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+.

side view of a car covered in snow

How to Get Your Car Unstuck from Any Situation

Off-roader or not, all of us will eventually find ourselves in the situation of getting our vehicle unstuck from mud, sand, snow, or a ditch.

Have you ever seen a flooded road and thought, “Maybe I can drive through or around it?” The car up ahead thought the same thing and got through with no problem. That means you should be fine too, right?

Wrong! This is how many people get stuck. Don’t underestimate the power of water and flooding situations. Most flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water. This is usually because many people try to drive through or around flooded roads and barriers that warn of flooding ahead.

The best way to prevent a sticky and potentially dangerous situation is to avoid these types of scenarios all together.

While you may have to add some time to your trip, it’s a lot better than getting stuck, or worse, swept downstream.

How to Avoid Getting Stuck

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.

Turn Around Don’t Drown PSA (National Weather Service)

Many deaths are caused when vehicles are swept downstream.

  • Pay attention to flash flood warnings and Turn Around Don’t Drown® Warning Signs.
  • A mere 12 inches of rushing water can carry away a small car; 18-24 inches for larger vehicles.
  • Never walk or drive into flood waters!
  • If you see a flooded road, don’t try to drive around it. You are likely to get stuck in deep mud.

While it may feel instinctual to follow someone else’s path, you don’t know what kind of car or tires enabled them to make a safe passage. Additionally, mud ruts tend to be a lot softer, increasing your likelihood of getting stuck.

Don’t be a follower. If come upon mud or flood water, turn around and find a different route.

Sometimes, however, there is no other option. If you absolutely must drive through the mud, we recommend stopping the vehicle and assessing the situation first. You want to plan your attack before mindlessly driving into the muck.

How to Drive Through Mud

  • Check the depth of the mud with a stick.
  • Avoid the mud if you see tire tracks going in but not coming out.
  • Speeding through mud can cause you to lose control. Too slow and you might get stuck. Try to find the right balance and move your steering wheel slightly from right to left to gain more traction.
  • Avoid driving in the same tracks left by someone else. This mud is softer and a lot easier to get stuck in. Be different—blaze a new path.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated and in good shape.
  • Consider carrying a shovel, winch, car jack, gravel, sand, kitty litter, and/or planks in your vehicle in case you do get stuck in the snow, sand, or mud.
  • Learn how to winterize your vehicle and which items you should always have in your vehicle.

Recommended Items to Get Your Car Unstuck

Here are the most useful tools and materials to have on-hand in case you ever get stuck in mud, sand, or snow:

  1. Shovel
  2. Wood Planks, Carpet, and Cardboard
  3. Wheel Tracks (for example, Trac-Grabber — a plastic self-rescue device that gets strapped to the drive wheels)
  4. Car Jack
  5. Tow Strap (can be used by another vehicle to help free your vehicle)
  6. Winch (if attaching to another vehicle, always hook it to the frame)
  7. Snow Chains (put them on your tires before you drive around in the snow)

While every situation is different—mud, snow, sand, a ditch—the principles behind getting your car unstuck remain relatively the same. Learn them now before you spend hours of toiling in vain.

How to Get Your Car Unstuck from Any Situation

If you do find yourself in a sticky situation, don’t keep spinning your wheels. You’ll only dig yourself a deeper hole.

Before calling a tow truck, follow these steps for getting your vehicle unstuck:

  1. Plan

Before you start spinning your wheels and digging yourself a deeper hole, get out of the car and assess the situation. Find the trouble spot and make a plan.

If you are in snow, make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked. This can cause dangerous carbon monoxide to build up inside the vehicle.

Determine which wheels are spinning/stuck.

  1. Build Up Traction

Traction is essential for getting your vehicle unstuck. Look for any obstacles that may be causing the problem and remove them. If you have sand, gravel, or kitty litter (make sure it’s not the clay-based type!), add them to the front and back of the tires to aid traction. If you don’t have these items, find some rocks, logs, and other items that may work (for instance, your carpet mats).

If you do use a floor mat, keep in mind that it will probably be destroyed by the end of it. If you ever replace your floor mats, consider saving one or two for just this kind of situation.

In a truly desperate situation, you may be able to use the removable panel that covers the spare tire (found in most trunks). It is usually a large flexible panel with carpeting on one side. Insert it in front (or behind) the worst stuck tire and drive onto a dry area. Bear in mind that the panel will probably be destroyed and need to be replaced.

You may also want to try digging a path for each tire.

  1. Jack Up the Car (if you have planks or plenty of gravel)

You can try to jack up the car, but only if the ground is firm and you have some planks and gravel that you can use to fill the depression in. Otherwise, skip this step.

  1. Release Air from Tires

You may get better luck freeing your vehicle if you release some air from the tires. By releasing the air (not too much!), you can increase the surface area of the tire on the ground. Try not to release more than 15 PSI. At that point, you are doing more harm than good.

  1. Push the Car

If there is anyone around to help you, have them push the car from behind while you very gently press on the gas.

  1. Use a Winch (if available)

If you have a winch, now is the time to use it. Find a tree or another steady object that you can attach the winch to.

  1. Call a Tow Truck

When all else fails, you will need to be towed out.

The Easy Method

This process can get most vehicles unstuck:

  • Stop the car as soon as you feel stuck. Do NOT spin your wheels!
  • Get out of the car and scoop some salt or sand in front the drive tires.
  • Have your assistants push the car forward while you slightly wiggle the wheel to gain traction.

If no one is around to help you:

  • Dig around your drive wheels (the wheels that do the turning when you accelerate).
  • Try to wedge a carpet, blanket, plank, or mat under the wheel.
  • Get back in the car and gently press on the gas to inch yourself out. You want to feel the tires grip the item.
  • If there’s a lot of spinning, but no gripping, stop and reassess.

Once you are successfully out of the mud, wash your car thoroughly and take it to a mechanic to check for damage.

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+.

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+.

a couple sitting on couch researching on laptop

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+.

teen driver fixing her rearview mirror

How to Properly Position & Use Car Mirrors

Mirrors aren’t a major discussion point when learning how to drive or when taking your driver’s test, and yet they are the main cause behind merge and lane-changing accidents. Sometimes they are talked about, but often the wrong instructions are provided.

If your mirrors aren’t positioned properly, you could have huge blind spots, big enough for a truck to fit into. Luckily, you can eliminate blind spots completely by learning how to properly position and use your vehicle’s mirrors.

Are your mirrors positioned correctly?

How to Properly Position Vehicle Mirrors to Remove Blind Spots

Many drivers think that they should be able to see the side of their car when driving. While you may have a better view of the area right next to your car, your side-view mirror should show you what’s in the lane next to yours. You should not be able to see the side of your car while driving.

Following these steps will eliminate most, if not all, of your vehicle’s blind spots; however, you may still have a blind spot. After adjusting your car mirrors to the correct position, check to see where your blind spot is.

DRIVING SAFETY: Mirror adjustments will improve your ability to see the road, however, it should not replace checking over your shoulders for traffic. You should always glance over your shoulder when merging, changing lanes, or making any lateral movement.

  1. Adjust Your Seat

Before adjusting the vehicle’s mirrors, make sure you are sitting in the proper position for driving. Refer to your owner’s manual if you don’t know where your seat adjusters are located.

Move the seat forward and back, and up and down (if your car has this adjustment option). You should be able to comfortably reach the gas pedal, brake pedal, and if necessary, the clutch pedal.

Once you have adjusted your seat, buckle your seatbelt before positioning your mirrors. This ensures you are in the same position as when you are actually driving.

DRIVING SAFETY: Always buckle up when driving.

  1. Adjust Rearview Mirror

Check the rearview mirror positioning every time you get in the car and every time you change seat adjustments. Since vehicle vibrations can cause the mirror to move in small increments, you may also need to adjust the rearview mirror after you start driving.

DRIVING SAFETY: Only make rearview mirror adjustments when the vehicle is stopped. Check your rearview mirror every time you time you get in the driver’s seat.

When using this mirror, you want to be able to see as much of the back window as possible, using only your eyes, not your head. Sit in your normal driving position and adjust the rearview mirror in small movements until you can see clearly out of the back window.

For drivers taller than 6 feet: You may want to flip the mirror upside down. This can raise the bottom edge of the mirror a few inches, helping to eliminate a major blind spot.

What you should see:

  • The road behind you.
  • The horizon line.
  • A little space above the horizon line.
  • Try to see the entire rear window.

Do not angle the mirror so you can see more of one side of the road. If you are trying to see more of one side of the road, use your side-view mirrors. The rearview mirror should show a straight, even image of the back window.

DRIVING SAFETY: Check your rearview mirror every 5-8 seconds. By constantly referencing your rearview mirror, you’ll know who is passing you, who has already passed you, and who is acting sporadically or dangerously behind you. Check your mirrors often!

  1. Adjust Side-View Mirrors

You don’t want to see the side of your car; you want to see the car in the lane next to you. Adjusting your side-view mirrors in the following fashion will show you more of the lanes next to you.

Driver’s Side Window:

To adjust the driver’s side-view mirror, lean your head over to the driver’s side window until it makes contact with the glass. From there, adjust the driver’s side-view mirror until you can barely see the back corner of the car.

Passenger’s Side Window:

To adjust the passenger’s side-view mirror, lean the same distance toward the passenger’s side window (about as far as you can lean comfortably) and adjust the side-view mirror the same way—make sure you can see a little bit of the back corner of the car.

Side-View Mirror Adjustments:

Once you have adjusted your side-view mirrors this way, sit back in a normal position and make small changes from there.

Set your mirrors so that as soon as the passing car disappears from your rearview mirror, it shows up in your side-view mirror. You may need to make some small adjustments to get everything lined up.

This new position may take some time getting used to, but hopefully it greatly expands your vision of the road and eliminates all of your blind spots!

How to Properly Use Your Mirrors 

  • Look in your mirror every time you stop or start, pass a car, turn, merge, switch lanes, pull over.
  • Check your rearview mirror every 5-8 seconds.
  • Check your mirrors every time you get in the driver’s seat and readjust (if necessary)
  • Use your mirrors more often in irregular and high-traffic situations. The mirrors will help you navigate a difficult driving situation.
  • If you have an anti-glare function on your rearview mirror, consider activating it at night to reduce the glare effect from headlights behind you.

Remember M.S.M.O.G.

When changing lanes:

  • Mirror (rearview mirror)
  • Signal
  • Mirror (side-view mirror)
  • Over your shoulder
  • Go 

With these settings and instructions, you shouldn’t have any blind spots. Test your blind spot while driving to see if cars transition seamlessly from your rearview mirror to your side-view mirror.

Always check the mirrors before driving. You never know if they have been moved or if you were sitting in a different position since the last time you drove.

Remember, even perfectly positioned mirrors sometimes cannot eliminate all blind spots. Make sure you look over your shoulder before making any lateral moves.

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+.

a smiling man standing next to a car

What Should I Name My Car? List of the Best Car Names

Why do we feel the need to name our cars? Is it because they have distinct human visages?

With headlights that leer and a grill that seems ready to snap or laugh, it’s hard not to see faces and personalities in cars and automobiles. In fact, the personality expressed in a vehicle’s “face” is often a huge reason why we choose to purchase one car over another.

Car designers know this too, which is why you see meaner, more aggressive faces in trucks and sports cars, and milder, more friendly faces in SUVs and family vehicles. Anyone who has seen the Cars movies knows that not only do the faces match the cars’ personalities (think of Lighting McQueen and Mater), but their names do as well.

What should I name my car - Lighting McQueen, Mater, Cars

Source: Roderick Eime (Flickr)

Cars really do resemble people. Our brains cannot help but anthropomorphize them. It’s a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia. So why shouldn’t they be given names?

Besides, it’s your chance to go crazy with names that you might not otherwise use for your children or pets.

So, What Should I Name My Car?

“Box with Wheels” and “Mr. Car” won’t work. Sure, you can call it that, but you’re probably looking for something a bit more creative. Since naming your car is a big decision that you’ll live with for a long time, don’t rush it.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when naming your car:

1. Consider the Car’s Personality (Make and Model)

What does your car look like? This is the biggest factor to take into consideration. Does it look like a boy or a girl? Old or young?

Is it a sports car, a large car, a classic car, or a new car? Think of any distinctive character traits that it has. Does it make a lot of noise or barely none at all? Is it large or small? No matter what make or model you have, you can find something that will help you in the naming process. In fact, that’s how the Volkswagen “Beetle” got its name. The car was originally just called Volkswagen, but the obvious resemblance to a beetle or bug gave it its lasting nickname.

If you are a person who likes rhymes and puns, you can use the make/model as inspiration for a fun and quirky name for your car:

  • Rhonda the Honda
  • Jack the Cadillac

But be weary of names that get old quick. Try to stick with ones that aren’t so obvious:

  • Vlad (Chevy Impala)
  • Lux (Fiat)
  • Stacy (Chevy Malibu)
  • Frank (Hyundai Sonata)

2. Consider Your Personality

You don’t want to name your car Lighting, Dash, or Speedy if you are the kind of person who likes to take it slow. If you are shy, think of a more laidback name. If you are an extrovert, a quirkier name will be more suitable.

Are you a history buff or a big fan of a certain sports team, movie director, or author? Get creative! Just make sure the name matches your personality as well.

3. The License Plate

The letters in your license plate might give you a good idea for a name. For instance, if your license plate has the letters SDE, you might want to call it Sadie. MDN could be Madonna. You get the idea. It’s also a great mnemonic for remembering your license plate.

4. Consider the Color of the Car

The color of your car can put you in the right direction.


  • Black Beauty
  • Black Cat
  • Black Stallion
  • Black Widow
  • Blackhawk
  • Blade
  • Crow
  • Dahlia
  • Dark Knight
  • Delirium
  • Delirium
  • Dementor
  • Doom
  • Drusilla
  • Grimm
  • Jet
  • Lilith
  • Mamba
  • Midnight
  • Moan
  • Night
  • Nightrunner
  • Nitro, Zorro
  • Nyx
  • Sirius
  • Tarantula
  • Wednesday
  • Wolf


  • Casper
  • Diamond
  • Falkor
  • Fang
  • Frost
  • Ghost
  • Jon Snow
  • Marshmallow
  • Moby
  • Noise
  • Powder
  • Princess
  • Snow White
  • White Rabbit


  • Alchemy
  • Amber
  • Bert
  • Big Bird
  • Blondie
  • Bumble Bee
  • Champagne
  • Cleo
  • Cyrus Gold
  • Dawn
  • Divine
  • Ducky
  • Finch
  • Fleur
  • Gatsby
  • Gold Bug
  • Goldfinger
  • Goldilocks
  • Grimm
  • Honey
  • Knox
  • Lemon
  • Luigi
  • Midas
  • Ponyboy
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • Scorpion
  • Sol
  • Sunshine
  • Tweety
  • Wiz
  • Wolverine
  • Yellowjacket


  • Annie
  • Ariel
  • Blood
  • Carrot Top
  • Cheeto
  • Christine
  • Chuckie Finster
  • Chucky
  • Clifford
  • Crimson
  • Crush
  • Diablo
  • Elmo
  • Fern
  • Fireball
  • Ginger
  • Holloway
  • Kenny Mc”Car”mick
  • Ladybug
  • Lola
  • Molly
  • Mushu
  • Nemo
  • Nightcrawler
  • Orange Crush
  • Pebbles
  • Pony
  • Raggedy
  • Red Claw
  • Robin
  • Ron Burgundy
  • Rose
  • Ruby
  • Scarlet
  • Shaggy
  • Star Fox
  • Starsky
  • Tang
  • Tiger
  • Weasley
  • Willow
  • Yosemite Sam


  • Baby
  • Baloo
  • Betty
  • Blue Beetle
  • Blue Devil
  • Blue Velvet
  • Bluebird
  • Boy
  • Celeste
  • Crush
  • Dolphin
  • Dory
  • Gonzo
  • Grover
  • Heaven
  • Ice
  • Ice Cube
  • Jasmine
  • Freeze
  • Johnson
  • Mystique
  • Poseidon
  • Sam Eagle
  • Saphira
  • Sky
  • Smoke
  • Smurf/Smurfette
  • Sonic
  • Streak
  • Thunder


  • Alien
  • Booger
  • Clover
  • Dragon
  • Dragonfly
  • Elliot
  • Flash
  • Frogger
  • Gable
  • Gawain
  • Godzilla
  • Green Arrow
  • Gumby
  • Hulk
  • Kermit
  • Mike Wazowski
  • Toad
  • Poison Ivy
  • Poison Ivy
  • Puff
  • Ribbet
  • Scales
  • George
  • Yoshi 


  • Amethyst
  • Barney
  • Cheshire
  • Crimson
  • Dark Wing
  • Dino
  • Dizzy Devil
  • Gengar
  • Harold
  • Haunter
  • Hawkeye
  • Maleficent
  • Nebula
  • Pandora
  • Rain
  • Saturn
    • Stella
    • The Joker
    • Tinky Winky
    • Twilight
    • Twilight Sparkle
    • Ursula
    • Weezing
    • Willy Wonka


  • Bullet
  • Dorian
  • Grayson
  • Iron Man
  • Magneto
  • Mercury
  • Onyx
  • Oracle
  • Quicksilver
  • Raiden
  • Scythe
  • Silver Dagger
    • Silver Fox
    • Silver Surfer
    • Cloud
    • Storm
    • Titanium
    • Tron

5. Consider Celebrity Babies’ Names

When you are a famous celebrity, it’s hard to name your kid Martha or Mike. Take inspiration from some of the most creative baby names:

  • Apple
  • Axl
  • Blue
  • Cash
  • Cosimo
  • Dream
  • Gunner
  • Jada
  • Jagger
  • Jax
  • Jett
  • Lolita
    • Miley
    • Mowgli
    • Seven
    • Taj
    • Zeppelin

6. Consider Fictional Character Names

These movie, book, video game, and myth-inspired names can also work for children and pets.

Game of Thrones:

  • Arya
  • Cersei
  • Drogo
  • Gilly
  • Hodor
  • Khal
  • Khaleesi
  • Osha
  • Sansa
  • Shireen
    • Sparrow
    • Stannis
    • Tyrion
    • Tywin
    • Varys

Harry Potter:

  • Albus
  • Amos
  • Bellatrix
  • Charity
  • Cho
  • Draco
  • Fleur
  • Ludo
  • Luna
  • Millicent
    • Minerva
    • Phineas
    • Remus
    • Severus
    • Sirius

Superheroes and Villains:

  • Astro
  • Bane
  • Black Widow
  • Deadshot
  • Manhattan
  • Dredd
  • Galactus
  • Gambit
  • Harlow
  • Judge
  • Kahlo
  • Katana
  • Lex Luthor
  • Loki
  • Maxx
  • Mingus
  • Mystique
  • Nightwing
  • Onyx
  • Oracle
    • Ozymandias
    • Rocket
    • Rorschach
    • Spectre
    • Steel
    • Storm
    • Thor
    • Warlock
    • Wildcat
    • Wolverine

The Sandman Series:

  • Alianora
  • Azazel
  • Barnabas
  • Basanos
  • Constantine
  • Corinthian
  • Death
  • Delirium
  • Desire
  • Despair
  • Destiny
  • Destruction
  • Dream (Morpheus)
  • Duma
  • Foxglove
  • Goldie
    • Lucien
    • Mazikeen
    • Nuala
    • Odin
    • Remiel
    • Thessaly
    • Titania

Greek and Roman Names:

  • Aphrodite (Venus)
  • Ares (Mars)
  • Artemis (Diana)
  • Athena (Minerva)
  • Dionysus (Bacchus)
  • Hades (Pluto)
  • Hera (Juno)
  • Hermes (Mercury)
    • Hestia (Vesta)
    • Poseidon (Neptune)
    • Zeus (Jupiter)


  • Balthasar
  • Cassius
  • Oberon
  • Patience
  • Perdita
  • Portia
    • Silvius
    • Tarquin
    • Tylbalt (Tyl”bolt”) 

Additional Names Inspired by Movies, TV Shows, and Video Games:

  • Akasha
  • Amidala
  • Astaroth
  • Azrael
  • Bloodrayne
  • Cloud
  • Cortana
  • Domino
  • Elektra
  • Jinx
  • Kage
  • Kain
  • Lara
  • Link
  • Lux
  • Maximus
    • Neo
    • Niobe
    • Pluto
    • Raiden
    • Rygar
    • Samus
    • Trinity
    • Xena

You can also look at various card games for inspiration, such as Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Magic: The Gathering.

7. Consider Names Inspired by Athletes and Sports

If you have a favorite sport or athlete, this may be the perfect time to show your allegiance:

  • Agassi
  • Ali
  • Blitz
  • Bolt
  • Brady
  • Cal
  • Colt
  • Darko
  • Dexter
  • Dodger
  • Early
  • Ewing
  • Falcon
  • Fisk
  • Hunter
  • Kareem
  • Kobe
  • Magic
    • Manu
    • MJ
    • Peyton
    • Priest
    • Spike
    • Tiger
    • Tyson
    • Venus
    • Yogi

Naming your car should be an enjoyable experience. You’ll look back fondly on the day when it clicked and you found the perfect name for your new baby.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Auto Simple wants to help you find the perfect vehicle, give it a name, and bring it to its new home.

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+.