, your tire pressure drops as well. This means that you will need to ensure that the tires are properly inflated. Secondly, summer or even all-seasons tires consist of compounds that become hard in cold temperatures.

Thus, if you are looking to get better traction with your tires, it is important that you switch your summer, or all-season tires to winter ones. Another important inspection regarding car tires is to make sure that the brake pads are in good condition. Oftentimes, brake pads come designed with wear indicators that produce audible screeching noises to ensure that the pad is in need of replacement.

Top Up Engine Oil

This safety measure is one that very few people think about when wintering their car. Everyone however knows about the recommended oil level and grade. What is not as commonly known is that some engines will require different oil viscosity grades. These grades will vary depending on the climate of the region you live in.

Preparing for Winter with the Wiper Blades

You want to ensure that your car wipers are in crisp conditions during the winters. Make sure that your wiper blades are in good condition so that you can have good visibility while driving during snow fall. Also, it is always a good idea to have an ice scraper during the winters. The reasons for this are fairly obvious, as everyone has deal with ice and snow forming on the windshields and windows. As you can see, few simple tools, inspections and resources can help you avoid the hazards that the winter entails.

Winter Snow Storm Survival Tips

winter

Winter is often dangerous for driving, especially when there is too much snow. However, commuting is an important part of our lives and people often have no choice but to drive in the snowy and severe conditions. This often leads to being stuck in a snow storm. In situations like these, knowing some hacks and being prepared for stranded occurrences can be pivotal.

Winter Traction Tips

When stuck in a snowy situation, all you need is to provide your tires with sufficient traction. To do this, you have to be equipped with the traction providing equipment and tools such as chains. However, if you are not in possession of the necessary tools and winter kits, then you can use other items in the car to work similarly.

For instance, if you get stuck in the snow bank, then you can use kitty litter to break free. All you have to do is put it under the car tires and this will help you break free. Another alternative when it comes to providing traction is your car floor mat. If you have a car floor mat, you can stick it right under the wheels for traction.

What should you do when stuck?

Considering that you get stuck in the worst possible manner and no amount of traction providing efforts is helping you get on the road again, then there are a couple of important steps to keep in mind. For one, you must contact a rescue service immediately.

Furthermore, if you are with your family, then the conventional wisdom would suggest that you step out of the vehicle and look for help. However, this is the worst thing that you could do in this instance. Keep in mind that the weather outside is cold, frigid and relentless. If you are not sure where you are going, then you could run the risk of having frostbite or hypothermia.

Staying in your vehicle keeps you warm until the rescuers come looking. When staying inside the car, it is recommended that you run the car for ten minutes each hour to stay warm and then shut it off. This allows you to stay warm, while at the same time conserve fuel. Conserving fuel is very important because you could be stuck for a long time.

Another helpful tip is to always make sure that the exhaust pipe is free from snow so that you do not suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. Keeping all of these tips in mind, sleeping alone in the car when stuck violates all of them, so make sure that you do not do that.

Overall, make sure that you have handy tools, applications and other important equipment. Preparing your car for the winters involves maintenance checks, along with equipping the vehicle with a winter survival kit. Other than that, simply adhering to safe driving habits can also be incredibly helpful.

 

Battery Issues to Look out for this Winter

As winter begins along with the holiday season, there is no better time to check the battery. This is needed to make sure that it is functioning well. You want to make sure that your car battery is in good condition to withstand the very cold mornings when you first start your car after leaving it in extreme temperatures over night.

There is a common belief that the winter is the worst time for your car battery. This is not the case. Nonetheless, it is essential that you check your car battery as you start getting into the cooler season. Below, you will find out about some of the things that you need to be on the lookout for. Before you can dive into the winter-related issues, you need to find out about some basics about the battery.

The Car’s Battery and Corrosion

The car’s battery consists of many cells that have a lead acid solution in them. Through chemical reactions in that solution, the battery creates a jolt of electricity. This jolt is enough to start the vehicle. The chemical solution that is inside the batter emits hydrogen gas. This can often time cause corrosion after it reacts to the metal and air under your hood.

Therefore, you can find corrosion near the terminals and the battery cable. To get rid of that corrosion, you can buy commercial washers or anti corrosive gel. Apply it to the terminals to keep corrosion to a minimum. It is very important that you keep the corrosion down as it is a common problem, and can affect battery performance in the winters.

Cold Cranking Amps

With corrosion, your car can also experience disruption in the functioning of the cold cranking amps. The battery’s cold cranking amps or CCA refers to the car’s ability to jolt into ignition at low temperatures. No matter how much corrosion you have, it is important to remove it.

Each battery comes with a cold cranking amp rating, or CCA rating. Each battery also comes with a minimum requirement. For instance, some batteries will have a rating of 800 cold cranking amps at 32 degrees. It may also display a cold cranking amp rating of 700 at zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Therefore, you need to have a minimum requirement setting in place before you start the vehicle. It is also important to realize that a car loses about 60 to 70 percent of its ability to start once the temperature drops below zero. It is critical that you have the right amount of cold cranking amps, along with corrosion free components.

As you can see, removing corrosion can improve your battery. It will help rid you from the troubles of the car poorly starting in winter. Also make sure that you turn off all accessories before you park the car to avoid draining the battery. Doing so can lead to a more efficient start for your car.

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