How Much to Fix It?

Information about auto repair and preventive maintenance

How to Find a Quality Auto Repair Shop

Auto Repair ShopSo, you’re new in town and need a simple auto repair. But how do you decide where to take your vehicle? Anyone can hop online and search for an auto repair shop, but how do you know if it’s a good shop or not? The best time to find a repair shop is BEFORE you need one. If you are suddenly broken down on the road, you may not have the time to do your research. Ask friends and family where they take their car for service.

After you have narrowed down your choice for auto repair services, take your car in for a simple repair or oil change. While you are there, look for several things that will let you know it is a professional auto repair shop. Make sure to look at the parking lot as you drive in. Are there other cars like yours? Is the area organized and clean? How are you greeted when you enter the shop? Does it seem professional and friendly? Once again, is the waiting area clean? If they care about their shop, it will be clean and organized on the outside as well as on the inside.

One important thing to look for is awards and certifications. Shops that train and certify their auto mechanics will display certificates of excellence. Look for trade school diplomas and ASE certificates. This will show that they only hire trained technicians to work on your car. Labor rates, fees and other charges should be displayed in the waiting area. These items should never be a surprise.

Always get an estimate in writing. Ask questions if you are unsure about a particular charge or service. After the work has been performed, make sure to get a receipt for all the work performed on your vehicle. There shouldn’t be any surprises on your bill. If you are happy with the service, let the shop know. Auto repair shops rely on good reviews. On the other hand, if for some reason you are unhappy, ask to speak with the manager or shop owner. A professional, well run shop will want to make you happy and make the situation right. Give them a chance to fix it.

Importance of Vehicle Emissions Planning

 

Emission Tests in AZWhen we drive a vehicle, we are giving off emissions into the atmosphere that can really add up and cause damage. How much of our emissions we give off, is monitored by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). Why? Because we want to make sure our air is safe to breathe, and that the millions of cars on the road aren’t giving off dangerous levels. That’s why your vehicle will have to pass mandatory emissions tests.

To improve air quality and reduce vehicle emissions, ADEQ administers a mandatory vehicle emissions testing and repair program known as Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program (VEIP).

VEIP emphasizes the importance of maintaining vehicle performance to lower emissions and extend the life of one of your most valuable assets – your car.

How do you get your vehicle emissions-ready?

Thanks to our good friends at Bumper-to-Bumper radio, they have a few important tips to help you prepare your vehicle to pass an emissions test and other maintenance items.

  • Gather some information about vehicle test codes. If a code is on your dashboard, there are a few ways to learn what is going on. Check engine lights mean automatic failures!
  • You won’t pass if you clear the code and haven’t gone through the drive cycle and end up failing the readiness monitor. This can also happen if you changed your own battery. Not being able to clear the code and going directly to the emissions test keeps people honest.
  • Buying a new “used” car? You can actually use the VIN number to check the emissions history of used vehicles to see if there were major issues or repairs.
  • The new computer systems in vehicles today are much different than in cars post 1996. It can be harder to find a shop that will work on an older vehicle because the technology and tests have changed so much.
  • There are some other less common reasons that you may fail the emissions test, too. Gas caps, check engine lights, O2 sensors, etc … are common reasons, but brakes, bad tires and other safety features are also important before you take it in.

A healthy vehicle is always better off before going in for an emissions test. You want to make sure the vehicle is running smoothly and is safe, then it will have much better odds of passing. No one likes to fail tests – especially when failing that test means investing your time and money to make things better. Before you go get your vehicle emissions tested, remember that our auto repair technicians are here to help you get your vehicle ready. We will check all engine codes, and apprise you of anything that needs repaired in order to pass your emissions test.

Avoiding the Nightmare of Costly Auto Repairs

Expensive auto repairs

We all know SOMEONE who has had the misfortune of having to pay for major auto repairs. They can suck whatever savings there may be in the bank and then some. Sometimes, expensive auto repairs leave people in credit card debt, other times it leaves them with a vehicle that they cannot afford to fix and therefore cannot drive. None of these situations is ideal and something we all want to avoid. So how can we do that? Easy – by maintaining a consistent preventative maintenance schedule on your vehicle.

Interested in knowing just WHICH repairs may cost you your life savings? Here you go!

Battery Cable or Alternator Failure

The cost? Up to $750.00 The cause? Using a cheap car battery which can leak gas and corrode the battery cable terminals over time. Being cheap could cost you when it comes to car batteries!

Head Gasket Failure

The cost? More than $1000! The cause? Using improper coolant or failing to flush your coolant system. You could pay between $130-180 for a proper coolant flush, or you could allow your cooling system to be eroded by electrolysis.

Premature Tire Wear

The cost? $300 to $2,500 for suspension problems, alignment, ball joints replacement, control arm bushing, etc.  The cause? Failure to rotate tires and check for proper inflation. We check these for FREE with our oil changes. Now that’s something to think about!

Transmission Failure

This is a bad one. The cost? $2,000 to $4,000 for a new transmission. The cause? Failure to flush your transmission and use the proper fluids. Find a certified auto repair shop who will use proper transmission fluids and remember, a transmission flush should start with a pre-cleaner to loosen sludge and deposits. Next, be sure you are getting fluid that meets or exceeds O.E. requirements; improper fluid may actually cause shifting problems. Finally, a conditioner should be added to help keep the seals soft.

Engine Failure

This one hurts, too. The damage? $2,500 to $5,000 for costly repairs including engine replacement. The cause? Failure to change your oil every 3,000 miles. Spend the $30-50 on oil changes and save yourself thousands. Today’s engines have very tight tolerances, variable valve and cam timing, multi-cylinder elimination strategies and hydraulic timing chain tensioners. Sludge build-up can quickly lead to an expensive repair or engine replacement, costing you way too much!

Avoid costly repairs and let us maintain your vehicle properly!

How to Manage Mind-Blowing Auto Repair Costs

GWAR Repair FinancingThere isn’t much worse than getting an auto repair bill that makes you want to fall to your knees, punch something, tear your hair out and cry at the same time. But most of us have been in that situation where we had to find a way to pay for some major repairs because our vehicle was older, had high-mileage and was no longer under warranty. Are you prepared for hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars in auto repairs at any moment in time? Many Americans are simply not prepared for that.

What can you do if your repair bill is too high to pay out of pocket?

A recent article from Ask the Money Coach has some great tips for helping people in this intense, stressful financial situation.

  1. Put those negotiating skills to the test and ask your auto mechanic for some available discounts, specials, payment plans, etc.
  1. Shop around and get a second opinion. Unless the work needs to be done at that shop at that time, you could probably take it to a few places for a free estimate and go with the lowest bid.
  1. Barter with someone who can do it for you. Do you have someone in the neighborhood that is handy with vehicles? They need to be a professional. Don’t take your vehicle to any ol’ Joe on the corner. But if there is someone who you could trade services with, it may be an option.
  1. Get a loan from a family member or a friend. This is a tricky one! It’s hard to ask for help but if those necessary auto repairs will affect your livelihood, you may have to set that pride aside.
  1. Use a credit card. High interest rates will have you paying even more, but sometimes, an emergency needs to be handled.
  1. Sell personal items for quick cash. Sad but true.

Are there other options?

Come on in to our auto repair shop and we’ll help get you set up with auto repair financing if we can. We have partnered with GE Capital and EasyPay Finance – to give you options to pay for those repairs over time and still keep your vehicle on the road. After all, you need it for everything – family, work and your life in general!

Is it worth it to invest in high mileage oil?

GWAR Oil ChangeSome of us live in our cars. We eat in them, work in them and sometimes, even sleep in them. Over the years, the miles begin to start adding up. If you happen to own a vehicle with over 75,000 miles on it, you are going to be confronted with a few maintenance issues and some car repairs.

You’ve heard us say it before, but regular preventative maintenance is the secret weapon to vehicle longevity, and it always will be. Consistent oil changes top the list for preventing early engine failure. When your car reaches 75,000 plus miles, one thing you will need to take into consideration is switching over to high mileage oil. But is it really worth the extra expense?

Industry experts maintain that there are distinct differences in oil, especially oil formulated for high mileage cars. Most will have a seal conditioner added to them. So what will this do for your car? The added conditioners can help shrink, and in some cases, even stop small leaks. They can even help condition other parts of you vehicle, which in turn will make your engine happy.

Drips and puddles on the driveway can be embarrassing. If your car leaves its “mark” it is often because the engine seals are starting to crack and shrink. The seals are made of rubber, and over time will degrade, which will eventually lead to leaks and seepage. These special conditioners will help the seals to become more flexible and expand. The expansion can also help stop leaks.

In general, a high mileage oil will cost a few dollars more, but in the long run, could also save you money on replacing worn and leaking parts. The benefits outweigh the added expense. Auto experts also note that some of the high mileage oils contain additives that help clean out sludge and prevent engine build up.

Maintaining an older engine is important. Talk with your local auto repair shop and ask your mechanic to give you the low-down on taking care of a “mature” vehicle. They can give you some practical, and invaluable, advice on keeping your car running smoothly for the long haul. Take care of your vehicle, and it will take care of you!

How can you improve driving safety? Smartphone Apps!

GWAR Smartphone AppsDriving safety is a huge concern, and by now, most of us are aware that using our phones while driving is one of the most dangerous things we can do in the car. Looking down at a text message, checking email and Snapchatting are exceptionally dangerous and have been the cause of way too many accidents.

Smartphones are here to stay, but we need to use them responsibly. One way to use them sensibly when we are in our vehicles, is to download some driving apps. There are some apps out there that not only make driving easier, but perhaps safer as well.

Waze

To start with, most of us use the GPS function on our smartphones almost daily. This function provides handsfree guidance to wherever our destination is, but many smartphones do not offer information regarding police presence, red light cameras, or even alternative ways to avoid traffic.

One app that does is Waze. Waze utilizes information from its many users to let you know when there are accidents up ahead, vehicles stalled on the side of the road and even if there are police officers lurking in the bushes. It also notifies you on which stop lights are photo-enforced.

Probably the best function of Waze is alerting you on how much traffic lies ahead. It automatically recalculates to provide you the best, fastest and traffic-free way to your destination. This reduces the need for you to figure out for yourself the best way to avoid traffic, thus making your commute safer.

Gas Buddy

For those who dread filling up at the first gas station they see because they either don’t have time, or can’t seem to find a cheaper station, there’s an app for that! Gas Buddy is great because it offers a selection of nearby gas stations for your choosing. This app uses your location to pinpoint the closest, cheapest gas stations, so you don’t have to stress over where to get off the highway on your road trips. Don’t drive stressed, people!

iOnRoad

As the technology in our vehicles improves, newer features are added to improve our driving experiences. Some of these technologies, such as lane keeping assistance, blind spot detection, and adaptive cruise control, are not found in those vehicles that are less than brand new. However, iOnRoad is an app that turns your smartphone into a lane keeping assistant and a cruise control inspector. Keeping you safe and aware of your surroundings.

So for those who can’t do without their smartphones, even in the car, do yourself a favor and download some of these apps. You’ll end up thanking yourself in the long run.

Budget for Auto Repair or Buy New: Which is better?

 

office-620822_1280It’s the question that has been haunting drivers for decades. Do you keep your vehicle and budget money for auto repairs or do you buy a new vehicle once your warranty is up? No one wants to put tons of money into major automotive repairs, but if your vehicle is paid off and you can still safely and comfortably drive your vehicle, is that the best thing to do? Vehicles on the road these days are lasting longer, but how do you know when it’s time to trade her in? That’s exactly what is examined in an episode of Bumper to Bumper radio.

We see it all the time here at our repair shop; people have major repairs and get so stressed out finding ways to pay for them. Their warranty is up, but they still want to drive their used vehicle. Preventative maintenance during your vehicle’s life can certainly help, but here are some tips to follow from the advice of the professionals:

  • Know and plan out those service interval schedules and preventative maintenance items. You’ll know what you’ll have to spend on repairs and services, no matter what mileage you have. You can budget these services and plan for exactly what your vehicle needs. Our repair technicians can walk you through this and explain what is needed.
  • Save the money that WAS your car payment. We know you’re concerned about coming up with major bucks, but if you plan ahead, there won’t be that moment of panic when something happens. It’s a pretty good bet that your older vehicle is going to break down at some point – use those saved car payments to finance your repairs!
  • If you are driving past 100,000 miles on a vehicle, you will probably need some new parts – however, that doesn’t warrant going out and buying a new $40,000 vehicle. That’s way more expensive!
  • Used vehicles will always need brakes, tires, alignments and oil changes. The older they get, the more they may need. Setting aside money now will save your the headache when you need it.
  • When you begin to think about a new car payment, make sure you include preventative maintenance, repairs and higher insurance costs as well. What you think you are paying may actually be more.

Don’t be car poor. Pay attention to your vehicle’s needs from the beginning to the end. THAT’S how you’ll save big time!

Help! My Car is Shaking Like Crazy!

What causes a vehicle to vibrate?

Have you ever been driving along and suddenly the steering wheel on your car is vibrating out of control? Almost every driver has experienced some sort of shaky, bumpy or vibrating driving from time to time.

Don’t Ignore It

Never ignore those shakes and shimmers; they could be a simple fix now, that could turn into a more expensive auto repair in the future. To make matters worse, it could be a serious safety concern if you ignore the vibrating. Make sure you see your local repair shop and have the problem evaluated by a certified auto mechanic.

The Main Culprits

tire replacementOne reason for the steering wheel to vibrate may be due to a tire or tire balancing problem. Have your auto repair shop find out where it’s coming from. If there are no issues with the wheels or bearings, the problem may lie in the suspension. A car’s suspension includes many components that are all involved in steering. Some of these components include shocks, struts, tie rods and steering dampers. A trained auto repair technician will be able to diagnose the problem and let you know what parts are in need of fixing or replacing.

Do you notice a slight vibration when applying the brakes? Worn brake pads, disks or rotors could be the problem. Your repair shop will be able to evaluate your vehicle’s brake system and suggest any necessary repairs.

If the problem of shaking seems to be coming from inside the engine bay, then it may be one of the motor mounts. A worn motor mount can cause some violent vibrations of the engine which can be felt inside the vehicle.  Have a technician inspect your engine mounts, open the hood, and look at the mounting bolts or rubber inserts. They will be able to tell if the inserts are worn or cracked and if the mounts will need to be replaced. If the bolts are off center the mounts will need to be properly adjusted.

Don’t Take a Chance

Vehicle vibrations might seem like a minor annoyance, but without proper care, they could turn into a serious safety concern. It’s important to have your vehicle evaluated at a repair shop to determine the cause of the vibrations. It could be a simple tire rotation that is needed, but what if it’s something more dangerous, like an engine ready to fall out? Don’t take a chance – have an auto mechanic give it a thorough run through to make sure you are safe.

Extreme Temperatures: Why is my Car Overheating?

overheated engineAs many of us know, the hot temperatures here in Arizona can take a toll on our vehicles. Not only can it lead to certain mechanical failures in our cars, but it can also cause an overheated engine. However, what many of us might not know, is that cold weather can also cause issues with overheating, even though it seems contrary to the matter.

While we may not be too familiar with below freezing temperatures here in Tempe, they too can take a toll on our vehicles. As the temperature drops below freezing, the coolant in our cooling system can gel up, leading to a blockage and therefore a lack of circulation. It is this lack of circulation that renders our cooling system useless, and leaves our vehicle unable to cool itself, which causes overheating. A simple way to fix this is to keep our cars in a garage during the winter months, and make sure that it does not sit idle for weeks on end.

Even if we might not experience issues with our cars overheating in the winter months, the gelling that can occur in freezing temperatures may have lasting effects into the summer months. Because there is a lack of circulation associated with the cold, internal components of your cooling system can be damaged. If this occurs, it is only a matter of time before our cooling system fails and we find ourselves stranded on the side of the road. Taking your car to a local auto repair shop for an automotive cooling system service is recommended to make sure any damages are taken care of as soon as possible.

Heat, as we all know, is one of a vehicle’s worst enemies. If the temperature outside reaches extreme levels, the engine can run too hot and cause a myriad of issues. Not only can the internal components of your cooling system malfunction, but the engine itself can suffer damage. So as spring and summer roll around, it’s a good time to take your vehicle in for preventative maintenance. Staying on top of your car will help keep you on the road longer.

Extreme temperatures are something of a nuisance, to both us and our vehicles. However, a cooling system service every 1-2 years can help prevent any damages caused by either the heat or the cold.  Keeping up with preventative maintenance helps assure that your car stays running smoothly, even when the heat or the cold is out to get us.

Damaging Your Vehicle One Bad Habit at a Time

We are all guilty of some driving habits that aren’t exactly what we were taught in driving school or in driver’s education. But it’s easy to fall into the habit of doing something, and it can be hard to reverse it. However, here at Good Works Auto Repair, our main goal is to maintain your vehicle, not repair it. We firmly believe that preventative maintenance, along with good driving habits, will help you to drive a vehicle that is safer, smoother and will last longer with less major auto repairs along the way. We love sharing our favorite tips and articles with you so that you can enjoy your vehicle and not worry as much about fixing it. A little education about your vehicle can go a long way.

A recent article from MSN shares some bad habits that we are all guilty of, but could be damaging your vehicle more than you know. Whether you need to change one, a few, or all of these bad habits,  starting the New Year off right could keep your vehicle healthier this time around.

  1. Ignoring the parking brake – yes, even on level pavement using your parking brake can help take away some of the weight that your vehicle will deal with.
  1. Keeping your gas tank low – we know that gas doesn’t come cheap, but only putting in a few dollars at a time isn’t good for your vehicle. Many fuel pumps keep cool by staying submerged in the fuel in the tank, so if you’re regularly running at a quarter full or less, you may end up needing a fuel pump replacement sooner than anticipated.
  1. Shifting from reverse to drive too quickly – the sudden direction change isn’t good for your vehicle and can damage your drivetrain. Always come to a complete stop before shifting.
  1. Revving the engine before your vehicle has warmed up – give it 60 seconds or so to get your car warmed up before you hit the road. Waiting a minute or two helps distribute oil throughout the engine and get the engine block and engine oil up to temperature.
  1. Flooring it when you don’t need to – it might feel good but it can also damage your vehicle. Plus, it uses more fuel. Avoid sudden braking or accelerating too quickly … smooth and steady is the name of the game.
  1. Using the shifter as a hand rest – it is so convenient, but it also puts strain on the transmission bushings and synchronizers, leading to premature wear.
  1. Abusing the clutch – this is something that a lot of drivers do and don’t really realize. When you come to a stoplight, for example, it is easy to keep the clutch pressed to the floor so that you can creep forward or go when the light turns green. However, it also causes its surfaces to scrape against each other, wearing them out and creating the possibility of failure. It also can cause damage to the release bearing, release arm, and pressure plate.
  1. Carrying too much weight – for families this can be hard, but a lot of unnecessary cargo adds work for your vehicle and also requires more fuel.
  1. Riding the brakes downhill – we want to slow down, sure, but riding the brakes on the way down isn’t good for them. It causes heat to build up in the brake pads and rotors, causing wear and increasing the risk that they will overheat or warp.
  1. Avoiding the warning signs – through sounds, feels, and lights, your vehicle will often tell you when you have a problem on your hands. Don’t ignore them! It may end up costing you in the long run.

Save money, time and stress on repairs by learning to drive with better habits. If you have any questions, give our automotive technicians a call and let’s start the New Year off with better driving and fewer repairs! Sounds like a great New Year’s resolution to us!