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…
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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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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.
Image via Flickr by Arup Malakar
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.
Image via Flickr by Sergey Podatelev
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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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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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.
Image via flickr by anthonares
Whether you’ve already started a family or are planning to have one, finding the right vehicle to suit your needs is essential. Although it’s upsetting to realize that you may no longer be able to drive a sports car or a full size truck, fear not. There are tons of reliable vehicles out there to give you the options you need without becoming a minivan driving soccer mom (or dad).
1. Ford Focus Hatchback
Although you may be vehemently opposed to the idea of driving a station wagon, the Ford Focus hatchback gives you plenty of space for a stroller and groceries, but in a more stylish version of the traditional wagon. Available in both a 6 speed automatic and 5 speed manual, you can pick the option that lets you either relax while driving, or kick it up into NASCAR mode when you’re by yourself. With that option, space, and the incredible 38 miles to the gallon, the Ford Focus Hatchback is perfect for the new parent.
2. Toyota Highlander Hybrid
While it may be almost double the price of the Focus, you will know where that extra money went. This is the quintessential vehicle for the “green” parents. It reduces carbon emissions and gets 28 miles per gallon – a substantial amount more than your regular SUV. The car is spacious, comfortable to drive, and provides a USB port and optional entertainment system so you can rock out to “The Wheels on the Bus”.
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As auto technology continues to improve, people no longer have to choose between gas efficiency and a sport utility vehicle. In 2014, you can find plenty of SUVs that offer competitive mileage along with automatic transitions, so you can keep mileage above the teens without any extra work. Check out this list of some of the best gas-efficient SUVs available.
7. Toyota Rav4
Commonly on SUV top 10 lists for a variety of reasons, the Rav4 also provides great mileage. It’s the self-proclaimed “original crossover SUV” and has all of Toyota’s best and latest technology and features. The style has greatly improved over the years to create a sleek, modern vehicle. The newest version of the car has an emphasis on gas-efficiency, adding improved aerodynamics and a 6-speed automatic gear-box to help trim fuel costs.
6. Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
An affordable and aesthetically pleasing choice, the Outlander Sport appeals to many. The newest version of this car starts at under $20,000; a shockingly low price considering what you’re getting. You’d never know how inexpensive the car is by looking at it, especially when staring straight on at the mean-looking grille. Its face distracts from its excellent mileage, getting 31 mpg on the highway.
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Once upon a time, status symbols were BMW’s, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus. In the new economy, style means getting more for less. Smart consumers abandon the notion that quality and value come with gigantic price tags. Instead, they make small investments that serve their needs better and longer. What are your affordable options when it comes to a dependable drive?
1. Chevrolet Spark
The Spark tops this list due to its total cost of ownership over five years of just $27,871. This subcompact is designed with the urban commuter in mind, available in astonishing colors like Techno Pink and lime green Salsa. The base model lists at $12,195, with a 5-year depreciation of $8,614. The average driver pays $996 per year in insurance, and gets 32 MPG in the city and an impressive 38 MPG highway. With just 84 horsepower, this car is peppy on city streets, but isn’t much of a hog on longer trips.
2. Kia Rio
The Rio comes in second on this list, with a total 5-year ownership price tag is just $28,516. The base model lists at just $14,400, very impressive for the modern styling and upscale look and feel of this vehicle. It gets 29 MPG city and 37 MPG highway, with an average cost of fuel over five years of just $8,115. Maintenance and repairs over this time are estimated at $3,276. The base model is available with AC, CD player, and USB jack, and an automatic transmission is available. The hatchback model is just $200 more.