Adios Apple Maps

Google Maps is becoming available for use with Apple CarPlay

We’ve talked before about how dangerous it is to use a cell phone while driving, whether you’re talking or texting. (Texas finally banned texting and driving last year.) One way automakers have made it easier for drivers to avoid cell phone use behind the wheel is by integrating cell phones into vehicle operating and entertainment systems. Today, just about every major auto brand has Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto on their vehicles, and those that don’t are working to make the feature available.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to use the interface from their cell phones on their car’s center screen. Not all phone apps are compatible, but generally the most important ones are. You can play music on your phone through your vehicle’s speakers and send messages using the car’s voice control system. As far as navigation, with CarPlay or Android Auto, you don’t have to spring for the automaker’s built-in navigation system, which often isn’t as good a cell phone navigation app.

But for those who have Apple CarPlay, a common complaint is being forced to use Apple Maps, rather than Google Maps, Waze, or any other preferred third-party application. Well, those annoying days are gone because Apple just announced CarPlay will begin supporting third-party navigation apps.

We bet this function will help prevent drivers from glancing down at their phones while driving (because they’re using a different navigation app), and it’s probably a big reason Apple decided to change its business strategy. While less people will likely use Apple Maps, the company doesn’t want to be blamed for causing more car accidents simply for the sake of not allowing the competition on CarPlay.

Look for the update this fall

According to Apple’s announcement, the third-party navigation compatibility enhancement is part of a significant number of updates that come along with Apple iOS 12. The update will roll out this fall for iPhone 5s and later models, in addition to certain iPad and iPod models.

At Aardvark Automotive, our technicians are trained, qualified, and equipped to service the latest and greatest vehicles on the market. In other words, if you don’t want to go back to the dealer for maintenance or repairs on your new(er) car, you don’t have to. Enjoy the personalized service of a local auto repair shop and the technical capability of skilled and experienced mechanics.

 

 

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Car Games for the Kiddos to Keep You Rolling this Summer

Summer is upon us, and for many families that means more time in the car with the kids, especially if you’re planning a summer road trip. Yes, we have iPads and portable DVD players to keep children occupied during long car rides, but sometimes good old-fashioned car games are just as good at keeping kids entertained, not to mention excellent for family bonding. So, plan some quality family time in the form of old-school car games, and plan to have your vehicle inspected before any long summer road trips. Even the most rousing game of eye-spy is no match for a vehicle breakdown.

The Name Game

Start by naming an animal and ask the kids to think of another animal that starts with the same letter. Players receive a point when the other players can’t think of a name within 30 seconds. For older kids, do the same but perhaps with tougher topics, like geographical areas, song titles, or celebrities.

Eye-Spy

“Eye-spy with my little eye something… red!” This classic game is especially fun for younger children and when you’re stuck in traffic.

Spot the Car

Ask the kids to look for cars of a specific color and tally up the points when they spot them. For older children, ask them to identify vehicles according to make and/or model. For example, “SUV” with bonus points for Ford Explorer. This is a great way to help children develop automotive knowledge.

Alphabet Shout-Out

With this game, each player’s goal is to get to the end of the alphabet by naming a word they see outside that starts with each letter of the alphabet. The words may be on other vehicles, billboards, exit markers, etc. For example, “A – Acura”, “B – Best Value Inn”, and so on. Whoever gets to the end of the alphabet first wins. Often, players get stuck for miles on letters like “Q” and “Z”.

Restaurant Race

Name a restaurant chain, like McDonald’s or Cracker Barrel. For a designated amount of time, everyone’s goal is to spot signs for that restaurant. Whoever spots the restaurant the most times the fastest, wins. You can also designate half-points for calling out similar restaurants, such as Burger King instead of McDonald’s.

Map Quest

No, not that Map Quest. Bring along an actual road atlas (you should have one in your vehicle anyway in case of emergencies), and have one child identify a town, city, or landmark on the map. The other player has 60 seconds or so to locate the spot him or herself. This is an awesome (and fun!) game for developing map-reading skills.

Winter Car Care Advice: It’s Not Cool (or Necessary) to Warm Up Your Engine Before Driving

As temperatures are falling in Amarillo this winter (it has been dipping below freezing at nighttime recently), you may be tempted to warm up your car in the early hours of the morning before you head to work—perhaps for your own comfort, or because you’ve heard letting the engine idle for a minute or two prolongs its life. We’re here to tell you there is no truth to the age-old practice of letting your car warm up on cold mornings. In fact, engine warming is NOT beneficial for your vehicle. (Sorry toes!)

The Reason Warming Up Your Engine Is Unnecessary & Potentially Harmful

Here’s what happens inside an internal combustion engine as it idles: when you start your car, the pistons compress air and vaporized fuel inside the engine cylinders. Then, the spark plugs ignite this mixture, creating a miniature explosion that supplies power to your vehicle’s drivetrain. However, when the engine is cold, the gas may not evaporate completely as it combines with the air. In modern cars with an electronic fuel injection, there are sensors that detect this and compensate by adding more gas to the mixture.

For this reason, letting your car idle can lead to excess fuel in the chamber, and when there is too much fuel in the chamber, some of it inevitably condenses onto the cylinder walls and strips away the lubricating oil. When the lubricating oil is gone, components like the cylinder liners and piston rings will wear prematurely. Adding insult to injury, extra fuel is also used, which means more trips to the gas station.

Wear Your Gloves & Don’t Wear Out Your Engine Components

Now that you know letting a cold engine idle can strip oil away from your pistons and cylinders (talk about counterproductive!), don’t do it. Warming up your car isn’t necessary in the winter no matter how chilly it is outside. Once you’re on the road, trust your engine will warm up as needed, and your thermostat and radiator will then keep the engine operating at proper temperature, so long as your vehicle is performing as it should. If you think your heating and/or cooling system isn’t functioning properly, make an appointment for service right away. A car can overheat in the colder temps as well, leading to a breakdown.

For more information on engine idling and performance, bring your car to Aardvark Automotive for a vehicle check-up, especially if any of your warning lights have come on, even if only for a brief amount of time. But as for warming up your engine, you can stop doing that.

Back-to-School Safe Driving Tips

Already?!

Already?!

Kids are back to school on Monday, August 24—a big adjustment not only for children and parents but also for drivers on Amarillo roads. Traffic gets a little bit crazy during the school year, especially in the first few weeks as everyone gets used to buses everywhere, kids on bikes, and harried parents trying to drop their kids off before work.

When children are present, particularly before and after school, drivers must slow down and pay attention. Here are some more tips for driving safely during the back-to-school season and beyond.

Dropping Kids Off at School

Most schools have specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know the rules for your child’s school and observe them for the safety of all kids. The following rules apply to all school zones:

  • Don’t double park (it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles).
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re on foot—they are hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. Here are precautions to keep young pedestrians safe:

  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you (this could put them in the path of moving traffic).
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.

Sharing the Road with School Buses

Watch for school buses starting Monday

Watch for school buses starting Monday

If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load to unload children. Here are some other guidelines for sharing the road with school buses:

  • Never pass a bus from behind (or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road) if it is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children (stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus).
  • Be alert at all times, as children are often unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

Please follow these tips for a safe school year, and call Aardvark Automotive when you need auto repairs and maintenance!

Can I Use Regular Gas in My Exceptional Car?

Premium Vehicles Require Premium Gas

At Aardvark Automotive, we work on a lot of luxury vehicles, like Mercedes, BMW, and Audi—cars that ask for premium, top-tier gasoline. Sometimes our customers innocently inquire, “Would it be ok to fill up with regular?” despite what their manuals say. The answer is “no,” but we understand it’s helpful to know why. With this blog, we’ll explain what your vehicle’s octane rating means and the reasons it’s important.

First of all, let us reassure you that requiring the use of premium gasoline is not a shady deal between automakers and gas companies to make you pay more at the pump. Engines that require top-tier gas are often built for performance, and using regular gas is a good way to end up with a dead engine and a hefty repair bill.

What’s octane, and why does it matter?

Octane is the number associated with different grades of gasoline, for example, 87 for regular and 93 for premium. The number measures how easily the gas will spontaneously combust under pressure. This doesn’t mean gasoline can simply explode on its own. What it does mean is that when your car’s engine pulls gasoline into a cylinder, it uses the pistons to squish a mixture of gasoline and air before using the sparkplugs to explode it.

The amount of gasoline + air mixture that’s squished is your engine’s compression ratio. The more gas and air you can squeeze, the more powerful the explosion—and the more powerful the engine.

Can using regular gas hurt my car if it asks for premium?

Using the Wrong Gas Won't Save You $

Using the Wrong Gas Won’t Save You $

Think back to high school chemistry class… Maybe you remember that things heat up when you compress them. If you squish gasoline too much, it will explode before the sparkplug gets a chance to light it. Premature explosion is bad because it won’t burn up all the gas/air mixture, and can leave scorched deposits in your cylinders. It can also damage some of the delicate moving parts inside your engine.

Using regular fuel in a vehicle that requires premium—or higher octane fuel—will lead to premature combustion as the pistons compress the regular gas past the level at which it combusts.

So if your manual asks for premium gasoline, don’t try to save money by paying a few cents less for regular gas. The investment is more than worth it in terms of your car’s performance and how long the engine will last. Even cars that only “recommend” premium gas should be fed premium. Using regular could reduce the performance and efficiency of your engine, causing you to get fewer miles per gallon, and cancelling any money you saved by buying cheaper gas.

Tips for Teenage Drivers

Teaching Teens Safe Driving Practices

Talk to Your Teens about Safe Driving

Talk to Your Teens about Safe Driving

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five 16-year-old drivers are involved in a car accident during their first year on the road. That’s about 20% of first-time drivers. And these accidents aren’t just minor fender benders. In the U.S., a classroom of teens dies each day as a result of motor vehicle crashes. This goes to show that while teens may think they know everything, it’s important for parents to teach and encourage safe driving practices.

What factors put teen drivers at risk?

Inexperience is the leading factor in traffic crashes involving young adults. Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations, and they also engage in risky driving behaviors, such as speeding and following too closely. Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use, with only 54% of high school students reporting they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

In a nationwide survey, 24% of teens reported that within the previous month they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol, and 8% reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period. At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers.

How can teen accidents be prevented?

Teach Teens Safe Driving Practices

Teach Teens Safe Driving Practices

Teen motor vehicle crashes are preventable, and proven strategies can help improve the safety of young drivers on the road. Here are five safe driving tips for teens that may seem obvious, but are often forgotten or disregarded:

1. Keep your hands on the wheel. Habitually keeping your hands on the wheel is not only important for navigation purposes, it can also help you avoid distractions. If your hands are on the wheel, they can’t wander to other places, such as your cell phone. Texting while driving takes your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road, putting both yourself and others in danger. If you’re easily tempted, shut your phone off entirely when getting in the car.

2. Know the speed limit. Speed limits are decided after careful evaluation and are selected based on the safest speed for each road. It is important to obey these speed limits in order to maintain full control of your vehicle. Cutting a few minutes from your drive is not worth the risk. To avoid speeding, leave to get to your destination a bit earlier than you would typically think necessary.

3. Be aware of each lane. It is important to know where you are in relation to other drivers. Every time you switch lanes, use your blinker promptly. Also, refrain from speeding up to get ahead of other cars. Unsafe lane changes often result in accidents.

4. Avoid slamming on your gas pedal or brake pedal. Learn to anticipate when you need to start and stop, so you don’t need to rush to make it happen. Not only is easing into a transition better for your car, it also makes you more aware of your surroundings. When a stoplight turns green, step on the gas pedal lightly at first and increase pressure slowly as you start moving forward. When approaching a stoplight, stop sign, or stopped traffic, begin applying pressure to your brakes from a distance, coming to a stop smoothly.

5. Don’t drive if you’re sleepy or emotional. We all know that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous. Your judgment and your response time are impaired. But we often forget that state of mind can affect driving ability as well. If you’re not feeling completely alert, awake, or focused, it’s a good idea to hold off on driving or have someone else drive you where you need to go.

 

Winter driving: How to get out of a skid

Winter driving is very dangerous if you don't know how to handle your car

Winter driving is very dangerous if you don’t know how to handle your car

You know how to drive safely and you’ve read our article on how to drive defensively in winter weather. But it’s a Friday afternoon, you’ve just sat through an hour of torturous traffic, and you can’t wait another moment to get home to catch that football game. So you rev up the engine a little more than you should and push it on a curve.

Now here you are, spinning out of control in a blur of snow. You have two choices here: 1. Freak out and freeze, which will likely cause your car to spin into a tree (or oncoming traffic), or 2. Collect yourself and suavely maneuver out of the skid like a pro.

Don’t freeze up – we’re here to help. Whether you have a front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, manual, or stick shift, the technique for getting out of a skid is the same.

Consider this your worst-case scenario guide for skidding.

There are two ways to fall into a skid - the type of skid you're in determines how you get out of one

There are two ways to fall into a skid – the type of skid you’re in determines how you get out of it

Oversteering

This happens when you make a turn and the back wheels spin out to the outside of the curve, causing them to fishtail. To steer yourself out of this skid, look the way you want to go and countersteer. So if you’re making a right turn and the nose of your car is pointed too far too the right, look a little to the left and steer left. This is known as “steering into the skid.” Countersteering will bring your car back to the direction you wanted it to go in the first place.

While doing so, keep your foot off the brake (if you don’t have anti-lock brakes) and gas. If you have anti-lock brakes, brake firmly while steering into the skid.

Those with manual transmissions should let up on the clutch. Once your car is stabilized and has traction, countersteer to go in the direction you originally intended.

Understeering

When you go into a turn with too much speed, your car may not turn as much as you wanted it to, causing the front wheels to lose traction. The solution? Turn your wheels straight, even if that means turning them directly toward another car or a building.

Once your tires get enough grip, they will start rolling rather than sliding and you can steer properly again.

If you find yourself hydroplaning…

You could very easily throw yourself into a skid by braking or turning suddenly, so don’t do either! Ease your foot off the gas until you can feel the road again, and brake with light pumping motions. If your car has anti-lock brakes you can brake normally, since your anti-lock brakes will pump the brakes for you.

If your drive wheels hydroplane:

You will see an increase in your speedometer and RPM as your wheels spin. Release the gas, slow down, and steer your car straight on the road.

If your front wheels hydroplane:

Your car will slip towards the outside of the bend. Slow down and steer so your car can travel straight.

If your back wheels hydroplane:

Your car’s back wheels will veer into a skid. Steer into the skid and then steer in the opposite direction to straighten out your car.

Tips to avoid hydroplaning:

  • Keep your tires properly inflated with good tread depth
  • Replace worn tires – underinflated tires can deflect inwards, making the center higher and trapping water more easily
  • Drive slowly in wet conditions, and maintain mild pressure on your brake and gas
  • Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the car in front of you
  • Don’t suddenly accelerate, brake, or make sudden turns

References

http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Hydroplaning

http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/accidents-hazardous-conditions/how-to-steer-out-of-skid.htm

http://www.weather.com/activities/driving/drivingsafety/drivingsafetytips/hydroplane.html

If you need help getting your car through the winter, contact us at our website or call (806) 242-1073 to schedule an appointment today!

Aardvark Automotive