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Monthly Archives: March 2019

How to Find Factory Reccomended Maintenance Schedules When Your Owner’s Manual is Missing

If you’ve been in the market for a used car or currently own one, you know that sometimes what you get isn’t complete. Floormats may be missing, the tire jack may have been taken out and never put back in… any sometimes, even the owner’s manual is missing. “Oh, no!” You may think, “What do I do if I have a question about my car?” Fortunately in the digital age, knowing your car, it’s maintenance schedule, and reading up on the vehicle is a breeze. Here’s a few things you can do if your vehicle’s owner’s manual is missing:

Call a Dealer’s Parts Department (or have your local shop of choice do it for you.)

 

Dealers always have parts. If they don’t, there’s a factory warehouse in the region that does. While dealers have always been notorious for seeing parts to consumers at a high price because they’re “OEM” (we have an article about that too… head over to minthilltimes.com if you’re wondering about parts from dealers vs. commercial and aftermarket parts!) dealers do have one really unique trick up their sleeves – uniqueness. While auto parts stores around the country carry millions of different kinds of parts, dealers have the luxury of selling the really, really obscure. Literature is one of those things – dealers almost always have extra copies of old manuals for situations just like this. Be warned, you may have to shell out more than you want for a book, but know it is an option!

 

Check for PDFs.

 

Many manufacturers are realizing just how common it is to Google a problem as compared to digging through your manual. Because of this, you can find many owner’s manuals online in PDF form! Be warned, it may not be a good idea to print it unless you can afford a few cases of printer ink – manuals can easily have 500 to 1,000 pages!

 

There’s a Forum for That!

 

One of the cool things about owning a car in the era of internet is that millions of others just like you have that same vehicle and have questions about it too. Believe me, there are people who are enthusiasts about your year, make and model. Drive a cool sports car? There’s a forum for that. Drive something odd like a 1997 Geo Prizm? There’s someone out there with the same car and they’re obsessed with it and they have internet access just like you. It’s a great place to find people who have similar questions or to ask your own about your car. There are forums for almost any year, make and model, but some of the more popular forums include VWVortex.com, ford-trucks.com, and my personal favorite, challengertalk.com (which would have been nice when I was making rounds on South Florida dragstips in my old ‘72 Challenger!)

 

Who’s Selling?

Still want a physical manual but don’t want to pay dealer price? The internet id your friend once again. eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and other selling sites have manuals pop up for sale all the time. Feel free to dig through the sites and see what you can find!

Have any questions about today’s article or other automotive concerns? Feel free to call us at Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, send us a message on Facebook, or swing by the office at 8329-B Fairview Road, Mint Hill, NC 28227 Monday-Friday, 8AM-6PM

Why the Vehicle Market is Moving Away From Cars

On April 25, 2018, Ford shook the US Market from halfway across the globe as they announced plans to stop selling cars in the United States, save for their Mustang and a new Focus, at the China Auto Show.  Later that year, they decided not to sell the Focus either, due to low expected sales and the new tariffs passed that year.  In the course of a few months, Ford went from the company that made cars easy to make and cheap to buy to a company that only made one car. Trucks, SUV’s and the like are their future now.

 

General Motors followed suit later that year, axing off many of its sedans from Cadillac, Buick, and Chevrolet – including Chevrolet’s famous Impala sedan.

 

As for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles? They were one of the few automakers that reported an increase in sales for September of 2019, even overtaking Ford – but not entirely with their cars. It was their Jeep and Ram Truck brands that had the most important increases, as well as a nice boost for Dodge.

 

Ford – the first company to axe all its sedans – said that Americans simply don’t want cars anymore. With gas being relatively cheap compared to the 2008 Gas Crisis, Americans have bought more and more SUVs and crossovers, and have moved away from the traditional four door. Ford specifically stated Baby Boomers and Millennials as the buyers no longer looking at traditional cars.

 

Ford isn’t entirely wrong. Their sedans aren’t selling – but the car market is far from dead. According to the LA Times, only American sedans aren’t doing well. Toyota and Honda sold 700,000 sedans each, or about 350,000 per model. Ford, on the other hand, only sold about 120,000 of it’s Focus, a well-received car by most reviews.

 

So what happened? Most likely, stigma happened. Since the OPEC crisis of the 1970s and the flood of Japanese sedans hitting the market, most automotive magazines, automotive technicians, and carbuyers have preferred Japanese builds – so much so that Honda, Toyota, Mazda and others have opened multiple factories in the US to keep up with demand.

 

To recap, sedans are dying – but only the ones from Detroit, for the time being. So what does that mean for you, the American carbuyer looking for a new sedan? More than you may think.

 

Of the Big Three, only Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles will have any real foothold in the sedan market. Their Dodge Charger is still a hot seller to police departments, fast car fans and soccer moms alike, and Chrysler still boasts the popular 300 sedan. Their parent company Fiat specialises in small cars, and Fiat-Chrysler has begun to import some of their Alfa Romeo vehicles to the United States, including sedans.

 

Otherwise, its Asia that will have almost total control of the sedan market in the United States. Toyota doubled down on sedans after Ford’s announcements that they were axing them, stating that even a shrunken market would still mean about 5 million people would want sedans.

 

Honda has also strengthened their sedan lineup in recent years – they began building the famous engine put in their Type R Civics – an incredibly popular sports version of the sedan – in Ohio, shortly after started selling Type R Civics in the United States for the first time ever not long after. The Accord, their full size sedan, recently received a facelift and is projected to be a hot seller for years to come.

 

Hyundai has been doing so well with their Genesis sedan that they spun it off into its own company. Genesis is now Hyundai’s luxury brand designed to compete with other Asian luxury brands like Toyota’s Lexus and Honda’s Acura. Hyundai’s other subsidiary, Kia, is built on the premise of affordable sedans and has had success selling in America.

 

Europe isn’t totally out of the conversation though, BMW is still a strong seller in the United States and Mercedes-Benz has always sold well to the American luxury carbuyer.

 

So what does this mean for you, the consumer? It means that your choices of “American Made” sedans are going to start dancing on a gray area. FCA is now technically the only American company still dedicated to full-time sedan making as Chevrolet begins it’s exit and Ford pulls out almost completely. However, in an attempt to win over the patriotic crowd, companies like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai have all built plants in the United States. Toyota builds all it’s sedans in Kentucky, Honda builds mostly in Ohio and Alabama, and Hyundai builds almost exclusively in Alabama. Even European company BMW has realized the opportunity and builds almost all of their American-sold vehicles in South Carolina.

 

To put it simply, if you have loyalties to Ford or General Motors and you want a sedan, buy now. Classics like the Chevy Impala and Ford Taurus are soon to be dust, and it may not be long before the rest of the automakers follow.

Have any questions? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or check us out on the web at manchesterautoandtire.com.

Tips for Parents of First Time Drivers

Today’s teenagers live in a new and fascinating world. Never before have people been so connected, never before have kids had as many opportunities as they do with all the new industries and fields being taught in schools. Despite all this, though, there’s one constant that never changes from generation to generation – that feeling of freedom that comes with a first car. As a parent, however, there probably isn’t anything scarier. If you’re a parent of a first time driver or soon-to-be driver, here’s some tips about cars and driving for your youngest motorist.

 

  1. Sedans are safe

 

You’ve probably heard at some point that SUVs, especially big body-on-frame truck based SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner or Chevrolet Tahoe are the safest vehicles you can buy. That is a myth. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, is the company that tests vehicles and provides them with the crash-test safety ratings that all manufacturers love to brag about in their commercials. What they don’t mention, however, is that trucks and truck based vehicles aren’t held to as high of a standard as cars. In other words, a five-star rating for a Ford F-150 or a Ford Expedition isn’t necessarily as safe as a five-star rating for a car like a Ford Focus.

 

This doesn’t mean SUVs aren’t safe. In fact, many SUVs are considered to be innovators in safety, but for now know that sedans are probably your best bet.

 

  1. Reliability over Flashy

 

Sure, everybody wants something cool as their first car, but let’s not forget that most first cars usually get dings and fender-benders due to learning drivers. Consider something safe and established as reliable. The compact but sporty Honda Civic, the latest generation Ford Focus, and the well selling Toyota Camry are all highly touted as reliable, cheap to own, and safe.

 

  1. Know the Laws on Teen Licensing

 

In North Carolina, there are three tiers of driver licences: Limited Provisional, Full Provisional, and Driver License. Adults over 18 have Driver Licences, which provide all the luxuries of having a license, but teens have either a Limited or Full Provisional. Limited Provisional licenses only allow teens to drive between 5AM-9PM unless they’re directly leaving/going to school or work. Full Provisional licenses allow driving after 9PM, but like the Limited Provisional, they don’t allow phone use of any kind in the vehicle. While it is legal for adults to make phone calls in a car, it is not for teens with Limited or Full Provisionals. Texting and driving, however, is illegal for everyone. For the full list of rules, visit NCDOT.gov.

 

  1. Consider Full Coverage

 

Insuring teens is expensive. Youth/inexperience is the biggest factor in price, but things like age of the car, engine size and even gender can affect cost (males tend to have higher insurance rates.) Despite all this, teens don’t always have accidents with others, sometimes accidents happen with inanimate objects like trees. Liability coverage won’t get that repaired. If getting replacement vehicles for teens isn’t an option, consider full coverage so in the event of an accident, their vehicle can be repaired.

 

  1. Help them get experience

 

Driving in heavy rain, snow, fog and the like is no fun, but it is a reality we all face from time to time. Help your teen out by going with them and showing them how to drive in these situations. Eventually, they will experience a situation where they have to drive in these conditions, so be proactive and make sure they know what to do.

 

  1. Instill good maintenance habits

 

Teens who never drive don’t know the first thing about maintaining cars. Show them! Stress the importance of all the things you likely value, such as regular oil changes, getting state inspections done on time, and the like.

 

Have any other questions about teen driving? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, visit our website at manchesterautoandtire.com, or email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com

4 sites for avoiding Fake News on Cars

Advertising is possibly the number one way we learn about new vehicles. After all, every dealer seems to advertise about the latest models in the lot during the 5:00 news. But how reliable is this advertising.

 

Recently, Chevrolet put out another one of its “Real People, Not Actors” ads in which they reveal to Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Toyota owners that they, Chevrolet, had been named the most reliable car company in a survey.

 

While all this seems great, what Chevy does not mention in the ad (or put in very, very small words at the bottom) is that:

 

  1. The model year the survey was done for (2015) isn’t the model year shown in the ads.
  2. The survey isn’t from one of the major independent groups, but from Ipsos, a market research company.
  3. Chevrolet sponsored the survey and was selective in who was surveyed.
  4. The amount of respondents to the survey was even smaller.
  5. They used some mental and verbal gymnastics to make the data show in their favor. (you can read more about this on Jalopnik.com)

 

In other words, Chevrolet isn’t lying in their ad, but they went above and beyond to find data that played in their favor.

 

This advertisement was so controversial that Ford, Toyota and Honda all challenged it. One company even threatened legal action. Chevrolet quickly agreed to pull it from their official YouTube channel stating their marketing plan was going to start focusing on one of their pickups instead.

 

So what does this mean for you, the consumer? It means that half-truths, questionable advertising tactics and ultimately misleading ideas are all being pushed to influence your decisions when car-buying.

 

To help you avoid false claims, we’re sharing some of the best sources to get unbiased news and reviews on vehicles.

 

  1. Consumer Reports

 

CR Should be your #1 source for data on cars, and possibly everything else you’re planning on buying. CR is so determined to be reliable and fair, they won’t let people advertise in their magazine, and they won’t let manufacturers advertise that they did well with CR. They want all data to be true, faithful and accurate reports from the consumer. It’s real people giving them their data and it’s worth trusting.

 

  1. Kelly Blue Book

 

Kelly Blue Book is a guidebook primarily built around valuing cars. When buying cars new or used, checking the bluebook value is a great way of telling what is a fair price for vehicles in your area. KBB also does reviews and gives out awards based on what vehicles they find most reliable and most valuable.

 

  1. Motor Trend

 

Motor Trend is a company that started as a magazine, but has since expanded into a website, streaming service, and even a TV channel called Motor Trend (formerly called Velocity.) They also own many other automotive magazines such as the famous Hot Rod Magazine. Motor Trend, like many automotive mags, gives out awards to vehicles it thinks highly of, and their reviews tend to be honest and worth reading. They currently list the Motor Trend Car of the Year as the Genesis G70, the Jeep Wrangler as the SUV of the Year and the Ram 1500 as the Truck of the Year.

 

  1. IIHS

 

The Insurance Institute for Highway safety is a nonprofit organization funded by the many insurance companies in the United States. They really only focus on safety, but they film every test they attempt and share these with the public online. No data manipulation there, if they deem a car safe, it’s safe, and you get to watch them crash a version of that car to prove it!

 

Ultimately, finding out which new car is the best isn’t easy. That being said, it can be easy to avoid the silver-tongued advertising when you know where to look. No matter what your favorite brand of car or truck is, make sure you do your research before buying to avoid being mislead.

 

Got any questions about cars in the news? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597 or email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com.