Thursday, January 15, 2015

Is Your Vehicle Ready for Winter?

With Christmas now out of the way... you may realize that winter is here, right? You go out to your car get in and then it doesn't start. It just kind of makes a clicking sound or it does nothing at all. The lights may come on but are usually dim when this happens. So, you may have figured out that your car's battery is the likely culprit.
I was an ASE certified automotive technician for about 12 years... while it has been some time since I was in the field I do know a few things about automotive maintenance... here are some tips that could prevent some costly repairs and may make your life a little more enjoyable (by not having to deal with the issues in sub-freezing temperatures)!
When winter comes along there are some things that you should check or should have checked to be sure your vehicle is ready for the colder temperatures:
You should have your battery load tested to ensure it doesn't leave you "out in the cold" literally.
I know Autozone will test any battery for free... if you don't have an Autozone around make some calls... many places will likely check them to try to gain your business. I recommend if they only marginally pass if you know the warranty of the battery and it is within that warranty period... have it replaced with the same battery, if you don't know and it has been a while err on the side of comfort and replace the battery.
One thing most people neglect is their vehicles cooling system. (Now if you own an electric car or an air cooled car these may not apply... check with your auto manufacturer.)
Have the coolant/antifreeze tested and depending on where you live be sure it is safe well below what you would normally expect the lowest temperatures to be in your area... if you are traveling find out what the expected lows will likely be and be sure your coolant/antifreeze is good to well below the lowest temperature expected. If you haven't had your coolant tested it may freeze and the results could be disastrous. If your does freeze it could actually crack the block (worst case scenario), if you are lucky it will just push out the freeze plugs but when it thaws you won't have enough coolant left in the engine and if you try to drive it you would likely over heat it resulting in further damage. You should also have the hoses and drive belts inspected for wear. I don't know of any place that will do these services for free but call around again shops want your business and even if it may mean they only sell you a fan belt it may be worth it to gain a new customer.
Tires and Tire gas pressure
Check your tires... tread wear especially in winter is important as if the tread is worn you will have less traction when you may need it the most. Be sure the pressure is at the recommend level as well... colder temperatures will affect the gas pressure in the tires. I say gas rather than air as some tires now have nitrogen gas in them rather than air. Be sure of the gas(air or nitrogen) that is in your tire and have it filled with the appropriate gas.
Windshield wiper blades and washer fluid
Inspect your windshield wiper blade and make sure they are in good condition... if you don't know how old they are replace them... its cheap insurance against not being able to see well during rain and/or snow. Also, be sure your washer fluid is safe in freezing temperatures... most are good below zero but there are some that are only good down to 32 degree...
Another frequently overlooked item... lights!
If you haven't replaced your headlights in I would say 5 years... they are likely on "borrowed time"... yes I know they are expensive some are very expensive... however, would you rather be driving down the road at night in a snow storm and have one or worse both go out? Again, play it safe and replace them before you need to. I know you are probably saying they won't both burn out... the chances are small but I have seen it happen and unless you have the bulb with you and are ready to replace it in sub-freezing temps... replace them both! It would hurt to replace tail/brake light bulbs either.
A few more things I strongly recommend...
Pack an emergency kit and keep in in the passenger compartment if at all possible. Blankets, candy bars and or snacks, first aid kit, water, a communication source (cell phone), a transistor radio for weather reports, emergency flares, check your spare tire for wear and pressure, I usually carry tools and a spare fan belt, kitty litter (may help provide traction if needed), a tow strap, jumper cables and/or a jump box.
If you find this useful or informative please be sure and share it with others you may help prevent a problem that could have been prevented! I hope you have safe travels, and a happy and prosperous new year!
Live Life Large and Dream Larger!
Robert L (Larry) McSween

Share this article with anyone you know that may be traveling this winter... preferably before they start out. I welcome any input or suggestions feel free leave comments.
Posted By: Faircloth Automotive

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Steps for Choosing the Best Auto Repair Shop

Companies are built differently. Some will charge you double for a simple service whereas others will render questionable services. The case is the same with the auto repair shops. It is not uncommon for estimates to vary wildly between shops. Learning how to choose a reliable auto shop is crucial and here are the five steps you should take.

1.     Pay attention to recommendations

Any firm can advertise but you will be safer with the shop that family, friends and acquaintances recommend. This shows the shop will deliver services you can be satisfied with. Often times, the businesses recommended to you are not the best-known or the biggest in the region. But you can rest assured knowing your trusted friends loved the support they got from them.

2.     The location of the shop

The location of an auto repair shop will affect you in two ways; cost and ease of access. Shops that are located close to major towns tend to charge more for their services. This is because they deal with a special type of client and they have to keep up with the high cost of living. Second, if the shop is far from your main area of operation, you will spend more time and money getting your car to the repair shop.

As a side note, you must beware of high-end auto shops. Such shops will include non-essential work in their estimates so as to pay their high-end staff. Charges may include time spend removing the door or the hood.

3.     Get multiple estimates

When it comes to the auto repair shops, you need to pick one shop and stick with it for all your future repair and maintenance needs. However, before you can find that perfect company, you have to shop around. Take your car to different shops for different quotes. This will help you know the average cost of your auto problem as well as keep you from being overcharged. Even so, you shouldn’t just choose the most affordable shop. You might just get what you pay for. Verify the competence of a service provider before committing.

4.     Ask questions 

You have to be smart when going to an auto shop. Ask them the right questions to know if they are the right mechanics for your project. Some of the top questions you should ask include the following:
·       Do you offer written warranties and what does the warranty cover?
·       Do you have a theft and fire insurance?
·       Can I see your business license?
·       Which materials do you plan on using? New or aftermarket parts?

5.     Follow your sixth sense 

This is the final step. A shop may have the best reputation and the latest technology but if its office is never busy, it may be because motorists are avoiding it for their sloppy work. In addition to that, if the store is dirty, disorganized or cluttered, this may be a reflection of what you can expect. How is the customer service? Do you feel welcomed? Choose a shop you feel comfortable in.

Posted By: Faircloth Automotive