Tag Archives: car care tips

Get it Fixed Right the First Time

In this installment of Car Care Tips, we’ll look at how to get it fixed right the first time.

Dennis E. Horvath  Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath
Dennis E. Horvath
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath

Previously, we looked at the care and feeding of our cars. Now it’s time to get some work done. You might be wondering how to find a good mechanic you can trust.

The easiest and most reliable way that I’ve found over the years is to ask your friends, relatives, and co-workers. I did this a number of years ago and found an auto shop that I explicitly trust for all our mechanical work. They don’t over prescribe work, and they fix it right the first time, no returns.

If you are new to an area and aren’t sure about a local mechanic, you can check the AAA listing of recommended shops in your locale. Another service is the Better Business Bureau, to see if they have any complaints on file. Check the business for National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence certification. Test it out with a small repair or preventive maintenance.

If this is a large repair, get multiple opinions. Ask friends what sounds reasonable. Do some web research to check for chronic problems with certain autos? Don’t necessarily go for the lowest price.

There are a number of items that you should do before you leave your car at a shop.
Make a list to cover each point of concern.

Fully detail the car’s symptoms:
What sounds abnormal?
What smells unusual?
How does it act?
What happened before or after the car stopped running?
Are symptoms consistent, or are they sporadic?

I’d advise to describe symptoms only! Make no diagnosis. If you do, you may get service you don’t need.

Ask the mechanic what the specific problems might be. Ask them for a detailed explanation, what needs to be repaired, why, and what it will cost.

Don’t authorize repairs until you are satisfied they are reasonable and fair. Get a written estimate if possible. State that additional repair must be authorized before they are preformed. Stipulate on the work order: “Save all replaced parts for your inspection.” Get all warranties in writing. Pay with a credit card as a hedge against faulty service.

By doing some basic homework and proper vetting of an auto repair shop, you can get your car fixed right the first time at a fair price.

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The Care and Feeding of Our Cars

Next, let’s look at the care and feeding or our cars. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” These bits of wisdom have survived many generations because they help. I’d like to use these parables as they apply to automobiles.


What does it cost when your car gets regular maintenance? Chances are the cost is lower when regular maintenance precautions are taken and symptoms are treated early. A Consumer Reports survey supports this thesis. The survey reported on about 8,000 automobile owners who had driven their cars over 100,000 miles and one-fourth of those surveyed had exceeded 140,000 miles. Seventy-eight percent of the cars were over 10 years old. Regarding the car’s longevity, the survey showed that regular maintenance was the key factor.

Thus, your can last a long, long time if you take care of it. By following a regular maintenance schedule, your car will take care of you by delivering you safely to your destination and help avoid costly repairs.

Your monthly maintenance check should include the following fluid levels: engine oil, coolant, automatic transmission, power steering, brake master cylinder, and battery. Check tire pressure. Check under your car for abnormal leaks or non-standard conditions.

Consult your car’s maintenance manual for recommended preventative maintenance of items such as oil changes, inspecting belts, replacing engine air filter and cabin air filter, replacing coolant, checking coolant protection, hoses and clamps, inspecting brake pads and rotors, linings and drums, inspecting and repacking wheel bearings, and replacing spark plugs.

Many car shops and dealerships will recommend this maintenance at half these intervals to generate revenue. In fact, some make more money with their service operation than they do with their sales operation. Go with the manufacturer recommendation, and you will be within the warrantee requirements. Keep all service records in one place where you can refer to them, if the shop calls to prescribe service. If the records are in your car at the shop you’re at a disadvantage. This way you are in control of the process.

How long do certain parts last?

Fuel filter 30-40,000 miles
Air filters 30-40,000 miles
Brake pads or linings 30-40,000 miles
Engine belts 40-60,000 miles
Struts 40-60,000 miles
CV joints 70-90,000 miles
Battery and cables 3-5 years

By following these regular maintenance and preventative procedures, you’ll take of the care and feeding of your car, and it will serve you better.

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Car Care Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Car

Aren’t we all interested in getting the most out of our car? How many of us have wondered after leaving a car shop or dealership “Was I just scammed on that repair?” Well, I’d guess that’s the majority of us. We’ve all had those concerns once in our life.

Dennis E. Horvath  Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath
Dennis E. Horvath
Copyright ©2012 Dennis E. Horvath

Fellow motorists, that’s why I’d like to share some car care tips on how to be an astute car owner, get the appropriate work done, not more, and how to extend the life of the investment in your car.

The research on this topic started some time ago after having some car work done at a place where I believe I was scammed. That led to doing some research and reading The Savvy Women’s Guide to Cars by Lisa Murr Chapman. With some basic knowledge, information, and record keeping you can achieve our two goals of getting the right work done and extending the life of your car.

First, let’s look at some facts. The Department of Transportation reports that 53 percent of all auto repair costs are unnecessary. Consumer rights activist Ralph Nader estimated this costs at least $40 billion annually. Independent studies concluded that correct diagnosis and repair of an automotive problem occurred less than 30 percent of the time.

Here’s a little known fact that auto shops and dealerships don’t want you to know. Many service technicians earn a commission on every condition diagnosed and repaired, whether it’s needed or not. How do I know this? In one case, I experienced a head service technician who recommended “Cleaning and adjusting of our rear drum brakes for $26.” I had been driving over 30 years, and I never had this service diagnosed. I was skeptical, but I approved it. When I showed up to pay the bill, that work was not listed, but the total bill included it. Why wasn’t the service listed? After researching some car repair manuals, I noted that our drum brakes were self adjusting. Thus, I paid for something that was not required, if it was done at all. Guess if I ever returned to that facility.

That’s just one small instance I will cite for now. Being savvy about your car care concerns is what my series of tips will be about. Check back for more “Car Care Tips.” I’ll see you around the virtual water cooler.

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