Step by step guide on common automotive related drivers tips and helpful repair
- Auto Repair Garage:
a car to a repair shop, they should inspect the vehicle before providing an estimate.
Once repairs are complete, the final bill should not be more than 10% of the original
estimate. Check the repair shop warranty duration, also inquire if labor charges
cover a part that fails prematurely. Ask to see the damaged or worn parts at the
time the work order is placed.
To ensure quality, insist on factory OE parts (many part manufacturers produce
sub-standard replacements) original manufacturer parts offer better usability and
durability. If the reason for part failure is unclear, ask the mechanic to show
specifically how and why the part needed replacement. When receiving the repair
estimate, inquire to a few additional shops or dealerships for their prices.
This list will help avoid the uncomfortable situation of having paid more than
expected for a repair, or a repair that is not needed.
- Word of mouth is best, recommendations from someone that is already using
a service, and that knows the owner or manager can be the best information to
an honest repair shop.
- Try to pinpoint the origin of the problem before repairs are performed.
- Warranty information should be featured on the estimate paperwork.
- Check state licenses which are required by repair shops to operate.
- Check the Attorney General's office, or local BBB for complaints about a
particular repair shop.
- Inquire about mechanics qualifications and certificates of intelligence
from such agencies as ASE.
- Once the work is completed, a repair order describing the each labor operation
and parts used should be furnished while recording the vehicle's odometer reading.
- Warranty for repairs should be at least 1 year or 15,000 miles which every
comes first, if a repair shop will not stand behind their work for at least
this duration do not trust them.
- Ask about shop labor rates if they are not posted.
- Record the vehicles mileage before leaving it.
If a repair shop does an inspection on a car, and it is removed from the place
of business without any repairs being made, a diagnostic charge will ensue.
Estimate Should Include
Rebuilt or Refurbished Replacement Parts:
- Complete identification of the problem to be repaired, the parts needed,
and the anticipated labor charge.
- Additional charges must be agreed upon before continuing the job.
What is the difference? A rebuilt
replacement part, engine, transmission or differential means the unit has been disassembled
and wear items have been replaced, such as bearings, brushes, guides etc. A rebuilt
part will sometimes have individually painted parts. A refurbished unit is basically
cleaned, painted and then resold.
Generally a rebuilt part is better quality than a refurbished part or unit. Unscrupulous
repair facilities will sometimes pass the refurbished unit off as a rebuilt unit.
To stem this practice ask to see the replacement parts before installation. New
parts are optimum for best performance and longevity, rebuilt is the next best,
refurbished replacement parts should be used as a last resort. Salvaged parts are
taken from another vehicle and then re-installed.
Some repair shops and dealers practice
the low ball bid method of business to get customers in the door. A service writer
estimates a job for a low price, once the car is in the repair shop, they call the
owner and up sell more repairs which are anything but cheap. The service writer
calls... "Mrs. Gonzales, I have bad news, the cooling system needs to be flushed,
the thermostat is shot, and the water pump is leaking... I'm sorry the car is already
in pieces so I can't put it back together"...and you know the rest. To safeguard
from this practice get several estimates for the same repair, if one is much lower
there could be something wrong. Most repair garages know what it takes to stay in
business and stay competitive, its safer to go with a middle to upper end repair
Document all transactions, as well as experiences with dates, times, expenses,
and the names of people dealt with. The customer has the advantage when small claims
courts are involved because Judges generally side with the consumer, repair shops
know this. Auto repair is the number one service fraud in the country.
Bureau of Automotive Repair 1-800- 952-5210
California (.ca - substitute the state two letter abbreviation for the area service.)
- Freeway Flat Tire:
A flat tire on the freeway or any other busy highway can be dangerous. There are
mainly two kinds of flat tires, either the tire is very low on air or the tire is
already flat and beginning to fall apart.
In the first condition (tire very low on air) you have a chance to get off the
freeway to a safe place where you can change the tire or wait for service,
In the second case (flat and falling apart) it is best not to worry about saving
the tire, your main objective is to get to the freeway off-ramp or to a safe place,
the car will have more rolling resistance but it will continue moving on the flat
tire, proceed very slowly and use caution, most of the time when a tire is run very
low on air the inner layers of the tire will breakdown rendering the tire useless
anyway. Don't get hung up on the idea that you need to save the tire or rim. Far
too many times people try to save a sixty five dollar tire and end up getting seriously
injured or worse in the process.
If a safe place cannot be found and the car will not move, walk as far away from
traffic as possible to a more protected area.
- Dealership Problems:
A new car can
be great, but sometimes these vehicles have problems and in some cases the dealership
may not be as helpful as they were when the car was purchased. If a problem exists
with a dealer that is unresolved, recourse is necessary. Contact the manufacturer
of the vehicle not the dealer. Car manufacturers provide a customer help line which
will involve a manufacturer representative. Most dealerships are independently owned
and operated, involvement with a manufacturer's representative will provide leverage
needed to resolve the problem quickly.
- Getting Better Gas Mileage:
Maintenance and driving habits can significantly effect fuel economy, here are a
few tips to help get the most for the buck.
- Check the air pressure in the tires, recommendations of such pressure is
located on a sticker in the driver's door jam, or on the side wall of the
tire. Proper air pressure will reduce
the rolling resistance of the vehicle, in turn increasing gas mileage. While
tire and car manufacturers recommend a prescribed tire pressure, it has been
shown that running at the maximum tire pressure is optimal for achieving higher
fuel economy. Some hybrid cars are manufactured with tires that can hold up
to 65 p.s.i. as compared with the usual 36-45 p.s.i.
- Analyze driving habits, taking off from a stop quickly uses excess fuel
which hurts fuel mileage, try easing into the throttle and allow the vehicle
to accelerate slowly.
- Observe the traffic and signals, if a stop is imminent release the gas pedal
and allow the car to coast the remainder of the distance before using the brakes.
- If the engine is misfiring
it will decrease mileage, if
engine oil and filter
changes have been neglected it will cause additional friction inside the
engine and hinder performance.
- Remove all un-necessary objects from the car, added weight will decrease
- Sticking Throttle:
with a stuck throttle is scary, the number one thing to remember is to simply push
the gear selector to the neutral position, or push in the clutch pedal, depending
on the transmission the car is equipped with. This will disengage the engine from
the transmission allowing the brakes to operate. The engine will be loud, and rev
up, which usually doesn't harm the engine which is better than being involved in
an accident. (Manufacturers have built in a fail safe that will not let the engine
produce enough RPM's to suffer damage.)
- Change Engine Oil:
Some car owner's
never change engine oil or filters, but maintain oil levels by adding oil when needed.
This practice will cause the engine to have internal engine part wear which will
ultimately cause breakdowns. Changing the motor oil and filter, is cheap insurance.
change and filter
- Window Defrosting:
If the windshield defroster stops working, simply roll down the windows on both
sides of the vehicle about one inch. This allows air to circulate and remove the
moisture from inside the car effectively clearing the windows.
- Knowledge is Power:
A car owner
is having a problem with a 2001 Toyota Avalon (V6 engine), which has 76,000 miles.
The engine would crank over and start, but then just stall, this happened three
times before it would run, after stalling the check engine light came on. The owner
was told by a repair shop it needed an idle air control motor, and an air mixture
sensor for $1,200.00 dollars. A different repair shop checked the car and discovered
a coking build up problem had occurred on the
. Once the unit was removed and cleaned, and codes cleared from
the computer the problem was fixed for the cost of a can of carburetor cleaner and
a small amount of labor. With the right information costly repairs can be avoided
while saving money.
- Car Storage Tips:
car is not prepared for storage properly, it can create problems. When preparing
a car for storage begin with draining the fuel from the system including the tank,
most fuels become unstable after a couple of years which can clog the fuel system.
and remove it from the vehicle, this will prevent battery acid from
leaking out and corroding the battery box. Completely wrap the vehicle with a car
cover or plastic and then uncover periodically to remove moisture. When removing
a car from storage inspect cooling hoses and all other rubber components such as
. Also check the charging system by
output after the battery and gas have been reinstalled.
- Dim Instrument Cluster -
When traveling long distances at night with low ambient light, it can sometimes
help visibility to lower the instrument cluster lights.
- Rodent Prevention -
In winter months
rodents will climb into the engine compartment to take advantage of a warm engine.
To thwart these unwanted guests use mothballs or repellent to help discourage these
- Distractions -
Drivers of today
are faced with more distractions than ever before, cell phones, passengers and drive
thru food restaurants make driving a second priority, minimize these and many other
obvious distractions to stay safe while on the road.
- Emergency Road Kits -
should be equipped with some basic supplies; medical supplies, road flares, tire
flat stop leak (this will temporarily inflates a flat tire), reflectors, water bottles,
blanket, basic tools, duct tape, disposable gloves, flashlight and safety glasses.
- Sun Reflections / Glare -
sunrise and sunset present unique problems for drivers, morning frost and glare
can make windshields difficult to see through, thoroughly defrost all windows before
driving. Dirty windshields pose a similar dilemma, a glass squeegee and a small
amount of soap make great tools for cleaning windows.
Article first published 2016-04-28