PUTTING THE BRAKES ON AUTISM

It’s mid-September and October is fast upon us.  October is a crazy month, it is Car Care Council month, Halloween (my brother’s most favorite holiday), the arrival of the Great Pumpkin and the month that I choose to raise money for the eradication of Autism.

Here are some straight facts about Autism, in 2018 the CDC stated that 1 child born out of 59 will have a form of Autism, which I will now use the abbreviation as ASD.  The odds of a male child being affected with ASD is 1 in 37 while a female child is 1 in 151.  Diagnosis of an Autistic child usually happens by age 4, but with proper education expertise it can be diagnosed before the age of two.   31% of children affected with ASD will have intellectual disabilities, an IQ of less than 70.  25% will have a borderline IQ between 71 and 85.  Finally 44% will have an IQ of 86 or higher, yes that is Rainman.  Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development.

ASD affects all races, and there is no part of the world’s population that is safe from it. 

Researchers have stated that the cause of ASD can be genetics as many genes seem to be associated with the syndrome.  Environmental factors, viral infections, medications, pollutants, complications during pregnancies and pregnancies occurring late in life have all been identified as causes of ASD.   Autism Speaks insists that vaccinations are not a cause of ASD.  Identical twins will have a 36-95% chance of both being autistic, fraternal twins have only a 31% of being autistic.

Associated issues that are common with children that have ASD are ADHD 30-61%, 50% will have chronic sleep disorders.  11-40% will have anxiety issues, 7% of children and 26% of adults will suffer from depression and 33% will have some sort of seizure disorder.

The cost of care for a child with ASD from the age of 3 to 7 when they enter school is $60,000.00 a year.  From age 7 to 17 the cost drops to 52,000.00 a year.  The lifetime cost with ASD without intellectual disorders is about 1.4 million dollars.  A child that has intellectual disorders will breach 2.4 million dollars.

Staggering isn’t it?

These numbers are why every October for the last 10 years we at Gregg’s Automotive have run our free brakes program.

FREE BRAKES; go ahead, look for the loophole, there’s none, Nobody gives anything away, that’s what they say.  

Well frankly we are not anyone and we do.

Here is how it works; because of our relationship with Suncoast Auto Parts, our NAPA distributor, they supply us with one set of free premium pads or shoes per vehicle which gets passed down to you.  All of regularly competitively priced brake services and parts remain the same.  That’s a savings of $75.00 and higher on every brake job, plus you get a great tee shirt to wear.   At the end of the month we tally up all the brake work that we performed during the month and write a check to Harbour Heights Charities, our local Autistic charity, for 10% of that number.  

Our goal this year is to write that check in excess of $2000.00 

Help us support this Charity, help us educate and rehabilitate so that the many children that live in Charlotte County can benefit. Every penny that we raise stays right here in this county. 

Tell your family, friends and relatives about this program, tell them that by taking advantage of this program not only are they saving money, but are directly responsible for helping a child and their family get through life.

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS

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TIS THE SEASON

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, I guess the first question that would come to your mind is; is this a repeat story or a typo? Well, it’s neither, it is the time of the season, which season you might ask, well let’s pick some.

First and foremost, it’s September and we’ve already seen many 100 degree days. What should we be looking for? I would guess that the cooling systems would be first on my preventive service list. We always see vehicles on the side of the road with their hoods up and the billowing plume of steam rising from the engine compartment. Belts and hoses are so forgotten and ignored these days, because of the changes made in their construction and appearance on the rare occasions that you can actually see them under the hood. A great rule of the thumb is that at 60,000 miles or 6 years pay special attention to these components, at 9 years or 90,000 miles change them period. This should include the belt you never see, the timing belt. Failure of this belt WILL ruin your engine. The second system that is pivotal in the summer is your air condition system. This is especially important if you have any respiratory issues. What is the preventive measures needed to keep the air conditioning system working properly? The very first and most important is to make sure that your cooling system is working properly. The second most important part of the air conditioning system is the cabin air filter. This filter which is usually buried somewhere under the dash and behind the glove box (which is ALWAYS crammed full of papers, bank statements, receipts, perfume, and assorted prescription drugs), ends up being dumped on the floor of the vehicle by the technician that has to remove the glove box to gain access to this filter. We have seen some really bad filters as you can see by the adjoining pictures. This is the stuff you are breathing people, it is lung disease looking for a place to happen. And last make sure that your air conditioning system is charged to the proper specifications. Too low of a charge creates excessive moisture that flood the evaporator case and makes it a breeding place for mold and mildew. The last preventive measure that you can take is to have the evaporator core flushed and cleaned with an active moldicide and freshener. 

The summer also is commonly known as the “rainy season”. Rain on the roads of southwest Florida have their own dangers. Most residents know the difference between an afternoon shower that may drop a half inch of rain in a half hour and a “frog drowner” that may drop up to 2-4 inches of rain in an hour or so. After a draught like the one we are experiencing now those rain showers are usually welcomed by the populace. But those quick rains bring up all of the oils that have accumulated in the roadbed, and since oil is lighter than water it floats on top of the rain making a slippery surface deadly, especially for those that travel on two wheels instead of four. Preventive issues for the rainy season? First how about a really good set of wiper blades! I mean a good set not the ones that you may buy in the Dollar Store. On top of that you should have your windshields cleaned regularly and water repellant installed on the windshield to help move the water off of the windshield and not smearing all of the crud from the atmosphere all over it so that you can’t see the front of the hood. In Florida it is law that if your wipers are on so must be your headlamps. Well just because your headlight switch is on it doesn’t count if your lamps are out or the lenses are so fogged up that you cannot see for 140 feet which is state law.

And of course last to check but most important is your tires. You know the saying when the rubber it’s the road. Check the tread depth frequently and also the tire pressures. Use the placard on the front left door pillar for the correct tire pressures and if your tires are over 5-7 years old check for dry rot. This looks like little cracks in the side wall or sometimes between the tread bars. A quick test for checking the tread depth is to put a dime in the groove and if you can See Roosevelt’s head it’s time for new tires.

Remember preventive maintenance saves you money and sometimes it could save your life!

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL CERTAINLY COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS!!!

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MYTHS AND TRUTHS

Myths and truths have been around since the car has been rolling, so here are some questions, lets see how good you are.

Will driving with your windows down cause you to use more fuel than with the windows up and the A/C on?

Depending on the aerodynamics of the vehicle and the speed of which you are driving, having the window open without a way for it to escape can cause enough extra drag to make your engine have to work harder. Today’s vehicles A/C are so efficient now and the fuel trim so regulated that if you are driving at speeds over 55mph it would be more efficient to use the A/C.

Running with the blower motor at its highest speed is good to keep the A/C working best

Actually, by running with the fan speed at its highest speed you are causing a higher load on the engine thus making the charging system work harder to maintain the demand. Also by keeping the blower speed at it’s lowest level can actually gain you an additional 8-9 degrees of coldness from the center vent by allowing the air to stay in the evaporator case for a longer period of time to remove the heat from the air passing through it.

Vacuum leaks in early fuel injected engines make the engines race because of the extra air in the combustion chambers

Todays newer and more controlled engines can compensate for the extra or unmetered air that enters the combustion chambers via the oxygen sensors and the fuel trim. They allow the injectors to add extra fuel to keep the engine running as smooth as possible and bring the idle down to its normal spot via the idle air control motors. Many times, the owners do not even know that the vehicle is running lean except for the check engine light that will show a lean code.

Synthetic oil is actually mineral oil that has been reengineered and synthesized with additives

True synthetic oil such as Mobil 1, Amsoil, Redline, and Royal Purple are truly synthetic. They are made from refined hydrocarbons such as animal fat, rapeseed oil methane and biomass by products. Because these molecules are combined and reengineered to be exactly the same size and identical in their lubricating qualities. Imagine that the molecules of oil are like little ball bearings chained together. Also because these molecules are identical and synthesized they have less of chance to join together and thicken the oil or turn to sludge. That doesn’t mean forever oil, just so you understand.

You should never let the pressure in your tires exceed the number stamped on the side of the tire no matter how hot that tire may be

The number stamped on the side of the tire is rated for a cold tire, meaning that it has sat for between 4 and 8 hours before being moved. Most new vehicles have the exact tire pressures posted on the front left door pillar. These are the pressures that the tires should be set at , once again cold. Expect those pressures to increase by up to 3 psi after the vehicle has been driven for even a short distance. This means that if you drove to a gas station that has a air compressor, lots of luck with that, armed with your credit card insert your card in the machine , read the tire pressure placard on the door panel, if it says 32 psi, inflate your tires to 35psi and you should be close. Or come to Gregg’s Automotive where we still do for you and it’s free.

ALWAYS REMEMBER LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS.

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LISTENING TO YOUR CAR

If you have been reading my columns for any length of time you know that my favorite analogies are between your vehicle and your body. The fact of the matter is that there are so many symptoms and repairs that are so alike that it is impossible to deny the similarities.

Every morning when you first start up your vehicle it talks to you, very clearly and definitely. The problem is that very few people take the time to actually listen. The second problem is that very few people shut off their air conditioning or their radios or what ever other entertainment app that is available for your car. This practice of turning things off is not only a good practice but healthy for your car. When you get home from work do you immediately just dive into your next task or do you take a moment or two to decompress, maybe have a drink or a cup of coffee. Well your car needs that same decompression time too. Turn a off all the accessories like the air condition, radio etc., let that alternator spin down and if you have a turbo that needs to spin down also. The next morning when you wake up do you jump right out of bed right into your jogging shoes and do a quick 5k, or do you stretch, maybe take a quick shower and then have that first cup of coffee, listen to the news and then get ready for work. Your car needs that same type of gradual start up, to jump in the vehicle and start it up with the A/C going at full blast the radio at its highest volume, the rear defogger or wipers going at full blast is the worst possible thing to do for a vehicle, especially when this is the best time to listen to her talking to you.

Tomorrow morning when you start your vehicle without any accessories or radio going just roll down the window and listen. Do you hear a faint squeal on start up? Is there a tapping sound under the hood for the first few seconds, or maybe a deeper sounding thump? As you roll the first few feet down the driveway is the a really high-pitched squeak akin to running your fingernails across a blackboard? That is your car talking to you. In order of appearance we are talking about worn or dry drive belts or tensioner pulley bearing starting to fail. Tapping sounds can be low oil pressure or low oil level, the deeper thump may be engine bearing failure. The high-pitched squeak is the brake warning indicators letting you know that the brakes need to be inspected. You would be shocked at how many people come in with destroyed pads and rotors and never heard any noise. This took all of 45 seconds and gave you a clear look at the health of your vehicle. Now turn on the radio and your climate control, the engine has already reached almost operating temperature and the O2 sensors have been preheated and your fuel management system is ready to take control of your dive ability strategies.

Go a step further and listen to the wheels on the pavement, do they thump or run rough until the tires get warm? Is there a growl from one side of the vehicle that goes away when you switch lanes? Maybe the exhaust sounds louder when the vehicle is cold and quiets down as the car warms up.

These are all signs of imminent failure of tires, suspension and exhaust systems.

If you hear none of these things, smile and know that everything is probably in good shape.

It costs nothing, just a little common sense and a little patience.

REMEMBER LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS AND MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001.

WHO’S DRIVING THIS THING ANYWAY?

If you have been listening or watching the news in the last couple of weeks, you have been deluged by the problems with Boeing’s 737. Three crashes in the last month and an emergency landing just today.

The real questions here are simple, who is really flying these mammoth planes, the on-board computers or the pilots? Secondly, whose job is it to train said pilots, the manufacturer or the airline that purchases these planes. It is horrific to hear pilots state that they have had only 2-3 hours of training on an I-Pad.

Are they really pilots or just passengers hoping that the computers can make all the right decisions?

In two instances in which the planes had crashed with no survivors, except the now infamous “black box”, both issues happened just after takeoff. Both on board computers showed evidence of a “stall” condition. If any airplane is in a stall condition the proper response is to drop the nose, which the auto pilot did. The problem was is the stall did not exist, it was a faulty sensor. As with anything computer related, “garbage in-garbage out” is a fact of life. The real horror was that these pilots were never trained to override the auto pilot or didn’t have enough training to shut it down and actually fly the damn plane. Hundreds of lives lost, because of who, the manufacturer or the air line. We all want cheaper flights, less training or lesser qualified pilots cost less. Is it worth the price?

Okay, let’s get back to earth. Look at today’s new vehicles. What’s the pitch? Our cars stop by themselves when there is an object in its way. Explain that to the family of the Tesla owner, who’s vehicles anti collision sensors were lower than the body of the trailer he drove under and emerged minus his head. What was he doing? Texting? Obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to the task at hand DRIVING. Every new car now has lane reminders to keep you in between those white lines. They have blind spot cameras so that you don’t have to take your eyes off your phone when changing lanes. Turn you head? Why? Mirrors? Oops! They’re there so you can put your make up on while the crash avoidance sensors and the intelligent cruise control doesn’t let you get too close to the guy in front of you. And you pedestrians aren’t off the hook either, you cross the streets watching your phone, you’re oblivious to the fact that the light may have turned. It has been such a problem that there is legislation to jam the phone signals at intersections so that you will have to look up.

The manufacturers are slowly developing an entire generation that will own cars and not know how to drive and this is scary, because my grandchildren will be on the road.

Do you know that certain manufacturers have installed little blue coffee cups on their instrument cluster that turn into large coffee cups when you as a driver are either too tired, or drunk or just driving poorly? Now to the average joe, this appears to be a wonderful credit to them for caring so much about little old you. Think again, the first place any insurance goes especially in a traffic fatality is that same little black box, except we call it an ECM, and the first place they will look at is the data files that will show them how fast you were going, or how many times you activate your ABS system or if that little coffee cup was illuminated because that claim will never be paid.

Just a little test; be honest, if you go into a skid do you turn into it or out of it?

Did you guess right? You turn into it in a millisecond you must make that call, it needs to be ingrained and an impulse. You can’t do that if you let your car do your driving for you.

Be smart, take control, and remember:
MAINTENANCE BEGINS AT MILE 000001 and lack of COMMON SENSE will always cost you DOLLARS AND CENTS.

 A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – THE SKINNY ON LIGHT WEIGHT OILS

At the end of my last article, I promised you that I would try to make sense of the new “skinny” motor oils.  Their pros and cons and how they can make today’s vehicles run better and more efficiently.

Just a mere fifty or sixty years ago, when many of us were starting our driving careers, the mainstay lubricant for the era’s engines was a straight weight SAE 30 or 40 weight motor oil, or viscosity if you will. Viscosity refers to how smoothly oil flows at a specific temperature range.  If you lived up in the snow belt, around Michigan, Wisconsin or Wyoming, it was common practice to use the heavier oil during the two week summer season (just a little Florida humor) and then drop down to the lighter weight oils in the fall and winter. That was mainly so that the starters could turn the engines over in the frigid weather.  Block heaters patented in the late 1940s became popular in the fifties and are still used to this day.

Throughout the sixties, seventies, and most of the eighties, multi-weight oils became the norm.  These grades always had two numbers on the label with a “W” in between them.  That “W” stands for winter grade.  The flow rate at 0 degrees Celsius is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, for all you non-Canadians. Conversely, the higher number is rated at 100 degrees Celsius, which is 212 degrees Fahrenheit.  

The most confusing part of this is how can oil be thinner at lower temperatures and then thicken up at higher temperatures when the fundamental physics states that this is impossible.  What is happening is that the base oil structure is of a lower viscosity so that these engines can turn over in the winter, due to additives and some profound chemistry they can lubricate and protect these engines at higher temperatures and viscosity ranges demands.  

So that quart of 10w40 pours like a 10-weight oil but protects like a 40-weight oil.  Cool, end of the story, right?  That would be too easy!

First, enter General Motors, that stated that 10w40 should not be used in any of their vehicles as they felt that the standard of additives was too hard to guaranty that the oil would be as useful for longer drive intervals, because we ALL know that everyone always changes their oil every 3000 miles or 90 days.  10W30 became the standard for a long time until Ford Motor Company decided that only 5w30 should be used in their engines.

Not to be outdone enter the Federal Government and C.A.F.E., otherwise known as the corporate average fuel economy standards.  Which states the “if you want to sell cars in the US, and not be heavily penalized your corporate fuel economy must be?  The number for an average mid-sized car in the year 2018 according to C.A.F.E.should be about 34 mpg.

How is that being accomplished?  Here’s how smaller and lighter vehicles, aluminum and plastic bodies, smaller and more efficient engines that have even tighter tolerances that DEMAND skinny oil, we’re talking 0 weights — variable valve timing which is running on the assumption that the proper weight oils are being used and serviced with the proper filters during the appropriate intervals.  Externally mounted performance enhancers (turbochargers) which depend on adequate oil services and intervals, as well as instructions on how to spool down, said turbos so that they don’t deconstruct themselves just out of the warranty periods. ( I bet the car salesman didn’t tell you that when he sold you that V6 truck that pulled like an eight-cylinder because  of the two extra turbos hanging on the side of the block).

The moral of this story is to read your owner’s manual, find out which weight oil you’ll need, use the best oil filter that you can buy and follow all of the SEVERE MAINTENANCE schedules. In the long run, it will keep more money in your pocket and out of mine, because you will use less fuel, protect the inner working of the engine by not replacing turbos, variable valve timing solenoids, and cam driven fuel pumps that are just outside of the warranty period.

REMEMBER MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 000001!

HAPPY AND BLESSED HOLIDAYS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES.  

GREGG MARRAPODI

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – MAINTAINING YOUR VEHICLE UNDER SEVERE CONDITIONS!

Do you know that every owner’s manual comes with a maintenance schedule in it?  There are two of them, one is for normal driving conditions, and the other is for severe driving conditions. Typically people think of harsh driving conditions as driving in sub-zero temperatures, and heavy snow conditions, such as in the northernmost part of the country and in the mountain ranges in the west.  That would be very true, but we are in the beauty of Southwest Florida, what could be severe about that?  

According to AAA and Valvoline here are the top 5 instances that describe severe driving conditions.

  1. Hot weather driving in an urban setting or stop and go traffic. 
  2. Short trips under 5 miles
  3. Regular towing. Including boats (any size), trailers or campers.
  4. Driving on non-pavement surfaces, such as dirt, gravel or off-road surfaces.
  5. Driving for long periods at speeds less than 50mph. And, while not included in this synopsis, driving for long distances at speeds greater the 70 mph.

This sounds like driving on Rte. 41 from Punta Gorda to North Port every day and then on the weekends hopping on I75 to go to Sarasota or Tampa.  And for the younger generation what weekend is complete without hooking up the boat trailer or the ATV trailer for a couple of days out on the water fishing or running through the woods with your four runners to blow off a little steam.

The point is, there is nothing wrong with this lifestyle, in fact, it can be a beautiful thing, but it will take its toll on your cars and trucks.  When cars and trucks breakdown prematurely it consumes an additional and sometimes a large part of your income.  

The difference between maintaining a vehicle for severe service versus regular service is minute in the whole scheme of things.

It means taking the time to check the air pressure in your tires once a week instead of when the low tire pressure light comes on.  It means having regular and scheduled services performed promptly.

We at Gregg’s Automotive spend a lot of time and money to keep you informed as to when these services need to be performed.  These come as e-mails to you to remind you of services that are essential to keep your vehicle running for hundreds of thousands of miles.  The monthly reminder letters that we mail out, these newspaper articles and our weekly radio show “A View From the Pumps “are such examples. 

But our most significant reason for doing this is to educate you so that you can get the most out of your vehicle for the smallest amount of money.

Right now the most significant amount of confusion is with the advent of using synthetic oils instead of mineral-based oils in today’s vehicles.  The very first time that most people have a synthetic oil service sends them into sticker shock.  How can an OIL CHANGE cost a hundred dollars?  My answer to that is twofold, first, why didn’t the salesman who sold you the car inform you that it REQUIRED synthetic oil that will range from $10.00-12.00 a quart?  And why were you not advised that most newer vehicles REQUIRE from 5 to sometimes 7 quarts of oil unless you own a diesel truck which will need up to 15 quarts of oil?

Interesting points, don’t you agree?

Synthetic oils are much more viable for lubrication properties and extended intervals between services.  They are also thinner than most owners realize.  The norm for motor oils in the fifties was a single viscosity oil that changed with the seasons, heavy in the summer and lighter in the winter.  In the sixties to the eighties, multi-viscosity oils became the norm, 10w40 was the most common in the early part of the sixties and as technology increased these weights dropped to 10w30 to 5w30, etc.

Most new engines and especially the upper-end engines now use oils that start with a 0.  That’s right most engines are using 0w20 and 0w40 engine oil.

What is and why use a zero-weight oil? 

Read our next article and learn all about it!

REMEMBER MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 000001!

GREGG MARRAPODI

WELCOME TO THE RAINY SEASON

In beautiful South West Florida, the span of time from June 1st to November 30th is known for two very distinct and different seasons. The first being Hurricane season which I’m sure that everyone is tired of hearing about and secondly is the “Rainy Season.”

The rainy season basically is three to four months of sweltering temperatures with humidity levels of 100 or so percent. Almost every day the sky’s will open, and the rain will come sometimes on and off for an entire day and sometimes for minutes to hours of “Frog Drowning Torrential Rains,” so heavy that you can sometimes not even see the front of your car, much less the car in front of you. However, if you’re reading this in the weekly paper you already know all of this, if you’re reading online, take notes.

The first of the most important parts of your car when it’s raining like this both contain rubber. Small rubber first, your wiper blades. You should think of your wiper blades like dental visits, once every six months. During the dry season, the winter months, your wiper blades are parked on the windshield just baking onto the glass. With temperatures in the eighties and nineties every day these rubber inserts are practically melting onto the glass. And the few times that they are actually used they are dry and ragged from being dragged over a hot windshield that is loaded with bugs and or sand. By the time summer has come they are not worth the packaging that they came in. My advice is to change the blades on the winter solstice and again on the summer solstice, that June 21st and December 21st in case you didn’t remember. Also, and most important is when shopping for these blades you will come across multiple price levels, from $4.99 a pair to $30.00 each. Once again, I advise you purchase the most expensive of these blades but not too far the ladder. You’ll notice that the better the blade the more silicone is built into the wiping portion. You’ll also notice that the blades are flexible and contoured so that they will conform to the shape of the windshield giving you a streakless area of vision. One last note by installing a glass conditioner or wax such as Rain X or Propel the rain will sheet better making the blades able to glide over the windshield.

The largest part of the vehicle that is made of rubber is, of course, the tires. The tires are a wonderful invention of its own. We use them as insulators from Mother Earth the biggest ground of all. We expect them to give us a smooth rolling area and to grip the road for traction but to be able to slide slightly when in sand or debris yet to hold the road while driving at breakneck speeds in puddles of water. The design of the tread is unique onto itself so that while driving through water it can remove the water away from the tire contact yet allow the tire to grip the pavement to give the vehicle stability and sure-footedness so that the vehicle never leaves the surface of the road. That my friends called hydroplaning, one of the most unfriendly and scariest parts of driving because you no longer have control of anything. The vehicle is actually being carried on a sheet of water unable to correct itself. For you sailors out there, this is akin to being in a sailboat in high winds across the beam and trying to point into the wind without a keel. Scary isn’t it?

So the most important facts about tire condition, there must be at least 3/32’s of tread. If you don’t have a depth gauge use a dime and make sure that Roosevelt’s head is partially covered, the more the better. Make sure that your tires are inflated to the proper specifications, there should be a sticker on the driver’s door jamb to tell you what that number is. If you must guess anywhere between 32 and 35 psi is a good number. And most important is to make sure that the best tires are in the rear, because if the rear lifts up just a little it WILL hydroplane, and you will be doing loops down the interstate.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please do not hesitate to contact us at Gregg’s Automotive at 236 Tamiami Tr. Punta Gorda, 33950 or call us at 941-575-8868.

Remember this; it is always cheaper to maintain a vehicle than to repair it, ad it is always cheaper to repair a vehicle than to replace it.

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BACK AGAINST THE WALL, WHERE TO BUY A CAR!

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there: bills are through the roof, the kids are sick and /or need school supplies and clothes, your hours at work were cut, the hot water heater just exploded and flooded the garage (only if you are lucky) usually it’s the hallway, and your car needs $2500.00 worth of work.

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