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Question, Do You Need To Break in A New Car

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Breaking in a new car isn’t the same as it was 30 or even 15 years ago… Yep, just over a decade ago, manufacturers recommended new owners follow certain ways of driving to “break in” a new car. However, the old lessons they ascribed to don’t hold true today.

while you’re driving your new car for the first 1-2,000 miles, take it easy.  Don’t wind it out and then come to screeching stops, that’s not good, no matter how old the car is. 

So how did they break in a new car?
The old rules told new owners to follow some simple instructions over the course of the car’s first hundred miles to break in their new vehicle’s engine. The guidelines included: drive at 50 mph for a short time, vary your speeds on side streets, and sit and idle for a time before moving. After going through this process, the driver was instructed to shut off the engine and let it cool down before driving it again.

So why would you go through this process? Well, according to engineers: “to establish new internal mating surfaces of mechanical parts, to seat new piston rings, to establish new seal surfaces, to condition new mechanical parts–to make sure all the moving parts were working together as smoothly as possible.”

WOW!  That’s a mouthful, so after the break-in period, which could last for about 500-1000 miles, the vehicle could be driven without concern.  So basically it’s so that the engine could ease itself into being a collection of parts working together smoothly with all the little parts sliding off each other easily.

But do we still have to break in a new car today?
In a word, no, lubricants and engine oil have come a long way, compared to the products of old; the new synthetic oils of today cling to and protect metal parts much better than their predecessors. In addition, the steel and aluminum used for the engine parts come from the factory already conditioned and treated, thus ready to run, they’re already broken in! Not to mention the fact that the production methods used these days, create tolerances of a much higher quality and closeness, that’s why these engines can run for over 100,000 miles and remain sealed from the factories they came from.

The only caveat comes with that first oil change. You need to make sure you change your new car’s oil and filter at 1,500 miles (unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer). Why? Because metal has worn off while they were settling in with each other, the working surfaces were being establish, and those metal filings and scraps need to be removed from the oil pan and oil supply before they cause any long-term damage.  Come in to any Koons Service Department and we’ll help you take care of that first oil change.

Now one thing you should note is that with most vehicles there are two service schedules compiled for new passenger cars: Normal and Severe. Manufacturers define them differently, but in essence, normal covers a wider range of operation, while severe can include lots of short-distance commuting. Be realistic about which condition applies to your vehicle. Finally, while you’re driving your new car for the first 1-2,000 miles, take it easy.  Don’t wind it out and then come to screeching stops, that’s not good, no matter how old the car is.  Take your time remember you’re getting to know this new vehicle just like its getting to know you.  That’s not breaking the car in that’s just being a smart new car owner. 

 

 

Is The Gas Cap on The Left or Right Side of Your Car?

Gas Cap Arrow

I have a friend who does a great deal of traveling for his job so he’s always in a rental car.  Last week while on the road for his job, he pulled up to a gas station and had that dreaded moment of, “Oh no! I have no idea which side of my car the gas cap is located.”  He went on to tell about how the initial “Uh-oh!” is typically followed by a few minutes of craning his head out the window to see (or not see) if the gas cap cover is on his side of the car. More often than not, he would guess and just pull up to the pump – only to back up and circle around when the guess was wrong. Auto Manufacturers to the rescue!

Arrow Indicators on New Cars
Admittedly, mistaking which side of the car the gas cap is on is not a big deal, I think it straddles the line somewhere between having to reach too far for the TV remote and setting the microwave for 10 seconds too long. But, what if there was a way to always know for sure…

Good news: The secret to the gas cap location has been on our dashboards all along, at least within the past 8 years.  If you’re driving a newer car, take a look at the gas gauge on your dashboard. Depending on your car, there may be a little triangle or arrow pointing to the left or right. It’s actually a directional indicator that identifies which side of the car the gas cap is on!

What about older cars?
Older cars may have a gas pump icon located on the gauge. The pump handle either extends to the left or right, so does that correlate to the cap?

Sadly, no, the handle doesn’t always indicate which side the cap is located.  Some manufactures did do just that; some did not, and worse yet? Some models within brands did and some did not. So unfortunately, this Internet rumor is false and we’re here to officially shoot it down, sorry.

A Fuel Indicator Myth Debunked
Not everyone is satisfied with this explanation of the mysterious gas gauge arrow. So leave it to the Internet to think up some crazy ideas ­about alternative meanings. One rumor says the arrow will light up when a car is driven a certain distance after its last refueling. Supposedly, this is a way for you to determine how “full” the gas tank is.  News flash!  That’s what the “E” and “F” and all the little lines in between indicate. Sorry, folks, but there’s no truth behind that rumor.

Did you know what the gas gauge arrow meant? What symbols or controls on your car remain mysteries?  If you need any help deciphering them stop by any Koons Dealership and we’ll help you figure them out.

 

 

Buying a Car for a College Student, what is the Best Vehicle for Them?

best_college_carsMy first car was a used pick-up that I got when I was a sophomore in college. It was dark blue, had a gray, cloth bench seat, manual transmission, and no AC.  It got good gas mileage and it was awesome when it was time to move my small pile of stuff from apartment to apartment. My Dad bought that first truck for me and I had no idea why, but later in life I would come to find that it was the best car for me at the time.

When you’re in college, you want affordable and reliable transportation. Students and parents alike usually begin the search for that first auto by looking for solid, flexible, economical vehicles. But they will quickly see that it’s difficult to find value be cheap.

Koons has on average over 5,000 used vehicles a month to chose from with the vast majority of those vehicles being Certified Pre Owned and all of the dealerships can work with you financially.  Start your used car shopping with a budget of around $9000, this way you should be able to get a vehicle that will last beyond graduation.

Here’s a bit of advice: Make sure you know your student’s needs before selecting a vehicle. Buyers should be aware of the college’s parking rules, proximity of service and parts stores, and weather conditions. If parking is tight, a subcompact or compact car may make more sense. Find a local mechanic who you trust that can work on the car if the need arises. It might be wiser to have an all-wheel-drive on a campus prone to snow and bad weather.  If they are driving more than three hours from home each way, make sure they have comfortable working seats and cruise control.

For this article we broke our vehicles down by type of vehicle and then mention a few well-known vehicles for each type.

compactBest Compact Car – city colleges
Kia vehicles are known for their durability and reasonable price tags. This all still applies to a used Kia’s as well, which can cost about $5,000-$6,000 for a 2009 model, which also boasts a surprising amount of interior space. Because Kia offers such extensive warranties, students may be able to purchase a vehicle that is still covered.

sedanTop Midsize Car – driving a long distance and more urban settings
The Toyota Corolla may not be able to fit into the same tight spots that a Kia Rio can, but it offers more space, more room for passengers and a classic style that won’t be embarrassing to drive to a job interview. A 2010 Corolla is likely to cost less than $10,000, perform well, and get a college student through graduation and into that first job before needing replacement.

hatchBest Hatchback (5-Door) – for majors that have a of gear associated with them
The hatchback has now pretty much taken over the station wagon slot, what was once the workhorse of the American family has pretty much vanished.  The hatchback or 5-door has taken it’s place, small and flexible these vehicles are great for many different situations and that’s why they’re great for the college kid of today. The Ford Focus offers a familiar name and a reasonable price tag for those looking for a vehicle that will offer plenty of interior space without sacrificing its ability to squeeze into tight parking arrangements. With a price tag of about $6,000 for the 2003 model, the Focus is likely to last a student well past the college years, but take just about anything the student may throw at it.

Students may also want to consider the Toyota Matrix, which is comparable in many ways to the Focus.  It’s a tad more expensive but like the focus it comes with a well know brand name and a long history of styles and trim levels to choose from.

SUVBest SUV  – campuses with bad weather and for majors that have a of gear associated with them
The Chevy Equinox may put a bigger dent in a car shopper’s wallet than other vehicles, but this SUV is easy to navigate around campuses or cities while offering all-wheel drive in case of bad weather or rough roads. If your student is going more than 4 hours drive from home this is definitely the vehicle you’ll want them in. Capable of moving an entire dorm room with ease it’s also capable of pulling a trailer with the contents of their first apartment.  With a price of about $9,500 for the 2005 model, the Equinox may not be the cheapest used car that a person can buy, but it is one of the most durable, practical, and flexible for its size.

TruckTop Truck – for the student who will be moving… A LOT!
There are times when a person needs a truck and there are also times when a student may simply prefer one. The Toyota Tacoma offers all the normal features of a pickup truck, but with a compact size that can be easier to drive on a campus. The price for the 2000 Tacoma is about $6,000, but it can come with a powerful V6 engine and the ability to go off-road or on snowy roads, and carry a hefty payload.

These top 5 used cars by type for college students offer a wide range of choices to meet your different needs. In addition to needs and price, reliability, feature sets, fuel-economy, and auto insurance rates, along with safety are also important factors that should not be overlooked. No matter what you need, you can come to any of the Koons dealerships and we’ll make sure you find the right car for the right price. 

 

 

The 5 most common causes of a check engine light!

check engine light dashboard

The other day I had an interesting run-in with my car, I was driving home when out of the blue my “Check Engine” light came on. So, first after getting my heart rate down I thought “wait my car is 4 years old it has nothing wrong with it, there has to be a simple reason for this” and there was. My gas cap wasn’t tightened all the way… “D’oh!”

So, the light is on and I pull into my driveway, I stop the car, for all you safety-nicks out there I turned it off, and did the first thing we all do in situations like this, I did a Google search. “Common causes for the check engine light to go off” and I found my problem, apparently not tightening the gas cap all the way is more common than you would think. I tightened it and viola! No more check engine light. So that got me thinking what other reasons are there for this to happen, here is the top 5, in no particular order:

there is no reason to panic or think the worst just go through the list and if it still won’t go off bring it in to Koons and we’ll help you get back on the road

We do have one caveat, if your car starts smoking or stalls completely call for help and stay with your vehicle until it arrives. Once you’re safely off the road, bring your car to the closest Koons store (there are 22 of them) and have them run a diagnostic to find the cause. You can call ahead to make sure they can handle your make and model, since some cars have special computers. But once you’re at the store, you’ll be in good hands and your vehicle will be back up and running in no time.

One: Replace Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is a part that monitors the unburned oxygen from the exhaust. It helps monitor how much fuel is burned. A faulty sensor means it’s not providing the right data to the computer and causes a decrease in gas mileage. Most cars have between two and four oxygen sensors and the code you get from the scanner will tell you which one needs replacing.

Causes: Over time, the sensor gets covered in oil ash and it reduces the sensors ability to change the oxygen and fuel mixture. A faulty sensor not only reduces gas mileage, it also increase emissions.

What you should do: Not replacing a broken oxygen sensor can eventually lead to a faulty catalytic convertor, which can be expensive to replace. An oxygen sensor is easy to replace on many cars and is usually detailed in the owner’s manual. If you know where the sensor is, you only have to unclip the old sensor and replace it with a new one.

Two: Loose or Faulty Gas Cap

You wouldn’t think a gas cap would be that important, but it is. When it’s loose or cracked, fuel vapors leak out and can throw the whole fuel system off. This causes a reduction in gas mileage and increases emissions.

What causes it: If you get an error pointing to the gas cap it means fuel vapors are leaking out of your cap. This means the cap is either cracked or just wasn’t tightened well enough.

What you should do: If your car isn’t feeling jerky or strange when the check engine light comes on the first thing you should check is the gas cap. Pull over, open the access cover and remove it, take a look at the cap to see if it has any cracks or holes in it. If not replace it and tighten it down all the way and continue driving to see if the check engine light turns off.

Three: Replace Catalytic Convertor

The catalytic convertor works to reduce exhaust gases. It converts carbon monoxide and other harmful materials into harmless compounds. If your catalytic convertor is failing, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage or your car won’t go any faster when you push the gas.

What causes it: Catalytic convertors shouldn’t fail if you’re keeping up on regular maintenance. The main cause of failure is related to other items on this list, including a broken oxygen sensor or deteriorated spark plugs. When it fails, it stops converting carbon monoxide into less harmful emissions.

What you should do: If your catalytic convertor fails completely, you eventually won’t be able to keep the car running. Your gas mileage will be terrible, so you should try and fix it as soon as you can. This is not an easy fix so you will need to have a professional take care and in most areas it will be part of an emissions inspection so it’s just better to have it done at a garage.

Four: Replace Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF)

The mass airflow sensor tells the car’s computer to add the proper amount of fuel based on the air coming through to the engine. A faulty one can increase emissions, cause the car to stall, and decrease gas mileage.

What causes it: Most mass airflow sensors fail because of a improperly installed (or never replaced) air filter. You should replace the air filter at least once a year to help prevent the airflow sensor from failing.

What you should do: Theoretically you can drive for a few weeks or even months with a broken MAF sensor. You will notice a decrease in gas mileage and over time the car will eventually start stalling a lot. It’s not terribly difficult to do on your own, but the process is quick enough you may want to let a mechanic handle it when you have a tune-up.

Five: Replace Spark Plugs and Wires

The spark plug seals the combustion chamber and provides a gap for a spark to jump across and initiates combustion in your engine. When the plugs are failing, the spark plugs misfire. You’ll feel a little jolt in your car’s acceleration when this happens.

What causes it: Most spark plugs and their wires in cars from before 1996 should be replaced every 25,000-30,000 miles. Newer ones can last up to 100,000 miles. Still, plugs can fail over time and so can the wires and there’s not much you can do to stop it once it starts.

What you should do: Get them replaced right away. It’s easy and cheap and your car will run better for it. Since this is part of your vehicles regular maintenance, the Koons Tech will tell you when they should be replaced when you bring it in for regular maintenance. The plugs and their wires are usually easily accessible from the hood of the car. It’s simple fix but it is a dirty one so be prepared to get your hands dirty on this one if you decide to do it yourself.

There are plenty of other possibilities that a check engine light can come on, but the five listed here are the most common. So there is no reason to panic or think the worst just go through the list and if it still won’t go off bring it in to Koons and we’ll help you get back on the road with the piece of mind that your car should be issue free. 

A/C System Service in April. Yes, You Read That Right!

A/C System neededRepeat after me: It’s going to be warm soon, it’s going to be warm soon, it’s going to be warm soon.  Good, now that we all believe that fact, even while there is still snow on the ground, let’s talk about your vehicle’s A/C system. Eventually, I promise, you will need it in the next coming months!

if you just want to be extra sure your A/C system is working properly and ready to handle the summer months, log onto koons.com

The A/C System in your vehicle relies on many important components to run properly and remove the heat from your cars interior, allowing you to ride cool comfortably.  The key components of the A/C system in your car include a compressor, evaporator, pressurized refrigerant, valves and hoses, all of which are controlled electronically.  In order to work properly your A/C system needs to be free from leaks and contamination.  A common cause for inadequate cooling is when the refrigerant leaks through worn seals and O-rings.

There are a few warning signs you can look out for to make sure you’re A/C system is working properly:

  • Your A/C system doesn’t cool properly
  • The fan/blower doesn’t work when set in A/C mode
  • Loud noises when you turn on your A/C
  • Your vehicle stalls or idles roughly when you turn on the A/C
  • Your vehicle runs hot or overheats when you use the A/C
  • Some or all of the dash controls don’t work when you try to use them
  • Your heater, top and side vents, or de-froster doesn’t work
  • Water on your vehicle’s floor mats or carpeting
  • Unusual odors from interior vents

Your cars A/C is something that is easy to forget about, especially when you’re in the middle of freak snow storms but it’s only a matter of days before the temperature starts to to hit the 90’s.  If your A/C has any of the above issues, or if you just want to be extra sure your A/C system is working properly and ready to handle the summer months, log onto koons.com and schedule an appointment with your nearest dealership.