Don’t Fall into these Autumn Traps!

Autumn is here, with cooler weather and the changing leaves, not to mention jeans and sweaters and changing driving conditions. Wait, you weren’t expecting that last bit? Yes, as the weather changes, you need to be aware of changes to your car and the environment! Here are a few things to watch out for as you enjoy that pumpkin spice latte on your leaf-peeping tour:

  • Tire pressures – you might remember from science class that air expands when it gets warmer, and contracts when it gets cooler, which will impact your tire pressure. A good rule of thumb for most cars is for every 10 degrees cooler, you’ll lose 1 psi in tire pressure. Keep those tires pumped up for better handling, better fuel economy, and less tire wear!
  • Beautiful fall leaves on the ground – even dry leaves between the road and your tires can reduce traction, and wet leaves can be like driving on ice. Did I mention ice? If the temperature drops below freezing, and wet leaves freeze, they can stay that way even after the temperature rises. Make sure to slow down if there are leaves on the road and increase the distance between you and another car. Leaves also make it hard to see potholes and bumps, and kids love to play in leaf piles, so never drive through a leaf pile.
  • The time change – even before we turn back the clocks in fall, there are fewer hours of daylight. Your evening commute may change from bright and sunny to twilight, or if you are driving west, the setting sun may be in your eyes. And what do people do after work? They walk their dogs, go for a jog, ride their bicycles, or play with their kids, even in the fading light. Make sure you watch for them, and make sure your headlights are clean and in good condition. Bonus – if you’re one of those westbound commuters we mentioned, now is the time to treat yourself to a good pair of sunglasses!
  • Deer and other wildlife – we already mentioned that deer are more active in the fall, but the earlier darkness makes nocturnal animals more likely to be out as well. While an encounter with an opossum or raccoon isn’t likely to directly damage your car, it can be distracting, and a direct hit might create an unexpected bump causing you to swerve.

What is it like to be an Auto Tech at U.S. Auto?

Have you ever wondered what a day in an automotive technician’s life is like at U.S. Auto Sales? Well, if you have some experience as an automotive technician, but are looking for a new place to work, here’s what it’s like to work with us!

U.S. Auto Sales is a full-service shop, and we work on all makes and models. Check out our inventory, and you’ll see the types of cars that come in for service. We also do everything from oil changes to engine work, literally on every system of the car.

We’re also not specialists. We don’t have a transmission person, a diagnostic person, a suspension person – we’re all general service technicians.

What does that mean for you? No two days working in the service department at U.S. Auto Sales is the same. It’s a fun, dynamic environment.

Everything we do at U.S. Auto Sales relates back to quality, trust, and respect. Here’s how we see the automotive technician role meeting those values:

  • Quality – we provide reliable, good quality vehicles to our customers. When one of those vehicles comes in for service, our customer expects that vehicle to leave the service department better than it came in, whether for an oil change or resolution of an issue. Automotive technicians are the key to providing that quality service.
  • Trust – our customers trust us to provide them a good service at a fair price. We trust you, as the automotive technician, not only to service the vehicle, but to report to the service advisers if there are other problems affecting the safety or usability of the car. Our customers trust you to make sure they car they’re driving continues to be as safe and reliable as when they bought it.
  • Respect – we treat our customers and our employees with respect. Automotive technicians are a key part of the success of our business and the ongoing relationship with our customers.

Sound like a good place to work? We’re always looking for great techs at many of our locations. Check out our careers page for more!

Fall Festival Fun!

Fall in Georgia is a fickle time. Summer doesn’t want to let go. Fall has to slowly ease in, and only has a short time before we’re really in the grips of winter. Maybe that’s what makes this time so very special, because it seems so fleeting.

The cooling weather makes fall a great time for festivals, and Georgia is jam-packed with them this time of year. From right down the street to a short road trip, here are a few key Georgia festivals you don’t want to miss.

Duluth, GA Fall Festival – last weekend in September

The Duluth Fall Festival, coming up quickly, is one you don’t want to miss! This ever-expanding festival in the recently renovated Duluth town square features local art and artisans, great food, a carnival, and lots of great shows featuring local performers. Park your US Auto Sales car at one of the shuttle locations and take an air-conditioned bus directly into the heart of the festival, or park at one of the designated lots and take a walk if you’re so inclined.

Georgia Apple Festival – October 13-14 and October 20-21

The Georgia Apple Festival is celebrating 47 years in 2018. Hosted in Ellijay, Georgia, in the heart of apple-growing country, the festival offers something for everyone. There are over 300 vendors, a parade, an antique car show, craft demonstrations, and of course, apples, apple cider, apple pie, dried apples, and any other kind of apple-themed thing you can think of. Take a little time while you’re there to visit one of the many orchards and farm stands in the area.

Native American Festival and Pow Wow – November 1-4

Voted a top 20 event by the Southeast Tourism society, the Native American Festival is a combination of visual splendor, powerful ritual, education, and fun. Learn to start a fire without matches or a lighter, make flint arrowheads and archery bows, and cook on an open fire. Experience native dances in the inter-tribal drum competitions. A different kind of festival that will leave you wanting to come back for more.

Calvary Lions Mule Day – first Saturday in November

Almost anywhere you go there are festivals. How often do you get to go to a festival of mules? Well, every year on the first Saturday in November, the tiny town of Calvary, GA, swells from about 200 people to over 30,000 for the Calvary Lions Mule Day Festival. There’s a parade with mules, horses, and antique tractors. There are contests. There are over 350 arts and crafts exhibitions. There’s cane-grinding and syrup-making. There are also mules, celebrating their significant contribution to the area’s agriculture. Proceeds from this festival benefit the Lions’ Club sight programs and local charities.

Luxury for Less

Some people buy a luxury car for the cachet of owning an expensive brand, but others really want a luxurious experience, with lots of comfort and high-end features. If you have Lexus taste on a Kia budget, here are a few cars you might want to consider that we have in inventory as of this writing.

Chevy Malibu:

Those of you who have driven older Malibus are wondering about seeing this car on the list, but starting with the 2016 redesign, the Malibu has come a long way. They’re handsome cars with nice interiors. They also offer a list of features that include Bose sound systems, heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, adaptive cruise control, and self-parking.

Chrysler 200:

Chrysler has long seen itself as a luxury line, and they didn’t shortchange the Chrysler 200. The recent models have graceful lines and a fine cabin. Newer 200s have lots of available features – panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, an advanced infotainment system, and self-parking for both parallel and perpendicular spaces. If power is your thing, you can get a 295-horsepower V6, which will propel you to 60mph in just over six seconds. Luxury-sport, indeed!

Hyundai Sonata:

Hyundai has built its success in this country by offering a feature-rich package at a budget price, and then backing that up with a serious warranty. The Sonata has benefited from this with lots of standard features, and an option list that reads like War and Peace. Just a few of the available options include leather seats, infotainment with 8-inch touch screen, heated front seats, xenon headlights, navigation system, Infinity sound, and many others. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better value.

Acura ILX:

Hey, I thought this wasn’t supposed to be about expensive brands? Yes, Acura is a luxury marque with all the cachet that entails. But for a luxury make, the ILX is a bargain. They’re a true luxury car with lots of standard features (like a sunroof!) and excellent available options: 8-way adjustable power leather seats, heated front seats, navigation with voice recognition and camera, and xenon headlights.

As of this writing, we have multiples of all of these models represented in our inventory. At US Auto Sales, we want you to have great choices in the cars that you desire.

Oh, deer.

Autumn is upon us, bringing the ever-present scent of pumpkin-spice, cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, and deer.

You may not really think of that last one as a sign of fall unless you’re a hunter, but deer in the southeast are most active in the fall, typically beginning mid-October and through the end of the year. Deer on the move increases the possibility of a chance encounter between your nice US Auto Sales used car and an animal that can weigh upwards of 150 pounds. As you might imagine, the results can be damaging in the least, for your car, yourself, and the deer. Here are a few tips to avoid meeting Bambi the hard way.

  • Signs, signs, everywhere signs. If you see a deer crossing sign, even in an area where you might not expect to find one, like in a crowded suburban neighborhood, pay attention. Deer have become accustomed to living near us, so almost anywhere may be a potential deer crossing.
  • Deer are like potato chips. You really can’t have just one. If you see one deer, expect that there are others nearby who may also try to cross your path. According to the Animal Protection Institute, 70% of collisions between cars and deer happen after the driver slowed for one deer, and then accelerated into another they didn’t see.
  • Slow your roll. Lower your speed when deer are most active, and hardest to see – in the late evening at dusk, and in the early morning hours. Look for eye reflections from your headlights, particularly along the shoulder.

Hold your line. If you do see a deer or other large animal in the road, don’t swerve. You’re more likely to lose control of the vehicle and hit a stationary object like a tree or phone pole, or another car – much more likely to end up worse than if you hit a deer. Hold your lane and apply the brakes to bring yourself to a controlled stop. If you have the presence of mind to blow the horn while you’re doing that, it may scare off the deer.

Five reasons to buy a used Ford sedan

Ford announced earlier this year they would stop selling most cars in this country, with the exception of the Mustang. They’ll also be keeping the Focus nameplate, but the newly redesigned Focus is more of a crossover than a traditional car. With that in mind, what do we see happening in the next couple years? Should you buy a used Ford where the model has been discontinued?

Our immediate response is “yes!” Here are a few good reasons:

  1. Ford isn’t going away. Ford is dropping cars from its line-up so they can be an even more profitable business. They’ve been around for 115 years, and they made more than $140B in 2017 (Yes, that’s billion with a “B”). They’ll be around to support the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus for a long time to come.
  2. The cars aren’t going away quickly. Ford only stopped making the Focus in May of this year. Fiesta and Taurus models are still on the production line and won’t cease production until the first half of 2019. Ford hasn’t announced a specific date for the end of Fusion production.

Even when production ends on these cars, it’s not like they’re going to magically disappear from dealer lots. There will still be both new and used models of these cars around for a long time to come.

  1. Companies discontinue models all the time. Ford’s recent announcement to retire all of its car models except Mustang is simply a more dramatic version of something that car companies do all the time. Consider the Ford Ranger, Bronco, and Tempo. They haven’t been around for years, but it’s still relatively easy to get parts for them and have them serviced.
  2. Ford made a lot of these cars. For example, Ford sold more than 200,000 Fusions last year, and that’s just one year’s production. They’ve been making the Ford Fusion for 13 years. As we mentioned, Ford is trying to be more profitable. Not supporting vehicles they’ve sold in the hundreds of thousands would be a customer service nightmare.
  3. Here’s a great thing for you folks in the used car market here at US Auto Sales. Typically, when a vehicle model is discontinued, the prices drop a little for a few years afterwards, so you may be able to score a really nice Focus, Fiesta, Fusion, or Taurus for less money than you might get a comparable car from a different manufacturer.

There it is in a nutshell! The four discontinued Ford cars will be excellent investments for years to come – especially when they’re backed by US Auto Sales

Keep the machine clean!

You’ve got yourself a new-to-you ride from US Auto Sales, and it’s looking good! You want to keep it that way, right? The detailers at car dealers have a few tricks up their sleeves, but there’s a lot you can do yourself to keep your car looking great! We asked some local detailers for their favorite tips and tricks, and here’s what they told us:

If you don’t do anything else…

Clean those wheels and dress the tires! “If your wheels are clean, it makes the whole car look better. And if you’ve got clean wheels, you have to dress the tires, or they don’t look right,” said one detailer.

At first, try cleaning your wheels with just plain car wash soap and a towel or a soft-bristled brush. You’ll probably be surprised what comes off with a little scrubbing. If you’ve got stains or embedded brake dust, try a commercial wheel cleaning solution. Be careful, though, some of them can react with your wheels, leaving them permanently discolored! Try them in an inconspicuous place, like on the inside rim, before you go all out.

“Dressing” your tires means applying a coat of tire shine solution. There are two basic kinds – one is a water-based solution with synthetic polymers, the other solvent-based with silicone. “Most of the stuff we get is solvent-based, but I use water-based on my own car,” claimed a local detailer. “It doesn’t sling (off the tire onto the paint) as much, it looks just as good if not better, and it’s better for the environment.”

Wax on…

“We spend more time taking wax build-up off of cars than you can imagine,” a body-shop owner told us. “It seems that there are only two kinds of people – they either never wax, or they wax far too often.”

Car wax both protects your paint and fills in minute scratches in your clearcoat, giving a smooth, shiny look. It’s tempting to wax your car every time you wash – it just looks so good when it’s done. But too much wax, over time, will make your car look dull.

If you need to remove wax build-up on your car, wash it with a gentle car wash soap, and add a quarter cup of baking soda per gallon of water. Washing your car thoroughly with this solution is safe and effective for getting the wax build-up off your car. Once you’ve done that, of course you want to re-wax with a high-quality wax – either a good synthetic wax, or a good carnauba-based wax. Detailers can’t seem to agree which is best, so use your judgment!

Deep down inside

Have you ever seen a car that looked great on the outside, but you didn’t want to get in it? According to our detailer panel, it’s not that uncommon. Beyond the usual vacuum and dust routine, there’s a couple things you want to do to get that interior spotless. One, get yourself a 1-inch paintbrush, and use it to dust hard-to-reach places like the insides of vents, coin trays, and crevices between seats. Two, take your floor mats out, take them to the local coin laundry, treat any stains with stain remover, and wash them in a front-loading commercial washer. This both gets the loose dirt that your vacuum can’t reach and cleans any dirt and stains right out. Finally, get some children’s modeling clay (like Silly Putty or Play-Doh), and push it into your cupholders. You’ll be stunned at what comes out.

Thanks to our detailer panel for letting us in on their tricks to keep that US Auto Sales car shiny and new-looking!

What to look for in a Crossover

The SUV of the 90s and early 2000s has largely been superseded by the crossover, that blend of car and SUV providing the utility of an SUV with a more car-like driving experience. They’re great grocery-getters, carpool carriers, and general stuff haulers. As the fastest-growing new car segment in the US, they’re also easily found on the used market. But before you fall in love with that crossover, here’s a few considerations.

Small, medium, or large?

Crossovers come in lots of different sizes now, from subcompacts like the MINI Countryman to large crossovers like the Chevy Traverse. Figure out how much you need. If you regularly carry a lot of people or stuff, spring for the bigger one, but understand that you’re probably going to have to pay a bit more, both in the initial purchase price and in fuel over the long term, since larger crossovers tend to be powered by V6s, with some luxury models offering V8s.

How big is your crowd?

Your initial thoughts on size may be influenced by how many people you need to carry – and how big are those people. Subcompact crossovers generally are limited to four people, and the rear seats may not be comfortable for larger adults. Some midsized crossovers have a third-row seat option, giving you capacity for as many as eight people… or the ability to put the kids as far from the driver as possible! And if you go for the third-row seat, remember to try them out yourself and see if they’ll be comfortable, and don’t forget that your kids are going to grow!

And now for the feature.

Crossovers can be feature-rich, particularly as you get into high-line models. Consider things like cupholders, which can be numerous, power ports and outlets, and maybe rear-seat entertainment if you’re going on long trips. Other niceties can be power liftgates, which make access easier, and large moonroofs to make the interior seem bigger.

Drive it!

If this will be your first crossover, make sure to take a test drive. While crossovers are essentially cars under the skin, they tend to be heavier and taller, changing the center of gravity and their handling. Some handle really nicely for a large vehicle, but you have to expect a different driving experience, and it’s important to know if you’re going to like it!

When you take that test drive, make sure to get a little highway time to make sure you have enough power for passing maneuvers. If that unloaded crossover runs out of steam with just you and the salesperson, imagine that it’s probably not going to do as well with a full load.

Once you’ve figured out your needs, it’s time to head to your local US Auto Sales and pick out your crossover!

Southern Cities Weekend Road Trip Series part 3

We span Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida, so we’re taking advantage of that local knowledge to create a series of short road trips. We looked at some of the cool places where we have US Auto Sales dealerships, figured out some great roads between them and mixed in some sights to see. The result – the US Auto Sales Southern Cities Weekend Road Trips. The third and final trip in the series is all Georgia, all the time.

Athens: If you’re a University of Georgia (UGA) football fan, you know Athens! If you’re going in the fall, of course a visit to Sanford Stadium is practically a requirement. Did you know that UGA was chartered as the first state college in the United States in 1785? The city wasn’t even chartered until 1806, with UGA there, of course it had to be named after Athens, Greece – the ancient center of higher learning.

Beyond the college, there are 15 neighborhoods on the National Register of Historic Places. The Victorian downtown boasts a great food scene and an active creative community, everything from plein air artists (who like to work outside) to lacemakers.

Roads to the next stop: you can go directly to the next stop via US-78 and I-20, and get there in under 2 hours. But antebellum architecture and quaint small towns about in this area, parts of which are known as the Antebellum Trail. Take US-441S into Watkinsville. From there, take GA-15S to Greensboro, and follow US-278E to US-78E into Augusta.

Augusta: Welcome to the home of the Masters Golf Tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club since 1934, when it was won by Horton Smith. The tournament started by Bobby Jones and Clifford Smith wasn’t even known by that name at the time – it didn’t pick up the Masters name until 1939.

Not into golf? Being on the Savannah River, there’s a lot of great recreational opportunities both in and around the river, from paddling and kayaking to the Riverwalk. You could even pick up an Augusta Greenjackets minor league baseball game!

Roads to the next stop: This is one of those rare cases where the direct route is the best one. Take US-1S to GA-88W to GA-24N to GA-540W and GA-57W to Macon. If you’ve got a little time on your hands, stop in Milledgeville and wander the grounds of the abandoned Central State Hospital, at one time one of the largest insane asylums in the United States.

Macon: Let’s talk about rock and dirt. No, seriously, when you’re in Macon, you’ve got to check into the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House, with memorabilia from their former home! What about dirt, though? Go all the way the other direction in history to the Ocmulgee National Monument and see the Native American earthen mounds from around 1000 CE. Don’t be fooled, by the way – they’re not burial mounds. You’ll have to go to Macon to find out the truth!

Roads to the next stop: Go pretty much any way you want! I-75S to GA-96W is fastest, or you can follow US-80 the whole way. Either way, you’re going to be rolling through a little less than two hours of rural area with picturesque farmland.

Columbus: The final stop on this tour, and in this series, takes you to Columbus. You’re just across the Chattahoochee from Phoenix City, Alabama, in this old industrial town. Your visit here wouldn’t be complete without a tour of Springer Opera House, originally opened in 1871, and graced by such acts as Buffalo Bill, John Phillip Sousa, Ethel Barrymore, Burt Reynolds, Oscar Wilde, and W.C. Fields. And once you’ve toured it, there’s no better way to experience a theater than with a live show! There are several production companies that call the Springer home!

We’ve put on a lot of mileage in this series! Every one of these cities is also graced with a US Auto Sales location. Please feel free to stop in and check out our inventory!

Teaching Your Teen to Drive (5 Ways You Can Help Prepare Them)

It’s the moment your teen has been waiting for, the first sign of adulthood and freedom. It’s time to teach your teen to drive.  They’re constantly asking you to let them drive to the store or to drive home after the football game.  They’ve never studied harder for any test in their life, but are they ready?  Here’s a few ways you can properly prepare your teen before they take the keys solo.

1.Be the Example.

I think this is probably one of the most important steps to teaching anyone anything. From birth, we as humans begin learning life by watching others around us and imitating them. For a young driver, they’ve already had years of experience watching you drive them around. Remember that you’re the best example and the policy of “do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t always translate well.  Be mindful of your driving habits, use turn signals, don’t text and drive, mind the speed limit and don’t take risks with your life behind the wheel.

2.Enroll Them in a Driving Course.

Although you may have an excellent driving record, it doesn’t hurt to enroll your child into a certified driver’s education course. These courses provide tools that could save your child’s life and keep others on the road safe. Some states require these courses before allowing teens to get their licenses and often insurance companies will offer discounts for having had your child complete a driver’s education course successfully.

3.Educate Beyond Just Driving.

Sure, driving is exciting, but a lot more goes into driving than just jumping into a car and driving off. Teach them the importance of auto maintenance, insurance policies, roadside assistance, how to change a tire and fuel options. These are topics your new driver probably never even thought about, but you can prepare them with the proper resources should they need it in the future.

4.Don’t Let Them See You Sweat.

Yes, it’s scary being in the car with a new driver, especially when traffic is heavy but keeping a cool and calm head will benefit you both. You’ll need to be alert and able to give instruction to your new driver without causing alarm or knee-jerk reactions. When you’re relaxed, your new driver will be more at ease and able to focus on the task at hand which is getting to your destination safely and successfully.

5.Be Encouraging.

As a new driver, it can be frustrating. Video games and arcades have made driving seem like a piece of cake, but once you’re behind the wheel it’s a different story. Encourage your new driver when they’re doing a good job. Take your time when explaining different tasks such as parallel parking or changing lanes. Don’t lose your cool if they make a mistake and be vigilant to give them enough room to make non-threatening mistakes for learning opportunities. Allow them the road time to become comfortable behind the wheel to demonstrate trust.

Learning to drive is no small feat but is an exciting time in the lives of the new driver. With the right tools and encouragement, there is no reason the process shouldn’t be enjoyable and safe for all parties involved. When it’s time for the new driver to drive away on their own, you’ll be more at ease and confident that you’ve prepared them to do their best and to be responsible.