headlight of a car

Headlights, Laws, and Road Safety | Everything You Need to Know

When was the last time you thought about your vehicle’s headlights? Do you know which headlights to use during fog, rain, sleet, or snow? How can you increase visibility and reduce glare?

While headlights may not always be top of mind, in order to keep the roads safe for yourself and others, it’s important to periodically check your headlights and know how and when to use them.

Use this guide to learn about headlights, headlight laws, and how to improve road safety for everyone.

When to Use Headlights

Headlight Laws

The law requires that you have two functioning headlights that are to be turned on whenever it is dark out, usually from sunset to sunrise. In Tennessee and Georgia, headlights are required to be turned on 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise, when visibility it low, and in adverse weather conditions.

These conditions make it harder to see other vehicles. Turning on your headlights will simultaneously turn on your taillights, significantly reducing the chances of a rear-end collision.


Headlights are required to be on 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, when visibility is less than 500 feet, and in conditions of insufficient light/adverse weather.


Headlights are required 1/2 hour after sunset to 1/2 hour before sunrise, during fog, smoke, or rain and when visibility is less than 200 feet.

In some states, headlights are required anytime the vehicle’s windshield wipers are on in continuous use. This indicates the presence of rain, sleet, snow. Other states require motorists to turn on headlights in construction zones.

Most states require high beams to be dimmed within 500 feet of another vehicle.

Click here for a list of headlight laws by state.

Note: When driving in a foreign country, read up on the headlight laws. Many countries, such as Scandinavia, require 24-hour headlight use.

When to Use Headlights During the Day

You may think it unnecessary to drive around with headlights on during the day, but they when there are varying light conditions, car with lights on are much safer and more visible.

Daytime headlight use is highly recommended (and sometimes required) during adverse weather conditions, such as fog, smoke, rain, snow, sleet, or when visibility is less than 500 feet.

Turn on your lights whenever you see a “daylight headlight section” sign.

The Department of Motor Vehicles recommends the use of headlights during the day when:

  • Adverse weather conditions make it difficult to see (rain, snow, sleet, fog, or smoke)
  • On rural and mountain roads
  • On narrow two-lane highways
  • Road signs indicate a daytime headlight zone
  • The sun is about to rise or set

If you are having a hard time seeing other cars, turn your headlights on. They are probably having trouble see you too. Don’t forget to turn your headlights off when you park.

What Are Daytime Running Lights (DRL)?

Depending on the make and model of your car, you may have daytime running lights (low-voltage headlights) to increase visibility and enhance safety on the road. Even though visibility is normally clear during daytime hours, cars with DRLs are easier to spot than cars without them. They also let people know if the car is approaching or receding. Nearly all cars manufactured today include DRLs.

Studies have shown that 24-hour headlight use with DRLs can reduce the chance of daytime collisions by 5-10 percent.

How do they work? Simple—they work automatically. If you have DRLs, they will turn on when the engine turns on and turn off when the engine turns off.

Daytime running lights can consist of your parking lights and LED lights around your headlights and taillights. 

While DRLs reduce your risk of collisions during the day, they are not suitable for nighttime driving. Make sure you turn your other headlights on when it gets dark or the weather turns for the worse.

While the increase in road safety may be small, there is no real drawbacks to using your headlights during the day. If you have an older vehicle, consider using your existing headlights 24 hours a day to reduce the use of daytime collisions.

While no state currently requires 24-hour headlight use, several states have introduced bills to make headlight use mandatory at all times. Keep on the lookout for certain roads that require daytime headlight use.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

When to Use High Beams, Low Beams, and Fog Lights

In order to maintain safety on the roads for yourself and other drivers, it’s important to switch your headlights to the proper setting according to the location, weather, and time of day.

High Beams

High beams are typically used on dark rural roads without much traffic. When there are no streetlights on the road, high beams can help you see further down the road to avoid hitting animals, pedestrians, and debris.

Consider using your high beams on:

  • rural or mountain roads (turn your high beams off when you are approaching another vehicle or when another vehicle is approaching you)
  • open highways when no other vehicles are present
  • streets and roads that have no lighting

Always abide by your state’s laws concerning headlights and high beams. High beams can be blinding and very dangerous for other vehicles on the road. Most states require high beams to be dimmed within 500 feet of another vehicle.

If you are driving with your high beams on, make sure you switch to low beams whenever there is oncoming traffic or you are approaching a vehicle from behind.

Avoid using high beams when other vehicles are around. Turn them off if you see oncoming vehicles or are driving in an urban area.

Low Beams

Use your low beams, also known as dipped headlights, when:

  • Poor weather makes visibility difficult
  • Driving in the fog (if you don’t have fog lights)
  • Within 500 feet of another vehicle (many states require dimming high beams to low beams when you are within a certain distance of a vehicle—check local headlight laws)
  • Road signs indicate a daytime headlight section

Fog Lights

When driving in fog, use your low-beam headlights or fog lights (if equipped). Do not use fog lights on clear nights as they can irritate other drivers.

Dashboard Headlight Symbols – Are Your Lights On?

High Beam Indicator Light

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Main Beam/High Beam Headlights – Your high beam dashboard light is usually blue with parallel horizontal lines. While these lights provide better visibility at night, they are not to be used whenever other cars are around. Use them mainly for dark rural and country roads. Never have them on when driving the highway.

To activate the high beams, consult your owner’s manual. Many times, it involves pushing the lever toward the instrument panel. To deactivate, pull the lever towards you. The high beam indicator light will illuminate on the dashboard.

You can also use your main beams to communicate with other drivers. Rather than using your horn, a quick flash of the high beams can let someone know their headlights are off.

Low Beam Indicator Light

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Low Beam/Dipped Headlights – Your normal headlights, also known as low beam or dipped headlights, point downward to reduce glare for oncoming traffic.

Use your dipped headlights between sunset and sunrise or whenever weather conditions make it hard to see. If fog is present and fog lights are not equipped, use your low beams.

Many motorists choose to use their dipped headlights during daytime hours to increase visibility (if daytime running lights are not equipped).

Fog Light Indicator Light

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Fog Lights – Fog lights cast a low, broad beam that helps increase visibility in foggy, misty, or hazy conditions. However, driving with them on in normal weather conditions is dangerous as they annoy other drivers and can cause accidents.

If equipped, you can switch to fog lamp mode using the main headlamp control. For proper operation, consult your owner’s manual.

Side Light Indicator Lights

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Side Lights – Side lights are the small, white lights on the front corners of your headlights. In some cars, the sidelight indicators will turn on when the normal headlights are in use.

Usually, when your side lights are on, the rear taillights and license plate lights will also turn on.

If your low beam lights are not working, use your side lights. It will at least show that you are a car (not a motorcycle) and will alert others whether you are approaching or receding.

Tips for Headlights and Road Safety

Here are some additional headlight tips to increase safety on the road:

  1. Regularly clean your headlight lenses (about once a month whenever you clean your windshield). They can quickly become dirty.
  2. While fogging is normal (caused by the temperature difference between the inside and the outside of the lens), if you notice water on the inside of the lens, contact your local mechanic or car dealer right away.
  3. You can help restore clarity and remove scratches from your headlight lenses with home remedies, such as toothpaste or insect repellent. You can also pay a professional for headlight restoration or purchase an inexpensive do-it-yourself headlight refinishing kit at your local auto parts store.
  4. If an approaching vehicle is using blinding high beam lights, reduce your speed and avert your eyes to the right edge of your lane.
  5. When using your headlights, drive slower and more carefully. Visibility is reduced and driving conditions are worse.
  6. During your annual vehicle inspection, ask your mechanic to check the headlights for correct aiming. Fix your headlights if they point in different directions.
  7. Check your lights regularly and replace them right away if they stop working. The law clearly requires both working headlights. It’s cheap and you can do it yourself. We recommend storing replacement bulbs and fuses in the vehicle for quick replacements.

Read our other articles for more driving safety tips:

Auto Simple wants to help you find the perfect vehicle.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a man and a salesman standing next to a car at a dealership

What to Do After Buying a Used Car

After you’ve taken the test drive, fallen in love, and committed to a new car, there’s still some work to be done. Like any close relationship, a new car will require ongoing effort.

Learn what to do after buying a used car before buying a used car. It’s a good idea to get familiar with all of the state taxes, titling, registration, inspection, and insurance fees to help budget the final cost.

In addition to the DMV, financing, and insurance paperwork, you will want to read the owner’s manual and take the car in for a second inspection. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy and we can walk you through the process. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Here are the steps to take immediately after buying a new car:

  1. Title Transfer and Registration

You cannot legally drive your new vehicle if it is not properly registered. Usually, when you buy a used car from a dealership such as Auto Simple, the dealer will help you with all the DMV-related paperwork and fees, including title transfers and registration.

Filling out the paperwork at the dealership saves you the undesirable trip to the DMV. You will receive your plates in the mail in 2-3 weeks. Some dealerships, however, require that you make the trip.

If you are buying a used car from a private seller, you will almost always have to wait in line at the DMV and pay several hundred dollars to get the vehicle transferred and registered.

Before you register your car, you will need:

  • The title in your name
  • A completed emissions test
  • A completed vehicle safety inspection
  • Proof of insurance
  • Multiple forms of ID
  • Proof of address

Find your state on the DMV website for specific information on your state’s vehicle registration requirements, fees, and taxes (if applicable).

If you are financing your new vehicle, the lender and the dealer (sometimes the same company as with Auto Simple) will hold on to the title until the loan is fully paid off. Once the loan is paid, the title will be transferred to your name and mailed to you.

If you are not financing, the dealer will handle all of the DMV paperwork on the title to transfer the vehicle into your name.

However, if you are dealing with a private seller or a dealer that doesn’t handle all of the paperwork, you will have to go to the DMV yourself.

Before you transfer the title, you will need:

  • The Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) (if the car is brand new and has not yet received a title)
  • The current title (if previously owned and titled)
  • Dealership invoice/bill of sale (proves purchase and any relevant fees and taxes paid)

Sometimes you will need to visit the local country tax office with the seller to transfer ownership.

Once you get your registration information, keep it safe in the glove box. However, never keep your vehicle title in the car.

Simplify this process by buying your next car at Auto Simple, where we take care of all the paperwork on-site.

  1. Used Car Sales Tax

Dealerships will figure out your used car sales tax and include it in the final bill of sale. If you buy from a private seller, however, you will have to handle this step on your own.

Use these online Tax & Tag Calculators to figure out your used car sales tax. If your state isn’t on the list or you are experiencing difficulties, contact your state’s DMV.

  1. Insurance

You never want to drive around without insurance, even if it is just around the block. It’s a good idea to have all of your insurance figured out before you drive off the lot.

If you know the vehicle’s VIN number ahead of time, you can give it to your insurer in order to have the proper coverage the moment you take off.

Many times dealerships will not allow you to drive off the lot without first showing proof of insurance. By choosing an insurance plan early, you will also know how much it will cost, which can help you budget all of your auto expenses. Insurance should be budgeted into the overall cost of legally maintaining your vehicle.

Speak with your insurer about your options. Costs will vary based on your age, credit score, commute, deductible, where you live, in addition to the type of automobile you buy and its value.

Luckily, there are discounts for good driving, good grades, homeowner, and multi-car.

You are required to buy minimum liability insurance, which is normally $25,000 for each injury per accident. Additional coverage options, such as collision, comprehensive, protection against uninsured motorists, and medical payments are all optional, but recommended.

Keep in mind that if you are financing your used vehicle, your state may require liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage until after you have paid off the loan. Check with your state’s DMV.

  1. Bill of Sale

The bill of sale is presented after you purchase your used automobile. It acts as a receipt, displaying the purchase price, buyer’s name, seller’s name, and any related fees, taxes, and terms.

This document should be presented when registering the vehicle. It is also used when the state agency calculates your used car sales tax. If you go to a dealership, registration and sales tax will normally be taken care of for you.

  1. Temporary Tags

Many dealerships offer temporary 30-day tags to buy you some time before registering your vehicle with the state. This temporary registration will go with your insurance documents and title.

  1. Read the Owner’s Manual

Nobody reads owner’s manuals for fun, but it’s important to learn the car’s maintenance schedule, how to use the various gizmos, and what the ideal gas grade and tire pressure is. You will also learn about important warranty information, what all the dashboard lights mean, and much more.

Learn why your vehicle owner’s manual is your best friend.

  1. Take Car to Trusted Mechanic

While you probably should have had conducted a pre-purchase inspection before buying the car, it’s always a good idea to take it into a good mechanic after purchase.

When you speak with your mechanic, ask them to check:

  • All the filters
  • All the fluids
  • The brakes
  • The tires

This is also a good way to vet potential mechanics. After you have checked online reviews, certifications, and warranty information, give the shop a tryout and go with your gut. Finding a reliable mechanic is important after buying a new vehicle, but keep in mind that some shops specialize in maintenance while others specialize in repair.

  1. Give Your Vehicle a Name

As a new member of the family, don’t forget to give your car a worthy name. Not sure what to name your new car? Check out this list of the best car names.

  1. Learn How to Drive

Now that all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, it’s time to actually enjoy your new car. But before you do, avoid picking up bad habits by reading your owner’s manual and learning these common driving mistakes.

And remember, the best way to improve as a driver is to drive! Why not take a road trip?

Related Resources:

If you are purchasing your next vehicle from Auto Simple, we make the shopping and payment process very easy. After all questions are answered and the paperwork is signed, you will receive the keys and copies of all the documents.

Check out our Dealer Specials & Events on our large inventory of pre-owned vehicles.

Auto Simple wants to find you a car you love at a price you can afford.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

image of a manual transmission

Manual Transmission 101: How to Drive a Stick Shift

For a long time, knowing how to drive a stick shift was an essential skill. In the early days of the automobile, manual transmissions were ubiquitous. In fact, the manual transmission used to be known as the “standard” transmission. They were preferred for their reliability, fuel efficiency, and sporty feel.

Now, however, less than 3% of cars sold in the U.S. have manual transmissions – compared with 80% in some European and Asian countries (LA Times).

Although you might have some trouble reselling a manual transmission car (only 18% of Americans know how to drive a stick shift), knowing how to use a clutch pedal and stick shift is a skill that can help you save money, drive sportier cars, and even save a life one day.

They also tend to have cheaper maintenance costs, and in many countries, they are a lot cheaper to rent than automatic transmissions.

So, how do you drive a stick shift?

How to Drive a Stick Shift

Learning how to drive a stick shift takes a lot of practice and patience. After getting familiar with the different manual maneuvers, practice in an empty parking lot until you are completely confident to take it on the road.

  1. First, let’s get familiar with some of the parts

Clutch Pedal – Manuals have 3 pedals unlike automatics, which only have two. The clutch pedal is the furthest one on the left. You use it when shifting up or down from one gear to the next, including neutral. When the clutch is fully depressed, it is disengaged. When the clutch pedal is released, it is engaged and ready to resume the transmission of power.

Use your left foot to operate the clutch and your right foot for the gas and brake, just like you would in an automatic.

Stick or “Gear Shifter” – Modern manual cars have the shift lever located in the center console. Older cars may have a steering column or dash-mounted shift stick. Locate your stick shift and study it.

Manual cars have up to 6 gears. The gear guide is normally located on the head of the stick shift. Neutral, which is not a gear (you won’t go anywhere), is normally located in the middle of the “H” pattern. There is also an “R” for “reverse.”

Emergency Brake – Since there is no “park” gear, the emergency brake is especially important for stick shift cars. Use the emergency brake when stopping on hills and whenever you park to prevent the vehicle from rolling.

  1. Next, practice with the engine off and emergency brake engaged

Before turning the car on, locate the clutch. The clutch must be pressed down when shifting gears! Practice pressing and releasing the clutch pedal with your left foot. You will begin to feel (in your foot) when the clutch is engaged or disengaged.

After you get a feel for the clutch, depress it fully and move the shifter into 1st gear. Then, begin releasing the clutch with your left foot (sometimes called “feathering”) at the same time as you press down on the gas pedal. If the car were on, you would begin to move forward.

How to Upshift

To shift into higher gears, release your foot from the gas and follow the same process:

  1. Depress the clutch
  2. Move the shifter up to the next highest gear
  3. Release the clutch while pressing down on the gas

How to Downshift

To shift into lower gears, you are basically doing the same thing. Release your foot from the gas pedal while you are shifting.

  1. Depress the clutch
  2. Move the shifter down to the next lowest gear
  3. Release the clutch while slowly pressing down on the gas

Practice upshifting and downshifting while pressing and releasing the clutch pedal while the car is off.

To come to a complete stop, you must depress the clutch to shift into neutral. Then, take your foot off the clutch. Generally, you want to shift gears when your car reaches 2,500-3,000 RPM. Eventually, you will know when to shift by sound and feel.

  1. Practice in an empty lot

It’s one thing to use the clutch and shifter while the car is off, but it’s an entirely different experience when the car is actually moving. Once you have practiced shifting with the car off, find an empty parking lot and practice shifting while driving.

With the car off and in neutral, press down on the clutch and brake pedals at the same time while you turn the key and start the car.

  1. With the clutch and brake pedal depressed, put the car in 1st
  2. Release the parking brake.
  3. Release the foot from the brake pedal and slowly press down on the gas pedal while you simultaneously ease pressure off the clutch pedal. Your right foot will be pushing down on the gas while the left foot will be releasing the clutch. This takes practice! If you don’t do this right, you might “pop the clutch,” causing the car to lurch forward and stall.
  4. If the car stalls, simply engage the emergency brake, depress the clutch pedal and put the car into neutral to start over.
  5. Continue pressing on the gas pedal until the tachometer reaches around 2500-3,000 RPM. To shift into 2nd gear, remove your foot from the gas pedal, press down on the clutch pedal and shift into 2nd Make sure the clutch is fully depressed before shifting. Otherwise, you may “grind the gears.” Then, start to release the clutch while simultaneously giving it gas. Don’t keep your foot on the clutch as you speed up, also known as “riding the clutch”!
  6. As you continue to gain speed, follow the same procedure to shift into higher gears. Generally speaking, these are the mph ranges for the different gears:
    • 1st Gear: 0-10 mph
    • 2nd Gear: 3-25 mph
    • 3rd Gear: 15-45 mph
    • 4th Gear: 30-65 mph
    • 5th Gear: 45 mph +
    • Consult your owner’s manual for more accurate gear ranges.
  7. To downshift, remove your foot from the gas pedal and depress the clutch before shifting the lever to the lower gear. Do not shift while pressing the gas pedal as this can damage either your engine or transmission. After you release the clutch and decelerate, use the same method to shift to the next lowest gear. Always work backwards, in reverse gear order.
  8. To make a stop, at a stop light for instance, either put the car in neutral and release the clutch, or keep the clutch engaged while the car is in 1st If you are stopping for any length of time, it’s best to put the car in neutral. Depress the clutch and put the car into neutral. After setting the stick to neutral, release the clutch.
  9. Practice reversing as well. The process remains the same. Depress the clutch to shift into reverse, and then release the clutch slowly as you reverse.

Once you have mastered reversing, starting, stopping, upshifting, and downshifting on flat land, practice the same maneuvers while going up and down hills.

When coming to a stop on a hill, use your emergency brake. When it’s time to accelerate, release the hand brake, shift into first, and slowly accelerate as you release the clutch pedal.

Don’t worry about it if you stall. Just engage the emergency brake and start again.

Learning how to drive a manual transmission can be frustrating at first, but it’s well worth it. Not only will you gain a valuable life skill and a deeper appreciation for how engines and transmissions work, but you’ll also be able to drive nearly any type of automobile, in any country.

And like many other drivers, you may prefer manuals over automatics for their better performance, fuel economy, and driving experience.

Related Resources:

We carry a large selection of Manual and Automatic automobiles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

Stop by any of our locations for the best deals on your new Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining automobiles: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

hood view of several used cars

Car Body Styles Explained | Which Car is Right for Me?

Buying a car is one of the biggest decisions of your life. Each person has their own set of desires and needs: color, size, price, fuel efficiency, performance, reliability, safety, comfort, luxury and style.

Whether you have a need for speed or a craving for comfort, Auto Simple wants to help you choose the type of car that’s right for you. One of the first and most important things to take into consideration is the car body style.

Most cars are divided into 2-box and 3-box body styles, with up to four “pillars.” The pillars refer to posts or supports around the vehicle’s windows. For instance, a sedan or hatchback will usually have 3 pillars, while an SUV or station wagon will have 4 pillars.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Take a look at the different car body style descriptions below to find the car design that’s right for you. 

1. Sedan

Let’s start with the basics. A sedan, also known as a saloon in other countries, is the most popular body style. It typically features two rows of seats, 4 doors, and a 3-box configuration.

Sedans tend to provide better fuel economy, affordability, handling, and performance. New drivers in particular favor the sedan over other body types for their safety and handling. If you are looking for a practical, commuter car with space for passengers, a sedan is the classic choice.

Since they are closer to the ground and have a lower center of gravity, they tend to perform better around corners and sharp turns than larger vehicles such as SUVs. As a result, they are much less prone to tipping and rolling over than trucks and SUVs. With less weight and a lower center of gravity, it’s easier to move and better for the environment.

The biggest downside of a sedan is the space. The sedan’s lower position gives it a tighter grip on the road, but also a more awkward storage space. Instead of a large storage area with foldable seats, expect a relatively small space tucked between the wheelbase. Head and leg room can also be an issue for some car buyers. If need a little more space, check out the hatchback and crossover options.

While it may not be the flashiest or most spacious car on the road, you’ll be able to get from point A to point B safely and efficiently. Consider a Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, or another reliable family sedan.

2. Coupe

A coupe, or French coupé, has two doors and a low, fixed roof, giving it a sporty feel. Up until the 1960s, convertibles were sometimes called drop-head coupes. Now, however, coupes refer exclusively to fixed head models.

Coupes are stylish cars best for singles or couples. Coupes and convertibles attract a similar kind of buyer—someone who values style and experience just as much as utility and performance.

Since space isn’t the priority, car designers can focus on muscle, stylish features, and performance.

The doors tend to be wider and the roof lower. It is shorter than a sedan and may or may not have a back seat. If there is back seating, it might be a little tighter than you may find comfortable.

Coupe customers sacrifice space for performance and aesthetics. Without kids or the need to haul stuff, a coupe or convertible could be a great option. Convertibles and coupes are fun, great for relationships, and you can sun tan on your commute.

If, however, you regularly travel with more than one passenger, a larger vehicle will probably suit your needs better.

3. Hatchback

A hatchback is smaller than an SUV or minivan, but larger than a sedan. The main difference between a hatchback and a sedan is the extended trunk. Instead of the back sloping downwards, the back area is lifted, providing extra space for cargo.

Typically, the hatchback has a top-hinged trunk with rear seats that fold down for even more cargo space. As a result, hatchbacks are usually marketed as small family cars or executive cars.

Since the interior space can be made to prioritize passengers or cargo, they are a popular and practical choice for those who need both. From small city hatchbacks to large luxury models, there is a wide variety of hatchbacks available to you.

4. SUV


SUV stands for Sports Utility Vehicle. It is a larger vehicle that can be classified as a light truck. With a higher center of gravity, higher ground clearance, and four-wheel drive, you’ll have a more commanding view of the road.

SUVs prioritize size and comfort, and can provide a more adventurous ride than minivans or station wagons. They are designed for both on and off-road use. Dads tend to prefer SUVs due to their four-wheel drive capabilities, towing capacity, and masculine appeal.

5. Crossover

A cross between a sedan and an SUV, crossovers (also known as Crossover Utility Vehicles) give you the best of both worlds. If you frequently haul things and would like a little more room than a sedan, consider looking at the wide range of crossovers. They are available in four-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drives.

They are cheaper and have better fuel economy than full-sized SUVs while still giving you extra ground clearance and a more commanding view of the road. Keep in mind that they are only designed for light off-roading, unlike SUVs.

6. Minivan/Van


Despite the rising preference for crossovers (CUVs) and SUVs, vans and minivans are still the classic family car choice. Sometimes called Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs), they are taller than station wagons and offer spacious 3 row seating for 7 or more passengers.

While you may be tempted by a modern-looking crossover, minivans tend to have more cargo space, more ways to configure the interior, comfortable third row seats, easy access, and plenty of storage cubbies.

They may not be the sleekest or sexiest cars on the road, but what they lack in looks they make up for in functionality. The boxy shape and square doors make it easy to haul any combination of cargo and people. If you have a large family, this is a car designed for you.

7. Pickup

Pickup trucks command the road. They are big, rugged cars designed to perform big, rugged tasks. Sitting high, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the road.

Pickups are a great option for people who have a lot of stuff to haul around. With an open rear cargo area known as a “bed,” you won’t be hindered by cabin height. Truck beds are also great for tailgating, camping, stargazing, and creative modifications (mini pool, anyone?)

Whether you are hauling a boat to Galveston or jump-starting a home service business, you’ll be able to do it all with the right pickup truck. Keep in mind that you’ll probably be the first one to call on moving day.

8. Wagon

Mention station wagon and most of us think of our parents or National Lampoon’s Vacation. As tastes changed, Americans began to prefer smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, or minivans and SUVs for families.

Today, there aren’t many automakers who still make and market station wagons. It’s important to note, however, that modern-day station wagons have evolved quite a bit. You won’t be seeing any vinyl or wood siding here.

Before you opt for a large SUV, consider that a station wagon probably has all of the amenities you need. Wagons have nearly everything a crossover has, including four-wheel drive, spacious interiors, advanced tech, and high performance and efficiency.

Will there be a return to the glory days of the family station wagon? Sadly, no. But if you need to transport people and gear, don’t forget about the faithful wagon. They are still a great choice for city and country driving, and have the durability and handling necessary for more rugged terrain.

NOTE: Car body style definitions vary from company to company and person to person. Many times, body styles are used for marketing and PR purposes. For instance, a station wagon can easily be marketed as a crossover.

If you are thinking about buying a new car, do your homework first.

Car Buying Resources:

We carry a large selection of Hand-Picked, Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

Stop by any of our locations for the best deals on sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, SUVs, crossovers, pickup trucks, and wagons:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

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The Vehicle Owner’s Manual is Your Best Friend

What is the answer to most questions about your vehicle? Consult the owner’s manual.

It’s as simple as that. The vehicle owner’s manual is an instructional booklet that is specific to your vehicle. It includes important information to make you a better driver and car owner, including maintenance and troubleshooting advice.

Rather than excitedly driving off in your new vehicle, take some time to read your owner’s manual and get acquainted first.

13 Important Things Included in Your Car Owner’s Manual

  1. Setup Instructions

While some cars still don’t require any setup, many newer models have technological features that require some user input. These include Bluetooth, keyless entry, and voice recognition.

The owner’s manual can make this process easy. In order to take full advantage of your vehicle’s available options, learn all of the setup instructions before driving your new car.

  1. Gizmo Instructions 

In addition to setup instructions, you will also find instructions for how to use all of the features and gizmos in your vehicle. Avoid the frustration that comes with learning a new system by reading the owner’s manual before you start to use anything in or around the car.

Don’t flip switches and press buttons before you know what they do. If you don’t know what a particular button or function in your vehicle does, consult the owner’s manual first. This includes how to dim, brighten, or modify your headlights.

Your vehicle may also have a “battery run-down” feature that automatically shuts down lamps and lights to conserve your battery life.

  1. Maintenance Schedule

Taking preventative care for your vehicle is money well spent. When you catch problems early on, they are cheaper and easier to fix. Your vehicle will last longer, have higher resale value and better performance.

In addition to saving money on repairs, a well-maintained car is also more efficient, saving you on fuel costs as well. Additionally, any warranty claims normally request a complete service record.

Look in your car’s service manual to learn the proper maintenance schedule (oil changes, for instance), how often you need to service your car, and the expected lifespan for the car’s replaceable parts.

Save money on unnecessary maintenance and oil changes by following the recommendations in the vehicle owner’s manual. For example, many people waste time and money by following a dealership or mechanic’s advice on when to change the oil, or other vehicle fluids. For the most accurate fluid change schedule, always refer to your vehicle’s service manual.

You can also use your car’s maintenance schedule to budget car maintenance and repair expenses. Your mechanic won’t like that you consulted your owner’s manual, but your wallet and peace of mind will.

  1. How to Check and Refill Fluids

If you want to know where the windshield wiper fluid, coolant, or motor oil is located, save yourself time and trouble by checking the owner’s manual first.

You will also learn if it’s better to check the fluid while it’s hot or cold.

  1. Oil Change

Make sure you are filling up with the proper engine oil and gas by consulting your owner’s manual. The “Engine Oil” section tells you how to check your oil level, what kind of oil and filter to use, and how long you can go between oil changes.

Bookmark this page for easy reference.

  1. Gas Grade

What kind of gasoline should you use for your vehicle? Check your owner’s manual to learn the proper octane level.

Premium or plus gasoline isn’t automatically superior. Different types of engines are designed to run on different types of gasoline. Use the gas grade (octane rating) that is recommended in the “Fuel” section of your owner’s manual. 

  1. Seat Positions and Head Restraints 

In order to provide the safest and most comfortable position in your car, check the owner’s manual for how to adjust seat positions and head restraints.

Adjusting the head restraints to the proper height will help cushion the head and spine in the case of an accident, reducing whiplash injuries and increasing effectiveness.

  1. Dashboard Warning Lights

Dashboard warning lights are not the same for all vehicles. While some lit-up warning signs are nothing to worry about, others can indicate important messages about your braking system, engine, and fluid levels.

Your vehicle owner’s manual will let you know what each warning light means and whether it is urgent or not. If you see a dashboard warning light that you do not recognize, look it up in your vehicle owner’s manual immediately. It could save you from a dangerous situation and expensive repair bills.

  1. How to Change Tires

Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you how to remove tire and operate a car jack. Since every car is different, you want to make sure you are lifting the car up at the proper location. Always reference your owner’s manual for the correct location to place the car jack.

We highly recommend consulting the owner’s manual so you can make the ideal tire change. You will learn how long you can drive on the spare and how inflated it should be. While you are replacing the tire, don’t forget to check the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.

  1. Ideal Tire Pressure

Instead of using the tire pressure on the sidewall of your tire, consult your owner’s manual for the proper tire PSI. The PSI printed on your tire is normally the maximum allowed pressure. Never inflate the tire over this number. If you overinflate your tires, you risk overheating, a blowout, or worse.

We recommend purchasing a digital tire gauge and checking your tire pressure about once every month. Maintaining proper tire pressure will enhance driver safety and fuel efficiency.

ALWAYS check the owner’s manual for the proper PSI level for your tires. You can also find the appropriate tire pressure rating on the placard on the inside of your driver-side door, glove box, or fuel door.

  1. Warranty Information

You can save a lot of money by checking your owner’s manual to see what service and parts are covered by warranty. Rather than forking over your hard-earned money to mechanic, check your manual first.

You will learn if you have any roadside assistance along with any relevant contact information. Additionally, you will discover all of the things that you should not do that may void any existing warranties.

If you are having trouble finding out what is and is not covered by your warranty, speak with one of the technicians at Auto Simple.

  1. How to Clean the Vehicle’s Inside and Outside

If you want to keep your vehicle looking brand new, consult the owner’s manual. It will tell you the best cleaning methods for your leather or fabric upholstery and outdoor paint, mirrors, and accents.

  1. Tips & Tricks

In addition to some specific driving tips for your model, you will also discover valuable tips and tricks for extending the lifespan of your vehicle, increasing gas mileage, and maximizing passenger safety. Learn how to maneuver your new vehicle and follow their instructions no matter how seasoned you are as a driver.

In addition to tips for safe driving, you will uncover little-known features. For instance, some cars have the ability to lower the windows a little bit on hot, summer days. Your owner’s manual contains a lot of hidden features you may be missing out on.

We recommend reading the entire vehicle owner’s manual before driving your new car. Every model is different. Get acquainted; learn the vehicle’s quirks and oddities.

How to Find Your Vehicle Owner’s Manual Online

Although vehicle owner’s manuals normally stay put, occasionally they do get lost or misplaced. If you are missing your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you could find yourself in significant trouble.

Luckily, there are ways (mostly free) to obtain your car’s service manual if it has gone missing.

  1. Find Your Vehicle’s Year, Make, and Model (and/or VIN Number)

When searching for your missing owner’s manual online, you will normally need either the vehicle’s YEAR/MAKE/MODEL information of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN can provide more accurate results depending on the manufacturer.

For instance, the VIN can provide a more customized maintenance schedule based on your specific vehicle.

  1. Look up the Manufacturer’s Website

Look up the official website for your vehicle’s make. For instance, if you drive a Ford, you can simply visit the Ford website and look up your vehicle’s year/make/model or VIN.

Sometimes, it may be easier to simply search Google for “______ owner’s manual.” Other times, going to the manufacturer’s website and using their search function will yield a faster result.

Here are a few websites that offer free downloadable owner’s manuals or printed copies for sale:

Another benefit of looking up your vehicle owner’s manual online is learning of any recall information and warranty details.

If you are having trouble finding the official vehicle owner’s manual on the manufacturer’s website, try Just Give Me The Damn Manual, a collection over 2,000 automotive manuals.

Related Resources:

Accessing the Owner’s Manual: Your vehicle owner’s manual should be stored in a protected and accessible place, normally your glovebox or trunk.

Auto Simple wants to help you find the perfect vehicle.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to drive away in your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.