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Winter Is Coming…Is Your Car Ready

When winter hits in Atlantic Canada, it hits hard. It’s not uncommon for highways to be impassable and snowdrifts several feet high. The chilly grip of Old Man Winter takes hold and doesn’t let go for months. That’s what the maritimes have to look forward to every year. And we know, winter is coming. Is your car ready?

The winter feels never-ending when you’re not prepared, and it’s compounded when you’re having car trouble. It’s so inconvenient to put your routine on hold to bring your vehicle into the shop for repairs. It might be an antifreeze leak, your car won’t start, or your battery has frozen. Your fuel line might be iced up or your transmission won’t engage into gear.

These, and other issues, are avoidable with a pre-winter check-up. Here are a few things to check so your vehicle is prepared for the coming cold.

  1. Have your battery tested. A weak battery can leave you stranded in the worst weather, unable to turn your engine over. To make things worse, a fully discharged battery can freeze. Once it has frozen, your battery’s life can be considered finished. Keep your battery fully charged, and replace it if it fails its test.
  2. Change your engine oil. Clean, new engine oil provides less friction inside your engine so it starts easier. Synthetic oil is even better as it still flows nicely in subzero temperatures. Have your engine oil and filter replaced before winter starts for the best starts in the coldest of weather.
  3. Inspect your tires. If your engine runs but you don’t have traction, your car is useless to you. Ensure your tires have enough tread to drive safely in the snow and ice. If you have, install your winter tires when the temperature is sustained under 7 degrees celsius. And if you don’t have winter tires, you might want to check into a set for your car.
  4. Check your fluids. Have your transmission fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid checked and topped up. If the fluids are dark or gritty, have them flushed with clean fluid to prevent winter problems. Don’t forget to check your engine coolant strength, and make sure you use winter washer fluid!
  5. Look for a new vehicle. If your car is on its last legs, it may be best to ditch it for new one. Look for a vehicle that is capable of handling the nastiest weather Dartmouth might get. That probably means looking for a four-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive car, truck, or SUV so you have the tops in traction.

If you need your car inspected before winter hits, trust it to the professionals at Riley Motor Company. Our certified technicians will perform a comprehensive inspection to ensure your vehicle is winter ready. New or old, we work on them all.

If you decide you’d rather find something new to drive, we can help there too! Check out our vast selection of used cars, trucks, SUVs and vans. Each one is detailed and inspected, ready for your garage.

Poor Fuel Mileage It May Not Be Your Car’s Fault…

Doesn’t it always feel like you just came from the gas station, and your fuel gauge is already low? It doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive — a subcompact Asian make like Honda or Toyota, or a full-size Chevy or Ford — it’s never as efficient as you feel it should be. On an older vehicle, you might need a tune-up. But on a newer car, your Check Engine light should come on when there’s a problem with poor fuel mileage.

So what do you do? If there’s nothing wrong with your car, could it be that YOU’RE doing something wrong?

Here are a few tips to get the best fuel mileage from your car, no matter what make you drive.

  • Check your tire pressures. Low tire pressures increase your vehicle’s rolling resistance. That means your engine needs to burn more fuel so it can compensate for the extra resistance. Operating your car with tires just 5 PSI low can increase your fuel mileage by two percent. If your tires are even lower, the percentage increases dramatically, not to mention your tires will wear quicker.
  • Check your air filter. Your engine needs to breathe freely. All the air it consumes passes through your air filter. When the air filter is dirty, it’s like a chokehold on your engine. To keep up the same rate of power, more fuel is burned. Replace your engine air filter once a year or more to keep your engine running strong and efficiently.
  • Have a wheel alignment performed. Much like low tire pressure, misaligned wheels “scrub” on the road, increasing the drag on your vehicle. The worse your alignment is, the more fuel your engine burns through to achieve the same performance you demand from it. Proper wheel alignment decreases stress on your steering, suspension and tires, so you’ll save money in repairs as well as fuel.
  • Take it easy on the throttle. We all like to have a little fun behind the wheel at times. Every hard acceleration from a stop light, or passing someone on the highway can really affect your fuel efficiency. Whenever you can, be mindful of your driving habits to minimize fuel consumption.
  • Don’t idle. If you’re waiting in your car for more than two minutes, you’re better off shutting the engine off. Not only do you avoid burning excess fuel but you save the environment from high amounts of tailpipe emissions.

If you’re Check Engine light is on, you could be burning up to 40 percent more fuel than you should be. That’s when it’s important to get your vehicle into the shop for diagnosis and repair. For that, trust your vehicle to the experts at Riley Motor Company. Our well-trained technicians will determine what’s wrong with your vehicle and advise you the best and most cost-effective way to take care of it.

Bad Credit Start Rebuilding Quickly With These Tips

If you asked ten people with bad credit how they ended up in their situation, you’d likely get ten different responses. You’d hear about how an ex took everything in a divorce and left them struggling to make ends meet. You would hear about unexpected layoffs that meant payments took a backseat to buying groceries. And someone would tell you how their lack of financial responsibility got them in over their head.

One thing all ten people will tell you is this: they never WANTED to have bad credit.

It’s a situation that no one desires. It feels like a burden; a heavy weight hanging around your neck. And I should know. I’ve been there.

Fresh out of high school, I get a cell phone contract and a credit card. Those are the easiest ways to begin building your credit rating…if handled responsibly. I’d make the minimum payments at first. Late payments, then missed payments became the norm as I was lackadaisical with bills.

I was in arrears with both, and in debt beyond my means. I drove a clunker of a car, and I couldn’t see the way out of my predicament. Finally, I cancelled my credit card and reduced my cell phone contract to its minimum, and started paying down my debt. It was months of ramen noodles and hotdogs while paying meager rent to a friend. But I paid it off.

Debt-free, I still had a credit problem. Namely, no one would give me any. I had damaged my rating and needed to rebuild so I could gain some financial security once again. And in my tough spot, here are some tips I discovered to begin rebuilding credit quickly.

  1. Get a secured credit card. Visa and Mastercard both have plans that require a prepayment. It’s not convenient, but it looks good to have a credit card on your credit bureau. Most importantly, make your payments on time, every time.
  2. Get a small loan, and pay it off. Obtain a loan from your bank for a relatively small amount. It will probably be at a high interest rate, and you’ll likely need to provide collateral to get it. A loans officer can help you here — tell them your purpose. You might even want to give a cash collateral as security for the whole loan amount. Again, pay it off on time, and avoid high interest charges by paying it off fast!
  3. Don’t carry balances on your cards. Pay off your credit cards monthly. Once you begin to pay the high interest amounts on your credit card, it can begin a cycle that gets you in the same hot water.
  4. Create a budget and stick to it. Know exactly how much your expenses are per month, precisely what your income is, and how much money is left over. Set some aside in a savings account every month for the unexpected bills life sends your way.
  5. Rely on your friends and family. Bad credit can happen to anybody. While you might be embarrassed, your close friends and family will understand. They can help you make good financial decisions, and knowing your situation can mean they won’t put you in a position where you’ll be wasteful with your money.

Like me, you can successfully rebuild your credit. After just a couple years of diligence, my bad credit rating was a memory, and an explainable mark on my credit report.

My Credit Score is Okay, But Could It Be Better

Sometimes, you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for something out of pocket. Whether you’re buying furniture, a seaside cottage, a ski boat, or a car, you may need to borrow some money. That’s what the banks are for, right?

So you go down to your bank and apply for a loan, perhaps to finance your Build-a-Bear franchise or an ice cream machine. You’re approved, but those competitive interest rates the bank advertises on their billboard aren’t what you’re offered on paper. The rate is double, triple, or even more. It puts your payments out of reach. Apparently, the loans officer tells you, your credit score isn’t all it can be.

Table your dream for a moment. With a bit of work, you could improve your credit score to make your dreams a reality.

  1. Save more than you spend. Lenders want to see someone that isn’t overextended. While you may be borrowing money, it’s always good to have a slush fund in an untouchable account. It looks favourable on your credit score.
  2. Pay your bills regularly. Late or missed payments show up on your credit report. When that happens, your credit score drops. Showing a good history of regular payments makes lenders much more comfortable to give you credit.
  3. Don’t max out your credit cards. When your credit cards are maxed out, it looks like you can’t afford what you’ve already bought. That doesn’t look good on your credit report, and it can hurt your credit score.
  4. Never let bills go to collections. It’s true that your utility bills aren’t reported to the credit bureau in most cases. However, if you don’t pay your bills and it goes to a collections agency, that gets reported. That hurts you more than a late payment on your credit card.
  5. It’s never too late to improve your credit score. If you’ve had credit problems in the past, whether a bankruptcy, late payments, a repossession, or anything else, you can rebuild by using good financial practices starting now. Follow these tips to improve your credit score.

If you need a car now, let Riley Motor Company help get you the best rate for your purchase. We work with lenders who know that your car loan can improve your credit score and will work to help you succeed.

Dodge Charger, F-250 popular with car theives

The most theft-prone vehicle in America might be the Dodge Charger. Or it might be the Ford F-250 pickup truck.

Those are the contradictory conclusions of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the insurance industry-funded Highway Loss Data Institute.

Still, the government agency and private group agree that the theft of late-model vehicles is on a rapid decline in the United States. One reason: automakers’ increasing use of ignition immobilizers, which stop thieves from hot-wiring cars. Nearly 90 percent of 2012 models are equipped with them.

In a report released on Monday, NHTSA said the car stolen most often during the 2011 calendar year was the Charger, with 4.8 thefts for every 1,000 cars produced in 2011. It was followed by the Mitsubishi Galant, Hyundai Accent, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet HHR among vehicles with more than 5,000 units produced that year.

Pickup trucks took the top five places in dueling rankings released today by HLDI, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In first place was the Ford F-250 crew-cab with four-wheel drive, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Avalanche 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 crew, and Ford F-350 crew with four-wheel drive. The rankings cover model years 2010 to 2012.

The Cadillac Escalade, long the most theft-prone vehicle according to HLDI, dropped to sixth place after GM reworked the SUV to thwart thieves.

“General Motors has put a lot of effort into new antitheft technology, so that may help explain the decline,” Matt Moore, vice president of the group, said in a statement.

Different methodology

The two reports produced separate results because of differences in methodology, Moore said during an interview. His group bases its rankings on a database of insurance claims, while NHTSA counts thefts reported to police.

Moore said large pickup trucks are also particularly prone to theft claims because owners can recoup the cost of equipment stolen from the flatbed.

Still, the two groups can agree on some of their findings — including that the Charger is stolen more frequently than most vehicles. While the muscle car did not make the top 10 most stolen models according to HLDI, the group found that it had 3.5 theft claims per 1,000 years of insurance coverage, or triple the average model.

Experts are not exactly sure what makes the Charger so popular with thieves, although the car’s ample horsepower might be part of the equation.

“If I were a thief I might be able to answer that better,” Moore said during a phone interview. “They’re powerful vehicles,” he added.

NHTSA says its preliminary data show that model-year 2011 vehicles were stolen that calendar year at rates 91 percent lower than the year before.

Steep decline?

In 2011, there were only 0.1 thefts for every thousand vehicles produced, down from 1.17 thefts per thousand cars in 2010. To compile the report, which contains statistics from 226 vehicle lines, NHTSA compared vehicle theft data from the FBI’s National Crime Information Center with production data reported to the EPA.

NHTSA says its latest findings mark a record decline in the theft rate. NHTSA data show that the nation’s vehicle theft rate has declined by an average of 13 percent each year since 2006, which was the last time the rate increased.

Terri Miller, executive director of Help Eliminate Auto Thefts, or H.E.A.T., a public-private partnership dedicated to the prevention of vehicle theft, was skeptical of NHTSA’s conclusion.

She said auto theft is dropping, but she would be surprised if it is happening as quickly as the report indicates.

“It seems like a very dramatic decrease,” Miller said.

BMW extends global sales lead over Audi, Mercedes in June

Global sales of BMW Group’s core brand rose faster in June than at Audi and Mercedes-Benz as demand from China and the United States helped the premium carmaker to extend a lead over the two rivals in the first six months of the year.

Sales at the brand were up 9 percent last month to 153,075, the group said today, compared with growth of 5 percent to 140,300 and 8 percent to 131,609 at Audi and Mercedes respectively.

Six-month sales at BMW brand rose 8 percent to 804,000 cars, expanding the lead over runner-up Audi to 24,000 from 11,000 after five months. Half-year sales at Audi and Mercedes rose 6 percent each to 780,500 and 694,000 respectively.

“BMW has stronger momentum than Audi and Mercedes, that won’t change in the second half,” said Hanover-based NordLB analyst Frank Schwope. “Design of their cars has improved and they’re ahead on fuel-saving technologies.”

Tesla to join Nasdaq 100 as Oracle defects to NYSE

Tesla Motors Inc., the world’s best-performing automotive stock this year, will join the Nasdaq-100 Index next week, filling the spot vacated by Oracle Corp., which is moving to the New York Stock Exchange.

The electric-car maker will be added to the gauge, which tracks the biggest companies on the Nasdaq, before the start of trading on July 15, Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. said in a statement Monday. Oracle, which last month said it will join the NYSE, is the biggest company to jump between the competing exchanges.

Shares of Tesla, the carmaker headed by billionaire Elon Musk, have more than tripled this year as the popularity of its new Model S sedan helped the company turn its first quarterly profit. Gaining entry to benchmarks tracked by investors is attractive to public companies because it provides a guaranteed shareholder base.

“It’s a coming of age, recognition that a company has market

Toyota Camry, Honda Civic inventories rise, report says

The Toyota Camry and the Honda Civic, the top-selling mid-size and compact cars in the U.S., face risks of reduced production as inventories of the models rise, an RBC Capital Markets report said.

Toyota’s Camry exceeded its seasonal historical average inventory by more than 15 days supply in June and Honda carried about 25 days more Civics than usual, Joseph Spak, a New York-based analyst for RBC, said in today’s report. Camry and Civic were the only models identified as at risk for reduced output among 16 of the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. market. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC all added U.S. market share in the first six months of 2013, the first time that all three gained first-half share in 20 years. Models such as GM’s Chevrolet Cruze compact and Ford’s Fusion mid-size sedan, leading Detroit’s most competitive set of passenger cars in

Fiat exercises option to buy additional 3.3% of Chrysler shares

Fiat today exercised an option to raise its stake in Chrysler by 3.3 percent.

The move is part of CEO Sergio Marchionne’s step-by-step purchases intended to lead to full control of Chrysler and the creation of a merged company that would be able to compete better with industry leaders Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen.

Fiat has been exercising options since mid-2012 to buy holdings of about 3.3 percent from the VEBA, a medical-benefits trust for the U.S. carmaker’s retirees.

Including today’s purchase, Fiat has exercised three of its six-monthly options, increasing its stake to 68.49 percent.

Fiat has said it wants full control of Chrysler, which would give it access to some of Chrysler’s cash flow for investments in new models.

Chrysler has become Fiat’s most reliable profit generator as the Italian company struggles to end losses in Europe that totaled 704 million euros ($903 million) in 2012 amid a