Fall Cleanup and Maintenance for Your Car

With summer but a fading memory, it’s now time to start thinking about getting your car ready for the colder months ahead. Here are a few simple maintenance checks to help keep your vehicle in top condition.  

Car Battery

Fall is a good time to inspect your car battery, making sure the cables and terminals are snug, and retighten as necessary for good contact. If your connections are dirty or showing a lot of corrosion, disconnect and clean them with a wire brush or cleaning tool. Be aware that when you disconnect the battery, you may have to re-enter a security code in your radio or navigation system. If you have a sealed, maintenance-free battery with no removable caps, there's little else you need to do. If your battery has removable caps, check the water level periodically, and refill with distilled water as needed.

Last, if the vehicle is going to be parked or stored for an extended period of time, you may want to consider investing in a trickle charger to keep it charged. All batteries lose strength over time, so it’s prudent to be proactive in replacing your battery. Batteries come in a variety of sizes, and it's important to choose the right size. Check your owner’s manual or in-store guide, then check our car battery ratings and buying advice to choose the right ones for your needs. 


As cars age, the headlights can become cloudy or hazy, especially on cars that are routinely parked outside. More than a cosmetic problem, clouded lenses can pose a serious threat to safety, compromising night vision and reducing the effectiveness of your headlights by up to 80 percent, based on our measurements. Fortunately, our tests show that for a modest cost, even junkyard-ready lens covers can be made clear again using a headlight restoration kit costing less than $22. By following the directions closely and using a bit of elbow grease, good results are possible. 


Proper maintenance and responsible driving can maximize the mileage in a set of tires. Monthly tread inspections can inform when the tires warrant replacement. If you notice that your tires have less than 1/8-inch of tread left, then it’s time to go shopping. (The distance from a quarter's rim to George Washington's hairline is about 1/8 inch.) Most people buy all-season tires because it's easier and cheaper than buying one set for the winter and another for summer. All-season car tires deliver good, well-rounded performance but are never outstanding in any way. By contrast, winter tires have outstanding snow traction but just fair braking ability on cleared roads. 

Wash and Wax

Fall is a good time to clean up your car so that winter’s mess doesn’t land on top of the summer’s dead bugs, bird droppings, and tree sap. If you want to go further than soap and water, you can try car wax to keep your car’s finish looking new. Most waxes we tested showed a significant loss of protection within about five weeks. For that reason, we recommend waxing even new cars every two or three months. Think of it as a seasonal chore to protect and beautify your car.


If your wipers are leaving streaks of water on your windshield, then it’s time to replace them—or clean them. Wipers degrade quickly and typically need to be changed every 6 to 12 months. Should performance deteriorate in less time, try cleaning the blade with a paper towel and glass cleaner. Often, that can renew the blades for a few more weeks or months of streak-free operation. 

Winter Tires: What You Need to Know

For most folks who drive in winter weather, the idea of buying winter tires has at least crossed their minds. It just makes sense, because any small advantage in traction can make a big difference on treacherous roads. That’s important, considering some 95,000 people are injured each year in auto accidents caused by snow, sleet and ice.

On the other hand, winter tires aren’t exactly cheap. Customers can expect to pay more than $140 per tire with a popular SUV, such as the 2018 Subaru Forester. Then there’s the fact that the Forester, along with most of the SUVs and pickups sold today, has all-wheel drive. So do quite a few cars. Many people think that ordering a vehicle with that hardware is all they need to handle snow and ice.

The experts don’t agree. The cold, hard facts indicate that if you want optimum traction in wicked weather, you need winter tires.

Let’s find out why.

What’s the Difference between Winter Tires and Regular Tires?

There are two key differences between winter tires and so-called “regular” tires. For starters, they’re made out of different rubber compounds. The material used for winter tires is specifically engineered to stay relatively soft when the weather turns cold. That softness allows the tires to grab onto the rough surface of the road, creating traction. Indeed, winter tires are so soft that they often can get some grip even if there’s ice on the road.

Also helping matters are the specially tailored tread patterns for winter tires. They have a variety of extra cuts, grooves and channels, all with separate jobs. For example, some “bite” into slippery surfaces for extra grip. Others direct melting water away from between the tires and the road. This can reduce the chances of hydroplaning.

When it comes to the demands of summer driving, winter tires are too soft. Those complicated tread patterns can quickly wear down in the higher temperatures.

As a result, most new vehicles try to provide the best of both worlds with all-season tires. Like their name tells you, all-season tires are designed for year-round driving. This means they should be soft enough to create traction in the cold, but hard enough to stand up to the heat of summer driving. In the real world, however, all-season tires lose enough flexibility in colder weather to start losing their grip. Nor do they have the fancy tread designs for managing the snow, slush and other precipitation.

Do You Need Winter Tires with All-wheel Drive?

Let’s be clear. An all-wheel-drive system can be a major benefit if you want to avoid getting stuck in the snow. By providing engine power to all four wheels, it can ensure there’s twice the opportunity for traction as with a two-wheel-drive vehicle. Additionally, many systems can adjust power distribution so that the wheels with the most grip get the most power. Yet once you’re underway, all-wheel drive won’t help you stop any faster. And even advanced all-wheel-drive technology has only a marginal effect on cornering in slippery conditions.

What Do the Numbers Show?

To see exactly how much performance can vary between winter tires and their all-season counterparts, consider the research. Consumer Reports recently tested an all-wheel-drive 2015 Honda CR-V for braking performance in the snow. With that compact SUV traveling at 60 mph and wearing winter tires, it took 310 feet before coming to a stop. With all-season rubber, the distance was more than twice as long, at 668 feet.

It’s further worth noting that off-road tires are no substitute for winter ones. The FourWheeler network discovered that in its own real-world evaluations. Here, the test truck was a 2016 Ford F-150 with four-wheel drive. Running on a closed, snow-covered track, the FourWheeler team put the truck through its paces with all-season, mud, all-terrain, winter and studded winter tires. Unstudded winter tires delivered the best performance, including stopping distances half as long as with mud tires.

In terms of “average trends,” Consumer Reports data also shows that winter tires enable 20 percent shorter stopping distances than all-season tires. The winter tires had a traction advantage in the snow as well. They allowed cars to travel 34 percent farther than all-season tires while accelerating from 5 to 20 mph.

When Do I Need Winter Tires?

A general rule is that winter-rated tires work best for customers who do extended amounts of driving in temperatures below 45 degrees.

RideSmart Auto


What To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Woman looking in car window as she shops for new vehicle.

Buying a used car can be a good option when you’re looking for a quality vehicle without the higher price tag. While a used car can be a sensible option, buyers still need to make smart choices. There’s a lot to look for when buying a used vehicle, but here are some ways we can help you choose the right car for you.

Inspect the Car’s Exterior and Interior

Inspect both the outside and inside of the vehicle. Look over the exterior of the vehicle, says CARFAX, checking for scratches, dents and rust. You probably don’t need to be worried about small dings or scratches. It’s also a good idea to open and close the doors and trunk.

Inspect the interior by sitting in all the seats and looking for unusual wear and tear in the upholstery, says CARFAX. If the interior of the car smells musty, check the carpet and floor mats for signs of a a leak or water damage.

Go for a Test Drive

Going for a test drive can help you determine the condition of the car and whether it’s a good fit for you, according to Edmunds. You may want to turn the key to the “accessory” position before starting the engine, says KBB. You should see all the dashboard warning lights go on. If they do not light up, or stay on when you turn the ignition, make sure the issue is inspected. While on a test drive, keep your eyes and ears open. CARFAX suggests driving the car on different types of roads and at varying speeds to see if the transmission shifts smoothly. Please note: the surface you are driving on can give a false impression of how the vehicle runs. Make sure to note any unusual engine or brake noises, and whether all of the electronics in the car are working properly. .

Consider the Mileage

While you should take a vehicle’s mileage into consideration, high mileage isn’t necessarily a bad thing and low mileage doesn’t always mean the car is in great shape.

What Is Good Mileage for a Used Car?

There’s no simple answer to this question, because the way the car has been maintained and used may be more important than its mileage, according to AutoTrader. It’s a good idea to use caution when considering a car with high mileage, because certain components and engine parts simply don’t last forever, says AutoTrader. However, if the owner has kept up with maintenance and taken care of any issues, the car may have a lot of life left in it. AutoTrader also notes that how the car was used can make a difference. A car with 100,000 miles on mostly highways may be in better shape than a high-mileage car that was used mostly on city roads, which can be harder on a vehicle. When we handle higher mileage cars at RideSmart, we make sure that they are of the highest quality. Sometimes a higher mileage car may be a better choice due to price. Additionally, with the high volume of diesel cars we handle, we feel it is imperative to inform you that diesel engines can last up to 800,000 miles. In addition, Volkswagen offers an extended warranty on all diesel cars which you can read about under our Volkswagen Deals page.

Is Low Mileage on a Used Car Better?

Low-mileage used cars can certainly be appealing, but it doesn’t necessarily make them a great deal. Low mileage can certainly mean less wear and tear and a longer life. However, if a car is driven infrequently, AutoTrader says that the plastic and rubber parts on the vehicle may dry out and get brittle. This is why RideSmart often puts brand new brakes and rotors on vehicles we acquire. It’s also better for the drivetrain when the vehicle is used consistently. We make sure to drive each vehicle in inventory on a regular schedule to ensure they continue to run smoothly.

It’s smart to check the mileage on a used vehicle, but keep in mind that how the vehicle has been maintained and used may be more important that what the odometer says.

Check for Leaks

Any car leaking fluids is generally a red flag for a needed repair. Check under the car to see if there’s any fluid leaking, says CARFAX. Black fluid might be an indicator of leaking oil, while green, yellow or pink fluid may indicate a leak in antifreeze and reddish fluid could be a leak in the transmission or power-steering fluid, says Cars.com. This can be deceiving, however. If the air conditioning is running in the car, condensation accumulates on the undercarriage and drips onto the ground. Be sure to make the distinction between harmless and normal water drippage, and more serious leaks. 

Determine a Fair Purchase Price

To help ensure you’re being charged a fair price, make sure to compare prices for the same make, model and year with several sources. Checking and dealer prices can simply be done online. There are a number of online tools you can use to compare prices, including KBB and National Automobile Dealers Association Guides. Even though condition and mileage will play a role in price, you can still get a ballpark figure of the vehicle’s market value. When comparing prices of vehicles, it is important to take into consideration the options that vehicle has. Price checking may be deceiving in this area. For example, if you are looking at the KBB value for a base model car, it will obviously be much less than a car with options like navigation and leather. Even the smallest options, such as a telescopic steering wheel, can change the value of a car dramatically. 

Do Your Research

There’s a lot of information online that can help you check on a particular vehicle’s history as well as whether there are any recalls on it.

Look Up the VIN

The Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, can reveal a lot about a car. Checking a VIN decoder chart is a quick way to see if a used car’s VIN information matches up with what’s in the vehicle title and records, according to Edmunds. There are a number of VIN decoders available online, including one from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The VIN can also be used to see if there are any recalls on the vehicle. You can look up a vehicle by VIN on the NHTSA’s Safety Issues and Recalls page to see if the vehicle needs repairs due to a safety recall. Keep in mind, however, that there may not be information on an older vehicle, any nonsafety-related recalls or recently announced recalls. Certain brands and international vehicles may also not be listed.

Review the Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report can help you see title problems, ownership history, service points and previous accidents, says KBB. You can get a vehicle history report online for a fee by entering the VIN or license plate number, says Edmunds. RideSmart provides complimentary CarFax reports for all vehicles. Simply click on the "CarFax Report" button on any vehicle listing.

Avoid Being Rushed

Many dealerships rush out to greet customers as soon as they arrive on the lot, without giving the customer any time to look around. Here at RideSmart, we believe the customer should be able to take as much time as they need when considering their purchase. We won't bombard you with information, or follow you around. If you would like to speak with a salesperson simply step inside our newly renovated waiting room, and you will be greeted and have all questions answered. At RideSmart we understand that buying a car is a big decision. You can take as much time as you need to consider your purchase.

Following these tips may help you choose a used car that meets your needs and fits your budget. Knowing what to look for and consider can help you make an informed decision about your next vehicle.

Mike Orsini, Manager of Online Consumer Marketing at CARFAX, contributed to the video as well as earlier versions of this article.

From Allstate Insurance Website

2015 Chevy Trax LTZ AWD

Every parent has the same dilemma when buying their child's first car: where can you find something safe, fuel efficient, and affordable. We have the answer right here at RideSmart.

This 2015 Chevy Trax LTZ is perfect for the teen or young adult driver who needs safe and reliable transportation. With AWD, seating for 5, and 24-31 MPG, you can't go wrong here. This vehicle even comes with cool features such as wifi hotspot capability, and Siri eyes free for iPhone, which allows the user to send directions from their phone to the car's navigation system seamlessly. Leather seats, rearview camera, rollover mitigation, and electronic Brake Assist all add to the safety and functionality of this wonder subcompact SUV. At $15,475, with 21,879 miles, and factory warranty coverage still intact this Chevy Trax is as good as new, and ranked as a "Good Deal" by CarGurus. You can't go wrong with this beautiful used car, and your child will love it's high end tech features. Come test drive it today!

2015 VW Beetle TDI Premium Convertible

Have you ever been driving down a long winding road on a hot summer's day, and thought to yourself "I wish my sunroof was larger so I could enjoy the clear blue sky". Have you ever been on a summer evening cruise and wished the sound quality of your summer mix playlist was better? Have you ever wished you could get 35+ MPG on your long ride to the family vacation? This 2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI Premium convertible can make those wishes come true. 10,676 original miles, one owner and garage kept, this car was certainly used as weekend cruiser. No weekend cruise is complete without some good music, which is why this Bug is equipped with the Fender Premium sound package. A power convertible top makes switching to summer mode a breeze. This VW is a true classic. Pearl white exterior and tan interior for minimum heat retention. Summer gas prices have you reconsidering that trip to visit family up-state? Your Beetle has you covered. The Volkswagen 2.0L TDI engine in this car is diesel powered, which means it gets 31/45 MPG. To sweeten this deal even further, Volkswagen is offering an 11Years/162k mile VW TDI Extended Warranty For Zero Risk. This covers all engine and emissions problems, guaranteed. If you're looking to have fun in the sun, while keeping dough in your pocket, this beetle is the one for you.

Vehicle Showcase: 2015 Audi A3 2.0 TDI Premium

Introducing our new vehicle showcase series! Each week we will pick a particularly interesting vehicle on the lot, and give you in depth information about it. Enjoy!

        Where do I begin? This Audi A3 is truly luxurious, at an economical price both at the dealership and the pump. First, let's cover some mechanical basics. On the fuel-economy front, the A3 TDI achieves 31/43 mpg city/highway, making it the highest-rated diesel car on the market after the BMW 328d. This car's turbodiesel I-4 engine, paired with a six-speed dual clutch and front-wheel drive, produces 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. According to tests, the sedan nonchalantly makes its way to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds, compared to 6.8 seconds for the 1.8-liter gas-powered A3 and 5.4 seconds for the more powerful 2.0-liter gas version. So, yes, you do sacrifice some performance when opting for diesel over gas. But that doesn't stop this compact luxury sedan from packing a punch. On the highway, this vehicle feels sporty and agile. Passing other drivers is a breeze with powerful acceleration and precision handling. The fuel economy on this car is unbeatable for a luxury sedan: 30+ MPG city, and 40+ MPG highway. You can drive so far you'll forget how to pump gas. Motor Trend tested the accuracy of this fuel economy, and drove from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to San Diego, California on one tank. That is 834 miles on ONE TANK. 
       As for the interior, this vehicle boasts sleek black leather, heated seats, telescopic steering wheel, a huge power sunroof, separate driver/passenger climate controls, and so much more. The A3 has also received some of the highest safety ratings in its class, so throw that car seat in the back for dropping the kids off at school. Now for my favorite part, the technology. The hideaway entertainment/navigation screen is emblematic of this car's top notch gadgets. Entertainment is easy to navigate, from bluetooth audio to satellite radio, driving this car turns into a personal concert every time. Steering wheel controls make adjusting volume and skipping songs safe and easy. Additionally, an information rich heads-up display behind the wheel provides you with MPG, a digital speedometer, mileage, and service alerts. Always forget to get your oil changed? How about a car that remembers for you. Without overloading the control panel, Audi gives the driver easy and precise control over every aspect of the A3 experience. 
         Now, let's talk numbers. 18,166 original miles, CarFax certified 1 owner vehicle, and an extended TDI warranty until 2026, or 162,000 miles. This 2015 A3 is ranked as a good deal by CarGurus at almost $1,000 under market value at $17,995. If you're looking for a luxury sedan decked out with all the options, but don't want to pay luxury prices, this is your car.

If you are interested in purchasing or test driving this beautiful 2015 Audi A3 Premium TDI, please call us at (610) 942-7000.

3 Crucial Steps to Get Your Car Ready for Spring

Even if you’re ready for spring, your car probably isn’t.

Before winter hits, many people get the oil changed, tires checked and other pre-winter maintenance completed. But winter takes a heavy toll on cars, often causing hidden damage that could be costly or dangerous.

Now is the time to make sure your car is road ready for spring. Here are 10 must-do checks that car experts recommend so you can drive safely into the season:

1. Take your car for a tire check

Almost all cars in the U.S. are fitted with all-season tires. While these tires are safe and reliable in most climates, they aren’t as flexible as traditional snow tires. All-season tires stiffen in the cold, especially when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. That can cause cracks and other damage.

You can take your car to many national auto service retailers for a free tire inspection. While you’re there, have your tires rotated and the air pressure checked. Doing these things will make the tires last longer and ensure they’ll grip on rain-slicked roads.

2. Replace your wiper blades

Anyone who has had a windshield wiper peel off during a heavy spring rain knows that winter can be hard on blades. Even if your blades look OK, replace them if they start to leave streaks on your windshield.

An auto technician can change them, or you can easily replace them yourself. Just check the owner’s manual for your car to find the correct size.

3. Ensure your car’s brakes are checked
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