Blog

Yes, You Need Winter Tires

CZ-C15a_Zimní_výbavaIf you drive in an area that experiences cold weather – and if safety is important to you – then yes, you need winter tires.

But…My Regular Tires Are Good Enough, Right?

Can you wear sandals in the winter? Sure. But your feet are going to get cold and you might slide around on the ice. Why? Because sandals are engineered for summer use.

On the other hand, winter tires – like boots – are engineered for both the slippery conditions caused by snow, slush and ice and for colder temperatures. They have a unique tread design that is made for digging down and biting into snow, slush and ice. A Consumer Reports test found that snow tires are 40% better when it comes to snow traction and 15% better in ice. Let that sink in for a moment (no pun intended): 40% better traction. Imagine an Olympic runner beating his or her time by 40%. Imagine a professional baseball player improving his batting average by 40%. Imagine getting a 40% raise. It’s more than a small difference.

But…I Already Have Four-Wheel-Drive (or All-Wheel-Drive) – I Don’t Also Need Snow Tires, Right?

800px-Winter_tires_with_North_American_symbolA lot of people consider traction in snow and ice to be a big factor when purchasing a vehicle. Having an AWD or 4WD vehicle is non-negotiable for many shoppers. And certainly, having a vehicle equipped with 4WD will improve your traction in snowy conditions. However, the decision to equip your vehicle with snow tires is not only also important, it’s potentially more important.

Don’t believe us? Take a look at this video, which shows a Rear-Wheel-Drive vehicle equipped with snow tires easily outperforming a 4WD vehicle with summer tires on a snowy hill.

 

But…I Live In A Climate Where It’s Cold, But It Doesn’t Really Snow A Lot.

You still need winter tires. They’re built with rubber compounds and other components that keep them flexible in temperatures below 45°F. The flexibility allows them to provide better handling and stopping, even when there is no snow but the temperature is low.

But…I Have All-Season Tires?

All-season tires are built for, you know, all seasons, right? Sort of. The reality is, designing tires is an exercise in compromise. All-season tires split the difference between summer and winter tires, making them neither the best nor the worst choice in either temperature.

So it’s sort of like wearing sneakers all year long. They’re okay in summer, but not as good as sandals. They’re okay in winter, but not as good as boots. So they’re…okay. The question is, is “okay” an acceptable level of risk when you’re talking about the 4 pieces of rubber separating you and your 2-ton vehicle from the pavement.

But…I Only Need To Replace The Tires On My Drive Axle, Right?

tire stack tallNo. You need to change all 4 tires. If you already drive with winter tires, you’ll realize they provide so much better traction that only installing one set will result in one end of your car slipping around and the other end sticking to the road. When it comes to keeping yourself, your family and your car safe this winter, you’re going to want all four tires sticking to the road, not just two.

But…It’s Too Expensive?

Tires are expensive, there’s no way around it. But snow tires are less of an expense and more of an investment. What’s the difference? An expense is an outflow of money that meets a short-term need, where as an investment is an outflow of money in the present with the promise of a larger reward in the future. What is the reward with snow tires? Besides the obvious – the safety and well-being of you and your family – winter tires are also an investment in your vehicle. If you drive a nicer, newer car, truck or SUV, the chances of incurring weather-related damage is significantly decreased by using tires made for the proper season. And even minor body damage can be very expensive to fix.

They’re also an investment in your summer tires. Winter tires, on average, aren’t significantly more expensive than summer tires, and tires age with miles. While your summer tires are hibernating for the winter, they’re also not aging. In other words, two sets of summer tires used back-to-back will last you approximately the same amount of time as one set of winter tires and one set of summer tires switched back and forth. While owning two sets of tires at the same time requires a larger upfront cost, the overall cost is the same. The only true expense is the cost of switching the tires twice a year. At the Hershey Motors Service Department, the cost to switch the tires is the same as any mount and balance: $19.99 per tire. Since you have to switch them twice a year, that comes to approximately $159.92. That’s a bargain for 40% better traction.

But…It’s A Nuisance?

Everyone is busy. Everyone’s time is limited. Nobody wants to spend it scheduling trips to the local service department to have tires switched twice a year. And really…what’s the harm? I’ve driven countless winters on summer tires and had no problems. Similar arguments are made all the time for not wearing a seat belt in a car or a helmet on a motorcycle, for not getting your regular checkup from the dentist or doctor, or eating right and taking your vitamins. It’s understandable – why spend time and money I don’t have protecting myself from something that may never happen? Which is sound logic…up and until it isn’t.

So change your oil regularly, get your teeth cleaned every 6 months, and always, always, always use winter tires in the winter.

For more information about snow tires or any preventative maintenance for your vehicle, call the Hershey Motors Service Department at 610-857-5283. They’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the care and feeding of your car, truck or SUV!

 

How to Teach an Old Car New Tech

ford-galaxieNewer cars come with not just the benefit of lower miles and less wear, they can also bring the advantages of modern technology. Shopping for a used car can be frustrating at times – finding the car of your dreams, only to learn that it doesn’t come equipped the technology of your dreams. But alas, there may still be hope!

Whether you’re looking for navigation, Bluetooth, auxiliary inputs, remote start or a variety of other modern high-tech gadgets, you may be able to retrofit your dream car with aftermarket tech that will solve all of your problems! Or at least some of them…

GPS/Navigation

One of the most commonly requested options in a used vehicle is navigation. Gone are the olden days of relying on confusing directions from your unreliable pals or unfolding a map while you’re cruising along the interstate. But factory nav isn’t the only way to get where you’re going, and there’s no need to limit your options to only vehicles that include an in-car navigation system – there are plenty of alternatives!

Smartphone Apps

waze-borderOne of the biggest advantages of using a navigation app for your phone is you’ll always have it with you. No need to pay the exorbitant rates from rental car companies or find yourself without it when there’s a surprise road closure, most Americans rarely find themselves without their phones these days. Not only are these apps handy, they also include more information than most GPS systems, offering the best route for current traffic conditions. The downsides, of course, are the drain it puts on both your battery and your data usage.

One of the most popular navigation apps is Waze, which offers a variety of choices for the voice reading your directions, up-to-date traffic and even alerts for disabled vehicles and police up ahead. And, best of all, it’s free! Waze uses similar data to Google Maps, which is also free.

Consider a dedicated mount. Using a phone app for directions can be just as distracting as texting, pulling your eyes and hands away from the road and wheel. A phone mount is a safer way to use your phone as a navigational tool.

Portable Vehicle GPS

garmin gpsFor drivers who spend a lot of time using their navigation system, you may consider an in-car vehicle unit. These offer the portability of your phone, with the ability to use them in rental or borrowed cars, without draining the battery or using any of your data. Many modern units include lifetime maps that can be easily updated and come with suction cup mounts that keep them firmly in place and positioned conveniently near your field of vision. One of the major downsides is the threat of theft. It’s advisable to remove your GPS from the windshield and place it somewhere out of sight whenever you exit your vehicle.

Garmin is one of the most popular GPS manufacturers, with a variety of options at different price points. TopTenReviews.com gives the Garmin nüvi 2589LMT the Gold Award, noting its voice-recognition technology, time-tested design, exceptional functionality and lifetime traffic updates. It can also be paired with your smartphone via Bluetooth. It’s currently selling for $160.06 on Amazon.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth technology is another important option for many car-buyers, allowing drivers to use their phones as music players or to talk hands-free on their phones. Many states have traffic laws restricting cell phone use while driving, and with good reason, so hands-free technology could be a life-saver – literally! Keep in mind, however, that Bluetooth will only limit 2 of the 3 potential distraction types – physical and visual; it does not prevent cognitive distraction.

But if your vehicle isn’t outfitted with Bluetooth already, don’t worry – there are plenty of available kits on the market that won’t require installing a new head unit.

The Anker SoundSync Drive is the #1 recommendation from The Wirecutter, praising its high sound quality and ease of use. As long as you have an Aux-In port (more on that later), “installation” is little more than adhering it to your dashboard, hooking it to the auxiliary port and attaching a power source. It is currently unavailble from Amazon, but lists on the Online Bluetooth Store for $39.99.

If you share a car and regularly need to pair two different devices, consider iClever’s Himbox HB01, which retails at Amazon for $29.99.

Auxiliary Port

cassetteIf your car doesn’t have an auxiliary port, there are two options for creating one. The easiest is with a cassette adapter, if your car already has a cassette player (and you’re not too busy playing your old mix tapes to free it up!). Cassette adapters can be purchased from stores like 5 Below or Wal-Mart for $5-$10.

If your car has no auxiliary port and no working cassette deck, there are a few other options. One is to use an FM transmitter, which works by sending a signal to a pre-determined station on your radio. This works better for people who live and drive in areas where there is an open radio frequency that isn’t in use by an existing radio station.

The Motorola Roadster 2 offers an in-car speakerphone, but sound quality will suffer in comparison to your car’s speaker system.

If you don’t want to sacrifice sound quality, GTA Car Kits makes iPod/AUX kits for a variety of makes and models. The website includes video installation instructions that are surprisingly easy to follow. Kits range from approximately $89-$104, but there are also generic versions available through Amazon in the range of $20-$40.

If you’re getting a buzzing noise through your installed system, try using a Ground Loop Noise Isolator.

Backup Camera

modern-dash-2By 2018, a backup camera system will be mandatory on all vehicles leased or sold in the United States. In the meantime, adding a backup camera to your vehicle can be expensive, but well worth the price if it prevents even one minor accident.

According to both CarAudioNow.com and BestProducts.com, the best rear view camera is the Rear View Safety RVS 091406, which currently retails on Amazon for $179.99 (though Amazon customer reviews are less than stellar).

Though more expensive, the up-and-coming company called Pearl, which strives to offer the latest in automotive technology to every driver, offers RearVision. RearVision installs easily in your vehicle’s license plate frame and transmits to an app installed in your cell phone. It’s wireless, solar-powered and works well both in daylight and at night. The Gadget Flow gives it 5 stars out of 5, but it retails for $499 and is still only available as a pre-order.

Remote Start

If you don’t like to get in your car until it’s warm and toasty, there are plenty of options for aftermarket remote start kits. Viper is the most well known, but there are many to choose from; Mobile Edge offers a handy buying guide to help sift through all the options.

The Viper 4105V gets positive reviews from Amazon and currently retails for $68.95, but unless you’re really handy it’s advisable to have it installed by a professional. One Amazon reviewer suggests using Best Buy’s price-match guarantee and then having them do the installation.

And Everything Else!

In addition to these popular options, there are plenty of other aftermarket products you could add to update your vehicle’s tech. These include Parking Sensors, LED Lighting Kits (for your interior lights and headlights), Smart Driving Assist, Head-Up Display, Infotainment System Updates, Forward Collision Sensors, and Lane Departure and Blindspot Alerts.

 

 

Wipe the Slate Clean with Better Blades!

windshield rain laughter

Most of us pay very little attention to our windshield wiper blades, taking for granted that we’ll always be able to see the road ahead of us with clarity. But sometimes when it rains, it pours, and your wiper blades suddenly take a leading role in your comfort, convenience and safety. You’ll be patting yourself on the back if you’ve planned ahead and taken the time to make sure they are cleaned and properly maintained.wipers

You can avoid some of the most common wiper blade problems – such as streaking, skipping, wearing, splitting, etc. – by remembering to follow these easy steps:

  1. Clean your windshield every time you gas up. It’s an easy time to do it, since most gas stations provide a squeegee and water, and will help keep dirt from building up.
  2. Use a paper towel to gently remove excess dirt and oil from the wiper blades.
  3. Never use your wipers to de-ice your windshield. It’s tempting; you’re in a hurry, it’s cold, and it’s unreasonably frustrating watching ice melt when you’re late for work. But your wipers are not designed to be ice scrapers and can easily be damaged by the thick, rough ice on your windshield.
  4. Pull your windshield wipers away from the window in the winter to prevent ice build up.
  5. Change your wiper blades approximately every 6 months to a year, or any time they’re not properly removing the water from your windshield.

When you complete these simple steps, you’ll be getting the most use possible out of your wiper blades. However, not all blades are created equal. Many people are still used to the old standard/conventional blades, which are made in a straight line and rely on a springy frame to compensate for the curvature of your windshield. These blades cost approximately $10 each and will need to be replaced often.

But there is another option! “Beam blades”, which are common and often required on newer cars, came onto the scene in the early 2000s and feature a better construction to handle the shape of your windshield. Beam blades are a bit more expensive, approximately $20 per blade (more for some specialty vehicles), but not only do they last longer, they work more efficiently.

wiper blades - standard vs beamAt the Hershey Motors Service Department, we use Bosch Evolution Wiper Blades, which “feature dual precision-tensioned steel springs that distribute more uniform pressure along the entire length of the blade”. These blades work with a spring mechanism which is shielded from snow & ice, are more aerodynamic with less wind-lift, look more modern and offer maximum cleaning and durability with minimal noise and chatter.

Click here to learn more about the differences between “beam” and “standard” blades!

If you are tired of listening to the squeaking and chattering of your old wiper blades, consider an upgrade! If you’d like to learn more, you can always call in to talk to Andy, the service manager at the Hershey Motors Service Department, and he would be happy to explain your options.

Road Trip Playlist!

Summer is officially here, and it’s time to start thinking about road trips! Whether it’s an impromptu day trip to the beach, a long weekend in the mountains or an even longer trip to visit relatives, the most important item on your checklist should be establishing an appropriate playlist! Okay, not the most important, but you’ll be thankful to have a playlist that is equal parts energizing and introspective so the monotony of the drive never drains your excitement for the road. Because remember…life is a journey, not a destination!

Speaking of Journey, you can’t go wrong with “Don’t Stop Believin'”! After all, travel is ultimately about dreams. Dreams of escape and of overcoming hardships, dreams of landscapes, of cities, of people you’ve never met and places you’ve never been, of experiencing the world from a new perspective...and a good road trip song encompasses all those feelings of wanderlust. 

Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
Goin’ anywhere

This song leaves you with a feeling that you can make it through anything – even the next 100 miles.

 “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”

How I Met Your Mother‘s “Arrivederci, Fiero” revealed the road-trip-worthiness of this Proclaimers classic.

But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more

Travel can be daunting. Not only does this song provide the up-tempo energy you might need after a few hundred miles, it’s also a song about personal resolve – that if you’re willing to go the distance, you’ll find it’s all worth it in the end.

“Life is a Highway”

With a title like “Life is a Highway”, it’s hard to go wrong.

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long

Tom Cochrane’s most famous song has been covered several times, including by Rascal Flatts for the soundtrack of the Pixar movie Cars.

“On the Road Again”

For the country fans in the car, there are few songs that capture the essence of road trip magic more perfectly than this classic from country legend Willie Nelson.

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends


Even if you’re not on tour with your bandmates, most road trips involve making proverbial “music” with those closest to you. Seeing the world, realizing your dreams, making new memories…all with your besties by your side.

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
And our way
Is on the road again

 

“I’ve Been Everywhere”

If Willie’s song captures the magic of a road trip, Johnny Cash’s “I’ve Been Everywhere” captures the practical realities. Just singing the list of this traveler’s travels can be exhausting, and life on the road can be relentless in its monotony. That’s the road, man. Long, repetitive, and wearisome.  But along the way, you get to “cross the deserts bare” and breathe “the mountain air”, and you can’t put a price on that.

“Home”

Country crooners and classic rock bands haven’t completely cornered the market on road-trip-playlist-worthy songs.

Moats and boats, and waterfalls,
Alleyways, and payphone calls
I been everywhere with you (that’s true)

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros hit the nail on the head with “Home”, which is sure to make its way onto the road trip playlists of more than a few Millennials and Prius-driving-hipsters on their way to Burning Man.

“Sweet Home Alabama”

It’s a must if your travels have you headed south, but even if you’re not literally going to Alabama the sweet guitar licks and the shear American-ness of itmake it a great addition to any driving soundtrack.

“The Road Goes On Forever”

An outlaw. A pick-up truck. A briefcase full of cash. It’s a classic ballad of the freedom that comes from the road. And with lyrics like “The road goes on forever and the party never ends” and the raspy vocals of Robert Earl Keen, it’ll be hard to leave it off your list.

“Born to Run”

When you really need to find your groove, when you need that extra kick and the coffee has lost its effectiveness, turn to “The Boss”.

Sprung from cages out on highway nine,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and steppin’ out over the line

Bruce Springsteen is as American as apple pie, and there’s something that just feels right about hitting the road with his music filling the air. And for obvious reasons, “Born to Run” just makes sense. Not only was it Springsteen’s breakout single, it perfectly embodies the sentiment of all road trip enthusiasts with nearly every lyric directly addressing the “call” of the road.

We’re gonna get to that place
Where we really wanna go
And we’ll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
Baby we were born to run

For extra credit, though, download Nebraska in its entirety and save it for some late-night driving through the Great Plains. Some stories need to be told by one man, one guitar, and what better time to let it all sink in than when you’re watching the desert roll past by moonlight and contemplating the meaning of it all. Who know, you might even find yourself.

 

Of course, this is just a starter list, so to take you a little further, here are a few bonus tracks:

Classic Rock: “Born to be Wild” by Steppenwolf, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Hotel California” by The Eagles (even if you’re not going to California), “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Running on Empty” by Jackson Brown, “Here I Go Again” by White Snake, “Runnin’ Down a Dream” by Tom Petty, “Life in the Fastlane” by The Eagles

Slow but Reflective: “Take the Long Way Home” by Supertramp, “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, “Long May You Run” by Neil Young, “Carolina in my Mind” by James Taylor, “Fireflies” by Owl City

Hipster Tracks: “I Will Wait” by Mumford & Sons, “I Woke Up in a Car” by Something Corporate, “Send Me on My Way” by Rusted Root, “The Distance” by Cake, “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors

 

 

Much Ado About Oil

The Basics

OilMotor oil is manufactured for the lubrication of internal combustion engines, and its main function is to reduce the wear on the moving parts inside of your engine. Motion causes friction, and friction causes wear, and too much wear on your engine can be costly. Motor oil also inhibits corrosion, cleans the engine, improves sealing and keeps things cool by carrying heat away from the moving parts.

But Really, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

It is important to check your oil regularly, especially in older vehicles. To do this, make sure your vehicle is turned off, preferably for at least 10 minutes to let the oil settle. Pop the hood and look for the dipstick. Pull it out, wipe it off with a rag or a paper towel, then reinsert it and pull it out again. If the oil level is below the line that says “fill”, it’s important to add oil immediately. Running your engine completely out of oil can result in it “locking up”, which will likely require a whole new engine. Not a repair bill anyone wants to see!

But Why Do I Have to Change It?

Oil breaks down over time and/or use, which is why it’s often recommended to change your oil after a certain number of miles OR a certain number of months. As the oil breaks down, it becomes less and less effective, and the filter (which is also replaced with an oil change) will become more and more clogged. Getting regular oil changes will help to keep your engine’s internal parts operating smoothly, which will in turn lengthen the life of your vehicle. You will find your manufacturer’s recommendations for changing the oil in your owner’s manual, but many mechanics are firm believers in always changing the oil every 3000 miles. After all, an oil change is one of the least expensive maintenance operations, and it’s protecting one of the most valuable parts of your vehicle.

Synthetic vs. Conventional

There are literally entire books written about motor oil, but for the average consumer one of the most useful pieces of knowledge is the differences between synthetic and conventional oils. Synthetic oil is a lubricant that has been synthesized from chemical compounds and offers a variety of advantages over conventional oil, including:

  • Improved lubrication and greater wear protection
  • Better stability
  • Reduced breakdown
  • Fewer deposits and reduced “sludge” left behind
  • Flows better in lower temperatures
  • Protects better in higher temperatures
  • Protects critical turbocharger parts

The only downside of synthetic oil is the price, which can be a significant factor for many consumers. At the Hershey Motors Service Department, we offer either a full synthetic oil change or a synthetic blend.

What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

If you’ve ever been shopping for motor oil, you’ll know there are a lot of options. The numbers you’ll find on the front (such as 5w-30) refer to the oil’s viscosity, which describes its thickness.

13091975_10153644691602897_8563612704505934617_n

The first number describes the viscosity at low temperatures, while the second number describes the viscosity at normal engine operating temperatures. For example, the “5” in 5w-30 will protect an engine down to about -25° F, and the “30” is well-suited for the typical temperatures that most cars operate at these days. Race cars or vehicles pulling heavy loads on hot days may require a higher number.

In the old days, oils came in a single-grade viscosity, meaning you might have to change your oil depending on the season. SAE 30 may have been a good choice for the summer, but in the winter you may have had to switch to SAE 10w (the “w” actually stands for winter). But multi-grade viscosity oils have eliminated the need for changing your oil due to the seasons.

Does It Matter What Kind of Car I Drive?

Yes. While most standard cars take a standard amount and type of oil, there are some cars that require higher quality oil products. When you’re buying a car, it’s not a bad idea to know if your car will require a more expensive type of oil. Some GMs, for instance, require a high-quality oil called Dexos, and diesel trucks and diesel cars require special types of oil.

What Is Included in a Standard Oil Change?

While every garage is different, an oil change for most vehicles at the Hershey Motors Service Department also includes a new oil filter, topping off of fluids, testing the battery, inflating tires, and a visual brake check as well as a visual once-over for any obvious signs of needed repairs.

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about oil changes, it might be time to schedule one! Call 610-857-5283 to set up an appointment, or schedule an appointment online through our website.

You Mean You Can Make a GPS Out of…Paper?

That’s right. Before there was GPS, there were maps. April 5th is National Read A Road Map Day, so it’s a good time to reflect on why we may not want to throw out our road maps altogether.DCF 1.0

Many millennials view maps as simply an archaic GPS of days gone by, but there are reasons to actually read maps – not the least of which is to preserve your own cognitive abilities. When it comes to your brain, the old “use it or lose it” adage is absolutely on point. According to a 2010 study, those who rely on GPS have less activity in the hippocampus, an area of the brain focused on memory and navigation.

Of course, one reason not to blindly follow your GPS is it could be sending you into disaster, like a lake, a sand pit or a cherry tree. Just because you’re using a GPS, doesn’t mean you have to let it drive you into a rough! While reading an outdated road map could potentially roughcause similar problems, we’re more likely to blindly follow an instructive voice – letting it drown out our own common sense – than when our brains are fully engaged in the critical thinking required to read a road map.

A GPS doesn’t eliminate human errors, yet it reduces our ability to correct them. Even if we assume the GPS has a perfect sense of direction, which it doesn’t, we as humans can still make mistakes entering the information. Imagine if you entered Parkersburg instead of Parkesburg and ended up in West Virginia! With your critical thinking skills firmly in the “off” position, you might not even notice. Don’t believe it could happen to you? Just ask the Belgian woman whose broken GPS led her on a 900 mile journey to get to a train station 38 miles from her house.

robotOnce a friend driving from Chester County to Boston added an extra 3 hours to his trip because the GPS was inadvertently set to “avoid tolls”. Had he not completely handed over the navigational duties to a computer, he might have noticed that something was amiss – that he should have been on an interstate moving much faster than he was! But our mind tends to wander while being led by the GPS, and our brains are still the best navigational tools on the planet.

And of course, there’s always the chance that your GPS malfunctions or you end up under cloud cover so heavy it blocks out GPS signals. Or there’s a zombie apocalypse. And then what? If you aren’t armed with a paper map and the knowledge of how to read it, you better hope your grandad picks up when you call him for help!

 

Do I Need a Wheel Alignment or a Tire Rebalance? Let’s Ask Andy!

What’s the difference between a wheel alignment and a wheel balancing?

tire stack tallWhile many consumers confuse the two, a wheel alignment and a tire rebalancing are two separate services.

Wheel alignment is an adjustment to the angles of the wheels so they are perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other. Simply put, if your wheels are out of alignment, they are not pointing in the right direction.

Wheel balancing, on the other hand, allows the wheels to spin without causing any vibrations. If your wheels are out of balance – with some spots heavier or lighter than others – they will spin unevenly, causing a vibration at highway speeds.

Why should I get a tire rebalance?

One of the most common reasons to have a wheel balancing service performed on your vehicle is that your steering wheel is vibrating at highway speeds. In addition to the vibration, which many drivers find annoying, unbalanced wheels may also cause your tires to wear unevenly and prematurely.

Why should I get an alignment?

One of the most obvious reasons to get an alignment is to protect the investment you’ve made in your tires. Tires wear at an uneven rate when they’re not straight and level with the road, which will decrease the life of your tires. Tires are expensive, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of them!

Additionally, improperly aligned wheels will have an effect on your suspension and steering. With your vehicle pulling to one side or another, you may find its handling to be less responsive.

What causes my vehicle to become misaligned and out of balance?

One thing common to both misalignment and unbalanced wheels is that the major cause pot holesof both is potholes. Potholes are often worse in the spring, especially after a long and unforgiving winter, but can develop all year round. Additionally, any obstacle that is jarring to your wheels – such as hitting a curb or going over a large speed bump – may cause your wheels to be knocked out of alignment, out of balance, or – in many cases – both.

The alignment may also be a symptom of the problem, rather than its root cause. At the Hershey Motors Service Department, we always run a check of your steering and suspension system to look for problems which may have caused the misalignment.

When should I invest in an alignment or tire rebalance for my vehicle?

If your vehicle is misaligned, you should always get an alignment. Symptoms of this may include feeling a “pull” to one side or the other, noticing uneven tread while inspecting your tires, or noticing a dip in your average gas mileage.

Likewise, if your tires are unbalanced, you should have them rebalanced. Symptoms of this include a steering wheel vibration at highway speeds and uneven wear of the tires.

If you purchase new tires, you should get both. Tires are a costly expense, and making sure your vehicle is properly aligned and your new tires are properly balanced will help in protecting that investment.

It’s also not a bad idea to get your wheels aligned once a year as a preventative measure. Even if you’re not noticing a slight pull on your steering, it’s still possible a slight misalignment is causing premature wear on your tires.

How is a tire rebalancing performed?

FHD0076Wheel balance is checked on a wheel balancing machine that can detect even small differences in the weight of the wheel. To balance the tires, the technician will place small off-setting weights around the wheel at specific points.

How is an alignment performed?

At the Hershey Motors Service Department, we use a HawkEye alignment system from Hunter Engineering Company. The HawkEye is a top-of-the-line alignment better croppedalignment system and uses patented high-resolution cameras to provide alignment measurements with pinpoint accuracy.

Take advantage of our Pothole Special!

For the month of March, we’re running our Pothole Special and offering both a 4-Wheel Alignment and a Complete Tire Rebalance for only $79.99 on most vehicles . You must mention this promotion to receive the discount (may not be combined with any other offers or specials).

The service takes about an hour, and we’re located right next to the West Sadsbury Commons shopping center – we’d be happy to give you a ride over there so you can have lunch, do some shopping, or have your hair done at one of their many retailers while you wait!

To schedule an appointment, visit our website or call us at 610-857-5283.

 

 

Super Bowl 50’s Best Car Commericals

Some people watch the Super Bowl because they like football. Some people watch the Super Bowl because it’s a good excuse to eat Buffalo dip, wings and guacamole. And some people watch the Super Bowl because they want to see…the commercials?

The annual debut of the latest and greatest from the best-of-the-best in the advertising world has taken on a life of its own, complete with its own pre-game build up and post-game play-by-play of the winners and losers from the big game. Which is ironic, considering on any other day the goal of the average consumer is NOT to watch the commercials.

In honor of Super Bowl Commercials 50, here are the best of this year’s ads from the automotive industry.

Jeep: “Portraits”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKn5K5V7tRo

 

What’s Great About It

It’s a great tribute to Jeep’s anniversary, and a reminder to Jeep lovers worldwide of why they love Jeeps so much. Because they’re tough and rugged, like the craggy voice of the narrator and the grizzled subjects of the black and white portraits. Because they’ve got history and have been to the beaches of Normandy. And because they’re as classic and powerfully simple as black and white photography. Like a good pair of Converse All-Stars, the Wrangler doesn’t seem to age, never goes out of style, and is as cool as it was 75 years ago.

 

Toyota: “The Longest Chase”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHzLUdd7kZ8

 

What’s Great About It

The Prius has a reputation for being the choice vehicle of tree-hugging fuddy-duddies everywhere, and the commercial attempts to convince non-tree-hugging fuddy-duddies that it’s not ONLY for tree-hugging fuddy-duddies. It playfully mocks itself (“How hard could it be to catch a Prius? Over.”) while providing consumers with a new image of the car – that it’s actually a little bit fast,  kind of cool and maybe even a tad sexy. Yet it doesn’t forget to remind viewers of the two best reasons to buy a Prius: the gas tank stays full and they’re exceptionally quiet.

 

Hyundai: “The Chase”

 

What’s Great About It

It’s quick and simple, which is always a good thing in the advertising world, and it very succinctly tells you what it wants you to know: you can now talk to your car. While you’re unlikely to be chased down by bears in the near future, it’s a cool new feature and a great platform to debut it. The bears provide a great tag at the end to keep it funny, and the production values are great.

 

Kia: “Walken Closet”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9r0FrXXKeiA

 

What’s Great About It

Get it? “Walken Closet”? Like walk-in, but Walken…okay, you get it. But seriously, it’s hard to go wrong with Christopher Walken, who is always funny in the right situation. And this is the right situation. Walken is cool and in control, and you can be too – if you leave your beige socks behind and opt for something sleek and snazzy like a Kia Optima. Because a Kia Optima is sleek and snazzy. Right?

 

Honda: “A New Truck To Love”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTaCT8ZmdJA

 

What’s Great About It

Sheep singing a Queen song? Hard to miss with that. The new Honda Ridgeline is Honda’s second crack at the truck market, and they’ve come out swinging. While the truck-bed audio system they show off in the commercial may not be the most important feature to many truck owners, it tells you something about Honda: they’re innovators. They’ve got a new kind of truck with features that you literally can’t get anywhere else. They’re appealing perfectly to their core demographic – consumers who aren’t locked in to the old-school, traditional American truck market.

 

Hyundai: “First Date”

 

What’s Great About It

Of course Kevin Hart is funny. Kevin Hart is always funny, and he was a perfect choice for this ad. But what makes it even better is that the cleverness isn’t wasted on Kevin Hart being funny, it actually shows off a new feature of the Hyundai Genesis – Car Finder. So not only is it funny, relatable and engaging – it’s also informative. The only downside is that while the Car Finder feature is properly highlighted, the Hyundai name is likely playing second fiddle to the star power of Kevin Hart.

 

So now that you’ve seen all of this year’s best commercials, feel free to return to fast-forwarding right through them!

Ultimate Gift Guide for the Drivers in Your Life!

Tucker christmas card - no text

December is upon us and so begins an onslaught of searching, shopping, scanning, surfing and head scratching – all in an effort to find that perfect gift. That perfect thing your friends and family members didn’t even know they wanted, until they open up your present and wonder how they ever lived without it in the first place! But where to start?

If your shopping list includes a car owner or two, and there’s a good chance it does, there are plenty of great gift ideas that are time-saving, convenient or just plain fun – the kinds of items people rarely splurge on for themselves but which make the perfect gift for others!

And if your gift recipient is a veritable car enthusiast? Even better! With a few ideas to shoot you in the right direction, you’ll find there’s a gold mine of gifts for people who are serious about their vehicles!

Gifts for the Average Car Owner

GPS: A GPS is a great gift idea for anyone who doesn’t have one already, ranging in price from under $50 to over $1000. But for the average driver, agarmin gps Garmin nüvi 2557 LMT is a great choice – currently just $124.95 on sale at FactoryOutletStore.com and offering lifetime maps and traffic. Also available at many retail outlets where electronics are sold.

Smartphone Mount/Holder: Don’t text and drive, of course, but a quality mount is a great gift for anyone who uses smartphone navigation for driving directions. The iOttie is compatible with many popular phones and is a Best Seller on Amazon that retails for just $19.99.

Bluetooth Car Kit: Driving is best done distraction free, but if you’re going to use your phone in the car, it’s best to at least be hands free. Bluetooth hands-free car kits are available in the range of $20-$70 and plug right into your aux-in port. The Wirecutter likes the iClever Himbox HB01 for its superb audio quality and mic performance.

ice scraper - cropped

Ice Scraper: Everyone needs an ice scraper, but if your gift recipient is of the “go big or go home” mentality, you may want to consider something more than your garden variety blade. The Thor not only has a cool name, it is an expandable double-blade titan of the ice scraper world and comes from Quirky, a site designed to help independent inventors market their ideas. Currently available from BirchBox for $21.99. Also consider the Zeus, a snow shovel and brush set sold at Amazon for $28.47.

Emergency Car Kit: It’s always good to be prepared, and an emergency kit for your vehicle is a good idea for everyone. AAA offers a variety of options on Amazon, ranging in price from $24.90-$89.95. Or create your own! For tips on a DIY version, check out our other blog on Winterizing Your Vehicle.

Jump Starter: Jumper cables are great – if you’ve got a buddy willing to bring his car to you. A jump box can be kept in your trunk for emergencies, and costs start at around $50. The Service Department here at Hershey Motors uses the Booster Pac brand, and the ES 2500 is available from Amazon for $114.79. Just make sure you get one powerful enough for the vehicle it’s meant for – bigger trucks require more amps!

Remote Start System: Warming up the car before you get in it is a benefit for anyone living in a cold weather climate. If your car didn’t come with a remote starter, you can add one with a kit. According to Car Audio Now, the top remote starter is the Viper LC3 4706V which lists for around $183.97 on Amazon. #4, however, is the Avital 4103LX, which is currently on Amazon for only $45.63.

Winter Tires: Unless you know a person really well, you’re probably not buying them a set of winter tires for Christmas. But according to Consumer 800px-Bridgestone_snow_tires_Blizzak_Revo_2_-1Reports, winter tires offer approximately 40% more traction in snow and 15% more traction on ice than all-weather tires. So for that hard-to-buy for member of your immediate family, it’s worth considering! Check out our blog on Winterizing Your Vehicle for more info, or call the Hershey Motors Service Department to set up an appointment at 610-857-5283.

Portable Air Compressor: Not a bad thing to have with you if your tire goes flat – plugs right into your cigarette lighter! Tools Reviewer gives the Kensun AC Portable Air Compressor Tire Inflator the thumbs up as the best overall value. Amazon sells it for just $59.99.

High Road StableMate: Though trash cans aren’t the most exciting gifts to give, having a good one in your vehicle is crucial, especially for families, if you want to protect your car’s interior. High Road makes a variety of different organizers and trash cans that are designed to stay upright in your vehicle. The StableMate Large Car Trash Basket is leak proof, stays in place and includes pockets for napkins and sanitizers. Retails for about $20.00.

Seat Gap Filler: The Drop Stop Seat Gap Filler was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and is designed to block the gap between your seat and center console. You know, that crevice that attracts phones, keys, change, French fries and trash like a black hole? Retails for $19.99 (set of 2) at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

weathertech - logo

WeatherTech: WeatherTech floor and cargo mats are not your garden variety mats – they’re custom fit to your individual vehicle. For more information and some real-life before and after pics, check out our blog post from a few months ago. Depending on the vehicle you’re buying for, a WeatherTech protection package will run approximately $150-$300.

microfiber

Car Care Products and Microfiber Towels: Meguiar’s car care products make a great gift for anyone looking to keep their vehicle looking shiny and new long after it’s, well, shiny and new. They offer a variety of products that can be purchased at most auto parts stores, such as Advance Auto Parts. Microfiber towels can be purchased almost anywhere and make great stocking stuffers!

armor all vac mate

Auto Vacuum: Armor All makes a wet/dry vac that’s designed for car enthusiasts. It’s powerful and light weight, so it’s easy to maneuver around the car with it. Retails for only $33.49 at Target.

Inflatable Car Air Mattress: Ever try to sleep in the back seat of your car? It’s no fun, but sometimes it’s just plain necessary. If you’ve got someone in your life who regularly finds themselves catching Z’s in the car – whether it’s a nurse who has to nap after a long overnight shift, a frequent traveler, or a college student just trying to make it work – this may be the ultimate gift. Options are available through several online retailers – at the Happy Hobo it goes for $89.95. Small price to pay for a good night’s sleep!

Code Reader: The “check engine” light on your vehicle is one of the most confusing alert signals in the world. It means something is wrong with your vehicle, but that “something” can be anything from an improperly tightened gas cap to a seriously misfiring engine. For those who drive old cars, a code reader is a great gift – giving you a little insight into what you’re dealing with before deciding how to proceed. Especially if you’re far from home and not sure if you might do more damage to the car by trying to drive it further. Andy, the service manager here at Hershey Motors, recommends Autel. The AutoLink AL319 is currently selling for only $15.95 on Amazon.

Mechanic’s Tool Set: If you’ve got a young man or young lady in your life looking to begin building a set of tools, a mechanic’s tool kit is a good place to start. Craftsman sells a 258-piece set through Sears for $149.96.

Gifts for Car Lovers

For most of us, cars, trucks and SUVs are a means to an end – and the end is getting to where we need to be. But if someone on your list is a bona fide gearhead or auto enthusiast, these are some great gifts out there you may not even know exist!

vintage cufflinks

Car-Themed Cufflinks: Cufflinks don’t have to be boring! If you love cars, there are a number of options for sprucing up your Sunday best. Consider some vintage car or car gear cufflinks from Etsy or antique car cufflinks from eBay. Or take a look at Cufflinks Depot for options ranging from $45 for gas gauge and speedometer cufflinks to $495 for Ferrari cufflinks (and everything in between!).

Gear Shift Bottle Stopper: If your car enthusiast is also a wine enthusiast, you might consider a Gear Shift Bottle Stopper. Currently on sale at Everything Kitchens for only $12.56.

GTO Wallet: If you’re looking for something truly exquisite, consider a leather wallet from GTO London. It’ll run you between £100 and £265, which is currently around $150-$398 in US dollars, and you’ll have to allow extra time for international shipping, but these wallets are engineered luxuries and are the kind of thoughtful, unique gifts that any car enthusiast is sure to appreciate!

Carroll Shelby Luggage Set: If your loved one drives a Shelby, consider a Luggage Set from Carroll Shelby Merchandise. At $399.99, it’s no small gift for the average shopper, but this 3-piece set is light, strong and durable and sure to bring a smile to any Shelby owner or enthusiast!

Coasters: Car-themed coasters make a great gift for any car lover! Consider the Tire Coaster Set from GenuineHotrod.com for $16.97 or a Vintage 6-Piece Instrument Coaster Set from Shop PBS for only $24.99

Hive Posters: Check out these unique high-quality fine art prints from a New Zealand car enthusiast and graphic designer through Store Envy. Prices are around $25-$30 + shipping and a variety of different cars and designs are offered.

Track Time: Many car lovers would be excited to spend a little time on a real race track. Dover International Speedway offers Driving Experiences and Ride Alongs starting at $129. Or look for deals on e-commerce marketplace sites like Groupon and Living Social for some exceptional bargains!

Driving Gloves/Shoes: For style, sophistication and a better grip on the wheel, consider Bionic Gloves which offers both men’s and women’s driving gloves. For your feet, consider Puma’s Motorsport line, which includes both Ferrari and BMW driving shoes.

Gasket iPhone Case: Consider the ID America Gasket Aluminum Case. Available from Amazon for iPhone 4 or 5 for $9.95 or $19.95.

Books

There are tons of books out there for car owners – from the casual driver to the enthusiast – from Auto Repair for Dummies or Car Hacks and Mods for Dummies, to coffee table books about fast cars, big trucks, muscle cars, etc. But if you’ve got someone on your list with a deep and enduring love of cars and racing, these are some books to consider:

Additionally, you can find rare, vintage out-of-print car books on sites like eBay or at old book stores.

Movies

If you’re looking for general car movies with a mass appeal, there are plenty of choices. The Fast and the Furious comes to mind, as do Bullitt, The Cannonball Run, Vanishing Point, Gone in 60 Seconds, Death Race, etc. But if you’re looking for a movie that’s a little further off the beaten path, consider these films that the racing enthusiast in your life is likely to appreciate:

  • Love the Beast – labor of love by actor and revhead Eric Bana, with appearances by Jay Leno – this documentary chronicles his lifelong friendship and love affair with The Beast, a Ford GT Falcon Coupe and the first car he ever owned
  • Senna – documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 World Championship three times before his death at age 34
  • Le Mans – you can’t go wrong with Steve McQueen, and this is arguably his greatest car movie ever
  • Steve McQueen: The Man and Le Mans – just released, this documentary on Steve McQueen is the story of obsession, betrayal and ultimate vindication
  • Rush – directed by Ron Howard, this is the true story of the legendary racing rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda

And Don’t Forget About the Kids! 

If you’ve got kids in your life showing an interest in cars, these toys offer a little more than the run-0f-the-mill playtime activities.

Theo Klein Interactive Service Station: Though it may be difficult to find these days – it’s out of stock from a lot of retailers – it’s every little gearhead’s dream come true! It’s durable, quality and stimulates the imagination! For now, it’s available through Amazon at $161.50.

Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine: This innovative “toy” contains all the parts and tools you’ll need to assemble a working model. Includes its own Haynes Manual! Great project to work on together! Out of stock through a lot of retailers, but it’s currently available for $143.59 through Sears.com.

Hot Wheels Video Racer: Ever wish your Hot Wheels cars had cameras on them? Me too! These Hot Wheels include a hidden micro camera and you can download video editing software to add sound effects, graphics and music! Only $19.99 at Amazon.

Little Tikes Cozy Coupe – 30th Anniversary Edition: It’s an American classic! Just as enjoyable now as it was 30 years ago! Available through Little Tikes for just $54.99.

Disney’s Frozen Mustang: What Frozen fan wouldn’t love their own Frozen Power Wheels Mustang? Available from Toys “R” Us for $284.99.

Power Wheels F-150: Any truck-loving little guy (or gal) will be thrilled to see this Power Wheels model based on the Ford F-150 under the tree this year! Available through Kmart for just $169.99.

Grease Monkey Coveralls: If your little one is too small to really be a part of the fun, you might like dressing him or her up in adorable Grease Monkey Coveralls. Available through Knuckleheads Clothing for $39.99.

Tips For Winterizing Your Vehicle

Winter’s coming! And while we may not be looking forward to the snow, ice and cold temperatures that are on the way, it’s important to be prepared. So pull those winter clothes out of the attic, stock up the shed with road salt and shovels, and prepare your vehicle for a long, cold winter. We all hope it won’t be a long, cold winter, but it’s always better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst!

snow blizzard with Sinclair Lewis quote

Consider Snow Tires

800px-Bridgestone_snow_tires_Blizzak_Revo_2_-1We know, we know – buying tires when you already have tires goes against everything we think we know about saving money, but if you have to drive in snow and ice, it’s more of an investment than a splurge. Winter tires have superior tread that is made for digging into snow and ice, and are made from rubber compounds designed to retain their flexibility in cold temperatures.

But what does that mean to you when you’re on the road? According to Consumer Reports snow tires are 40% better for snow traction and 15% better in ice braking than all-season tires. That’s a significant difference and well worth the investment! What may seem like a large up-front cost now will ultimately be saving wear and tear on your all-season tires during those winter months, so the primary cost is just the mount and balance each spring and fall when you switch the tires. Not a bad trade off for 40% better traction!800px-Winter_tires_with_North_American_symbol

Take a look at this video on YouTube to see what a drastic difference winter tires can make, with a RWD BMW pitted against a 4WD vehicle on a snowy hill. The results may surprise you!

At the very least, make sure your tires have good tread – all-season tires with low tread are simply unsuitable for winter driving – and make sure each tire is properly inflated. Making sure your tires are inflated to the proper PSI will cost nothing and will significantly increase the safety of your tires. For more information, see our “Ask Andy” blog regarding tire inflation or contact the Hershey Motors Service Department.

Check Battery Cables

Batteries do not like winter. Join the club, right? But if your battery isn’t happy, you’re not going to be happy either – CrocodileClamponBatteryespecially if you’re sitting on the side of the road waiting for someone with jumper cables to come along. Battery capacity is reduced in cold weather, so issues that may not have created a problem during the warmer months may suddenly decide to pop up and ruin your day. Most likely at the worst possible time! Check your battery’s cables for cracks and breaks and make sure the terminals fit snugly. The Hershey Motors Service Department typically performs a battery check with each oil change, and also offers a simple check of your voltage and cold-cranking amps free of charge.

Coolant Flush

Antifreeze_in_the_radiatorGetting a coolant or radiator service every 60,000 miles or so (check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more specific information) will help to extend the life of your vehicle. Over time, the antifreeze in your vehicle’s cooling system will lose its ability to properly protect your engine, which is arguably the most important component in your car. It’s especially important in winter to make sure you have proper antifreeze to protect your cooling system from freezing up while your vehicle is parked.

Windshield Wipers and Fluid

Windshield wipers may not seem like a particularly important part of your vehicle’s maintenance, but in the winter – when road salt spray is a way of life – having properly working windshield wipers can be vitally important to your visibility. Inspect your wipers to make sure they are able to completely clear your line of sight, make sure your washer fluid is full, and keep extra fluid on hand for long trips.

Engine OilPreventative Maintenance (13)

Keeping up with regular oil changes is always important, regardless of the season, but it’s not a bad idea to be ahead of the curve. Have it done along with your vehicle’s winterization check up, and you won’t have to worry about getting it changed in the middle of a snow storm!

Gas Tank
Zapfsäule_BP_Wien

Make sure your gas tank is at least half full. You don’t want to run out of gas in freezing cold temperatures! It’s not a bad idea to keep a small fuel container in your vehicle, so that if you do have to hike to the gas station, you’ll already have a suitable container.

Emergency Kit

Everyone’s emergency kit checklist may be slightly different – depending on the climate and terrain, the length and remoteness of your trips, and any special needs you and your passengers may have. You can purchase a vehicle emergency kit from most retailers, but here is a general list of useful items to get you started:

  • Jumper Cables (or better yet a Jump Box)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Reflective Warning Triangle and Flares
  • Blankets and/or Heavy Coats
  • Hat/Gloves/Scarf
  • Winter Boots
  • Food and Water
  • Flashlight with Batteries
  • Power Bank (for your cell phone)
  • Cat Litter, Sand or Road Salt
  • Ice Scraper
  • Extra Windshield Washer Fluid
  • Small Tool Kit
  • Collapsible Shovel
  • Spare Tire and Jack
  • Pocket Knife, Duct Tape, Rope, etc.

winter_car_kit

If you have any questions about weather-related car maintenance or repair, don’t hesitate to call the Hershey Motors Service Department at 610-857-5283 for more information. We’re not just a full-service garage, we’re a resource for helping you to get the most out of your vehicle!

During the month of November, our service department will be running a special on winter weather-related car maintenance, offering a coolant flush, oil change, air filter, tire rotation, battery check and air pressure check at a reduced price. Click here for more details!