Another Gas Tax Hike for North Carolina

gas tax

It’s only 2 cents, but North Carolina gasoline tax went up January 1, 2023. The previous rate was 38.5 cents per gallon; the new rate is 40.5 cents.

There is a formula that calculates the change. According to the North Carolina Department of Revenue press release, “The motor fuel excise tax rate is calculated by using the motor fuel excise tax rate of the preceding calendar year, multiplied by a percentage. The percentage is 100 percent plus or minus the sum of the annual percentage change in State population for the applicable calendar year, multiplied by 75 percent and the annual energy index percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, multiplied by 25 percent.”

We found it interesting that one of the multipliers in the formula is the change in the state population. We also had to look up the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers. This index is a measure of how prices change for various categories of items.

Bottom line, the tax increase is based on the population of North Carolina and inflation.

It’s not just gasoline. Prices are going up on just about everything, so it’s more important than ever to keep your vehicle in top condition, and making sure it gets the best gas mileage possible. And that is our two cents worth!

How to Know When Your Clutch is Failing

Are you one of the diminishing pool of people who knows how to drive a manual transmission? Are you one of the few people who actually own a car with a stick shift?

(For those of you who aren’t sure, a manual transmission has a clutch, which is only found on a vehicle without an automatic transmission. A clutch breaks the connection between the transmission and the engine.)

Owning a manual drive vehicle may not be as common as it used to be, but there are great reasons to do so. The most popular reason is the control you have over your driving, making it a truly immersive experience. In addition, you’ll usually get better gas mileage, less expensive repairs, and – you can start it even when your battery is dead. If you can drive a stick shift, you can drive almost anything. And – driving a stick shift is just plain cool.

The most common repair on a straight drive car is the aforementioned clutch. Most clutches will last a long time, especially if you use it correctly. But over time, a clutch will wear out. Here are warning signs:

  1. Your transmission keeps slipping out of gear.
  2. The clutch feels ‘spongy’.
  3. There is a burning smell when you press on the clutch pedal.
  4. The clutch goes all the way to the floor.
  5. A growling noise when the clutch pedal is pressed.

When you’re in the clutches of a clutch failure, it’s time to bring your car in to us. Almost every clutch repair is worth the investment, and will prolong the life of your car. We’ll do the work for you, and get you back on the road, shifting through the curves, feeling the wind in your hair, and generally being the coolest thing on the road.

How to Get Your Car Ready to Sell

For most of us, there comes a point in car ownership that we’re ready to sell or trade in our vehicle and buy another. When the time comes for your car or truck, you want to get the very best price possible. Right now, used car prices are at historic highs, but there are still things that you can do to enable you to increase the asking price.

  1. Clean Sweep! Break out the toothbrush and the vacuum, the hose and the wax, and make your car sparkle. Pull our rugs, shampoo the carpet, scrub the tires. You may opt to pay a professional to do a total detailing. Your goal is to clean up all the old french fries, and make your old car sparkle.
  2. Get Your Stuff Out. Remove bumper stickers and any decor inside your car. Check for items under the seat, in the pockets, trunk, and in the glove compartment. 
  3. Kick the Tires. While new tires won’t sell a car, tires that are worn may make a buyer reluctant.
  4. Break out the Records. Records of oil changes and other proof that a car has been taken care of is reassuring to a new buyer. If you’ve had your servicing done with us, we can help with this.
  5. Sweat the Small Stuff. Broken tail lights,  small dents, worn windshield wipers make a car look shabby. If it’s not too expensive, fix it!
  6. Invest in New Stuff. Add new floor mats, a steering wheel cover, or even new seat covers.
  7. Visit Us! Bring your car or truck to us for a once over. We’ll give your engine a good going over and check your fluids so that when a prospective buyer gives it a test drive, there won’t be any surprises.

Once your car is in its best condition, it’s ready to sell. Whether you trade in, sell on a used car market, or do a private transaction, the above steps should help you get top dollar, and get you ready for your next vehicle.
Pro Tip – Before you buy that new ride, bring it to us for an evaluation. Even before you buy, we’re here to help you keep your car or truck in top shape!
Expert Tip – Elite Motor Cars would love to help you sell your vehicle! Give us a call at  (336) 270-3073.

Here are the Top 5 Reasons Why a Check Engine Light is On

If you’re like most people, your heart sinks when your check engine light comes on. This ominous warning can mean something as simple as a loose gas cap, or as serious as a failed catalytic converter.

The check engine light is part of a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics system, or the OBD. The OBD monitors and regulates vehicle performance, and when it finds a problem that your engine’s computers can’t fix, a warning light comes on.

Here are the top five reasons :

Catalytic Converter Issues.
The catalytic converter reduces emissions from your vehicle’s exhaust, helping to reduce pollution. Its failure can make your engine stall, perform poorly, or not start at all. You also may fail an emissions test during your annual inspection.

Faulty Spark Plugs. Your spark plugs literally provide the spark that makes your engine go. When the spark plugs or the spark plug wires are faulty, you can end up with damage to your catalytic converter, ignition coils, or your oxygen sensor.

Timing Solenoid Failure. A variable valve timing solenoid is part of the timing system on your vehicle. As it goes bad, your engine’s performance and fuel efficiency will be markedly worse.

Evaporative System Leaks. The Evaporative Emission Control System (EVAP) captures gasoline fumes as they evaporate, and turns them back into usable fuel. The most common leak in this system is a loose gas cap. Other problems could be a leak in a hose, valve, or a even a leak in your fuel tank.

Fuel Mixture is Lean or Rich. To work at maximum efficiency, your vehicle needs a ratio of 14.7:1. That means that for every gram of fuel, there should be 14.7 grams of air. If there is too much fuel in the ratio, the engine is said to be running rich. On the other hand, an engine that is running lean has a mixture with too much air. Either of these will trigger the check engine light.

Here’s the most important part: If your light is on, it’s time to troubleshoot a bit. First, tighten your gas cap. Second, look at your gauges to see if your engine is overheating or you have low oil pressure. If either of these are true, you need to stop as soon as it’s safe and have your car towed to us.

If your check engine light is blinking, you need to pull over safely, and arrange to have your car brought to us. Especially in newer vehicles, driving a car with a blinking check engine light can lead to very costly repairs.

Whatever the reason for your check engine light being on, we can help diagnose the issue, and then repair it. Especially at the holiday season, we want you and your family to be safe, and for your vehicle to get you over the river and through the woods in time for pumpkin pie!

For Richer Or Leaner

An engine works when an air/fuel mixture is pulled into a cylinder, compressed, and then ignited. In order for an engine to run smoothly, the mixture of gasoline and air must be exactly 14.7:1. That means that for every gram of fuel, there should be 14.7 grams of air.

If there is too much fuel in the ratio, the engine is said to be running rich. On the other hand, an engine that is running lean has a mixture with too much air.

An engine that runs lean or rich isn’t efficient.

Engines that are running lean may have:

  • Clogged fuel injectors
  • Clogged fuel filter
  • Leaky fuel lines
  • Vacuum leak
  • Oxygen sensor problems
  • Falling fuel pump

Engines that are running rich may have faulty:

  • Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor
  • Manifold Absolute Pressure (MAP) Sensor
  • engine coolant temperature sensor
  • intake temperature sensor
  • fuel pressure regulator
  • injectors

Most of the time, your check engine light will alert you that you have an issue. If you have an OBD code reader, it will give you the code that will pinpoint the issue.

Of course you can also bring your vehicle into us, and we’ll help you diagnose the problem, and fix it for you. For richer or leaner – you can count on Norris!

Topping The Tank? Stop Topping!

Are you one of those people who hate pumping gas? Do you try to squeeze as much gas into the tank as possible to make time between fill ups longer? Do you try to buy more gas today while the price is low? Does your OCD push you to spend up to a round number?

We know how you feel, but we have a warning for you. Topping off the tank is counter productive. When your car clicks, it is saying, “I’m full.”

Gasoline needs room to expand, and your tank is designed to have room for that expansion. Overfilling is bad for the environment, it wastes your gas money, and it’s really bad for your engine.

When you overfill, the gas overflows to the vapor canister, which is not designed for liquid gasoline. The raw fuel will damage the charcoal that traps the fuel vapors. Eventually the vent valve will also be damaged. If the onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) system is damaged, your check engine will come on. Repairs can run into the hundreds of dollars.

So next time you hear the click of the gasoline pump, stop. Assure yourself that you’re saving money, air quality, and your engine.

Notation: Tire Rotation

If you’ve ever looked at the bottom of your shoes, you’ll see that some parts wear faster than others. The same uneven wearing happens to tires, and that worn tread isn’t good for your vehicle.

Here’s why.

  1. Stay Groovy. It helps your tires last longer. Front tires generally show wear faster than back tires. Heat, turning, braking, and running into the curb at the supermarket also cause uneven wear. When you rotate the tire, wear is distributed more evenly, and your tires will last longer.
  2. Don’t Get Suspended. Uneven tread wear can cause your car to vibrate as it moves, damaging your suspension system.
  3. Safety First. Rotating tires helps to keep more tread on the front tires for longer. More tread means more control as you drive.
  4. Comfort Plus. An even distribution of tread makes your ride a lot more smooth.
  5. Gas savings. When your tires have uneven wear, there is more friction as you drive, which means your engine has to work harder – using more gasoline. Save at the pump by rotating those tires!

Rotating your tires is one of those tasks that need to be done often. Usually, the manufacturers recommend that you rotate them every 5000 to 8000 miles. We rotate tires routinely at Norris. We often are asked to do it during oil changes, tuneups, or other repairs. Make a notation about rotation, and next time you’re in, ask us about it!

Winter and Summer Gasoline

Gasoline evaporates. You’ve probably noticed this when you accidentally spill a bit on the pavement during a fill up. Gasoline evaporates at faster or slower depending on the temperature. It’s called volatility, and unbelievably, volatility directly influences the volatile price of gasoline.

Summer Heat. In the hot months of summer, gasoline evaporates faster than when its cool. Since that’s not good for the environment, regulatory bodies require that gasoline sold during the summer have a lower Reid vapor pressure. In other words, summer gas must be less volatile, and evaporate more slowly at higher temperatures.

Winter Starts. When the weather is cooler, gasoline is produced that will ignite more easily in the lower temps. This gasoline has more butane, and as a result has a higher RVP. This gasoline is cheaper.

Federal law says that refiners must switch to summer blends by June 1, and can switch back to winter blends on September 16. You can see these switches reflected at the pump!

Back to School With a New Driver

A child with a new driver’s license brings excitement, worry, convenience, and extra expense to a family. Some children get a brand new car when they turn 16, some inherit or buy a used vehicle, and some have to share a vehicle with other family members. Whichever vehicle your child gets, there are some maintenance skills to teach them.

Pump the Gasoline. Many parents teach their young teens to fill up the family van, but we’re always surprised at how many new drivers don’t have this skill. Finding the gas door release, entering credit/debit card information, knowing which grade gasoline to use, and knowing what to do if the gas nozzle doesn’t turn off – none of these are instinctive.

Put Air in the Tires. Every vehicle has a certain optimal tire pressure. Teach your child how to find this information, and then how to use an air pump at the gas station.

Check Those Fluids. While this isn’t necessary for day to day driving, it’s still important for every driver to know how to check – and fill – wiper fluid, oil, and coolant.

We hate to bring it up, but when teens get their license, it won’t be long before they leave the nest. Before you give that first set of keys, make sure your child knows the very basics of car care. As time goes by, teach them more and more ways to take care of the vehicle.

PS Here’s a list of things that you should make sure every vehicle has.

The Four Stroke Engine – How Your Vehicle Works!

Most people own more than one vehicle. Often, a family will have a van or SUV, a sedan, a truck, and maybe even an old beater car. These vehicles all look different from the outside, but if they are gasoline powered, they all have the same kind of engine – a four stroke engine. This engine turns the wheels to make the vehicles go. It’s actually a pretty simple process.

First, the three main pieces that operate the engine:

Piston – a rod that goes up and down. Most vehicles have either 4, 6, or 8 pistons.
Connecting Rod – a rod that connects each piston to the crankshaft.
Crankshaft – a rotating shaft that turns the up and down motion of the pistons to the rotating motion needed to turn the wheels on a vehicle.

Stroke 1 – Intake. As the piston goes down, an air/fuel mixture is brought into the engine.
Stroke 2 – Compression. The piston moves back up, compressing the air/fuel mixture.
Stroke 3 -Ignition. As the piston begins to move back down, the compressed a spark plug ignites the air/fuel mixture.
Stroke 4 -Exhaust. Once again, the piston begins to move up, pushing out the exhaust created from the ignition phase.

Take a look at it in action:

Next time you start your engine and back out of the drive, you’ll have a little background knowledge on how your engine works. The basic process is simple, but there is a lot more involved. That’s why we at Norris Automotive are here, to keep your engine working – from the pistons and crankshaft to the brakes and the battery.

Make your appointment with us today!

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