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‘Tis the Season: Holiday Car Decorations

It’s time to deck the halls, and you go all out at home… but why stop there? More Americans travel during the holiday season than any other time during the year, so why not show your holiday spirit all season long as you drive down the road with some of these festive car decorations (that won’t scratch the paint or leave any marks on your vehicle!).

1. Rudolph Nose and Antlers

You can pick these festive decorations up at almost any auto store, Walmart , Target and Amazon this season.  Attach the nose to your car’s grill using wire ties and the antlers safely hook onto your windows or door frame.

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2. Garland and Wreaths

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Get festive with decking your car out with wreaths or garlands! Easily attach wreaths to your car’s grill with red ribbon or zip ties. If you want to get super festive, use a battery-powered pre-lit wreath to help light the way this holiday season!

3. Car Paint

Window painting, large vintage lightbulbs

Just like people write “Just Married!” on vehicle windows, get in the holiday spirit and use your creativity to draw and write holiday sayings on your vehicle’s windows.  These paint pens can be easily washed off and don’t block your vision while you’re driving.

4. Window Decals and Magnets

Footloose Elf - Back in stock!

Throwback to the 90’s with window decals! Meant for windows and glass doors, switch things up and use them in your car. Stick them on the inside of the window and smooth out any air bubbles.  Magnets are another great way to add some holiday spirit to your car. Find some cute ones on Amazon!

5. Festive Steering Wheel and Seat Covers

If you aren’t big on decorating the exterior of your car, but still want to spread holiday cheer, try adding holiday seat covers and a steering wheel cover! This also doubles as a way to keep your hands warmer on your steering wheel during the cold months. image 0

 

Best AWD SUVs in 2018

When the winter months are upon us, driving safety becomes a concern. Slick roads, poor road conditions, and rough terrain are all something to think about when you travel for the holidays or winter getaways.

Some of that concern can be alleviated by having an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle, especially a SUV.  Heavier vehicles operate better and are more reliable on poor road conditions because of their weight, which helps with traction support.

If you are in the market for an AWD SUV, here are some of the top ranking vehicles in 2018.

Best AWD SUVs in 2018

1. Nissan Rogue

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The Nissan Rogue offers value and comfort but doesn’t skimp on safety and all-terrain capabilities.  Because each trim level offers an AWD option, you don’t have to sacrifice safety for price.  Each option also comes equipped with a rearview camera and split-folding rear seats for convenience when you need additional cargo space.  The Rogue provides surprisingly ample leg and head space for taller passengers in its luxurious interior.

2. Jeep Wrangler

No surprise here, but the Jeep Wrangler is in this lineup since it’s frequently referred to by its loyal owners as a 4×4. But the new Jeep Wrangler offers more than just AWD off-roading abilities.  Full customization between 2- or 4-doors and 4- and 5-passenger models offer a wide range of compatibility for everyone.  If you prefer the more rugged style without all the bells and whistles, the Sport trim is for you – removable doors and roof, crank windows, and off-road tires.  If a more luxurious ride is your preference, there are optional upgrade packages that offer amenities like heated seats, remote start, and power features.

3. Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Essentially (and originally) built for off-roading, the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers optional AWD on all trim packages. But regardless of the trim you select, you’ll find features like rearview camera, parking sensors, an infotainment system, and keyless entry/start.  Drivers even have their choice between a V6 or V8 engine. The cabin is spacious to fit 5 adults comfortably.

4. Ford Explorer

Consistently topping most lists, the Ford Explorer is one of the most practical AWD vehicles on the market, year after year. Thanks to its V6 engine and large tires, it performs excellently in both dry and wet road conditions, and handles well on all terrains. The customizable Explorer has 3 different engines and 5 trim options to choose between, that can seat 5 to 7 passengers, so you are sure to find a model that suits you and your family’s needs.

5. Honda CR-V

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If an AWD vehicle with lots of options is what you are looking for, you’ll find it with the Honda CR-V. Honda offers 4 different trim options, all with optional front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.  Standard equipment and amenities include a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, Bluetooth connectivity, and 17-inch wheels. Upgrades like a leather interior and power liftgate are available to those who select a Touring trim.

AWD is becoming more standard as the auto industry is shifting toward a SUV-heavy consumer base. Automakers are opting to make new and improved versions of already high-performing SUVs to create a loyal customer base and win over those drivers who have yet to convert to an SUV lifestyle.

Find the SUV of your dreams at Trust Auto today.  Call to make an appointment or schedule a test drive.  Don’t wait – our best cars go fast!

How to Trade In Your Vehicle: The Dos and Don’ts

So you want to buy a new or used car.

But you currently own a car that you still owe on. Should you sell it yourself or trade it in? How can you negotiate the best deal? What do you need to negotiate a good trade?

Truthfully, if you sell your vehicle privately, chances are that you will get more money. But it takes a significant amount of work and will take much longer to find a buyer and settle on a deal than if you trade in your vehicle at a dealership.  

Trade-ins at a dealership typically result in less profit than if you sell privately because the dealership takes into account how much any repairs or reconditioning will cost in order to resell. Plus, you are taking a hit simply because of convenience. Let’s take a look to see how a trade-in at a dealership can be handled and some tips to get the most out of your experience.  

Tips for Trading In a Vehicle

1. Appraise Your Vehicle’s Worth

Before stepping foot into a dealership, do some research.  Be sure to know how much your car is worth, and know that there is a wide range of accepted trade-in values.  Using tools like Kelley Blue Book and Edmund’s Car Appraisal Tool will give you a good indication of what you can expect to get back from your vehicle during a trade-in. Print out your appraisal and take it with you when you go to shop for a new car.

It’s important that you are honest regarding your vehicle’s service history, the amenities your vehicle offers, and the current condition of your vehicle in order to get an accurate estimate. Very few cars are in “outstanding” condition and most fall within the “good” condition category. If you are really unsure, it’s better to undersell the condition – err on the side of caution.

2. Shop Around

Not every dealership is going to offer you the same amount for your trade-in, so it’s okay to shop around until you find a dealership that offers you a deal you are comfortable with.  This will all depend on the dealership’s current inventory, their need for pre-owned vehicles, and how likely they feel the car will resell. Auto industry professionals recommend taking your car to a dealership that does not sell your make or model (For example, taking your Ford to a Nissan dealership) because then you are not competing against other vehicles just like your own.

3. Season Appropriate Trade-In

As crazy as it sounds, make sure you are trading in your vehicle during the correct season.  For instance, trying to trade-in a convertible during the winter will get you less money during the winter months than an all-wheel drive vehicle.  Following automotive trends and news can help you determine when the best time of year is to trade-in your vehicle, and can also help steer you in the right direction regarding where to take your car for a trade-in.  Car trends change weekly, so going to the dealership at just the right time could affect the value of your vehicle.

4. “Curb Appeal” is Real

Don’t take a filthy vehicle to trade-in.  The best advice is to detail, detail, detail! From top to bottom, make sure your vehicle is best aesthetic condition.  This will show a dealership that the vehicle has been well maintained and may get your a higher estimated value. Getting a fresh coat of wax, shiny tires and rims, and making sure your interior is spic-n-span clean make your trade-in vehicle much more appealing than a vehicle that has a dull exterior and crumbs all over the backseat.  

5. Have All the Right Documentation

Save yourself time and a lot of stress if you show up to a dealership with all your vehicle’s documentation.  Make sure you have your title if you own the vehicle outright, or if you still owe, bring all the loan documentation. This ensures you are responsible for the vehicle and have the legal authority to trade it in.  Also bring any and all maintenance documents you have from your vehicle’s service history – this can help your trade-in value by describing all the service that has been done to your vehicle. Have the documents that came with your vehicle on hand when you go to negotiate your trade-in.  This includes the user manual, any buyer contracts, and original information about the vehicle. This will all help the value of your vehicle and make the process much smoother.

 

Common Trade-In Mistakes

Overestimating Your Vehicle’s Worth

It’s common to have some sentimentality when it comes to your vehicle.  Perhaps it was the first car you ever bought. Or the vehicle that you took cross country after graduation where you started a new job.  Or maybe it’s the car that drove you to the hospital to have your first child. Regardless of the personal value the vehicle has to you, to a dealership, it’s just another vehicle. Overestimating the value of your vehicle will only hurt your chances of getting the best possible amount for a trade-in.  

Dumping Money into Repairs

Spending a ton of money on repairs prior to trading your vehicle in may SEEM like a good idea, but in reality, you will lose money in the process. Dealerships have access to make the same repairs at much cheaper costs, so whereas the trade-in value may be slightly less than a KBB estimate, it’ll save you money from making unnecessary repairs.  

Failure to Negotiate

Without negotiating your trade-in, you risk losing a good amount of money.  Go into a negotiation with an idea of how much you want for your trade-in and what you’re willing to bend on.  If you are not offered something within your range, then shop around and go to a different dealership. If you are unable to negotiate a price that you are happy with, try negotiating a deal for benefits like oil changes and other maintenance services.

 

Summer Road Trip Tips

With so many Americans jet-setting for vacations in far-off places and tropical beaches, you would think that the classic American road-trip is a thing of the past. But actually, it’s not the case at all. Fuel prices keep airline tickets high and hotel rates skyrocket in the summer during peak months, so it’s usually more cost effective for a family to hop in the car and take a road trip.  Statistically speaking, more than ever are American’s hitting the road for trips and family visits – more frequently, but for a shorter period of time.

The adventure of a road trip lingers in the hot summer air, so enjoy every minute of your trip. Almost embedded in every American is the sense of adventure and excitement of traveling to a new destination, while seeing all the beauty the country has to offer.

Road Trip Tips You Won’t Want to Miss

Check Your Fluid Levels

To stay safe on your journey, it’s important to check your vehicle’s fluid levels before hitting the open road.  Make sure your oil is clean (not thick and black) and topped off. Another fluid that may fly under the radar is coolant.  Especially in the summer, you want to prevent your vehicle from overheating while you’re sitting in traffic or driving on hot open roads. It’s no secret that visibility is critical while you’re driving and can help prevent accidents, so be sure to top off your windshield wiper fluid. Bugs, rain, dust, and occasional bird droppings can lower your visibility and make it hard to see the road ahead of you.

Drive the speed limit

Nothing like a speeding ticket to put a damper on your vacation.  You can try, “But officer, I was driving with the flow of traffic” to talk yourself out of a speeding ticket, but most likely the state trooper who pulls you over won’t be very happy to hear that phrase. Stay safe by driving the speed limit.  This is incredibly important when you are traveling on roads that are unfamiliar, because you may never know what kind of turns are ahead.

road trip tip road construction

Watch for construction sites

In Maryland, we all know that highway construction is a never-ending project for the beltway around Baltimore.  It’s inevitable that while driving to the beach or along I-95 through D.C. there will be a massive amount of road construction, and therefore, heavy traffic.  Plan ahead and account for extra driving time due to construction, road closures, and detours.

Don’t ignore warning lights 

Even if you topped off your fluids and got your vehicle checked by a mechanic before your road trip, make sure you listen to your car.  Warning lights on the dashboard are not a suggestion, but should be taken seriously when you are putting a lot of miles on your tires. Your tire pressure indicator can help determine if you have a leaky tire, ran over a sharp object, or if the weather is affecting your tires.  Don’t ignore your engine light – that can mean a lot of different things, but you’ll want to stop and check it out as soon as you can so you don’t damage your engine, overheat your vehicle, or cause larger issues. It should go without saying, but never ignore your gas light! In an unfamiliar city or town, you never know when you are going to see the next gas station, so fill up when you have the chance.  

Plan your stops

Planning your trip and knowing where you are going to stop along the way will help your trip go a lot smoother and will break up long legs in the journey.  Along the east coast, it’s easy to plan meal breaks at a Cracker Barrell or Waffle House. But if you are travelling out west, look at maps and see what is available along your trip.  Planning a stretch break every couple hundred miles will make the trip seem less strenuous and prevent any accidents that are associated with exhaustion.

road trip tip rest stop

Clean Your Car Before you Leave

While this may not affect your car’s ability to drive long distances, it provides a clean slate for your trip and gives you extra room for bags, car activities for kids, and everything can be stored away securely and safely.  Having loose items in your car can prove to be dangerous in an accident, because while you and your loved ones are safely buckled in, things like a tissue box, old cups, and random things in your backseat aren’t – so when you stop short, there’s the possibility that those items will go flying and can hit the driver or passenger.  

The 5 Best Pet-Friendly Vehicles for Summer Vacation

Pets are a part of the family, and we love taking them where we go! So if your four-legged friend spends a lot of time in the car with you, it’s important to pick pet-friendly vehicle that best suit your human and canine needs.

These are some of the best rated vehicles for humans with dogs, and rightfully so. Between their dog-friendly hatchback entry and seats that lay flat, it’s the perfect spot for Fido to hang out while you cruise around.

Pet-Friendly Vehicle for Vacation

1. Mini Cooper D Clubman

The Clubman’s low chassis makes it easy for dogs of all sizes to get in and out without any trouble.  This 4-door Mini Cooper has ample cargo space and offers comfort and style while being practical and pet-friendly.

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2. Volvo V60 Cross Country

The generous cargo space in the Cross Country makes this perfect for your gear AND your furry friends.  Optional seat liners keep your seats protected from dirt or whatever the dog may track in. This is a perfect vehicle for those who like to stay active.

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3. Honda Odyssey 5-Door Elite Touring

A top-rated family vehicle, why not include some perks for the pets! Full interior climate control ensures comfortability, space under the seats is perfect for storing dog toys, leashes, or treats, and a built-in vacuum makes it easy to clean up the pooch before setting off on your next adventure. Optional pet barriers are available, for the dogs who get easily excited.

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4. BMW X3

The X3 maximized comfort for humans and canines alike with soft heated leather seats, rear climate control, and a sunroof.  The cargo area is spacious enough for small to medium sized pups and for dogs who like to play in all weather conditions, the AWD system makes driving a breeze in snow or rain.

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5. Subaru Outback

Offering one of the most capable AWD systems, the Outback is the answer for all your adventure needs.  If you enjoy being active with your dog, hiking, or playing in snowy conditions, the Outback’s traction and surefootedness will keep you safe as you travel over all terrain types.  The Outback has ample cargo space and offers a wide, low floor as well as rubber floor mats and other pet-friendly accessories.

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For those who dream about having the most luxurious vehicle for Fido, Nissan launched their most dog-friendly and pet focused SUV concept, the X-Trail 4Dogs. As a test to see the reaction of their audience, this Nissan would offer a hose, pull-out blow dryer, dog treat dispenser, a ramp, and 2-way camera so you and Fido can see each other while on the road.  For now, this is just a concept, but it could become a reality! Watch the video below to see this tricked-out luxury dog SUV. 

9 Biggest Auto Trends to Watch in 2018

The automotive industry closed out the 2017 fiscal year with the first sales decline in seven years – only 17.1 million units sold. So how are automakers responding? By creating new trends? By piggybacking off of emerging trends from last year?

Here are 9 of the biggest auto trends to watch out for in 2018.  

The Domination of Crossovers

Crossover vehicles are the perfect “middle of the road” car for someone who wants the comfort and space that an SUV provides, while experiencing the cost-effectiveness and fuel efficiency of a sedan.  Offering practicality and a sleek look, crossovers have been dominating the market, accounting for almost 30% of new car sales since 2015.

Car Sharing Services

Ride-Sharing businesses like Uber and Lyft have forever changed the way Americans travel and get around town. Millennials and college graduates don’t want to tie up their money in a car payment, so they are choosing to rely on car-sharing services, which is a huge problem for automakers. Wanting to have grand experiences over owning a car, younger people are disrupting the automotive industry, and giving preference to taxi replacements in metro areas.  

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Spike in All-Terrain Vehicle Sales

In the past few years, there has been an increasing amount of all-terrain vehicles being sold to Baby Boomers.  There is a growing importance for this generation to have travel capabilities and independence, as they move toward the retirement phase of their lives.  Features like luxurious comfort, high-end speakers and sound systems, as well as fuel-efficiency are critical to this age group of buyers.

Rise of Electric Vehicles

There is a growing concern with reducing vehicle’s carbon footprints, as electric cars are becoming more and more popular with automakers.  Top automakers like General Motors and Volkswagen have entered this lucrative market, making their hybrids and electric vehicles some of the most recognizable on the road.  

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Digital Influencers

According to the Department of Transportation, all vehicles must communicate digitally by 2020 – a lot of the top automakers have already been making strides in digital technology.  Ford and Toyota have teamed up with tech giants like Android and iOS operating systems to create standard infotainment platforms in all their vehicles. Because of this new shift in technology, large tech influencers (Apple and Google), will be partnering with major automakers to get their brand in vehicles around the world.

Turbo Boosted Family Cars

Whether you are in the market for a muscle car or a family-friendly sedan or SUV, you’ll start to notice that new models are being made with smaller engines.  However, just because it’s a smaller engine doesn’t mean you’re getting lower power – these engines get an extra boost from a turbo.

A Noticeable Slip in Sales

This decline in sales is the result of a few different factors.  Car buyers are holding onto older vehicles for longer because reliability is at all all-time high.  Thanks to advances in technology and mechanics, cars are staying on the road for longer and not shying away from 200k miles on the odometer.  New car sales are declining because consumers are choosing to purchase used cars, or lease vehicles. More than ⅓ of new car sales are leases in the United States.  Automakers whose lineup is sedan-heavy will notice the biggest decrease in sales because SUVs and Crossovers are winning the hearts of many.

Vehicle Subscriptions

Breaking into the market are vehicle subscriptions.  Much like popular subscription boxes from your favorite companies, luxury automakers like Porsche, Volvo, Cadillac, and Lincoln have introduced this model as an option instead of buying a car.  For a monthly fee (which are significantly more substantial than a car payment), customers are able to swap out vehicles each week. Different levels of subscription models provide different “levels” of vehicles (ranging from standard models to full loaded options) and white-glove services and bundles that include vehicle drop-offs, roadside assistance, taxes & maintenance, all rolled into 1 monthly payment.  

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Autonomous Vehicles

Tesla was the first automaker to start this shift in the way vehicles work – and now everyone is following suit.  Customers are skeptical of full-automated cars, but what they don’t realize is that most new cars on the road already have a lot of this technology.  Autonomous vehicle technology includes rear-assist parking, lane departure warnings, and blind spot indicators. After Tesla began making cars with these options, other automakers jumped on board at the risk of looking like dinosaurs.

 

3 Reasons Why Spring is the Best Time to Change Your Air Filter

Spring is in the air… and that means pollen isn’t far behind.  Our list of tasks to tackles grows as we pack away our heavy winter coats and blankets, clean the house from top to bottom, and start preparing for warmer weather.  

But all too often, our cars get overlooked. In the hustle and bustle of dusting, scrubbing, and cleaning up the exterior of our houses, we don’t think about our vehicles and getting them prepared for spring and warmer weather.  

Getting the exterior of your car prepped for sunny days is important to maintain to prevent fading, scratches, and dents, but the most important thing you can do for your vehicle is to maintain the engine and the operating system.  This starts with your air filter.  

Pollen is Unavoidable

Just like you may get allergy medication from your doctor when the pollen count is high, your car needs to see your mechanic for a new air filter.  Pollen diminishes the air quality which can have a negative effect on your car’s engine performance.  Changing your filter at the change of the seasons will prevent pollen from blowing into your car.

Clean Air Filter, Clean Car

Your air filter protects your engine from the infiltration of tiny particles of pollen.  If your filter is clogged with too much pollen and dirt, the dirt  will eventually start to come through your air vents and cover your car in grime and dirt. This will turn your detailed car into a mess.

Efficiency is Crucial

During the warmer months, running the air conditioning can place strain on your vehicle’s air filter. Keeping your air filter clean will minimize the strain and help you breathe easier. A dirty filter results in the reduced efficiency of your heater core or air conditioning being clogged.

This is an easy, routine task and a painless and relatively inexpensive process that will save you the headache of a clogged filter or poor air quality later on.

Visit the trusted mechanics at Trust Auto for a spring tune up and a new air filter. Call us today at (443) 280-6649 or click here to schedule your appointment.

Winter Tires Vs. All-Season Tires

There are a lot of questions that circulate about what kind of tires are recommended going into the winter months. The most common being, “Do I need winter or snow tires?” It’s not uncommon to be confused and frustrated when researching tires online.  There are a lot of different options and a lot of opinions regarding the best brands and tire manufacturers.

Living in the Mid-Atlantic region, snow-covered roads and icy road conditions are common during the winter months. And while it can seem like a hassle and a really large expense to have two sets of tires for your vehicle, but it can be an expense that saves you and your car a lot of damage when the roads get slick.   

Not sure what kind of tires you need? Let’s compare winter tires with all-season tires and see what a huge difference a set of tires can make.

Winter Tires: Made for Ice and Snow

Between heavy snowfalls and black ice, winter roads can be very unpredictable, and scary if you aren’t equipped with the proper tires. Winter tires are made with snow, ice, and wintery conditions in mind. These tires use a specific rubber compound that stay pliable in the cold temperatures. This gives the tire better grip and improved braking when the roads are slick.

The tread pattern on winter tires is larger with deep grooves that pushes the snow away from getting stuck in the tires, preventing the snow from getting stuck in the tread. This allows for greater grip and traction.  

Regardless of whether you have a front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicle, winter tires should only be installed as a set of four. Using two different kinds of tires can cause poor handling, safety, and vehicle control, not to mention the tires will wear down unevenly.  

All-Season Tires: Made for Moderate Temperatures

All-season tires are built to handle a variety of road conditions: dry, wet, and even light snow. But as temperatures drop, these tires will harden. This creates less traction between your tires and the road, leading to sliding and skidding on harsh winter roads.

The tread on all-season tires is designed for traction in all types of moderate weather – rain, dry, and slight snow. Unlike winter tires, they are not designed with the deep-grooved tread. However, because they have smaller tread, all-season tires generally provide a smoother ride and have become the standard on vehicles.  

If you don’t live in an area that typically sees a lot of snow, tires that handle better in wet conditions and provide maximum traction on wet roads are your safest choice.