If you’re curious about what kind of battery you need, look no further! Today we’re talking all about batteries.
The battery you see in cars is called a “starting” battery. It is called so because it’s designed simply to start the car, it provides quick jolts of energy as compared to long, sustained amounts of power.
We measure a battery’s “strength” in cold cranking amps, or CCAs. Cold cranking amps are simply how many amps of power a battery can deliver at 0 degrees for 30 seconds while also not dropping below 7.2 volts. If you aren’t familiar with these terms, simply remember that a higher CCA simply means a stronger battery in tough conditions.
Everyone in the auto repair industry has an opinion on what batteries they like and don’t like, but what brand of battery you pick is ultimately irrelevant so long as the CCAs are correct and you properly maintain it.
Here in the Carolinas, the battery strength that was recommended by your manufacturer is fine. You can find this in your owners manual, or you can find out online. We don’t have particularly harsh winters and we rarely go below 20 degrees in the coldest months, so something super strong isn’t needed. Now, if you have family in snowy climates and you visit them often, it’s absolutely a good idea to get a super strong battery, but if you aren’t planning on seeing a Minnesota winter any time soon, you’ll be fine.
MINT HILL, NC – First and perhaps most obviously, keep your car as warm as you can. In comparison to many northern states our winters are pretty mild, so you don’t need to dump money into things like block heaters, but keeping the car garaged if possible is a great start. even garages without HVAC are still warmer than the outside and your car is protected from frost, wind, and rain that could freeze overnight. If this isn’t possible, a nice car cover can also help keep some of those elements away from the car, at least.
Secondly, turn off your accessories before you start the car. I know this is the last thing you want to hear when it’s 28 degrees outside and you really want that heater, but when it’s cold you put a lot of strain on your battery and it’s best to let it focus on getting the car started before doing anything else. Speaking of…
Let the engine run for a few minutes. Solid advice any time of year but especially prevalent when cold, let things get warm and lubricated before you drive away. The overwhelming majority of engine damage happens on startup. Minimize this damage by letting it sit and warm up.
Lastly, make sure your fluids are winter-ready. Make sure you’re using the correct weight oil and that you’re using a coolant and not water. Water expands when it freezes, and it has a high freezing point at 32 degrees. Fluids freezing can and will damage your cooling system!
MINT HILL, NC – So, a few weeks back we talked about prepping a car that will sit over winter. Of course, the natural follow-up question to that is “but what about the one that won’t?” Great question! Those cars need some love too, let’s talk about it.
Get some de-icer windshield washer fluid and an ice-scraper. Now, this may seem a bit much as snow in the Carolina piedmont is more of a once-or-twice-a-season occurrence than anything else, but boy do we get our fair share of ice here. Rained in the evening and it got cold overnight? Frozen windshield. Nice January morning when the dew is fresh? Frozen windshield. Haven’t cleaned the glass in a while? Guess what? Frozen windshield. Don’t be that person trying to drive with nothing but a small hole poked in the ice. Clear your glass!
Coolant is the other thing you should look into flushing when it gets colder, should you need to. To give you the short story, coolant only lasts so long before it starts to degrade, and extreme hot and extremely cold temps are bad times to have poor quality coolant. Check the fluid and flush if needed.
Also, even if you don’t want to get a whole bunch of fancy fluids… don’t run water in a radiator or washer fluid reservoir when it’s cold. Water freezes at 32 degrees and expands when it does, cracking things. Coolant and most washer fluids don’t freeze until it gets much colder.
MINT HILL, NC – Many folks park certain cars during the wintertime. Maybe it’s a fun little sports car that isn’t so fun when it’s 20 degrees out, maybe it’s a family camper, maybe it’s a pickup that tows the boat to the lake, or maybe it’s simply a car you just don’t like driving when it’s cold out. No matter the reason, it’s important that it be given a little TLC before and during its hibernation.
First and foremost, start it every now and again, even if you won’t be driving it. A car that sits is a car that decays. Things crack, gas starts to go bad (we’ll talk more about that in a minute) and batteries drain. Let it run for 20 minutes or so at least once a week can help prevent a lot of this.
It’s also important to move it a bit too. When cars sit, tires can flat-spot and crack. Also, if you park outside, a car that is stationary is an open door for animals to make a home. If you park outside, change wherein the driveway the car sits every now and again.
Now, about that gas… gas that sits reacts with oxygen in the tank, and oxygen causes fuel to degrade. There are additives out there to try and combat this, such as Sta-bil, but that can get expensive, and again, you can easily combat this by just starting the car every now and again.
The newest toy of the automotive world is the continuously variable transmission, or CVT. A CVT is an automatic transmission that, instead of having a fixed number of gears, uses two pulleys, usually cone-shaped, that can adjust their own width. One pulley is attached to the engine, and the other sends that power to the driving wheels. By using adjustable pulleys instead of gears, the transmission never has to shift, and by doing so the vehicle doesn’t lose power and time, like vehicles that have to shift do.
CVTs have been a bit controversial since they began making appearances on the highways this decade. Since the technology is still fairly new for streetcars, reliability isn’t yet a guarantee. For others, the feeling of a vehicle that doesn’t shift feels uncomfortable and confusing. RPM’s can get very high with a CVT don’t usually drop until you’ve leveled out your speed.
Despite all this, it is very likely your next vehicle will feature a CVT. According to Car and Driver, only about 40 different kinds of new cars sold this year have manual transmission options. With the manual all but dead, automakers are constantly searching for how to make their automatic transmissions more efficient and productive, and for now, they think the CVT is the answer.
CVTs may be new to street-legal cars, but they aren’t new technology. Many bikes use these transmissions, especially Hondas and Vespas.
MINT HILL, NC – If you’re looking for a great way to raise the value of your car, get your service records together and keep them somewhere safe. The biggest unknown when buying a car is reliability. A car that has a complete service record removes a considerable majority of that unknown. Knowing what work has already been done, how much work has been needed, and most importantly if routine preventative maintenance has been done is a huge selling point.
If you haven’t been keeping detailed records up to this point, the first thing I’d recommend is to swing by your repair facility of choice. Almost all auto shops have been bookkeeping digitally for years. We have records for every single repair our shop has done since we switched to digital in 2003. We have the entire service history of many of our customer’s vehicles. We can reprint any of them too. If you want physical copies of your repair records, give your shop a shout. I’ll bet they have everything.
You can also check Carfax, but that usually costs money. Carfax gets their records from shops like ours. While it is convenient and all in one place, any record you get from them won’t contain any more or less data than what we already have, because it’s shops like ours that provided it to them. So check before you buy.
Questions? Give us a call at 704-545-4597, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check us out online at www.manchesterautoandtire.com
MINT HILL, NC – Knowing how to read tire sizes is a really handy tool to have in your arsenal of car knowledge. Today, we’re going to break down a tire size to see just what each section means.
Let’s use P205/60R17 as our example size.
“P” indicates this is a passenger tire. these go on most cars and SUVs. You may also see “LT” which means “light truck” tire. These go on most mid and full-sized pickups.
“205” is the width of the tire in millimeters, so our example tire is 205mm wide.
“60” is the sidewall height. The wall of rubber between where your tire meets your wheel and the tread is called the sidewall. 60, in this instance, is a percentage. This tire’s sidewall height is 60% as tall as the tire is wide. We established earlier that our tire is 205mm wide, so this means our sidewall is 123mm tall.
“R” stands for radial. There are two ways of applying the layers of structural fabrics, called plies, to the insides of your tires – radial and bias. The “R” is simply indicating that your tire is a radial. Almost all tires since the late ’70s have been radial.
“17” stands for 17 inches or the diameter of your wheel. Ultimately, a tire’s bead – the rubber piece used to seal the tire to the wheel – has to be exactly correct in order to fit your wheel. A 17″ wheel must use a 17″ tire. This number simply indicates how big of a wheel you can fit inside.
MINT HILL, NC – Something we get asked a lot by our customers looking to sell their old car is just where to list it. There’s a lot of options at your disposal, but the best place to start these days is Facebook Marketplace.
It’s one of the biggest tools at your disposal. It’s 100% free to list a car for sale on Facebook Marketplace. 800 million people use Marketplace every month, according to CNET. Anyone with a Facebook account already has access to Marketplace, they do not need to download a new app or create a new account. It’s already on their phones. Why would you not want to sell there?
More traditional internet platforms, like Craigslist, for example, are suffering. They now charge to list a car for sale and the amount of cars listed is down considerably. This has a lot to do with the fact that they waited until the mid to late 2010s to finally offer a mobile app in a world that is progressively doing more shopping on phones than desktops or brick-and-mortar stores. People wanted easier alternatives, and there was Facebook, ready to pounce.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Facebook has to be your ride-or-die. Other sites, like Cars.com, the Kelley Blue Book website and the famous Bring a Trailer site are all fine places to sell. There’s also nothing wrong with slapping a “for sale” sign on your vehicle and sticking it in your front yard, either, but remember that you’ll likely have more luck on Facebook Marketplace.
One question we’re always asked at the office goes along the lines of “what can I keep in the car to make life a little easier?” Here are three relatively cost-effective things worth keeping in your car or garage
Terminal Cleaners & Battery Cleaner Spray – Batteries are very finicky pieces of equipment. Often times, if a battery isn’t showing any signs of life, it may just be because the terminals are just too dirty. Terminal cleaners are usually just wire brushes shaped in tube form, and battery cleaner spray neutralizes exposed acid as well as removes corrosion. A can of battery cleaner is about $4 and a terminal cleaner can be as cheap as $3.
First Aid Kit – Now, for those of you with a luxury car, you likely already have a first aid kit in your car that came from the factory. For everyone else, it’s a great investment. $20 or less gets you a nice, compact kit that will fix most minor bumps and bruises, which is great for road trips or just the occasional cut.
Tire Pressure Gauge – No more guessing why that TPMS light is on. A tire pressure gauge tells you how much air is in your tires, in PSI, so you can tell if the light is on because the tire is low, or if there’s something else going on. These are great, plus they can be under $1 if on sale.
Non-perishable snacks – as silly as this sounds, this is actually something I see recommended a lot among survivalists and other emergency experts. In the event, you’re stuck waiting for someone – a tow truck, an Uber, whatever – after a breakdown, a non-perishable food item is great to have as depending on where you are, wait times can belong.
Spare washer fluid – a gallon is about $3 to $5. Very handy in conditions like snow and dust. the cost-to-benefit ratio is good, it’s an easy thing to stock up on.
A way to charge devices that don’t run off of your car – We keep a portable phone charger device in our company van. It was a bit pricey – about $80 – but it also doubles as a car jumper and can charge a standard iPhone two times before needing a charge itself. If your car dies, you’ll need a way to contact someone for help, and the last thing you need is a dead phone that you can’t charge because your car is dead too. Depending on how far away from home you are, this could be a literal lifesaver.
MINT HILL, NC – If you’re looking to sell your vehicle, one of the best weapons to have in your arsenal is a complete service history. This takes a lot of the unknowns out of buying a car and is a great way to prove what you’re selling is reliable and treated well. Keeping these records, however, is a challenge. Have no fear though, as your repair shop of choice can help you with that!
One of the great things about living in a digital age is that records are considerably easier to remake than in the past. In our own shop, for example, we have digital records dating all the way back to 2003. Every repair done since then, we have a copy of it. For some of our customers who have been coming to us since they purchased their vehicle, we have the entire service history stored in our database. Handy, right? If they ever want to sell I can just print copies.
For what we don’t have, there’s Carfax. You’ve probably seen ads for this on TV. Almost every shop that has digital records, which are most shops these days, send copies of the repair orders to them. This allows us to see what repairs have been done at other places – great for used cars. It also allows consumers to see what was done too, but they usually charge consumers to see these reports, so check with your shop of choice first. They may be able to get you a free copy.