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Keeping You And Your Vehicle Cool In The Heat Of Summer

Posted on 08/20/2013

The Air Conditioning

Yes…the heat is on once again and a lot of people are experiencing the summertime blues already because their air conditioning is failing in their cars.  Many assume this is going to cost big bucks! This isn’t always the case.  Don’t just assume it will be bad news and certainly don’t suffer the heat needlessly.

When checking out your air conditioning system a repair shop will look for certain things:

  1. Is it low in refrigerant?
  2. Is the compressor engaged?
  3. Is the motor that controls the blend air door working properly?

Overheating

Summertime is great as long as we remember to drink our fluids and not become overheated.  Our cars have the same issue!  It isn’t an unusual sight to see an overheated vehicle sitting alongside the road with steam pouring from underneath the hood on a hot day!

If this happens to you here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Pull over as soon as possible so the engine can cool down.
  • Open the hood to allow the steam to disperse.
  • DO NOT open the radiator cap until the engine is cool or you will get a steam burn!
  • Check the coolant tank and fill if needed if you happen to have coolant and water with you and you feel confident that you are doing it correctly.  Some cars don’t have a tank but just the radiator.  If this is the case allow the radiator to completely cool before you check the coolant level.
  • If you were not able to refill the reservoir it is best to get your vehicle towed.  If you feel you must drive it or are close by a repair shop, be sure to drive with the air conditioning turned off and the heater turned on full blast.  This takes the heat away from the engine.  Do not attempt to drive it in stop and go traffic, however.

The best way to handle this situation is not to let it happen.  Preventive maintenance is always so much better than the hassle of repair.

Your car care provider is an expert when it comes to helping you and your car keep cool this summer!

The Cost Of Owning A Car Is On The Rise!

Posted on 08/20/2013

If your car is paid for, congratulations! It is also nice to know they aren’t depreciating as much these days in value. Not having a car payment is always a nice break for the budget. It still costs to own one, however and AAA did a recent study that shows it can cost you anywhere from $7,000 to over $11,000 just to fuel, maintain and insure your vehicle, depending on the make and model you drive.

Here is a breakdown of AAA’s calculations based on the average cars on our roads today driving 15,000 miles per year:

• Sedans (most popular) costs 60.8 cents per mile or $9,122 annually
• Small sedans costs $6,967 annually
• Four-wheel drive sport utility costs $11,599 annually
• Large sedans costs $11,248 annually
• Minivans costs $9,795 annually

Parts and labor rose significantly this past year making average maintenance costs increase by 11.26 percent for sedan owners. This increase costs 4.97 cents per mile. This cost includes parts and labor to repair and an extended warranty. Extended warranty prices have increased due to high losses by underwriters.

Insurance has risen as well but it varies widely based on driving records. The increase overall is 2.76 percent or $1,029 annually for the average sedan driver.

Fuel costs continue to rise but many cars are seeing better gas mileage these days. The increase due to miles-per-gallon improvements have risen 1.93 percent or 14.45 cents per mile for the average sedan owner. This average is based on unleaded gas in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Tire costs have stabilized at one penny per mile for tires as manufacturing and shipping costs have leveled off.

This is the report for now and we will compare this to next year’s costs and see how we do.

Check Engine Light – Ignore It Or Fix It?

Posted on 08/20/2013

When drivers years ago first saw their check engine light illuminate they not only paid attention to it, they panicked.  Many immediately pulled their car over to the side of the road and called for help.  Now many drivers simply ignore it.  It may be annoying to see it illuminated all the time but they get by.  Some drivers have even chosen to cover it up with a piece of duct or electrical tape (yeah…I’ve seen that!).

When your check engine light illuminates it shouldn’t be ignored.  No…you don’t need to panic and call for a tow truck but you do need to get it checked out.  It is telling you that one of your vehicle’s systems needs attention! Here are the possible systems:

  • Ignition System
  • Fuel Injector
  • Emission Control
  • Faulty Oxygen Sensor
  • Mass Air Flow Sensor
  • Spark Plugs and Wires

Your car in many ways is a multi-computer system on wheels and when a light of any sort illuminates it is telling you something is not right and that it has done all it can do to correct the problem.  When a car is brought in to our shop we connect it to a diagnostic scan tool and our technicians analyze the data streams.  These include:

  • Idle Speed
  • Throttle Response
  • Engine Temperature
  • Fuel System Pressure
  • Manifold Vacuum
  • Exhaust Emission Levels
  • Other Key Indicators

The scan tool gives them trouble codes stating why the check engine light illuminated.  The technicians can then correct the problem and reset your car’s computer. Ignoring the light can cause serious problems down the road that require an expensive repair and at the very least it plays havoc with your fuel economy.

One word of caution…never ignore a flashing check engine light!  This is when you need to pull over immediately and call us for a tow!  This indicates a critical problem such as catalytic converter damage!

When it comes to your vehicle’s illuminated check engine light…don’t ignore it…bring it in and let us check it out for you!

Maintaining “Old Faithful” Makes Dollars And Cents

Posted on 08/20/2013

Your car, “old faithful” is paid off or almost paid off. You toy with the idea of buying a new one but would really like using that monthly money for other things. You like the look and smell of a new vehicle, we all do, but does anyone really like the payments that come with it? In today’s economy people are thinking twice before financing a new vehicle that they may be able to do without until times are more stable. Taking better care of your current car definitely makes a difference in the long run when it comes to your finances.

“We advise our clients that if they want a 10 percent increase on their investments every year, they need to cut down on their expenses. A new automobile is, for most people, their second biggest investment next to a home, so a great way to save money and increase financial assets is to hang onto their current vehicle rather than buy a new one every few years. Budgeting for and doing preventative maintenance on your car is one of the best ways to cut your costs and keep your car.”
~Terry Mulcahy, vice president of investments for R.W. Baird

The Car Care Council estimates that over $60 billion each year is not being spent on vehicle maintenance that should be! This tells us that consumers are not protecting their investment and more importantly, there are a lot of unsafe vehicles on our nation’s highways. We’ve all driven behind a car that is spewing black smoke as it meanders down the expressway. It isn’t pleasant for the rest of us sharing the road with them and it is bad for the environment plus we know a costly repair is in their future if they don’t take care of the problem right away.

Quarterly preventative maintenance and the occasional repair, costs so little when compared to monthly payments on a brand new car. A maintained car saves you money in gasoline, too! It is more reliable and more valuable when you decide to get a new car. Not only does preventative maintenance benefit you financially, it is a great way to have a ‘greener’ car without the expensive car payment to go with it! When your car is paid off, it is in what we call the ‘Cinderella Era’ and this is when your car becomes an asset to you if you keep up with the routine maintenance and repairs.

A Runzheimer International study shows that trading a vehicle every eight years instead of every four can save more than $2,481.75 a year after the payoff. That includes repairs and maintenance, license, registration, taxes and insurance. In this economy that is good news! If dollars and cents are as important to you right now as they are to most of us, take care of “old faithful” and “old faithful” will be there for you!

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