Winter Automotive MaintenanceFebruary 15, 2016
Adjusting to the winter months takes some effort, and some of that effort should go in to winter automotive maintenance. No matter where you live, the changing seasons present a challenge to your vehicle, and probably more than you realize. A lot goes in to keeping your ride riding smoothly, and any car maintenance issues that you ignored in the summer could create an additional hazard in the winter.
Winter automotive maintenance includes anything that prepares your car for winter, from protecting sensitive components to assuring proper visibility. Auto repair shops approach the process in two ways; preparing the car for the worse possible weather conditions and making important repairs that insure the long-term functionality of your car.
You might have to grit your teeth and personally gird yourself for a long harsh winter, but winter automotive maintenance is much easier than most people think. Most importantly, any efforts you put in now can increase safety while decreasing the probability of costly repairs.
Battery Test or Replacement
Cold temperatures can reduce battery power up to 50% and shorten the batter life. When temperatures drop, have your auto repair shop test your battery for performance. If it is near expiration, it’s better to replace it than risk driving with a dying battery.
Have an auto technician go through the heating and auto-defrost system and make sure it is in top condition. On the road is not the place to find out that a water pump has a crack or there is a short in the electrical circuit.
Worn brakes can cause a problem at any time of year but pose even greater hazard in wet weather. Brakes are no places to cut corners, so have your auto repair shop inspect your brakes for any problems.
Having proper antifreeze levels is essential to your winter automotive maintenance checklist. Make sure the level is full and the mixture is as close to 50/50 as possible.
Your tires are the point of connection to the road, so you’ll want to make sure that they are in good condition. Look for ware, cracking, cupping, or bulging. If they are in poor shape, replace them If you are in an area that receives snow, use snow tires during the winter months.
Lights, Bulbs, Wipers, Windows
Maintaining visibility is high on the list of winter care priorities. Inspect all bulbs and lenses. Replace any that are burned out and clean or replace any dirty or damaged lenses. Wiper blades only last a year, so replacing for the winter months is a great idea. Use a detail polish on your windshield to help rain or snow sheet off.
There are many important elements in preparing your vehicle for the long winter slog, and auto repair shops make sure that winterizing your car takes the chill out of future repair.
What to Consider When Hiring Towing ServicesJanuary 15, 2016
Towing, or using one vehicle to move a disable second vehicle, is a common and useful service. It’s also one that’s much more complicated than it seems, requiring lots of vehicle and industry specific knowledge to ensure safe transport. If your car is broken down at the side of the road, chances are good that you do not have time to call around for referrals, but choosing the right auto shop or towing service is important in getting the job done well. That’s what makes knowing a few tips before you call so important.
When it comes to towing services, what you know and do before the tow can save you a lot of hassle later. It’s always important to consider these tips:
Know Your Situation
Before you call the auto shop or towing service, collect as much information about the situation as possible and provide it to the service. Things like location, type of vehicle, condition of the vehicle, and whether or not the vehicle is stuck can help the service decide what type of tow truck to send and what equipment to bring.
Choose Your Auto Shop
When possible, choose to use the auto shop that does your car maintenance for your towing service. Not only do you already know that they are reputable, they can also tow your vehicle directly in for service.
Find Out if the Towing Service Has the Right Tow Truck for the Job
There are three main types of tow trucks: flatbed, hook and chain, and wheel-lift. Not every company has each kind of truck. Some car problems might require one type, and not be fit for another. Improper towing can create additional damage, and not asking the right questions or providing enough information could cause delays in waiting for another vehicle to show up.
Contact Your Insurance Company
If your insurance company is involved, find out with which towing service companies they already have an agreement or which they prefer. This information not only keeps you covered if it’s a provided service, it gives you a great idea of reputable tow providers.
Find Out About Fees and Payment
Before you contract for towing services, find out about the fees, how far they will tow, and accepted payment methods.
Needing a tow can be pretty stressful. The best way to minimize the frustration is by investing a little time in getting the right facts and providing the best information.
Clutch RepairDecember 15, 2015
Just like brakes, it’s easy for drivers to tell when the clutch is wearing out and needing a replacement. A worn out, or wearing out, clutch can be harder to handle. You might notice that the pedals seem to ‘stick’ more, and that pushing the clutch in requires more force than normal. A clutch in need of repair can also lose the smoothness of a clutch in good condition; you might notice a ‘shakiness’ or jerking motion when the clutch moves from gear to gear, or even total loss of control at times, as the clutch slips out of gear entirely.
The clutch doesn’t usually last the lifespan of the car. Depending on the vehicle’s make and model, and how well the clutch is treated, the clutch may or may not last more than 50,000 miles. Even the climate of where you live and drive, and your commute-type can affect the clutch. A driver that sits in city traffic all day, inching along, uses the clutch a lot more than a driver that coasts down the highway. Hot weather also affects the usage of clutch fluid, and can cause the fluid to run thin much faster than in a cold climate.
If you haven’t noticed a gradual wearing-down of your clutch, and find yourself in a sudden clutch crisis – the clutch stops working entirely or you notice smoke or the smell of electrical fire underneath your hood, you’re likely in for a surprise clutch replacement.
This type of replacement is something that controls your daily driving experience, so it’s important to take this repair seriously. Locate a good mechanic shop, one that you trust. Since the cost of clutch replacement varies so widely, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, while getting the repair done right. Depending on the make and model, a clutch replacement can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Small sedans like the Honda Civic can run on the less expensive end of the spectrum, while more “driving-focused” cars like many BMW models can run into the thousands to replace the clutch. It’s best to have a relationship with a mechanic before you find yourself suddenly in need of their services. If you do find yourself in a bad clutch replacement situation, you can contact Ball Tire Co to get more information and even a quote on the repair costs. We’re ASE certified mechanics and NAPA – endorsed automotive repair establishments.
How to Get Honest Auto RepairsNovember 15, 2015
When you take your car in to the auto shop for servicing, you have every reason to expect to be treated with honesty and integrity. However, it’s pretty hard to know when you are lied to, over charged, or taken advantage of, when automotive care is not your expertise. So how do you know when you are getting honest auto repairs? It all boils down to the details.
What You Should Expect With Routine Maintenance
Taking your car into the auto shop for routine maintenance is always a good idea. It prolongs the car’s useful life, prevents larger repair bills, and it prevents you from having to deal with unexpected problems and expenses, or wondering whether or not you really need this repair. When you take your vehicle into the auto shop, the technician should tell you what services will be performed, how long it will take, and the cost. Honest auto shops want you to know these details and strive to perform the work as described.
What About Repairs?
Routine maintenance will extend the life of the vehicle, but like any other machine, eventually parts will fail and you will need repairs. An honest auto shop will provide a diagnosis of the problem, a description of the parts or services necessary to fix the problem, and an estimate of the time and cost. They shouldn’t start work without your authorization, and shouldn’t do anything outside of the scope of the agreement without your consent. Auto shops that deal with integrity will not have any problem being upfront and transparent in their dealings with you, and would be willing to show you broken and replaced parts, for example.
What About Additional Work?
When you bring your vehicle in for work, it’s not unusual to expect the technician to find additional problems. After all, the parts all work together to perform a task, so if one is broken or malfunctioning it will likely cause stress on another. Your repair technician should tell you what needs to be done, and it’s urgency. Some repairs might need to be done as part of regular maintenance and could be delayed, others might need immediate attention.
Bringing up needed repairs isn’t necessarily a sign that a repair shop is somehow dishonest. In fact, it may be just the opposite! A technician may bring up a needed repair because they have the necessary area accessible and a repair now can save you on labor. Another reason they may bring up needed repairs is that not having some things fixed could lead to unsafe driving conditions and they may be required to tell you of the danger. Other times, they may suggest repairs that could be of benefit to you such as ones that would provide better gas mileage or a smoother and safer ride.
In most cases, a shop will demonstrate honesty and integrity through their willingness to communicate and provide documentation about the work. It also takes a certain amount of trust from the vehicle owner, understanding the process and why a technician would make a recommendation.
TiresOctober 15, 2015
Tires (general about large selection of tires, and capable mechanics able to help you pick the best tires for your vehicle and driving needs)
Sometimes tires don’t get the time and consideration they deserve. We just buy them and count on them to serve us for a certain amount of miles. They deserve a lot more of our respect though; tries are one of the vehicle’s most important safety features and everything from the type to tread matters in the tire’s performance, and ultimately your safety. That’s why it makes sense to get help from automotive professionals when choosing tires.
There are Many Types of Tires
There are many types of tires. That’s great, right? It is if you know what tires are the right size and type for your car and driving considerations. Tires are more than a flexible rubber container for air. They actually have between 19 and 25 different components that make them well suited to a particular purpose and vehicle. You’ll need to match the tire’s attributes to your type of vehicle, load, driving conditions, driving style, and weather conditions to find one most suited to your needs.
What to consider in Tire Size
Buying the right size can also get a bit tricky. Whatever the tire quality you buy, it still must be able to carry the weight of your vehicle. Otherwise the tire is overworked and you risk a blowout. Never undersizes a tire.
Next, you need to consider the diameter of the tire. It’s especially important to take your vehicle in to the auto shop and talk to a qualified technician about which tire sizes will work on your vehicle. Newer vehicles have sensitive computer systems that depend on the tire size for accurate readings and responses.
What About Sets?
If you’re not getting a set of four new tires, talk to a capable mechanic for help in matching the new tires as closely as possible to the old ones. When you have the mechanic install them on the vehicle, ask them to find the reason one set wore out so much more quickly than the other. Worn tires can alert you to other problems that may need attention.
Driving Conditions and Driving Style
Another excellent reason to take your vehicle in to the auto shop when you need new tires is that your service technician not only knows the vehicle and driving conditions, they’re also familiar with your driving style. The technician can help choose the most appropriate tire for the particular stresses it will endure, which translates as better mileage, longer lasting tires, and better performance.
It’s pretty hard for most people to find the “perfect” tire because so many different elements are involved. Fortunately, making a great and economical decision is as as close as your nearest qualified technician!