Great Cities to Visit in Texas

Image via Flickr by Texas State Archives

Big cities in Texas like Austin and Houston get a lot of love, but it’s the small towns that embody the true spirit of the state. With fascinating histories and friendly locals, check out these Texas small towns that are worth the drive.

Nacogdoches

The oldest city in Texas, Nacogdoches is home to approximately 32,000 people and is steeped in history. Originally a Spanish settlement, it’s filled with historical attractions, including the Stone Fort Museum, an interesting piece of history that has held a saloon, trading post, church, and jail — but was never actually used as a fort.

Other attractions include the Oak Grove Cemetery, Camp Tonkawa, and the Durst Taylor House. Enjoy southern hospitality alongside centuries-old Spanish culture that makes this town such an interesting stop. continue reading…

Hillside Country Sights near Taylor, TX

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While Texas is known for its steaks, cowboys, and rough and tumble attitude, there’s a softer side to the Lone Star State. Set to the backdrop of some of the most impressive sights and locations this side of the Colorado river, it’s the perfect opportunity to see a new side of the state. Driving through Texas Hill Country is a tranquil experience for drivers and passengers alike. With these delightful routes, you’ll see the best that’s offered.

From San Antonio to Bandera

Starting in San Antonio, take Highway 16 northwest to the self-proclaimed “Cowboy Capital of the World,” Bandera. While here, you can order a juicy chicken-fried steak and dance to some live country tunes. Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon is a popular hot spot, where you’ll notice a line of pickup trucks outside the front door. If you want a bit of an education experience in Bandera, head to the Frontier Times Museum. It has a collection of prehistoric arrowheads, bells, and mounted animals. With plenty of family restaurants in town, you won’t go hungry here.  continue reading…

How to Choose Between Foreign and Domestic

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When it comes to choosing which style of car you want, you have many options. However, when it comes to where your car is manufactured, you only have two choices. You can either buy a car made in a foreign country, or you can buy a domestic car. When you’re trying to decide which type of manufacturer you should go with, keep these factors in mind.

If You’re Looking for an Affordable Car

For the most part, domestic cars are cheaper to buy than foreign cars. This is especially true when dealers offer incentives and rebates that add up to significant savings. When thinking about the total cost of your car, also consider the cost of insuring your car. Mike Gould, of Advanced Insurance Services, says that foreign cars cost more to insure than domestic cars. As an example, he says that a Honda with a similar price tag to a Ford will cost about 10 percent more to insure.

If You Need a Dependable Car

Even a cheap car becomes expensive if you have to constantly take it to the mechanic for repairs. When deciding between foreign or domestic, you also need to consider which one makes a more dependable car. Many mechanics say that when people are looking for overall quality, they always recommend Toyota or Honda. Indeed, Consumer Reports states that the Honda Fit is the cheapest car to maintain with 5-year total service costs coming in at $2,937. Toyota, whose Corolla has sold 1.7 million cars in the United States, comes in second on the Consumer Reports lists with a 5-year total cost of $2,991. continue reading…

4 Reasons Your Check Engine Light May Be On

Image via Flickr Jim Larrison

Something is wrong with your car. You know this because your “Check Engine” light just came on. The problem is, you haven’t the foggiest idea what the problem could be. Here are four typical reasons a car’s Check Engine light comes on.

You Need a New Oxygen Sensor

Your car has two to four oxygen sensors. When one of them fails, your mileage plummets and harmful emissions increase. You have two choices: take the car to the shop and pay $200 or more, or buy the part and replace it yourself for under $100.

In the case of a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, the adage about an ounce of prevention is painfully true. A defunct oxygen sensor is a cheap and easy fix, but if you let it wallow in dirty oil ash for too long, you just might end up with a $2,000 catalytic converter bill. continue reading…

Road Trips - Taylor Auto Credit

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Taylor, Texas is in Williamson County, almost right in the center of the state. It has a small population, around 15,000. However, because of its central location, this little town is the perfect starting place for a host of exciting road trips, including the following.

1. Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi is 236 miles from Taylor, which translates into a three and half hour ride in a car. That is three and a half hours of fun on the road, followed by even more fun when you reach your destination.

The USS Lexington, or as it is often called, the Museum on the Bay, is an amazing exhibit the whole family will enjoy. This aircraft carrier from WWII offers self guided tours full of information. There is a movie feature, interactive flights, a mess hall to buy some chow, and a gift shop for mementos.

The Enchanted Rock State Nature Area and the Pedernales Falls State Park are just a little farther drive to the west, and there you will find excellent views and hiking.

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Used Cars - Taylor Auto Credit

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When searching for something in the used car market it is generally a good idea to keep your options open. Bargains can be found in the most unlikely of places, including the dreaded former rental car section. Used rental cars have a stigma attached which makes buyers reluctant to take them into consideration. As with any other type of vehicle, however, purchasing an ex-rental has its pros and cons.

The State of Affairs

Tell someone to consider buying a used rental car and they might look at you as if you have devil horns protruding from your skull. But the truth is that they have probably already considered several ex-rentals in their quest for a used car; they might even be driving around in one.

Every year thousands of cars are passed on from rental fleets to car dealers across the nation. Car dealers often pick these cars up at auctions and from third party sellers, unaware that the vehicles are ex-rentals. If you’ve purchased a used car, you might have purchased a former rental without even knowing it.

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Camping - Taylor Auto Credit

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Camping around Taylor, TX, is an affordable way to get back to nature and appreciate all the beauty Williamson County (the area surrounding the city) has to offer. But before loading up the car, make sure you plan your trip carefully.

Decide Where to Camp

If you love camping with a few creature comforts, then check out Four Winds RV Park, just off Highway 79. As well as electricity and running water, guests can enjoy on-site bathrooms, showers, laundry facilities, WiFi internet, and even cable TV access. It’s family-friendly and pet-friendly, so feel free to load up the car with the entire clan.

Folks who prefer to leave technology far behind will find just what they’re looking for at Taylor Campground on the banks of picturesque Granger Lake. On-site flush toilets and showers will make your visit to this pet-friendly campground comfortable, but a stay here is really about getting back to nature.

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Icy Driving - Taylor Auto Credit

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Icy roads are anathema to drivers, especially those who have little or no experience traveling on them. If the sight of ice sparkling on your street sends shivers of dread through your spine, you should stay home. If that is not an option, however, the following tips can help keep you safe.

Make Sure Your Tires Are up to the Task

You know winter is coming, so why not prepare before it clamps its icy jaws on the roads? One of the most important aspects of getting your car ready for winter is ensuring that your tires can handle it. Cold temperatures cause air to constrict, which could lead to underinflated tires. Check your tire pressure regularly.

It is also a good idea to think about buying a different set of tires to get you through the rough weather. There are many advantages of winter tires. They have a high sipe density for better traction. They spare your summer tires from unnecessary wear. And some tires allow for the installation of studs, which aren’t legal everywhere but do wonders for traction.

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Cars for Teenagers - Taylor Auto Credit

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If it were possible, all parents would love to buy their new teen driver a brand new car. Of course it makes sense to start them off with a used car, but that incurs costs. In any case, there’s much to consider when buying your teen his or her first car. The following will hopefully help you in making this important decision.

1. The Costs Involved

First you must looks at your finances, and probably already have. Remember that not only are pre-owned cars more affordable they are also easier to insure. With that in mind, before strolling through any dealerships, look through the classifieds first and see what is available there.  Do some research on “used” vehicles and find out how much they should cost and compare that with what you find.

You will also want to have a frank discussion with your teen about the expense of buying a car. Let him or her know what price range you can realistically afford.

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Dirty Car - Taylor Auto Credit

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Americans now spend more than they have this century on new cars, with average prices sitting at $30,500. Of course, that’s not all Americans pay when interest rates, insurance, and taxes are factored in. In the third quarter of 2012, a new vehicle cost American households 23.1 weeks of income. With vehicles taking such a chunk out of family budgets, most drivers want to care for their cars and protect their investments. The sad truth is though, you might be destroying your car without even knowing it.

You’re Driving a Dirty Car

Studies show more than half of American car owners wash their cars less than once a month, and 15 percent never wash their cars at all. But failing to clean your car means more than a grimy finish. Everything from salt on the road to annoying bird droppings will eat away at your car’s paintwork.

Experts suggest hand-washing your vehicle every one or two weeks and treating it to a full detail at least every season. Don’t forget about the insides either. Wipe down the hoses and plastic coverings under the hood to keep the engine bay looking pristine.

You Miss the Scheduled Maintenance

Washing your car is just the start of the regular maintenance it needs. Missing oil changes, transmission services, and other scheduled procedures can take years off the life of your car.

“If you don’t maintain your car, you’re taking a vehicle that might have been driven for 200,000 miles over its life, and you’re knocking it down to maybe 150,000 miles,” suggests Edmunds.com blogger Philip Reed.

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