Archive for the ‘Car Maintenance’ Category
To promote the growing importance of safety and road awareness, 27th January – 2nd February marks Car Safety Week in the UK. That’s not to say however, that the rest of the world shouldn’t be taking into consideration the valuable points raised on, and off the road at all times.
Each year as the roads worldwide get busier, the statistics of collisions and fatalities rise. Whether it’s the increasing number of cyclists fighting for space with fellow drivers, or prevented issues like drink driving and poor car maintenance, Car Safety Week works by exploring how you can not only make sure your car is the safest it can be on the road, but also how to minimise the risks of being behind the wheel.
Although it’s classified as one of the obvious points for car and road safety, it still remains one of the most common. How many of us can say we have driven tired before? It doesn’t necessarily mean you need the apparent warning signs of struggling to keep your eyes open – lack of sleep over one night is enough to affect your reaction time whilst driving.
A study conducted at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who get less than five hours sleep at night where four to five times more likely to get in a car crash. Studies have found that driver alertness is related to the ‘time of day’ more than the ‘time-on-task’ which means drivers are less alert at night, especially after midnight. The body’s natural drowsiness may be enhanced if you have been on the road for an extended period of time.
To remain alert and avoid slow reaction time and impaired judgement it’s recommended you get sufficient amount of sleep before driving (at least six hours but eight hours is recommended). Watch out for medications that cause drowsiness and limit your time on the road between midnight and 6am if possible. If you are feeling sleeping, schedule a break every two hours, get someone else to drive or opt for public transport or a lift.
One of the most important ways of keeping a car safe is through effective car maintenance and auto services. Like the working parts of a human body, the insides of a car need to have regular checks to keep it ‘healthy’ and running both safely, and smoothly.
The engine is the heart of your car so should be looked over by professionals – if it doesn’t work then your car is useless. Regular engine checks will ensure it’s up to speed and in safe working order. Checking brakes should also be part of your basic car maintenance, this is crucial for safety reasons. Low brake fluid levels can cause soft brake pedals resulting in serious car crashes.
All drivers should be aware of how to carry out a simple tyre check. Tyres play an extremely important role in increasing driver safety, and keeping fuel costs down. A regular check of the tyre pressure and tread depth will improve fuel economy and encourage a safer vehicle. By law, tread depth of your tyres should be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters for all cars and vans.
Child Seat Safety
It’s not just your own actions as a driver and the condition of your car though, it’s even more vital for drivers to take responsibility and consider other passengers in the vehicle too.
If you have children or driving children around in your car it’s up to you, as the driver, to know the car seat laws in your state. Four out of five child car seats are used incorrectly so having a certified technician to check its installation is highly recommended.
If you are a parent, the safety of your children is questioned from the moment an infant car seat is installed through to the day they graduate to no-car-seat. If you are purchasing or using a second-hand seat, make sure it still complies with the manufactures safety standards. Child car seats should not be used in the front seat and should be disposed of if they have been in a crash.
Common ‘killer’ distractions that can be avoided are becoming a leading cause of car crashes. It may seem like an innocent text, a quick phone call to let someone know you’re on your way, or a few beers with mates that can lead into your life – and someone else’s – changed forever.
These killer distractions are fast tracking to be the new ‘drink driving’. Whist the safe drivers may be mindful of the obvious – being on your mobile phone and drink driving – many of us forget that it’s small distraction habits we are all guilty of doing at least once, that are dragging our attention from the roads.
Your quick stop through drive through for a burger and a coke is labelled as a hazardous driving habit. Second to kids, pets have also clawed their way into the 10 most dangerous distracted driving habits whether it be transporting them to the vet or moving house. Innocently daydreaming when you’re on your autopilot routine drive is the second highest killer distraction, so how do we beat these common movements? It’s simply about being aware of them, how they’re distracting you and eliminating as many as we can.
Whilst we can’t control what other people do on the road, from the innocent child that runs out to grab their ball, to the reckless driver or simple the inexperienced, we can take matters into our own hands to avoid as many accidents as possible.
The basics, sticking to the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt are all there in place to avoid those nasty situations. It’s no grand news that you’re twice as likely to die in a crash if you don’t wear your seatbelt, yet so many people ‘forget’ or don’t make it a priority. By law, you must wear a seatbelt in cars and goods vehicles where one is fitted. There are very few exceptions to this.
A simple request for a $26.99 oil change ended up costing 94-year-old Helen Turner over $800 when she handed the keys to her 2004 Subaru Impreza over to an employee at a local Midas shop in Farmington, Connecticut.
Aside from the $26.99 oil change, Midas charged $297.24 to replace four spark plugs ($63.13 each in labor costs) and $398.02 ($263.03 for labor) to replace the valve cover gasket. The extra repairs, minus a $50 discount coupon for the repairs, cost $725.25.
Turner, who says she felt fearful and intimidated, agreed only to the work the Midas representative told her was essential.
‘He came out and said I need it done,” she says. “I’m 94 years old. I figured, ‘Gee, I need a car. I better get it fixed.’ Then he said there’s a lot more that needs to be done on it, bring it back next week. I told him I’m not going to bring it back right away. I was afraid of the guy because if I argued with him he’d take the car and make it worse.”
Turner eventually questioned whether the work was even done. Though the itemized bill, obtained by The Bottom Line, indicated Turner was at Midas for 2 hours, 9 minutes, she says her car was worked on only a fraction of that time.
“After he changed the oil,” she says, “he came in to me and said, ‘Well, we’re going to start on the other job now. It’s going to take 2 1/2 hours. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have to sit here for 2 1/2 hours.’ And he came back in 20 minutes and said, ‘It’s all done.’ I said, ‘I thought you said 2 1/2 hours. He just smiled and put the keys on the counter.” Hartford Courant, 22 Dec 2012.
Thanks to a friend and the Hartford Courant, Tuner was able to get the bill reduced to a mere $400, but she still isn’t a happy customer.
Moral of the story?
For customers, find a trusted mechanic, check your bill carefully, and if in doubt, say no and wait for the service as long as the delayed repair won’t damage your car or risk your life. We recommend our own CarHelp.com referral service for the best rated mechanics in your area.
For mechanics, treat your customers as if they were your own 94-year-old grandmother. Don’t upsell them, make sure they’re aware of the cost before you do the service, and hire a great reputation management company for car dealerships and mechanics, like *ahem* CarHelp.com.
Image: Stock Photo via Hartford Courant
I found this great article on lowering the cost of car repairs, and thought I would pass them along to my fellow female drivers. We’ve covered tips on car maintenance before, but it never hurts to have a refresher. Plus, these are great common sense ideas for lowering that yearly maintenance bill. I’ve linked related articles from the CarHelp archives!
Deseret News recommends:
1. Take it to a professional when you know something needs attention – Find a reputable mechanic. Get an estimate. Let them know you’re on a budget, and ask for ways to reduce that bill.
2. Buy parts yourself – Get the names of the needed parts from your mechanic, then order them online at cut-rate prices.
3. Buy refurbished parts – If you can, go with refurbished or generic brand parts. Again, ask your mechanic before purchasing. He’ll know when this isn’t a good idea.
3. Do minor repairs yourself – Use a repair manual and figure out how to replace a headlight or fuse yourself.
4. Maintain your car – Get the oil changed, rotate the tires, etc. This will keep your car in top running condition.
Share your best tips for lowering a repair bill on the CarHelp Facebook page.
A car owners manual is one of those resources that can save a lot of time and money when making minor (or major) car repairs. Used cars are frequently missing an owners manual, and for older models, these must have books for car maintenance and repairs can be hard to track down. Paper versions can be purchased, but typically cost anywhere from $10-30. I was excited when I saw that Edmunds.com posted a comprehensive list of resources for car owner manuels. A majority of the car owners manuals are free to download or print.
Looking for savings on oil changes, car service and repair, and maintenance service? Our friends over at Precision Tune Auto Care have you covered. They regularly offer savings through their email newsletter and website. Just go to the website, sign up for the newsletter or search for a shop in your area for deals. They vary by shop, so make sure to check all shops located near your home or work for available coupons. Over 30 Precision Tune Auto Care shops in California, Oregon, and Washington are loyal Carhelp service providers. Which means all work is guaranteed for 12 months or 12,000 miles.
Own a 2010 Subaru Forester? Live in California? You might fail emissions tests if a software update isn’t installed.
The Wall Street Journal had this to say about the issue:
Q: I own a 2010 Subaru Forester and just received a letter from the Subaru of America Inc. that said: “Subaru has developed a modification to the Engine Control Module software logic that will improve the performance of your vehicle’s emission control system.” The letter went on to say that this software update is intended to improve vehicle emissions when the vehicle is operated in cold weather and the engine is restarted within short periods of time. They’re asking me to take my vehicle to the dealership to have the Engine Control Module reprogrammed. Is it necessary?
—Mrs. P. Casey, Colorado Springs, Colo.
A: Subaru sent recall notices out for the Forester because of an engine-control problem that could keep the catalytic converter, which helps clean the car’s emissions, from operating efficiently. The problem could result in vehicles failing to meet California emissions standards, but should be addressed in cars elsewhere as well. The dealer should make the fix free of charge.
Information via “My Car & Me” at WSJ.com
Gas prices getting you down? Complete this checklist to improve your overall gas mileage by at least 10%.
3% – Keep your tires properly inflated. “Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires.”
1-2% - Use the recommended motor oil for your car. “Using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1–2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1–1.5 percent.”
5% – Slow down when accelerating and drive less aggressively. “For a typical family sedan…it appears that aggressive driving at city speeds causes a 6% fuel economy penalty.”
6% – (estimated) Keep your emissions as low as possible and get car repairs done promptly. While the study results were pretty conclusive, the data wasn’t recorded properly. However, based on this data lowering fuel emissions and keeping your car in proper running condition will greatly increase fuel economy.
information from fueleconomy.gov
Ah, fall. The leaves are changing, the temperatures are drop…..Wait a second, wasn’t it just spring?! Maybe I’m jumping the gun just a bit with fall. We still have a solid month before the autumn equinox (the unofficial start of Fall), and here in the south the temperatures are still solidly in the 90′s. But it’s never too early to prepare. So Carhelp is here with a few maintenance tips to get your car prepared for cooler fall temperatures.
1. Change your oil. Every 3,500 miles. Ignore suggestions that tell you to let it wait until 7 or even 10,000 miles have passed. According to this article on Yahoo! Auto, most city driving qualifies as “severe” driving, which means ever 3,500 miles is the optimal time to change oil. Increase your gas mileage slightly (about 1-2 percent) by using the proper grade of oil.
2. Check tire inflation. Poorly inflated tires reduce gas mileage and reduce control while driving. Keep them inflated for better gas mileage and better safety.
3. Check wiper blades. Fall means more precipitation than the dry summer months. Make sure your blades aren’t worn out and can withstand a heavy rain.
4. Check and replace the air filter. These should be changed a maximum of every 15,000 miles. Fall is a great time to do this to get rid of all of the pollen, dust and gunk from spring and summer.
5. Get your weak A.C. fixed. Call around and see if any shops are running an “end of summer” special on air conditioning. Don’t wait or forget until the weather heats up again and prices reflect the increase demand.
The car industry doesn’t have a reputation for being female friendly. Considering that females “purchase 65% of all new cars” and “influence 95% of all auto purchases”, there’s room for an auto industry that targets female customers. [Source] Especially as most auto advertising specifically targets males, and most shops and dealerships are male owned.
Those trends are changing, and one of the frontrunners is Demeny Pollitt of Girlington Garage. She founded her female friendly shop in 2009 and has experienced some pretty amazing customer growth since opening.
Banks laughed at her when she applied for loans, but in 2009, with a little financial help from her parents, Pollitt opened Girlington Garage in South Burlington, Vermont. And now, business is booming. The garage has experienced a 40-percent increase in sales since December 2009, and the garage’s customer base grew from 860 to 2,700 during the same period, says Donna Cacace, Girlington’s co-owner and Pollitt’s mother. The business is growing so fast that they are increasing the staff — currently five full-time employees, three of them women, plus a few tech apprentices — and making equipment purchases, which likely will mean a dip in profits this year. But the customers keep coming: ”We have very loyal customers and on any given day 75 to 80 percent of our customers are current and 20 to 25 percent are new so at least for a while, we will continue to grow at a brisk pace in this area,” Cacace says. [Source]
Her goal was to provide a repair experience that built trust with customers through education and quality service. The shop amenities include full service on any models, a dog friendly environment, free organic coffee and wi-fi, free shuttles, and a children’s play area.