Jan 092015


car maintEveryone wants a car that runs smoothly, performs well, is well-maintained, and looks good. And in pursuit of all four, some car owners become so obsessed with maintaining their car, that they actually end up hampering the performance of their vehicle. They also end up spending more on their car, when it’s absolutely not needed.

When we talk about car maintenance, we mean, taking care of the vehicle’s engine, interiors, and exteriors. Maintaining the exterior, involves making sure that the car remains clean, the color fresh, and it looks shiny. Engine work, change of oil, servicing the car, etc., fall under engine maintenance, while taking care of the seats and upholstery, dashboard and controls is included in car interior maintenance.

If ever in doubt about your car and its maintenance, read through the owner’s manual, familiarize yourself with the mechanism and terms used, and then make your decision on which products to use for your vehicle. Compiled in this Buzzle article, are a list of myths that people actually believe in, and follow to the ‘T’, when it comes to maintaining their cars.

Common Car Maintenance Myths

Myth: Oil should be changed every 3,000 miles.
It is not necessary to change the engine oil every 3000 miles. Auto experts say that if the car is new, it can go without an oil change for at least 7,500 miles. But if your car is old, and is giving you problems, then changing your oil every 3,000 miles makes sense, only if necessary. Always go through the owner’s manual, as it clearly states when you need to go in for an oil change. The miles required for an oil change differ with each car model, but on an average, it is around 7,500 miles. Frequent oil changes do not really do much for the engine, but they certainly inflate your expenses on the car.

Myth: Synthetic oil is the best for all cars.
Synthetic oil is definitely good for cars, but it is not good for all cars. Older cars that do not give a high gas mileage should not use synthetic oil. The mechanical wear in older cars is much higher than that of newer cars. In the case of the former, there are more chances of an internal oil leakage, and using synthetic oil in these vehicles just ends up damaging the car. Synthetic oil is much thinner than normal oil that is used in cars, because of which, more of it is used in older cars. Since this oil is thinner, it flows more freely, causing the oil to leak out much faster. Synthetic oil is good for new cars, and the oil recommendations are always specified in the owner’s manual. The main reason why dealers insist that you switch to synthetic oil is because it is more expensive than normal oil.

Myth: Using premium gas makes the car fuel efficient.
The fact of the matter is that, premium gas does not do anything for the car’s performance; it does not clean the engine, improve fuel efficiency, nor is it purer than regular gas. Your car manual clearly mentions what gas is ideal for your car. Most luxury cars need premium gas as their engines are specifically designed to consume that kind of gas, but if you use premium gas in a normal car, you actually end up damaging your car’s engine in the long run. Premium gas is less combustible than regular gas because the former has a mixture of hydrocarbons that make it so. Premium gas is needed in high performing engines like those in supercars. If your car is running fine with regular gas, then stick to it.

Myth: Air conditioners hurt fuel economy.
Driving with your windows rolled up and the AC in full blast, actually does help reduce fuel consumption. How? When the windows are rolled down, aerodynamically, the drag in the vehicle increases, causing the engine to work harder to overcome this resistance. This in turn burns more fuel. Those living in populated countries that experience major traffic jams will disagree with me. Cars consume more fuel when in traffic. This is because, the driver’s foot is most often on the clutch, as he is driving with a partially-depressed clutch or half-clutch, if he is stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. When the clutch is half-pressed, the engine is still connected to the transmission and hence, fuel is being consumed, as against a fully pressed clutch, which disassociates the engine, enabling it to run on idle.

Myth: You should rev your car in winter to warm the engine.
Revving the car in winter does more harm than good. Yes, it does heat up the engine quickly, but the sudden rise in engine temperature can cause the cylinder to seize, the pistons to crack, and lead to extra pressure on the crankshaft, valves, bearings, etc. Also, friction increases between the various components in the engine of the car, making them wear out faster. Also, when you rev up your engine, excess gas enters the exhaust and triggers the catalytic converter. When this takes place, the emission filter that is usually made of ceramic melts. Another notable point is, even if you are in neutral and are revving your car, the gears are still turning. Thus, your car’s gears may get damaged.

Other Myths

► Myth: When you are low on brake fluid, you need to fill it up.
► Reality- The main reason your car goes low on brake fluid is when the brakes need looking into. Instead of filling up the fluid, get your brakes checked and take appropriate action.

► Myth: It is imperative to service your car in winter.
► Reality- Servicing and tuning your car should not be based on the weather. If your car needs a check up and service, it should be done regardless.

► Myth: Coolant has to be changed with the oil.
► Reality- Coolant can be changed whenever it goes below the required level. It is just a matter of convenience to do so with the regular oil change or during servicing.

► Myth: Local detergents are good for cleaning cars.
► Reality- Cars have their own specified shampoo, as the chemicals in the shampoo do not affect the paint or the polish used on the car. Local detergents like those used for clothes and dishes, should never be used on cars.

As technology advances, so do the myths involving the working of the machines. Be smart and read the owner’s manual carefully before following any of the ‘advice’ given by so-called car experts.

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Jan 082015

One of the reassuring qualities of contemporary cars is that they need much less-frequent service to keep them running well. Changing the spark plugs, breaker points, and condenser used to be a seasonal exercise, and body rust was accepted as a normal if unfortunate hazard of aging. Now many spark plugs can go 100,000 miles between changes. Electronic ignition has done away with the points and condenser. Chassis, suspensions, and even some transmissions are lubed for life. And factory rust-through warranties typically run six years or longer. What’s more, reliability has improved significantly. The result is that most late-model cars and trucks should be able to go 200,000 miles with regular upkeep.

Here are a few simple, periodic checks and procedures you can do that will help you get there.

Three key tasks

Check the engine oil

Do it regularly—monthly for a vehicle in good condition; more often if you notice an oil leak or find you need to add oil routinely. The car should be parked on level ground so you can get an accurate dipstick reading. Don’t overfill. And if you do have a leak, find and fix it soon.

Check tire air pressure

Once a month and before any extended road trips, use an accurate tire-pressure gauge to check the inflation pressure in each tire, including the spare. Do this when the tires are cold (before the vehicle has been driven or after no more than a couple of miles of driving). Use the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer, not the maximum pressure embossed on the tire’s sidewall. The recommended pressure is usually found on a placard on a front doorjamb, in the glove compartment, or in the owner’s manual. Also be sure to inspect tires for abnormal or uneven wear, cuts, and any sidewall bulges you can see.

CR advises that digital tire-pressure gauges (which cost about $15 to $25) are probably the best bet overall because they will give an accurate reading or none at all. Many pencil-type gauges (typically $10 to $15) are good as well. Note that to check the pressure in a temporary spare tire, which is often 60 psi, you will need a gauge that goes higher than that—say from 0 up to 90 pounds. (See our tire buying advice and Ratings.)

Give it a wash

Try to wash the car every week, if you can. Wash the body and, if necessary, hose out the fender wells and undercarriage to remove dirt and road salt. It’s time to wax the finish when water beads become larger than a quarter. (Read “How to detail your car” and check our car wax Ratings.)

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Jan 082015

The greatest single cost in car ownership is depreciation. Basically, the second you drive your car off a dealer lot, it loses value and will continue to do so until you either decide to sell it or it stops working.

By taking proper care of your car, keeping it looking good and running smoothly, you can ensure that it fetches as much money as possible when it comes time to sell or trade in. Following these five simple steps will work wonders in maintaining your vehicle’s value.

1. Keep your service records

Service records are the best way for you to show a potential buyer you’ve taken care of the car’s mechanical components. Without service records, it’s difficult to prove that you’ve changed the oil on time and that you’ve met factory service requirements. Most sellers will claim they cared for a vehicle properly, but actual records can give you an advantage. Records can be computerized or they can be put into a booklet in the car’s glove box. If your dealer or mechanic uses a computerized system, make sure to get printouts of all maintenance performed.

2. Avoid dents and scratches

Dents and scratches can happen when you’re parking, when you open your door or even when you place an object on your car. Cosmetic imperfections are expensive to repair, and can be a huge turn-off to potential buyers. Luckily, by washing your car regularly and taking extra care to avoid contact with other objects, you can keep your car looking like the day it left the factory.

3. Keep the interior clean

The appearance and smell of the interior can also impact the attractiveness of your car to a potential buyer. Most people wouldn’t want to buy a car with foul odors or food stains. To keep your interior fresh, avoid smoking, eating and drinking in your car. If you do eat or drink, throw away the empty food and beverage containers immediately, and clean spills with the proper cleaning solutions.

4. Don’t curb your wheels

Parallel parking can be a risky proposition if your car has alloy wheels. If you get too close to the curb, the edges of the wheels can get scratched or bent. Many buyers of higher-end vehicles pay close attention to the condition of the wheels, and will walk away if damage is readily visible. While it’s best to avoid damaging your wheels in the first place, professional wheel repair shops can refinish damaged wheels for much less than the replacement cost.

5. Polish faded headlights

After years of sun exposure, your car’s plastic headlight lenses will fade and turn yellow. While the rest of your car might look terrific, the yellow headlights will reveal the vehicle’s true age. Luckily, faded headlights can be polished by most auto detailers. Polishing the headlight lenses doesn’t take long, and shouldn’t be very expensive. Buyers will appreciate the difference when they compare your car to other cars of the same age.

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Jan 072015

autoDo you need vehicle repairs but like to avoid hassles? Getting the right work done on your car can be exhausting before you ever see a mechanic. It’s hard to know the right place to take your car, or to know if you can do the repair yourself. Take some time to read the tips ahead to learn what you can do for your vehicle.

Purchase motor oil on sale and in discount stores and keep two or three bottles in the trunk of your car. Check your oil every time you fill your gas tank. If you find that your oil level is low, you will save lots of money by having your own oil on hand rather than purchasing it at a gas station for inflated prices.

It is a good idea to use referrals to find a decent mechanic. Talk to your relatives, friends and co-workers to get some recommendations. These people will be able to provide you with the price, quality, and overall satisfaction of the mechanic. People will let you know what kind of things they had to deal with and if the person was honest.

When you top off your motor oil, avoid spilling oil on your engine by wadding up a couple of paper towels around the oil receptacle on the crank-case. This will absorb drips and spills. Be sure to dispose of your empty oil container and the paper towels responsibly when finished adding oil.

Be open to asking any questions that cross your mind. Auto repair is a very complex thing. You will have questions, and don’t feel intimidated about asking them. If you don’t, you may not completely understand why the repairs were needed in the first place or how costly the current situation really is.

Keep accurate records on what work has been done on your car and when. Many repair shops will keep this information for you, but that only works if you see them for everything for major breakdowns to oil changes. This can help in diagnosing problems, as you can show what fixes have already been attempted.

You should always keep a jack and a spare tire with you at all times. A majority of cars come equipped with them. You do not want to stuck in the middle of nowhere and have to pay a ton of money for a tow. It’s less of a headache and cheaper to do it by yourself.

Always have a repair kit located in your car; you can put one together yourself. You should have basic tools such as equipment to change a tire, fix a flat, add oil and a gallon of water. A lug wrench and a jack are essential. In addition, include a few different screwdrivers and wrenches. Never skimp when buying tools. Buy quality ones that you are sure won’t fail when you really need them.

Know your car before taking it in for any auto repairs. If you have little knowledge on the specs of your model car, you may end up being taken for a ride without you knowing it. Read through your manual at the bare minimum before going for any larger repairs.

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need. It is your car, and you need to know why it is important to fix a specific item right away. If you are feeling intimated, or you are not receiving straight answers, get a second opinion before signing off on the work.

Do not let a mechanic work on your car before knowing about their prices and how much they charge for labor. Fees can be hidden and need to be detailed. Make sure you get an itemized list of what you’re getting charged. Some shops provide repair time estimates established by manufacturers. A lot of repairs that seem to be easy to fix could end up taking a whole day in some cases.

Keep an eye on all of the warning lights on your dashboard and know what they mean. They are there for a warning so it is to your benefit to be aware of what they are warning you about. Yes, there are sometimes false positives, but it is risky to ignore these warning lights. If you do so, a problem can get worse and become more costly to fix.

Always research the reputation of any auto repair shop you are considering using to have your car serviced. If you are a AAA member, you can find a list of approved shops on their website. You can also download an app for your smartphone like Repair pal to view ratings for different repair shops.

Watch for warning signs with a mechanic. There are a few signs to look for when you speak with them about your car. If they try talking really fast about the necessary repairs, can’t look you in the eye when talking to you, or try to brush you off, you should find another mechanic. They may be hiding something or they may only care about the money.

You need to keep track of all the repairs and transactions with your garage or dealership. If you decide to file a complaint, you will need to document what happened. Keeping these documents will also help you inform buyers about the repairs you did on the vehicle if you want to sell your car.

If you are paying to have new parts installed in your car, ask the mechanic if you can see them. There is no reason why he should refuse to let you see what you have paid for. If you have any indication that the items are not new, tell the mechanic that you will be getting the work done elsewhere.

Auto Repair

When searching for an auto repair shop, you should choose one that specializes in the brand of vehicle you have. While there are probably many trustworthy shops in your area, going with one specializing in your car makes it more likely that the technician knows what they are doing. They will also probably have many parts needed for your car.

Put together an auto repair kit and keep it in your trunk. The basic tools you will need include the tire changing equipment which should have come with your car. Get a lug wrench or a jack. You should also have good quality Phillips head and flat head screwdrivers, socket wrenches and a ratchet set, a torque wrench and an adjustable wrench. Never skimp when buying tools. Solid and sturdy tools are ideal so you don’t have to worry about them malfunctioning.

Unless it is required by your car’s warranty, don’t feel obligated to use the repair shop at the dealership. There are many reputable independent auto repair shops and they are often cheaper. Ask your friends and family members for a recommendation if you are unsure which shops in your area are trustworthy.

Before you pay the bill for any larger auto repair work, give your car a test drive. You want to make sure that the repairs were done to your satisfaction. If you haven’t paid, it makes it much easier to talk about any lingering issues that may still be around that need further fixing.

If you’re having trouble coming up with money and need auto repair, call a vocational school to see if they offer this service. This will save you money and can give you just as good a job on your car.

Do not pay for services that you don’t need at an auto shop. This service is very costly. It is not a necessary service unless you have been hard on your engine. If you do not get oil changes on a regular basis, you should have this service.

Don’t agree to any service or give a mechanic access to your vehicle until you are absolutely clear on costs and labor. The information you need should be clearly posted in an honest auto repair shop. If it’s not, proceed with caution and ask enough questions to learn exactly how much you will be charged.

Great auto-repair and excellent driving can’t always save the day, that’s why awesome auto insurance is a must. Spend the time to find a reputable dealer with enough coverage to repair any mishaps. Being a great driver and staying in your lane isn’t always going to keep the car safe; accidents can happen.

When you are reviewing an auto repair contract, make sure that it says approval must be given in writing before extra work can be done. There are many mechanics that will agree to do a job at a particular price, but then they do more and tell you that the price has increased.

Before you let any auto repair service work on your car, it is important to get everything in writing. This will let you know exactly what is being done on your car and how much it will cost. This will prevent you from getting any unpleasant surprises when your bill finally arrives.

The confusion and discomfort of car repairs can leave you wanting to purchase a new vehicle. Take the time to make use of the suggestions and ideas in this piece. You will find that repairs for your car are not so tough to face. Keep your vehicle longer and enjoy it more through this valued advice.

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Jan 072015

autoThere are times when you may need to have your car fixed. Making good decisions requires knowledge. Use these tips to help you deal with future car repairs, whether you tackle the problem on your own or hire a professional.

Be sure your mechanic has an A.S.E. certification prior to letting them fix your car. This certification confirms the the mechanic has a lot of experience working on cars. This tells you that the mechanic is qualified to work on your car.

Keeping a battery charger in your car is a good safety investment. Having a car battery die is a common problem, so keeping a battery charger in your car can help you and others in this situation. The charger has special connecting points that you should be aware of when hooking it up to a car.

Do not underestimate the importance of having an emergency kit in your car. Include a spare tire, a jack, a battery charger and a container full of gas. Also, add a flashlight, some batteries, and some blankets in case there is a nighttime breakdown.

When taking your vehicle to a shop, ask any questions you may have about it. Your questions should focus on the problems your car has and also what steps you can take to prevent this problem from occurring in the future. Preventative measures will save you a whole lot of money in the long run.

The best way to find a good auto mechanic is getting referrals. Ask co-workers, friends and family for recommendations. This gives you the opportunity to find out about costs and the overall quality you can expect. People will let you know how their experience went.

Keep good records for your car’s history. It’s wise to keep them in your glove compartment in case you need to go to a auto repair shop on the fly. Professional mechanics will ask to review the records. This will help to diagnose any problems.

Read online reviews of local body shops. This is a good way of getting an idea on what other customers think of the mechanic’s skills and customer service. You can use online reviews to find an auto repair shop that you are comfortable giving your business to.

Surely you now realize how you can better approach the issues you have with your vehicle. The tips mentioned earlier should give you more confidence about auto repair. Remember what you have read and know you can make a good decision.

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Dec 312014

kudIt’s not surprising to hear that the more time you put into maintaining and caring for your car, the longer it will last. But what exactly can you do to increase the lifespan of your vehicle? The team here at Logel’s has put together a list of the top 5 things you can do to maximize the life of your car.

1. Oil Changes: Regular oil changes are a critical part of your vehicles preventative maintenance. Oil helps keep all of your cars moving parts lubricated, reducing their heat by lowing the friction levels they create. Oil is also necessary to remove any grit or particles from clogging up the moving parts. Without regular oil changes, the moving parts of your vehicle can become stiff and worn, causing significant damage.

2. Tire Rotation: Depending on their position on your vehicle, your tires may wear differently. By rotating your tires, you reduce uneven wear which can impact performance and fuel efficiency.

3. Changing filters: There are a number of different filters in your car, but it’s the fuel filter that plays a key role in your cars performance. Fuel filters screen out dirt and other particles that can enter your car through the fuel line and impact your vehicle’s performance. With a worn fuel filter, these particles can enter the engine, causing decreased fuel efficiency and performance, or even complete engine failure.

4. Fluid Top-Ups: One of the easiest things you can do to make sure your car is running smoothly, is to regularly check your fluid levels. The most important fluids to keep an eye on are the engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. While individually, all of these fluids have their own job, together they help ensure your vehicle runs smoothly.

5. Winter preparation: As Canadians, we know how harsh our winters can be, which is why we recommend vehicle owners do what they can to prepare their car for winter. This includes checking your car’s battery life, changing your windshield wipers to specialized snow blades, and making sure that there are no small cracks or dings in the windshield that could turn into large cracks. By doing this, you’re making the winter a little bit easier on your vehicle.

By following these 5 tips, you’ll help maximize your car’s life. Another great option is to use after market, or used products when fixing your vehicle. When bought through someone like Logel’s, you can rest assured that you’ll be purchasing safe, high quality products that will reduce costs, and allow you to use the money saved to maintain your vehicle longer.

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Dec 302014

carMy car was damaged while it was at the repair shop, and they won’t take responsibility.  What do I do?

I have heard that refrain many times, and I have also acted as a consultant to attorneys and insurance companies in cases involving damage and responsibility.  The truth is, “who’s responsible” is often a gray area.  I can’t possibly cover every situation in a short blog, but I will describe some common occurrences:

The first situation is where a car is worked on and it’s damaged as a direct, obvious result. You get an oil change, and they forget to put the oil back in.  Five miles from the shop, your engine fails.  This is a fairly clear-cut situation, and even if the shop denies responsibility you can typically make a claim directly against their insurance carrier in most states.

How would you find the insurance carrier?  In states where insurance is required you’d get that information from the motor vehicle department, or whatever state agency licenses repair shops.  There are some states that don’t require insurance, and some shops that don’t carry it.  When interviewing a prospective repair facility for your car, it’s wise to ask if they have liability insurance.  Any reputable business will.

If you find the shop lacks insurance I’d think long and hard about leaving my car there for service.  You may have come to this blog wondering how to hold a shop accountable, but the shoe could be on the other foot, in a big way, if something goes bad wrong.  What if the mechanic goes on a test drive, gets going fast, and hits and kills a mom and her kid?  The shop has no insurance.  The mechanic is dead.  Who do you think the father is coming after?  You.

If you doubt that can happen just remember the recent news story where a movie star and his mechanic died on a test ride in a high performance Porsche.  Responsibility can easily fall back on you when someone else is driving, because it’s your car.

A more common – and less awful – claim is for what I call “lot damage.”  My car got dented while it was here!  When a vehicle arrives at Robison Service, we walk around the car with the owner and look for pre-existing damage.  If I see a scratch or dent I’ll ask if the owner wants it fixed.  Most times, arriving cars are photographed for “before and after” documentation of the repair process.  If a shop does that, you should not have a problem determining if a dent is new or old.  Obviously, if the car got dented at the shop, they should take care of it.  Mishaps do happen, and the biggest issue is establishing whether a dent or flaw is truly new.

There is an important exception to this rule.  Some shops are located in places where the only parking is a shared public lot.  When you park in a public lot to have your car repaired, the shop doesn’t have any more responsibility for your vehicle than another store would if you parked to buy a pair of shoes.

What if the service manager takes your car on a test drive and hits a deer?  What if he’s at a stoplight and a texting teen rear ends the car?  What if lightning hits a tree in the parking lot, and it falls on your car? In each of those cases, the damage may not be the shop’s responsibility because it occurred through causes outside their control.  In that event your comprehensive insurance would typically pay for the loss.

In general, when you leave a car for repair, you create what lawyers call a bailment, where the car is the bailed property and the shop is the bailee. Bailees have a duty to protect property in their care, but it’s not absolute.  Shops are held to what’s called a “reasonable standard of care.” These real-life examples are meant to show how the standard does not extend to every possible situation where damage may occur.   Some shops have what’s called Direct Primary converge where the shop insurance assumes primary responsibility for customers cars no matter what. That sort of coverage is uncommon, but mandatory in a few states.  Such policies make the shop insurance pay for any of the examples I cited.

Here’s a less obvious example.  Let’s say you have 120,000 miles on your vehicle. The automatic transmission fluid has never been changed, and you decide it’s finally time to do it.  A week later, the transmission blows.  You call the shop, and they say, “That’s too bad.  You waited too long to change it.”

You think they did something wrong, but what?  Assuming the job was done correctly, the shop’s failure might be in the fact that they didn’t warn you that something like this could happen, after disturbing something that had been neglected so long.  That’s why we are always careful to warn people of possible complications in a job.  When we go to put a bulb in a car, and the fixture might break, we warn the owner of the possibility beforehand, not after.

In some cases, failure to warn the owner would make the shop at least partly responsible for the failure through a legal theory known as contributory negligence.  The owner contributed to the failure by neglecting his regular service.  The shop contributed by failing to warn the owner that a service at this late date could lead to failure tomorrow.  Both have some responsibility, and it’s up to a judge and state law to decide how that’s apportioned.

What about more serious damage? Here’s a real example:

A restoration shop was in an old mill with multiple tenants.  A fire started in another tenant’s building, and burned the whole thing.  A dozen cars were inside.  The shop had insurance but it was limited to $200,000 and the vehicles in the fire were worth $2,000,000.  The owners who had insurance were paid by their own policies, and the owners who didn’t have insurance got 10% settlements from the shop’s insurance.

The owners of those cars could have sued the shop owner, but their claims would be weak, because the fire was not his fault, and he didn’t have anything left to give them anyway.  All of them (shop owner too) could sue the owner of the business where the fire started, but he was bankrupt too.  The moral of that story is, carry insurance on your car, so your policy pays and let them sort out the ultimate liability between companies.

Assuming someone else will be responsible is a troubling trend in America today, and frankly, it’s dangerously misguided in many situations.  A repair shop is responsible for many things that may happen to your car while they have it, but they are not responsible for every possible thing.  That’s an important distinction.

Reading the examples above you might think I am telling you why shops are not responsible for damage. That’s not my intent at all. There are many situations where a shop is and should be responsible for damage to a car, and I’m well aware that damage happens when cars are in the shop.  But at the same time, there are many other situations where shops are not liable.  That’s why you always want to have your own coverage on a car, even if it’s in storage.

Disclaimer:  I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV.  I’m a service manager who has worked as an expert for both cars owners and insurance companies to determine causes of damage and responsibility.

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Dec 302014

UnderTheHood “Tune It Up” and Ask the Right Questions When Selecting an Auto Repair ShopChoosing the right auto repair shop can be overwhelming, particularly for someone with limited knowledge about car repair and its cost. As much as we would like there to be a magic formula for choosing the right auto repair shop, there simply isn’t.

However, asking the right questions can help ease the tension and minimize the risk of paying for unnecessary repair work.

If your car is making weird noises, leaking funny-looking liquid or releasing dark smoke, make sure to ask the following questions when selecting an auto repair shop:

  1. Does the shop have experience working on cars with my make and model?
  2. What do you think is the problem?
  3. What is the recommended solution?
  4. How much will the repair cost? Can I get the estimate in writing?
  5. How long will it take to repair my car?
  6. What warranties do you offer? Do you guarantee the labor and the parts?
  7. How do you resolve issues?
  8. Where can I view customer reviews on your services?

Trusted Resources:

  • View the company’s BBB Business Review where you’ll find their rating, complaint history and customer reviews.
  • Google the company to see what consumers have to say about their services.

What questions do you ask when selecting an auto repair shop? Share them below.  

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Dec 292014

Going to an auto mechanic shouldn’t be complicated. After all, you’re just taking your car in to be repaired, and fixing it should be easy and straightforward, right?

Sometimes it is. But during those times when the mechanic is trying to explain what’s wrong and how much more it will cost than what you originally thought it would, it can turn into a confusing time where you don’t know if you’re being taken advantage of because you don’t know enough about cars.

And you shouldn’t have to be. You just want the car fixed and running well, at a reasonable price. To help ensure you’re not getting ripped off, there are some questions you should ask a mechanic whenever you take your car in. Here are 11:

1.  How much will the diagnostics cost?

This is like first asking your doctor how much the tests will cost before he gives you a diagnosis for why you feel ill. While it can seem like an odd question because you’ve gone to the trouble of taking your car to the mechanic, and you obviously want it repaired, you don’t want to pay too much for tests. But if it’s too high, it’s an opportunity to shop around for better prices.

Depending on your state and the auto repair shop, diagnostic tests can cost $100 to $200, says Bert Gagnon of Neon Productions Radio.

2.  Are the mechanics ASE certified?

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is a non-profit organization that has trained more than 325,000 automotive professionals nationwide and given them the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence. Certified mechanics must be retested every five years to keep up with changing technology. Look for the updated certificates on the wall of your auto shop’s office.

3.  Can I get a written, out-the-door estimate?

Always ask for a written estimate of how much the repairs should cost. This should include parts, labor, taxes and any discounts. Always give them a phone number to reach you to approve another repair that might be needed, and make sure they give you an estimate of the added cost.

4. Are there extra fees that might accompany a service?

Some dealers will charge “miscellaneous fees” for things, or will give you an estimate for replacing tires but won’t include the tire disposal fee in the estimate, says Rob Infantino, CEO of Openbay, an online marketplace for vehicle owners to cross-shop, book and pay for local auto repair and maintenance.

“Ask for the estimate first, then ask about any hidden fees on top of that,” Infantino says. “If the shop hasn’t disclosed all the details in the initial quotation, that may be cause for conern.”

5. Is this part still under warranty?

If you bought your car recently or just had work done, many of your car’s parts could still be covered, says Chuck Frizell, general sales manager at David Stanley Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Midwest City, Okla. You can also check with the auto manufacturer, and mechanics and dealership service departments will sometimes have that information posted in their shops.

6. Is OEM repair information used?

In order to do a correct and safe repair, the technician should access OEM service and repair information, says Bob Keith, a multi store director with Carstar, an auto body repair company, and the head of I-CAR, which provides technical certification for collision repair professionals.

OEM is short for “original equipment manufacturer” of a replacement part made by the manufacturer of the original part. In other words, it’s an auto part used when the car was first built.

You may also want to ask if used or aftermarket parts are being used, and if so, if the non-factory parts meet OEM standards for safety and performance, says David Smith of Auto Damage Experts.

If you want factory parts, or OEM parts, and your insurance company wants non-OEM parts, ask the car shop to notify you before performing repairs, Smith says.

7. Does your mechanic specialize in my car’s make?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but specialization can be important. The Chrysler dealer that Frizell works at obviously works on Chryslers. But if you drive a BMW, find a garage that specializes in German makes, or a mechanic who knows a lot about Toyotas if you drive a Toyota.

8. What repairs are necessary and are there alternative solutions?

Ask the mechanic what work they’d do if it were their car. “Understand what repairs are absolutely necessary and which ones are just recommended,” says Andrew Bradway, head auto warranty administrator at DriveTime Automotive Group, a used car dealer and financing company.

For alternative solutions, there may not be a way to get your car back on the road other than replacing the worn out part, Bradway says. But they may be able to use third-party or used parts to help reduce costs, he says.

9. Can you show me what’s wrong?

If a mechanic insists you need extra work done, ask them to show you the wear and tear on the part they recommend you replace, Infantino says. If you ask to see the holes when told you car needs a new exhaust, and the mechanic balks, then you should be wary, he says.

10.  When will the repairs be done?

Get an idea of when your car will be ready to pick up, and ensure that they call you to approve any extra repairs beyond the ones you’ve already approved. You’ll want to know how long you’ll be without your car so you can make other accommodations. Also ask if they can provide a ride to your work or home while your car is in the shop.

11. What repairs do I have coming up?

While you shouldn’t expect your mechanic to predict the future, they should have a good idea of the potential repairs and major maintenance costs you have coming up.

“Knowing what the parts and labor fees are ahead of time will allow you to budget for them and avoid sticker shock,” Bradway says. “This will also allow you to shop around for the best deals for other reputable repair shops.”

An honest mechanic will help you prioritize jobs within your budget, Infantino says, and will help you set up a calendar so you know when to replace specific parts.

Getting these questions answered won’t make you a mechanic overnight, but they should help the average consumer become more knowledgeable so they aren’t taken advantage of by a mechanic.

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 Posted by at 3:12 pm Consumer Protection-Things You Should Know Tagged with: , ,  Comments Off on 11 Questions To Ask Your Mechanic Every Time You Take Your Car In
Dec 292014

auto_maintenance_2Auto body repair costs can sometimes require car owners to dig deep into their pockets. Having an auto repair shop that you trust is a must especially if you’ll be spending lots of money. Not only do you need to find an auto repair shop that does quality work, you also need to find someone who will work on your car fairly and ethically. This just means that they will be fully committed to fix what they say they’re going to fix. Plus points when they have preventative measures so you won’t be having additional problems while on the road. Miracle Auto Body and Paint in San Antonio lists down some qualities to look for in an auto repair shop.

auto_maintenance_3Look for referrals

Having a network of people who can tell you about their own experiences could be valuable. Don’t be afraid to reach out to as many people as you can and ask for recommendations.

Make a list of criteria that is important to you

No two car owners will have the same needs from an auto repair shop. Here are some sample criteria you can use:

  • How long do they operate? Will the shop be open on the time and day you need to pick up your car?
  • Are they AAA accredited?
  • Do they have positive customer feedback?

auto_maintenance_4Try to get a lot of estimates

You can start looking for a solid auto repair shop once you filtered out most of the referrals and recommendations. The best time to do this is when you have a minor repair job, while you are still able to safely drive your car and still have time to get a few estimates. Avoid settling on the first estimate you get. Get at least three estimates and don’t be afraid to ask questions on the actual service they will be doing. You can ask some key things such as part prices and work guarantees. Try to be observant, the willingness of the staff when it comes to answering your questions is a good indication if they are accommodating or not.

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 Posted by at 9:00 am Consumer Protection-Things You Should Know Tagged with: , ,  Comments Off on How To Find A Good Auto Repair Shop