roadside assistance

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

Summer can kill your car's battery

It’s safe to say that all of us have been there. In a rush to get to an important meeting at work, running out the door and jumping in the car. You sit down, stick the keys into the ignition, and turn to get it started… Instead of hearing the engine start up, all you hear are some soft clicking noises. Your car is refusing to start.Traditional wisdom suggests that dead batteries are the product of frigid winters, but did you know that the heat of summer months can be equally, if not more, damaging to your car’s battery?

A little known fact is that studies indicate that car batteries in colder areas have a life expectancy of around 60 months. On the other hand, those in hot regions, average only around 30 months. This is mostly due to chemistry inside the car batteries. In hot climates, the battery starts to discharge spontaneously within 24 hours. This same process takes place in colder climates, but it takes considerably longer – few days. A dead battery in hot weather is thus, a distinct possibility. Here are five ways to improve your changes and keep your battery alive in even the hottest climate.

Park in Shade

Because the high heat is so damaging to you car’s battery, always try to park in a cool, shaded parking spot. Of course, this one’s common sense. It’s a no brainer that parking in the shade will keep the interior of the car significantly cooler!

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Do Not Drive Short Distances

Always plan your trips accordingly. Taking longer trips will increase your driving time. You should opt for bicycle or walking for the shorter trips because short distance driving will destroy your car battery much quicker. The science behind this is that while driving, the alternator charges the battery. This process is takes a relatively long time which means that increasing your driving time will give the alternator more time. Short trips with many stops and starts don’t allow sufficient time to charge the battery.

Decrease the Demand on Car Battery

Our cars have become our second homes or offices. It seems like there’s always five things going on at once. Almost everything in our cars demand electricity, which of course, comes from the battery. Between satellite navigation systems, DVD screens, phone chargers, car’s own computer and electrical systems, we ask a lot of our car’s battery. Keep this in mind when you’re adding new devices or plugging new things into car’s charging sockets. Only use what you really need and this will lower the demand on your car battery, and in result, greatly prolong its life.

Keep Battery Clean

The battery is typically located within the engine compartment and this typically isn’t too pretty… It’s common to find this compartment covered in dirt, oil, and grease. These substances can build up on your battery’s terminals and act like insulators. This will potentially even lower the charging capacity of your battery even more which ends up in shortening its life. The build up of dirt and grease can also act like a heat trap; keeping the battery even hotter. It’s vital to clean this area regularly.

Use a Charger

It might be a good idea to invest in a car battery charger. When the car is parked for a long period of time, an external charger can help keep the battery topped up. Having this will assist in keep the battery from getting completely drained while it is not being used. In result, this will help extend its life and keep you from having to buy a new battery sooner than necessary.

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.

 

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.

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