What Exactly is Towing Capacity, and how is it Determined?

A common selling point for trucks is “towing capacity”, but did you know there are different kinds? What are they, and what all goes into the equation? Let’s get a deeper understanding of everything that makes up a truck’s towing capacity and help you find exactly what you need before making your purchase.

Different Types of Towing Capacity

There are two different types of towing capacity, “braked” and “unbraked” towing capacity.

  • Braked towing capacity: Refers to the maximum weight a vehicle is able to tow when the trailer being towed is equipped with its own braking system. The trailer’s braking system will connect through a cable to your vehicle in this situation.
  • Unbraked towing capacity: The opposite of braked towing capacity, so the capacity of your vehicle to tow a trailer that does not have its own braking system. Unsurprisingly, this typically is the lower number, as compared to “braked”.

These are obviously important to know as they can drastically affect the way you tow whatever you need to tow. 

How Do You Determine Maximum Towing Capacity?

Determining your vehicle’s maximum towing capacity is fairly easy. You’ll need to know your vehicles manufacturer’s weight rating and compare that to the weight of whatever you’re trying to tow. You can find this number in the owner’s manual, the door jam on the driver’s side, or even the internet. 

We’ll now go over some terms you may have heard relating to towing capacity but might not know exactly what they mean:

  • GVWR: Gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum loaded weight of your vehicle that has been determined to be safe. This encompases the weight of the vehicle itself and the weight that passengers and cargo adds. This is different than towing capacity in that this weight will be how much the vehicle weighs before the trailer is attached.
  • GCWR: Gross combined weight is the total weight that the vehicle can safely handle, including the passengers, cargo, and any attached trailer.
  • GAWR: Gross axle weight rating is the maximum weight that the front and rear axles can handle. This includes the rating for both the front and rear axles.
  • GTW: Gross trailer weight takes into account the total weight of the trailer and the cargo that is being transported in the trailer.
  • TW: Tongue weight, which is the total weight at the coupling point.
  • Curb weight: The weight of your vehicle when there are no passengers, cargo, or trailer loads, and only the necessary fluids to operate it, such as gasoline.
  • Dry weight: The same as curb weight, except your vehicle’s weight is measured without the necessary fluids to operate it.
  • Payload: The total weight of any passengers and cargo in your vehicle.

Hopefully, this helps give you a better understanding of the factors that go into determining towing capacity, important for your own safety, and ensuring you get the right truck for the job. Feel free to speak with our friendly and knowledgeable staff should you have any further questions. 

How to Properly Weight Your Truck for Winter Driving

For best traction in winter you want a greater percentage of the vehicle’s weight centered over the drive wheels. You should also consider winter tires for increased traction, which our sister, Subaru dealership recently wrote an article about: Are Winter Tires Worth It? For now though we’ll focus on properly weighting your truck bed.

Weight should be centered over the rear axle, or as close as possible to the rear axle for optimal traction. When it comes to figuring out how much weight to use it really depends on what truck you have. There isn’t a cookie cutter number for every truck, so trial and error is going to have to take place to figure out the best for you. A general rule of thumb is 240-300 pounds for a ½-ton pickup and 300-400 pounds for a ¾ to a 1-ton pickup.  A common concern with adding weight to your truck bed is that it may increase your brake distance, but this isn’t true. The added mass isn’t enough to make a noticeable difference in your braking. 

What materials should you use? This really comes down to preference, but you’ll find that sandbags are the most popular option, as they are fairly cheap, especially for the amount of weight they provide. We’ve also seen people use bags of rock salt, cat litter, potting soil, and miscellaneous things they have around the house. Regardless of material, you need to make sure you properly secure the load so the weight doesn’t shift around the truck bed, creating worse issues. Consider the pendulum effect of a load too far to the back for example. 

Stay safe out there, folks, and when the winter weather finally arrives, hopefully these small recommendations come in handy. 

Can a Truck be a Family Vehicle?

When you’re deciding which vehicle to purchase for you and your family, it typically comes down to the choice between an SUV, sedan, or minivan. But, what if I told you that a truck may be an equal or better option? The great versatility of a four-door crew cab truck is something many don’t consider when shopping “family-sized” vehicles – let’s explore:

The four-door crew cab pickup truck is everywhere now, owing their popularity to essentially being a living room on wheels, with a heavy duty bed attached. You can seat up to six passengers with unmatched legroom and seat comfort, as well as a wide array of miscellaneous storage and cupholders, and let’s not forget all the creature comforts found in the other vehicle styles listed above – how does that sound for your family? You may be asking “Well, why not just get an SUV?” And if you’re asking that, then maybe a truck ISN’T for you, because the selling point here is the utility of the bed. 

If you and your family are on the adventurous side, a truck is perfect for you. With a truck you don’t have to worry about the normal boundaries of an SUV or sedan, as you’ll have the ground clearance, the 4×4 capabilities, the locking differentials and a host of off-road equipment that will break down the barriers of where your adventures may take you. You’ll also have the towing capacity to haul whatever you need, whether that’s a trailer, a boat, or a camper. 

If you aren’t quite ready to give up the truck lifestyle, or are looking to add more utility to your family vehicle, then give our wide selection of crew cab trucks a look, or bring the family out for a test drive. We’ll be happy to help you find the right fit.

Advantages of Buying a Used Truck vs New

When you’re shopping for a truck the price tag may look daunting. You keep looking and you see that the trim levels with more premium features have an even higher price tag. What if I told you that you can get that truck and the trim level you want with all the great additional features you desire, but you don’t have to break the bank to get it? With a used truck, this is possible. Let’s take a look at why a used truck over a new truck may be a better option.

Now don’t get me wrong, a brand new truck is awesome, and it feels great getting something that you know has only been driven by you, but, you will definitely save money and get a higher trim level for cheaper than a brand new truck. The cheapest you can get the base trim level of a brand new 2020 truck is $21,300, and that’s the 2020 Chevy Colorado. On the other hand, you could get a 2018 Ford F-150 XL 4WD Supercrew 5.5’ Box used for $29,900. This is an $8,000 difference, but it also has so many more premium features that make it a more complete package. This is only one example, if you look online you can find countless others. If you’re worried that the used truck you get won’t feel new, you can dismiss that fear; at Briggs Supercenter we take great care to make our inventory feel like new. 

Something that happens as soon as you buy a new vehicle is the depreciation of its value. Now, this will happen regardless whether you buy new or used, but a new vehicle’s depreciation is significantly more noticeable. To this end, you can look at purchasing a used car as a smart investment.

If you think a used truck may be for you, then you should check out our website, or come on down to Supercenter and look at our large selection of fantastic trucks. If you have any further questions our staff would love to help you out and answer them.

How to get Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

The winter season is fast approaching, meaning it’s time to get your car prepped for the cold months ahead. We’ve compiled a list of things you need to do to make sure your car is ready to perform, and to make sure you are ready for any situations that could happen to you out on the icy roads.

Check Your Tires

When the roads have ice and snow on them it makes your tire’s traction worse. You should seriously consider purchasing winter tires, as they’ll significantly cut down the risk of you losing control on the road. You should also make sure your tires are properly inflated. The colder the air starts to get the more it can affect your tire pressure. You can expect each tire to lose 1 pound of pressure per square inch when the temperature drops 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Check Up On Your Battery

When the temperature drops your engine needs more power from the battery to start up properly, so it’s important to check and see if your battery is charged up. The most simple way to check is by turning on your headlights before you start your engine. Then turn your engine on. If the lights get brighter your battery may be dying. You can test the actual voltage at home with a voltmeter or have your mechanic do a test for you. Some batteries also have a built-in hydrometer that measures the voltage. You’ll also want to check the cables for cracks. Finally, ask your mechanic to check the battery fluid.

Get A Tune Up

Check your owner’s manual, but for many cars a tune up is recommended every 30,000 miles or so, and if you’re getting a tune up right before the winter there’s a couple extra things you should get checked out as well. Get your oil changed, and make sure you get the right type of oil. Oil thickens in the winter, so it’s important to follow your car’s manual to protect your engine. Have a mechanic also check your belts and hoses, ignition, brakes, wiring, fan belts, spark plugs, air, fuel and emission filters, and the PCV valve. 

Replace Your Wipers

It’s wise to replace your windshield wipers every year or so, and it’s definitely wise to make sure they’re working before the winter comes in full force. Here’s another important step to take before you find yourself blind in a winter storm: fill up your windshield washer reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Also check to see that your heater and defroster are working properly so you don’t have to find out at the worst possible time.

Check Your Antifreeze Ratio

Normally you want the ratio of coolant to water to be 50/50, but when it gets colder you want the ratio to be 60/40 coolant to water. This will prevent the mixture from freezing in extremely cold weather. You can purchase an inexpensive antifreeze tester from any auto parts store. 

Hopefully these tips and tricks help your car perform to the best of its ability when the winter weather starts setting in. Stay safe out there!

When Should I Purchase a New-to-me Car?

It can be hard to know the right time to retire your car. Maybe your current car is still fairly reliable, but it’s feeling old. Maybe you have your eyes on a newer car that you can afford, but you’re just not sure if you should make that leap. What should you do? We’ve compiled some questions you can ask yourself before you make that new car purchase, and also added some advice in there to help you along your way.

Can you afford it?

The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Can i afford this?” The price of a car is more than just the monthly payment, it’s also higher insurance, and taxes. If you take all of this into account and know that you can meet that monthly payment comfortably, then a car upgrade is worth considering.

How much are you spending on repairs?

The amount you spend on your vehicle being in the shop annually may surprise you, especially if you’re driving an older car that’s worn down. There’s a simple formula you can use that will help you figure out if you’ll be paying more annually on car payments vs. car repairs. Say you spend $500 a month on your car payment. That would equal $6,000 dollars a year spent on a new car. Now, calculate how many times a year you get work done on your current car. If you had to bring your car into the shop, say 5 times in one year, and those repairs tallied up to $4,000, then it’s possible that you could decide that it’s just worth it to spend the extra $2,000 and get a newer car. 

Another factor that goes into this is your own ability with fixing cars. If you can fix all the problems that your car has then it could be a wise decision to keep it for a little longer and save more for the eventual time that you must purchase a new car. 

Safety and Convenience 

If you have an older car it’s likely you don’t have many of the great safety and convenience features new cars have. Things such as a backup camera, curtain airbags, electronic stability control (ESC) and forward-collision warning make a huge difference in avoiding catastrophe. If your current vehicle has none of these, then maybe it’s time for an upgrade. 

Something that isn’t as important as safety but is still desirable is convenience features. Features such as bluetooth, heated seats, multi-zone climate control, and keyless entry sound frivolous and unnecessary, but they really do make your car experience more enjoyable.

Conclusion

Purchasing a new car is a major life decision, and shouldn’t be made without investing a lot of thought. Be sure to consider all the factors, such as your lifestyle, your needs, and, mostly importantly, your finances, before making the big decision.

Improving Your Credit Score

Whether you’re getting ready to purchase your first vehicle or your tenth, if a car loan is in your future, part of the preparation should be checking out your credit score. A credit score is a point based system that many companies use to decide if you will get approved for a loan, how much you will pay for insurance, and a biggie: determining your interest rates. A high credit score means that you will have lower interest rates and will be more likely to get approved for loans, while having a low credit score can start to limit your options. 

Credit scores can be confusing and what’s factored in changes, but we’ve compiled five basic tips to make sure you get and maintain a healthy credit score.

1: Finance Large Purchases 

It can be wise to limit the overall credit that you use when making purchases, but financing and paying off large purchases such as a car or a house is one of the fastest ways to build up your credit. Here’s a couple steps to make sure you take full advantage of this.

  • Verify that your lender reports payments to the major Credit Reporting Agencies. Some smaller car dealerships do not do this. 
  • This sounds obvious, but make sure you can afford your payments.The total amount you owe makes up around 30% of your credit score, so it’s extremely important to buy a car you can afford. If you’re financing from a reputable lender they won’t let you borrow more than you can afford because they want their money back, so keep this in mind.

2: Keep Your Credit Cards Open

Credit history length is a good indicator of how your credit will perform. Keep that credit card that you never use open, because even if you don’t use it it will help keep your credit score healthy. If you have a credit card that you’re tempted to use but know you shouldn’t, cut up the actual card itself! Your account will remain open and you’ll still get the benefits to your credit score. (Some credit cards require an annual fee, so if you don’t intend to use it, then look at closing it.)

3: Don’t Use Too Much Credit

A good rule of thumb is to try and not use more than 30% of your available credit. Say you have a $1000 limit, you would try and keep your spending to a maximum of $300. Use this rule for any credit card you have. Also, only use your credit card for things you can pay off in full monthly. 

4: Don’t Miss Payments

It’s possible that you’ve missed payments before, which may have already damaged your credit score. That’s okay, it happens to the best of us. Commit to never missing another payment again though! It may not be easy, but it’s the most important step to getting healthy credit. Set up automated payment systems if you need to so you don’t even have to think about it. 

5: All Payments Matter

This goes along with the previous tip, but keep in mind that credit bureaus are changing what influences your credit score. Now payments like rent, cell phone bills and other recurring payments can influence your score. Make sure all of those payments are made on time as well.

Hopefully these tips help you get the healthy credit score you desire!

What is an “As Is” Car Sale?

Nowadays, it’s fairly easy to find a late model used vehicle with all the modern conveniences you love. If you’re lucky, it’s possible that the manufacturer’s warranty is still valid, or the dealership you’re buying from may offer limited coverage. If the car you want to purchase is being sold “as is” though, a dealer warranty is not available. So what should you do if you want an “as is” car? We’ve put together some tips to help you out.

An “as is” vehicle does not include a warranty from the dealership, meaning the buyer accepts any existing and future issues that the vehicle may have. If you discover a mechanical or cosmetic issue while owning the vehicle the dealer is not obligated to repair it or offer you a refund. Now, this doesn’t mean that an “as is” car isn’t worth considering, it’s just wise to know the risks before you make the purchase.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, dealers are legally required to display a Buyers Guide with a warranty disclosure specifying that a used vehicle is being sold “as is.” The Buyers Guide appears as a window sticker, making it easier for shoppers to know the terms of sale when seeing the vehicle in person. The same information must appear on the sales contract, so be sure to review all the paperwork before signing.

Before you make the decision to purchase an “as is” car you should research that model. Find out what known issues the car may have, figure out if there are any parts that may wear out faster than others. Try to get as specific as possible in your research. Some cars have issues that are isolated to a model year or trim. If there’s an issue that is known to arise after 50,000 miles, then it’s important to pay attention to the mileage while you shop. You should also keep an eye out for ways to easily identify a particular problem.

Order a vehicle history report if one isn’t already provided. It’s valuable to know the history of the car you’re buying, specifically if it’s been involved in any accidents. You can purchase a vehicle history report from services like CarFax or AutoCheck, which receive data on reported events such as change of ownership, accident damage, and theft. This provides a better idea of the car’s previous life. 

An “as is” car isn’t something you should be afraid of, but it’s important to do your homework up front to make sure the savings don’t disappear as soon as you’re handed the keys.

How To: Remove Light Scratches From Your Car’s Paint

It’s an unfortunate fact that, if you’re actually using your vehicle, it’s an inevitability it will pick up light scratches here and there. Luckily, you can fix those scratches at home, and fairly easily too. Here’s an easy to follow list of how to get started:

  • Step 1: Wash and dry your car. You need to get all the dirt and grime off your car before you can fix any scratches.
  • Step 2: Mark the scratch with masking tape placing the masking tape 1″ above and 1″ below the scratch in order to help the application process. 
  • Step 3: Apply a scratch repair product with a microfiber cloth back and forth for around 30 seconds with medium to firm pressure. When it comes to deciding which scratch repair product to use, it really comes down to personal preference. If you have no idea which one to pick you could ask your local auto parts store and they’ll give you some guidance.
  • Step 4: Wipe the area dry with a separate, clean microfiber towel and inspect the area to see if the scratch has been fully covered. If needed, reapply the scratch repair product until desired results are achieved. Repeat this process up to 5 times, but be careful not to overwork the area.
  • Step 5: Finally, apply the product to the larger surrounding area to blend in the repair so it looks seamless.

If the scratch or scratches still aren’t blended, it’s likely that you have a deeper scratch. If you don’t feel comfortable going further, then getting a quote from your local body shop is recommended.

Getting the Most From Your Vehicle Trade

So you’re looking for a new car, and you just want to trade in your current vehicle to a dealer. What should you do to make sure you get your money’s worth? We’ve put together a few steps to help you get the best price for your car.

Step 1 – Research 

The biggest thing that will help you get the most money is doing some research. Having an idea of what your car is worth is very important. It’s possible that you’re expecting more money than you’re going to get, but depreciation can hit certain vehicles harder than others. Of course, the condition of your car, having copies of maintenance history, and any additional aftermarket parts will make a difference — mind you, not all aftermarket parts and accessories will increase your vehicle’s value — but it should come as no surprise your car isn’t worth what you initially paid for it. Luckily, it is fairly easy to get an approximate value for your vehicle online using websites like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. Something many do not take into account though in their research is how many other vehicles just like your may be in the market in your area. Take a little extra time to search local listings for the year, make, model, and trim level of the vehicle you’re looking to trade in to get an even better view of what it’s going for. 

Step 2 – The Dealership’s Perspective

The dealership is looking at factors such as how fast they can sell your car to another buyer (a car sitting on the lot is actively spending the dealer’s money on a variety of levels of overhead), and also how much work they may have to do to fix it up so it’s ready for the next owner. The dealer is more willing to work with you on a trade than buying your car outright, but in fairness it’s good to keep these things in mind during negotiations.

Step 3 – Prep Your Vehicle

The presentation of your vehicle will go a long way in getting you a good value. Vacuum the interior thoroughly, and make sure everything that isn’t supposed to be in the car (such as trash – you may be surprised how many people do not consider this) is out, and everything that should be in the car (things such as documents, manuals, tools) are in the car. It doesn’t hurt to make sure your vehicle smells good too. Go through a car wash or hand wash, and give your car a wax to make it look better. If there’s anything wrong with your vehicle the value of the trade will go down, but it may be easier and sometimes cheaper to just leave the problem and have the dealership fix it. If your vehicle has major issues don’t be afraid to approach the dealer regardless, it never hurts to get an appraisal, and hey, you may come away pleasantly surprised!  

Something to keep in mind is that dealers love happy customers, repeat business is how we stay in business, so always feel free to come on in and give us a shot, you may just drive away happy.