There is a clear and vocal demand in Corvallis and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the Oregon market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Corvallis area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Corvallis auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Corvallis dealership.
Corvallis drivers should carefully research the vehicle care before buying an alternative fuel vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs as well; these vehicles may help save our environment here in Corvallis, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You'll need to decide what you can afford and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.
Flex Fuel Vehicles Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in Oregon.
Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.
One piece of Clayton's Auto Service auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your vehicle unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.
Diesel Diesel engines are nothing new on Oregon freeways, and many get great fuel economy. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in the Corvallis area.
Natural Gas Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Corvallis and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Corvallis roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Corvallis, ask your Clayton's Auto Service service advisor about it.
On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some Oregon areas, or even unavailable in many parts of the country.
Electric Vehicles Electric vehicles were all the rage in Oregon some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Corvallis auto owners. These vehicles won't come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, many of these cars have a short range before their power runs out and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.
Hybrids Hybrids have been among the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Corvallis and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.
There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard vehicle and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.
In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the vehicle. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV's.
A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.
Let's review each of these. One is common sense; you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen in Oregon where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it's against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.
And don't leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. Corvallis drivers would be wise to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space or your driveway to make your car more visible to passersby and harder for a thief to work under the hood without being seen.
People in Corvallis should know that it's important to roll up their windows completely and avoid leaving their car in public lots for a long time. If you park in a lot that has an attendant, only give them the ignition key.
Keep valuables out of sight; purses, wallets, cell phones, clothes and even change are attractive "smash-and-grab" targets. And pay to have your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, etched into your windows – it makes your car less attractive to a thief who wants to send your car to a chop shop.
There are lots of visible and audible devices available for Corvallis drivers. A steering wheel lock is highly visible and will deter some thieves. Loud alarms can alert you and others that your vehicle is being tampered with. But if your alarm does go off, be careful. Observe what's going on; get descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, including license plate numbers.
Now, if you catch a thief in the act, call 911 but don't approach the person. Your safety is more important than the car.
And here's a great one - immobilizing devices. They actually shut off your car's electrical or fuel supply. So without a key, or knowing where the hidden switch is located, a thief can't drive your car away.
Finally, drivers can also get a tracking device that allows Corvallis police to track their car down and recover it quickly.
Remember, where you live, work and drive around Corvallis, Oregon, has a great impact on your decisions. If you're in an area with high theft rates, you may want to spend more money on security systems. And check with your auto insurance company to see if they offer discounts for adding any of these items.
Of course, the common sense suggestions from Clayton's Auto Service don't cost anything and go a long way toward keeping your car safe from thieves.
Lease? Or buy? These are the options for Corvallis drivers. It's always a tough question for auto owners, but here is some info that'll help you make an informed decision.
If you buy, you'll pay the full cost of the vehicle, maybe an initial down payment, monthly payments on the balance that pays down the loan principal, and the finance charge.
Corvallis drivers who lease finance the portion of the cost of the vehicle that's used up during the term of the lease. You'll pay some money up front: fees, security deposit, first month's payment and maybe a capital reduction. The monthly payments include a depreciation cost and a finance charge. When the lease is up, you return the vehicle to your local Corvallis area dealership.
So how do Corvallis drivers decide?
First, how much do you have for a down payment? A lease usually requires a smaller down payment.
How much monthly payment can you afford? Again, lease payments will be much lower for any given down payment.
A lease needs requires better credit, so that's a factor.
How long will you keep the vehicle? Corvallis drivers who keep their vehicles around for a while will pay less if they buy. But just two or three years? Then leasing is the way to go.
If your car might suffer a ding or two, like a work truck would, then buying's better. The auto leasing company will want their vehicle back at the lease end in tip top shape, and if repairs are needed, you'll pay.
How far do you drive in and around the Corvallis area? Important to consider because leases have a mileage limit; if you go over, you pay a hefty charge per mile/kilometer when the lease is up. So high mileage Oregon drivers should definitely buy.
Will the car be used in your business? Check with your accountant, but both financing options have different tax benefits, depending on your circumstances.
Over the short term, leasing is much cheaper. Medium term, leasing and buying costs are about the same. Over the long haul, leasing always costs more.
Leases may sound a bit complicated, and the typical lease decision weighs more on the monthly payment rather than price. So sometimes Corvallis leasers may pay on a higher purchase price than a buyer would.
Here is a tip: If the salesman asks if you'll be leasing or buying, say you're not sure yet. Make your best deal, then look at your financing options.
Here's another: With a buy or a lease, if you total the vehicle, you'll owe the full amount of the loan, or the balance of the lease payments. Usually, it's less than the vehicle's fair market value, and that's all your Oregon auto insurance company will pay. But ask your Corvallis agent about gap insurance, which pays the difference between fair market value and what you owe. Big consideration for a lease.
Remember, you have to return your leased vehicle in excellent condition and may need to do all the vehicle manufacturer's recommended service and maintenance or face penalties. So see your local advisor at your Corvallis auto repair shop or Clayton's Auto Service on a regular basis, get the required work done and save the service records. It's well worth it.
All Corvallis drivers have blind spots – and no, I'm not talking about the fact that you really don't sing like Adele. I mean the areas of the road that you can't see when you're driving around Corvallis.
First let's talk about our own blinds spots, and then we can talk about others...
To begin, we can greatly reduce blind spots by properly adjusting our mirrors to give the widest coverage possible. Make the adjustments in your vehicle before you start to drive.
First, Corvallis drivers should adjust their rear view mirrors to give the best possible view directly to the rear of their vehicle. Corvallis folks don't need it to get a better view of either side of the car, the kids in the back seat or their dazzling smile. It's pretty obvious, the rear view mirror should reflect the rear.
Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver's side window. Adjust your side mirror so that you can just barely see the side of your car. Now, lean your head to the middle of the car and adjust the outside mirror so that you can barely see the right side of the car.
When Corvallis drivers adjust their mirrors this way, they'll have maximum coverage. Of course driving is a dynamic process – things change every second on Oregon roads and busy highways. So it's wise to take a quick look to the side when passing to make sure that another vehicle hasn't moved into an area you couldn't see in your mirrors.
As you drive around the Corvallis area, avoid staying in others' blind spots. You can't count on them to be watching their mirrors and looking out for you.
Here are some tips for passing a heavy vehicle on Oregon roads:
Avoid the blind spots. If you can't see the drivers face in one of his mirrors or in a window, he cannot see you!
Don't follow too close. If you can't see one of the truck's mirrors, you're too close.
Make sure there is plenty of room to pass. Trucks are long and take time to get around. If you're on one of our local two-lane highways, wait for a passing zone.
Don't linger when passing. Because the blind spots are so big on the sides, you want to get through them quickly. If you can't pass quickly, drop back.
Pass on the left whenever possible. A trucks' blind spot is much larger on the right.
The team of automotive professionals at Clayton's Auto Service want you to watch those blind spots – but feel free to sing in the shower all you want.