How do I prepare my vehicle for the winter season?

toyota-prius-on-snow-01That’s a great question! With the temperatures dropping to below freezing this past week, the Jaffarian Service Departments had customer inquiries about their tire pressure indicator light coming on. If that light comes on, it is likely due to the fluctuation in temperatures this time of year and in the spring. The indicator symbol looks like an exclamation point between parentheses or the letters TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system), it means your tire pressure is way too low. Like other gases, air contracts as it gets colder — and that means there’s less of it in your tires. Stop by and we can check your tire pressure for you and get you on your way!

Tire pressure (per square inch) drops between one and two pounds for every 10-degree decrease in temperature, and that can make a big difference. When the temperature is below freezing, your tires could be 5 to 10 pounds per square inch lower than they were in spring temperatures.

So even if you filled up to a comfortable PSI of 32 in the summer, your tires could have dropped as much as 25 percent in winter— which in most cars is enough to trigger a warning. So just put some more air in your tires, or stop by our Toyota Service or Volvo Service Department and we will help you fill those tires to their proper level.

We also recommend the following:

• While having your tire pressure checked, check for tread depth or uneven wear. If you’re going to buy new tires, this is the time of the year when you want the best tires, don’t wait until spring. (Next week I’ll discuss the need for snow tires vs. all-season tires.)

• Inspect all bulbs and lights and replace any that may be out. Clean the lens.Volvoxc90_winter_rear

• Check your exhaust system for any possible leaks and look for any holes in the floor boards or trunk. Have the exhaust system checked for carbon monoxide leaks, which can be especially dangerous during cold weather driving when windows are closed.

• Replace worn wiper blades and you may want to consider the heavy duty winter blades. Generally blades should be changed twice a year, but most people use the same blades for a couple of years. This can affect your visibility in a snow storm.

• Use cold-weather windshield washer and always carry an ice scraper and snow bush in addition to an extra gallon of windshield washer. Always nice to carry water and a blanket in case of an emergency. Browse our parts and accessories areas while you bring in your vehicle to get windshield washer fluid and a good, solid snow brush, which also make great stocking stuffers!

• Clean any corrosion from the battery and cables.

• Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system. This should be done at least every two years.

• Have your battery checked to see if it’s strong enough to make through the winter. Many Volvo owners report having the same battery for eight years, however, when your vehicle is more than four years old, have it tested, as you don’t want to be stuck in cold temperatures with a dead battery. The average battery life is four to five years. Both extremely cold and hot weather are hard on the battery, therefore, you may want to carry battery cables in the trunk. (Remember that if your battery needs replacing, you want to “Keep your Toyota a Toyota” and “Keep your Volvo a Volvo” by buying the correct battery from the manufacturer and having installed properly by a certified technician, as recommended by both Volvo and Toyota.)

• Be diligent about changing the oil and filter at recommended intervals. Dirty oil means trouble in winter. Be sure to use the recommended grade of oil and check the fuel, air and transmission filters at the same time.

• If you’re due for a tune-up, have it done as soon as possible as winter only magnifies existing problems such as pings, hard starts, sluggish performance or rough idling.

• Have the brakes checked since that is the vehicle’s most important safety item, especially in winter on icy or snow-covered roads.

Be sure that your vehicle is in tip-top shape for the cold winter ahead. If you’d like to bring it in to Jaffarian, feel free to call for an appointment for Toyota Service at 888-355-1041 or Volvo Service at 888-658-9023; or log-in here and book an appointment anytime online.

Stay warm and drive safely!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

What can I do to support National Impaired Driving Prevention Month?

partydrinkingDecember has been named National Impaired Driving Prevention Month (formerly Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month) to increase awareness of a recurring problem of drinking and driving, in a month where people are going to holiday and New Year’s Eve parties. It was renamed to shed light on a lesser known problem: driving while taking illegal drugs or prescription medications. Particularly in the case of prescription medications, most people believe if the physician prescribed it, then it must be okay to take the medication and operate a vehicle, though pharmacies often label prescriptions “do not operate machinery while taking this medication” without specifically mentioning driving.

President Obama recognizes this issue as a national problem and signed a Proclamation which includes the following: “Alcohol and drugs can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory — the skills critical for safe and responsible driving. And as mobile technology becomes ubiquitous, the distractions of texting and cell phone use continue to pose grave dangers on our roadways. Deaths caused by impaired driving are preventable and unacceptable, and my Administration is taking action to reduce and eliminate them. We continue to support the law enforcement officers who work to keep us safe and decrease impaired driving. To help save lives, States and local communities across our Nation will participate in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign from December 12 to January 1, reminding all Americans of their important responsibility.”

Based on the weight variable alone, a person’s blood alcohol content will likely be .08 or higher with the following quantities/time period:
• 110-129 lbs.: 2 drinks in an hour or less
• 130-149 lbs.: 3 drinks in 2 hours or less
• 170-189 lbs.: 4 drinks in 2 hours or less

(Massachusetts’ and New Hampshire’s maximum blood alcohol level is 0.08% and 0.02% if the driver is under 21 years of age. Driving under the influence of alcohol in Massachusetts is a crime that is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. In N.H. the first offense comes with a penalty of 10 days in jail, a fine of $500-750 and license suspension for 9-18 months.)

Though driving while under the influence of prescription medications may not be illegal, it can be as dangerous as drink driving. The impact of drugs on the brain is much the same as that of alcohol. “Drugs acting on the brain can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving.” Not only that, but “the effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the amount consumed, the history of the user, and other factors,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


What can you do to minimize the risk of accidents from drugs and alcohol?

1. Parents—speak to your children about the issue in a meaningful, heartfelt way. Let them know they can call you for a ride, even in the middle of the night, rather than take a risk driving with someone who is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. Teens and young adults often think “my parents will kill me…” and are afraid of getting in trouble, more than being afraid of what will really kill them.

2. Familiarize yourself and your adult children with the definition of a standard drink of each of the various alcoholic beverages, and how much they can drink for their weight before being at the legal limit.

3. Understand how alcohol changes the brain and why staying within low-risk drinking limits are so important. These limits, for example, help a person’s liver keep up with metabolizing the quantity of alcohol consumed and thereby allowing the person to stay in control of his/her brain and therefore his/her thoughts and actions.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) are in support of this national initiative. MADD has these holiday party tips to prevent accidents and potential deaths as a result:
1. Designate a sober driver before celebrations begin;
2. Plan safe parties, including providing non-alcoholic drink options to guests and not serving alcohol the last hour of the gathering;
3. Never serve alcohol to those under the age of 21;
4. If you’ve been drinking, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation;
5. If you see an impaired driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
6. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride with a driver who is impaired, take the driver’s keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Every one of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion wants you to enjoy the upcoming holiday season safely. Don’t be afraid to speak up to someone whose had too much to drink or is drowsy form the influence of medication or drugs. Do not ever get in a vehicle if you don’t feel safe, offer to drive if you are sober and take away the keys from a friend who should not be driving. Enjoy the food and conversation, limit your drinking and do not drink near the end of the evening before you drive home. Before leaving, have some more to eat and drink some coffee. If you’re not sure you’ll be safe, don’t drive—simple as that.

Help make it a safe month on the roads this holiday season.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

Any advice as we travel this holiday weekend?

Happy ThanksThis weekend is the beginning of the holiday season—filled with both joy and stress, families gathering around the Thanksgiving table with loved ones, and memories of Thanksgiving from our childhood. It’s a time to be thankful for family, friends, our successes and those of our children, the bounties before us as we gather for Thanksgiving dinner. I feel blessed for my wonderful children and am thankful for many things including continuing the business that my grandparents started more than 75 years ago. My brother, Mark, my two kids and I are thankful for our dedicated employees of Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion, and our loyal customers and business partners. It is time to step back and reflect, and most importantly, give thanks.

Thanksgiving is THE busiest travel weekend of the year with 41.3 million Americans traveling in vehicles. (The holiday “weekend” begins on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight on Sunday.) The National Safety Council is estimating 418 fatalities in the U.S. this weekend from crashes and 44,700 injuries. Those are staggering numbers.

Last Thanksgiving, I remember seeing the overhead road signs in New Hampshire counting the deaths from traffic fatalities, and while the numbers were in the single digits, I remember thinking: “one death is one too many. This is supposed to be the season to celebrate…” and I saw the number grow as the weekend continued.

Here are the most important safety tips to remember as you drive this weekend:kids in Volvo

• Buckle up…everyone, no exceptions! (The National Safety Council estimates that 153 lives will be saved from accident victims wearing seatbelts and 104 more lives will be saved if every traveler wears a seatbelt.)
• Be certain to restrain children and babies properly.
• Do not drink and drive, no matter how far you have to drive, no matter how little you’ve had to drink. (Last year there were 560 alcohol-related fatalities on this holiday weekend.)
• Refrain from using electronic devices, even hands-free devices.
• Plan ahead, drive defensively, especially in inclement weather.
• If you are drowsy from all the food you ate and the long day, stay overnight if at all possible. Even if it’s cold out, crack the window to help you stay alert, refrain from using the heat as it will make you sleepy, play loud music, sing and/or have a cup of coffee before you drive. If you feel too tired to drive, have someone else drive or take a nap.
is predicting a 90 percent chance of precipitation in our area on Wednesday with rain and/or snow from 5-8 inches. Thanksgiving Day predictions include 37 degrees with only 20% chance of precipitation and the rest of the weekend looks dry and cold. So please drive slowly, at the speed limit or less, depending on traffic, and allow extra time to arrive safely. Last year, 349 people from Massachusetts and 108 from New Hampshire were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Don’t become a statistic when the simple tips above can help save lives.

Let’s all work together to make this the safest holiday weekend in years. Your driving habits not only affect those in your vehicle, but all those families driving around you. I want you to arrive safely at your destination for Thanksgiving and return home safely. I wish each and every one of you and your families a very Happy Thanksgiving. Make it home safely so you can enjoy the full holiday season with your loved ones and get ready to head into the New Year!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

How did Toyota rank in Consumer Reports new report on the most reliable vehicles?

Scion xBAs most people know, Consumer Reports is the most unbiased publication in the country, as they accept no advertising, survey the most consumers and conduct tests by product experts under their nonprofit foundation. They just published their annual vehicle reliability report. It is the largest survey of its kind – generating 1.1 million responses. The highlights of the recent report included the following: “As in the past, most of the top 10 brands were Asian…Toyota leading the league the league by a comfortable margin.”

“One of the reasons Toyota manages to do that, we [Consumer Reports] believe, is that they introduce technologies slowly and on proven platforms…” meaning the new models are improved versions of the prior tried-and-true models. Though they pointed out many consumers are excited about the new vehicles that appear in the marketplace, they often don’t have the reliability of the proven models. Oftentimes, purchasing a new vehicle model in its original version proves to be the least reliable.

“Toyota and its sub-brands may not make the most fascinating cars on the block,” said Consumer Reports, “but they certainly hold up. If we looked at a list of the 10 most reliable new cars in our survey, nine of them would be a Toyota, Lexus [manufactured by Toyota] or Scion.”

“This year…the Scion xB hatchback (pictured above) was the most reliable new car…” with the top score in Most Reliable. Toyota Yaris, the sub-compact, also made the list. Most reliable hybrids included the Toyota Prius and Prius C, V, and Plug-In; and the Toyota Camry Hybrid. With five hybrids on the list, Toyota dominated the hybrid/electric cars category.

Toyota was also selected for most reliable mid-size cars for the Camry; most reliable mini-vans and wagons for the Toyota Sienna and Venza (V6 and 4-cylinder). Toyota was the only manufacturer with most reliable Midsized SUVs: the Highlander (V6) and 4Runner.

TundraAnd finally, the most reliable truck category listed only Toyota trucks: the Tundra (V8- 2WD and V8- 4WD) and the Tacoma (V6 2WD and 4-cylinder).

One of the biggest challenges identified for consumers highlighted by Consumer Reports was the technology, and in-car electronics. The capabilities of technology in vehicles is amazing, but the challenge can be headaches for the consumer. Two weeks ago in my Ask Gary column, we featured how Toyota’s Entune technology received accolades in a landmark AAA study for the lowest distraction level. Fortunately for Toyota owners, Toyota was not mentioned in the Consumer Reports’ study as one of the manufacturers causing consumer headaches due to its electronics. If you need help with the electronics in your vehicle or the Entune technology, please join us for our “How do I…” sessions in our showroom on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Thursdays from 5-7 p.m.

If there is one top 10 list, reliability report or survey to defer to, Consumer Reports is clearly one of the best due to its guaranteed objectivity. Just one more time that I am especially proud of the manufacturers we represent…as I am time and time again.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

Does the automotive industry do anything special to honor veterans?

VeteransDayVeteran’s today are honored everywhere, including in the automotive industry. However, before I get into the specifics to answer your question, I would like to say a very big THANK YOU to all U.S. veterans for risking their lives, protecting our freedom and fighting for democracy at home and abroad, from all of us at Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion.

In the last few decades, similar to the veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean War, veterans are returning to the U.S. with tributes honoring them as they deserve, and treating them like the heroes they are. In many cities and towns, bases and airports, volunteers line up to send off veterans and welcome them home, expressing their appreciation. Signs and banners hang in many cities and towns to welcome their hometown veterans back home. They deserve these tributes and so much more for defending the honor of the United States.

Let me share with you some information on the roots of this special holiday of Veterans Day:

Who does this holiday honor? Veterans Day is a federal holiday that is celebrated on November 11th each year and honors all those who have served in the armed forces, past and present, unlike Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor those who died serving their country.

How did Veterans Day first become a holiday?  This holiday dates back to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, who proclaimed Armistice Day on November 11, 1919 to mark the end of World War I. The armistice between Germany and the Allied nations that ended WWI was signed on that day and a ceasefire went into effect on the 11th hour of November 11, 1918. (However, the war didn’t officially end until seven months later on June 28, 1919, when the parties signed the Treaty of Versailles in France.)

How did they celebrate the holiday in earlier years?  The initial celebration included a short work stoppage at 11 a.m. on November 11th. President Wilson’s proclamation noted: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

Was it a national holiday from the beginning?  On June 4, 1926, Congress passed its own resolution asking President Calvin Coolidge to issue a proclamation to observe November 11th as a national holiday designed to celebrate world peace and the end of WWI.

In 1945, a veteran of World War II from Birmingham, Alabama, led a delegation to Army Chief of Staff General Dwight Eisenhower to convince him to turn Armistice Day into a time to honor all those who served in the armed forces.

When did the name and date change? Eisenhower, by then president, signed a bill into law in 1954 and Congress agreed to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. Veterans Day was moved to the fourth Monday of October in 1971 then changed back to its original November 11th date in 1978. If the day fell on a Saturday or Sunday, then it was observed on Monday or Friday, respectively.

How is it celebrated now? Veterans Day is now observed on November 11th, regardless of which day of the week it falls. Federal and most state offices and most schools are generally closed.

As for the automotive industry, Toyota has a “We salute you” program with a $500 rebate on all new Toyotas financed or leased at a Toyota dealership. This is for active duty, inactive reservists, veterans, retirees of U.S. Military; or for any household member currently living with eligible U. S. military personnel or veteran.

Volvo currently has a program for the disabled called “Mobility by Volvo” whereby anyone who is disabled can be reimbursed up to $1,000 toward the cost of adaptive equipment added to an eligible new Volvo; or up to $200 on alert hearing devices. Volvo’s award-winning safety features and technology serve the disabled well. There are also specials for military personnel overseas.

Retailers, service business and other professions recognize veterans by offering them special deals, discounts and free items on Veteran’s Day.  For veterans looking for Veteran’s Day free meals, snacks, haircuts and more, go to a national list posted on U.S. Today’s website. Local lists are available on the web at various local media websites.

Click here for a list of special deals for veterans throughout the year on the website from national stores, companies and organizations.

Today, on this Veteran’s Day 2014, let us all pray for peace, the safe return of all our veterans abroad and for those veterans we have lost. And of course, remember to say thank you and honor all the veterans you know or come in contact with today.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

You’ve been focusing on reducing the number of distracted drivers, so aren’t the new phones and vehicles with voice recognition software eliminating the problem?

Toyota_Entune (3)The simple answer is: no! There was a landmark study conducted by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of Utah this past year and the media in every state and many national magazines broadcast the results of the study last month. With the popularity of the Apple’s iPhone “Siri” promoting hands-free talking, the study determined that the Siri was one of the most dangerous voice assistants. (Participants in this study also expressed disapproval of Siri’s “sarcasm and wit.”)

The research team used a ranking system to measure the heart rate, response times and brain activities of 45 drivers. Drivers were asked to use hands-free commands while driving in simulators and test vehicles on residential streets. Their rating system was based on five categories that included using hands-free commands to compose texts or emails, listening to texts or emails, updating calendar appointments, and using social media. They determined the lower the accuracy and reliability of voice recognition software, the higher the level of distraction.  They also evaluated the two most common uses of voice-based interactions to adjust the radio station and dial a phone number.

The study compared the on-board voice recognition technology among six popular vehicle manufacturers: Toyota, Hyundai, Chrysler, Ford, Chevrolet and Mercedes. Toyota’s Entune technology system (pictured above) received the lowest rating for distraction! The graph below shows Toyota received a ranking of 1.7, far less than the technology systems in the other manufacturers’ vehicles and the only one falling into the low distraction category.



According to AAA, three out of four drivers believe that using hands-free technology is safe to use. However, it actually increases mental distractions as proven by this study. While Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion has worked hard to promote “Take the Pledge” on our Facebook page to not drive while distracted, we caution you that some of the hand-free technology also reduces your ability to focus and creates a distraction. We are pleased and proud; however, that Toyota’s Entune technology is the safest according to the AAA study.

If you are not sure how to use the technology effectively and safely and are a Jaffarian customer, we invite you to our “How Do I…” sessions in our showroom to learn more about this technology. We offer these hours every week on Tuesdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and Thursdays 5-7 p.m. to answer your questions. (If you haven’t figured out how to set your clock back this past weekend, come in and we’ll show you how!)

While the hands-free technology and on-board voice recognition command system are safer than using hand-held cell phones, please know how to use and when to use such technology so that it does not impair your ability to concentrate. Technology is a wonderful thing, but trying to figure it out while driving is dangerous.

Drive safely and stay focused on the road!

Ask Gary Jaffarian

Categories: Ask Gary

Why go to a dealership for service and pay more?

Apples to apples A common belief is that it costs more to service your vehicle at a dealership. It doesn’t cost more. As I often say, “Buyer beware!” I want you to be an informed consumer – whether buying or leasing a new vehicle, buying pre-owned or servicing your vehicle. As a consumer, I encourage you to do your homework and “Dare to compare.” Be sure you are comparing “apples to apples” when comparing services provided at a national chain, local service station or one of our service departments. Use this simple checklist to help you make an informed decision and protect your wallet:

1. Genuine parts. Decide how important it is for you to keep your “Toyota a Toyota or your Volvo a Volvo.” I have written about this topic before, but depending on where you service your vehicle, you may be losing value. For a refresher, read my prior blog on this topic. At Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion, we only install genuine Volvo and Toyota parts to maintain the integrity of the vehicle you purchased. If we were going to use or recommend re-manufactured parts, your service advisor would discuss that with you, as well as the warranty on that part and the cost-savings, in order for you to make an informed decision. We believe in full disclosure. If you choose to service elsewhere, be informed about the parts being installed.

2. Dare to Compare Value. At Jaffarian Toyota, we make it easy for you to compare service costs as we do it for you! Click here to review how common service appointments compare to local providers and notice the difference in the services provided! Get the specifics from other providers and Check Us Out too to ensure you are comparing apples to apples. Be sure to get the specifics of parts (genuine OEM parts or not) and oil type etc.

3. Quality of Technicians. Are the service technicians performing the work on your vehicle certified? Like any profession, training, expertise and experience matter. Rest assured Jaffarian’s service technicians are trained and certified for the vehicles they work on. The more you work on these vehicles, the better you get! Our technicians have longevity which offers great value to our loyal customers as they get to know your vehicle.

4. Professional Service Advisors. Do they have service advisors who communicate with you and are not on commission to sell you more? Our service advisors are highly trained and knowledgeable, but they will not sell you something you don’t need. An important part of their role at the Jaffarian Service Department is to guide you and answer any questions you have about servicing or maintaining your vehicle. I had a customer tell me that she went to a national franchise for a $29 oil change and came out spending more than $100 on parts they claimed she needed. Many of the low-priced, quick oil change franchises lead with coupons and low prices, only to upsell you once in the door.

5. Convenience. Do alternatives offer you a ride to work, train, or home? Jaffarian Volvo Toyota Scion offers you a ride in our clean shuttles with professional, friendly drivers getting you where you need to be and providing rides back to the dealership, too. VolvoWaitingRoom1

6. Amenities. Do you have to sit in a small, dirty waiting room with old magazines and undesirable rest rooms? Jaffarian offers beautifully-appointed waiting rooms with flat screen TVs, computer work stations with Wi-Fi, snacks and beverages (Starbucks coffee in a real coffee mug) and pristine rest rooms. I once heard a customer in our Volvo service waiting room say he was so comfortable, he’d prefer to work in our waiting room all day instead of in his own office!

Still looking for more value? I don’t blame you! We all should be protecting our wallets and making sure we are getting the most for our money. Drive into our covered service drives to avoid rain and snow and slush and we will deliver a lot of value and take good care of you and your vehicle. But just as I used to say to my own kids, do your homework! I think you will be surprised by what you learn.

Ask Gary Jaffarian

P.S. This is Halloween week so please be careful on the night your city or town deems “Trick or Treat” hours. It will be dark and you need to drive more carefully than ever with all the children out on the streets and in the neighborhoods. Also, remember to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night. If you need help setting the clock back in your vehicle, stop in to our “How Do I” showroom hours and we will show you how.

Categories: Ask Gary

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