Category Archives: Understanding Your Car

Mechanic standing in a car shop while holding a tire

When Should I Get My Tires Replaced?

How to Tell When You Need New Tires on Your Vehicle

Regardless of how often you drive your vehicle, your tires will need to get replaced at some point. However, it’s not always obvious when you should get your tires replaced. How much tread should I watch for? What is the recommended amount of time I can go? If I don’t drive my car, can I go even longer without replacing the tires? Here, we will discuss when you should get your tires replaced.

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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.

Keeping it Fresh: Ways to Keep Your Car Smelling Clean

With the amount of time you spend in your car, it can be a challenge to keep it smelling fresh. If you have one car and kids and pets, it can quickly start to smell like a garbage truck. Here are some ways to keep your car smelling clean and fresh.

Little Trees Air Fresheners – If you like the classic hanging tree air freshener, these come in over 36 different aromas. The downside of these fresheners is the overpowering immediate scent that only freshens for a couple of weeks. The plus side is that they are inexpensive, and you can enjoy a different scent every few weeks! Starting at $1.99

Febreze Air Freshener – These small, vent style fresheners come in several different aromas and can be adjusted to control the scent level. Left on the low setting, these can last for up to 45 days. Starting at $2.99

Ozium Vanilla Spray Air Freshener – Originally designed for use in hospitals, Ozium not only smells faintly of vanilla, but can also reduce airborne bacteria. It also works well to eliminate lingering smoke smells. Once sprayed, it almost immediately eliminates any odor and can linger for up to two weeks. Starting at $8.99

Chemical Guys AIR _102 Odor Eliminator – This odor eliminator is specifically for vehicles with leather interiors, restoring the original scent of leather. Use it sparingly, as it can leave a strong, overpowering fragrance if used too frequently. Starting at $9.99

California Home Goods Odor Eliminator – This is a small bag that can hung from the coat hook over the rear door. It contains carbon-activated bamboo charcoal that eliminates odors without a strong perfume scent. It can also help reduce mildew formation. To reactivate this freshener, simply place it in the sun for 2 hours every month. Starting at $13.49

PURGGO Car Air Freshener – This air freshener attaches to back of the front seat and contains no spray, gel, ionizers, plastic or fragrance. It contains 100% bamboo charcoal that acts like a sponge, absorbing odors and trapping them. It works around the clock and can last up to a year! Starting at $19.99

Sununitec Sun-C200 – This round, wooden model mounts to the air conditioner vent. It releases a lemon scent with the accent of wood. Once the scent is gone, this freshener can still be used by adding your favorite essential oil. Starting at $29.95

Top Trunk Organizers of 2019

With holiday shopping season fast approaching, finding ways to organize your trunk or giving the gift of organization to a loved one may be on your list of things to do. Here are some of the top-rated trunk organizers of 2019 to help you maximize your trunk space.

Honey-Can-Do Folding Trunk Organizer – a great, inexpensive option that has two roomy compartments with several pockets around the outside.

Dimensions: 13 x 25.5 x 13.25 inches
Starting at $10.00

Homeve Car Trunk Organizer – Suitable for any size trunk, the Homeve organizer is collapsible and has three inside storage compartment with several different size pockets around the outside. It also comes in several different colors.

Dimensions: 22.5 x 15 x 13.4 inches
Starting at $22.99

Higher Gear Car Trunk Organizer – This organizer was rated easiest to carry making it a great option for transporting items to and from your vehicle.

Dimensions: 23 x 14 x 12 inches
Starting at $24.99

Starling’s Car Trunk Organizer – This option is durable, collapsible and has a nonslip waterproof bottom. It comes in several colors. There are removable dividers inside and 10 pockets outside.

Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.5 x 12 inches
Starting at $29.99

Maid Max Cargo Trunk Organizer with Lid – Like to have your clutter hidden? Need a place to hide that special gift? This organizer is perfect – it has a lid! It comes with adjustable dividers for the inside and has several outside pockets with flaps.

Dimensions: 14 x 23 x 13 inches
Starting at $35.99

Rola M.O.V.E. Rigid-Base Trunk Organizer– This is a solid organizer that is ideal for small, compact cars. The dividers can be adjusted to make the inside compartment any size. This is one of the pricier options, but reviewers state that it is well made and built to last.

Dimensions: 38 x 15 x 7 inches
Starting at $59.99

Ways to Improve Your Gas Mileage

With gas prices constantly fluctuating, it never hurts to know some ways to improve your gas mileage. While you may not be able to practice all of these all the time, here’s a few simple ways to increase your gas mileage whenever possible.

Refuel in the morning – Did you know that a gallon of gas in the morning is not the same as a gallon of gas later in the day? Why? Most large fuel tanks are buried underground. In the morning the ground is colder. As the ground temperature rises, the gasoline expands, making it less dense. If you fill your fuel tank a couple times a week, you could save between $5-$10 each month by refueling first thing in the morning!

Replace your air filter – If the engine air filter is clogged with dust and debris, your engine has to work harder than it should to get enough air to mix with the fuel, causing an increase in fuel consumption. Replacing the air filter can instantly improve your gas mileage up to 15%!

Don’t put the pedal to the metal – Revving the engine or accelerating quickly burns more gas. Accelerating more slowly will not only improve your gas mileage but could also extend the life of your engine.

Watch the weight – Keeping the weight in your vehicle to a minimum when possible can make a big difference in the gas mileage. If you’ve literally got junk in your trunk, time for a clean-out!

Inflate your tires – Keeping your tires inflated to the proper level reduces their rolling resistance, so your vehicle doesn’t have to work so hard. Many newer cars come with tire pressure monitoring systems – if that dash light goes on, don’t ignore it.

Avoid prolonged idling – At idle, you are literally getting zero miles per gallon. If you’re going to be sitting longer than 10 seconds, turn off the engine. Contrary to popular belief, starting doesn’t use more fuel than idling in modern cars.

Use cruise control – If your car is equipped with cruise control, it helps to maintain a consistent speed and can reduce the need to accelerate or brake helping to improve efficiency. If your car has it, adaptive cruise control is even better for this.

Use the Air Conditioning Wisely – Here in the southeast, you need your AC, but whenever possible roll the windows down or reduce the setting on the air conditioning. It makes a big difference on fuel costs over time.

It might be interesting to fill your gas tank and make no immediate changes and calculate the mpg. Then make as many of the above changes as possible and calculate the mpg again and hopefully you will notice a difference!

Top-Rated All-Season Tires of 2019

We all know tires are important to how our vehicle handles. With so many options out there, it can be overwhelming trying to select the right one. They are often an unplanned expense, making it easy to fall into the trap of going with the cheapest option. What many don’t realize is not only are tires an important factor in vehicle handling, but they also play a part in fuel economy and noise levels. Here are a few of the top-rated all-season tires of 2019 to help you make a more informed decision the next time you find yourself in the market.

Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3

These tires are great for sports cars and most sedans. They handle extremely well at high speeds and provide ultimate traction on asphalt and concrete. These tires are great for both highway and city driving. The biggest con to this tire is that it comes with a complicated warranty.

Weight: 29lbs

Starting around $150 per tire

Goodyear Assurance Tripletred

These tires are ideal for minivans, sedans and small pickups due to their 6,000lb maximum load capacity. They handle extremely well and are a smooth ride on asphalt and concrete, but do not handle well in dirt. They come with a great warranty.

Weight: 23lbs

Starting around $150 per tire

Michelin Defender LTX

These tires are ideal for vans, full-size pickups and SUVs. They handle great on highways and city roads and come with a 70,000-mile warranty. They are great in wet conditions, but do not handle well off road. These tires can also increase your fuel economy if properly cared for.

Weight: 39lbs

Starting around $210 per tire

Pirelli Zero Nero

These tires are a high quality, inexpensive option for most cars. These tires are known for their noise reduction qualities. They handle great off road, too.

Weight: 29lbs

Starting around $180 per tire

Yokohama Avid Descend Radial Tire

These are an outstanding tire for most cars with a low sticker price and can improve your fuel economy. The downside of these tires is that you will need to monitor the tire pressure more frequently.

Weight: 19.5lbs

Starting around $100

Michelin Primacy

These tires handle well in rain and light snow with great road traction. They handle well at high speed and can improve your fuel economy. These tires are suitable for most sedans, minivans and crossover vehicles.

Weight: 20lbs

Starting around $115

No matter what tire you choose, maintaining proper tire pressure, rotating the tires at the recommended mileage, and making sure the wheels are properly aligned are critical to getting the best handling and mileage out of your tires

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!