Atlanta Used Car Dealer: You can Learn A Lot From A Used Car Test Drive

Test driving a USED car is one of the fastest ways to learn about the car itself, don’t you think? There is no doubt that your Atlanta Used Car Dealer, the Southtowne General Motors Superstore recommends taking the Atlanta used car you are looking at for a little spin before you make an offer. You can quickly determine if the car is worth your time to check out mechanically in the first few moments after you turn the engine over.

There are of course a few common problems that you need to look for when test driving a car. I found a pretty good checklist from to study before you test drive that used car around New Jersey.

Test all of the functions of the car:

You need to test the head lights, heater, A/C, radio, interior lights, mirrors, brake lights, turn signals, defrost, safety belts, windshield wipers and seats for how they function.

Plus, you want to check out any additional options like electronic seats, seat warmers, GPS etc.

Starting the car:

Before you start the car, be sure to check if the car is already warm. If it is, the owner may have pre-heated the engine before you arrived so that the car will start easier… if this is the case, be aware that the car may have cold start problems.

Open the hood before starting the car. Check to see if there are any wet parts of the engine, this will tell you if there are any leaks.

Start the car and pay attention to whether the engine strains at all when starting. This may mean the battery or electrical system is on it’s way out.

Once the car has been started, go back to the engine compartment and check again for any wet engine parts. Some engines will leak only when running.

Put your hand on the fender of the vehicle to check if you feel any harsh vibrations. The car should run fairly smooth and not shake the vehicle.

Finally, if the car has power steering, make sure that the steering wheel can be moved smoothly back and forth and there are no strange noises when you do this. If there is a loud whine when you move the steering wheel this may mean the power steering pump is fried.

Test Driving the Car:

Finally it’s time to take this car on the road! Through the entire test drive process, be aware of the sounds of the car. Does the brake pedal make noise? Does the engine make a strange noise at a certain speed? Does steering the car make a strange noise? These are questions to be asking yourself the entire time you are test driving the car.

The first thing you want to notice about the car is how the transmission shifts:

If you’re test driving an automatic car, you should almost not even feel the shift when driving slowly. If the shifting takes longer than 3 or 4 seconds this is a major problem.

If you’re test driving a standard car, the shifts should be smooth and easy. If the car grinds into the next gear, then your synchros are probably in need of repair.

While driving down a quiet street, take your foot off the gas and let go of the steering wheel (CAREFULLY!). If the car pulls one way or the other, there is most likely an alignment problem. Also, push the brake lightly and if the car pulls left or right under braking there is most likely a problem with the braking system.

Make sure you take the car both up and down hills. Does the car shake when braking down a hill? If so, the brakes need service. Does the car handle accelerating up a hill? Or does it cough and lose power? This could mean a number of engine problems that need to be checked out.

Finally, you need to take the test drive to the freeway:

This step is really important. Any major problems with the car are going to be very apparent when riding on the freeway.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Does the car pull to the left or right?
  • The brakes pulsing or shaking when applied.
  • Excessive wind noise when all of the windows are closed.
  • Does the car seem to “float” around? There may be suspension problems.
  • Does the engine sound normal?
  • If you stomp on the gas pedal does the car cough or hesitate before accelerating?

Now, if you decide to make the used car buying process much easier just see your Atlanta Used Car Dealer, The Southtowne General Motors Superstore first take all of the guesswork out of buying a used car.

Keep Your Atlanta Cars Spotless, Guaranteed!

We are all guilty of letting our automobiles go without a significant wash at times. “Meh, what’s a little dirt gonna’ hurt?” The Southtowne General Motors Superstore want’s you to know that a little bit of dirt, grime or tree sap, can do quite a bit of damage to your clear coat and paint. Since I plan on washing my car next weekend, I did a little research and found these great car washing tips with the help of

Proper Washing

1. Wash the wheels and tires first. If you splash wheel cleaners or dirt onto your vehicle, you can simply wash it off as you wash your vehicle. Use a cleaner that is water-based and has no corrosive chemicals, which is safer for coated wheels and rubber. Agitate with a wheel brush to clean wheels without scratching. Wash each wheel and tire one at a time and rinse thoroughly before moving on to the next one.

2. Now you’re ready to wash. I always start from the top of the vehicle and use a car wash that is rich in lubricants. The purpose of the car wash is to remove contaminants and lubricate them so they do not scratch the paint as they slide off the vehicle. Dish detergents are not ideal because they remove protective coatings. (This was news to me.)

3. How do you prevent swirl marks? Use two buckets. Fill one bucket with soapy water and fill the other with clean water. Each time you’re ready to reload your sponge with soapy water, dip it in the clean water first, to rinse out the grit and contamination you’ve just removed from your vehicle. Then dip it in the soapy water and continue washing.

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5. When rinsing, you don’t have to blast your car clean with the water hose. Free-flowing water (no nozzle) will allow the water to slide off of your vehicle for a more thorough rinsing.


Now that you have the wash completed, don’t skip drying! Drying your vehicle after washing is necessary to prevent water spots. Water spots are caused by mineral deposits that etch the outline of a drop of water into your vehicle’s paint. All water has minerals, whether it’s from the hose or the sky. Calcium, lime, even metals, so as the water evaporates, the minerals remain on the surface and they will eventually, invariably create water spots.

Now is when speed becomes important. Make sure you dry your car quickly. You’ll find that the sun will try to beat you to the punch, whereby leaving all of those pesky water spots. Try a microfiber towel, they absorb 7 times its own weight in moisture, and it’s completely nonabrasive. Microfiber is more absorbent than terry cloth or chamois, and it lasts longer.

I don’t recommend using a terrycloth towel because the fibers can become matted and hard after repeated uses. They shed lint and they increase the chance of swirls. Compared to microfiber, they are not as absorbent and they don’t last as long. That sounds easy enough, right?

Your new car does a lot for you…treat it right.

We see a lot of cars come through Southtowne whose owners have attempted to keep their vehicles clean, but it’s painfully obvious that they did the exact opposite of everything I recommended above. There are swirls in the paint. Tree sap that hasn’t been cleaned and has since baked into the finish of their new Buick, Cadillac or GMC.

The bottom line is that it’s easier to stay in love with a clean car than it is one that has seen better days, both on the exterior and interior. I suggest getting your car detailed thoroughly once ever 6 months or so. Not only is it a part of being a responsible car owner, but you’ll be even more proud of that car, truck or SUV from the Southtowne General Motors Superstore.

Buying An Atlanta Used Car Is A Great Idea

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It has been said that only two things are inevitable, Death and Taxes. Well, I’m going to add a third inevitability: you are going to have a difficult time with travel without a reliable car. Okay, that was  stretch, but you understand what I mean. If you don’t own a Southtowne car, life can be just that more difficult.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to purchase, own and upkeep a brand new, fresh off the lot vehicle. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t own a reliable used vehicle. In fact, when you decide to buy an Atlanta used car, you are already taking a step in the right direction.  The major benefit of buying a second-hand car is its lower price. The moment a vehicle leaves the lot as a “new” car and is driven on the streets, its value drops immediately. That’s just the way it is, although some automobiles are driven for only a few years, their prices are considerably less than the exact same car sitting on a dealer’s lot.

If you are a savvy Atlanta used car buyer, finding a car that has just come off lease is an excellent way for you to get more car for less money. In fact, you are going to have more choices, with more of the options that would probably be way out of your budget if you bought the car new. Having more choices means you won’t have to settle for an inferior vehicle or one you just can’t learn to love.

Okay, so you’ve saved cash  just because you went the used car route. How else can you save? Good question.

In Georgia, (as in every other state) you have to have insurance. You are responsible, at bare minimum, to carry liability insurance. On a new car, fresh off of the lot, your coverage is automatically going to be on the higher end of the payment spectrum. A used car will help keep some of the insurance costs down. This is a good thing, especially with gas prices continuing to climb.

The bottom line is that when looking for a new car, it doesn’t have to really be new…just new to you. Doing some serious research and conferring with your dealer about your budget and what you’d like to have in your driveway will not only save you money and time, but you’ll have a car you can be proud of. More importantly, you’ll have a car you can rely on.

If you have any questions about buying a used vehicle: What you should look for, what your should expect etc., give me a shout at the Southtowne General Motors Superstore.


Atlanta Cars Vs. Motorcycles: Share the Road, Stay Alert and Save a Motorcyclist’s Life

At Southtowne, we’ve see first hand the effects of what you are about to read. I haven’t written about this subject before and was giving it some thought the other day as I saw a large group of motorcyclists out for a Sunday ride. I thought to myself how many times, as I was driving, that a motorcycle either crept up on me, was in my blind spot or I flat out just didn’t see him because I wasn’t thinking about the possibility of a bike near my driving space. It’s more than once, I’ll admit to that.

One thing as drivers that we are all responsible for are the safety of our fellow travelers. That includes, most importantly, cyclists who are often the victims of careless driving from a passenger vehicle. Remember we share the road. We are responsible for controlling every lane change we make, every short stop we make and especially the safety of others on the road.

I did a little research into it and this is what I found at

Two-Vehicle Crashes Facts

  • In 2006, 2,537 (51%) of all motorcycles involved in fatal crashes collided with another type of motor vehicle while in motion.  In two-vehicle crashes, 79% of the motorcycles involved were impacted in the front. Only 5% were struck in the rear.
  • 55% of all fatalities in motorcycle crashes in 2006 involved another vehicle in addition to the motorcycle in the crash.
  • In 2006, there were 2,226 two-vehicle fatal crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle. In 40% (883) of these crashes, the other vehicle was turning left while the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle. Both vehicles were going straight in 582 crashes (26%).
  • 93% of all two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle in which the motorcycle operator died, occurred on non-interstate roadways.
  • In 2006, 51% of all two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle in which the motorcycle operator died, were intersection crashes.
  • In two-vehicle motorcycle crashes involving a motorcycle and another type of vehicle, in 40% of the crashes the other vehicle was turning left when the motorcycle was going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle.

Now folks, these stats are 6 years old, their numbers, I can only assume, have increased. We all know that motorcycles are far less crash-worthy than closed vehicles. They are also less visible to other drivers and pedestrians and less stable than four-wheel vehicles. Operating a motorcycle requires a different combination of physical and mental skills than those used in driving four-wheel vehicles. Motorcyclists and their passengers are more vulnerable to the hazards of weather, traffic and road conditions than drivers in closed vehicles. So please keep this in mind when you are changing lanes, making turns, or God forbid, using your cell phones while driving (it’s better you don’t do this last one for all of our sakes). Thank you for your continued safe driving in your Atlanta car.

The Pros and Cons of Buying A Used Car In Atlanta

Used car buyers are a different breed. Some people may go their whole lives and never own a “new” car. But, for the used car buyer it’s still “new” to them. Here are some pros and cons…


1) You’ll pay less “up front.” Usually, much less.
That’s probably the single biggest advantage to buying a used car. Even a slightly used car could cost considerably less than a brand-new version of the same make/model car.

2) Someone else put the depreciation into overdrive.
Yes, a used car will continue to lose value the older it gets and the more miles you clock; however, the year-to-year differential is almost always less with a used car. Where a brand-new car might be worth roughly 30 percent less than you paid for it by the time two years have passed, your used car will typically lose only about 10-15 percent of its value over the same time period.

3) Buying used can save a lot of money on taxes and insurance.
Property taxes are based on retail value; the lower that amount, the lower your tax bill.  Plus,when insurance companies like to talk up the latest safety advantages of brand-new cars, the actual discounts they offer are often very small relative to the total premium. New cars cost more to replace. It’s as simple as that.

4) Late-model used cars are generally much better-built and reliable than used cars once were.

In the ’70s, a three-year-old car with 40,000 miles on it was well into vehicular middle age. But today, a late model used car with 40,000 miles is still a baby; even with 75,000 miles on it, things should be okay for at least another 50,000 miles. Plus, as new car warranties grow longer-lived, many late-model used cars are at least partially still covered.


1) You don’t always know what you are getting.
Who knows how it was treated by its previous owner(s)? It may have been abused — or just not serviced per the factory recommendations. The vehicle might have been in a wreck; or maybe under water. Sometimes, these things can be hard to detect. With  a used car, you have to worry about the price and the car itself, too.

2) Freedom of choice is not always an option when buying used.
You will be under greater pressure to buy the car you’re looking at because you know it will be tough to find another just like it, with the same options, in the same color, with the same mileage, etc. It’s harder to walk away because if you do, you know you’re back to square one.

3)  A used car is… used.

It will have flaws (paint chips, minor damage, stains on the carpet, etc.) and it has less useful life left in it.
No matter how gently you drive, no matter how rigorously you service it, a used car will not last as long as a brand-new car. You’ll be paying for maintenance items more often.

BOTTOM LINE: How much money do you want to save and how much risk are you’re willing to assume?

I hope this was helpful. Tell me what you think. If you have any more questions, feel free to see us at The Southtowne General Motors Superstore

Hey Atlanta, check out Smart Jumper Cables

It’s one of the most inconvenient things that comes with car ownership…the dreaded, Dead Battery. At Southtowne, we’ve heard of our fair share of dead battery stories. According to car-care expert Pat Goss, if you plan on jumping your new car with your old conventional jumper cables, DON’T! They can damage your vehicle’s electrical systems.

I know what you are thinking:  “The few times I’ve jump-started my battery, my old cables have worked just fine.” Goss recommends a set of new “Smart Jumper Cables”  as they can help prevent potentially expensive damage.  So, are traditional cables really likely to damage a modern vehicle’s electrics, or is using “smart” cables merely advisable?

From what I gathered, I would consider the warning to be quite strong and here’s why:  

When you successfully jump-start a car, you have one vehicle with a strong battery and one with a dead one, both running with their electrical systems hooked together. Both alternators are working hard trying to charge the dead battery and replenish the energy drawn from the good one.

As long as the cables are connected, the two batteries act as buffers to contain maximum voltage rise. But when the first cable end is removed, the systems go haywire because the voltage reference is gone. It instantly changes from the level of two batteries and two alternators to one battery and one alternator. When this happens, the alternator will climb to a very high voltage level. This high-voltage spike shoots through the electrical systems of both cars.

This is like a volt surge running through a computer. It usually doesn’t destroy anything instantly, but it can weaken components of both vehicles, including the engine control computer, alternator, sound system or any of the dozens of electronic modules in modern cars.

Smart cables have built-in surge protectors like the professional units used in auto shops for many years.  These dampen voltage spikes to prevent surge damage to electronics. An added bonus is that they also have an automatic polarity adjustment which will eliminate the possibility of damage (to you or the vehicle) from the sparking, or shorting that can result from hooking up cables backwards  (positive to negative).

Of course my purpose is to enlighten you about the potential danger of jump-starting modern vehicles with old-style cables. If you are unsure if your cables are the right ones for the job, you can always swing by Southtowne Motors.

Does anyone have a set of smart cables? How do you like them?

Atlanta Car headlights…You Don’t Have the Foggiest Idea.

Part of being a new car dealership in Atlanta means that we are here when you need us to perform maintenance for you, but also, we like help and give advice when it’s an easy job or project you can do on your own. This is one of those projects: Foggy Headlights.

Dealing with foggy headlights might not be a problem that you have to tackle right now with a new car or even a slightly used car, butit is a common issue and  it might pop up somewhere down the road. Most modern new car headlights are made out of plastic, and as the years pass, light causes them to oxidize and it forms a yellowish tint over the lenses. This wasn’t really a problem back before the 1980s when most headlight covers were made of glass, so a lot of people might not even be aware of this issue.

Modern car manufacturers put a coating on the headlights to help keep the oxidizing at bay, but given enough time, those headlights are still going to fog up. I’ve seen a lot of this on cars in Atlanta.

The good news is, if you notice your headlights are starting to turn yellow, you don’t have to throw them out and get new ones (which a lot of people do, unfortunately,) There is a very easy solution and with a little elbow grease, you can save yourself some money and make your headlights good as new by fixing it yourself. Even better, you’ll have that satisfaction of knowing that you played a part in keeping your new or used car in prime condition.

I found this do it yourself from Auto Amateur Bob that explains the process perfectly:


Of course if you’d rather trust in a professional then you can always bring it in to your Atlanta car dealer.

Newnan, check out the top 10 back to school cars.

Now, I’ll be honest here, I had to do a little research on this one. To quote Bill Cosby, “when we were kids, we WALKED to school…uphill…BOTH WAYS!”

Of course, times have changed now and with school districts widening and kids headed off to college, they really do need some form of reliable transportation. So, what are the best vehicle choices for heading back to school? You can thank Kelly Blue Book for this list of both new and used vehicles…I’m partial to the Chevrolets, of course:

5. 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
4. 2011 Fiat 500
3. 2012 Ford Focus
2. 2011 Honda Fit
1. 2012 Hyundai Accent

5. 2007 Nissan Sentra
4. 2007 Ford F-150
3. 2007 Kia Sedona
2. 2008 Chevrolet HHR
1. 2007 Suzuki SX4

Now, I can see most of the “new” cars being reasonable choices. It’s a couple of used cars in this list that are throwing me for a loop. Take the Kia Sedona for example. What teen or college bound kid in their right mind would want a mini-van? Great for hauling your buddies around in, but you know that you are going to be the first one those same buddies approach when they need help moving. Same thing goes for the Ford F-150. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands, because you will be the “go to guy” that has hauling capacity. I’m not even going to bring up the fuel efficiency on this thing.

Still, it’s hard to say no to any car at that age, which explains why our first cars are far from our dream rides. I’m curious: What was your first car? Feel free to sound off in the comments.

Newnan & Coweta: Keep your dogs out of hot cars!

Not even for 1 minute!

We all love our furry little buddies, but the “dog days” of summer can be dangerous for dogs — especially those dogs left inside hot cars. You’d think that people would heed the warnings and learn from the mistakes of others, but every year, countless dogs die after being locked in cars while their owners work, visit, shop, or run other errands. These tragic deaths are entirely preventable.

What are the signs of heatstroke in pets?

Imagine not being able to shed your winter clothes on a hot summer day, and your only means of cooling off was by panting. Dogs and cats have little choice when it comes to keeping cool in summer heat. Recognizing the signs of heatstroke will allow for prompt treatment; and time is of the essence when treating this condition.

Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to):

  • body temperatures of 104-110F degrees
  • excessive panting
  • dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • sticky or dry tongue and gums
  • staggering
  • stupor
  • seizures
  • bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • coma
  • death

Keep this in mind, even at just 72 degrees, a car parked in direct sunlight can reach 116. You hear it all of the time, “I never thought this would happen to me”, but all it takes is a few minutes before your car becomes a life or death. Check out the numbers at the Web site, a program of United Animal Nations. When it’s 72 degrees, a car in direct sun can reach an internal temperature of 116. Even in the shade, a car can be 10 to 20 degrees hotter than outdoors, and cracking the window has almost no effect.

The bottom line is that you are better leaving Fido at home if you plan on making errand stops.

Please feel free to comment below.

Newnan & Coweta: Donate, Sell or Scrap Your Used Car…That is the question.

You’ve made the ultimate decision. You are getting a new car, and that means it’s finally time to give up that faithful old car that has no doubt been both your best friend, and at times, your worst enemy. What do you do with it? You’ve got 3 choices: Sell it, Donate it or Scrap it.

Selling Your Used Car:

If you’ve decided to not trade in your used car and planned on selling it yourself, there are a couple of things you might want to know first. Is your car going to be easy to sell? Is it a hot commodity? Or will you have to drop your price and search out additional avenues to sell it?

Here are a few general rules to answer these questions:

  • Family sedans, while unexciting to many, are in constant demand by people needing basic, inexpensive transportation.
  • The sale of convertibles and sports cars is seasonal. Sunny weather brings out the buyers. Fall and winter months will be slow.
  • Trucks and vans, used for work, are steady sellers and command competitive prices. Don’t underestimate their value.
  • Collector cars will take longer to sell and are often difficult to price. However, these cars can have unexpected value if you find the right buyer.

What about donating it?

If you know anything about me, then you know that I give as much back to the Newnan/Coweta community as I can. In fact, I’m really a big advocate of donating a reliable vehicle in good condition. A donated car is an invaluable tool for those who have difficulty affording one on their own. Although donation can be a laborious process, the benefits far outweigh the minimal amount of time and effort it takes to donate. To make things even easier, look below for a few time saving tips:

1. Avoid middlemen. Numerous for-profit intermediary organizations advertise aggressively on TV, billboards and elsewhere, offering to help you donate your vehicle to charity. Here’s the catch: These organizations typically keep about 50 percent to 90 percent of the vehicle’s value for themselves, and the charities don’t get what they could have gotten.

2. Find a worthy charity. If the charities you normally support aren’t equipped to accept such donations, do some homework until you find a reputable charity that is. You can research charities’ track records online at this Better Business Bureau site and through Charity Navigator.

3. Check the math. If you still feel compelled to use an intermediary organization – possibly because you’re busy – at least ask the organization how much of the car will go to charity. If the organization simply gives charities flat fees — say, $100 for a used vehicle regardless of its value, or $2,000 a month — your donation may not be eligible for a tax deduction.

4. Know the status of your recipient. In order for you to qualify for a deduction, the charity that gets your donation must be an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) organization. Your church, synagogue, mosque or temple likely qualifies. (Check first just to make sure.)

5. Do the delivery yourself. Once you’ve identified a worthy charity, recognize that it will have to pay someone to pick up your car for you. To help the charity maximize the benefit of your donation, drop the car or boat off yourself.

6. Transfer the vehicle with care. Formally re-title the vehicle to the charity, and report the transfer to your state’s department of motor vehicles or licensing. Never agree to leave the ownership space on the charity donation papers blank.

7. Be detail-oriented. This paper trail may seem cumbersome, but think about it: This may be one of the biggest charitable donations you ever make. By taking the time to dot the i’s, you can make sure that the charity gets the most benefit and you get the biggest possible deduction.

I don’t have to explain this one. No one wants to inherit or buy garbage. Be honest. If it’s junk, it belongs in the junk yard.
Who’s had experience donating a car before? Can anyone offer more advice?