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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.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is Your Vehicle Flood Damaged?

Whenever there is a natural disaster that involves flooding like a hurricane, a flood of  used vehicles (no pun intended) that have experienced flood damage enter into the used car pool.  While many of these vehicles should have gone to the junk yard, many individuals will fix them up and put them right back on the road and try to pass them off as a good used car.  While checking the CARFAX will tell you if the vehicle was totaled in an insurance claim and the type of damage that occurred, if the vehicle did not have comprehensive collision coverage then there is probably no record of the damage.

What is a consumer to do when shopping for a used car to make sure it does not have flood damage?

Flood damage can be easily concealed and unless you know what to look for, you may never realize the vehicle was submerged underwater.  Here are a few things you can do when car shopping for a used car that are a good indicator that flood damage has occurred:

  • Pull up carpet if you can and look for water stains or rust stains. (if the carpet is new that may be a sign that the car was damaged and recently repaired)
  • Check the door panels for fading or stains, again if they are new or look like they have been replaced recently, that could indicate a problem.
  • Do you detect any unusual stains, odors or mold?
  • Look under the dash, around the alternator and wiring system for dirt, grit, corrosion and residue.
  • Look under the seats, dash anywhere that metal has not been painted for rust and stains.  Also check screws for rust.

There are many other things technicians look for both under the hood and chassis, but his is a short list of obvious items that should send up a red flag if you see them on a car at the used car lot.

Buying a used vehicle can be a daunting task and sometimes leave you uncertain if you made the right decision.  Making an appointment to bring in that used car for a pre-purchase inspection can take the headache and anxiety out of the process.  If you have concerns about any potential used car you would like to buy, don’t hesitate to stop by. If you are looking for top quality auto repair in Mint Hill or South Charlotte area, please stop by Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill or give us a call at 704-545-4597.