All posts by moran

Following the Father

Over the last year, Chandler Goodman has given serious consideration to pursuing a career working side-by-side with his father at his Alta Mere Automotive Outfitters store and possibly taking over the family business at some point in the future.  He can only hope his career with Alta Mere goes much smoother than his first day on the job, when he was fired by his father.

Greg Goodman has owned his Alta Mere store in Oklahoma City since 1994.  When Chandler was 12 years old, Greg took him to work and offered to pay him $4 and hour to sweep and clean the shop.  Although the pre-teen was more than happy to be able to earn some spending money, a few staff members informed Chandler he was making less than minimum wage and convinced him to ask the boss for a raise.

“Me being the prideful person I am, I thought ‘I’m at least as good as minimum wage, he has to pay me that much,’” said Chandler.  “I marched my little 12-year old self into his office and said I would need more money to keep working there.”

Sensing an opportunity to show his son what the real world is like, Greg fired Chandler on the spot and told him he could find someone to work cheaper.  After Chandler waited in stunned silence for his mother to pick him up and take him home, the family discussed the lesson learned over dinner later that night.  He returned to the store the following weekend, albeit to the good-natured laughter of some of the staff members who encouraged the discussion of a raise.

Years later, Greg Goodman reflected on the story with a laugh, along with the many things he has enjoyed about working with both Chandler and Jillian in their part-time roles in the store over the years.  While many parents lament the decreased amount of time they get to spend with their children as they get older, Greg appreciates the interaction he has with his son and daughter in the workplace.

“It has been just wonderful working with my children,” said Greg.  “What else could a parent want?  Both of my children are very outgoing and are very trainable.  They have been around the business from an early age and they know how I do things and how I expect it to be done.  With both children it has been a wonderful transition putting them into these positions because they are a chip off the old block.”

Jillian started working at the Alta Mere store while in high school, handling tasks such as answering the phone and logging work orders.  After several months, Greg let her start working in sales on the showroom floor selling Alta Mere’s products and services.  She continued to work at the store on a part-time basis throughout college and law school.  For the past eight years, she has worked in a seasonal role as an outside sales representative with SmartView Window Solutions, a division of the Alta Mere store.

In her time working at the store, Jillian has enjoyed witnessing Greg’s love for his job and the generosity he shows his customers, which are the same characteristics he has exhibited at home as a father.  She also appreciates the passion for cars that Greg has passed down to her, as the family will often sit around the dinner table and discuss the latest vehicle makes and models.  Jillian said between being a female and an attorney, she will often get shocked looks from her friends and colleagues regarding her knowledge of cars.

After 12 years of working part-time with Alta Mere/SmartView, Jillian believes her time there is nearing the end.  Due to her burgeoning career as a family law attorney, this summer will likely be the last year she will have the availability to contribute in an outside sales role with the store.

While Jillian’s tenure with Alta Mere is coming to a close, Chandler recently approached his father about an increased role with the store upon graduation from college.  Currently a junior at Oklahoma State, Chandler decided against pursuing a career in architecture in favor of earning a business/finance degree and following in his father’s footsteps by working at the Alta Mere store.

“I always had an underlying sense of pride when it came to our family business,” said Chandler.  “Although I wanted to be an architect from an early age, once I looked at other opportunities, I automatically funneled back to the Alta Mere store.  Not only was it familiar and I knew that I would enjoy, but it is also an opportunity to be with my father.  My father is my best friend.  I spend more time with him than anyone on this planet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Greg welcomed the possibility bringing on Chandler on a full-time basis and possibility passing along the business to him, but it didn’t come without a moment of apprehension.  Since having that discussion, Greg has taken steps to increase sales and add value to the franchise.

“I would say that (my wife) Patti and I were excited about that but at the same time, it was a little scary.  We were thinking about my exit strategy and planning for our retirement.  Now that changes things if he is going to stay here and we are not going to sell the business and our real estate holdings.  It had us a bit worried, but Chandler and I have been working together for so long and we do such a good job together, that it’s going to be a great system.  He will come in with a business/finance degree and we will have my expertise of doing this for 35 years.  Combine those factors and we can take our business to the next level.”

In the meantime, Chandler is focusing on finishing his degree, learning as much as possible about the business and appreciating the time he is able to spend with his father.  He has also gained perspective over the last year from the passing of his grandfather, who helped Greg get his start with an auto detailing business more than 30 years ago.

“By far, the best part about working here is that I get to spend time with my mentor, my father, the person who has done everything for me,” said Chandler.  “He is someone I want to spend time with and model myself after.  Not only do we get to walk through this path of life together, I get to talk to him about those experiences and he is always right there with me.”

Greg, Chandler and Jillian have enjoyed the time they have been able to spend together and they believe their experience working at their Alta Mere store has brought them closer as a family.  Although their work dynamic may change their interaction while in the store, there is no doubt about how Greg views his two favorite staff members.

“They are always my kids first and my employees second,” said Greg.  “There is no way around that and you can’t change it.  Whoever tells you otherwise is just not telling you the truth.”

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How to Extend the Life of Your Car Battery

At some point, if you keep your car long enough, your battery will need to be replaced. It’s just the circle of battery life. You’ll never keep it going indefinitely, past the usual three to five-year time frame that most of them last.

Still, there are strategies you can try, if you’re really interested in keeping your battery around as long as possible. Some of those strategies include…

Don’t leave your car out in the heat. Sadly, if you live in, say, Phoenix, your car battery probably won’t last as long as if you live in Minnesota. In other words, the heat can take a toll – and so if you park outside on hot, humid summer days, you may be prematurely aging your car battery.

Take longer drives. The longer your car drives, the more your battery becomes fully charged. Now, nobody’s suggesting that if you have to run out to get some cold medicine at the pharmacy two miles away that instead you make it a 900-mile road trip. But if you are concerned about your battery and are usually only are taking little excursions, five-minute trips here and there, you would actually be doing your car battery a favor to drive it around a little more often and on longer, 30 to 60-minute trips.

Make sure your battery stays tightly fastened. Otherwise, it could end up shaking around a lot, which isn’t good for it. Fortunately, if you get your car looked at on a regular basis, such as getting oil changes, then your mechanic will take a look at it for you. The battery needs to be bracketed properly, and if you often drive on pot hole-infested roads, it is something you’ll want to watch out for.

Don’t leave your lights on in your car. Perhaps the most common drain of a battery comes in accidentally leaving your lights on overnight or when parked for an extended period of time. You don’t want to be that person who is in a rush to get to work and races to the garage or driveway and turns the ignition… and nothing.

Leaving your car lights on all night doesn’t mean your battery is finished. A neighbor or a tow truck driver might jump your battery and get it started (we’d be happy to do that for you, too), but that said, having it drain down to nothing isn’t good for the life of your battery.

You could clean your battery. Do you see any corrosion? That would be a white powder near the battery terminals. If you use baking soda, water and a nonmetallic brush, you could get your battery looking close to brand new – and removing that powder might keep it around a little longer. That said, if your battery is starting to corrode, that’s also a good sign that you’re probably due to get a new battery.

Because it is important to remember that no matter what you do, eventually the car battery is going to need replaced. And if that’s the case, you’ll want to head on over to Milex Complete Auto Care and pick out a new one.

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Noticeable Symptoms of Worn Shocks

Have you ever felt like you were driving inside a blender? That is, your car started shaking uncontrollably? If that’s ever happened to you, you probably needed new shock absorbers.

Shock absorbers do exactly what they say they do – they absorb shock, which means that you can control your car. Without shock absorbers, your car is going to bounce. It’s going to be hard to steer, especially on turns. When you brake, you may find your car dips downward a bit. Driving a car with shocks that are falling apart is a little like going on a ride at an amusement park, without the amusement.

So how can you tell if your shocks are worn and need replacing? Obviously, if your car is shaking uncontrollably, you probably need shock absorbers (or maybe struts, which is similar to a shock absorber but a little more complex of a fix). And if you don’t need shocks, you at least need to take your car to your local Milex Complete Auto Care to be inspected.

Anyone can spot obvious signs that a car needs new shocks – but unfortunately sometimes the symptoms aren’t so clear cut. So, if you’re looking for not-so obvious clues that your car may need shocks, look for these.

Have you found it hard to steer in the wind? Yes, that can be hard for any driver, if the wind is super strong, but if a serious gust of wind seems to push your car to one side, keep your guard up. Because that can mean you have a problem – bad shocks often mean the car is a little unsteady.

Are you having a tough time braking? If you’re putting your foot on the brake and seeing your car dip down a bit, or you start swerving, as you probably realize, your car is not supposed to do that. So before something goes wrong, and you hit another vehicle, we strongly recommend that you come into Milex Complete Auto Care to have your vehicle looked at. The problem is probably with your shocks, but again, even if the shocks are fine, something is wrong.

Does your braking seem delayed? Nothing too crazy is happening, but maybe you’ve noticed that when you hit on the brakes, you have to press down on them harder and longer before you actually stop? That can be a sign of bad shocks. Again, when your shocks aren’t working well, it’s harder to control your car.

Are your tires uneven? This, of course, is what is such a bummer about shocks – and why it’s important to not let them go until they’re falling apart. Bad shocks affect other parts of your car, like your tires, and so if you let your shocks go, that can cause problems through your car. So about your tires: if you see a lot of patchy spots, where the tread is worn in uneven places, that can be a sign that your shocks are shot.

Why is that a sign? Because your tires aren’t pressed firmly against the road when you drive. Which means the tread is wearing down unevenly, and it could mean ‘wheel’ trouble soon.

Are you leaking fluid? If so, that’s also not good and a possible sign of a rundown shocks. If you see an orange-yellow type of fluid underneath your vehicle, that might be hydraulic fluid, which sometimes will make its escape when shocks push against the piston. Of course, if you see another strange color, like purple or green, maybe your shocks are fine, but you should still bring your car over to be looked at. Unless it’s water leaking – your air-conditioning will sometimes do that, and that’s normal – there’s nothing good about car leaks.

In short, your shocks are important, and so are you. So please don’t risk driving in a car that you’re having trouble controlling, especially if you’re finding that your vehicle is shaking you around uncontrollably.

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Thinking of Starting a Business? Consider Joining the Moran Family of Brands

Owning a business isn’t for everyone, but for some, it’s a calling. You know who you are.

But if you haven’t started a company but have thought about being a business owner for years, it’s probably because you’ve been thinking, what do I sell? How do I get started? What if I build a business and nobody comes?

Those are all good, smart questions. We’ve all read the statistics about how numerous businesses fail.

Which is one reason a lot of business owners think about franchising. Of course, franchises can flop, too, for a variety of reasons (Blockbuster never saw Netflix coming…), but generally, if you buy into a good one, you at least have a strong brand name going for you and a business model that has been proven to work. Franchising is a way to own a business with a lot less risk than starting something completely new and untested.

Here at Moran Family of Brands, we have a developed a very successful formula for our franchise owners , whether it be with Alta Mere The Automotive Outfitters, Milex Complete Auto Care, Mr. Transmission.  We also offer co-branded franchise ownership opportunities to run two businesses in one location.

So, if you’re intrigued, here’s our elevator pitch with three reasons you should think about exploring a franchise opportunity with Moran Family of Brands.

The automotive aftermarket industry is growing. Much of that is because of the trend for people to hang onto their cars longer. Funny, but apparently some consumers would rather not get right back into debt after paying off their cars. Fortunately, that’s paid off handsomely for the automotive aftermarket industry.

“In the United States, there are over 272 million registered vehicles, an increase of 12 percent over the last 10 years,” says Pete Baldine, President of Moran Family of Brands.

Baldine adds that the average age of passenger vehicles is 11.6 years, which is an increase of 18 percent over the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, Baldine adds, the U.S. auto care industry was a $342.5 billion industry in 2015 and is projected to reach $394 billion in 2019.

In other words, the industry is seeing some explosive growth.

But even if the economy would turn, it isn’t likely that a Moran Family of Brands franchise owner would have to worry.

“Typically, this industry is recession resistant and a needs-based business,” Baldine says.

Which is understandable. After all, if you need your car fixed, you probably aren’t going to put it off. And especially during a recession, if you can help it, you’re more likely to try to keep your old car running rather than buy a new one. That may be bad for the car dealerships, but it’s great for the mechanics.

We have a co-branded advantage. Of course, we think Moran Family of Brand has a lot advantages for franchise owners, such as a strong business model and a franchise system that works hard to help our franchisees succeed. But the co-branding is certainly something special and a way for franchise owners to have multiple revenue streams in one location.

So if, for instance, you have a Milex and Mr. Transmission in the same location, you’re obviously going to have more customers than if you just owned, say, Mr. Transmission. (Not that there’s anything wrong with owning one store and not co-owning. You may want to stay small, or start off small and add a new brand later.)

Or you may feel that a Milex Auto Care and Alta Mere shop is the way to go. Alta Mere specializes in carrying the driver safety products and services – such as window tinting, collision avoidance cameras and paint protection.

The point is, you can buy one franchise and make a wonderful living, or two and own a mini-automotive aftermarket empire. As Baldine says, “Co-branding makes sense because you can reach customers with greater frequency. You’re building a one-stop location that translates into customer loyalty and tremendous repeat business, all designed to build long-term customer relationships.”

We really care about our franchise owners. There are horror stories out there, of franchises who dislike their franchisors, where the franchisors seem to be in the business only for the money and treat their franchise owners like, well, like nobody should be treated.

But the people at Moran Family of Brands, starting at the top with the CEO and Co-founder Barbara Moran, strongly believe that being only out for yourself is a stupid way to live and work – and a foolish business strategy. The company prides itself in fostering a family and team environment among its franchise owners, and the corporate culture is designed to support its franchises.

Baldine says that the company looks for franchise owners who share the executives core values that they’ve labeled D.R.I.V.E.

“It stands for dedication, respect, integrity, vision and enthusiasm, all of which is critical to our success and growth,” Baldine says.

And he feels very strongly that the franchise model is the way to go.

“Being part of a franchise community that allows for sharing of ideas and experiences that help you stay on top of market and customer trends is an important part of the experience,” he says. “Really, you have three choices if you want to start a business. You can go it alone and hope for the best, or you can join a team that truly cares about your success and provides you with the tools and support you need to make it a reality. The third choice is to do nothing and accept the status quo.”

And you really don’t want to do that, Baldine adds, citing his favorite quote, most often attributed to the legendary icon and humorist Will Rogers: “Even if you are the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

After all, making no decision is often a decision, and you don’t want to wake up years from now and realize you regret never owning your own business. We hope that never happens to you, which is why we hope you’ll do some more research and look into a franchise opportunity with Moran Family of Brands.  In other words, if you feel a calling to start a business, we hope you’ll call us.

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Yes, There is a National Window Film Day

Many people may be surprised to know that Monday, April 30 is National Window Film Day.  There seems to be a holiday for everything lately, such as International Cat Day (August 8), National Waffle Day (August 24) and National Cupcake Day (December 15).

But before you wonder if there are too many holidays, there actually are a lot of good reasons for National Window Film Day to exist. We’ll explain.

First of all, some fun facts about National Window Film Day. It’s a holiday that was created by the International Window Film Association, or IWFA, a nonprofit trade association representing leading manufacturers, distributor and dealers of window film. It’s been going on for five years now, and while National Window Film Day may not quite be as popular a holiday as Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July, in 2017, the governors of Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and Hawaii proclaimed April 30 as National Window Film Day in their states. The IWFA hopes even more support across the country will come this year. Still, the point is – the holiday is starting to pick up steam.

Why window film is worth celebrating. At the very least, window film will make your life more comfortable. But it actually could help add years onto your life.

What window film does. It blocks 99 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, reduces sun glare and can protect furniture in home and seats in a car, from fading.

Why we’re excited. One of our signature services at Alta Mere The Automotive Outfitters and   Window Solutions is customized window tinting for automobiles and residential and commercial buildings. In fact, we can offer different tinting options to suit your preferences and custom cut the film to fit the size and shape of any window. In other words, window film is our business and we look forward to any day which raises awareness of the value and benefits of the application.

Why you should consider window film. Window film is truly something that everyone should consider getting. You want window film if…

  • You’re not a fan of sweating. Hey, if you love perspiring, stick with the windows you have. But window tint can block up to 80 percent of the sun’s heat and has been proven to greatly reduce interior surface temperatures of a car.
  • You’re not a fan of faded leather car seats. Or of having your car’s dashboard crack. The incoming light can also fade the curtains, wood flooring and living room sofa in your house. In other words, the fewer UV rays coming in, the less damage they can do.
  • You want to reduce your chances of getting a sunburn or skin cancer. The sun’s UV rays can cause sunburn and skin damage to a car’s passengers exposed to sunlight. Window film protects passengers by reducing up to 99 percent of those harmful UV rays. In fact, window tint is recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation as part of a comprehensive skin care program.
  • You like privacy. Tinted windows offers greater privacy and protection inside your car, home or office.  People cannot see in from the outside, and thieves are unable to view valuable items that are often in clear sight and lead to a break-in.

So, yes, there is a National Window Film Day on April 30, but if you’re reading this after the holiday, no worries — you can appreciate window film every day of the year. Which is why we hope you’ll drop by soon at an Alta Mere store and let us improve your windows with window film. Just as window film deserves its own national holiday, we think your car, home or office deserves window film.

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Four Ways You May Be Killing Your Car

If you enjoy murder mysteries, here’s one for you. Who is killing your car?

And now the surprise ending – the murderer may be you.

Unfortunately, even the best car owners can get lax in maintaining their vehicle. It’s very easy to take any vehicle for granted and forget all of the little things we need to do, to keep our cars running well. So, no worries. But if you want to take better care of your car, here are several ways that perfectly well-intentioned people end up hurting their vehicles.

Putting off repairs. Nobody wants to hear that they need to replace and alternator or fix a coolant leak, and it’s true that car problems often come at financially inconvenient times, but delaying something in your car that needs fixing could later put you in a real fix. For instance, your car can’t start without an operating alternator, and if your alternator dies, that sometimes will kill off a perfectly good car battery – which means you would have to replace the alternator and the car battery.

Proper coolant, meanwhile, is so important that a leak that isn’t fixed could lead to eventually having to replace your entire car.

In other words, if your Milex Complete Auto Care mechanic advises you to do a car repair, it’s best to do it as soon as you’re able. Better to spend some money now than pay for it dearly later.

Not regularly changing oil. Some of you will read this and think getting your oil changed regularly is the most obvious advice in the world. But some of you probably can’t remember the last time you had your oil changed. And if you do think it’s been a ridiculously long time since you’ve had your oil changed, please, run for your car and get your vehicle to Milex Complete Auto Care – and if not us, well, somewhere that can give you an oil change, because we do care, and we don’t want you to lose your car.

Once your oil runs out, all of the metal components in the engine are pressing against each other, with no lubrication. This isn’t just bad – if you have no oil in your car, there’s an excellent chance your car may end up on the side of the road, smoking pouring out of the hood, with your engine destroyed.

Not paying attention to your car’s maintenance schedule. Many car parts wear out. Especially if you want to make your car last, you need to get some of its parts replaced, and your owner’s manual will tell you when to replace them, items like your timing belt and your serpentine belt. If you aren’t on top of that, the good news is that if you’re getting your oil changed regularly, your Milex Complete Auto Care mechanics are taking a look at your engine and advising you when an air filter or spark plugs or that serpentine belt needs replacing. But, still, if you really want to protect your car, you’ll follow the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. And while you may end up at Milex Complete Auto Care a little more than you have been, at least the visits will be planning and on purpose – rather than visiting in the cab of a tow truck that’s bringing your vehicle in to be looked at.

Driving over potholes. OK, you probably are well aware that running over a pothole can damage your car. Sometimes, you have no choice but to run over one, or many of them – it’s either run over a pothole or swerve and miss it but hit a few passing cars. But how many of us have driven over potholes simply because our mind was wandering? Or maybe some of us have seen potholes with enough time to safely swerve away from them but then thought, “Well, it doesn’t look that bad,” or, “Well, I’ve driven over this pothole before without any major problems,” and so we didn’t try to dodge them? Eventually, a pothole may end up costing us big-time. Two years ago, the American Automobile Association concluded that pothole damage costs American drivers about $3 billion a year. And what’s your cut of that? The average repair for pothole damage repairs is $306.

Fortunately, according to the data out there, it’s most likely that you’ll just hurt a tire and not your actual car – but the damage from a pothole could go beyond tires. Your car suspension could be affected, where your vehicle suffers broken ball joints, damaged shocks or struts or misalignment. Your car’s body could be banged up; you might ding your exhaust pipes. As you can imagine, none of this is good for your car.

Seriously, if you don’t put off repairs, get your oil changed regularly, pay attention to your car’s maintenance schedule and practice good driving habits like avoiding potholes when you can, your car will someday likely become the vehicle’s version of an active senior citizen, aging but with plenty of life left in it. And as the saying goes, you’ll be killing it. Instead of killing your car.

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How to Help Your Car Get to 200,000 Miles

So you’ve just paid off your car. It only took a million years, but finally, you can relax and not worry about monthly payments.

For at least a week. Because you’re already thinking that you may need to buy a new car. After all, while it didn’t really take a million years to pay it off, it did take awhile, and your odometer shows that you’ve been driving it for well over 100,000 miles now. Isn’t it time to get a new car?

Not necessarily — and especially not if you’d like to hang onto your car for as long as possible. It’s also financially smart to try and keep your car running for as long as you (safely) can. According to Consumer Reports, motorists who have a car that hits 200,000 miles – which generally takes 15 years — end up saving $30,000 or more over.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to reach 200,000 (or more) miles, especially if you have a dependable model. But you will need a plan to get there. In other words, like with any car and a far-away destination, you need a road map. Milex Complete Auto Care is here to tell you what you need to do to extend the life of your car.

Make sure your car gets regular maintenance. This is the number one strategy for getting your car’s odometer to someday read: 200,000.

Nobody wants to hear that, of course, because maintenance costs money, and as we’ve established, who wants to spend money? We get it. We don’t like spending money either. But an oil and filter change, a new battery, replacing a timing belt or spark plug – it’s all a heck of a lot less expensive than securing a loan with possibly high interest and payments that stretch out until the end of time. And the fact of the matter is – a car won’t last indefinitely if you don’t take care of it. You brush your teeth, so you won’t get cavities. You exercise (or try to) so you can maintain your weight. Your wear glasses or contact lenses, perhaps, so you don’t get more eye strain and hurt your sight. Taking care of a car is a lot like taking care of yourself. If we don’t pay attention, we get run down and our parts wear out.

Use synthetic oil and not regular oil. Yes, the synthetic stuff is more expensive than the regular oil. But think of it as eating your vegetables versus potato chips. Your body won’t break down (right away) if you eat a lot of junk food day after day, week after week, month after month, but the fruits and vegetables and a well-balanced diet are undoubtedly better for you. Well, the synthetic oil is that better diet. It has fewer impurities; the conventional oil will sometimes create sludge (seriously), and that can eventually do some wear and tear on your engine. This won’t come as a shock to you, but sludge in the engine isn’t a good thing.

Make sure your car gets regular antifreeze changes and radiator flushes. Why? Because your cooling system and radiator will thank you. Your cooling system and radiator keeps your engine from getting too hot or too cold. How often should you worry about this? Not all that often, fortunately. Your car’s owner manual will give you advice, but typically, you’ll need to do this every 30,000 miles.

If your engine is too cold, the fuel’s performance can be affected, but what you really want to avoid is having it become too hot. If that happens, you might find yourself one day on the side of the highway, with steam coming out of your engine while you look on your phone for the nearest tow truck. If your engine overheats, you may be able to get it serviced without too much trouble. But, sadly, it also may be the end of the road for your car.

Pay attention to the dashboard lights. When your car tells you to take your vehicle to be serviced with a “check engine” light – or some other warning – it’s a good idea to take note. It’s also smart to read your car manual. It’ll tell you what those lights are for, if it isn’t clear, and it’ll also tell you when you should replace parts and advise you on when to get your vehicle checked out.

Take care of your tires. Why? It doesn’t affect the rest of my car, you may think. Well, it can affect the rest of your car. Maybe a bad tire will just lead to a flat – but it could also cause a blow out, in which you’re hanging onto your wheel for dear life. For the safety of you, your car and others on the road, be sure to get tire alignments, rotations and check your tire pressure on a routine basis. And it should be noted if your tires are misaligned that can cause other issues, such as your car vibrating, which (spoiler alert!) isn’t a good thing for your car.

In short, take care of your car, and it’ll take care of you – and for another 100,000 or so miles, you can focus on the road – and not spend that time wondering how you’re going to pay all of your monthly automobile payments.

For any other maintenance questions or car care suggestions, be sure to check with the professionals at your local Milex Complete Auto Care store.

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Is it Time to Move Forward and Get a Backup Camera?

Do you have a backup camera? If you have an old car, probably not. If you’re getting a new car, you soon will.

If all goes as planned, starting May 1, 2018, all new cars sold in the United States will be required to have a backup camera installed. In other words, it has been decided that automobiles are safer with backup cameras than without them.

That begs the question, for any driver who doesn’t own a backup camera: Is it time to buy one for your car?

There’s really only answer: yes. But if you need more convincing, consider these three points.

It’s an issue of safety. If backup cameras are important enough safety features for new cars, it’s important enough for old cars, right? You wouldn’t drive your kids in a vehicle without seatbelts, a rear-view mirror and headlights. Maybe we’re all pushing our luck when we drive without a backup camera?

Sure, it’s easy to imagine some people scoffing, saying, “I’ve driven my entire life without a backup camera, and I’ve lived to tell the tale.”

But some people, outside the car, have not always lived. That’s why collision avoidance cameras have become increasingly popular and – soon – will be mandatory.

In 2010, four years before the NHTSA proposed its rule about the backup cameras in cars, a report showed that annually, 15,000 people are injured when a vehicle backs up into them – and 210 people die. Most at risk are children under the age of five and adults over 70. Certainly, if you have young kids in your household, or an aging parent living with you, you should strongly consider getting a backup camera. But even if you’re single, you have to ask yourself – do you occasionally visit a family member’s home with young children? And the concern isn’t just little kids and aging parents. Do you or friends or family have a pet, who might easily one day scamper behind your car?

Nothing is foolproof. When you have a backup camera, you still have to be an alert driver, but you’re much less likely to have a close call, or worse, if you have one installed in your car. Think of it this way. When your mom told you she had eyes in the back of her head, that was just wishful thinking. A backup camera in the car gives you that power.

They aren’t that expensive. For the peace of mind, the price of a backup camera is a pretty decent bargain.  Alta Mere The Automotive Outfitters specializes in the installation of collision avoidance technology, all for affordable prices.

And for the price of a backup camera, you may save money in other ways – you just won’t know it. What do we mean? Well, think of the occasional trees, walls and cars that you might have otherwise backed up into and had a collision with, or the bicycles and tricycles you might have crushed on the driveway. You may save some serious wear and tear and damage on your car and your kids’ toys by having a backup camera.

Back-up cameras may also reduce your insurance premiums. They may not, of course. We aren’t insurance agents. Still, talk with your agent. Often premiums come down, whether we’re talking your car, home or health insurance, when the consumer takes steps to make themselves safer.

But, look, even if a backup camera doesn’t save you tons of money, it may help save a life. That alone makes a backup camera something that every driver should consider buying. Some auto purchases are difficult – should I buy the car that makes me feel younger, or the one that makes me look cooler? But this purchase should be an easy decision.

Be sure to check with your local Alta Mere professional for more information about how you can increase the safety of you and others with the installation of collision avoidance cameras.

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Signs That It Is Time to Replace Your Battery

It isn’t a topic anyone likes to think about, but someday, your car battery is going to die. If you’re lucky, it won’t happen to you when you’re in some random parking lot a gazillion miles from home.

Fortunately, the car battery isn’t likely to die when you’re driving; the alternator keeps the battery operating. Of course, if something goes wrong with the alternator, you could wind up on the side of the road…

But you don’t need to be caught by surprise. There are clues that will alert you that it’s time to change your battery. If being stuck in random parking lots and unexpected places isn’t your idea of fun, and you’d like to head off trouble at the pass, look for these red flags.

The car seems to be having trouble starting. The engine seems to be having trouble revving up? Maybe it won’t start until you hit the gas. That could mean something is amiss. If that’s happening a lot, even if it somehow isn’t the battery weakening – and it probably is – something is wrong. If that’s the case, we’d recommend bringing in your car, as soon as possible, to Milex Complete Auto Care, in order to head off whatever problem your vehicle has.

The check engine light is coming on a lot. Check engine lights coming on are fairly common and could mean something else is wrong. But that can be a sign of a dying battery.

A warning light, in the shape of a battery, comes on. You’ll be “shocked” to know that this is an excellent sign that you’re having trouble with your battery – or with something related to your battery, like the alternator or perhaps your electrical system. And if the battery light comes on while you’re driving, as opposed to when you start the car, there’s a good chance your alternator is about to go out. You probably should pull over and call a tow truck.

Your battery case looks terrible. If the case is cracked, or there’s a chalky white substance (battery acid) around the battery terminals, or the whole thing looks a bit misshapen (extreme heat can do that), your battery’s end times may be near.

Some of the electrical components aren’t what they once were. If you notice that the windows take longer to open or close when the car is running, or your headlights seem awfully dim, that can be a sign that the battery is having trouble getting enough power throughout the vehicle to do these other tasks.

Your car is backfiring. That may be a sign of a dying battery, especially in older cars. It could be a spark plug problem, though. Regardless, backfiring is not a sign of a healthy car.

It’s been years since you’ve replaced your car battery. Check your owner’s manual to see how long your car battery typically will last. If it says that the battery needs to be replaced every five years, and you’re in year two, obviously, you probably have nothing to worry about (especially if the car is running well, and you haven’t noticed signs of trouble). If you’re in year five, you may want to drive down to your friendly neighborhood Milex Complete Auto Car to get a new battery. If you’re somehow in year six, you’re driving on borrowed time. You may want to make an appointment now and let us know you’re coming. We’ll be on the lookout for you.

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Importance of Checking Tire Pressure (and Tread)

Some easiest-to-ignore things in life are some of the most important to remember.

You probably don’t think about your tire pressure much, but arguably, we all should. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire failure causes about 11,000 crashes a year.

And some of those crashes are deadly.

Even if they aren’t fatal, you feel may feel like you just lost a few years off your life after having one. A tire blowout can be very scary. For instance, in February 2018, a TV station reported a driver whose tire blew out near Kingsport, Tennessee – the driver (who not injured) lost control of his car, which then went through a median and a cable barried and dragged the tangled cables behind it across northbound lanes. Incredibly, nobody was injured, but traffic was delayed for hours.

So you probably don’t need to be convinced that tire safety is important, but if you aren’t sure how to keep your tires properly pressurized, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

Find the proper air pressure. Your tires are supposed to be inflated to a certain PSI (Pounds per Square Inch). Generally, the PSI can be found on a sticker in your driver’s door jamb or inside your owner’s manual. Believe it or not, you shouldn’t rely on the PSI that is marked on your tires. That’s because the PSI on the tire refers to the maximum pressure the tire can hold and not the recommended pressure for what the tire should have when it’s on your vehicle.

If you can’t find your PSI, a technician at your local Milex Complete Auto Care would be happy to look at your car and tell you what PSI you’ll need. They’ll be glad to fill your tires to the proper air pressure as well if your tires need replacing.

Don’t over inflate. One could see how you might think, “Well, my PSI is 32. What’s the harm in getting it up to 33 or 34?” Maybe you’ll get lucky, and there won’t be any harm, but the danger of over-inflation is that your tire can become stiff, and its tread – the rubber that meets the road – can be affected. If your tread is harder than normal, that means that less rubber actually touches the road, and it’ll be harder to control your car. That’s problematic in any case, but you could really find yourself in trouble if you’re driving on a road and hit a pothole or a piece of trash, like a soda can or a piece of somebody else’s old tire – any of which could send a car with over-inflated tires in a direction you don’t want to go.

You’re also putting yourself at risk to getting one of those aforementioned blowouts. So, yes, a blowout can happen with a tire that has far too little air in it – but also when it has too much air.

Weather can affect your tire pressure. Has the temperature plummeted? Or is the mercury going way up? During the winter, the cold air can cause your tire pressure to drop, and for the tires to have less air in them. In the summer, if it’s hot enough, your tires can actually end up with more air inside. That’s important to remember if you aren’t in the habit of checking your tire pressure regularly. You’ll at the very least want to eyeball your tires when the weather changes dramatically, and, of course, you may want to check your tire pressure with a tire gauge – or maybe that’s when you’ll want to drop in at Milex Complete Auto Care.

And check that tread. After driving awhile, as you know, your tires age. The tread – the rubber that gives you car traction while driving – starts to get worn off. As that happens, and your tires get less traction, your tires become weaker or thinner. At some point, with every passing mile, your tires are more likely to have that blow out or simply go flat.

So how can you check the thread? Well, look in your spare change and pull out a penny, and we’ll do what tire experts call “the penny test.” See President Lincoln’s hair? Stick the penny with Lincoln’s hair downward, into the grooves of the tread at the top of the tire. If you can’t see part of Lincoln’s head, you still have enough tread on your tires (it doesn’t mean you couldn’t still change them, but if you want to hold off, you probably can). If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, it’s definitely time to buy some new tires.

It admittedly isn’t fun, having to remember about tire pressure. But better to think about tire pressure (and tread) now rather than later stressing about your tires when you’re on the side of a freeway, working on fixing a flat or waiting for a tow truck.

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