Best cars for (new) teen drivers, possibly…

21 07 2014


An inquiry we receive quite regularly from parents of newly turned teenage drivers is, “what might the safest possible option for my son/daughter be when it comes to cars on the road?”

A fair question, but not an easy one to answer.  Unfortunately, you’ll most often receive equally as many answers as people you ask.  For that reason we’ve decided to do a little research, and the NY Daily News recently published an article that appears to be relatively consistent with our findings.  Mind you, this is taking into account a brand new vehicle purchase.  We don’t necessarily feel that’s your best option, but if that’s the direction you’re leaning this list may prove to be quite helpful.

Alternatively, there’s a quality pre-owned vehicle.  The majority of people, we suspect, will fall into this category.  These days most vehicles are trustworthy.  The key is to learn how many owners there have been of each specific vehicle, whether or not there have been any accidents, if the routine maintenance has been performed, and if most of the miles were highway or city.  These four criteria form a sounding board for becoming a wise consumer when purchasing a new (to you) vehicle.

Whichever you may decide, we recommend your son/daughter first spend adequate time with your family vehicle, if for no other reason than to become familiar and confident with the ways of the road.  Of course, these days kids are required to spend a certain amount of time practicing, and in some areas actually cannot obtain their license without first attending a driving school.  No matter the degree of prerequisite training, make sure they’re well versed on safety guidelines and what it takes to become a defensive driver.

Stay safe, and best of luck to your new driver.


Safe Winter Driving

14 01 2013

icy roads

No matter how long you may have resided in a colder climate, there are a few key components to safe winter driving we always recommend.  Fortunately, the team at AutoNet TV released a video in collaboration with Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Colorado, where they highlight these critical tips.

Here in Michigan (at least thus far) the season has been fairly mild, but if you pay attention to the video it confirms that sub-zero temperatures don’t necessarily mean more difficult driving conditions.  To that end, we’ve seen our fair share of 30 degree days, flirting with that freezing point that still maintains moisture.  Whether on the most unsafe or virtually hazard free roads, safe driving is a learned skill.

We hope this short video provides some helpful insight for your defensive driving efforts.  Stop by and see us if you have other questions.

How to drive safely in winter (3:04)

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27 08 2012

This coming week, Grand Rapids students will be headed back to school and police departments are reminding drivers about bus safety tips.

The most important rule is to SLOW DOWN and don’t be distracted while driving.

  • Follow school buses at a safe distance, they make frequent stops.
  • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  • You must stop in both directions when approaching a bus with Red flashing lights.  This is commonly overlooked.
  • Traffic Enforcement officers will be monitoring school traffic to prevent pedestrian related accidents.
  • Watch for children arriving late for the bus stop who may run into the street.
  • Pay particular attention to children walking where there are no sidewalks.
  • Take extra care when entering or exiting driveways.
  • Beware of children darting out from between parked cars.


Source: WOODTV8, Grand Rapids

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Rain in October has a way of…

14 10 2011

…becoming ice in November.  It’s much easier to navigate the roads when you’re prepared.  This time of year that begins with selecting the correct wiper blades for your vehicle.

If you’re gonna drive, bottom line, you’ve got to be able to see!  As this educational piece (generously provided by Rain-X) explains further, having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important. We’ve all experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to view the traffic in front of and around us during a storm, it’s beyond frustrating!

It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. But windshield wipers are like most other vehicle parts– they require regular attention in order to work their best.

You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall.  If it’s going to be a particularly harsh winter in Grand Rapids, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall. Winter blades are designed to resist freezing.  There’s not much you can do about ice besides prolong the life of your blades by preparing ahead of time.  Vision is one of the most important elements of safe driving.

Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don’t use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That’ll just tear up the blades and cause them to wear out more quickly.  Worse yet, it may even damage the wiper motor.

Over time, wiper blades become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don’t cover the windshield effectively.  Worn wiper blades aren’t just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield; a big cost for such a little part.  Replace worn blades right away.

Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work.  It is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home, or in the car if you are on a long trip.   Only use straight windshield washer fluid.   Plain water, even that fancy bottled water, may freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse.  Besides, water doesn’t do a good job of cleaning your windows.  Also, remember that some vehicles have two reservoirs: one for the windshield and one for the back window – which may be under the hood or somewhere in the back.

Keep your eyes on the road and be sure to contact us if you have any questions.  Community Automotive Repair – 616.774.7048

Looking through your mirrors…

6 04 2011

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the motor vehicle safety industry lately, you’ve heard a great deal of debate about which is the proper (and ultimately most safe) positioning for your vehicle’s side mirrors.  There’s of course the traditional “narrow” setting, where a sliver of your vehicle is in plain view.  But in recent years a different proposal has received a lot of attention, which has since been marked as the “wide” view.

A former UK law enforcement official has already done a great job researching this topic at length, which can be found HERE.  This author certainly has credentials on the subject and while his viewpoint may be biased, we’re sure you’ll agree that his passion is not suspect.

The link provided will of course include colorful commentary and strong opinion, but does a fairly decent job of looking at this issue objectively as well.  Not being one to retreat from a challenge, we put this information to a test.  Calvin, our Communications/Marketing Coordinator, decided to take it upon himself to experience first hand this modern proposal for changing mirror position.  His account has been captured below:

“In response to the heated debate about mirrors, I’ve been driving with mine positioned in the “wide” view for 4 weeks now and have noticed a few key things.  First, and probably most significant to me, to have vehicles in sight from your rear view mirror and before they’re even out of your rear view appear in your side mirror, that seems to suggest a more “safe” method of driving.  Second, and slightly more critical, driving in reverse does appear to be more difficult so I can see where similar claims can be substantiated.  Last, breaking the habit of looking over your shoulder is extremely difficult to do and not something I’m certain should be eliminated from one’s normal driving.  Overall, my first point is probably enough reason by itself to keep my mirrors set wide, but I don’t find this mode of driving to be drastically different from the way I learned almost 20 years ago.”

Bottom line, this debate will continue and both sides will most certainly attempt to state their case.  It would seem this will come down to personal preference, at least until such time as the NHSTA sets a new mandate.

Which settings do you use?


9 02 2011

This is becoming too common an expression.  But before we go throwing the road commission under a bus, we understand they are doing the best job they can to address these hazards and we completely support their efforts.  The verbal outburst we’re speaking of, in case you were wondering, goes something like this “I’ve just been potholed.”   As we understand it, this phrase originated from people whose vehicles were rendered inoperable after meeting their match with these dreaded phenomena.

If you or anyone you know may have encountered damage caused by potholes or harsh roads, please understand that if left unaddressed the problem can become much worse.  Here’s a list AAA Michigan recently promoted, which includes signs to look for if you’re interested in whether or not your vehicle needs repair:

* The vehicle rolls or sways on turns

* The vehicle’s front-end dives when braking

* The vehicle’s rear end squats when accelerating

* The vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding, rough road

* The vehicle “bottoms out” or thumps on bumps

* The vehicle sits lower in the front or rear

* The vehicle is leaking or has signs of physical damage, such as rusting or dents

* There’s a loss of directional control during sudden stops of the vehicle

When in doubt, feel free to contact us and we’re more than happy to answer your questions, or click  HERE to schedule an appointment online today.

As easy as 1, 2, 3!

24 01 2011

We’ve discussed winter tires and all-season tires to the point where it isn’t likely that you still lack important details.  That said, let’s wrap this with an extremely simple call to action.  3 easy steps will equip you with a much safer ride in cold weather conditions.  The implied 4th step is contacting us if you have any questions that we haven’t managed to answer here, and you’re welcome to fit that in anywhere between 0 and 3. (616.774.7048 – ask for Todd or Dave)

Otherwise, here is all you have to do:

1. Go to (enter your vehicle information and it will tell you what size tires you need)

2. Add tires to online shopping cart and designate Community Automotive Repair as the preferred installer

3. Make an appointment with our shop at your earliest convenience, located at 846 E Fulton (between Diamond and Eastern)


We may even be able to accommodate a pick up and delivery of your vehicle if you call ahead, which makes the entire process almost effortless.

Did I mention we have on-site storage for your warm weather tires so you don’t have to handle or find room for them in your garage?  For about the price of three hot and ready Little Caesar’s pizzas you can rest easy knowing your tires are properly cared for all season long!  Spring comes around and we repeat this process.  Now, that’s easy!  Giving you peace of mind and saving you money… does it get any better?

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