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What Kind of Car Battery is Right for Me?

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.

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 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.

Clean Your Car Right!

Spring is here! Blue skies, green grass and… green cars. Pollen is everywhere, including the inside of your car. That’s not even mentioning all the things that accumulated in your car this winter! If you’re ready to spring clean your car, here’s a few tools to do the job:

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels come in all shapes and sizes. Some stores even give them out for free occasionally! Like with any cloth, there are good and bad towels, but a cheap microfiber towel is perfect for dusting. Due to their design, microfiber towels are great for removing dust from dashboards without any chemicals. You should wash them every now and again and keep a clean one in the glovebox regularly.

Check Your Cabin Air Filter

Your cabin air filter is your first line of defense against any smells or debris from entering air vents, and subsequently your lungs. Clean it by blowing it off with an air hose. These are usually available at gas stations and auto shops. It’s probably time to replace it if this is innefective at improving air quality.

Non-Alcohol-Based Wet Wipes

Wet wipes or baby wipes are great for cleaning plastics and leathers if they don’t contain alcohol. Alcohol will crack leather and trim over time, so use non-alcoholic wipes – they’re usually branded as “sensitive skin” wipes. There are also wipes designed specifically for vehicles, but they are more expensive.

Any questions? Feel Free to check us out online at manchesterautoandtire.com or call us at 704-545-4597.

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