Repair and Disrepair – When Cars Go Wrong

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The two extremes in mechanics jargon, when it comes to repair work, are Running Repair and Invisible Repair. A running repair, for instance, is a repair while a car is in use. An invisible repair is one that you can’t see anything ever went wrong. Normally, repairs on vehicles are somewhere between these.

As cars tend to be so expensive most people just want a repair that works, rather than one where you can’t see any damage. Many things like dents or bubbles in the windscreen may just be ignored; though having pride in your car is a good thing in itself, there’s a good reason to get things fixed while they’re still small issues. Not unlike seeing a dentist, you can put it off but you’re not saving yourself any money, in fact, you pay more in the end.

Some repairs are cheap but may need to be done every six months. Technically we call this preventative maintenance. This includes replacing the fuel filter or battery. Many parts are replaced because they wear out quickly while others are replaced because if they fail the results are more severe.

garage-943249_1920.jpgOther repairs, however, start out expensive from the moment you find out your car needs it. The most expensive job in the car is changing the cylinders which can cost about $10,000 on a standard car. Other expensive jobs are to change a battery on a car which works on hybrid fuel, replacing the transmission and replacing the entire suspension of a car (this might come as a surprise to the layman who might not know there is more than one kind of suspension).

When it comes to do-it-yourself, we find the good the bad and the urban legend. It’s not terribly difficult to replace your own air filter (at least the main one) and because this part should be replaced regularly and affects your fuel economy it’s a good candidate for a do-it-your-selfer. Things like a transmission go firmly into the category of things not to try at home.

When it comes to urban legends…there is a well-established idea that ladies’ tights or stockings can be used to repair fan-belts. This used to be essentially true. However, it might be quite hard to do in a modern car simply because it’s just so hard to find the fan belt. If you have to try this, stretch the tights or stockings as far as they can go, remove the old fan belt and run it around the pulleys that held the old fan belt. It will work better with more than one layer, so presumably, two pairs of tights work better than one. In the end, tie it up with a knot. Then drive immediately to a shop and have a proper fan belt installed.

Unless you simply can’t afford to have your car repaired always do so before selling your car. The value is restored, you’ll find buyers faster because not everyone has the ability to take on a non-running vehicle, and it’s highly unethical to not disclose things you know are wrong with a vehicle you’re selling. So avoid having to spend a bunch of ad space listing what doesn’t work.

And what about if fixing the car is too expensive or just can’t be done? Well, then it must be scrap time. An unrepairable car is issued a special certificate. Often the word “UNREPAIRABLE” emblazoned on its front. In order to obtain an unrepairable certificate, you need proof of ownership and filled in the correct paperwork, which differs from state to state. You also need to surrender the license plate which came with the vehicle. Unless you do this quickly (within ten days of when your car stops working) you may have to surrender your car.

It’s sad when a car goes to the wreckers, but that’s just the way of the world. It’ll happen to all cars one day.  Even yours.

Common Windshield Cracks & Chips

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Getting a cracked or chipped windshield isn’t the end of the world (or your paycheck)—assuming you address it right away. It’s very common and if it’s a small enough chip it can be easily fixed for a low cost in less than a minute. In fact, many insurance policies cover these minor dings without it impacting your rates or having you pay a deductible at all or you can find a great windshield crack promotion at reputable shops. However, things can go bad quickly if drivers don’t take swift action.

There are many causes of cracks and chips, whether it was a rock falling off a service truck, debris on the road “kicked up” by the car in front of you, or the neighborhood kids playing golf a little too close to your daily commuter. Oftentimes, if something hits the perimeter of a windshield, it can lead to a massive crack, but if the center glass is hit, that can mean a “starburst crack.”

From Bad to Worse

child-3593655_1920Crack type is determined by where on the windshield the object hit. “Floater cracks” can happen anywhere that’s farther than about two inches from the perimeter. They can be small but spread over time. “Edge” cracks are generally about a foot long and can form at impact. Aptly named, these cracks occur close to the edge of the windshield within two inches of the edge.

Other times a chip can turn into a crack. For the most part, cracks which are smaller than six inches can be fixed so there’s no need for windshield replacement. What most people don’t realize is that there are several types of cracks, and each one might require a different approach to fix. For example, there’s the “Bull’s Eye” which happens when a circular object makes the impact, and basically looks like a bigger chip.

Types of Cracks

A Combination Break is the name for several cracks and chips. A Ding is what many people say when they mean a chip. There’s also the Half Moon, which is kind of like a Bull’s Eye but not perfectly circular. It’s officially a Long Crack when it’s longer than six inches and almost always requires a replacement. The Stone Break usually begins as a chip but is solely caused by a stone or rock.

windshield-245281_1920Finally, there’s the Stress Crack. This can happen without the windshield being impacted by anything, and temperature extremes or swings are often to blame. If a car gets overheated simply idling in the sun, if the A/C is blasted too high and too long, or if you make the mistake of removing frost by pouring boiling water on it, Stress Cracks can happen. These cracks are mostly straight and can be tested with a pen—simply run a ballpoint pen across the crack and if it doesn’t dip, it’s a stress crack (with a stress crack, glass isn’t actually missing).

Finally

Seek a professional auto-glass repair tech to fix windows and if they advise you to have the window replaced, do it. Sometimes a crack can form between pre-existing chips and cause a window to fail quicker than you’d think.

5 Signs of a Fantastic Auto Shop

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It takes a lot more than comprehensive repair services to snag the title of best collision repair shop in town. Look for a body shop that has built a reputation based on both excellent results and world-class customer service. Unfortunately, a few bad apples mixed with old stereotypes has customers on their guard when considering mechanic shops. Stigmas about suggesting “repairs” that aren’t needed still linger around the industry, but do your research and you’ll know the shop you choose is trustworthy.

If and when the time comes that you need collision repair or classic car restoration, how can you be sure you’re getting the best? Here are a few signs you’re on the right track. Remember—it’s not just the best price or the most five-star reviews that lead you to the right shop. There’s a lot more to it than that.

  1. Jaw-Dropping Galleries

car-engine-3623831_1920If you really want to see what’s in store for you and your car, check out the shop’s galleries. Look for an impressive online portfolio showcasing the talents and skills of highly qualified technicians. From paintless dent removal to complete overhauls—taking junkers to collector status—there’s no job too big or small. The proof is in the pictures.

  1. They Work With Youglass-1749697_1920

A quality body shop has two priorities: Give the customer exactly what they want and keep them safe. Sometimes repairs are wanted purely for aesthetics. Sometimes they’re necessary to keep drivers safe behind the wheel. True professionals treat both of these priorities equally, which is what you deserve.

  1. Endless Testimonials, Referrals, and Reviews

It’s possible to “buy” positive reviews on third-party sites, so be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true. A genuinely high ranking shop has referrals and testimonials you can fact check if necessary. Our shop has countless happy customers who will gladly share their recommendations and are quick to show off their gleaming ride.

  1. Non-Pushy Staff Members

You shouldn’t feel like you fell into a snake pit when you take your car in for a free estimate. There shouldn’t be any pushy salespeople bullying you to choose them or “upselling” when all you wanted was a quote for a single dent removal. At a good shop, every customer and potential customer is treated like family. The team is there when you need it, never pushing add-ons and always revering transparency.

  1. They’ve Been Around the Block

car-2980039_1920It’s not enough to just go local and avoid the big chains. If you really want a flawless job, choose a company that’s been around for a while. Taking pride in their work, every project is treated with the utmost care.

Trusting your car to just anyone is a big mistake. It’s your baby, your first impression on dates and your go-to vehicle to get from Point A to Point B.

 

4 Benefits of Detailing Your Car

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Think auto detailing is a “splurge” or something you should only do when you’re getting ready to sell?

That’s like thinking you can do just as good of a job professionally cleaning your house, landscaping your yard, or doing your hair. Yes, practice can mean you do a better job each time—but is it worth it? Professional auto detailers have more experience, better tools, and much more practice than you could ever muster on your own.

In fact, there are many benefits to regular auto detailing that the average driver overlooks. Yes, it’s important to get your car washed on a regular basis (especially during rain seasons!) and spending a few quarters on the vacuuming machine can pick up major crumbs and debris. However, that DIY approach is more like maintenance in between regular details. Here are a few benefits to detailing you’re probably overlooking and why you (and your ride) deserve better:cleaning-1837328__340

  1. Get Rid of Scratches

From falling pine cones to setting that shopping bag on the hood for “just a minute” your car looks nothing like it did brand new—but it can. Only a professional exterior detailing can remove tiny scratches, minimize paint fading, and address any swirls that might have appeared. Plus, it helps ensure that your car stays in prime condition for longer. Only trained professionals know exactly what materials and solutions to use for your paint job and can dish up those kinds of results.

  1. Stay Cleaner Longer

cleaning-1837333_1920An object in motion tends to stay in motion—and a car that’s clean tends to stay clean. The reality is that the cleaner your car is, the longer it will stay that way. Thanks to protective treatments that resist dirt as well as the desire to keep that gorgeous shine going as long as possible, this is a healthy habit to get into.

  1. Boost Your Mood, Self-Esteem, Confidence and Success

There’s no denying that a detailed car catches admiring glances. Many owners are shocked at just how good their car can look after a proper detailing (and not just a run through the car wash). However, aesthetics can do more than have you admiring your car in a store window while parked at a stop light. Just like how you’re more confident when you’re looking your best, you can get the same boost form a great looking car.

  1. Retain the Car’s Value

Whether you’re looking to sell right now or not, a car that’s maintained has a higher value. You might get a sudden offer in a parking lot you can’t refuse when your car is detailed. You might fall in love with a new car on a whim and want maximum trade-in value. Detailing is curb appeal for your car, and it’s something you should prioritize if you want the most bang for your buck.

 

Bear in mind that not all detailers are created equally. Do your research and choose a shop that specializes in customized detailing packages with glowing reviews. After all, if their reviews aren’t sparkling, what does that say about their detailing?

 

Budgeting Car Maintenance

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Cars require a lot of upkeep, and just like your own body the more TLC and preventative care that’s provided, the longer it will keep running. However, keeping up with the costs of car maintenance can be a challenge. This is especially true of many luxury cars and foreign-made cars in which parts might come at a high price. How can you enjoy the car of your dreams while making sure there’s money in the budget for routine maintenance?

Start by considering the upsides of different manufacturers. For example, BMW parts might be more expensive than Ford parts, but the manufacturer warranties and upkeep programs might more than make up for this disparity. Customer service is a cornerstone of every business, including car manufacturers. Make sure you read the fine print and know exactly what maintenance perks may be included.

Sage advice

You’ve probably heard countless times that oils needs to be changed every three months, but that’s not necessarily true. That’s what many mechanics may want you to believe, but it all depends on the make and model of the car. Read the owner’s manual in detail, because the company that makes the car has the best advice on care. Not all machines are created equally.automotive-1159508_1920

At the same time, consider dedicating a bank account solely to vehicle maintenance. Just like you put a certain amount of each paycheck towards savings, retirement, or a vacation fund, make sure you’re not caught by surprise in case a car emergency pops up. Something like a popped tire or clutch going out can cause big problems if you’re not prepared. Budgeting for big ticket items is always smart, and if you don’t need the funds, that’s just extra savings.

Do your research

Before buying a car, look beyond the fuel economy and safety ratings. What do owners say are the most common problems? How often is routine maintenance recommended, and will you be the one paying for it or will the manufacturer? Some vehicles are more demanding than others, and you need to compare those figures with your own maintenance budget (in other words, an old Delorean may be your dream car, but it’s also a financial black hole).

A fully functioning car isn’t just a convenience, but a requirement for many. It’s how you get to the office, escape to your weekend warrior activities and shuttle the kids to soccer games. Don’t skimp on maintenance; make sure you’re prepared and financially ready to take care of your freedom on wheels.