Before Buying A Car

If you are a prospective car buyer, finding just the right car for you is a decision not to be made lightly. Everyone’s needs are different and when you factor in personal tastes, there’s just no telling what will push you into making the final decision.

It’s easy to get carried away when you shop for a car: the smell of the brand-new upholstery, the satisfying purr of the motor, not to mention the slick salesman promising you outrageous deals, all conspire into making you part with your hard-earned money. Hopefully you will find a great deal for the amount of money that you are willing to pay. However you put it though, buying a car will cost a fair amount of money; you do want a car that is in decent condition and that will last for several years don’t you? It is of utmost importance then to do research on the particular models you are most interested in, know the current market trends in car sales and weigh your options carefully so you are confident of making the right choice when it comes time to whip out your checkbook.

The type of car you choose will be dependent on several factors: are you looking for a roomy, comfortable way to truck your kids to ballet class or soccer practice or are you searching for a rugged, off-road trail warrior who willingly follows were your adventurous spirit leads? Maybe you want to tear it up at the racetrack in a screaming blaze of high-octane performance or perhaps gas mileage and ecological-friendliness are your primary concerns. Either way, consider what your expectations and projected requirements are for your planned vehicle and anticipate your need in the future. You’re family may grow beyond it’s current size or you may have a need to use your vehicle for an expanding business. Think of what’s best for your needs and choose a solid, practical model; this year’s flashy, 2-seater with day-glow paintjob and shiny designer rims might get your pulse racing but is it really what you need and can use many years down the line?

Get up-to-date on the latest models though, so you at least know what’s out there and get a feel for current market rates. Check out what new features and innovations have come out recently; the automobile industry is a fast-paced one and new enhancements are coming out all the time.

Auto Safety 101

Following some expert tips and keeping a few tools on hand can help steer drivers toward safer rides. Here’s some advice from the experts:

Avoid Breakdowns

Breaking down isn’t just inconvenient and expensive-it can also put drivers in danger. If your car is having problems and you need to pull off the road, try to do so in a well-lit area and pull as far over on the shoulder as possible. Put emergency flares or reflectors on the road behind your car to help other drivers see you.

Of course, one of the best ways to avoid breaking down is to keep your vehicle well maintained. Check your car’s oil, tires and belts regularly and bring it in for regular tune-ups.

Preventing Theft

A vehicle is stolen every 25 seconds in the U.S. To avoid falling victim to theft, always lock your vehicle, no matter where you are, and avoid parking in isolated areas where there are few passersby.

You may also want to consider anti-theft tools such as The Club Automotive Security Series. The line includes steering-wheel locks, cable and spare-tire locks, padlocks and specialty locks. The cable and spare-tire locks can be used to protect tires mounted on the back of trucks, luggage or other items. They run from four to six feet long. The Weatherproof Automotive Padlock can be used on gates, sheds and to secure garages, and the steering-wheel locks render vehicles unusable when attached.

Be Prepared

Plan out long trips ahead of time and always let someone know where you plan to travel and how long you expect the trip to take. Also, pack a survival kit in your car. It should include flares, jumper cables, a quart of oil, radiator fluid, a first-aid kit, bottled water, a blanket and a road atlas. It’s smart to carry a cell phone on the road as well.

In addition, it’s a good idea to check out your auto insurance policy. If it doesn’t include roadside assistance, you may want to consider upgrading.

Automotive Scan Tools And The Modern Car

Thanks to the increasing complexity of modern automobiles over the past few years, most professional auto shops and garages now require a selection of automotive scan tools with which to carry out day to day diagnostic work in order to pinpoint any problems with an engine or engine management system in order to discover what action is needed in order to effect a repair with the minimum of error and maximum efficiency.

There are a variety of different tools available to carry out diagnostics and scans on different types of car and to prepare to repair as effectively as possible. Knowing in detail what issues are causing a car engine to behave in a particular manner is the key to being able to correct the fault in a timely and effective manner.

Perhaps the best known manufacturer of automotive scan tools is OTC, who make a range of tools designed for the highest quality and best price. A comprehensive range is available to enable mechanics to be able to tackle any job they come across, and the range of OTC automotive scan tools is recognized as one of the top choices for the professional, as well as being affordable enough for domestic use under certain circumstances.

Different jobs require different tools, and some are more complex than others. Typically, any job to repair a modern car begins with plugging the scanner into the engine management computer and downloading a log of current performance date. This will include fuel consumption, and time since the last service. It will give the mechanic a complete overview of how the engine is operating, and where there might be errors occurring. The scan will show the mechanic examining the engine whether there are any problems with the fuel supply, the electronics, the air filters, and the running temperature, it will also provide plenty of insight into whether any problems are related to an issue within the engine itself, or indeed within the way the management system has been set up.

A complete diagnostic of a car’s engine management computer system will typically offer an almost immediate list of the performance details for the vehicle, and a good automotive scan tool will shave hours off an otherwise lengthy repair task, as the mechanic will be able to tell almost immediately what is wrong, and what needs to be done in order to repair the damage.

Of course, technology only works well in the hands of those who understand it, and are able to sift through the data provided through a scan and interpret it correctly. However, the latest OTC automotive scan tools have been designed to be almost fool proof, and are able to draw on the experience and insight of hundreds of different programmers and mechanic’s personal records in order to provide a more accurate overview of the data and even present possible solutions to many of the most common problems that a mechanic might encounter.

While some manufacturers release their own range of tools, that are aimed at main dealers, a commercial mechanic may deal with many different models and manufacturers in their day to day role, and this is why it is often an idea to purchase OTC automotive scan tools, as they will be compatible with a range of different vehicles from different international makers, and therefore offer greater flexibility without having to compromise on quality or pay repeatedly for scanners for every single car that is on the market.

While commercial level automotive scan tools are expensive to install and themselves require regular system updates that carry the latest settings for every new vehicle released, they pay for themselves almost immediately thanks to the time that they are able to save, and the fact that without them, even the most experienced mechanic would struggle to discover the inner workings of the latest car engines, which have been designed to be efficient, and robust, but are increasingly too complex for anyone but the experts to consider carrying out any work on.

Automotive Air Conditioners

It’s August, the car is jammed with kids and luggage, and you’re finally on your way to the cottage. Suddenly you realize that your car’s air conditioning system is on the fritz, and your family vacation really starts to heat up.

Automotive air conditioning systems were first introduced in 1940 to address customer demands for relief from unbearable heat. These systems use refrigerant to cool the air and remove the heat from the car’s passenger compartment. Air conditioning also cleans the air that enters the car, and removes excess moisture as it dehumidifies the air.

There are three basic components to any automotive air conditioner system:

1. Compressor–Considered the heart of the air conditioning system, the compressor transfers and compresses refrigerant gas to let the heat out of the car.

2. Condenser–removes heat from the refrigerant and cools down the high-pressure gasses.

3. Evaporator–Acts as the heater core of the air conditioning system. The evaporator removes the heat from inside the car. The refrigerant then condenses the air and transforms it into water.

Cars manufactured in 1995 or later have been equipped with R-134A air conditioning system. These ozone-friendly units do not contain CFCs, are nontoxic and nonflammable.

Prior to 1995, automotive air conditioners came with R-12 refrigerant, most commonly Freon. During that time, a car owner experiencing air conditioner problems needed only to visit a local retailer to purchase a recharge kit. With a can of Freon and basic knowledge, the average driver could easily repair his or her own air conditioning system. When studies confirmed that R-12 systems were contributing to the damaged ozone layer, many countries including the United States banned their manufacture.

Common Problems
The most common complaint about automotive air conditioners, particularly R-134 systems, is the odor that permeates from the A/C vents. Mechanics and car manufacturers have concluded that accumulated bacteria and fungus in the evaporator core likely cause the odor. Because the air conditioning system is loaded with moisture, it attracts microbes. The solution offered by automakers is to make the blower motor effective in drying out the evaporator after the A/C system is turned off. General Motors introduced this breakthrough, called Electronic Evaporator Dryer.

This solution might offer relief to some car owners, but not to all. Installing this system can cost hundred of dollars. As a result, many car owners have resorted to finding alternative methods of fighting the odor. Using antibacterial chemicals such as Lysol can be an effective short-term solution. Keeping a can of Lysol handy can go along way for your odorous air problem. Just spay the Lysol inside the car, and in the air intake once a week, for temporary relief from the problem. Another way to help eliminate the odor is to shut off the A/C unit at least one mile before reaching your destination. This will allow enough time for the evaporator to dry out, essentially doing away with the moisture and microbes that cause odor. This can be the easiest and least expensive method in combating the issue.

Caring For Your A/C System

* To keep working efficiently, your automotive air conditioner must be recharged from time to time, depending on how often it is are used. Consult your mechanic or your owner’s manual for information about system recharges.

* Call your mechanic if you see water leaking from the A/C system’s condenser, as this can affect the refrigerant. Have the system repaired before refilling it.

* Replacing the filter once every three months will also help to maintain the performance of your automotive air conditioning system. This is where dust builds up when the A/C system is running.

* Setting the gauge at one specific temperature will also help it perform well. If you constantly switch from one temperature to another, your system will have trouble adjusting accordingly.

Automotive air conditioners can be a driver’s best friend, whether you’re traveling across town or from coast to coast. Keep your A/C unit well maintained, and keep your cool on the road.

Auto Repair Estimates And Car Repair Prices – The Real Information To Avoid Car Repair Scams

Worrying whether or not you were overcharged for your car repair is an awful feeling. There’s tons of advice on how to avoid getting ripped-off, but few discuss the actual car repair prices. We really need to look at the charges on a car repair estimate or auto repair invoice to determine if we’re paying too much.

The focus needs to shift from giving outdated and ineffective advice to addressing the “actual” and “specific” charges. Are they legitimate charges? Can they be justified by industry guidelines?

Now car repair estimates can be confusing. So let’s break it down to get a better idea if your <a href=”https://www.autosolve.ca”>auto repair</a> shop is billing you appropriately.

First, a glossary of terms is in order, as the auto industry has a language of its own…

Aftermarket Parts: parts not made by the manufacturer.

MSRP: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

OEM: Original Equipment Manufacturer. Manufacturer approved parts designed specifically for your vehicle.

TSBs: Technical Service Bulletins. Notes and instructions provided by the manufacturer for known and specific concerns(they are not recalls).

Flat Fees: services such as alignments that don’t get broken down into parts, tax, labor

Miscellaneous Charges: these can include, but are not limited to shop supplies – rags, chemicals, hazardous waste disposal fees, waste oil …etc.

Labor Rate: a repair center’s hourly charge to service your vehicle

Labor Time: the amount of time or hours determined that it will take to fix your vehicle

Labor Description: the step-by-step written details of repairs and/or services

Ok, let’s look at the Anatomy of an Auto Repair Estimate:

There are six basic components to a car repair estimate

1) Customer/Vehicle Information
2) Parts
3) Labor
4) Miscellaneous Charges
5) Flat Fees
6) Summary of Charges

Customer and Vehicle Information

Using a generic “top down” style estimate, the top portion simply contains your personal information and your vehicle’s specifics: year, make, model, mileage…etc, as well as your request or concern.

We also want find the shop’s labor rate. The labor rate is critical in determining if you paid too much. Most repair centers don’t list the labor rate. We’ll discuss why shortly.

Auto Parts

Parts are listed usually with a brief description, as well as the quantity, and the price. There are three types of parts: OEM (parts made by or for a manufacturer). These are the parts installed by a dealer, although many local shops use OEM parts too.

Aftermarket parts are non OEM parts, and there are various degrees of quality, depending on the brand and where they’re made – China versus USA, for example.

Then there are Used parts purchased from a salvage yard.

To determine if you paid too much for parts, first find out what type of parts are being used. With OEM parts, you don’t want to pay more than MSRP, although most people do without realizing it. Premium aftermarket parts are similarly priced across brands, although beware not to pay more than MSRP, which again, many folks do. Used part prices are all over the place, so pick the price in the middle.

Auto Repair Labor

Labor is billed in tenths. So 1.0 equals 1 hour. 1.5 equals an hour and a half.

Labor rates range from $60 to $100 per hour at local repair shops and $80 to $140 per hour at the dealer level. Labor times are based off established industry guidelines, which are frequently abused.

If you don’t see the shop’s labor rate posted on the car repair invoice, ask your service center for the rate. Repair shops can manipulate the labor rate (among other things) with a labor matrix. Matrix pricing is a complicated and ethically questionable practice discussed at length in RepairTrust literature. What you need to know is that you can pay as high as $150 per hour rather than the posted labor rate of $105 per hour.

To ensure that you’re being charged properly, you’ll want to multiply the number of hours billed (which is also often not posted) by the shop’s labor rate.

Most labor descriptions are poorly written and difficult to understand. So ask questions.

Here’s a “clear” labor description for a 30,000 mile service on a Toyota Camry.

Performed 30,000 mile service per customer request, and in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Changed oil and filter, installed new air filter, cabin filter and performed all necessary tests, checks, and procedures, including road test (miles 30,123 – 30,125). Performed lubrication services and confirmed proper vehicle operation. Set tire pressures, and checked fluids, belts and hoses. Note: vehicle is pulling slightly left. Needs alignment

Miscellaneous Charges

The bulk of your car repair invoice will be parts and labor, but we can’t forget about Miscellaneous Charges. These charges can include, but are not limited to, shop supplies – rags, chemicals, hazardous waste, disposal fees, waste oil …etc. The latter of these may be billed out separately in a summary at the bottom of your repair invoice.

Very few of these “extras” are actually used during regular repairs. Miscellaneous charges are calculated off the amount of labor hours billed, not the amount of miscellaneous items used.

Flat Fees

Flat fees can be another very tricky area. Flat fees are services, such as an alignment, which don’t get broken down into parts, tax and labor. This makes it difficult to determine the real and fair price. On the plus side, most flat fees are competitively priced.

Be warned however, another term for Flat Fee is called Menu Selling. In other words, you might see Tune Up: $99.99 or Transmission Flush: $89.99. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendations only, not a dealer’s or repair shop’s menu.

Summary of Charges

The last part of an auto repair estimate is the summary of charges. It’s usually found in the bottom right hand corner of the invoice. Check it against the charges above to ensure that it all adds up mathematically, as well as logically.

This basic estimate outline may differ from your particular invoice, which may have other categories such as “Sublet” or “HazMat.”

A sublet charge is added when your auto repair shop uses another vender to fix or repair your car, such as a glass company that replaces your windshield.

A HazMat charge may include waste oil or other disposal fees. Just make sure that the charges are warranted, as again, they too are often calculated off the labor time rather than actual need.

In sum, understanding the “actual” charges, asking the right questions, and breaking down your auto repair costs is the best way to avoid paying excessive car repair prices.