Simple Ways to Maintain the Value of Your Vehicle


Vehicle maintenance involves repairs, oil changes and many other recommended services. However, it is common for even extremely responsible car owners to overlook the details and lose money on a vehicle they otherwise maintained carefully. Here are some simple tips for preserving the value of any vehicle, and most take only seconds to complete.

Check Tire Pressure

You have more to worry about than just fuel economy when tires are underinflated. The tires will wear out faster and the risk of a blowout increases. Getting a flat tire while on the road could lead to an accident or other types of damage to the vehicle.

Checking the tire pressure is a very simple task that takes only a couple of seconds per tire. Keep a gauge in the vehicle, and check the pressure about once a week before leaving for work. Always recheck when the outside air temperature drops rapidly because cold weather will cause the pressure to decrease. If your tire pressure is correct and you are experiencing a right or left steering pull while driving, your wheels may be out of alignment. This will result in premature tire wear. You should bring your car to a qualified mechanic who will correct the problem.

Clean Off Droppings

It would seem as if birds really despise vehicles. The messes they leave behind are unsightly as well as dangerous to the surface of the paint. Bird droppings contain uric acid that quickly discolors the paint and, if left for too long, will cause extensive damage. The dropping dissolves wax and eventually the paint, leaving behind a dimpled, damaged surface.

Review Fluid Levels

Checking fluid levels in between service appointments prevents breakdowns and unfortunate damage from a leak or other mechanical problem. A few minutes, when the vehicle is on a level surface and the engine is cool, is all it takes to check the oil, coolant and brake fluid and power steering fluid. Refer to your vehicle's owner/operator manual for information regarding your vehicle's specifications and follow recommended procedures when checking fluids. Top off the washer fluid too while under the hood so it is always available.

Keep It Orderly

Always remove garbage and clutter when exiting the vehicle. This is important to help prevent the buildup of odor, mold growth from old beverages or food, and stains if those things are knocked over. Leaving food in a vehicle is also enticing to rodents who love to use car wiring, insulation and seat cushions in their nests.

Clean It Up

Every couple of months it is important to dust the surfaces and vacuum the floors and the seats. Use a UVprotectant cleaner on the solid surfaces to prevent cracking and fading. Deep clean upholstered cloth seats with a shampooer, and apply a fabric protectant to make stains easier to remove.

Leather seats need to have a leather cleaner and conditioner applied regularly to keep them clean and to prevent them from drying out and cracking. The same products will help to keep the steering wheel clean and protected as well.

Wash the Exterior

Many experts recommend weekly baths for every vehicle. Not everyone has the ability to do this at home or the time and money to go to a car wash. It is a good idea to at least rinse every vehicle down once every couple of weeks and give them a good scrubbing about once a month. This can be especially important in winter months when an excessive amount of road salt is in use. The two things that have the greatest impact on the value of a car in the northern regions are miles and rust!

It is also important to add an extra trip to the car wash in certain circumstances. For example, wash your car after driving over a newly tarred road or exposing your car to road salt. Remember to wax the vehicle every few months for additional protection.

The resale or donation value of a vehicle should matter to every car owner. It is easier to use as collateral when it is maintained, and it will receive more as a trade-in when the time comes. If you already have a well-maintained vehicle that you feel still has some usable life in it, please consider donating it to our innovative educational program at the Newgate School.

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5 Criteria to Consider When Choosing a Charity


With so many worthy charities out there, it's hard to know where to donate your money or used goods. Ultimately, you will have to choose the charity that appeals to you the most, but in particular, you may want to look for a charity that has the following attributes.

1. A Mission You Believe in

As you try to decide where to donate your time, money, vehicles or other items, look at the mission of each charity you are considering. What is that charity doing to make the world a better place? Do you support that effort and want to help?

For example, if sustainable change is important to you, you may want to select a charity that gives people marketable skills that they can use to improve their current situation, rather than a charity that solely focuses on providing financial aid. Both organizations have value, and both would be great to donate to.

As long as the charity has a mission you believe in you'll be happy with your decision and invested in the change you wish to see.

2. Local Presence

In some cases, you may want to send financial help to the other side of the world or to another part of the country, and those types of donations are important and have an impact on the world as a whole. However, in other cases, you may want to focus on charities that are doing work close to home.

In particular, you may want to choose a charity that is making valuable strides in improving the day-to-day life of people in your own community.

3. Big Dreams

For years, donors were told that they should try to look for the charities with the least overhead. The premise makes sense-if a charity has low overhead, it has more money to direct to its cause.

But the world has big problems, and sometimes solving those problems requires some overhead. Instead, of judging charities solely on overhead, you may want to look at what the charity is really accomplishing and what it is dreaming of accomplishing.

To get a closer look at the numbers, you may want to look at the charity's annual report. All 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations that collect over $100,000 in donations or revenue per year must make their annual reports public.

4. Transparency

Even if you decide not to look at the annual report, you want to look for a charity that is transparent. Transparency may include a willingness to answer donor questions, gives a clear mission statement, and welcomes regular tours of the facility.

Since you'll be picking a charity you feel a connection with, you'll probably want to be involved and see how the charity is progressing as it works towards its goals. If you feel like a charity is mysterious, you may want to look for alternative organizations.

5. Easy Process

Additionally, you want to find a charity that makes the donation process easy for you. When it comes to financial donations, for example, you may want the ability to easily make donations online or even to set up automatic monthly drafts from your bank account.

With material donations, such as a vehicle, you want the process to be simple and straightforward. To that end, you need to choose a charity that has a donation process that has already been set up. In our car example, the process would need to quickly transfer the title, assess the value of the donation, and issue you a receipt that you can forward to your tax accountant.

At the Newgate School our mission is to help low-income young adults achieve financial stability. Our tuition free program transforms your donated cars into training opportunities for students to learn skills as auto mechanics or auto body repair technicians. Upon course completion, graduates have the marketable skills necessary to work in the automotive trades. On top of that, we re-donate many of our repaired vehicles to single, working mothers in the community so that they have the means to get to work and provide care for their families.

We firmly believe in transparency, and in fact, we even offer tours on a regular basis. If you want to learn more, attend a tour or donate your vehicle, contact us directly.

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The Little-Old-Lady Car: Is It Really the Deal of a Lifetime?


An amazing vehicle tucked away and forgotten in a retiree's garage is a dream of many used-car buyers. The idea of something purchased new, rarely driven and then stored for a decade or two may seem like an ideal find, but there are some very good reasons this type of car may not be as great a deal as it seems. Here are some points to consider before making a purchase.

Know the Reason

It is important to know why the vehicle was kept in storage. There are some very valid reasons.

  • It was a keepsake kept in memory of a deceased loved one.
  • The owner was unable to drive due to health concerns.

Both of these examples are reasonable answers, but another common reason is cause for alarm. Some vehicles may have repeatedly experienced mechanical issues, and the owner no longer wanted to pay for its repairs and maintenance. Parking it may have been the only solution they had at the time because it was not fit to sell or drive.

Check the Location

Vehicles are not always safe just because they are kept in a garage. Water damage from floods, burst pipes or a leaky roof could have made the vehicle unusable. Rodent infestation is another concern. Not only is there the mess of clearing out their nests but also the very real concern of the damage rodents cause when they chew on wiring.

Inspect the Condition

Sitting in one spot without any use can cause a great deal of damage to any vehicle. The tires could have flat spots and dry rot. Any rubber on a vehicle is at risk of drying out and cracking over time. The list includes door and window seals, hoses and belts and even the rubber bushings on the suspension system that may all need to be replaced.

Consider the Climate

Cars and trucks exposed to constantly changing temperature extremes and high humidity levels without regular cleaning and maintenance could develop mold and mildew issues. Deep cleaning the carpeting and upholstery may not be enough to prevent the problem from reoccurring. If not removed, it could be a potential health risk to anyone riding in the vehicle.

Review the Maintenance

It is unusual for a stored vehicle to receive any maintenance. The engine oil, brake fluid and other fluids will usually need to be replaced and the systems flushed before the vehicle is driven. Regular lubrication and the replacement of parts as they begin to corrode may have been neglected. Once the vehicle is in use, these parts could start to break or cause problems.

Understand Storage Concerns

Even if the vehicle has only been stored for a year or less, there are still some issues to remember. The gasoline could have separated or caused corrosion in the tank or fuel lines. The battery will usually have lost its charge and could be heavily corroded too. If the vehicle was not clean and dry at the time it was stored away, there could be damage to the paint.

Choose Other Options

Finding an old vehicle with low mileage or inheriting one may seem like a dream come true, but it is not uncommon for these cars and trucks to become endless repair projects. Choosing to donate the vehicle is a better option than leaving it stored away to continue rusting. There are charities that accept vehicle donations, and the donor benefits through a tax deduction.

Newgate School is a non-profit that goes even further than most charitable organizations by using the donated vehicles to train disadvantaged young adults seeking careers in the automobile service trades. Call us for more information.

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6 Signs Car Donation Is Right for You


Someone donating their carIf you've heard ads on the radio, TV or internet extolling the virtues of car donation, you may be wondering if that move is right for you. Should you donate your car? Is that the best decision in your situation? Here are six signs car donation may be right for you.

1. The Repairs Cost More Than the Value of Your Vehicle

All cars need repairs and upkeep once in a while, but as your car gets older, it can get to the point where you're throwing more money into the car than it's actually worth. If you're in that boat, it may be time to just cut the cord and get rid of your vehicle through sale or donation.

2. You Want to Get Rid of Your Old Vehicle Quickly

Selling used cars can take up a lot of your time. You have to put up an ad, field calls and emails and haggle with potential buyers. In contrast, donating your car is quick and painless. You simply bring your vehicle to a charity that accepts cars—some charities will even pick up your car. Then, you sign a couple of documents and the process is over. Consider donating your car if you want to get rid of it fast.

3. You Don't Like the Trade-In Value

Truth be told, trading in your vehicle can be almost as easy as donating it. However, in most cases the trade-in value is far less than the actual value of the car. Who profits from the difference? The car dealer. If you don't like the sound of that arrangement, you may want to let a charity benefit from the value of your vehicle instead.

4. You Want to Help a Local Charity

When you donate a vehicle, you don't just save yourself time and hassle. You actually get the joy of contributing something useful to your community.

For example, at the Newgate School, we use donated cars to train low-income adults to be mechanics. Car donations allow us to provide free education and useful vocational skills to people who really need it. We also have a program where we give recently fixed-up vehicles to single moms in need of transportation. With a simple donation, you could contribute to all of that.

5. You Want an Extra Tax Deduction

Donating a vehicle doesn't just save you time and benefit local charities; it can also help to lower your tax liability. You earn tax deductions when you make donations. The specifics can be a bit complicated, but in general, you get to subtract the value of the vehicle as an itemized deduction. That deduction reduces your taxable income and decreases the amount of income tax you owe to the IRS.

Additionally, if you donate your car to an educational institution where it will be used to train students, you will be able to use the private party fair market value as the tax deduction—the most favorable value available.

6. You've Found a Great Charity

The final piece of car donation is finding the right charity. Oftentimes, you just really want to support your local community and you want to take an active role in supporting a charity’s cause. If you find a charity that you believe in, then the answer is clear: it's time to donate.

The final piece of car donation is finding the right charity. Oftentimes, you just really want to support your local community and you want to take an active role in supporting a charity’s cause. If you find a charity that you believe in, then the answer is clear: it's time to donate.

Contact the Newgate School for more information on how your donation could benefit the lives of others in the community.

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How to Choose the Right Motor Oil for Your Car


Choosing the right oil is vitalYou probably realize that motor oil is essential for any vehicle. Oil is what lubricates and cools your car's moving engine parts while your vehicle is running. Without it, the engine in your car would lock up, which potentially causing major damage to your engine. Even if your engine doesn't have enough oil in the system or if the oil is too dirty, it could still cause engine problems.

Knowing that oil is crucial for your vehicle is one thing, but you should also know how to choose the right motor oil for your car.

There are two important factors when it comes to choosing motor oil for your car. One of them is something called viscosity, and the other is knowing what type of oil you need.

What is Viscosity?

When you look at a container of motor oil, it will have two numbers, along with the letter "W" and a dash. Here are some examples:

  • 5W-20
  • 10W-30
  • 0W-30

Viscosity is used to measure a liquid's resistance to flow and usually refers to its thickness. For example, water has low viscosity while honey has high viscosity. The molecular structure of a liquid also figures into how viscosity is measured. Because there is friction between the molecules of a fluid, viscosity determines how much energy is required to make a liquid flow.

All of this comes into play with motor oil. Something else that plays a huge role in how well motor oil flows through the engine is temperature. When it comes to the viscosity of motor oil, most people think the W stands for "Weight," but it actually stands for "Winter."

The number before the W refers to how well oil flows at 0 degrees F. The lower the number, the less chance it has of getting too thick in colder temperatures. The number after the W refers to how oil flows at 212 degrees F. The higher the number, the less chance it has of becoming too thin in warmer temperatures.

How do you know which viscosity to use for your car? One way to know is to look at the owner's manual for your vehicle. However, if you live in areas where the winters are freezing cold but the summers are very hot, you may want to switch your oil from season to season accordingly.

What Are the Different Types of Oil?

Besides knowing which viscosity of motor oil to use, you'll also need to know what type of oil your car needs.

  • Conventional: Most people use this type of oil for their vehicles, and it is usually recommended for engines with a basic design.
  • Synthetic: Chemically engineered, this type of motor oil contains fewer impurities and more additives. It is often recommended in climates with extreme changes in temperature.
  • Synthetic blend: A blend of conventional and synthetic oil that works well in lower temperatures, this type of oil is better able to resist oxidation.
  • High Mileage: This oil is designed specifically for vehicles that have over 75,000 miles on the engine.

It's also important to note that while conventional motor oil is fairly common, some car companies, such as BMW, recommend that only synthetic oil is used.

When Should the Oil Be Changed?

In the past, mechanics have recommended changing the oil every 3,000 miles. However, in recent years, it has been proven that some vehicles can go 7,500 before an oil change. If, however, you drive in what are considered "severe conditions," such as driving in stop-and-go traffic in hot weather, you may want to continue changing it every 3,000 miles.

To learn more about proper car maintenance, take a moment to look through our other blog posts. If you are thinking about getting a different vehicle, consider donating your old one to Newgate School.

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