Winter Driving Kit

The holiday travel season is upon us which means it’s also time to prepare for inclement weather. We on the West Coast may not see frequent snowstorms – at least in the valleys – but that doesn’t mean we’re not at risk of getting stuck out on the open road. So, in the interest of survival, let’s revisit the idea of a Winter Driving Kit. Here’s what ODOT suggests you in your vehicle at all times:

Make sure your vehicle is stocked with the following:

  • Rechargeable flashlight
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Extra food and water
  • Flares
  • Tools: jack, lug wrench, shovel
  • Road maps
  • Blanket/sleeping bag(s)
  • Extra warm clothes, boots, hat and gloves
  • First aid kit
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches or lighter
  • Battery jumper cables
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Paper towels
  • Extra washer fluid
  • Chains or traction tires
  • A full fuel tank

Source (and for more on winter driving):

Drive safely!


Oh, no… Snow! Everything You and Your Vehicle Need for Winter Driving

Snow levels in Southern Oregon are forecast to drop to their lowest so far this season over the next 24 hours. Whether your plans are to drive north for the UO Duck game, south to warmer climes, or just around town, you’ll want your vehicle ready to handle the cold, and potentially slick, streets. In the interest of physical safety and peace of mind, here’s a list of links to help you and your car, truck or SUV weather winter driving conditions.

Winterizing your vehicle:

Driving in snow and ice:

Studded Tires, Traction Tires and Chains
(Oregon’s studded tire season started November 1st and runs through March 31st.)

Oregon’s chain law:

Chain requirements:

Traction tires:

Tire reviews:

Up-to-the-minute local weather conditions:

Interstate 5 Siskiyou Pass roadcam:

Interstate 5 Sexton Pass roadcam:

Interstate 5 at Hilt, CA roadcam:

U.S. Highway 99 at Hayes Hill Summit roadcam:

For the Love of Trucks

It’s not really explainable, this love affair some of us have with trucks. Sure, we could describe the view, the thrill of riding up high, the rush of being literally “above it all”. We could gush about all the space we have to spread out in and store stuff. We could point to the toys we can haul, to the goodies we can carry in the bed. We could talk confidently about the power! The torque! We could even sit back, gaze adoringly at our rig, and sigh at the sheer beauty of the thing. But none of these makes a complete argument.

This is not to say that I don’t fully appreciate cars. I have enjoyed the handful Butler’s allowed me to “test”. I’ve even owned one (Just one. A loooong time ago). But driving a car feels to me like wearing someone else’s shoes; they get the job done but they don’t fit quite right.

Science would prove me wrong but, I’m convinced “truck love” is in our DNA. Not everyone is born with it and, if you don’t have it you never will. Yes, to *drive* a truck is to make a choice. To *love* a truck is simply a state of being.

Leasing or Buying: Which Works for You?

When I was a kid my father used to come home with a new car every two years. I’ve since learned that he had a great need for variety in his life and that, rather than uproot his family so as to accept new jobs in new places he channeled that need in the direction of the car lot. I don’t know how he financed all those automotive changes but I do know we drove fancy new wheels every other year.

I, on the other hand, drive the one vehicle that makes me consistently happy, a vehicle I continue to love even four years after paying it off (some might argue that paying it off made me love it even more). I’ll drive it until it doesn’t want to drive anymore.

So, my father was a perfect candidate for leasing while I’m the ideal buyer… right?

At least I used to think so.

We’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of buying and leasing, with a few extras thrown in for context. If, after reading this, you’re surprised to find you’re a buyer when you thought you were a leaser, or vice versa, drop us a line and tell us what changed your mind.

Here goes:



  • Down-payment has more impact on monthly payment
  • Sales tax based on monthly payment, not overall price
  • Allows you to drive a new vehicle every few years
  • You’ll never owe more than the vehicle is worth
  • May offer business owners certain tax advantages
  • Might offer lower
    monthly payments*
  • Assuming you pay it off, you’ll eventually own the
  • There are no mileage restrictions
  • Insurance limits may be lower
  • You’ll always have a car payment **
  • Restrictions on the number of miles you drive every year (usually between 12-20 cents per mile, depending on the lease program
    and the vehicle manufacturer)***
  • Insurance costs may be higher
  • Up-front, out-of-pocket costs may be higher (ie:
    sales tax)
  • Down-payment has less impact on monthly payment
  • The vehicle depreciates faster than you earn equity
  • Might require a
    higher monthly payment*

Okay, now some clarification:

*One of the most common misconceptions about leasing is that the monthly payment will be lower than buying the same vehicle. That’s not necessarily true, so says Butler
Acura Sales Manager Mark Zinn. Mark says the leasing concept was primarily created for business owners in order to allow them to move their fleet from the asset column to the expense column. Because, let’s face it, we all know our car or truck isn’t an asset; It loses value the second we drive it off the lot and it becomes “used”. Leasing allows
business owners, and now the rest of us, to “rent” our transportation, investing as little as possible into a depreciating product. So, say you have your eye on a $30,000
vehicle. Finance it for 60 months or lease it for 36, either way it will be worth the same amount at the 36 month mark. The only way you can guarantee a lower monthly payment through leasing is if you would have financed the vehicle for the same length of time.

**You’ll only always have a car payment if you continue to lease new cars. If however,
you reach the end of your lease but you’ve fallen head over heels for your ride, you may have some options, depending on your lease program. You can drop the keys off at the dealership and walk away (forever referring to that car or truck as “the one that got
away”), or you can finance the remainder of the vehicle’s value and turn the lease into a loan.

***Mileage restrictions. As we mentioned in the Pros and Cons, the penalty for driving more than the allotted number of miles per year can be pretty steep at 12 to 20 cents per mile. But let’s put it in perspective. Mark Zinn says, “There’s no such thing as a person driving too many miles to lease.” Here’s why: When you lease a vehicle you are guaranteed a residual value, or the predetermined value of the car at the end of the lease
period. That value is figured by taking into consideration the amount of wear and tear the vehicle will go through in your care. Your sales consultant will ask you how many miles a year you think you’ll drive before arriving at a residual value. So, say you think you’ll drive the $30,000 car that’s calling your name 10,000 miles a year and your sales consultant guarantees you residual value of $15,000. But then you drive the vehicle 12,000 miles a year. When you turn it back in it’s less valuable than it would have been if you’d stuck to your original estimate. So, in order to guarantee you the $15,000
equity residual value, the dealer has to charge you the difference between what was promised and what the vehicle’s now worth.

On the other hand, if you bring your leased vehicle in at the end of the contract with fewer miles on it, and that leads to an appraisal higher than the residual value, the dealer owes you money! The bottom line is the wear and tear you put on your vehicle will result in lowered value. As an owner, you may make money when you decide to sell it but, you
could also lose money. With a lease, you’ll either make money or break-even but you’ll never lose money.

Which brings me back to my family’s automotive history. Remember my father, the perfect lease customer? Well, he’s surprised us all and stuck with the same car for at least the past 5 years. And as for me… I’m still in love with my little rig and wouldn’t trade it for anything. But, should I ever need a second car, you can bet I’ll consider a lease.

Road Trip: The Agony and the Ecstasy

‘Tis the season for that most American of summertime activities: the end-of-the-season, last-fling-before-school-starts road trip! (Why we love them so much: Who among us doesn’t have a story about the perils of hitting the road with the people we profess to love the most – whether relatives or friends? My memories are of the 13-year old me narrowly avoiding being left on the side of the road. It sounds harsh but the reality is that after nearly 2000 miles of reading every card in the Trivial Pursuit Game (the Genus
Edition… in case you were wondering) *out loud* on a family drive to South Dakota, I’m lucky to have been allowed in the car for the return trip home. Or, on that same route a few years later, the certainty with which I knew we were all going to die when our car overheated and stalled in the Nevada desert. It was hours before we could flag down another driver for help. Heck, it was hours before another driver even happened by. The midafternoon sun was brutal as vultures circled menacingly overhead. At least that’s how I remember it.

In the end, though, my family bonded over the long hours cooped up in a small space together. We learned to rely on each other, we learned tolerance… we even learned how to create our own fun, imminent disaster or no.

We’d love to hear *your* stories… about the automotive meltdowns, accidental side trips, and the characters you almost certainly met along the way. In the meantime, here’s a
link to a collection of road trip comics to keep you entertained: Happy travels!

Butler Supports “Red Shirt Fridays”

In the same way that people sometimes start to look like their pets, have you ever noticed how co-workers often dress in similar ways? It used to happen all the time when I worked in television news … some days all our anchors and reporters would wear the same colors. It wasn’t like we planned it… we just ended up on the same wavelength and started making similar choices.

So, that’s kinda what I thought was going on around the Ford and Acura dealerships when every so often I’d notice everyone matched. What didn’t occur to me was that the pattern was consistent: every Friday most of the sales and service staff would wear red. That fact floated around in the recesses of my brain, something to ask about if and when the question made its way into my consciousness and out my mouth.

But I didn’t have to ask (apparently, we DO mind read around here!) Out of the blue, Ford Service Manager Gary Neal sent me an email. The subject line read, “FYI” and the message was brief: “Shannon, Just in case you were wondering why most of the guys wear red shirts on Fridays.” He’d included the web address Now I know Red Shirt Fridays are all about showing support for American troops overseas. The idea is that troops who feel supported have higher morale. Higher morale translates into better performance. Better performance increases the odds of survival. The more we do on this side of the ocean to show our appreciation for our men and women in uniform, the more they have an advantage in the fight.

To be honest, I was a little surprised when Gary’s email came through. I’ve been with Butler for half a year now and nobody’s said a word about Red Shirt Fridays. But, as you know, actions speak louder than words… and I really dig what Gary and the other guys’ actions have been saying. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that his email came in the week before Memorial Day… but I know it won’t be when, this Friday, I start looking a little more like my co-workers in red.

The Importance of Checking Tire Pressure

Somewhere deep in the recesses of your mind you know you should be checking your vehicle’s tire pressure. In my world, this is one of those life maintenance tasks that loiters in some corner of my brain but only surfaces when I feel my vehicle’s ride is somehow off. Imagine my surprise at learning I should be gauging tire pressure every month! And not only monthly, but seasonally (cold weather can decrease tire pressure by up to 10 pounds per square inch! I never knew that).

Here are 5 keys to keeping your tires at their best:

1. Too much air equals less of your tires touching the road. Lowered surface area means you’ll need more room to stop. It also means you’re in for a bumpy, bouncy ride. Remember what happened in elementary school when you overfilled your red rubber ball? Yeah, it became a rocket when you bounced it during Foursquare.

2. Too little air in your tires leads to more surface area touching the ground. The result can be overheating and, ultimately, a blow-out. You know it’s time to pump those babies up when your tires squeal around corners.

3. Use your owner’s manual – it should tell you where on your vehicle to find the proper tire pressure (don’t go by the notation on the tires – that’s maximum tire pressure, not recommended tire pressure).

4. Get a tire gauge.

5. Finally, check every tire. Driving with unbalanced tires can lead to a whole other set of problems. And if you have any questions, give one of Butler’s Service Centers a call.

You’ll find a list of locations and phone numbers at

Are There Too Many Options?

2012 Suzuki Kizashi

America was founded on the premise that her citizens should have options, and not only options but, the freedom to choose among them. The founding fathers were primarily concerned with religion and politics but, the idea pretty much sums up the free market system, as well.

Which is exactly the problem. Sometimes there’s just too much to choose from.

While grocery shopping the other day I spent 20 minutes in the toothpaste aisle. It’s not that there are too many brands to choose from, it’s that each brand has an entire array of products.

There’s toothpaste to whiten, freshen, and protect; to ward off sensitivity, plaque and gingivitis; to battle germs, prevent bacteria and strengthen enamel. There’s regular, there’s gel, there’s some swirly combination of both. And then there are the flavors: Cinnamon, mint, citrus breeze, root beer, licorice, and, for those rare diehard carnivores, pork. There’s even one the brains at MIT allege can forecast the weather (I kid you not: Is it any wonder my brain short circuits if I even consider moving past “Regular Tooth Paste”?

But the real question is, why do I find it so annoying to wade through the broad selection of toothpaste but on the other spectrum, excessively liberating to have just as many, if not more, choices when buying a car?

The view from my office in the Butler Acura showroom includes any number of Suzukis, Fords, Acuras, Hyundais and Kias, one super clean Mini-Cooper, a Dodge Ram and a handful of Ford F-150s (to see what I see visit: They are new and previously loved, sedans and hatchbacks, trucks, crossovers and SUVs. They represent a host of options, colors, and possibilities. I love having the ability to see each and every one of them and, unless they’ve been sold by the time I get around to them, I plan to test drive them all. I’m looking forward to it.

So far, my “research” has put me behind the wheel of a 2012 Suzuki Kizashi (which I LOVED!), Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Ford F-150 King Ranch, and a sweet 2011 Ford Mustang. This weekend, I drove one of Butler’s new powerful 2011 F-150 Lariats, you know, just to get a feel for the latest class of Ford trucks. In seeing my temporary ride, and knowing me the way she does, my mom smiled and nodded. “You have a good job,” she said.

So, I guess it comes down to passion. Obviously, someone (at Crest, Colgate and, apparently, MIT) is in love with toothpaste. For that person, the more toothpaste options, the better… even if he’s still driving the same car he’s had since high school. I, on the other hand will revel in every new car and truck that rolls onto our lot, while continuing to stick to Regular Crest. In doing so, both us are confirming our right to choose, upholding our freedom of choice. Being American.

Best, Worst, and Weirdest Car Names Ever

The infamous Chevy Nova

Remember the story about Chevy and the Nova? The auto maker’s efforts to market the car in Latin America failed spectacularly . Turns out “no va” in Spanish means “it doesn’t go”, and nobody wants a car that doesn’t go!

The story is usually cited to illustrate the difficulties in translation when it comes to naming vehicles. But I’m not concerned with what American model names may mean in other languages so much as in what they mean – or don’t mean – in America.

Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of the best, worst and weirdest car names: But there must be others out there… can you think of any?

Fuel Filter as Important as Fuel

You don’t even think about the fact that you have to put fuel in your car or truck to keep it running. But did you know you should also be checking your fuel filter on a regular basis?
A dirty filter can allow impurities to infiltrate the engine, making the fuel less effective (think arteries and the affect cholesterol can have on *your* system). Less effective fuels means you get fewer miles for your dollar.
But regular maintenance can boost your fuel economy. And it’s as easy as scheduling on-line. Check us out at: