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Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Car

If you feel cooped up after a long, cold winter, you are probably itching to take the first road trip of the year. Washing your car and getting out on the open road can be an exciting feeling. However, most people do not realize the kind of beating their vehicle has taken from driving during the winter months, and therefore neglect getting things checked out before a long drive. In order to avoid unnecessary auto repair, here are a few tips to taking care of your car this spring.

Oil and Other Fluids

While most professionals agree that you should get your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, it can be difficult to keep track of at times. If you are not in the habit of getting it changed during the winter, spring is the perfect time to get it taken care of. Whether you do it yourself or have a professional take care of it, take the time to check all the other fluids required by your vehicle while you are at it. This includes coolant, brake fluids, and washing fluids.

Battery

Rather than finding yourself stranded on the side of the road, take the time to check your battery to make sure it is running at full capacity. Winter can be especially harsh on things like the alternator and battery, which can be drained more easily. A weak battery may be easy to spot, as your lights may be dimmer than usual, or the power windows may take longer to go up and down than in times past. It is cheaper to replace a weak battery than to work out getting a tow in the event that it goes dead when you are least expecting it.

Tires

Worn-out tires can make stopping difficult, and may even be dangerous if worn too thin. Spring is a perfect time to inspect all tires to make sure that they have the tread necessary to navigate the roads you will be driving on. Because cold weather can reduce tire pressure, you will also want to make sure that they are all filled to the correct pressure so that your vehicle can experience the best performance possible.

Air Conditioning

Because it probably hasn’t been used for a few months, your air conditioning may need repair, and spring time is the best time to take care of it because there is still some time before it is necessary in the hot summer months. Turn it on full blast and make sure that it gets cold in the proper amount of time. If you suspect problems, see a mechanic for auto repair to ensure that your summer months can be spent driving in comfort.

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Car Noises that Should Not Be Ignored!

You love everything about your luxury car; the look, the feel, the performance – everything. Driving it is a joy every day. Cars are like everything else, though, and they require maintenance. As you know, your car was expensive to buy and is also expensive to own, as foreign auto repair is pricey. Regular maintenance must not be ignored, but can you overlook other things? Are there issues you can ignore, at least for awhile, that will not affect the performance or life of your vehicle? Certainly. However, here a few sounds you should not ignore:

Hissing

Hissing is generally the sound of a leak. Leaks, say in the vacuum line or cooling system, will affect fuel economy and drivability, so get the hissing sound checked.

Squealing, Scraping, or Grinding When Braking

Brakes really should not make any noise, so when braking makes a sound, it is usually a sign of a problem. A little squealing may mean that you have dirt in the system somewhere, or it could indicate wear. If the sound moves to scraping or grinding, you are hearing the sound of metal on metal and you can be sure the brakes pads are worn and need to be replaced. Bad brakes are never a good thing, so don’t ignore brake sounds.

Whining

A whining sound from your car can indicate excessive differential or transmission wear, both of which, if unchecked, can make your car undrivable. (Whining might also be from children in the back; if that’s the case, feel free to ignore it.)

Rattling

Cars are made of thousands of pieces and sometimes these pieces come loose. If you hear a rattling sound inside your car, the chances are good that the loose piece is not critical to the function of the vehicle. But, if you hear a rattle coming from underneath the car, that is a different story. The loose part may be an important one, or, it might damage critical parts if it eventually dislodges completely. Either way, don’t ignore rattling from under the car.

Flapping

Your car includes several systems run by belts. A flapping sound from inside your engine compartment indicates a broken or disintegrating belt, or maybe even that something is interfering with the normal function of the belt. When belts break, they can damage other parts of the car as well, so make certain to address any flapping sounds with your mechanic.

Cars make lots of sounds. The hum of the engine is likely one of the reasons you love your car. When you hear a sound that is out of the ordinary, take note as it could be the sign of a problem. Repairs are expensive, but not nearly as expensive as replacing the entire car. When in doubt, consult your trusted foreign auto repair mechanic.

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5 Characteristics You Will Find in a Good Mechanic

Finding a highly qualified automotive specialist to perform repairs on your car is very important. Of course you want to make sure that you are getting a good deal on the repairs but you also need to know that your car is being worked on by a mechanic who knows what they are doing and has the necessary skills as well as the requisite characteristics. Here are 5 things to watch out for to ensure you have the best experience when hiring a professional for auto repair.

Knowledgeable

They all have similar basic components, but no two cars are just the same. Clearly, extensive knowledge of different makes and models of cars is one of the most important qualities of a mechanic. When you take in your car, or when you first call the professional, let them know what the make and model of your vehicle is and ask about their experience with your car specifically.

Communicative

Your car repair professional should be communicative with you. Perhaps the repair is taking longer than they originally quoted you, or the repairs are going to cost more than you thought they were. A professional mechanic should be able to communicate any of these potential issues with you in a way that is clear and specific.

Problem Solving Skills

Many times the repair that your car needs isn’t going to immediately be clear. You need to work with someone who can look at the situation and identify some viable solutions. Many times, there might be many different possible solutions to one problem. A qualified repair professional should assess the situation and help you figure out what will be best for you in your situation.

Good Memory

It might seem like a strange thing to look for in a mechanic, but the fact is they work on lots of different cars and with a lot of different customers. You need to feel like your car problems are as important to them as others are.  If the car repair company doesn’t remember who you are or what problems your car is having over multiple visits, you might want to go somewhere else.

Committed

Look for a contractor who is committed to providing you with excellent work. One way that you can figure this out is by asking about the company’s memberships in national organizations. Memberships in national auto repair organizations usually have stringent requirements in terms of skills and ongoing training. When you are looking for an auto mechanic who is committed to their craft, finding one who is a member of national associations is key.

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Warning Signs That Your Car Needs Repair

When your car is in need of an auto repair, it will tell you. Your car is actually talking to you all of the time, but not everyone knows how to translate the language. If you notice any of the following things in your car, then you need to take it as a sign that you are in need of an auto repair very soon:

  • Leaking fluid: Oil, antifreeze, radiator fluid, or any other liquid leaking from your car is not a good thing. Cars are designed to keep these things in your car. If this is something you are noticing, then something has cracked, come loose, or is meeting a blockage somewhere.
  • Troubles between gears: This is obviously most easy to recognize if you drive a car with a manual transmission. That being said, you can feel a lag between gears shifting even in automatic transmission cars. Struggling to get from one gear to another is a big sign that your transmission needs some attention.
  • Lags in acceleration: There are a number of things that could cause this trouble, and none of them are good. Unless you are carrying an unusually heavy load or trying to climb an unusually steep hill, you should not feel anything unusual in your acceleration. If this begins to happen, you need to get the car looked at by some professionals as soon as possible.
  • Loud screeches: This is an interesting one as there are a number of very simple and benign things that could cause this, like a little oil or condensation on a belt. That being said, there are also a number of very dangerous things that could be causing the loud screeching. The bottom line is that your car should not be making that noise at all, so whether the problem is simple and easily fixed, or complicated and a nightmare to repair, you need to get the issue diagnosed.
  • Issues with starting: With cars being so common now, a lot of people tend to forget all the different parts and processes that have to come together to make a car run and go. If any one of the pieces of this very complicated puzzle get even slightly out of place, it can cause trouble when you start the car. Your vehicle may make strange sounds, take a little longer than usual, or need a few tries to get going in earnest. All of these are warning signs that your automobile needs some professional help as soon as possible.
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How to Choose the Right Mechanic to Fix your Car?

Probably very few people actually look forward to finding a new auto mechanic for repairs on their vehicles. However, car repairs are one of the necessities of life. If you have a car, it will need to be fixed at some point. Even finding a trusted company to perform an oil change and other essential maintenance tasks can feel like a lot of work. However, there are some key things to keep in mind while you are conducting your search. Here are 4 things to look for in a new mechanic shop.

Familiar with Your Vehicle

Whether you own a foreign vehicle, a luxury import, or have the old beater car you have been driving since high school, work with a repair shop that knows all about your vehicle. This is easy to find out by calling up companies and asking them questions about your vehicle and asking for suggestions. You can gauge their knowledge and expertise with your vehicle pretty well this way.

Understands the Car/Owner Relationship

You rely on your vehicle quite a bit. If your car breaks down in the morning, your life is complicated by the fact that you cannot get to work as easily. When you are out and your battery dies, you have to find a way to get out of that mess too. With this in mind, it is understandable that you have an emotional attachment to your car. A repair shop that understands the importance of a working car to you is a good one to work with since they will know how important it is that you get your car up and running as quickly as possible.

Eye on Customer Service

Make sure that when you are calling around to different mechanics and visiting different shops in the area that they treat you well and that all the staff you encounter is attentive and tries their best to be helpful. If you are mistreated right from the get-go or ignored completely, then that is probably not the company you want to give your business to.

Convenient Location

Look for a company that has a convenient location. You do not want to be driving too far to get service. If there is more than one location available, then that is a bonus. There may be times when one location is busy or does not have the parts that you need, and it is extra convenient to be able to visit another location but with the same company for assistance. Finding a convenient location is also advantageous since you will not have to put as many miles on your car when you need service, and you can develop a close working relationship with the company.

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Keep Your Car Running: Checklist for Winterizing Your Car

Did you know that in recent years, there have been almost 500 fatal car accidents per year due to icy road conditions? The tricky thing is that many of these accidents could have been avoided. You can avoid getting into an accident while saving money on potentially costly foreign auto repair by bearing in mind the following 5 crucial car winterization tips.

Clean and Treat Your Mats

Cleaning and treating your floor mats at the dealership is not necessarily a safety issue, but it can save you a lot of headaches. It can also save you money. If you can treat your floor mats at the beginning of the season or even before the season starts, then you can make your floor mats more resistant to the salt, ice, and mud that will be tracked into your vehicle.

Use the Right Washer Fluid

During the summer, using water instead of washer fluid might be a good idea. However, during the winter you should be using a washer fluid that will not freeze and works better to remove the salt and grime that is kicked up from other cars on the road.

Use Higher-Quality Oil

It is actually a common belief that filling your tank with the lighter-grade oil is better for your car in the winter. Always make sure that regardless of what any experts are telling you that you are consulting your owner’s manual before every oil change to determine what oil you should be using. Furthermore, it is of particular importance during the winter that you are getting your regular oil changes at the dealership to reduce your chances of needing auto repair. It is especially important to book your oil change appointments at a dealership that is familiar with the make and model of your vehicle specifically.

Change Your Wiper Blades Early

The best time to change your wiper blades is not when you are on the road in horrible weather. You should never wait until you are unable to see through the streaks on your windshield. The ideal time to change your windshield wipers is well before you even need them, long before your visibility is actually affected. Make it a habit to get your windshield wipers replaced before winter sets in.

Have an Emergency Kit on Hand

Finally and most importantly, be sure to have an emergency kit on hand. You never want to make the mistake of thinking that it will never happen to you, that you will never find yourself stranded on the side of the road. If this unfortunate situation does happen to you, you should be prepared for it with all the essentials: nonperishable food, flares, a window scraper, warm blankets, additional antifreeze, and tire chains.

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5 Qualities to Look for in an Auto Repair Shop

5 Qualities to Look for in an Auto Repair Shop_image1(1)When problems arise with your car, you don’t want to waste your time with a sub-standard repair service. Your vehicle is not only a sizable investment on your part, but you also depend upon it for safety and transportation. Read on to learn about 5 qualities to look for in an auto repair shop and our tips for choosing the right shop for your needs.

Reputable

One of the best ways to find a new repair shop is through a referral–whether from a friend, acquaintance, or the Internet, knowing that someone had a positive experience with a shop is a good sign. A company with a good reputation means you are more likely to get what you want. When looking online, ratings, rankings, and reviews can give you an idea of what you should expect.

Experienced

A brand-new company is certainly capable of providing quality service, but a company with years of experience will know how to handle all kinds of problems and unusual situations. Experience with cars, customer service, and billing all come together to make your interaction with that company smooth and obstacle-free.

Additionally, while general experience is great, a company that has experience with your specific problems will run into fewer problems and will experience fewer hiccups, which will make the whole thing go more smoothly.

5 Qualities to Look for in an Auto Repair Shop_image2(1)Quick

When it comes to your car, the longer you have to wait for repairs, the more interrupted your life becomes. Even a rental car or temporary replacement just isn’t the same as having your own car, so ask up front what kind of turnaround time you can expect, and note how accurate the estimates are.

Informative

In addition to fixing your car, you should expect to stay informed. Ask about the problems, the parts and components that are involved, the expected costs, the causes of the problems, and what can be done to prevent similar problems in the future. You should expect complete transparency, and you can use the repair process as an educational experience.

Fair

At the end of the day, you want two things from your auto shop: to leave with a functioning car and to feel like you got a good deal. Open communication is important, and if you ever have an issue with something, speak up! Pleasing the customer is an important part of running a high-quality repair shop, so always feel free to vocalize your questions and concerns. Letting the repair shop know exactly what you need is the best way to reach a win-win situation.

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See Our Checklist for Auto Repair Services!

Maintaining your car is crucial. If you go too long without maintaining your vehicle, you can do serious damage. Many people think that they can save money by leaving their car alone until it needs repairs, but while they may feel that they cannot afford regular maintenance, the truth is that you really cannot afford not to maintain your car regularly. See our checklist below for the top 5 auto repair services that you should incorporate into your regular auto repair service and maintenance schedule.

Air Conditioning Systems

Especially right before the summer months, it is essential that you have your car’s air conditioning system checked out and tuned up. You don’t want to find out in the heat of the summer that your air conditioning doesn’t work. Your air conditioner also plays a significant role in making sure that air circulates through your vehicle and keeps the interior of your car from getting damaged by the heat.

Automotive Oil Changes

Make sure that you follow your car manufacturer’s recommended schedule for oil changes. This is important for many reasons, but most importantly, regular oil changes keep the inner mechanisms of your vehicle lubricated so that they run smoother and better. The professionals will check other vehicle systems while they do your oil change so that you can know which other elements in your car need attention. This is another reason why regular oil changes are so essential to your vehicle’s functioning.

Brake Service & Repair

Regular brake service and repair is an essential part of taking care of your car. If your brakes are squeaking or making other odd noises, you might be due for a replacement. It is often hard to know when your brakes are going to give out before there is a serious accident, so this is an essential part of keeping you and the passengers in your car safe in the event of an accident.

Tires

It is essential that you have your tires checked regularly. A professional should ensure that your tires are always rotated regularly and are aligned by a professional. A lot of people think that this is something that they can do on their own, but you will likely run into some trouble if you don’t trust the business of rotating and aligning your tires to people who deal with these issues every day.

Tune-Ups

Finally, making sure that your car gets regular tune-ups is just one other part of being a responsible vehicle owner. Take your car to a company that has experience with your particular vehicle’s make and model so that they know how your car works, as many of the problems that you experience with your car might be common with your specific make and model.

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