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Tips for Buying From Used Car Lots

Did you know that according to Edmunds, over 40 million used cars were re-sold last year? So many cars on the road are second hand, and it’s very likely your first car was too. Maybe even your current one is now. Buying a used car, despite how popular it may be to do so, is still a tricky thing to navigate. Below are a few tips to help.

  1. “Show Me the Carfax!”

Carfax is really good about records. Most auto shops have their management program tied into Carfax so as soon as they do something, it is recorded. No Carfax? No official repair. Even when you trust the used car dealer, ask, because they likely have it and you should know a vehicle’s service history.

2. Pre-Purchase Inspection.

Any reputable used car lot is OK with 3rd party pre-purchase inspections because they stand behind what they sell. If they won’t let you do one, run. To receive a 3rd party inspection, simply schedule one with your auto shop of choice and see when the dealer or yourself can come down.

3. Cleanliness.

A clean car is nice, but be weary of overly clean. If that car your buying smells like excessive Febreze or has recently replaced (or missing) floormats, serious damage to the cabin may be covered up. Obviously this isn’t always the case, but it isn’t normal for a used car to smell like 10,000 Yankee Candles burning at once. When in doubt, ask.

Questions? Check us out online at www.manchesterautoandtire.com or call 704-545-4597

How TPMS Works

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, or TPMS, is an integral part of most cars sold in the last two decades. It’s a great tool for giving the driver real-time data on air pressures and when to adjust. But how does it work and why do we have it?

Due to high fatalities coming from tire failures on certain Fords equipped with Firestone tires in the 1990’s, congress passed the TREAD Act in 2000. One of the stipulations of the act was that all light-duty vehicles sold September 1, 2007 and forward would be required to have TPMS equipped.

TPMS functions in one of two ways; Directly or Indirectly. Direct TPMS is mounted to the wheel and uses a sensor to monitor the air pressure. If it drops to a critical point (usually 25% of normal,) the sensor sends an alert and a light or warning appears on your dashboard.

Indirect TPMS monitors pressure through the wheel speed sensors usually found on your antilock braking system (ABS.) If one wheel is spinning at a different speed than the others, then it is likely that tire’s pressure is low and sends an alert to your CPU and lights the dashboard.

Over time, TPMS sensors can degrade or get damaged and occasionally need to be replaced. Generally, once a TPMS sensor is replaced, it has to be reprogrammed via a diagnostic tool. Few vehicles are self-programmable. Common signs of bad sensors are odd pressure readings or a warning light that stays on even when tires are correctly inflated.

Questions? call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC Mon-Fri 8AM-6PM, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or check us out online at www.manchesterautoandtire.com.

Understanding Your Car’s Many Filters

The modern car is loaded with filters. Many things, both liquid and air, need to be filtered – but do you know what your car’s main filters do?

There are four filters that almost every car has: an air filter, a cabin air filter, an oil filter and a fuel filter. Each have a specific purpose.

Air filters and cabin air filters both achieve the same thing – they help with breathing. The cabin air filter is for people. It keeps the air in the cabin clean, free of dust, and prevents smells from entering the cabin. The air filter, however, helps your engine breathe. Cleaner air in your engine means better fuel combustion, better fuel economy, cleaner emissions and smoother rides. Both kinds of air filters are replaced as-needed, but can usually be cleaned multiple times before needing a replacement.

Oil filters are for your motor oil. Oil isn’t just a lubricant but also a detergent. All kinds of gunk and deposits build up in your engine. To make sure your oil can keep cleaning as best as possible, you should replace the oil filter every oil change.

Lastly, fuel filters are for your gasoline. Gunk and fuel don’t mix. A bad fuel filter can result in poor engine performance, or internal engine damage. You should have your fuel filter checked and pressure tested every 15,000 miles and replaced as-needed.

Questions? Call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill at 704-545-4597 or check us out online at manchesterautoandtire.com

The Importance of DOT Tire Codes

The modern day tire is a feat of engineering. Due to things like synthetic rubbers and vulcanization, tires can last for hundreds of thousands of miles. Tires, however, are not forever. In fact, they’re a lot like milk. Milk can be prolonged – you can store it in the fridge, keep the lid tight, etc. However, if you don’t consume it fast enough, it will eventually go bad.

Tires are the same way. You can keep them aired up correctly, you can rotate them, align your car for them, garage keep them and so on, but if you don’t consume the tire fast enough, it will go bad – even with a lot of tread left.

DOT tire codes exist for this very reason. The last four digits of a DOT tire code tell you the week and year the tire was made. For example, a tire code DOT Y9RJ FPUU 2618 was built on the 26th week of 2018. The goal of the number is to give you an easy way of measuring tire life.

Old tires, even with no signs of dry rot, cracks or deformities are very susceptible to blowouts. If you have a car that you only drive on the weekends, or if your elderly neighbor is the kind who only ever drives on Sunday to go to church, check those tires. Six years or older is a commonly recommended replacement time regardless of tread, but 10 years is industry standard.

Questions? Call us at 704-545-4597 or check us out online at manchesterautoandtire.com

When Should I Service My A/C?

It’s getting hot, folks. We commonly average 90 degrees–plus weather this time of year. Rolling down your windows is only going to get you so far! Do you know when it’s time to service your A/C? Here’s a few of the warning signs.

First and foremost, check your most recent service date for A/C maintenance. A/C systems can be as low as 20% below full-charge and be cold. Even if you’re satisfied with how cold your cabin is, you may not be getting optimum performance and could be running the risk of damage as refrigerant helps lubricate mechanical things like your A/C compressor, much like how oil lubricates your engine. Generally, A/C should be inspected every other year, but only serviced as needed until the vehicle hits old age or high mileage. After that, inspecting yearly is recommended.

The second warning sign is non-cold A/C. If it isn’t cold, something is wrong. Often times this can be fixed with an A/C recharge, but sometimes one of the parts has broken instead, especially on older cars.

Another less-common but important warning sign is water on your floorboard. This means that somewhere you have a clogged drain hole, and you can risk damage to the carpet, or worse, mold.

Lastly, noises. Things like banging, rattling, or other things that you shouldn’t hear when you turn on your A/C are almost always caused by a broken part and needs a diagnostic service to determine the cause.

Questions? We’re online at manchesterautoandtire.com, facebook.com/ManchesterAutoAndTire, or call us at 704-545-4597.

Vehicles Under $5,000 for Your Teen

With summertime approaching, many teens are gearing up to follow an American rite-of-passage and get their first driver license. Of course, once a teen gets a license, the next step is their own car, but what’s out there on the market? What’s reasonable?

$5,000 is a good starting point. It’s no drop in the bucket, but it’s considerably lower than the price of a new car and generally a good indication of where junk cars filter out. That being said, this list isn’t all-inclusive, and you can find good deals well below $5,000.

  1. Eighth Generation Honda Accord

This Accord, sold from 2007-2012, is one of the most reliable sedans to ever exist. Given, it’s not flashy, but it’s safe, reliable, and comes with lots of creature comforts in the cabin if you find a nice one.

Price Range: $4,000-$6,000

Fair Price – $3,000

2. 10th Generation Toyota Camry

I’ll be blunt. This is the best car you can buy. There is no greater sedan than a Camry. In 2015, Toyota boasted that 80% of all Camrys sold in the last 20 years were still on the road today.

If treated right, it will outlive the human race and survive to the end of the universe. If treated bad, it will still probably get to 200,000 miles. It’s not sexy, it’s not setting the world on fire with its innovation, but much like how a cockroach could survive a nuclear fallout, this Camry can survive a good bit of what mistakes a new driver makes. Did I also mention it’s safe too?

Price Range: $4,000-$6000

Fair Price – $5,000

First Generation Ford Focus Hatchback

The first generation Focus, sold in the United States from 2000-2004, is a popular car with teens, financially conservative adults and automotive enthusiasts alike due to its rugged build, quick engine and fun design. Most versions of this car came with a fairly reliable, easy to maintain 2.0 liter inline four cylinder motor. The hatchback edition is great for a teen that may need some extra trunk space for bags, instruments or sporting equipment, but still gets great gas milage due to the four cylinder engine.

Price Range: $1,500-$3,500

Fair Price: $2,500

Early Aughts Ford Ranger

Maybe your teen works and needs something that can haul. Maybe it would be nice to have a truck for those father-son weekend projects. Maybe a sedan is just too small. If so, your teen needs a Ford Ranger. Called a “compact truck”, it is very small compared to its F150 brother but features a decently sized bed and multiple cab options. There are no generations for this truck, so look for ones built 1997-2002 for this price range.

Price Range: $1,000-$4,000

Fair Price: $2,000

Have any Questions? Wondering if your teen’s vehicle is running up to spec? Feel free to call us at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or check us out online.

The Four Dollar Amounts You Need to Know for Your State Inspection

State Inspections are one of the quickest services you can receive at an auto shop. You’re in and out somewhere around 10 to 30 minutes, but do you know what you should pay?

$13.60, $23.60, $30.00, $40.00.

Know these numbers. You may have to pay the total split up over time, you may have the amount you pay change from one year to another, but you can never legally be billed more than these. Let’s dive into what they mean:

$13.60 – Safety Only Inspection – This is for cars model year 1995 and older, and vehicles 3 model years old or newer with 70,000 miles or less. These inspections only check over what requires the vehicle to be safe and not what it emits. This inspection expands to all cars if you live in a non-emissions counties, however this likely isn’t you. As a Mint Hill resident, you live in either Mecklenburg or Union county, both of which do emissions tests.

$23.60 – Safety Only with Window Tint – If your vehicle has any kind of aftermarket tint (that means tint that was put on after the vehicle left the assembly line – not how it came when you bought it on the dealer lot) you pay an extra $10. If this seems high to you just for checking tint, please write your politicians. This was entirely their idea. Otherwise, this test is entirely the same as the regular Safety test.

$30.00 – Safety and Emissions Test – This is likely what you’re getting. Currently, this applies to vehicles built from 1996-2016, and vehicles built 2017-2019 with more than 70,000 miles on the odometer. This test contains everything in the Safety test, but also includes things such as check-engine-light tests.

$40.00 – Safety and Emissions with Window Tint – Same as the $30, but with a tint fee. Again, please write your politicians.

Why am I stressing this so hard? Because there is no such thing as a “fair price” for inspections, there is simply the government regulated price. Breaking this rule is illegal and a punishable offense.

So what should I do if I find I’m being overcharged?

First and foremost, say something. Service writers, just like you and me, make mistakes. This could easily be an accident on their part. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

If they refuse to adjust, then you find the Station Number. This number is on your receipt.  Find that number, take it and call the North Carolina License and Theft Bureau. The LTB is a division of the DMV that polices us, the state inspectors. I mean that literally – they have their own police force. If you have the station number and proof that they tried to overbill you, it should be pretty easy to have the shop disciplined. The phone number for the LTB of District Six, the district Mint Hill is in, is 704-331-4500.

NHTSA Airbag Investigation – What You Need To Know

What Happened?

A German parts company called TRW Automotive manufactured a potentially faulty airbag control unit, according to the USDOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Airbag control units are small devices that determine when an airbag should be deployed. The NHTSA claims these parts may fail due to electrical surges caused by a crash, resulting in undeployed airbags.

Who’s Affected?

While we don’t know any specific models yet, we do know this effects potentially 12.3 million cars on the road today. These vehicles are model years 2010-2019, and are from Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai Motor Company’s Hyundai and Kia, as well as Mitsubishi.

Are there Recalls?

So far, no official recalls have been made, but the NHTSA has reported one death believed to be caused by this.

Any questions? Call us at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or check us out online at manchesterautoandtire.com

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.

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