Considering an Alternative Fuel Vehicle In Kalispell?

There is a clear and vocal demand in Kalispell and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the MT market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Kalispell area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Kalispell auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Kalispell dealership.

Kalispell motorists should carefully research the car care before buying an alternative vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs and fuel economy as well: these vehicles may help save our environment here in Kalispell, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You’ll need to decide what you can afford, and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your Kalispell area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.

Flex Fuel Vehicles
Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in MT.

Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.

Flex fuel vehicles do have lower harmful exhaust emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles. And in Kalispell, E85 is usually lower in cost than regular gasoline. When gasoline prices fall in MT, however, they can drop below the price of E85. This is to Kalispell drivers’ advantage, since the vehicle can run on either fuel, but it negates the benefits of lowered exhaust emissions and lower consumption of fossil fuels.

One piece of Loren's Auto Repair auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your Subaru unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines are nothing new on MT expressways, and many get great fuel economy. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in Kalispell.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Kalispell and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Big Fork roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Kalispell, ask your Loren's Auto Repair service professional about it.

On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline, and it will get lower fuel efficiency. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some MT areas, or even unavailable, in many parts of the country.

Another alternative fuel that has enjoyed a lot of hype in Kalispell is the hydrogen cell. The natural appeal is that the only exhaust is water vapor. In other words, hydrogen represents a truly clean-burning fuel. But hydrogen vehicles won’t come into widespread use until refueling stations become widely available here in Kalispell and around the country.

Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles were all the rage in MT some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Kalispell auto owners. These vehicles won’t come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, the cars have a short range before their power runs out, and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge, since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.

Hybrids have been one of the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Kalispell and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.

There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard automobile, and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.

In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the car. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV’s.

A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.

Lease Or Buy?

Lease? Or buy? These are the options for It's always a tough question for Kalispell motorists. But here is some info that'll help you make an informed decision.

If you buy, you'll pay the full cost of the car, with maybe an initial down payment, then monthly payments on the balance that pays down the loan principal, and the finance charge.

Kalispell auto owners who lease, finance the portion of the cost of the car that's used up during the term of the lease. You'll pay some money up front; fees, security deposit, first month's payment and maybe a capital reduction. The monthly payments include a depreciation cost and a finance charge. When the lease is up, you return the car to your local Kalispell area dealership.

So how do Kalispell car owners decide?

First, how much do you have for a down payment? A lease usually requires a smaller down.

How much monthly payment can you afford? Again, lease payments will be much lower for any given down payment.

A lease needs requires better credit, so that's a factor.

How long will you keep the car? Kalispell motorists who keep their cars around for a while will pay less if they buy. But just two or three years? Then leasing is the way to go.

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

If your car might suffer a ding or two, like, say a work truck would, then buying's better. The Kalispell auto leasing company will want their vehicle back at the lease end in tip top shape, and if repairs are needed, you'll pay.

How many miles do you drive in and around the Whitefish area? Important to consider because leases have a mileage limit, and if you go over, you pay a hefty charge per mile when the lease is up. So high mileage MT car owners should definitely buy.

Will the car be used in your Kalispell business? Check with your Kalispell accountant, but both financing options have different tax benefits, depending on your circumstances.

Over the short term, leasing is much cheaper for Kalispell motorists. Medium term, leasing and buying costs are about the same. Over the long haul, leasing always costs more in MT.

Leases may sound a bit complicated, and the typical lease decision weighs more on the monthly payment, rather than price. So sometimes Kalispell leasers may pay on a higher purchase price than a buyer would.

Here is a tip: If the Kalispell salesman asks if you'll be leasing or buying, say you're not sure yet. Make your best deal, then look at your Kalispell financing options.

Here's another: With a buy or a lease, if you total the car, you'll owe the full amount of the loan, or the balance of the lease payments, and usually, it's less than the car's fair Kalispell market value  – and that's all your MT auto insurance company will pay. But ask your Kalispell agent about gap insurance, which pays the difference between fair market value and what you owe. Big consideration for a lease.

Remember, you have to return your leased vehicle in excellent condition, and may need to do all the vehicle manufacturer's recommended service and maintenance, or face penalties. So see your local technician at your Kalispell auto repair shop  or Loren's Auto Repair on a regular basis, get the required work done and save the service records. It's well worth it.

Are There Blind Spots In Kalispell MT?

Everyone in Kalispell MT has blind spots – and no, I'm not talking about the fact that you really don't sing like Jessica Simpson. I mean the areas of the road that you can't see when you're driving around Kalispell.

First let's talk about our own blinds spots, and then we can talk about others...

To begin, we can greatly reduce our blind spots by properly adjusting our mirrors to give the widest coverage possible. Make the adjustments in your Subaru before you start to drive.

First, adjust your rear view mirror to give the best possible view directly to the rear of your car. You don't need it to get a better view of either side of the car, the kids in the back seat or your dazzling smile. The rear view mirror should look to the rear.

Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver's side window. Adjust your side mirror so that you can just barely see the side of your car.

Loren's Auto Repair
We're on 1309 US Hwy 2 West in Kalispell, MT (59901)
Call us to make an appointment at 406-755-7757.

Now, lean your head to the middle of the car and adjust the outside mirror so that you can barely see the right side of the car.

With your mirrors adjusted this way, you'll have maximum coverage. Of course driving is a dynamic process – things change every second. So it's wise to take a quick look to the side when passing to make sure that another vehicle hasn't moved into an area you couldn't see in your mirrors.

Depending on the kind of vehicle you drive (Subaru?), you may still have some blind spots. All vehicles have an area behind them that's blind when backing up. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. A pick up or SUV can hide a small child – an RV, bus or tractor-trailer can hide an entire vehicle. So be careful around our Kalispell streets!

As you drive around the Kalispell area, avoid staying in other diver's blind spots. You can't count on them to be watching their mirrors and looking out for you.

Let's talk about safely sharing the road with heavy trucks and buses. In crashes involving a truck and car, the car causes about 40 percent of the accidents. But 78 percent of the fatalities are with the car. The laws of physics are against the smaller vehicle, so it pays to take extra precautions around trucks and buses.

Heavy vehicles have huge blind spots: to the rear, on both sides and up front. They also can't maneuver like a car. They take twice as long to stop and need twice as much space as you do in your Subaru or other type of car. You need to keep wide margins when driving around one of these big rigs.

Here are some tips for passing a heavy vehicle in the Kalispell area:

  • Avoid the blind spots. If you can't see the driver's face in one of his mirrors or in a window, he cannot see you!
  • Don't follow too close. If you can't see one of the truck's mirrors, you're too close.
  • Make sure there is plenty of room to pass. Trucks are long and take time to get around. If you're on one of our local Kalispell MT two way highways, wait for a passing zone.
  • Don't linger when passing. Because the blind spots are so big on the sides, you want to get through them quickly. If you can't pass quickly, drop back.
  • Pass on the left whenever possible. A trucks' blind spot is much larger on the right.
  • Be attentive and wear your seat belts while driving anywhere around Kalispell, even short drives.
  • Don't be aggressive when driving around trucks. Because of their size, they appear to be going slower than they really are. Cutting it short around a truck could be disastrous.
  • Use your turn signals when starting to pass. Once you can see the full truck in your rear view mirror, it's safe to signal and move over. Don't cut it short or slow quickly when you pull in front of a truck.
  • Be careful passing a truck at an intersection. Trucks need to turn wide to maneuver through city streets. Squeezing between a truck and the curb could put your car in the Kalispell body shop. Look for the truck's turn signals.

We at Loren's Auto Repair want you to watch those blind spots – but feel free to sing in the shower all you want.

Can Car Scent Keep You Safe On MT Roads?

Here's a travel tip that'll I'll bet you didn't know, and, it might keep you safer...

The average commuter in America spends two and a half hours daily in their car.

The government says a hundred thousand auto accidents yearly are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. (Aggressive driving is the number one traffic safety concern.)

So what does this have to do with how your car smells while you're driving around MT?

Well, which scent did you think makes drivers more alert?

Is it:

  • A. Strawberry
  • B. New Car
  • C. Pine
  • D. Warm Vanilla Breeze

It's C. Drivers are more alert and have less fatigue with pine scent in the car, according to AroMetrics.

And, drivers were less angry with overall improved driving performance with strawberry and pine scents.

And you thought they just smelled nice.

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Protecting Your Vehicle From Theft In Kalispell Montana

Protecting Your Vehicle From Theft In Kalispell Montana

Every car in the Kalispell area is at risk for theft. So it's up to us to make your car a less appealing target and one that presents more of a challenge to potential thieves – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, it is best to take a layered approach to protecting your vehicle. They advise common sense, visible and audible device, immobilizing devices, and tracking devices as practical methods for deterring theft.

Common sense seems like a fairly obvious method, but you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen in the Kalispell area with the keys left in the ignition and the doors unlocked. Always take your keys, and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it's against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.

Don't leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside, because a thief will find them. Try to park in well-lit areas frequented by other people. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space to make your car more visible to other drivers..
Remember to roll up your windows completely and avoid leaving your car in public lots for lengths of time. If you park your car in a lot with an attendant, only give him or her your ignition key.

Keep valuables out of sight. Your purse or wallet, cellphone, clothing, and change are all attractive targets for thieves. It’s also a good idea to pay to have your VIN number—or vehicle identification number—etched into your window. It makes your car more difficult for thieves to resell.
There are multiple choices available for visible and audible theft deterrent systems. A steering wheel lock is clearly visible, and it will deter most thieves. A loud car alarm can be an indication that someone is tampering with your vehicle. But if your alarm does go off, be smart in how you react. Take the time to observe what’s happening around your vehicle, including suspicious people, vehicles, and license plate numbers. If you catch a thief in the ac it is important to call the police, but do not approach the person or put yourself in a potentially threatening situation.
Immobilizing devices are another great deterrent to protect your car from thieves. Your immobilizing device will actually shut down the vehicle’s electrical system or fuel supply. If you don’t have a key to the vehicle, and if you don’t know where the hidden switch is located, you can’t drive off with the vehicle.

You can also get a tracking device installed in your vehicle so that police can track down your car in the event that it is stolen and recover it quickly. Oftentimes, you car insurance provider will offer a discount for using deterrents such as these. If you live in high-risk area, investing in these types of security systems is a useful tool for deterring theft.

And of course, you can always come see us, at Loren’s Auto Repair, for more practical advice about keeping your vehicle safe from theft.

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West, Kalispell, MT 59901
Call us at 406-755-7757

What To Do In Case Of An Accident in Kalispell

Screeching tires, crunching metal – it’s an accident! If you’ve ever been in a car accident in Kalispell, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It’s hard to think straight and know what to do.

Let’s review what you should do in case of an accident:

Kalispell drivers who have experienced an accident know how nerve-wracking and overwhelming it can be. When an accident occurs, it’s difficult to collect your wits and remember what steps you need to take. If you are involved in an accident, you can lean on this advice to follow the appropriate legal and insurance procedures.

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is stop. In Kalispell, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime. The penalty for a hit and run accident is pretty severe, possibly resulting in extensive fines, revocation of your Montana driver’s license, and even jail time.
The next best thing to do in the even of an accident is to warn other Columbia Falls and Big Fork motorists by lighting flares, using your flashers, or lifting your hood. Call Kalispell emergency services as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.

Always file a Kalispell police report. It’s tempting to skip this step if the accident seems relatively minor. But without a police report, the other driver involved can be deceitful when they speak to you insurance company. You need to have an objective police report if you are going to defend yourself against a possibly dishonest testimony. Only discuss the accident with the police. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone, including the police officer. In some instances, we may feel a sense of guilt or fault, even if the other driver is responsible. Let the law decide who is at fault.
When you are speaking to the police, try to describe what happened honestly. Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you in the court of law later.

Remember to ask the officer for his or her name and ID number, and request a copy of the accident report for your own records. Ask for the other driver’s information. Make sure to note his or her name, address, phone number, birth date, driver’s license number and expiration date, and viable insurance information. Make a note of the other vehicle involved, including this license plate number and vehicle identification number. Most insurance companies don’t record license plate numbers, so the VIN number is the most practical way to track the vehicle.
Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can’t wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so that the police can track them down later. Always call your insurance agent or your insurance company. Call or see a physician if you think you might be injured. For vehicle repairs, call Loren's Auto Repair at 406-755-7757.

Contact Loren's Auto Repair to learn more about what do do in case of an auto accident.
You can find us at:
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
Or call us at 406-755-7757

We at Loren's Auto Repair hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy Kalispell travels.