Safe Winter Driving Tips for the Pacific Northwest

November 24, 2010

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Survival Tips for an Oregon Winter

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts as we head into the winter, this list is designed to keep you safe, warm and sane in what can be some of the most trying driving scenarios.

1.       Buy a spare fleece throw blanket, first aid kit and flares if you don’t already have them, this is the easy part, remembering you have them is the hard part! Here’s a helpful hint: if you have Google calendar, Outlook or some other digital calendar set a reoccurring event reminder for every three months to remind you that you have these items in your car, keeping it in the front part of your brain will help remind you in the event you need these items that you do have them. Gloves, a warm hat,  energy bars, bottled water, a cell phone charger are all additional items that are good to have on hand and don’t take up much space.

2.       Make sure your vehicle is ready for freezing temperatures; We can check your coolant’s freezing point, no charge, just stop by. We also check every vehicle that’s in for service. If your coolant mixture is weak it can freeze causing serious engine damage. A full winter check-up is $49.95 and includes checking all fluids, courtesy top off of consumable fluids (washer fluid, brake fluid, coolant) We’ll also test your brake fluid, clean your sunroof drains and lube your door hinges/door latches.

3.       Spray WD-40 into your door latch assemblies and lock assemblies, WD-40 will repel water/condensation which can freeze and cause the lock or door latch to be inoperable

4.       If you’re parking outside it’s a good idea to NOT use the parking brake, the cables that actuate the rear brake calipers typically will have water in them which can freeze the cables in the engaged position, its best to leave the ebrake down when its below freezing and your parking outside.

5.       “Warming up” the car is generally useless in terms of actually warming up a modern VW/Audi however, allowing the vehicle 1 ½- 2 minutes of running time before driving the car when its near or below freezing is a good idea, this gives the fluids in the engine and transmission a few moments to warm up. Motor Oil and Gear Oil (Transmission) are susceptible to temperature changes, allowing them a few moments to heat up is recommend for maximum longevity.

6.       Don’t get caught at the last minute needing tires, chains, a battery, etc, the wait times may be long, you could be subject to inflated prices and inventory will almost certainly be low. Plan ahead, if your car has been starting harder and harder get that battery now rather than the next week. If you need tires schedule it  this week instead of next month, be proactive. Also we are fully equipped to install tires, batteries and anything else your car may need we are happy to be of assistance with these tasks (we don’t sell snow chains however)

7.       Don’t use hot water to de-ice your windows or door locks, the sudden temperature change will crack your windshield especially if there’s any cracks or chips, along those lines if your windshield does become cracked during the winter wait until the spring to have it replaced, if its safe to drive. This will help you avoid multiple replacements while road debris is high with icing rocks/sand.

8.       Don’t panic!! If you are at work when it starts to snow don’t hit the panic button and run for the door, remember what happened last year? It snowed, everyone went to go home and sat on the highways for four-ten hours in gridlock, long enough for the snow to come, go and melt.  Check the weather system, does it look like it’s going to snow for a couple of days or just a few hours.

9.       If you lose control or enter into a spin or skid turn the steering wheel with the slide, not against! Turning against the slide will only cause it to spin faster and you will have zero control.

10.   Avoid high speeds, ultra slow speeds and driving immediately next to other motorists, if there’s a path in the snow/ice use it, don’t feel like you need to make your own path.

11.   Allow yourself adequate time to stop, if you are unable to stop on a signal or traffic sign honk your horn and flash your lights to alert the other motorists that you are unable to stop.

12.   Freezing rain is about the worst winter weather condition we encounter yearly, do not drive in freezing rain or the aftermath if the temperatures stay below freezing, its not worth the very high risks.

13.   If its icy don’t drive! It seems obvious but if the roads are a sheet of ice stay in, even a good snow tire has trouble on the ice, and that’s not addressing what the guy next to you has on his/her car for traction. Typically what happens is we’ll get a snow or ice storm and everyone will stay home even if the snow/ice was very minor, after a day or two its likely going to be necessary to venture out, whether your required to go in to work or simply need to stock up on food. Depending on the weather system this may be the worst time to go out if we have a heavy ice pack on the road, add to that that other motorists (most likely not properly skilled or equipped to drive in winter conditions) are also out on the road and you’ve got recipe for disaster. Be safe! Use vacation days for time missed at work, stock up on non-perishable meals. If your neighbors have ventured out past your neighborhood ask them how conditions are.

14.   If you are in an accident make sure everyone is safe, get the vehicles out of the road way (if possible) and call 911, even if the accident is minor you’ll likely want to notify your insurance company and have the police involved. Too often accidents that don’t get reported with promises of “my brothers uncles second cousin can fix this” are never properly resolved. Having the police assist will make sure the other party is credible and accountable for their liability. If the accident is minor enough that you don’t feel you need to notify the police be sure and get the other parties insurance information, their driver’s license number and address – ask to see their actual driver’s license and offer to show them yours as well, again this will help you avoid any surprises. Also take photos from the accident scene, the collision, where it occurred, the people in the vehicle that you hit or hit you (particularly the driver) this is all for your protection the number of uninsured/unlicensed motorists on the road is staggering.


2010 Annual Dontation Report

April 24, 2011

As a local business owner I believe returning profits back into our community helps sustain it. I also believe in our future; the children who will run our country and the world in future years. In 2008 I pledged to donate a minimum of 2% of our net profits directly back into the community. In 2010 we expanded to not only include our community but to also include other areas both in our country and out that needed our assistance. In 2010 we donated over $12,500, well beyond our 2% minimum pledge, here’s a breakdown of those donations, a brief description of the agency, and our motivation for the donation.

Just as the new year was upon us Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake that leveled the countries capitol, prior to this Ben Stiller had set out to raise money to build schools in Haiti and even started an organization to raise funds “Stillerstrong” utilized the power of Twitter and some help from celebrities to raise money for the schools. Once the earthquake hit the decision was made to redirect funds directly into building temporary schools as students were relocated to to other areas of the country. Futrell Autowerks Inc contributed $1000.00. The people of Haiti and its children still need help, if you’d like to make a donation we suggest the following organizations: http://architectureforhumanity.org , http://www.redcross.org . To date the Stillerstong program has raised more than a quarter million dollars used to help build schools for children in Haiti.

Also in January via Twitter Tony Hawk reached out to his followers to help by making donations for a Skatepark in Watts, California. The city of Watts had already received a grant donation through the Tony Hawk Foundation but was still coming up short for the park build. Futrell Autowerks inc. donated $750.00 directly to Global Giving which was tasked with the additional fundraiser, this was also our first real exposure to the Tony Hawk Foundation and its cause which I’ll get into more later in the report.  Global Giving has raised more than $44 million dollars since its inception in 2002, they raise money wherever its needed, its a wonderful organization and I encourage to you visit their website and see if they have a project you might be interested in helping raise funds for. http://www.globalgiving.org

Our next project was a repeat from 2009 and also the program that kicked off our community donations.  The SKID (Stop Kids Intoxicated Driving) program provides students at local high schools with a firsthand look of a simulated drunk driving accident. The program is largely privately funded and involves several agencies including the fire department and sheriff’s office. TVFR partners our annual donation with a matched donation from Comcast and airs the previous years event on their VOD (video on demand) service, it’s also regularly played throughout the prom season on news casts. Drunk driving is not the only issue but driving while texting or talking on your cell phone can also lead to a momentary distraction that can permanently change or end lives.  This program brings that concept into visual reality for students and I encourage every parent with a teen at home to watch the video or attend a presentation. http://www.skidprogram.org  for a list of school’s receiving the presentation this year: http://www.co.washington.or.us/Sheriff/OtherServices/CrimePrevention/skid-program.cfm. Futrell Autowerks contributed $1500 to last year’s program.

With prom season out of the way and summer upon us we received a call from the Tony Hawk Foundation about their annual fundraiser event. The Tony Hawk Foundation provides grants to build skateparks in low income communities, the pretense being that by providing these parks you’re helping a youth stay out of trouble by giving them a positive outlet for their energy and time.  The vision of the Tony Hawk Foundation is one I can relate to very closely; provide a child with an outlet and a recreational focus and they’ll stay out of trouble.  Baseball, soccer or football aren’t for everyone and these skate parks provide an additional structure that’s missing from many towns and communities.  Throughout the rest of the year we were heavily involved with the foundation and traveled to various fundraisers and helped raise awareness. In all we contributed over $6500 into the building of skate parks in Watts, Long Beach and Las Vegas. To learn more about the Tony Hawk Foundation or make a donation you can visit: http://www.tonyhawkfoundation.org

Knowing my customers is part of my job and I knew that long time customer Hanna Vaandering was involved with the school district but had a title from a different division; the OEA (Oregon Education Association) finally one day I asked her what the OEA foundation was about. The foundation allows members to submit a request to provide a student with an item(s) they need, like reading glasses, coats, medical care, books, etc. It’s a solid program in that the OEA member will actually follow through on the donation so the funds aren’t misused by a parent/guardian or lost in the bureaucratic shuffle of the school systems (which need a massive budget overhaul by the way). Even as our economy strengthens the OEA Foundation still receives requests of over $2500/per week for items children need right here in our community and throughout the state. To learn more about the OEA Foundation or to make a donation that will directly help a student in need visit http://www.oregoned.org/site/pp.asp?c=9dKKKYMDH&b=130921 . Futrell Autowerks donated $2500 to the OEA last year.

As we closed out the year and with the holiday season upon us I did what I’ve done for many years now and that was visit the Toy & Joy tree at Washington Square. This is the tree that you can review the needs of a child or mentally disabled person and the item they are requesting then go pick the item out for them, purchase it and put the card on the item. Its a direct line to help someone less fortunate during the holiday season. This year I allowed my oldest son to help pick out the recipients so he can began understanding the value of helping someone in need at a very special time. We picked out just over $300 in toys, movies and blankets this year.

Contributing profits back into our community doesn’t stop here, we’ll continue to be involved as we have in the past and one area we hope to really focus in on is our high school automotive classes. Over the years teaching students auto shop at high school has dwindled down to being nearly non-existent throughout the Hillsboro and Beaverton school districts.  We need to get this course back into place so students have the option of learning about auto mechanics and can explore joining the automotive industry. It’s my goal to see this program be restored and flourish; being an automotive technician is a viable, sustainable career and needs to be an option for our students.

Thank you for your business,

Dean Futrell, CEO

Futrell Autowerks Inc.


Buying a used German Car in the Pacific Northwest

March 10, 2011

 

A Buyers guide of do’s and don’ts when shopping for a pre-owned German Car


  • The first step in buying a used vehicle is to have it checked out by a qualified independent facility or dealership. We charge $95 for our pre-purchase inspection which includes a visual inspection of all aspects of the vehicle, including collision damage/repairs. While no diagnosis is generally done during an inspection we do check for known issues, belt condition, tire condition, full vehicle systems memory interrogation and just an overall feel for the vehicles maintenance history and care. A Pre-Purchase Inspection should be at the top of your list once you’ve found a car you like. Be prepared to do this a couple of times, avoid falling in love with a car before you have it properly inspected so your emotions don’t take over logic if red flags arise.
  • Purchase a subscription to Car Fax or Experian Auto Check Aprx. Cost $45 these services provide records recorded by VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), typically these records will include dealer performed services, liens, titles and reported accidents. It’s important to note however they don’t always tell the full story. As a vehicle gets older it’s easier to perform collision repairs without involving your insurance company, cars can also pass through auctions with extensive damage that’s not properly reported. A vehicle can also change ownership without a title change if the purchaser fails to transfer ownership to his/her name. Running the VIN# of the vehicle your interested in is a great additional step but may not tell the whole story.
  • Buy the seller, not the car. If you don’t feel like you can trust the seller, walk away. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest I don’t know if we have a higher capita of “wholesale” used car dealers than other markets but it certainly seems like we have more than our fair share. These “Dealers” (and I use the term as loosely as possible) are usually quite unscrupulous and not recognized as an actual dealer with the state either (Oregon or Washington). The vehicles they sell are usually the worst of the bunch; cobbled together after an accident, mismatched body panels, interior components, tires, the absolute worst of the bunch.  These are the cars that make people say “I’ll never own another _____ again” This entire article could be written about wholesalers and our local market but let’s keep it simple and more focused on the cars themselves. Avoid wholesalers if possible, avoid 82nd avenue car dealerships if possible, and avoid buying a car from any individual who just seems shady.
  • So what’s likely the best of the best? Certified Pre-Owned from a reputable dealer and private party Sales. The best of the best are usually held closely by the dealerships; they can pay the highest price at auction or may keep the best cars that come in on trade. Often times the car will qualify for what is known as a “Certified Pre-Owned” status, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen all offer certification of pre-owned vehicles. You’ll pay a little more for a CPO car but it’s usually worth it and will include a warranty to reflect the dealer’s and car manufacturer’s confidence in the vehicle’s condition.
  • A savvy car owner may choose to sell their vehicle outright; it nets them more money than trading the car in. This will also allow you a one on one contact with the vehicles’ owner which can provide the best transfer of records and keys. With any used car it is also buyer beware as the vehicle approaches its major service point (75K-100K) we hear this line often “I’m just going to sell the car”, so instead of the owner choosing to properly maintain the car they opt to sell it. Which can stick the new owner with needing to perform costly major services and normal wear and tear replacement which occurs around the mileage mentioned above. If the used car you’re searching for is in the 75K- + mileage range service records are critical, unless you’re planning on doing the major services under your ownership and have negotiated the buying price accordingly.  Again Step 1 in any purchase should be having the vehicle inspected by a qualified independent shop or dealership.

 

Audi, BMW and Volkswagen all make great german cars, they offer a feel, refinement and performance level few other manufacturers can match. Owning one of these vehicles can be a real treat but as with any used car purchase it can also be a nightmare. This article is written to help you get the best vehicle possible so you can enjoy your ownership to the fullest. Shop within your budget, have the vehicle inspected, purchase a good extended warranty and get AAA roadside assistance while you’re at it. Maintain the vehicle properly and it will provide you with years of service.


The “Green” Automotive Service & Repair Center For Your Audi, Volkswagen & Porsche

April 22, 2009

An article we’ve wanted to write for some time now is one about our efforts to recycle, minimize waste, and conserve our natural resources.  With Earth Day 2009 upon us now is as good a time as any for this blog.  Futrell Autowerks has always been active in recycling waste fluids, cardboard and other reusable materials in our workplace but when we expanded our operations back in 2007 to the entire Western side of our building we also implemented many “green” choices during construction.

For Starters over 50% of all of our lighting is low consumption fluorescent and compact fluorescent fixtures, in the future we’ll be changing out remaining non-efficient fixtures to energy efficient fixtures. We also insulated our offices, waiting room and showroom to conserve energy and heating and cooling . Our glass was tinted and unused windows were covered with an opaque film to further minimize heating/cooling.  Digital seven day thermostats were used throughout the entire premises with cooling shut off completely on the weekends and heating reduced dramatically during non-business hours. New weather strip was used on all external doors, door insulation was applied to all overheard doors as well.  Our computers are shut off or set to hibernate during non-business hours, an entire audit was performed for “vampire” electronic consumption and major (non-essential) offenders were disconnected.

In our shop all waste fluids such as motor oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, anti-freeze, fuel, & freon are recovered and sent off to various recycling agencies that specialize in waste fluids. We minimize the use of wasteful aerosol cleaners and solvents and use biodegradable detergents as often as possible (including car washes). Our shops is clean and well lit which aids to minimize spills or unnecessary lighting. We have a cross breeze door configuration which allows us to cool our shop naturally and incorporate a water draft recovery fan set-up for those really hot days.  All shipping packing is recycled with a great deal of packing material reused for our own outgoing shipping.

By the end of 2009 we will have completely converted the rest of our lighting to energy efficient solutions and installed well placed fans in the showroom and shop to aid in circulation.  Moving forward we’ll continue to look for new solutions to lower our energy consumption and help make our industry just a little more “Green”.


Welcome To Our Blog

March 27, 2009

Thank you for visiting our new blog.  The purpose of this Blog will be to keep customers, friends, and anyone curious about Futrell Autowerks updated on what we’re doing, specials we’re running and other news and interests we share from time to time.

Let’s get started with a little background information first.  Futrell Autowerks Inc. was founded in May of 2001 by company frontman and CEO; Dean Futrell.  The original company goal was to provide our local area with a service no one else readily offered – Engine Conversions, an example would be a MK2 VR6 swap.  Initially that was all we really did, motor swap, after motor swap, it was fun for awhile but we were limited to how many cars we could work on and the thing was when you build a car with used parts, you still have a old car with used parts, things can and will go wrong (and they did). We pretty much ended up with this core group of cars we constantly worked on, in 2003 the opportunity arose to join APR’s distributor network.  We jumped on this opportunity and instantly began tuning and upgrading late model Audis and Volkswagens.  These customer’s needed a place to also have their regular service work performed at and we decided to expand into full service by 2004.  We quickly outgrew our original location on Nicholas Ct. in Hillsboro and moved into the shop side of our current facility in October of 2005.  Our customer base continued to grow and an opportunity we could not pass up arose to take over the entire Western wing of our building in summer of 2007.  We now have over 12,000 sq. feet of service shop, waiting area, showroom and office space, one of the largest non-dealership owned independent service centers of our kind.