Simple Tips to Improve Your Fuel Economy

fueleconomyFor many of us, gasoline has become one of our biggest expenditures.  If a new car with better fuel efficiency isn’t in your budget right now, there are a few things that you can do to improve the gas mileage of your current car.  We’ve put together some tips below, so read on and start saving!

  1. Regular Maintenance. Keeping your car well maintained isn’t difficult. You’ll want to change your oil every 3,000 miles; included in your oil change is a new oil filter.  However, some high quality oil filters only need to be changed every other oil change.  Check your air filter and replace or clean it, if needed.  These simple things will keep your car running smoothly and more efficiently.  Replacing the fuel filter can give fuel economy a boost, but this may require an experienced mechanic depending on the make and model and how mechanically inclined you are.
  2. Tires. Always keep your tires inflated to the recommended level because driving with tires that are under-inflated can significantly reduce your fuel efficiency. This is because the engine has to work harder as tires with low pressure cause resistance. Use a tire gauge to regularly check your air pressure, as it can change day-to-day especially with temperature changes. Keeping your tires properly aligned can also help your car to perform more efficiently.
  3. Driving Habits. Did you know that the way you drive can affect your car’s gas usage?  Easy starts and stops contribute to proper fuel efficiency (i.e., don’t floor it from a stop and don’t slam on the brakes!)  For better gas mileage, accelerate moderately and be gentle on your brakes. When traveling on a highway, keeping your speed even can improve gas mileage, so consider using your cruise control to provide an even speed range.   Lastly, slow down!   Increased speeds lead to lower fuel economy. Try changing these few driving habits and watch your fuel economy improve!
  4. A/C. Air conditioning can hinder your fuel economy in different ways depending on your driving conditions. On back roads, it’s best to ride with your windows down and the air conditioning off. Since your engine has to work harder to run your air conditioning, your MPG will be better on back roads with a/c off. The complete opposite is recommended when on a highway, where you’ll want windows up and the air conditioning on to capitalize on aerodynamics. Riding with the windows down at a high rate of speed creates a drag effect, so using the air conditioning will be more efficient than riding with the windows down.
  5. Type of Gas. Use the type of gas that is recommended for your car; if you’re not sure, this information can be found in your owner’s manual. Therefore, there is no need to spend the extra money on premium gas if regular gas is what the car manufacturer recommends.
  6. Miscellaneous. There are a few other things that you can do to lower your monthly gas expense and improve MPG: Turn your car off when you can; if you are sitting in traffic or a long line for a significant amount of time, turn your engine off. It takes more fuel to idle your car than to start it. Plan outings like running errands before you leave to minimize mileage–map it out and don’t waste gas by driving in circles. Lastly, clean your car out!  Extra weight will make your engine work harder and use more gas.

Although you can’t control the prices at the pump, you can make some simple changes that over time will save you money on your monthly fuel expense. A little effort can go a long way. If you have any recommendations that we didn’t list, please share them with us in the comments section below.

 

Halloween Safety

halloweensafetyGhosts, goblins, witches, and vampires!  Oh my!  They, or at least children dressed like them, will be running around our streets on Halloween day and night.  Since Halloween is right around the corner, we’ve got to be thinking about children’s safety.   After all, kids look forward to Halloween all year long and envision running from house to house gathering up as much candy as they can hold.  Unfortunately, with so many children in the street, the chance of a child being hit by a car is greatly increased.   In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Halloween is one of the top three days of the year for pedestrian injuries.  In an effort to minimize the automobile dangers of Halloween, we have some tips for drivers and for parents to help keep children safe:

Driving tips:
First, drive under the posted speed limit!   In areas with trick-or-treaters on the road, driving under the speed limit provides extra leeway if you have to make a sudden stop.  Kids tend to get excited to get to the next house and dart right into the street without thinking. Many costumes are dark and some kids may be hard to see. As drivers, we need to be extra-alert and slowing down will help us to accomplish that.

Don’t use your cell phone or any electronic devices while driving.   This is a good idea anytime and it is against the law in our state to use hand-held devices while driving.  In addition, on Halloween you want to eliminate all distractions and focus strictly on the road (ahead and peripherally) and on people, especially little ones, in or around the roadway.

Don’t pass stopped vehicles.  Assume that stopped vehicles in the road during trick-or-treating hours are letting out or picking up kids.  So, use good judgment and extra caution around stopped vehicles.

Parent tips:
Make sure that your child is visible.  Don’t dress your child in a dark-colored costume because it is hard to see people in the dark and even more difficult when they’re dressed in dark colors.

Consider adding reflective tape to your child’s costume and/or make sure that they walk with a flashlight or glow stick. Check that your child’s costume fits properly so that he/she can walk without tripping or any other hindrance.   In addition, be sure that your child can see where he/she is going and the surroundings, regardless of the costume or mask.

If your area has sidewalks, have your kids stay out of the street and use the sidewalks.  If sidewalks are not an option, have them walk facing traffic all the way to the left side of the road. Children should walk–not run–and use crosswalks when crossing the street.  Children will be tempted to run, cross the street without thinking and other hazards, so your close presence will deter them and you can prevent accidents by reminding them every step of the way to be careful.

If you are driving your kids around to do the trick-or-treating, always pull over to a safe area to let your kids out and keep your hazard lights on.

We hope that these tips will enable you and your family to have a fun and safe Halloween and reduce the chances of this exciting holiday turning tragic!   Make sure the kids are well-informed on Halloween safety.  As a driver, be hyper-vigilant while driving on Halloween, especially after dark in residential areas.  Another option is to plan driving trips so that you will stay off the roads during peak trick-or-treating hours.  Happy Halloween!

Preparing Your Car for Fall

prepareforfallNow that summer has come and gone, fall is here and right behind that, the colder months are approaching.  Just like you switch out summer clothes to winter clothes, this is a good time to prepare your car for the cooler weather and make sure it is in tip-top shape!  So without further ado, we’ve provided a checklist to ensure that you don’t miss a thing!

  • Replace your windshield wiper blades.  We recommend a fresh pair of wiper blades for your car every six months.  In addition, you’ll want to make sure your windshield washer fluid is full.  This is the time of year you will want to replace it with the wiper fluid with added antifreeze if you drive in colder-climate areas.
  • Check your tires. Check the tread and tire pressure of your tires. Fall brings with it slippery roads as the result of fallen leaves combined with rain (and in some areas, even snow). Make sure that you have a safe amount of tread left on your tires and that your tires are inflated to the optimal level. It is always a good idea to have your tires rotated on a regular basis to ensure even wear.  Check your spare tire as well to make sure that it is functional in the event that you need it.
  • Check your fluids. To keep your car running smoothly, check all of the fluids and have a complete oil change when necessary. Today’s cars actually have indicators to alert you to when your oil needs changing; but if you have an older car, a good rule-of-thumb is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or so.  Fluids to check include coolant/antifreeze, brake, transmission, power steering, and, of course, windshield washer fluid!  Top off any fluids that are low.
  • Check your brakes. In many cars, brake pads can be checked by looking through the wheel. If you can, inspect each brake pad, and if any look thin- it is time to replace them.  Another way to know they are in need of replacement is to listen. Brakes make noise as an early warning that it is time for replacement. Replace your brake pads before it’s too late; if you wait too long, poor wearing on the surface of the brake pad can damage the rotors which leads to a bigger expense and a more difficult job.  If you aren’t sure about your breaks, take the car to a professional mechanic who can do an inspection of the brake pads and rotors and advice you as to their condition.  Some mechanics even do this as part of an oil change service.
  • Check your battery. Batteries work harder in the colder weather, so you’ll want to make sure your battery is fully-charged and has plenty of life left! Check your connections and make sure they are clean and free of corrosion. Many battery and auto stores will do a free battery check to determine when it’s time for a new battery and even clean-up any corrosion or debris on the terminals.
  • Check your heater and defroster. Lastly, you’ll want to check your heater and defroster. As the weather gets colder, your defroster and heater are essential to keep you moving on a daily basis. If either of these is not working properly, it is best to have a mechanic take a look.

Don’t be left unprepared. Let the colorful scenery of the change of leaves be an indicator that it’s time to check and service your car. If we didn’t mention something that you feel should be on our checklist, feel leave us a comment below.  Wishing you and your car a safe, healthy fall season.

How to Choose the Right Car Insurance Coverage

carinsuranceCar insurance can be confusing. With a big investment like a new car, you’ll want to make sure you’re protecting your car and yourself. You’ll want to check the financial standings and customer reviews of the companies you’re considering, know what coverage you want and compare quotes. Below are some tips to help you through this process.

Check out the insurance company. You’ll want to do a little investigating about the different insurance companies that serve your area. A lot of times you won’t know if you like your insurance company until it’s too late – once you’ve been in an accident and need them. Ask family and friends for their recommendations and check review blogs. That can give you a small insight into their customer service policies. You can also check The National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Center for Insurance Policy and Research for any formal complaints that have been filed against the company. The Better Business Bureau is another good resource that you can view company information including how they grade them, complaints and how they resolve their complaints. You will also want to check their financial standing which you can find at JD Powers.

Compare insurance quotes. Comparing insurance quotes can be confusing. You will want to make sure you are comparing quotes that are for the same coverage. Going with the cheapest isn’t always the best. Coverage is generally broken down into numerous parts including liability, collision, comprehensive, personal injury and uninsured/underinsured. Check your state regulations to make sure you have at least the required amount in each category but you may feel more comfortable with higher amounts than the minimum the state requires. Liability covers an accident that is determined to be your fault, collision covers repairs to your vehicle, comprehensive covers damages to your vehicle which are not the result of an accident like a stolen car or weather related damage, personal injury covers medical bills associated with injuries from the accident and uninsured/underinsured covers you if you’re in an accident with someone that is not insured or doesn’t have enough insurance.

Discounts and bundles. Inquire about any discounts the insurance company offers like ‘good driver’, ‘good student’, ‘accident free’, ‘multiple cars’, etc. Insurance companies offer discounts for good drivers, drivers that are good students, having multiple cars insured, if your car has an anti theft device and many other discounts that you may be able to take advantage of. Another way to lower your insurance is by bundling your coverage. Some companies offer discounts if you have multiple policies through them like car insurance, home insurance and/or life insurance. Consider these discounts when comparing quotes.

Do your homework first so you feel comfortable with your choices. You hope you never need it but you’ll want to make sure you have the right insurance company and coverage if you ever do! If you have any tips to add about car insurance, please leave your comments below.

How To Test Drive a Car

testdriveBuying a new car is such an exciting time, but it can also be a stressful time. There are so many things to consider, and with a new car being such a large investment and a major part of your daily life, you’ll want to choose the right vehicle. Test-driving a vehicle is an important step in choosing the right car. Below are some tips on narrowing down your vehicle choices and making the most of every test drive. Happy shopping!

Do online research on cars that interest you.  Do as much research as you can from home. One of the main factors is price, so budget the maximum amount you are willing to spend and how, if necessary, you will finance your new vehicle.  Remember to research and include any dealer incentives that the manufacturers are offering.  Stick to your budgeted maximum, and don’t look at cars that are above that amount.  Other aspects to consider are vehicle size, published mpg numbers and any features you need or want. Safety features and warranties can be deciding factors as well, so make sure to look into the safety specs and warranty info.  Online research can save you money, time, and may shorten or even eliminate the “haggling” process.

See the car in person.  Once you have narrowed your choices down, it’s time for a trip to the dealership to check out the cars up close. It is important to examine the trim package(s) you may be considering, as inclusion of any extras package can drastically change the price of the vehicle.  While you’re seeing the car in person, you’ll want to make sure the car is a good fit for you physically.  Ask yourself:  Is there enough headroom and footroom?  Can I reach the pedals or are they adjustable?  Are there blind spots?  Is the seat adjustable for safety and comfort?  Is the car easy to enter and exit?   When deciding if the car is a good fit for you, don’t forget to consider your family!  It is always a good idea to bring your family with you so that you can see how everyone fits in the vehicle, including entry and exit.  These are only a few things to consider, but they can help you to narrow your search down.

Take it for a spin!  Experience how the car drives on road conditions similar to what you drive on a regular basis. Typically, dealerships have a certain test driving route mapped out, but don’t be afraid to ask to drive routes that better represent where you’ll be driving, like on highways, hills, winding roads, etc. If possible, test-drive in different conditions and at different times, like daylight, night time and/or rain.  You may love a car during the day, but driving on dark roads may change the feel of the ride.  Many dealerships offer overnight test drives, which can give you an even more in-depth look at the vehicle and help to determine if it fits into every aspect of your lifestyle.

Test all the features.  Play with all the features of the car – try out the radio and GPS, turn on the A/C and heat, open and close the sunroof. There are so many features, why not try them all out thoroughly and make sure that those most important to you function the way you were expecting.

Look over the vehicle history report and have the car inspected. If you are considering buying a used car, check the vehicle history report to see if the car has a clear title, confirm that the odometer hasn’t been rolled back, and determine if the vehicle has been in any accidents. To avoid any significant out-of-pocket expenses in the near future, have the car inspected.  Since safety features are constantly evolving, make sure it meets today’s and your safety standards.

Repeat this process for all the vehicles you are considering.  Keep a clear head while at the dealership because it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and the new car smell!  A vehicle is usually someone’s second largest investment, so you’ll want to make a good, sound decision.

If you are in the market for a new or used vehicle, check out our inventory: http://tischerauto.com/

Essential Items Every Car Should Have

essentialitemsAre you well prepared for an emergency on the road?   If not, don’t be left vulnerable without the essential items you may need to get yourself and/or your vehicle back on track. Here is a list of the top items every car should have.

  1. Never travel without your insurance and registration cards. Your insurance and registration cards should be in your car at all times. Keep them tucked away in your glove box and always remember to switch them out when the new cards arrive in the mail.
  1. Speaking of your glove box–your owner’s manual should be there. The owner’s manual is a good resource for all things involving your automobile and could really come in handy in the event of a problem with your vehicle, such as a flat tire or breakdown.
  1. A first aid kit is another essential item to have in your car. The Red Cross (redcross.org) recommends the following items in a first aid kit:  antiseptic wipes, ointment, bandages in assorted sizes, compression dressings and gauze pads, adhesive cloth tape, aspirin, a breathing barrier, instant cold compress, non-latex gloves and roller bandages. A well-stocked first aid kit is vital for treating and/or stabilizing injuries, whether minor or major.
  1. A cell phone and cell phone charger will allow you to contact help if needed. When setting out on a trip, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and that you have a charger in your car to recharge if needed.
  1. Store triangle reflectors and/or flares in the trunk to make both you and your car visible and caution other drivers to keep a safe distance.
  1. It is always a good idea to keep a couple of spare parts/items in your car for minor fixes; for example, extra headlight/backlight bulbs, fuses, wiper fluid, quart of oil, and coolant. Although you should check your fluids on a regular basis, it is easy to keep these things in your trunk in case of an emergency.  However, if you are stuck without a replacement fuse, you also have the option of taking one out of something you don’t need right now, like the radio, in order to fix something you do need.   Other essential items for minor fixes are duct tape, a small tool set including locking pliers and a 4-in-1 screwdriver and a flashlight or lantern. The flashlight/lantern will be quite helpful if you are in the dark, and the other items mentioned may enable you to complete a temporary fix to get you stabilized enough to make it to a service station.  An empty gas can is also another great item to have in your car whether you’re traveling near or far.
  1. Chances are that at some time in your life, you will end up on the side of the road because of a tire issue. Having a tire gauge in your car can help you to keep your tires at optimum inflation and/or enable you to detect a slow leak, which may prevent a flat tire. In the event of a flat tire, you should have a can of “Fix-a-Flat” and all the tools and materials needed to change a tire–including a spare tire, jack and tools.  Having a “tire drill” at home with a cool head is always good practice and preparation for the somewhat common occurrence of changing a flat tire. Having the supplies at hand will not be helpful if you don’t have the knowledge on how to do it—so this is where your owner’s manual (mentioned in #2 above) will be invaluable to you as it provides step-by-step instructions on how to change a tire.
  1. Make sure your car will always start! Jumper cables or a jump starter with compressor is necessary in every car!  Don’t just assume anyone who stops to help will have jumper cables.   But remember, jumper cables will come in handy only if there is another automobile around to jump-start your car. If you are in an area with little to no traffic, a jump starter with compressor can jump-start your car with no assistance from another vehicle needed.  Based on where you live or your daily traveling route, you may want to invest in the jump-start compressor.   Whichever you choose, make sure that you know the proper use of the equipment.  One suggestion is to print proper instructions and keep them with the jumper cables/starter.
  1. These items may not be deemed as essential as those listed above, but you will be glad you have them after working on a car – waterless hand cleaner and some kind of rags like fabric rags, napkins, paper towels or Kleenex.
  1. Lastly, if you are traveling in colder environments, you will want to have a blanket, windshield scraper, small shovel, bag of kitty litter or sand and a carpet remnant. A blanket will keep you warm if you’re stuck in the car for a longer period of time, a bag of kitty litter or sand can help if you’re stuck on ice and a carpet remnant can be of assistance getting out of snow, ice or mud. In addition, keep some non-perishable food (granola bars, hard candy, pretzels, etc.) and bottled water on hand in case you are stranded for a longer period of time.

The list may sound long, but surprisingly most of these items will fit in a small container you can keep in your trunk. If you find yourself stuck on the side of the road for any reason or for any length of time, you will be glad you have them. If there are items that you think are important that we didn’t mention, please share with us under comments.  We wish you safe and healthy traveling!

Buy or Lease – a Quick Look

buyvsleaseNot sure whether to buy or lease your next vehicle?  You’re not alone!  This is a decision that should be revisited periodically, because as the size of your family and/or lifestyle changes, the considerations and analysis must be tailored to meet your needs at a particular time in your life.

Although there is an overwhelming amount of information, research, and advice out there, you and your family are those who will have to live with the decision you’ve made for at least two years and possibly many, many more years!  So in an attempt to save you some valuable time, we’ve compiled the basic pros/cons for leasing vs. buying based on lifestyle situations.

Leasing

Pro: Both your down payment and your monthly lease payment can be much lower than if you’re buying the vehicle.  Since the monthly lease payment is only taking into account the depreciation of the car and not the full price of the car, the payments are usually much lower.

Pro: If your car is in good condition when you turn it in at the end of the lease (usually two to four years later), you would just turn the car in with nothing due, pick out a new car, sign a new lease agreement and leave the dealership without having to haggle a trade-in value, sell the vehicle or even have to think about it again.

Pro: When you lease every 2-4 years, you are driving a car with the latest and newest safety features and other technology.

Con: If your car is not in good condition (dings, scratches, dents, etc.) and/or has higher-than-agreed-upon mileage, you will need to pay for the damage that’s considered “over and above normal wear-and-tear,” as well as excessive mileage at a rate of as much as $0.15 per mile over the agreed limit.  These seemingly small costs can and do really add up, and all must be paid for before you can walk away from that car and lease or buy a new one!

Con: Discuss any issues with your auto insurance agent before deciding to lease.  Your insurance may only reimburse the market value of the car if you are in an accident which totals the car or if the car is stolen.  This market value may be lower than what you still owe on the lease, but you would still be responsible to pay the lease off.  There is, however, an extra coverage you could purchase to cover that “gap.”  In addition, most leases require the lessee to carry maximum collision coverage for the term of the lease.

Con: Once your lease is up (usually two to four years), you have to decide whether you will keep this vehicle and finance the rest of the cost, or turn it back in and start the process again of deciding whether to lease or buy.  If you decide at this time that buying is what you wish to do, you have no trade-in value, or equity, to use to bring the cost of the car you are purchasing down.

Con: If by chance you find that you must get out of the lease before the term is up, you will probably pay a huge penalty.

Purchasing/Financing

Pro: Assuming that you take good care of your vehicle, there will be residual value to it after you’ve paid it off.  You can use this residual value to trade-in and bring the price of your next car down.

Pro: Once you have paid off your vehicle, it belongs to you free-and-clear!  Therefore, if you decide that buying or leasing another vehicle is not in your budget at this time, you can just keep your vehicle and continue to keep it maintained for as long as you like.

Pro: If you find that your lifestyle/budget has changed since you started the financing of your vehicle, you have some flexibility to trade the vehicle in and buy something less expensive.  Of course, your best bet for this is to return to the dealer where you purchased the car because they will know you and the car’s history better and be able to give you a better deal that will fit your new lifestyle/budget.

Pro: Once the car is paid off, the owner has the option to drop or decrease the more expensive collision coverage on his/her insurance policy.

Con: It would not be financially feasible for you to trade a vehicle in every two or even four years if you are financing (purchasing) a car.  There would be a payoff due on the car and unless you have the cash on hand to pay this, it would end up being tacked on to your financial agreement for the new vehicle, which makes your monthly payment higher and possibly your term longer.

Con: Because you are paying a portion of the cost of the car each month, plus interest, your monthly payment is likely to be much more than a lease payment would be.

Con: Driving the same car for a longer period of time deprives you of the benefits of newer technology, including the latest safety equipment/methods.

So now that you know some pros and cons for each option available when you get a new vehicle, what are some of the considerations you need to explore before you make this potentially large financial decision?

MarketWatch.com offers a free lease vs. buy calculator on its website, so be sure to check it out! (www.marketwatch.com)  They also offer a list of questions to ask yourself to help you to make the right decision for  you and your lifestyle/family.

Briefly, they are:

  1. Cash flow. Leasing is your best bet if you have pressing current cash needs.
  2. Frequency. Leasing is the way to go if you want a new vehicle every two-four years.
  3. Mileage. If you typically put more than 12,000 miles per year on your current vehicle, buying is the better option for you.  Most leases only allow between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year and if you exceed that, you’ll pay a great deal of money for overage.
  4. Business use. If you are able to deduct some of your car’s depreciation on your taxes because you use it for business, leasing is the way to save you money in the long run (provided it’s not considered a “luxury car”).
  5. Resale value. If you use your car to haul things, and/or carpool with kids and their equipment, etc., you will probably incur some damage to the vehicle, both inside and out.  If this is the case, you will pay a premium for that damage when you turn in the leased vehicle.  So buying the vehicle would be a better deal for you.  Conversely, if you are meticulous about caring for the look and running of your vehicle, leasing it will definitely save you money.
  6. Stability. If you see changing lifestyles, new jobs, moving and the like during the next 3-4 years, leasing is not the option for you because you may have to terminate the lease early and that is a costly move.
  7. Trust. When you buy, the financing company or bank gives you the money up front and you get your vehicle.  With a lease, you’re entering into a relationship with a company that doesn’t necessarily have your best interests in mind.  If you do decide to lease, it is best to lease from the dealership, especially if you have a long-standing relationship of leases or purchases with them.  They want your repeat business and will be more likely to provide “gap coverage” in the lease and a purchase option at a fixed price.

We hope that we’ve provided you with “food for thought” about the concepts of leasing vs. buying vehicles. However, if you would like more a more detailed analysis of leasing vs. buying, be sure to contact our sales manager or drop in and speak with us about this!  Click here to see our current inventory.  www.tischerauto.com We look forward to helping you find the perfect vehicle for you!

Sources:  Marketwatch.com, consumerreports.com, edmunds.com

 

Congratulations! You’ve traveled 100,000 miles in your car – what’s next?

100kodometer

It seems like you bought your car just a few weeks ago, but you just watched the odometer go from 99,999 to 100,000.  Pretty exciting, huh?  I just experienced this about a week ago on my approximately 8-year-old car.  The “turning of the odometer” got me to thinking about where I go from here:  This car has been great, so how much longer should I hold onto it?  Should I trade it in now and get a new/used vehicle?  And many more questions!

This type of decision actually involves deep contemplation for a number of reasons, including financial and emotional.  I know you’re probably thinking, “Emotional?!  About a car?!”  However, many people have emotional attachments to their cars.  For example, suppose it was your first car?  Perhaps you moved away to college with this car?  Or you went on your first date with your spouse in this car?  Or you brought your newborn children home in this car?  Or this was the first car you had that took you 100,000 miles?  You get the message…

For some reason, many people (baby boomers in particular) feel that when a car’s odometer hits 100,000 that the car doesn’t have much promise to last any longer.  Experts say that today, this is not true in most cases.  They say that the more important question is:  How old is the car?  So to many people, the prognosis for a car with 100,000 miles on it is much better if those miles are put on at an average of 10,000-12,000 miles per year rather than over a period of 15-20 years.  Therefore, the age of the car has just as much to do with its future as the mileage on its odometer (jalopnik.com; Doug DeMuro comments to blog).

One thing that most experts agree on is if your car is well-maintained, the prognosis for the life of your car over 100,000 miles is very good with recent technology.   However, an older car posting fewer miles per year even though well-maintained, may not be dependable.  This is due to improvements in design and maintenance over the years that have lengthened the life of cars in general (www.nbcnews.com; Melissa Rayworth).  The good news is, you can postpone the decision to sell your aging car for a while by taking care of it and making it feel new(er) again!

We’d like to share some tips from the experts on keeping your car dependable and running great at 100,000 miles plus:

  • Open (and read!) the owner’s manual! Usually, there is a maintenance schedule for your vehicle to keep it running well at and over 100,000 miles.  (Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car)
  • Know the fluids your car needs! The liquids that keep your car running well are crucial to its survival:  gas, oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and others.  (Fix)
  • Have your car maintained at your dealership or a full-service auto center! Lauren Fix says that the staffs at quick-change lube shops usually don’t have the specialized training/experience needed to maintain your car and may use lower-cost products that cause damage to the car in the long run.  The service department at a dealer (http://tischerauto.com/Service.aspx) or a full-service auto center has the training/experience to use the proper fluids.
  • Be conscious of the TYPES of miles you put on the car! This is quite important as highway miles put less stress on a car than driving around locally.  So at least once a year, take your car on a nice, long drive (check out our blogs on road trips from Laurel)[kris – insert links here] to de-stress your car under the hood – you will probably end up de-stressing yourself too!

Since your car is likely to be your second largest financial investment, if you want to make it last, maintenance and overall care is key.  However, should you decide that you would like to retire your older vehicle and buy a new or used vehicle, Tischer Auto can help you find exactly what you need.  Just [click here] to go to our website and check out what we have to offer.  In addition, we’d be glad to meet with you in person and match you up with the perfect vehicle for you from our extensive new and used car inventories.

If you have any questions or comments or if you know of other helpful tips on maintaining cars with higher mileage and making them last, please leave us a note in the comments below.  We value your feedback and we look forward to seeing you at Tischer Auto!

Car Seats and other Restraints for Children – Saving Lives Every Day

carseat

You choose a name, paint and decorate the nursery, and pick out that perfect outfit in which to bring your new baby home!  But are you ready to protect your baby and keep him/her safe?  Did you know that car seats are mandatory in all 50 states?   Also, the risk of fatality for your infant in an auto accident is decreased by 71% by using the proper car seat restraint, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  While we don’t like to think about auto accidents, it’s a fact that car accidents are the leading cause of death for children.  Further, of all car accident deaths of children up to age four, 80% of the fatalities were due to non-restraint or improper restraint of the children (NHTSA).  Just those facts alone should encourage everyone to keep children properly restrained during travel.

Although the exact laws differ state to state, all states have laws requiring children to be in a child safety seat or booster seat until a certain age and/or weight is reached. There are many different car seats available on the market, and all new seats must meet government safety standards. You may want to consider this before you borrow a used seat depending on how old it is.  It is illegal in some states to sell a used car seat – and that’s for good reason.  So we are going to explore different types of NEW car seats available at this time.

Infant seats
Infant seats are rear-facing car seats that are used for babies up to 22 lbs, although some can be used for weights greater than that. In all states, babies up to one year of age and weighing up to 20 lbs are required to be in a rear-facing seat.  In addition, it is recommended that as children grow, they remain rear-facing until they are 2 or outgrow the seat, as this is the safest position. Many of the infant seats on the market have a base that is installed in the car and the infant car seat also acts as a carrier, thus making it easier to transport your baby. Even better, there are strollers on which you can secure the carrier, creating effortless mobility for you and your baby.

Convertible car seats
Convertible car seats can be used from birth up to 70 lbs or more, depending on manufacturer. This type of car seat is used in a rear-facing position for up to 2 years, and then can be used facing forward. Convertible car seats allow your infant/toddler to remain rear-facing as long as possible, which is the safest travel position, for a longer period of time than an infant seat.   Some may shy away from using this type of seat from birth because newborns seem so small for this seat, but the shoulder harness straps can be adjusted, but tend to remain on the higher side.

Booster seats
Booster seats are for children of at least 4 years of age and weighing 40 lbs or more. Standard car seatbelts are designed for adults; however, booster seats are used with the car’s seatbelt and raise the child’s height so that the seatbelt is positioned safely across the child, reducing the risk of internal injuries in the event of an accident. There are two types of booster seats:  those with high backs and those that are backless. High-back boosters provide head and neck protection and support, while backless booster seats do not. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends children shorter than 4’ 9”, regardless of age and weight, remain in a booster seat.

Before choosing a car seat, decide which seat will be safest for your child based on age, weight and height.  There are many options on the market today that also work best with your lifestyle. Make sure that the seat meets all safety standards if it is not a new purchase.  And most important of all, make sure the seat is installed correctly. The best car seat won’t protect your child if it is not installed correctly. If you have any helpful tips or recommendations, please leave them in the comments section below.

 

 

 

 

Vehicle Warranties – A Very Important Part of Your Buying Decision!

car-warrantiesManufacturer’s warranties provided with the purchase of a new or used car should be a crucial facet of your decision to purchase a car.  Initial warranties can also be a selling point that buyers must consider when looking for a new car.  However, the question always comes up when you’ve made the decision to purchase a car.  “Are you interested in purchasing an extended warranty on your new car?”  Whether you are buying a new or used car, you are faced with the decision to purchase an extended warranty.  Since extended warranties can be costly, this is almost as important as the decision you’re making to purchase a new car.  And by “new car,” I mean that whether brand new or used, this is a new car to you!

Car warranties, in their basic form, are insurance policies on the future functioning of your new car.  As such, they provide great benefit and comfort to the buyer.  An extended warranty provides the car owner with the assurance that they won’t have high out-of-pocket expenses for replacement of major parts and labor when their new car has finished the manufacturer’s warranty or for something not covered in that initial warranty.  Speaking of the initial manufacturer’s warranty on your vehicle, have you ever wondered what’s not covered under the initial warranty?   Parts/labor not covered in some standard manufacturer’s warranties include:

1. Standard Maintenance and Wear
Maintenance and wear items are parts that are replaced and/or maintained on a regular basis due to normal wear-and-tear. These are considered common expenses over the course of owning an automobile. A few examples are batteries, brake pads, rotors and drums, belts and hoses, filters, wipers, fluids, spark plugs and wires. Changing your oil, replacing your brake pads and putting on a clean filter will extend the life of your vehicle, but these are usually not covered on your initial warranty because they are considered part of the owner’s responsibility.

2. Tires
Tires are items that are not covered under a standard manufacturer’s warranty, because tire wear is considered a normal occurrence and not a defect. However, a tire’s tread is expected to last a certain number of miles and so are typically covered under a separate warranty through the tire manufacturer when a new car is purchased.  Be sure to keep copies of the warranty information you receive when you take delivery of your car.

3. Interiors and Paint
Technically, these items fall under wear-and-tear as they don’t normally break, but deteriorate over time and use. Examples of some of these items are paint, glass, upholstery, fabric and carpets. These items can scratch, chip, crack, rip and/or fade, but since this is considered normal wear-and-tear, are usually not covered.  Regular cleaning, polishing and/or conditioning can extend the longevity of these items.

4. Aftermarket Items and Modifications
Aftermarket items, items installed after the automobile has left the factory, are not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. This includes modifications to the body, chassis and/or components. In addition, damage caused by modifications and/or the installation of aftermarket items to a part normally covered under the warranty will not be covered. So, consider this before you decide to alter your vehicle. However, if you have items installed at a dealer of the manufacturer, usually the installation and parts are warrantied for specific periods of time.

5. Damage and Tampering
A manufacturer’s warranty will not cover damages that are the result of an accident/collision, theft, vandalism, misuse of a vehicle, improper maintenance and/or weather.  Did you know that it is illegal to tamper with your car odometer?  Not only can this activity land you in some legal trouble, most manufacturers will void the warranty if the odometer of the covered vehicle has been tampered with or disconnected.

All-in-all, warranties are a must-have. When shopping for a new car, consider the initial manufacturer’s warranty and the purchase of an extended warranty a part of your investment in your new vehicle.

Have you had an experience that made you glad for your initial warranty and/or that you purchased an extended warranty?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.  As always, your feedback is important to us!