Top Automotive Things To Know
- The 5 Most Important Things You Should Tell Your Mechanic
- 5 Signs Your Car Needs Service
- The 5 Most Important Maintenance Items You Should Budget For
- The 5 Selling Tactics That Should Concern You
- The 5 Best Ways to Improve Gas Mileage
- The 5 Most Expensive Repairs You Could Have Avoided
The 5 Most Important Things You Should Tell Your Mechanic
When and how often does the problem occur? Under what conditions, hot, cold, after driving in traffic, after driving on the highway, while sitting at the drive-thru? Are there any warning lights, symptoms that occur with the light? Does it happen on a cold start, warm start? Giving the aforementioned information to the service writer at the counter, which will be documented and given to the tech working on your vehicle, is invaluable. The tech can then attempt to “duplicate” the symptom and do some pinpoint testing, which can ultimately save him time, and you, MONEY!
#2 Time expectations
Being with out a vehicle is difficult for all of our customers! If the Service Advisor understands what your expectations/needs are for getting your vehicle delivered back to you, we are able to discern whether those expectations can be met realistically or not. It allows us to provide with you with the service and timeliness you desire. If we’re not able to meet those needs, we can attempt to accommodate you in some other way, i.e. a rental car or a shuttle ride to/from work/home. Anything we can do to make your car maintenance and repairs easier on you is our goal!
#3 If you are a do-it-yourselfer
Tell the Service advisor what steps you’ve taken to resolve the problem yourself: Did you replace a part, did you remove a part, a wire, a fuse? Did you replace the battery, removing any and all codes from the computer? These are biggies, as they will have a HUGE impact on trying to nail down your issue. Although we are ASE certified, you will save yourself time and cost by giving us as much background information as possible.
#4 Are you planning to drive this vehicle for another three months, six months, three years, or until the wheels fall off?
We often hear a customer tell us that they’re “getting rid of this vehicle in a couple of weeks/months” Two years later, they’re still driving it, and often times the lack of repairs or maintenance has cost them dearly. This will help us strategically plan how you might best spend your hard-earned money, and achieve your vehicle goals and expectations. We always want you to drive away from our facility in a safe vehicle.
How are we doing, how did we do? The more feedback we get from our clients, the better we are able to understand what it is you need, the better we will be able to serve you. Are we doing great? We’d like to know. Whether as owners, service writers or technicians, we each have our own “perception” of ourselves, our business, the way we do things, etc. We are often wearing those “blinders” or rose colored glasses and believe we’re doing just fine. A reality check is often both needed and welcomed. Help us help you better!
5 Signs Your Car Needs Service
#1 Warning light indicators
If the "Check engine" light or "Service Engine Soon" light illuminates on your vehicle's dash, call your mechanic. While this warning device does not indicate that you should cause a wreck getting off the highway immediately, it is not something to ignore for a more convenient day. The light could mean something as simple as a loose gas cap, or something major that, if ignored, could result in an expensive repair. Treat the Check Engine light as a sign that your car needs some attention!
#2 Squealing or grinding sounds when slowing or coming to a stop
These noises may indicate that your brake pads, rotors or calipers are on their last leg and need to be serviced as soon as possible. Not only does ignoring your brakes mean you could pay a much higher price for repairs down the road, but it could also mean that you are the last car in a highway pileup! Be safe!
#3 Oil spots under your car
An oil leak is dangerous to your car engine’s lifespan. Without the oil's lubrication, your car's engine will eventually lock up. Besides, oil spots are no fun to clean off your garage floor!
#4 Slow starting
This could mean that your battery is dying, and car batteries may - or may NOT - give you a second warning. Don't let something as simple as a battery leave you stranded in a parking lot - bring your car in right away.
#5 Excessive vibration while driving
If your car is vibrating more than normal or you are hearing excessive road noise, it could be a sign that you need new tires or your tire alignment adjusted.
The 5 Most Important Maintenance Items You Should Budget For
#1 Major mileage based services - generally 30k, 60k, 90k, etc.
While some fluid changes are may be necessary at various intervals, all fluids are inspected during each service. Depending on driving conditions, needed service will likely be greater than required service. Budget: $500 - $800
Most tires are designed to go 40,000-60,000 miles. However, many factors may accelerate their wear, such as lack of rotation, incorrect air pressure, weak shocks/struts, poor alignment, and road hazards. Tire prices vary widely by application. It is always good to be prepared for the "just in case".
#3 Oil change, oil change, oil change
Not only does this lowly service add miles to your engine, but a good shop inspects your vehicle at this time and will help you plan/budget for future maintenance.
#4 New Era Tune Up
Spark plugs do not need to be changed as often and carburetors are almost no more. Today's cars, however, do need the fuel injectors and throttle plates to be cleaned every 30,000 miles as a rule of thumb. You can plan on around $250 for this service.
Because these components degrade slowlw, their failure frequently goes unnoticed. We usually recommend they be replaced around 80,000 - 100,000 miles. This can run $500 - $1000, depending on the vehicle.
The 5 Selling Tactics That Should Concern You
#1 Selling you overpriced "lifetime" transmission fluid
Truth is, it's not a very long lifetime. After 80,000 miles on this so-called "lifetime fluid" your transmission fails and you have to buy a new one for thousands of dollars. To protect yourself, check the owner's manual and replace the transmission filter and fluid about every 30,000 miles.
#2. Waiting until your car is up on the lift and partially disassembled before getting your authorization to proceed with the repairs
By then, you are essentially trapped into either authorizing overpriced/unnecessary repairs or risk getting your car back in a disassembled and unusable condition, or paying a large and unexpected fee to have your car reassembled only to find that nothing was repaired.
#3 Telling you that work has been done or parts replaced in your car, when the work was not done or the parts were not replaced
Always ask to see the broken or worn parts after the car is reassembled. They should be dirty/greasy and the new part should be clean.
#4. "Giving" you a free alignment check
This can open the door for all kinds of recommendations to sell you shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, and axels. To protect yourself, always ask to see the worn out part. Barring a major pothole incident or an accident, an alignment should be good for 50,000 - 100,000 miles.
#5. Selling you lifetime brake pads for only $89
Here's the pitch: You only have to pay for the brakes one time; the scam is that you are buying a low-quality set of brake pads. In order for your lifetime warranty to apply, you may have to buy new calipers with your new cheap pads. Your brakes are extremely important - find a mechanic you trust.
The 5 Best Ways to Improve Gas Mileage
#1 Drive more efficiently
You heard your parents say it over and over again. Slow down, stop switching lanes, brake carefully. It all makes sense, even now that you are an adult and know how to drive. Aggressive driving very simply wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Aggressive driving doesn't mean that you are out to get somebody, it is simply speeding, rapid acceleration, and unnecessary braking. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
According to fueleconomy.gov, while every vehicle has as unique optimal fuel economy speed range, gas mileage typically decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour. For every 5 mph over 60 mph, it's like paying an additional $0.28 per gallon for gas!
#2 Keep your car in shape
Strange noises and unsightly belches of smoke from your car are more than embarrassing; they are probably a signal of wasted fuel. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Gas mileage can be improved by another 1–2 percent by using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil. According to fueleconomy.gov, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1–2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1–1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
#3 Keep your tires in shape
Did you know that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent simply by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure? Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Not only that, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.
#4 Plan & combine trips
Obviously, the less you drive the less fuel you use. Combining multiple errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. By planning your trip, you ensure that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient, and you likely will reduce the distance you travel. Be sure to consider the fastest and most gas-efficient routes when planning the route as well.
Commuting and planning work routes is also a great way to save on gas. When commuting, split gas costs, but use the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Stagger your work hours when possible to avoid rush-hour stop-and-go traffic.
#5 Choose a more efficient vehicle
Here is an interesting fact from fueleconomy.org! The difference between a car that gets 20 MPG and one that gets 30 MPG amounts to $878 per year (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $3.51). That's $4,388 extra in fuel costs over five years! While it may not be reason to rush out and buy a new car, if you're already in the market for one, consider fuel efficiency.
The 5 Most Expensive Repairs You Could Have Avoided
#1 Battery Cable or Alternator Failure
Reason: Using a cheap car battery
Cost to Fix: Upwards of $750.00
Cost to Prevent: $75.00 (cost of a good quality battery)
Car batteries, especially the "cheaper", poorly designed batteries release gas while in use, allowing the gas to collect and corrode the battery cable terminals. Eventually the corrosion will eat away at the battery cables, causing high resistance in the charging system, and forcing your alternator to work overtime. Some of today's battery cables incorporate portions of the engine harness and can be as much as $750 to replace! Simply purchasing a higher quality battery and sealing the terminals will protect your car from this costly $750 mistake.
Click here to watch a brief video about cheap batteries.
#2 Head Gasket Failure
Reason: Using improper coolant or failing to flush your coolant system
Cost to Fix: More than $1,000.00
Cost to Prevent: $130-$180 (Cost for Coolant Flush and Coolant)
Most head gasket problems stem from cooling system neglect. Just like in a swimming pool, your cooling system needs to be pH balanced. Using the proper coolant keeps the dissimilar metals in the cooling system from being eroded by electrolysis. A simple coolant flush could have prevented head gasket failure and kept $1,000 in your account!
#3 Premature Tire Wear
Reason: Failure to rotate tires and check for proper inflation
Cost to Fix: $300 to $2,500 for Suspension Problems, Alignment, Ball Joints Replacement, Control Arm Bushing, etc.
Cost to Prevent: FREE with an oil change at Good Works Auto Repair
So much is riding on your tires. We know that is an overused ad campaign, but it's true. Comfort, traction, and braking all rely on your tires. The maintenance? Extremely inexpensive and easy. Tires should be checked for appropriate pressure monthly, rotated every eight thousand miles, and balanced if there is a vibration at highway speeds. Finally, at the first sign of abnormal wear, the suspension and alignment should be checked.
#4 Transmission Failure
Reason: Failure to flush your transmission and use the proper fluids
Cost to Fix: $2,000 to $4,000 for a new Transmission
Cost to Prevent: $165-$269 for a proper Transmission Flush
Transmission fluid is the life blood of your transmission. It cleans, cools and lubricates all the moving parts inside. Over time, heat destroys the fluid's ability to lubricate and the detergent in the fluid eventually loses its ability to clean. Beware that not all transmission flushes are the same. A flush should start with a pre-cleaner to loosen sludge and deposits. Next, be sure you are getting fluid that meets or exceeds O.E. requirements; improper fluid may actually cause shifting problems. Finally, a conditioner should be added to help keep the seals soft.
#5 Engine Failure
Reason: Failure to change your oil every 3,000 miles
Cost to Fix: $2,500 to $5,000 for costly repairs including engine replacement
Cost to Prevent: $29.99 for an Oil Change
While it's certainly true that today's engines are much more reliable than those made 30+ years ago, they are also fare more sophisticated. Today's engines have very tight tolerances, variable valve and cam timing, multi-cylinder elimination strategies and hydraulic timing chain tensioners. Sludge build-up can quickly lead to an expensive repair or engine replacement, costing you thousands of dollars. It is critical to have good, clean oil to keep these parts lubricated and clean. We still recommend changing your oil every 3,000 miles, it's cheap insurance!