Categories
Blogs

Winter is Coming. Are Your Tires Ready?

Are You Prepared for the Icy Roads?

Colorado winters feel like they sneak up on you. One day, you’re outdoors grilling in flip-flops, and the next, you’re outdoors grilling in flip-flops while a blizzard hits. Unfortunately, Colorado winter’s aren’t all skiing and blizzard barbecues. All of the extra snow means driving in some pretty tricky (and occasionally unsafe) conditions. There’s a noticeable uptick in traffic accidents once it starts snowing, and it’s not hard to see why. Snow means increased braking distance, less handling on the roads, and decreased visibility. 

With the snowier parts of winter fast approaching, this is a good time to outfit your car with snow tires. There’s a popular misconception that snow tires don’t do much to your vehicle’s handling, but that’s only true if you live in consistently temperate climates. Having a set of snow tires significantly increases your car’s safety during the winter months. Let’s explore how!

First of all, it’s worth identifying the difference between snow tires (sometimes called winter tires) and their all-season counterparts. True to their name, all-season tires are designed to be driven during all seasons, and they make some compromises in order to do so. All-season tires are made of harder rubber and feature tread patterns designed to increase traction on most concrete surfaces. This makes them reliable for consistently driving on concrete or asphalt in temperatures above 40 degrees. 

Once you put all-season tires on icy roads, however, they show a noticeable decrease in traction. Harder rubber is more prone to skidding on ice and can see a decrease in responsiveness when dealing with cold temperatures. In fact, all-season tires tend to require almost 3x the braking distance when stopping on snow or ice. If you’re trying to react to sudden changes in the road, that braking distance can mean the difference between a clean stop and a collision. 

Conversely, snow tires are made of a softer rubber that allows for better handling in winter conditions. This rubber stays flexible at lower temperatures, meaning that it doesn’t suffer from the same skidding that all-season tires can. Additionally, these tires feature specialized tread patterns that are designed to provide maximum traction against ice, improving handling and braking. 

If you feel like you’ll benefit from having good winter tires, you’re probably right. A solid set costs a lot less than a car accident, with the added benefit of not being a car accident. Just because Colorado can feel like a year-round winter wonderland doesn’t mean that these tires should be used in summer, however. If you switch to winter tires, make sure that you switch back once the summer rolls around to ensure that they don’t wear down. 

If you need any work done on your tires, then Bighorn Automotive has you covered. Our expert mechanics are here to keep your car in perfect condition for the winter at fair, affordable prices! Swing by Bighorn Automotive today to see what we can do for you!

Read More
Categories
Blogs

Best All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles to Pick Up Used

Coloradans love their all-wheel-drive automotives—especially after a surprise snowstorm.

Perhaps it’s clever marketing, or maybe we don’t all have a car-person in our lives, but for some reason, we’re all under the impression that all-wheel-drive is necessary for surviving Colorado winters. However, as we’ve discussed before, the real secret to getting around—regardless of drivetrain orientation—is your tires. Seriously, I can’t stress it enough. A rear-wheel-drive sports sedan with winter tires will always outperform anything with summer or worn all-season tires, even a Subaru.

Yet, some still prefer the all-wheel-drive peace-of-mind, or maybe you want to have an AWD with winter tires beast. So if that’s you, and you just can’t live without all four wheels getting power, here are some of the best vehicles to snag used:

Buick Anything

If you can look beyond the brand and focus on the present, the new Buick lineup is actually a really good value. It was recently ranked by Consumer Reports as the third most reliable brand (behind Lexus and Toyota) and, you guessed it, most of their lineup offers all-wheel-drive. Couple that with the fact that they’re comfortable, utilitarian, and they drop like rocks in value once they’re a year or two old, making them perfect for picking up used. If GM left the Opel badge on them, you know you’d buy it.

 

Audi A4 Quattro

The Audi Quattro has long been the choice of mountain goers who want something that’s sporty and luxurious. Purchase a service warranty (Audis aren’t necessarily cheap to fix), then hit the road.

 

Ford Fusion AWD 

Crossovers are the new black, meaning used AWD cars can be picked up for much less. I’ve always been a fan of the fusion for its comfort and Aston-Martin-like front grille.

 

Lexus RX 350 AWD

Okay, if you must go for a crossover and you want something luxurious, go with the Lexus RX. Not only do you get that Lexus reliability and all-wheel-drive, but I once found a 2015 with 46k miles (nothing for a Lexus) for $27,500 and that’s much more affordable than the sticker price of a brand-new RX.

 

Subaru Impreza Base Model

Don’t get me wrong, the WRX and its high-powered big brother, the STI, are legendary cars but they are in demand. Then, everyone wants the room of the Forester, but do they really use it? That leaves us with the Legacy and the Impreza, and between the two, I’d take the Impreza. Sure it’s smaller, but you can get a hatchback and that’s way more useful than the slightly larger legacy.

What are your thoughts? I know there are many more out there, but we want to hear about your experiences? Let us know in the comments below!

Read More
Categories
Blogs

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter Weather

We’ve got some tips to help keep your vehicle running in good shape over the winter.

From snow, sleet, and ice to zero-degree temperatures, winter weather really takes its toll on our vehicles. Unless you have a garage (and even if you do), there are some steps you’ll want to take to make sure your car or truck stays reliable and trouble-free over the winter … even if you’d rather just stay inside your nice warm house.

Checklist for Winterizing a Vehicle

  • Check and change the windshield wiper blades. Installing new winter wipers will keep ice from forming on the blades and cracking them.

  • Keep the washer fluid full and replace it often. It’s also a good idea to add antifreeze. Antifreeze prevents the liquid from freezing.

  • Make sure the rear window defroster is working. During warm weather, this usually gets overlooked. Staying on top of this will prevent any unforeseen issues when you’re in a hurry and need to see where you’re going.
  • Lubricate the door and trunk locks with silicone spray to prevent freezing.

  • Check and maintain tire pressure. Do this frequently as changes can happen in colder weather. Change to snow tires if you live in an area that gets lots of snow and ice.

  • Always keep the gas tank at least half full.

  • Check the battery, brakes, and things like belts, hoses, and spark plugs for cracks, corrosion, or low fluid.

  • Use the correct engine oil for the temperature. Some manufacturers suggest using oil specifically designed for winter weather.

  • Wax the exterior to protect the paint from sleet, ice, and salt on the roads.

  • Keep a winter safety kit in your car. Items you might want to put in it include a blanket, flares, matches, ice scraper, flashlight, jumper cables, antifreeze, and an extra jacket, hat, and gloves. If you happen to break down, you’ll be able to stay warm and possibly get your vehicle back up and running. At the very least, you’ll be able to alert other cars with the flares.
  • Finally, it’s always a good idea to schedule a service appointment with your local dealership or auto shop to make sure everything is A-okay for winter weather.

Do you have a winterizing routine for your vehicle? Did we miss any important tips? Let us know in the comments.

Read More
Categories
Blogs

These Practical 4×4 Upgrades Are All You Need to Hit the Trail

4×4 Colorado

Our great state affords some of the most beautiful and challenging 4×4 trails in the world, and the cool thing is that you don’t really need that special of a rig to explore them. Now, I’m not saying you don’t have to be an experienced off-roader or that you should try to tackle the trails alone. We always advise that you operate your vehicle within its limits, do as much research as you can, watch the weather, prepare for the unexpected, and go with a group of people who know what they’re doing, but a two-door Jeep Wrangler can handle most of the trails you throw at it – albeit, with a few simple modifications.

So, here are a few things you can do that’ll make your 4×4 ready to handle anything.

Tires

Like racing on a track or driving in the snow, tires are critical to your vehicle’s off-road performance. In Colorado, you never know what you might encounter and at higher elevations, it’s quite possible to encounter patches of snow and mud, so you want to make sure you have a good off-road tire that can handle it. For a little extra ground clearance, you can generally opt for a slightly larger diameter tire. Research your particular vehicle’s forums to see what others are doing and talk to your local auto shop about installation.

Hi-Lift Jack

A quick search on YouTube will show you just how useful a hi-lift jack can be, and you don’t want to hit the hard stuff without it. At $40-$80, they’re reasonably affordable, too.

Tow Straps

Anybody looking to travel off the pavement should have a set of heavy duty tow straps. Whether it’s your rig that needs a tug or you come across someone on the trail who needs help, having a set of tow straps nearby is a must.

Spare Tire

Most 4×4 vehicles come equipped with a full-size spare – which if you upgrade your tires, you shouldn’t forget. In Colorado, there are a lot of sharp rocks that could potentially puncture a tire.

Survival

Unlike hiking, you have room to bring survival supplies, meaning extra fuel, water, first-aid, food, fire-source, etc. Hey, it can’t hurt to bring that stuff, right?

Lift (Optional)

Some people don’t need it, others do a little one to two or even the full six inches. Whatever your ambitions are, you don’t need much in the way of a lift to get by. If you want to crawl some serious rocks, though, you’ll need some serious clearance.

What are your thoughts? Any experienced off-roaders out there want to share their tips? Let us know in the comments section!

Read More
Categories
Blogs

Picking the Right Local Mechanic Can Save You Money on Car Repairs

Save money by going local!


Choosing the right garage to service your car is a serious decision. Not only do they come with different skillsets and price tags, but picking the right auto service provider can have a substantial impact on your car’s lifespan. This means that picking a reputable garage is important. Multiple studies have shown that skilled garages actually cost less, both in individual service costs and long-term car health. Shady garages often feature both substandard service and additional price points designed to squeeze customers for tacked-on hidden charges. Ultimately, you stand to save a lot of money by picking the right local garage.

Repairing a car without shopping around local garages means that you’ll likely have to pay for expensive brand-specific replacements. This is because inexperienced or shady garages will simply order whatever parts are listed in the manual without properly assessing what the car needs. Ultimately, it’s the customer who ends up covering most of the cost of these supplies.

Skilled local mechanics know to be more proactive about the parts needed for a repair. As they do not have to follow the same strict protocols as dealerships, their foremost goal is finding the part that works best for your car. This can include generic parts, but also include refurbished or aftermarket car components as well. Multiple studies have shown no meaningful difference in quality between brand-specific car parts and their generic replacements.

Some shady garages will price their entire business model around sneaky upsells. This means that their mechanics are financially encouraged to tack on extra costs that are outside of the car’s warranty or service agreement. If an individual component is damaged, it’s not unheard of for these places to aggressively push for completely replacing it instead of repairing it. Some garages also hide their process behind service managers who handle the intake and estimations for repairs, which means that you may not talk to an actual mechanic. This lack of direct communication with the people who will be actually servicing your car means that it’s easier for unnecessary maintenance and charges to sneak into your repair contract.

A good mechanic is local first and foremost to their customers. Most garages start from scratch and spend years building up their relationships with clients. This means that trying to tack on unscrupulous costs to their repairs can quickly lose business. Additionally, reputable local garages will have you speak directly to the person servicing your car. Doing this means you can expect more direct and honest assessments of what repairs will be needed and how much they will cost.

There are a few steps you can take to make sure that a garage is reputable. First, check if its mechanics have Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification. ASE Certification shows that the mechanics meet a certain standard of care in their practice. Additionally, go with your gut feeling. If something feels suspicious or shady, there’s likely a reason for it. Above all else, make sure to communicate with any potential mechanics that you’re looking to routinely use for service. Skilled mechanics will have direct answers to your questions that go beyond simply demanding that you bring your car in.

At the end of the day, local mechanics are held accountable to their communities. Good repair shops stay in business by cultivating good relationships with the people around them. This means that local mechanics can suffer pretty severe damage to their reputations by trying to tack on hidden fees or servicing cars haphazardly.

Read More