Three Cost-Effective Things to Keep around Your Car

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.

  1. 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. Corrosion, at its core, is caused by hydrogen gasses being released from the sulfuric acid inside the battery, causing a reaction. Terminal cleaners are usually just wire brushes shaped in tube form, and battery cleaner spray neutralizes exposed acid as well as remove corrosion. A can of battery cleaner is about $4 and a terminal cleaner can be as cheap as $3.

2. 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.

3. 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.

What Tires Are Right For Me? A Guide for Tire Decision Making

Often times when our customers come in for tires, we’ll get asked: “what tires should I go with?” That’s a fair question. The ins-and-outs of the tire industry probably isn’t on the average consumer’s mind, and why would it be? It’s not something you replace every few months like oil or even every few years. It’s something most cars get just twice a decade. That being said, knowing a bit more about your routines and driving habits help us answer that question for you.

First and foremost, what kind of vehicle do you drive and what are you driving it for? Is it a sedan that is yours daily? A van that hauls the kids and groceries? A sports car that you pull out on the weekends? A work truck? An off-roader? All of these kinds of driving styles require different tires. A big mud tire on a pickup that sees nothing but pavement doesn’t make sense, now does it?

Second is your desired longevity. Most tires have a mileage rating, designed to give you a general idea on how long they’ll last. Generally, the higher the mileage, the more tread the tire has, meaning a higher cost. Also, remember rubber doesn’t last forever, tires over 10 years old are generally considered unsafe. Are you going to get your money’s worth and drive enough in 10 years to accumulate enough miles?

After determining what kind of tread and longevity you’re looking for in a tire, the next question should be about what brands you’re looking for.

Like almost every industry, tires range from relatively cheap to the ultra-expensive. Certain brands cost more than others. Is Michelin one of the best? Absolutely, but you’ll have to cough up the big bucks to get it. Generally speaking, the more expensive the tire is, the better the rubber was engineered, meaning that more expensive tires usually have a longer life in terms of tread wear, are generally quieter, provide more grip and displace more water in the rain. Cheaper tires generally sacrifice some of these luxuries to be more economical.

Your big name brands such as Michelin, Goodyear, BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Pirelli and the like generally provide all of these things. Many of these brands also offer their own mid-range tires under other names, like Kelly or Uniroyal, which sacrifice some of the nicer things, but keep others to provide a nice middle-of-the-road product. Your ultra-cheap tires tend to be brands you probably have not heard of and can come from a slew of different manufacturers that are hard to pinpoint, and usually did the bare minimum to meet safety standards and aren’t providing much else. Affordable, street legal, but probably not quite, long-lasting or comfortable.

Okay, so, you know what kind of tread and longevity you need. You know what kind of creature comforts you want or don’t want in a tire. You know what your price range is. Now that we’ve sorted that out in previous installments, let’s finally answer that question of what tire is right for you.

Michelin – This is arguably the best tire brand for your money. Great longevity. Excellent warranty. A slew of options. Comfortable. You will, however, pay for what you get. Michelins are usually one of the most expensive tires we sell. Every customer we’ve had that bought one, however, never had a complaint.

Honorable mentions: BF Goodrich, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Nitto

Hankook, Uniroyal, and Cooper – These are my three picks for mid-range tires. I speak from experience, not just as a seller but as a buyer. I’ve had all three on our company van over the years. They are great. They don’t last quite as long on average, but they’re considerably better priced, and still pretty comfortable and quiet. Uniroyal is also our best-seller, so our customers tend to agree.

Honorable mentions: Sumitomo, Yokohama, Duro

If you’re in the market for a cheap tire, I have no real recommendations. Many of these brands come and go from my suppliers, which is understandable. At that price point, the brand name isn’t a consideration. Just make sure your tire is DOT approved and you should be fine.

Selling Your Car in the Digital World – Do’s and Dont’s.

Selling your car online? Common in today’s world. Gone are the days where we put an ad in the paper and a for sale by owner sign on the car and hoped for the best. In its place is the more reliable Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and many other platforms. Here are some tips for photographing and selling online:

No vertical photos!

Vehicles are long. You cannot take photos of these vertically and expect them to come out well. If you fit the whole car in a vertical photo, you had to stand too far away. It also looks terrible on PC screens. In truth, you should be photographing/filming this way anyway (Precious memories look bad on TV when you’ve filmed them vertically) but especially so with car shots.

Use the rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is the idea that a photograph should be broken down into nine sections, and that the focus of the image should not be in the direct center but rather at one of the four points at which the nine sections intersect. This makes your photo more balanced and easier on the eye. This is a feature you can turn on and use on most iPhones and most Androids, so for a more detailed explanation of this photography method, Google how to turn this feature on with your phone and then some quick research on how this rule works (its an easy read, I promise.) All your photos, even the non-car ones, will look so much better.

Master the 3/4 Shot

The 3/4 shot is the best looking shot you can take of your car, and every OEM, dealer, advertiser and professional uses it. The 3/4 shot is one where you take a picture of the car at an angle, so this way you can see both the front fascia (or rear) and the entire side of the vehicle. Simply put, it shows the most real estate. Take two, one from the driver’s front side and one from the rear. Take these photos about six feet away, and if you’re tall, squat a bit. Lead with these photos.

If you’re going to block your license plate, just remove it.

There’s a bit of a trend going around the internet right now that when you sell your car, you block your license plate with your thumb in the picture. Despite possibly bringing the camera out of focus, it draws attention away from the vehicle itself, it blocks part of the vehicle in the picture and honestly, it looks kind of silly. Also, you aren’t exactly protecting your privacy very much because your tag is still very visible elsewhere in the real world. Blocking it online does not do much for you in terms of protecting your privacy.

If you feel you must prevent the internet from seeing your tag, just remove it for the pictures. It is likely just two to four Phillips screws.



It is best to communicate either with a throwaway email address or through a messaging app, be it Facebook Messenger (if you’re selling on Facebook Marketplace) or a third-party app like WhatsApp. Avoid giving out your personal phone number or an email address you care about.

Meeting Up

If you’ve decided you’re going to make the sale, be sure to meet somewhere open. Do not meet at your house, even if the person seems nice! Being robbed of a car isn’t fun. Meet somewhere like a busy parking lot, or at a police station which has cameras at a designated selling place. If someone is hesitant to meet publicly, run.

The Sale

Cars are big purchases and there are lots of scams going around with paying for them. Accept cash, certified check, or money order. Do not accept personal checks, business checks or payments via apps like Venmo or Cash App. Be wary of people who refuse to meet but offer to pay and bring a tow truck; this is a common scam where they’ll pay you, but the payment method bounces shortly after they’ve picked up the vehicle.

If the payment method isn’t something you can physically touch and immediately deposit, refuse it. It’s for your safety and the buyers too.

Any questions? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at, or check us out online at or on Facebook.

Now is the Time to Flush Your Coolant!

As we start heading into the cold, coolant flushes are an important job you may want to consider. Coolant does a few things for you – it keeps your engine from overheating (which it can still do in the winter) and can also make sure your engine and radiator do not get damaged from cold. Remember, water freezes at 32 degrees, which we hit often in the Carolinas. When water freezes, it expands and that can crack your radiator! Coolant, on top of having a higher boiling point, also has a lower freezing point too (around 220 degrees and -30 degrees, respectively.) If you are not running coolant now but you are running water, now is a good time to switch.

That same coolant is also used to heat your cabin. There is a small radiator-like device called a heater core which coolant runs through to heat your car’s interior. If it isn’t warm when you turn on the heat, now may be a good time to check out your coolant.

Also, coolant helps prevent corrosion. Coolant is made from a mixture of chemicals and over time, they wear out. Old coolant can corrode things, and those repairs, like radiator and hose replacements, can be pricey, to say the least.

Now is the perfect time to get a coolant flush, as you can gain peace of mind heading into the holiday season… which, by the way, starts in next week!

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 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, or check us out online at

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

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

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,, 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, or check us out online.