Smart Drivers Use Smartphones – Are You a Smart Driver?

GWAR Smartphone AppsTechnology is constantly advancing, and here at the auto shop, we are often amazed at all the new technology we see in the vehicles we service. Most cars are engineered to make driving easier, safer and more convenient for the driver. This technology has carried over into smartphones as well. Did you realize that there are now some apps that actually enhance the driving experience? They don’t require handheld use while behind the wheel and are really useful!

We all know that using our phones while driving is incredibly dangerous, and in most states illegal. So no, we are certainly not promoting taking your hands off the wheel to play with your phone while driving. However, most of us are painfully aware that smartphones are beginning to control our lives. We use them for everything: music, games, credit cards, plane tickets, and now even driving! We’ve listed a few of them here for you to check out.

 

Waze

For starters, perhaps the most common feature we use on our smartphones while driving is the GPS. Most drivers stick to Google Maps or Apple Maps, which provide wonderful GPS services. However, most GPSs do not feature notifications about police officers, red light cameras, or even alternative routes around heavy traffic. If you are looking for an app that provides services above and beyond a regular GPS, then Waze is for you. It shows current traffic patterns and reroutes you around any traffic delays. Even though it might be a longer way around than you are used to, you won’t have to put your car in park on the highway every morning on your way to work.

 

Gas Buddy

If you’re like most Americans, you cringe a little, every time you fill up at the gas station and fuel economy is important to you. Especially when you and your college roommate decide it’s a good idea to road trip across the country for spring break … in your parent’s SUV. For those price conscious individuals, who like to seek out the cheapest place to purchase much needed fuel, Gas Buddy is for you. The app will use your location to lead you to the nearest, cheapest gas station. It’s as simple as that.

 

iOnRoad

Most new cars today have features such as blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and parking assistance, to name a few. However, many of us still have vehicles without these fancy new features. But there’s an app for that! iOnRoad is an app that allows you to place your smartphone on the dash and can provide collision warnings, lane keeping assistance, and even tailgate warnings, all using the camera on your phone. This way we can all feel like we’re driving the newest vehicle.

 

Spot Hero

Ah, Spot Hero; the saving grace for those of us who have a deathly fear of finding parking in the city. One of the most frustrating things about driving in any city is trying to find a parking spot that you can fit in, and one that isn’t so expensive that you have to sell your kidney on the black market. Spot Hero is wonderful, because it provides a list of available parking spots in the location you are looking for, and shows you the best deals. This app also allows you to pay for and reserve a spot ahead of time, so when you’re running late for that important interview, you don’t have to stress about finding somewhere to park.

 

These apps make driving safety pretty easy! Try one or more of them out and see what you think.

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Repair or not repair … that is the question

office-620822_1280It’s something that we will all likely have to decide at one point or another in our driving lives; do you put money into repairing a used vehicle or do you trade it in for a new vehicle? Both have advantages and disadvantages, but oftentimes buying a new car is a way more expensive way to go.

Vehicle repairs will come up if you’re driving a used or older vehicle – that’s a given. This makes drivers nervous. Normally, your warranty is up by the time you make your last car payment. This brings on the worry about how long your car will hold out without having to put lots of money into auto repairs or other serious vehicle problems.

Here are a few things to consider though when thinking about repairing or replacing:

  1. Preventative maintenance goes a long way toward getting the most out of your vehicle. Following a service interval schedule as your vehicle ages will help to ensure it is safe and driving well. Knowing what repairs or maintenance should be done, or may be needed, at certain mileage points, can help you prepare rather than deal with unexpected repairs. Saving this money out up front, will help to alleviate the stress of coming up with the money then and there.
  1. Learn how to identify if a warranty is worthwhile. Many people struggle with keeping a vehicle after the factory warranty is up. There are many extended warranty plans out there, but you don’t want to pay for one that won’t cover most of the repairs that you’ll most likely face. You’ll be paying for – well – nothing. You may not benefit from a service contract if the product isn’t likely to need repairs, or if the potential cost of repairs is low. You’ll want to make sure the extended warranty will cover expensive repairs that you want to prevent paying for. Also keep in mind that a reputable auto repair shop will offer a warranty for their work. Here at Good Works Auto Repair we offer an industry leading 36 month, 36 thousand mile warranty!
  1. When you calculate the cost of a new car payment, make sure to include repairs and maintenance along with increased insurance costs in that monthly price. Many people budget for just the car payment, when in fact it is likely going to be higher. Buying new rather than budgeting for auto repairs is often more money in the long run.

Now that you know what to consider, you just need a trusted repair shop! Give us a call and get your vehicle on track for a long and safe life.

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Transmission Repair: A Shaky Topic – Literally

motor-1381995_1280Have you ever been behind the wheel and felt it shake? Did it stop responding? Grinding gears or slipping gears? Burning smell going on? It’s a scary feeling but it could have to do with your transmission. We know … no one wants to hear the words “your transmission needs repair.” It just sounds expensive, right? But it’s a vital part of your vehicle and if something is wrong with your transmission, it will need some work for sure. Auto repair professionals discuss this topic and more – the good and the bad – on a recent episode of Bumper to Bumper radio. What one individual may think is a transmission issue, may actually not be that at all.

Let the professionals handle this one

You will need the assistance of a trusted auto repair shop. With all of the technical computer modules in vehicles these days, it can be confusing determining whether the symptoms you are experiencing are actually caused by transmissions issues or not. These aren’t our parent’s or our grandparents’ vehicles anymore. Diagnosis requires the expertise of a professional mechanic.  Determining what exact problems your car is experiencing when it comes to the transmission is likely an impossible task, especially to the untrained eyes and ears of the average driver. Sorry folks – no DIY this time around.

Transmissions that slip

A slipping transmission – a common “buzz word,” in the automotive community. Though traditionally it was a clutch that would slip, people often come into auto repair shops describing their transmission as “slipping.” Maybe it happens at a certain speed, or maybe it stutters or doesn’t shift into the gear it is meant to and they say it is slipping. While this may be true, it could also be a symptom of the engine itself.

While we realize that these are both serious issues, the point of this being mentioned in the broadcast was to point out the importance of finding a transmission specialist or auto repair shop with expertise in transmission repair instead of a run of the mill repair shop. Transmissions are complicated systems that require experience and education to know how to diagnose and fix the associated problems.

Want to know more about this topic or in regards to specific types of vehicles? Check out the radio broadcast by clicking here.

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3 Easy & Reliable Solutions to Vehicle Vibrations

Why is my car vibrating?

Have you ever been driving along and notice a shake and shimmy coming from your car? It happens to all of us at one time or another. That being said however, it’s important not to ignore the vibrations coming from your vehicle. Make an appointment at your auto repair shop to have your car checked out by an experienced automotive technician, because it could be a serious safety concern.  Below are the most common reasons for your vehicle to vibrate and what you can do about it.

Tires

tire replacementThe #1 reason for vibrations on your car have to do with the tires. If you notice shaking at higher speeds, you most likely need a tire balance. Sometimes, tires will separate, in this case, you will need to replace the damaged tires. Another common issue, tires will wear unevenly. Have your repair shop do a simple tire rotation.  If you notice a bumpy ride, it’s possible that your tires have been rolling unevenly. Tire replacement is also necessary in this case.

Engine Compartment

If you notice a shudder coming from the engine area, your repair shop will most likely check the spark plugs and plug wires. Another area of concern is the air filter. A dirty filter can block the necessary oxygen that needs to get to the engine.  A dirty fuel filter can also cause an issue under the hood.

Brakes

Do you notice a shake or vibration when applying the brakes? A trained technician will check the brakes and all the components that make up the whole brake system.

Diagnosing problems early with your vehicle is important.  Make sure you are comfortable with your auto repair shop and communicate clearly what types of noises and vibrations you are experiencing. It could be something as simple as a tire rotation or it could be the cause of something more serious. Don’t ignore what your car is trying to tell you!

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Why Did My Car Overheat?

We’ve all heard the horror stories of cars overheating on the highway, and we have all seen one or two pulled over with smoke billowing out from under the hood. An overheated engine is a scary thing, especially if it happens to you! So why do cars overheat and what can we do to prevent it from happening?

There are many things that can cause a vehicle to overheat. For starters, we in Arizona know exactly how extreme the summer temperatures can be, and our vehicles do as well. A big cause of overheating is environmental temperature, and while there isn’t much we can do about that, preventative maintenance on our cars can help minimize the damage as a result from excessive heat.

The principle reason for overheating, is a lack of circulation somewhere in the cooling system of a vehicle. A leak in the cooling system is one of the causes of overheating, although it is an indirect cause. When there is a leak, air enters the cooling system which leads to the formation of an air pocket that is too large to be pushed through the system. This causes a stop in the coolant circulation, which in turn causes the engine to overheat. If you notice your coolant leaking, or see your temperature gauge spiking, it is time to bring your vehicle in to an auto repair shop right away before your engine overheats and causes even further damage.

Another reason for a lack of engine coolant circulation is an obstruction somewhere in the cooling system. There are many things that could lead to an obstruction, such as a thermostat failing to open, an object entering the cooling system, or a mineral deposit blocking the radiator. Such an obstruction inhibits the coolant from circulating to the radiator, thus blocking the dispersion of heat, and boom: you have an overheated engine. If you are not able to remove the blockage yourself, which, let’s be honest, most people can’t, a trusty auto mechanic is more than capable of doing it for you.

One of the more common reasons of an overheated engine, is a water pump failure. The water pump is responsible for the circulation of the coolant, so if it is no longer in working condition, well then things are going to heat up rather quickly! Preventative maintenance of your vehicle can aid in monitoring the status of the water pump, and if anything starts to go south within the pump, a certified auto mechanic can fix it up for you before any problems arise.

Overheating is one of the top reasons for mechanical failure in a vehicle, so knowing the different causes and how to prevent them is key to maintaining the life of your vehicle. Despite taking preventative measures, overheating can still occur. If it does, bring your car in to our auto repair shop and we will perform a complete cooling system service for you and get you back on the road again.

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10 Bad Habits That Could Be Damaging Your Car

Your car was an expensive purchase, and it’s something that you’ll want to keep running smoothly and safely for many years to come. Preventative maintenance is important, as we always make sure to discuss in our blogs. But beyond routine services, there are some habits that could be doing more harm than good to your vehicle; oftentimes, we don’t even realize we’ve adopted bad habits. In a recent article from MSN, they give drivers some tips that could save damage to their vehicle over time. Do you do any of the following bad habits? If so, the New Year is the perfect time to fix these bad habits.

  1. Abusing the clutch – if you drive a stick shift, you may be too hard on it – and you aren’t alone. Many drivers, when they come to a stop, keep the clutch all the way to the floor. You’ll be able to inch forward and be ready to take off when the light turns green, sure, but when you do this to the clutch, its surfaces scrape against each other, wearing them out and creating the possibility of failure. Instead of riding the clutch with the shifter in gear, find Neutral with the shifter and let the clutch out.
  2. Carrying too much weight in your car – the more the car weighs, the more stress it places on its drivetrain, suspension, and brakes, and the more fuel it consumes. Limit the amount of cargo you carry around on a daily basis and just carry the essentials.
  3. Riding your brakes when driving downhill – we certainly want you to slow down and be safe, but did you know that this could actually cause heat to build up in the brake pads and rotors? This will not only cause wear but can also increase the risk that the brakes will overheat or warp?
  4. Ignoring the parking brake – use it to help offset all the weight of your vehicle, even when you’re parked on even pavement. Most people didn’t know that this is a good thing to do!
  5. Letting the gas tank stay low – putting only small amounts of gas in at one time could actually damage a vehicle’s fuel system. Many fuel pumps keep cool by staying submerged in the fuel in the tank. Put a little extra in when you’re able to and it will help to preserve the fuel pump.
  6. Shifting too quickly from reverse to drive – over time it can damage your drivetrain. Come to a complete stop before shifting and accelerating.
  7. Revving the vehicle before the car engine is warm – try to wait at least 60 seconds before you get on the road, and everything will have warmed up enough for reliable performance. In our humble opinion, this is one of the most important tips listed.
  8. Flooring it when you don’t need to – give your vehicle a break. Sure, it can be an adrenaline rush when you accelerate and speed up, but all you are really doing is burning a whole lot of fuel and putting a heavy load on your drivetrain. Full-force stops cause rapid wear to the brake pads and rotors. Both habits are asking for expensive auto repair bills down the road.
  9. Using the shifter as a hand rest – many drivers do this, but it puts strain on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers, leading to premature wear. Always remember, 10 and 2!
  10. Ignoring warning signs – your vehicle will usually tell you if something is wrong via squeaks, knocks, vibrations, lights, and so on. Have your vehicle serviced by a trusted auto repair shop at the first sign of an issue. You don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road.

Whether you’re guilty of all or some of these habits, they are excellent reminders of how we should be driving our vehicles – with caution and care. As we enter the New Year, slow down a little and drive the way your vehicle deserves. If you need auto repairs or routine auto services done, give us a call!

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Reasons to Schedule a Tune-Up

speed-1249610_1280As responsible car owners, we all have heard that taking our vehicles in for a routine tune-up is very important. However, if you are anything like us, you may feel that you don’t have the time or money to do so. You may be wondering why it is so vital to bring the car in when it is still getting you from point A to point B. Or you might tell yourself that you will bring it in at the end of the week, but by the time Friday rolls around, you don’t have the energy to bring it in. Well we are here to tell you the benefits of scheduling a tune-up before it is too late.

For many of us, our fuel mileage is of great importance. We want the most efficient vehicles with the least amount of work. If our engines aren’t functioning to the best of their ability, then our gas mileage will decrease. In order to get the most bang for our buck with our fuel purchases, bringing your car in to your local auto repair shop for preventative maintenance is the key. A regularly scheduled tune-up can ensure that your engine is running smoothly. It can also stop any damages in their tracks and fix any problems that may have incurred since your last tune-up.

Another reason to schedule a tune-up is to decrease your emissions, you know, those scary tests our cars go through every couple years or so. When your car engine is dirty or isn’t functioning properly, it can create more byproducts, which contribute to air pollution and the like. If any of you have failed an emissions test before, you know how much of a pain this can be. So save yourself the trouble, and go ahead and schedule a tune-up with your local auto mechanic. Keeping your engine clean and functioning at par will benefit you in the long run.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of preventative maintenance is the prevention of major repairs. When you bring your car in for a scheduled tune-up, all your systems will be checked, and anything that is cause for concern can be fixed on the spot! This will save you time and money in the long run, as you won’t be breaking down in the middle of your morning commute. Here at Good Works Auto Repair, we offer a free courtesy inspection every time you visit our facility. We want to make sure that our customers are driving away in safe vehicles, no matter what you are coming in for. We also want you to feel confident about the safety of your vehicle each and every time you get behind the wheel.

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To Buy or Repair: Every Car Owner’s Dilemma!

 

GWAR Auto RepairYour vehicle is a major purchase, often one of the biggest ones you’ll make in your lifetime, aside from your home. There will be plenty of difficult decisions that come with owning a vehicle as well; things like down payments, monthly budgets, repair costs and how long to hold onto your vehicle, are all a part of vehicle ownership. There may come a time, if you own and don’t lease, that you’ll have to decide if it’s time to pay for some significant or just buy a newer vehicle. Then you’ll also consider whether to buy new or used. All of these decisions can seem daunting, but don’t worry, we have some information below to help you consider your options.

Obviously, nobody wants to continuously pour good money into a used vehicle if it keeps breaking down. And when the auto repairs are becoming more and more frequent, it just makes sense to wonder if you should buy another vehicle. But is a new vehicle the smartest decision? Does it make financial sense, or would you save more money in the long run to make the necessary repairs and maintain it.

There is no clear-cut answer here since this is a personal decision, and every situation is different. However, first start by thinking about what is best for your unique budget and your family, and realize that even with good preventative maintenance habits, your vehicle will likely need some repairs anyway. Rubber belts and hoses dry out and crack, metal on rotors warp or wear too thin and electrical parts stop working. Wear-and-tear items such as axle boots, belts and brake rotors will eventually need to be replaced. Some of these replacements don’t come cheap either and can end up costing anywhere between $600-$1,000.

You also need to consider the cost of buying a new vehicle. According to a recent article from Edmund’s, it is almost always less expensive to repair a car than buy a new one. Even with major expenses in the thousands for some repairs, you still have to consider what you would spend on a new vehicle; a down payment, monthly payments, insurance fees, registration and taxes, plus an average depreciation of 22% for the new car in the first year. You could buy used, but then you may run into the same auto repair concerns soon after. In 2014, the average person kept his car for about six years before trading it in, according to Edmunds data. If your car breaks down before then, it oftentimes makes more sense to to repair and maintain it, in order to save up some money and get more use out of it. On the other hand, new cars come with more peace of mind, warranties and more exciting standard features like backup cameras, blind-spot monitoring and so on.

If you have made the decision to repair your vehicle  or you’re just looking for a trusted auto repair shop to provide preventative maintenance to help avoid major repairs, we are ready to serve you. From basic oil changes to major engine repairs, we can care for your vehicle and give you the advice you need and deserve. Give us a call and let’s talk about any concerns or decisions you need to make regarding your vehicle.

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10 Common Auto Repairs to Watch Out For

mechanic-1696914_1280When you own a vehicle, auto repairs are constantly in the back of your mind. Owning a vehicle is not exactly cheap, especially when you don’t properly maintain it, and various systems and parts start breaking down. You wonder where you’ll get the money to pay for those expensive car repairs and how much the next repair is going to cost you. Paying a little more attention to preventative maintenance will help to lessen the burden of car repairs and you will be able to enjoy driving your vehicle longer and with fewer problems along the way.

According to an infographic from Auto Service Costs, there are some common auto repairs out there to be on the lookout for. If you are guilty of neglecting regular preventative maintenance, or if your car is just getting up there in years and mileage, you’re likely to encounter some of the following issues:

  1. Oxygen Sensor Failure
    This could run around $240 and is often the diagnosis of a check engine light that has come on. They usually require replacement around 60,000-100,000 miles but it can occur earlier if your vehicle has not been well-taken care of.
  2. Gas Cap Failure
    Another cause of a check engine light warning could be that your gas cap needs to be tightened. It can cause gas fumes to leak from the tank. 95% of gas leaks in the engine are caused by an improperly tightened fuel cap. A new one can cost under $1.
  3. Catalytic Converter Replacement
    This is a much more expensive repair than that gas cap. This could end up costing around $1,000. This is a vital component of your vehicle’s emission control system, responsible for the recirculation of the unburned gas back to the engine and cleans up the car’s exhaust. A sulfur or rotten egg smell could mean a catalytic converter problem.
  4. Mass Air Flow Sensor Replacement
    This could run about $350. Another culprit of a check engine light, too.
  5. Spark Plug Replacement
    Another $200 for this repair. Spark plugs send electric current from the ignition and ignite fuel in the process. Without properly working spark plugs, your vehicle may not start or your gas mileage will dramatically decline.
  6. EGR Valve Replacement
    Plan on around $275 for this service. The valve comes with newer vehicles to help reduce carbon emissions by circulating small amounts of exhaust back to the engine’s combustion chambers. It also helps to keep your engine in top performance shape. Don’t wait on this.
  7. Coolant Temp Sensor Replacement
    In order to maintain your car’s temperature, you need coolant to regulate it. Coolant helps to prevent the engine from overheating. The service will cost around $125 but could save you thousands of dollars for an overheated engine and replacement.
  8. Ignition Coil Replacement
    If this happens, it could be around $225 because it is an important part of the car’s ignition system. It could result in stalling, no-starts, loss power and others.
  9. Intake Manifold Gasket Replacement
    Runs a little more at $350. The intake manifold gasket directs the air-fuel mixture to the cylinder where it is burned to produce power. Bad gaskets can have leaks which can result in contaminated engine oil. This is very important to maintain.
  10. Aftermarket Electronics Repair
    Another common issue that costs around $100. Adding parts can cost a pretty penny, but can also end up costing you even more in repairs.

These are just some of the most common auto repairs. Chances are, you’ve experienced other car issues that you’ve had to pay for. Remember, your best solution to preventing a large automotive repair bill is to be vigilant with preventative maintenance and following our interval service schedule the best you can. Budgeting, and spending a little money here and there could save a lot of money for a major repair down the road.

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Why is my Car Battery Dead? A Hot Topic

jumper-cables-926308_1280For those of us in Arizona, we all know too well that temperatures aren’t exactly pleasant all year long. Those hot days we experience are draining, not only for us, but also for the batteries in our vehicles. Heat is one of the leading causes of car battery failure, but as none of us control the weather, there isn’t much we can do about it. However, there are certain things we can do to combat the toll the heat takes on our car batteries.

One of the challenges faced as a result of excessive heat is the loss of water in car batteries. As most of us learned in 5th grade science class, when water is exposed to heat, it evaporates. This poses a threat to the functionality of car batteries, as they are filled with a water and acid combination to conduct electricity. This evaporation from the heat causes the water level to decrease over time, leading to internal damage and a dead battery.

How can I fix the lack of fluid in my car battery, you might ask? Some people take to replacing the fluid losses in their battery by adding water. While this solves the low fluid level issue, it can lead to the problem of overfilling the battery. If such a problem occurs, when the vehicle is started, the battery fluid can overflow, leading to acid damage and corrosion of surrounding parts. Your best bet in this case is to take the vehicle to a trusted auto repair shop and have them look at your battery.

Battery terminal and connection corrosion also occurs because of the evaporation of battery fluid. These issues can cause the clamps from battery cables to fit improperly, which in turn renders the battery useless. This corrosion can not only damage the battery itself, but it can also damage surrounding structures. The simple fix for this is to clean off the terminals, but be careful not to touch any battery fluid, as you could sustain an acid burn … yikes! It might be better to schedule a battery service with your local auto repair shop, so you won’t have to worry about that.

Another issue associated with rising temperatures is swelling or bulging of your car battery. This can cause cracking of the battery and leaking of fluid, and we already know what damages that can cause. When inspecting the battery yourself, be sure to wear eye protection, long sleeved clothing, and gloves as acid burns are quite unpleasant. Unfortunately there is no simple fix to this one, so replacement of your car battery is imminent.

As with all of these heat issues, the safest way to deal with them is to take your vehicle to an auto repair shop. Even though the heat is very damaging, preventative maintenance is key to minimizing these damages in the long run, so be sure to have your battery serviced every couple of years.

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