Blog Archives

School Bus Safety Every Driver Should Know

As you get back in the swing of fall and the closing of the beaches, as drivers we need to make sure that all children get to school safely. That’s right school buses are back on the road and for many parents, this means getting their child to the bus stop and aboard it safely. Over the course of the summer it can be easy to get lax about making sure you and your child follow all the proper school bus safety rules. So, it’s especially important this time of year to remind drivers, parents, school children, and pedestrians about the most important rules of school bus safety.

To make it easy to remember, Ameriprise shared the infographic below that not only highlights the safety of school buses, but also details how you can be a responsible driver now that buses are back on the road and school children are running around in force.

School Bus Safety

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.

 

 

The Fathers Day Top 5 Automotive Accessories

Automotive Accessories for dadWith Fathers day on the way we thought we would do some legwork and find out what the top five car accessories are. Nothin’ says, “I love ya Dad” like a nice piece of car gear. These automotive accessories are easy to find, easy to install and easy to use.

Our Dad’s have driven us around from place to place whenever we needed it, and how do we repay them? By whipping our dirty feet on their floors, spilling our drinks in the back seat, and leaving our candy wrappers everywhere. Well, it’s high time we gave back, just a little; to the man who’s done so much for us by making sure he gets to his next destination safely and in style. We wanted to avoid gear that would require more work on Dad’s part, or heaven forbid for us to do. What do I mean? Well, like the time I gave my Dad a tin of car wax, guess who was out there shining the car up, yours truly. So you won’t find any wax, rubbing compound, wheel shine, or engine degreaser in our list. Just fun and cool items he will definitely want and use.

The 5 Best Automotive Accessories
(based on info from Overstock.com, Apple.com, Amazon.com, and Bestbuy.com):

  • chargerUniversal USB Connectors kit: If you’re like any normal traveler your cell phone doubles as a life line back to your home, electronic files, and your safety. But, it needs power and older cars do not have USB ports to charge them with. A small collection of USB adaptors and cables will go a long way to helping everyone on the trip to charge their device.battery_charger

 

  • Portable car battery chargers: A dead battery usually catches everyone off-guard. Be prepared with a small battery charger that can be hooked up right through the cigarette lighter. Even with a battery that’s going bad, this automotive accessory can get you moving until you can get it replaced.

 

  • speakerBlue tooth speakers: While you’re on the road your cell phone or tablet also doubles as your entertainment center. Most older model cars do not have blue tooth stereo sound systems, so connecting to your vehicles sound system is difficult. These small battery powered speakers come with suction cups or hooks and connect to your phone wirelessly so that you can hear your book, or playlist.

 

  • Tie-downs/bungee chord Collections: The safest way to move things with your car or truck is to use tie-downs, to keep the load steady and secure. Usually made of strong elastic and nylon, they typically feature hooked ends and may come with a ratcheting clasp that tightens and holds the load down until you release the catch. This type of accessory is invaluable to large vehicle owners.

 

  • Seat covers and floor mats: Your vehicle’s interior sees a lot of wear and tear, especially the floor and the seats. You can keep them looking nice with car interior accessories, like seat covers and floor mats. Durable automotive accessories, like rubber floor mats can help keep dirt, oil and water from staining your carpet. And car-seat covers can add a flash of color and style while protecting the upholstery underneath.

 

So drop the tie or the “One Free Hug” coupon and go out and get a hold of any of these. Trust us, he’ll love any of them! You can still give him a hug though and a new car, just check out Koons we definitely know he’d love that! ♛

How do car recalls benefit buyers?

recallsSo far, for this decade there have been less than half the number of car recalls from the previous decade. Yet, from all of the hype, one would think that there is nothing but safety problems on the road and that any car that is recalled is a potential death trap. But that just isn’t true. There are a couple of developments that are causing this phenomenon and it is actually good news.

Car recalls are a common part of car-ownership and it is a sign that the safety system is working the way it should. True, there are more recalls than there used to be, but safety and the quality of cars have both improved in recent years. In general a recall notice provides peace of mind, it means the manufacturer or the government agency involved have decided that the defect in the vehicle is of concern and they want to make sure it never causes an issue.

Cars are more complex, so there are more components that can fail and Consumers have more ways to complain. We have access, electronically and instantly, to a global network that wasn’t available in the early ’90s.”
           Sean Kane, President
Safety Research & Strategies Inc.

Most car recalls, aren’t a big deal. For instance, in 2013, automakers recalled almost 22 million vehicles — that’s about 40% more than all the new cars sold last year. However, almost none of those recalls made the news, since most required a quick trip to the dealer for a routine fix at the manufacturer’s expense. Interestingly one major manufacturer led the list with about 5.3 million vehicles recalled in 2013. That same manufacturer also faired well in Consumer Reports and J.D. Power surveys, so you could make the case that there is little to no connection between recalls and poor quality. If anything, a higher number of recalls might indicate the opposite.

In 2013 the total number of vehicles recalled by major automakers was the highest it’s been since 2004. In the ‘90’s recalls were relatively uncommon, but in the mid part of that decade they hit an elevated level and stayed there ever since. Some people feel that this reflects a greater attention by regulators, however, other trends may have more to do with it: an increase of new technology in cars and an increased availability of information to consumers on the Internet.

Recall HistoryThe digital revolution transformed automobiles improved performance, efficiency and safety, but also made cars a lot more complicated. Cars have become mobile computers that use millions of lines of code. That code affects the throttle, braking, steering, transmission and any other systems that have gone from mechanical (analog) linkages to electronic controls. This has improved performance, efficiency and safety, but it’s also made cars much more complicated.

Case in point a recent analysis shows that about 20% of the recalls in 2013 were for air bags — which barely existed 20 years ago and are large complex systems.  Also, up to one-third of the 2013 recalls were related to electrical systems, things like seat heaters, automatic tailgates, sliding doors, and video systems. Some of the recalls were for things owners might notice — interior lights, blurred digital readouts, or weak A/C systems — these are not things that can cause harm.

Automakers are also more eager to fix issues due to social media and quality rankings. With the advent of third party rating sites like Edmunds or KBB it’s very easy for a buyer to get up-to-date info on how other owners regard their vehicles.  These new “dis-interested third party” rating sites have become a greater factor in the purchase process.  The availability of ratings and in-depth vehicle info has giving automakers more reasons to fix issues.

So, yes, there have been a few attention getting car recalls along with news grabbing manufacturer oversights and they’re obscuring the fact that driving is getting statistically safer. For the record the total number of traffic deaths in the U.S. peaked in 2006 at over 43,000, but since then it has fallen to less 33,000. Due in large part, to life-saving new technologies and perhaps even more aggressive recalls.  So as consumers we should all be happy when our manufacturer recalls our vehicle, it means the system is working and we are more safe than ever. 

 

 

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.