Common Oil Change Scams and How You Can Avoid Them

oil changeNo one likes getting scammed, but unfortunately, thousands of people very years are still duped into paying for something they do not need, simply because they are not aware that some unscrupulous oil change stations will look for and take advantage of people that do not know very much about their own vehicles. You don’t have to be a car expert to know when you are being scammed and what you can do to avoid it. Because the oil change is an extremely common maintenance task for most people, it is where most people are likely to be scammed. Here’s what you need to be aware of:

1. They made a bunch of repairs while you were away. Some oil change stations will actually take a look at your engine and your tires to make sure everything is proper working order, while they are draining your oil or putting new oil in your vehicle. They may even make a few minor repairs for you—but they shouldn’t make any of those repairs without actually asking you if you want them made. Shops that say that they couldn’t ask you because you dropped your vehicle off and left are probably just trying to make a buck off of you. Here’s the long and short of it: don’t pay for anything that you didn’t specifically ask for and which you didn’t specifically tell them it was alright to do. They might try to entrap you into paying for those repairs, but if they didn’t ask you if it was alright to make any repairs (if they even made the repairs they claim to have made), you’re not obligated to pay for any additional work and it is illegal for them to try to hold your car until you pay for work you didn’t authorize. If necessary, you might need to call the police.

2. They showed you someone else’s air filter and told you it was yours. This scam is surprisingly common, so common, actually, that when I last took my own Kia in to have its oil changed while we were on a road trip, the shop tried this scam on me, not knowing that I’d just had my air filters replaced, before we left on the trip and knew there was no way those black, dusty filters were mine. You will probably need to have your filters replaced every 20,000 miles or so, but if you’re not convinced that the air filter they’re showing you is yours, ask them to show you where exactly in your vehicle the air filter came from. The best way to avoid this type of scam is to know when your filters were last replaced and how often your specific brand recommends replacements.

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3. They find a bunch of issues with your vehicle when it went up on the hoist. This is a scam that shops will often try to pull on people that they think are not very car savvy. As you’re sitting, waiting for your oil to be changed, they might call you back and tell you that when they put your car on the hoist, they discovered that there were a bunch of things wrong with it, probably things that sound very technical and are difficult to describe to the average person with a limited understanding of how a car works. The best way to avoid this scam? Learn a little bit about your vehicle. When they start trying to speak gibberish at you, hoping you won’t understand what they are talking about, ask them to show you specifically on the vehicle what the issue is and to explain it to you until you understand what exactly the problem is. They’ll probably give up, instead of trying to continue the charade.

4. They tell you it’s time for a service that it’s not actually time for. This is similar to the air filter scam, but on a larger scale. They’ll tell you that you need new tires, that you need new oil filters, that you need new spark plugs, etc., hoping that you do not have a maintenance schedule in your vehicle (which, if you own a Kia, you do), and that it is not updated. Many different shops can charge you for performing services on your vehicle that your vehicle didn’t really need. You probably don’t need a new oil filter every time you get your oil changed. If you’ve been paying for one, you have been throwing money down the drain. You can prevent being taken in by this scam by always marking the service you have in your maintenance schedule and by checking that schedule any time they try to tell you that you are in need of a service. It’s nice when you go to a shop that is willing to go the extra mile and take care of other maintenance at the same time you’re having your oil changed, but only if you actually need those services to be performed.

What’s the best way to avoid being scammed when you are having your oil changed? Bring your Kia back to our dealership! We have a location in Allentown and as well as Turnersville, which makes it convenient to get your oil changed without having to worry about being duped by the mechanics changing that oil. You know you can rely on our skilled, honest technicians to change your oil properly and to take care of any other service you might need!

Simple Tricks to Help You Save Gas This Spring

Gas prices are lower than they have been in over five years, but many have projected that gas prices are going to start rising again in the near future. Even if gas prices don’t suddenly shoot up, you might still be looking for ways to help you save gas this spring. Here are some of our favorite gas-saving tricks!

1. Buy an environmentally-friendly car. The very best way to lower the burden of gas on your monthly budget is to buy a car that automatically requires less gas in order to get you where you’re going. Kia has a lot of environmentally-friendly options, from small sedans that get great gas mileage for their class to hybrids and even fully electric vehicles, which make it easy to drive a car that requires less (or even no) gas.

2. Drive the speed limit. While you might think that getting to a place faster means using less gas to get there, the most fuel-efficient speed is actually at around fifty miles an hour. Any stoplights on your way are also designed to accommodate the speed limit. If you are not going the speed limit, you will have a more difficult time stopping at red lights. The higher your car’s gear, the less fuel efficient it is going to be. You’ll also just be safer while driving to and from work or to complete your errands.

3. Lay off the brakes. Whether you ride your brakes while going downhill or your tailgate so you have to keep stamping on the brakes every time the car in front of you slows down, it’s time to change up your driving habits. Every time you slam on your brakes, you have to press on the gas to get back up to speed, wasting gas and possibly overstressing your breaks. While many hybrid cars will convert braking energy into energy that the car can then use again in the future, all other cars will only lose fuel efficiency when you drive like this.

car gas4. Accelerate smoothly. When you stomp on the gas in order to jolt your car forward, you are probably using more gas than you have to. Instead, accelerate smoothly. This will decrease your wear and tear on your tires and will allow you to get going without burning a bunch of gas as your car tries to get quickly up to speed. Using your brake and gas pedals as little as possible will help you keep your gas consumption to a minimum. The smoother your driving habits are, the less of a toll they will take on your gas tank.

5. Use cruise control. Instead of trying to actively keep your car at a speed, you can put your vehicle on cruise control and it will largely take care of itself. Cruise control prevents you from constantly having to accelerate in order to go the speed limit, which can help you save gas. When you slow down and have to speed back up again, this process takes far more gas than if you had just maintained a constant speed. The only time you should not bother with cruise control is if you are having to stop and go so much that it will be completely impractical.

6. Lighten your car up. If you are hauling around hundreds of pounds of extra stuff in your car, now is the time to unload those things from your car. Many people will put a bang of sand or ice melt in the back of their vehicle in order to give it a little more weight on icy or snowy roads. As the ice and snow start to melt away, it’s time to lighten up your vehicle by removing that extra weight. While it’s great for giving your grip during the winter, it can wreak havoc on your gas costs for the rest of the year.

7. Try not to idle. If you often have to sit and wait for someone you are carpooling with, and you usually just let your car run, consider turning it off. You can usually still listen to the radio when the car is off, and because warmer temperatures mean that you usually do not have to defrost your car or “warm it up” in any way before it is ready to drive, you can waste less gas by just turning off your car when you are not actually driving it. While it’s probably not a good idea to shut your vehicle off while you are sitting in traffic (you don’t want to be trying to turn it back on when traffic finally starts to move again), at just about any other time, shut it down.

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8. Don’t use your air conditioning. Especially during the spring, when it is nice enough outside to keep you cool in your vehicle just by rolling down your windows, don’t use your air conditioning. Air conditioning puts a serious strain on your engine, making it work harder, which, in turn, requires the use of more gas.

9. Avoid high traffic periods. If you know that you are going to spend an hour sitting, idling in traffic, why not just wait an hour and then drive home on clear roads, instead? You will waste much more gas just sitting in a traffic jam on the highway than you will if you are just driving straight from point A to point B.

 

These nine simple tricks can make the cost of gas, even if it does continue to stay low and affordable, much more reasonable! For more information to see our range of fuel-efficient vehicles, come visit our Allentown or Turnersville Kia dealerships!

Simple Tricks that Make Keeping Your Car Clean Easy

car cleaningThere is probably nothing as annoying as trying to keep your car clean. No matter how careful you are about removing trash from your car or knocking snow off of your shoes before you get in, your car is going to get a little grimy and dirty inside. Keeping your car clean can make it a much more enjoyable vehicle to drive, but you do not want to spend as much time cleaning your car as you do actually driving it. Here are a few simple tricks that can help you keep your car clean:

1. Use rubbing alcohol to keep your windshield wipers clean. We’ve all experienced it: you turn on your wipers and instead of actually cleaning your windshield, they just push the grime and dirt around, making your window streaky and difficult to see through. This can be such a serious problem that you have to pullover, get out, and actually physically clean your wipers off. Sometimes, even spraying washer fluid does not do the trick. Soaking a paper towel with a little bit of rubbing alcohol and then running it along the rubber part of your wiper will help to remove built up grime that causes that streaking and will prevent it from building up again.

 

2. Use a stiff brush to scrub your carpets. If your carpets are stained and are starting to look a little gross, the best thing you can do is take a stiff brush to them. This type of brush can help to lift of dirt and stains, before vacuuming them up, shampooing them with a machine, or spraying them down with a hose. This step is one of the best ways to get oil and street grime off of your carpeting. When your carpets look clean, the entire car looks cleaner, so do not skip this step.

 

3. Keep a duster in your vehicle and use it at stop lights. Dust starts to build up on your dashboard and console almost immediately. The best way to get rid of it? Keep a duster in your glove box and whenever you are stuck in traffic or at a long red light, break it out and use it to pick up that dust quickly and cleanly. Then, you can just store the duster again, until you need to use it. Your car will look much cleaner when there is not a fine layer of dust over everything.

4. Pick up a chamois. You’ll be surprised at how many uses you find for the chamois in your car. Not only can you use it to defog the interior of your windshield, it can also be used to quickly clean up any spills or drips that occur while you are driving. You might also want to use it dry off your car after you go through an automatic car wash. Air drying is okay, but you’ll get a much shinier, spot-free finish if you actually get out of the car and towel it off after washing.

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5. Do not wash your car on a sunny day. On a very hot, sunny day is the worst time to wash your car. Why? Because the sun and heat will cause the water to evaporate very quickly off of your car, leaving soap deposits and water spots behind. Instead, try to wash your car on a cloudy, warm day, where the car will stay wet until you are ready to thoroughly rinse it. You might also want to wait until the car has cooled down after driving it in order to wash it.

6. Slide your seats forward when you start vacuuming. It can be tempting just to vacuum the part of your floorboard that you can see. You will get a much more thorough clean if you take the time to move your seats forward before you actually start vacuuming. That way, you’ll pick up dust, dirt, and debris hiding under your seats, which may find its way out onto your otherwise clean carpets if you ignore it. Once you are done, slide the seats all the way back to make sure you’ve gotten everything that might be hiding underneath those seats.

7. Keep a trash bag in your car. One of the things that can make your car look messy and unkempt are old receipts, food wrappers, notes, and scraps of trash that get left around your car, simply because you do not have anywhere to put them while driving. Keeping a trash bag in your car, somewhere like under a seat where you can grab it easily and then stow it when you do not need to use it, is a great way to corral all of those tiny pieces of trash and prevent your entire car from becoming a trash can.

8. Use cola to get rid of streaks on your windshield. This may be one of the stranger suggestions, but it definitely works. Start by putting a towel along the bottom of your windshield. This will protect your paint job from the acid in the soda. Then, fill a glass with cola. Pour it over the exterior of your windshield, making sure to evenly distribute it. The bubbles in the soda help to get rid of grime. Once the job is done, rinse very thoroughly with water to keep the acid and sugar from harming your vehicle.

 

Use these tips and it will be fast and easy to keep your car looking great!

How do I know what type of car I can afford?

buying a new carThere are many different factors that play into what type of vehicle you ultimately buy, only one of which is how much you are willing to pay. But how much you are willing to pay for a car can be the deciding factor between two brands or between two models in the same brand. Knowing how much you should spend or how much you can spend may also help you shape your car search, immediately eliminating the vehicles that you know you cannot afford before you have an opportunity to get attached to them. Here are some tips for helping you determine what type of car you can afford:

Understand the Different Types of Cars

Compacts, subcompacts, and sedans are going to be the least expensive type of car in just about every brand. That is definitely true of Kia, whose cheapest sedan is usually the Kia Rio, which starts at around $14,000 new (which is what you’ll pay for a used car from most other brands). These cars usually have two to four doors, are the smallest cars on the road, and come in a huge variety of styles of and models. They are also the most popular, simply because they are the least expensive and the most versatile.

The next section of vehicles are crossovers, SUVs, and minivans. These vehicles are usually lumped together because they all start at around the same price and often play the same role. Minivans and SUVs are great alternatives to the sedan for families that need a little bit more room or that need a vehicle with a little more grit. Minivans will provide the highest number of seats, while SUVs will provide more leg room and cargo capacity.

The third strata of vehicle is the truck. Some people put SUVs in with trucks, but a truck is normally defined as a vehicle with a cab and an open bed. Only a few brands still carry trucks, as SUVs usually perform the same function, without the cramped leg room and high price. Trucks ae not necessarily the most expensive vehicles on the lot, but they will be more expensive than the average sedan.

Most brands also have a collection of performance vehicles. For Kia, this includes the Cadenza and the K900. These are sedans with luxurious styling and more power and are the most expensive vehicles in the lineup.

The average sedan or compact starts at around $14,000 and ranges up to around $22,000, with some brands being more expensive and some less expensive. Most crossovers will be north of $20,000, as will most vans, and definitely all trucks. These strata of prices are not definite, but they do reflect the averages, across most car brands. Which brand you ultimately decide to purchase from will affect these prices. Kia, for example, strives to provide high-quality vehicles at a much lower price than other brands offer.

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Understand Your Payments

Unless you have all of the cash on hand to buy the vehicle that you want to purchase, you probably will have to set up some kind of financing program with the dealership. This is how the average person buys a car and we have the system set up to provide you with the very best possible rates for your credit score.

We also have a tool that makes it easy, after building and pricing the vehicle you want to buy, to understand exactly what your monthly payments are likely to be. While the exact monthly payments will likely be slightly different from the number this tool gives you, you can get a general idea of what your payments would look like, based on your loan term, down payment, and credit score.

How Much of a Down Payment Do I Need to Make?

Your down payment will ultimately affect your monthly payments and how long you are paying for the car. While some brands do offer a no down payment option, if you want to pay your car off faster and see lower monthly payments, it is a good idea to make a sizeable down payment. The down payment itself is often an obstacle when it comes to purchasing a car—but it does not have to be. Putting down a large chunk of money when you actually purchase the car makes paying for that car cheaper in the long run.

You do not have to make a down payment, but if you do want to augment your monthly payments, being willing to put $1000 or $2000 down at the beginning of the process can certainly help.

Take Other Expenses into Consideration

The car itself is not the only payment you have to make in order to be a legal driver. Some states have certifications fees, as well as fees for running emissions tests. Almost all states require you to be fully insured, which might be a monthly payment on top of the price of your vehicle. One of the largest monthly costs associated with buying a car is paying for gas for that car. It might be worth your time to pay a little bit more for a car with better gas mileage, in order to avoid having to buy as much gas over the life of that vehicle.

There will all be maintenance costs. While these are not immediate, it is a good idea to plan for these costs, so that you have a cushion of cash to fall back on if you get into an accident or need unexpected maintenance.

Buying from our New Jersey Kia dealership is a great way to make sure that you get an affordable vehicle that you love!

How to Teach Your Teen to Drive in the Snow

Probably the scariest part of learning to drive as a teenager is being faced with learning to drive in the snow. If your teenager (or you are a teenager) is coming to driving age soon, they will probably have to learn to drive in the snow, as they are also learning how to drive.

When I took driver’s education, you could take it up to six months before your sixteenth birthday, so, being born in the late spring, I started learning to drive just before Thanksgiving, when the roads were already slick and wet from early winter snows. This is one of the most important skills that any driver who lives in a part of the country where it snows can have. Knowing how to stay safe on snowy, icy roads can keep you and other drivers alive. Here are some tips for teaching someone who is new to driving how to handle snowy conditions:

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1. Start with the right tires. All-weather tires might work perfectly fine on some vehicles, but if those tires are worn down or your teen drives a particularly light (read: high gas mileage) sedan, it is unlikely that your standard set of tires is going to do the trick. It might be time to invest in some snow tires—they really do make the difference. The newer the rubber is, the better it is at gripping the road, even when they are icy, and the deeper the tread is, the less likelihood there is of sliding and spinning out. The right tires can go a long way towards making a new driver feel safe on the road.

2. Make sure your car is equipped for snow driving. One of the best features of new cars, including those in the Kia lineup, are anti-skid and extra stability control, which make it much easier to first, know when you are losing control of a vehicle and then to regain control of that vehicle. Because most people, when they start to spin or slide, react badly (trying to turn the wheel in the opposite direction or stamp on the breaks) cars are now equipped with tools that make it much less likely that the driver can worsen the situation if something does go badly. A car that also has an exterior temperature meter can me a great way to give yourself some idea of what is going on outside of your vehicle.

3. Understand that AWD does not make a car impervious to icy roads. Where I attended college, the roads were packed with snow from the end of November until the beginning of April. While the rest of us were cruising around in our little junky sedans, trying to just stay moving in a straight line, there were a few notorious roadsters equipped with four-wheel drive that would zoom past. They acted like they were completely immune to the sliding and slipping that plagued the rest of us, though they eventually got into just as many accidents. All-wheel drive or four-wheel drive does not mean that you have better traction. If anything, it helps to prevent fishtailing. Slipping, sliding, and spinning are all still possibilities.

4. Turn on your lights and replace your windshield wipers. If you haven’t replaced your windshield wipers since the spring, now is the time to do it. Why? Because fresh wipers are going to be much better at clearing snow and scraping ice off of your windshield. That makes your teen’s visibility much better. Teaching him to turn on his lights while he drives will make him much more visible to other drivers, which ensures that even in heavy snow storms, he can be seen and avoided.

5. Pump the brakes, don’t stomp them. One of the biggest mistakes that a person can make when they feel their vehicle start to slide is to stomp on the brake pedal. This will cause the wheels to lock up, making it impossible for that vehicle to find traction. Instead, pump the brakes gently with your foot. This will avoid the locking mechanism and will help your tires find traction in the snow or ice again.

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6. Do not panic. Driving in the snow can be a stressful experience. The worst thing that you can do is start to get anxious and irritated. This will lead to poor driving decisions. Remind your teen as he is learning to drive in the snow that it is important for him to be alert, but relaxed. If he is tensed up, his reactions will be jerky and will probably make whatever situation he finds himself in much worse.

7. Encourage practice. Do you know what to do if you feel your tires starting to skid? The best thing to do is to take your foot off the accelerator calmly, to maintain your direction, and wait for the car to slow down. Once it has, you can correct your direction. Working this behavior into your teen’s muscle memory, so that he does it automatically when he feels himself starting to slide, is the only way to make sure he will be safe if he does encounter a problem. That requires extensive practice. One of the best places to practice is in an abandoned parking lot, where he can build up a little bit of speed, practice turning and handling in the snow or on ice, and carefully and safely practice what to do when he starts to slide or lose control of the vehicle.

Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Car

A car is a serious financial investment and the initial sticker shock can put some people off of the idea of actually completing the purchase. It is important to remember that like other large purchases, there are many different types of financing available that make it possible to buy the car and then pay it off in more manageable installments. Some buyers will continue to waffle about actually making a purchase, not realizing that the freedom and convenience that comes along with buying a car is worth the expense. Here are ten reasons to buy that car you’ve had your eye on:

1. Ability to go wherever you want, whenever you want – Many cities have great public transportation, but many of those cities also have very specific train and bus routes that only run at certain times of the day and even only on certain days of the week. A car, on the other hand, does not have these limitations. Instead of trying to plan your life around a complicated public transportation schedule, you can just get in your car and go where you want to go, when you want to go there.

2. Freedom outside of your own city – Trying to get from one city to another is one of the most annoying situations when you do not own your own transportation. Instead, you have to rely on the trains, planes, and busses, all of which are much more expensive and which make it difficult to get to a specific destination in that city. If you are relegated to public transportation, you will often have to take several different methods and might still have to end up walking a great distance in order to get exactly where you want to go.

kia optima3. Reliability – When was the last time that the train in your city was perfectly on time? Or that the bus was not delayed? These might be minor annoyances on the average day, but if you have to be to work by a certain time, it can be extremely annoying that public transportation in this country does not run like a well-oiled machine. These types of transportation are just not reliable. When you buy a car, on the other hand, you have a very reliable way of getting around, especially if you take good care of that car.

4. Comfort – Unless you are willing to pay to sit in first class, you are going to find no better way to travel than in your own car. Today’s cars are designed to be comfortable, even for long drives, which makes them far superior to plastic bus and train seats, which are notoriously uncomfortable. If you are tired of having to sit or stand for long journeys on the train or on the bus, a car is a great alternative.

5. Safety – As a passenger on a bus or on the train, you probably do not want to fall asleep. You could have your bag or wallet stolen, or you might be harassed by another passenger. As a passenger in a car, however, you are much less likely to be attacked or robbed. Because the driver and passengers are the only people in this form of transportation, you are much safer. You are also safer in the instance of crashes—cars are designed to protect their passengers form collisions. Other forms of transportation are not.

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6. More stylish – No matter how clean and sleek a bus, plane, or train was when it was first built, after only a few weeks of use, it is going to be dirty and grimy. While there are some types of transportation that are cleaner than others, no type of transportation is as stylish as a well-designed car. Kia, specifically, has a wide variety of stylish vehicles to choose from, making it easy to find one that allows you to travel in style.

7. More personalized – Many drivers treat their vehicles like an extension of their homes. They decorate them and personalize them. Even the type of car that you purchase can be very personal. There are reasons why some people buy a Kia Optima and others opt for the Kia Soul EV. With lots of different types of vehicles on the market, everyone can find a vehicle that fits their personality and helps them achieve the persona they want to achieve.

8. Faster – Sometimes, taking the train is going to be more convenient than driving yourself. But there is no doubt that taking the train from one city to another is going to take far more time than driving yourself from one city to another is going to be. Car travel, except for plane travel (which is the most expensive way to get around), is going to be the fastest way to get where you need to go, almost across the board.

9. Higher quality – One of the reasons many buyer are unsure as to whether or not they should buy a car is because they are afraid that car is going to fail them five years after they purchase it. The truth is that the cars you can buy today are going to be of a much higher quality, get much better gas mileage, and be all around better than the cars our parents could buy when they were our age.

10. Adapts with you – A car can easily follow you through many different times in your life. It is as useful for a student who is just getting his start in life as it is for a married professional. Buying a high quality vehicle from our Kia dealership is a great way to get a car that can adapt with you as your life changes.

Which Kia Sedan Is Right for You?

Kia has a wider variety of sedans and compacts than most other brands. When step on to the lots of other brand’s dealerships, you’ll find two, maybe three different kinds of sedans. Kia has nine different kinds of sedans and compacts, making it easy for someone looking for something very specific to find that thing, but more difficult for someone who is not yet quite sure what they are looking for to find the right vehicle for their needs. Out of the wide variety of sedans and compacts, which one is right for you? Here is a brief overview of all the sedans you can find at our New Jersey Kia dealership:

Optima

The Optima is often considered to be the flagship of Kia’s offerings. It’s one of the most popular and definitely one of the most versatile vehicles on the road. Starting at just over $21,000, there are lots of options for those that both want a great car and want to save on monthly payments. With a combined MPG of thirty, it is gets you where you need or want to go, efficiently. The Optima is the third most efficient vehicle in Kia’s entire lineup, and there are plenty of colors to choose from, too.

Cadenza

The Cadenza is a jump in price, but it’s also a jump in quality. Starting at around $33,000, this is one of two luxury offerings that Kia provides. The Cadenza has a sharp, clean look, and is perfect for young professionals or small families that want something truly stylish to get around it. At twenty-two miles to the gallon, it is still very efficient, and has great safety ratings.

K900kia sedan

At the very top of Kia’s lineup is the K900. This vehicle is packed to the brim with luxurious touches. It has the best technology and styling, and plenty of legroom in both the front and back seats. It is designed to be perfectly aerodynamic and to have one of the quietest rides of all cars on the road. Sleek, there are few vehicles on the road that can rival it. It starts at $49,000, and for good reason. The advanced safety features and stunning design make it a great prestige vehicle for anyone looking for something with both style and power.

Forte

Moving on from the sedans, we have the compacts. The Forte is the first and perhaps most popular of the compacts, starting at around $16,000. At thirty-one miles per gallon, it is also the second most efficient of Kia’s sedan and compact line, beat out only by the Optima Hybrid. The Forte has sporty styling, with the modern, aggressive Kia grill. While it may be less expensive than the Optima, Cadenza, and K900, it definitely doesn’t lack when it comes to luxury. This vehicle has plenty of great features standards, and a variety of trim levels that make it even more attractive.

Forte5

If you prefer a five-door vehicle, this variation on the Forte provides just that. It is a little bit larger, which makes it a little bit more expensive and reduces its gas mileage a little. It starts at just over $18,000 and has a combined miles per gallon of twenty-eight. The five door design gives you a little more cargo room, but it’s the styling that most people are after. It has the look of a hatchback, without sacrificing two doors as most designs do.

Forte Coup

The Forte Coup starts at $18,590 (2016), and definitely kicks things up a notch when it comes to style and power. If you want the sports car experience, without having to pay the sports car price, this is an excellent alternative. It boasts a turbo-charged engine and a two-door design that makes it sleeker and more stylish than just about anything else Kia has to offer. It does all of this without losing the high safety ratings that it shares with the other Fortes.

Rio

The Rio may be the least expensive vehicle in most Kia dealerships, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything to offer. It starts at just $14,165 (2016), and, like the Forte, gets thirty-one combined miles per gallon. That makes it extremely efficient, while also having plenty of power. The small size is perfect for first-time car buyers, small families, and commuters, and it looks great on the road. There are three trim levels to choose from, if you want extra technology. All safety features come standard!

Rio 5-Door

There is also a five-door version of the Rio. The differences between the Rio and the Rio 5-Door are largely cosmetic—they share the same direct injection engine that gives these little cars some zip, and they have all of the same safety features. And come in all the same colors. What the five door does have, however, is that fifth door, which gives the vehicle the hatchback appearance that some might be willing to pay a little extra for.

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Optima Hybrid

Last, but not least, is the Optima Hybrid. It has everything that the Optima does, except that it is a hybrid. At thirty-eight combined miles per gallon, it is the most efficient of the sedan and compact options, while still being extremely affordable. It starts at just under $26,000, and comes with all of the same technology and luxury that the original Optima does. If you want a vehicle that is as affordable as it is environmentally friendly, this is probably the one you want.

What Winter Does to Your Car – And How to Stop the Damage

Winter can be just as hard on your car as summer can be. Cold, harsh weather, and even the dryness that comes along with being parked in the garage, can all damage not just the exterior paint of your car, but the underlying metal components, too. In our part of the country, winter can start in early November and continue on well into what should be spring. How can you prevent your car from being damaged by a punishing winter? Here are some of the ways winter can damage your car and what you can do to prevent that damage:

Ice Melt and Your Paint

Winter is usually when your car gets its dirtiest, and when there are the fewest number of days when it is safe to wash your car. Ice melt, which helps to keep our roads safe to drive, can be caustic to your car’s paint job, if not routinely washed away. Many counties have stopped using ice melt on the roads, as it eats not just at the road, but also at your car.

Ice melt, sometimes called brine, is usually a mixture of water, salt, and magnesium chloride. It’s widely used because it is really great at lowering the freezing point of water, making it harder for water to freeze on the roads, and eliminating ice and snow. The mixture is highly acidic, however, and has been routinely pointed to as one of the major causes of road wear.

As often as there is a warm day, take advantage of the warmth, run out, and get a professional car wash—one where they spray the underbody of the car. Washing away the brine as quickly as possible is the best way to prevent it from corroding your paint.

Rock Salt and Your Car

Rock salt, like ice melt, can be very damaging to your car, in a variety of different ways. Rock salt can even be more damaging to your paint, as it doesn’t just get in chips and dents to speed up the rusting process and eat away at your paint, it can actually cause the chips in your paint.

Salt is also used to clear roads of ice and snow, and because it can provide traction while also keeping the road clear, it is preferred in some communities. The salt is very corrosive. It can ruin asphalt just as readily as it ruins your car’s paint and metal components, for the same reasons that here by the Atlantic Ocean, our cars rust faster than those of people who live far away from the ocean.

Like ice melt, the best way to deal with rock salt is to wash your car as often as possible, in a car wash that either automatically cleans the undercarriage of the car or gives you the option of doing it yourself. Getting rid of as much of the salt residue as possible is the only way to prevent the rust that will inevitably follow salt deposits.

Cold Weather

Can cold weather really damage your car? Yes, it can. Most of our cars have a myriad of rubber components, ranging from the windshield wipers to vital belts and hoses around the engine. Rubber can be seriously affected by cold weather (as it can by hot weather). Cold stiffens rubber, making it less pliable, and therefore, less functional and more likely to rip, tear, or break. Many people will notice that their windshield wipers are less effective during the winter. This is because the cold rubber cannot conform to the shape of the windshield.

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The newer the rubber components are, the less affected they will be by colder weather. That doesn’t mean that you need new hoses and belts every single winter, it just means that you should have these components checked out before cold weather sets in. If they are already stiff and cracked, they are probably not going to be helped by colder weather.

Cold weather can also be damaging to the metal parts of your car. If any of them have cracks that can be invaded by water, it is possible that expanding freezing water can turn those cracks into full failures. Regular maintenance can help to prevent this.

Something else that cold weather does to your car? Kills your battery. An old battery that may have been functioning perfectly fine in the winter can die overnight in the freezing cold of winter. There really is no way to prevent this, and at some point, not even jumping the battery will revive it. Testing your battery before cold weather sets in can be a good way to know whether or not it is going to make it through frosty weather. Buying and replacing a battery is one of the easier repairs and is something that most car owners are capable of doing on their own.

Did you know that it can actually get cold enough to freeze the gasoline in your tank? It might not get cold enough this year to freeze the gasoline itself, but if there is any water in your gas tank, that could definitely freeze and cause you problems. A good way to avoid either of these two issues is to keep your tank more than half full. Not only will this prevent you from running out of gas if you are trapped in a long line of slow-moving cars on the interstate, it will also help to prevent any freezing liquids from damaging your gas tank.

Nighttime Driving Tips to Keep You and Your Kia Safe

night driveGrowing up in a rural town, there was very little to do at night or on the weekends. Like in all small towns, the sidewalks rolled up at 8 p.m. We did a lot of driving—not just to get to activities in other parts of the county (for a long time, the nearest movie theater was a forty-five minute drive away)—but also as an activity itself. Sometimes we’d stop at the gas station, get a couple sodas and a bag of chips, and just drive around the countryside looking for the shine of a coyote’s eyes in the headlights.

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Driving at night is vastly different from driving during the day—anyone who has been behind the wheel in the dark knows this. It’s the most dangerous time of day to drive, especially if you are new to driving. Here are some tips to make driving at night safer and easier:

1. Buy a car with LED headlights. You can easily tell the difference between LED headlights and standard headlights. Most standard headlights have a yellowish cast, while LEDs usually have a bluish cast. They are brighter, making it easier to see the road, the shoulders, and anything in the road, farther off. The further you can see in the dark, the safer you will be. Luckily, most new cars today are equipped with LED headlights. They are less likely to burn out, cheaper, and make driving at night much safer.

2. Learn not to overdrive your lights. What does it mean to overdrive your headlights? It means that you are driving faster than your brain can process what is actually being illuminated by the lights. Speed limits are selected for daytime driving conditions, when the world is lit by the sun, and you can see for miles down a flat road, giving you minutes (or at the very least, seconds) to react to something you see in the road. Overdriving your lights means you’ll only have a split second to react to a hazard, which is usually not enough time to make the right decision to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Slow down so that you have at least four seconds between the edge of your lights and when the car gets to that location.

3. Use your high beams. Yes, it’s annoying when someone comes around their corner in the opposing lane with their high beams on—that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use them. High beams can greatly extend the distance you can see, especially during clear conditions. They might not be as effective during rain, snow, or fog. If there is moisture on the road, high beams will sometimes bounce away from the car, instead of reflecting back in to give you more visibility. Use your best judgement—if you can see better with them on, put them on. If visibility is worse, turn them off. And try to remember that they are on. You don’t want to be the one driving around, blinding everyone else.

4. Avoid staring into an oncoming car’s headlights. As humans, we are naturally inclined to look towards the light. This, however, can be very bad for nighttime drivers. While headlights probably won’t blind you, they can ruin any night vision you may be developing. Once the car is passed, your eyes will have to adjust to the darkness again. You can avoid this problem by looking at the shoulder as a car passes you.

5. Pay special attention to animals. Animals are more likely to approach the road and attempt to cross during the night than they are during the day. Because they are harder to see at night, humans are more likely to hit them. A phenomena called change blindness is often the culprit. On the road, you are looking for car-sized objects in your way, not animal-sized objects (this is also sometimes the reason motorcyclists are hit with a vehicle). You’re prepared for a vehicle, but not for a deer. Keeping a special eye out for smaller hazards at nighttime can keep you safe.

6. Pay attention to the behavior of other drivers. You are more likely to encounter a drunk driver at night than you are during the day. It’s not always easy to spot a drunk driver. They may be driving along perfectly fine, but when a car appears in the opposing lane, they suddenly swerve towards them (they are drawn toward the light). They are not always swerving all over the road, though they may run stop signs and stop lights. Simply be more aware of what other drivers are doing and drive defensively to protect yourself and your passengers.

7. Take a nap if you are tired. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and drowsiness can sneak up on you. It’s more common at night, when the body has environmental triggers (like darkness) telling it that it is time to sleep. Pay attention to your body. Have you been sitting too long? Are your eyes starting to feel heavy? Pulling over, getting out, and jogging around your car may help a little, but if you are really tired, pulling over and taking a nap is the best solution. This is true, of course, only if the area is safe enough to do so. Calling someone and talking to them while you drive, or talking to your passengers is also a good way to stay awake if you feel yourself start to get drowsy while driving and are not in a safe place to stop.

How to Keep Your Pets Safe in Your Kia

dog on carIf you like to travel with your dog or cat, they need just as much protection as a child does—sometimes more. Children often understand, especially as they get older, that while in the car, they are supposed to sit down and stay still. Dogs and cats on the other hand, may try to roam. You may be lucky; maybe your dog will sit on his seat and stay still and quiet while in the car. My dog will pace back and forth on the backseat before trying to first, lick the face of whoever is driving, and then climb into their lap (she is a fifty-pound collie mix).

If you want to keep a dog or cat safe during a car ride, whether you are taking them on a road trip or you are just driving to the vet, here are some tips and items that will help:

  1. A pet restraint – Just like a child, a dog or cat can benefit from being restrained while in the car. While this isn’t a law yet, it soon may be. Unlike a person who may be able to brace themselves in the event of an impact, a pet will have no concept of preserving himself during an accident. Luckily, there are lots of different types of restraints, including ones that still allow them some degree of freedom to move around the seat and others that keep them buckled down.

 

  1. Barrier between back and front seats – If you have a dog, small or large, that wants to ride in the front seat, even if both of those seats are occupied, you might want to consider getting a barrier that makes it impossible for him to climb into the front seat. These partitions are usually secured to the front two seats, and are high enough that even large dogs will not be able to climb over them. Dogs often try to climb into your seat because they are nervous in the car, but this means that you are likely to become distracted while trying to either keep them in the back seat or find room for them in the front seat.

 

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  1. Travel in the crate – If your dog or cat is crate trained, this can be a great way to safely transport your pet. Not only are they less likely to feel nervous when they are in a familiar crate, they are also less likely to be hurt if there is an accident. A crate is much easier to secure, especially in the cargo space of your vehicle, than a dog or a cat in your backseat or in the copilot seat. If your pet is not familiar with a crate, but you know that they are going to need to travel in one, if you are moving, for example, start a few months before hand to acclimatize them to the idea of a crate. This won’t work for every pet, but it can provide some safety for some pets.

 

  1. Child lock your windows and doors – If your pet likes to stand on the armrests in order to see out the windows while you are driving, it is probably a good idea to use the child locks on those windows and doors. That way, they won’t step or tug on the wrong button or handle and create a very dangerous situation. Just remember to turn those lock off when you are going to have people in your car again.

 

  1. Take more frequent breaks – This is especially true of you are on a road trip, but is true of any trip longer than three hours. Even if you can sit and drive for five or six hours without needing to take a break your dog or cat can’t. They will want to get out and stretch their legs every few hours. They also likely will need to go to the bathroom every few hours. Doing this, even if they are not asking to go to the bathroom, will prevent any messes from occurring inside your car.

 

  1. Consider sedation – Not every pet parent wants to resort to sedation, but for some, it may be the only way to keep your pet safe and happy on a long trip. If you have a dog that gets car sick or a cat with serious anxiety issues, riding in a car for a long time can be stressful—not just for your pet, but for you, too. There are lots of safe ways to mellow your pet out a little bit, if you know that they get nervous in the car. Our vet told us that half an antihistamine tablet (the medication our dog already took for his extreme allergies), would help to mellow him and his sister out when we were moving with those two dogs. Talk to your vet to make sure you are giving your pet the right dosage of the right medication.

 

  1. Bring plenty of water – Not just for you, but for your pet, too. Dogs pant and get thirsty more often when they are nervous. Cats may not exhibit the same behavior, but that doesn’t mean that they are getting dehydrated. Not only should you bring extra water for your pet, bring something that they are comfortable drinking out of. In a pinch, you can always pour some water into your hands and let them drink out of your hands, but a collapsible bowl or Tupperware is a great alternative.