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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.

Tips for Parents of First Time Drivers

Today’s teenagers live in a new and fascinating world. Never before have people been so connected, never before have kids had as many opportunities as they do with all the new industries and fields being taught in schools. Despite all this, though, there’s one constant that never changes from generation to generation – that feeling of freedom that comes with a first car. As a parent, however, there probably isn’t anything scarier. If you’re a parent of a first time driver or soon-to-be driver, here’s some tips about cars and driving for your youngest motorist.


  1. Sedans are safe


You’ve probably heard at some point that SUVs, especially big body-on-frame truck based SUVs like the Toyota 4Runner or Chevrolet Tahoe are the safest vehicles you can buy. That is a myth. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, is the company that tests vehicles and provides them with the crash-test safety ratings that all manufacturers love to brag about in their commercials. What they don’t mention, however, is that trucks and truck based vehicles aren’t held to as high of a standard as cars. In other words, a five-star rating for a Ford F-150 or a Ford Expedition isn’t necessarily as safe as a five-star rating for a car like a Ford Focus.


This doesn’t mean SUVs aren’t safe. In fact, many SUVs are considered to be innovators in safety, but for now know that sedans are probably your best bet.


  1. Reliability over Flashy


Sure, everybody wants something cool as their first car, but let’s not forget that most first cars usually get dings and fender-benders due to learning drivers. Consider something safe and established as reliable. The compact but sporty Honda Civic, the latest generation Ford Focus, and the well selling Toyota Camry are all highly touted as reliable, cheap to own, and safe.


  1. Know the Laws on Teen Licensing


In North Carolina, there are three tiers of driver licences: Limited Provisional, Full Provisional, and Driver License. Adults over 18 have Driver Licences, which provide all the luxuries of having a license, but teens have either a Limited or Full Provisional. Limited Provisional licenses only allow teens to drive between 5AM-9PM unless they’re directly leaving/going to school or work. Full Provisional licenses allow driving after 9PM, but like the Limited Provisional, they don’t allow phone use of any kind in the vehicle. While it is legal for adults to make phone calls in a car, it is not for teens with Limited or Full Provisionals. Texting and driving, however, is illegal for everyone. For the full list of rules, visit NCDOT.gov.


  1. Consider Full Coverage


Insuring teens is expensive. Youth/inexperience is the biggest factor in price, but things like age of the car, engine size and even gender can affect cost (males tend to have higher insurance rates.) Despite all this, teens don’t always have accidents with others, sometimes accidents happen with inanimate objects like trees. Liability coverage won’t get that repaired. If getting replacement vehicles for teens isn’t an option, consider full coverage so in the event of an accident, their vehicle can be repaired.


  1. Help them get experience


Driving in heavy rain, snow, fog and the like is no fun, but it is a reality we all face from time to time. Help your teen out by going with them and showing them how to drive in these situations. Eventually, they will experience a situation where they have to drive in these conditions, so be proactive and make sure they know what to do.


  1. Instill good maintenance habits


Teens who never drive don’t know the first thing about maintaining cars. Show them! Stress the importance of all the things you likely value, such as regular oil changes, getting state inspections done on time, and the like.


Have any other questions about teen driving? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, visit our website at manchesterautoandtire.com, or email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com

4 sites for avoiding Fake News on Cars

Advertising is possibly the number one way we learn about new vehicles. After all, every dealer seems to advertise about the latest models in the lot during the 5:00 news. But how reliable is this advertising.


Recently, Chevrolet put out another one of its “Real People, Not Actors” ads in which they reveal to Chevrolet, Ford, Honda and Toyota owners that they, Chevrolet, had been named the most reliable car company in a survey.


While all this seems great, what Chevy does not mention in the ad (or put in very, very small words at the bottom) is that:


  1. The model year the survey was done for (2015) isn’t the model year shown in the ads.
  2. The survey isn’t from one of the major independent groups, but from Ipsos, a market research company.
  3. Chevrolet sponsored the survey and was selective in who was surveyed.
  4. The amount of respondents to the survey was even smaller.
  5. They used some mental and verbal gymnastics to make the data show in their favor. (you can read more about this on Jalopnik.com)


In other words, Chevrolet isn’t lying in their ad, but they went above and beyond to find data that played in their favor.


This advertisement was so controversial that Ford, Toyota and Honda all challenged it. One company even threatened legal action. Chevrolet quickly agreed to pull it from their official YouTube channel stating their marketing plan was going to start focusing on one of their pickups instead.


So what does this mean for you, the consumer? It means that half-truths, questionable advertising tactics and ultimately misleading ideas are all being pushed to influence your decisions when car-buying.


To help you avoid false claims, we’re sharing some of the best sources to get unbiased news and reviews on vehicles.


  1. Consumer Reports


CR Should be your #1 source for data on cars, and possibly everything else you’re planning on buying. CR is so determined to be reliable and fair, they won’t let people advertise in their magazine, and they won’t let manufacturers advertise that they did well with CR. They want all data to be true, faithful and accurate reports from the consumer. It’s real people giving them their data and it’s worth trusting.


  1. Kelly Blue Book


Kelly Blue Book is a guidebook primarily built around valuing cars. When buying cars new or used, checking the bluebook value is a great way of telling what is a fair price for vehicles in your area. KBB also does reviews and gives out awards based on what vehicles they find most reliable and most valuable.


  1. Motor Trend


Motor Trend is a company that started as a magazine, but has since expanded into a website, streaming service, and even a TV channel called Motor Trend (formerly called Velocity.) They also own many other automotive magazines such as the famous Hot Rod Magazine. Motor Trend, like many automotive mags, gives out awards to vehicles it thinks highly of, and their reviews tend to be honest and worth reading. They currently list the Motor Trend Car of the Year as the Genesis G70, the Jeep Wrangler as the SUV of the Year and the Ram 1500 as the Truck of the Year.


  1. IIHS


The Insurance Institute for Highway safety is a nonprofit organization funded by the many insurance companies in the United States. They really only focus on safety, but they film every test they attempt and share these with the public online. No data manipulation there, if they deem a car safe, it’s safe, and you get to watch them crash a version of that car to prove it!


Ultimately, finding out which new car is the best isn’t easy. That being said, it can be easy to avoid the silver-tongued advertising when you know where to look. No matter what your favorite brand of car or truck is, make sure you do your research before buying to avoid being mislead.


Got any questions about cars in the news? Feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597 or email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com.

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 – 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