2324 3rd Ave S. Birmingham, AL 35233 205-252-4200
4405 Clinton Hwy Knoxville, TN 37912 865-851-9675

6 Costly Car Repairs That Are Totally Avoidable

Little Mistakes That Can Lead To Big Car Repair Bills

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be taken as a replacement for following your owners manual or the advice of a certified mechanic. These tips are a culmination from various sources widely available on the internet.

As anyone who’s ever owned a car knows, they are a huge financial responsibility. Aside from the initial purchase price, there’s insurance, gasoline, and of course, repairs and maintenance.

While some car repairs are unavoidable, there are others that are totally avoidable if you take proper care of your vehicle. Here are a few of the most costly car repairs that are avoidable with some simple preventive maintenance.

Never Ignore The Check Engine Light

Ignoring the check engine can lead to major engine damage that could have easily been avoided had the problem been addressed immediately. There are many reasons the light comes on such as a loose gas cap, bad oxygen sensor, or failed catalytic converter.

Failing To Replace The Battery When Needed

Depending on the battery's condition, most last anywhere from three to five years. If you're still driving on the original battery that came with the car, chances are it needs to be replaced. Modern vehicles are full of electronic features that put a strain on the electrical system, and an old battery will struggle to keep up.

If your battery is drained, it will take longer for your starter to turn over. Your vehicle now draws more electricity, and the alternator kicks in to throw additional amps at the battery in order to recharge it. All those things drawing current can be affected by the spikes and lows over time.

It's easy to eliminate a lot of electrical problems by replacing the battery when needed

Not Maintaining Proper Fuel Level.

Electric fuel pumps are located in the fuel tank. Running the pump dry can damage it. The debris from the bottom of the tank will also get into the fuel filter and clog it. This will reduce fuel flow to the engine and cause all sorts of drivability problems.

If you allow the fuel level to constantly run lower than a quarter tank full, you run the risk of having  to replace the fuel pump sooner than necessary. It sounds weird but gasoline has a cooling effect on the fuel pump, and running low all the time could potentially shorten its lifespan

Unnecessary Transmission Flushes

If you know the history of your car, it may be okay to do transmission flushes just as your preventative maintenance suggests. However If you don't know the history and the car is running fine, then you might reconsider getting it done.

When you fill your car with new transmission fluid, it has specially designed detergent in it to keep a transmission clean. The issue is that it can break loose debris already present in the transmission resulting in a clogged filter. If the filter gets clogged, it will restrict fluid flow and cause all sorts of problems.

Not Using The Proper Tire Size

Whether it's a spare tire or just buying tires not rated for your vehicle, putting the wrong size tire on your car will cause problems. The spare tire is rated for a limited amount of miles and speed, so you should only use it in an emergency situation.

When you drive with mismatched tire sizes, it can cause the vehicle's differential to think that the smaller tires are slipping. It then tries to compensate by sending more power to the wheels, which can cause even more tire slippage and eventually lead to differential failure.

Kicking Ice & Sludge To The Curb

You may just do it without thinking but kicking ice and sludge off your car's bumper, fender and doors can cause cracks or damage to plastic moldings. Think about it this way. When the temperature gets below freezing plastic can become very brittle.

So if you're tempted to kick your bumper, Don't. It could easily crack and need to be replaced. The same goes for plastic moldings and door handles. If possible wait for warmer temperatures, spray it off with a high pressure water nozzle at a car wash or just gently use a soft bristle brush.

Diary Of A Car - Don't Bug Me

A Tough Day In The Neighborhood

I'm just a car trying to get from Point A to Point B minding my own business. The next thing you know a swarm of bugs come out of nowhere and start running into me. Now I'm covered in bugs. Aren't bugs supposed to be attracted to light, so why are they attacking me during the day.?

I try to shake them off, but they just keep coming. I honk my horn and swerve from side to side, but nothing seems to deter them. Finally, I pull into a parking lot and come to a stop.

I really hate bugs. They're always getting in my way and ruining my day. I wish they would just leave me alone. But no, they just keep coming and coming. I can't even go for a drive without them attacking me.

It's not fair. There's a big mess to clean up. I don't know why they did it, but it was really annoying.

Good thing my owner knows how to get rid of them.

How To Remove Bugs From Your Car

Keeping a car washed and clean can help some to prevent bugs from sticking to the paint and making a mess. Waxing the car will also make it harder for bugs to stick.

If your car is already covered in bugs, here are a few ways you can remove them:

  • Try to remove them as soon as possible. If they are left to dry, they will be harder to remove.

  • Use a garden hose or a high pressure sprayer to rinse off as many of the bugs as possible.

  • Apply a commercial bug remover that you can find at most auto stores. Typically you apply the solution to the bugs with a sponge and scrub until they come off.

Preventative Measures

It's always best to take preventive measures to avoid bugs in the first place. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Regularly clean your windshield and front of the car so that bugs are less likely to stick.

  • Keep your car waxed so that bugs have a harder time sticking to the paint.

  • Install a bug deflector on the front of your car.

V6 vs V8 – 12 Pros and Cons of V6 and V8 Engines

V-type engines use a design where there are two even banks of cylinders around the crankshaft instead of placing them in a straight line. If you use a model that features a V6, then there are two banks of three that you will maintain. A V8 would then have two banks of four.
There are several similarities to consider with the V6 vs. the V8 design. These engines are typically more compact and lightweight than other designs. If there is excellent balance in the design of the vehicle, then this weight savings goes toward improve efficiency levels. They can fit into a wide variety of different vehicles as well.
Both the V6 and the V8 have similar disadvantages to think about too. They tend to be more complicated with their design, which means there are more difficulties in the manufacturing process. It can also be more expensive to maintain them when compared to their straight-line counterparts. If the balance isn’t there, then it can lead to additional vibration and mechanical stress.
List of the Pros of a V6 vs. a V8   

1. The V6 engine is less nose-heavy when navigating.
Because there are two fewer cylinders to worry about with the V6 engine, there is less of a weight issue to manage when diving into corners, curves, or turns. You will notice an improved performance when compared to the V8, especially if you time your acceleration correctly, because there is less of a tendency to fade to the outside.
You can lose some of the power ceiling for this advantage, so it all depends on what you hope to accomplish with the vehicle. The improved handling provides stability in the V6 that a V8 model has no hope of matching.

2. The horsepower gains with a V8 are minimal over a V6.
The reality of horsepower for a V6 when compared to a V8 are minimal. The Dodge Ram series is an excellent example of this. You can get a 3.6L V6 with 305 HP for under $35,000 that offers almost as much power as the V8 options that come equipped to Chevy or Ford trucks. One of the best engines in vehicles right now gives you 420 pound-feet of torque with a 3L V6 design and 240 HP – that provides up to 29 miles per gallon on the highway. You can achieve similar mileage results with the F-150 from Ford and their EcoBoost technology.

3. You can save money by going with the V6 over the V8.
If you shop smartly for a sportscar or a performance vehicle, then there are some V6 models that can give you almost the same amount of power that you’d receive from a V8. One of those vehicles is the Infiniti Q60 with a twin-turbocharged 3L V6 engine that can get up to 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. You still won’t reach the output of a Mustang or a Camaro, but the extra money you’d be spending on an engine can go into luxury options for your vehicle.
4. Towing isn’t just reserved for the V8 engine.
There are some excellent SUVs on the market today that can tow huge numbers without having a V8 engine under the hood. One of the best examples of this advantage is the Ford Expedition EcoBoost V7. It can tow up to 9,200 pounds thanks to its 460 pound-feet of torque. That gives the vehicle the highest tow rating in its classification of any V4-V8 class.
Land Rover has taken notice of this trend and transformed its lineup from mostly V8 engines to the V6 variety. You can still work with the manufacturer to upgrade it if you want, but the V6 still gives you excellent horsepower and pound-feet numbers that work for the average driver.

5. Almost all V6 engines get better gas mileage.
One of the most significant questions to answer when looking at the V6 vs. V8 debate is how the fuel economy performs under standard driving conditions. Every automaker has plenty of numbers that they can throw around as a way to convince customers that their vehicle is the best. The reality is that in almost every situation in the same model, a V6 is better. Ford with its EcoBoost gets about two extra miles per gallon on the highway. If you compare a V6 Challenger with a V8 version, then you’ll lose up to 5 mpg outside of the city. It is a trend that you see replicated in almost every make and model.

6. There are fewer maintenance issues to worry about with a V6.
Because there are fewer parts with the standard V6 when you compare it to the V8 design, then that means you have less maintenance worries if you choose the smaller engine. There can still be expensive problems that happen with this engine option, but the overall lifetime expense is usually going to be a little less over time. It isn’t a significant advantage, but one worth looking at if everything else in your situation is relatively equal.

List of the Cons of a V6 vs. a V8

1. V8 engines have a higher ceiling for power.
If you decide to go with the V8 engine instead of the V6, then you are paying for a higher power ceiling. Both options offer a compact design that can balance out the movement and acceleration profile of the vehicle. You’ll discover a little more torque comes your way when you hit the gas with the V8 option, but the difference can be minimal in some vehicles. If you’re driving something heavy, go with the upgrade in power to ensure that you can get to where you need to be.

2. The V8 helps you to manage your work site needs.
If you drive a truck, cargo van, or large SUV on work sites, then the power that the V8 provides can be a tremendous advantage. Whether that is true or not is up for debate based on the circumstances of the situation. You will get a better lurch off of the line or an improved start with a heavy load if you go for the larger engine. It works even better if you choose a single-cab truck with a minimal body profile. If you choose something like the Silverado 1500, then you can get 335 HP for less than $40,000.

3. You’ll get more overall speed and acceleration from the V8.
When you start shopping for a sports car, then there are two elements to consider: speed and power. You’ll find some V6 models that can help you to have a good time behind the wheel, but only a V8 will give you the acceleration profile you want. The Ford Mustang GT features a 5L V8 that gives you 435 HP and 400 pound-feet of torque for under $35,000. You can hit your target speed in just seconds without losing control of the vehicle because of the balance Ford puts into it.
Only a handful of V6 sports cars can come close to creating the power of a V8, which is why the latter choice is usually the better option.

4. You can transport more stuff with a V8 compared to a V6.
The reason why you choose a V8 over a V6 is the need to start hauling something. You’ll receive extra power when you make this upgrade that is useful when you are driving something like the 5,700-pound Cadillac Escalade. Could you put a V6 in that vehicle to still get the job done? Perhaps – but there would be an extra element of noise to manage that would be rather unpleasant. Going with the V8 gives you better towing options, even for large SUVs too. The Infiniti QX80 with its standard engine can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

5. The V8 engine sounds better during acceleration.
There is something satisfying that comes from the sound your V8 engine makes when you stomp the gas pedal. As your back crushes into the seat, the roar of the engine makes you feel like you are moving fast. A V6 tries to replicate that experience, but even a V4 in a small car like the Hyundai Accent can do just as well (and sometimes better) when you need instant acceleration. You cannot replicate the power profile in any other engine design unless you go to a V10 or above.

6. V8 engines can have more of a perpendicular angle.
If you compare a turbo V6 to a V8, then you are going to see a lot of similarities to the driving experience. Even the power and acceleration are similar. The V6 still has a disadvantage that goes to its overall design. When you use a V8, then you get the added advantage of having your cylinder at a perpendicular angle. That means the power delivery you receive in the bigger engine delivers a smoother overall result.

Verdict of the Pros and Cons of a V6 vs. a V8 Engine  
If you love the feel of a V8 engine as you cruise down the highway or get stuff done at work, then there’s no replacement for the way that you can jump off of the line. It is about as American as the National Anthem, apple pie, and baseball.
The reality of the V6 is that you’ll get the flexibility to do a lot more with the vehicle. If you chase after a turbocharged V6, then you can almost make the power of a standard V8 in most makes and models. You’ll get a better fuel economy too, and then there is less weight on the front tires so that your handling is better.

The pros and cons of a V6 vs. a V8 are more about the power and performance that you need to have from your vehicle. Either engine will get you to where you need to be. If you drive a large truck, van, or SUV and carry or tow a lot of cargo, then the larger engine is going to provide you with a better result. When handling, performance, and cost are your top priorities, then a high-performance V6 engine could save you thousands will providing a similar experience behind the wheel.

This article was originally published on GreenGarageBlog.org

Best Used Trucks for under $10,000

Best Used Trucks for under $10,000 

Need to move a lot of earth and keep your car payments low? These used trucks can do it all for less. 

Americans buy trucks so often you'd think there was something about six-foot beds in the United States Constitution. Halfway through 2020, more than a million new trucks have been purchased, and the best-selling vehicle in 2019 was the Ford F-series with 896,526 sold. Trucks are the meat and potatoes of vehicle sales, and automakers have been unable to make one crazy enough to keep people from buying them. Take the recently announced Ram TRX, a 702-hp supercharged off-road Truckasaurus that starts close to $72k. Its only competitor is a $55,150 twin-turbo Ford F-150 Raptor. In the end, it's all just dinosaurs burning other dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, back in reality, the rest of the country is looking to do some landscaping and tow a snowmobile trailer up to camp for the weekend and used cars sales have been in high demand this year. Depending on how much earth needs to be moved, these trucks can do it all and can be found on your local used-car listing website for less than $10,000. If your budget is even tighter, we've also put together a list of the best vehicles to buy for under $5000 here.

Whether you're looking for an affordable snow-removal rig or a truck for everyday use, it's hard to deny the allure of the first-generation Chevrolet Silverado 1500. For less than $10,000, you can acquire a well-cared-for example in just about any drivetrain or cab configuration. Both the 4.8-liter and 5.3-liter V-8 engines offer decent fuel economy and reliability, and if something bad happens, Chevy parts are easy to find. In a 2002 comparison test, C/D praised the Silverado for its class-leading smooth ride and comfortable interior. There are some second-generation Silverados within reach of a $10,000 budget, but that would only afford you a V-6 and, in most cases, rear-wheel drive only. Stick with the first generation if you're looking for more traction and less oxidation in a used pickup. —Max Mortimer

Chevrolet S10 ZR2 

efore the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon were a thing, GM's smallest pickup trucks were called the S-10 and the Sonoma, respectively, and were available with a dedicated off-road model. These lifted and widened variants were dubbed ZR2, and used examples are readily available for a lot less than $10,000. Built between 1994 and 2003, both versions of the compact pickup truck boasted a roster of trail-ready hardware. Along with a sturdier frame and a stronger drivetrain, they were buoyed by Bilstein shocks and rode on chunky 31-inch tires. Motivation came from a 4.3-liter V-6—generating a stout 250 pound-feet of torque—and routed to all four wheels through either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. While the ZR2-enhanced Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma aren't as popular among the off-roading crowd as the Toyota Tacoma from that era, they remain a really cool alternative for those who don't want to spend the extra coin on a Taco. —Eric Stafford

Dodge Dakota 

The Dodge Dakota R/T followed the same performance-enhancing formula that gave the world the Ford F-150 Lightning and GMC Syclone. While the latter are certainly more memorable, the Dodge remains an impressive hot-rod pickup and currently the only one you can get for less than $10,000. Built between 1998 and 2003, the Dakota R/T packed a huge 5.9-liter Magnum V-8 that pumped out 250 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic was the sole transmission, but it promoted smoky burnouts and rowdy takeoffs by twisting the rear wheels with the help of a limited-slip diff and 3.92 gears. With a sport-tuned suspension that lowered the ride height by 1 inch and meaty 255/55 tires at all four corners mounted on stylish 17-inch wheels, the Dakota R/T was also fun to drive in more than just a straight line. Available with a regular or an extended cab, the Dodge's muscular design still looks good today. Although models with the shorter wheelbase are the most sought-after and can cost upwards of $25,000, versions with the longer wheelbase can be found for four figures. Just don't expect them to be immaculate. —Eric Stafford

Ford Super Duty  

Heavy-duty trucks are the hardest-working pickups out there, and the Ford F-250 and F-350 Super Duty never clock out. You'll want to see the receipts on their common problems, but don't expect America's favorite work truck to get to the job without a few bruises. The 411-hp 6.2-liter V-8 isn't as mighty as the larger turbodiesel powertrain also offered, but the gas engine lacks expensive common repairs like turbo failure and EGR problems. Would we still rather suggest the more powerful 6.7-liter turbodiesel? Well yeah, but you won't find a third-generation F250 with a Powerstroke for less than $10,000 unless its been rolled into oblivion. Maximum towing with the gas engine is 15,800 pounds with a fifth-wheel trailer, and its telescoping mirrors are as big as Dumbo's ears. —Austin Irwin

Toyota Tacoma

This is a one-percenter truck, in that it can service all but one percent of most owner's needs. Bulletproof Toyota reliability is a plus, as is the available five-speed manual transmission. The one thing they can’t do is tow big loads. The four-banger models are rated to pull 3500 pounds, while the 190-hp V-6 models (with the exception of the S-Runner model) are rated for 5000. Many of these were sold in the southwest, aka the land of rust-free bodies. And don’t be afraid of high-ish miles. The Toyotas seem to hold onto value like old ladies do purses. —K.C. Colwell

Toyota Tundra  

The first-generation Toyota Tundra was powered by a 190-hp V-6 until 2004 and a 236-hp V-6 for its last few years. The bigger 4.7-liter V-8 is the one to get, especially between 2005 and 2006 as Toyota added variable-valve timing, which increased horsepower and torque. The Tundra has a strong foundation in reliability with two very well-known engines. In fact, there have been multiple million-mile Tundras with the same 4.7-liter V-8. It can be difficult to find these trucks with less than 100,000 miles, and if you do, there's no guarantee it'll be in good shape. Upping the cool factor, all first-generation Tundras could be had with a manual transmission, starting with a five-speed and then moving to a six-speed in 2005. The Tundra also offered a fully retractable rear window. Pretty rad. —Max Mortimer

This article was originally published Car And Driver by Austin Irwin
Text Us