5 Questions to Ask Your Mechanic

Maintenance is an inevitable part of car ownership, which means dealing with mechanics is necessary whenever your car requires some sort of repair or tune-up. However, many people end up getting overcharged or receiving low-quality service that damages their car or shortens its lifespan when they take their automobile to a mechanic simply because they don’t know how to ask the right questions. There are several important questions you should always ask your mechanic when experiencing car trouble or are in need of maintenance before you leave your car in their service to ensure the quality and legitimacy of the service you are receiving.

1. What is the Problem with my Car?

Even if you fancy yourself to be an amateur mechanic with sufficient knowledge about how cars function and the basics of what’s going on when your car acts funny, never try to tell a mechanic what is wrong with your car. It’s important to let the mechanic figure out the problem themselves rather than just try to fix whatever you declare is wrong in order to ensure that your car receives a thorough check rather than just a sloppy fix that may or may not solve the real problem.

2. Are you Certified?

Trusted auto repair companies and official car manufacturers such as Honda approve thousands of auto shops throughout the nation that are up to their standards of quality. If you want to make sure your car is serviced by an experienced mechanic that will provide thorough, high-quality car care, ask if the shop they work at is certified or the manufacturer of your car.

3. What Credentials do you Have?

Inquiring about the credentials your mechanic and other mechanics that work in the shop have is a perfectly legitimate question to ask before leaving your car for service at an auto shop. Not all mechanics are experienced, professional, or have gone through sufficient education to provide the service they do. In order to ensure that this is not the case with your mechanic, ask about credentials.

4. What Kind of Warranty do you Provide?

Your mechanic should offer a warranty on all services and parts that extends beyond a basic one to three-month period. Before you get your car serviced, ask your mechanic about the warranty they offer on the specific service your car is getting, and make sure it extends to at least one year or ten thousand miles.

5. Do you Use New or Used Parts?

Many mechanics install used parts into cars they service in order to save on money. These used parts can significantly shorten the length of your car’s lifespan. Before you hire a mechanic, ask if they use new or used parts, and if they use both depending on the situation. Also, ask if they provide an option so you can ensure that quality parts are being installed in your car.

Is My Car In Alignment?

Bad roads can be your alignments worst enemy. If you live in an area with poorly maintained roads, with many pot holes, your alignment can be affected in a negative way.

Even the smallest alignment issue can cause uneven and premature tire wear. Be sure to have your alignment checked every few thousand miles. Uneven tire wear can become an expensive issue if not dealt with and fixed.

Keeping your car in alignment will help your tires last much longer, and help your vehicle drive smoother. In addition your car will require less energy to keep rolling down the road, potentially saving fuel depending on how out of alignment the vehicle was.

If a car is in alignment the tires should wear evenly across all the tread. If you’re noticing excessive wear on the rear inside tires, you may need an alignment or adjustment. Uneven tire wear can also result in worse gas mileage and more expense at the gas station.

There are some tell tale signs that could indicate a your wheels are out of alignment. Using your eyes, ears and hands are good ways for noticing poor alignment.

Here are some signs that you are dealing with poor alignment:

Your cars pulls to the left or right
uneven tire wear
fast tire wear
Steering wheel is crooked
tires that squeal easily

If you notice any of the above issues or even just want to check to make sure, schedule an alignment check at your local shop or repair facility. Making sure that your car or trucks alignment is good is well worth the cost of an inspection, as it can possibly save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in tire and suspension wear and problems.

Car Dealer Tips: Benefits Of Used Auto Parts

For those trying to save some money in the household budget, consider purchasing used parts for your vehicle repairs. New parts can often be astronomical in price. In many cases, used parts will work just as well. They can be found at different salvage yards or at a car dealer. Before jumping into the world of used auto parts, first do some research to make sure to get the best deal.

Know Exactly Which Part is Needed

Once you find out there is an issue with the vehicle, it is necessary to either inspect the problem or have a mechanic determine what is needed to repair the car. Auto components usually need to be make and model specific. When shopping used, make sure to have all the information that is needed. If it is possible, bring the old piece when shopping, so there is no confusion as to what the vehicle will require.

Know What the New Purchase Price Would Be

Before shopping, take a few minutes and research the price of those new components if they are purchased new. This way, it will be easier to know whether or not the used is provided at a good deal. Make sure to have a printed copy of the price on hand when looking, just in case it may be necessary to negotiate a better price with the dealer.

Make Sure Returns Are Possible

One of the first questions that needs to be asked before paying for a used component is whether or not it can be returned it if it breaks or quits performing. Many auto salvage centers or a trusted car dealer will offer a 30-day money back or exchange policy. If the retailer does not offer any type of warranty, consider trying other sources that do have a return policy.

Maybe New is Better

Some parts are often better if purchased new. Vital components, like alternators, brake rotors, and others that have a tendency to wear out over time are overall more economical if purchased new. It can be risky buying some items used since it typically cannot be known how long they were used in the previous vehicle before they were sold to someone else. The vehicle may stop working after three months, which means a new component will have to be purchased, so it may have been less expensive to break down and buy it new in the first place. Auto parts that are typically considered safe to purchase used include fuel pumps, brake drums, air conditioner compressors, and CV joints.

Purchasing used auto parts from a salvage center or car dealer can be a big money saver, but they can also cost more if you careful research is not done ahead of time. Make sure to shop around different salvage yards, swap meets, a used car dealer, or classified ads to get the best deal. Most of all don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions before handing over the cash.

DIY Windshield Repair – Why a Collision Repair Center Is the Safer Choice

Depending on the severity of your windshield damage, a chip or crack can be more than just an annoying eyesore. Highway patrol and collision repair industry experts agree that ignoring, or worse-attempting an ineffective DIY method-can cause dangerous and even life-threatening injuries. It’s also illegal to drive your vehicle with cracked or chipped safety glass, and the ticket or citation alone can often be more expensive than a professional fix from your local collision repair experts.

Shards of Glass

A windshield crack that has been left to weather for a while can actually turn your safety glass deadly. Safety glass is designed with outer layers of tempered glass sandwiched over a rubber-based middle sheet, to fuse everything into an effective, shatter-resistant system. When chipped or cracked and exposed to the outside elements for any extended period of time, the entire system can be compromised. This results in safety glass being prone to shattering upon impact.

Loss of Front-End Structural Integrity

When a windshield is in good condition, it is strong enough to act as a layer of protection during a front-end collision. If intact, it reduces the severity of perceived impact inside the vehicle. If cracked or fixed incorrectly, it can shatter, putting you and your passengers at greater risk for injury.

Ineffective Airbag Deployment

In many vehicles, proper passenger side airbag deployment depends in part on an intact windshield for a complete system of protection. If compromised, the force of an airbag deployment can cause it to shatter. Without this protective barrier to act as a shield against improper inflation, the airbag can actually inflate toward the outside of the car rather than toward your passenger. This renders the airbag effectively useless in the event of a collision.

A Compromised Roof

During a rollover accident, an intact windshield acts as an additional layer of structural support that helps to keep your vehicle’s roof from caving in. If damaged or fixed improperly, it can shatter during a collision-leaving the roof vulnerable to being crushed and the vehicle’s occupants at greater risk of serious injury.

Risk of Ejection

An intact windshield can act as an additional layer of protection for the occupants of the vehicle. If seatbelts aren’t fastened during a collision, this barrier keeps you and your passengers from being ejected from the vehicle. When compromised, it can shatter upon impact, leaving the occupants of the vehicle without any additional protection against ejection during a collision.

Taking your car to a collision repair shop will ensure your windshield protects you for as long as you drive the car.

Five Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

Choosing an auto body shop doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. Estimates from different shops will likely fluctuate, sometimes to the point where you wonder if you are getting quotes for the same repair on the same vehicle. Consider these five tips to help guide you in making your decision:

1. Get Multiple Estimates

This one is obvious. Not only will multiple auto body shop quotes give you some idea of the “middle ground,” you’ll feel better knowing that you did your homework and you aren’t simply going with the cheapest… or worse yet, the most costly proposition.

2. Are They Certified and Insured

Do they seem reputable and carry all the appropriate certifications insurance?

Is the location a direct repair facility for your insurance company?

If you are completely new to the facility and going in with very little information on them, check for appropriate licensing hanging on the wall near the register.

Things can go wrong with any repair shop and your vehicle will be living there for a while, so you want to make sure that the repair facility you choose is protected in the event of fire, theft, or natural disaster.

3. Parts and Warranty

What is the warranty on repairs? Depending on whether they are a direct repair facility for your insurance company, you will likely get anywhere between 1 year and a lifetime warranty. Comparing warranties between locations can be a big indicator of the quality of parts and workmanship. You want to hire someone willing to stand by their craft.

Do they use aftermarket or used parts? Used parts don’t necessarily mean quality is bad, but when comparing quotes, you want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If one location is offering used parts and another new, and their estimates are the same, look closer. What is making up the extra cost in the estimate for the shop offering the used parts? The per-hour labor costs may be higher at that particular shop.

What kind of paint matching technology do they use? You want to be sure that they can make an exact match of the paint code for your vehicle, and that they are using a high-quality coating.

4. Reputation

Do they have a good local reputation? Are they part of a social network where you can check for reviews? Ask around to friends and family; almost everyone has used an auto body shop at some point, and you’ll be surprised how much information you can gather by listening to other people’s experiences.

5. Trust Your Gut… and Relax

If you are searching for an auto body shop, you and your car likely just went through a stressful experience. Trust your gut after visiting the location; you want to leave feeling that the customer service seems knowledgeable about their industry and genuine about service. If anything about the experience seems not above board, keep looking, and use the tips above to guide you until you find a professional you can feel good about.

Why Can’t My Car Pass the Texas State Inspection?

In Texas, the car inspection is performed on an annual basis. Beginning with March 1, 2015, the windshield stickers on vehicles are no longer required as a proof of inspection, and car owners are only required to retain the registration sticker.

What concerns most drivers in Texas and other states in the U.S. as their inspection date approaches are the possible reasons why their car could fail. It is needless to say this can create a lot of problems for an average person, so we are bringing you a list of the most common reasons why your car might not pass the Texas State Inspection.

1) Windshield wipers not functioning properly

This is one of the most common reasons why people fail car inspections in Texas. Wipers’ function is included on most state inspections’ checklists, so make sure to have them ready for the test. It is clearly one of those things that is easy to forget as you may not have to use the wipers that often, but that is more of a reason to give them a once-over before the inspection.

2) Broken lights (especially tail lights and turn signals)

Together with wipers, broken lights are one of the usual reasons why people fail Texas State Inspections. All drivers will notice when their headlights are not functioning, but the other ones are much easier to miss. After all, you are sitting inside your car while driving, and unless someone warns you about it (hopefully, not a police officer), you can spend months driving around without ever noticing it. To make sure your car can pass, before you go in for the inspection, carefully check your car and make sure all lights are functioning properly.

3) Tires

Although not as common as the first two, tires can often be a reason to fail the state inspection. People tend to go in thinking everything is fine on that front. They are often unpleasantly surprised to hear that their tires are not up to standards and can’t be allowed to pass. Make sure the tires are in a decent condition, with a good thread depth and with no cracks on the side walls.

4) Parking brake

The parking brake is another item that causes a lot of people to fail, simply because it is not used as often, and not everyone understands its importance. It is not only used for parking, but also as an emergency brake in case your main brake fails. To pass a Texas State Inspection, your parking brake will have to be in pristine condition, as it will be used to stop the moving car. If the car rolls forward, you will not pass the inspection.

5) Brakes

Brakes tend to be the least common reason that causes people to fail, but it still happens. In Texas, your brakes will be tested at the speed of about 20 mph, so it is nothing extreme. However, if you have noticed any issues, make sure to get them fixed before the inspection. Not that you shouldn’t do it anyway because it’s one of those things you definitely want working at 100 percent.