Trailer Hitch Installation FAQ

Bike rack connected by a trailer hitch

As summer picks up again, we are seeing drivers come in with questions about trailer hitch installation. While we addressed some of these concerns in last year’s installation FAQ, our local mechanics have a new round of answers to your most popular questions. 

What Is The Point Of Trailer Hitches On Small Cars?

When we think of trailer hitches, we often also think of trailers (it is in the name, after all). However, there are many different trailer hitch accessories—many of which can be especially helpful for smaller vehicles. 

Compact cars need to be more creative about their exterior utility—and a trailer hitch provides an essential tool for this objective. Some of the advantages of trailer hitches on small cars include the following: 

  • Small cargo trailers
  • Bike racks
  • Overhead cargo stabilizing
  • Camping and convenience accessories

…and so much more! You can read her complete guide to trailer hitches for compact vehicles here.

Are Trailer Hitches Becoming Less Common?

You might wonder, “Why didn’t my truck or SUV come with a trailer hitch?”

More and more frequently, we are having drivers come in because they find their brand-new car does not have a pre-installed trailer hitch. So, why don’t new cars, trucks, and SUVs come with trailer hitches? There are a few potential culprits:

  • Supply Chain Disruptions: Unfortunately, this is not too surprising—given the rise of inflation, product shortages, and other supply chain disruptions that have not yet recovered from the pandemic. 
  • Cost Efficiency: It is often quick, convenient, and affordable for car manufacturers to sell vehicles without products that can be easily added on later. So, items like trailer hitches and car floor mats are less commonly included with new vehicles. 
  • Loss of Incentive: Additionally, trailer hitches are often not a selling point in vehicle sales. For trucks and SUVs, many buyers assume the car will have a hitch—not bothering to check before closing the deal. In other cases, drivers focus on more prominent features—like radio tech, active safety, heated seats, and newer conveniences—often not noticing the missing hitch. Because they are not deal breakers (and drivers might not see they’re missing), manufacturers do not have any incentive to include them. 
  • Compact and Smaller Cars: As mentioned above, trailer hitches can be incredibly useful on smaller vehicles. However, since smaller cars are not explicitly expected to tow, they more often do not come with trailer hitches installed.

How Long Does Trailer Hitch Installation Take?

With professional tools and expertise, trailer hitch installation is a quick and easy service. However, the exact time estimate will depend on a few factors, including:

  • The type of vehicle you have
  • Whether or not you have an old hitch that requires removal before installation
  • How rusted your mounting frame might be
  • The type of hitch compatible with your vehicle
  • And whether or not your hitch requires wiring—such as those in trucks and heavy-duty SUVs. This wiring is essential—allowing the brake lights of large cargo trailers to function. 

Additionally, your total appointment time will depend on any other services you book. You can ask your mechanic for a time estimate if you schedule by phone. Drivers in a time crunch might consider booking a pick-up and delivery service or a shuttle appointment. These offerings will allow you to go on with your day at work or home while your vehicle is serviced. 

Where Can You Get A Trailer Hitch Installed?

A local mechanic with trailer hitch expertise and equipment can seamlessly install a trailer hitch for you. You might wonder, “Should I get my trailer hitch installed at the car dealership?” However, many drivers find this to be a dead end for a few reasons:

  • First, your manufacturer may not produce factory trailer hitches—making it unlikely that the dealership service department will have any in stock. Meanwhile, a local mechanic can complete same-day hitch installation. 
  • Unlike mechanics, dealership service appointments are often associated with long wait times and delayed appointment scheduling. 
  • You can access an added convenience at mechanics—such as with pick-up and delivery service. 
  • Finally, dealership service departments are known for this high pricing and a lack of transparency. 

Trailer Hitch Installation Near Me

When you’re ready to kick off your summer adventures, visit your local Chapel Hill Tire for trailer hitch installation services. We can replace your rusted trailer hitch or install a new one—even if your vehicle has never had one before. 

Our local mechanics also offer all the services you need to ensure your car is protected on your summer adventures. From trip checks to catalytic converter shields and routine maintenance—we have you covered! So, we invite you to make an appointment here online or give us a call to get started today! 

Introducing Chapel Hill Tire’s Newest Durham Location

Person handing keys to the mechanic

Chapel Hill Tire is proud to open the doors to our newest location: Chapel Hill Tire of Durham—(formerly Durham Tire – Hillsborough Street). While we have been serving the Durham community through our Woodcroft Shopping Center location and 10 other convenient shops around the Triangle, we are excited to make our world-class mechanic service more convenient for Durham drivers. You can read more about our new Durham location below, or visit us today to get started. 

A New Level of Car Service in Durham

At Chapel Hill Tire, our values help us stand out from other mechanic networks. We are committed to helping you Drive Happy™ by treating our customers and staff like family. These values are reflected in our quality of care and our services—which offer a wide range of benefits you won’t find anywhere else. 

Benefits of Our Local Durham Mechanic Network

We go above and beyond for our drivers. When you visit our Durham technicians, you can unlock next-level benefits and conveniences, including:

  • Price Beat Guarantee: If you are interested in getting the lowest price on your new tires in Durham, you have come to the right place. With our Price Beat Guarantee, Chapel Hill Tire will beat any eligible competitor’s price by 10% of the difference. 
  • Mobile Car Wash and Detailing: Our mobile car detailing experts will come to YOU to complete our industry-leading car wash and detailing service at your Durham home or office. You can even include add-on maintenance services, like cabin air filter change, for exceptional car care at your door. 
  • Free Pick-up and Delivery: We get it—life gets busy, and you might find yourself without the time you need to visit a mechanic. Instead of forgoing the care you need, Chapel Hill Tire will come to you with our Pick-up/Delivery Service. A qualified professional will pick your car up from your Durham location and bring it back to our Hillsborough Street shop. After we give it the care and attention it deserves, we will bring your car back to you. Please note that your car must be in drivable condition to qualify for this service. 
  • Service Warranty: Our 3-year/36,000-mile service warranty backs qualifying Chapel Hill Tire services, helping you Drive Happy™ with trusted care on your side.
  • Transparent Pricing: Many mechanics hide their service costs for a reason. This practice can leave drivers shocked when they are handed a bill. Chapel Hill Tire is upfront about our pricing because we have nothing to hide. We work with you and carefully review all prices before completing your service to keep our car care transparent. 
  • The Drive Happy™ Advantage: When you buy your new tires from Chapel Hill Tire in Durham, you are protected by the Drive Happy™ Advantage. This advantage includes our Price Beat Guarantee, 30-day ride comfort guarantee, free lifetime rotation and balancing service, free lifetime flat repairs, free pressure checks and TPMS light resets, annual risk-free alignment evaluation, free brake inspections with rotations, and free fluid top-offs with rotations. Please note that we follow the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association’s puncture and repair procedures for passenger and light truck tires.
  • Comprehensive Service Offerings: Make the most of each visit to the mechanic at Chapel Hill Tire – Durham. You can have your oil changed and your car detailed in the same visit. All the car services you could want or need are here in one place. 

Our Durham Mechanic Services

You can expect industry-leading car care each time you step through our doors here at Chapel Hill Tire in Durham. Let’s take a closer look at the service you can expect from our Hillsborough Street mechanics. 

Routine Car Services

Our experienced Durham technicians offer all of the routine services your car needs on a regular basis, including:

  • Local car inspection services
  • Tire service (repair, rotation, or refills)
  • Worn brake pad replacement
  • Car battery replacement
  • Oil change in Durham
  • Engine maintenance flushes
  • Transmission fluid change
  • Brake fluid replacement
  • Power steering fluid flush
  • Cabin and engine air filter replacement
  • Wheel/tire alignment 
  • Headlight bulb replacement

Specialty Car Services

Our local mechanics hold a wide variety of specialties in our experience, services, and knowledge. Combined with our advanced in-house equipment, Chapel Hill Tire’s mechanics on Hillsborough Street provide innovative services, including:

Visit Chapel Hill Tire in Durham

Visit Chapel Hill Tire’s newest mechanic location for all your car care needs in Durham. We look forward to expanding our mechanic family and serving drivers across the greater Triangle area with our Hillsborough Street location. You can make your appointment or give our Durham mechanics a call to get started today!

Our News: Mobile Car Wash and Detailing Discounts, and a New Location in Durham

Spring is here, and you know what that means: Warmer weather, flowers in bloom, barbecues in the backyard, and… Pollen. Specifically, that filmy golden layer of pollen that shows up on your car day after day, threatening to cloud your windshield and damage your paint job.

And sure, you could break out the hose and a bucket of soapy water in your driveway. But with our new Mobile Car Wash and Detailing service, you can free up your time without having to go out of your way to get your car looking shiny and new. It’s just another way that we’re looking to serve our communities and customers better, by bringing the car wash to you.

Download the New App and Save

We’ve come a long way since the first automated car washes were invented in 1940s Hollywood — so far in fact, that you can now book a car wash from the comfort of your couch, and have our experienced detailing technicians come right to you.

That’s all made possible by our new Chapel Hill Tire app, which you can download here.

“But what’s the catch?”, you might be thinking. That’s just the thing: There isn’t one. 

By booking through our app, you’ll get the same great wash and detail services that Chapel Hill Tire has on offer in-store, at no extra cost. And for a limited time, we’re actually making the deal even better, with a $20 discount off your first in-app purchase using code CARWASH323.

We offer the same selection of car wash and detailing packages as you’ll find in stores, covering everything from a basic wash and shine to an in-depth detailing where we’ll smooth out light scratches and enhance the gloss on your paint.

One of our customers’ favorite ways to use this new service has been while they’re at work. Set up an appointment the day before, drive your car into work, and while you’re busy at your desk our technicians will come by and spruce it up for you. By the time five o’ clock rolls around, you’ll be able to walk into the parking lot and head home in your freshly cleaned and detailed car.

Our new mobile car wash service also makes for a great gift. You can buy any of our four available packages as a gift certificate, and give someone in your life the gift of a squeaky-clean car for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.

To learn more about this new service, check out our complete guide to mobile car wash and detailing services at Chapel Hill Tire. And if you’re ready to schedule your first appointment and get your $20 discount, don’t forget to download the app today!

But There’s More: New Location Opening in Durham

We’re also proud to announce the opening of our newest store! Located in the former Durham Tire location on Hillsborough Road, this brings our total number of Triangle area shops to 11. Now you can get the service you’ve come to know and love in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Cary, and Apex. 

Or if you’re short on time, we can take care of things with our free pickup and delivery, or our mobile car wash and detailing services. That’s just part of our commitment to innovating new ways of getting you and your car the care and service you need.

Our Community: Robert Ballard, Chapel Hill High School Automotive Teacher

Aerial photo showing green trees and buildings

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

William Arthur Ward

Think back on your time in school, and the teachers you had. You may not even remember quite  a few of them. But it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll remember a great teacher, the one that inspired you to do more than your best — not just to learn, but to become more, and transform into a better person for it.

We’re blessed to have many teachers like that in the Chapel Hill area, inspiring our kids to greatness and preparing them for bright, productive futures. And today, we’d like to tell you a little more about one of those teachers in particular: Robert Ballard, Chapel Hill High School’s Automotive Instructor.

Robert has lived in the Chapel Hill area his entire life and has been teaching our kids for the better part of 17 years, but it was only recently that he moved to teaching high school classes. 

Robert Ballard

“I’ve really enjoyed making the change from teaching college classes to high school. At the high school age, a lot of kids are making those big life decisions — where to go to college, or whether they should really be going to college in the first place. I find it really rewarding to help the kids at that crucial time in their lives.” says Robert, adding that “The perception is starting to change about what options are available to students coming out of high school. We’re really trying to educate kids on all their options, from college to tech school to apprenticeship programs and more.”

For Robert, those options go hand-in-hand with working with local businesses. “Chapel Hill Tire has been a big supporter of the automotive program [at Chapel Hill High School] for years,” says Robert. “They’ve come out and talked to our students quite a few times, helped me certify my program, supported the racing team, and even hired a lot of our students right out of high school. They’re a great business partner, and I love working with them.”

And even though the state-level curriculum might be a bit behind the times, Robert is always looking towards the future of the automotive industry while he’s preparing his students for life after graduation. “The automotive industry has changed a lot, and it always keeps changing. These days it’s more about computers and electronics, and it’s less mechanical — and with that comes different ways of teaching, to help these kids be prepared to do well in automotive in the future.”

We’re honored to be able to partner with Robert and Chapel Hill High School to keep these programs running smoothly, and look forward to many more years to come. Robert is a runner up for Teacher of the Year this year, and we wish him the best of luck as he continues to inspire and educate our brightest young minds!

Our People: Mike Storey, Director of Training

a wrench set and a hat beside a sticker with a smiley face and the words drive happy

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”

Henry Ford

If variety is the spice of life, then learning must be the meat and potatoes. Whether you’re 14 or 40, continuing to grow and learn is what gives life substance, keeps your mind and body sharp, and gives you something to look forward to every single day.

And these days, becoming a lifelong learner isn’t just a way to invigorate your daily routine. It’s also a necessity in any career field — but especially one as fast-moving and ever-changing as the automotive industry.

Mike Storey

Mike Storey, our new Director of Training for all of Chapel Hill Tire’s locations, knows a lot about how the industry is changing. And with a whopping 21 different ASE certifications to his name, he also knows a lot about what it takes to be a lifelong learner, and how to pass that on to a whole new generation of technicians.

“I went into a tech school program right out of high school, and I’ve basically been working in automotive for my entire adult life,” says Mike. “It’s always interesting, because there’s always a new challenge, and so many opportunities for improvement. That’s a big part of what I’m hoping to bring to Chapel Hill Tire as their Director of Training.”

More than anything, Mike wants to bring a big understanding of the “why” behind everything to Chapel Hill Tire’s technicians. “That’s really the foundation of the whole training program. You know, today’s car is basically a rolling computer network, with 120 or more modules — and you have to know the ‘why’ behind all of that to be a really great technician.”

And how do you really incorporate that Striving for Excellence into work? For Mike, that means looking at including ASE certifications as part of the promotion plans at Chapel Hill Tire. For motivated and curious team members, there will always be something new to work on, and Mike wants to give them a variety of ways to advance their careers in the automotive industry.

“Chapel Hill Tire has already put a lot of effort into Striving for Excellence, and I want to continue to make that available to more people. I’d really like to see some of our technicians become ASE Master certified. That will take a lot of custom training and fine-tuning — and a lot of time — but I know it’s worth doing.”

For those team members who want to pursue an ASE Master’s certification, it will take a lot of studying! Each Master’s certification covers eight different areas, with tests for each part. We’re lucky to have someone as experienced as Mike to help guide our techs through each phase of the testing process.

We’re so happy to have Mike as a new member of the Chapel Hill Tire family, and he feels the same way: “I’m happy that Chapel Hill Tire has picked me for this job, and I’m looking forward to continuing to be a part of watching this company and its people grow.”

Our Values: Striving for Automotive Service Excellence

Chapel Hill Tire Values

When you go to get your car worked on, how do you know that the business you choose is up to par? And how do you know that the fine folks working on your vehicle really know their trade inside and out, and are capable of getting you back on the road without a hitch?

An auto shop’s reputation goes a long way toward reassuring you on these matters, but it’s only part of the story. To know that you’re getting the best service possible for your car or truck, you’ll need to look towards the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE.

Established in 1972, the ASE is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of vehicle repair and service. They’re the gold standard for automotive service certifications, and their chairman Homer Hogg has this to say about the purpose of the ASE:

“[Our] focus on the advancement of service professionals through testing and certification benefits employers, consumers, and most importantly, service professionals themselves.”

And as part of our commitment to Striving for Excellence in everything we do at Chapel Hill Tire, our service technicians have been getting ASE certified at a downright impressive rate. In 2022 alone, we added a total of 51 new ASE certifications — increasing our total to 141 certifications company-wide, with many more to come in 2023.

That means when you take your car in to one of our 10 Chapel Hill Tire locations, you know you’re taking it to the absolute best service technicians around. But even after earning their ASE certifications, our technicians want to go farther, always learning from the latest techniques and technologies to increase their skill levels.

Mike Storey, our Director of Training that you’ll also meet in this month’s newsletter, is a huge part of what makes our training programs at Chapel Hill Tire so special. As part of his plans for our service technicians’ continued training, he’s building in ASE certification into promotion plans that every team member can strive towards. And he’s perfectly situated to do so, as he is an ASE-certified Master technician with a whopping 21 individual certifications, on everything from diesel engines to advanced performance and hybrid vehicles.

All in all, we make a point of Striving for Excellence in everything we do here at Chapel Hill Tire, and we’re looking forward to seeing Mike pass on his knowledge and expertise to our many ambitious team members. That way whenever you visit one of our 10 locations, you’ll know through and through that you’re getting the best possible service for your car, and the best customer service experience that we can provide, every time!

A Complete Guide to Tire Blowouts

A tire blowout

One moment, you are safely driving down the road. In an instant, your car is suddenly spinning out of control or veering off the road. This is the terrifying reality for drivers experiencing a tire blowout. The local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here with everything you need to know about tire blowouts. 

What is a Tire Blowout?

A tire blowout is when a tire suddenly loses pressure—making it “burst” or “explode.” This process can cause the vehicle to lose control. In many cases, the tire’s tread will detach, and the rubber will separate—leaving behind an unrecognizable tire inundated with damage. 

The Difference Between a Tire Blowout and a Flat Tire

Many drivers mistakenly refer to tire blowouts and flat tires interchangeably. Flat tires occur when the tire gradually reaches a pressure too low to drive on. However, tire blowouts happen instantly and violently—creating a far more dangerous outcome. Another key difference is that flat tires can often be repaired. Conversely, tire blowouts will always require a replacement. 

7 Causes of Tire Blowouts

So, what causes tire blowouts? Several risk factors can cause a tire blowout, including tire pressure issues, tire age, manufacturer defects, and road hazards. Understanding the cause of your tire blowout is vital. This insight can impact liability, fault, and settlements when the tire blowout leads to a car accident. Our mechanics are here to unpack some common causes of tire blowouts. 

1: Overinflated Tires

Much like an overinflated balloon, tires with too much pressure can pop. While overinflated tires are more likely to create flats, they can cause complete blowouts if put under enough stress. This is especially true when combined with other factors—like excessive heat and aged rubber. 

2: Underinflated Tire Blowouts

You might be surprised to learn that underinflated tires are more prominent blowout culprits. When your tire is underinflated, the sidewalls will bend and flex. This process exposes more surface area to the road—generating additional friction. Friction creates heat, which causes the air inside your tires to expand. Meanwhile, sidewall damage can compromise the structural integrity of the tire. Collectively, these hazards cause your tire to break down. 

3: Summer Weather and Heat

Have you ever wondered why tire blowouts are more common in the summer? You’ll find one common denominator of most tire blowout causes: heat. The hot asphalt will intensify any stressors your tire is facing. For example, the heat will cause further air expansion inside the tire and quicker rubber deterioration. 

4: Overloaded Vehicles

We think of our cars as industrial machines that can manage our cargo with ease. However, your tires can only handle a limited weight load. When you put too much pressure on your tires, they are more likely to burst. If you look in your tire information panel, it should include load information. The fine print will tell you the combined weight of passengers and cargo that your tires can safely manage. 

5: Tire Age

Did you know? Many countries have banned old tires (even when the tread is thick) after they were proven to cause car accidents. As your tire ages, the rubber oxidizes. This process will cause tread separation, sidewall deformation, and tire blistering. You can read our complete guide to tire age here

6: Manufacturer Defects

While rare, there is a chance you have a “lemon” tire. Manufacturer defects can be caused by expired materials, poor craftsmanship, or machinery malfunctions. 

The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association has a Tire Recall Lookup tool for drivers. Simply enter your tire’s DOT number to see if there are any known defects to your unit. In these cases, you can get your tire replaced at a local mechanic shop for free.

7: Potholes, Nails, and Other Road Hazards

Nails, screws, and other sharp objects can penetrate your rubber on the road. Most small punctures will gradually release air, leading to a flat tire. However, severe puncture wounds can cause a drastic change in air pressure, creating a tire blowout. Other road hazards, like potholes, also pose serious blowout threats. 

How to Prevent Tire Blowouts

It can be challenging to control your vehicle once it experiences a tire blowout. Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to prevent tire blowouts altogether:

  • Tire Pressure: Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer-recommend PSI. You can easily refill your tires with air using our 5-step guide here—or have your tires filled for free at a local mechanic. We also have an easy guide to checking your tire pressure here
  • Avoid Road Hazards: Nails most commonly get stuck in tires on the shoulder of the road. Staying on track can help you avoid these hazards. Additionally, you should avoid potholes on your commutes when possible. 
  • Replace Old Tires: Even if you find thick tire tread on old tires, you should have them replaced. Internal tire damage is often the most dangerous. 
  • Routine Maintenance: Your local mechanics will inspect your tires during routine maintenance visits, like oil changes. By keeping up with your recommended car care, experts can identify signs of failing tires before you experience a tire blowout. 

New Tires Near Me

You can prevent tire blowouts with the mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire. We will inspect your tires with every oil change and routine service, helping to ensure they are safe on the road. We can also fix bent rims and replace your tire after you experience a blowout. 

Chapel Hill Tire proudly serves the greater Triangle area with 10 locations across Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. You can make an appointment or give us a call to get started today! 

Pothole Causes, Solutions, and Mechanic Insight

A pothole on an open road

Potholes have seemed to become an epidemic across the nation. Drivers come in almost every day with trouble from roads. Some issues, like alignment troubles, can build over time. Other damage, like bent rims, can come on suddenly. However, potholes remain a constant nuisance. So, what causes potholes? What can you do about it? Our local mechanics are here with insight. 

What Causes Potholes?

Smooth asphalt is unlikely to face any direct impact in the middle of the street. So how do potholes form? The answer starts at the “roots” of our roads. On the surface, we see strong, industrial, unbreakable asphalt. However, deep beneath the pavement is soil ready to cause trouble. 

All potholes start with rain. Moisture can collect in the ground under the asphalt—seeping into the sand or dirt through small cracks in the road. This rain leads to three different causes of potholes:

  • Water can start eroding the underlying soil, leaving patches in the road’s structural support. Then, when a heavy truck or constant traffic stresses the patch of road, it can cave in—creating a new pothole.
  • We can also see tree roots and other vegetative regrowth begin seeking out the moisture collecting under the asphalt, impacting the road’s structural integrity. 
  • In other cases, freezing weather can cause the water to expand. When the ice thaws, it leaves a cavity in the pavement. As traffic drives over this cavity, it will cave in—creating a new pothole. 

The Current Pothole Trends

Why are potholes everywhere? Extreme weather conditions, staffing shortages, high traffic, and supply chain issues are some of the problems contributing to the predominance of potholes on the roads today. There are five main reasons we are seeing an increase in potholes in recent years. 

1: Changes in Traffic Patterns

For a low-traffic road, asphalt can last 25 years or more. However, as home development efforts continue with intensity throughout the country, even smaller backroads are seeing more movement. Naturally, this causes more pavement wear and tear, increasing the frequency of potholes. 

2: Supply Chain Issues

In 2021, supply chain issues led to a shortage of asphalt—delaying road projects and leaving potholes unfilled. This issue caused government officials to fall behind on pothole filling. With potholes becoming more prominent while repair efforts fall behind, officials cannot seem to catch back up. 

3: Change in Weather Patterns

As mentioned above, all potholes start with rain. In North Carolina, recent years have brought some of the highest levels of heavy rain the state has ever reported. More rain naturally leads to an increase in potholes. The 2022 NC Climate Summary provided the following chart, which clearly displays record-high precipitation in the 2015-2020 bar. The charts are updated in 5-year intervals, with the next update coming in 2025. However, we have continued to see high precipitation levels across the state, and experts expect this number to continue rising.

History of NC rain

4: Underreporting of Potholes 

As we explain below, patching a pothole starts with a report to the NCDOT. However, the predominance of potholes can create a type of bystander effect. If all drivers assume someone else has already reported a severe pothole in the area, you might find that nobody ever actually reports it. In other cases, many drivers can fall into a negative mindset that leads to underreporting. You might think, “It is useless—there are too many potholes to report.” When drivers accept the fate of a bumpy commute, roads are less likely to get the help they need. 

5: Pavement Life Cycles

Healthy pavement can last 25+ years without issue. However, all of the above concerns will shorten the asphalt lifespan. Additionally, we encourage you to look up when the state built pothole-covered roads in your area. You are likely to find that they are naturally reaching the end of their lifespan. 

The Dangers of Potholes on the Road

Whether they make you spill your coffee or wake the baby sleeping in the backseat—we have all been inconvenienced by potholes on the road. However, beyond just personal inconveniences, potholes can cause costly vehicle damage, including:

How to Tell If Your Car Has Pothole Damage

After driving over a huge pothole, have you ever noticed your car immediately fall silent? Perhaps this is our way of instinctually listening for an issue. Here is a look at the signs your vehicle experienced pothole damage:

  • Feel it out: If your tire experiences a blowout, the damage will be immediate and noticeable. However, pothole damage often comes in more subtle internal signs. For example, steering wheel shaking can signify pothole damage with your alignment or suspension system. 
  • Visual inspection: Take a look at your tires and the bottom of your car after hitting a pothole. Do you see any signs of an issue? Some problems, like tire bubbling, will be obvious. 
  • Visit a mechanic: The safest option is to have a professional take a look at your vehicle. Experts can diagnose potential issues. They can also advise whether or not you have a possible case for apparent pothole damage. 

Should I Fill In My Local Potholes?

In recent news, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took matters into his own hands: filling a pothole near his home. While drivers might rejoice in this decision, it can actually have serious consequences:

  • Potential Dangers: Road work can be dangerous. The government can shut down lanes and re-route drivers to maintain safe transportation during road repairs. Without the right precautions, you could create car accidents or risk personal injury trying to repair a road yourself. 
  • Delaying Real Repairs: It can be hard to fill a pothole to professional standards. Sometimes, your DIY solutions could delay long-lasting professional repairs—as experts will need to undo your work before starting. In other cases, you might actually make the pothole worse by trapping moisture under the asphalt. This water will expand during the following winter freeze, bringing the pothole back larger than before.
  • Personal Liability: You may be personally liable if an imperfect pothole fix causes any trouble. For example, underfilling a pothole could allow surface-level water collection while preventing the water from seeping through the cracks and into the ground. This change in your road’s structure could increase the risk of hydroplaning and car accidents. 
  • Mistaken Potholes: Or, as in the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the pothole may not be a pothole at all. The former governor actually filled in a service trench required to complete vital gas line repairs. 

No news yet on whether or not Arnold Schwarzenegger had to pay to have the service trench dug again. However, the reward is not worth the risk of filling potholes yourself. 

What Can You Do About Potholes?

While you can’t fill a pothole in yourself, there are some steps you can take to keep your car protected:

  • Always report potholes on the road to your local authorities. 
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Low tire pressure will leave you more prone to rim damage from potholes, while overinflated tires make it likely you will experience a tire blowout. 
  • Drive slowly over known potholes. 
  • While it might go without saying, avoid these hazards on the road when you can. For example, if you know the highway’s right lane has a severe pothole, remind yourself to drive in the left lane until the coast is clear. 
  • Consider finding an alternative route to your destination for severe and unavoidable potholes until the repairs are completed. 
  • Make sure you are keeping up with regular maintenance and vehicle inspections. If you are hitting frequent potholes, you should get your alignment checked for free at a local mechanic. This inspection can prevent more extensive damage from spreading, like uneven tire wear. Regular maintenance can also help you affirm to government officials or your insurance company that the damage was, in fact, caused by potholes. So, let’s take a closer look at how you can get repayment for pothole service repairs. 

How to Save Money on Pothole Repairs

Before you delay getting significant repairs caused by pothole damage, you should know these repairs may be covered for free. However, before we dive in, it is worth noting that you should visit a mechanic as soon as you experience pothole damage.

  • Immediate action will help keep your claim valid. If you file a property damage claim to the government after the pothole has been filled, it is more likely that your claim will be denied—even if you otherwise qualify for compensation. 
  • If you continue driving on a damaged tire, for example, it could create even more vehicle damage that will not be covered. 
  • In some cases, you might need a mechanic to attest that the damage to your vehicle was consistent with pothole damage. Additionally, you might need to have paid the costs to verify the final total for a claim. 

Will Insurance Cover Pothole Problems?

Yes, some car insurance policies—like collision insurance—will cover pothole damage. In these cases, you would simply need to pay your deductible. It is worth checking with your insurance agent to see if your vehicle can be repaired for free. 

Will the Government Cover Pothole Damage?

In some cases, your pothole damage may be covered by your local government. There are three noteworthy considerations here:

  • First, is the road state-maintained? A majority of roads are owned and maintained by the government. However, subdivisions and residential streets are often privately owned. For example, your home’s road might belong to the community and receive maintenance under the HOA. 
  • Second, was the pothole reported to the local government? NC drivers can click here to report a pothole. Claims are only valid if this was a known, reported pothole. 
  • Finally, how long ago was the report filed? The government requires a reasonable amount of time to respond to pothole reports before they can be held accountable. 

If a pothole was reported without reasonable action from the government, officials might take responsibility for the damage it caused. North Carolina drivers can click here to file a property damage claim to the NCDOT

Pothole Damage Repairs at Chapel Hill Tire

If a pothole has damaged your car or tire, visit our local mechanics. We will diagnose any issues and complete the repairs your vehicle needs. Our tire specialists can also help provide the verification you may need to validate your claim for coverage. 

We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with our 10 locations across Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. Our expert mechanics also commonly serve surrounding communities, including KnightdalePittsboroWake ForestHillsboroughMorrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment or give us a call to get started today! 

Car Battery Voltage: Everything You Need to Know

person jumping a car battery

Your car battery is essential in getting you where you need to go. Specifically, your battery often needs 12 volts of power to start your vehicle. Our local mechanics are here with a closer look at car battery voltage.  

12-Volt DC Battery: The Car Standard

“How many volts are in a car battery?” Most vehicles on the road are powered by a 12-volt DC battery. Even hybrid and electric cars have 12-volt batteries working alongside their high-power battery packs. 

While your alternator takes over the electrical functions of your car while you are driving, this battery plays several vital roles in the driving process:

  • Starting: Before your alternator can kick in, your 12V car battery is responsible for starting your car and powering all functions.
  • Unlocking: When you click the fob to unlock your car automatically, it uses power from your battery to signal and turn the locks. (Hint: If your car battery dies and your vehicle will not unlock, most fobs have a hidden key for manual unlocking). 
  • Keeping the Lights On: After you turn off your engine, your battery will keep the lights on and allow other functions to continue—like the radio and device charging.

A Closer Look: How Many Volts in a Car Battery

While they are called “12-volt batteries,” this is simply the nominal voltage rating. In other words, 12 volts is the energy output car batteries should provide in normal circumstances

The actual voltage supply can vary slightly depending on the battery’s composition, age, testing circumstances, and charge. Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • If you test your car battery while it is actively running, a healthy unit will read between 13 volts and 15 volts.
  • If your battery is fully charged after a long drive, the voltage output might read as ~12.4 volts – 12.9 volts.
  • Meanwhile, an older battery low on charge after a cold winter night might read as 12 volts or lower. 

Why does voltage matter? It is always better to replace your battery at the first signs of failure—rather than wait until you are stranded on the go. Keeping an eye on your battery output can help. This reading can also signal whether your battery is declining early. In these cases, you can take measures to further protect your battery and prolong its lifespan.

You can easily have your car battery tested and serviced by a professional mechanic. However, most vehicles require the full 12-volt output to start. If you don’t have the juice you need to make it to a local shop, here are some resources that can help:

Low Voltage Output: Causes and Solutions

What Causes Car Battery Failure?

On average, most car batteries last 4-7 years, depending on how well you care for them. Generally, if your car battery is supplying low voltage, it is experiencing routine failure. However, there are a few other potential causes of low voltage, including:

  • A failing alternator: Your alternator recharges your battery as you drive. Without proper alternator functioning, your car battery will quickly die. 
  • Corrosion: Any corrosion on your car battery can interrupt its charging and power transfer. 
  • Electrical issue: Rather than low output, there could be an issue with the electrical connection in your engine. 
  • Starter Issue: If your car doesn’t have the power it needs to turn over, there could be an issue with any component in your starting system. 

Solutions for Your Car Battery

While it might be too late for your current car battery, there are a few potential solutions that can help preserve your new 12-volt DC battery:

  • Regular driving: Your alternator recharges your car battery as you drive. Avoiding long periods of dormancy can help keep your battery healthy and charged.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: The summer’s heat can destroy your car battery from the inside out—causing irreversible damage. Meanwhile, cold temperatures slow down the electrochemical process that generates your battery’s power. 
  • Keep away corrosion: You can have corroded battery terminal ends replaced by a professional mechanic to extend the lifespan of your battery. 
  • Avoid lingering electronics: When your engine is turned off, all of your car’s functions (like the lights, phone charging, and radio) will depend solely on your 12-volt battery—draining away its charge. Be sure to turn off all lights and unplug your devices after switching your engine off. 
  • Maintain routine vehicle maintenance: In some cases, regular engine maintenance can help keep your battery protected. For example, during the colder months, slow-moving engine oil can force your vehicle to work harder to start. Naturally, this requires an extra boost of energy from your battery. Fresh engine oil helps alleviate this stress on your battery and engine. 

Car Battery Replacement Near Me at Chapel Hill Tire

If you need your car battery serviced, tested, or replaced, the local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire have you covered! We proudly serve the greater Triangle area with 10 locations across Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. Our professional mechanics also commonly serve surrounding communities, including Knightdale, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, Morrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment or give us a call to get started today!

Should I Get My Transmission Replaced or Buy a New Car?

Mechanic Completing Engine and Transmission Service

Hearing that your transmission failed can feel like a nail in the coffin for your vehicle. So, should you have your transmission replaced? Or should you buy a new car? The answer here is more complicated than it might seem. Our local mechanics are here with some factors you should consider. 

Why Are Transmission Issues So Expensive?

When caught early, a mechanic can affordably repair some surface-level transmission issues. For example, replacing a faulty solenoid, seal, gasket, or shifter cable is often relatively straightforward and affordable. However, most transmission failures are often more severe and expensive for a few important reasons:

  • Complex repairs for simple issues: Transmissions contain complex mechanical components carefully assembled and calibrated to your vehicle. As such, a simple interior issue can require highly complex service. For example, your gears can quickly become worn or damaged without fresh transmission fluid. Unlike exterior components (like the solenoid or shifter cable), transmission gears are on shafts inside the transmission. So while gear replacement might sound easy, it requires a mechanic to completely remove, disassemble, repair, and reassemble your transmission. 
  • Challenging Detection: As mentioned above, you are more likely to access affordable repairs when you catch a transmission issue early. However, transmission issues are notoriously difficult for drivers to detect. Why? Many transmission issues do not display noticeable symptoms until they become extensive problems. 
  • The Domino Effect: Your transmission is a network of parts and systems that all work together. One minor issue can create a domino effect—quickly causing total system failure. 

Keeping up with simple maintenance services, like transmission fluid replacement, can help prevent these issues and catch problems early. 

Extensive transmission repair can often cost as much as a new installation. So drivers are often left with two options: replacing the transmission or buying a new car. Which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look. 

1: Insurance or Warranty: Transmission Replacement

If your transmission replacement is free, you should take full advantage of this option. Even if you plan on buying a new car anyways, a transmission replacement will help you get a much better resale value. 

Drivers might find free transmission replacement from a manufacturer’s warranty or your insurance coverage. Generally speaking, your warranty might cover internal transmission failure, while insurance may cover transmission issues caused by an outside source. 

Warranties: Does my Warranty Cover Transmission Replacement?

Transmission repairs and replacements are covered under the drivetrain or powertrain warranty provided by most manufacturers. Some powertrain warranties cover up to 10 years or 100,000 miles. 

However, there are a few caveats to this solution drivers should keep in mind: 

  • Your warranty can be void if you do not keep up with your routine maintenance—like transmission fluid replacement. 
  • In some cases, certain warranty limitations may apply if you are not the vehicle’s original owner.
  • Your warranty may be void if you use your vehicle for work—such as with a delivery or a driving service like Amazon, Uber, or Lyft. 
  • The manufacturer may ask for proof that the damage was caused by an issue with the materials or assembly. 

Insurance: Does my Insurance Cover Transmission Replacement?

Generally speaking, insurance does not cover transmission failure from an internal part or component. But issues caused by an outside source may fall under your insurance coverage, including transmission damage from:

  • A car accident
  • Inclement weather (like a tornado, hurricane, or flood)
  • Hitting a road hazard (including debris or an animal)
  • Theft or vandalism

Of course, this will depend on your insurance policy, coverage, the exact cause and nature of the damage, and the assessment done by your insurance company. It is worth a call to your insurance agent to see if they can help.  

2: Classic Car: Transmission Replacement

Work you do to fix up a classic car—from a new transmission to an EV conversion—is often well worth the investment. While you are unlikely to find a classic transmission, updating with newer parts will keep the vehicle drivable. 

Many drivers also find it worthwhile to fix up cars with sentimental value. A car that once belonged to a loved one can feel priceless to maintain. 

3: Failing or Older Vehicles: Buy a New Car

Not all older vehicles are created equally. Failing vehicles are likely to require repair after repair. You might pay thousands to replace the transmission—only to find the engine fails next week. Even with frequent smaller issues, the cost of ongoing repair services can add up quickly—making a new car well worth the extra investment. 

4: Vehicles in Otherwise Good Shape: Transmission Replacement

As mentioned above, a newer car is likely to have transmission service covered under the powertrain warranty. However, even if the warranty is void, it is still worth your money to consider transmission service. In these cases, your trade-in devaluation of a failed transmission will often cost far more than the transmission replacement. 

For example, let’s say your new transmission will cost close to $7,000. When you trade your vehicle in, dealers might take $10,000 off your resale value. 

Cars with significant issues give the dealership the upper hand. They know you need a new car and are often eager to use this leverage to charge you more. In this case, having your transmission replaced before buying a new car will save you $3,000. 

Here is a way to test whether this option is right for you. First, speak with a local mechanic to estimate your new transmission cost. Then, call a few local dealerships and ask for a free car trade-in appraisal—with and without a failed transmission. 

5: Your Financial Best Interests

Replacing a transmission can cost anywhere from $2,900 – $7,100 (according to data from KBB). This cost will depend on a variety of factors, including your vehicle’s make, model, and the type of transmission it requires. 

Transmission replacement is one of the most expensive services a vehicle can encounter. Because of the high costs, many drivers wonder, “Is paying for a transmission replacement worth it?” 

Even at $5,000+, a new transmission can be more affordable than trading in your vehicle and buying a new car, making this the most financially accessible solution for many drivers. However, there are a few additional considerations here:

The truth is, you know your financial situation best. A mechanic can help you understand transmission replacement costs so you can make the right decision for you. 

Local Transmission Service in Durham, Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill

The professionals at Chapel Hill Tire are here to help you get the transmission service you need. We will help you understand the costs, timeline, and options so that you can make the best decision for you. If you decide to have your transmission replaced by our local mechanics, we offer free loaner vehicles for extended services to help keep you on the go. 

Chapel Hill Tire proudly serves the Triangle with 10 locations across Cary, Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham. Our mechanics also commonly serve nearby drivers, including KnightdalePittsboroWake ForestHillsboroughMorrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment or give us a call to get started today!