Category Archives: Automotive

An Automotive Gift for Mothers Day

It’s time to be seriously thinking about Mother’s Day. A great place to look for useful ideas is her driver’s seat, especially if Mom spends a lot of time behind the wheel.

Her vehicle is her home away from home and gifts that enhance her enjoyment of that second home are likely to be appreciated, suggests the Car Care Council. We tend to gravitate toward gifts like jewelry, a framed photo or flowers. But why not break from the traditional and dress up her car? Maybe she’s always wanted a sunroof or a cool sound system. Her wish could come true, with the help of your local auto specialty shop or service dealer.

Beyond the obvious gifts such as seat covers or floor mats, Mom might appreciate having her damaged steering wheel replaced with one that’s stylish, possibly even leather covered. A sun-damaged and faded dash could be repaired, replaced, or recovered to upgrade the interior. How about a GPS navigation system, remote starter, or satellite radio?

Security devices such as a remote keyless entry or alarm systems are also popular add-ons, as are custom wheels or wheel covers. Most women are interested in the safety and appearance accessories as opposed to those, which are performance related. Gifts can be inexpensive. Net shopping bags, that hook on back of the driver’s seat, are great gift items too. Just look around.

Right on the heels of Mother’s Day, of course, is Father’s Day, with additional categories of gifts to consider: special tools, custom rims, window tinting, or sound system enhancements, to mention a few. Gifts for vehicles are always well received and the variety of innovative products never stops growing.

Due to the current economic climate

Due to the current economic climate, many Americans are becoming less willing to make expensive purchases. Even the nation’s long-held love affair with the automobile hasn’t escaped the penny-pinching trend.

The latest trends demonstrate that Americans are trying to stretch the mileage of their current vehicles. In 2006, the average car owner drove their car for 68 months before trading it in for a new vehicle. By the fourth quarter of 2008, the average trade-in was 76 months old.

The following simple and inexpensive preventive checks provided by The Automotive Service Association (www.ASAshop.org), which represents thousands of repair shops nationwide, will greatly extend the life of the vehicle and ensure safer operation:

– Always consult your owner’s manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil and filter changed regularly, every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.

– Have all fluids checked, including brake, power steering, transmission and transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. These fluids play a large role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.

– Keep your engine tuned. A fouled spark plug or restricted fuel injector can reduce fuel efficiency as much as 30 percent.

– Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle’s suspension system.

– Check battery cables and connections for corrosion, and clean them as needed.

– Have the lighting system checked frequently, including headlights, turn signals and brake and tail lights.

– Check windshield wiper blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them approximately once a year or sooner if streaking begins.

– Inspect engine belts regularly. Worn belts will affect the engine performance. Look for cracks and missing sections or segments.

– Have the air filtration system checked frequently. The air filter should be checked approximately every other oil change for clogging or damage. This system ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.

Always consult the vehicle owner’s manual for individual service schedules as manufacturer maintenance requirements will vary.

 

Learn To Speak Auto Tech

Auto Repair Advice: Learn To Speak “Auto Tech” will show you how to speak to your automotive technician so he will understand exactly what is wrong with your car.

(NAPSI)-You may be better able to stay on the road to safety and savings the next time you need to have your car repaired if you select a quality facility and learn to speak a little “auto tech.”

When communicating with an automotive technician, AAA recommends motorists do the following:

• Before taking the vehicle to a repair facility, write down the symptoms and any performance issues so important information is not overlooked or forgotten.

• Describe the symptoms to the technician. Explain what has been seen, smelled, heard and felt while driving the vehicle. For example, does it vibrate or pull to the left? Explain under what type of driving conditions the problem takes place and how long ago it started.

• When describing symptoms, refer to the driver side and passenger side of the vehicle rather than the right or left side.

• If the vehicle has been serviced recently, bring copies of the previous repair orders rather than trying to explain what work was done.

• Ask questions if the technician uses jargon you don’t understand or if something is not thoroughly explained. Quality technicians will take the time to clearly explain the problem before offering a repair solution.

• Always read the repair order before signing it and authorizing any work. Look for specific instructions detailing the maintenance to be done, the problem to be corrected and the work to be performed. If the language is vague or unclear, ask that it be rewritten.

To help motorists get good repairs, AAA, the country’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, has more than 8,000 AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities across North America.

Quality Auto Repairs

A poll of ASE-certified automotive technicians indicated that drivers over 60 are among the most conscientious when it comes to taking their vehicles in for routine maintenance and repair.

The experts at the nonprofit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) remind consumers that good communication between shop and customer can help make the repair process go smoothly.

“Professionally run repair establishments recognize the importance of two-way communications,” notes Martin Lawson, ASE’s editorial director. “Just as you would with your physician, be prepared to discuss your vehicle’s aches and pains once you are at the repair shop.”

The following tips from ASE should make the repair process go smoothly:

Don’t ignore what your vehicle is telling you.

Look for:

* Unusual sounds, odors, drips, leaks, smoke, warning lights, gauge readings.

* Changes in acceleration, engine performance, gas mileage, fluid levels.

* Worn tires, belts and hoses.

* Problems in handling, braking, steering, vibrations.

* Note when the problem occurs and whether it is constant or periodic.

Stay involved; communicate your findings:

* Be prepared to describe any symptoms. In larger shops, you’ll probably speak with a service consultant rather than with the technician directly.

* Carry a written list of the symptoms that you can give to the technician or service consultant.

* Do not be embarrassed to request simple definitions of technical terms.

* Ask to be called and apprised of the problem, course of action and costs before work begins.

* Before you leave, make a note of shop policies regarding labor rates, guarantees and acceptable methods of payment.

Repair Or Replace Your Car

Is it best to repair or replace your car? That’s a good question in this economy and here are some helpful tips to make your decision a little easier for you.

(NAPSI)-A growing number of people are finding that the economy has them debating whether it’s best to buy a new car or repair the one they have. If you are trying to decide between buying and repairing, here are some tips that may help:

Comparing Costs

It is typically less expensive in the long run to repair the vehicle you already own rather than purchasing a newer one. Financing even a $2,000 repair typically means lower payments (or similar payments for a shorter time) than those incurred when purchasing a newer vehicle.

The 50-Percent Rule

After receiving the estimate of a major repair, consider the “50-percent rule.” When the cost of a needed repair approaches 50 percent of the vehicle’s value, it is time to seriously consider replacing it.

Reliability And Maintenance History

The best way to know a vehicle’s condition is by maintaining it on a regular basis and using the same repair shop. If a repair shop knows the service history of a vehicle, consumers can look to its technicians for guidance on when their vehicle likely will need major repairs.

“Following the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations can greatly increase the life span of vehicle,” said John Nielsen, director of AAA Approved Auto Repair and Auto Buying.

Cosmetics

The cosmetic condition of a vehicle can greatly affect its value and a motorist’s desire to hold on to it. Motorists should take a critical look at their vehicle for signs of wear and tear and evaluate how important their vehicle’s cosmetics are to them.

Lifestyle

Changes in lifestyle can be a large factor in changing vehicles. Family size, commute length, recreational usage and business needs are all legitimate reasons to consider purchasing a newer vehicle that is better suited to a consumer’s driving routine.

Outside Factors

Several outside factors may impact the decision between repairing and replacing a vehicle, such as reduced pricing and special offers from manufacturers. A vehicle that could become a valuable classic might be worthy of extraordinary repairs and maintenance.

If you decide to go with a major repair, be sure to use a qualified and trustworthy auto repair facility. A listing of AAA Approved Auto Repair shops is available at AAA.com/repair.

Find An Auto Body Shop

How to find an auto body shop with Body shop 101: Taking the stress out of post-accident repairs
(ARA) – No one wants an accident to happen. But chances are at some point you’ll wind up in a fender bender that requires repairs at an automotive collision center. The common misconception about post-collision auto body work is that the insurance company dictates where the claim’s repairs will occur. This isn’t the case. In fact, it’s the owner’s responsibility to choose where the repairs will be done.

“Don’t wait until you need to find a body shop,” says Craig Williams, director of OEM Global Marketing and Services for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes. “Investigate several body shops before you find yourself in that kind of stressful situation.”

And, as with any business segment, there are some collision repair centers that are better than others. Knowing your options ahead of time is a good thing.

“There’s still no better recommendation than word of mouth, so be sure to start your search by asking friends and family for recommendations of good collision centers or ones they would not recommend,” Williams adds.

A local consumer organization, such as the Better Business Bureau or Angie’s List, can provide insight into the quality of facilities you are considering. Ask about the number of complaints, if any, and also inquire as to how the complaints were resolved.

“The Better Business Bureau is a great resource,” says Johnny Mock, owner of Johnny Mock Auto Body in Turtle Creek, Pa., near Pittsburgh. “If a shop has numerous complaints, you know it’s one you should avoid.”

Another good source is Automobile Association of America. “AAA will only put a business on their approved list if it meets a certain high level of customer satisfaction,” says DeLee Powell, president of Baker’s Collision Repair Specialists in Mansfield, Ohio. “The approval process is pretty stringent.”

Next, be sure to visit any shops that you are considering, keeping these three factors in mind: cleanliness, readiness and presentation. A premier collision center will be neat, well-organized and have modern equipment.

“You should feel comfortable the minute you walk into a body shop,” Powell advises. “You immediately should feel like it is a place that can properly repair your vehicle.”

“Ask for a tour of the shop and take a good look around,” says Mock, a former BodyShop Business Executive of the Year recipient. “Is the shop clean and neat? What does the quality of work look like? Is the person giving the tour proud of what they are showing you?”

A professionally run collision center also should have a courteous staff who is willing to answer important questions. Some key ones to ask include the following:
* Do you have experience handling the make/model of my car?
* Do you have experience working with my insurance carrier?
* How long does a repair take?
* What kind of training and certifications do your technicians have?
* Will I be able to track the progress of my repair online and/or will you keep me updated on a regular basis?
* What kind of technology do you use in your shop?

The latest equipment in alignment systems, diagnostics and painting technology signifies a tech savvy shop. Believe it or not, the painting system a body shop uses is one of the most important facets of a repair.

“Factory finishes incorporate multiple layers of highly specialized paints, and without the use of sophisticated techniques and training, high-tech factory finishes cannot be duplicated successfully,” Williams says. “Be sure the body shop you select has invested in the finest, most advanced painting system available and takes pride in its ability to match factory finishes. A bad paint finish will detract from any other well-done repairs.”

Mock suggests holding a discussion with shop management about what you can expect. Make sure they follow an internal quality control checklist when you come to pick up your car. Management should include items such as paint match, door gaps and even cleanliness of the car on their checklists.

“You want to find a shop that is helpful in taking the stress out of the situation,” Mock says. “The expense of vehicles today is immense, and if you do have an accident, you want to be confident that the body shop you select will put your vehicle back into its pre-accident condition. The idea that a car that has been in an accident will never be the same is a misconception. A quality body shop can restore it to pre-accident condition.”

 

How Many Scratches Will You Get

How many scratches will you get this summer? What hurts more? Scratches on your car or scratches on your skin…many car enthusiasts will say it’s the scratches on the body and windows of their cars that hurt more. Find out hwo to protect your car’s exterior finishes from unsightly scratches.

(NC)—For auto enthusiasts, the scratches you get from hiking through the woods or slipping on the rocks at the cottage are minor in comparison. The worst summer scratches are the ones you get on your car every time you load in (or on) the canoe, the camping gear, the bikes – or even just the suitcases.

And cars are only part of the summer scratch story. Imagine what your boat goes through every summer? The wear and tear on things like the cluster gauges, plastic handles and plastic chrome trims, takes away from the beauty and value of your boat. And those scratched windows are unsightly and can even be dangerous if they reduce your visibility.

No matter your sport, our active Canadian summers can wreak havoc on your paint and acrylic finishes. Experts don’t hesitate to tell us the truth:

1. Every car and boat will get scratched, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

2. The most common way to scratch your car is by doing it yourself with cheap soaps or detergents that don’t properly lift dirt.

3. Professional repair could cost anywhere from $200 – $1200 or more.

4. Scratches will instantly devalue your vehicle or boat, which will cause you to lose money on the future sale (or a lease return of a car).

5. Most scratch removers just cover up or temporarily clean scratches and do not work on scratches deep enough to feel with your fingernail.

Scratch Solutions

Ugly scratches are unavoidable over time, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. Expert detailers agree that by following a few easy steps, you can minimize scratches and easily fix the ones you already have.

1. Examine the paint surface frequently.

2. Use only high quality products. Avoid using dish soap, which can only aggravate and cause scratches.

3. Innovation brings us permanent fixes, too, like products from Quixx. Autos will benefit from the High Performance Paint Scratch Remover. Boat surfaces respond especially well to the Headlight Lens Restoration Kit.

Small Car Repairs Now

As drivers hold on to cars longer, small repairs now can save money, time in the future

(ARA) – Drivers are holding on to their cars longer in these tough economic times, so AutoZone, the nation’s leading auto parts retailer, is offering tips to help motorists get the most out of their investment.

“Holding off on purchasing a new vehicle can be a smart financial decision, especially if drivers properly maintain their vehicles to ensure they’re running safely and efficiently,” said Steve Stoll, Merchandising Director of AutoZone. “Maintaining and replacing key components, such as brakes and batteries, can keep vehicles on the road and help prevent costly repairs in the future.”

The average length of time consumers hold on to their vehicles is more than five years, according to a recent automotive industry study. Older cars can be safe and dependable, but need ongoing maintenance to keep them running at their best. According to the National Car Council, 80 percent of vehicles on the road are in need of service or parts.

Motorists who know the signs of impending failure and understand the impact extreme weather conditions can have on various car components, can plan ahead for repairs and replacements instead of being hit by an unexpected bill down the road, Stoll said.

“The longer car maintenance is delayed, the more costly it can be,” said Stoll.

Two key components in any vehicle are the braking system and the battery. AutoZone experts offer the following tips to ensure these vital parts are properly maintained.

Give Brakes A Winter Check-up.

Excessive build-up of road salt and brine solutions in the winter on brake components is one cause of brake failure. These solutions can create contamination of exposed brake parts and can cause brake components to deteriorate prematurely. Hazardous road conditions can also lead to increased use of Antilock Braking Systems (ABS), which can cause premature wear of all brake system components.

As temperatures warm up, motorists should check their braking systems to uncover any damage that may have occurred during the winter months.

Check Brakes Quarterly To Ensure Proper Performance.

In general, brakes are the most important safety feature on any vehicle and should be checked quarterly to ensure proper performance. Brake pads and rotors should also be checked any time the tires are removed, such as during a tire rotation. Other brake components such as brake fluid should be checked at every oil change.

Extreme Temperatures Can Mean Battery Failure.

A battery’s biggest enemy is heat. High temperatures can cause the grids inside batteries to corrode and break down. The effects of the corrosion are usually seen when winter hits, when the car requires more electrical power to start. Drivers should have batteries tested up to twice a year in normal climates, and more frequently in extremely hot or cold climates.

Retailers Such As AutoZone Offer Free Battery Testing.

Replace the battery every three to four years.

While batteries can last more than five years in ideal driving conditions, factors such as temperature, the car’s age and nature of usage can impact the life of a battery. Many motorists are unaware that under the stress of normal city driving, the average life of a vehicle battery is about three years.

Find Mechanics Who Will Come to You

When it comes to managing vehicle repairs, the associated hassles and inconveniences that come about — whether from having no vehicle or the process of finding a reputable repair shop — can become a major annoyance.

However, according to a new start-up business from San Francisco called YourMechanic, a new system is “changing the nature of auto repair.” YourMechanic is a car repair marketplace that connects people to certified, trustworthy, local mechanics. The best part: there’s no need to spend your entire lunch break finding an opening at the repair shop, since the mechanics will come to you.

This new way of fixing your car is getting great reviews and earning awards. YourMechanic recently won TechCrunch Disrupt, the annual start-up competition pitting the best new ideas in Silicon Valley.

TechCrunch, a leader in reviewing the latest tech developments and profiling worthy start-ups, compared YourMechanic to Uber — the company that effectively helped turn every cab driver into a potential entrepreneur. Using Uber, commuters can call a taxi with a smartphone app instead of waiting to hail the next one. As TechCrunch pointed out, YourMechanic has key similarities: mechanics will come to you, and the process is simple.
Anyone can go online to YourMechanic.com, explain their problem, provide details about their vehicle and get instant quotes. All mechanics are required to honor the quotes provided, so you just pick your mechanic and go.

Once you select your preferred mechanic — based on work history, certifications, ratings and customer reviews — they will arrive at your specified location fully prepared to fix your car. Whether day or night, weekday or weekend, mechanics will make repairs as long as they have a parking lot or driveway to work in.

 

Helps Decide Fathers Day Gift

There are two types of fathers, those who work on their cars and those who don’t. Whether your dad is a do-it-yourselfer (DIY) or a Do-It-For-Me type (DIFM), consider an automotive gift for dad this Father’s Day.

69% of male drivers work on their car, truck, mini van or SUV, according to the Car Care Council. Whether it’s light maintenance, like changing the oil and replacing the wiper blades, or heavier projects, such as replacing brakes, most dads enjoy taking care of their vehicles. Automotive accessories, tools, parts and products make ideal Father’s Day gifts.

If Dad’s a do-it-yourselfer, a gift certificate from the local auto parts store would be appropriate.

If he’s a do-it-for me, think about a gift certificate for an oil change or other service at his favorite repair shop.

Everyone loves a clean car, so offer to clean and polish Dad’s vehicle yourself. Remember to use automotive washes and waxes, not dishwashing detergent from under the kitchen sink. This can harm the vehicle’s finish.

  1. If possible, leave the windows down slightly on hot days to reduce heat build-up. An A/C system works by removing heat, so the cooler the interior is to start with, the easier and faster the A/C will do its job.
  2. When you get in the car, open all the windows completely, or even open the doors, for a moment to vent the hot interior air quickly.
  3. When you first turn the A/C on, set the controls to MAX or REC and use highest blower speed. This moves the greatest volume of air and re-circulates it for even faster cool-down. As soon as you are comfortable, switch the system to NORM or OUTSIDE or FRESH, and select a lower fan speed. The lower blower speed produces colder the air from the system.