Behind the Wheel

Printable DIY Roadside Emergency Kit Checklist

November 15, 2018
emergency-kit
You’ve got your phone and tunes, a travel mug full of coffee, and (probably) a spare tire in the trunk—but we’re here to talk about your roadside emergency kit. Oh, you don’t have one? Like thousands of other Americans and Kansas Citians, your lack of a car emergency or safety kit is fairly typical. Most drivers don’t even have jumper cables stored in their car, let alone a full emergency kit. You can imagine how problematic that can be, especially in the winter.

Let’s turn your unpreparedness into super-preparedness. Build your roadside kit for winter now using this checklist as a guide. (Printable PDF can be downloaded here.)

Jumper Cables A long pair of jumper cables is essential for any emergency car kit. Try to have at least 15-feet of cable to work with—just in case.

First-Aid Kit You don’t need a fancy medic bag, but your first-aid kit should be well equipped. Include Band-Aids, antiseptic, tweezers, bandages, gauze, super glue, and aspirin. If you have severe allergies, your first-aid kit should also include epinephrine to treat allergic reactions. If you suffer from other common illnesses like diabetes, be sure you have an adequate amount of medications available.
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Under the Hood

What Happens If You Never Change Your Car’s Oil?

October 15, 2018
change-your-oil
A dealer friend of ours recently recounted a terrifying tale in which the protagonist failed to change his oil over the course of 8 years. We’ll spare you the gory details, but know this: the story didn’t end well for the owner of that poor car.

So, let us ask you: When’s the last time you changed your engine oil? If it was when St Louis still had a pro football team, we’re here to push you into the service center, like, yesterday. You don’t even want to know what happens to an engine when its oil and filters aren’t changed (but we’ll tell you anyway).

When to Change Your Oil

First, you need to know when to change your oil because “never” is not an acceptable length of time.

Although the traditional rule is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months, modern vehicles are typically a bit more lenient, requiring you to get an oil change after 5,000-plus miles. While that extended maintenance time is nice, it can also cause unintended consequences—namely forgetfulness camouflaged as peace of mind, leading to a missed oil change here and a skipped oil filter replacement there.
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Behind the Wheel

Do Windshield Chip Repair Kits Actually Work?

September 27, 2018
windshield-repair-kits
There you are, driving westbound on I-70, passing the familiar sign for WinterStone Golf on your way to Kansas City. Pink Floyd fills the cabin as you delicately sip that scalding mug o’ joe. Then — wham! — the truck in front of you kicks a pebble into your windshield, leaving a gnarly chip right in your line of sight. In most instances, those kinds of windshield chips only affect the surface, rarely causing damage to the internal layer of tempered glass. This type of damage is frequently correctable by your standard DIY windshield repair kit. Hooray!

But we don’t all get to live in a “most instances” world—sometimes we must survive in a “why me?” world, which means your windshield damage could be unfixable by amateur hands. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of common windshield chip repair kits, shall we?

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Car Culture, Car fun

The Used Car Who Found A New Home

September 19, 2018
used-car-new-home
Once upon a time, there was a nice used car, sitting in a nice used car lot, waiting for a nice new owner. He waited and waited and waited, through rainstorms and cold nights and foggy mornings—all for a chance to find his new forever-home and prove that used cars like him were still fun to drive and reliable four-wheeled pals.

It wasn’t always like that, though. The used car once had an owner and a garage to call his own. He sang along to songs on the radio, took weekend road trips, and even visited the kids’ soccer games. But over time, those songs were left unsung, road trips untraveled, kids’ soccer games unvisited.

You see, his owner got older, and as owners get older, so too do their children. Once the reliable family vehicle, that used car was replaced by a bigger, stronger, and newer SUV that could keep up with the family’s busier life. So, the used car sat in the garage, through rainstorms and cold nights and foggy mornings, unable to make a peep. Continue Reading…
Auto News, Behind the Wheel

5 Safety Features Every Parent Should Look for When Buying a Car

August 31, 2018
While researching the best vehicles to keep your family safe and sound, you’ve likely read dozens of reviews, browsed IIHS ratings, and looked at NHTSA grades. But as safety technology improves, so too do the number of recommended vehicles on those “safest car” lists, leaving you with more of a selection than ever before.

We call that scenario a “double-edged sword.” With too many options at your fingertips, how do you know which vehicle is right for you? Do you go with a Top Safety Pick+ SUV? What about that 5-star minivan? Ahhh!

Allow me to help you, stressed-out parent. Here are 5 essential automotive safety features you should look for when picking your family’s next vehicle.

Safe Exit Assist An exclusive feature designed by Hyundai, Safe Exit Assist is the guardian angel every parent of a toddler needs. As your kids gain independence, they’ll begin doing things on their own—including opening the car door without assistance. Safe Exit Assist automatically locks the rear doors when approaching vehicles are detected, eliminating the risks of a nightmarish catastrophe. Continue Reading…
Dealership Events, Local Events

6th Annual McCarthy 2000 Seeks To Raise $20K for Kansas City Youth

August 3, 2018
arts-crafts-emoji
Our friends at McCarthy Auto Group are at it again, dishing out dollars to charitable Kansas and Missouri organizations through the end of August. That’s right: This year’s McCarthy 2000 Sales Race is officially underway, with all McCarthy dealers continuing the annual summertime tradition of supporting their communities. How? By selling 2,000 heavily discounted vehicles by August 31, and donating $20,000 to local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, Salt York YMCA, and Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri.

But we’re not here to sell you on McCarthy or a specific car—we’re here to raise awareness of these exceptional youth programs and organizations in the Kansas City region. Continue Reading…
Car Culture

Car Smells That Might Indicate Trouble

July 30, 2017
We’ve all encountered a funky smell in our vehicle at least once. Sometimes it’s because you left your gym bag in the trunk overnight, or maybe you dropped a fry between the seats and forgot about it. In other cases, if you can’t find the source of the smell, your olfactory system might be hinting at you that your car is having issues. Below are some smells you could experience that might be an indication of car trouble: Rotten Eggs
  • Could indicate an overloaded catalytic converter. This smell is from the compound hydrogen sulfide that comes from the small amount of sulfur present in fuel. If your catalytic converter breaks or is experiencing issues, the sulfur is not filtered normally which results in producing a rotten egg smell. This smell could also be an indication that your engine is running too hot or you have a broken fuel pressure regulator. Regardless of the cause, you should get this issue checked out immediately.
Burning Carpet
  • This smell could indicate that you have brake issues. If your brake pads get overheated, which can happen even in normal driving conditions, you might experience this smell as a result.
Gasoline
  • If you’re experiencing this smell, and you didn’t just leave the pump, this could indicate several issues: missing gas cap, fuel tank leak, fuel line leak, fuel injector leak, faulty charcoal canister, or issues with your fuel pressure regulator. Basically, if you’re smelling fuel, something is wrong.
Oil
  • If you smell hot or burning oil, your car could be telling you multiple things. There could be leaking oil onto the exhaust manifold, a faulty vacuum modulator, broken temperature gauge, overheated engine, or you might just need an oil change. Regardless, if you notice this smell, get it checked out.
Maple Syrup
  • If you notice a sweet, syrup-like smell, this could indicate a coolant leak. The source of this leak could be coming from the heater hose, radiator, cylinder head, and more. Coolant is toxic, especially to animals, so get this inspected ASAP.
The list of funky car smells can go on and on. Basically, if you smell something out of the ordinary and there is no obvious outside source, the smell is a good indication of something gone wrong. If you’ve experienced any of these smells, you should schedule a service appointment soon.
Car Culture

Knowing When to Change Your Air Filter

July 27, 2017
It’s easy to forget that your vehicle’s air filter needs to be changed. Most don’t think about changing it until the auto shop tells them it’s dirty, or until they start feeling warm air when it should be cold. It is recommended that the air filter should be changed on average every 10,000 – 15,000 miles, or around every 12 months, whichever comes first. The air filter is a pivotal component of your vehicle. It contributes to your car’s fuel efficiency, powering your engine, and the overall performance. Below are some warning signs that it might be time to change your air filter: Decreasing Gas Mileage A common symptom of a dirty air filter is a decrease in the car’s fuel efficiency. The air filter helps maintain the airflow in your vehicle, keeping harmful contaminants out of your valve train and intake manifold, which helps to deliver maximum power to your engine. If the air filter becomes dirty or clogged, your engine will then have to compensate for the lower amount of oxygen it’s receiving by using more fuel to power your vehicle, thus, decreasing your gas mileage. So, be aware of your vehicle’s average gas mileage and take note of any changes. By maintaining a clean air filter, you can save on fuel! Service Engine Light Appears This can be a warning sign for multiple reasons, one being because of an airflow issue. An old air filter can cause deposits to form in the engine. If you see this light on your dash, get it resolved immediately. Rough Idling or Difficulties Starting Your Car Both of these are a symptoms that can be the result of a dirty air filter. These can mean you have spark plug problems, which can be caused by an abnormal air-fuel blend that can’t be filtered properly due to your old air filter. Reduced Horsepower If you notice that you’re having difficulties accelerating, or your car is not responding normally when you try to accelerate, this is a warning sign that there is a problem with your engine. If your air filter is clogged or dirty, your engine isn’t receiving the air it needs to perform and you might start to notice these symptoms. Remain conscious of your car’s behavior and take note of any changes. These symptoms can also be a warning indication of other issues your vehicle might have, but there is a good chance that the source is your dirty air filter. Changing your air filter is definitely something you don’t want to just brush off. Maintaining a healthy, clean air filter will help improve your gas mileage, the performance of your engine, and overall life of your vehicle!
Under the Hood

Headlights How-To

July 25, 2017
Driving without functioning headlights is not only dangerous, but illegal. Most headlight bulbs are estimated to last hundreds, even thousands of hours. So, worrying about your lights burning out is not a thought most drivers stress over. However, when the day comes that one of your lights burn out, I’m here to walk you through this easy fix! Tools you’ll need:
  • New bulb(s). You can’t go out and buy just any new light bulb. Your dealership’s service center or local auto parts store should be able to match a new light bulb to the make and model of your vehicle.
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • Supplies to clean and hold the new bulb. Alcohol wipes and tissues/gloves work great.
  1. Locate the headlight holder
  • Find this by opening the hood of your car and locating the headlight in pursuit near the front of your vehicle. You’ll see a bulb holder with a power connector leading to it (this usually looks like a set of three wires). Congratulations, you’ve found the headlight holder.
  1. Remove the power wires
  • The wires you just located should be attached to a plug at the base of the headlight. They are usually held in place by a metal clip, screw cap, or plastic catch. Depending on which device is holding the wires, carefully loosen and remove the wires from it. To do so, you should see either a lever, clip, or device you can unscrew to loosen the power wires and remove the old bulb.
  1. Clean the new bulb
  • Use the supplies you’ve brought to handle the bulb. The gloves or tissues are meant to keep the oils from your skin from getting onto the new bulb. Clean the bulb with the alcohol wipes to ensure any oils, fingerprints, or dust have been wiped away.
  1. Install the new bulb
  • Once the bulb is clean, place it into the base of the plug where you just loosened the power wires and removed the old bulb. When installed correctly, none of the bulb’s rubber gasket should be visible. Now that the bulb is in, put the headlight holder back in place and plug the power wires into the new bulb.
  1. Test the new bulb
  • Simply make sure your newly installed bulb is functioning correctly by turning your headlights on!
Once you’ve followed these five simple steps–voilà! You’ve successfully changed your own headlight and saved yourself a trip to the auto shop!