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14 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Car Lovers

14 Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Car Lovers

A nationwide poll found that cars are one of Americans’ top three possessions. While 21% of respondents listed their vehicles as their most important possession, 29% listed their homes, and 43% listed as their most important possession… their photographs.


Everyone of course values their personal items differently. Houses and cars were listed as the top possessions of men, with photos in third; for women, photographs were in the first slot, with jewelry in second, followed by homes and cars.


For anyone you know who is in the “car lover” category, you can find a great holiday gift that suits their passion. Here are 14 ideas (and please note that any products listed are not endorsements but mentions of products recommended elsewhere):


Smartphone dash mount


Every day, 9 Americans die and more than 1000 are injured in collisions believed to result from distracted driving (any driving that involves attention being taken away from the road, which often involves a cellphone).


A mount for the phone of the car lover in your life will protect them from a crash while also safeguarding them from tickets related to phone use.


Key finder


Car keys are easy to misplace, and it can be costly to get new key fobs if you can’t find them quickly. They are often over $100 to replace.


A key fob is an especially great gift for a car lover you know who is not particularly organized. This device is run through a smartphone app that tracks a Bluetooth locator hooked to a key ring. If you have not seen one of these, it may remind you of Find My iPhone or Find My Device for locating the phone itself.


You can actually track any personal item in this manner. You can use the system as a sort of insurance against misplacement of your backpack, purse, or laptop bag; an important book or binder; etc. Three of the most popular brands for this item are Tile, Orbit, and Trackr.


Portable air compressor


Tire pressure is key to a smooth, safe, high-performance drive – so help your car lover with a mini air compressor / portable tire inflator.


A tire inflator can go beyond just allowing you to refill the air. They also often feature hazard lights or LED lights for better nighttime and storm roadway visibility.


You can get a cordless version that you can plug in to charge, with a similar battery setup to that of a cordless drill. You may be able to charge it through your car’s cigarette lighter as well.


Beyond use with the car tires, you can also use these tools to add air to air mattresses, sports balls, and bicycle tires.


Build-your-own internal combustion engine


According to Roadtrippers, visible V-8 engines are not as high-quality as what you can find in a four-cycle or four-stroke engine. This engine is built with transparent parts so that you can show children (and car-loving adults) exactly what is involved with internal combustion. Roadtrippers suggests the Haynes brand.


Snow removal items


When it snows in Boulder, you need something with which to clear the elements off of the car. The ice scraper is usually a standard item – but you can get ones that are more or less functional. Business Insider recommended three products along these lines last month: the Primary Automotive Rocky Mountain Ice Scraper, the SnoBrum Original Snow Removal Tool, and the Dragon Squama Ice Scraper Mitt. The first item is backed by a ten-year guarantee. The second is for the initial process of getting snow drifts off your car without having to use your hands, and without causing paint or glass damage. The third combines a mitten with the scraper so that you can get to work on the car whether your gloves are handy or not.


Car shift gear cufflinks


Nothing says “automotive enthusiast” like a pair of cufflinks with a gear-shifting diagram on them. Roadtrippers notes that people who spend time in a garage or otherwise appreciate cars might want to flaunt it subtly when they are out on the town. Everyone will immediately spot a car lover when they see these cuff links. If the gear-shifting theme is not appealing, a similar option is ones featuring a speedometer.


Dash camera


This gift is one of the more functional and practical items, a really smart tool to have on your car.


Worldwide, the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) estimates that there are 1.3 million fatalities related to auto collisions annually – about 3287 daily. Another 20-50 million people become injured or disabled each year because of car accidents. These statistics are devastating, but they are not going to stop us from driving. If we are the victim of an accident, we may need evidence to recover medical and other expenses.


That is when a dash cam can come in extremely useful. By having clear footage of what happened, the camera can make the insurance and legal issue simple so you can focus on recovery to peak health. Business Insider suggests the TOGUARD Mini Dash Cam.


Die cast model


A car model can be a great way to go when someone does not yet have the means to build their own real car. Interacting with the car in this way teaches how the car is arranged as you assemble and display it.


Driving gloves


You can get driving gloves that will help you maintain body warmth while keeping a strong grip on the wheel. If you have a leather steering wheel or similar, the gloves will also help you heep your body oil and dirt from smudging and discoloring it. Business Insider suggests the Riparo Reverse Stitched Leather Driving Gloves.


Inflatable car mattresses


This may sound bizarre, but sleeping in your car does not have to be uncomfortable. You can use these mattresses in the back seat of a car or bed of a pickup. Some models will even double as couches.


Jump starter


Your car lover will not be able to make much use of those jumper cables in their trunk if they do not have access to another person and the power of their car. Portable jump starters allow you self-reliance in terms of starting the car – which is also much easier than getting a second car into a tight spot. The version suggested by Business Insider is the DBpower 600A Peak 18,000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter, which additionally can be used as a battery pack and flashlight.


Tool kit


Car guys need high-quality tools if they want to be able to do some work on their own cars. If your car lover is someone who wants to get under the hood themselves, they could use a sturdy and guaranteed mechanic toolkit. Craftsman is a popular brand.


Slot car race track


Anyone who has affection for cars probably started to like them well before they could drive them. One cross-generational way to have fun with automobiles is a slot car track such as the Carrera GO!!! GT Contest Slot Car Track.


The gift of honesty


Whether you would consider yourself a “car lover” or not, you undoubtedly care about your car as a possession. Assuming you want some help with repair and maintenance, you need a trusted relationship with a mechanic. At Independent Motors, we believe great service starts with open, honest communication. Meet our staff.

5 Top 2018 Car Trends & 5 Trends That Must End

2018 Car Trends

88 million cars were sold globally in 2016, a 4.8 percent rise from 2015. That same year, according to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the profit margins for car manufacturers and parts suppliers were higher than they have been in 10 years.


Those high profit margins for multinational auto industry companies are, of course, nothing for the consumer to celebrate. However, people have still managed to keep their transportation costs down in recent years, as indicated by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


Amounts spent per consumer unit on transportation and subcategories of transportation for 2014 / 2015 / 2016:


  • Total – $9,073 / $9,503 / $9,049
  • Car purchases – $3,301 / $3,997 / $3,634
  • Fuel & motor oil – $2,468 / $2,090 / $1,909
  • Other costs (including repair and maintenance) – $2,723 / $2,756 / $2,884.


One major assumption that can be made from the fact that the bottom category is rising while the others are falling is that people are maintaining and repairing cars rather than getting new ones.


Since the automotive market is such a massive business, and because the car impacts our lives so substantially, it makes sense to understand trends – and to view some of them through a critical, humorous lens.


Autonomous driving


The self-driving car has made headlines since Google started aggressively testing its version. The driverless car would create car market opportunities globally.


Among the benefits listed by advocates for autonomous cars are that they:


  • limit the chance of a collision by removing driver fatigue as a factor;
  • give the car owner the option to perform activities other than driving; and
  • create the possibility for safer social interaction.


The self-driving car is a massive game-changer that will have a ripple effect beyond the car market itself; the assumption is that they will ease insurance prices due to the absence of human error.


While these promises are bright, the driverless car should still be considered a long-term development. Kelley Blue Book executive publisher Karl Brauer noted in 2015 that this technology would be on the rise through 2020 but would not be implemented broadly even by that point. By 2020, we should have cars that can be completely autonomous (with no need for a human engineer) under certain conditions, such as rural interstates with clear weather, suggested Brauer.


A Digital Trends forecast from 2016 had the same basic projection – that autonomous driving would continue to develop as a number of independent autonomous “driver-assist” capabilities (self-braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, etc.), rather than as an immediate transition to 100% self-driving. Automakers have taken steps to blend these different elements into more comprehensive systems; a high-profile example is the Tesla autopilot system, which allows for semi-autonomous operation but still requires the driver’s attention.




One autonomous feature that is critically important is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, a technology that will be a standard feature in all models in the years to come. This feature makes it possible for different vehicles on the road to share data with each other such as speed, weather conditions, unexpected braking, and collisions.


The Trump administration has had an especially significant impact on connected cars as it has turned back Obama-era developments. On December 13, 2016, the US Department of Transportation announced a potential rule it was advancing related to V2V within US light vehicles. The rule suggested by Obama’s DOT suggested that cars should be standardly capable of connecting via V2V, “enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year.”


Well, like that idea or not, kiss it goodbye for now. The Trump White House and DOT are dropping the rules, which would have made it necessary for newly released cars to have dedicated short-range radios for data transfer (weather, accidents, and similar details). Now, that is according to the Associated Press. As soon as the AP report hit the newsstands, the DOT said that it had not made “any final decision” on the V2V rules and that “[a]ny reports to the contrary are mistaken.”


One thing is clear: an all-inclusive V2V mandate is not being actively advanced by the DOT at present.


Blockchain becomes prevalent


One of the primary issues that has been facing the car industry over the last few years has been that counterfeit parts are being sold to unsuspecting people rampantly. One strategy that could be effective is the use of blockchain for verification. Pricing should become more efficient for legitimate parts as the counterfeit ones are removed from the market.


Multi-terrain cars


Many baby boomers are retiring and planning adventures. Some of these people are investing in vehicles that will function well on different terrain and surfaces, leading to higher sales of multi-terrain cars.


Rise of the crossover


SUVs have been a point of confusion for many families: their space is appreciated, but they do not offer the maneuverability or fuel-efficiency of smaller cars. The crossover is a vehicle design that is midway between a sedan and an SUV. Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs has noted that sales of these cars are rising, with almost 6 million of this type purchased in the United States in 2016.


5 automotive trends that must end


Trends do not always lead in the right direction; they are in part a matter for debate, and some people within the industry will openly criticize how it is developing. Here are 5 car trends that must end from New York-based automotive writer James Derek Sapienza (somewhat humorous because it is basically a list of his complaints):


  1. Fading colors – An interesting note Sapienza makes is that car colors have become boring. Automobile hues are now within a tighter band of the color spectrum, as they have been since about the late 80s. Urging drivers to look into vinyl wrapping or painting options, Sapienza writes, “Many experts say this soul-crushing conformity has a lot to do with customers being worried about their car’s resale value.”


  1. Poorly designed autonomous features – While it is understandable that self-driving features are a point of obsession and that carmakers want to increasingly include them within their cars, Sapienza notes that these components are often not able to deliver smoothness and stability, leading to frustration.


  1. Design that’s a tearjerker – Sapienza is not buying into the PR charm of the carmakers. Apparently an overused buzz term when new cars are released is that they have “emotional styling.” Suffice it to say that the writer is not impressed with this turn of phrase.


  1. Wi-Fi – Just about every car writer is excited about connected car technologies such as Wi-Fi. Sapienza sees things differently because of the subscription model through which Wi-Fi is delivered. “After the first few months with your new car, the honeymoon period ends,” he writes. “And you’re left paying yet another bill.”


  1. Shhhh – Finally, cars have been getting quieter over the years as automakers have sought to separate the occupants from the car’s movements. The problem, says Sapienza, is that cars have become so quiet that it is difficult to immediately tell if they are running – which clearly is not safe.


Honest car repair


One trend that you can see above in the BLS statistics is that people are turning from purchasing new cars to maintaining ones that they already own. Whether you are for or against the development of any of the above areas within the automotive field, you need an honest mechanic for your car. At Independent Motors, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. See our history and beliefs.

Why Values Are Important in Business

Why Values Are Important in Business

You may think that business and values do not have much in common. Perhaps business seems directly functional, while values seem to have to do with personal perspectives and cultural background. However, values are incredibly important to how businesses operate with their partners and their clients – whether the outfit is an auto mechanic in Boulder or any business.


Why is it important for a business to have values?


Ethics is not just important to the consumer or to affiliates of an organization but to an organization itself. In fact, W. Michael Hoffman has pointed out in risk assessment publication Corporate Compliance Insights that lack of values actually increases the risk of a firm. Here are a few key reasons why business management should be values-driven:


Pressures of the market – When you have to find ways to cut costs, you may not have as many checks and balances in place to maintain proper behavior. Employees might have their own ability to act one way or another, leading to possible ethical violations.


Diversity – In the United States, there are people interacting with different genders, religions, and ages. This diversity leads to different perceptions of what it means to act professionally within a business. While there must be commonly understood codes of conduct, the way that a person comprehends the exact same scenario and information can be very different from another person’s based on their demographic characteristics.


Globalization – People from various cultural backgrounds will not all experience different situations and circumstances the same. In certain cases, ethics becomes confusing related to the issue of culture, in which case the issue is sometimes considered a cultural sensitivity rather than a simple ethical precept.


Remote workers – Since so many people are working from a distant location part or all of the time, it is important to have values that infuse the organization at the management level.


Business partnerships – Your alliances with other businesses are another area in which ethical errors might occur. Values-driven tactics are effective not just at defining the ways that interactions occur internally but with external partners as well.


Team structure – There is more of a communal, integrated, team-based notion of internal growth in business today, with merit and individual aptitude leading the way to decision-making. Removing the top-down nature in which decisions have traditionally been generated has allowed all players to feel part of the process.


Entrepreneurship & intrapreneurship – Often now, companies are advocating that members of their staff, even at the entry level, become more innovative, try tactics (within structured confines) that embrace risk, and even get to use some funding. This method, called intrapreneurship, gives anyone working at a business a chance to feel like they are the owner and assume the relevant responsibilities.


Key values within a business setting


The above elements of business tell us reasons that values are important to business. However, what exactly are we talking about? What are the most common business values?


Here are some of the top values that are used by the world’s best businesses, according to responses to a questionnaire conducted by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Alumni of the Stanford business school were asked to list the values that were most critical within a business setting. Here are a few key values, along with the comments that were made by those who responded.


Golden rule treatment – Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff noted that he thinks the golden rule is a fundamental precept of a solid business interaction. When a person approaches others with respect and with a goal of making a strong impression in a business setting, typically the favor will be returned. You will not only gain credibility but will also have greater peace-of-mind. You can put yourself at risk by acting in a manner that assumes mutual concern; however, even if you do get hurt occasionally with this strategy, you can simply discontinue your engagement with anyone who does not treat you in kind.


Integrity – Approaching your communications with all parties from a perspective of consistency and authenticity will point you in the right direction, according to Pagatech cofounder Jay Alabraba. Taking this honest approach will mean that you are not deceiving anyone or scamming them. In other words, you want to transparently convey what you are offering to everyone, regardless whether it hurts your immediate profits. University Games CEO Bob Moog also mentioned this value as a high-priority one in a business setting, noting that he had many handshake deals with other businesspeople, resulting in beneficial relationships that had lasted decades.


Straightforwardness – People often want to see a person who is going to talk with them directly and straightforwardly, advised Thought Leadership Lab CEO Denise Brosseau. Often people will want to work with startups or other organizations outside of Wall Street since smaller and less traditional companies can often have a greater degree of directness. This direct dynamic is aligned well with entrepreneurialism and the notion of getting to hand-select the partners through which one conducts business, said Brosseau. In that capacity, a company is able to not only offer straightforwardness itself but be able to filter for that quality in its clientele.


Mutuality – Tiny Prints co-founder Laura Ching noted that trust is built into a company that creates a familial, open-communication environment. When firms look for new employees, they can specifically have a desire to hire people who care about the strength of their bonds with others. The culture of an organization can also further enforce and enhance the notion that interconnection is critical to the mission of the company. People should be able to get courtesy from one another, but also friendliness. In that type of setting, people will feel comfortable to get even better at interacting with their peers. Loyalty and retention can both be high with employees and, in turn, with customers; after all, your clients become attached to certain members of your staff. When there is an implicit sense of honesty and having one another’s best interests at heart, you are able to acquire feedback that would otherwise be challenging to attain.


Transparent messaging – When a company has many different projects occurring at the same time, conducted by a broad array of players, there can be a huge range in the perspectives – leading, potentially, to communication difficulties between different projects that are ultimately interrelated. Empowered Careers CEO Steve Poizner commented that executives at companies should promote a business culture for which truth is critical to all interactions, regardless of all other factors. Additionally, said Poizner, being strong and unafraid allows someone to make the kind of impact they want with their customers and in their community.


Gratitude – We all want to be appreciated by businesses when we give them our money and invest in a relationship with them. As indicated by Ariat International CEO Beth Cross, organizations should remember that their clients care to know that they are appreciated.


Simple value – You can find out what the client needs in various ways, as noted by Design Within Reach founder Rob Forbes. Whether you use market research or simply release your offering to the market, you would be wise to think in terms of what the customer would actually value. By creating products that are high-quality and then communicating their story to your customer, you are able to give something to others through a business context that is authentic and can improve their quality of life.


Passion – Passion is another of those terms that may seem to be antithetical to the dry and serious needs of business. However, you really do want to care about what you do for a living – and be able to say the same about the people from whom you buy your goods and services.


An honest Boulder auto mechanic


It helps to get an idea of why values are important to business, and the specific values that should be high-priority for organizations. How can this search for values be reflected in your choice of car mechanic? We originally started Independent Motors because we felt our city needed an auto repair shop that was more in line with Boulder’s values – Community, Loyalty, and Honesty. See Our History and Beliefs.

14 Top Car Maintenance Myths

Top 14 Car Maintenance Myths

If you want to keep your car operational as long as possible, you must give it proper care. However, it is possible to incur unnecessary expenses or make other mistakes because of persistent maintenance myths. Here are 14 of the most common myths in Boulder and throughout the U.S.:


1.) For optimal fuel efficiency, choose to roll down your windows over the AC.


Having the AC on will make a car consume fuel faster. However, rolling down the windows is also problematic because it increases wind resistance, which counteracts the car’s aerodynamic design. To overcome the resistance, the car will need additional fuel. Approximately the same amount of gas is used if you roll down the windows or use the air conditioner, according to the Automotive Training Center (ATC).


Consumer Reports has the same basic findings. The consumer advice publication noted that the impact of air conditioning on fuel economy is minimal. Since the difference is negligible and it yields improvements in driver comfort and alertness, the magazine recommends using the AC without reservation.


2.) Use laundry detergent or dishwashing soap for car washes.


Any of the household detergents you use are dangerous to your car because they will wear away the wax finish, notes Machine Design. The soaps that are specifically designed for car washes will keep your wax safe.


3.) You want your tire to have the same pressure that is listed on its sidewall.


On the sidewall of your tire, you will see a pounds-per-square-inch number that represents the most the tire could contain for safe driving; in other words, it is not the PSI that is recommended in order to standardly get the best comfort, fuel economy, and handling. The ideal PSI for the car should be available on your fuel-filler door, within your glove box, or on a doorjamb sticker. If you take the maximum PSI and reduce by 10, you will get a 1 mpg improvement in your efficiency on average, per Consumer Reports tests.


However, the key concern – where the difference in pressure can be even more valuable – is in its impact on tire wear, braking, and handling. To stay on top of pressure, use a tire gauge once per month; the best time to check is when the car has been sitting for several hours.


4.) It is prudent to change oil every 3000 miles, regardless the vehicle.


The traditional model of car could use an oil change every 3000 miles. That truism has been outgrown by developments in engine operation and design. You will not cause damage with additional oil changes, but you may only need one every 5000 or 7500 miles. See your owner’s manual for advice specific to your model.


5.) You will get better fuel economy if you fill up your car each morning.


Often people will advise to get your gas in the morning rather than later, so you can benefit from the greater density of cooler temperatures. This piece of advice fails to take into account that the gas is stored in tanks underground; because of that, you won’t see much temperature fluctuation throughout the day. The fuel will not typically get hot while it comes through the pump as long as business is relatively steady. Simply changing your route to get gas when it could be slightly cooler will outweigh any gains you might see by giving preference to morning fill-ups – so effectively, time is irrelevant. Just get gas whenever you drive by a station.


6.) When you run over a nail, you need a new tire.


An auto repair shop will be able to fix a nail or other small puncture with a patch, rather than having to replace the whole tire.


7.) Don’t ever just replace a single tire.


(Note that the following does not apply to all-wheel-drive cars, for which you must replace all tires at once). Typically the recommendation is to get two tires at a time so that you keep the tread even and the car is not imbalanced. Actually, it is all right to replace a single tire, particularly if the additional tire still has plenty of tread. The key point is that the new tire you get is an identical match (tread pattern, speed rating, brand, and size) to the other half of the pair. Bumper to Bumper Radio co-host Matt Allen says putting on unmatched tires is “like wearing a running shoe and a heel.”


8.) Once you jumpstart your car, you can then recharge the battery in a quick drive.


It actually takes hours of driving for a complete battery recharge, particularly if it is colder. Your alternator can only use extra power that is available to recharge after supplying it to music systems, heated seats, and other auxiliary components. Get a load test at a gas station to make sure that the battery is capable of maintaining a charge. Once you know the battery is still functional, you can use a battery charger for a few hours to give it a full charge.


9.) You will help any car by giving it premium gas.


In most situations, a car will perform just as well on standard, 87 octane gas. Premium-octane fuel will not cause any problems but will typically not improve how it operates. As the octane number rises, you become less likely to experience pre-ignition issues with the gas – for which reasons it is suggested specifically for use with engines that are high-compression and run hot. If you have a car that is not high-compression and that can use any octane of unleaded fuel, the low-grade version will be fine. When the manual recommends a higher octane but does not require its use, standard octane should still work fine. The manual will make it explicit if high-octane gas is needed, in which case you will have to buy it.


10.) Octane ratings do not matter.


While there is no advantage to using premium fuel in a car designed for regular, there is a reason the premium fuel is there: some models do require it. You could cause engine damage if you use standard gas in a premium-fuel car.


11.) Coolant should be flushed every time you change the oil.


Generally, an owner’s manual will advise to switch out the coolant every 60,000 mile or 5 years. If you keep having to refill the coolant reservoir because the level drops, you may have a leak.


12.) It is important to make sure your car is warm before you drive it.


Warming up the car applied to older engines. Today, you will have the most success getting your engine temperature up by driving; once it is warm, you will get stronger performance and efficiency. Be careful about not revving the engine until you have driven the car for a few miles.


13.) The car should be fine if you cannot see or hear a problem.


If there is an issue with your car, it will not always be apparent. Drivers often do not notice problems. Bringing the car in to get it checked by a technician can help uncover any issues.


14.) If you want your warranty to stay active, you need to use the dealership for all maintenance.


You don’t need to have the job completed at a dealership. You simply need to follow the schedule in the owner’s manual to determine that work is performed at the listed intervals.




There are many myths about car maintenance. However, the reality is that you could easily lose 50,000 of the life of a car by not maintaining it properly, according to senior consumer advice editor Philip Reed.


Are you looking for honest auto maintenance and repair in Boulder? At Independent Motors, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. Meet our staff.


How to Change Your Own Oil (Bottom-Mount Filters)

How to Change Your Oil

More than $8000 was spent by each of us in 2016 on our vehicles, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The purchase of new or used cars accounted for $3634 per consumer; $1909 was spent per person on fuel and motor oil; and $1149 went toward insurance policies. Once those numbers were combined with additional costs such as licensing and maintenance, the total 2016 figure per consumer was a whopping $8427.


Since owning a car is so incredibly expensive, it is easy to start to cut corners. Although skipping routine maintenance such as oil changes is understandable, it certainly comes at its own long-term cost. That is for two primary reasons, per Bankrate:


  1. The total cost of collisions caused by unperformed maintenance on cars is $2 billion, according to 2004 data from the nonprofit Car Care Council.
  2. You will knock down the life of your car if you skip regular maintenance – losing up to 50,000 miles.


Regardless how much you want to save money, you certainly do not want to avoid or delay maintenance. At Independent Motors, we would rather your car stay healthy regardless your immediate situation, so we provide here a four-step plan to change your oil. You will need about a half-hour, but allot at least an hour the first time you try, since there is a bit of a learning curve. Here is a relatively standard nine-step process to change your oil yourself:


Step 1 – Look at your manual.


Probably the best page-turner that you have in your possession is your car manual (right?), so flip it open and look in the index for oil guidelines (type and amount). You will need several standard 1-quart containers of oil to do the job. Edmunds director of vehicle testing Dan Edmunds suggests staying away from 5-gallon jugs of oil despite the lower price since they are bulky and can be difficult to handle – but either way.


Be certain that you know the specific type of oil that suits your engine (from the manual), since getting oil that is at the right viscosity level is critical. The manual also might direct you to use the synthetic variety. Some manufacturers specify their own brand, so make sure you use the correct oil.


Step 2 – Be prepared.


You will want to put together an oil drain pan; a socket or box end wrench for removal of the drain plug; and an oil filter removal wrench. Also purchase or otherwise gather a funnel, latex gloves, oil filter, and… don’t forget the oil. Plus, it may be necessary to elevate your vehicle in order to be able to perform the work, which would mean that you will require steel ramps, or a floor jack and safety stands. Finally, a drain plug washer may also be needed. You can actually make sure that the oil filter is compatible with your wrench in the auto parts store. Be careful about band-type filter wrenches, since they can be annoying if you do not have much space to use it.


Step 3 – Get the car ready.


You want both the engine and its oil to be warm, although not hot, when you begin working. You want to wait a few minutes after the car is turned off to get to work, but you do not want it to be completely cold. How do you get your car to the right temperature? If your car is cold, you want to turn the ignition and keep it on about 5 minutes to introduce a bit of heat. Then, or if you have just been driving it, wait about 30 minutes before you begin.


Raise the car if necessary, as long as you have safety stands in place. If your car was manufactured recently, it may have an undercover that conceals the oil filter and oil drain plug. You may have to take this piece off the car, or you may find that it has a hatch through which you can access these elements.


Step 4 – Figure out where the drain plug and oil filter are.


Almost all cars will have an oil filter that is screw-on and bottom-mounted. Depending on where these two items are located, you may need to move your drain pan once you have drained the oil and are ready to remove the filter. These instructions are for cars with bottom-mount filters, but we will address top-mount filters in a second blog.


Step 5 – Drain your oil.


Now, time to actually get to work on your car! You want the drain pan beneath the drain plug; however, it should not be right under it since the oil will not drain straight down. Move the pan just a few inches to the side so it catches it.


Take off your oil filler cap under your hood. Why? You will typically find oil will drain faster when that cap is not in place.


Now, grab your gloves. You should be able to take off the drain plug with a common end wrench. Do this step gradually, being conscientious that your arm is not in the way when the oil streams from the car.


Step 6 – Put your drain plug back on the car.


You can start this step while the oil is draining. Check the plug and clean it. At this point you can replace the drain plug washer if you need one; however, many cars have permanent O-rings, in which case you won’t have to get a washer. Tighten the drain plug. A combination wrench’s box end will help you tighten the plug appropriately. You do not want to overtighten it since someone will need to remove it at a later point.


Step 7 – Switch out the oil filter.


Making sure the drain pan is in the right place, take off the filter. It may be challenging to remove it because of a swollen sealing gasket (typical). The wrench is only necessary for a moment really. You will be able to get the filter loose relatively quickly. Oil will start draining out at the edges as soon as it is loose, so you will want to switch to loosening by hand almost immediately.


You may end up spilling a bit of oil here; that is not uncommon. Make sure that you have rags available since you may get a slight amount of oil on your arm. Keep hold of your filter tightly once it starts to loosen so it does not fall into the pan. Take the rags and wipe away as much oil as is possible. Take the new oil bottle, and put just a small bit of it on the O-ring of the new filter.


Now it is time to put the new filter on the car. You may want to remove your gloves so your grip is improved. Since this step is often botched, it is a good idea to check your manual or the box for the oil filter, to see how exactly to perform this tightening. Typically an oil filter wrench will not be required; you should be able to use your hands. Also make sure the old filter o/ring comes off with the filter and does not stay on the engine block.


Step 8 – Put in the new oil.


Once you know that the filter and the oil drain bolt are in place and tight, pour in one quart below the amount that is advised in the manual. Put on the cap. Go ahead and start the car, and leave it running for about 30 seconds to ensure that the oil has circulated properly. Turn off the vehicle, and look where you were working to ensure there is no leakage. Bring the car down from the ramps or jack stands.


Step 9 – Verify the oil level.


Once you have the car onto the ground again, it is time to check your work. The oil should come up to the hash mark or upper hole. Add the leftover quart of oil. Finally, proper disposal of the old filter and oil is very important. We can actually take care of that part for you at Independent Motors if you would like. Alternately, you can bring it to the Boulder County Hazardous Materials Management Facility.


Getting help with your car


Does this sound interesting but too complicated, or are their other auto maintenance services you need? Do not put off your oil change because you do not want to be aggressively upsold or treated unethically by an auto shop. At Independent Motors, we treat our customers the way that we want to be treated – fair and honest. Meet our staff.

Commonly Needed Subaru Repairs to Help Maintain Your Vehicle

Common Subaru Repairs


Why Subaru Remains Popular


People do love their Subarus. There are many good reasons for that and it’s no wonder they remain a popular brand. Subaru vehicles are well known for their safety, reliability, and fuel efficiency which are certainly what most people are looking for in their commuter vehicles. That’s not to say Subarus aren’t tough, either. Many people buy them because they can handle difficult terrain and can adjust to nearly any weather condition. In a place like Boulder, Colorado where the roads can get pretty perilous during the winter months, this excellent handling is essential. When you need a good all-purpose vehicle with four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, Subaru is a great choice. It’s the most popular brand sold in Colorado for a reason.


Common Subaru Repairs


You’ve got a car that has a great reputation for handling in inclement weather, being safe, being durable, and overall being a reliable vehicle. It sounds great. Your Subaru should last you for years to come. However, inevitably problems will arise. That’s just the nature of car ownership. Everything degrades eventually and it needs to be fixed. While making sure you’re getting routine maintenance done regularly will help prevent some of these major Subaru repairs, know that there is a distinct possibility at least one of these issues will pop up as the years go by. Once you hit a certain point in your mileage, wear and tear damage is inevitable. It’s unlikely you’ll have all or many of these problems, but it’s best to be prepared for the one or two that may strike. Here is what you need to know about the most common Subaru repairs.


Leaking Head Gaskets


The first of many issues common to some Subaru models that isn’t necessarily obvious at first. Make no mistake, though. Driving around for any significant amount of time with leaking head gaskets can lead to big problems. The major indicator that something could be wrong with a head gasket is the loss of coolant. Coolant can leak from anywhere and you may not see it. It could be leaking into the vehicle itself. Coolant that gets pulled into the engine can quickly cause damage due to overheating. Everything from spark plugs failing to corrosion and rust can occur depending on where the coolant leaks. If you’re noticing performance issues, particularly regarding overheating, bring your vehicle in for service right away.


Double Offset Joint Repair


Subarus have a reputation for developing joint issues, especially in the front axle. Many people end up bringing their vehicles in for exactly this type of repair when they start noticing a new clunking sound while driving. Always be sure to bring your vehicle in for service as soon as possible when new sounds begin to come up when driving. This is doubly true if you notice your vehicle is starting to handle differently. You don’t want to lose any precision when it comes to controlling your vehicle for safety reasons. 


Constant Velocity Joint Repair


Here is another one of those issues that can get categorized in the “What’s that weird noise?” department. You may not think about it, but there are many joints under your vehicle that help turn your 3,000-pound machine effortlessly. Eventually, it becomes too much. When you start noticing clicking noises when you turn, it could be something wrong with a joint. Subarus are known for needing CV joint repairs regularly. Any changes in handling or new noises when turning need to be investigated by a mechanic.


Worn Axle Bearings


You may be starting to sense a pattern here. It’s hard to say why there are so many common issues regarding Subarus and the wheels/axles. One reasonable theory could be that people often buy a Subaru vehicle to deal with tough terrain and inclement weather. Driving over all of that with regularity comes at a cost. Axle or wheel bearings going bad give some telltale signs. Again, a lot of it comes down to sound. That clinking, humming, rumbling, and grinding is always a sign of something bad. It just may be hard to tell what joint or bearing is making it. The worst part about worn axle bearings is they may give few signs of anything being wrong until real damage is done. So, don’t delay on getting it looked at.


A/C System O-Rings


Air condition leaks aren’t uncommon in any kind of vehicle, really. It’s one of the more common reasons why someone brings their car into the shop. However, one specific cause of issues in the air conditioning system in Subaru vehicles is the failure of the A/C system O-ring. It’s not an expensive part and it can be replaced by your mechanic relatively easily. However, despite it not being a major fix, a broken o-ring causes the leaking of refrigerant which can have far reaching consequences like causing the compressor to overheat and fail. If you notice any kind of leakage, get it checked out right away.


Oil Issues


A few years back, Subaru had a big problem on its hands with certain models having an oil consumption problem. Essentially, what was happening was the piston rings in these models were failing. This caused the vehicle to consume far more oil than usually necessary. Not only did this necessitate frequent repairs, but it also required an unusually high number of oil changes/replacements for the vehicle. The issue seems to have been settled, and Subaru made concessions like extended warranties for its customers. But, if you’re driving a 2013 or 2014 model, you should be aware of this problem.


Timing Belt Replacement


The timing belt is one of those issues that you will one day have to face, but you kind of dread it because when a timing belt fails, it can mean the end of the engine. That’s why mechanics often recommend replacing it as you approach 100,000 miles rather than waiting for an issue to arise. That’s because when a problem actually occurs, it’s too late. For a while, Subaru vehicles developed a reputation for having earlier timing belt failures in comparison to other brands. This seems to be isolated to vehicles from the early 2000s, but you should never take timing belt issues lightly. If your mechanic recommends replacing your timing belt during a routine maintenance session, you should seriously consider it, especially as you near that 100,000 miles mark.




When you purchased your Subaru, you did so with the expectation that you’d be able to keep driving it for many years to come. You can, but it will take a little work sometimes just like with all vehicles. If one of the common Subaru issues strikes your vehicle, you want to bring your car into the professionals you can trust to do the job right. At Independent Motors, we have decades of combined experience servicing Subaru vehicles of all kinds. If you need repairs done or just some routine maintenance, call us today to schedule an appointment to come in. We’re dedicated to providing you with excellent service at a great price. Our team of experts will make sure you can get your Subaru back on the road.


Typical Volkswagen Issues and How to Repair Them

Typical Volkswagen Repairs

Since the release of “the Beetle,” Volkswagen has been of the more popular brands of automobile in the United States. Since the 1960s, the iconic designs put out by Volkswagen have captured many drivers. This is especially true of drivers (and parents of drivers) who put a lot of emphasis on the safety of their vehicles. Volkswagen has a reputation for being one of the safest auto makes available. This holds true across most of their product line.


Not only has Volkswagen won awards for design and safety, but the company is often ahead of the curve when it comes to safety features. It often adds active and passive safety features into their vehicles years before these features become legally required by regulatory bodies. They’ve long gotten high scores on safety tests year in and year out. It’s no wonder that they remain a good choice for young drivers who are just starting out on the road. Volkswagen has kept up with the times, too, having a wide variety of digital safety features integrated into their cars for easy handling and an enhanced driving experience.


Now, that all sounds great. But, eventually, you will have to bring your vehicle in for service. Inevitably, some issue needs to be addressed. You may be wondering what the most common Volkswagen repairs are. Here is what you need to know.


Most Common Problems


Volkswagen models are certainly popular and they make a great first car, especially for young drivers. However, just like with any brand or make of vehicle, there are some issues to be aware of. Every type of car or truck has its quirks. There is no perfect vehicle, so don’t let seeing a list of common problems dissuade you from buying anything from a particular automobile company. It’s important to know what you may need to expect. The following list is some of the most common Volkswagen repairs that many service shops see and need to perform. You’re not guaranteed to run into all of these issues, but you may see one or a few over your vehicle’s lifetime depending on how long you own your vehicle, the driving conditions you experience, and how well you keep up with routine maintenance.


Check Engine Light


Everyone loves (to hate) the check engine light because a few things can trigger it. Every vehicle is different when this light comes on. It may not even necessarily be the engine, but there’s something going on somewhere in the system. It could even be that the gas cap is too loose or something. Volkswagens tend to have issues with the check engine light, and you may not be in dire need of repair despite the light being on. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to get the problem fixed. You won’t pass an inspection with that light on, and you don’t know that it’s “nothing” until a mechanic takes a look. But, some Volkswagen models tend to have the check engine light come on at early mileage levels due to a sensor not working properly or a glitch in the software.


Defective Timing Chain


In comparison, this one is a big deal. Timing chains will require maintenance eventually. It’s more or less unavoidable on any vehicle if you keep it long enough. What’s problematic is when they fail far too soon. And when the timing chain goes, that could be it for the engine. Volkswagen states that their timing belts are designed to last about 120,000 miles. However, it’s been found that some Volkswagen models from the late 2000s were experiencing timing belt failures far sooner than that. Some were even failing at 20,000 miles. While it’s only certain models with certain engine types, it’s a serious issue to at least be aware of.


Oil Issues


Every vehicle requires you to periodically change the engine oil, so this isn’t too much of a shock. However, Volkswagen had a problem specifically on early 2000s models that were succumbing to gunky oil buildups far sooner than the typical car should. Cars were seeing engine trouble beginning at 70,000 miles if the oil wasn’t changed often enough. Of course, if you change your oil every 4,000 to 5,000 miles as you should, you won’t give it the chance to gunk up and damage the engine. While Volkswagen has corrected this issue, you still should get your oil changed regularly to prolong the life of your vehicle.


Wiring Harness Shorts


This issue and the following one are actually related and are most closely identified with the 2006 Jetta. It was a popular model and it caused Volkswagen to get stuck with a reputation of having faulty electronics in their vehicles, despite these problems being almost entirely with that one Jetta model overall. The wiring harness would short at around the 100,000-mile mark, though electronics should always get checked by your mechanic. This is especially true when you’re reaching six digits of mileage.


Airbag Malfunction Light


Again, 100,000 miles seems to be the trouble spot when it comes to electronics. Much like the check engine light problem, this one can be frustrating because a malfunctioning computer telling you that there is something wrong with your airbag when it’s fine means a trip to the mechanic you wouldn’t otherwise have to make. Regardless, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with airbags. You don’t want to just assume it’s a sensor issue when you could be in danger of the airbag randomly deploying.


Coil Failure


Some Volkswagen models tended to experience coil failure around the 70,000-mile mark. A failing coil can lead to ignition and engine issues. You may notice things like backfiring, worse fuel economy, and even your engine stalling. It’s best to take your vehicle into your mechanic if you suspect there are coil issues occurring. Similarly to many car troubles, you need to address smaller problems early before they progress to bigger problems like engine failure.


Strange Sounds


“Strange sounds” is a catch all term, but Volkswagens tend to get some rattles and clunking sounds in various parts of the vehicle over time. Clunking in the front of the vehicle is common in models with front wheel drive. The top of the suspension strut mount tends to degrade, which causes that clunking sound upon rotation. Rear springs that are failing can cause rattling in the back of the vehicle. This becomes especially noticeable when driving over bumps. If you hear rattling in the center of the car, this is probably a failure in the mid-section muffler bracket.




Volkswagen makes some great vehicles and they remain consistently popular. But, problems do arise and when they do, you need the expert repair services required to get your vehicle back on the road working reliably. It’s not just about emergency repairs, either. Keeping up with your routine maintenance is the best way to ward off major, expensive repairs down the road. That’s you should turn towards the professionals you can trust. At Independent Motors, our technicians are dedicated to providing you with the service you need at a fair price. If your Volkswagen needs repairs, call us today to schedule an appointment.



Jeep Repairs: The Parts of Your Vehicle to Keep an Eye On

Jeep Repairs to Keep an Eye On

Jeeps are a very popular vehicle in Colorado. Due to the famously tough terrain and heavy snowfall, people need a vehicle they can be confident will get them to where they need to be no matter the obstacle. Jeeps are tough, there’s no question about it. However, like any vehicle, they will run into issues eventually. While you may not need too many of them, being aware of the most common Jeep repairs will benefit you. It can sometimes be hard to tell when exactly your vehicle needs service.


Don’t Get Caught by Surprise


One thing that often happens with Jeep owners is that they’ll come in for service and be shocked to hear that they need a lot of work done. The good thing about Jeeps, and this may sound like a double-edged sword actually, is that they tend to continue to run pretty well even if there are underlying problems. It’s not uncommon to hear things like “I need that much work done? I haven’t had to get anything fixed on this Jeep in years.”


Obviously, no one likes to get caught by surprise like this. This is especially true when it comes to vehicle maintenance. The good thing is there are only a few major issues that are seen somewhat consistently when it comes to Jeeps. Once they are fixed, you can pretty much bet on the fact your Jeep will be able to stay on the road for many more miles. However, it’s important to keep in mind that every single model of vehicle has its own unique quirks and issues. You may not experience any of these common problems and in fact, could be experiencing something completely different. The following repairs, however, are the ones that have been encountered the most often, so keep an eye out for these issues.


Suspension Components


Suspension components, including track bars, drag links, ball joints, and tie rod ends, tend to be the most commonly damaged components that require replacement or repair when someone brings their Jeep in for service. This really shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise considering very few people purchase Jeeps just to commute to and from work. Usually, a Jeep gets put through its paces on some pretty unforgiving terrain which puts great strain on the suspension as you’re driving over unpaved land or large rocks and considerably high speeds.


In fact, suspension issues are so common with Jeeps that the problem has developed its own interestingly creative name amongst Jeep owners: the Jeep Death Wobble. Perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration, however that uncontrollable wobble isn’t something you really want to be driving on for any significant amount of time so if you’re noticing a wobble, bring your Jeep in for service as soon as you can so it can be fixed.


Cooling Components


Obviously, keeping your engine cool is necessary to keep it running. Many Jeeps eventually have an issue where something goes wrong with the cooling system. This goes beyond making sure that you change your coolant when required. While this is important, the components themselves need to be minded. The water pumps and radiator have a tendency to need to be repaired. Both of these issues can reveal themselves in similar ways. Keep an eye out for any coolant leaks. Check your thermostat occasionally. Generally, when a water pump or the radiator itself is experiencing issues, the engine temperature will run too high, which is a recipe for an expensive and potentially dangerous situation. Check for cracked or damaged pumps every so often to get out ahead of the issue.


Axle Shaft U-Joints


Here is another issue related to the handling of your vehicle. Again, no surprise here. 4 x 4 vehicles often need to have their axle shaft U-joints changed. This is especially true if you off-road often. Eventually, the damage is done. While it can be hard to tell when a U-joint goes bad, there are some telltale signs. Keep an ear out for squeaking while driving, a clunking sound while shifting, vibrations while you drive, and transmission fluid leaking. All of these “symptoms” could be another issue. Regardless of the root cause, it’s not going to be something good, so be sure to bring your Jeep in for service if you experience any of these things.


Routine Maintenance


Those are a few of the most common repairs that we see come through when it comes to Jeeps. But, that doesn’t mean those are the only issues you may run into. All vehicles are susceptible to similar problems when it comes to not staying on top of routine maintenance. Jeeps are no different, even though they can run well for a long time without any noticeable problems. Here is what you have to make sure you’re mindful of as you drive your Jeep over the years.


It’s very important to stay on top of your oil changes. The sticker on your windshield isn’t meant to just guilt you into bringing your vehicle in. It’s important to get your oil changed very 4,000 to 5,000 miles so there isn’t a chance for old oil to gunk up the engine with pollutants. If oil isn’t changed often enough, dirt and other solid material can build up in the engine, drastically shortening the life of the engine, if not the vehicle itself.


Another bit of maintenance to be aware of, especially with Jeeps, is the state of your tires. Since you’ve probably bought a Jeep to handle tough terrain and intense weather conditions, it’s doubly important to make sure your tires are up to the task of handling it. This includes checking your tread, making sure you have enough pressure in your tires, making sure your tires are properly aligned, and actually having the right kinds of tires for the terrain you’re going to be spending most of your time driving on. Remember, it’s not just about off-roading. There are specific tires for summer and winter months to offer better handling. This is especially important when talking about heavy snowfall.


By keeping up with the maintenance on your vehicle you can help ensure that you’ll be able to drive your Jeep for longer.




Most likely you bought your Jeep because you wanted a vehicle that was tough and could take anything you threw at it. Colorado is famous for its rugged terrain and many drivers like to have the ability to off-road when the mood strikes. As tough as your Jeep is, however, inevitably it will need to be repaired at some point. If you haven’t had your Jeep looked at lately or you’ve noticed that something doesn’t seem right when you drive it, it’s time to take it in for a look. Addressing issues before they become major problems, including keeping up with routine maintenance, will actually end up saving you money in the long run. Call us today to schedule an appointment to bring in your Jeep so we can provide the service needed. At Independent Motors, we have years of experience servicing Jeeps at a fair price. Let us help you keep your Jeep on the road for many years to come.



What Kinds of Repairs Improve a Vehicle’s Gas Mileage?

Improve Your Gas Mileage

Many modern vehicles are built with efficiency in mind. Some are more efficient than others, obviously, but even traditional “gas guzzling” models guzzle less gas than they have in the past. There are a few reasons for this. For one, it’s often regulatory.  Additionally, it helps the environment which is certainly on the minds of many people. But, if we’re being honest, one of the big motivators for gas mileage efficiency is the monetary savings involved. Less time at the pump means more money in your wallet. So, there are many benefits to having a car with efficient gas mileage.


What many people may not realize is that many different factors can affect a vehicle’s gas mileage. Typically, we think of it as something that’s just part of a vehicle’s design. We shop for fuel efficient cars and that’s all, right? Not quite. Did you know that some types of auto repair can actually improve your gas mileage?


Whether it’s a fuel sipping car or a more gas hungry truck, many vehicles begin to lose some of their relative efficiency over time as wear and tear occur. This includes the innards becoming dirty from use and lack of proper fluid changes. Many factors make up your vehicle’s present day mileage. What this means is, if you’ve been driving your vehicle for a number of years, the efficiency may have diminished if you haven’t kept up with your routine maintenance. The good news is, with some fixes you can improve your gas mileage.


Many of these repairs aren’t even major issues. They are relatively simple and not terribly expensive. You just need to bring your vehicle in for an evaluation to see what exactly could be affecting your gas mileage negatively. You’d be surprised how many different places in your vehicle could be hindering your fuel efficiency. Here are some of the common reasons why your gas mileage might have diminished with time and how to improve it.


Mass Air Flow Sensor


Vehicles are more computerized than at any time before in our history. It’s a pretty convenient thing and there are many benefits to it. However, just like with any computer, it can only process the data it’s given. The computer relies on signals sent by other components of the vehicle and when those components are compromised, the computer may be inaccurate. Case in point, take the mass air flow sensor.


The mass air flow sensor measures air flow into the engine and prompts the computer to regulate fuel injection. If the sensor becomes dirty or damaged, the readings become inaccurate. This can throw off the balance of the vehicle’s fuel economy, causing the engine to “work harder” than it really needs to due to the inaccurate air flow readings. Get that sensor cleaned up, and you can improve engine efficiency.


Oxygen Sensor


Here we have a similar story. This isn’t terribly different from the mass air flow sensor issue. The biggest difference is that the oxygen sensor is even more difficult to get to in order to fix.  The oxygen sensor monitors the exhaust flow before and after the catalytic converter. If the exhaust flow can’t be properly read, then the engine and regulation of fuel injection become affected. Much like with the mass air flow sensor, fuel economy will be altered because of the engine computer being misled by the dirty oxygen sensor. It’s generally recommended that sensors be replaced after 100,000 miles. You may not need to change sensors often, but when the time finally comes years into ownership, it’s something you should do. Your computer does a lot in your vehicle, but you have to help it along by making sure it’s always taking accurate readings to maximize performance.


Spark Plugs


Spark plugs have an important job. They take the electric current from the ignition and deliver it to the engine in order to spark the combustion that makes it work. Basically, without spark plugs, you aren’t going very far. There are varying opinions on when you should change your spark plugs. Some manufacturers boast a 100,000 lifespan for their spark plugs. This is generally not best practice, though. Consider that by 80,000 miles a spark plug is nearly entirely worn out. The typical spark plug more realistically lasts about 60,000 to 70,000 miles. You don’t want to use the same spark plug if it’s hanging on by a thread.


If you swap out your spark plugs when necessary and they don’t get to a point where they’re too worn down, you can keep your gas mileage where it should be. New spark plugs can give your engine efficiency a boost. You may even want to get your spark plugs checked every 30,000 miles.


Air Filter


Sensing a pattern yet? The air flow that goes in and out of your engine has a significant effect on how well your vehicle performs. A dirty air filter is something every mechanic is very familiar with because it’s so common. If you leave the same air filter in your car for too long, you’re causing unnecessary strain and your gas mileage will suffer. Your air filter has an even more detrimental effect on your gas mileage if your vehicle is over ten years old. Manufacturers give different recommendations for when you should switch your air filter. The range is typically between 30,000 and 45,000 miles.


Motor Oil


Your oil and your tires, which we’ll get to next, are two things you should always be keeping an eye on. Making sure are both in proper shape can affect your fuel economy by up to 3% for each. While 3% doesn’t sound like much on paper, it adds up over years certainly. It may be cents on the dollar, but that quickly adds up to many dollars with time. There are two things at play when it comes to your motor oil. For one thing, you need to be using the recommended grade established by your vehicle’s manufacturer. If you use the wrong oil, you affect your vehicle’s efficiency. The second thing is old oil can clog up the system. Dirty oil that turns into sludge is one of the most common ways to kill your engine. Get it changed every 4,000 miles or so.




Finally, there are your tires. It stands to reason that if your tires aren’t properly inflated, the vehicle has to work harder in order to reach speed and maintain control. By keeping your tires inflated to the recommended limit, you relieve some of the strain on your vehicle and improve your vehicle mileage by a couple percentage points.




Auto repair isn’t always a major project. Sometimes even simple maintenance related fixes can have a major effect on your vehicle. When it comes to gas mileage, making sure your vehicle is taken care of can actually save you money in the long run. But, if you haven’t brought your vehicle in for routine maintenance lately, your fuel efficiency could be suffering. Call us today to schedule an appointment to bring your vehicle in. The team at Independent Motors is here to provide you with the auto repair services you need at a fair price to make sure your vehicle is running at its best.

Is Your Vehicle Not Handling Like It Used to? Here Are the Possible Causes

Vehicle Handling

Every vehicle owner is familiar with the feeling that something is a bit off with their vehicle’s handling. It happens to every car, sports utility vehicle, or truck eventually. One of the most common reasons why someone inquires about auto repair services is because they feel like their steering is off. Perhaps the vehicle doesn’t seem as responsive as it used to. Maybe it drifts. You could even feel like your vehicle requires more forceful steering wheel turns in order to get the desired motion. Whatever the specifics are, something seems wrong with how the vehicle is handling.


This is such a common problem that you’d think you could give a definitive answer to what was going wrong right away. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to vehicle handling issues. For those who aren’t so keen on doing their own auto repairs, think of it this way. Have you ever been sick and Googled your symptoms? You’d think a sore throat means strep or a cold. But it turns out that a sore throat is actually a symptom of a dozen different illnesses. Without going to a doctor, you’d never be able to properly figure out what is actually wrong. While you can guess, only a professional has the tools to give the proper diagnosis. It’s not too different when talking about your car or truck. Sure, you may have an idea of what’s going wrong, but a mechanic can properly identify where the issue with your vehicle’s handling is actually occurring.


The truth is that different parts of your vehicle could be causing that sensation of your vehicle not handling properly. If you’ve reached a point where your vehicle is behaving that way, it’s probably well past time to bring it into a mechanic to check out, anyway. It could be something that would have been caught during a routine maintenance visit several months ago. It’s good to have a general sense of what the issue could be before your appointment, however. While you may not be able to make the determination yourself about what is wrong, you won’t be so surprised when the mechanic comes back from inspecting your vehicle and lets you know what needs to be done. Here are some of the most common reasons why a vehicle can suddenly feel like it’s handling poorly.


Transmission Issues


Getting your transmission looked at is something you need to do a few times (probably) during the life of your vehicle if you keep it for many years. Alternatively, it’s something you need to do if you drive it long distances with regularity. You should at least get your transmission fluid changed when appropriate. It’s hard to give hard numbers on when you should, so consult your owner’s manual. However, keep in mind if you drive under stressful conditions (hard stops, stop and go traffic) often, then your transmission needs to get checked more frequently.


Now, unfortunately, transmission issues can be behind your vehicle’s odd performance. Generally, one of the most feared phrases one can hear come out of a mechanic’s mouth is “It’s the transmission” because it’s often a costly fix. As is usually the case, early intervention when it comes to transmission issues can keep repair costs down.


If it’s just your transmission fluid that’s old, getting it changed may be just the fix you need. However, if the fluid is so old and dirty that it’s causing noticeable performance issues, it could be that there’s damage already from particles in the fluid. If the gear teeth get worn down or break, a vehicle can slip out of gear, causing the handling issue you’re experiencing.


Tire Problem


If it’s not the transmission, and hopefully it isn’t, there’s a good chance that it’s something to do with your tires. In fact, this is probably the most common reason as many people tend to not take care of their tires as often as they should. To be fair, life is busy. Who is going to remember to do the penny test on their treads when the kids have three different practices to get to after school?


A variety of things could be going on with your tires that are causing the vehicle to handle oddly. The first thing you want to check is your air pressure. Whether it’s too low or too high, you’ll feel it. Low tires control poorly and you may hear screeching when making turns. Too much air makes you feel every bump in the road and can even cause a blowout.


Tires can also be misaligned or not secured. If you changed your tire yourself recently, make sure that it’s set firmly against the back disc. If the nuts on the tire aren’t secure, you’ll definitely feel a vibration while you drive. If you notice that one front tire is wearing down faster than the other, that usually signals an alignment issue.


Suspension Is Off


If the issue isn’t the tires themselves, it could be something very close nearby. It could either be something wrong with your suspension or an axle. When something happens to the suspension, the telltale signs are usually obvious. One thing to look for is a dramatic pulling to one side while driving. You may notice a sensation of bouncing up and down when coming to a stop. The vehicle doesn’t just settle into position anymore. An axle can get bent relatively easily. It takes some force, but it can certainly happen if you’re in an accident or hit a particularly deep pothole. A bent axle can alter a vehicle’s handling.


Brakes Need to Get Checked


Another common reason for poor handling is that there is something wrong with the brakes. Brake fixes are one of the most typical kinds of auto repair because often issues aren’t investigated until there are serious problems. There are many indicators that something is amiss with your brakes. You can hear them squeal or grind, feel them grinding, and in some instances even smell them. If it is your brakes that are causing your vehicle to handle oddly, it’s going to be while you’re trying to stop. If you’re just driving along and feeling yourself drift, that’s not going to be your brakes. But, if you’re feeling a pull when braking, you might have your culprit right there. Hopefully, it’s as simple a fix as getting your brake pads replaced. Of course, if you’ve been driving on damaged brake pads for a significant amount of time, you’ve increased the chances of causing damage to the discs or drums. If there are issues at that level, you could be looking at more serious repairs.




No matter what specifically is causing your vehicle to handle poorly, it’s important you get it fixed as soon as possible. It’s dangerous to drive for long with a vehicle that doesn’t respond properly to your control. Depending on the root cause, you could be driving on what’s shaping up to be a major repair. Come get it fixed before it turns into one. Contact us today to schedule a time to bring your vehicle in. At Independent Motors, we’re dedicated to doing right by our customers. We’ll be honest about the work your vehicle needs and we’ll provide the service at a fair price.