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Before You Purchase That Pre-Owned Vehicle

BEFORE purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, request to have the vehicle checked over by your trusty mechanic. Weed out the lemons by investigating on your own and then take the best ones to your mechanic for the final check. If the seller won’t let you get an inspection done, whether it be a dealership or a private seller, they are probably trying to hide something. In which case, run away as fast as you can! Here are a couple things you can check yourself:

  • Rust is prominent in vehicles that have lived in snowy climates. Depending on the severity, it can turn a simple repair into a nightmare by making bolts almost impossible to remove. Luckily rust is easy to see, a quick peak underneath the car and you’ll be able to catch it.
  • Check fluid levels and check for any fresh fluid around in the engine compartment. Low oil or coolant can be a sign of a larger problem.
  • Check the interior, if that hasn’t been well-taken care of, you can bet the rest of the vehicle hasn’t either.
    Take the vehicle for a test-drive. You want to ensure you don’t notice any warning lights pop on the dash, any odd smells or noises, and that the car stays at ambient temperatures.

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High Mileage Vehicle Care

Many cars we see have well over 100,000 miles. Some of which are in better shape than others with much more life left in them. Here are some ways to keep your vehicle rolling into the high-mileage club.

  • Drive with care. Don’t drive aggressively, harsh accelerating and braking can wear your car out quickly.
  • Prompt repairs and regular maintenance can save you from bigger repairs and even bigger headaches. Always check fluid levels and be sure to carry extra fluids if driving long distances.
  • Keep it clean. This can add to your resale value and can even add to the longevity of your car’s life. A vehicle that looks as though it has been well-taken care of is much more desirable to a buyer.
  • This odometer belongs to a 2000 Toyota Land Cruiser that came in for a check-up which needed very few repairs. You can bet that this thing was in great condition and was well-taken care of with regular maintenance and quality repairs.

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Preventative Maintenance

In order to keep your car running the way it needs to you should keep up on regular maintenance. If you bought your car brand new follow the 30-60-90 rule. If your buying a used car have your mechanic fully inspect the vehicle before anything. This way you either save yourself some trouble or you get peace of mind in your purchase. Keep in mind that some environments will require check-ups more regularly. The way you drive will directly affect some things such as your brakes and tires. Your environment, whether it is dirty, dusty, full of pollen, hot, or cold also affects your vehicle. Extreme conditions wear on your car more than mild conditions. If you live in an extreme climate or regularly put high-stress on your car you will want to examine your vehicle more often for necessary maintenance.

Spark plugs are very important to a vehicle and their need of maintenance does not go unnoticed. Consistent trouble starting your vehicle does not always mean a problem with the battery or alternator it can often times mean your spark plugs are too worn to create a “spark” and start your car. Another noticeable problem caused by spark plugs is an engine misfire. This is where your engine skips for a moment and then continues on as if nothing happened. A vehicle that is misfiring has dramatically increased emissions as well as decreased gas mileage. Misfiring can also cause your vehicle to send too much gasoline into the system which could fry your catalytic converter. Surging and trouble accelerating can also be due to spark plugs. All of these problems point to signs that your engine is not getting adequate energy.

Cabin filters and engine filters are another maintenance item that is necessary for the longevity of your vehicle and to avoid costly repairs. Your cabin air filter is typically located behind the glove compartment or under the dashboard. Its job is to keep the air inside your cabin clean. It filters out dirt, dust, pollen, smog, and mold spores and keeps them from entering the cabin of your car. When your cabin filter is dirty it can make the A/C work harder than necessary and burn out important components that run your air conditioning. In order to burn one gallon of gas your car burns about 12,000 gallons of air. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean. If your engine filter is clogged your engine may not be getting enough air which can cause a variety of costly problems. A clean engine air filter will give you the best fuel economy and performance from your vehicle. Checking both of these filters should be a routine part of every oil change.

Keep on top of preventative maintenance and you would be amazed at how much your car thanks you for it. On top of that as soon as an issue occurs fix it before it turns into a bigger problem. Make sure to read up on your vehicle’s service manual but also use your intuition and pay close attention to what your car is telling you.

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Electric Vehicles

There has recently been a rise in electric vehicle sales and automakers are continuously working on technology to make their battery-powered vehicles better. There are many benefits and some downsides to owning an electric vehicle. Some of which may be a deal-breaker depending on your situation. If you drive long distances often the choice of electric vehicles today may not be good for you. However if you drive a short distance daily an electric vehicle may be perfect for you. In order to decide what is right for you, you should weigh the benefits and the disadvantages.

Electric vehicles are much more energy efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles. EV’s (electric vehicles) are able to convert about 60% of their power to their wheels. Whereas gasoline vehicles are only able to convert about 20% of their power to their wheels. This not only means you have much more power altogether it also means that you have much more power much quicker than in a gas powered vehicle.

Electric motors provide a quiet and smooth operation and a stronger acceleration. They also require less maintenance than internal combustion engines. The battery, motor, and other electronics require little to no regular maintenance, they have fewer fluids to change, and they use a brake system called regenerative braking which significantly reduces brake wear. The process of regenerative braking uses the otherwise lost energy from braking and sends it back to the electric motor for use. This technique is much more efficient than in a gas powered vehicle where the energy used to brake is lost as heat. There are fewer moving parts and the batteries are made to last the life of the vehicle and many automakers offer warranties up to 100,000 miles. The government also offers incentives to purchase an electric vehicle that could be as high as $7500.

One downside to EV’s is that the driving range is typically very limited. Many models can only go up to 120 miles on a charge where others can actually go 300 miles. Not only that but just because the batteries are supposed to last the lifetime of the vehicle doesn’t mean they always do. Having to replace the battery packs on an EV outside of a warranty is an extremely expensive job. On top of that a full recharge can take up to eight hours. Finding a place to do this is also sometimes difficult and may leave you stranded.

California has recently announced they will be investing money into building roads that harvest energy which could possibly be used to fuel electric vehicles. Tesla has also announced a project they are working on which will allow the batteries in these vehicles to be recycled – a problem that we have faced ever since battery-powered vehicles came into production. There is no way to safely recycle the used batteries yet. The technology in these cars is relatively new and as the technology progresses we will most likely see a large increase in electric vehicle volume.

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Tips to Save Gas Mileage

Gas prices are something most of us can’t control. The one thing we can control is how much we use of it. If you can’t cut your commute down there are driving techniques that will save you gas. These are some things you can do that will allow you to get the most fuel efficiency from your vehicle.

Aggressive driving is an obvious culprit of lowered mpg. But did you know that it can lower those gallons by up to 30 percent at highway speeds and up to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic? This type of driving can mean anything from speeding, rapid acceleration or hard braking. A fairly obvious technique which could help with saving gas would be to keep at or below the speed limit. Once you hit 50 mph your gas mileage starts rapidly decreasing. Cruise control is a good tool to use. No matter how fast you are going it will maintain your speed and limit the use of unnecessary acceleration. Overall be a little more gentle with the gas and brake pedals.

Don’t forget that a vehicle with low tire pressure requires more fuel to move it forward. Check your tire pressure monthly and refill tires to the recommended pressure that is on the tire itself. Likewise a wheel alignment that is not straight can cause you to drag the tires which will certainly decrease mpg. Your alignment should be checked yearly and reset if needed. Not only will keeping your vehicle aligned and tires aired up save you money on gas it will also extend the life of your tires which also saves you money.

Also avoid hauling cargo on your roof when unnecessary. Roof pods and cargo nets are great for traveling but not for daily driving. Driving at freeway speeds can reduce your gas mileage up to 25 percent with a large cargo carrier on the roof. Bikes and racks on the rear of your vehicle can create a drag of up to 5 percent worth of fuel. Likewise try not to carry any extra weight within the car either. Keep it clean of trash or unnecessary items.

You should also consider the amount you idle your car. Excessive idling drinks your fuel and can use up to 1/2 gallon of gasoline per hour. Try to turn your car off if you know you will be idling for more than a couple of minutes.

Overall don’t forget to consider outside sources such as weather when thinking about your gas mileage. Some things are just out of your control. However do your best to make the most out of what you can control and bump up those mpg’s.

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Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

Autonomous cars are still part of the future but cars that talk to each other are a reality now. The United States Department of Transportation has proposed a rule that would require all auto manufacturers to equip light-duty cars and trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications or V2V.

This rule would go into effect in the year 2019 and there would then be a deadline of 2023 for compliance. DOT believes V2V technology has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes each year. The technology allows vehicles to communicate with each other sharing weather conditions and any traffic concerns. This proposed rule would include other safety software as well such as automatic emergency braking.

Cadillac has announced the addition of V2V equipment to their vehicles. The feature will now be standard in cars in the US and Canada. These devices will be able to communicate with other vehicles up to 980 feet away. This system is proposed to be much more effective once all new cars have it. V2V has been said to contain firewalls to keep it protected from interference and also prevent any sharing of personal information so you don’t have to worry about any of that.

As high-tech as this technology sounds it has been estimated that it will only add about $200 to $300 to the price of the car. However, the safety benefits that V2V will produce will not be achieved until a mass amount of cars with this system are on the road. Cars can’t talk to each other if only a few can speak and listen. This is an exciting step forward as technology continues to grow and expand.

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Is Your Car Summer Ready – A/C?

The weather is changing quickly here in Las Vegas and the temperatures are rising. As long as the temperature stays hot outside and cool inside there shouldn’t be a problem. But what do you do if you get in your car on that first hot day of the year flip on the air conditioning and find out what’s blowing through the vents is just as hot as the air outside? No matter how long you let the A/C blow it doesn’t get any cooler. Perhaps that isn’t your problem though and the air blowing is cool but not cool enough. Whatever the situation may be if your A/C is not blowing cold you have a problem.

The air conditioner in our vehicles is an enclosed system that contains a gas called freon. The gas is circulated throughout the system by the compressor. The expansion valve or orifice tube changes the freon gas to a liquid which makes it get cold. While the cold freon is circulated through the evaporator core, the blower blows air across the core to send cold air into the cabin of the vehicle. This gas is highly pressurized and any leak in the system will cause noticeable side effects. Any higher than usual temperatures coming from the A/C should be looked at right away before the problem gets any worse.

The most expensive A/C fix would be replacing the compressor. If the compressor becomes defective the freon has no way of cooling the air. Sometimes the compressor can leak and when that happens, there is no bandage, it’s a new compressor or no A/C. Most commonly though the leak is usually caused by old hoses. At that point, the hose is replaced, a recharge done, and your A/C will be back to normal.

As to ensure you don’t get stuck in the middle of the summer without A/C it is a good idea to have the system checked in the spring time. Finding a problem before it evolves can often save you from many more expensive repairs. If you have any doubts that your A/C is performing at its peak then have it looked at by a professional. Bob’s Autodynamics has serviced air conditioning systems for 31 years and is ready for another hot Las Vegas summer.

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Hot Summer Days Make For More Expensive Gas

As we move into spring and the hotter months here in Vegas, we start to see an increase in our gas prices. This doesn’t just happen here though, it happens all across the country. It’s a common fallacy that summer gas is more expensive due to higher demand, like more road trips and more gas used to fuel the A/C on those hot days. While demand definitely plays a factor in gas prices, the summer hike-up is due to EPA Regulations.

Between June 1st and September 15th the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, requires oil companies to sell gas that is less likely to evaporate. This is due to the fact that higher temperatures cause more evaporation and smog, which leads to less gasoline in the fuel tank. In cooler months, evaporation is less of a concern and regulations by the EPA are less strict.

In the winter, oil companies are able to use a chemical called Butane. It is the same chemical you find in Bic Lighters. It is cheap to use but evaporates easily which is ideal during the cold. On the downside, Butane contains less energy than other petroleum products which means you get less bang for your buck. This is the reason you probably experience worse fuel mileage in the colder months.

Throughout the entire year, your fuel costs will be relatively the same. Between higher prices in the summer, and having to buy more in the winter, you shouldn’t sweat the extra couple of dollars on the fill-up since it will get you a couple of extra miles.

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Car Brands: What Are You Actually Driving?

Many of the vehicles we drive today come from parent companies of the brand that is actually on our car. Here is a break-down of who-owns-who currently, keep in mind, this is an ever-changing list.

  • BMW, which stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, is part of a shareholder corporation which also owns Mini and Rolls-Royce. BMW also takes #14 on Forbes list of most valuable brands.
  • Fiat, or, Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, is an Italian brand which owns Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, and all the Chrysler brands including Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and SRT.
  • Ford owns Lincoln and a small stake in Mazda. The company used to own Jaguar and Land Rover but sold to the Indian company Tata Motors in 2008.
  • GM owns Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. GM is the brand from a few years ago that tried to argue any modifications you do to a vehicle are illegal and break the licensing agreement you signed at purchase. However, this argument is a discussion for another day.
  • Honda owns Acura. These brands are somewhat young compared to some of the other brands – which is interesting due to the fact that Honda is known for its affordability and its reliability, something that takes many brands a long time to achieve.
  • Hyundai partially owns Kia. The first vehicle ever produced by Hyundai was a project with Ford and was called the Cortina.
  • Mazda mostly owns itself, with that small stake from Ford as well.
  • Mercedes is owned by a company called Dalmer AG, who also owns Smart and did own Maybach before the brand was killed off.
  • Mitsubishi is independently owned under the Mitsubishi group umbrella in Japan.
  • Nissan owns Infiniti and the newly revived Datsun which has been reintroduced in Sri Lanka where it was originally first sold. They are also partnered with Renault.
  • Subaru is partly owned by Toyota, which explains the recent partnership to build the European-known Toyota GT86 or the American versions, the Scion FRS and Subaru BRZ.
  • Tesla is partly owned by Toyota and has a partnership with Mercedes.
  • Toyota owns Lexus and the recently discontinued Scion, which Toyota will more than likely absorb and re-brand as their own.
  • Volkswagen owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche. VW also owns the worlds most expensive car – the Lamborghini Veneno that prices at just around $4 Million.
  • Volvo is owned by a company named Geely, and interesting enough, Volvo is the one who invented the seat belt almost 50 years ago.

It makes sense as to why so many different brands have such similar vehicles. Many, like Nissan and Infiniti, make essentially the same car, but one in a standard class and one in a luxury class. We will most likely continue to see car makers buy and sell other brands and continue to revolutionize the vehicles we know today.

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Is Your Car Full of Hot Air ?

Air…….it is everywhere. Used for just about everything. Most importantly breathing. Like all living creatures the engines in our vehicles need air to breathe. Human and mechanical filtering systems serve the same purpose they keep dirt, dust and contaminates out. It can take as much as 10,000 gallons of air for every gallon of fuel an engine uses to operate. Humans have “natural” filters. The engines in our vehicles use artificial filters. A vehicles air filter working properly can improve power, economy and performance up to 10 percent. That is why checking and replacing a dirty air filter is important. A good basic rule would be to replace an air filter every 15,000 to 20,000 miles during average conditions. Average conditions means clean roads and moderate temperatures. In Las Vegas the roads along with dusty conditions require more frequent air filter replacement. The air filter should be checked with every oil change. Happy Motoring and Be Safe.


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