6 Unbeatable Tips for Car Care and Servicing

Owning a vehicle is a symbol of status and style. The panache with which you drive your own car or even take a ride, gives a great feeling of contentment. It is a commonly observed that when you are riding a car, you wish the journey would have never ended. Furthermore, the advantage of owning a car is many. In contrast to that disadvantages are less. However, your greatest advantage can become a big hurdle at once. If you do not pay ample attention to your car, then your car ride can become a very fussy experience for you. Many people do learn from their mistakes. Therefore, in this column you will get a glimpse of those mistakes that you must avoid. As a conscious and responsible car owner, these will be very much helpful for you.

Don’t Neglect or Overlook

In life, people do have to pay the cost of negligence and slip ups. In a similar way, you must not overlook oil filters and oil change. People do take care of other minor car repair aspects, but often forget about the major features. If you forget to change the oil and take a look into oil filters, then it can mean replacing the engine altogether. Even if we consider the worst scenario, it could mean exorbitant repair bills. It is always good to cut down on your expenses. However, a do it yourself approach is only good to a certain extent.

Always Check with your Mechanic

If you are having a mechanic to consult, then be careful about a few things. The repairs that the mechanic does note them. For instance, if he changes some car parts, then you must not forget to ask for the original spare part back. This would mean that the mechanic has done the work correctly. Usually, a reliable mechanic returns you the old parts. Pay extra caution when you are hiring a new mot technician. For affordable vehicle repairs you can look for some auto stations on the internet.

In this regard, it is very much imperative that you can make a proper gist of all the problems that your car is facing. The gist must include even the minutest detail about some symptoms that you have observed in the car. This will help the mechanic to get to the main cause of any technical fault that your car is facing. It often happens that the auto shops charge extra money for un-necessary repairs. Here, you can try a cost-effective method. You can specifically tell the mechanic about the problem that is bothering you. This can save your money and also your time.

Inflate your Car tyres

Many a times, car owners forget to inflate their tyres. Failing to forget this might result into a number of things like: damage to other car parts, blowouts and even expensive damage. Therefore, when you take your car to an auto station always check the car tyres whether they are properly inflated or not. This will save money, increase the life of your tyres, your gas mileage will also be improved and the replacements would be reduced. The overall health of your car will be in a proper condition.

A wise DIY approach

A DIY approach is favorable only when you need to repair simple things. If you are conversant with automobile repairs, if not an expert, you can definitely try your hands on the repairs. Sometimes, our vehicles need minor changes. If you can handle these changes by yourself, then you can save time as well as the servicing cost. Some of the easiest tasks that you can do are replacing an air filter or the light bulb, wiper blades. In case you know how to fit them, then you can buy the parts and replace it.

Do not Ignore MOT Testing

You must not ignore the MOT test for your car. MOT test ensures that your car is in proper condition. It has certain standards of measuring performance. If your car passes the MOT test then it means that it is top class condition. You also get a valid certificate or license for that. For MOT testing, you can get in touch with some of the auto-repair shops who have tie-ups with such centers.

No Silly Mistakes

To make mistakes is human and to forgive divine. However, erring with your car, might make you divine’s beloved. This means that if you ignore any persistent symptom that your car is showing, then it might lead to fatal incidents. Anything fatal can become life-taking or miserably hazardous. Hence, you must beware. To give your family a safe ride, you must always pay attention to every single warning that your car gives.

In conclusion, it is sacrosanct that you keep up a servicing schedule for your car. It is always not necessary to take them to dealers but an efficient mechanic can do it all.

Chandrani Jena writes articles for SW Autotech, one of the leading centers for vehicle repairs in Yeovil [http://www.mots-yeovil.co.uk/servicing-repairs.html]. From windshield replacement to mot testing in Yeovil [http://www.mots-yeovil.co.uk/mots.html], this is the perfect place to go.

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The Biggest Myth in Automotive Repair

Growing up, if I wanted to spend time with my dad, my mother would often drop me off at the Ford dealership where he sold cars. Sometimes we would walk back to the service lane where he would buy me an orange soda. Other times he was busy “putting a deal together”, and during those times I would find myself wandering around meeting everyone from sales managers to technicians. One of the most exciting trips was when I just refused to believe that a 4 cylinder Mustang could be very fast compared to the 8 cylinder ones, so dad took me around the block in a new 1984 Mustang SVO, pretty much putting that myth to rest forever!

I guess that’s when my biggest misconception took root. It made perfect sense that if you wanted your car fixed right you HAD to take it to a dealership. First, they cost more money, and you get what you pay for, right? Second, these guys were trained professionals, understanding the specific systems to whatever brand you drove. Third, they only use parts made by the manufacturer, which HAS to be better for longevity. And finally, well, you just felt more loyal to the brand. I grew up in a Ford family, which meant people who drove Chevrolet’s were basically stupid (no offense to Chevy drivers – I am one myself, now!)

When I decided to get in the business, I took a 2 year course sponsored by Ford, which of course didn’t teach me any different. Then I joined ranks with my sponsoring dealer, which, of course, was Ford. I then spent the next 10 years of my life in a Ford dealer’s service department, and before it was over I was pretty much completely brainwashed. Then in 2002, I made a decision that defied all logic – I accepted a position running an aftermarket repair shop! Of course, that is a whole other story that we won’t get into right now.

Trying to “unlearn” something you pretty much believed for 30 plus years is not an easy task; but unlearn I did, so let me finish this post by debunking the top 4 myths about why you should use a dealer for repairs…

1. You get what you pay for – I do believe this on some things, but car repair is NOT one of them. The truth of the matter is, the reason they cost so much more is because of the ridiculous overhead, which includes some outrageous salaries. In a dealer of moderate size, you have a President, Vice President, General Manager, General Sales Manager, Fixed Ops Manager, Finance Manager, Service Manager and sometimes a Body Shop Manager, most of which have 6 figure incomes, and that doesn’t usually include the “C” level managers! What I discovered pretty quickly was less overhead equals savings to the customer, at least if you run a smart company. Of course, there are exceptions to both – there are some affordable dealers (somewhere… ) and there are quite a few outrageously expensive aftermarket shops. The key is finding someone you can trust. Most good business men I know are transparent about their profit margins.

2. Trained professionals – dealer techs do get a lot of specialized training, that’s no secret. But to find a true master technician means you found someone who understands the “how and why’s” of automotive systems, and that is NOT specific to brand. What you get at dealers normally is technicians with “brand knowledge” which means they know what part to swap for a particular problem for a particular car. To this day, I still remember that on a 1996 Ford Taurus with a grunting noise in far right hand turns, you replaced the power steering rack and pinion and pressure hose. Why? Because Ford said it would fix it. Anything outside of the norm drew blank stares from most techs. In a truly good shop, you have technicians, not part swappers. In actuality, all of the “problem specific” information that is available to the dealer technicians is also available to the aftermarket technicians in the form of Technical Service Bulletins, or TSB’s. The key here is once you find a shop you think you might like, take the time to find out what kind of training and experience the techs have. An ASE master tech has, in my professional opinion, surpassed the training of about 90% of the dealer techs. In my company, I like to take the time to give our customers a tour of the shop, and let them meet the guys that will be fixing their cars. Our technicians love this, because they know the quality of the work they put out, and now they know they will be given the proper credit because the customer knows them.

3. Manufacturer Made Parts – this is a huge myth. Almost every part used in a repair is made by someone OTHER than the manufacturer. All of your major brands do have Original Equipment Part manufacturers that do make the bulk of the repair parts for their specific brand, like Motorcraft for Ford and AC Delco for GM, but very few parts come directly from the manufacturer. The myth is that the dealers are the only ones that use these parts. The same, exact parts are available to every shop, not just dealerships. Even on the few parts that must be ordered from the manufacturer through the dealer, a good aftermarket shop can buy the part from the dealer and STILL sell it to you for less than what you would pay at the very dealer it was purchased from and the warranty is exactly the same!

4. Brand Loyalty – this was probably the hardest myth for me to “unlearn”. It just seemed so much like cheating to drive something other than what your dad drove. Think about that for just a minute. My dad drove Ford because his dad did. My first 10 vehicles were Ford because dad and granddad drove them. Talk about brainwashing! This is the ultimate marketing goal – to get your customers to “believe” that their product is a part of who they are as human beings! The truth is, even the dealers aren’t loyal anymore. More and more, I am seeing signs go up at dealers everywhere that say “All Brands Serviced Here”. Most dealers have a used car lot, and any salesman will tell you he gets the highest commission on used cars, so where is the loyalty there? Most aftermarket shops will work on either “domestic” or “foreign”, and some can do both successfully. The best thing to do here is find a shop who is both familiar with and comfortable working on your car.

There you have it, unquestionable evidence that sometimes the things we think we know may not be completely true. Remember, out of my 20+ years in this business, I have been on both sides, and there is no question what decision I would make should the occasion arise for someone else to take care of my car.

As an avid automotive enthusiast, I have worked on cars, around cars or with cars for over 20 years, and my unique experiences have given me insight to almost every aspect of our industry, both good and bad. At W.T. Standard Automotive & Collision, we put all of good the practices to work for you, our customer. Please visit us at http://www.wtstandard.com

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Six Auto Repair Tricks You Need to Know About

Even if you are lucky enough to know of a great mechanic, it can’t hurt to be aware of a few common tricks used by some sneaky mechanics to reach deep into your pockets. Read on to get some valuable money saving tips for the next time you have to take your car in for regular maintenance or for the dreaded repair visit!

1. Oil Changes: Overcharged and Overdone

Do you really need to change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles? This has become a sort of debate between cautious consumers and the oil industry. The reality is the way cars have been built for at least 10 years, frequent oil changes are not needed. So how much can you really save? On average, an oil change costs $30. If you drive 15,000 miles per year and replace your oil every 3,000 miles, you will need 5 oil changes totaling $150.00. But if you reduce the oil changes to every 5,000 or even 7,500 miles you can save up to $90 per year.

2. The Spit-And-Polish Scam

Scams by some unethical auto mechanics depend upon a customer not knowing how their car works. The spit-and-polish scam is no exception. Here’s how it goes down: Mechanics may say that a part needs to be replaced, but the reality is that they may pull it out, polish it, then just put it back in the car so that it looks shiny and new. Common targets are easily removed parts like batteries, oil filters and radiators. A twist on this scam is that the mechanic claims they replaced your old part with a refurbished part when in actuality they never removed it. In that case, they’ve done absolutely nothing, except pass the bill along to you.

Here’s what you can do if you can take the car home first: Before having repairs done, mark the suspect part in a spot that isn’t easy for others to see with a small dab of white paint or Wite-Out®. After the repair is completed, ask to see the old and new part. If you see the paint on the “new” part, you’ve caught a scam.

Even if you can’t take your car home, you have the right to ask to see the old part as well as the purchase order for the new one. Match the new part with the info in the receipt. Asking the mechanic will let him know you will hold him to the work and parts he has listed on the final invoice.

3. The Oil Dipstick Trick

Dip your dipstick in your oil before you go in for maintenance and repairs. This is something you should be doing out of habit anyway to make sure your car is not low on oil. Do this to get an accurate reading of your engine’s oil level and to remind yourself to watch out for that old nickel-and-dime trick some mechanics use. The trick goes like this: They’ll only insert the dipstick in part of the way, which will give a lower reading. May not seem like a big deal to pay $5 or $10 to refill your oil, but it’s unnecessary and money better kept in your wallet.

4. The “Tune-Up” Spark Plug Trick

Another trick to watch out for is the detached spark plug trick-it could save you thousands of dollars and unnecessary engine exploratory work. An unethical mechanic will recommend an expensive “tune-up” and even charge you extra to replace the spark plugs. Many times, the only thing that needed replacement were the spark plugs.

5. Getting Doubled Over

In all fairness, some repair jobs will start with one problem, and then lead to completely different issues. Unfortunately, some auto mechanics will take full advantage of this by doubling your labor charge. Sometimes the labor will even overlap for certain work, meaning you will get double charged for labor. If you’re quoted one labor cost on the estimate, that’s what you should pay in many cases. It’s important to be firm and clear with the mechanic that you want to be informed of extra parts or labor you will be charged for before they start work. And if possible, get a second opinion from a mechanic at another shop.

6. Auto Obsession

No, this is not a recognized psychological disorder. It’s what happens when people are fooled into agreeing to repairs or maintenance sooner than a car really needs. It’s one thing to follow manufacturer suggested timelines for standard maintenance, but another to become obsessive about it. There is usually no need to repair or have work done on your car more than recommended in the owner’s manual. The auto manufacturers know your vehicle model better than any mechanic. After all, they built it and know how each part works. Their recommendations should be followed.

Be suspicious anytime a mechanic pushes you to agree to an oil change, flush or other car repair sooner than recommended.

Play it safe and bring your owner’s manual with you when you take your car in for any maintenance or repair. The old saying “knowledge is power” could not be truer when facing a car repairs or regular maintenance. Take a few minutes to look over your car owner’s manual. There is a lot of useful information provided in that book to help you avoid many mechanic scams. The more you know about your car, the less likely you will be taken for a ride. If you do not have the owner’s guide to your car you can find it at http://www.edmunds.com

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DIY Car Repair – Understanding Torque Values

In some cases when torquing a fastener, whether it is a nut or a bolt, it is very important to achieve a level of accuracy. If you are attempting to repair your car yourself there are some basic techniques that will save you both time and, in the long run, money. By understanding and applying some basic car repair techniques the average person is going to increase their chance at performing a successful car repair.

Car repair tools are something to consider – they can either provide a solution or, if used improperly, or in the case of Torque related tools, if not used at all, can make the car problem worse. You may not realize it but you may already own torque related tools. Have you ever wondered why the 10mm wrench is shorter than a 14mm wrench? Why does the ¼” drive ratchet typically only have sockets up to about 15mm? There is a good reason for both. If you use a 10mm wrench to tighten down a 10mm fastener, and aren’t over “torquing”, you are going to get the proper torque. If you used a wrench that is twice as long to do the same thing your chances of over torquing, breaking or compromising the fastener are vastly increased. Using a ¼” drive ratchet to tighten a 10mm fastener is much safer than using a ½” drive ratchet to tighten the same 10mm fastener. This is a simple matter of understanding the forces of leverage and torque, the longer the tool the more leverage you get and the easier the torque is applied. As a rule of thumb, use a ¼” drive ratchet to tighten fasters if the bits are available. Generally speaking there is no reason to use a larger ratchet to tighten the fasteners below 15mm.

There is another car repair tool that will get you the proper torque every time; provided the tool works properly. It’s the torque wrench. What does a mechanic have that you don’t? Well, for the most part, experience. Gaining a feel for how tight a bolt needs to be is the first step to getting the proper torque. This is simple to practice, and it is easily gauged with a torque wrench. There are certain instances that using a torque wrench is incredibly important. Rotating parts is one of them. You don’t want a spinning part to loosen the nuts or bolts that hold it in place. So torque your axle nuts and flywheel bolts. Any time there is a gasket or a nut or bolt that is a “Torque to Yield” it is very important to get out that torque wrench to ensure proper installation and operation.

Make sure you replace a the bolt or nut if it is recommended by a Car repair manual. This is because that bolt or nut has to be, and has been, torqued to yield. This means that the fastener is actually getting stretched to it’s proper torque. It also means that when that particular bolt/nut is removed you will not be able to reassemble using that previously torqued bolt and achieve the same required torque that assures both fit and function. Now when we are talking torque, let’s consider some other factors25. When the car repair manual says to oil the bolt before torquing they are further modifying the manner in which that bolt gets torqued. The friction is reduced from the addition of the oil and this means that more force is now being applied to the bolt for that set torque value. Now let’s think about a dry bolt at the same torque – it is not going to get turned enough to do what the manufacturer intended to do at that torque. What is even worse is if there is a bunch of dirt, rust or any contaminants on the threads. So now that there is a bunch of dirt on the threads, you are increasing the friction and ultimately under-torquing your bolt. Do that on a new hub bearing assembly and you are going to have a separated wheel bearing that has too much play.
To get a better understanding of the importance of following torquing guidelines let’s consider a situation like replacing a gasket that holds oil or coolant – a good example is a valve cover gasket; the factory wants you to apply 10 foot pounds of torque to “most” valve cover gaskets. What happens if you over-torque? You squish the gasket too much and that creates the potential for oil to escape, this compromises the gasket and the required seal.

Here are a couple of charts to give you an idea of the relative torque values that are typically applied to different sizes of bolts. These are guidelines only and this information has not been verified.

Bolt Assembly Torque (ft-lb)
Values are based on the use of lubricated threads
bolt size Grade 8.8 Grade 10 Aluminum
M6 5 10 4
M7 9 14 7
M8 17 25 14
M10 33 50 25
M12 60 85 40
M14 90 133 65
M16 140 200 100
M18 200 285 135

The above chart is for lubricated threads and only provides typical torque values – This chart is not to be followed for any torque to yield bolts or nuts and does not provide proper torque values for a bolt or nut that is holding a gasket surface. Gaskets are made of different materials and the manual pertaining to the exact application is the only source that should be used in determining the proper torque for these gaskets.
Note: size: 10mm does not refer to the bolt head it refers to the diameter of the shaft. Typical 10mm bolts have a 13mm or 14mm heads.

The following chart shows slightly different torque values, and is not based on lubricated threads. M8x1.25 is an 8mm diameter with a 1.25 thread pitch – the lower the number the finer the threads.

Hex head Cap Screw
bolt size Grade 8.8
M4 x 0.7 1.65
M5 x 0.8 4.13
M6 x 1.0 7.1
M7 x 1.0 12.0
M8 x 1.0 18.0
M8 x 1.25 17.0
M10 x 1.0 39.0
M10 x 1.25 36.0
M10 x 1.5 34.0
M12 x 1.25 65.0
M12 x 1.5 63.0
M12 x 1.75 59.0
M14 x 1.5 102.0
M14 x 2 94.0

Anther consideration is that fact that torque specification depends on the type of material used – 8.8 grade steel is the most common, but stainless steel fasteners are a stronger alternative, whereas, aluminum is a much softer metal and will require a different torque. Always check the manufacture’s manual for proper torque specs. No chart that is provided in this document has been validated for accuracy. Most factory service manuals will show a torque specification chart simply based off the size of fastener, however this should only be referred to if the specific torque application is not provided.

After reading this you should feel a little more confident and a little more worried. Continue to do your homework and take on the car repair jobs within your means. Ultimately, it is the experience that is required and some failures can be great learning experience so practice first and take your time.

Shane White has over 30 years’ hands on experience in the Auto Repair and Aftermarket Auto Parts industry. As a fully licensed mechanic Shane ran a successful garage for over 10 years. Over the past 9 years Shane has focused on the managerial side of the Auto Repair and Replacement Auto Parts industry. Currently Shane is Vice President Operations with Prime Choice Auto Parts a Factory Direct to consumer, online store, specializing in High Quality – High Value Aftermarket Auto Parts like Hub Bearing Assemblies, Complete Strut Assemblies, Brake Parts, Car Starter Motors and Alternators for all makes and models.

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