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+.

instrument cluster of a car

Extend Vehicle Lifespans and Detect Odometer Fraud | National Odometer Day

May 12th is National Odometer Day. While you may not be familiar with National Odometer Day, you probably know that the odometer in your car measures the distance traveled by the vehicle.

But did you know that the invention of the odometer predates motor vehicles by over 2000 years? First described by Vetruvius in 27 BCE, it is widely accepted that odometers were first used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Some say that the odometer was invented by Archimedes during the first Punic War (Scientific American).

While no one can say for sure who invented the device, there has always been a great desire for such a device. Odometers were and remain a great way to measure distances between two places. They literally paved the way for modern road building and travel.

How Does an Odometer Work?

An odometer (aka a roadometer) works by counting the number of wheel rotations and then multiplying it by the circumference of the tire, which is the diameter of the tire times pi (3.14…). Leonardo Da Vinci’s odometer (seen above) works by collecting small stones into a dedicated holder, which can then be counted to accurately measure the distance traversed by the wheel. Click here for more information on how odometers work.

Keep in mind that heavily worn tires and under-inflated tires can cause errors in odometer readings.

Why Are Odometers Useful?

Odometer readings are important because they give you a general sense of the value of the car. This simple number indicates:

  • When it’s time for an oil change (about every 3,000 miles, but double-check your owner’s manual)
  • When expected repairs and maintenance are due (check owner’s manual for maintenance schedule)
  • How well the vehicle was taken care of
  • If any vehicles warranties are still in effect
  • The life expectancy of the vehicle
  • The value of the car (when it’s time to sell or trade up)

How to Keep Your Odometer Going

If you want to rack up 300,000 miles or more and extend the lifespan of your vehicle, here are a few tips:

  1. Buy the right vehicle

Some common 300,000+ cars include Toyotas, Fords, and Hondas. According to Consumer Reports, these sedans, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks are most likely to get to 300,000 miles and beyond:

  1. Never ignore strange sounds, smells, or vibrations 

If you notice anything strange or wrong with the vehicle, take it in for a professional inspection. Similarly, never ignore your dashboard warning lights.

  1. Change the oil every 3,000-3,500 miles 

Regular oil changes are probably the best way to extend the lifespan of your vehicle. While 3,000 miles (around 3 months) is a safe bet, check your owner’s manual for the proper oil change schedule.

  1. Avoid lots of starts and stops

If you mostly drive on the highway, you have a better chance of passing the 200,000-mile mark. If you can’t avoid a lot of local start-and-stop trips, try to coast as much as possible. Sudden starts and stops will diminish your vehicle’s lifespan. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Try to drive on the highway at least once a month.

  1. Don’t turn your heating or cooling on right away

Allow the vehicle to warm up for a minute or two before turning on the heating or air conditioning. This helps everything get lubricated first, reducing the load on your engine.

  1. Don’t make these manual transmission mistakes 

Use your brakes rather than the gears to slow the vehicle down. Shoot for 2,000-3,000 revolutions per minute (RPM) to avoid stressing the engine.

Don’t depress the clutch pedal more than necessary. While it may seem cool and comfortable, don’t rest your hand on the gear shifter.

  1. Fill your tank up with the correct gas

 Check your owner’s manual to know the proper octane level for your vehicle. Filling up with the wrong octane level can diminish your vehicle’s lifespan.

For additional ways to extend the lifespan of your vehicle, avoid these common bad driving habits.

How to Detect Odometer Fraud

Unfortunately, odometer fraud is a common problem in the car buying and selling process. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings! That’s is one reason why it’s so important to purchase a vehicle from a trusted source (learn about the risks involved when buying from a private seller).

Before changes in how odometers were made, they could be easily tampered with. Sometimes, the cable could be reversed so that the numbers ran backwards instead of forwards. While odometers in newer vehicles have many safeguards in place to prevent this kind of tampering, older vehicles are still susceptible to odometer fraud.

 Luckily, consumers have a few options to detect odometer fraud: 

  1. Check CarFax Vehicle History Report 

The CarFax reports will give you mileage records, inconsistencies, and other odometer problems. Compare the mileage on the odometer with the reported mileage on the vehicle maintenance and inspection reports. Since inspections normally record the mileage number any inconsistencies are a clear red flag. Make sure the odometer reading is higher than the latest record.

If the seller does not provide a Vehicle History Report, order your own using the car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

  1. The numbers are not lined up straight, contain gaps, or jiggle

Sometimes, if the odometer has been rolled back, the numbers will not line up straight. Unaltered odometer numbers are perfectly aligned. Look carefully at the 10,000 place number. This digit is the one most commonly tampered with. If the numbers jiggle when you hit the dash, contain gaps, or are misaligned, there’s a high chance they have been tampered with. Walk away from the purchase.

  1. Estimate the odometer reading by calculating the age of the car

The average car puts on about 12,000 miles per year. If the car is 7 years old, it should have around 84,000 miles on it. If not, there is cause for concern. Investigate the causes for lower than average mileage, such as if the car is a backup or the owner has a reason to rarely use it.

  1. Look for inconsistent wear and tear

Look for inconsistent wear and tear in the interior of the vehicle. Pay special attention to the gas, brake, and clutch pedals. Make sure they are consistent with the odometer reading. Examine other high-touch areas, such as the steering wheel, seats, and arm rests. If you are unsure, take the car to a mechanic for an inspection (you should conduct your own vehicle inspection regardless).

  1. Check the tires

If there is less than 20,000 miles on the car, it should still have the original tires. Inspect the wear of the tires by asking a mechanic to check the depth of the tread. If there is 20,000-25,000 miles on the car, the tread should be deeper than 2/32 of an inch. If the vehicle has new tires or the tire tread is significantly deeper than 2/32 inch, then there is cause for concern. You can also measure tire tread depth yourself with the penny test.

Finally, take the vehicle to a mechanic and ask them to specifically look for signs of odometer fraud. This includes inspecting the vehicle for replacement parts. If the odometer has a low reading, there shouldn’t be many replacement parts. They will be familiar with other fraud detections as well.

Learn more about odometer fraud by visiting nhtsa.gov.

Happy National Odometer Day!

Auto Simple wants to make sure you drive away in a vehicle you love and can pay for.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it quick and convenient 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+.

Best Tips for First-Time Car Buyers and New Drivers

Learning how to drive and buying a new car are major life milestones. Perhaps you’ve landed a new job? Maybe you’ve just received your admissions letter and need a car for school?

Whether you are young or old, your first time on the road can be scary and dangerous. If you aren’t inheriting the family clunker and need to buy a car yourself, this adds another level of intimidation.

That’s why we’re sharing some of the best tips for first-time car buyers. While everyone dreams of driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini, we all know it’s not the best first car purchase. Regardless, a first car is your ticket to freedom.

But before we share our favorite cars for new drivers, here are some tips for finding the perfect vehicle:

1. Do your research before and during the car-buying process

Car-buying research includes searching for the make and model of your desired car and making sure there aren’t any major consumer complaints, recalls, or safety-related defects. Just because you like the look doesn’t mean it’s a good first-time car. It’s important to keep your emotions at bay when researching your ideal first vehicle.

Just because there is a new pickup truck on the market doesn’t mean it’s the best car for your day-to-day needs. If you don’t have a family, an SUV or minivan may not be the best choice either. Research the costs of fuel, maintenance, and repairs.

2. Establish a budget

Be realistic with your car budget. If you have to pay for the car yourself, this is an important time to demonstrate responsibility and potentially save hundreds (if not thousands) at the dealership. While the best option is to pay for the entire vehicle in cash, sometimes that’s just not possible. Most car buyers need some sort of financing.

Follow the 20% rule and make sure your car payments and all automotive expenses don’t exceed 20% of your monthly income. For instance, if your take-home pay is $2800, then your total auto expenses should not exceed $560. Take into account gas, insurance, maintenance, registration, and repairs. It may take you some time to figure out what car you can afford, but it’s definitely worth it.

One of the biggest mistakes that first-time car buyers make is getting a car they cannot afford. Don’t make this mistake. If you are considering purchasing a car for $18,000, set your budget around $3,000-$5,000 less than that to account for taxes, registration fees, insurance, options and add-ons.

Don’t forget to take into account your down payment and the length of your loan when determining which car you can afford.

3. Don’t buy a used car from a private seller

Unless you have a family member or close friend of the family who is willing to give you a great deal, stay away from private sellers. There’s a lot of risk involved and it can add a lot of extra time, money, and energy to your car-buying journey. Buying and selling a car at a dealership is a lot easier and more secure.

4. Look for Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles

Certified pre-owned vehicles are the best kind of used car you can buy. Instead of buying a new car, which can lose about 60% of its value within the first five years, look for CPO vehicles, which are often in “like-new” condition.

5. Get a CarFax report (includes vehicle history and inspection reports) 

Never purchase a vehicle without first viewing a CarFax report. If you know the vehicle’s VIN number, you can look up its vehicle history report on CarFax. However, if you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they will most likely have a CarFax report available for free.

This report provides essential information on the vehicle’s past life, including accident reports, emissions results, service records, title information, and history of previous owners.

All Auto Simple pre-owned vehicles go through a rigorous 180-point inspection and come with a free CarFax report.

6. Locate a respectable dealer

When looking for a responsible and reliable first car, such as a Toyota CorollMazda3, or Honda Civic, make sure you do your research into the dealership first.

Learn what separates Auto Simple from the rest:


7. Inspect the car, inside and out

It’s never been easier to know what to look for when inspecting your potential new vehicle. In addition to a visual inspection of the inside and outside of the vehicle, you’ll want to take it for a test drive. Read our Used Car Buyer’s Guide to find out exactly what you should be paying attention to.

8. Secure financing (if necessary)

When financing your new vehicle, try to put at least 20% percent down. This makes it a lot less likely that you will default on your loan. The more money you put down, the more secure your purchase will be. For instance, if the car gets totaled, you could end up owing more money than the car is worth.

Before you approach a bank or credit union for a loan, check with the dealership. They often have better financing options if you are purchasing the car from them. And since all the payments and purchases come from one place, it makes things a lot simpler.

If you have bad credit, don’t worry. You may be able to get a co-signer so you can piggyback off their good credit. Learn How to Buy a Used Car on Bad Credit.

9. Look for deals and special promotions

Often, dealerships will offer specials and promotions, so be on the look-out!

Right now, Auto Simple is offering one of the best promotions you’ll find anywhere!

Refer a friend to Auto Simple you get $200! And now, you could Get Your Car Paid Off too!

For example, in the last three months there were 90 referrals. So, you could have a 90 to 1 chance to win The Free Ride. That’s pretty good odds!

Offer ends 7/1/17

Finally, enjoy this car-buying experience. Buying and owning your first car is a great experience, one that you hopefully remember fondly for the rest of your life. As promised, below are our favorite cars for new drivers.

The Best Cars for New Drivers

  1. Chevrolet Malibu
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Toyota Camry
  4. Toyota Corolla
  5. Mazda3 and Mazda6
  6. Ford Focus
  7. Kia Soul
  8. Pontiac Vibe
  9. Scion xB and Scion xD

If you are buying from a dealership, the payment and purchase should be very easy. After all questions are answered and the paperwork is signed, you will receive the keys and copies of all the documents. It’s that easy.

In fact, you can leave the Auto Simple lot with a new pre-owned vehicle for as low as $500 Down!

To ease your worries about purchasing a preowned vehicle, all Auto Simple cars go through a 180-point inspection and come with a free CarFax report. We do our best to bring the vehicle back to the level like-new conditions, including touching up paint and removing dents.

Plus, we offer a 6 Month/6,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty on all of our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with your purchase, you can return the vehicle within 48 hours—no questions asked.

Here are some more tips for buying a used car:

Once you find the perfect vehicle, avoid common driver mistakes by establishing good habits at the beginning of your driving career: 

Auto Simple wants to find you a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, all of which come with a free CarFax report and a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty. We also own a private track for test driving!

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 woman feeling car sick

What Causes Car Sickness? Can It Be Prevented?

Do you have to squint and focus on a fixed point to avoid feeling carsick? If you’ve ever felt sick to your stomach from a bumpy ride, you’re not alone. Nearly everyone has experienced some version of motion sickness before. Rough seas nearly guarantee it.

While the symptoms will eventually stop, they can make traveling extremely uncomfortable, for both you and the people around you. If you’re planning your next vacation, you may want to know what causes this distressing disorder and what you can do to prevent it.

First, let’s find out what motion sickness actually is and what causes it.

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness, also called airsickness, seasickness, and carsickness, can occur in a variety of different situations. It is caused by a conflict of different messages that the brain receives. It has a lot to do with how your inner ear perceives balance and motion.

Everyone has both an inner ear and an outer ear. The inner ear helps us with sound detection and balance while the outer ear is mostly responsible for hearing.

The cochlea helps convert sound pressures from the outer ear to electrochemical impulses that get passed on to the brain.

The vestibular system provides us with the sense of balance and space orientation necessary for coordinating movements (including position and acceleration) from second to second.

While you may already know that your inner ear is responsible for balance, you may not be aware that there are two different types of equilibrium:

Static Equilibrium is when the body is not moving. Receptors in the vestibular system send reports to the brain on the position of the head with respect to gravity when the body is not moving.

Dynamic Equilibrium is when the body is moving. Receptors pick up angular or rotary movements of the head and then send messages to your brain when there are any sudden movements. If you are moving at a constant rate, receptors will stop sending movement impulses to the brain. Impulses will start up again when you change speed or direction.

So, what does all of this have to do with feeling carsick?

If you are on a boat, car, or train, your eyes look around and experience mostly a static world. Your eyes notice that your body is just sitting there, not moving, and part of your vestibular system is corroborating the visual information. You also have pressure and sensory receptors on nerve endings that can contribute to the mixed messaging, called your proprioceptors.

Basically, your brain gets confused because it is receiving mixed signals from your visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems about your body and its position in space. Homeostasis gets upset and your body reacts as it would to toxins.

While your eyes are telling your brain that there is static equilibrium, the equilibrium receptors in the semicircular canals in your ear are crying out—MOVEMENT!

Both parts of your equilibrium system are sending contradictory messages to your brain. The brain, as the ultimate decision-maker, decides it’s going to do something—vomit.

Now that you know how the ears and eyes contribute to motion sickness, you can see why ear infections can produce nausea and dizziness. The ear infection messes up the equilibrium receptors and signals going to the brain.

You may also experience a similar motion sickness with flight simulators, video games, movies, microscopes, and even computers and smart phones. Sometimes, the term cybersickness is given to motion sickness associated with digital media.

Why does the driver rarely get carsick?

While the theoretical explanations are not entirely clear, there is a clear link between control of movement and the experience of motion sickness. The more control you have over the movement, the less motion sickness you feel.

How to Prevent Motion Sickness

Although there are many different remedies available, none are proven effective for everyone. It’s a matter of trial and error.

If you frequently experience motion sickness, try some of these common remedies to feel more comfortable.

  • If you are prone to motion sickness, limit your food intake before the trip. Don’t eat any spicy or greasy foods. If it’s a short trip, don’t eat anything except perhaps a small snack, such as crackers.
  • Stop the motion if you can and wait it out.
  • Remove one of the equilibrium signals going to your brain—close your eyes.
  • Focus on the horizon, giving your brain a static point of reference.
  • Don’t read or use phones and electronics. Limit your sensory input.
  • Distract yourself by singing songs, listening to music, and playing car games.
  • Sometimes air ventilation helps. Try opening up a window and getting rid of any strong odors. Again, limit as many sensory inputs as you can.
  • Some people recommend consuming some ginger (about 2 grams half an hour before travel) to help with motion sickness. While we don’t know if it helps any, it certainly can’t hurt.
  • If all else fails, use medication; but make sure to read to instructions and consult a doctor for any over-the-counter prescriptions. Take the medication before your trip. Antihistamine solutions include dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, TripTone), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), meclizine (Bonine), promethazine (Phenergan), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), and others. Be forewarned that many of these medications cause drowsiness and other side effects. Follow instructions carefully.

Usually, motion sickness subsides after around age 12. If you are driving with someone who is feeling carsick, pull the car over as soon as you can and have them walk around or lie down with their eyes closed.

Learn more tips and tricks before heading out on your next long car trip:

Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all 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 vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a hand filling fuel in a car

10 Bad Driving Habits That Are Damaging Your Vehicle

Once you buy a car, you’ll want to treat it properly. As the owner, you’re responsible for all repairs and maintenance. If you don’t want constant surprise trips to the mechanic, it’s important to learn some good driving habits. Even seasoned drivers are guilty of bad driving habits that cause unnecessary damage to their vehicle.

This wisdom applies to other aspects of our lives as well. You want to think about the long-term implications of your habits and behaviors. Today, it may not seem like any harm is being done, but over time, they can lead to major problems down the road.

Learn the top 10 worst driving habits and why you should avoid them.

10 Bad Driving Habits

  1. Driving on Low Fuel

You may think you are saving time and money by waiting until the fuel tank gets low to refill the tank, but in fact, the opposite is true. Most car manufacturers and mechanics recommend driving your vehicle on at least a quarter tank of gas.

The reasoning behind this is that when your tank is low, your car is pulling the gas from the bottom of the tank where the sediment from the gas has settled. This greatly increases the amount of sediment that gets transferred to your fuel line and filter. This can cause clogged lines, dirty filter, and sometimes engine trouble if the sediment slips past the filter.

Additionally, maintaining a full tank helps keep the tank and fuel pumps cool. The extra heat caused by an empty tank will increase wear and tear.

  1. Abrupt Braking and Accelerating

Are you the type of driver that stops suddenly at red lights, stop signs, and behind cars? When the light turns green, do you slam on the gas to leave others in the dust?

While it may be fun to put the pedal to the metal every once in a while, leave that kind of driving for the race track. Just because your vehicle can go to 0 to 60 in a couple seconds doesn’t mean you should. And those adroit brakes you are so proud of might not be so good for long if you are constantly hitting them hard.

If you have a heavy foot and are slamming on the brakes or acceleration, not only are you putting yourself at a higher risk of collision, you are also causing a lot of unnecessary strain and damage to your vehicle. Besides wearing out your brake pads and stressing your engine, you are also shortening the lifespan of your rotors and spending a lot more on fuel than you need to. Unless you really enjoy visits to the mechanic, refrain from hard starting and stopping.

Use light touches for acceleration and deceleration. If you step too much on the pedals, you’ll experience that jerking effect, most commonly associated with new drivers. At the same time, you want to avoid riding the brakes for too long. It may feel safer to have your foot on the brakes just in case you need to make a sudden stop, but what you’re actually doing is wearing out the brakes and building up heat, which can do damage to your pads, rotors, and braking capacity.

If you drive a manual transmission, shift to a lower gear when going downhill and use the engine braking to maintain a safe downhill speed.

  1. Revving the Engine

Revving the engine can do damage to your vehicle, but it also depends on the temperature of the engine. If you rev the engine before it has had time to warm up or the outside temperature is low, your car won’t have the necessary lubrication to protect your crucial car parts.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start your vehicle and let it idle for a little bit before stepping on the gas pedal, especially during colder weather. This will give the oil some time to circulate. Otherwise, you could be putting unnecessary wear and tear on your rings, valves, crankshaft, cylinder walls, bearings, and other parts that require lubrication. Those parts are extremely expensive to replace.

Furthermore, the sound of a revving engine does not sound as good to people on the street as much as you think. Unless you have an expensive sports car, not only will it not sound good, it is also completely unnecessary.

  1. Resting Hand on Shifter

If you drive a manual transmission, then you may have developed the bad habit of resting your hand on the shifter while driving. It does add a certain “cool” factor as we’ve all seen in movies and television shows. But while you may like the look and feel of it, the added weight on the shifter puts pressure on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers.

You may not change your behavior hearing this, but when your transmission fails, you’ll wish you did.

  1. Not Deploying the Parking Brake

You have a parking brake (also called the emergency brake) for a reason. You should deploy your parking brake every time you park the car. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Be careful never to drive with the parking brake on.

Here is the proper procedure for setting the parking brake:

  1. Press on the brake pedal and come to a complete stop.
  2. While your foot is still on the brake pedal, set the parking brake.
  3. If you are on a steep hill, shift the transmission to neutral and allow the car to settle on the parking brake.
  4. Then shift the transmission into park and take your foot off the brake pedal.
  5. Once your parking brake is set and you’ve shifted the car into park, turn the car off.

Here is the proper procedure for releasing the parking brake:

  1. When starting your car back up, press down on the brake pedal and start the engine.
  2. With your foot still on the brake pedal, release the parking brake.
  3. Make sure the parking brake light goes off before shifting into “drive” (D) or another gear.

Get into the habit of setting the parking brake whenever you park, not just on steep hills. Don’t forget to release the parking brake before shifting into gear. Activating your parking brake will help prevent the weight of the vehicle from resting on the parking pawl. Also, if you are on a steep hill or another car hits yours while parked, there is much less chance of the car moving.

  1. Driving with Unnecessary Items

It’s important to have certain emergency items in the car, such as equipment to change your tire, but most drivers are driving around with unnecessary items that add a lot of weight to the vehicle. The more weight that you are carrying around, the harder your car has to work. This means worse handling and fuel economy in addition to unwanted stress on suspensions, brakes, and other important components.

So, take a look at this list of items you should always have in the car and get rid of anything else that you don’t need.

  1. Shifting from Reverse to Drive or Drive to Reverse Before a Complete Stop

Many times, when people are parallel parking, they shift from drive to reverse and vice versa without waiting for the car to come to a complete stop. This is a very bad habit that can cause irreversible damage to your drivetrain.

Take that extra half-second or so to make sure your car comes to a complete stop before shifting gears.

  1. Ignoring Warning Lights and Other Signs

Nobody wants to take their car to the mechanic, but ignoring vehicle warning lights and other signs can mean something a lot worse.

Pay attention to any strange or unusual sounds and sensations when driving your vehicle. Things like rattling, squeaking, and shaking can indicate a worn out parts or something even more serious. Don’t wait to find out. It’s best to take your car to a mechanic for an inspection so you can catch the problem early on.

  1. Filling Up with the Wrong Fuel

Many drivers have no idea which fuel type they should use. Some assume that the higher priced gasoline is better for their vehicle, while others assume there is no difference and go for the cheapest option instead.

The answer is very simple: consult your owner’s manual

Using the wrong octane rating can do damage to your engine. High compression engines usually require higher octane fuel to reduce “pinging” and “knocking.” Learn more about octane ratings and the implications for your vehicle.

  1. Not Maintaining Fluid Levels and Other Car Maintenance

As a driver, you should know how to check and change your oil and other fluids, in addition to taking care of your tires and other important car maintenance.

Learn the following car maintenance procedures to extend the lifespan of your vehicle and avoid accidents and blow-outs on the road:

Although this list should apply to most vehicles, you always want to check your owner’s manual for proper procedures. There should be a “correct use of the car” section or something similar.

If you are a new driver, take a driving course early so you don’t develop any of these bad habits. For seasoned drivers, breaking these habits can be difficult. Try to catch yourself before you make any of these common driver mistakes.

Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all 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 vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a hand filling fuel in a car

What Gasoline Should I Use? | Octane Ratings & Your Car

With gasoline being as expensive as it is, many people want to know if it’s worth it to pay the extra money for mid-grade/plus, premium, or even super premium gasoline. Is it just a marketing gimmick?

What’s the Right Type of Fuel for My Vehicle?

Most gas stations offer a choice between 3 different octane levels:

  • Regular (85-88, usually 87)
  • Mid-Grade/Plus (88-90, usually 89)
  • Premium (91-93, usually 92)

Some gas stations offer additional octane grades with names like “special,” “plus,” and “super.” “Super premium” normally has an octane rating of 93.

So, which one should you use?

The answer is very simple: consult your owner’s manual! 

It’s so obvious, but many people don’t remember to check the manual before choosing the type of gasoline for the car. If it says regular (87), use regular. If it says premium (91), use premium. Contrary to common belief, octane ratings do not indicate how many miles you get per gallon or how much power the fuel delivers.

While higher prices normally indicate higher quality (“you get what you pay for”), in the case of gasoline, there is no increase in performance for engines that are designed to run on regular gas.

The different types of fuel are designed for different types of engines. The only difference separating the different gas grades is the amount of octane present in the fuel.

Recommended vs Required

Some car manufacturers “recommend” premium while others “require” premium. If it requires premium, definitely use it. Trying to save a couple of dollars at the pump is not worth the LARGE costs of engine damage and repair. Normally, only high-end, high-compression vehicles require premium gasoline.

If it only “recommends” premium, then you won’t do any damage by using regular gas, but you could get some better performance with “premium.” Consider using premium gas when you anticipate extra demand on the engine, such as driving up steep hills or pulling heavy weight.

If you wanted to save money, you can probably still fill up with regular gas most of the time. And at an extra 20-50 cents more, that’s around $200 more in your pocket every year.

What are octane ratings?

The fuel’s octane rating measures the fuel’s ability to withstand pressure and resist “knocking” or “pinging,” which can cause engine damage.

Knocking or pinging are noises that your engine makes when there is an uneven combustion in one or more of your car’s cylinders. When the piston moves up and compresses the fuel/air mixture, the spark plug is supposed to rapidly burn the fuel, which causes the piston to move down very fast.

Sometimes, however, there is a “pre-ignition” during the compression process which creates a small explosion. This normally happens when you have a high-compression engine with a low-octane fuel. This is bad and can cause the fire from the compression to collide with the fire from the spark plug. As a result, you may hear a “ping” if the fire is small enough, or a “knock” if it is big enough.

The image below shows the two “explosions” colliding to create a “pre-ignition” knock/ping:

This is why it’s important to check the owner’s manual/handbook. The recommended octane level will completely depend on the design of the engine. Higher octane fuel burns slower, reducing the chance of pinging or knocking in high-compression engines.

Don’t be too worried about small pings and light knocks. However, if you experience loud or heavy knocking using fuel with the recommended octane rating, see your authorized dealer to prevent any further damage to your engine.

Still, most cars are designed to run on regular gas. Anyone who says that premium gas will give you more mileage or power is living in a fantasy land. High-octane gas is basically a protection for high compression engines.

What is a knock-sensor?

Most cars nowadays (1997 or later) contain a knock-sensor that detects the compression detonation and delays the spark to minimize knocking/pinging. While this is good for protecting your engine from “pre-ignition” knocking, in higher performance vehicles, the spark delay gives you less power and worse mileage.

Again, it’s simple: use the octane level specified by your owner’s manual.

Does premium gas help cleanse my engine?

You may hear the claim that premium and high-octane gas contains more detergents and therefore can help clean your engine. While premium gas may contain more detergents, regular gasoline has more than enough detergents to keep your engine clean.

If you have a noticeably dirty engine, then use one of the many great engine additives on the market.

Is there a difference between gas from different brands?

While there are no really good studies that validate quality claims of different brands of gasoline, there is indeed a difference. In fact, if you are looking to improve your MPG, you’ll find much more success trying a different brand rather than a higher octane level.

The main difference between different brands of gasoline are the contents of the additives. In 2004, some large car manufacturers were unhappy with the amount of deposits in their engines so they got together to create new gasoline standards. These standards are stricter than the federal Environmental Protection Agency standards and are given the name “Top Tier” gas.

They contain an enhanced additive package that includes antioxidants, oxygenates, and corrosion inhibitors.

Some gas stations only sell “Top Tier” gas: 76, Chevron, CITGO, Costco Gasoline, Exxon, Mobil, QT, Shamrock, Shell, Sinclair, Texaco, and Valero.

Here’s the full list of Top Tier Detergent Gasoline Licensed Brands.

If you drive a high-end car and don’t want any deposits to build up, you should probably use Top Tier fuel most of the time. Still, you can usually get rid of any carbon deposits with a few bottles of engine cleaner.

In conclusion, unless you want to increase the portfolios of the super-rich, check your owner’s manual for the recommended gasoline octane level and don’t spend any extra money on higher octane fuels.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Auto Simple.

Learn more car maintenance tips.

Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all 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 vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a couple reading a map in a car

Top 5 Road Trips in America | Plan a USA Road Trip!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

– John Muir, The Yosemite (1912)

Get your motor runnin’ and head out on the highway. Adventure awaits on these uniquely American road trips.

From purple mountain majesties to alabaster cities, America has some of the best landscapes and roadways in the world. The vast, sprawling scenery has inspired many great works of art, philosophy, science, and of course, epic road trips.

If you’re yearning for a new, beautiful, and intrinsically patriotic experience, channel your inner Jack London/Kerouac and start planning your next great American Road Trip. To help, here’s our list of the best road trips and destinations in America. Get lost!

A couple tips before we begin:

  • Leave yourself plenty of time for spontaneous trips and longer-than-expected stays
  • Stock your vehicle with the essentials (and non-essentials)
  • Check/change your fluids and tires, and get your vehicle ready for the trip.
  • Obtain paper maps (maps and guides can be found at your local AAA)
  • Speaking of AAA, consider purchasing roadside assistance
  • Play fun car games
  • Make sure you have a suitable vehicle
  • Drive on America’s National Scenic Byways if you can
  • Plan your route (log in to Google and click “Create Map” in “Maps”)
  • Bring binoculars

The best time for a road trip is between spring and fall. You may want to wait until October for annual fall foliage displays. Double check peak fall color times to make sure. And always check road and weather conditions.

  1. Great Smoky Mountain Road Trip

  • Start: Chattanooga, TN
  • Visit:
    • Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, TN
    • Raccoon Mountain Caverns in Chattanooga, TN
    • Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN
    • Chattahoocee National Forest
    • Nantahala National Forest
    • Mountain Farm Museum and Qualla Arts and Crafts in Cherokee, NC
    • Cataloochee Valley (Hannah Cabin) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    • Boogerman Trail loop
    • Big Witch Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway
    • Devil’s Courthouse overlook trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway
    • North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC
    • Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC
    • Jack of the Wood, a Celtic-style bar in Asheville, NC

End: Asheville, NC

As Tennessee natives ourselves, it’s hard not to be inspired by the wild beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. One of the most popular national parks in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains attracts millions of visitors every year. And rightly so. Don’t be afraid to wander.

If you live near Chattanooga, Cleveland, or Dayton, as we do, you’ll want to pass through the Chattahoochee and Nantahala National Forests and enter the Great Smoky Mountains from the Cherokee, NC entrance. If you’re on the eastern side of the park, start in Asheville, NC.

It’s not a very long road trip, more of a weekend trip, but if you are taking a road trip anywhere in Tennessee, be sure to include the Smokies on your list. Most visitors enter through the Gatlinburg–Pigeon Forge into the park, but a better entrance might be the quieter North Carolina entrance through Maggie Valley and into Cherokee.

The views and wildlife are stunning. You may even be lucky enough to witness the famous blue haze associated with the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Make the trip in May or June and the skyline often has a deep pink and/or red glow.

As you wind your way through the scenery, it will seem to change by the minute—rolling valleys, spring wildflowers, soft fog, dense forests, steep mountains, and occasional log cabins and grist mills. Don’t be afraid to pull over along lookout points, such as Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, and the popular Chimney Tops picnic area. Just watch out for the black bears!

After a few days in nature, we recommend taking the gorgeous Blue Ride Parkway (an amazing road trip on its own) from Cherokee to Asheville (or vice versa if you are entering from that side).

Watch this video to learn more about Clingmans Dome and the Great Smoky Mountains:

  1. The Blues Highway Road Trip 

  • Start: Memphis, TN
  • Visit:
    • Graceland and B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis, TN
    • Blues and Legends Hall of Fame in Tunica, MS
    • The Hollywood Café and/or Blue & White Restaurant in Tunica, MS
    • Devil’s Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS
    • Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, MS
    • Hopson Plantation, Cat Head, and Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS
    • White Front Café in Rosedale, MS
  • End: New Orleans, LA

Take a ride on the Blues Highway (US 61), Bob Dylan’s famous Highway 61 that runs from Wyoming, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana, to experience a unique musical journey. We begin our trip in Memphis. From there, you’ll travel to the same towns and juke joints as Bessie Smith, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Elvis, and other legends once did.

Following the course of the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, there’s plenty to hear, see, and taste on this road trip. Start in Memphis and hit up one of the hundreds of amazing Memphis-style barbecue joints. Some local favorites are Tops Bar-B-Q, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, and Leonard’s Pit Barbecue. Stay the night at the historic Peabody Hotel (or just visit for a drink). And don’t forget about Graceland!

After a day or two in Memphis, head to the Blues and Legends Hall of Fame in Tunica, Just 40 minutes away, our next stop is Clarksdale, the birthplace of Muddy Waters and deathplace of Bessie Smith. Visit the intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 49, which is said the be “The Crossroads” where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his musical talent. For a great live music experience, make sure to check out who’s playing at Cat Head and Ground Zero Blues Club. Nearby is the Delta Blues Museum.

After Clarksdale, you can choose a variety of different options. We recommend getting on the quieter Highway 1 (part of The Great River Road National Scenic Byway—a great road trip by itself), which runs along the Mississippi River’s “Great Wall.” There are lots of beautiful stops along the way, including the Trotter Landing ghost town. Stop for hot tamales at White Front Café in Rosedale.

As your trip approaches the end, don’t miss all the sites and entertainment in Vicksburg. The Vicksburg National Military Park and the Old Courthouse Museum are top attractions, but you’ll definitely want to stop to visit Margaret’s Grocery. It’s no longer a country market, but rather a sort of “voodoo” Christian cathedral, one of the most unique places of worship in the country.

End the trip in New Orleans and enjoy great live blues and everything the city has to offer. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

  1. The Ozarks Road Trip

  • Start: Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • Visit:
    • Devil’s Den State Park in West Fork, AR
    • Roaring River State Park in Cassville, MO
    • Mark Twain National Forest in Rolla, MO
    • Silver Dollar City in Branson, AR
    • Mystic Caverns in Harrison, AR
    • Buffalo National River near Harrison, AR
    • Cosmic Cavern in Barryville, AR
    • Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Onyx Cave Park in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Great Passion Play (May through October) in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Ozark Cafe in Jaspers, AR
    • The Inn at Mountain View Bed and Breakfast
  • End: Rogers, AR

Start your trip in northwest Arkansas at the Fort Smith National Historic Site and visit the museum. Then follow a loop, up toward Eureka Springs, into Missouri, and then back down into Arkansas to Mountain View, Jasper, and on to Rogers, AR.

Take the Scenic Byway 7, a 300-mile-long north/south state highway for beautiful views of lakes, rivers, and mountains. Check out the other National Scenic Byways in Arkansas.

Whatever you’re looking for in a road trip—roadside attractions, outdoor adventure, a happy family—you’ll find in the Ozarks, which means “toward Arkansas.” The most mountainous region between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, it’s known for scenic drives bathed in moonlight and is surrounded by deciduous trees and some of the nation’s most beautiful waterways.

Sometimes referred to as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Mountain Country, it basically covers the entire northwestern and north central region of Arkansas and much of the southern half of Missouri.

Wind down the roadway during the fall foliage season and you’ll be witness to the spectacular display of shifting saffron and various shades of red, purple, black, pink, magenta, yellow, orange, and brown. Driving through the beauty of the Ozarks, replete with songbirds and deer, is a distinctly American experience not to be missed.

  1. The Borderlands, TX

  • Start: Fort Stockton
  • Visit:
    • Carlsbad Caverns
    • Davis Mountain
    • Museum of Big Bend in Alpine
    • Hotel Paisano in Marfa
    • Chinati Foundation in Marfa
    • The Food Shark in Marfa
    • Ghost town of Shafter
    • River Road
  • End: Big Bend National Park

You may recognize this area when you come to it. The landscape has been used as the backdrop for some big Hollywood movies like No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

With spectacular canyons, mountain, and rivers, the Big Bend region seems to come from a different planet. The borderland is characterized by huge space-bending skies, rugged mountains, grassland, and large swaths of desert. It is often compared to African landscapes due to its terrain and wildlife.

The borderland trip starts in Fort Stockton, an old oil town, and progresses to Alpine, a gateway to Big Bend National Park, and through to the artsy and spiritual town of Marfa. From there ride through Paisano Pass and to the ghost town of Shafter. After that, cruise down the beautiful River Road (FM-170) to Study Butte. The overlooking views are some of the best this country has to offer.

The Big Bend region contains over one million acres of public land, including Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. End the trip in Big Bend National Park. If you are just driving through, be sure to take Basin Road into the Chisos mountain range. Replenish yourself at Gage Hotel in the tiny town of Marathon, one of the filming locations for Wim Wenders’ movie Paris, Texas.

  1. Highway 89 National Park Road Trip

  • Start: Tumacacori National Historical Park, AZ
  • Visit:
    • Saguaro National Park, AZ
    • Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
    • Zion National Park, UT
    • Kolob Canyon Road, UT
    • Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
    • Capital Reef National Park, UT
    • Arches National Park, UT
    • Canyonlands National Park, UT
    • Yellowstone National Park, WY, MO, ID
  • End: Yellowstone National Park, MO

U.S. Highway 89 passes through 5 states and 7 national parks, clearly making it the longest of all the road trips on the list. If you’re not in a rush, the entire trip is definitely worth. Don’t worry though, you can choose to do one state or a small portion.

If you do choose one state, however, make it Utah. The surreal, Martian landscape of canyons, hoodoos, alcoves, and arches make it unlike anywhere else on Earth. If you make it one park, go with Yellowstone National Park.

U.S. 89 starts in Flagstaff, Arizona and proceeds north, passing near the Grand Canyon National Park, the second of the seven national parks along the way. Once you hit Utah, be sure to spend some time in the Zion National Park and the Bryce Canyon National Park.

The highway proceeds into Idaho around Bear Lake. In Wyoming and Montana, you have Yellowstone National Park, which should be on everybody’s bucket list.

Click here for a collection of posts to help you plan your Highway 89 road trip.

The Best Road Trip (According to Science)

If you are looking for the most efficient route for visiting all of the nation’s best landmarks, some scientists (Randy Olson and Tracy Staedter) have generated the “perfect” map that does just that. It hits all 48 states in the contiguous U.S. and all the major U.S. landmarks, ideal for traveling by car.

How to Survive a Road Trip

America is a force of nature. You have to be prepared for nearly anything when you go on any of these road trips, especially if you have children. Precipitation, cold temperatures, and thick clouds are common at the top of mountains while dry weather and hot temperatures will meet you at some of the country’s lowest points. Dress in layers and make sure you have plenty of water and essential safety items in your car.

Most of all, have fun!

Don’t hesitate to ask our team members for their road trip tips! We love driving our cars as much as we do selling them.

If you want the perfect road trip vehicle, stop by one of our locations for a reliable Certified Pre-Owned car, truck, or SUV. We’ll set you up with the car of your dreams at a price you can afford.

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

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a hand cleaning a car

How to Remove Minor Car Scratches | DIY Scratch Repair

Nobody likes finding a scratch on their automobile. Whether caused by a tree branch, bicycle handle, or shopping cart, scratches in the paint are ugly, potentially expensive to repair, and can cause rust problems if left untreated.

Learn step-by-step instructions for fixing minor paint scratches on your automobile with the Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit.

Car Scratch Anatomy and Scratch Repair Warnings

WARNING: A successful auto scratch repair takes very careful attention to detail and some education. Read this guide and follow any commercial products’ instructions very carefully.

If you can run your fingernail over the scratch without it catching, then it’s probably only a clear coat scratch. For minor blemishes such as these, we would recommend using a product that is more limited in scope, such as Meguair’s G17216 Ultimate Compound, Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover, or Barrett-Jackson Car Scratch Remover. These top-level blemish products can also be used to restore swirl marks, water spots, and faded head lights and tail lights.

If, however, your fingernail does catch, you have a deeper scratch and will want to decide whether to do the repair yourself or take it into a professional. If you can see metal, that is a very serious scratch. No scratch repair kit will be able to restore a deep scratch completely. We suggest seeing a professional as soon as possible if you see metal. Exposed metal will rust. Wide and deep scratches are not covered in this guide.

We’ve seen a lot of success with the Turtle Wax T-234KT Premium Grade Scratch Repair Kit, so we will be referring to this product in the guide below. If you your fingernail catches on the scratch, but you don’t see any metal, this is a good kit to use. Be careful as the kit includes abrasive sand pads that require delicacy, precision, and attention to detail. Follow manufacturer instructions exactly.

How to Remove Minor Automobile Scratches

You’ll need two main things when fixing most paint scratches, the exact paint match and the clear coat layer that goes on top. If the scratch hasn’t gone through the primer, you can skip the touch-up paint step. 

  1. Look for Your Factory Paint Code

If your scratch is only a clear coat scratch, then you don’t have to worry about finding any paint. Deeper scratches, however, require the additional application of new primer and paint.

To help you find the right paint touch-up product, look for the factory-paint code on the sticker in the driver side doorsill or on a plaque under the hood. If you are unable to find the exact color match at the auto parts store or online, take the car to your auto dealer.

Remember, this guide is for minor scratches only so if you need to cover a large area, go with a professional. Touching up large areas by hand will always have imperfections. A professional will spray it and restore it to like-new conditions. If you can get your insurance to pay for it, do that instead.

  1. Wash and Dry the Car

First, make sure the surface is cleaned with soap and water. Once you’ve dried the area completely with a clean cloth, finish cleaning with a few gentle wipes of a rag and denatured alcohol. Allow the area to dry completely.

  1. Mark Off Area with Blue Painter’s Tape

It’s a good idea to mark the scratch off with some blue painter’s tape, especially if it’s close to any trim or plastic.

If you are applying touch-up paint, mark off the area as close as you can. This will help keep the primer and paint from spreading.

If you only need to add a small amount of paint and you have some experience in car care, you may be able to repair it yourself. If you have any doubts, bring it into a professional detailer.

Steps for touching up paint:

  • Mark the area off as close as you can with blue painter’s tape. This will prevent the primer or paint from covering too large of an area.
  • After the area is clean and dry, apply a very small amount of primer into the scratch or chip with a very fine brush. Allow the primer to dry. Wait a day to be sure.
  • Next, put a small amount of paint over the primed area (make sure the auto paint color is an exact match!). Practice on some paper or metal before applying to your car. You want to get the technique down first. If you are using a paint pen, depress the nib to release the paint onto a paper or metal surface, not the car. Dab the tip into the paint and gently fill in the affected area. If you only have spray paint, spray into a cap or container and use a fine artist’s brush to apply the basecoat. Depending on the touch-up paint you buy, you’ll want to use different strategies. Still, the same principles apply. For best results, it’s a good idea to use a fine artist’s brush and dab very lightly.
  • Wait at least one hour to apply a second coat of paint, if necessary. After adding the paint, remove the blue painter’s tape and allow the paint to dry. We recommend letting it dry and cure for a day or two before moving on to the next steps.

Touching up minor scratches and other blemishes with paint requires practice. Make sure you feel comfortable applying very small amounts of paint onto paper or metal first.


  • Don’t apply any touch-up paint in direct sun or if temperatures are below 50°F.
  • Just in case you do apply too much paint to the area, make sure you have paint/lacquer thinner to quickly clean it up.
  1. Prime the Clear Coat Pen (from Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit)

If you don’t need to add any primer or paint, you’ll want to skip those steps and jump to this one. First, prime the clear coat pen by pressing it against a piece of paper or metal to get it flowing. Then, fill the scratch in completely with the clear coat pen using gentle dabs and wipes. Wait for it to dry. You may want to wait overnight, especially if it is a wider or deeper scratch.

  1. Sand the Surface with Proper Pad

This is the step to watch out for. The Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit comes with 4 different abrasive pads, #1 being the most abrasive and #4 the least abrasive.

The problem for most users is that they use too much pressure, fail to lubricate the area first, or use the wrong sanding pad. Ensure the pads and the surface are lubricated with the Spray Lubricator. Otherwise, you can cause even more scratches. You should never dry sand the affected area, only wet sand with the Spray Lubricant that’s included in the kit.

Usually the #1 sanding pad is not needed. The abrasive #1 pad if for deeper scratches when you are using touch-up paint, but usually you can start with #2 if you used touch-up paint. Take your time, follow instructions exactly, and use the proper level grit pad. Be very careful with the amount of pressure you use.

  1. Mark off the scratch, one inch above and one inch below, with blue painter’s tape.
  2. Lubricate the surface with the Spray Lubricator. Spray directly on the area.
  3. Lubricate the #2 pad (if you used touch-up paint) or #3 pad (if no touch-up paint was needed) by spraying the lubricator directly on the pad.
  4. Gently wet wipe the #2 or #3 pad in the direction of the scratch.
  5. Next, lubricate the surface and the next pad that’s less abrasive. If you started with the #3 pad, move on to the very fine #4 pad. If you started with #2, use #3 next, and finish up with #4. Make sure they are all fully lubricated and use very gentle wipes in the direction of the scratch.

We cannot stress this enough—be extremely careful with the pressure you use when using the sanding pads. Very light rubbing is all that is necessary.

To remove the hazy area created when blending in the touch-up paint with the pads, move on to the next step.

  1. Use Polishing Compound/Paint Finish Restorer

Before you move on the Polishing Compound step, remove the blue painter’s tape. To restore the gloss to the affected area, apply the Polishing Compound (from the Turtle Wax Kit) to a corner of your microfiber cloth and buff the scratch in the opposite direction of the scratch/sanding wipes.

For this step, you can use pressure. Use two or three fingers behind your microfiber cloth and firmly wipe the area in perpendicular strokes to the scratch/sand marks. You may have to wipe for over a minute or two.

After around 40 strokes, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth. Inspect your work and repeat the process if you still see sand marks. On the reapplication of the polishing compound, you can use circular motions to help blend everything in.

  1. Apply a Coat of Wax

If you had any wax on the car, this process will have removed it. Apply a coat of wax to the area you worked on so it shines like the rest of the car.

And you’re done!

Fixing auto scratches yourself all depends on the length and depth of the scratch. If you have any major scratches, take your vehicle into a professional.

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 man and a technician talking a service center

11 Amazing WD-40 Uses for Your Car, Truck, and Automobile

Normal, everyday items can sometimes be put to extraordinary use. And perhaps the most amazing and versatile product you have at home is WD-40. If you think this degreasing agent is only useful for squeaky door hinges, allow us to enlighten you with these 11 automotive MacGyver tips.

All you’ll need is some WD-40 and something to wipe it off with, although if a product from the WD-40 Specialist Line would work better, we’ll make note of it.

11 Automotive WD-40 Uses

  1. Keep Dead Bugs Off

Remember the opening dragonfly scene in Men in Black? Well, if the truck had some WD-40 sprayed on the windshield and grill, that dragonfly would have slid right off rather than creating a big, ugly smear.

In addition to preventing bugs from hitting your vehicle, WD-40 is also a great option for removing already stuck-on bugs, bird droppings, tree sap, and grime. It won’t damage your paint; just remember to rinse it off with soap and water afterwards.

  1. Clean and Restore License Plate

If you have a rusty, old license plate, WD-40 will clean it easily. Just spray it on, wait 30 seconds, and wipe it off with a rag. Rinse with soap, and viola, a restored license plate!

  1. Clean Off Small Paint Rub

If another car got a bit too close and left a small paint scuff on your car, a little WD-40 may do the trick. While not recommended for large areas, small amounts of paint transfer can be effectively removed with WD-40. Wash off the area with soap and water back to its original finish.

  1. Spark Plug Lubrication and Maintenance

If your car won’t start in wet or humid weather, try WD-40. WD-40 removes carbon residue and keeps moisture away from spark plugs and spark plug wires. WD stands for Water Displacement, so if your spark plugs are wet or you need to drive moisture away from ignition distributors, WD-40 will do the trick.

Turn off the vehicle and spray the spark plug wires and the inside and outside of your distributor cap with WD-40. Start the car back up to see if that did the trick.

If you keep having difficulties starting the car in wet or humid weather, you probably have a more serious problem, such as wires that need replacing. Using WD-40 to repel water from spark plugs, distributors, alternators, and batteries is a good way to prevent corrosion and keep moisture away. You can also use it to ease the removal of spark plugs, especially if there is any rust or corrosion.

  1. Clean Oil

If you need to clean oil from your hands, old oil cans, exhaust pipes, or even large oil spots on your driveway, WD-40 will wash it right off. When you are done removing the oil with WD-40, rinse off the area with soap and water.

  1. Remove Dirt, Grease, and Grime

Use the WD-40 Specialist Industrial-Strength Degreaser to clean off even the most stubborn dirt, grease, and grime from your car parts.

  1. Remove Stickers, Decals, Bugs, and Bird Dropping

Instead of using a knife or razor blade to remove stickers, decals, or any other material stuck to your car, use WD-40 first. Spray it on the surface, wait 30 seconds to a minute, and then use a no-scratch scouring pad to wipe it clean. Don’t forget to rinse with soap and water when you are finished.

  1. Prevent Mud from Sticking

If you’re an off-roader, you’ll know how difficult it is to get all of that mud and dirt off your vehicle after it dries. Prevent the mud from sticking in the first place by using WD-40 on your ATV, dirt bike, Jeep, or any other automotive vehicle.

  1. Prevent Breaking or Rounding Off Stuck Nuts and Bolts

If you have any rusty or stuck nuts and bolts, spray WD-40 Rust Release Penetrant to penetrate the threads. Wait a couple minutes and spray a second shot for good measure. Any fastener will be able to come off without damaging the threads or stripping the bolt.

  1. Protect Weatherstripping

 Spray some WD-40 on your door gaskets/weatherstripping and windshield wipers to keep them pliant and extend their lifespans. You can also use WD-40 to unstick car doors and windows during cold weather.

  1. Clean and Shine Tire Sidewalls

Use WD-40 to help clean the sidewalls on your tires.

WD-40 Products

The new “Specialist” product line from WD-40 helps tackle the hard jobs.

WD-40 Specialist Spray & Stay Gel Lubricant 

This type of WD-40 allows you to work underneath your car without having your degreaser drip all over the place. Water and rust-resistant, it’s the perfect WD-40 if you don’t want any excess dripping on vertical or upside-down surfaces.

WD-40 Specialist Machine & Engine Degreaser Foaming Spray

This degreaser is great for heavy duty machinery and cleaning and degreasing all kinds of greasy engines and equipment. The foaming action sticks to the surface, quickly cutting through the grease. All you have to do is wipe it up.

Additional Resources:

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+.