Buy, Lease, or Own:

Affordably Owning a Vehicle in an Uncertain Economy

With uncertain financial times ahead of us, many people are opting to keep their current vehicle rather than take on a new car bill.  Keeping your current car can be a smart and affordable way to help manage your expenses while maintaining your ability to get around.

While public transportation might be the most affordable method for transportation it just isn’t an option for many.  In most areas, mass transportation is only available in the city.  And when they do, they are a dubbed a “park and ride”, meaning you drive to the bus stop. This means that if you live in the suburbs you almost definitely need a vehicle.

In recent weeks, as a matter of public health, many public transportation authorities are being forced to cut the number of buses or train rides offered.  Which now makes it difficult for people who typically could utilize public transportation to rely on it.

Leasing a Car

If you want the luxury of a new car without the big price tag, leasing a car can be a more affordable way to go.  However, if or when things do get a bit tight financially, you still have the monthly burden of a car payment.  Before signing a lease, carefully read through the contract and talk to the finance specialist at the dealership to make sure options like deferring a month’s payment are included.

Buying a Used Car

If you don’t yet have a car, this can be one of the most affordable methods of getting one.  Be sure to purchase the vehicle through a reputable dealer.  Also, do your research on the actual vehicle you are considering purchasing to determine whether it has been in previous accidents.  Do your research to find out what this car should cost for the age and mileage that is has on it.  And lastly, make sure you fully understand the terms of the sales agreement.

Keeping your Clunker

If you do have a vehicle, keeping it running is the most affordable and safe option in this uncertain market.  Regardless of whether your car is a clunker or in great shape, investing in your car now can keep it on the road for many miles to come.  Simple routine maintenance is the most assured way of spotting potential problems before they happen and keeping repair bills low.

Is your car making a noise?  Does it have a certain smell when you turn the engine over?  Are you worried about a potential problem or need to have something fixed?  Give us a call and let our staff help you keep your car in tip top shape…and your wallet too!

frozen windshield wipers | common winter car problems | duramax transmissions

5 Common Winter Car Problems + How To Avoid Them

Taking care of your car can be quite a hassle at times, but with a few simple steps, you can ensure your vehicle will run smoothly throughout the wintertime. We’ve taken the time to list out 5 of the most common winter car problems along with tips to avoid them.

Decreased Tire Pressure

Cold temperatures cause tire flattening over time, so it is best to check your tire pressure regularly. Using the manual for your car, make sure the tires are in the acceptable range. This will not only increase the efficiency of the vehicle but also help when driving under less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Ice in Fuel Line

We recommend keeping the gas tank half full during the winter because some tanks can develop ice from moisture in the air. Even if this isn’t motivation enough, you never know when a storm or other catastrophe will occur. As the saying goes, it’s best to be safe than sorry. So, don’t run your car on an empty gas tank this holiday season.

Spark Plug Degradation

Going to work in the morning may take a lot longer with the time to scrape ice off the windows. However, this does not mean it’s a good idea to let your car warm up. Doing so can cause a myriad of problems ranging from wasted fuel to damaged spark plugs. Cars were not meant to idle for long periods of time, so we recommend investing in some de-ice spray if scraping is a difficult task.

Frozen Windshield Wipers

Do you ever see streaks on your windshield when using the wipers? This is a sign that your current wipers are getting old and inefficient. Take the hint, and replace them so as to prevent issues during inclement weather. Newer wipers are also able to handle the temperature drop better because they have fewer cracks for moisture to build up.

Dead Batteries

No one wants to end up stranded on the side of the road with a dead car battery. Make sure your battery is charged and thus able to handle tougher starts in the cold. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra battery in the garage for future use. Even still, always have jumper cables in your trunk in case your battery does die.


We aren’t sharing these common winter car problems to scare you. Instead, we want you to be as prepared as possible and have a safe, enjoyable holiday season. So, take our advice and check out these simple things to avoid issues in the cold weather.


If you have any questions, give us a call at (503) 363-6888. Happy Holidays!

Old Shell Gas Pumps - Premium and Regular - Gas Mileage

Improve Your Gas Mileage

Improving gas mileage is simple. Follow the recommendations below, and you will save money and increase the life of your vehicle. As with anything related to your car or truck, regular maintenance and oil changes are necessary to achieve top performance.

Gas Mileage Thieves

Incorrect Tire Pressure:  You can find an inexpensive pressure gauge like this one (pic) and periodically check your tire pressure.  The manufacturers recommended pressure levels are on the driver’s side doorplate.  Don’t use the “Maximum Pressure” numbers on the tire.

Tire Gauge - Gas Mileage

Bad Oxygen Sensors: Replacing malfunctioning sensors can improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%.  Oxygen Sensors regulate the mixture of air and fuel and are generally rated to be replaced at 100,000 miles. Make sure you have a mechanic perform diagnostics to be certain that this is the issue.

Poor Air Filtering: Ensuring that Air Filters are unclogged can improve your mileage per gallon by as much as 20%.

Broken Spark Plugs: Make sure the spark plugs are firing correctly.

Spark Plug - Gas Mileage

Leaking Fuel Injectors:  You’ll want to confirm the functioning of your fuel injectors to ensure they aren’t negatively affecting your gas mileage.

Low Quality Motor Oil: The wrong motor oil can affect your gas mileage up to 12%.  Make sure you choose an oil that is high in reducing friction.

Loose Gas Caps: Check that your Gas Cap is screwed on tight.

Driving Habits

  • Accelerate and break steadily.
  • Drive the speed limit.
  • Use cruise control on the highways.
  • Idling wastes fuel. It takes only 30 seconds to warm up the engine. Also, if you are waiting for someone, put the car in neutral.

Before You Buy

If you’re looking for a new or used car, you can go to this site to check on the fuel economy of the Model by year:

Winter Driving – What it takes to be safe and prepared

Winter Driving – Make a List, Check it Twice


No one wants to be stranded with no battery power and no jumper cables. Keep the necessary supplies with you, and check battery life before any winter driving. If you don’t have a multimeter or voltmeter, bring it to your auto repair shop for a full pre-winter driving check.


Running out of gas isn’t too bad in the summer because, worst case scenario, you can wait for a friend to bring over a couple gallons. In the winter, though, you’ll need some way to keep warm during that wait. Fuel is what allows your car to run and blow nice, cozy, hot air. So, don’t let the needle get to the “E.” In fact, keep it above a quarter tank if possible.

Coolant / Antifreeze

Always keep a 50-50 ratio of water to coolant in the radiator. Some may say, “Just go all in! 100% coolant!” But, the mix of water and coolant has a lower freezing point which is especially necessary for the cold season. When in doubt, check the freeze rating of the coolant you use at the gas station or by purchasing a device from your local auto part shop.


Does it really matter to have snow tires when you have all-wheel or four-wheel drive? Yes. Just because your car is built for somewhat inclement weather doesn’t mean seasonal tires won’t give you increased efficiency and control. Most cars encounter 30% better braking power with the right tires for winter. Also, tire pressure is critical. Your tires are rated for a particular pressure level, so keep it in that range. If you’re unsure, have the shop regulate it for you to be extra safe.

Windshield Wipers

No one wants to be stuck in the middle of a downpour or snowstorm with old, poor-functioning wipers. Take a look at them as the seasons change, and replace them if needed. Glaring sun that’s lower on the horizon also means you want your windshield nice and clean for good visibility.


Obstructed views through any vehicle window is illegal in most states. Confirm that your defroster is functioning properly before it causes you to be late for work. This way, when your local police officer drives by, you’ll get a smile instead of spinning lights.


Have the shop look at your brakes so you’ll be set regardless of what mother nature throws at you. Know if you have anti-lock brakes or not because that changes how you’re supposed to drive in inclement weather which we’ll talk about next.

Take it Slow, Rudolph

Driving in the snow and ice is dangerous. If you can avoid it, do. But, if you must do some winter driving, follow these tips and techniques to be as safe as possible.

Use Snow Tires

Why? All-wheel or four-wheel drive are just helpful mechanisms but don’t guarantee the amount of traction needed for all bad weather. As stated earlier, you’ll have close to 30% better braking power with the proper tires.

Drive Slowly

When it’s snowing outside or there’s ice on the roads, passing should not be anyone’s highest priority. Make sure to leave plenty of space between you and other drivers and slow down before getting to intersections. That way, the light may turn green by the time you arrive so you don’t have to stop completely and start from a standstill. For the same reason, keep inertia for going uphill and brake lightly on the way down.

Know Your Brakes

Stomp on antilock brakes, pump on non-antilock brakes. Also, don’t use your emergency/parking brake if you can avoid it because it’s at a high risk of freezing when implemented.

Warming Up Your Car – Yes or No?

Some people think you must heat up the car before it can drive well. That’s not true. These days, cars are more technologically advanced and no longer rely on the engines being warmed up to go. However, it may help to have heat involved for defrosting. If you are going to heat up the car for this or any other reason, don’t do so in an enclosed space. This will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

A Few Last Notes—

Always get enough sleep before taking the wheel, have a designated driver if you’re drinking, and keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians.

Winter driving may be daunting, but the necessary preparations go a long way to keep you and everyone else safe.

Duramax Transmissions is here for you, so don’t hesitate to give us a call at (503)363-6888 or Click Here to Contact Us.

Happy Holidays and Safe Driving!

Old Car with Gear shift on the column - Manual Transmissions, Automatic Transmissions

Automatic or Manual Transmission?

Automatic transmission vehicles are becoming the most common to drive, while manual transmissions are going more out of style. First we’ll look at the main differences then some common myths surrounding the debate of automatic vs. manual transmissions.  This will help you decide what’s best for you.

Manual Transmission

A manual transmission is controlled via the stick shift and clutch. You change gears by pushing in the clutch and moving the stick shift to the appropriate gear. In the 1940s vehicles typically had only 3 gears, but now they commonly have 6, or even 7 for many sports cars. Learning to drive a manual transmission is a bit more tricky, but once you do you can drive almost any vehicle in the world.  This is particularly useful for countries where manual transmissions are the primary type of car. Also, most people find manuals more engaging to drive.

Automatic Transmission

Automatics used to only be available in luxury model cars.  Now they’re more common than manuals and are available at a similar price point. There are two types of automatic transmission, hydraulic and dual-clutch. Both change gears without requiring anything from the driver, although now many automatics now allow you to choose gears as well. It is more difficult to stall an engine with an automatic transmission and it tends to make for smoother driving, particularly in stop-and-go traffic.
Manual Transmissions - Automatic Transmissions

  1. Manuals get better fuel mileage. This used to be the case, but with advancing technology some automatics are now even surpassing manuals in fuel efficiency.
  2. Manual vehicles cost less. While this still holds true for most models, it isn’t always the case. Some vehicle models cost the same whether they have automatic or manual transmission. And today over 50% are not even produced with manual transmissions.
  3. Automatic transmission is always an option. There are a small group of specialized vehicles that are only produced with manual transmissions, such as the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 or Ford Focus RS. Your dream car may not have an automatic option.

Which should you choose?

If you have the choice, the type of transmission you should drive depends mostly on your driving style and commute, but let’s face it, what you enjoy driving plays a huge part in your decision. If you have to go through a lot of stop-and-go traffic, an automatic is probably a better choice since you don’t have to constantly step on the clutch and shift. If you’re looking for a more dynamic experience, a manual transmission is the most interesting and fun to drive, which makes it good for longer distances. Maintenance costs are similar on both types. Although it’s typical for automatic transmissions to be easier to maintain, it really depends on the vehicle.

Do your research, check the cost of the car & maintenance; and, ultimately, choose the car that fits your lifestyle and that you will enjoy driving!