When To Replace Your Engine

Woman thinking what to do with the failed engine

Woman thinking what to do with the failed engine

Know a thing or two about car engines? You do? Excellent! You don’t? Not to worry, we have the information you need to make the most informed decision possible.  When do you know that it is time to change your car’s main component? Yes, that elusive engine?!

Well, here is a good rule of thumb, most engines manufactured within the last 15 years all have engines that will run far past the 150,000 mile mark.  If you are there or close to that then depending on how the car was driven your engine might need to be replaced. If it is having a lot of inconveniences that take you over to the mechanics shop, then the time may be at hand that you need to figure out what the next step is.

Here are your options:

If the exterior of your car resembles your engine (which you probably need to change) – then you may want to scrap it all together and get something new.

Head down to your local used car dealership and pick out a new rig, trade in your old car and drive off of the lot with something that is not only reliable, but something that will make you thrilled that you purchased a new rig. Now a days going to a car lot is as convenient and hassle free as going to the movies. You can walk in and in about an hour drive off with a new car.

If the exterior and interior of your car look pretty good and the only thing wrong is your engine then here are some more issues to look for: worn cylinders and rings, broken and failing valves and worn bearings. This is where most issues arise when it comes to engine problems, so this is your first line of defense.

You can buy a new engine, but keep in mind they can be costly sometimes upwards of $9,000 – Rebuilt engines can run you anywhere from $500 – $3,000 USD, as a rule a reworked engine can be 10% – 20% the cost of the vehicle. Do not forget to add to this the hourly rate your trusted mechanic will charge you for about 3 hours of work. If you are a DIY (Do It Yourselfer) then you might want to let the experts handle this one. Placing a new engine in your car is not only very complicated but about 1,000 things can go wrong.

You can buy a slightly used engine or a rebuilt engine, you may save a dollar or two when you opt for this option but ensure that the other components such as the timing belts and hoses are intact and do not need to be replaced as well.
If you decide to go with the rebuilt engine as your option then you will get the best bang for your buck. Also, if you are concerned with the carbon footprint you leave behind then a rebuilt engine is a recycled engine for all intensive purposes. This allows for the reuse of the base materials, therefore lessening the impact you have on our beautiful planet. Lets keep Houston beautiful and green and if you need to replace your engine what we recommend is change your vehicle or purchase a rebuilt engine.

Judging A Car By Its Logo

car interior

car interior

Here are some fun car facts that you may or may not be aware of.  Have you ever noticed that different car companies seem use the same parts – yes, that is correct.  Allow me to elaborate, Lexus and Toyota are the same company correct? Yes.  This is why the body style of Lexus’ and Toyota’s seem similar. Let’s take the Toyota Land Cruiser for Example – A new one will run you around $80,000 but it’s VERY similar counterpart the Lexus LX series is $83,000 for the base model. So what does this tell us?  Well, you can save a pretty penny by opting for the Toyota – it is basically the same car, made by the same company with a different badge. If the car is basically the same thing, then what an interesting study on human behavior would it be to see why people choose either one or the other.

We have examples like the Scion TC which retails for $22,000 while the Subaru BRC that retails for $25,700 at base price.  So what do we have here? Two examples of what we are saying, it’s practically the same car, but with two different badges and different price tags.

Does it matter to you what brand of car you own, or are you more interested in the performance and the best bang for your buck?  All things to consider when you go out to purchase your next vehicle.  As you well know, in Houston there are tons of options when it comes to what car you can purchase, so take a moment to think about what you are looking for and what you hope to achieve with your new purchase?  If you opt for the “lesser” car, then you have a cool $3,000 to play with, go on an amazing adventure.

When car companies either in the same umbrella company or not shares accessories or parts to another car manufacturer that is known as platform sharing. This is not a new discovery on our part, this is something that has gone on for quite some time. The reason for this is because the cost of making a car is so high that hiring a team to create each and every part would be not only labor intensive but cost intensive as well.  Therefore certain car manufacturers sell some of their parts to other manufacturers.  This explains why some cars although different make and model can have the same feel. The interior give you a sense of deja vu – well the reason is simple, they might both have the same parts.

This goes from everything from air vents to engines, chassis and frames.  Go figure. The Audi R8 has a Lamborghini V10 engine. There are exceptions to this rule however, most luxury car manufacturers such as Spyker and Bugatti would rather operate at a loss for a few years then see their super specialized and uber fancy accessories be unleashed unto a competitor. Sharing the product is what allows mass produced car manufacturers to stay in business.

Now that you know this, the next time you decide to purchase a car, you might want to look at the competitors because between one car brand and another stand quite a few dollars.

What Can You Afford In A Car?

hand on steering wheel

What kind of vehicles are you eligible for?  Most likely a used vehicle below a certain price, for example under 20,000 and you can expect to pay interest rates between 15 to 18%.   Obviously this is much higher that a person with excellent credit would pay.

The FICO credit score is the way the lenders decide if one is a good credit risk or not.  The numbers run from 300 to 850, this is as true here in Houston as it is in Honolulu

Your interest rate for a car is directly tied to their arbitrary score.  Someone with a score of 720 or higher might be charges 3.80 for a 36 month car loan.  A similar car loan for a lower scoring person, between 500-589, might be 17.02 %.

While it does take years to get your credit back on track, it is much easier to accomplish this after several years have passed and your finances are looking better.

Time will heal your poor credit rating and once you do qualify for a new car loan, things will look up. Due to the fact that the car loan has collateral, it is easy to see how making good on the new loan will better your  credit rating post-bankruptcy.

The bank will go back and check your mortgage payments and check to see if their are any missing payments, especially as so many homes are now below water in regard to the value of the home and the mortgage owed.

There is a formula they use to see if your take- home  or net income is large enough to support this new expense.  If they feel it is fine, mostly likely they will allow the loan to be processed.  If not, they may offer you a smaller sum of money in order to minimize the delinquency possibility, or they may require a larger down-payment.

If you have a history with the Credit Union, they are more likely to be willing to work with you.  They are most likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Beware the auto companies who offer you better than usual auto financing. Most of these places are very aggressive in their marketing approach, and at the end of the head spinning ordeal you are even further into debt.

There are car companies that say that no credit check is needed, but why? Well, people who have not taken as many courses in finances as others still deserve another chance. Burn me once, shame on me? Burn me twice, shame on you. People deserve a second chance and these smaller dealerships might be the solution you are looking for.

No one likes to feel “judged” and to avoid that, some people may jump at the first company to appear the least bit sympathetic to their situation.

Sometimes the most obvious issue is not really apparent at first. If a dealer only has cars with very high mileage and you are to buy one of these cars. Cars with several hundred thousand miles, then you might end up with a car that you cannot afford to maintain and to keep running smoothly. So what is worse, paying too much down for a car or paying just as much over time? You decide.

So You Want To Buy A Car?


There are certain things to keep in mind when it comes to buying a car.  Some of which have been laid out before you in previous articles, some perhaps not.  What you need to remember first and foremost is that you have choices.  You can choose to purchase a car online, at a dealership or by a private party is up to you.


  • Think of the type of car that you are interested in.

Type of car: SUV, sedan, coupe, truck, hybrid, station wagon, sports car.

Once you have that down, then you need to figure out what you can afford, that will give you an idea of whether you will be looking for a new or used vehicle.  If you wish to own a Chevy Silverado truck and you only have $15,000 to buy a car, or can finance that much comfortably, then you will need to look used vs. new.  Not to worry, you can get some great deals on used cars in almost every market.


  • There are other questions to consider as well.

Is this the best time for you to buying a car? Is this something that is necesary for you at the moment?  If it is, then after deciding how much you can afford and what type of vehicle you want, is what will you be using it for?  I know people who have bought SUV’s with the dream of going out and off-roading, going hiking and camping every weekend and never do.  They have paid for their dream with every additional mile and gallon of fuel that they purchased for their city driving needs.  If you are a city dwelling person there are some cars that are more affordable to gas up and that are more efficient than a v8 monster of a truck that weighs ¾ of a ton.  So, being realistic with your needs can save you money and a headache in the future.


  • Are you going new or used?

There are advantages to both options, it just depends on what your budget is and what you really want from a vehicle.  Perhaps you can get a much better car, truck or SUV if you get something a few years older?  You may be able to afford a much more elegant car with more features if it is used than new off the lot.  Also, there are so many dealers that have pre-certified and pre-owned deals on used inventory, ensuring you additional peace of mind.


  • Test Drive your car

If you never have or have been intimidated to do so, then cut it out and get going.  What better way to know what your future car is like then getting behind the wheel. Perhaps there is a disconnect between the car you think you want and the car that you actually love. Before you put your money where your mouth is, take the car you think you want out for a drive and confirm it.


Now that you have thought of all of these possible issues or possible scenarios then go out and enjoy the process.  It should be fun and not a hassle, because every time you get into your new or used car you should be so excited to do so and not merely have a constant reminder that you got what you thought you wanted and not what you REALLY did.

What’s Better? New or Used?

potential car buyer

Ever ask yourself whether it is best to get a new car or an older one?  I suppose that if you own a car you may have, it is a question that many of us pose, here are some of the pros and cons of going new vs. old.

Advantages of Buying Used:

  • Depreciation: When you buy a new car your car depreciates every mile and every month you own it.  The most dramatic depreciation happens almost immediately and in a few cases some cars depreciated more than 40 percent of their value within the first year of ownership. You will be able to buy a car that is great at a huge discount.  As stated above, some cars lose up to 40% of their value in the first year, most cars are driven between 15,000-20,000 miles a year. You can get a higher priced and a better vehicle if you purchase one that is a year old. More bang for your buck. So, it allows you to enjoy your used car more, you will not be obsessing over the first rock chip or accidental scratch to the rims.
  • Insurance Rates:  Insurance rates are less for used vehicles, similar to insurance rates are also affected.  Since used cars are usually less expensive than new ones the cost to insure them is also less.  Saving you additional money and allowing you the flexibility to make your dollar stretch even further.
  • Better Vehicle:  When you purchase a used vehicle vs. a new one you can get more for your hard earned money.  You will be able to get more features, more options and more gadgets for your dollar than if you bought a new car.  Since you are limited to what is available you may have to look around and do the work to find exactly what you are looking for, but like all things worthwhile, its worth the work and the wait.
  • Price:  If you were to do a side by side comparison between the price of a new vehicle and the same vehicle that is a year older, you will see that in some cases the differences externally are very few.  But the price you would pay for one vs the other is substantial.

Advantages of Buying New:

  • What you want:  Have you over looked at a car catalog?  Maybe you have, maybe you have not.  Imagine therefore that you at a restaurant and are hungry, you look the menu over and decide exactly what it is that you want.  It is the same when you buy a new car, you get these sales packages that show you every feature and additional options, like rims, exterior and interior colors, upgrades to your brakes, upgrades in wood, leather, carbon fiber you name it.
  • Maintenance:  When you buy a new car there might be anywhere between 0-1100 miles on it. That is it!  It has gone from the assembly line to the transport to the lot, that is all it has ever been driven.  A lot of new cars come with the need for little to no maintenance that is in addition to their regular scheduled ones that are usually free. When you buy a new car all types of warranties and services are thrown in to make the offer more attractive.
  • It is New:  When you buy a new car, it is similar to getting a puppy vs a dog.  With a dog you do not exactly know what to expect, you did not raise it, you were not there every step of the way.  With a used car, you do not know how the car was treated, maintained and care for not to mention driven.  You do not know if your car might suddenly stop working or why.  When you buy new you are the only one who has driven it, you are in charge of all of it and can insure that the car runs well into the future.
  • Safety:  Every few months there are safety features that are available and perhaps even standard that were not available or commercialized in later model cars.  For example, curtain airbags, stability control, blind spot monitoring systems, brake assist and more.  Some of these are available as add on’s when you purchase a new car, but for some added safety is always worth it.
  • Better for the Environment:  With each passing year, there are more and more advance in the field of lessening the carbon footprint that we may inadvertently leave behind. Newer cars are more fuel efficient and have hybrid options and with each new generation are becoming more and more powerful while remaining good for the environment.
  • Warranty:  A lot of new cars come with 100,000 mile warranty – that means that if something were to become a problem you would have no out of pocket costs, thus ultimately simultaneously giving you peace of mind, which onto itself if priceless.
  • Cool Features:  With new cars there are new gadgets and gizmos, most of these are also available as aftermarket parts, but for those of you who would rather not have to worry about it and have someone do it for you, new is a great way to go.
  • Financing:  You may get a better deal on financing if you get a new car as the value of the car is higher.  Ensure that the APR and your payments are what you need them to be as to fully enjoy your possible new car.

Faulty Car Reports and State Sponsored Confusion

Broken car

Used cars can be as much as a blessing as they can prove to be an headache when things go wrong.  At Car Store Houston we pride ourselves in offering pertinent information so that you can make an informed decision.  We have ensured that all of our vehicles are free if this type of issue. Issues that are important to be aware of, knowledge is power, so here we provide you with that important information.

Just because a car is advertised as cheap, you may want to take a second look before you buy.  There is a very serious trend sweeping the nation of people, more specifically criminals that try to conceal the real amount of structural damage that a car has. Thus allowing cars to be sold even though they may have been rebuilt after an accident or flood damage due to mother natures wrath.

When insurance companies state that a car is a total loss, this means that the cars title should reflect this “brand”. A brand is a permanent mark, found on the cars title to all future buyers. This can be altered on the title itself with an array of techniques or it can be redone with photo editing software. This can occur or the car can simply be re-registered in another state and the brand falls away.  Therefore making it appear as though the car title is “clean” when it is not.

Each state has its own titling laws, but as of yet there is no national law that prohibits scammers from washing titles. Thus making the cars appear to have clean titles.  The danger of this is that if you do not know what you are driving, how can you know how reliable your car is?  Placing not only you at danger but everyone that is on the road with you.

The statistics are staggering.  According to Carfax there are over 500 taxis in the U.S. and over 800,000 cars overall that have dodgy histories. You may ask yourself, what is the actual risk of buying one of these “washed cars”?  The issue is when you purchase your vehicle, pay the correct price for it and think you are driving off with a steal of a deal. Your car can act in unsuspecting and dangerous ways. Such as your power steering going out or your timing belt failing at an inopportune time.  This is why it’s important to have a mechanic check your vehicle to ensure that the engine isn’t held together by glue.

Car titles and car history are important because they are supposed to inform you about the previous issues you might have had with your car. Words to be wary of are “salvage” which means that the insurance companies deem it a total loss. In most states vehicles that are a total loss can sometimes be repaired and restored but the information must be disclosed.

It is a crime to sell a car that is problematic knowingly. There are report companies such as Experian AutoCheck and CarFax that will sell you a cars history. The truth is there is a large number of cars that are given clean titles in other states. This could be a scare tactic used by these report companies to ensure sales.

There are agencies like the National Insurance Crime Board that works to prevent insurance crime. These issues are most notable when there are natural disasters, like hurricane Sandy that had flooded vehicles that were being sold almost nationwide. Federal legislation was proposed to prevent this from happening but never passed. The issue really lies in the different states definition of “salvaged vehicles”.

There are several states in which these offenses take place more than others, New Jersey, North Carolina and Mississippi. Salvaged card with inconsistent titles are a danger to everyone, for most of these cars are suitable for parts only.

What we recommend is that you do your research and trust the seller of your next vehicle purchase, working with a reputable company is a surefire way to get the best deal for your dollar.

10 Car Companies That Could Cost You

Family Broken Down On Country Road

When it comes to buying a used car, there are some models, some years that are less problematic than others. Depending on what you drive, it may be more costly to own your current car than to get rid of it all together. The excitement can soon dull when the car you have purchased is more costly than the enjoyment of owning it.

There are some car models whose issues can be so daunting, that these cars usually end up at wholesale, thus leaving very little to no earnings.

After several years and several studies regarding the reliability of cars based off their maintenance needs over a period of time. This is a fyi article, which will help you be aware when it comes to buying one of these brands of cars.

It is important to share that this article is bias free, some of these cars work well, some may have issues, our goal is to provide you with helpful information. We focus on overall long term reliability, in no particular order.

• Kia: the older versions of this vehicle, the Rio and Sportage have issues with the head gasket, which have made it less reliable.
• Mini: has dealt with its shares of highs and lows. The sales of this car is amazing but the automatic transmissions of the 1st generation (2001-2006) is problematic. There were so many issues that there is a class action lawsuit against BMW. The cost of replacing the transmission is a difficult pill to swallow.
• Smart: These cars have one model for now, but their transmission is known for being uncooperative. The transmission Bucks when you shift gears. The car sales for this vehicle was much less than expected and hence the car sharing program that they developed with Car2Go.
• Jaguar: is notorious for having bad transmissions and engine problems, especially the S-type, 4 .0 liter V8, most other models seem to be more reliable.
• Volkswagen: Issues with glitchy electronics, issues with automatic transmission, engine sludge, and timing belt issues and mishaps. This is why sales of VW’s in the States have faltered.
• Land Rover: Although a British icon, these cars are cool but not at all inexpensive when it comes to repairs. They have issues with their electrical systems, with transmission, with their engine. Basically, be prepared for a heftier price tag with these vehicles.
• Audi: It seems that older Audi’s were quite problematic, the best news is that the A8 and Q7, seem to be trouble free as of now.
• Suzuki: The Forenza and Verona are incredibly complicated vehicles, which spend more time at the shop than with you. The XL-7 and Vitara are pretty reliable though.
• Mazda: Very big engine issues with the CX-7, along with power train issues with the 626. A different case for the MX-5, which is incredibly reliable.
• Isuzu: Some of their industrial vehicles have great engines but the civilian models seem to not have such great luck. Most Isuzu’s have long term transmission problems and the 3.2 liter engine models have a very serious engine sound that detracts from the experience.

Our goal at Car Store Houston is to help you make the best buying decisions for yourself. We have a variety of vehicles in stock and guarantee that our inventory is tested and reliable. We pride ourselves on being a resource to our neighbors in Houston.

Buying A Car For Your Teen

Car Store Houston- keeping your teen safeThe summer can be an exciting time, especially if your teen is old enough to drive. What does this mean?  Houston, here they go! First of all, that they are looking to gain some independence, they are looking to embark using this new found freedom and are interested in putting into practice what they have learned through their drivers ed courses and the trip to the local DMV. This can be a great thing for them – independence,  but if you are lending them your car, that means that your independence is taken away from you, because now you are stuck at home.  This will not do.  Now, we embark on finding a suitable car for our teen.

Depending on your budget, there is something for everyone when it comes to purchasing a car for your teenager.  What do we know about teens?  They can be reckless, they can be immature and they can at times make poor choices.  All of this comes into contention when deciding what used car to purchase your teen.

Surveys come out all the time that give irrefutable proof that most accidents that involve teenagers prove that the vehicles that they are in are not safe enough.  What does that as parents tell us? That not all used cars are the same, here is what we suggest you look for when purchasing one to keep your teen safe.

As you can imagine when you ask the typical teenager what it is that they are looking for in a car, their answer is usually pretty consistent.  Something fast and cool.  Well, that is fine and dandy, but as parents we want our children to be safe as they drive though these Houston streets.  According to AAA’s studies on used vehicle safety, there are certain characteristics to look for.

1. The larger the vehicle the safer the passengers.  With a larger vehicle, lets say an SUV, crossover or larger sedan you have the added advantage of additional cubic inches.  The though is, the more distance between your child and another vehicle the better.  Also, the larger the vehicle that usually means that it will be slower, because of its sheer weight lets say in comparison to a small two seater sports car.

2. Electronic Stability Control is one of those features that you will find with some newer models.  ESC or DSC (dynamic stability control) is done via computer.  This is measured by the cars onboard computer detecting and reducing loss of traction. When steering control is lost, it automatically applies the brakes to assist in steering the vehicle to where it needs to go. These brakes are applied individually to correct under-steer and over-steer issues when they arise.  These systems were introduced to the market in 1987 by Mercedes and BMW.  Therefore it is unlikely to find a vehicle before this that would have that technology.

3. Reliability is a common concern, it is best to have your mechanic take a look at any vehicle that you are interested in purchasing from the dealership.  The though of your teenage daughter getting stranded on the side of the road, or on a highway is enough to cause most of us to enter into a small state of panic.  Do your research, with technology being what it is today, there are plenty of ways to find what cars are more reliable than others.

4. Safety Ratings, there are several companies that rate the different safety features of cars new and old alike.:
1. www.kbb.com ( Kelley Blue Book )
2. www.edmunds.com
3. www.nhtsa.gov (National Highway Traffic Safety)
4. www.motortrend.com
5. www.iihs.org (insurance institute for Highway Safety)
6. www.consumer reports

5. Airbags, are devices to keep the passengers in a vehicle safe. These are safely tucked away out of sight, out of mind.  Until of course there is a colission and then these little flexible bags inflate rapidly, protecting and cushioning the occupants from banging agains the steering wheel or the metal frame of their car.  Airbags were first introduced in the late 1970’s but today most cars have over 4 airbags provided for your safety.

6. Price, when it comes to purchasing a second or third car for your family to give your teen some well needed responsibility, price may or may not be a factor for you to consider.  You may have all the money in the world but may still want a good deal at the end of the day.  Come on over to our lot at Car Store Houston and we will help you select the perfect choice for you teenager.

That is about it.  Some food for thought when it comes to keeping your teen safe all the while doing what is not only in their best interest, but the best interest of everyone who will be sharing the road with them as well.  Driving is a privilege, not a right, remind them of this.