image of an open truck bed

How to Load a Pickup Truck | Truck Bed Safety & Packing Tips

Moving is stressful—it takes a lot of mental and physical energy. Don’t make it worse by haphazardly loading the back of your pickup. You can make transporting cargo a lot quicker, easier, and safer by learning the proper procedures for how to load a pickup truck bed.

How to Load a Pickup Truck

  1. Consider Pickup Truck Accessories & Add-Ons

Depending on the job, you may want to add some rails or added anchoring systems for extra support and protection.

Bed Rails & Rail Caps – You may want to install bed rails or rail caps on the rails of the truck to protect it from dings and dents. They can help you prevent damage, preserve resale value, and improve functionality.

Tie-Down Anchors – Truck rails and racks can be uses to tie down and secure items, but you may also need tie-down anchors that get secured to the bed floor. If you need to drill into the original metal of your truck, however, it may devalue the vehicle and encourage rust.

Bed Slides – Truck bed slides make hauling cargo more convenient. Instead of climbing inside your truck bed every time you want to retrieve something, a bed slide allows you to slide the cargo out easily.

Bed Racks – Bed rails and extenders can help with some loads, but a truck bed rack allows safe transport of long cargo such as ladders, piping, and lumber. If you are transporting a lot of lengthy objects, bed racks significantly increase your truck’s hauling capacity.

Bed Mats & Liner – Mats and liners are great ways to maintain your truck’s factory finish and prevent scratches, scrapes, and dings to the paint and metal of your truck bed. Not only will this prevent unsightly scratches, it can also prevent rusting and other problems associated with exposed metal.

Bed Extenders – If you want to increase the hauling capacity of your pickup truck, you don’t have to buy a new truck for more bed room. Instead, consider bed extenders, so you can leave the tailgate down while having the support necessary to keep the load from falling out.

Cargo Nets & Covers – Instead of using ratchet straps and bungee cords every time you are transporting a load, consider a truck bed cargo net, which can keep all of your luggage securely in place. Besides effective performance, truck nets and covers are also easier to install and uninstall, saving you time and frustration when moving things. Cargo covers can offer durable and weather-resistant protection.

Tool Boxes & Bed Organizers – For those who frequently haul groceries or need to store tools for the long-term, tools boxes and bed organizers that lock are the way to go. While cargo nets and covers are good for protecting and tying down items, if you are looking for more protection and permanent storage, upgrade your truck with permanent boxes and storage space.

Other Things You’ll Probably Need:

  • Tarp and plastic wrap
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Moving blankets
  • Ratchet straps and bungee cords
  1. Weight Restrictions

The first thing you want to do is check the weight (“payload”) limits of your truck. If you are only hauling small amount of weight, you can ignore this step, but when moving any significant amount of weight, you should always check to make sure your truck can handle all the weight.

How to check payload limits:

The maximum payload (GVWR, or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) will be printed on the factory label, normally on the inside door sill on the driver’s side. The sticker label may also be found inside your glovebox. If you cannot find the label in either of these two places, check your owner’s manual.

Make sure that the amount of weight you are transporting is under the payload limit. Making multiple trips a lot better than damaging your shocks, suspension system, and risking a blowout or accident.

You can tell if you’ve overloaded the truck if the steering wheel becomes heavier as you try to turn and maintain handling.

  1. Move Heavier Items Near the Cab

When moving lots of heavy items, such as boxes of books and masonry, move them to the back of the truck bed, near the cab. If there is too much weight on the back axle, the front axle may not have enough weight to make solid contact with the road.

By moving heavier items near the center of the truck, weight will be more evenly distributed. This take weight off of the rear axle, which can cause poor handling and potential damage to the drivetrain and suspension systems. Secure the weight near the cab with ratchet straps.

  1. Place Large Items on Their Side, on the Sides

If you are moving large pieces of furniture, such as tables and mirrors, make sure you turn them on their sides and securely wrap any fragile materials securely. The key is to make everything as stable and secure as possible. Load your largest items near the bed rails, away from the center.

How to pack glass and fragile items:

In order to make sure glass items are protected, wrap them in packing paper and secure them with tape before wrapping the glass with bubble wrap. If you have a telescopic box (wide and thin), use it. If not, you can create a makeshift box using the cardboard from smaller boxes. Simply bend the cardboard around your glass (you may need multiple cardboard pieces) and tape it together. Label the box “Fragile” on all sides and be extra careful during handling.

Make sure any glass items are securely wrapped and placed in such a way that they cannot move. You want your glass, pictures, and other fragile items to be as snug as possible.

  1. Load Boxes and Smaller Items in Between the Large Items

Once you have loaded your largest items and placed them securely on the sides of the truck bed, the next step is to load boxes and smaller items in the middle. If you are stacking boxes, place the larger, heavier boxes at the bottom—smaller, lighter items should go on top.

What you are trying to do by placing larger items on both sides of the truck bed (with boxes in the middle) is maintain weight balance and protect all of your cargo.

  1. Tie Your Items Down

Even if you have a cargo net or cover, you should always use quality ratchet straps to tie down your large items. Make sure that your cargo is tied down from at least two sides. You can also tie items down in an X-shape.

Make sure you safely store your ratchet straps away from the elements (sunlight, rain, dirt, etc.).

Shop around for a high-quality cargo cover for added protection, such as protection from rain and weather, improved aerodynamics, and added security. They are an investment, but a worthy one. Most of these covers will attach to the underside of your truck bed or come with attachment anchors for your rails and sides.

After securing the large items with ratchet straps, use tarp, cargo nets, or covers to cover the entire load. You don’t want things flying out on the freeway. Always use cargo nets and covers for light materials, such as landscaping trash and materials.

For a cheaper solution, you can use an appropriately sized tarp with integral snaps, or use bungee cords to tie it down.

  1. Plan a Safe Route from A to B

When transporting cargo in your pickup truck, you want to choose the smoothest route, avoiding high winds, rough roads, and sharp turns. If you are driving on the freeway, drive on the right side of the road and

  1. Prevent Theft

Items left out in the open are vulnerable to theft. Do everything necessary to limit this risk.

How to prevent theft while moving cargo:

  • Keep valuable tools and items in locked truck bed boxes or in the cab to keep them out of sight and away from the weather. Lock the box and truck doors to keep these items as safe as possible.
  • Try to keep your items covered, either with tarps/covers or in some container.
  • Park in a safe, public, and well-lit area if possible.
  • Minimize your stops. Try to travel directly from point A to point B without stopping to prevent weather and theft-related risks.

Give yourself a pat on the back and admire a job well done! By properly loading and transporting your cargo, you’ve prevented accidents, hassles, and wasted time and money.

Read Transporting Cargo Safely [pdf] from the Tennessee Commercial Driver’s license Manual for more information on inspecting cargo, cargo weight/balance, securing cargo, and cargo needing special attention.

More Driving Safety Tips:

Tired of renting U-Hauls? Need a new truck? Shop our online inventory of Certified Pre-Owned pickup trucks, SUVs, and much more. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions:

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+.

a family and a young kid taking a picture at a dealership

Safety Tips You Can Learn from Self-Driving Cars

Car technology is moving at a pace we’ve never seen before. Self-driving cars will inevitably take over the roads, but not for a while. In the interim, we can learn important safety tips from self-driving cars to make our world a lot safer.

There are many reasons why self-driving cars are safer than humans behind the wheel. We text, talk on the phone, get distracted, let emotions take over, nod off, fail to signal, drink alcohol, take prescriptions, and much more.

Since cars were first invented, we have added safety features that help reduce the chance of accidents, injuries, and fatalities—seat belts, anti-lock brakes, air bags, etc.

But no matter how safe we make cars, the least safe variable is always the driver.

Over the last two decades or so, engineers, scientists, and car manufacturers have focused on removing the human element completely.

In doing so, we can learn many tips for improved driver safety.

The Problem

1.3 million people die on the world’s roads every single day. That’s equivalent to over 8 commercial jet airliners (Boeing 747s) crashing every single day and killing everyone on board. In the United States alone, 37,000 people die in road crashes every year (ASIRT).

Traffic is also a huge problem. It’s substantially worse than it was just 10 years ago. According to 2014 Census data (The Washington Post), American workers spend 29.6 billion hours commuting every year. That’s a collective 3.4 million years driving to and from work. Wow!

Google’s self-driving car project, now called Waymo, has published reports based on its tests of over 3 million miles of self-driving vehicles on real roads in cities like Mountain View (CA), Austin (TX), Kickland (WA), and Phoenix (AZ). This is in addition to the billions of miles driven in simulation.

Source: Waymo/Google

The millions of miles driven on real city streets have taught Google a lot about driverless vehicles and have taught us a lot about how drivers can improve their driving habits for increased safety on the roads.

This technology will come to market soon. Watch this video to learn what a driverless world could look like:

Self-driving cars will make the world a safer place, but it will be a long time before prices drop low enough for the majority of people to be able to afford one.

Luckily, there has been a lot of information gathered from driverless cars that can make our own driving behaviors a lot safer.

How does a self-driving car see the world?

Self-driving vehicles create a rich, logic-filled map of their surrounding area using 360-degree sensor systems, including lidar (laser and radar), GPS, odometry, and cameras. They not only see what’s around them, they also anticipate what’s going to happen.

How a self-driving car sees the world (Google Waymo)

“The two red rectangles are cyclists; the red trails behind them indicate the path they’ve just traveled. The cyclist on the left had entered the left turn lane, but veered back into our path to continue straight across the intersection. At the same time, the cyclist on the right entered the intersection, traveling against the flow of traffic. That cyclist then took a sudden left turn, coming directly at us in our lane. Our car was able to predict that cyclist’s path of travel (turquoise line with circles) so we stopped and yielded. This happened at night, when it would have been very difficult for a human driver to see what was unfolding.”

Source: Waymo Team/Medium

This map not only knows where things are at the moment, it also works with other complicated parts of the car to predict what might happen in the near future.

It’s extremely complicated how these pieces of machinery can detect different types of objects—cars, bikes, cones, debris on the road—and anticipate and react to what’s going to happen 1 second, 3 second, 10 seconds from now.

Not only does the self-driving car need to know about the lane change up ahead and what the truck in front is going to do (quickly merge), it also needs to know about the goings on of everything else.

After taking everything around it into account, the car then needs to know how to act—which trajectory to take, how slow or how fast it should move. Then, the car must make the executive decision to steer left or right, press on the brake or hit the gas.

Driving Safety Tips Learned from Self-Driving Cars

  1. Anticipate the behavior of other drivers

While you don’t have the amazing ability to detect objects in a 360-degree radius, you still have an amazing amount of computing power in your head. Use it to keep track of the objects around you and what they are going to do.

For instance, a vehicle inching out of a driveway may not be able to see you. A vehicle at high speeds is approaching a red light—you can guess that it will barrel through the light.

Despite what’s supposed to happen, you can tell what actually is happening and prevent an accident by anticipating future actions.

Forget about what’s supposed to happen, anticipate what actually is happening.

  • Pay attention to everything around you. Predict future movements based on the unique circumstances around you, such as construction zones, pot holes, objects in the road, distracted motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, school zones, etc.
  • Drive conservatively around cyclists. If there is a cyclist up ahead, keep in mind that they may need to swerve into your lane to avoid doors (aka dooring), glass or other obstacles in the road. Leave plenty of room for these sudden movements. Learn more driving safety tips when sharing the road with cyclists.
  • Look at the driver as well as the vehicle. If the driver is paying more attention to their phone than the road ahead, you can exercise extra caution. Pay attention to distracted drivers—they are more common than ever.
  • Before you make a lane change, use your mirrors and look over your shoulder to see what the cars around you are doing. Someone else may be trying to merge at the same time. Look at the driver for clues as to what they may do.
  • Don’t trust turn signals. Some people learn this the hard way when they start driving in a different area of the country. You may live in a town that has great drivers who reliably use their turn signals, but move to a different town or city and you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Not everybody does. A driverless car doesn’t trust turn signals for reliable predictions of future movement and neither should you. If you are at a stop sign and see a car coming towards you with their right turn signal on, do NOT assume they are making that right turn. Wait until they commit to their turn before you commit to your next move. Use turn signals whenever turning/merging and watch for them, but NEVER trust them.
  • Don’t tailgate. You The DMV handbook says to use the “three-second rule”—look at the vehicle ahead pass a specific point in the road and then count a full three seconds. If you reach that point before the three seconds are up, you are too close. Use the four-second rule during adverse conditions, such as rain, snow, darkness, gravel roads, and metal surfaces. Extra room should also be given if you are being tailgated from behind, a driver wants to pass you, towing a large load (extra weight makes it harder to stop), following large vehicles that block your view, a driver wants to pass you, or when merging onto a freeway.
  1. Admit that other drivers are fallible and so are you—prioritize safety

This isn’t a judgement of how good or bad you drive—we all make mistakes. Driverless cars assume this as fact and so should you.

For at least the next decade, most drivers will still be human and like you, they want to arrive at their destination as fast as possible. Mistakes will be made.

  • Don’t let your emotions cloud your better judgment. This relates to the former point about tailgating. Just because you don’t want anyone cutting in front of you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. This not only slows down traffic, but can also cause an accident. And it’s usually because of emotion and your belief in fairness and the ethics of line-cutting. Driverless cars don’t have this problem and you should do your best to avoid it. Let the driver pass you and leave enough room to do it safely.
  • Yield to the right of way, but be aware that others might not. Knowing when to yield can save you from countless accidents. Chances of a collision increase dramatically at intersections. If another vehicle fails to yield, however, let them. Better safe than trying to prove something and cause an accident. Learn right of way rules on the DMV website, but don’t assume others have this knowledge. Like a self-driving car, look for behaviors and intent; don’t assume knowledge and execution of the rules.
  • Make up for the fact that your vision is inferior. While you have the very helpful ability of object permanence, you cannot see in all directions at once like a self-driving car. This is why you should constantly be checking your mirrors, at least every five seconds (including rearview and side mirrors). This gives you a much better understanding of everything going on around you. It’s also a good idea to scan the road and periodically check the left and right of your vehicle. This can help you identify a person running a red light, stop sign, or a kid running into the street. Using your mirrors properly and scanning the road will help you spot a potential accident before it happens. You can be like the future-seeing precogs from Minority Report.
  • Always prioritize safety. Self-driving cars don’t have egos, emotions, or amygdalas like us fallible humans. Yes, they will have Emotional AI to make the automotive experience more pleasant for humans, but this won’t affect their driving habits. While humans may make a risky move to cut down on travel time, self-driving cars will always prioritize safety. You can learn from this. Many drivers hate slow drivers who drive the speed limit, slow down when kids are around, and make other “grandma” moves. This is the kind of attitude that causes accidents. Self-driving cars are like “grandma” drivers—they drive the speed limit, don’t accelerate quickly, and are overly cautious when it comes to merging and intersections. 

You are a human, not a robot. Emotions are deeply imbedded into your decision-making process. But, prioritize your emotions of fear over aggression, and love over anger. Learn from self-driving cars and always rank safety over timeliness in your algorithm. Cutting a few minutes off your commute or trying to beat the GPS’s estimated arrival time is never worth the potential ramifications of a deadly or injurious accident.

  1. Collect data from the roads

  • Know your route before you start driving. Self-driving cars plot their trajectories well in advance. Get in the habit of looking at directions before heading out on the road. This allows you to have more confidence on the road and stay on the side of the freeway where your exit is.
  • Glance at GPS for traffic updates. Google, Waze, and other GPS apps tell you about upcoming traffic, construction zones, and other useful information. Even if you know your rout by heart, you can increase your road knowledge by mounting a GPS in an easy-to-view area near your dashboard. Glance at it like you would your odometer, and take note of any upcoming road warnings. Of course you’ll never have access to the rich, data-filled maps of self-driving cars, at least you’ll know the basics. And you may even save time by finding a better alternative route home.
  • Take different routes. Have you ever forgotten what happened on your commute? When you take the same route every day, you start to go into autopilot mode and tune out your surroundings. The more familiar your world, the less you remember and the quicker time seems to pass. That’s why time seems to fly by as we get older and why taking the same route every day can lead to accidents. Switch things up, change your route, and increase your powers of observation. Try leaving 10 minutes early and taking the scenic route instead. You’ll discover new things, increase your happiness, and reduce the risk of an accident.

More Driving Safety Tips:

When self-driving cars hit the market, we’ll have some available for you. Until then, shop our huge inventory of Certified Pre-Owned cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, and more.

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+.

a vehicle off-roading in a forest at night

Front-Wheel Drive vs. Rear-Wheel Drive | Pros & Cons

Perhaps you’ve heard the term drivetrain when shopping around for a new car. Simply put, a drivetrain is the series of parts in your car that work together to make your wheels turn. A powertrain, on the other hand, is basically a drivetrain plus the engine and some other parts.

While some praise the advantages of four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, most cars are two-wheel drive (2WD), in which power is either transferred to the two front wheels (front-wheel drive) or the two back wheels (rear-wheel drive).

For off-roading and getting out of sticky situations, 4WD and AWD may be your best choice. In nearly all cases, however, 2WD gets the job done. But, you’ll want to consider the pros and cons of your two 2WD options before making a decision.

Front-wheel drive vs. rear-wheel drive—which one is best for you?

Drivetrain Options

Rear-Wheel Drivetrains (2WD)

In rear-wheel drivetrains, power is transferred to the two back wheels. There are many benefits to having power transferred to the rear wheels, including superior handling, acceleration, and braking.

Front-Wheel Drivetrains (2WD)

This setup transfers power to the front wheels, giving them the responsibility of moving and steering the vehicle. They are typically cheaper to manufacturer and are more space-saving than rear-wheel drive.

Four-Wheel and All-Wheel Drivetrains 

While there are important differences between the two, both 4WD and AWD are drivetrain types that transfer power from the engine to all four wheels of your vehicle. All-wheel drive is typically applied to drivetrains that include a differential between the front and rear drive shafts.

We recommend 2WD for most drivers who drive in mild climates without a lot of snow. Whether or not you should buy a 2WD or 4WD vehicle depends entirely on your driving conditions and how you intend to use the vehicle.

Drivers who go off-roading or live in areas with a lot of snow may want to think about the added benefit of 4WD and how comfortable they feel driving in snow without the assistance of 4WD or AWD.

For most drivers in most conditions, however, 2WD is all you need. Click here for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of four-wheel and all-wheel drive.

2-Wheel Drive (2WD)

As mentioned before, most vehicles are 2WD, which can come in one of two setups: front-wheel drive (FWD) or rear-wheel drive (RWD).

Since the engine only needs to power two wheels, they are cheaper to purchase and get better fuel economy than either 4WD or AWD.

Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) Diagram

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Front-Wheel Drive Pros (Advantages):

  • The engine and transmission are located directly above the front wheels, which can provide better traction when climbing hills and driving on slippery roads.
  • Since all the equipment is up front, they create more space and leg room in the back.
  • Front-wheel drive has less components than any other drivetrain setup, making the vehicle lighter and improving its gasoline mileage. That’s why most economy-type cars are front-wheel drive.
  • There is greater tactile feedback through the steering wheel if the wheels are slipping.
  • Front-wheel drive is a simpler system and tends to be less expensive to buy and maintain.

If most of your driving is in dry or rainy conditions, a front-wheel drive system is all you need. Most modern front-wheel drive systems contain anti-lock braking (ABS) and traction control, making them perfectly suitable for light snow conditions as well.

Front-Wheel Drive Cons (Disadvantages):

  • Since all the weight is located in the front of the vehicle, front-wheel drive cars tend to understeer.
  • During sudden acceleration, front-wheel drive vehicles tend to veer to the right or left because of something called “torque steer.”
  • Front-wheel drive tends to have a lower towing capacity than rear-wheel or 4WD/AWD drivetrains.
  • Front-wheel drive has worse acceleration than rear-wheel drive, which is why most sporty and race cars use rear-wheel drive.
  • With all the weight up front, front-wheel drive can make handling more difficult.
  • CV joints/boots in FWD vehicles tend to wear out sooner than rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Diagram

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rear-Wheel Drive Pros (Advantages):

  • During dry conditions, rear-wheel drive improves handling due to “load transfer” in acceleration and more even weight distribution.
  • Rear-wheel drive tends to have less costly maintenance since there aren’t as many parts packed into a small space. Front-wheel drive repairs and maintenance may cost more since they have to remove more parts for workable access.
  • You won’t experience “torque steer,” the tendency that FWD vehicles have to veer to the right or left during acceleration.
  • Towing large loads is easier since the wheels doing the pulling are located closer to the load. Also, steering is much easier since the back wheels are providing the power while the front wheels do the work of steering.
  • While drifting is not recommended for most drivers, it is easier to drift with RWD than FWD or 4WD/AWD.

Rear-Wheel Drive Cons (Disadvantages):

  • Rear-wheel drive may be more fun to drive, but it also makes it more difficult to master. With modern stability and traction controls, however, the driving differences of RWD don’t present a problem for most drivers.
  • There is less interior space due to more room needed for the transmission tunnel and driveshaft.
  • There may be less trunk room since more equipment must be placed underneath the trunk.
  • The driveshaft, which connects the front engine to the back axle, adds more weight. RWD weighs slightly more than FWD, but less than 4WD and AWD.
  • Additional materials translate to a slightly higher purchase price.
  • Since RWD pushes the car rather than pulls it, it has more difficulty maneuvering in wet and snowy conditions. With modern technology, such as stability and traction control, however, this disadvantage is greatly reduced.

We sell a large inventory of front-wheel driverear-wheel drivefour-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive vehicles. Shop our complete online inventory.

If you have any questions about front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or any other drivetrain setup, 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+.

a truck towing motorbikes

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD) Advantages and Disadvantages

Is more always better? When shopping around for a new or used vehicle, you will undoubtedly come across different drivetrain options, such two-wheel drive (2WD) and four-wheel drive (4WD).

But is 4WD always better? Is it worth the extra expense? Learn whether or not 4WD is right for you by going over the advantages and disadvantages.

First, what is a drivetrain?

The powertrain is everything that makes a vehicle move, including the engine and the drivetrain, while the drivetrain is everything that makes the wheels move minus the engine.

There are three common types of drivetrain arrangements: rear-wheel drivetrains, front-wheel drivetrains, and four-wheel/all-wheel drivetrains.

Four-Wheel Drivetrains (also known as Four by Four or 4×4)

Although 4WD and AWD are different, they both transfer power to your front and back wheels, which can be beneficial during muddy, snowy, rocky, and other difficult driving conditions.

You typically see 4WD systems on larger vehicles that are designed with all-terrain abilities, such as trucks, SUVS, and off-road vehicles.

4WD vs. AWD Drivetrains 

The main difference between 4WD and AWD is that four-wheel drive vehicles use two differentials and a transfer case while all-wheel drive vehicles employ a front, rear, and center differential.

Four-Wheel Drive (4WD)

When 4WD is engaged, the engine sends power to the transmission, which is then split into the front and wheel axles. The torque gets transferred to the wheels, but the wheels must have traction on the road in order for the vehicle to move anywhere. Otherwise the tires will merely spin as you have probably experienced when stuck in mud or sand.

Let’s say that you get your rear wheels stuck in mud. If you have two-wheel drive (2WD), then your wheels will probably spin and spin. In this case, it might be extremely useful to have four-wheel drive so that your front wheels could get some traction on the road. If power was transferred to the front wheels, where the traction is, you’ be able to successfully get your car out of a sticky situation.

This is essentially what four-wheel drive does. It gives you traction where and when you need it. Although 4WD is a bit more complicated than that, it’s essentially a way to increase traction and power on the road.

Most of the time, all you need is 2WD. 2WD is used for regular road driving. When you need extra power and traction (deep mud, soft sand, ruts, steep inclines and declines, rocky surfaces, etc), you can engage 4WD by pressing a button. The process for engaging 4WD, however, depends on your vehicle.

What Kind of 4WD Do I Have?

It’s important to know exactly how your 4WD system works. For older vehicles, you may have come to a complete stop first and put your vehicle in neutral or park before engaging 4WD.

Newer vehicles, however, can normally activate 4WD with a simple push of a button. Some modern 4WD systems turn on automatically whenever it detects one or more of the wheels slipping.

Each system—part-time, full-time, manual shift, on-the-fly, and fully automatic—all have different requirements for engagement and disengagement. It’s important to check your owner’s manual, consult a dealership, or look up your vehicle online using its VIN.

When to Use 4WD?

Use 4WD in the following situations:

  • When you need additional torque/power, such as pulling heavy loads at slow speeds.
  • When you descending at slow speeds while hauling a heavy load.
  • When you are going over steep inclines and declines, such as rocky situations.
  • When you are stuck in snow, mud, or sand; however, stop immediately if your wheels are spinning and follow the advice in this article.

Four-Wheel Drive Advantages

The main benefits of 4WD are traction and power. Have you ever seen those commercials where the Jeep is climbing over boulders and rocks? That’s 4WD in action.

If you are climbing a steep hill or are off-roading, you will want increased power in order to get over obstacles and climb steep hills. While 2WD will get you over even the steepest hills of San Francisco, if you are off-roading you will probably want the extra power that comes with 4WD.

  • 4WD improves traction in dangerous driving conditions, such as snow, ice, rocks, and other scenarios that can make control difficult. By engaging both sets of wheels, traction and control improves.
  • Additional weight contributes to better grip on the road.
  • 4WD is great for those who like off-roading.

If you frequently drive in conditions where there is low traction, or if you enjoy off-roading, you will greatly benefit from four-wheel drive.

Four-Wheel Drive Disadvantages

In most cases, 4WD is not necessary. It uses more fuel and can also lead to overconfidence, leading to more situations where you can get stuck. Save money and fuel by only using 4WD when you need it.

  • The main disadvantage of 4WD is added cost for purchase, maintenance, and fuel. The extra equipment (differentials, transfer case, etc.) adds complexity and weight to the vehicle, increasing initial market value, tire wear, and the cost of repairs and maintenance.
  • The added power and weight of 4WD and AWD systems require more fuel, making them less efficient than their 2WD counterparts.
  • Added weight improves traction and control, but it also increases the braking distance required to make a complete stop. Lighter vehicles can avoid collision easier than heavier vehicles.
  • 4WD and AWD can cause overconfidence in drivers, ironically leading to more situations where you can become stuck.
  • Although 4WD improves traction, slow down and use extreme caution on icy, snowy, and slick roads. Overconfidence can lead to dangerous accidents.

4WD Tips and Tricks

  • 4WD vehicles work best when they are regularly used and maintained according to manufacturer recommendations. If you don’t use the 4WD system for extended periods of time, the seals can dry out. It’s best to keep the system lubricated by activating it at least once every few months.
  • Only use 4WD when you need it to save as much gas and money as possible. Driving 4WD on mild, dry conditions can do damage to your front axles, differential gears, and other parts. Always use 2WD on dry pavement.
  • If you get stuck, switch to 4WD and slowly depress the gas pedal to get yourself out. If the wheels start spinning, stop before you dig yourself a deeper hole. Learn how to get unstuck from any situation.

We sell a large inventory of front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive vehicles. Shop our complete online inventory.

If you have any questions about 4WD, AWD, or any other drivetrain setup, 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+.

two technicians working under the hood of a car

What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover? What is a Powertrain?

When shopping for a used car, if you are offered any warranties at all, it will most likely be a powertrain warranty. But what does it actually mean?

In short, powertrain warranties cover everything that makes the vehicle move, including the engine, transmission, and all the parts that connect the power to the wheels.

Powertrain warranties are designed to provide peace of mind for consumers when purchasing a vehicle. They are offered by the seller and/or manufacturer to repair or fix an issue with the powertrain if it is not performing properly.

What is a Powertrain and Why Does It Matter?

The “powertrain” of a vehicle combines many different components, including:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Driveshafts
  • Transfer Case (for all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles)
  • Differentials
  • Internal Working of the Engine

Engine coverage normally includes:

  • Cylinder Block and Heads
  • Internal Parts
  • Oil Pan
  • Valvetrain
  • Water, Fuel, and Oil Pump
  • Fuel Injectors
  • Gaskets and Seals
  • Flywheel

In addition to the main parts listed above, some powertrain warranties also cover things like:

  • Wheel Bearings and Hubs
  • Axle Shafts
  • Exhaust and Intake Manifolds
  • Other Parts

Basically, the powertrain system provides and converts power to the vehicle. The term “powertrain” can also be applied to motorcycles, boats, airplanes, and other pieces of machinery that use an engine for power.

In order for your vehicle to run, the engine has to create power for the car, which is then transmitted to the transmission. Learn how a transmission works.

The transmission takes the power that is created by the engine and transfers it to different gear ratios, transmitting is as torque.

Through the driveshaft in the vehicle’s transmission, the engine’s energy is transmitted to the wheels, which of course, moves the car forward or backward. Computer sensors help to transcribe information to the output sensors.

What Does a Powertrain Warranty Cover?

A powertrain warranty usually covers everything that is involved in the process of providing power to the wheels of your vehicle. This includes the most important and expensive parts of the vehicle: engine, driveshaft, and transmission.

If you are wondering if a part is covered by your powertrain warranty, ask yourself “does it make the car run forward or backward?” If you answer “yes,” it is probably covered by the powertrain warranty.

If your engine, transmission, or any other part that powers your vehicle stops working, a powertrain warranty will replace or repair the part at no cost to you.

Purchasing a used vehicle with a powertrain warranty gives you peace of mind that you are not buying a lemon. The powertrain warranty covers the vehicle’s most expensive equipment.

Often, they are also the longest lasting warranties. If a mechanical problem should arise, the powertrain warranty will normally cover it.

When shopping around for a used vehicle, always look for powertrain warranty information.

What’s not included in a powertrain warranty:

Anything that does not directly affect the power of your vehicle is not covered by a powertrain warranty. This includes parts such as radios, air conditioners, windows, and add-on features.

Additionally, powertrain warranties don’t cover normal wear-and-tear parts that are expected to be replaced at regular intervals. Things like brake pads, clutches, and CV joints may be considered part of the powertrain, but since they are wear-and-tear items, they normally aren’t covered by the powertrain warranty.

Keep in mind that powertrain warranties also don’t cover anything associated with accidents, collisions, theft, vandalism, glass breakage, flooding, fire, and other things that are normally be covered by insurance.

Of course, you always want to make sure to read the fine print to make sure that all aspects of the powertrain are covered. This applies to all warranties. Read the fine print first!

Contact the team at Auto Simple for more information on our powertrain warranty and any other warranties that may be associated with your certified pre-owned vehicle purchase.

What is a Drivetrain Warranty?

A drivetrain warranty is very similar to a powertrain warranty, but it does not cover anything related to the vehicle’s engine. Your vehicle’s drivetrain contains the components that transfer the power from your engine to the wheels on the ground.

As with powertrain warranties, never assume that some part in your vehicle will be covered. Warranties vary significantly, so read the fine print first.

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty?

A bumper-to-bumper warranty is sometimes offered when you purchase a new vehicle. It’s basically a comprehensive warranty that covers anything that could go wrong with your vehicle.

It is normally the shortest coverage warranty that you can get. Powertrain warranties, on the other hand, typically have the longest coverage.

Why You Need a Powertrain Warranty

Besides routine maintenance, insurance, registration, and other costs associated with owning a vehicle, car repairs can get incredibly expensive. And the most expensive repairs are associated with your car’s powertrain.

If you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, it is extremely important that it comes with a powertrain warranty. Warranties for sound systems, electrical components, and other aspects of the vehicle can be nice, but they pale in comparison to the costs associated with powertrain repairs and replacements.

Almost every single part of your powertrain will cost you at least several hundred dollars to up to several thousand dollars to repair or replace. A powertrain warranty is basically saying that the vehicle is solid and the main parts will be backed up if anything goes wrong.

A powertrain warranty should be one of the first things you inquire about when shopping for a vehicle. Learn more car-buying tips.

How long do powertrain warranties last?

Typically, powertrain warranties from the manufacturer last around 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Sometimes, however, powertrain warranties last much shorter or longer than this.

If you are purchasing a used vehicle, the manufacturer’s powertrain warranty may not be in effect any longer. Luckily, the seller will sometimes offer their own powertrain warranty; however, these offers will normally be much shorter than if you bought a new car from a dealership.

Powertrain warranties usually last much longer than other manufacturer’s warranties, such as comprehensive bumper-to-bumper warranties.

While the duration of powertrain warranties varies, they all get discontinued eventually. Make sure you get the duration of your powertrain warranty in writing before purchasing your next vehicle.

Auto Simple’s 6 Month / 6000 Mile Powertrain Warranty

We offer a 6 Month / 6,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty on all of our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. This is in addition to any existing manufacturer warranties that may be attached to the vehicle already.

Additionally, if you are unhappy with your vehicle for any reason, you can return it within 48 hours. No questions asked.

If you see a vehicle you like on our Online Inventory, don’t hesitate to contact us about any additional warranties that may be attached to your vehicle of choice.

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Keep in touch with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

a car in muddy water

How to Escape from a Sinking Car | Emergency Vehicle Rescue

Nobody wants to find themselves in a submerged vehicle. Unfortunately, many drivers will find themselves in this terrifying position. It can happen to anyone.

According to research from the University of Manitoba, vehicles submersions are responsible for around 400 deaths a year in North America, one of the highest fatality rates of motor-vehicle accidents. Some studies report over 10,000 water immersion auto accidents every year.

From collapsing bridges and skids to crashes and Google Maps accidents, there are many ways your vehicle can enter a body of water. Even heavy rains and flooding can submerge a vehicle in a matter of minutes.

Don’t even think about calling for help. No one will be able to come and rescue in time. If you find yourself submerged in water, you will need to rescue yourself. This is a matter of life or death.

In order to get yourself safely out of a sinking car, you will probably need a car escape tool, which combines a seat belt cutter with a window breaker. Here is a list of the best car escape tools of 2017. We highly recommend keeping this tool in the glove compartment, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.

How to Escape from a Sinking Car

Avoid becoming fish food by learning how to escape from a sinking vehicle before it happens.

  1. Brace for impact

The water can cause a huge impact. Brace for it by firmly gripping the steering wheel at the “9 and 3” position rather than the “10 and 2” position. If the air bags go off (which they probably will), hands placed at the “10 and 2” position will cause your hands to hit your face. If you are wearing a watch, you could get knocked out as a result.

  1. Remain calm, but move quickly

When your car enters a body of water, you have around 30 seconds to 2 minutes before the car sinks and becomes completely submerged. This gives you plenty of time to react and get yourself out, but you will still need to act fast.

Minivans and larger vehicles submerge slower than small car, but it’s safe to assume that you have around 60 seconds to get yourself out.

As soon as you notice you’re entering a body of water, stay focused and start repeating the steps you will need to take to escape. Don’t panic!

  1. Don’t open the door

Although it may be possible to open the door, as soon as you do, water will rush in and cause the car to immediately sink. It can also be extremely difficult to open the door. Opening the door can cut your escape time from 1-2 minutes to just a couple of seconds.

  1. Unbuckle your seat belt

The first thing you should do is unbuckle your seat belt. If the buckle is stuck, you will need to cut it.

Since buckles can become stuck, it’s highly recommended that you have a seat belt cutter within reach of the driver’s seat.

  1. Unbuckle passengers’ seat belts

If you have children or other passengers in the car, the second thing you should do is unbuckle their seat belts. Make sure you get your passengers out of their seat belts before doing anything else.

If you have passengers in the back seat, instruct them to exit through their window or pull them into the front of the car so they can exit through your window.

  1. Open the window (break it if necessary)

After everyone in the vehicle is unbuckled, try rolling down the window. Most car windows will still work after making impact with water. If you cannot get the window to roll down, however, you will need to break the window.

This can be extremely difficult without a car window breaker (safety hammer). This device almost always comes with a seat belt cutter. Make sure you have a seat belt cutter/window breaker within reach of the driver’s seat at all times.

If the window won’t roll down and you don’t have a car escape tool, you will need to kick out the side or rear window, but this won’t be easy.

  1. Climb out

Once the window has been rolled down (or broken), push the children out of the window, oldest ones first. Then, climb out of the window yourself.

  1. Open the door (if the window won’t open)

Sometimes, you can’t get the window to open. In this case, if water is entering the vehicle, wait until pressure is equalized on both sides of the door before attempting to open it. This usually means waiting until the water level is the same on both the inside and outside of the car.

Take a deep breath, open the door, and swim out headfirst. If you don’t know which direction is up, follow the bubbles, which will always rise to the surface.

  1. Swim for dry land

Once you have successfully escaped from your sinking vehicle, determine whether or not you can swim to dry land. If it makes sense to stay put and call for help, do that instead.

When swimming to safety, swim in the direction of the current (if you are in deep water).

Final Notes:

Be extra careful when driving in high flood areas and around areas adjacent to bodies of water. If there is a flash flood warning, avoid driving if possible. People can drown in less than 1 foot of water.

Just because the car ahead of you was able to drive through the flood waters doesn’t mean that yours will. Follow The National Weather Service’s advice: “Turn around, don’t drown.

If your car has been partially or completely submerged for any reason, do not try to start the car without first having a mechanic conduct a full inspection.

The costs to restore a submerged vehicle are extremely high, usually exceeding its value. Most insurance companies will consider a submerged car as “totaled.”

Luckily, Auto Simple has an extensive inventory of used vehicles to get you back on the road again, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

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)

Keep in touch with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

image of a manual transmission

How Transmissions Work | Manual vs Automatic Transmissions

The debate over manual versus automatic transmissions is largely subjective. As a country of car people, there are many opinions about what makes the best ride. It really depends on what you need and how you want to feel when cruising in your vehicle. Some people describe feeling powerful while driving stick shift, while others find it difficult and appreciate the ease and safety of an automatic.

These days, most people buy a car with an automatic transmission. Manual vehicles, however, have a certain allure to them—images of fast cars roaring along an open road. Or, if you were given your mom’s hand-me-down vehicle as a teenager, manual cars can remind us of learning to shift, but mostly stalling, in an empty parking lot.

Why are manufacturers and consumers ditching the manual for automatic? What are the key differences between the two? We explore the manual vs. automatic debate.

Manual vs Automatic Transmissions

Almost all car manufacturers offered a choice between automatic and manual drive trains. Many consumers preferred manual transmissions because they ran up to $1,000 cheaper and usually got better fuel efficiency.

As the years went on, however, car makers were able to make the automatic transmission better and drivers began to get used to the ease of automatic shifting. As the advantages began tipping in automatic’s favor, they became the preferred choice. Sales went up and manufacturers started to save money by only offering one drive train option.

For young people, knowing how to drive a manual transmission is nearly unheard of. Driving schools that offer instructions on manual transmissions are rare. That’s unfortunate because there are still many reasons to choose a manual transmission.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is resale value. According to a report from U.S. News and World Report, only 18% of Americans know how to drive a stick shift. This limits your pool of buyers when looking to sell your car or trade for a new one.

Click here if you want to learn how to drive a manual transmission.

The Basics of How Transmissions Work

A car transmission uses the ancient concept of a lever, in the form of gears and gear trains, to provide speed and torque conversions, which is applied to power your vehicle. Transmissions are used in mechanical engineering to improve mechanical efficiency and make the most use of an engine’s torque.

A gear is basically a collection of levers that rotates. Larger gears take longer for a full rotation, but provide greater force. The transmission, composed of many interlocking gears (levers), is located right underneath the gear shifter.

Here are some of the gears that you shift in your motorcar:

  • The Engine Shaft comes from the engine
  • The Drive Shaft carries the power to the rear wheels.
  • The Countershaft connects the Engine Shaft to the Drive Shaft.

The main difference between manual and automatic transmissions is that the manual transmission uses multiple sets of gears to the drive shaft while an automatic transmission uses a planetary gear set to produce different gear ratios.

The drive shaft going to the wheels is in mesh with another gear on the countershaft. These gears, also called dog teeth, are always in mesh and turning when the engine is running.

The clutch sleeve cannot turn on the drive shaft but is free to slide back and forth. On the sleeve, a large gear is mounted that can move from the drive shaft to the engine shaft. The sleeve gear can move in order to create different gears for higher or lower speeds.

A large vehicle takes a large amount of force to start. The power goes through the gears in the transmission. The gears help regulate the power for maximum efficiency.

Here’s a problem: An automobile must be able to go backward and forward so another set of gears is added, called reverse idler gears. The power travels through the transmission. Now, there are multiple sets of gears for going forward and another set for going in reverse. Noise and wear are common.

What’s the Difference? Transmissions 101

Your car’s internal combustion engine creates power and torque, but it is only really useful during a certain speed range. Instead of connecting the drive wheel directly to the engine, the transmission, or gear box, controls the engine’s speed and torque (RPM).

The transmission makes sure the engine’s RPM is always within the maximum efficiency range, taking care of the speed variations in the drive wheel.

A manual transmission, also known as a stick-shift, requires the driver to use a stick to change gears. Manual transmissions are based on a collection of simple gear pairs and uses a clutch pack.

Automatic transmissions are based upon a planetary gear set and uses a torque converter. An automatic transmission shifts the gears on its own.

Comparing the Benefits

1. Fuel Economy

Fans of the manual transmission always boast of greater efficiency and fuel economy. In the past, this would have been true nearly every time. But as technology improves and automatic transmissions get better, you are starting to see the automatic version beat out the manual version in terms of fuel economy.

2. Price

Manual transmissions are cheaper to install and the sticker price reflects that. However, if you do not know how to drive a manual vehicle and aren’t looking for that type of driving experience, then the generally lower cost isn’t helpful.

3. Options

Although fewer and fewer cars with manual transmissions are made each year, there is a wide variety to choose from, including trucks, sedans and sports cars. Automatic vehicles are the new norm. Every company will provide you with several automatic options with modern technology and safety features to encourage that smooth ride.

How to Choose: What to Consider Before Purchasing

Before purchasing a manual or automatic vehicle, there are some basics to consider:

  • Know the Difference – Don’t go into the purchase blindly. If you don’t know the difference between the two types of transmissions, from maintenance to function, do some research or speak to someone with experience with cars.
  • Power & Acceleration – Manual transmissions tend to have faster acceleration, but it depends on your needs. An automatic transmission is conventionally a 4 or 5-speed, while a manual transmission is a 5 or 6-speed. If you’re looking for that ultimate speed and performance, a manual gearbox is generally the go to.
  • Semi-Automatic – If you are having trouble deciding, semi-automatic is an option. This is mainly found in sports cars. You have an automatic transmission with the option to switch over to a manual mode.
  • Mileage & Fuel Economy – Based on how much you use your vehicle, you will want to consider which transmission gets the best mileage. EPA ratings can help you research and compare different brands before purchasing.
  • Repair – Every car at some point will need repair. What’s the difference in cost between the two transmissions? In general, and you may not have thought this, but manual vehicles are often cheaper to maintain and repair. However, something like a clutch replacement is costly and does need to be replaced on occasion in manual transmissions.

Auto Simple is your source for both manual and automatic vehicles. We can offer support in your search for a new vehicle, and provide the information you need to make the best decision for you and your daily needs.

Stop by any of our locations for the best deals on used vehicles:

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+.

approved car loan form

Benefits of Getting Pre-Approved for a Car Loan

Ideally, you would pay for your car with cash. That way, you wouldn’t have to deal with loans, payments, or debt. Realistically speaking, however, that is an impossibility for most of us.

In order to get the car you need for school, family, or work, you will most likely have to finance. Luckily, there are easy ways to get pre-approved for a car loan, which usually carries a much lower interest rate than a personal loan.

How to Get Pre-Approved for a Car Loan

There are many places that you can go to get pre-approved for a car loan, including traditional banking institutions, such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America, and online lenders, such as Capital One. Interest rates and requirements vary by location.

Keep in mind that the advertised interest rates on websites and advertisements tend to be reserved for those with excellent credit. If you have bad credit or no credit, it’s still possible to find a car you love at a price you can afford. Rates will be higher, but there are options available, such as getting a cosigner to lower your rates.

While it’s a good idea to shop around, we highly recommend checking with your dealership first before seeking out competitors.

At Auto Simple, you can easily get pre-approved online. Just fill out the form and you’ll get your pre-approval within minutes. Don’t worry, it won’t affect your credit score.

Good Credit? Accepted

Bad Credit? Accepted

No Credit? Accepted

Past Bankruptcy? Accepted

Once you get approved, you will know how much you can spend on a vehicle along with the interest rate and monthly payments for the loan.

If you don’t know what your credit score is, it’s a good idea to check before seeking out auto loans. Check with your bank. You are normally entitled to one free credit report per year.

Important Note: When you get pre-approved for a car loan, it’s almost always required that you purchase your vehicle from an authorized dealership. Most pre-approved auto loans don’t apply to independent dealerships and private sellers. If you wanted to purchase a vehicle from a private seller or independent dealership, you would have to take out a personal loan, which carries higher interest rates.

Benefits of Pre-Approved Auto Loans 

  1. Helps set a realistic budget 

When you get an auto loan pre-approval, your lender will set a maximum loan amount based on your credit score and other factors. Don’t forget about other expenses, such as fees and taxes. So if you are approved for a $20,000 loan, choose a car that is several thousands of dollars less than that.

  1. Improves your credit score

When you make regular payments on your auto loan, you can quickly rebuild your credit score. Our goal at Auto Simple is to approve your financing and help rebuild your credit by reporting to 3 major credit reporting agencies every month.

We want to work with you. If you need to speak with us about your loan or payments, simply give us a call and we’ll figure something out together so as not to harm your credit.

  1. Allows you to compare interest rates

Auto loan pre-approvals provide a baseline to compare with other offers. Simply fill out your dealer’s pre-approval application first to see what is being offered.

Many dealerships offer competitive financing to simplify the payment process and get customers to finance with them.

  1. Simplify the buying process

When you are pre-approved, you not only have a realistic budget in place, it’s also like having cash in your pocket when you are shopping around for the best car deal. Once you are pre-approved, you can focus on the car-buying process rather than worry about down payments, loan terms, and interest rates. Simply ask your dealer what the “out-of-door” or “TT&L” (tax, title and license) price is.

  1. Avoid spot delivery and “yo-yo financing” scams

Sometimes, dealerships will allow you to leave the lot with your new car without fully closing out the financing portion of the deal. This is what is known as “spot delivery”—cars are sold “on-the-spot.”

Yo-yo financing usually happens to people with poor credit when the deal is made on late nights or weekends, when banks are closed. When the banks open, they review the loan applications and either approve or deny them.

If you left the lot without the bank approving the loan first, you may receive a call from the dealership notifying you that the loan wasn’t approved. This may entail going back to the dealership to reapply for the loan, which normally leads to higher interest rates and a larger down payment.

Subprime buyers (those with a credit rating under 680) are particularly susceptible to dealership scams. You can avoid this situation entirely by getting pre-approved for a loan.

  1. Save time, energy, and money

Pre-approved loans save you a lot of time and energy at finance and insurance (F&I) offices, where you will most likely have to sit through several sales pitches. Buying a car is complicated enough without adding a lot of paperwork and travel time to different offices.

Why Choose Auto Simple

Our goal is to provide everyone with the right car, regardless of credit history. With hundreds of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs, we make it easy to drive away in the car that matches your lifestyle and budget.

  • Free CarFax on all vehicles
  • Hassle-free financing
  • Easy, fast process (drive away in less than an hour)
  • Free conventional oil changes every 90 days
  • Rebuild your credit (we report to major credit reporting agencies every month)

Final Note:

To avoid going deeper into debt and possibly getting your vehicle repossessed, do your homework first and make sure you can actually make your car payments. While auto loan pre-approvals can quickly rebuild your credit score, they can also make it worse. Learn how to buy a used car if you have bad or no credit.

Read our Used Car Buyer’s Guide for more information on the car-buying process.

For a dealership that knows how to treat buyers right, contact Auto Simple.

We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

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

a hand jump starting a car

The Proper Way to Jump-Start a Vehicle

“Click-click-click… click-click-click.” Then, dead silence. The engine won’t start. Needless to say, it can be a nerve-wracking experience to be stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.

Even though jump-starting a dead battery is an easy thing to do, many people rely on a road service provider or an altruistic motorist.

Rather than waiting around for a tow truck or somebody with the right tools, learn the safe and proper way to jump-start a dead battery. And with today’s portable jump starters— sometimes as small as a cell phone—it’s easy to bail yourself and others out without having to flag someone down.

What to Do Before Jump-Starting a Vehicle

Check the owner’s manual for specific instructions related to your vehicle. For instance, if your battery is in an odd location, such as the trunk or wheel well, you may have to connect the cables to a different area, such as a junction block. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to follow the instructions in your owner’s manual.

Your “dead battery” may just be a “dirty battery.” Sometimes, the battery won’t work because of dirty terminals and loose connections. Try cleaning the battery terminals with a stiff brush dipped in a baking soda and water mixture.

Never touch the terminals with your hand as sulfuric acid may burn you. It’s always a good idea to wear protective gloves and glasses when you are working on vehicle batteries. If any powdery stuff gets on you, clean it off with soap and water immediately.

Rinse the terminals with a spray bottle of water, wipe dry with a rag, and tighten the connections with a wrench. Turn the ignition to see if that did the trick before attempting the jump-start process.

Important Safety Tips:

  • Make sure there are no open flames or cigarettes in use while working on a battery. Batteries emit very flammable hydrogen gas.
  • Always inspect the battery for damage before proceeding. If you notice leaks, cracks, or any other damage, don’t take the risk trying to jump start the car. Instead, call roadside assistance or a tow truck.
  • Make sure the red and black ends of the jumper cables never touch each other once they are connected to a battery. This can result in a very dangerous electrical arcing situation that can cause damage to people and vehicles.
  • Don’t let your jumper cables hang loose around the engine. They can potentially interfere with moving parts.
  • Make sure both cars are off with the keys removed before connecting the cables.
  • Red = Positive (+); Black = Negative (-)
  • Purchase only heavy-duty, high-quality jumper cables. Avoid “cigarette lighter jump starters.” They take a lot of time to generate any useful charge, and only if you are lucky will they work.
  • Make sure the clamps are firmly in place to avoid them being shaken loose and possibly causing an electrical arcing or shorting situation.
  • Keep your face away from the batteries at all times.
  • Never cross cables when they are attached to a battery. If the clamps contact each other while connected to a battery or jump starter, a spark can cause a battery explosion.

Battery explosions are rare, but possible

Hydrogen gas is produced as a natural byproduct of the chemical process used to create electricity. Although there is no real danger of electrocution since the voltage is fairly low (about 12), small sparks can cause explosions from the hydrogen gas that is produced by the battery.

According to The Straight Dope, there may be 6,000-10,000 injuries caused by exploding car batteries every year. While these numbers were never confirmed, it’s still a real danger that affects a significant number of people every year.

Although the chances are slim, you can avoid battery accidents by following the above safety tips and the proper procedures below.

How to Jump Start a Vehicle (with Jumper Cables)

You will need jumper cables (plus another vehicle). We also recommend gloves and glasses for protection, and baking soda, water, a wire brush and rag to clean off battery terminals (if necessary).

  1. In addition to jumper cables, you will need another vehicle to provide the jolt of power from their working battery.
  2. Have the person with the good battery pull up to the disabled car with both engines facing each other. Make sure the vehicles are close but not touching. If the cars are touching, a dangerous arc can be produced.
  3. Turn off both cars, remove the keys from the ignition, and pop the hoods.
  4. Locate the positive terminals (marked by a “+” or POS sign) and negative terminals (marked by a “–“ or NEG sign). If you can’t find your battery, check the owner’s manual.
  5. You may need to remove terminal coverings, known as cell caps. These may be individual caps for each terminal or a yellow strip that can be peeled off. Keep in mind that your battery may not have cell caps.
  6. Make sure both cars are completely off and both batteries are in good shape (no cracks or leaks, for example).
  7. You may have to clean battery corrosion off of terminals and cables to establish a clean electrical connection. Dip a wire brush (or old toothbrush) into a baking soda and water solution to clean up corrosion. Rinse clean with a spray bottle of water and wipe dry with a rag. Try not to get any water or baking soda into the vents of the battery.
  8. Connect the jumper cables in the following order:
    1. Connect the red jumper cable to the positive terminal (+) on the dead car’s battery.
    2. Connect the other end (also red) to the positive terminal on the working battery.
    3. Connect the black jumper cable to the negative terminal (-) on the working car’s battery.
    4. Connect the other end (also black) to a clean, unpainted metal surface under the disabled car’s hood (the engine block is a good place).
  9. Do NOT connect the black end to the negative terminal on the dead car’s battery! This can risk causing a spark that can ignite the hydrogen gas surrounding the battery.
  10. Start the working car’s engine and let it run for about 2-3 minutes. This charges the battery.
  11. Then, start up the disabled car. If the engine does not start, turn off both vehicles and wiggle the clamps to try to establish a good, clean electrical connection. If you cannot get the car to start after a couple of tries, you may need to have your battery replaced or the car towed.
  12. Once the dead car’s engine is running, remove the jumper cables in the opposite order that you put them on:
    1. Disconnect the black clamp from the grounded metal section of the dead car.
    2. Disconnect the black clamp from the good battery.
    3. Disconnect the red clamp from the good battery.
    4. Disconnect the red clamp from the dead battery.
  13. After a successful jump, run the vehicle for at least 15 minutes so that the alternator has time to charge the battery.

If the battery dies soon after jump-starting the vehicle, it’s probably due to a dead alternator not being able to charge the system.

How Long Does a Car Battery Last?

Car batteries last around 3-5 years. If your battery is older than three years, it’s a good idea to get it professionally tested every year.

Many auto shops, battery centers, and tire stores will do this for free and it only takes a few minutes. They’ll be able to tell you if a new battery is necessary and roughly how long your battery will last.

Click here for more car maintenance essentials.

Auto Simple carries a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

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) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

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

a man cleaning the inside of a car

10 Cleaning and Organization Hacks for the Car

Are you sick of a dirty and disorganized car? Whether you have kids or not, it’s difficult to maintain car cleanliness. Instead of treating your vehicle as one big storage dump, use these cleaning and organization hacks to keep things fresh and tidy all year long.


10 Cleaning & Organization Hacks

  1. Use toothpaste to clean headlights and remove scuffs.

Foggy headlights are a safety hazard. According to AAA, restoring your headlights can increase the overall amount of light projected by 30% and reduce glare-producing light scatter by 60%.

Just as toothpaste cleans your teeth, it can also be used to polish your headlights and remove marks from CDs, DVDs, phones, tablets.

Simply wipe your headlights down with soap and water and allow to dry before going over your headlight lenses with a small amount of toothpaste on a clean rag. Rub in circular motions until clean.

The mild abrasive in toothpaste helps restore clarity and remove scratches, however, it is only a temporary fix. In 2-6 months, that hazy look will come back again.

For a longer-lasting solution, buy an inexpensive do-it-yourself headlight refinishing kit at your auto parts store. You can also pay a professional around $30-$150 to do it for you.

Not only does toothpaste help restore clarity to your headlights, but it can also be used to remove minor scratches and scuffs from your car. Make sure the surface is clean before you apply any toothpaste. Since toothpaste acts as a mild form of sandpaper, you don’t want to buff dirt and debris into the paint.

Once the surface is clean and dry, rub some toothpaste onto the scuff with a damp cloth. Use circular motions until the mark is gone.

Toothpaste has also been known to clean vinyl or leather interiors. After you vacuum the area and remove crumbs and dirt, dab some non-gel toothpaste onto the stain and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

  1. Clean and deodorize carpets with soda, vinegar, and baking soda

Every vehicle owner knows that carpets and interiors can get really dirty, especially if you have children. If you want to get rid of stains and smells, you can restore some of that new car smell by using water, vinegar, and baking soda.

  1. First, start out by deodorizing your car. Simply fill two bowls with white vinegar and place one on the dashboard and the other on the back seat. Leave overnight and remove in the morning. Open up doors and windows until the vinegar smell has gone away.
  2. After the vinegar smell has dispersed, mix 1 cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda. Use a toothbrush to wipe away all of your stains, such as ketchup and coffee. Let the mixture penetrate the stains for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, take a clean, dry cloth and blot the area dry.
  4. Finish up your cleaning job with a spray bottle mixture of ¼ cup of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water, and a couple drops of dish detergent. Use a soft-bristled brush to wipe your upholstery clean. After 15 minutes or so, use a clean, dry cloth to absorb extra moisture.

Now, you have a clean interior!

  1. Keep cleaning products in your car

In order to keep your seats and interior clean while on the go, carry some cleaning products in the car:

  • Baby wipes are great for quickly cleaning up small spills and stains. Since they don’t contain any harmful chemicals, they are a safe and effective way to keep your vehicle clean.
  • Microfiber cloths are great for cleaning around the house, garage, and the car. These ultra-absorbent cloths are strong, durable, and reusable. They are better at pulling away dust and dirt than paper towels and old rags, which is why they are perfect for automotive cleaning. Carry some microfiber cloths in the car and use them to wash the inside and outside of your car.
  • Seltzer water/club soda is a great stain remover. Keep a can or two in your car for a cheap and quick cleaning job. Use your microfiber cloths to get rid of stains as they occur.
  • Vinegar can be combined with soda water to effectively clean upholstery and carpets.
  • Coffee filters can be used to wipe up dirt and dust from your car. They are also used to create a streak-free shine on windows. Simply add a little club soda or your favorite cleaning solution and run it along your interior for a cheap and easy cleaning job.
  • Foam craft brushes are perfect for getting in between small spaces in your vehicle. For instance, if you wanted to clean the dirt that has collected in your A/C vents or get inside your door-side container, dollar-store foam brushes are the way to go.
  • Cupcake liners can be used to keep your drink holders clean. Just replace them once they get dirty.

When you are done with your cleaning job, you can also use cornstarch to soak up any remaining moisture. Just vacuum it up afterwards and enjoy your new, clean car.

  1. Use seltzer water and alcohol to prevent windshield wiper streaks

Clean your windshield wipers and prevent streaking by periodically wiping them clean with a cloth dipped in seltzer water and alcohol.

  1. Use a plastic cereal container as a small garbage can 

Where do you toss your garbage when you are in the car? Do you use those small slots in the door?

Rather than making a mess of your vehicle and clean-up a pain, pick up a plastic cereal container for a couple of bucks. It will serve as your mess-free garbage can for the rest of your driving days.

You can easily insert a plastic bag for easy clean-up, and it also has a lid to contain any smells. This is a great way to keep trash where it belongs—in a trash bag.

  1. Use an empty tissue box to store your plastic bags

Instead of throwing away your old tissue boxes, reuse them for your car. Put a bunch of plastic bags in a tissue box for easy access. If anybody needs an extra bag for shopping, barfing, or cleaning up, it will always be there.

  1. Place a laundry basket in your trunk for easy organization

When you are driving, do you hear stuff rolling around and making noise in your trunk? If you had a laundry basket in there, you would be able to contain all of your items so they aren’t flying around the trunk.

Laundry baskets can be picked up for just a couple of dollars at your local discount store.

  1. Drape a shoe organizer on the backs of seats to keep everything neat

You’ve probably already heard of this little car organizing hack, but have you actually done it? It’s surprisingly effective at keeping everything in your car organized and easily accessible.

The “hack” has gotten so popular that you can now buy back-seat organizers that have been specifically designed for the car. Store everything from maps and medicines to toys and coloring supplies.

Also, if you have loose colored pencils or crayons lying around, you can store them neatly in an empty DVD case.

  1. Use a shower caddy to organize all of your vehicle’s fluids

Where do you currently store your motor oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid? If they are just knocking around in your trunk, now’s the time to make a simple change that will greatly improve your life on the road.

Simply purchase a cheap shower caddy and use it to organize all of the necessary fluids for your car.

Learn more about car fluids and how to maintain your vehicle here.

  1. Consider a wheel cover

While some people argue against wheel covers, they can help keep your steering wheel in good shape. Sun and dirty hands can quickly make a steering wheel look old and raggedy. In addition to keeping your steering wheel clean, wheel covers also increase safety by improving grip and reducing driver fatigue.

Additionally, a cloth cover won’t ever get as hot or cold as your regular steering wheel, enabling you to get on the road in comfort sooner than usual.

We’d love to hear your cleaning and organization hacks for the car. Let us know on FacebookTwitter, or Google+.

You may also enjoy:

·      Best Tips for First-Time Car Buyers and New Drivers

·      10 Ways to Winterize Your Car | Get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

·      Winter Driving Tips | How to Handle Skids

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+.