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Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Keeping Your Current Car’s Value High

Buying new cars can be fun, you get to shop around  all the new models, maybe take a few test drives, get a good whiff of that new car smell… and then you go to trade in your current car to help with the bill, and… they don’t value it highly. Keeping your current car worth it’s weight can be challenging. If you want to get the most value out of your car, here’s a few tips to make your vehicle hold value (and, should you not want to trade it in, these are good ways to make your car last too!)

 

  1. No Smoking

This one may seem a bit obvious, but it’s true. Only about 15% of the US Population smokes – if your car smells like smoke, you’re potentially alienating 85% of buyers. Smoke is also one of the hardest smells to remove, so a detail for smoke removal can be very expensive. If possible, avoid smoking inside the car.

 

  1. Garage Keeping

Garage kept cars usually have better paint and less cosmetic rust over time, not to mention aren’t exposed to potential dangers like falling branches. The underbody of garage kept cars are usually cleaner too.

 

  1. Rubber floormats

Rubber floormats, especially those which are designed to catch large amounts of dirt and liquids like those from WeatherTech, are great at keeping your carpet looking clean, which is a huge selling point.

 

  1. Routine Maintenance.

Find that owner’s manual and treat it like a Bible. If you don’t have it, go to and purchase the manual for your car – manufacturers still make old manuals, you can probably find your vehicle. Do all the factory recommended services the manual recommends at their required mileage. For example, most vehicles recommend new spark plugs at 100,000 miles. Don’t forget to keep up with your oil changes too!

 

  1. “Show me the Carfax!”

Carfax records are great, especially if you’ve been keeping up on your regular maintenance. Being able to show everything you’ve done since you purchased the vehicle shows you’ve been a responsible owner and that you’ve got a well kept car.

 

  1. Maintain the Paint

Let’s be very clear on one thing – AVOID AUTOMATIC CAR WASHES AT ALL COSTS – you can find plenty of testimonials online of former car wash employees who tell horror stories of how the machinery and brushes are never cleaned and commonly scratch paint. Wash a car by hand, or find a company that washes by hand (there’s even a few here in Mint Hill!) If you wash yourself, use car soap, not dish soap. Wax at least once a year!

 

  1. Watch how much and how hard you drive.

Ultimately, what defines the worth of a vehicle is how well it runs and how many miles it has. Keep mileage to a minimum. Maybe bike to the grocery store instead of drive one day, or walk to lunch instead of drive there. If you’re planning on going on a road trip, get a rental instead of using your own vehicle. Also, drive gently. Doing so can increase engine life. Slower takeoffs are one of the best things you can do, they improve fuel economy.

 

  1. Cleanly Interior

Don’t think rubber floormats and not smoking in the cabin is enough. A dirty cabin is a hard one to sell. Vacuum your carpets regularly, and schedule a detail service once a year or so to get all those places you can’t reach clean. Avoid eating in your car too, one piece of rotting food that fell between the seats is all it takes to make the inside of your car smell gross. Lastly, avoid scratching the plastic wherever possible. It really shows.

Have any questions about keeping your car high in value? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireofMintHill

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Be Ready for Big Infotainment

When we talk about the evolution of cars, commonly we like to think of mechanical improvements – the assembly line Ford used to make the first affordable cars, the standardization of six and eight cylinder motors, direct fuel injection to replace carburetors, the creation of anti-lock brakes, and so on – but the innovations of today are happening inside the cabin with your Infotainment system.

 

But what is an “infotainment system?”

 

The word infotainment is a portmanteau of “Information” and “Entertainment.” The term was recently coined because of the growing complexity of our dashboards. Gone are the days where all you have are an AM/FM radio and some A/C controls – today, our cars provide so much more. These systems include things like XM radio, Pandora, maps, and the like – even phone companies are making software for these systems, most notably Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

 

The thing these systems all share in common is a nice touchscreen to encompass it all. They can be as small as 5”, or as big as 15”, as in case of the Tesla Model 3. Sure, it doesn’t have to be a big screen to be “infotainment,” but the term is primarily used to describe these systems.

 

So why is today’s biggest innovations happening there?

 

Two reasons – the potential of autonomous cars, and the need to keep driver’s hard’s off their phones.

 

Autonomous cars, though a long way away, are going to interact differently to their “driver” than they do now. When the age of cars with no steering wheel or pedals emerges, we’ll still need to communicate with our vehicles and with other drivers – for example, you still need to know where you’re going, if the engine needs service, etc. With the need of paying attention to the road eliminated, you’ll have more time to interact with a screen.

 

While that may seem unsafe, don’t worry. We’re at least two to five decades away from cars being that autonomous – but this is the direction car companies expect buyers to lean towards, so we’re seeing the early stages now.

 

The second reason – and probably the most prominent – is keeping cell phones out of driver’s hands. Texting and driving may be illegal in many states, including North Carolina, but there’s still a serious issue. According to DMV.org, 24% of all accidents in 2014 were caused by texting and driving.

 

In order to keep people away from their phones, cars are beginning to encompass their abilities into their infotainment systems – some cars allow for texting via voice – you say what you want to text to the car, and it types and sends it for you so you don’t have to pull out your phone. Of course, bluetooth calling is still a huge feature.

 

The  biggest improvements come from Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – these programs make your car’s system use the phone’s OS – allowing for things like Apple Maps, Spotify, and phone calling to be on the touchscreen or hands free, instead of on your phone itself – keeping your eyes on the road.

These features are changing and growing everyday – it’s likely we didn’t cover everything. If you 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 message us on Facebook.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Who Can Buy OEM Parts?

If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve likely gotten fliers in the mail from the dealer. “Bring your car back to us, our dealers install Brand XYZ Genuine Parts” for example. These pamphlets heavily imply their parts – Original Equipment – is superior and exclusive. Is that true? Yes and no.

 

Dealers do have parts straight from the “OEM” – the Original Equipment Manufacturer. The parts on their shelves are the same ones used on the assembly lines. What dealers don’t mention, however, is that these parts can often be found at an auto parts store, and are available to independent repair shops.

 

Take for example Toyota and Denso. Most “Toyota Genuine Parts” aren’t actually built by Toyota themselves. Why is that? Because Toyota owns about 25% of Denso, an auto parts manufacturer. Denso, though influenced by their big brother Toyota, still want to make lots of money, and playing an exclusive game isn’t going to do that. So to remedy that they sell to others. They label parts under the Denso name so they can be resold without being attached to Toyota. Denso sells to companies like the Hyundai Motor Company, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, and even domestics like General Motors. Most importantly though, they sell to the general public. Despite Toyota owning so much of Denso, they actually make up less than half of their total revenue.

 

There’s plenty more examples of this – General Motors and ACDelco, Ford and Motorcraft, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles and Mopar.

 

So what does this all mean? It means that independent auto shops have access to original equipment just like dealers – and usually for a better price.

 

This is huge for a few reasons. The first reason is ease of mind. When the OEM’s can sell directly to shops and consumers, there’s no need to worry if the part “fits” or is “built well.” It is the exact same part, albeit under the occasional different label. The second reason is that with the parts available to the public, you aren’t restricted to going to the dealer for the highest quality part – you can get it at your shop of choice, or at a parts store to do it yourself.

 

By selling to more than just manufacturers, independent and even chain stores benefit by being able to see high quality parts, and in turn parts companies get to make more money. It’s a win-win! So the next time you see an ad from your local dealer, don’t think they’re the only ones with access to the original brand of parts – everyone else does, too.

 

If you have any more questions about auto parts, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireofMintHill.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Using the Right Fluids in the Winter

During the winter, all kinds of road conditions exist – black ice, frozen bridges, freezing rain, etc. While all these things are important, nothing can be more damaging to a car in the winter is water – and not the kind falling from the sky or freezing on the road – the kind that may be in your radiator.

 

Some people choose to top off their radiators with just water instead of coolant or antifreeze, which you can get away in the warmer months. It’s a little risky, as water boils at 212° and engines operate near that, but it’s doable in a pinch. In the winter, however, water is dangerous due to it’s high freezing point.

 

Water freezes at 32°F. Carolina winters may not be extremely brutal, but it isn’t uncommon to drop into the 20’s on a cold January night. This is where problems start. When water freezes, it expands, and it can do some serious damage if given the chance. Radiators that crack in the winter usually do so because water froze. On older engines, it’s even possible to crack the engine block itself. Engine blocks have small little caps, called freeze plugs or core plugs, that are designed to pop out when fluids begin to freeze. If they fail to do so, serious damage can occur.

 

While engine block cracks are rare, radiator cracks are very common in the winter for this reason. The problem is even bigger today as most modern radiators are now plastic, not metal. It’s important to switch to coolant, which has a much lower freezing point, to prevent this.

 

The same can be said for windshield washer fluid. While using water only is fine in the summer, in the winter it can freeze and crack your washer fluid reservoir. Not to mention if you need to clear your windshield you can’t! It’s important to at least switch to an all-season blend that has a freezing point below 32°F, but a de-icer blend is probably best.

Have any questions about fluids? Need a fluid exchange? Feel free to call Manchester Auto & Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireOfMintHill

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Why Right-To-Repair is So Important

In a world where we have more electronic and automated devices than ever, it seems like part of our life goes on hold when one breaks. How long can you go without your cell phone, for example? It may be pretty tough – you’ll miss phone calls from your boss or spouse, you can’t check social media for entertainment, etc. But what if when something broke, your only option was to take it to the manufacturer and pay whatever they demanded to get it fixed?

In a world of no right-to-repair laws, that’s exactly what you’d be living in, and it wouldn’t be cheap.

 

The basic concept behind right-to-repair is that you, the buyer of a product, own the device you purchased and should be able to access information and parts to repair it. The manufacturer has no right to have a monopoly on parts or service because once they sell the device, it isn’t theirs anymore. In the automotive world, this is huge.

 

Up until a landmark case in 2013, automakers were legally free to keep things like schematics, diagnostic tools, and specialty tools out of the hands of John Q. Everyman… and at the same time, out of the hands of independent repair shops and even the national chains. This meant that for major repairs, especially electronic ones, you had to go to the dealer to get your car repaired.

 

In 2013, Massachusetts passed the first major right to repair law for automobiles. The Massachusetts Right to Repair Initiative, as it was known, said that all people from regular owners to full on repair shops had a right to information and tools already available to dealers.

 

Shortly after, most automakers agreed to follow the ruleset of Massachusetts nationwide. By doing this, everyone everywhere now had access to technical information and tools on their cars.

 

This is not the first time laws like these have been passed. The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, for example, states that using aftermarket repair parts on your vehicle – things you may find at NAPA or Advance Auto Parts, for example – cannot and will not void your warranty. This is also good for the original equipment manufacturers or “OEMs” – the companies that built the original parts installed as your car was being assembled – as this creates a second market for them to sell in. Companies like Denso, ACDelco, and even tire companies like Michelin don’t have to sell just to Chevrolet or Toyota. They can sell directly to consumers and auto shops too. On top of all of this, aftermarket parts are required to be of equal quality of the original parts installed.

 

So if the parts you can find at an auto parts store are cheaper, just as good, and available to you and your favorite local mechanic, why should you have to go to the dealer?

 

You shouldn’t. That’s why right-to-repair laws are so important for you, the consumer. They protect the fundamental concept of capitalism – competition makes for better and cheaper options.

 

As the technology world grows, you’re likely to see this happen in the cell phone and computer world too. 18 states already have laws about this as of March 2018, according to The Verge.

 

To recap, right-to-laws are designed to keep manufacturers from creating a monopoly on the upkeep of devices, including cars. These allow places like independent auto shops and parts stores to exist, and also help keep costs down. Overall, right-to-repair laws are designed with the consumer in mind.

Have any questions about these laws and how they impact you? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoAndTireOfMintHill

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Wash Your Car This Winter!

Many people don’t wash their cars in the winter. “Why should Iif it it will get dirty again in a few days?” you may ask yourself. “Hey, even car washes themselves shut down if it gets too cold!” All these things may seem to make sense, but washing your car in the winter is the most important time, but not for the reason you may think.

 

Washing your car in the winter is super important for one reason: salt. When you wash your car in the winter, you aren’t doing it for cosmetics, you’re doing it to eliminate salt. We don’t get a lot of snow here in the Carolina piedmont, but we do get a lot of black ice. Black ice forms when water (or snow) on the roads freezes over and has minimal to no air bubbles making it “invisible.” Towns and cities tend to salt their roads when there’s a severe chance of black ice, which is common during December and January.

 

Salt will kill your car, and I don’t mean the resale value, though salt will kill that too. I mean salt in the wrong places will render your car unsafe forever. Frame rust for a car is almost always terminal, especially on “unibody” vehicles that no longer have separate frames and bodies (which is probably what you own unless you own a pickup or large SUV.) Vehicles that get frame rust are unsafe to drive at that point. Frame rusted vehicles do not handle even minor accidents well. They crumble in accidents – check out some crash tests with rusty cars on YouTube if you get the chance, you’ll see what I mean. The only place frame rusted cars go is the scrapyard. You can’t replace frames, at least not without spending almost as much money as the vehicle is worth, parts and labor included.

 

But you can avoid this fate for your vehicle by washing it!

 

You don’t have to get fancy when  washing your car in the winter. You just need to make sure the underbody gets washed, because that is where salt makes first contact with your frame, among other things. You don’t need to wash it every day, but if snow  has fallen or the roads were recently salted, you should have the vehicle washed shortly after the salt on the roads has washed away. Garage keeping a vehicle also helps, but isn’t required.

 

Washing a car can be a pain in the winter, especially if you’re doing it yourself, but go ahead and make the time to get it done this winter. Your safety could depend on it.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Our Toy Drive has Begun!

Once again the “holiday season” has begun. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Years… all coming in rapid fire. For many, this means a time of family. For others, this is more of a dream than reality. Many children do not receive any gifts during the Christmas season due to financial struggles. We want to do something about that.

 

In 2006, Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC did it’s first toy collection drive. At that time, we went through Toys for Tots. While we expected to collect a few toys here and there, we never realized it would turn into the success it’s been. Over the years we’ve had thousands of dollars worth of toys (so many in fact, a few of our customers have made this paper because of it!) and nothing warms our hearts more than knowing that our customers have such giving spirits.

 

Since 2016, all our toys have been donated to Servant’s Heart of Mint Hill. Most of our customers are Mint Hill residents and have expressed a desire to have their donations stay local. Servant’s Heart provides the perfect platform for that to happen through their Christmas donation collection.

 

As a thank you to donors, we’re offering a free road trip inspection for anyone who donates a new toy in its original packaging. This is our second most comprehensive inspection and is normally $59.99, so donate a toy and have your car checked out to make sure it’s safe go to Grandma’s this season!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is Now a Good Time to Go Electric?

Electric cars are all the rage these days – old companies like General Motors are starting to make them and companies like Tesla rely on them. Toyota has even gone so far as to state that all their vehicles will have an electric or hybrid model by 2025. Everybody wants a piece of the action, but that raises a huge question for the consumer – is now the time to make the switch? Like many things, the answer isn’t black and white.

 

Pro – It’s cheaper to “fuel.”

 

Electric cars cost $540 per year on average to recharge, according to finder.com. The average gas car costs about $1,400 a year to fuel.

 

Con – Few Repair Choices

 

With all electric cars, you’ll either have to go to the dealer or a specialty shop that only deals with electrics (which there aren’t a whole lot of yet) because the knowledge aren’t quite being taught to every automotive technician yet, and the tools aren’t available to the masses quite yet either. If you need things fixed, there aren’t a whole lot of places to go.

 

Pro – You Won’t Fix it Too Often

 

While the quantity of shops you have to go to fix an electric car may be slim, you won’t have to go as often as you do now with your gas car. Things like oil changes and the Check Engine Light are no more with electric cars. You’ll still need things like brakes and tires, but a lot of those little things you have to do now are no more with electric.

 

Con – Charging Stations are few

 

This is rapidly changing due to Government funding, but as of right now there are more gas stations than charging stations, especially out in rural areas. You can still charge your car at home, sure, but be careful when you’re driving through states like Montana that only have a few compared to the East Coast.

 

There are many more pros and cons to electric cars, and we encourage you to research them – your next car could very well be one depending on how long you wait.

 

If you have any questions about electric cars (or gas ones) feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireOfMintHill.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How to Handle Black Ice

Finally, the temperatures have begun to drop! Cooler weather is upon us, the holidays are soon to roll around, and the conditions in which you’ll be driving in will change too – in the colder months, black ice can be a real problem in the Carolinas.

 

Mint Hill winters generally have days that are above the freezing point and nights that are below it. Due to that, we tend to get rain instead of snow during the colder months. Whatever water is left on the ground after the storm stops turns into ice that night. You’ve probably noticed it too – your yard may look like it has a white beard the day after a december rainstorm because the wet grass froze overnight.

 

This can happen on roads too, but there is one big difference – most of the time, you can’t see it.

 

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) black ice forms when water on a road freezes over, but no air freezes inside the ice. No air bubbles make the ice impossible to see. It usually forms in shady areas, bridges, and anywhere water can easily puddle.

 

Most tips and tricks mentioned here today come from the USDA and Pekin Insurance – big thanks to them for this great info!

 

Staying Safe:

 

Do not slam on the brakes!

 

Even with modern anti-lock brakes (ABS) braking on ice is an easy way to lock up the wheels. If you need to slow down, do so before you hit the ice patch – and if you must brake while on the ice, pumping the brakes is your best option, even if your vehicle has an ABS system.

 

If you skid, turn into it.

 

One of the biggest mistakes people make if they actually start to skid is to jerk the wheel around over-correcting themselves while having their foot planted firmly on the brake pedal – the better method of attack is to turn into the skid and pump the brakes. This can be very hard to do if you’re panicking, however, so it is important to remember to stay calm in these situations – it can be hard, but you can do it!

 

Look at How Others are Driving

 

Do you see people in front of you losing traction for a few seconds? Are drivers in front of you slowing down a lot? Are you in an area that black ice can easily form? If you answered yes to some of these, then you may have found a black ice patch… or rather others found it for you.

 

Pack an Emergency Kit

 

We’ve talked about emergency kits many times before here (if you missed those articles, head over to autorepairminthill.com to catch up on some of our prior articles run in this paper!) and they’re crucial in a skid situation. While we hope you never crash in a skid, it’s always a possibility. Having chained tires, snow tires, or anything like that won’t give you more traction on ice… just snow. If you already have a good set of all-season tires on your vehicle, don’t waste money on new tires you don’t need – spend it on making a good emergency kit instead, because if you do crash, you’ll need one!

 

As always, practice safe judgement every time you plan to go on the road – if you don’t feel you can do it, don’t. Your life is more important than getting somewhere on time. If you’d like to know more, feel free to call Manchester Auto & Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireofMintHill

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Getting Your Car’s Power Back

Cars, much like people, tend to slow down as they get older. The more miles parts and systems accumulate, the more they underperform. While sometimes this loss of power is minimal, horsepower loss can be very noticeable when tune-ups and factory recommended maintenance haven’t been done. The one thing cars can do that people can’t, however, is get some of their energy back with a little TLC. Listed below are a few things your shop may recommend if your car needs some pep in it’s step. As with any list, remember this is not all inclusive and depending on your vehicle’s age and maintenance history, you may need more than what we’ve listed here, or none of it at all. Check with a professional technician before spending your hard earned money!

 

  1. Fuel Cleaner

 

While Fuel Additives can sometimes be a bit scammy, many fuel cleaners are actually worth it. Fuel additives that clean, such as products from Lucas Oil, help remove deposits from the fuel tank resulting in a better flow of gasoline to the engine. Generally, a fuel tank cleaning or replacement does this job better than an additive, but additives are considerably cheaper and still do an acceptable job.

 

  1. Throttle Body Service

 

A Throttle Body Service is a cleaning of a device called the Throttle Body – the device that you’re controlling when you press the gas pedal. The throttle body can get filled with carbon buildup and over time can result in loss of power and in severe cases, stalling. A cleaning of this device, especially if it has never been done before on a high mileage car, can be a huge help.

 

  1. Spark Plugs

 

Spark Plugs are what ignite the air/fuel mixture in order to power the motor. When spark plugs get old, they have telltale signs of underperformance including extra fuel consumption, poor idling, and lack of power. A fresh set of plugs can make a world of difference.

 

  1. Air Filter

 

As we discussed under Spark Plugs, the engine needs a mixture of both fuel and air to run. If the air the engine gets is not filtered properly, performance issues occur. A cleaning or replacing of an air filter is easy, relatively cheap, and very beneficial.

 

  1. Consistent Oil Changes

 

No matter what oil you use, a consistent replacement schedule is important. The older oil is, the dirtier it gets, and dirty oil is underperforming oil. Depending on what oil you use, you can go anywhere between 3,000-20,000 miles before it is time to replace, but going longer than that causes loss of performance. Check what your owner’s manual recommends and follow it religiously.

 

As with any list, we haven’t covered everything you can do for engine performance. If you’d like to know more, feel free to call Manchester Auto & Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireofMintHill

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