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Why Buying a Used Vehicle is the Way to Go

This is a sponsored post partnered with Newark Chrysler Jeep Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

We’ve bought both new and used vehicles in our house, and there are pros and cons to each. My father always said buying used was the smart way to go, though, so in his memory, here are reasons buying used can be a really genius idea:

Less depreciation of value. A new car can depreciate about 30% in value within the first year you own it, but if you buy a one-year-old car you can take advantage of getting a lower price and minimizing your loss of value. This isn’t a detail that you notice when buying a new car, but a few years later (or even just one year later), trying to trade this new vehicle in towards a newer model will most likely affect its value by as much as 30%!

You can afford a better car with more “extras.” Many people buy used luxury brands that they could never afford new, or can get packages in vehicles that would just cost too much for budget in a new car. We have friends who bought a used minivan that came with a great DVD player system, and they never would’ve been able to get that in a new vehicle. By saving on the depreciation mentioned above, you can move your selection criteria up to a new tier of vehicle.

Better insurance rates. Can’t beat that, right? If you have a newer car, it has greater value, and higher insurance costs. On the flip side of that, a lower value vehicle costs less to insure. Not only that, registration renewal rates are cheaper for a used car, going down in price each year.

Broader choice. With used cars, your pool is opened up to makes and models from a variety of years rather than what’s currently out. You’re more likely to be able to find exactly what you’re looking for. It may add to how long the process takes, but you’ll end up completely happy with your find.

How to Save on Gas Purchases

This is a sponsored post partnered with Robert’s Chrysler Dodge RAM Fiat. All opinions are honest and are my own.

The cost of gas can add up quickly, right? Even when we’re not driving our car out of town we can blow through a tank of gas way more quickly than seems possible. You can’t always help how much you’re driving, of course, but you can take steps to make your dollar stretch just a little bit further. Try these tips today to see a difference in your spending on gas! 

1. Don’t have a lead foot. Rapidly accelerating your car can guzzle gas quickly. Many vehicles now have a light that turns on when you’re driving in a way that uses gas economically. If you press on the gas pedal to speed up, you’ll notice that light turn off. Try to drive at a consistent speed and not accelerate quickly at lights or on the freeway to pass someone, and your tank of gas will last longer.

2. Avoid unnecessary idling. I’m guilty of this often, especially during the school year! When I’m waiting to pick up the kids from school I sit for 10-15 minutes with the car – and air conditioner – on. Idling can use a quarter to a half a gallon of fuel per hour, and if you’re using your air conditioner while you sit like I do it can use even more fuel. Turn your engine off when you’re parked, and roll down your windows. If it’s the fall and a little chilly, keep a jacket in the car  rather than keeping your heater running. 

3. Look for fuel savings opportunities. Our grocery store lets us accumulate points, and we can earn up to $1.00 off per gallon. There are other savings card programs through gas stations and credit cards, too! My in-laws use points they earn on their credit cards to buy Sam’s Club gift cards and get “free” gas that way. So smart!

4. Drive less! Sounds simple enough, but think about what all you need to do next time you need to drive somewhere, and how you can best plan your route, along with what all you need to do in the near future. Any way to chain together a few errands at once?

5. Purchase your fuel either late in the day or early in the morning. This works especially well in the summer months. When you puchase your gas during the cooler hours of the day, the density is higher, so you will pump more. Also, if you time your fill up in the first part of the week (Sunday-Tuesday), traditionally those are the days with lower pricing. Later in the week/weekend is when prices are raised for more weekend travel.

6. If you are waiting for someone outside in the parking lot, turn off your vehicle. Sitting idle while waiting is another waste of the fuel, not to mention it is just adding more harmful pollution to the atmosphere that can be avoided easily by turning off the engine.

7. Keep an eye on the tire inflation. Driving your vehicle on underinflated tires significantly uses more fuel while driving, not to mention it also adds avoidable wear and tear on your tires, thereby adding yet another cost to your budget that could’ve been avoided.

Be Road Trip Ready!

This is a sponsored post partnered with King Chevy Buick GMC. All opinions are honest and are my own.

If you’re like many other people, you’re likely planning a road trip of some kind or another for the upcoming holidays. Before you get on the road, make sure you’re prepared with an emergency kit in your vehicle. It’s easy to put one together, and you’ll sure be glad you did – as my mother would say, it’s better to have one and not need it than the other way around! You can buy pre-assembled kits at many big-box stores, but you can save money by purchasing just what you really need – and then you have something that fits your family perfectly, so you’re more likely to have what’s crucial rather than extraneous items. Consider including these items when you’re putting your kit together:

First-aid kit. You might be thinking “duh!” but the majority of you reading this post now probably don’t already have one in your car, do you? It’s one of those things we know we need, but we never get around to purchasing. Do it now before you get on the road! You can find really basic first aid kits, or – like this emergency kit we’re putting together – you can assemble your own. Neosporin, band-aids, antiseptic wipes, gauze, adhesive tape, and aspirin are all great things to include. Think about kids’ versions of medicines, and consider any medical needs specific to members of your family. 

Fire extinguisher. Make sure you get one rated for Class B (those that involve flammable/combustible liquids, like gasoline, diesel fuel and kerosene) or C (those involving electrical equipment like switches and batteries) fires. If your engine catches on fire, you’ll be glad to have this on hand.

• Jumper cables.  This is one of the most basic must-haves for any vehicle; even when NOT on a road trip we’ve had to use these to jump our vehicle or to help other people out. Jumper cables are inexpensive and compact, so it makes sense to have these in your vehicle.

Blankets and water. If you get stranded you’ll be thankful for the warmth. In the summer, if you get caught in a hail storm a blanket might be your only line of defense between you and the hail. Blankets can be used to cover expensive items in your car, too. Water is important to have if you get stranded on the side of the road (you don’t want to get dehydrated)!

Foam tire sealant, a spare tire, and all the necessary tools for changing a tire. Foam tire sealant is an inexpensive temporary solution when you get a flat, and it could mean the difference in you being stranded in the middle of nowhere or making it to the nearest town for help. We’ve had several flat tire issues on road trips over the years, so I can’t stress the importance of this one enough. Make sure someone on the trip knows how to change a tire, too!

Five Questions You Should Ask When Buying a Used Vehicle

This is a sponsored post partnered with Mullahey Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

It can be intimidating making a car purchase of any kind, but when you’re purchasing a used vehicle there’s the added uncertainty of what has happened to the car before your purchase. We’ve bought several used vehicles, and here are a few questions you can ask to make sure you’re making a good choice with your purchase:

Was the vehicle ever involved in an accident? This is probably my number one question; if it has that can mean there are underlying problems as a result. Small fender benders wouldn’t scare me away, but a major crash in a car’s history could spell trouble. Not only that, some damage to the car could render it undrivable legally, so its best to know before you go.

Can I see service records? Find out if the car received regular oil changes and tune-ups; if any parts that wear down over time have been replaced. You want to make sure the used car you’re purchasing has been taken care of so you don’t have unforeseen problems down the road. You might also ask what work has been done on it since the dealership/person selling it prepped it for sale.

What’s the mileage? An average of 12,000 miles per year is considered the norm, so break down the total mileage by the age of the car to figure out if the car has a low or high average. Its always good to also ask what the majority of the miles on a vehicle are from, be it city traffic or longer road trips. 12,000 miles on the highway affects a vehicle much differently from 12,000 city miles.

Is this a certified pre-owned vehicle? Many dealerships offer these, and it can definitely bring peace of mind; it means that it’s been through an extensive & detailed inspection. Ask if you can see the inspection. Typically these require the vehicle only be a certain amount of years old, meet a maximum number of miles on the vehicle, free of any issues on the history report, and a clean title.

How many previous owners has the vehicle had? The more owners, the more likely it is that there is some problem with the car causing people to want to get it off their hands. And if the vehicle has had multiple owners, you might question why its been passed to new owners so many times?

Always be prepared before negotiating towards a new (to you) vehicle. By having the right questions prepared to ask, you are showing the seller you mean business in this transaction, and that you are serious about this process. 

Easy Ways to Reduce Pollution Inside Your Vehicle

This sponsored post will help you keep your family healthier by giving you tips to reduce pollution inside your vehicle.

You always are aware of the pollution outside your vehicle, but what about once you are inside? Even though you are closed off from the air outside, it can be just as hazardous, especially if you are in slow traffic or bumper to bumper driving.

Of course the first tip would be to regularly change out any air filters your vehicle has. Keeping on top of their maintenance schedule helps to ensure less toxins inside your car. In addition to that, keeping your vehicle regularly maintained will reduce both the pollution it produces (helping others around you) and the pollution you are closely exposed to.

What about how you drive? Doing things like driving in the carpool lane can help, since less traffic is typically in that lane. Also if you are in less traffic areas or open areas, keeping the windows cracked can help with air circulation and can keep carbon dioxide from building up in your vehicle. If you are stopped at a light, roll the windows back up so that you won’t be stuck breathing in the exhaust from any vehicles in front of you. Also try to keep some distance from the car in front of you, at least enough so that if it stalls, you can easily turn around it.

Try restraining from using air fresheners or deodorizers in the vehicle, and definitely don’t smoke while inside the car. Also keeping your car clean will help dust particles from combining with any potential pollutants in the vehicle, which can eventually be breathed in by passengers.

Hopefully these tips will help keep your vehicle a safe breathable area. If you have difficulty changing out the air filters in particular, taking the car to the dealership will guarantee its replaced correctly. Places such as the Len Stoler Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in Baltimore MD offer services such as this, so you can get back on the road and breathing freely without worry!

How To: Change the Wiper Blades on Your Vehicle

This sponsored post will save you money by teaching you how to change your own wiper blades! 

One item on your vehicle that you don’t necessarily think about replacing on a regular basis, but perhaps should, is your wiper blades. What good is your vehicle in the rain, if you can’t see adequately through the windshield?

First, here are some signs that your wiper blades might need replacing. If you are using them and an audible sound is emitted each time they pass by. If you notice visible streaks when in use. If you see obvious cracks in the rubber material on inspection. Typically, every 6 months is a good practice for replacing the blades.

Be sure to check at the store that you are purchasing the correct size. You will need your vehicle’s make and model info to check the database on which blades to get. You don’t want to spend money on a set of blades and get to the vehicle only to find out they are either too long or too short, thereby forcing you to return again and potentially lose out on a set (if the store doesn’t accept a return).

So once you have a new set to install, its time to remove the old ones. Lift your blades off the windshield, making sure to pivot them correctly.

When you are about to remove the old ones, take care to note how they are attached to the metal arm. You will need to replicate the process once you have placed the new ones onto the arm.

Sometimes there is a locking tab underneath the wiper. Push the tab before removing the old blade, so that you don’t damage the arm. Typically then you can slide the old blade off.

Once the old blade is removed, repeat the steps used in reverse order. Once you have slid the new blade on, lock it in place and confirm its solidly attached. Be sure to gently place the wiper back down on the windshield, you don’t want to push the arm back down so that the blade slams against the windshield. Otherwise you could potentially damage the new blade and nullify replacing it, or even worse, damage the windshield!

If you notice any damage to your vehicle, be sure to drop by your local dealership to have a check on your ride. If you stop by a place like Reedman Toll in North Bethesda MD, they offer a FREE vehicle check and car wash with any oil change purchase!

Screen-Free Entertainment Ideas for Road Trips

This sponsored post has great ideas to keep your kids OFF their screens and involved with the family! 

You hear about it all the time as a parent – it’s crucial to cut down on screen time for kiddos. Of course, that can be easier said than done once you hit the road, especially on a long trip. I know I’ve said it myself – DVD players can be a lifesaver! When our family goes on road trips, though, I try to have options available to make sure my children aren’t constantly on devices. I thought I’d share some of the solutions we’ve found work well.

1) Activity binders. I like to make one for each of my children, and I personalize the content for their interests. I include blank sheets of printer paper, puzzles, coloring sheets, blank comic book pages, and more. My daughter loves stickers, so I also include a pouch that can hook onto the rings of the binder and fill it with stickers. These binders are a great way to keep loose paper from cluttering up the car, and they allow my kids to have different types of activities all in one place. No need for separate books that just fill up the car!

2) Family games. Our kids love to play I Spy – just make sure they choose items in the car instead of things outside that you’ll be driving past! They also like to play Would You Rather? which is a really fun game for the whole family to play along with. Another game our family plays a lot is “My father owns a grocery store.” One person begins, saying, “My father owns a grocery store. In his store, he sells something that starts with the letter A.” The others then try to guess the item. The person with the winning guess then gets to think of an item for the letter B. It’s easy and a fun way to pass time!

3) Read books aloud. This past fall our family read the book Wonder together. My husband and I would take turns reading chapters, and it was a lot of fun reading all together. Find a book that fits the age ranges of your kiddos, and if your children are old enough to want to read aloud let them take turns too. Wonder is a great book to start with!

4) Play Trivial Pursuit… kind of! Pick a version of the game your family would love (we have the Harry Potter version, for instance) and bring it with you. Set a timer and see how many questions your family can answer within a certain time frame. This lets you all work together, and even the driver can get involved! You can set a goal and have a prize if your family achieves it (like going through a drive-thru for ice cream, for instance).

5) Get artistic. I always bring paper, colored pencils and washable markers on road trip (pro tip – don’t bring crayons during hot weather trips, or you’ll risk a big mess with melted wax!). Assign your kids drawing challenges, like: draw an item for every letter of the alphabet; draw what you’re most looking forward to on the trip (or your favorite activity you did, if you’re on your way home). You could also add in extra challenges like drawing with their opposite hand or drawing with their eyes closed. If you’re going to visit family, have your kids draw art to give the family you’re visiting!

Make sure you’re all set for your family’s next road trip with the perfect vehicle – check out Thompson Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Baltimore‘s site for more!

Newbie’s Guide to Changing a Tire

Never changed a tire? Don’t worry – this sponsored post will talk you through the process step-by-step! 

We’ve all been there before…driving along without a care in the world, and pop! All of a sudden the vehicle is leaning to the side with an awful grinding noise – that can’t be good. So you pull your car over on the shoulder or in a parking lot and find out the worst, a flat tire.

What do you do?! There are a few options available, such as calling a tow truck or roadside assistance, but what if you would rather save a few bucks and get yourself back on the road quickly?

Here is a list of steps that will help get you back to driving easily and save a few dollars while you are at it…not to mention giving yourself a boost of self confidence from accomplishing it on your own.

Step 1:

Find a location that is safe for both you and your vehicle while you work. If you can easily turn into a parking lot and off the road, go for it. A shoulder is satisfactory but can be risky if the road is busy. Also make sure your spot is level, you don’t want to risk a rollover or unstable footing for the jack.

Step 2:

Turn on the hazard lights for your vehicle. You want to make sure other drivers know you are having issues with your vehicle and not driving normally, so that others can give you adequate space while you work.

Step 3:

Apply the parking brake. This helps ensure the vehicle stability and holds the wheels firm while you work.

Step 4:

Retrieve your tools from the vehicle. You should have a jack and wrench with you at all times.

Step 5:

Remove the hubcap from your flat (if you have one). Then loosen the lug nuts from the wheel while its still on the ground. You might have to exert some force to do so, using your weight as leverage.

Step 6:

Take the jack and place it under the vehicle in a specified space. Typically the jack has instructions for a designated space near each tire specified by the manufacturer, be sure to find the space. You don’t want to miscalculate and have the jack slip, or damage the vehicle further.

Step 7:

Raise the vehicle enough that the tire will be clear from the road completely. You will also need enough space so that the spare tire will freely be placed on your vehicle. Typically 6 inches is more than enough to clear.

Step 8:

Now that the tire is suspended, unscrew the lug nuts completely and remove the flat tire. Lay it down on its side, flat, so that it won’t roll away.

Step 9:

Remove the spare tire from its storage space in the vehicle and carefully roll it over to the space needed. Lift it onto the hub, making sure the lug bolts are lining up through the rim.

Step 10:

One at a time, put the lug nuts back on the bolts. Work in a star pattern, rather than just clockwise, to help easily tighten them. After tightening by hand, use the wrench to ensure they are secure to the vehicle.

Step 11:

Lower your vehicle using the jack, and remove it from under the vehicle. Once its back solid on the ground, use your weight to tighten the nuts again with the wrench.

Step 12:

Replace your hubcap (if you have one), and place all the tools used back in their designated spaces inside your vehicle. Also store the flat tire in the trunk, making sure to be careful not to injure yourself if the tire has exposed metal etc. Also check the pressure on the spare you just installed if you have a tire gauge.

Step 13:

Drive immediately to your mechanic or service technician. Hopefully the flat can be repaired, but driving on a spare is not a permanent solution. What happens if you end up with another flat and already are using the spare?

One option is driving it straight to your dealership, such as the Waldorf Dodge Ram dealership in Waldorf MD. They will gladly help inspect your tire and get you back on the road driving again.

Genius Hacks for Your Summer Family Road Trip

You’ll love the tips in this sponsored post, and will wonder why you haven’t been using them all along!

It’s mid-June, which means school is out for most kids, and road trips are in full swing. I personally love road trips, but I know they can be a headache for some people. We’ve got three kids, so I totally understand that there are challenges to being in the car for long periods of time… but that’s why I’m happy to share this post with some of my favorite hacks for making road trips as smooth as possible.

1) You know how kids get tired of playing with the same toys over and over again? You can have the same problem with movies. DVD players make entertaining kids a lot easier (I do like to remind my children that when I was a kid I didn’t have any electronics at all on trips), but if you’ve got a selection of, let’s say, 5 movies, your kids might get restless (not to mention – how many times can you listen to Minions before you start reciting it in your sleep?). We discovered the best solution to this ever.

Redbox.

Y’all. This is seriously a game changer. You don’t have to pack a zillion DVDs… in fact, you don’t have to pack a single one. Stop by your local Redbox on the way out of town and pick up a movie. Once you’re done with it, simply find the next Redbox location on your route and return it. We let the kids take turns picking a Redbox movie so everyone gets to watch something they like. Since we rarely make it to the movie theater, it’s a great way for the kids to catch up on all the movies they’ve missed, too.

2) I’m a big fan of behavior charts at home – chore charts, reward charts, etc. – and I’ve discovered a way to take that on the road. I bring three different-colored binder clips with me (you need one per child) and I clip them to my visor. As long as the kids are behaving, their clip stays up on the visor. If they’re whining, arguing, etc., their binder clip gets removed. I tell the kids that I might not even point it out to them that their clip has been taken down – it’s their responsibility to pay attention. If their clip is up on my visor when we stop at the next gas station they’re allowed to pick a small treat. When my kids were younger I would go to the dollar store before trips and buy prizes, then wrap them so the kids could earn “presents” to open, but now I love the gas station treat prize because it helps me minimize what I pack for our trip.

3) When you’re on a long road trip with your family, you inevitably start to accumulate dirty laundry. The hotel laundry bags are tiny, and when you’re a family of 4 or 5, they won’t last long. We’ve started packing a trash bag in our suitcase and using that to keep all the dirty laundry together in the back of our minivan. Then when we get home it’s all in one place and easy to get it all washed!

4) On road trips in the past I would use bags to organize snacks, activities, and toys in our vehicle. While I still use bags for some things, I’ve recently discovered how absolutely amazing plastic tubs are. I love them for use at home, so I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about using them on the road before. You can find small shoebox-sized tubs at the dollar store, and they’re an easy way to store items under seats. The lids keep things from spilling out into the car, and the structure of the tubs helps keep things from getting crushed.

Now that you’ve got tips for your trip, do you have the right vehicle for the road? Visit Thompson Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Harford County for all your vehicle needs.

Take Tailgating to the Next Level

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL? Thanks to the tips in this sponsored post you’ll be the best tailgater in the lot.

It won’t be long until we’re in the middle of prime tailgating season! You can make tailgating even more fun if you’re prepared – check out these great tips for how to ramp up your tailgating game:

1.  Pack a kit. A toolbox with all its various compartments can be the perfect vessel for housing all the things you might need, like: spatulas, a bottle opener, a can opener, tongs, plastic ware, trash bags, paper towels, baggies, wipes, hand cleaner, and any seasonings you might use often when grilling.

2. Use a six-pack box to house all your sauces. Keep your A-1, Tabasco and BBQ sauce from spilling out in your car by putting a bottle in each compartment. It’ll also make it easy for you to cart the sauces around!

3. Make it easy for people to find your car. Get some helium balloons and float them high up so your friends can easily find you among all the other cars around.

4. Think smart with which vehicle you bring. A compact car isn’t going to have as much room for storage. A minivan can work well (try adding plastic drawers to the back to organize all your supplies) and then of course trucks are optimal with all the surface area a truck bed provides! Find the perfect tailgating vehicle at Three Rivers Chrysler Jeep Dodge.

5. Create a disposable cooler. Another use for your drink boxes is to line them with trash bags (use at least two layers to prevent leaks), fill them with ice, and voila! You’ve got an instant cooler that you can easily toss when you’re done with it.

Get Your Car Ready for Back-to-School

Do you have your car ready for back-to-school? Check out these tips in this sponsored post and you’ll be ready in no time!

It’s just about a month until kids go back to school (has summer flown by for ayone else?) and it’s a great time to start thinking about how to get organized. We often focus on the home – having things ready for lunches, making it easy for the kids to pick out their clothes, and creating a space for working on homework.

One often-overlooked space for back-to-school readiness is the car. If you organize your car the right way it can make drop-offs easier and pick-ups more pleasant. Here are three tips for getting your car in A+ shape before the new school year arrives:

1. Use seat organizers. I’m sure you’ve seen these before – they hang down the back of car seats and have various-sized pockets for housing different items. This can be a great way to make sure you have all the things your kids might need. Kids forget breakfast? No problem – keep granola bars or small cereal boxes in some of the pockets! Have a four-year-old with a boo-boo that threatens to derail your morning? Have Neosporin spray and band-aids at the ready. Think about what you wish you’d had on hand this past school year and make a list to stock your car well.

2. Use shower caddies to make for neater eating. You can find these at the dollar store, and they’re an amazing way to let kids eat in the car without making a huge mess. Just place all the components of their breakfast (or dinner, if you’re out running errands – last minute school supply shopping, anyone?) and it keeps everything contained.

3. Get a cooler for your car. If you’re often carting your kids around to soccer practice a car cooler can make your life so much easier! It plugs right in to your car’s cigarette lighter and allows you to have cold drinks on hand. It’s also a great way to keep fresh fruit, carrots, or cheese sticks around for healthy snacks.

If a new car is on your school supply list, check out Junction Auto Sales in Chardon, Ohio!

Get More Money For Your Vehicle Trade-In

Have you ever traded in your vehicle when you purchase a new one? It can be an intimidating process, but if you’re equipped with tools like the ones in this sponsored post you can feel more confident going in to the dealership.

When you’re purchasing a new car, that usually means you are getting rid of an old one. We’ve sold a car on our own before and it ended up being a lot of work, so we decided going forward we’d always try to do trade-ins with a dealership – like Lakeland Chrysler Jeep Dodge – instead. It’s much less stressful and takes much less time, so it’s worth it to us. It’s also really nice to get your sale and purchase over with in one day!

We want to get the most for our trade-in, of course, so I thought I’d share a few tips with you that we use to make sure we get the best offer:

1. Research the value. Look on sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds to get a rough idea of the value of your vehicle. Be honest about the condition when you’re taking the questionnaire – it’s easy to get attached to a vehicle but you’ve got to be objective when figuring out how much your car is worth.

2. Get your car detailed (or detail it yourself). We have done this each time we’ve traded in a vehicle and I honestly feel like it makes a big difference. It allows you to put your car’s best foot (errr…. tire?) forward. Just like you’d stage a home for sale, make your car look its best before you take it to the dealership. A sloppy car might give the impression you don’t take good care of it in general.

3. Have your maintenance records ready to show. Keep a folder of maintenance and repair records on your car, and when it’s time for trading it in you’ll be glad! Giving the dealership your repair and maintenance records shows you’ve been a responsible car owner and it lets the dealership get a better idea of what kind of shape your vehicle is in.