Is Your Car Ready for Winter? Make Sure With These 5 Tips

By Alex Perdikis

You know it’s coming. Maybe you’ve already gotten a taste of it this year. That’s right – winter is on its way, and along with that comes making sure your car is ready to take on the coming cold weather challenges. 

Make sure your car is ready with these five tips:

1. Change your oil and mix it right. As temperatures drop, the oil in your car thickens. If oil becomes too thick, it won’t keep your engine lubricated. In the winter months, your car needs a different oil viscosity, or thickness, to do its job. Check your owner’s manual for winter oil recommendations.


“If you don’t and you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, consider purchasing a set. Snow tires improve traction better than all-season tires.” — Alex Perdikis


2. Check your tires. If you have snow tires, now’s the time to put them on. If you stay with your all-season tires, check the tire pressure often. Your tires lose the equivalent of 1 lb. of pressure for every 10F degree temperature drop. Look to your owner’s manual to find the optimum tire pressure and keep it there for the best possible traction and maneuverability on snow and ice. 

3. Do a maintenance and equipment check.If you have your car serviced, include an inspection of belts and hoses. Replace any worn or even slightly worn belts and hoses. Winter wet and cold takes a toll and it’s safer to begin with brand-new equipment. 

Make sure your battery and connections are free of corrosion. If your battery is on the older side, consider replacing it before winter sets in. 

Check your windshield wiper blades. Consider purchasing blades made for winter weather. While you’re at it, check and fill your washer fluid. Do not use plain water.

4. Check your antifreeze. In bitter temperatures, most cars need a 50-50 mix of water and antifreeze in the radiator. Check your antifreeze mix with a tester. Antifreeze testers are inexpensive tools you can find in any auto parts store. 

If the mixture is off, drain, refill or flush and replace it with the correct winter mix. Follow all safety guidelines for disposal of the old antifreeze. You cannot pour antifreeze down the drain or leave it where children or pets might come in contact with it. 

Again, check your owner’s manual for specific antifreeze recommendations.

5. Pack an emergency kit. No matter how much you prepare for cold and snow, it’s possible to find yourself stuck in your car for a long time. Pack an emergency kit designed to keep you warm, give you tools to help yourself out of common situations and food and water to keep you nourished and hydrated. 

Pack the following in your emergency kit or your trunk:

  • Blanket
  • Extra set of warm clothes
  • Small shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Tool kit 
  • Medications
  • Water and snack foods that include protein
  • Flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire chains
  • Spare tire with air
  • Sand or cat litter for traction

With a little preparation, both you and your car will be ready for the winter weather ahead. 

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

2020 Consumer Car Trends: Here’s What Car Buyers Really Want 

By Alex Perdikis

It doesn’t matter what car manufacturers tell consumers they want. What does matter is what consumers want. That’s why Brandwatch surveyed thousands of consumers and found out what they look for when they buy a new car. Their answers provide insight into why people buy the cars they buy. 

Quality Ranked First

Although quality is an individual and rather vague quantity, it ranked first among survey responders.



“Quality for those living and driving in regions with snow and varied terrain look for rugged reliability and enhanced safety features. Others might think that personalization equals quantity.” — Alex Perdikis


Clearly, manufacturers need to narrow down consumer preferences and zero in on what they mean by quality. 

Affordability Ranked a Close Second

The fact that affordability ranked high on respondents’ lists comes as no surprise. Consumers only have so much money. They have to be able to afford the dependable car they drive. 

Affordability and quality go hand in hand. Consumers first look at cars in their price range and demand quality no matter what the price. 

Customer Service is Key

Third place in the survey comes as somewhat of a surprise. Friendly customer service both at the manufacturer and local dealer levels ranked high on consumer lists. 

One of the most common complaints consumers mentioned was not feeling valued after they purchased their car. Things go wrong. There’s no way to avoid that. But, if consumers feel that dealerships ignore warranties and their problems, they react negatively. 

Friendly and reliable customer service is not only important during a sale but after as well. 

What Else Do They Want?

The Brandwatch survey asked specific questions about other aspects of car buying and the most looked for services and products. Below is a breakdown of the results.

    • Convenience: 8% of the respondents said that convenience was important to them when they looked at purchasing a new vehicle. Location, hours open, ease of contact and accessibility before and after the sale were vital requirements.
    • Fast Customer Service: 7% expected quick customer service responses and actions. Otherwise, they felt ignored.
    • Sustainability: Although ranking this low on the 2020 trend list was somewhat surprising, sustainability was important to 7% of respondents. 
    • Innovative Products or Services: Only 5% of the respondents thought innovative services or products were important. Does this mean that manufacturers should spend more time developing quality over innovation? Time will tell. 
    • Personalization: Although Mexican respondents ranked personalization high, the rest of the world didn’t care. Only 5% of the total respondents chose personalization as a key factor when they buy a car. 

What About Self-Driving Cars?

Self-driving cars are a hot topic, but what do consumers think? It depends on where they live. More people in the U.S. gave self-driving cars a thumbs-up than any other country. Consumers in Spain, however, were not at all impressed.

Globally, 9% of respondents agreed that self-driving vehicles would be the new year’s most transformative innovation. 

The year 2020 promises to be an exciting one for cars, consumers, auto manufacturers and dealerships. 

Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.

Your 2016 Guide to the Mid-Atlantic’s Best Food & Restaurants

By Alex Perdikis

Sandwiched between New England and the South, the Mid-Atlantic dining scene gets a bit of a short shrift. That’s a shame, because there are definitely some local eats that visitors from other parts of the U.S. need to try, pronto. In no particular order, here are ten great dishes popular in the Mid-Atlantic that you should try on your next visit to this part of the world. Get ready to get hungry!

Disco Fries

You may have seen them on menus across the country, but disco fries started here. This mix of French fries topped with Cheese Whiz or brown gravy and bacon bits got its name because it was popular with dancers in the 1970s. Bar food at its finest. Disco fries are best experienced in New Jersey. Find them at Windmill Hot Dogs, or practically any New Jersey diner.


Scrapple is a bit like pork meatloaf, but made up of things most people would just toss in the trash. In fact, the Pennsylvania delicacy gets its name from the scraps of pigs that were usually left behind. But Pennsylvania culture is very much waste-not-want-not, hence scrapple. It’s still a common breakfast item in the region.

Deciding who has the best scrapple in the Mid-Atlantic is like trying to decide on the best barbecue place in the South. If you want a unique take, go to Oyster House in Philadelphia and try their Oyster Scrapple.

Frozen Custard

West Coasties, forget your frozen yogurt West Coasties. Frozen custard is where it’s at in the Mid-Atlantic. Popular throughout New England and Michigan as well, this dessert got its start in Delaware when an ice cream maker found that adding egg yolk made for a tastier dessert that stayed cold longer in the Mid-Atlantic heat. We have to say that we’re fond of The Dairy Godmother in Washington D.C. They have a very velvety custard that goes down smooth on a hot day.


Of course we can’t forget cheesesteak, that famous concoction of sliced meat, bread and Cheese Whiz (or provolone for traditionalists) known throughout the U.S. You can get it all over Philadelphia, but if you want the original recipe(s), you’ve got your choice between Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. They’re across the street from each other, so you can make your own comparison.

Pepper Pot Soup

This is becoming a bit of a rarity. The story goes that this is the soup that an inventive cook made for General Washington during his stay at Valley Forge. It’s made with tripe, vegetables, and a lot of pepper. It used to be very popular. Even Campbell’s made a version of it. Now it’s rarely found, at least the authentic kind with tripe. You can find a non-authentic version made with beef at City Tavern in Philadelphia. Fair warning though, they make it hot!

Smith Island Cake

This delicacy is a real treat if you love chocolate icing. Named after a tiny island in Maryland, this dish is made up of pancake-thin layers of cake slathered with chocolate icing between each thin layer. Other flavors exist, but chocolate icing and yellow cake is traditional. Most bakers bake all the layers at once in separate pans and then assemble them fast so the icing stays extra-gooey.

If you’re going to get it, you might as well go straight to the island to get to the source. Head to Smith Island Baking Company in Crisfield, Maryland to give it a try.


If you’re in the region between September and October, you’re in luck. It’s pawpaw season. Pawpaw is a bit like a mango and a bit like a banana, and used in much the same way. You can eat them fresh or bake them into a variety of goods. However, they don’t stay fresh very long so if you want to try one you’ll need to come to the Mid-Atlantic.

It’s hard to choose a restaurant that serves it best because its peak season is only for two weeks out of the year. Try Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore to try their pawpaw ice cream, but call in advance to see if it’s ready!


This is the Mid-Atlantic’s answer to bratwurst and is one of the few foods that’s native to the D.C. area. Half-smokes are half-beef and half-pork sausages which are mixed with red pepper and smoked over a grill before serving. Natives cover their half-smokes with whatever they like. No mustard/ketchup debate like in Chicago! If you’re new to the dish, go to Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington D.C. to try them out, then talk with the locals to find out their favorite spots.


Chesapeake Bay’s rivers are the natural spawning grounds for the rockfish. They’re a great fighting fish for anglers and go great on the grill. If you want to fish for them on your own and not go out into the ocean, you’ll have to come around during spawning season. But if you don’t feel like dressing up in waders and you’re heading down to Virginia, try the Rockfish and Barcat oyster stew at Rappahannock Oyster Co.

Pretzel salad

Finally, in what may be the weirdest dessert you’ve heard of, we have pretzel salad. Crush together pretzels, sugar, and butter to make a crust. Top it with a mix of cream cheese, sugar, and Cool Whip. Then top it with strawberry jello with sliced strawberries inside it. Strange, but a local delicacy! Georgia House in Millsboro, Delaware (and three other locations) has this strange and tasty treat for you.

If you’re in the area and you really want to try something unique to the Mid-Atlantic area, try looking around for one of these ten delicacies on your trip. Who knows, you might even end up liking pretzel salad or disco fries!