5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying A Car

Buying a car is a significant decision. Not one that should ever be taken lightly or rushed into.  Especially considering the cost of new and used vehicles hitting record levels, it’s worth taking the time to ask yourself a few questions to make sure that you’re prepared to make such a large investment.
We know that buying a car is not something you do every day, and we want to help ensure that our customers feel comfortable and confident in their new investment.
So we read through countless articles written by impartial third parties on this very topic and compiled a list of the Top Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy a Car.

1. Should I buy new or used? (via The Motley Fool)

This may be one of the most important questions to ask before you buy a vehicle, because deciding to buy used could help keep thousands of dollars in your bank account.
Considering that there’s a $15,000 difference between the average price of a new and used car, there’s little room for debate over what’s the better bargain. Not only are you spending more money on a new car, but the vehicle also loses 10% of its value the second it leaves the dealership, and an additional 10% after the first year, according to Carfax. Also consider that buying used means you might be able to get some features in the vehicle (like leather seating, a touchscreen display, etc.) that would stretch your budget if you were buying a new car.
Sure, there are some benefits to buying your vehicle new. It’ll likely have fewer miles and you get the full warranty (not to mention that new-car smell). For people who have very long commutes or drive a lot for their work, it might make sense to get a new vehicle. But remember that you can still get the manufacturer’s warranty on some cars, even if you aren’t the original owner.
Additionally, vehicles last longer than ever (the average age of a car currently on the road is about 11 years), so grabbing one for several thousand dollars less with just a few thousand miles is more than worth it. Sure, you’ll lose out on the new-car smell, but that fades after a few months anyway.
2. How are you going to use it? (via Auto Trader)

If you have a family of five, you’ll want the vehicles you’re looking at to have at least six seats (you’ll appreciate the extra room), or ideally seating for seven or eight. If you need to tow a travel trailer on the weekend, make sure you’re looking at something with a tow rating and payload that can handle your people, your gear, and your trailer.

Ask what changes your life or family are likely to see during your ownership. We won’t tell you to avoid the two-seat sports car because you might meet someone next year and have a new child in three years, but there are definitely some changes to keep in mind. Like if your pre-teen just barely fits in the third-row seat of that SUV today, that growth spurt in a year or two isn’t going to help them fit better.

3. Consider The Operating Costs (via The Simple Dollar)
Many people fall in love with big SUVs and sportscars that seem to be within their budget, but when they discover that they need to fill it up with gasoline every other day, their budget implodes. If you already budget a certain amount for gasoline each month, buying a car that gets worse gas mileage will increase that allotment. On the other hand, buying an economical car will likely increase that allotment.

4. What Do You LIKE About Your Current Car? (via Auto Cheat Sheet)

This is a great question to ask yourself. You’ve been driving your current car for a while now. What are the things you really like about it? What made you buy the car in the first place? The way it handles, the safety features, the gas mileage, the way you look in it, etc…? Write them down and keep them for when shopping for your new car.

5. What Do You DISLIKE About Your Current Vehicle? (via Auto Cheat Sheet)

Buying a new car gives you a chance to get away from the things you dislike about your current car. Think about the things you dislike about it. Too big, too small, lack of power, no sunroof, maintenance repair costs, blind spots, hard to park, the way you look in it, etc? Write these down also so you can remember what you don’t want when buying a new car.


6 Easy Fall Car Care Tips

Summer is coming to a close, kids are back in school and families are starting to focus on getting things done other than blowing up pool floats. Fall is a busy time for all of us, but it’s also the perfect time to slowly start getting your vehicle ready for the winter, (yuck, the ‘w’ word), months ahead. Getting a head start in the fall means that you don’t have to scramble in once winter does hit and it may be too late.

The following are our Fall Car Care Tips to help get your vehicle ready for both fall AND winter. No need to have all these done at once. Spread the cost out over the fall so that by winter you’re safe and ready to drive! Here are our September Service Specials for Toyota  , Chrysler/Nissan , and Chevy Buick GMC.

Check your Tire Tread – you can visually check this yourself. The easiest way is to grab a penny and insert the penny into a tire groove on each one of the tires. Make sure that Abe Lincoln’s head is upside down and facing you. If you can see ALL of Abe’s head, it’s time to replace your tires. This isn’t a fool proof test though, depending on your tires, so if you have doubts, definitely bring your tires in to be checked by a service professional.
Check ALL your Lights – it will start getting darker sooner and you don’t want to be caught out driving at dusk with lights that don’t work. Grab a family member or friend and have them help you check to see that your brake lights, turn signals and high beams all work.
Check fluid levels – most vehicles will now alert you when you need to replace fluids or if there is a fluid leak, but if you have an older model vehicle, you will need to check for these manually yourself or have a service professional do an inspection.
Washer fluid – this is an easy issue to rectify yourself and washer fluid is inexpensive. But oftentimes people forget to refill this and then find themselves in a scary situation when “winter” weather creeps into fall months without warning.
Heating and Cooling – checking the HVAC system is something that is a little bit more difficult to do at home. Obviously, you can tell if your AC/Heat has completely stopped working, but if the system is on it’s way out, you may not notice right away until the temps drop drastically. But at a service center this is a quick test and they can tell you exactly how adequately yours is working.
Tire Pressure – air pressure in a tire decreases 1-2 pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change. This is something that you will want to check a few times each season. And the nice thing is that putting air in your tires is free!

Not just to help ensure your safety this fall and winter, keeping your car properly tuned can improve your gas mileage by an average of 4%* – everybody likes saving on gas money!

*source: The Car Care Council

Safety Tips for Summer Storms

This beautiful weather also brings storms that could be very dangerous.  Tornados, hail, and white-out rain storms are prevalent this time of year.  We put together some tips on what to do if you find yourself stuck in a storm while you’re in your vehicle.

Tornado Safety If Caught In Your Car
It’s easy to think that your vehicle could easily outrun a tornado, but they can change directions quickly and strong tornado winds are capable of picking up a vehicle and depositing it miles away from where it started.

‘Trying to outrun a tornado in your vehicle is the number one thing to remember not to do. AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist, Dave Samuhel, said that trying to outrun a tornado is a bad idea because tornadoes have the potential to travel over 60 mph and they don’t have to follow road patterns. Driving on a 90-degree angle away from the tornado is a good strategy to follow in order to distance yourself from the tornado.

“A compass or GPS may be helpful to determine which way to drive on a 90-degree angle away from the storm,” Samuhel said.

If you see a tornado developing where you are driving, the best thing to do is to pull over and evacuate your vehicle. Seek shelter in the nearest sturdy building or storm shelter; do not hide under your car. The wind could potentially roll your car over. If there is no available shelter, find the nearest ditch or low-lying area and crouch low to the ground covering your head with your arms.

Potentially sturdy structures to look for while driving are fast food restaurants and banks. Fast food restaurants will usually have a cooler that could withstand a tornado similar to a safe in a bank, according to Samuhel. Also, seeking shelter in an interior wall is a good idea.

“The more walls between you and the tornado, the better off you are,” Samuhel said. (excerpt taken from AccuWeather.com).’

Protecting Your Vehicle (and Yourself) During a Hail Storm
Hail storms can be detrimental to your vehicle and your pocketbook. Being prepared ahead of time can help you avoid some significant damage, and even injury.
Obviously, a garage is ideal. If you have a garage that needs to be cleaned out to allow space for your vehicle(s), now is the time to do some spring cleaning! No garage? There are lots of other options:
– Invest in an inexpensive car port
– Purchase a padded car cover – (if you have time before a storm hits, add some blankets or towels underneath the padded cover for added cushion)
– Make sure you receive weather alerts on your phone. Lots of free weather apps offer this service so that you know ahead of time when a hail storm should hit.
– Put those floor mats to use – in a pinch, use floor mats to cover your hood and roof. It won’t protect the entire vehicle but it will help mitigate the damage.
– Use tall buildings as hail shields. If you are caught driving during a hail storm, find the tallest building near you, determine which directions the hail is coming from and park your car on the opposite side as near to the building as possible. Parking on the west side of a tall building during an easterly hail storm will help minimize your hail damage as well.
– If caught driving before a storm hits, try to get into a building before hand, and put those floor mats to work on your while you’re taking shelter inside.
And should your vehicle sustain any hail damage, the Monken Service Department  is here to help you fix any damage you may have sustained.
What To Do When Caught In a Heavy Rain Storm While Driving
Our number one tip for staying safe while driving in a heavy rain storm is to get off the road when visibility is bad.  Pull over to a rest area, a store parking lot or to the side of the road in a pinch.  Note: If you pull off to the side of the road, be sure to put on your hazards.
If you can get under a gas station overhang, try to. DO NOT park under large trees in the hope of trying to stay dry and avoid damage. Even large trees can topple or lose heavy branches during a heavy enough rain.
During lightning and thunder, do not leave your vehicle unless you can QUICKLY get into a nearby building.  If lightning hits your vehicle, the electrical current will travel through the metal cage of your car and into the ground.  Note: the electrical current could still affect your car’s electrical system, so be careful not to touch any metal buttons or instruments in your car until the lightning has subsided.
If you notice that the road is starting to flood, turn around. Don’t try to drive through a flooding road – two feet of water can float a car and even a truck.
And to be on the safe side, keep an emergency kit in your car at all times.  For tips on what to keep in your emergency car kit, see our post here.

Spring Vehicle Maintenance Checklist

Now that winter is (FINALLY) behind us and spring has decided to make an appearance, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning – for your vehicle! Winters can be harsh on your car, which makes spring the perfect time to do some good maintenance and a deep clean.

Check out our Spring Vehicle Maintenance Checklist below, and stop by for our no appointment necessary oil change or see our service specials and let Monken help you with your spring chores!

Schedule an Oil Change. A good rule of thumb is to get an oil change approximately every 5000 miles.  It’s an easy and inexpensive part of your vehicle maintenance and it really helps extend the efficiency and reliability of your vehicle.

A GOOD Car Wash – Inside and Out. More than just the aesthetic of having a clean car, giving your vehicle a good wash at the start of spring is a step toward maintaining the overall health of your car. Road salt left on the exterior for too long can deplete the color and corrode the metal. (And spring rain showers are not enough to rinse off all that winter grime). Don’t forget the wash the undercarriage as well – this is where a lot of the road salt tends to sit and cause problems.

Don’t forget about the interior. Most car washes offer free vacuums after you’ve paid for a wash, so take advantage of them! Winter tends to encourage a trash buildup in the doors, nooks and crannies of vehicles. Take 20 minutes after your car wash and vacuum out the entire inside.

Replace Wiper Blades. Winter can be very harsh on wiper blades and small tears and cracks can appear without you being able to see them. With the onslaught of spring showers, you want to make sure that your wiper blades are up to snuff.

Check Tire Pressure and Alignment. Your tires are literally the cushion between you and the road, so it’s especially important to take care of them. We recommend checking your tire pressure monthly. Most newer vehicles will send you an alert when one or more tires has fallen below the recommended level.

Check the tread for wear and tear. Roads can be very slippery during spring rain storms, so you want to make sure you’re able to stop without sliding. You’ll want to rotate and align them in the spring as well.

Change Air Filters. You may not be using that AC just yet, but before it becomes an absolute necessity, make sure that your air filters are unclogged and replace them if necessary.

Review Your Insurance Policy. This is one of the vehicle maintenance items that people always forget about. Oftentimes, your agent will proactively reach out to you every so often, but if they don’t, spring is a good time to be proactive about it yourself. Are you in the most efficient policy for your family? Will you be adding a new teen driver to your policy soon? Call your agent and find out if there are any deals or discounts that you can get as well.

May Fete is a Monken Family Tradition

If you are a Centralia High School alumni or had a child attend Centralia High School, then you are familiar with the Centralia May Fete tradition that has existed for over 100 years.  The Monken Family has been proud to be a part of this tradition and all family members have participated in the dances and/or court during their high school years.

Jan Monken’s mother, Dorothy Rixmann Miller, was the 25th May Fete Queen.  At that time May Fete was held outdoors and Dorothy made her own dress and train.  Her daughters, Jan, Melissa, and Wendy, were all attendants their junior year.

Kim Monken McMillian’s daughter, Megan Marcum, was a flower girl for Stacey Smudrick, a freshman attendant and May Fete Queen.  Her sister, Andrea Walton, was freshman attendant that same year.  Both girls were involved with dances when they weren’t on the court.  Last year Megan’s kids, Hadley and Eli Marcum, served as scepter bearer and crown bearer.

Shawn Monken Hartmann, was a flower girl for Carol Jo Vaccaro and an attendant her senior year.  Her children, Bredesen Hartmann and Katie Hartmann, along with their cousin, Will Miller, served as the trainbearers and flower girl for Megan Marcum.  Bredesen Hartmann participated in the couples dance every year and became a May Fete escort during his junior year.  Katie choreographed and participated in many dances all four years.

Wes Monken, was the trainbearer for Jan Johnson when he was seven.  He wore the first white tuxedo ever used in May Fete and participated in the dance. This year Wes’s daughter, Jalyn Monken, will wind the May Pole for her last year at Centralia High School. She has participated in May Fete dances every year.  Wes’s daughter, Addison Monken, will be dancing in May Fete for the first time!

This year’s May Fete will be on Thursday and Friday, May 3rd and 4th in Trout Arena. The theme is “My Favorite Things.”  Visit our MonkenNissan community page to see what other community events we have enjoyed.

10 Most Important Items to Keep In Your Car

A car emergency kit is always something we recommend people have in their vehicle at all times. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize their need for one until it’s too late.  There are a number of kits that you can purchase, like this one from AAA, or this one if you’re prepping for a zombie apocalypse , but they are simple to put together yourself at home.  You’ll be glad you made one should you ever find yourself in the position to need it.
Even if you have AAA, they may not come immediately, inclement weather may keep them from getting to you at all, and passengers inside the car could be injured. We put together our list of the 10 most important items to keep in your car emergency kit at all times.
1. A First-Aid Kit. Yes, a kit within your kit. These can be purchased very inexpensively at any drug store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. and should include the typical items like Band-Aids, gauze, antibacterial cream, and anything else specific to your family’s needs.
2. Water. Depending on who your typical passengers are, you may want to keep more or less water handy, but a gallon jug is a good amount. We find this to be handy not even during a vehicle emergency, but also after a hike when you realize your dog doesn’t have quite enough water!
3. An extra cell-phone charger. Buy a spare charger that you NEVER take out of this kit. Most people have one handy inside the vehicle, but if your family is anything like ours, they mysteriously go missing from time to time. Keep one in the emergency kit that your battery-hogging teenagers don’t know about.
4. Non-perishable snacks. We recommend protein or granola bars and trail mix. We’ve also heard of people keeping those energy gel packets used by avid hikers and marathoners.
5. Rain poncho with a hood. This one sounds kind of silly, until you have to try and change your tire in the rain and you can’t see through the rain dripping down your face. It’s also helpful if you run out of gas and have to walk in the rain to the nearest gas station.
6. Multi-purpose utility tool. You can do a ton of cool things with a Swiss Army Knife, and the best part is, they are compact and lightweight. Handy for any number of emergencies, including, but not limited to, packing a romantic afternoon picnic and realizing you left your corkscrew or bottle opener at home.
7. Duct tape: One of the world’s most underrated inventions. A favorite of Michael Scott when he had to survive alone in the woods.
8. Flashlight and extra batteries. Bonus points if your flashlight is waterproof.
9. Jumper Cables. The longer the better, in case they have to be used after someone’s vehicle has gone off the road.
10. Foam tire sealant. Definitely not a permanent solution for a flat tire, but if you’re dealing with a small puncture, this foam sealant is a good quick fix to help you get from the side of the road to a nearby service center.
Also, here is a list of our  Roadside Assistance Numbers you may want to keep in your vehicle.

Nissan’s New Intelligent Rear View Mirror

Intelligent Rear View Mirror
Nissan’s new Intelligent Rear View Mirror (I-RVM)1 adds a built-in LCD monitor within the traditional rearview mirror to help provide clear rearward visibility unimpeded by traditional obstacles such as cargo or tall passengers. The 2018 Nissan Armada is the first Nissan vehicle to offer the new I-RVM technology. I-RVM is standard on the Armada Platinum grade.

The I-RVM system utilizes a high-performance, narrow-angle camera and a specially shaped LCD monitor, with a unique aspect ratio of approximately 4:1, versus conventional monitors’ 4:3 or 16:9. The camera projects a clear image onto the monitor for a better view, as well as a more comfortable driving experience.

The high-quality camera and image processing system implemented in the LCD monitor consistently results in a clear image with minimal glare, even during sunrise or sunset conditions or when the vehicle is being followed by a vehicle with strong headlights.

2018 Nissan Armada Platinum with Intelligent Rear View Mirror

What Exactly Is That New Car Smell?

By Rachel Swaby for Giz Explains


The smell of a new car is intoxicating. It reminds us of money and shiny objects. It evokes that golden period before repeat coffee stains, moldy Tupperware, and our trunk’s transformation into a Good Will depository change the way we feel about our car.

But it’s kind of a weird smell, right? It’s so different from chocolate chip cookies or eucalyptus or whatever else we identify as pleasant. So we decided to get to the bottom of the new car smell. What  is it?

The answer, according to Toyota’s color and trim manager Janis Ambrose Shard, certainly leans toward a more Pavlov’s dog-type reaction. We like the smell because we like the car. Unfortunately, says Shard, “The smell is mostly organic compounds in the vehicle off-gassing. Anything that is vinyl or plastic—the foam lamination on the seat surface, the plastic on the dash or on the door panel—it’s the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) coming out of them that causes that smell.” In other words, without the relationship to a brand new car, the smell would just, you know, smell.

VOCs probably ring a bell because they’re air pollutants. And they can do a number on your health. And they’re everywhere. Thousands of household products-from paints to cleaning products to waxes-all emit the gasses, and they’re normally found in low concentrations in indoor air. In your car, petroleum-based solvents in plastic and vinyl are to blame. VOCs escape from the dash and the seats because they don’t require super high temperatures to evaporate. A normal ol’ Tuesday will stir them up.

Another VOC fun fact: You know that weird foggy film that builds up on the inside of your windshield? Blame the new car smell. The same VOCs that we’re sniffing can be responsible for mucking up our windows, too.

“That new car smell is not something we strive to achieve,” says Shard. If anything, automakers are trying to cut it. Toyota has moved from solvent-based glues to water-based alternatives to slash VOCs, and other automakers, like Ford, have experimented with swapping petroleum-based seating for soy based foam. Natural materials, though, have their own set of challenges. For instance, Ford had to go through a lot of veggie-based foam trials to find one that didn’t offend the consumer’s nose. And because the natural material holds a lot of moisture, living somewhere like Louisiana where it’s both hot and humid, can cause some natural materials to deteriorate rapidly, says Shard.

Basically, they’re working on taking that new car smell away. In the meantime, we should start working on ending our affinity for inhaling VOCs. Let’s instead focus our olfactory efforts on new car leather. See, during manufacturing, the warm leather smell disappears from the pieces that go into cars. Leather manufacturers, knowing that the smell is important to us, make sure to add that smell back in before anything is shipped to consumers. Thank goodness we still have one unnatural smell to happily cling to.

Nissan Introduces New Safety Feature Rear Door Alert


By blogsadmin | Posted in Nissan Pathfinder, Safety on Monday, August 21st, 2017 at 4:29 pm

What is the Nissan Rear Door Alert System

What is the Nissan Rear Door Alert?

In the summer, temperatures in a parked car can climb quickly, reaching dangerous temperatures. That’s why Nissan recently added a new safety feature that is designed to help remind drivers to check their back seat before exiting or leaving their vehicle. The Nissan Rear Door Alert was designed to ensure that nothing is forgotten in the back seat of a vehicle.

Whether you’re packing your new Nissan vehicle up with groceries or driving home from the park with your furry friend, the last thing you want to do is forget to unload the back seat of your vehicle. As temperatures inside your vehicle in the summer and even the fall quickly rise, it can mean a minor inconvenience like melted ice cream, or a potentially dangerous situation for pets. That’s why it’s important for busy drivers to know that Nissan has your back, giving you reminders to check the back seat to ensure that everything – and everyone – is out of the vehicle.

2018 Nissan Pathfinder rear

[Read more: Nissan Models with AWD]

How does the Nissan Rear Door Alert Work?

When the new Nissan Rear Door Alert feature is enabled, a door sensor is able to tell if a rear door was opened when you first entered and started the vehicle. If the driver then walks away with their smart key without reopening a rear door, the Nissan’s horn will honk to remind them to check their back seat.

Nissan’s Rear Door Alert system is the first of its kind to offer an external, audible alert. The feature will be available on the upcoming 2018 Nissan Pathfinder.

Roadside Assistance and Local Numbers You Need To Add Into Your Cell Phone

We want to make sure our customers know who to contact in case they ever have vehicle problems while on the road.  You may want to print this and put it in your vehicle or make sure you have these numbers in your cell phone.

If you have a factory or extended warranty you may contact the following: 

Chrysler Roadside Assistance – 800-521-2779

Nissan Roadside Assistance – 800-225-2476

Chevrolet Roadside Assistance – 1 800 Chev-usa   243-8872

First Extended Roadside Assistance – 800-270-8447

CNA Roadside Assistance – 877-373-9780

AUL Roadside Assistance – 888-810-5150


Local numbers to contact:

Don’s Body Shop – 618-532-4574

Wes Monken – Monken Chrysler Nissan Owner – 618-918-8065