Getting Unstuck in the Snow

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Stuck in the snow? Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting unstuck and back safely on the roads!

Step 1: Carry a shovel.

You can purchase a small, compact yet sturdy shovel to keep in your trunk. Many varieties can also fold to take up less room in the trunk. Having a shovel on hand can make a huge difference when you find yourself stuck in the snow.

Step 2: Dig.

Start with your front tire (or whichever is stuck). Take the shovel and dig down to the road. Clear out as much snow as you can. Shovel on both sides of the tire, front and back. Repeat for all four tires.

Step 3: Cat litter.

Pour some cat litter on the ground underneath the tire. Carry a bag in your trunk – even if you never get stuck, the extra weight can provide traction and stability on the road.

Step 4: Drive.

As you try to drive away, the gravel in the cat litter provides much needed traction to help you gain purchase on the road to get unstuck.

Step 5: Repeat.

If this trick doesn’t work, try again removing more snow and using more cat litter. If you’re very stuck, call AAA, a towing company, or a reliable and trusted auto repair shop like ours: (701) 746-6790.

All of us at Golden Rule Auto Repair want to keep you, your family, and your vehicle safe on the winter roads in Grand Forks. To make sure your vehicle is ready for unpredictable road conditions, keep a shovel and cat litter in your trunk and visit our auto repair shop for a winter safety check. Schedule an appointment online or call our team at (701) 746-6790.

Clearing Ice from the Windshield

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Winter is here, and temperatures are dropping in Grand Forks! On cold mornings, you’ve probably noticed a thin layer of ice on your windshield. This can be an annoying hassle as you leave to start your day… if scraping the ice away is taking too long, try these tips to speed up the process:

  • Turn on the Defroster. Getting your car warmed up and blowing warm air on the windshield can speed up the process by melting the ice (with the added bonus of heating the interior for you and your passengers). If your vehicle has a remote start option, take advantage of a head start. But don’t leave your car unattended, running with the keys in and doors unlocked makes it a prime target for car thieves.
  • Try a de-icer. These formulas can cut through ice quickly. Buy a commercial one or make your own by combining rubbing alcohol with dish soap in a spray bottle. These can help ice scrape away easier by starting the melting process.
  • Cover your windows overnight using a towel, sheet, or cardboard. The tighter the cover, the more effective it will be at preventing ice from getting in. Some scraping may still be necessary, but less ice should accumulate when your windows are protected.

Do you have any tips for defrosting your windshield on cold mornings? Stop by our Facebook page to join the conversation!

To prepare your vehicle for winter in Grand Forks, stop by Golden Rule Auto Repair for a winter inspection. Our ASE-Certified technicians will thoroughly check the key systems in your vehicle to make sure your family is safe on the roads all winter. Schedule your next appointment online or call (701) 746-6790.

Cardboard Car Costumes

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Looking for a unique and memorable Halloween costume? Turn your child (or yourself!) into your favorite vehicle! While it takes a little planning and creativity, you can easily create a DIY Car costume with some tape and cardboard (follow this tutorial from – How to Make a Box Car)

Image from – How to Make a Box Car

Add your own decorations and straps to hold the box-car over your shoulders, and create one of your favorite vehicles for Halloween! Here are our favorites:

  • Batmobile – This car can do it all, why wouldn’t you love it! Add a cape and batman mask for your little one, and they’ll be ready to fight crime with their trusty vehicle sidekick.
  • Cars – Whether you want to be Lightning McQueen, Mater, or Sally, decorate your box car to emulate your favorite Pixar cars character!
  • NASCAR – Throw on as many stickers as you can find to create your own sponsors for your NASCAR costume!
  • Mystery Machine – Join Scooby Doo and the gang with your own mystery solving van. All you need is  some blue, green, and orange paint… and don’t forget to bring along the dog!
  • Back to the Future – The classic Delorean that took Marty McFly across time can make your Halloween magical! Grab a red vest to complete the look.
  • VW Bus – Turn a boxy handmade car into a classic VW bus! Add your own flare with tie-dye, fun designs, and hand paint.
  • Mario kart – Are you a Luigi or Princess Peach? Pick your favorite character and color coordinated vehicle for a Mario Kart inspired costume!
  • Herbie – A little car with big personality! A few racing strips and a large “53” can turn a simple car into the classic Herbie.

What are your favorite cars or characters? We hope to see your Car inspired Halloween costumes this year! Stop by our shop in Grand Forks or share your pictures on our Facebook page.

To make sure your real vehicle is ready for Halloween festivities, stop by Golden Rule Auto Repair for a fall safety inspection. We’ll make sure you’re ready to go and your family is safe in a vehicle that can handle the unpredictable fall weather in Grand Forks. Stop by anytime, or schedule an appointment: (701) 746-6790.

What is a Transmission Fluid Flush?

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Car maintenance requires much more than just oil changes. One of the more important car maintenance services is the transmission flush.

Your vehicle’s transmission is typically automatic or manual (clutch) and has a lot of moving parts. The transmission transfers the power from your engine to your wheels. Without it, your car would not drive. Transmission fluid is used as a lubricant in your transmission to keep all the parts moving fluidly and prevent damage from normal operation.

A transmission flush is something that every car should have periodically and the frequency is recommended in your owner’s manual. If you don’t have an owner’s manual, check in with the certified technicians at Golden Rule Auto Repair — we’ll look up this information for you and help you keep track of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.

During a transmission flush one of our ASE-certified technicians drains all the old oil out of your transmission. We’ll then clean your transmission, using the latest equipment and cleaning solutions, to remove all contaminants and debris. Once all the grime and sludge is out, new transmission fluid is put in.

Sometimes you may only need a transmission fluid change. Instead of cleaning the system with a machine, a fluid change simply removes old fluid and puts new fluid in. With a transmission flush, you’re changing the fluid as well as remove the sludge and grime, which will help your new fluid and your transmission last longer and prevent damage from contaminants lingering in the system.

Since your transmission is one of the most important systems in your vehicle, we recommend periodic transmission flushes, according to your owner’s manual. This regular maintenance will prevent early transmission replacement and repair and keep your vehicle on the road longer!

For more information about transmission fluid flushes or proper maintenance, call our team at (701) 746-6790.

The Things you Don’t Learn in Driver’s Ed

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Driver’s education teaches young people the rules of the road and driving a vehicle. But is that enough? What’s missing? Driver’s ed courses don’t teach young drivers everything they need to know about driving on the roads in Grand Forks.

Every vehicle is different.

The car your teen learns to drive on may not perform the same as the next vehicle they drive. While driver’s ed might teach them the difference between the brake pedal and the gas pedal, they won’t know the responsiveness of the pedals or how that translates to stopping on the road.

Some things, like the performance of individual vehicles, can’t be taught in a textbook – it requires real time behind the wheel to learn how different vehicles handle on the roads.

Maintenance matters.

Most drivers ed courses only skim the surface of car care, at best. Some don’t even mention it at all. Basic maintenance is not only important for keeping your car running smoothly, it can be critical to your safety on the roads!

Teens should learn about the preventative maintenance that every car needs, why it is important, and warning signs that something may be wrong with the vehicle.

At Golden Rule Auto Repair, we’re committed to educating our customers. Whether you’re a new driver, have a teenager learning to drive, or have been driving for years, our service advisors and technicians take the time to teach you about your vehicle and the services it needs. Only by knowing the condition of your vehicle and the repair options available can you make the best decision for yourself, your vehicle, and your family.

To schedule your next inspection with Golden Rule Auto Repair, call our team at 701-746-6790.

My Car Has a Computer?

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Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, including our vehicles!

All modern cars have at least one computer built-in. But unlike the internet-browsing laptops and desktop computers that come to mind, the computers in your vehicle serve a more limited but vital function – keeping your vehicle safe on the road.

The primary computer in your vehicle controls many aspects of its operation, including:

  • Fuel injection
  • Spark plugs
  • Idle speed
  • Engine emissions

Various sensors in your car (oxygen, engine temperature, throttle position…) send information straight to the car’s computer, and it automatically adjusts the engine operations to accommodate for the best performance and keep emissions as low as possible.

The many computers in your vehicle control and monitor systems for performance and efficiency - learn more from the certified car care experts at Golden Rule AutomotiveJust as important, the on-board computer can alert you to potential problems with your vehicle. When one of the sensors indicate a problem, the computer can trigger a warning light or the “Check Engine” light to let you know something has gone wrong.

When you bring your vehicle into our independent auto repair shop, our certified technicians use sophisticated technology and up-to-date software to pull the codes stored within your vehicle’s computer. The computer automatically saves the information it receives from the sensors, and our expert technicians are able to take that data to accurately identify problems and quickly find the best solution.

But it doesn’t stop there… many modern vehicles have multiple computers, each with a specific function and role to play in delivering the best experience in your vehicle. Some vehicles have separate computers to control individual systems, including:

  • Transmission
  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Air bags
  • Climate control
  • Radio
  • Cruise Control
  • Navigation
  • and more…

And each of these computers have similar functions: reading sensors, saving important information, and alerting you to potential issues with error codes.

The computers in your vehicle work together to give you the best experience in your vehicle. And as technology continues to develop, computers may play a bigger and bigger role in our driving experience. (Think about a self-driving car – computers control EVERY aspect of the drive!) Which is why it is important for auto repair shops to stay up-to-date with the latest training, technology, and equipment.

Our ASE-Certified technicians undergo continued training and education to expand our expertise and keep up with the ever evolving industry. With the latest diagnostic tools and expertise, our independent shop can perform the reliable services your vehicle needs – from gathering critical data from on-board computers to performing repairs and maintenance to keep your vehicle running smooth.

To learn more about your vehicle or schedule your next appointment, stop by our shop in Grand Forks or call our team at 701-746-6790.

Exhaust System Components and Maintenance

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Your vehicle’s exhaust system is one of those things you don’t notice… until you do.

Maybe you’ll smell leaking fluids. Or hear loud clicking and noises from the engine. Or see a billowing cloud of grey or green smoke lingering behind you on the road.

When everything is working properly, you’ll hardly ever have a reason to think about the exhaust system in your vehicle.

Exhaust system components include pipes, catalytic converter, muffler, manifold and more - to keep the exhaust system working, come to Golden Rule Auto Repair for exhaust system repair and maintenanceSo what does the exhaust system do?

The exhaust system is made up of your vehicle’s exhaust manifold, catalytic converter, muffler, and pipes – all designed to move the waste from the engine out of the vehicle.

If an engine was 100% efficient, it would combust all of the fuel turning every drop into power for your vehicle. But because no engine is perfect, leftover fuel is left behind as exhaust.

Each component in the exhaust system has a specific job, and is designed to safely move this dangerous chemicals and fumes from your engine and out of the vehicle.

Exhaust Components

Exhaust Manifold – This component connects to the engine and begins the flow of exhaust through the pipes and system components.

Catalytic Converter – Exhaust is, in simplest terms, pollution. The catalytic converter burns off and removes up to 90 percent of the toxins in your engine’s exhaust.

Muffler – The muffler and resonator address engine sound. Most work to reduce the noise to keep your car running as quietly as possible. Some custom mufflers are tuned for aggressive or specific tones, providing more sound as you drive through the city.

Pipes – Once it has traveled through these components, exhaust travels through remaining pipes to exit the vehicle. This also cools the fumes, but the primary purpose is traveling through the vehicle.

Exhaust Maintenance

Like every system in your vehicle, the pipes and exhaust components undergo wear and tear from normal driving conditions. The harsh chemicals in the exhaust can degrade the interior, while road debris and corrosion cause damage on the exterior.

Exhaust fumes, clicks, sounds, and smells can indicate an exhaust leak. Come to Golden Rule Auto Repair for exhaust system and repair.Corrosion or loose connections can create leaks in the exhaust system. If you have a leak, you’ll likely know right away from these warning signs:

  • Exhaust sounds
  • Loud clicking or knocking
  • Exhaust smells
  • Noise from engine

If the leak occurs before the exhaust reaches the catalytic converter, your vehicle pours the toxic fumes into the atmosphere, which can be dangerous for you, your passengers, your vehicle, and the environment. Have the leak inspected and repaired right away.

Call our team of certified technicians if you notice any issues with your vehicles exhaust, including strange noises, smells, leaks, or visible exhaust. The auto experts at our Grand Forks auto repair shop will inspect your vehicle, repair any leaks or damage, and get you back on the road even faster! Schedule your appointment online or call 701-746-6790.

Oil leaks can mean Big Problems

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Oil leaks can mean big problems for your vehicle - come to Golden Rule Auto Repair in Grand Forks for an oil leak inspection and repair The slippery puddle underneath your car means more than just a stain on your driveway. An oil leak can indicate a bigger issue, and left unattended can lead to serious problems for your engine.

Engine oil is critical for the performance of your vehicle. As it moves through the engine, it keeps every moving part and component lubricated. Without the oil, friction and heat from these parts rubbing against each other cause premature wear and tear, corrosion, and damage to the engine components.

At best, you’ll be left with a car that won’t run and a costly repair bill. At worst, you’ll need an engine rebuild or a new engine, or even face a totaled vehicle.

Oil isn’t used up – it circulates through the engine, but it should never leave the engine, burn up, or evaporate. If you check your oil and find the level is low, you know you have a problem. Most likely, the oil is leaking from the engine.

Bring your vehicle into a trusted and certified auto repair shop, like Golden Rule Auto Repair, as soon as possible. Call our team at (701) 746-6790.

Visit Golden Rule Automotive in Grand Forks for an oil leak inspectionIf you’ve recently had an oil change, the problem may be as simple as a loose drain plug. It needs to be replaced properly after every oil change, so make sure it is tight and not cracked. The oil filter also needs to be replaced with every oil change. Check to make sure the oil filter is secured, tight, and not leaking.

Other common culprits are the seals, valve covers, and gaskets. Even small holes can allow oil to slowly leak from the engine.

Bring your vehicle into an auto shop – our techs will inspect to identify the cause of the leak and repair it so you don’t face the same problem again. If another oil change is needed, we take extra care to make sure everything is in place and there are no leaks before we return your vehicle.

Left unattended, an oil leak can mean serious problems for your engine. Even a small oil leak can trigger the check engine light. Anytime this light comes on, schedule an inspection and diagnosis as soon as possible at our auto repair shop in Grand Forks. If the check engine light is flashing, find a safe place to pull over and immediately shut off your vehicle and have it towed to a trustworthy auto repair shop with certified technicians.

When you bring your vehicle to Golden Rule Auto Repair in Grand Forks for an oil change, you’ll leave with confidence knowing we have your best interest at heart and your oil will stay safe and secure in your engine.

If you notice low levels of oil or evidence of a leak in your garage, come in right away or call us at (701) 746-6790.

Busting Gasoline Myths – What to do (and not do) to get the best Mileage

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Gas Myths - half full tank matters less than a tight gas capWe’ve all heard tips and tricks to nudge up the miles per gallon we get from our vehicle – from miracle pills to drafting to car repair. But what advice actually helps, and what is just an urban myth?

1. Gas additives and gadgets to boost fuel.

Every so often, a slick company offers a “miracle solution” like a pill or additive to ramp up your miles per gallon. In reality, most of these tricks do NOTHING to improve your mileage, some even put your engine at risk.

Gas Myth - Octane Boosters don't help mileageThe most common one we see in our shop is Octane Boosters. The only way these chemical solutions work is if you’re putting in the wrong octane of gasoline to begin. Raising the octane with (potentially harmful) chemicals doesn’t improve your gas mileage. Plain and simple. Rather than choosing the cheapest gas and investing in expensive chemicals, save yourself the time, money, and risk – buy the right gasoline and avoid octane boosters.

2. Leave your gas tank half full.

Gas Myth - DO replace your gas cap every 4 yearsThe idea behind this practice is that keeping a higher volume of gasoline in the tank prevents evaporation within the tank. However, modern cars are designed to keep fuel vapors inside the tank. The bigger issue for evaporating gasoline is your gas cap. If your gas cap doesn’t seal tightly, gas can slowly evaporate around the cap reducing your mpg. Your gas dollars literally evaporate into thin air!

Gas caps are inexpensive and should be replaced at least every 4 years. The seal inside the gas cap becomes worn with age, increasing your risk of leaks and evaporation. Have it tested at our shop – stop by or call (701) 746-6790.

Gas Myth - empty trunk to improve mileage3. Empty your trunk to save fuel

While it’s a good idea to keep a 50 lb. bag of cat litter in your trunk for winter emergencies, you should get rid of that extra weight in the spring! 100 lbs. costs a 1-2% decrease in gasoline usage. 

So look through your trunk, get rid of the dead weight you don’t need to haul around, and get better gas mileage.

4. Drafting behind larger vehicles can help save gas.

The physics is straightforward – following closely behind a large semi reduces the air resistance and drag on your vehicle. The theory is sound, but on the road it is extremely dangerous! The popular show Mythbusters tested this. In order to see worthwhile effects on your mpg, you have to be really close to a really big truck – don’t do it! Stay safe, and back off. Saving a few pennies on gasoline isn’t worth risking your life and safety.

Instead, slow down! Smooth acceleration can do great things for your mileage. If you have a lead foot, try to hold back. And always consider the recommendation for safe following – stay far enough behind that the driver can see you and you have enough time to react.

5. Use Cruise Control for the best mpg.

Maintaining a consistent driving speed can help improve your mileage by preventing twitchy acceleration. Cruise control can be a great way to achieve this! But it is most effective on flat roads. In most cases, seeing and anticipating a hill by increasing speed slowly and ahead of time is more beneficial than letting your cruise control accelerate faster at the last minute.

Again, try to ease up on the gas pedal. Accelerate slowly to avoid wasting extra gasoline, and maintain a consistent speed whenever possible.

Gas-Myth-check-tire-pressure-for-better-mileage6. Inflate your tires. 

Again, it’s simple physics – the more evenly your tires meet the road, the less resistance you’ll experience. Less resistance means better economy and mileage! Your engine doesn’t have to work so hard to move the vehicle along the road and you’ll save gas!

Check your tire pressure every time you fill up your tank at the gas station and keep them inflated to the proper maximum PSI. Regular tire rotation and alignment services will keep your tires meeting the road perfectly even.


Having a properly maintained vehicle can do great things for your gas mileage! Everything from your air filter to your shocks and struts can bring down your fuel efficiency – give our team of certified technicians a call at (701) 746-6790 to schedule your next inspection. Stop paying extra at the pump and reclaim your missing mileage!

Weird & Surprising Auto Laws from across the Country

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We’re all too familiar with parking and speeding tickets… but did you know putting a penny in an automatic parking ticket machine is a crime in North Dakota?

The auto repair experts at Golden Rule Auto Repair are here to keep you informed and keep your vehicle safe – give us a call at 701-746-6790 for vehicle maintenance and stay safely on the roads in Grand Forks.

From common sense to just plain weird, there are some unusual traffic laws across the country. And while not all of these may be strictly enforced, it’s worth a look at these surprising auto tickets:

No Common Sense…

  • It’s illegal to drive while blindfolded (Alabama)
  • Don’t take a nap on the street… it’s illegal to “use the road as a bed” (Eureka, California)
  • Not only is it unwise, it’s illegal to jump from a car at 65 mph (Glendale, California)
  • Stay on the roads! It’s illegal to drive on sidewalks (Dunn, North Carolina) or through playgrounds (Dublin, Georgia) or through a cemetery (Dunn, North Carolina)
  • You’ll be fined for reading a comic book while driving (Oklahoma)


What about two wheels?

  • When you’re on your bicycle, you must resist “fancy riding” (Galesburg, Illinois)
  • No roller skating on the streets – stick to the side walks (Canton, Ohio)
  • The above law also applies to “any coaster, toy vehicle, skateboard or similar device” – with a fine up to $1,000!


Our Furry Friends

  • Dogs may favor fire hydrants and inviting human legs, but you’ll get a fine if your dog “molests” a vehicle (Fort Thomas, Kentucky)
  • It’s illegal – and horrible – to tie a dog to the roof of a car (Alaska)
  • Even if you work as a chauffeur, it’s illegal to drive a vehicle with a gorilla in the back seat (Massachusetts)


Turn down the volume!

  • It’s illegal to honk the horn of another person’s car (University City, Missouri)
  • Don’t screech your tires – it’s a misdemeanor, and you’ll spend 30 days in jail! (Derby, Kansas)
  • You must honk before passing another vehicle on the road (New Jersey)
  • It is illegal to blare a car horn where sandwiches or cold drinks are served after 9 p.m. (Arkansas)


Feeling Hungry?

  • If you’re craving breakfast pastries, you’d better drive-thru — You’ll get a ticket if you park in front of this Dunkin Donuts. (South Berwick, Maine)
  • It is perfectly LEGAL to scavenge road kill. (West Virginia)
  • Careful with that drink! It’s illegal to spill your margarita on the street. (Hermosa Beach, California)
  • You’ll have to walk to the liquor store if you want to drink beer at home – it’s illegal to drive with beer in your car, even if it’s unopened. (Scituate, Rhode Island)


Keep it Clean…

  • You can get a ticket for having a dirty car! If your vehicle leaves mud, dirt, or other substances on the road, you’ll be fined (Minnetonka, Minnesota)
  • Don’t store trash in your vehicle, it’s illegal – due to a rodent issue… (Hilton Head, South Carolina)
  • Keep your clothes on! It’s illegal to disrobe while in your vehicle (Sag Harbor, New York)
  • Cursing from your vehicle is a misdemeanor. You’ll get a fine if you’re heard swearing in earshot of another driver, pedestrian, or vehicle (Rockville, Maryland)


This infographic from Visually shows some of the weirdest traffic laws from all 50 states.

50 Weird Driving Laws of the United States


What strange traffic laws have you encountered? Let us know! To keep your vehicle safely on the road, schedule an inspection with our auto care experts: 701-746-6790.



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