Category Archives: Atlanta Group Service

What Oil is Best for Your Vehicle?

You stop for gas. You check the oil in your car. You need to add a quart. You go inside the convenience store. You find several options. You leave because you don’t know which one is right for your vehicle.

You go to your local oil change place. You’re asked if you want synthetic oil. You hear the difference in price, and say no immediately. You’re uncertain if you did the right thing.

If you’ve ever been in one of these situations, this blog post is for you.

Every type of oil has a different purpose related to the type of engine, the age of your vehicle, and the climate in which you drive. You might be surprised to know that over the course of time, it might be less expensive and more beneficial to switch to synthetic oil. Here is what you need to know about the different types of motor oils that might help you determine which type is best for your vehicle.

Decoding the label

Look at the label on the oil. There’s usually a number, followed by a W, followed by another number, like 5W-20 or 10W-40. The first number refers to the viscosity rating of the oil, which refers to its ability to flow in colder temperatures. The second number is the weight of the oil in warmer temperatures.

What does this mean to you? Unless you live in an area where temperatures reach extremes, then all you need to do is match the numbers on the bottle with the numbers on your oil filler cap. If your oil filler cap doesn’t have numbers on it, refer to your owner’s manual. This would be unusual, but if your filler cap was replaced, it’s possible.

Your owner’s manual may have a chart with oil recommendations based on temperature ranges, similar to the chart below. If it does, use the oil recommended for the temperatures you drive in most frequently according to the chart in your manual.

Synthetic versus Conventional Motor Oil

Your owner’s manual may have a recommendation here as well. Many modern cars require synthetic oil, and if so, you should follow that requirement in your owner’s manual. If there is no requirement for synthetic oil, you still may want to consider it.

Although synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional oil, it offers better protection for your car’s engine, potentially prolonging engine life. Synthetic oil:

  • Provides better protection from extreme temperatures.
  • Prevents deposits and sludge build-up better than conventional oil.
  • Reduces break down when towing or hauling heavy loads.
  • Requires less frequent changes.
  • Can extend the life of your older vehicle.

If you tend to take shorter trips or do a lot of in town driving, synthetic oil is the better choice. Conventional motor oil may not get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities.

Switching from conventional to synthetic motor oil will not harm your vehicle, but it is important to stay with the same viscosity and weight. Regardless of which route you choose to go, it is important to get your oil changed as recommended and periodically check your oil level to ensure that your engine is lubricated properly.

Top Rated GPS Apps and Standalone Devices for Your Vehicle

You have your US Auto Sales car, and the road beckons. But how do you get where you’re going? Those roadmaps from the local convenience store aren’t going to cut it anymore. Here are the best mapping apps for your phone, and a few standalone devices that don’t require internet access.

Google Maps – Google Maps is an outstanding GPS navigation system compatible with both Android and iPhone. Not only does it give you accurate information on directions, but it will also automatically reroute you based on live traffic, construction, and accidents. The app also gives many local suggestions for food, activities, events, etc. Bonus – if your vehicle supports Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you can use it right from the touch screen in your vehicle.

Waze – This app is a favorite among the younger generation. It not only navigates, but warns you about police sightings, hazards, and will reroute you based on traffic, construction, and accidents. It also has a feature that will allow you to record your voice or anyone else’s to use as your navigation, and you can even play music through it.

Sygic GPS Navigation – Heading a little farther off the beaten path? Sygic offers reliable off-line maps as well as real time traffic information. Maps are updated multiple times a year at no additional cost. It keeps track of your speed, warns you when you go over the limit, and has many other safety features as well.

MAPS ME – Another off-line navigation app, MAPS ME keeps up to date with any changes to road conditions. You can use this navigation system anytime and it will also bookmark your favorite locations. Another good option for spotty or non-existent internet.

Standalone GPS Devices

Garmin DriveSmart 55 and Traffic – An excellent entry-level device from a well-known GPS navigation company, the DriveSmart55 has a responsive touchscreen and easily mounts to the windshield. Unfortunately, it only covers 49 states. Maps for other regions must be purchased separately. Starting at $149.99.

Atoto A6 Double Din Android Car Navigation Stereo – This GPS device stands out from the crowd because it is not only a GPS navigation system but also includes popular music apps and radio features and Bluetooth. It’s a little buggy, though, with reviewers reporting occasional screen freezes and audio loss. Starting at $159.99.

Tom Tom GO 620 6-inch GPS Navigation Device – Tom Tom is known for accuracy and fast signal, but some feel that it not as easy to use as other systems. It has 3-D imaging, voice control and hands-free calling. The downside is that it must be linked to a smart phone to access live traffic data. Starting at $209.99.

6 Factors to Keep in Mind When Buying For Your New Driver

Your young driver’s dream car probably isn’t the most practical or safest choice. Using the car buying experience to research the best options is a great way to help your child make informed adult decisions. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when purchasing a vehicle for the young person in your life.

Sticker Price

The bottom line is most likely the deciding factor when purchasing that perfect vehicle for your child. Keep in mind when looking at the sticker price that makes and models that hold their value better than others are usually more reliable and last longer. Make it easy on yourself by shopping a no-haggle dealership like US Auto Sales.

Reliability

The last thing a parent needs to worry about is whether their child is going to end up stranded on the side of the road. Some cars are more reliable than others. Doing your homework first will make it easier to steer clear of some of those vehicles your child may gravitate towards. Also, a vehicle history report from Carfax is a must. US Auto Sales provides a Carfax report with every used vehicle and a limited warranty to add to your peace of mind.

Safety

Most cars now come with safety features like anti-lock brakes and airbags standard, but take the time to look at which vehicles ranked highest in safety. Again, look at the car’s history and whether or not it might have suffered any structural damage due to an accident.

Fuel Efficiency

It is easy to get wrapped up in the other factors of used car buying and forget some of the long-term factors of car ownership. Fuel efficiency is critical as this is an everyday expense. Helping your new driver calculate the cost of fuel for different vehicles they might be considering might help them make a more practical decision.

Features and Add-ons

Although most features and add-ons increase the sticker value, some might help sway you’re a young driver to go with something more practical. For example, a used car that has an upgraded stereo system might be enough to convince your new driver to go with the more fuel efficient, safer vehicle. Also, it might be worth the additional cost for some added safety features such as a back-up camera or GPS.

Insurance Costs

The cost of insuring a young driver can be prohibitive. Take the time to call your insurance company. It could save you a huge chunk of change. Sometimes choosing the same model in a different model year can make a big difference in the insurance cost. Use this as a learning experience to instill good car purchase decision-making in the future.

Taking the time to do your homework before heading over to US Auto Sales will make the car buying experience with your new driver much more enjoyable and increase the likelihood that both of you will be happy with the outcome.

Top Bike Racks of 2019

Fall is a great time for biking with the cooler weather and less traffic. Having the right bike rack can make exploring new areas easier and more enjoyable. Here are some of the best rated options ranging in price and styles.

Roof Racks

Yamika ForkLift Rooftop Bike Rack fits almost any vehicle with flat, round or square crossbars. It requires no tools for installation. It installs in minutes and locks using a skewer with an adjustment knob for quick single-handed release.

Cost: Starting at $180.00

Cycling Deal Bike Car Roof Rack is a great budget-friendly option. It’s a frame mount model that clips on to the bike frame so you do not need to take the wheel off. It fits various crossbars in square and aero shapes. It uses a locking knob to secure the bike safely to the rack.

Cost: Starting at $95.00

Swagman Standard Roof Rack carries a single bike regardless of its size, type, or purpose. It is a fraction of the cost of similar models, but the quality gives it good bang for the buck. It is a fork mount model so you need to remove the wheel. You also need to assemble the wheel tray.

Cost: Starting at $45

Hitch Bike Racks

Thule T2 Pro XT 2 Bike Rack was highly rated due to its high quality and easy installation, but it is on the high end when it comes to cost. It is a platform style and can carry 2 bikes up 60 pounds in weight. It also includes a hitch and bike locks.

Cost: Starting at $430.00

Yamika FullTilt 4 Bike Rack is a hanging support style hitch mount that holds up to 4 bikes with a 40lb weight max per bike. There a lot of pieces to this mount, but once you have installed it a couple times it isn’t as daunting as it might appear initially. This ranked highest when it came to security due to its anti-theft measures. The hitch and bikes are locked using the same key.

Cost: Starting at $385.00

Kuat Transfer Universal 2 Bike Hitch Mount is a platform style hitch mount that is extremely easy to install with just a single bolt attaching it to your receiver. This also tilts outward to be able to access the trunk. This mount can hold 2 bikes up to 40 pounds each.

Cost: Starting at $300.00

Trunk Racks

Thule Raceway 2 Trunk Mount Bike Rack offers an excellent range of features and the quality that comes with the Thule name. It has a simple easy to use design, but the downfall is that it doesn’t fit all cars so make sure it is compatible with your vehicle. This mount holds 2 bikes with a 35 pound max for each bike. It also includes hitch and bike locks.

Cost: Starting at $350.00

Hollywood Racks Baja Trunk Mounted Bike Rack is a high-quality, versatile rack that fits an impressive number of vehicles and is quite reasonable with a price tag of just over $100. This rack will hold up to 2 bikes but doesn’t state the weight limit.

Cost: Starting around $100.00

Saris Bones 2-Bike Trunk Rack is strong yet lightweight and can hold 2 bikes up to 35lbs each. Saris offers expert installation, but the directions are easy to follow and leaves a comfortable amount of space between the trunk and bikes. This mount attaches to most vehicles including hatchbacks, sedans, minivans and more.

Cost: Starting around $160.00

Now you should find it easy to carry a couple bikes on your US Auto Sales car!

How To Put A Brake on Common Summer Car Problems

These simple driving tips can save you money every single month.

While the heat is a welcome reprieve from a cold winter, there are downsides to the summer season. You may be enjoying the pool or a cold ice cream cone with friends, but little did you know that the heat is putting your car at risk.

Let’s take a look at the common car problems people experience during otherwise sunny days.

Worn windshield wipers

You know those summer storms that come out of nowhere? They cause you to crank the windshield wipers to the highest setting as you struggle to get a clear view of the road. It’s true that windshield wipers are easy to replace and relatively cheap, so keep an eye on them to ensure they’re operating at the highest capacity.

Fuel evaporation

Heat can do a number on your automobile. The excessive heat of summer can overwork the pressure in your fuel tank. Your gas cap is designed to release that pressure, but sometimes they fail. The key to identifying an evaporation leak is our friend, the “check engine” light. Have your mechanic check the code and find out why – it may be a relatively inexpensive fix.

Overheating and air conditioning

Obviously, we’d all love for A/C units to crack on as soon as you slide into the driver’s seat. But we live in an imperfect world, and it takes time for the A/C to catch up to the heat that builds up while your car is sitting. If your car has one, keep an eye on the temperature gauge. There may also be a warning light that looks like a thermometer. If the temperature on the gauge starts to rise, or you see that warning light, shut off the A/C and pull over. If you absolutely must keep driving to get to safety, do the one thing you don’t want to do – turn on the heat full blast. It will relieve some of the overheating.

Tire trouble

As anyone who has taken a basic science class can tell you, rubber reacts to heat. If your tires are older or worn, you may want to have them replaced before it gets too hot. Also, check your air pressure. Heat increases the air pressure inside your tires, and riding on overinflated tires is just as bad as having them underinflated.

Keep your summer safe and sunny!

Road Trip Hacks

School’s out for the summer! Do you hear the road calling your name? Before you pack the family into your US Auto Sales minivan to visit that perfect hiking destination six hours away, there are a few things we can tell you that will take your travel know-how from fine to fantastic!

Don’t be a road trip newbie: these tips can help you travel in a much better way.

  1. Tunes

We know, the radio is free! But haven’t you ever driven that long stretch of road so remote that the only station you pick up seems to be playing the song “Static” featuring Random Bursts From Satellites? It’s not as good a jam as you may think! Maintain that vital link to music through thick and thin. Maybe you have satellite radio, a Bluetooth connection, Android Auto, or Apple CarPlay.  Maybe you go retro and pack some CDs full of early 2000s nostalgia. No way is wrong here! Just keep the music playing!

  1. Sunscreen

You know that moment three hours into your ride, when you’re enjoying the wind in your hair with your arm out the window? The last thing you want is to pull your arm back in and notice the telltale signs of sunburn.  Not on our watch! Put some sunscreen on (especially for that window arm!) and start your vacation on the right note (not a red one!)

  1. Prepare for Trouble

Problems don’t disappear during vacations! We know: how rude. It’s always best to plan ahead for emergencies. Keeping a first-aid kit in your trunk will be undoubtedly convenient in the future. A few other things you might want to pack include water bottles, batteries, and flashlights. Who knows what the elements might bring?

  1. Roadside Assistance

This ties in with the previous point. If you know you won’t be able to fix a tire in the middle of nowhere, someone is going to have to do it! If your insurance doesn’t offer roadside assistance, make sure you have access to programs like AAA to get you help when you need it most.

  1. Entertainment

Trust us, the kiddos are great and all, but we all need some downtime. Plan for group activities including car games and family chats, but also be prepared with books, tablets, and other games that will keep every member of the family happy. Pro tip for young kids: Go to your local dollar store. Buy a $1 toy for each hour of your drive. Every hour toss a new toy into those little hands. Between anticipation and actually playing with the new stuff, they’ll be amused the entire time.

Happy driving!

How To Keep Your Car Cool For The Summer

Cue up that legendary Demi Lovato hit and break out the fan. Spring is officially behind us, and we’re already daydreaming about days at the beach and trips to the park for cookouts. Now your summer wouldn’t be complete without those activities, but if you don’t pay attention to the rising temperature, your car could pay the price.

We’re here to help your hands from sizzling on a red-hot steering wheel as you keep your car cool for the summer.

#1. Get a Sunshade

No, it’s not a massive pair of sunglasses you can fit over your car (is there a market for that yet?) These have been on the market for quite a while, and they can be functional and stylish! These shades can run the gamut on prices but pay attention to those of thicker material and better quality. There’s no regret greater than buying something for an explicit purpose and then having to re-order it at a higher price later.

#2. Pay Attention to Environmental Factors

Is your car parked near a tree? How about in a parking deck? These are two major ways to keep the sun from beating down on its exterior surfaces and heating it to an uncomfortable degree while you’re at work or running errands.

#3. Invest in a Cooling Seat

It exists! Never doubt Amazon for selling products with a niche purpose. These removable seats are relatively cheap (approximately $50, from a brief perusal), but their impact is incalculable. No more car blankets, dispensable fans, or wishing for the best. This simple investment can be the answer to your summer blues.

What tricks have you used to keep your US Auto Sales car cool? The simpler it is, the more likely it’s the right answer.

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!

Mindshift – Back to School Driving

While we’ve all enjoyed the shorter commute times that come with summer, school is starting! With that, of course, comes longer commute times, which can be frustrating. Don’t let the frustration get in the way of making sure that the kids get to school safely, and you get to work safely and on time! With that, here are a few tips on driving as school starts back in.

  1. It’s big. It’s yellow. You kinda can’t miss it. The obvious sign of school starting back up is the school bus! When you see them, put yourself in the bus driver’s shoes. You’re driving a huge, slow vehicle filled with 40 children. The noise is crazy, and the responsibility for getting them home is yours. Probably pretty stressful. So give them a break. And of course, be aware that it’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus from either direction on undivided roads.
  2. Trade your smartphone for smart walking. According to Safe Routes to Schools, a third of young pedestrian vehicle strikes can be attributed to kids darting out in the road. While there’s no available data about how many are looking at their phones, it’s safe to say that fewer distractions while walking are better.
  3. You’re in the zone. Be aware of school zones with reduced speed limits on your commute. If you need motivation, speeding fines in school zones are higher than tickets outside of school zones.
  4. Pool rules. If you’re driving your kids to school, nearly every school has carpool drop zones and rules designed to keep kids safe and traffic flowing. Try to find out what they are before you show up. If nothing else, you’ll avoid the wrath of angry parents.
  5. Stay alert! Kids are kind of unpredictable, and they’re comfortable in the areas around their school, and getting on their bus, so they’re not likely to be paying as close attention. Avoiding distractions is a good idea in general, but in school zones and around buses it’s especially important.

Keep these tips in mind, and give yourself a little more time to get where you’re going as school starts in your district, and everyone should get where they’re going safe and happy.