Category Archives: Features & Accessories

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.

What’s the Deal With Air Filters?

Picture a confused Jerry Seinfeld lamenting to his friends in a New York City apartment. That could be you the next time you take your car to the shop, ready to hand over the necessary cash for your six-month servicing, and being asked the same question:

“When was the last time you changed your air filters?”

A shudder. A gasp. Well, probably not—probably a shrug. Instead of looking like an air quality novice, let us break down the reasons your air filter is a necessary part of your car servicing.  Dirty air filters…

  1. …hurt acceleration.

Next time you need that extra burst of speed, think of the air filter that’s clogging up precious real estate in your automobile. According to a 2009 Department of Energy study, a clogged air filter can affect acceleration from 6 to 11 percent. Don’t push off that air filter notice! It might just stop you from going where you need to go.

  1. …keep you from running properly.

If you’re having trouble starting your car, idling, or anything of that ilk, your air filter may be to blame. You never know what can be weighed down by a sooty filter. Your spark plugs simply cannot “spark” without the help from their clean friends, your trusty air filter.

  1. …hurt your emissions ratings.

Many times, emissions tests are necessary not only for your car’s health, but for registration, insurance purposes, selling previous cars, et cetera. It’s during times like those that you’ll want your car operating in top shape. Why have something as simple as an air filter make the difference between a pass and a fail?

  1. …reduce overall vehicular power

Fuel needs air to burn efficiently. If your engine isn’t getting enough air through the air filter, you’re going to have less power while using more fuel.

  1. It hurts your dashboard aesthetics

We listed it last a for a reason, folks. For the overly organized group of us, having a “Maintenance Required” light constantly drawing your eye is a major inconvenience (especially when you were just at the shop!)

So it’s time to simplify and answer Jerry’s question. The deal with air filters is that they’re more important than we really know!

Seeing America: Cross-Country Road Trip Tips

The weather is warming up, and it’s time to plan your next great adventure. For the ultimate journey, hop onto Interstate 10 in Downtown Jacksonville and go west—all the way to Los Angeles, California, on a cross-country road trip. Yep, that’s right, you can make it across the entire U.S. on this one road crossing some of the country’s most popular cities and landmarks.

Here’s a look at some helpful packing tips to make your life easier during this ultimate cross-country trip.

Audiobooks

Pass the time during your drive by stocking up on a few audiobooks for your trip. Download them online or purchase a few before you leave home and you’ll be set. Often narrated by the author or a celebrity reader, audiobooks are a great way to enjoy your drive time.

Snacks

Pack an ice-filled cooler with canned drinks and plenty of ready-to-eat snacks for yourself and your passengers. Carrots, chips, fruit, peanuts, and crackers are all great treats with little mess.

Atlas

For safety reasons, it’s always a good idea to have a road map in the car. Don’t rely on having a strong Wi-Fi signal during the trip. Your map can help you navigate.

Clothing

Even though you’ll be making your way across the country through typically warm areas, prepare for chilly weather at night. This is especially important as you make your way across the desert and plains of Texas. Dress for warmth and pay close attention to your shoes, as you’ll need comfort while driving.

Emergency Kit

It’s a good idea to have bandages, a working flashlight with extra batteries, a blanket, moistened wipes, and even scissors in a ready-to-use emergency kit. Whether it’s for a personal injury or car troubles, keep plenty of helpful supplies in the car in the event of an emergency.

Get busy packing and prepare yourself for the ultimate cross-country road trip. It’s sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.