5 Easy Ways to Make Your Old Car Look New

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Are you driving around in an older car? Maybe you’re not ready to buy a new car or maybe you simply can’t part with your current vehicle. Whatever the case, we get it. But just because your vehicle is older, doesn’t mean it can’t look great.

Here are 5 ways to make your old car look new:

1. Replace floor mats

Floor mats are a simple way to make your car interior look fresher. They also help shield your upholstery from everyday wear and tear and keep your interior in good condition. There are a few choices when it comes to floor mats. Carpet floor mats are soft to the touch, but put up a hard line of defense against your floorboard. WeatherTech liners prevent stains, stop spills and provide year-round protection. They also prevent wear, snags and rips caused by foot friction. Either way – invest in some new floor mats to spruce up your car.

2. Shampoo seats and carpets

Another great tip to make your car look like new: clean your upholstery. Look for social coupons and deals with local detail shops to have your seats and carpets vacuumed and shampooed. If drink and eat in your vehicle, you know you need it. If you have kids, it’s a must! Clean upholstery can make a car feel practically new inside – and smell good too.

3. Update your stereo

Nothing says dated and tired like an old car stereo. So trade your old radio head unit for one that integrates with an iPod, iPhone or satellite radio, and includes a Bluetooth connection for your mobile phone. Check out our audio upgrades like BlueConnect Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System and Interface System for iPod. Even with installation costs, it doesn’t take much dough to seriously upgrade your commute entertainment … and bring your car into 2016.

4. Invest in wheels and tires

New tires and wheels not only make your car look newer and better, they are also important for the performance of your car as well as your safety. Good tires enable your car to do everything better. New tires have the proper inflation to save you gas and make your ride smooth. And of course the proper tread depth provides the best traction for your safety. New, bigger tires are the single most impressive way to change a car’s performance and appearance. And shiny wheels make any car look brand new. Just schedule an appointment to get your new tires.

5. Restore your headlights

Go look at your headlights. You might be surprised to notice they look cloudy and dull. Today car headlights are most commonly made of polycarbonate instead of glass, which makes them far more durable. However, this material is more likely to become yellowed or dim over time, which is where headlight restoration services come in handy.

Headlight restoration not only enhances the overall look of your vehicle, but it will also increase your level of safety. Whether your headlights have become oxidized due to regular wear and tear or if you are in need of replacement lights, getting them restored will make them look like new.

If your headlights are cloudy and need to be restored, we can help. Check out this month’s service specialSave $10 off headlight restoration – Now only $69.95 (regularly $79.95)! For newer looking headlights, schedule an appointment today.

You can also replace your wipers, update your steering wheel, or paint your vehicle. There are many ways to make your old car look new. If you have a favorite, please share on our Facebook page.

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Phillip Knows Car Maintenance and How to Help You

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New to our service department but certainly not new to cars, Phillip Ward joins our crew. He knows everything about car maintenance.

Phillip has called Mount Airy home for a few years, but spent most of his life in King. You might not guess by looking at him, but he has seven years’ experience in the car business.

When he’s not working on cars, he’s attending import car shows or drag races. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and traveling.

How did you end up working at Simmons Nissan?

Several of my friends and family bought cars at Simmons and told me about their awesome sales experience. So I knew it would be a great place to work – with friendly, hardworking people who like what they do.

How did you learn about cars?

My dad taught me how work on cars when I was a kid. He also got me into NHRA drag racing. I was a lead mechanic with a NHRA team. I’m always trying to figure out ways to make cars faster.

Speaking of fast, when a car pulls into the pit we have about 60 to 70 minutes to breakdown all the parts, make any repairs and put it all back together. … Luckily, I have more time than that to work on our customers cars in the service department at Simmons.

What are the most important things to keep up with on your car – for overall car maintenance?

1. Definitely oil changes. It’s important to get regular oil changes scheduled. Since we provide free oil changes for life, there’s no excuse not to come in.

2. Brakes. Normal brake use takes its toll, especially if you do a lot of city driving. The type of driving you do, weight of your car and style of driving all determine how often brake pads need to be changed. Don’t take any chances. Have your brakes checked so they perform their best.

3. Transmission fluid. Checking transmission fluid should be done regularly and not just checked when you start experiencing problems. Once you notice a problem it probably means there has already been some damage done to your transmission.

Tip: To help extend the life of your brakes and transmission, take it easy on the car when you drive it. Make sure the car is completely stopped before shifting into reverse, and be sure you’re stopped before going back to a forward gear. That will avoid stress on the transmission components.

4. Tires. Proper tire inflation, rotation, and replacement are very important, since it’s your only contact between your car and the road. Proper tire maintenance is an easy way to prevent a bad situation while out on the road.

By properly maintaining your vehicle, you’ll reduce future repair costs, optimize your car’s performance, maintain its value and extend its life.

Learn more at our Services FAQs page.

What if people forget to schedule service?

It’s like scheduling doctor’s appointments – it’s best to schedule regularly to maintain good health. When you keep up your car, it will be good to you. … If you’re unsure about when things need to be done, just give us a call. We’ve got a great sense for an appropriate car maintenance schedule. We’ll service your car and help you maintain ongoing records.

So, if you want friendly service from a guy that really knows cars and car maintenance, call or stop by to see Phillip. He’ll make sure you and your car are well taken care of!

Important Tips for Parents of New Drivers

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Whether your teen is just learning to drive or has a new driver’s license, the experience can be very nerve wracking for parents. Especially when you know that car accidents are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds, accounting for forty percent of all teen deaths.

As parents, we want our children to be safe behind the wheel and feel confident in the cars they’re driving. There are things you can do to help. Here are 6 tips for parents of new drivers:

Invest in a driving course.

Your teen cannot have too much good instruction and driving experience. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to get an approved list or safe-driving courses. They can be taken online or in person and usually last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. As a parent, you can offer in-car supervision and practice as well. Start off with small trips – less than five miles away – to build up confidence.

Provide a safe car.

Whether you buy a brand-new car or a used model, look for advanced safety features like front and side air bags, anti-lock brakes, head restraints, electronic stability control and don’t forget good tires. Besides providing your teen driver with more protection, buying a safe car can also help lower your insurance premium.

Stop by our dealership and our service techs will be happy to check out your car to make sure it’s in good shape. And of course you can test drive one of the teen- and parent-approved cars on our lot to find the perfect one for your family.

Remember that he or she is a new driver.

Give your teen gentle, constructive critiques of his or her driving, and keep your temper in check. Don’t assume he or she knows what to do. As you know, driving takes lots of practice and experience. And make sure your teen knows exactly what to do in the event of an accident.

Set a good example.

If you run red and yellow lights, speed down the highway, or scream at other drivers, you’re showing your teen that the rules don’t count. Same with texting and quick phone calls. Don’t be a poor role model.

Set expectations.

Driving is a privilege – make sure that your new driver knows it. Before you hand over the keys, clearly spell out your expectations for good driving behavior. Many families create contracts that detail policies regarding passengers, alcohol use, texting and speeding. It will be helpful to have consequences spelled out in advance.

Discuss driving costs.

If your child has to pay for some car-related expenses (gas, a portion of insurance premiums or oil changes) chances are he or she will take driving more seriously and be safer on the road. So when possible, have your teen help out with the cost of car ownership – even if it’s just buying gas every once in a while.

There’s a lot to think about with a new driver in the family. So, hold on tight and remember to breathe!

If you’re looking for a car for your new driver, we highly recommend a new or used Altima. Here’s why:

5 Reasons Parents Choose Altima for Their New Drivers

  1. Reliable
  2. Fuel efficient
  3. Safe
  4. Easy to operate
  5. Affordable

Don’t take our word for it. Check out Consumer Reports Best Used Cars for Teens and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety Best Vehicles for Teens. Nissan Altima made both lists.

With so many great deals on our lot, now is the perfect time to come in! So call or come by today.

Best Driving Songs of All Time

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Who likes to crank the tunes – and even sing along – when you’re out on the open road? There’s something about listening to the music you love that makes driving so awesome.

Speaking of singing along, did you know that drivers who sing along to certain kinds of music are likely to concentrate more on their driving and are less likely to fall asleep? It’s true. You can read about it here.

And according to the research, heavy metal and hip-hop music caused people to drive more aggressively, while easy listening music made them more careful drivers.

So, whether you’re out on country roads, driving to the beach for the weekend or shuttling kids in your minivan – having the right music is a big deal.

Here are our top five driving songs of all time:

The Cars – Let’s Go (1979)

From the Candy-O album, this song comes from a band that made a number of great driving songs. It was wildly popular in the day and has an awesome beat … who cares if the words don’t make much sense? “She’s so beautiful now, she doesn’t wear her shoes.” Do the words really matter when it’s a great tune?

The Beatles – Twist and Shout (1961)

Who’s a fan of Ferris Buehler’s Day Off? How can you forget the Ferrari 250 GT? If you’re also a fan of the Beatles, this song is a crowd pleaser. It even lends itself to a front-seat/back-seat sing-a-long. So shake it up baby now!

Elton John – Tiny Dancer (1971)

Now, this is a song that is so well known that you guys probably know every word by heart. Go ahead. Crank up the stereo and sing Tiny Dancer at the top of your lungs as a way to mellow out after a long day.

Aerosmith – I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing (1997)

Can you say rock – power – ballad? Unlike some of Aerosmith’s other songs that might cause you to be a bit wreck less on the road, this cool tune fits the bill as a “safe” driving song. It debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and was the first #1 hit for the band after 28 years together.

Don Henley – Boys of Summer (1984)

Okay, it was hard to choose between this one and Henley’s Hotel California with the Eagles. However, since we’re heading into summer – this song won out. So, slick your hair back, put your Wayfarers on and crank the tunes.

We already know how much you love driving your car. Now, you’ll love it even more with the right music choices on the stereo!

What are your favorite driving songs? Comment on our Facebook page.

Tire Maintenance FAQs: What You Need to Know

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Tires. Every car has them. And as you know, they’re essential. Not just to keep your car running but to keep your car balanced.

Most folks know a little about balancing tires but may not know the full scoop on tire rotation and alignment. All three are important aspects of your tire maintenance that our service techs are well versed in. Without all three, your car runs the risk of wearing your tire tread too quickly, costing you money in tire replacement – and potentially worse if your vehicle’s lack of maintenance causes you to have an accident.

Here are the most common questions our service guys get from customers:

Q: What’s the difference between a tire rotation, tire balancing and wheel alignment?

A: Tire rotation is when you change a tire’s location on the vehicle, typically moving it from the front to the rear of the car. Balancing is the process of evening out the weight distribution of the tire and wheel assembly to eliminate an imbalance that can cause an annoying vibration. Wheel alignment is when you adjust the suspension and steering to make sure your tires have the correct orientation towards the road.

Q: Why and when should you rotate your tires?

A: By rotating your tires, you even out the wear of the treads. Typical manufacturer recommendations are to rotate every 5,000 miles.

Q: Is it always necessary to balance your tires if you rotate them?

A: No. Tires are always balanced when they are installed new and many won’t require balance again (they’ll be replaced first). However, if you hit a pothole or curb, it could throw the balance off and cause you to need balancing.

Q: How do you know when you need a wheel alignment?

A: Common clues are a vibration in your steering column, your car drifting to one side (even when you THINK you are driving straight) and your steering wheel not being centered when you are definitely driving straight. All three can impact tire tread wear.

Q: When should you check the tire balance and wheel alignment?

A: Unless you are sensing a problem, balance and alignment only really need to be checked when you get new tires. As long as you are staying on top of your tire tread wear, that frequency should cover you. However as mentioned earlier, hitting bumps, potholes, etc. can throw both of these off…and may result in the need for another check.

Here’s a great article that while a little dated is still very informative on why checking the balance and alignment when getting new tires is important. Make sure you take a peek at it.

If you have any more questions on tire maintenance, our service guys will be happy to answer them. And, if you need new tires, check out this month’s service special – 15% off of a 4-wheel alignment when you buy a set of tires!

Your Expert Advice for Easy Garage Organization

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Are you ready for spring cleaning? How about starting with your garage? If you can’t park your car inside your garage, you’re definitely overdue for some major garage organization.

The best reason to clean out your garage is to make sure your car can fit well inside it. Parking outside can be bad for your car. UV exposure, bird droppings and tree sap can do a serious number on it. Storing your car IN your garage will keep it a lot cleaner – and could extend its life.

The second best reason to tackle your garage is to organize the other stuff that’s probably been left there, like kid’s toys, chemicals, holiday decorations, lawn equipment.

Here’s how to prep your garage for housing your vehicle and your stuff – while staying neat, clean and safe.

Step One: Get rid of what you don’t need

Trash it, recycle it or give it away … you need to figure out what is really unnecessary and get it out of your garage before anything can be organized. Got too much trash for your curbside bin? Use a handy service such as Bagster for pickup and disposal for a reasonable fee.

Step Two: Store things elsewhere

Not everything should be stored in the garage. Here are a few items that you should find a new home for:

  • Paint, as extreme cold or heat can ruin it
  • Propane tanks, as a spark could ignite the can
  • Paper goods, which can be a magnate for roaches and rodents (ewww!)

Step Three: Make it safe

People often forget that a garage can has the potential for combustion from multiple sources. Make sure your garage is equipped with a U.L.–listed, ABC-rated extinguisher, and mount it in an easy-to-access spot. Even though I’m sure you know to open the garage door when your car’s engine is running, installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you added peace of mind.

Step Four: Create a plan

So now you’ve got a clean slate. Take a look at what you need to store in your garage and start mapping out a plan for what will reside on the floor, walls … or even from the ceiling.

Overhead space is the most overlooked area of a garage. With professional lifts, bike racks and even homemade shelves that hang from the ceiling, there are many options for using that space above your vehicles. Check out Pinterest for some visuals and cool ideas.

Step Five: Purchase the necessary storage products

How will you contain what’s going to reside in your garage? You need the right storage products, including:

  • Stackable, clear plastic bins
  • Glass jars for small items, such as nails
  • Lockable cabinet for storing items you want to keep out of reach of kids and pets
  • Open shelving (you can see what you’ve stored and will be more motivated to keep it looking neat)
  • Pegboards, which can be used with hooks, hanging baskets and all kinds of other storage pieces to give easy access to items used more regularly
  • Wall organizing system – panels, tracks or another system

Our final tip? Skip the motion sensors that tell you exactly how far in to park your car; just hang a tennis ball on a string from the ceiling so that it taps the windshield when you’re in the right spot.

Who knew garage organization could be this easy? Take on your garage this weekend – your car (and maybe your spouse) will thank you!

How to Test Drive to Choose the Perfect Car

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Shopping for a car? Great – we’ve got you covered whether you are looking for a new or used vehicle. With information on every make and model available online, you might think you don’t need a test drive. However, nothing can replace the first-hand experience of trying out a car for yourself.

We’re thrilled to help you take a test drive. And we want you to know how to correctly do it to ensure you are purchasing the best car for YOU. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Before You Start Driving

Since the experience is not the same for a passenger as the driver, plan to bring along someone to sit in the back and tell you what they feel as you brake or hit bumps in the road. A best friend, your wife – even grandma – anyone willing to give you feedback will do!

Begin by just sitting in the car and asking yourself questions:

  • Can I get in and out without banging my head or having to stoop?
  • Do I have enough legroom, even in the backseat?
  • Is my seat belt comfortable? If not, can I adjust its position?
  • Is the driving position comfortable? Can I adjust the seat easily for better positioning? (don’t just ask, try it)
  • How well can I see gauges and controls, and how’s my general road visibility?

After You Crank It Up

Once you turn the ignition and get the motor running, check the climate control. See how long it takes the A/C to reach its peak, and then try the same thing with the heat.

While Driving

As you pull out of the lot, plan to assess the car’s ability to handle:

  • Various terrains – including curvy road, bumps and highways. Simulate as many driving situations as you can.
  • Acceleration – when getting on the highway, check how quickly and smoothly you can accelerate.
  • Turning – at various speeds. Test it out and think about how well it hugs the road. Do a couple of donuts in the parking lot – really! This will tell you if the car has a decent turning radius or if you’ll have to allow extra time for three-point turns.
  • Starts and stops – by accelerating and braking both soft and hard. You want to know how the car will handle short stops.
  • Lane changes – for gauging visibility. Determine if you can take a quick glimpse at the mirrors or will need a few extra seconds to focus.
  • Noise level – you won’t want to hear much from the outside or any rattles from the car or engine.

Post Test Drive

Once you’re back on our lot, practice parking the car. Then open and close the doors and finally, pop the trunk. Evaluate the “spring” of the trunk and whether or not you’ll have to do any heavy lifting.

Of course, you should always check for defects, leaking fluids or any other ‘red flags’.  Then chat with your salesperson about the experience. If you need to come back for another test drive on a different day, do it. The bottom line is you should feel comfortable and confident that you’ve thoroughly checked out your potential purchase.

We’re happy to offer a test drive to help with your car purchase – and now you know how to do it correctly! So get out there and do your test drive right…and have a little fun in the process.

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8 Ways to Make Your Road Trip the Best

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Spring break – and even summer vacation! – is just around the corner. If you’re taking a road trip, here are some ways to make it the best one yet!

1. Bring snacks

First and foremost, get your cooler ready with drinks for the road. And you’ll also want easy-to-eat snacks that aren’t too messy. Go for treats with protein like, granola or energy bars, peanut butter crackers or trail mix with nuts. Fresh or dried fruit is another good option to have handy.

2. Be entertained

Whether you like Garth Brooks or Adele, good tunes can make a road trip more fun. So create a playlist or crank your favorite channel. For more listening pleasure (especially on long trips), download some podcasts or listen the latest audio books.

3. Pack your trunk right

Before you go, make sure your trunk is packed like a pro. It could really help you out when you’re looking for your extra chargers. And if you’re stopping somewhere for one night only, pack one overnight bag for the family instead of everyone hauling in separate bags.

4. Plan for your kids

Speaking of family, if you have kids in tow you’ll want them to be entertained too. Younger kids should stay occupied with a new game, a coloring book and of course movies. Older kids are probably good with their electronics. If everyone starts asking “When are we going to get there?” try some driving games like “I’m thinking of something in our house” and everyone asks questions until they get it. Or the alphabet game where the first person to “z” wins by finding each letter of the alphabet, in order, out their window.

5. Fill ’er up

You’ll want to fuel up before you go. While you’re on the road, use GasBuddy, a free app, to find the nearest gas stations with the best prices.

6. Take care of your pets

If Fido is lucky enough to come on the trip, bring enough food, treats and plenty of water. Take your bowls from home or portable ones made for the car. Make sure your pet is wearing current ID tags. And don’t forget the leash.

7. Prepare for emergencies

It’s crucial to have an emergency kit along. Here’s our list of 18 driving essentials. The most important is equipment for changing a tire – a working jack, an inflated spare tire, a lug nut wrench or tire iron, and pipe for leverage. These items should always be stored in their designated place in your car’s trunk or hatchback.

8. Get your car checked

It’s really important to have maintenance done on your car before you take a trip. And guess what? Right now, we’re offering a special maintenance package at a special price! We’ll make sure every aspect of your car is taken care of so you can relax and enjoy the ride.

Here’s your coupon. Just contact us to schedule your spring maintenance. And have fun on your road trip!

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7 Important Cold Weather Essentials for Your Car

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Whether we like it or not, the cold weather is here. Just like you need to have proper clothing to stay warm, your car needs some special attention to function properly this time of year too. Here are seven items to check:

1. Engine Oil

The oil in your engine changes depending on how hot or cold the engine is running. Since outside temperatures influence the internal temperature of your engine, you need to make sure you’re using the proper oil for the conditions and may need to switch to thinner oil. We’re happy to check and change your engine oil.

2. Tires

While you’re getting your car checked, make sure your tires have the proper tread depth and air pressure. The cold weather can contract the air in your tires and decrease the pressure.

3. Battery

Don’t get stuck with a dead battery! Since battery capacity is reduced by cold weather, you’ll want to get it checked for cracks and breaks. Now may be the time to get a new one.

4. Engine Coolant

You will also need to get your coolant checked and make sure the ratio is correct for the winter. Here’s another place where our experienced technicians come in.

5. Windshield Washer Fluid

For best results in clearing off cold, heavy grime, use a washer fluid with an antifreeze solution. But beware – some washer fluids can be harsh and damage your car’s paint. Also, make sure your wiper blades are in good shape as they may get a lot of use this time of year.

6. De-icer

Ever have your door locks freeze in cold weather? Good old fashion warm water can help but sometimes you get frozen out away from home. A de-icer is a good item to keep in your garage or maybe your desk at work. It won’t help to keep it in your car if you can’t get in.

7. Emergency Kit

Keep the basics in your trunk just in case you get stuck. Check your car for flares, a blanket, engine oil, washer fluid, coolant and a flashlight. Also make sure your spare tire is in good shape and you have tools handy. Be prepared … just in case.

It’s also a good idea to keep at least a half tank of gas at all times to decrease the chances of moisture forming in the gas lines and possibly freezing.

Take the time to winterize your car. It adds to its safety and reliability. If you have any concerns or need us to check your vehicle, our service crew is always here to help you!

How to Pack Your Trunk like a Pro

Are you traveling by car over the holidays? Do you have lots of luggage, gifts and extra stuff? It’s funny how you always tend to fill up your car no matter how long the trip. Did you know there are ways to organize your trunk? It’s true. So, read our blog before you head out.

Here are tried-and-true tricks to packing your trunk:

  1. Gather everything you wish to bring on the trip and line it up outside your car. You’ll want to see how large each bag is and the shape of it. It will also help you visualize where each piece may fit perfectly into your car.
  1. Group your luggage.Create separate piles based on weight, size, fragility, and shape.

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  1. Pack awkward luggage first. As oddly shaped baggage is tough to pack around, you’ll want to make sure they’re in first so you can fit everything around it. It’s also a smart idea to put all of these awkward items in one area to minimize wasted space.
  1. Next, pack any large or heavy items (nothing fragile), like suitcases. Put them near the back of the trunk. Not only does this ensure that you don’t have to move the heavy luggage every time you want to get something out of the trunk, but it also prevents anything else from breaking. Having heavy items on the bottom of your trunk also evenly distributes weight.
  1. Fill in any holes with medium-sized and malleable items (anything you can squish like pillows and blankets). Usually trunks have bizarre spaces that are tough to fill with normal luggage, but perfect for your child’s stuffed animals or those extra jackets.
  1. Delicate and lightweight items go next. At this time of year, that may be gift bags or cookies for grandma.
  1. Last items are anything you’ll need to access during the trip, including your road-side emergency kit. Could be an extra jacket or overnight bag.
  1. Put any other things you’ll need in the passenger area or back seat. You don’t want to have to dig through the perfectly packed trunk.

What are your tricks to packing your car? Comment on our Facebook page.