cars

5 Ways to Be Prepared in a Car Emergency

A good rule in life is to expect the unexpected. This is especially true when operating a motor vehicle. Auto emergencies can happen to anyone. A common misconception is that you only need to be prepared for these types of emergencies when taking long trips away from home. Emergencies can happen anywhere to anyone, and it’s important to be prepared should they come your way. Whether it’s due to an accident, inclement weather, or mechanical failure, we’ve listed 5 tips below to help you be prepared before auto emergencies come your way.

1. Have an action plan in place

This means that you, as the driver, know in advance what to do if an emergency should occur. Often times, this means having a roadside assistance service in place. If you do not have this service available to you, it’s important to know what to do in case of common auto emergencies such as a flat tire, a car breakdown, or running out of gas. For some that opt out of a roadside assistance service, this may mean knowing how to change a tire or add coolant to an overheated transmission. Another tip is to have an ICE (in case of emergency) number saved in your phone in case of an unthinkable incident with severe injuries involved.

2. Stock your vehicle

Keep useful items useful in case of unexpected occurrences. Plan for the worst! Imagine being stranded on a desolate road in the cold of winter. Useful items could include a flashlight, a blanket, towels, some water and even a spare phone battery or charger. Having these items stocked in your car can provide peace of mind before an emergency occurs and can provide invaluable comfort during an emergency.

3. Know proper roadside safety during an auto emergency

When you're able, pull far off on to the shoulder of the road with your hazard lights on. It’s vital to be pulled as far off the road as possible especially if on the highway. Immediately call a friend or family member to let them know your location as it’s always possible that other motorists will be stopping, and you as the driver will never know their intentions.

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4. Know what to do in inclement weather

Sometimes auto emergencies present themselves because of inclement weather. Whether it’s heavy rain, ice, snow, fog or thunderstorms, the weather can prove menacing to drivers. One of the best tips that can be offered for inclement weather is to educate yourself on how to navigate these conditions. There are many helpful videos and reputable articles that teach how to best drive in a specific type of weather.

 

5. Familiarize yourself with what to do in case of an accident or a police stop

It’s always a good tip to routinely confirm that your license and registration are with you. Remember that if you are being pulled by an officer, you have the right to put your hazard lights on and cruise into the nearest business with lights on; this is for YOUR safety. Also remember to document any accidents with pictures and a police report before moving your vehicle.

5 Tips to Pass your Vehicle Inspection

Currently in the U.S., there are nearly 20 states that require an annual vehicle inspection. Failing an auto inspection means more of your time and energy goes to waste. Here’s what the next steps look like if your car fails: make another appointment to correct the issue and this is followed by an additional appointment to pass your vehicle inspection. Not only is this tedious and time consuming, it may also cause you to miss your state’s inspection deadline. Hero has compiled 5 simple tips you can do as a vehicle owner to ensure a passing grade for your inspection. The following tips not only are easy fixes that can be done by anyone, but they will also help you avoid the headache of scheduling multiple inspection appointments for issues that could have been easily prevented:

1. Cosmetic check

Walk around your car to ensure there are no obvious areas of need that would prevent a passing grade. Verify that windows aren’t cracked and also make sure that your license plate is securely attached. An often overlooked area inside the car are the seatbelts. Make sure that the holsters are properly working and that each seatbelt is able to be securely fastened.

2. Exterior lights

Grab a family member or friend to help you out to make sure all of the car’s exterior lights are working. This includes your brake lights, headlights, taillights, and high beams. Also, remember to check the lights that illuminate your license plate because they are also required for passing inspection.

3. Internal dash lights

Your car cannot pass inspection with a service engine light on. While fixing this issue might not be something you personally can do, it’s important to know that your car will need to complete a “drive cycle” before the internal computer resets and will register a passing grade on your inspection. This drive cycle can be anywhere from 50-75 miles, so knowing this in advance can be a major time-saving help.

 4. Tires

Most states require tires to have at least 1/16 inch of tread to pass inspection. An easy way to check this is with the penny tire tread trick. According to Bridgestone Tires, a person can place a U.S. penny upside down in the groove of the tire tread and if you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. This trick takes no more than a minute and can really help you plan your inspection in advance.

5. Brakes

You don’t need to be a car expert to determine when your brakes need replacing. According to J.D. Power & Associates, one of the best ways to know when your brakes need to be replaced is by listening carefully to them while applying heavy brake pressure. While driving, turn off the radio and listen to see if you hear a high pitched screeching sound during the application of pressing your brakes. This sound is called a metal shim. Even the faint noise of a metal shim is an indicator that your brakes need to be replaced. Having your brakes replaced can take some serious time, so knowing to check for them in advance can assist you in scheduling a brake replacement appointment to guarantee you meet your inspection on time.

For all of the latest car tips and hacks, make sure to check out the rest of Hero's blog

How to Maintain Your Electric Car

There are tons of benefits to owning a fully electric car. First, there is the environmental factor, of course, then there is the lack of expensive gasoline and a total absence of toxic fume emission. This all leads to a cheaper, ongoing maintenance cost as well. It takes less money and effort to keep these electric cars running smoothly and trouble free. Of course, this is somewhat offset by the higher initial investment when actually purchasing an electric car, however in he long run, generally they will be cheaper to operate and maintain. Additionally, there are often government subsidies and tax breaks offered in order to sweeten the deal.

Because there are fewer moving parts, electric cars have a lower need for regular check up. however there a few things that should be monitored regularly.

1. Battery maintenance

Batteries in electric cars are huge and take up most of the space under the hood. They are complex, technical marvels but actually need very little care. There is no day to day need to keep an eye on it. It is understood that with time the battery’s capacity will decrease, meaning that it will not be able to charge as fully as it used to. In result, this can reduce the mileage over time. When this reduction is noticed, it should be time to start considering a replacement. Although with a typical eight year warranty (and expected life time), this is not an initial concern for many electric car owners.

2. Brake wear

Electric cars use what is known as the regenerative braking system, which means that they are able to harness energy from the parts stored in the system for later use. This actually means that brakes (rotors and pads) will wear much less than a conventional car, lasting twice as long. This means that brake maintenance, although still required, is reduced.

3. Tire wear

This is a standard type of care for any vehicle and it makes sense to inspect tires and tire pressure on electric cars as well. It should be noted that electric cars are typically heavier than conventional ones (because of battery weight) and thus, are harder on tires. Premature wear is possible and this makes tire check an important part of regular car care.

4. Update software

This is not something typically done on conventional cars, but updating software can be critical in electric cars. There could be major updates, improving battery life or car performance for example. Thus, it is very important to include software updates in the regular car care.

Top 5 Fuel Efficient Cars in the USA

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With today’s ever increasing gasoline prices, a question must be asked: which cars, currently sold in the United States, are the most fuel efficient? In other words, which top five gasoline powered cars (including hybrids but not plug ins) provide the most bang for you buck? It should be noted that this list excludes electric cars which tend to be the most efficient. Therefore, if buyers are strictly looking for efficiency, electric cars should take priority. However, if range is also important, this list will be very helpful.

1. 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Blue (Hybrid) - 58 MPG combined

This is the number one, most efficient car currently for sale in the US. Its price starts at around $22,000. This is the lowest available trim level for this model. This  models amazing fuel efficiency is mostly due to its incredibly low weight. It also features an extremely low drag coefficient of just 0.24 an ultra low weight 12V battery and regenerative braking. All this is supported by a 1.56 KW lithium polymer battery pack.

2. 2018 Toyota Prius Eco Hybrid - 56 MPG combined

Starting price for this model is $26,165. The Prius is the forerunner of hybrids and by far the most famous and popular model, which at least partially explains its higher price range.

3. 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid — 55 MPG combined

Another top five entry is from Hyundai. Pricing for this model starts at $23,950. This is basically a more feature rich version of the Hyundai Ioniq Blue, adding a bit more luxury and connectivity, while retaining most of the efficiency features.

4. 2017 Toyota Prius Prime — 54 MPG combined

This model starts at $27 100. It is a plug in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) which includes a heavier battery and on board charging system. The gas engine is DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 1.8-liter inline-4, 95 hp, 105 lb-ft. The electric motor used is permanent-magnet synchronous AC motors with an 8.8 kWh lithium ion battery pack. It should be noted that this efficiency rating, for the purposes of this list, does not take into consideration the plug in option. Using PHEV would basically turn this car into an electric car, which is not part of this list.

5. 2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV – 52 MPG combined

This is a similar model to Toyota Prius Prime in that it is also a plug in hybrid vehicle (PHEV). If this feature were taken into consideration, the efficiency would be even higher. This model feature a massive 8.9 kWh battery pack. The gas engine is DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 1.6-liter inline-4, 104 hp, 109 lb-ft , whereas the electric motor is permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor, 60 hp, 125 lb-ft. Starting price for this hatchback is $27,000.

 

Ways to Break in a New Car

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So you finally decided to buy that brand new, shiny car but have big concerns about
how to properly break it in? There are certain tips and tricks that are easy to follow
and will go a long way to properly braking in your new car.
Breaking a new car in is a long standing practice, recommended by all auto
manufacturers. It involves different processes such as: correct driving techniques,
precautionary measures, maintenance tasks and general care. What this will do is
prolong the life of your new car. It sets the foundation for how the car will perform for the
rest of its useful, working life. The basic idea behind the new car break in period is to
allow all moving parts to settle in properly and begin to work together as a team in the
right way.


1. Low Revolutions
Initial driving style should be gentle, avoiding extremely high engine revs (the so
called red lining). This will prevent your car’s moving parts from overstressing
during this initial, crucial period. The revolutions of the engine should be kept
below 3000 revolutions per minute (RPM). This can be monitored via the
dashboard tachometer.


2. Low Speeds
On a related topic, car’s speed should initially be kept reasonably low. There
should be no harsh accelerations, racing from the red lights (should never be
done!) or any other activity involving extreme speeds. Recommended speeds
during the break in period are between 30 and 50 miles per hour.


3. Proper and Regular Oil Changes
First oil change should take place very early in the car’s break in period, much
sooner than even the manufacturer’s manual instructs you to do. To be extra
cautious, the first oil change should happen somewhere between 50 and 100
miles, but somewhere within the first 500 miles should be very acceptable. The
reason behind such a quick first oil change is that there is a strong possibility of
excess particles and wear on the engine’s moving parts. These potentially loose
debris could pose danger to the engine, causing irreparable damage.

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4. Regular and Correct Maintenance
To further extend the life of the car, proper and early maintenance is
recommended. This includes regular inspections and simply tasks. Examples
include: changing the air filter, oil filter, checking of all fluids (level of transmission
fluid, antifreeze, oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluid). Fluids should be
topped up as needed.

For more of the latest car news and tips, check out the rest of Hero's blogs

Top Signs of Engine Oil Leak

Oil leaks are not fun. Those gross, greasy stains on the garage floor or that nasty burning smell and smoke coming from the tail pipe – these are not things any car owner looks forward to. And on top of that, the annoying oil light flickering on the dashboard which signals the beginning of a possible long, time consuming battle. Although there are other causes of these symptoms, there is a good chance they are caused by an engine leaking oil. This may sound simple, but it should never be ignored since it can be a sign of something much more serious. Repairing an engine oil leak should never be put off as it can definitely lead to bigger headaches down the road and serious engine damage can happen. It can even lead to engine overheating and you getting stranded on the side of the road. Review the following signs of an oil leak so you can recognize it early and deal with it efficiently. This will also help you realize how big of a role oil plays in the engine’s life.

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1. Dark puddles under your car
When you drive out of your garage in the morning, check to see if there are any dark
brown/yellow spots or puddles where the car was. If the oil is leak straight out of the
oil pan, it will drain onto your garage floor (or wherever the car happens to have been
parked for a period of time).


2. Smoke from the engine
If the oil leak happens to be around the exhaust manifold, it will cause smoke to come from the engine compartment. This could easily damage the oxygen sensor or make the gaskets break down and disintegrate, if left unrepaired for too long.


3. Oil light on the dashboard
If the oil light flashes on the dashboard, do not ignore it. This is an alert that oil level or pressure has dropped to below what is considered normal. It may not indicate a leak necessarily, but it's very likely. This should be looked at immediately by a car mechanic.


4. Smell of oil burning
If oil is leaking anywhere on the hot parts of the engine, it will burn and you will likely smell it or even hear it sizzle. If you notice this smell (which is bitter) have the car inspected as an oil leak is very likely.


5. Engine overhearing
Oil plays a very important part in ensuring engine does not overheat. It lubricates all moving parts, including the pistons which ensure proper and smooth movement and gliding. Without lubrication, friction would very quickly increase the temperature of the
engine, causing it to overheat.

Stay updated with the latest car tips by checking out our other blogs here. 

Top 8 things to check when getting a used car

Many people consider buying a used car as a way to save some money. Used cars are usually much cheaper than a brand new car. Buying a used car is also more economically conscious because over time, the car will lose less of it’s value. However, buying a new car is not always easy. There are numerous things that you have to look out for. Here are a list of the top 8 things to check when getting a used car.

 

1. Take a test drive

Test driving a car is important regardless of whether you are buying a new or a used car. A test drive allows you to get a feel for the car and see how it handles in the real world. With a used car, a test drive allows you to quickly spot any main issues with the car. These could be things like problems with the brakes or problems with the engine.

2. Look at the exterior and interior

Take a walk around the car and look for any noticeable dents or scratches. If there are any then they could significantly reduce the cost of the car. Dents and scratches are also an indicator that the previous owner didn’t take good care of the car. Take a look at the interior of the car as well. A dirty or messy interior is another place where you could get the owner to reduce the price of the car.

3. Check for a recall

Go online and check the make and model of the car you are considering buying and make sure that it hasn’t been recalled. Some owners may try to sell a car that has been recalled which is a safety issue and is very dangerous. If the make and model has been recalled, get proof from the owner that the car as been repaired and that the issue has been fixed. If the owner cannot provide proof, do not purchase the car.

4. Ask for service records

Service records are important because they tell you how the previous owner has taken care of the car. If the service records show regular maintenance then it is a good sign that the car has been well taken care of. If the records show no or very little maintenance then it is likely that you will have issues with the car in the future.

5. Have a mechanic perform an inspection

Take the car to a mechanic for an inspection. The mechanic will be able to find any issues with the car that are not obvious from the outside. If there are issues try to get the owner to cover the repair costs. If the owner is not willing to pay for the entire repair costs see if they will split the costs with you or of they will consider lowering the price of the car.

6. Check for a warranty

Check if the car has any warranty on it that could be transferred over to you. The warranty could come in handy if there are issues with the car in the future. If the owner bought the car when it was new then it is likely that there is some warranty on the car. As the owner if it is possible for them to transfer it over to you.

7. Check for any leaks

Park the car in a dry place and let it sit there for around 30 minutes. After that time move the car and check if there were any fluid leaks in the spot where it was parked. Leaks indicate that there is something wrong with the car and that it needs maintenance. If a leak is found, ask the owner if they are aware of it and if they know what is causing it.

8. Read reviews online

Buying a car is no different than buying any other item. Do your research online and read reviews about the car. See what other owners of the car have to say about it. If they think it’s a good car or if they regret purchasing it. Reviews can also tell you about possible issues with the car that you may face in the future.

or more of the latest car hacks and tips, check out our other blogs.

Top Reasons for Squeaky Brakes

Brakes are such a crucial part of the car, having them squeak can be both annoying and worrying. This is especially true if the squeaking continues for a long time or gets worse and worse. With that being said, noisy brakes are common and can often easily be dealt with by any auto mechanics shop.

 

Most automobile brakes today are disc brakes. This is where a pad presses against a disc (also known as the rotor) in order to stop the car. Some cars utilize an older type of brakes known as drum brakes. Sometimes, even on modern cars, the rear wheels will use drum brakes due to cost consideration. This type of brake uses a curved part called a “shoe” to press against a hollow drum, which then stops the car.

Morning squeaks

Often brakes will squeak after sitting all night. This is typically because of moisture from rain, dew or condensation that accumulated on the surface of the rotors. A thin layer of rust builds up on the surface of rotors. As the rotors turn the pads scrape off this rust. These fine particles can get trapped in the leading edge of the pad and can cause a squeaks.

Thinning Brake Pads

All pads have a built in wear indication. As the pads are used, they become worn, eventually thinning to the point of where the wear indicator becomes audible. This is a very common source of squeaks but it is not a failure, it is simply an indication that it is time to have the brakes serviced and pads replaced. These wear indicators are just small metal tabs made of steel which hit the rotor when pads are too thin, generating the noise.

 

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High Metal Content

Certain low end pads can be manufactured with a high metal content. There may be large chunks of metal embedded into the pads. These pieces will drag on the rotor and cause a high pitched brake squeak. Ideally brake pads with a higher content of non metal materials should be used. This will minimize the squeaks.

Drum Brakes Need Lubrication

If squeaking is heard from the drum brakes, it is an indication that they need to be lubricated. Shoe to backing plate contact points have lost most of their lubrication and thus need to be serviced.

Scraping From Plate

If squeaking is heard during regular driving, it may be an indication of scrapping from a plate due to damage. The typical cause of this is due to a rock hitting the underside of the car.

Brakes are one of the most important functionality of a car. It's important to know when they need to be serviced, replaced, or repaired. Have your trusted car care professional check them out if you ever have any doubt.

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