Sunday, March 31, 2013

Collision Repair Makes Your Car Like New

Getting into an auto accident is definitely not a fun experience. No one plans for it, no one is happy about it - it is one of life's major inconveniences. However, if no one is injured, the priority is getting the car repaired as quickly as possible. One of the benefits that no one thinks about is that you car may look like new.

Possible Auto Repairs After a Crash

The severity of the crash often dictates the needed repairs, but even in minor accidents, there may be costly and extensive repairs required. Here are some thoughts on the most common types of repairs after an accident.

Frame Damage

A bent frame can be one of the most problematic issues after an accident. Many experts believe that a car is never the same after the frame is bent. However, new technology has made frame repair both an art and a science. You can check on a repair shops art by checking reviews and testimonials n the Internet or with friends and peers. You can make sure they have the have the best science by checking to see if they have an efficient pulling system that can pull from 360 degrees and in multiple directions at once. If one mechanic hooks up the front end to his pickup truck and another mechanic hooks up the back to a different pickup, and then they both try to drive in different directions, that is not art or science - it is time for you to try a different shop as quickly as possible!

Mechanical Problems

Though we usually think of damage on the outside when involved in a car crash, there is often damage to the wheels, the suspension system, and occasionally parts of the engine. Many auto body shops will send this type of work out to specialists; if they do, find out who they send it to and then do some research on these businesses. If you find any negative reviews or issues, you can ask that it be sent somewhere else, or you can take your business to the next shop down the road. Remember, knowledge is power; the more you know, the closer to new your car will look and operate when the repairs are completed.

Cosmetic Surgery for Cars

Many accidents only result in cosmetic damage, but most people don't like to drive around town without a bumper or with a crumpled door. Sometimes the repairs can be done without a paint job, but if a paint job is needed, make sure that the body shop has a modern facility that can handle more than one car at a time. This prevents the job from taking an excessive amount of time and usually results in less cost and inconvenience to the driver. A skilled and experience paint specialist can make your car look like new when finished.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Would Your Car Benefit from Premium Gas?

On this community episode of Saturday Mechanic Ben and Russ answer Ryan's question about whether he should use premium fuel in his Toyota Corolla.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Most Underride Guards Fail to Stop Deadly Crashes

New crash tests: Underride guards on most big rigs leave passenger vehicle occupants at risk in certain crashes

Modern semitrailers for the most part do a good job of keeping passenger vehicles from sliding underneath them, greatly increasing the chances of surviving a crash into the back of a large truck, recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show. But in crashes involving only a small portion of the truck's rear, most trailers fail to prevent potentially deadly underride.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring - Time For an Auto Tune Up

Hang the snow shovel in the back corner, put the ice scraper on the shelf. Check out the daffodils and get ready for Spring. Old man winter has buried his head for this season. It is time for convertibles, picnics, and the beach.

Before you go too far down that Spring road, remember to get your car ready for Spring as well. You do not want to find yourself along the road with the hood up waiting for a tow.

Go to your nearest auto shop and get a spring preventative maintenance review.

Gas prices are going to continue to go up so anything we can do to keep the auto in top working order will save money in the long run. Check and replace the air filter. A dirty air filter will cause a decrease in mileage and is an easy item to forget.

Replace the oil and filter. Check the fuel injectors and fuel filter. Check all the hoses and belts. If any wear replace now rather than waiting until they break down.

Top all fluids. Check cooling system fluid and replace if necessary or add if low. Check the battery. Are the terminals making good contact?

How are the tires? Notice any unusual wear. Are the tires properly inflated? Did you use a special winter tire. If so time to change back.

What about the outside of the car. Check for any dings that should be repaired. Give your vehicle a thorough cleaning inside and out. Clean the mats of all the road salt and vacuum the seats of all the accumulated debris.

Give your car some special care with a car wax or a car sealant to recover the showroom luster lost from the winter months.

With a little attention now, your car will be ready for the good times.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Top Ten Worst Things You Can Do To Your Vehicle

According to professional mechanics, neglecting proper maintenance and service is a leading cause of mechanical issues. Many high cost repair issues and emergencies can be prevented by avoiding these top ten worst things.

  1.  Ignore the Check Engine Light - Check engine lights are designed to warn a driver of a malfunction detected in the computer. Though the lights can temporarily flash in error, if they stay on there is an issue with the auto that needs to be diagnosed. The software gives an error code to mechanic's through a scan tool and can be easily identified.  
  2. Neglect Regular Maintenance - Service plans are designed to encourage owners to keep their vehicles in working order. These check ups are not only for performing regular maintenance. It is not uncommon to find that keeping maintenance up is a requirement to keep a car's warranty valid. 
  3. Have Improper Tire Pressure - The tire pressure should be kept within the acceptable limits based on the specifications. Not only does improper tire pressure decrease fuel efficiency, it speeds up the wear on the tire. Vehicles with properly inflated tires will be better on fuel and get more use from the tires. The limits are listed in the owner's manual and can also be obtained from knowledgeable mechanics. 
  4. Let Vehicle Run Low on Fluids - Beyond the regular oil change many of a vehicles's systems require fluid to function properly. One of the worst things you can do is neglect to keep them clean and at proper levels. Each of these can be easily checked during scheduled maintenance, are a task that you can do at home, can be checked by professional mechanics, and may be covered under a car's warranty. This may be called "coolant and fluid services" yet includes maintenance of the; transmission, brake, coolant, and power steering fluids. Review your scheduled maintenance guide to determine when to get coolant and fluid services done. 
  5. Using Generic Replacement Parts - Cars are designed to function with the quality parts that they were originally built with. Replacing these with less quality parts can result in increased wear and the higher instance of malfunction. This danger goes beyond parts in just systems designed for safety like the brake. Generic parts may also be prohibited in a car's warranty. 
  6. Ignore Transmission Issues - The transmission is designed to last through hundreds of thousands of miles. Ignoring transmission care is one of the most expensive mistakes an owner can make. Regular flushing of the transmission fluid lengthens its life and prevents emergencies caused by ignoring transmission maintenance. 
  7. Not Changing the Oil - Oil lubricates the engine, lengthening its life and preventing damaging build up. It is part of a scheduled maintenance plan and is easy to change. Though opinions on when to change the oil vary each car model has different guidelines. You can find the appropriate oil change schedule in your owner's manual. 
  8. Leaving a Dirty Air Filter - Air filters help remove dirt and dust from the intake, allowing the engine to receive cleaner air. They should be changed every 20,000 or as needed and are easily accessed and inspected visually. The cost to replace air filters is minimal yet neglecting it can result in higher repair costs. Both the oxygen sensor and catalytic converter can become damaged if this filter is not replaced. 
  9. Using Unqualified Mechanic - Though work by an unqualified mechanic may be cheaper, repairs that are not completed properly can be immensely dangerous. Not only can they cause malfunctions but they may result in accidents that can put drivers and passengers at risk of injury. 
  10. Driving Overheated - An overheated vehicle can be caused by minor issues such as a hose that needs to be replaced. Diagnosing the issue may require a mechanic's assistance though hose replacements are generally inexpensive. Continuing to drive while overheated can eventually cause a crack in the engine block or a blown gasket. Either of these scenarios will costs thousands to repair. 

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Beyond Airbags: Crash Technology

The NTSB says the time is ripe for the government to require crash avoidance systems in all cars. Sandra Endo reports.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

IIHS Crash Test Results for Midsize Family Cars

Family cars trump luxury models in new crash test; 13 cars earn 2013 TOP SAFETY PICK+ award

A group of moderately priced midsize cars outperformed most of their luxury counterparts in a challenging new frontal crash test conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) on 2013 models. Of the 18 midsize family cars evaluated in the small overlap test, two earn the top rating of good, 11 earn acceptable, three earn marginal, and two are poor. To reward 2013 models with superior crash protection, IIHS has created the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award, with the + indicating good or acceptable performance in the new small overlap test. So far, 13 models qualify for the accolade.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

9 Maintenance Tips To Extend Your Car's Life

Having a basic maintenance program for your vehicle is essential in order to keep your car running efficiently for a long time. In these tough economic times, most people are trying to get the most out of all their purchases. Automobiles are one of the largest purchases people will make and it is important to take care of your vehicle to ensure it lasts for many years. However, it has become increasingly difficult for the do-it-yourself mechanic to take proper care of today's automobiles. Twenty-first century cars are complex machines for which problems can be difficult to diagnose and repair. It has become almost impossible for the average backyard mechanic to keep a vehicle in optimum running condition.

There are some very important things you can do to ensure a smoothly running vehicle for as long as you own it. The first step is to find and get acquainted with a trusted and competent mechanic in your area. Having someone you trust, who has a good reputation, and fair pricing is like having a trusted family doctor. Once you have found a good mechanic, here are some important regular checks for the health of your vehicle.

1.) Every time you fill up your tank, check your oil level. Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle and checking it on a regular basis will ensure that it never drops below proper levels.

2.) Every 3000 miles you should change your oil and check your belts, hoses, and fluids (brake, power steering, and transmission).

3.) Every two years you should check your engine coolant, spark plugs, fuel filter, air filter, and all fluids and hoses.

4.) In addition to these regular checks, it is essential to read your owners manual and follow the basic checks and maintenance guidelines outlined by the manufacturer.
The basics of vehicle safety include an awareness of some of the important components of an automobile. Checking these vital components on a regular basis will ensure that you notice problems quickly and can get them fixed before them become larger (and more expensive) issues.

5.) Tires. Make sure they stay inflated to the proper pressure. Check tread depth and look for any uneven wear. Your spare tire should also be checked occasionally.

6.) Lights. Every month or so, you should walk around the car at night and make sure that all lights, including the turn signals and the emergency flashers, are working properly. You may need some assistance to check the brake and back up lights.

7.) Brakes. When stopping, notice any chances in the feel of the brakes. Also listen for any noises.

8.) Suspension and steering. While driving, if you notice any looseness or hear any rattles, get your car checked immediately.

9.) Warning Lights. If any warning lights come on, find out what it means immediately by reading the owners manual. You should have your mechanic check out any problem indicated by a warning light.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Automobile Insurance - The Liability, Comprehensive, Collision Quagmire

Knowing what auto insurance you are required to have is easy. Ask any insurance agent or look it up on your state's insurance commissioner website. However, knowing what insurance coverage you should carry is much murkier; it can be a real quagmire for many people. Everyone needs to have car insurance because it is the law; this law makes sure that everyone is financially responsible for any mistakes they make while driving. Driving is not a right, it is privilege, and insurance coverage is something you must maintain to continue to enjoy that privilege.

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is the one type that is mandated by law. Liability insurance covers injuries to other people and their property up to a specified limit. If you are in an accident and determined to be at fault, liability coverage will pay medical expenses for any injuries suffered by others and for any repairs needed to the other driver's vehicle.

Collision Coverage

Collision insurance is not mandated by law, but is an important type of coverage for many drivers. This type of insurance will cover the driver's vehicle in the event of an accident that is determined to be the driver's fault. The driver will then pay the selected deductible and the rest is paid by the insurance company. Collision is often required if you are leasing or financing a vehicle. Drivers who own an older car that is paid in full, may consider dropping collision coverage because the insurance benefit is limited to the cash value of your car.

Comprehensive Coverage

Like collision coverage, comprehensive insurance is not mandated by law and is up to the discretion of the automobile owner. Comprehensive insurance covers most everything other than collision damages. This damages include fire, theft, vandalism, hail, and many others. Just like collision coverage, if you have a newer car, it is a good decision to carry comprehensive coverage, but as your car gets older and decreases in value, it may be time to consider dropping this type of coverage.

Other Types of Coverages

Most insurance carriers, for an additional fee, offer a few different types of insurance. The two most common ones are towing and rental. With towing coverage, you can have your vehicle towed to a repair shop or your house in case of a breakdown. With rental coverage, your insurance company will pay for you to have a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.

Paying insurance is not a pleasurable experience for most people. However, it is mandated by law and essential in case of an accident. Insurance companies have made it easier than ever to pay your bill. It can be paid in one lump sum or monthly. It can be paid online, in person, or through the mail. With good driver discounts and fierce competition in the industry, there are reasonable rates available for most drivers. Car insurance can be a real quagmire, but the more you know, the less likely you will make the wrong decision.


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Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Ensure An Autobody or Repair Job Is Completed Correctly The First Time

Car accidents are not only frightening, but they can also be emotionally and financially exhausting. Even if you end up with no injuries, most likely your car has sustained some damage and needs to be taken to a repair shop. Taking your vehicle to a repair shop can be frustrating, complicated, and time-consuming. If you have a professional auto body mechanic who is trustworthy and honest, then you are ahead of most people. If you need to look for an auto repair shop, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you find the right shop and get your repair done right... the first time!

An Estimate is not a Guesstimate!
When a repair shop gives you an estimate, it should be detailed, comprehensive, and easily explained. The mechanic should be able to clearly answer any questions you have. When the job is completed, the final paperwork should match the estimate; any discrepancies should be explained and resolved before payment is given.

Shopping Around is Worth the Effort.
Before you decide on a repair shop, you should get at least three estimates. In most states, insurance carriers are not allowed to limit you choices to their own network of shops - they may suggest, but the law forbids them to demand. When shopping around, consider the prices, the time, the cleanliness and organization of the shop, the professionalism of the staff, recommendations from friends, and online reviews and testimonials.

Don't Just Look at the Prices, Look at the Parts, Too!
Repair shops may use rebuilt, refurbished, or OEM parts (parts manufactured by the maker of your vehicle or an authorized facility). Repair shop quotes should tell you what type of part they plan to use. After your repairs are completed, you may want to ask to see the damaged parts

Expect to Inspect
Once all the repairs are made, and before you pay or drive away from the repair shop, you should inspect the work. Most people cannot tell a water pump from a carburetor, or a rocker panel from an upper frame rail, but it is still possible for the untrained eye to do a brief inspection of the completed work. There should be no visible body damage, the vehicle should be clean inside and out, and there should be no noticeable gaps or missing pieces in the repaired area. The doors and the trunk, or hatchback, should open easily and freely, the headlights should be in proper alignment, and, if you look at the underside of the car, there should be no visible evidence that a repair was made or that the frame was straightened.

Ponder the Paint
Before you drive away, the last inspection you should make is the paint job. A poor paint job is the most common complaint people have after a car repair. Look for any color consistency issues and make sure that the new paint blends smoothly with the old paint. The surface should be smooth to the touch, and it is important to look for any drips, overspray, or fingerprints.
If you notice any problems or have any concerns, talk with the shop manager immediately. Reputable body shops always stand by their work and will be happy to make sure that the job is completed correctly and that the customer is satisfied.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

5 Other Car Services to Consider When You Get Your Oil Changed

Everyone knows that changing your oil is necessary to keep your engine running properly which prevents you from having to have expensive repairs. But did you know that there are many other basic maintenance services you should consider undergoing whenever you get your oil changed? Taking care of one or more of these items every time you have it changes will keep your car in good condition.

1. Rotate Tires and Check Pressure

Most car and tire manufacturers recommend a tire rotation every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Depending on how often you have your oil changes, you will want to have your tires rotated either every time or every second time. Rotating the tires helps them wear more evenly, which in turn makes them last longer. Even if the tires don't need to be rotated, at least having the air pressure checked and corrected if necessary will help them last longer as well.

2. Change Cabin Air Filters

The air that spews out of your air conditioning and heating vents goes through filters to remove all sorts of dust, and these filters eventually get full. By changing the filters every 30,000 miles or so it helps to keep the air flowing into the interior of your car fresher and removes pollen and allergens as well.

3. Change Wiper Blades

A typical set of windshield wiper blades only lasts about a year, after which point they begin to leave serious streaks on the windshield, which can be a potential hazard because it impairs your visibility. Consider asking the technician changing your oil to install new windshield wiper blades once every year.

4. Check the Coolant

A radiator overheating can be dangerous, and if the ratio of antifreeze to coolant is too far off in a cold climate, you could end up with a major problem. When you're changing your oil during the fall, you should have them check the levels to ensure there is enough antifreeze to keep your car safe through the winter.

5. Visual Inspection

Many oil change businesses perform a courtesy visual inspection to look for major issues that require service. They will take a look at the hoses and belts on the engine, can check the thickness of your brake pads and can take a look at other areas of your car for leaks or problems. When they make service recommendations, ask how critical each one is to decide whether to have the service done.

It's vitally important to have technicians take a look at all areas of your car for maintenance issues when you get your oil changed so you can feel confident your car is in great shape.

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