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Current Charlotte Auto News
04
Top 5
Snazzy Compact Cars for Driving in Charlotte, NC
Driving around Charlotte can be a fun way to spend the afternoon. From the winding country roads out near Union County to the fast paced I-95 that carries you right to the fun spots of downtown, nothing beats a sunny day cruising around the Queen City! One thing for sure is that Charlotte is a big city with lots of fun things to see and do, so if you’re going to enjoy all it has to offer, you better get yourself a fun and sporty compact car that gets great gas mileage! Here’s the Top 5 compact cars you’ll see around town:

Top 5 Compact Cars:

1. Ford Focus Great fuel economy, a sporty look, and a roomier, upscale interior has folks in the Charlotte area loving the Ford Focus. Offering 26/36 mpg city/highway, the Focus gets you to all your favorite places around The Queen City and leaves you with some money in your wallet for some downtown fun. The Focus ST comes with a powerful turbo-charged engine and superb handling, making it a top performer.

2. Chevrolet Cruze - If you’re looking for a high quality and high performance compact car, the Chevrolet Cruze definitely delivers. The interior is roomy and comfortable and the fuel efficient design will have you cruising all the way from the Charlotte Motor Speedway to Carowinds Amusement Park without even thinking about a gas station stop! Tons of options are available including remote keyless entry, rearview camera, rear park assist, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, and more!

3. Honda Civic - The Honda Civic is a popular choice yet again this year. The smooth ride and excellent standard features keeps this fun to drive car at the top of reviewer’s lists. It offers a sound resistant cabin for a quiet ride and even boasts a new feature that reads your incoming text messages out loud for you allowing a safe trip to your favorite concert at the Time Warner Arena without missing important messages!

4. Mazda 3 Sporting a powerful engine with a fun to drive sporty feel, the Mazda 3 offers a lot of upscale options drivers will love. Cruise to the Carolina Panthers game in style and be prepared to enjoy the envious looks you will get when you arrive in this new sleek Mazda design! They’ll be even more jealous when they hear it gets 30/41 mpg city/highway!

5. Kia Soul This spunky little car comes loaded with cool features and offers up plenty of room for everything you want to buy at the Concord Mills Outlet Shops! The Soul provides a smooth ride, even on Charlotte’s country back roads and comfy seats for the long haul. Standard features include Bluetooth, satellite radio, steering wheel mounted audio/cruise controls and USB and auxiliary inputs for the tech savvy.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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The Smart Car Buyer
What to Bring With You When Car Shopping
If you are getting ready to buy your first car or to replace your current car, you have a lot of things to consider, including the make, model and color, and how much money you are willing to part with. Before you head on over the dealership, there are some items that you should bring with you to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly.

It almost goes without saying, but you need to remember to bring your valid driver’s license. This is something people forget sometimes, especially if they have been relying on other people to take them places. If you don’t have your license, you won’t be able to take any cars for a test drive or drive your new car home. You should also bring proof of insurance.

DO YOUR RESEARCH Unless you are fabulously wealthy and don’t care about losing money, you will need to do some research before going out car shopping. Looking up information online about the types of cars you are interested in will help you narrow your focus when you are out looking at available vehicles.

If you have a particular car in mind, research and print out the dealer’s invoice price and take it with you. This is invaluable information to have when you are negotiating with the salesperson. Put your printouts in a folder, along with the details of any incentives or rebates that you have discovered.

REVIEW THE REVIEWS Another useful thing to bring is a printout of trustworthy reviews of the cars you are most interested in. You can consult these pages while looking at particular cars, to refresh your memory about why you were interested in buying them.

If you don’t feel confident in your ability to properly evaluate a car, you should consider bringing a friend or family member who knows something about cars. If the dealer senses that you have no idea what you are looking at, there is a temptation to take advantage of you.

It’s also a good idea to bring the phone number of a trusted mechanic, in case you want to make an appointment to get a used car checked out. Your mechanic may even be willing to meet you at the location to do an inspection. This is particularly useful when you are considering buying a used car from a dealership you’ve never been to before or when you are evaluating a car being sold by a private party.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
Charlotte
For The Love of Driving: Charlotte
Located in the southwest region of North Carolina, Charlotte is a beautiful city that boasts a busy economy, lots of tourism destinations and miles and miles of incredible roads to explore. Whether you're grabbing the keys and hopping into your Honda Civic for a little solo excursion or piling a few friends into a Infiniti Q60 with the top down, here are a few of Charlotte's hidden gems and local favorites to check out once your motor's humming:

Carowinds

No visit to Charlotte, NC would be complete without a day of play at the state's most famous amusement park. Filled with coasters, thrill rides and a water park that will cool off the hottest summer day, the park is found right off of the aptly-named Carowinds Boulevard in the south part of the city. Get amped up for a coaster-thon by cruising down 77 on your way in - it gives a "road trip" feel to an outing at this thrill center.

Wing Haven Gardens

Often overlooked for larger parks and public spaces, Wing Haven makes an excellent stop on a warm day - especially if you tuck a picnic basket and camera into the back of your Toyota Prius. The carefully cultivated and curated gardens at Wing Haven offer beautiful blooms, sculpted topiaries and lots more greenery to check out. Spend the day taking in the lush botanical gardens and bird sanctuary, finishing off your visit with a leisurely cruise down Ridgewood Avenue to take in the sunset on your way back home.

Lazy 5 Ranch

If you prefer to get a glimpse of more exotic fauna, the Lazy 5 is a classic tourist stop in Charlotte. Bring the kids, enjoy the drive out to nearby Mooresville and temporarily trade your Honda Odyssey for a horse-drawn carriage ride through a scaled-down savannah. Rhinos, giraffes and more cavort mere feet from the cart, offering an incredible experience for animal fans who want to get up close and personal. If you need a great place to cool off once you've completed your safari, be sure to head west and take a dip in Lake Norman before concluding your adventures.

No matter where you decide to take a drive in Charlotte, you'll find the city a welcoming place for vehicles ranging from Mini Coopers to Ford Edges. If you decide to visit any of these interesting places or new destinations within the city, be sure to get an early start - after all, you certainly won't be the first driver intent on investigating how much charm is packed into this sweet southern city.

Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Car Parking Safety Tips
Parking your car on the street or in a crowded lot may leave you worrying while you are shopping or at dinner. Use the simple tips to park worry-free and ticket-free no matter where you are!

Check Your Surroundings. First, you need to check your surroundings to ensure that you aren't breaking any parking rules. Make sure the street or spot that you picked isn't a no standing zone, loading zone or under street sweeping hours during that time. Also be sure to note any 1 or 2 hour time restrictions. Scan the open spot for any hazards and be sure to check in back of you before parallel parking. Because vandalism and theft often happens in crowded lots or on empty street corners, if you can, choose to park your car in a brightly lit area. This will decrease the chances of someone trying to vandalize or break in your car at night. If you are by yourself, you should also have everything you need in your hand before opening the door, and only do so after you have looked around to make sure no one is in the area.

Be Selfish. Look for a parking space where you will have plenty of room to yourself. Ideally, you want a space that has ample room on each side for each driver and passenger to get into their vehicle without hitting the other car. This might mean you have to park further away or wait a bit longer for a spot, but it is worth it in the long run. The National Safety Council actually recommends that you back your car into a space rather than going in head first because it is easier to pull out. If there are open spaces further back, take the extra time to walk the distance and protect your doors and rear view mirrors from dings and scratches.

Be Smart. It may go without saying, but when you park your car, whether you are running into the grocery store or parking it before a long concert, be sure to hide all valuables in the trunk or leave them at home. A car is much more likely to be broken into if there are bags, expensive sound systems, wallets or anything of worth in line of sight. It is vital that you do this before you arrive at your destination. If you wait until you are there, it is possible that someone watched you put your valuables away and now knows there are valuables in the trunk. You have to think ahead, but it will save you the headache of dealing with a break in.

All in all, these simple parking tips will help to give you peace of mind when you park. Remember to park away from other cars in a well-lit area, check your surroundings and be selfish and smart.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
Speedometer
Dashboard Nightmares: What to Do for a Check Engine Light
The check engine light has the ability to strike terror into your heart, but usually turns out to be relatively harmless. Of course, every now and then, the evil lurking behind your fears actually does, unfortunately, exist.

DON'T IGNORE IT
Although, your first inclination might be to ignore the check engine light in hopes that it will go away, chances are it won't. Whether you want to or not, it is time to swing into action, and the first thing you should do is whip out your owner's manual to determine if the light you are seeing indicates a serious problem that needs immediate attention. For instance, in some cars, a blinking or red light can mean your engine has a severe issue that could require an expensive repair if not fixed immediately, and that it should be seen by a mechanic as soon as possible. Then in other cars the engine light can come on for something as simple as a loose gas cap (See next section on that...).

NOTE THE COLOR
If your check engine can be different colors and the light is steady or yellow instead of red, your problem might not be severe. Try tightening the gas cap to see if that will correct the issue. Surprisingly, a loose gas cap will often trigger the check engine light. Once the gap cap is tightened, this light will often go off immediately, although it might also take a few driving trips before the check engine indicator turns off.

DIY
Are you a do-it-yourselfer with the ability to know what an engine code means? Then you might want to purchase a tool from your local automotive parts store that will allow you to read the check engine's repair code so that you will know what type of problem your car is experiencing. These scanners are typically relatively inexpensive. (Note - you won't be able to do this in cars that don't have a computer)!

SHOP AROUND
Some automotive parts stores will check the code for you and will also turn off the check engine light for free. Other parts stores charge a fee for this service, so it is always best to ask if there is a cost before having anyone do this for you.

Of course, if you are not a do-it-yourselfer or if tightening the gas cap doesn't work, you should take your car to the dealership or an auto repair shop to have the code checked and the problem fixed by an expert. Not paying attention to the check engine light can result in an even more expensive repair later on.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff
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Best Car Service Centers in Charlotte, North Carolina
If you live in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina and your car needs a tune-up, quick wash or new sound system, these local businesses will get your car into top shape!

Car Washes

If you live in South End or Dilworth, then your car needs to make a pit stop at Autobell Car Wash on South Boulevard. They offer excellent car washes for quality prices and even have manager's specials that include extras like rain repellent. They usually get you in and out in less than fifteen minutes and offer honest recommendations for upgrades based on your car's needs. Additionally, their customer service goes above and beyond what is expected and required. Autobell Car Wash is the perfect choice for any automobile needing a little tender, love and care.

If you live closer to Starmount and you car needs more attention than just the standard wash, Exclusive Detail and Tint on Chastain will surely please. Brian is friendly, efficient and talented. He comes highly recommended and will always ask for permission before fixing or working on anything extra. Exclusive Detail and Tint also does scratch removal and repair, window tinting and clay bar and custom cleaning. You can also book your appointment online.

Car Repair

Located on Iverson Way in Dilworth, Neighborhood Garage is a family owned business that always leaves customers feeling satisfied. They have fair prices, quality customer service and honest mechanical assessments. The staff here will not up-sell on unnecessary parts or services. The staff will even give you a ride to pick up or drop off your car if you need. Neighborhood Garage definitely goes above and beyond!

Eurowise in Starmount is another high rated car repair shops in Charlotte. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and they have a great deal of experience in foreign cars. They are a trustworthy source for information, quotes and honest opinions. They are also close to the light rail, which makes it convenient for transportation to and from the shop.

Whether you live in Dilworth or Starmount or anywhere in the Charlotte area, these local car washes and car repair shops will leave your car feeling and looking great. Family owned and customer service driven, all of these service centers are a step above the rest.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Reviews

01
2013 Chevrolet Spark
Big things come in small packages. Nothing makes that statement come to life better than the 2013 Chevrolet Spark.This is the newest mincar offering from Chevrolet. It is a five-door hatchback that features quite a bit of cargo and passenger space for its size. That translates into seating for four passengers and 31.2 cubic feet of cargo space. It still ranks as the smallest Chevy car sold in the United States.

A 1.2-liter four-cylinder engine powers the minicar. It can generate 84 hp and 82 lb-ft of torque. Engine speed goes from 0 to 60 in 10.9 seconds. It features a five speed manual transmission, but a four-speed automatic transmission is an available option. Gas mileage is good, although not as high as you would expect for this car. It is rated for 32 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway.

The minicar comes in LS, 1LT, and 2LT trim packages. Few frills are available with the base LS models. Customers who opt for a 1LT or 2LT trim can enjoy a full spectrum of built-in electronic gadgets designed to simplify driving. This includes MyLink infotainment system, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth and OnStar. The MyLink system features a 7-inch touch screen and it can let you connect to the Internet through a smart phone.

Safety features are abundant. You will enjoy stability and traction control and antilock brakes. Each car also comes equipped with 10 airbags. 60 percent of the frame and body was built with high-strength steel to make it more durable on impact.

Chevy has made its newest mincar affordable. The starting price for a 2013 Spark with a basic trim package is a cool $12,995. That is about $3,000 cheaper than similar minicars offered by Toyota and Fiat.

Urban dwellers are the target consumers for this minicar. It's ultracompact size will make traveling on freeways and highways feel equal parts scary and dangerous. Then again, it is the perfect vehicle if you want to make a trip to the neighborhood market or check out the newest offerings at the downtown art gallery.
03
2013 smart fortwo Review
Featuring a nomenclature that is as small in size as is the car itself, the 2013 smart fortwo takes smart, small cars to the ultimate level. At an MSRP starting at $12,490, this rear wheel drive compact car is quite affordable. Add in the 34/38 city/highway fuel economy, and you've got a real money saver.

Note that the small stature of the fortwo measures in at 8.8 feet in length, while providing up to 12 cubic feet of trunk space. As in the title, this car will seat two passengers in it's generous cabin area. Expect, pleasantly, to find plenty of room for your legs and head thanks to offset seating position. Dash controls are arranged in an intuitive manner, thereby allowing you to keep your eyes on the road rather than scouring the car for the radio dial.

Note the automated manual, three-cylinder transmission will generate up to 70 horsepower that has ample get-up and go power. Zip through city streets with ease and find parking in the most hard to reach spaces. Dart down the highway as you make your way from Point A to Point B without creating a large carbon footprint.

Set your mark on your choice of two trim levels – base line Pure and premium Passion. Go with the Pure model if you are searching for a bare-bones vehicle. Upgrade to Passion for air-conditioning, power windows, power locks and a radio. The Passion model also features 15 inch alloys, a leather steering wheel including paddle shifters, and USB/AUX inputs. Other options include LED running lights, heated seats, a navigational system, and a stereo with surround sound.

As for safety, a key feature of the 2013 smart fortwo, extra precautionary measures have been put into place. Note the heavy-duty steel tridion cabin cell, as well as airbags along the sides, front and knees. You'll also appreciate the stability control system and traction system, in addition to ABS brakes.

- Auto.com Editorial Staff

Charlotte Car Dealers

Top 5 04 Snazzy Compact Cars for Driving in Charlotte, NC The Smart Car Buyer File000530964878 What to Bring With You When Car Shopping Local Charlotte For The Love of Driving: Charlotte National File9501255028364 Car Parking Safety Tips Tip Speedometer Dashboard Nightmares: What to Do for a Check Engine Light