Do Gas Savings in Hybrid Cars Really Warrant the Extra Purchase Price?

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Hybrid cars have come a long way in the last few years. Originally made only be a select few manufacturers (i.e. Toyota’s Prius), the popularity of these vehicles has expanded greatly and now has come to include SUVs and trucks. The key selling point to hybrid vehicles is their energy-efficiency. Being as they are equipped with an electric and gas-powered motor, the engines in these cars are designed to reduce fuel output by engaging the electric components when the vehicle is being driven in stop and go traffic. It is not uncommon for hybrid models to achieve 5-10 higher miles per gallon than their standard gasoline-powered counterparts. In a still recovering economy that is yet again seeing fuel prices near the $4 mark, it is no wonder why hybrid vehicles continue to be very popular among individuals and businesses alike.

Should you buy a Hybrid?

Spending the extra money may not be worth it for some drivers. In all reality, the true cost-savings of driving a hybrid can only be realized when one factors in the amount of miles they will be travelling. In addition, not all hybrid cars are the same. Advancements in technology now allow buyers to choose from more options than they could before. As is to be expected, the price of the vehicle will go up with more features. Here are helpful tips for deciding whether a hybrid vehicle is right for you. For the right driver, these fuel-efficient models can certainly save one hundreds of dollars. However, for the occasional commuter or for people who do not drive that often, a conventional gasoline-powered car or truck will work just as well. Bear in mind that car repair costs will vary as well; hybrid motors are typically more difficult to work on, so this is important to remember.

Is a Hybrid really worth it?

  • If you drive less than 15,000 miles a year (most people do), than the cost savings will likely not be in your favor. Many hybrid models run between $6,000-$8000 more than standard models. Even with gas prices at $4, it would take about 15-20 years for you to break even on your initial expense. Given that most vehicles have a lifespan of 300,000 miles (if maintained perfectly), the numbers show that hybrids are not worth the extra money for most buyers.
  • Gas prices are in flux, but if they do skyrocket to $6 or $7 a gallon (let’s all hope not), you would be able to recoup your investment sooner. A general rule of thumb is an extra $1 spent on a gallon of gasoline equals roughly $500 a year in fuel savings.
  • Don’t forget about maintenance and auto repair expenses; hybrid engines are more complex and typically cost more to fix.
  • Where do you drive? The real cost benefit of hybrid cars are realized in city driving. Although highway MPG is higher for these vehicles vs. conventional gas-powered models, stop and go traffic is where the electric motor matters most.
  • The government initially offered tax credits on these vehicles, but since hybrid sales have expanded rapidly, this is no longer the case.
  • It all comes down to how many miles you drive; if you drive 20-30,000 miles a year, than a hybrid is definitely worth the extra money.

 

 

Environmental Impact of Disposing Oil Improperly

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Getting a tune-up (at Express Oil Change and Service Center, for example) can lead to a significant amount of oil that needs to be handled. Many car service providers make sure that they dispose of used motor oil properly, but not all do. This is such a concern that many states now require regulated disposal and handling of used oil by mechanics.

 
Used Motor Oil and its Long-lasting Toxic Effects

Car service centers can have a severe impact on the environment if oil is not disposed of properly. Let’s look at a few examples of what a single gallon of oil can do:

  • A gallon of used oil can create a slick on the surface of water that extends to eight acres in size. This gives you an idea of how large of an area can quickly be contaminated with hazardous materials.
  • One gallon of oil can taint enough water to supply 50 people for an entire year.
  • A gallon of oil can make up to four acres of good land become unplantable for several decades.

Health Concerns Of Used Oil Toxins

There is a long list of toxic materials in used motor oil, many of which can be deadly. Some of the toxins include lead, barium, arsenic, cadmium and chromium. These toxins can be found in any kind of used oil, but are more abundant in synthetic oils. They are extremely toxic and can cause severe health problems in people.

All of these toxins can have teratogenic or carcinogenic effects. Carcinogens are hazardous because they are known to cause cancer. They do so by damaging cells or impairing their ability to function normally. Carcinogens can actually alter the DNA of cells causing them to last longer than normal. This causes a tumor to grow as cells divide more often than normal. Teratogenic toxins cause problems in the development of fetuses and embryos, which can lead to all kinds of birth problems in children.

When you go in for an oil change, check to make sure that the auto repair facility disposes of oil properly; do not attempt to do so yourself. You will be helping both the environment and your neighbors.

Don’t Forget to Check Your Tire Pressure During the Winter

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The winter months bring unpredictable weather and perilous road conditions. During this time of year, it’s particularly important to frequently check your car’s tire pressure. Maintaining your tires’ recommended air pressure level ensures that your car will handle and maneuver how it should. You rely on your vehicle’s peak handling and traction abilities in order to navigate icy, snowy and slushy roads.

 

Why Is It So Important?

Checking your tires’ air pressure more frequently during the winter months is necessary because it is more difficult to maintain the correct level as temperatures fluctuate. Every 10°F the temperature drops, your tires lose about one pound per square inch (psi) of air pressure. It’s typically advised to keep your tires within five psi of the recommended air pressure. This means that you should make your tire pressure a cold weather maintenance priority in order to drive safely.

 

Making It a Habit

Checking your tires’ air pressure is a simple thing to do, but it’s often overlooked. A good habit to get into is taking a moment to check your tire pressure whenever you stop to get gas. As you’re gassing up your vehicle, use that time as an opportunity to check the air pressure of each tire. This takes only a few minutes, and it can be even faster with a digital air gauge.

 

Stick to Your Vehicle’s Maintenance Schedule

Your tire pressure is also checked and adjusted when you take your car in for oil changes and related service maintenance. By adhering to your car manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, you will also be ensuring that your tire pressure, fluid levels and filters are all adequate and operating as they should be.

 

Taking your car in to be serviced before winter is always a good idea, as they will be best equipped to guide you through winterizing your car. They will examine the wear, tread and inflation of your tires to make sure that they are ready for harsher driving conditions.

Get Your Car Ready for Road Trips

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A long weekend is the perfect opportunity to make any time of the year memorable and sweet by taking a road trip with friends or family. Make sure to avoid any bumps in the road, however, by getting your vehicle a check-up before you take off. Small issues that are easily prevented or fixed at home can end up being a huge hassle out on the road, putting a major damper on your fun. Here are a few tips on getting your car ready for a long weekend, so that you can take it easy and enjoy your mini vacation.

The Basics

Chances are good that you are not making an incredibly long or intense journey in a weekend, so having all the basics looked at should do the trick for your getaway. You will definitely want your tire pressure checked out and corrected if any of your tires are low. It is a good idea to make sure all of your fluids are checked, and ideally topped off. Your belts, hoses, and lights should be examined, and breaks should be tested visually. A load test for your battery (this tests how much charge it has) is a good idea too. While you do not need to go crazy, with all these small but critical details to think about, letting a pro handle it is the smart decision to make.

In the Shop

When you bring your car in to the shop, do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions, or to tell your mechanic how long of a drive you have ahead of you if there is anything specific about the car that is worrying you. Having your car worked on can be an intimidating process at times, largely because you want to stay safe and get what you need without getting duped and paying for services that are not really necessary. However, if you do your research and find a reputable place with a policy of honesty that past customers will back up, you should be in the clear.

Look for Special Deals

Mechanics know that just before long holiday weekends, especially during the summer time, their services are going to be in higher demand than usual. Because of this, many mechanics and service centers offer special deals to be sure that they get noticed as everyone rushes to make sure that their vehicles are in tip top shape. Be on the lookout for coupons and seasonal offerings. These are great if you are about to make a long trip, and also if you just need a check-up and want to jump on the seasonal bandwagon and save.

Does Your Car Need an Air Conditioning Tune-Up?

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Can you imagine going on a long drive in the middle of a hot summer day without your air conditioning system properly working? What if you were on the way to an important meeting or interview and the AC went out? Nobody wants to spend a miserable car ride sweating or getting blown around by open windows. Avoid having your car’s air conditioning fail by performing preventative maintenance at the first sign of trouble.

Signs you may have a problem

  • Your car will typically display warning signs before your air conditioning goes out, but these signs are typically only seen when you pop the hood. Here are several things to watch out for:
  • Your car AC is blowing hot or warm air instead of cold.
  • You have a disconnected or damaged drive belt.
  • There are damages on the refrigerant hoses.
  • There is oil on some of the AC components. This is a sign that you are experiencing refrigerant loss.
  • The compressor shows signs of failure such as a paint damage, rust, or off-center drive hub.
  • The drive belt seems to be squealing or slipping while the A/C controls are on maximum.
  • The air conditioning system does not seem to stay on steadily for a long time, and may show on and off cycles every few minutes.
  • The condenser fan seems to work with varying and unstable speed and volume.
  • Since 2000, most vehicles have a cabin air filter (sometimes known as Pollen Filter). It should be replaced once a year, after all it filters the air you breathe inside your vehicle.

These are all indications that there may be a problem with some of your car’s air conditioning components. Because your mechanic is typically going to notice these signs before you do, it is important to take your car in for regularly scheduled maintenance.

The Tune-Up

It’s recommended that you have your car’s air conditioning system checked once a year, preferably before you will need to use the AC. Prevention is definitely the best way to go, but you can also drop by your neighborhood mechanic at any time if you notice something going wrong.

When you take your car in for your annual air conditioning check, your mechanic will perform a system check and inspection. He or she will thoroughly examine the components for leaks, cracks, damages, and temperature readings. Most car service centers and mechanics can conduct such inspections quickly and then give you a full report, including an estimate. This way, you’ll have some idea of what, if any, repairs or replacements will be necessary to keep you cool all summer long!

The Importance of Changing Your Oil Every 3,000 Miles

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Despite what you may have heard, it’s very important to remember to get an oil change every 3,000 miles. The health of your oil is affected by many things, including heat, cold, and the severity of your driving conditions. Though oil does have a better lifespan now than it ever has, our driving habits are worse than ever, keeping our oil’s lifespan at right around 3,000 miles.

What Does Motor Oil Do?

Cars use motor oil to prevent metal to metal contact within our engines. Engines contain dozens of moving parts that should not connect with one another. Should these metal parts come in contact, friction and wear become issues. If there is enough friction and wear to your engine’s parts, they will warp, distort, and eventually stop working together. Motor oil keeps everything in your engine properly lubricated, as well as permits easy starting, cools the moving engine parts, keeps surfaces clean, prevents rust and corrosion, and seals tiny gaps between piston rings and cylinder walls.

Why Change It

Oil works a lot like water when it passes through your car’s engine. It picks up debris as it goes, and it becomes dirtier the more it’s used until it finally starts to leave dirt behind because it’s more filthy than the things it’s trying to clean. The dirt begins to accumulate, preventing the oil from being able to lubricate your engine properly, which increases friction, operating temperatures, and ultimately engine wear. When you increase the wear and tear in your engine, you shorten the lifespan of your engine dramatically. It’s significantly cheaper to change your oil than it is to replace your engine, so regular oil changes are essential to keeping your car going.

Severe Driving Conditions

While many manufacturers may recommend that you get an oil change further down the road than 3,000 miles, there’s always a warning attached to that: if you drive under severe driving conditions, you will need to change your oil more frequently, at around 3,000 miles. But what exactly are severe driving conditions? You might be surprised. “Severe” driving conditions are the ones most of us face every single day. They include stop and go driving, short trips, time spent idling, towing other items, and very hot or very cold temperatures. Sounds like an average commute! In fact, it’s estimated that more than 80% of American consumers regularly drive in some variety of severe driving condition.

So, what does that mean for your oil? Severe driving causes your oil to get dirtier more quickly, giving it a less useful life. The dirt in your oil also wears down your oil filter more quickly, filling it with gunk and severely shortening its life.

Replace Filters

When you go in to have your oil changed every 3,000 miles, you should make sure to have your oil filter replaced as well. As we already mentioned, the severe driving most of us do every day makes our filters less efficient and fills them with gunk. You may assume, though, that you can still go without changing the oil filter when you change your oil-but that would be a huge mistake. Dirty filters automatically dirty up the clean oil you’ve just put into your car. They also run the risk of actually clogging with dirt thanks to their already gunky status. If your filter clogs, you run the risk of damaging the engine. Filters have an emergency bypass valve that will allow oil to enter your engine without going through the filter if it’s clogged. If your filter is clogged, your car will have no choice but to use that bypass valve, flooding your engine with dirty oil that can end up shortening your engine’s lifespan. It is usually a standard practice to have a filter change included in your oil change, but it is vital to ensure that your mechanic does include this in the price of their oil change.