Dashboard Warning Lights: Is My Car Safe to Drive?

A dashboard lit up with warning lights

We all know someone who ignores their dashboard warning lights. Unfortunately, this can lead to vehicle failure and safety hazards on the road. Other drivers see dashboard lights and fear their car might not be safe enough to drive to a mechanic. Chapel Hill Tire is here with insight on what your dashboard warning lights mean and what you can do about them. 

Check Engine Light

Perhaps the most famous and recognizable dashboard warning light is the check engine light.

As the name suggests, your check engine means a sensor detects an issue with your engine. The most common (and easy to fix) cause of a check engine light is a loose gas cap. Check to ensure your gas cap is tightly secured before worrying about your engine. Another common cause is a sensor issue, which requires sensor replacement. Beyond these issues, a check engine light could indicate a serious problem under your hood. 

Is it safe to drive with your check engine light on? This depends on the cause of the check engine light. In mild cases, like a sensor issue, you should be safe to drive until you can visit a mechanic. However, in serious cases, it could lead to engine damage or failure if not addressed promptly. When you see your check engine light on, you should visit a mechanic as soon as possible. 

Oil Change Warning Light

The dashboard light shaped like a gravy boat is your oil change warning.

Engine oil is essential for protecting your engine and preventing costly vehicle damage. Your vehicle requires regular replacements as oil becomes depleted and contaminated over time. 

Is it safe to drive with your oil light on? Driving with your engine oil light on is a bit like playing with fire. Oil changes are inexpensive routine services, but skipping them risks serious and costly engine damage. It can also create potentially unsafe driving situations once that engine damage sets in. If you are driving with your oil change warning light on, you are hopefully on your way to a mechanic. 

Dashboard Battery Warning Light

If you notice a small red light that looks like a battery illuminated in your dashboard, this indicates an issue with your battery or alternator.

Most frequently, this light means your battery is due for a replacement. Battery replacement is a routine service you will need roughly every 3 years. 

Alternator issues are a bit more complicated. Your alternator is responsible for recharging your battery as you drive. It also helps power essential vehicle electrical elements, like your headlights. A professional mechanic will be able to diagnose your alternator troubles and work with you to arrive at a repair plan.

Is your vehicle safe to drive with the battery warning light on? When you are close to a battery replacement, your vehicle should still be safe to drive for a few days until you can visit a mechanic. If your schedule is too tight, simply have a mechanic come to you. However, if you choose to ignore your battery warning light, you will not want to get stranded with a dead battery. It is best to keep jumper cables or a battery pack in your car—just in case. Here is our 8-step guide to jump-starting your car

If the issue is with your alternator, this is a different story. Faulty alternators could have your car dying in the middle of the road (rather than simply failing to start). Alternator troubles could also cause your headlights and other vehicle safety elements to turn off.

Windshield Washer Fluid Light

The dashboard warning light shaped like a windshield indicates low washer fluid.

This fluid is designed to help clear your windshields when bugs, debris, or other hazards impair your vision. 

Is it safe to drive with the windshield warning light on? The windshield warning light lets you know your fluid is low, not depleted. You will be fine to continue driving—as long as you get it refilled before you run out entirely. 

Seatbelt and Airbag Warning Light

If you or your passengers ignore the seatbelt, it could trigger a dashboard warning light in your vehicle.

While this doesn’t present a vehicle concern, seatbelts are vital to keeping you safe during an accident. While it does not require a visit to the mechanic, skipping the seatbelt can earn you a ticket. If you need further encouragement, your car may also trigger a seatbelt warning noise that may persist throughout your trip. 

A similar dashboard light is the airbag warning. This light often indicates an issue with your airbag system that may prevent it from deploying in an accident. In these cases, you can consult a mechanic to ensure your airbag is working safely. 

Coolant Warning Light

The small thermometer light (often with waves near the bottom) is your coolant warning.

This light is also commonly called a temperature warning, refrigerant warning, or radiator fluid warning. It is often a sign that your engine is getting too hot. It could also indicate that you are low on coolant.

Is it safe to drive with the thermometer warning light on? Driving with an overheated engine could create costly engine damage or even begin smoking. If your engine is overheating, pull over and give it a chance to cool down. Contact a mechanic for professional insight on whether or not it is safe to drive. Otherwise, you might need a tow service to bring it to the mechanic instead. 

In a best-case scenario, the light is simply telling you that your coolant levels are low. In this case, it is safe to drive as long as you schedule a visit to the mechanic for a coolant flush. It is best not to wait when it comes to your radiator fluid. 

Exclamation Point in a Circle: Brake Warning Lights

The bright red circle with an exclamation mark inside indicates an issue with your brake system.

This could be a routine warning or a sensor detecting depleted brake pads or low brake fluid.

Is it safe to drive with the brake warning light on? Your brakes are essential to your safety on the road. In most cases, you will need brake pad replacements to keep you safe on the road. You may also need a brake fluid replacement service. Regardless of the source of your brake problems, the sooner you get them serviced, the better. 

Horseshoe Shaped Dashboard Light: Low Tire Pressure

The horseshoe shape on your dashboard light (often with an exclamation point in the middle) indicates low tire pressure.

Low tire pressure happens naturally over time from driving. Cold weather also causes low air pressure as the air compresses inside of your tires. In a worst-case scenario, you may have a nail in your tire letting air out, which will require both a patch and refill. Driving with low tire pressure can cause poor fuel economy, present risks to your tires and rims, and impact your vehicle handling. 

Is it safe to drive with your low tire pressure light on? Poor vehicle handling can present safety concerns—especially in inclement weather. You could also risk a tire blowout or rim damage. Thankfully, many mechanics make it easy to score free tire pressure refills. At Chapel Hill Tire, every oil change comes with free tire pressure checks and refills. You can also get free refills for the lifespan of your tires when you buy tire protection from our experts. 

Chapel Hill Tire: Car Mechanic Services

If your dashboard warning light comes on, bring it to the experts at Chapel Hill Tire. We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with 9 locations across Raleigh, Apex, Durham, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill. You can browse our selection of coupons, deals, and discounts on top of our everyday low service prices. We invite you to make your appointment here online, or give us a call to get started today! 

How to Read Your Tire’s DOT Number

Tire Identification Number and what each part stands for, including the tire age

If you look closely at any tire, you can find an engraved DOT number. This number gives you valuable insights into the tires keeping you safe. However, it is not always clear to drivers what their DOT number is communicating. The local auto mechanics are here with the full breakdown of how to read a tire’s DOT number.

The Beginning: DOT 

Every tire identification number begins with the letters DOT (Department of Transportation). It is a marker that verifies you are getting tires that meet the Department of Transportation’s guidelines. It also serves as a clear, universal starting point for a tire’s TIN (tire identification number). 

Tire Plant Code: Manufacturer’s Identification Mark

The next group of numbers contains two characters that indicate your tire’s plant code. Every tire manufacturing plant has a unique two-character code, often made with one number and one letter. Why is this important? If there is a tire recall, safety issue, or another tire concern, it can be traced back to the plant that produced the tire(s) in question. 

Tire Size Code

The next two numbers or letters are your tire size code. The tire size code is a little less straightforward than other markings. Originally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had a universal list of tire sizes and the two-digit codes that represented them. However, the DOT now lets manufacturers determine their own code for tire size, according to the US Federal Register. This change was intended to make it easy for manufacturers to produce new tires without requiring the NHTSA to update its code list. Unfortunately, it makes it challenging to translate the tire size on your tire’s DOT number. Thankfully, there is an easier way to tell your tire size (more on this below). 

Tire Manufacturer Characteristics

The third set of values indicates the manufacturer’s characteristics. It is essentially a space for manufacturers to provide tire distinction or other brand-specific insights. The US Federal Register states, “The third grouping may be used at the manufacturer’s option to provide any other significant characteristics of the tire. Except for cases in which a tire is manufactured for a brand name owner, the third grouping is not required.” Manufacturers then submit their list of codes to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Much like the tire size code, this grouping often does not provide valuable information for drivers. It is more so used for recalls, errors, and other official identification needs. 

Tire Age

Without ever touching the road, a tire can go bad simply due to its age. After 5 years of age, tires begin experiencing thermo-oxidative degradation. This chemical reaction can severely impact tire safety on the road. 

The final four digits on your DOT number will tell you the tire’s age. The first two numbers of this grouping indicate the week of the year your tire was manufactured. The final two digits indicate the year that your tire was manufactured. For example, if your final four DOT numbers are 3020, your tire was manufactured in the 30th week of 2020. You can find more information in our full guide to tire age here

Finding Tire Size, Recommended Tire Pressure, and Other Information

While DOT numbers are helpful, they might not tell you everything you need to know about your tires. As tire experts, we often have customers ask:

  • How can I tell my tire size dimensions? 
  • What is the recommended tire pressure (PSI) of my car’s tires?
  • What about cold tire pressure recommendations?

Many drivers expect to find the answers to these and other questions in their DOT number, but this is not the case. Tires brands often include additional insights on the face of the tire. However, it is frequently much easier to view tire information on your tire panel. If you open your driver’s-side door and turn to face the seat, you will find a sticker against your door frame with information about your tires. You can also find additional details in your owner’s manual.

Picture of a tire information sticker in a car

Your Local Tire Experts: Chapel Hill Tire

When you are due for new tires, the mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here for you. We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with our 9 locations across Raleigh, Apex, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. You can conveniently buy your new tires online using our Tire Finder tool. For all of your tire services, vehicle services, and car care needs, make an appointment today with your nearest Chapel Hill Tire.

Driving for Uber, Lyft, or Postmates? 5 Services Your Car Needs

Picture of a man driving for Uber

When you take up a driving career, your car becomes your lifeline. However, driving for services like Uber, Lyft, Postmates, DoorDash, UberEats, and more can take a toll on your vehicle. The auto mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here with insight on how you can keep your car protected with these 5 services. 

Regular Oil Changes

As a delivery or rideshare driver, one of the most important services to maintain is your oil changes. Oil is essential in keeping your engine parts working together smoothly. It also helps keep your engine clean, prevents winter battery failure, and so much more. 

While oil changes are the most prominent and frequently needed service, it is also important to keep up with other routine maintenance flushes—including brake fluid changes, radiator flushes, transmission fluid flush, and others.

Battery Services

If you drive your vehicle for Uber, Lyft, taxi, or other rideshare services, you may frequently find passengers using your car’s battery-powered features. This includes turning on your interior lights and plugging their cellphones into your charging ports. It is essential to unplug any chargers and turn these lights off each time you exit your vehicle. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a dead battery upon return. However, even the most careful and energy-conservative driver will need a new battery on occasion. 

To avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, it is best to keep an eye out for signs that your car battery is due for replacement. Additionally, you can extend the lifespan of your battery by protecting it from the effects of warm summer weather and cold winter temperatures

As a rideshare driver, it is best to keep jumper cables in your car—just in case your battery dies. Better yet, battery packs are easy to order online and allow you to jump-start your car without needing help from a second vehicle. Our mechanics offer an 8-step guide to jump-starting your car here. 

Check Breaks

Naturally, your brakes are essential for slowing and stopping your vehicle on the road. When you drive for services like Lyft, Uber, Postmates, and others, you will find yourself stepping on the brakes more frequently. This is especially true if your routes often involve driving on busy city roads rather than long highway or country stretches. Each time you press your foot against the pedal, the friction material of your brake pads wears away. When taking up a driving career, you will likely need more frequent brake pad changes. 

Wheel Alignment 

Tire and wheel alignment troubles can happen quickly when you drive your car frequently. This issue is especially prominent for drivers in areas where the roads contain lots of bumps and potholes. When your wheels are out of alignment, they will ruin your tires with uneven wear. Instead of needing a single alignment service, you will now need to also invest in a new set of tires. You might notice your alignment is off if your steering wheel shakes or pulls to one side of the road. 

Tire Inspections and Services

Tires are essential to your vehicle’s safety on the road. Additionally, as a driver for Uber, Lyft, or Postmates, you will likely want to save as much gas as possible. Tire issues—like insufficient tire pressure and worn tire tread—can take a serious toll on your fuel efficiency. You should regularly check your tires for: 

Tire Pressure Checks and Refills

Over time, your tires will gradually let out small amounts of air. Low tire pressure is an especially prominent issue during the colder months as the air in your tires compresses. Poor tire pressure can lead to low fuel economy, poor vehicle handling, and tire damage. If you visit service experts like Chapel Hill Tire, we check and refill your tire pressure with every oil change visit. 

Tire Tread Depth Checks and Tire Replacements

The tread on your tires is what helps it grip the ground. This is essential for braking, starting, stopping, turning, and vehicle handling. When your tread becomes worn, it will seriously impact your safety and fuel economy. If your tire tread is even with your tread wear indicator bars, it is time for a new set of tires. 

While investing in a new set of tires is not always fun, skipping this service can put your life, your passengers’ lives, and your career at risk. Chapel Hill Tire helps you meet your budget by making our tire prices transparent in our Online Tire Finder Tool. You can see all of the tires that fit your vehicle in one place, compare their prices and features, and buy the right tires for you hassle-free online. You can learn more about how to use the Tire Finder here

Regular Tire Rotations

As you drive, your front tires endure more wear and tear than your back tires. Tire rotations can protect your tire set by ensuring the wear and tear is more evenly distributed. It also helps your mechanic catch tire issues early—such as alignment problems and dangerous tread wear. 

Chapel Hill Tire Local Mechanic Services

The professionals at Chapel Hill Tire are here to help Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and other drivers keep their vehicles protected. You can find coupons, deals, discounts, and promotions on top of our everyday low prices to keep our mechanic services affordable. We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with our 9 locations across Chapel Hill, Apex, Raleigh, Durham, and Carrboro. Make your appointment here online to get started today!

Apex Welcomes Chapel Hill Tire

aerial photo of green trees and a curving road

Chamber of Commerce brings community leaders together for ribbon cutting ceremony

Chapel Hill, NC Though their Apex location opened in January of 2021, Chapel Hill Tire had to wait for the pandemic to ease before they could celebrate the event. On June 2nd, as business began to return to normal, the company teamed with the Apex Chamber of Commerce to hold an official ribbon cutting.

1101 Old Raleigh Rd, next to Food Lion

“It was great to get together with fellow Chamber members and community leaders,” said Marc Pons, who serves as president of Chapel Hill Tire. “We have been serving people in the Triangle since 1953, most of that time in Chapel Hill, of course. This is our third location in Wake County. We set up shop at Atlantic Avenue in Raleigh in 2018, and in Crabtree Valley Mall in 2019. People in this area have really responded well to our super-convenient approach to high quality, professional car care. If you like, our free pick up and delivery service will pick up your car at your home or office, and return it to you when the work is complete. You can also drop your car off at our shop, and use our free shuttle to go where you need to go. If you’d rather wait in our lobby, we offer free wifi, drinks, and snacks to make your stay as pleasant as possible.”

In addition to the ribbon cutting, Triangle-area non-profit Wheels4Hope held a car blessing event. “Sometimes,” said Pons, “for a family or an individual who is working to get through a difficult transition, a safe, reliable car can make all the difference. Wheels4Hope is dedicated to providing those vehicles to people who need them. Area residents donate their old cars. We donate the labor required to get them into good running condition, and other corporate sponsors, individual donors, and local churches provide the funds required to purchase the parts. It’s a real neighbor helping neighbor effort, and for us, it’s a great way to use our talents to make our community just a little bit better.”

Formerly home to Auto Remedy, Chapel Hill Tire’s Apex shop is located at 1101 Old Raleigh Rd. You can make your appointment online at chapelhilltire.com or just call the store at (919) 387-7270. “If you’ve never brought your car to us before, please go to promotions.chapelhilltire.com to take advantage of our $20 discount for first time customers,” said Pons. It’s good for any service except state inspections – and yes, if you’re a long time Auto Remedy customer, you still qualify as a first time customer of Chapel Hill Tire.

Chapel Hill Tire Reopens Lobbies

chapel hill tire store in raleigh

New services offer even greater convenience for customers

As an essential business, Chapel Hill Tire was able to keep its doors open at all nine locations throughout the pandemic shutdown. However, safety considerations and new customer needs required significant changes to our business operations. Now, as the world reopens, some of those changes will allow us to add a whole new level of convenience to our comprehensive car care services.

“Free pick up and delivery service is easily the best innovation to come out of this past year,” said Marc Pons, who serves as president of Chapel Hill Tire. “It was born of necessity. We couldn’t have customers waiting in our lobbies. We couldn’t run our free shuttle service. People still needed to get their oil changes, state inspections, scheduled maintenance, new tires, and etc. So, we offered to pick up their cars and bring them back when the work was completed. We even implemented a text-to-pay system to keep everything totally contact-free. People loved it so much we had to expand our capacity. Now, it’s just part of how we do business, and we expect it to become even more popular as we move forward.”

We also took advantage of the waiting-room shutdown by renovating five of our lobbies. “We want our waiting areas to be an expression of our brand, a part of the Drive Happy experience,” said Pons. “We want you to enjoy a clean and comfortable environment. And, since everyone is online all the time these days, we offer free wifi. Not being able to welcome people to our lobbies this past year, we took the opportunity to refresh them and not just make them a little more pleasant, but make them more an experience of our brand and our story. When you’re here, we want you to feel like you’re part of Chapel Hill Tire, because our customers are the most important part of our business.”

Our lobbies are now open at  all nine of our Triangle-area locations. “We’re also restarting our shuttle service and, of course, we will continue to offer free pick up and delivery,” said Pons. “No matter which option you choose, you can schedule your appointment online at chapelhilltire.com or just call us at 919-268-4140. With locations in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and Apex, we’re sure to have a store near you.”

Our People: Curt Romanow

photo of a set of wrenches beside a bumper sticker with a yellow smiley face that reads "Drive Happy" and a blue ball cap with a yellow smiley face

Committed to bringing people together, at work, home, and abroad

If you ever talk with Curt Romanow at our Fordham Boulevard shop, you’ll have a world of options in how you carry on the conversation. Curt speaks five languages. He’s fluent in English and Spanish, and he describes his Dutch, Greek, and French as “passable.” But no matter what language he’s conversing in, he finds that “tonality is key” to getting his message across, especially over the phone.

When you call to talk about your car care needs, you’ll also find that Curt is fluent in all things automotive. Prior to joining us as a service advisor, he was a Master Mechanic for Mercedes and Ford Diesel vehicles. This professional experience taught him pretty much everything that goes on under a vehicle’s hood.

His understanding of the mechanic’s job, though, is only half of what makes him an extraordinary service advisor. The other is his deep and abiding interest in clear and meaningful conversation with everyone he meets.

This concern for language and conversation comes from another of his interests: Curt is a world traveller. And before he visits another country, he always makes sure to learn enough of the language to get around on his own. “It’s a person’s home I’m going to, and I want to respect that,” he said.

Whether he’s asking for directions in a foreign city or guiding someone through their car care needs in his hometown, Curt believes that every conversation should end on a positive note. “If someone asks for help, you help ‘em,” he said. “No one wins unless everyone wins.”

Here at Chapel Hill Tire, that simple statement sums up three of our core values: win as a team, be grateful and helpful, and say yes to customers and each other.

Listening to the way that Curt talks about our Fordham Boulevard team, it’s obvious that he’s not the only one who values genuine communication. “We really are like a family here,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, but at the end of the day everyone takes care of each other.”

And just a few weeks ago, Curt’s family got a little bit bigger — though this time, not with a new hire at Fordham Boulevard. He’s now a proud father, and the entire Chapel Hill Tire family wishes him the best of luck as he starts this new phase in his life.

Thanks for doing what you do, Curt, and thank you for being part of the Chapel Hill Tire team. Your extensive professional experience, desire to provide exceptional care, and genuine concern for others comes through in every conversation.

Our Culture: Helping Each Other Win

Experienced technicians help their younger colleagues achieve professional certification

Strive for excellence, win as a team, and treat each other like family: three of our core values are the inspiration behind our mentorship program. To be recognized as a professional automotive technician, a mechanic must achieve certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Our program pairs an experienced, ASE certified pro with each younger technician who is preparing to pass their exams.

“As guys who know the business, know what we’re doing and have years of experience, we’re trying to give back to the guys who are just starting out,” explained Johnny Feathers, the ASE Master Technician who leads our mentorship program.

As program leader, Johnny indirectly mentors several young technicians, and teaches classes to help bolster exam preparation. He also serves as mentor to Andres Lomelli. In this role, he spends half each working day repairing and maintaining vehicles on his own, and the other half overseeing and assisting Andres.

Operating continuously, our mentorship program provides flexibility for everyone to learn and grow at their own pace. Helping a teammate become better makes us all better at what we do. It’s part of how we strive for excellence, part of how we win as a team, and based on the idea that we treat each other like family — and family is always there for you.

“We help each other out and boost each other up,” said Johnny. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see guys passing their exams and moving on to help someone else.”

And for Andre, becoming a mentor will be part of his reward for achieving ASE certification. “Learning from others is always the best,” he said. “Once I’m ready, I would enjoy nothing more than to become a mentor myself and be able to share the knowledge and information with others. It’s great working together, and it plays a big part in enjoying the team.”

What’s Up With That? Hybrid Technology

What a classic childhood toy can teach you about eco-friendliness and fuel economy

Since its introduction in 1997, the Toyota Prius has forever changed the automotive market. By adding a secondary battery that charges when you brake, this first hybrid car proved that being responsible to the environment didn’t have to mean sacrificing your vehicle’s driving range.

Now, more than two decades on from the debut of the first hybrids, new technologies have given these cars and trucks even more power and range. Some commercial fleets — and enthusiasts — are even converting old fashioned gasoline powered vehicles to hybrids, as well.

But just how does a hybrid car work, anyway?

If you were born any time in the past 70 years, you’ve probably played with one of those pull-back toy cars. Their coiled spring “engines” were patented back in 1952, and the concept is still going strong today.

It’s a simple idea: you press down on the toy car’s hood, drag it backwards, let it go, and it zooms away. Though it doesn’t zoom very far, pulling it back and watching it go forward can keep a child  entertained for hours.

Stored energy is the concept behind this simple toy. When you pull it back, a spring inside the body is wound up tight. Let it go, and the energy stored in the spring is released, propelling the car forward. Hybrid technology works in a similar way, albeit with more steps and fancier gadgets.

No, there’s not a coiled spring that tightens every time you drive in reverse. There is, however, an electric generator that captures energy from your car’s rotating wheels as you brake, when you’re going downhill, or other times when the car is moving but neither the gasoline engine nor the electric motors are providing power. The captured energy is passed through a converter, and stored in the traction battery pack, a separate battery system from the one that’s used to start your car.

The energy is released when you move your car from a standing start or when you’re accelerating on the move. This electronic assist reduces the amount of power required from your gasoline engine, cutting down the amount of gasoline you need. This not only saves you money, it also cuts your car’s emissions. Your wallet thanks you. Your planet thanks you.

Types of Hybrid Vehicles

There are three main types of hybrid systems, full, mild, and plug-in. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them tick or, uh, hum, or whisper?

Full hybrid vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, can run on either their gas engine or their battery pack. Their batteries are recharged by the engine as well as the brakes. They offer a balanced combination of power and driving range.

Mild hybrid vehicles, like the Honda Accord Hybrid, always run their battery and engine power together. This constant use of the battery to assist the gasoline engine improves your fuel economy and driving range slightly, but not as much as a full hybrid.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles, like the Kia Optima, have all the capabilities of a full hybrid. Their advantage is that they have larger battery packs. This gives them the longest range of all the hybrid types. On the downside, you have to stop at a charging station to get their best performance. This makes them excellent for commuting to and from your home charging station, not as good on long road trips.

What It Means for Your Car

In short: Mild hybrids are often the most affordable, while full hybrids or plug-in hybrids offer greater driving range and performance.

No matter what style of hybrid you choose, though, it will have better gas mileage and less emissions than a standard engine — putting more money in your pocket while protecting the environment, too.

Like all batteries, the traction battery in your hybrid will get to a point where it can no longer hold a charge. Then, it will have to be replaced. The good news is that you don’t have to replace the whole car. If you’re still happy with all the other parts, you can just replace the battery. When that time comes, we hope you’ll give us a call. We are certified hybrid specialists. One of our service advisors will be able to set you up with a new battery that’s just right for your car — and at a significant savings over what most dealers charge.

Our Community: Wheels4Hope

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

Faith-based non-profit works to put people on the road to a better life

Wake up. Get in your car. Drive to work. Pick the kids up from school and take them to practice, or maybe a doctor appointment. Stop by the grocery store on the way home.

We’re all so familiar with these humdrum daily chores that we don’t even spend much time thinking about them. But imagine how hard it would be to accomplish just these simple tasks, if you didn’t have a car. Many families in North Carolina face that problem every day. Wheels4Hope was founded to help them solve it.

“Many people take for granted what it’s like to have a car,” said Lisa Brusca, Executive Director of Wheels4Hope. “Transportation has a huge impact on your life. It is often just as important as having reliable housing or a stable job.”

Driving individuals to success is the powerful mission that guides Wheels4Hope. It was founded at West Raleigh Presbyterian Church in 2000, when members of the congregation realized just how important reliable transportation can be to a struggling family. Public transportation options can be scarce. People who are rebuilding their lives often have low credit scores, and can only purchase a vehicle from less than scrupulous dealers who charge inflated prices and high interest rates.

After a bit of brainstorming, Wheels4Hope was created to put a novel solution to work. They would seek donations of old, low-value vehicles from families in other congregations and the community at large. They would partner with local garages to perform the repairs required to ensure these vehicles provide safe, reliable transportation. They would ask area non-profit agencies to refer clients whose next steps toward a better life required a reliable vehicle. And they would sell those vehicles — typically valued in the $2,000 to $5,000 range — to individuals referred by those agencies for $500. The sale price covers North Carolina title and licensing fees. Recipients are responsible for securing their insurance.

Today, Wheels4Hope works with over 100 partners throughout North Carolina. Partner agencies refer individuals who are working a steady job and ready for car ownership. People throughout the Triangle and Triad donate their used vehicles. Others provide cash donations to pay for any parts the donated vehicle might require. Partner garages donate their time to make the necessary repairs. Then, Wheels4Hope delivers a vehicle — with a warranty — to a referred individual.

“We are proud to say that all nine Chapel Hill Tire locations serve as partner garages to Wheels4Hope,” said Marc Pons, president of Chapel Hill Tire. “Most recently, we hosted a car blessing at our newly opened Apex location, which gave us an opportunity to bring our community together and champion an individual who is working to build a better life.”

“Car blessings are really special,” said Brusca. “We bring together the car donor, the partner agency we’ve worked with, the individual receiving the car and their families. We celebrate the recipients accomplishments, bless the vehicle, and send them out on the road to success. It’s amazing to see the community come together.”

At Chapel Hill Tire, we feel incredibly grateful to be part of a community that fosters and supports Wheels4Hope, and reaches out in a caring way to people who are working so hard to have some of the little things that we all sometimes take for granted. We encourage you to learn more about Wheels4Hope and to join us in supporting their important work. To find out more about them, please visit their website. We look forward to seeing you at our next car blessing!

5 Ways to Make Mechanic Visits Work for Your Schedule

woman holding car keys out the window

It seems car problems and routine maintenance have a way of popping up at the worst possible times. Between work, school, family, or other life happenings, you may not always be able to easily fit a trip to the mechanic in your daily schedule. Thankfully, mechanic services are adapting to meet the needs of busy drivers. Here is a look at five ways you can make a mechanic visit work for you.

Free Pick-Up and Delivery Mechanic Service

When you don’t have time to visit an auto mechanic, wouldn’t it make sense to have the professionals come to you? That is exactly what pick-up and delivery mechanic service is designed to do. Our vehicle service technicians will come to your home, office, or any location within our service areas to pick up your car. Then, we will bring it back to our shop for repairs or routine maintenance. Once your vehicle is ready, we will bring it back to you. You can access industry-leading car care—from oil changes to inspections and tire services—without ever leaving your seat. 

Free Mechanic Shuttle Services

Many mechanic shops are conveniently placed near shopping centers and other community hot spots. If you need to run errands while your vehicle is in the shop, you can take advantage of a shuttle service. Mechanic shuttles bring you where you need to go while your vehicle is repaired. Once your vehicle is ready to go, the shuttle will pick you up and take you back to the shop. This service lets you make the most of your time while ensuring your car gets the care it needs. 

Free Curbside Mechanic Service

If you have ever ordered curbside groceries or take-out, you know the convenience of skipping the line and the hassles. Now, you can access this same convenience at the mechanic. Curbside service lets you seamlessly drop your vehicle off with a curbside check-in service advisor. You will get text updates on your car’s progress and the chance to pay-by-text. Once it is ready, you will find your fully-serviced vehicle waiting for you at our curbside with the keys inside. This perk lets you access high-quality car care without ever stepping foot in the shop. 

Free Accommodating Amenities

In the work-from-home era, many drivers can work from almost anywhere—with the right accommodations. Mechanic shops like Chapel Hill Tire have upgraded our lobbies to meet these needs. Today, it is easy to find a mechanic shop with free Wi-Fi, comfortable chairs, and other amenities. These features allow you to get your vehicle serviced without missing a beat. 

Free Mechanic Loaner Cars

Have you been putting off a larger vehicle service because you cannot go without a car? Mechanics like Chapel Hill Tire keep loaner cars on hand for you. Our hybrid loaner cars are available to drivers with cars expecting an extended stay in the shop. 

If you need a loaner car during a standard service visit, you can access our VIP Valet for just $15. The VIP Valet is similar to our pick-up/delivery service, but we leave you with a loaner car to use while yours is in the shop. 

Chapel Hill Tire Convenient Mechanic Services

The professionals at Chapel Hill Tire strive to make high-quality car care work for even the busiest schedules. It is part of our values. Our mechanics proudly serve the greater Triangle area with 9 locations across Raleigh, Apex, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro. We also serve nearby communities, including Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Cary, and beyond! You can make your appointment here online, explore our coupon page, or give our local mechanics a call to get started today!