Tag Archives: Vehicle Safety

Best Used GMC SUVs: Which Models and Years Are Most Reliable?

Best Used GMC SUVs Models Years Most Reliable - Red Mountain FundingBest Used GMC SUVs - What Models and Years are Most Reliable

All sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are versatile automobiles that sit higher than most passenger cars, and they are a better option for towing and carrying cargo. Larger models can even carry up to seven or eight people (counting the driver).

GMC, a General Motors brand, has many worthwhile SUV models to choose from, so we’ve selected a few of the most reliable used GMCs that we think are worth your attention.

GMC Acadia

GMC first put out its Acadia crossover SUV in 2007, and this model quickly gained popularity in a few short years. Over its more than 10 years on the market, the Acadia has earned several NHTSA 5-star safety ratings, and its design offers spacious seating and great use. The standard model uses front-wheel drive, but you can also find all-wheel drive models for more off-road capabilities.

The Acadia line is still going strong. While the newest models on the market make for a stellar driving experience, used Acadia SUVs are still reliable, stylish and affordable for car buyers in the greater Phoenix, AZ area.

Best Used GMC Acadia Years

If the Acadia is your top pick for your next vehicle, then you’ll want to consider the year of the model. GMC has updated the Acadia several times over the years, adjusting the interior and exterior designs, as well as the size and weight of the vehicle.

You can also expect to find updates to the Acadia’s features and storage capabilities across models. Depending on how you want to use your vehicle, some years will better fit your needs than others. Continue reading to see what we mean.

2017 Used GMC Acadia

The 2017 GMC Acadia received several updates in terms of size and weight, making it a more compact SUV than previous models. This design swap is a marked improvement when it comes to drivability and efficiency. The once blocky exterior also has some softer edges, giving it a more modern appearance. You can also see reworking in the cabin with updated materials, design and infotainment system.

While the 2018 GMC Acadia has some updates in terms of colors and seat availability, there’s not much change from the 2017. There is an All Terrain model with a new all-wheel-drive system, plus some extra features like a heated steering wheel.

2011 to 2014 GMC Acadia Models: Among the Most Sought-After Used SUVs

When it comes to safety, the 2011 through 2014 models all have 5-star safety ratings from the NHTSA.

If you want more reassurance than that, the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) also gave the 2011 to 2013 models a “Top Safety Pick” designation. These models are still reliable for their safety designations today, making them some of the most popular choices around.

Worth noting is that 2013 was the year when the Acadia received a facelift, with higher-quality interior materials and updated exterior styling elements. There’s also a revised rear liftgate design for better functionality.

For the most luxurious experience, the Acadia Denali line has the highest trim level. You can find these models from 2011 onward.

If you find a good deal for a used GMC SUV, you should seriously explore the purchase, especially for models that fit into the best safety ratings time frame.

Used GMC Yukon and Yukon XL

Another top GMC vehicle is the Yukon and stretched Yukon XL. These SUVs have extensive seating and high maximum tow ratings, making them very capable vehicles.

While the Yukon isn’t the nimblest SUV around, it’s still much more maneuverable than you might expect. For Phoenix residents who love to get away from the city and escape into the wilderness (with plenty of companions and gear along for the ride), the Yukon is the SUV for the job.

New Yukons are rather steeply priced, which is why a used vehicle is the way to go. You can count on newer models to have all the modern amenities you could ever want (and then some), but an older Yukon will serve you just as well.

Best GMC Yukon Years

GMC doesn’t provide too many distinctions between models close to each other. About every five years, the Yukon undergoes an upgrade that sets the standard for the next vehicles to come. Thanks to that, you don’t need to aim too carefully at a certain year when looking for a used SUV.

However, you can focus on which “generation” the car comes from instead. With the current generation starting in 2015, anything before that makes for a solid used option.

Third-Generation GMC Yukon (2007 to 2014)

Third-generation GMC Yukons are some of the best choices. In fact, 2007 was the year that the Yukon distinguished itself from the similar Chevy Tahoe. In this generation, you will find brand-specific equipment and more distinct styling, which helped these SUVs develop into the line they are today.

Yukons from 2009 and newer may be more appealing to drivers. Why? Third-row seats, Bluetooth phone connectivity and rearview camera systems started to become standard in these vehicles. There were also updates to the airbag system starting in 2009, enhancing the safety experience.

Crossover SUVs may have been more popular during this generation. Yet, the Yukon still had plenty to offer, and now makes for one of the top used SUVs on the market.

Second-Generation GMC Yukon (2000 to 2006)

Looking back further, second-generation Yukons provide a pleasant handling and ride experience. You’ll also find that front-seat side airbags are standard throughout this generation. But, if you want enhanced stability control, you’ll need to look for a 2003 model or newer.

If you’re looking for a Yukon Denali, though, note that the second generation for that line starts at 2001; the 2000 model is closer to its first-generation brethren.

Across all second-generation Yukons, keep a close eye on models that suffer from inconsistent build quality.

If you decide that you’d rather have a first-generation Yukon, then the 1996 through 1999 models are your best picks. Their updated V8 engines provide better torque and horsepower.

Best Used GMC SUVs for Sale in Metro Phoenix

When you’re ready to make your Phoenix, Arizona used SUV purchase, Red Mountain Funding in Mesa can help. We periodically have a few GMC SUVs in stock, but our inventory is subject to change.

No matter what, we can extend to you several low down payment and bad credit financing options, whether you purchase from our used car dealership or from another Phoenix-area car lot.

Browse Our Used SUV Inventory

Tips and Tricks for Getting the Most out of Your Car Wash

Car Cleaning Hacks Tips And Tricks Car Wash - Red Mountain Funding Mesa AZ

Washing your car may seem like an ordinary part of your weekly or monthly routine, but there are several ways you can make the most out of washing your vehicle. The result? It looks clean and brand new for as long as possible.

There are many commercial options for washing your vehicle, and you can easily buy the supplies you need to wash it at home. However you decide to handle your car washes in the future, keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of every wash.

Commercial Car Washes

The most common type of commercial car wash is a standard tunnel-style wash that uses water jets and brushes to clean your vehicle. The driver pulls his or her vehicle into the tunnel track, puts the car in neutral, and the car wash guides the vehicle through the different cleaning devices.

Automatic Washes Are Fast and Cheap

Touchless Car Wash Washworld - Red Mountain Funding

A Touchless Automatic Car Wash System (Twitter Photo/@Washworld)

An automatic car wash is a fast and relatively effective way to clean your vehicle, but it may not leave it entirely clean. Additionally, hard bristles or damaged brushes can actually scratch away at your vehicle’s paint and lead to rusting.

Ultimately, you get what you pay for when you drive through a traditional automatic car wash, and repeated automatic washings may cause expensive damage to your vehicle’s paint job.

Some commercial car washes have installed “touchless” washing systems that do not use brushes or bristles to physically touch the car. Instead, a touchless car wash uses a series of high-powered water jets and cleaning agent sprays to clean your vehicle.

While a touchless system is a viable alternative to traditional tunnel-style car washes with brush-based cleaning systems – which may damage your paint or sensitive parts like mirrors and antennae – it may not leave your car completely clean and spot free.

Professional Detailers

A professional detailing service will undoubtedly offer the best cleaning service, but it will also cost the most. A detailer will clean your vehicle meticulously by hand and will often offer various additional services, such as interior cleaning, cosmetic repairs, scratch and dent repairs, and window and headlight cleaning.

If you want an extensive cleaning, or your vehicle hasn’t had a proper, thorough washing in a long time, paying for a professional detailing service may be worth the expense.

Washing Your Own Car

Many commercial car washes offer tiered pricing for customers to combine exterior cleaning, interior cleaning, waxing and other services into a single wash session. While some commercial car wash companies offer membership discounts and frequent buyer programs, these options can be expensive, especially compared to the cost of washing your vehicle yourself. Washing your own car gives you complete control, and helps you save money.

Self-Service Wash Stations

Some commercial washing establishments offer self-service car wash stations. These buildings usually feature enclosed parking spaces with extendable tools that apply soap and water. A driver will park in a washing space and then put money into the system to pay for a certain amount of time (usually a few dollars for several minutes of washing time).

Next, the driver applies soap, scrubs the car with the supplied brush or sponge, and then rinses the vehicle with the water sprayer. Some self-service stations offer a wax coating spray as well, but these sprays rarely compare to a professional waxing job and may actually cause more water-spotting.

Washing Your Car at Home

Car Wash At Home angelmercado279 - Red Mountain Funding

At-Home DIY Car Washing (Twitter Photo/@angelmercado279)

Of course, if you plan to wash your car yourself, you can save even more money by skipping the self-service station and washing your vehicle at home. A hose attached to your home’s outdoor spigot with an adjustable head attachment will allow you to spray grime, mud and dirt off your vehicle with a high-powered stream of water. You can then adjust the sprayer for a gentler mist to rinse the car at the end.

If you plan to wash your car at home, make sure you research and purchase the car soap and other supplies needed. You should only ever wash the exterior of your car with a sponge or soft cloth to avoid scraping or damaging your paint and windows.

It’s also important for Mesa, AZ residents to follow the Mesa car washing guidelines the city has established. Due to the low annual rainfall in Mesa, the city’s water and sewer systems are more vulnerable to contamination from cleaning agents and runoff from dirty vehicles.

You’ll need to use phosphate-free detergents sparingly and make sure the wastewater doesn’t enter the city sewer system. The best method for washing at home is by hand using only water and a soft sponge.

Car Cleaning Hacks for You to Try

Clean Off Windshield Wipers mblagunaniguel - Red Mountain Funding

Maintain Your Wiper Blades (Twitter Photo/@mblagunaniguel)

The first step in washing your car in Mesa is to determine how extensive you need to be in your cleaning. Engine or undercarriage cleaning may require an appointment with a professional detailer, so that you don’t inadvertently violate the city’s car washing ordinances. You may also be able to wash your engine or undercarriage at a self-service station that allows this type of cleaning.

There are several car cleaning hacks that can make your car look even better, and some of them might surprise you:

  • Did you know that a hair conditioner with lanolin creates a just-waxed shine and even repels rain? Apply hair conditioner to your vehicle after washing and then rinse clean for a spectacular shine.
  • You can also use window cleaner and an old pair of pantyhose to make your headlights shine again. Over time, headlights become cloudy and may actually pose a safety risk when driving at night.
  • If you’re looking for a simple window and windshield cleaner, mix one part household ammonia with four parts water in a spray bottle. Keep the spray bottle in your vehicle and spray and wipe clean whenever your windows or windshield become dirty.
  • It’s also a good idea to check your wiper blades regularly. If your wipers are dirty, they’ll streak your windshield instead of cleaning it. You can clean the blades with a mixture of a 1/4 cup ammonia and 1 quart of cold water. Soak a soft cloth or paper towel in this solution, wipe it along both blades and then use a dry cloth to wipe off the solution before lowering the blades back into place.

Protect Your Vehicle from the Arizona Sun

While Mesa residents don’t have to worry about rainfall too often, the Arizona sun can pose serious problems for any vehicle here. Intense heat and direct sunlight can damage your vehicle’s exterior as well as the interior. Grime, dust and salt that stays on your car for too long will bake in the sun and cause additional damage.

Your vehicle’s dashboard receives the brunt of the sunlight that enters your vehicle through the windshield, so consider investing in sun shades. Sunlight can also damage the cloth or leather of your vehicle’s seats and cause them to discolor or fade over time.

Learn more car care tips for dealing with the Arizona sun by visiting our previous article:

Protect Your Car from Arizona’s Intense Sunlight

Used Cars in Mesa Under $5000: Can You Find a Dependable Car at That Price?

Best Used Cars Under $5000 Mesa AZ - Red Mountain Funding

If you’re in Mesa, Arizona, or the East Valley, you might be wondering if you can find a used car under $5,000 that will get you to work and back every day and that can handle all of your errands with breaking down. You’re going to have to be patient and sift through a lot of ancient and/or troublesome vehicles in this price range, but you can find a dependable vehicle if you look hard enough.

In this article, we’re going to tell you what kind of car to look for if you have $5,000 or less to spend, including how to refine your search. Additionally, we’re also going to offer some food for thought on looking at newer, higher-end vehicles that lie a little outside of your current price range.

What Kind of Vehicle You Can Expect for $5,000

If you have $5,000 to spend on a vehicle, you’re likely looking at something with 100,000 to 150,000 miles on it. With $5,000, you shouldn’t have to settle for a car with 200,000 miles or more.

How old? Expect vehicles in this price range to be about 10 years old or older.

The type of vehicle? You’re probably looking at a sedan, coupe or possibly a compact SUV or truck. You can pretty much forget about a full-size SUV or pickup unless it has a ton of miles on it and was made in the ‘90s (or earlier).

Vehicles such as Toyota and Honda (and Lexus and Acura, for that matter) are going to be harder to find in this price range unless they are much older and have a lot of miles on them. Therefore, your best bet might be a domestic vehicle, such as one by Ford, Chrysler or Chevrolet. For foreign makes, Mazda, Nissan, Kia and Hyundai are typically more affordable than their competitors.

Where Can I Find a $5,000 or Less Vehicle?

In your price range, you can look to private sellers, major new-car dealerships that also sell used cars, and independent car lots that feature used vehicles exclusively. Keep in mind that while looking for cars at this low of a price, you’re not going to be able to haggle the price down by $1,000 or more.

Your wiggle room here, if the price of the car is already near true market value, is about $500, at most. The only exception would be if you’re talking to a private seller who’s not a very good negotiator.

Get the Vehicle Inspected and Do Your Own Research

With any vehicle you’re seriously considering, you should look up what kind of history it has, and you should have a professional inspect its current state.

Start by running a free vehicle history report by entering the VIN of the vehicle into either CARFAX or AutoCheck. The report will tell you if the car has been in a serious accident or if it’s had major problems in the past; some reports even show the car’s service records.

Now, don’t necessarily cross off every vehicle you see that has been in an accident. An accident may not be that bad if:

  • It was minor.
  • It happened years ago.
  • The vehicle has been driven many thousands of miles since then.

Yes, ideally you’re going to want something with a squeaky clean record. But, with this price range and the miles that these cars will have, you’re going to come across several that have had at least a minor accident. We’re just saying, if you really like a certain vehicle but it was in an accident years ago, don’t write it off until you dig deeper.

Also, yes, most cars in this price range are going to have little dings, chips and scrapes. It comes with their experience. But, so long as it doesn’t have major, unfixed body damage, what you should really be worrying about is how the vehicle runs. That brings us to our next point.

Get a Prepurchase Inspection

Before buying any used car, you should submit it for a prepurchase inspection. If you’re buying from a dealer, they should be able to do this on site or through a trusted partner nearby. Many mechanics around town offer this service, as well, which is especially helpful if you’re looking to buy from a private seller. If you already have a trusted mechanic for your current vehicle, you can try to see if they will inspect the vehicle you’re considering buying.

Keep in mind this service will likely run between $100 and $200, whether you have the dealer or an independent mechanic do it. The prepurchase inspection should be a 100-point (or more) check of the vehicle, with a detailed report to follow.

This service should not only unearth any problems under the hood, but also any damage to the body or interior of the vehicle. This includes problems that go undetected by the average consumer, such as flood damage, hidden rust and poor previous repair work.

Best Used Cars Under $5000

Just for reference in your search, we would like to point out some of the top vehicles of 2018 according to two authoritative sources.

Kelley Blue Book released a list earlier this year of the top 10 used vehicles that run about $5,000. In order, here are the 10 vehicles that made the list (along with their average price in Mesa, AZ in parentheses):

  1. 2003 Toyota Avalon ($4,266)
  2. 2003 Toyota Camry ($4,276)
  3. 2004 Honda Accord ($4,477)
  4. 2004 Toyota Corolla ($4,339)
  5. 2005 Honda Civic ($3,854)
  6. 2004 Subaru Forester ($4,084)
  7. 2004 Toyota Matrix ($5,015)
  8. 2003 Acura TL ($4,060)
  9. 2004 Subaru Outback ($4,023)
  10. 2006 Mazda M3 ($4,629)

15 Additional Used Vehicles Worth Mentioning

Also, U.S. News and World Report published a list in June of the 15 best used vehicles under $5,000, in no particular order. For reasons unexplained, all vehicles listed were from 2009. Here are the 15 vehicles that made the list (along with their average nationwide price in parentheses):

  • 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser ($4,358)
  • 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit ($3,123)
  • 2009 Mitsubishi Galant ($4,373)
  • 2009 Scion xD ($4,459)
  • 2009 Pontiac Vibe ($4,548)
  • 2009 Toyota Yaris ($3,913)
  • 2009 Chevrolet Malibu ($4,786)
  • 2009 Mercury Milan ($4,698)
  • 2009 Hyundai Elantra ($3,325)
  • 2009 Saturn VUE ($4,641)
  • 2009 Scion tC ($4,405)
  • 2009 Scion xB ($4,874)
  • 2009 Saturn Aura ($3,455)
  • 2009 Ford Fusion ($4,637)
  • 2009 Honda Fit ($4,834)

We realize it may be hard to find one of these exact vehicles from either list. But, these lists should help steer your search, as far as make and models go. You may not be able to find a vehicle with the exact same year of production, but if you find the same make and model around the same year that is listed above, then you’re on the right track.

A Loan Can Help You Get a Better Vehicle

Consider applying for a loan for a used vehicle, even if your credit score is less than appealing at the moment. Red Mountain Funding helps East Valley residents secure financing for a used vehicle, even when they’ve been turned down at another dealership. At Red Mountain Funding, we are our own financing institution, and we report to all three major credit agencies.

If you’re approved for a loan, you may be able to get a newer or higher-end vehicle, such as in the $8,000 to $10,000 range. Even if you stick around $5,000 and get a loan for a vehicle in this range, you now have the chance to make payments and build up your credit. This helps you get an even better vehicle when you go to look for your next car a few years down the road.

At Red Mountain Funding, we typically carry a handful of vehicles under $5,000, but it’s subject to change, based on our inventory at any given moment. We encourage you to apply for a loan to see if you can get financing for a vehicle around (or perhaps higher than) $5,000.

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Understanding Tire Tread Wear and Vehicle Tire Safety

Understanding Tire Tread Wear and Vehicle Tire Safety - Red Mountain Funding

There’s a reason that a skydiver meticulously checks the parachute and safety equipment for signs of wear before each jump. Skydivers understand the direct connection between the parachute and safety.

Think of your tires as your parachute. The health of your vehicle’s tires can directly impact the health and safety of the occupants of the vehicle.

Tires Get Ignored

Too often, tires are ignored, and the driver doesn’t realize that the tires are worn until someone else points it out. Frequently, an automotive person points it out, and the driver discounts it as a sales technique. The best thing to do is educate yourself so you can tell the difference. Tires are expensive and keep you safe on the road, so it’s important to invest a little time caring for them.

Tire tread wear will affect the handling of the vehicle, lower gas mileage, and decrease the chance of an accident or breakdown.

What Affects The Tire Tread?

There are three main aspects of your tires to consider when it comes to wear and tear:

Wheel Alignment

If the vehicle’s wheel alignment is off, the tires will wear unevenly. The inner or outer edge of the tire tread may be more worn than the center tread. Replacing tires without fixing the wheel alignment will cause the same safety issue with the new tires and shorten their life considerably.

Tire Pressure

When a tire has too much air in it, it is overinflated, and the center of an overinflated tire pushes out slightly. This causes the center to have more contact with the road, so they will end up with more wear in the center of the tire and wear out faster than the sides. They are also at greater risk of rupturing.

Conversely, when a tire has too little air in it, it is underinflated. An underinflated tire will show excessive wear on the outer edge, with more tread evident on the center strip. An underinflated tire is at greater risk of losing control when driving around sharp curves and dips in the road.

A tire that has had a nail puncture repaired with a plug is at greater risk of being underinflated. When a tire plug dries out, the tire may develop a slow leak. In the heat of the Arizona sun, this is a distinct possibility.

Wheel Balance

Unbalanced tires can cause cupped (scalloped) dips to appear on the tire. Most people have their tires balanced when they purchase them and never think of it again. The general recommendation is to have the tires balanced every 6,000 miles.

Since 6,000 to 8,000 miles is when the tires should be rotated, it may be easier to remember to have them balanced each time they are rotated. Other things can cause cupped tires, so be sure to have the tie rods, ball joints and suspension checked, as well, if this is the pattern seen on your tires.

Tire tread is what keeps the tires on the road. It provides traction that grips the road, especially during rain and snow. The grooves in the tire are there to allow water to pass through the tires. If the grooves are too shallow or non-existent, then the tire becomes separated from the surface of the road by a thin layer of water and slips. This is what’s referred to as hydroplaning.

Tire Safety Checklist

Taking care of tires is much easier than most people think. Best practice is to check them each time the tank is filled. If that’s too much, though, plan to do it monthly.

Although it’s best to check tire pressure when the tires are cold, most people don’t have an air compressor at home. Plan to do the initial inspection at home and then go to the closest filling station to your house with an air compressor if the tire pressure needs to be adjusted.

Check the Tread

Although tire tread depth gauges can be purchased at any auto parts store, no fancy tools are needed to check the tread of a tire. A simple Lincoln penny will do the trick. With the head side of the penny facing you, put it head-down into the groove of the tire tread.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says that the tires should be replaced when the tread depth has reached 2/32 or 1/16 of an inch. The tire tread depth is above that threshold if the tire tread still covers the top of Lincoln’s head.

Keeping in mind that a new tire typically has a tread depth of 10/32 to 11/32 inches, but waiting for it to reach 2/32 inches is not recommended for safety. Most professionals recommend 4/32 of an inch as the minimum before replacing the tires.

Visually Inspect for Tire Tread Wear

Don’t just walk around the vehicle. Crouch down and look closely at the tires. For Arizona tire safety, don’t skip this step. The heat is brutal on tires. Check for cracking, cuts and for tread or sidewalls separating or bubbling. Look carefully for uneven wear or areas that appear too smooth.

Test Tire Pressure

Eyeballing the tire pressure isn’t enough. A tire pressure gauge is needed to do this check properly. Follow these easy steps:

Determine Correct Tire Pressure

On the sidewall of the tire, there is a number followed by the letters PSI. PSI is pounds per square inch. That’s what the tire pressure gauge is measuring.

The number listed on the tire is the maximum pressure to which the tire should be filled. There is also a number on the tire that indicates the maximum threshold. The number in the owner’s manual or on the vehicle’s door jamb is the recommended tire pressure for the vehicle based on its load capacity.

Use Tire Pressure Gauge to Check the Pressure

Each tire has a valve stem with a cap on it. Gently unscrew the cap and place it somewhere safe (they are easy to lose!). Press the tire gauge straight down on the valve stem and read the result.

It’s best to do this a few times, as it can be tricky to get it just right. If all three readings are the same, it’s likely accurate.

Adjust Tire Pressure

If the tire pressure is too high, press the center of the valve stem to release a little air. Each time you release air, test the pressure again until the pressure is correct. If the tire pressure is too low, add air using an air compressor until the desired pressure is reached.

Some air compressors have pressure gauges on them. It’s best to recheck with the same gauge that you used to check the pressure, so the readings are consistent. Don’t forget to put the valve stem caps back on.

Safety Is the Key

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 11,000 tire-related automobile accidents and 200 fatalities each year.

It’s common to think of tire-related accidents as equipment failures rather than behavior-related incidents such as driving while intoxicated or speeding. However, 1 in 4 cars drives with at least one underinflated tire. Only 19 percent of drivers check and inflate their tires properly.

Using these tire maintenance tips, about 15 minutes each month is all it takes for a driver to perform this basic inspection to maintain vehicle tire safety and minimize the risk of failure.

See Our Comprehensive Used Car Maintenance Checklist