Where Can Newgate School Take You?

10/10/2018



Newgate School is all about transformation – both for the auto donations we receive and the incredible students we are able to teach. Each class of students is made of young men and women who are interested in mechanic training and want to make a change in their life. Some left high school before graduating and want to find a career. Others are learning English and auto skills simultaneously. Most find that the low student-teacher ratio and apprenticeship approach is where they really thrive.

Diverse, passionate, and goal-oriented, each Newgate class receives a year and a half of auto body training or auto mechanic training. Additionally, the faculty provides personalized instruction on the soft skills needed to create a successful career.

Today, Newgate graduates are auto body technicians and mechanics at shops like:
• Midas Roseville
• Fridley Auto Body
• Abra Auto Body
• Morrie’s Bodyworks
• Latuff Brothers Auto Body
Additionally, many students end up in jobs such as:
• Painting large furnace/air conditioning systems across the country
• Building complex concrete pump engines
• Performing aviation mechanics at MSP
• Painting products for an international airline vehicle supplier
• Repairing and maintaining taxi radios and electronics
Our students’ success speaks for itself. “I'd hire more Newgate grads in a minute," said one employer of our mechanic school’s graduates.

If you or someone you know is interested in mechanic training or auto body classes, consider Newgate’s two certification programs – Auto Body Technician and Auto Mechanics. "If you like figuring out how mechanical things work and enjoy a challenge, you will have a good career in auto mechanics," says Mike Scott, a Newgate instructor. "With over 4 million cars in Minnesota alone, there’s sure to be a mechanic’s job for you!"

Unlike other trade schools, Newgate is funded through local car donations and restorations, giving each student the ability to have a free education that consistently delivers strong job placements. Learn more or start your application by connecting with Transportation Manager Dennis Dunn at 612 378-0177. 

Students at Newgate School


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Your Donations At Work

11/20/2017


Meet Vicki, the most recent recipient of a vehicle from Newgate's Wheels For Women program. Vicki is a full-time working mom of 2 who recently separated from her children's father. "It was difficult starting on the road to self sufficiency after being in a completely dependent relationship. There was so much I needed to learn. I was left high and dry without a vehicle or funds to support myself and my children."

 "I started a full time job, but had to find ways to get to work each day. Not knowing whether I would find transportation to get to work or to bring my children to the sitter was one of the hardest parts about not having a vehicle. Doctor's appointments, and trips to the grocery store needed to be planned accordingly. It meant walking to our destination, borrowing someone's vehicle or finding a ride from a family member. It was definitely a struggle."

Her sister was aware of their situation and told her about Newgate's Wheels For Women program. "I have never owned my own vehicle before.  I am so grateful for the Wheels program at Newgate because I can now say I have a vehicle to call my own. I am able to take my children to the sitters, get to work each day, drop the kids at basketball practice, make doctor's appointments etc. It has changed our lives tremendously."

Newgate students who work to repair and refurbish these vehicles are really proud to be able to "pay it forward" as well. The program provides them with tuition free training and they are able to provide single working moms with reliable vehicles at no cost. As one of our students said "This is the best part about the entire Newgate program." Vicki defintely agrees! She said "When picking up the car, I was filled with joy and disbelief.  I could not believe that I was being handed a vehicle to call my own. Words cannot express how grateful I am. I appreciate you all at Newgate for helping me and my family out with a vehicle.  It has been life changing."


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Simple Ways to Maintain the Value of Your Vehicle

10/5/2017


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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Commercial Car Wash Vs. Self Car Wash: Which Should You Choose?

3/8/2017


Car being washedEvery month or so, it's time to give your car a good wash. But the question arises: should you wash your car at home or in a commercial car wash?

Commercial car washes and self car washes each offer different advantages and drawbacks. Here are several factors to consider.

Quality of the Wash

Washing your car yourself has some drawbacks. Your hose simply doesn't generate enough water pressure to remove tough dirt. Also, the towels, rags, and sponges you use can spread particles that scratch your car's paint.

But are commercial car washes actually more effective than self car washes? Commercial car washes offer many thorough washing options, from in-bay automatic machines to tunnel wash systems. One drawback is the water spots sometimes left behind by commercial air dryers.

Commercial car washes are typically stronger and more comprehensive than self car washes. However, washing your car by hand lets you address all the little details that a quick commercial car wash might ignore.

Impact on the Car

In the past, many people thought commercial car washes harmed their cars. They feared that the harsh brushing could damage a car's finish. Fortunately, modern improvements to commercial car wash equipment reduce the likelihood of car damage. Many car washes use softer brushes and devices that spray water rather than directly touching the car.

Washing your car yourself can lead to damage. Some people make the mistake of using dishwashing detergent, which can leave residue and remove wax. Plus, if you wash your car in direct sunlight, you can burn spots in the paint.

You're probably less likely to harm your car if you use a commercial car wash, as long as you choose a car wash without rough brushes.

Impact on the Environment

When you wash your car yourself, the water runs down your driveway and into your storm drain. Metals and sediment from your car travel through this water, polluting the water and endangering wildlife. On the other hand, commercial car washes trap these contaminants in a drain. The contaminants are then removed by a water treatment system.

Thus, commercial car washes are safer for the environment than self car washes.

Cost

Basic commercial car washes cost between $5 and $30. The price increases based on other services, including vacuuming, waxing, and detailing. More expensive companies are mobile car wash services that bring their equipment to your home. While commercial car wash costs usually aren't astronomical, they can add up over time.

Washing your car on your own is very affordable. You do need to pay for the equipment, such as the soap, sponges, and microfiber cloth. Your water bill may increase slightly, depending on how much water you use to rinse your car. However, in the long run, self car washes are still cheaper than commercial car washes.

Time

A commercial car wash takes about 10 minutes, while a self car wash can take up to an hour. No matter which automatic wash you choose, it's sure to save you time and hassle.

When all the factors are weighed, commercial car washes are generally your better option. However, they can be costly and they lack a certain personal touch. It's probably a good idea to rotate between commercial washing and hand washing.

If you want an option that's a cross between the two, a self-serve car wash is a good bet. You park your car in a station, where you can pay for soap and a water rinse. You may even be able to choose options like car vacuums and wax. You then do the washing work yourself.

Make sure to wash your car about once a month to keep it clean and attractive. If it's time to trade in your car, donate it to Newgate School.   Your car provides our responsible students with hands-on automotive training.


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Maintaining Your Windshield: A Timeline

2/17/2017


Your windshield is one of the most important safety devices in your car. Not only does it shield you from the wind, but it protects you from flying debris. It also keeps you inside the car during a car accident, protecting you from injury.

However, your windshield requires some work on your part. Follow this timeline to keep it in top condition.Windshield care for your vehicle

Weekly: Clean Your Windshield

Streaks and stains on your windshield impact visibility, so it's important to clean your windshield as often as possible. Fortunately, the cleaning process is simple:

  1. Spray half your windshield's exterior with glass cleaner. Wipe it with a microfiber rag in a straight, up-and-down motion.
  2. Wipe the same half again in a straight, right-to-left motion.
  3. Repeat on the other side of your windshield.
  4. With a new microfiber rag, move your hand in a circular motion until you've buffed the entire windshield.
  5. Now it's time to clean the windshield interior. Put some towels on the dashboard to shield it from the spray.
  6. Spray a few squirts of windshield cleaner on a scrub pad, and a few squirts on the windshield itself. Wipe one half of the interior windshield in a straight, up-and-down motion.
  7. Repeat for the other half of the windshield.
  8. Wipe off any remaining glass cleaner with a dry microfiber rag.

This process ensures that you cover every inch of the windshield without leaving streaks behind. If your windshield needs a touchup, use the provided squeegee at the gas station each time you gas up.

Every Few Months: Top Off Windshield Wiper Fluid

Your windshield wiper fluid cleans dirt and bugs from your windshield as you drive. However, you don't want to run out of it when you need it most-so make sure the windshield wiper fluid level remains high.

Check your windshield wiper fluid level at least every few months. You should also check it during times when you use it more often, such as periods of rainy weather. You can find the fluid reservoir by looking under your hood for a symbol that looks like windshield wipers. The reservoir should have a line indicating how high to fill it.

Add more fluid by unscrewing the cap and placing a funnel over the reservoir's opening. Pour windshield wiper fluid through the funnel until the fluid level reaches the fill line. Finally, replace the cap.

Every Year: Replace Windshield Wipers

If your wiper blades leave streaks on your windshield or if they make loud noises, it's time to replace them. An auto mechanic can install fresh wiper blades.

As Needed: Get Cracks and Chips Repaired

A chip or crack in your windshield isn't just unsightly. It can compromise the integrity of your windshield glass, putting your safety at risk. You may be able to fix tiny chips with an at-home repair kit. But to ensure the highest quality repairs, your best bet is to take it to an auto repair shop. Many car insurance plans cover crack or chip repair and replacement.

Auto repair shops can typically repair chips that are an inch or smaller in diameter or cracks that are three inches long or less. For larger, more complex chips and cracks, you may need to get your windshield replaced. This also applies if the chip or crack is near the end of the windshield, where it could compromise the windshield's integrity.

An auto mechanic can evaluate your windshield and determine whether repair or replacement is required. You can't afford to neglect your windshield, so follow this timeline to keep it clean and intact.

Keep reading our blog for more car care advice. If you'd like to donate your old car, contact us today.


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Your Vehicle Has Served You Well for Many Years

1/30/2017


But as the New Year approaches, you're thinking of finally achieving your goal to buy a new vehicle.
One of your most important decisions is which year of vehicle to purchase, especially if you’re leaning towards a used car instead of a new one. If you don't get a new car, how old of a car should you buy? Here are some benefits and drawbacks of buying a car from different time periods.


1990s
You may be able to find a reliable car from the 1990s, but buying a car from this time period has some risks.
The car may be nearing the end of its life cycle, so you may end up with the same problems you incurred with your old vehicle. Depending on its mileage and how it's been treated over the years are critical to determining how it will last into the future.  If you find a car that's been driven hundreds of thousands of miles with little maintenance, you may end up spending as much on repairs as the vehicles cost. 
Plus, keep in mind that it can be difficult to find replacement parts for cars from the 1990s. These cars' repairs are most likely no longer covered by a warranty either.
Also, a 1990s car might not have all the safety features you're looking for. After all, side airbags and anti-lock brakes didn't become common until the late 1990s. Dual airbags weren't federally mandated until 1998.
In conclusion, if you are purchasing a car from the 1990's you are taking some risks that are inherent to vehicles of that age. There are many cars out there that have had exceptional care, and have reasonable miles. Find one of these!  It is best to test drive the car and listen for suspicious noises, abnormal tire wear, and weak suspensions.  These are signals that you may have to invest in future repairs.
 

2000s
If you plan to buy a car from the 2000s, make sure it has been cared for over the years. It is a good idea to look online to learn about known problems for certain models.  Regular maintenance is probably the most important indicator of the car's longevity—perhaps even more important than age or mileage. Thus, make sure you get an inspection on the car before you buy it. Especially important in the northern states is to inspect the bottom side of the car for rust.  Safety items such as brake lines run underneath the car and are susceptible to failure from exposure to salt found on roadways.
There are plenty of cars from the 2000s that are still in great shape. You just need to do your homework to make sure you're getting a solid deal.
 

2013 to 2016
Many people consider this the "sweet spot" of car buying. Various auto experts recommend that you buy a car that's two or three years old. Many believe that this range of used cars, two- and three-year-old cars are the most reliable.
Cars lose most of their value during their first three years on the road. That means that a two- or three-year-old car provides the best return per dollar spent. Thus, you can afford a better make and model that offers more features than you would if you bought a new car. A consideration many car buyers overlook is that used cars are less expensive to insure.
 

New
The major benefit to buying a new car is that it should last for many years. You will be in control of the maintenance history from day one, therefore will have a huge impact on the car's life span.  Car experts say that today's cars can easily drive 100,000 miles without major problems. Another benefit of new cars is that you can choose the latest features, such as heated and ventilated seats, panoramic sunroofs, and voice activation.
You'll likely pay much more for a new car than you would for a car that's just a year or two old. Along with the cost of your car payments, don't forget about taxes and fees, registration, and gas and maintenance costs.  So, if you are looking for a new vehicle, consider making your purchase when new models are arriving at the dealerships.  Year-end closeout pricing, coupled with low financing and warranty can make a new vehicle the right choice for you.

In summary, your budget will determine your personal preferences. If you are opting for a good used car, make sure you get it inspected before you buy.
If you wish to avoid the hassle of trading or selling your old vehicle, consider donating it to Newgate School where it can be refurbished and put back on the road.


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What Transportation Assistance Is and Why It’s Important

12/26/2016


Think back to your last bad day at work. Perhaps you slept through your alarm. You rushed to get ready, hopped into your car, and then hit bumper-to-bumper traffic. When you finally arrived at work, your boss was furious at your tardiness. Your clients left multiple voicemails and emails for you to return immediately. You were putting out figurative fires all day long, then you drove home.

Now, imagine you didn't have a car. Imagine that the only house you could afford to rent is so far from work that public transportation involves a two-hour round-trip commute. Your income, which is low, prevents you from being able to purchase your own automobile. Lastly, imagine that you have children who you want to be able to drop off and pick up from school.

With these transportation barriers, you may find it difficult to get yourself to work on time, handle your daily tasks, and still accomplish everything by the end of the day. Your employment opportunities may even be limited to the neighborhood where you live. How can you break out of this cycle? Below, we discuss how transportation assistance programs provide a solution.

How Transportation Assistance Programs Work and Who They Benefit

This alternative, bad day scenario is a common one for many people in the US. Transportation to and from work fundamentally helps them show up on time, which can allow them to retain consistent employment and pay their bills. Without reliable transportation, low-income people risk losing their jobs and limiting their earning potential. It's a major obstacle to financial stability.  

Transportation assistance programs offer a great solution. These nonprofit, government-funded, or charitable organizations offer low-cost or free vehicles to people experiencing financial hardship. In some cases, they also provide free repairs for a specific period of time.

To benefit from transportation assistance programs, applicants have to meet certain income standards. They also need to find a nonprofit organization, government agency, or charity whose mission is to help them.

For example, some transportation assistance programs focus on giving restored cars exclusively to military veterans. Other programs offer transportation assistance to victims of natural disasters or domestic violence. Some programs only help the elderly, the medically needy, or the homeless.

However, the vast majority of transportation assistance programs are geared toward helping the working poor. With a free or affordable vehicle, low-income workers not only get transportation to and from work but they also have the ability to travel farther from home, opening up their overall employment opportunities. Over time, these efforts can break the cycle of poverty in rural and inner-city areas where public transportation is limited or nonexistent.

How You Can Join Transportation Assistance Efforts

Transportation assistance programs rely on car donations. When you donate your car, these organizations fix them up and then give them to qualified individuals two to three times a month.

If you're interested in combating poverty in your area, donate an older vehicle to a local transportation assistance program. In addition to giving a low-income family much-needed transportation, you will also receive a sizeable tax deduction for this donation.

The Newgate School runs Wheels for Women, a transportation assistance program for single mothers in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties.

We select low-maintenance models from the vehicle donations we receive; use them to train low-income young adults in auto mechanics; and provide them to single, working mothers as a means of reliable transportation. Our program has helped countless moms get to work, keep their jobs, and bring their kids to school. If you're interested in donating your car to us, contact us today at contact@newgateschool.org.


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Way to Winterize: 8 Steps to Prepare Your Car for Cold Weather

9/26/2016


As the weather changes, your car's functionality may change too. To ensure that your car maintains its fuel efficiency, performance, and safety, you must take steps to winterize the vehicle.

Most vehicle owners find that the best time to prepare their vehicles for winter is at the start or at the middle of the fall season, before temperatures drop and stay low for months at a time.

In this blog, we list eight important steps in winterizing your car.

1. Change the Oil

Your engine relies on oil to run smoothly. When the weather gets cold, oil can thicken and gum up the works. Your car may need a different type of oil in the winter months to maintain optimal performance. Opt for a high-quality, winter-friendly oil to keep your engine running efficiently.

2. Check the Tire Pressure

At the end of summer or the beginning of fall, make checking your tire pressure a regular part of your maintenance routine. When the weather gets cold, the pressure in your tires can drop, reducing your traction on slick roads. Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommended pressure to ensure safe driving and precise handling.

3. Consider a Tire Change

If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, consider switching out your current set of tires for snow tires. Snow tires are designed to stay flexible in cold weather. This characteristic ensures that snow tires grip the road more effectively. If you don't want to switch over to snow tires, make sure that you have snow chains that are in good condition and that you know how to use them.

4. Have the Battery Inspected

A cold spell can weaken your battery. If your car battery is three years old or older, take your car in and have the mechanic test the battery strength. If your battery is weak, it could die when the cold weather strikes. Replace the battery to avoid jump-starting in the snow or becoming stranded.

5. Put Together a Winter Kit

In the summer, you may keep water bottles, sunscreen, and a basic emergency in your car. In the winter, you should expand your kit. Include a snow shovel, snow scraper, extra coat, blankets, and tire chains. You may also want to carry extra coolant, antifreeze, and washer fluid. As you expand your kit, take the time to replace any medical or automotive supplies you used up over the summer.

6. Replace the Windshield Wiper Blades

Visibility is particularly essential during the winter. Most windshield wiper blades last about a year. Autumn is a great time to replace your wipers each year since it usually represents a lull between spring and summer rain and winter snow.

7. Schedule a Belt Assessment

Cold makes materials more brittle and, therefore, more likely to break. When you go in for your oil change, have your belts and hoses looked at by a mechanic. Normal wear and tear can turn into a major problem with the help of low temperatures so it's better to handle replacements before the winter.

8. Top Off All Fluids

In addition to your oil change, you'll probably need to switch your fluids over to low-temperature varieties. Check your coolant, antifreeze, and windshield wiper fluid levels in the beginning or middle of fall. Top off each fluid with a version that won't freeze when it gets cold.


Use this list to ensure that your daily commute, holiday travels, and routine errands aren't interrupted when the temperature begins to fall. Consult with a mechanic and read over your owner's manual for specific recommendations for your make and model.


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Dirty Car Upholstery? Clean It in 4 Steps

9/16/2016


Your car is essential. It gets you to work, the grocery store, doctor's appointments, and wherever else you need to go. If you have kids, you probably use your car even more often as you drive them to all of their school events and activities.

As great as your car is, with all this running around, it can get dirty quickly, especially if you have pets or kids. You may not love sitting on a grease-covered seat multiple times every day. If you need to give your car's fabric-upholstered seats a good cleaning, keep reading. This blog can teach you how to do the job.

1. Prepare

First, pick a warm, sunny day to wash your seats. That way, the sun will dry the seats for you when you're done cleaning. Next, clean out your car. If you have booster seats, papers, or other objects laying around on the seats, get rid of them so that you can get your work done.

Before washing the seats, you'll need to remove any debris, like hair, crumbs, and lint. A vacuum is the best tool for the job. Use a handheld vacuum or a hose-and-brush attachment on your regular vacuum. Make sure to get into the cracks so that nothing gets left behind.

2. Find or Make a Cleaning Solution

You have several options for what to use to clean the fabric. You can always buy a product specifically made for cleaning fabric, or you can make your own solution. Be warned that while making your own solution is cheaper, it may not be as strong as a store-bought cleaner, though most car seats will not need harsh chemicals anyway.

If you want to make your own fabric cleaner, you have several options. Basically, you need to make a soap and water solution. People have had success with dish soap, laundry detergent, and even shaved pieces from a bar of hand soap. Whichever kind of soap you use, mix it with hot water. Use about a tablespoon of soap per cup of water.

Put whatever solution you buy or make in a spray bottle. Before you start cleaning, spray a little bit on an inconspicuous piece of upholstery so you can see if it will discolor or damage your car seat. If it looks okay, you can move on to the next step.

3. Spray and Scrub

Spray down whichever seat you want to start cleaning first. However, don't be too enthusiastic-if the seat gets soaked, it may get moldy. You don't want to wet the seat through. Just get the top layer of cloth wet.

Once you've finished spraying, grab a scrubbing brush with soft bristles. Don't grab a stiff one, or you could hurt your upholstery. Using short strokes, scrub the car seat, focusing on any areas that are particularly stained or dirty.

The soap and dirt will bubble up as you scrub. Use a wet microfiber rag or towel to wipe off the grime and rinse the area, then use a clean, dry microfiber towel to wipe off any extra water. Once you've finished the seat you started with, you can spray and scrub the next one.

4. Let It Dry

Once you've finished scrubbing and wiping your seats, they will still be damp. This dampness is fine-- after all, you picked a sunny day to do this chore, remember? Just leave your windows down and let the sun do its job.

 

If you take the time to clean your car's seats, you'll have a much more enjoyable time driving. To learn more about taking care of your car so that it stays in great shape, read more of our blog posts.


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4 Instances of Maintenance Neglect That Can Harm Your Car

9/9/2016


You use your car quite a bit. For every commute, road trip, or errand run, you hop in your car and go on your merry way. But an unexpected problem can easily throw a wrench into your routine or plans, causing frustration and stress. Oftentimes, these unplanned issues come from neglected maintenance and repairs.

To keep your car in good shape, avoid the four following mistakes. Ignoring necessary maintenance can be dangerous and eventually lead to worse problems.

1. Overlooking Tire Care

For the safety of yourself and your passengers, it's imperative that you regularly care for your tires. Bald tires can be especially dangerous during inclement weather, as the surface of the tire doesn't provide enough traction to keep you safely on the road. Be sure to check the tread regularly so you know when your tires need to be replaced.

You can do this easily with a penny. Simply press the edge of the penny into the tread with Lincoln's head facing downwards. If you can see his entire head, it may be time to change your tires. Until then, get your tires rotated every six months or so to prolong the life of your tires and allow an even wear on the tires.

Also, ensure your tire pressure is up to par. Over- or underinflated tires can be dangerous. You can find the suggested tire pressure for your car in your owner's manual, and you can use a tire pressure gauge to check the pressure. If you need a little air, use an air pump at your local gas station.

2. Ignoring the Fluids

Most car owners know how important oil is for a car, but it's not the only automotive fluid you need to worry about. Consult your owner's manual to find out when your brake or transmission fluid needs to be changed and when your oil, coolant, and other fluids should be replaced. If you take your car in for regular maintenance, your mechanic can also warn you when a fluid needs to be changed.

If you neglect to change the fluids, a small issue can easily become large and expensive over time. Failing to change the fluids can even damage your engine so badly that you need to replace it entirely, which can be costly.

3. Letting Dirt Build Up on Your Car

Washing your car does more than restore it to its shining glory. Giving it a good scrub every now and then can protect your paint job from problems like rust, oxidized paint, and corrosion. If it's too cold outside to wash your car yourself, run it through an automated car wash to rinse off road salt and dirt.

4. Ignoring Signs of Trouble

As the owner of your car, you know your car better than anyone else. You know how it sounds, smells, and feels as you drive it. If your vehicle starts to make a small, odd noise, don't ignore it. If it suddenly struggles to make it up a hill it usually handles easily, don't brush it off. When you notice something different about your car, take note of it and consult a trusted mechanic to ensure it's not a concern.

If the check engine light comes on, don't disregard it, even if your car seems fine. You may need a part replaced, and letting it be can lead to more expensive and extensive issues.

 

Don't ignore regular maintenance; keep a careful eye on your vehicle and set up a care routine for your car. Check your tires and fluids, and don't brush aside the dashboard warning lights. And if you're worried something is wrong but don't know what, be sure to consult a specialist instead of shrugging it off.

However, if your car looks like it may be on its last legs, or if you're thinking of getting a new car, consider donating your car to Newgate School. Doing so can allow young adults to learn how to maintain and repair cars and pursue a career in the industry.


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Is It Time to Retire Your Old Car?

9/2/2016


Are you trying to squeeze a few more miles out of your old, unreliable car? Many people hold on to old cars because they enjoy not having a car payment. Others hesitate to buy a new car because they don't think they will qualify for a decent car loan.

Despite the reasons you are putting off retiring your old car, there will come a time when it is necessary. The decision shouldn't be made lightly. You and your family's safety could be at risk if you continue to use an old, unreliable vehicle.

Here are some signs that it's time to replace your car.

The Car Isn't Safe

Are you nervous that your car will break down every time you drive it? If so, you should consider buying a safer vehicle. Unreliable cars could leave you or your family stranded by the roadside. Older cars can also cause accidents because of a system malfunction. When you drive an unsafe vehicle, you not only put your safety at risk but also the safety of other drivers as well.

If you notice jerking movements while driving your vehicle, or the speed of your vehicle randomly slows, it may be time to get a new car.

The Cost of Repairs Exceeds Your Vehicle's Value

If you are frequently taking your car to the shop for repairs to avoid buying a new car, you may be wasting money. Sometimes, frequent or costly repairs end up being more expensive than buying a new car.

Some car models are known to be less trouble than others. You may be able to avoid similar problems in the future by researching reliable car models before purchasing a new vehicle.

The Fuel Tank Drains Quickly  

Car manufacturers are constantly improving fuel efficiency in newer cars, whereas older cars tend to have poorer fuel economy.

Identify the fuel efficiency of your current vehicle. If you are spending more money on fuel than you would on a new car payment each month, consider buying a more fuel-efficient car. Otherwise, you will likely waste money by frequently fueling your vehicle.

The Car Doesn't Work With Your Current Lifestyle

There are many changes in life that may require a new vehicle. For example, the old beater car you used to commute to work with may not be the best car for you to take your family on a road trip. Other life events may include a new addition to your family, all of your children moving away, a new job, or losing a car in an accident.

The Service Engine Light is Frequently On

If you have started to ignore the lit service engine light because it's always on, you may need to retire your old car. The service engine light on many cars can be checked to determine any necessary repairs. However, if repairs are made and the light remains lit, the light may be failing to function properly. Such a failure will not allow your vehicle to alert you when there are serious problems with your engine.

You may also have other dashboard lights that remain lit in your car. If so, seek the help of a mechanic. If he or she can't fix the problem, consider looking for a new car.

The Vehicle's Current Safety Features Are Outdated

Modern vehicles are much safer than older vehicles. Most new car models have safety technologies and features that can even decrease your chances of getting in an accident. Some features warn the driver of hazards; other features can automatically stop a car to avoid an accident.

Here are some examples of safety features included in many newer vehicles:

  • Rear Back-up camera
  • Electronic stability control (ESC)
  • Curtain airbags
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Blind-spot monitoring

Consider buying a new car to take advantage of these beneficial safety features. Even if you don't buy a brand new car, many cars built within the last five years still have many of these safety features.

If you noticed one or more of these signs, consider donating your old car to Newgate School. Not only will you benefit from a new car, but the students at Newgate will have an opportunity to learn from the damages on your old car.


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Going on a Road Trip? 7 Things to Have a Mechanic Check Before You Go

8/25/2016


When you think of your upcoming road trip, you want to picture a clear blue sky and miles of open road. You don't want to think about your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere.

To ensure your car stays in top form throughout your trip, take your car to a mechanic at least three weeks before you go. Ask your mechanic to check the following.

1. Tires

A tire blowout is one of the most common car problems during a long trip. Ask your mechanic to look for tears or punctures in your tires that could cause your tire to lose air.

Similarly, worn tires make it difficult to stop. As your tire tread wears down over time, your tires might struggle to stop your car, especially in rain or snow.

A mechanic can determine how much tread is left in your tires and let you know if you need to replace them. Experts recommend that you replace your tires if they have a tire depth of 4/32 inches or less.

2. Brakes

Just as worn tires make it difficult to stop, worn brake pads can make braking scary and dangerous. Brake pads may require replacement at anywhere between 25,000 and 70,000 miles. The time to replace them depends on factors such as your vehicle make and model and your driving style. Have your mechanic check the brake pads and determine whether to replace them.

Let your mechanic know if you've noticed any issues with your brakes, such as funny noises. It's better to address any issues now rather than dealing with problems during your long drive.

3. Battery

Most car batteries last around three years. If your battery is older than three years or you've had any problems starting your car, it's probably time to get a new battery.

However, some battery problems can be repaired. Have the mechanic check the battery for problems such as corrosion, leaks, and a swollen battery case.

4. Fluids

You know the importance of changing your oil. But there are other types of fluid you should get checked as well. These include:

  • Brake fluid
  • Coolant
  • Power steering fluid
  • Radiator coolant
  • Transmission fluid
  • Windshield washer fluid

Having the proper level of these fluids can help you avoid mechanical problems.

5. Lights and Wipers

Have the mechanic check whether your headlights and tail lights are functioning fully. If you're driving in the evening, dim headlights can be dangerous-and illegal.

Malfunctioning wipers can also impact your visibility. If your wiper blades make noise or just don't do their job, it's time to get them replaced.

6. Air Filter

Your car's air filter keeps particles and debris from entering your engine. If it becomes clogged, it can no longer do its job. Ask your mechanic to check it and clean it if necessary.

7. Air Conditioning

A malfunctioning air conditioning system can make a summer road trip miserable. Possible problems include:

  • Clogged air filter
  • Blown fuse
  • Bad clutch
  • Leak

Have your mechanic repair any issues now, so you can stay comfortable during your hours in the car.

 

Make sure to set an appointment with your mechanic a few weeks before you leave. You shouldn't have to delay your trip because of a major problem that needs repair.

Right before your trip, check your tire pressure and your fluid levels. Also make sure you have a spare tire and an emergency kit that includes food, medical supplies, and a blanket. Join a roadside assistance program, or at least find out who you can call if you get in a pinch.

Call a mechanic today and enjoy a safe trip!


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Considering Donating Your Car? Understand How Your Donation Benefits Others

8/25/2016


Are you ready to buy a new car? Great! Now the question is what to do with the car you currently own.

If your car is repairable and has a reasonable amount of miles, donating your car is a great way to go. Donating can benefit you and benefit an automotive school like Newgate School in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Schools like Newgate use your donated car, van, or truck like a textbook. Students learn automotive repair skills directly from the vehicles.

You will receive charitable deductions on your donation. If you donate to a charity that actually uses the car in its mission, you can receive the highest deduction available, a fair market tax deduction.

But perhaps the biggest advantage to donating your car is the benefits it provides others. In this blog, we’ll tell you exactly how donating your car can benefit other individuals. Read on to discover why you should donate your vehicle rather than sell it.

Your Donated Car Provides Youth With Educational Opportunities

Automotive schools, like Newgate School, accept donated cars and use them to provide young adults with educational opportunities. Depending on their circumstances, some low-income young adults may not have the opportunity to receive a higher education.

However, your donated car provides them with a key material they need to learn auto body and mechanical repair skills. Over a course of 18 months or so, students in these programs will learn basic skills they need to become apprentices in the auto repair industry. These vocational skills allow them to be more successful as they pursue a career in automotive work.

You’ll find Newgate School graduates employed as mechanics at a cement pump manufacturer and at the airport support vehicle maintenance shop. You’ll meet them painting small jets, repairing bus engines, or painting fire trucks. You’ll see them at your local mechanic shops, too. They’re everywhere, thanks to Minnesotans helping Minnesotans.

Your Donated Car Assists Single Mothers in Need

Once students repair your donated car, the vehicle’s usefulness continues to grow. Many donated, repaired vehicles are given to single mothers who struggle with their circumstances. Many of these mothers are trying to become self-sufficient, but they may lack the resources to do so.

To receive a donated, repaired vehicle, a single mother must meet a few requirements:

  • She must be a single mother with one or more dependent, school-aged children.
  • She needs to have a full-time job that she has held for at least six months.
  • Her annual income must be less than $35,000.
  • She must have proof of car insurance to protect the vehicle.
  • She cannot own any other vehicles.

If a woman meets these requirements, she can apply to receive a complimentary vehicle that allows her to more easily support herself and her children. While not every applicant is chosen to receive a vehicle, those who do are able to be more self-sufficient.

Your Donated Car Can Aid Your Community

Minnesota has only a few locally based charities that take car donations, but many national charities collect cars here and send the proceeds outside of the state. Consider the location of the charity’s headquarters before you donate.

At Newgate School, all proceeds from the sale of donated and/or refurbished vehicles stay right here in Minnesota. Minnesotans helping Minnesotans—what a good thing!

Some car donation programs open up opportunities for folks struggling to make a future for themselves. Some haven’t performed well in traditional schools. Others are immigrants who find English challenging but respond well to hands-on automotive training. Some are young military veterans, some injured, who need job skills to re-enter civilian life. And there are others whose lack of skills has limited their potential earnings to minimum wage.

These low-income young people thrive in tuition-free automotive career schools. The possible ways your donated car assists your community are truly endless.

Ready to Donate Your Vehicle?

As outlined above, donating your car not only benefits you greatly, but it also benefits others around you. To get started with the donation process, get in touch with a representative from Newgate School. We accept cars of any make, model, and year as long as the vehicle is in repairable condition.

When you donate your car, you truly do impact the lives of other people. Choose to donate your vehicle and see just how much this choice can benefit your entire community. 


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What You Need to Know About Taxes After Donating Your Car

8/18/2016


What You Need to Know About Taxes After Donating Your Car

There are many benefits you can receive after donating a car. Along with knowing you’ve helped another person, you will also be eligible to receive a tax deduction. If you are interested in receiving a tax deduction after donating your car, you will need to do some homework in order to get the deduction.

Here are some tasks you will need to complete to receive your tax deduction.

Find a Charity

First, find one or several possible charities where you could donate your vehicle. Ask coworkers, friends, family, and neighbors, or you might try your favorite mechanic for a reference. Be sure to search online, too.

Once you have found the name of a charity, look at its website. Then call the charity and ask for the transportation manager. Tell him or her about the vehicle you wish to donate, and ask how the charity will use your vehicle. The use is the key to learning what deductions you can expect.

Determine the Value of Your Vehicle

If your car is worth more than $500, the value of your car will depend on what your chosen charity plans to do with the vehicle. However, you can expect a minimum deduction of $500 when you donate any vehicle.

If a charity plans to sell your donated vehicle, then your deduction is the gross proceeds the charity will make from the sale. Once a charity sells your car, they will send you the receipt of the purchase, indicating the amount you can claim on your deduction. This receipt must contain the following information:

  • The gross proceeds from the sale
  • The date the car sold
  • A statement that says that your deduction can’t exceed the gross proceeds
  • A statement that says the car was sold between unrelated parties in an arm’s length transaction

Your chosen charity must provide you with the receipt and statements within 30 days after the car sold.

If your chosen charity doesn’t sell donated cars as part of its mission, you can use your car’s fair market value. You will use this same method to value your car if the charity donates your car for less than it’s worth or intends to use your vehicle. If your car qualifies under one of these circumstances, you will need a statement from your chosen charity verifying the use of your car.

Keep in mind that you are responsible to provide documentation if the IRS decides to audit your donation.

Complete Necessary Paperwork

One of the most common situations that the IRS chooses to audit is no-cash donations, which are donations that don’t involve giving money. Donors should keep detailed documentation as evidence after they donate a car.

Every donor will need to document the following information:

  • The name and address of the chosen charity
  • The date the vehicle was donated
  • A description of the vehicle
  • An acknowledgement from the charity

In addition to this documentation, people who donate cars that are worth more than $500 also need to fill out Form 8283, Section A. If a car is worth more than $5,000, the donor needs to fill out Form 8283, Section B. Cars that are worth more than $5,000 and meet one of the exceptions listed above will also need a written appraisal.  

Transfer the Title

The IRS usually recommends that donors personally transfer the title of car to the charity to avoid any confusion in the future. Most states require an individual to fill out a form through the state’s department of motor vehicles. This department will provide the donor with a statement that proves that the vehicle was donated.

Before you give your car to the charity, remove the license plate to avoid any potential liabilities. Also, make a copy of the car’s title for your records, and take pictures of your car before the donation.

Once you are ready to donate your car, ask the charity you’ve selected if they offer a towing or pickup service. If not, consider driving your car to the charity. You can help the charity save money on the donation by avoiding pickup or towing services.  

If you need assistance donating your car, the IRS does provide help. Visit www.irs.gov for more information regarding vehicle donation. Most charities also provide assistance to donors. Consult the charity you’ve selected if you have further questions about donating your vehicle.


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7 Steps to Prepare Your Car for Donation

8/11/2016


Vehicle donation represents one of the best ways to dispose of a car that no longer works for your lifestyle or needs without creating unnecessary waste. While the requirements for each form of donation differ, you can take these seven steps to prepare your car (and yourself) for the donation.

1. Check Your Charity’s Requirements
A charity which refurbishes and resells car parts will have different requirements than an automotive school. Check with your charity to get a checklist of any paperwork, repairs, and preparations required. You’ll find many common requirements on this list. However, it’s always a good idea to go over your charity’s policies so you know how the car will be transported, what paperwork to expect, and how your car will be used.

2. Find the Title and Prepare the Paperwork
Regardless of charity type, you will likely need to produce the title before donating the car. Put together a folder of important paperwork, including the title, title transfer form, and any accident history for the vehicle. If you still make payments on your car, you must complete a lien release form to transfer the loan to your charity. Check with your organization to see if they accept cars with liens on them. Fill out your paperwork carefully, as the DMV does not accept title forms with errors.

3. Have a Basic Checkup
If you are donating directly to a church or a person in need, consider having a basic inspection performed. Check the condition of basic components, such as the windows, wipers, lights, brakes, and tires. Double-check the condition requirements of your charity, and make any repairs accordingly. While many scrap charities take inoperable vehicles, charities that provide second-hand vehicles to those in need may ask you to perform simple maintenance tasks beforehand if you can.

4. Perform Any Needed Cleaning
Similarly, evaluate the cleanliness of your car and the purpose it will serve after donating. If you’re donating to a local cause, consider performing some standard cleaning before turning your car over. Remember, you do not need to deep-clean the vehicle unless required by the charity. Many organizations, such as automotive schools, perform and teach these cleaning methods after you donate the car.

5. Put Any and All Keys Together
For many car donation charities, all you need to donate is the car, the title, and the keys. Put all the keys you have, including a remote key fob if you have one, together on a single key ring. To help you keep track of the keys, keep them in the same place as your paperwork.

6. Remove All Personal Belongings
The last thing your charity wants is to end up with a pair of your sunglasses and a pack of gum along with your car. During your cleaning, give your car a once-over to ensure that you have removed all personal items. Be sure to check under the seats, floor mats, and dashboard for any hidden personal items.

7. Wait Until After the Donation to Cancel the Insurance
Your last step when donating a car is canceling the insurance. While the title still belongs to you, you should maintain your usual insurance to avoid any legal complications. Do not remove your license tags or cancel your insurance until you drop your car off or have your car picked up and the transfer is complete. Return your tags to your local DMV along with the relevant paperwork. Questions about our donation program? Contact a staff member here at the Newgate School to get answers to your specific questions. Perform these tasks so that when you donate your vehicle, you can do so without wondering if you left something behind or neglected to finish a piece of paperwork.


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