Archive for August, 2014

Treat Your Vehicle to Good Tires at Parkway Automotive

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Your browser does not support video

When we shop for shoes, most of us know that we can get two pairs of cheap shoes or one good pair for about the same price. And since the two cheap pairs wear out in about the same time as the good pair, there really is no difference in cost. If you like having a closet full of shoes to match your moods and outfits, then cheap shoes can be what you want. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet, you probably know that cheap shoes can come with an added cost of sore feet and other foot ailments. When you add in the benefits of comfort and protection, the more expensive shoes are actually the better value.

Buying tires at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock is a lot like buying shoes, except that Little Rock auto owners’ vehicles don’t have changeable apparel and don’t need a closet full of tires to match. Vehicles spend a lot of time on their tires—all the time, in fact—so they need tires that can stand up to the job. Tires are work shoes: they have to deal with a lot of Arkansas road conditions, all while carrying the weight of a vehicle and its passengers.

Bad tires, like cheap shoes, can also be a safety concern for Conway, Arkansas area drivers. Tires need good traction, and they need to be strong enough to handle the loads they carry. Vehicles that carry heavy loads or tow trailers around Little Rock need tires with a high load rating, in the same way that you are better off on a rough Arkansas mountain trail with sturdy hiking boots rather than flip-flops.

The best tires on the market are called Tier 1 tires. These are high-quality tires engineered to stand up to a lot of wear while maintaining good traction. They are also the most expensive tires on the Conway, Arkansas area tire market, although prices don’t vary much from brand to brand.

Tire chain stores in Little Rock often carry tires with their own brand name. These are private label tires. They are less expensive than Tier 1 tires, but are still a quality product. In fact, many private label tires sold in Conway, Arkansas are manufactured by the same companies that make Tier 1 tires. Don’t hesitate to ask your Parkway Automotive tire professional who makes their private brand.

The cheapest tires on the Arkansas tire market are Tier 3 tires. Most of these tires are imported from Asia or South America, and they just don’t have the same standard of engineering behind them that the higher-priced tires have. When it comes to Tier 3 tires, Little Rock folks get what they pay for.

At Parkway Automotive, we sometimes express tire quality in terms of the warranty. In other words, we call a tire a “40-thousand-mile tire,” or a “60-thousand mile tire.” This refers to the number of miles a tire will be under warranty. Tires with a higher mileage warranty are made with higher quality rubber compounds and have more tread. As you might expect, they also cost more than tires with low mileage warranties.

Cheap tires often have no warranty at all. However, if you find yourself in a position where you need new tires and you’re really strapped for cash, purchasing Tier 3 tires is better than waiting until you can afford Tier 1. It’s always better for Little Rock auto owners to drive on new tires, even cheap ones, than driving on tires that are worn past their safety limits.

That said, if you’re driving on Tier 3 tires, it’s a good idea to budget and plan to buy higher-quality tires the next go-around. Two sets of cheap tires may wear out in the same time as one set of quality tires, but the quality tires actually cost less than two sets of cheap tires. That’s the great fallacy of cheap tires. In the long run, they actually cost more than good tires, and come with significantly reduced performance and durability to boot. Not exactly the best value for Conway, Arkansas drivers.

So, some good auto advice for Little Rock auto owners would be to always buy as much tire as you can afford. That way you’ll get the most durability and performance and the most mileage out of every tire. Plus, with a better tire, there’s some peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t have to purchase tires as often.

Good car care requires checking your tires occasionally for tread wear and road damage. Practicing this preventive maintenance can help you avoid flats and blowouts.

Budget For Maintenance in Little Rock

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Your browser does not support video

Sometimes busy Little Rock residents dream about going back to the “simpler” days of our grandparents. But if you could travel back in time and take a road trip around Conway, Arkansas in a Model T, you might change your mind. The improved designs and quality of today’s automobiles have significantly reduced the amount of time Little Rock car owners spend at the side of the road during breakdowns. With proper maintenance, today’s vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before.

Some of those improvements, however, have led to higher repair costs. For example, older cars often broke down from vapor lock. Gas vaporized while traveling from the gas tank to the fuel pump. No gas, no power. The car quits going. The solution was simple — you just sat by the road until the car would start up again. Today’s Little Rock drivers would hardly tolerate that kind of inconvenience; and it’s likely that yesterday’s Little Rock car owners didn’t care much for it, either. So on today’s vehicles, the fuel pump is actually located inside the gas tank. Problem solved. No more vapor lock. The downside is that now it costs a lot more to repair or replace a fuel pump at Little Rock area auto service centers.

Little Rock motorists should certainly should be grateful for the improvements in auto design that keep us off the side of the road, but it comes at a price. Car care in Little Rock is simply more costly than it used to be. So if you think about it, Arkansas drivers can avoid many costly truck repairs by preventive maintenance. If we plan for maintenance, we can avoid a lot of costly repairs. has a great calculator to help you estimate car repair costs. Conway, Arkansas motorists can enter the year, make and model for your vehicle, and the calculator will give you an estimate of what it will cost to service and repair your vehicle for the next five years. It also estimates the costs for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel.

These estimates can be used to set up a reasonable budget to manage your car repair and maintenance expenses. Of course, they are just estimates. All Cabot, Arkansas motorists know that life hands out a lot of surprises — some good, some bad, so there’s no way to know exactly what your truck will need. But a good estimate helps you make a good budget, and a good budget is always helpful when it comes to car repairs.

Let’s look at one example. For a 2003 Toyota Camry, here is Edmunds’ estimate for the cost of repairs and maintenance for the next three years (as of the time of this writing):

Yr. 1 Yr. 2  
Yr. 3 
3-Yr. Total  
Maintenance 748    
Repairs 352      
409 476 1237  
                           Total 1,100 634 1,270 3,004  
Monthly Average 92 53 106 83  

According to this estimate, the owner needs to set aside about $83 a month to defray the costs of car care. That sounds like a lot until you compare it to the payment on a new automobile. And even if car repairs are more costly than expected, that $83 is going to make the bills a lot less painful.

Just a bit of auto advice from Parkway Automotive: If you like new cars and can afford them, then buy them. But if you are buying a new car every few years because you’re afraid of the higher repair costs for older vehicles, then you ought to take a second look at the numbers. You can save a lot of money on car payments and Arkansas auto insurance with an older Little Rock vehicle, and preventive auto maintenance can help you avoid most car repair bills. And if you budget for important preventive maintenance in Arkansas, it can become as routine as a car payment — only a whole lot less pricey!

Blind Spot Safety For Little Rock Driving

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Your browser does not support video

Blind spots may be a good thing when it comes to a spouse’s annoying habits, but when driving an automobile in Little Rock, they are definitely to be avoided. So, while it’s not good marital advice, it’s good auto advice to minimize your own blind spots and stay out of other Conway, Arkansas auto owners’ blind spots, especially when it comes to large, heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.

First, minimize your own blind spots. Do this before you pull out of the driveway or parking space. Adjust your rearview mirror so that you see as much of the area behind you as possible. And, no, this doesn’t include the passengers in the back seat. The rearview mirror isn’t designed to be a baby monitor.

Next, lean to the side until your head almost touches the driver’s side window. Now adjust the driver’s side mirror so that it just catches the side of the truck. Then, lean to the middle of the car and adjust the passenger’s side mirror in the same way. These adjustments will ensure you the widest possible view behind your vehicle.

Of course, you can’t eliminate blind spots entirely. There is always an area behind any vehicle where the driver just can’t see what’s there. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. Toddlers are just the right size to hide in a pickup’s or SUV’s blind spot. The blind spot on an RV or tractor-trailer can actually hide your crossover! You should always check behind any vehicle before getting in and backing up. And if you sit in the truck for a few minutes before backing up, it is vital to get out and check again, especially if you are pulling out of a neighborhood driveway in Little Rock. No precaution is too extreme if it saves the life of a child.

Once you have taken care of your own blind spots, be aware that other Little Rock motorists have them, too. And avoid them. Trucks and buses have large blind spots, and they have blind spots on all four sides, so they should always be given extra room on Ferndale, Arkansas roads. They are also heavy, which means they need more room to stop, and their length means they need a wider area for turns, and their large size makes them less maneuverable than a car.

Trucks may cause about 60% of the accidents involving a truck and a car, but 78% of fatalities in such accidents are with the smaller vehicle. The number of fatalities in Arkansas, as well as the number of crashes, could be cut significantly if Little Rock drivers learned to properly share Arkansas roads with trucks.

Never follow a truck too closely. If you can’t see the driver’s face in his side mirror, then he can’t see you. If you need to pass a truck, it is critical to make sure you give yourself enough time to pass the rig. Wait for the right opportunity rather than “cutting it close.” On a two-lane Arkansas highway, it’s always a good idea to wait for a passing zone if they are available. A little patience could save your life or the lives of others. Turn on your turn signal so the truck knows what you’re planning, and pass on the left whenever possible. Remember those blind spots? They are much larger on the right side of a truck.

Once you’ve committed to passing the truck, don’t muck about. Pass it quickly and give yourself plenty of room to move back over. It is important to wait until you can see both headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling back in front of the truck. Once again, use your truck turn signals. After you pull in front of the truck, decelerate to the regulated driving speed slowly. Remember that the truck has a long stopping distance, which translates into a long slowing distance. And, since trucks are so big, we often perceive them as traveling more slowly than they really are. Trucks are a lot of weight moving at a high speed, and we need to treat them accordingly.

Never pull to the right of a truck at an intersection unless you are absolutely certain it is not going to turn. Check if its turn signals are on or if it has angled to the left or right. (Trucks often begin a right turn by angling to the left to widen their turning area.) Trucks need a lot of room on city streets, and they probably can’t see you if you pull along their right side. Too many cars have ended up in Little Rock body shops because the drivers thought they could beat that truck to the right turn, or they only noticed the seemingly open lane, and not the truck angling into a turn.

While learning to share Conway, Arkansas area roads and highways with trucks and other large vehicles may not seem like preventive auto maintenance, it does, in fact, go hand-in-hand with good Little Rock car care. Keeping your truck out of the body shop can save you big bucks and prevent the stress of a major accident, along with the injuries that could come with it.

The team at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock urges you to stay safe, and stay on the road!

How to Know When to Change Your Oil At Parkway Automotive

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Today in the Parkway Automotive auto care blog, we’re going to talk to Little Rock motorists about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer for Parkway Automotive customers. High quality oil in a well-engineered truck engine has lead to extended intervals. But it’s also lead to some confusion among Little Rock drivers.

The old mantra “change your oil every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first” once applied to every vehicle on Little Rock expressways. Time and miles take their toll on motor oil. But now, you could have a different oil change recommendation for every car or truck you own.

Little Rock car owners are like everybody else, they have a tendency to follow the oil change schedule of the vehicle with the longest interval. Of course, that can lead to problems. How to Know When to Change Your Oil At Parkway AutomotiveFor example, recently four of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers shortened the published intervals for several of their engine models. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles.

In real world Little Rock driving, the oil started to sludge up before the recommended change interval. Oil sludge is a thick jelly-like substance. Quite literally petroleum jelly – like Vaseline. This goop was clogging truck small engine passages so the oil wouldn’t flow to some parts of the engine. This resulted in engine damage. We see it too often at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock.

The vehicle manufacturers began to offer an extended warranty to cover sludge damage. But there was a catch: the vehicle owner had to follow a new, lower service interval, and provide proof of oil changes in order to make a warranty claim.

So here’s the bottom line for Little Rock drivers: with longer oil change intervals, it’s essential to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles, if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles, your oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge.

But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles and you go over another thousand, you’re getting into heavy sludge territory. You absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And don’t forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving in Arkansas, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted Little Rock conditions, hot or cold weather, or haul heavy loads, you’re driving in severe service conditions. Your Parkway Automotive advisor can help you determine which schedule to follow.

So check your truck owner’s manual or talk with your Parkway Automotive service advisor about where and how you drive in Little Rock. Should you change your oil closer to the regular schedule, or the severe service schedule? You need to make the call.

Let me give you an example of this. Some newer trucks have an oil change indicator. It has a sophisticated computer algorithm that tracks number of cold starts, engine temperature, RPMs, mileage, and many more variables to come up with a recommendation for when to change the oil.

Depending on driving conditions, the indicator in one test vehicle came on at anywhere from 2,500 miles to almost 7,000 miles. It’s typically just over 4,000 miles. Clearer sometimes, we’re driving easy miles that are easy on the truck – like a long road trip. Sometimes, we’re driving hard Arkansas miles – like towing a heavy trailer or a lot of around town driving. But, usually, it’s a combination of both.

Once again, it’s up to you to make the call as to when to change your oil at Parkway Automotive to protect your truck engine. Another place where Arkansas car owners can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Little Rock owners filled with synthetic oil. Without going into a lot of detail right now, let’s just say that synthetic oil lasts longer and is very resistant to oil sludge.

But it also costs quite a bit more, so some Little Rock people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it’s always best to use the oil recommended by your automobile manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.

But getting back to the problem, if your truck came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you can’t use the synthetic interval. You need to shorten it.