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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.

Atlanta on a Tankful

As you may know, Atlanta is the capital city of of Georgia. It is the economic and cultural center of the state and was founded in 1837. What many don't know is that it mostly burned to the ground during the Civil War. However, it rose from the ashes to become a beautiful new metropolitan city and should be on any tourist’s ‘to see’ list. For the budget minded, or for those with less time on their hands, there is now a way to see many amazing things in Atlanta on just a single tank of gas. Here is an itinerary of Atlanta’s fascinating Midtown:

1. Ansley Park and Piedmont Park

Ansley Park is a very affluent area of Atlanta, filled with luxurious and expensive houses. This will be a fun and interesting drive for the start of the tour. Stop by the urban and grassy Piedmont Park for a quick and leisurely stroll before the next stop.

2. Atlanta Botanical Garden

Located next to Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Botanical Garden opened in 1976. It serves as a sanctuary and education center for many different species of plants. Make a quick stop at the Fuqua Orchid center to see the largest collection of orchids on permanent display in the U.S.

3. Margaret Mitchell's Home

Next, drive to the nearby home of Margaret Mitchell, where she wrote the famous book ‘Gone with The Wind’. This is a definitely must for both history buffs and movie lovers.

4. Hop across for a quick drive by of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta which is the sixth district of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks of the United States.

5. EAT!

By now it will be time for a quick lunch so check out the nearby restaurant district for some delicious local cuisine and a refreshing beverage. There is a restaurant on every corner and this area is home to some of the best eateries in the city. So enjoy!

6. Fabulous Fox Theater

This is our next drop on the drive tour of Midtown Atlanta. This theatre is a former movie palace and is currently a performing arts center. It is a part of a larger Fox Theatre Historic District.

7. Centennial Olympic Park

Finally, to complete our tour of Atlanta on a single tank of gas, visit the Centennial Olympic Park, which hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics and is still a popular site for large events. Today this 21 acre area is a public park. Currently performance includes several summer pop music concerts serious and an annual Independence Day concert and fireworks display.

Check out our blog for the latest in car care and Atlanta.

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.

 

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.

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Oil Changing Essentials

Changing your car’s oil is one of the most basic and critically important car maintenance activities. At its core, changing oil in a car consists of removing the old, spent oil from the car’s engine and replacing it with a new oil. It is typical to replace the car’s oil filter at the same time.

 

When?

With time and as the car’s engine operates, oil breaks down and wears out. It loses its viscosity and becomes much less capable of lubricating all of the engine’s moving parts. Furthermore, oil loses its ability to absorb and dissipate heat as it ages. This can all lead to engine parts being less protected and eventually to a break down. The goal of very vehicle owner is to replace the engine oil, before this costly break down occurs.

How?

How often should oil be changed? This depends on numerous factors: make of the car, the way the car is driven, the age of the car and even your geographical location. A typical rule of thumb, recommended by most mechanics, is to replace your oil every 3000 miles. This may be slightly too aggressive. Most newer automobile manufacturers recommend longer intervals, for example, 5000 miles. Using special synthetic oil will allow you to extend this interval up to 10000 miles.

 

Where?

Engine oil can be replaced at almost any auto mechanic garage, anything from a large car manufacturer’s dealership to a small family run shop. It depends on a person preference convenience and budget. One recommendation that should be made is that oil change be done a reputable location, especially if the vehicle is still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Always have your oil changed by a trusted professional. And yes, changing oil at a registered car mechanics business will not void the warranty, despite a common myth it is not necessary to take the car back to the original dealer who sold it. There is always an option to do it yourself. Changing oil is not a complicated maintenance process and it is an easy project for anyone to do at home.

How?

Replacing the engine oil includes the following steps:

  • Buy new oil filter and sufficient quantity of new oil

  • Warm up your car

  • Park the care on a flat surface

  • Open hood, removed oil filler cap

  • Remove oil plug (under the car, see owner’s manual for details)

  • Drain the old oil into a collection pen

  • Remove old oil filter (see owner’s manual for location)

  • Install new oil filter

  • Reinstall the oil plug

  • Refill the engine with new oil

6 Signs of Car Damage You Can Recognize with Your Nose

Cars can be complicated. There's no way for you to know exactly when and where there is a problem occurring. However, your nose can help sniff out the problem. Funny smells coming from your vehicle can indicate specific issues that may need attention ASAP. Here are six different smells that indicate issues in your car:

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1. Maple Syrup

Most likely the culprit is antifreeze. Pay attention to when you smell this odor. It would be when the heat is turned on, the engine has been running for a while, or it could even occur once you've turned the car off. There could be antifreeze leaking in your car or from the core of the heater.

2. Rotten eggs or Sulfur

The smell of rotten eggs usually comes from the compound hydrogen sulfide. This compound is a byproduct from sulfur found in fuel. This smell could indicate engine or catalyst converter issues. It's possible that the converter or fuel system is not functioning properly. This needs to be checked out by a professional immediately. 

3. Sweaty Locker Room

Yes. As strange as it sounds, many people face the problem of their car smelling like a musty gym locker room. This unpleasant odor most likely indicates that there is mold or mildew inside your air conditioning vents. It's important to dry out your vents by turning off the A/C and blowing air through the system. If this still doesn't solve the problem, have a professional take care of it for you.

4. Gasoline

Don't be alarmed if you just filled up your tank and smell the odor of gas. However, if you haven't just refueled and still smell it, you should be aware that there might be a problem. The smell of gas might indicate that there's a leak. This leak is most likely in the fuel injector line or the vehicle's gas tank. You need to get this examined as soon as you can because a gas leak poses a serious fire hazard.

5. Hot or Burning Oil

If you smell oil when your engine is hot, it might be an oil leak into the exhaust. Look for oil dripping on the ground underneath your car. It's important to note that it is possible for the leak to not be visible on the ground if it all drips onto the exhaust. Another indication could be thick smoke if the leak persists and gets bad enough. 

6. Burning Carpet

The odor of burning carpet typically is a result of overheating brakes. Riding your brakes downhill may create this odor. However, if you're driving normally, your parking brake might be on. Check your parking brake and if it isn't engaged, it's possible that your brakes are not functioning as they should be. This poses a hazard and they are at risk of malfunctioning. 

Don't wait until it's too late. Get your car serviced regularly and as soon as you think there might be an issue.

Don't wait until it's too late. Get your car serviced regularly and as soon as you think there might be an issue.

You don't have to be a car expert to be able to spot (or smell) when something is wrong with your vehicle. Always pay attention to your car. Funny smells and noises can indicate major problems under the hood. Train your nose to recognize odd smells and what they mean so that you can describe what's going on when your car gets checked out by a professional. 

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How to Recognize Engine Problems

What's that sound? Does something smell funny? Cars can be very complicated and sometimes it's difficult to know if there's an actual problem. However, there are several warning signs that you can look out for to spot engine damage. These warning signs typically require immediate attention, but the sooner the problem is attended to, the more likely it is that it can be fixed.

If something seems off about your car, don't ignore it! Recognizing a problem early leads to a better chance of being able to fix it. 

If something seems off about your car, don't ignore it! Recognizing a problem early leads to a better chance of being able to fix it. 

Check engine light or other dashboard lights illuminated

This may seem like a no brainer to some. However, there are many people who let their check engine light stay on and pay no mind to it. Out of all of the lights on the dashboard, the most important are Check Engine, Check Oil, and Low Oil Pressure. The Check Engine light is the most difficult and confusing warning due to the amount of causes behind it. It could indicate that something is wrong with your ignition or it could be something as small as not screwing your gas cap on tightly. 

Noises

All cars make some strange noises on a daily basis. These noises could include slight ticking or clicking. However, if you notice any new or different sounds, it may mean that attention is required. The main sounds to look out for are squealing, grinding, thumping, or hissing. If you notice any of these sounds or any other unfamiliar noises, try to pinpoint the general area of where its occurring and having a professional check it out.

Funny smells

Unusual smells are a huge warning sign when it comes to engine damage. Be on the lookout for smells similar to burnt rubber, hot oil, gasoline, burning carpet, and rotten eggs. Never ignore odd smells coming from your car even if it is not among the ones listed. Have your car serviced immediately.

Engine problems could be pinpointed by the things you smell or see.

Engine problems could be pinpointed by the things you smell or see.

Steam or smoke

Some smoke can be normal. However, excessive amounts are an indicator that something is wrong under the hood. Be especially aware of dark smoke.

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