What to Check on Your Car Before the Next Holiday Road Trip

If you are planning a getaway, one of the best ways to save money is to take a road trip.

Not only will you save money on airfare, you can also experience different areas of the country and enjoy the freedom of stopping whenever you want to take a picture or get a bite to eat. If you plan on taking your own vehicle on your holiday road trip, it is important to check several different components of your vehicle before you hit the road. Just because your automobile operates fine when you commute does not make it safe for long distance trips. Failing to check out your car for issues before your holiday can cost you your trip and a lot of money. Make sure not to overlook the following components of your vehicle and stay safe in the rain, the snow, and even in the heat.

 

5 Auto Areas to Inspect Before You Go on Vacation 
 

Tire Check

Your tires are the only part of your car that touches the road. If they are worn, warped, or not balanced, you are taking a huge risk traveling on the road. If you are traveling in the winter, you need to make sure you have a fresh set that is designed for slick and snow-filled roads. If you are traveling in hot temperatures, you need to make sure that your tires are not over-inflated. Air inside the tire will contract and expand in the heat which can lead to flat tires.

 

Braking System

You cannot control the traffic when you leave for a road trip. If the weather conditions are poor, you can expect the snow and the rain to cause traffic jams in congested or metropolitan areas. You should always make sure that your brakes are in working order. If your car does not stop on a dime, you are putting yourself and your family at-risk. Make sure your brakes do not need to be replaced and schedule a brake appointment if necessary.

 

Windshield Wipers

When you inspect your automobile, it is important not to overlook even the smallest components. While your windshield wipers do not affect the mechanical health of your automobile, they do affect visibility. Imagine driving in the rain without windshield wipers. Not only is this dangerous for you, it is dangerous to others. Make sure your wipers do not need to be replaced and choose a durable brand that will last.

 

Engine Oil

The oil in your engine keeps the pistons and moving parts lubricated. It is best to make sure that your oil has been changed before you set off. If the oil is dirty or too low, your
engine will start to overheat. This can cause major damage. You should be sure you use the appropriate oil in the winter and in the summer.

 

Transmission Fluid 

If your transmission fluid is dirty or low, it can cause your transmission to stall or burn out. Make sure you have your transmission fluid changed. It is best to have an entire tuneup so that your spark plugs are replaced.

 

If you want to feel safe on the road, schedule an appointment with a local auto mechanic. The mechanic will check out all of the major components and may point out issues you were not aware of. Doing this can save you tons of money and will give you peace of mind.

 

Functionality during Winter

I use the term Winter loosely because here in Arizona, we think of Winter slightly different than the rest of the nation.  However, even with the mild winters here, there are still some things that should be inspected on your vehicles to insure proper functionality.

 

If you’re like me and quickly get spoiled with the temperatures, then you better not overlook the operation of your heater, specifically, your heater core.  As the temperatures start to drop and 70 degrees in the morning feels like someone put you in an ice chest, then you’re going to want to ensure proper functionality before it really gets cold.

 

You say, Cooling System…?? In Winter?  We get so much use out of our vehicles cooling system during the summer that it would also be a good idea to have the system flushed and make sure it’s operational.  The cooling system should be flushed once a year to maintain proper pH balances and protection for the entire system, from the hoses down to the engine block.  Failure to do this may cause corrosion when you need it most and you will find yourself spending money on problems that could’ve been prevented.

 

Ideas for “Winterizing” your car or truck

 

  • Flush coolant system and make sure it’s fully operational.  Make sure you get the system tested.
  • Make sure the system is filled with the manufacturer’s recommended coolant.
  • Make sure your thermostat is operational and replace if needed.
  • Heater Hoses:  Shouldn’t be too firm, no signs of leaking, no cracks:  System should be pressure tested.
  • Air Filter: Inspect, clean or replace, if necessary.  Air quality (dust storms) in area have a big impact
  • Cabin Air Filter: Windows fogging up, not getting much air flow?  Replace cabin filter 12,000-15,000 miles but again, air quality will play a big role. (It’s not the best in Arizona)

 

Get Ready for Winter BEFORE it Gets Here;  Indirectly be Ready for Summer at the Same Time!

 

 

 

 

Tis’ The Season…NOT the Holidays though!

As I was day dreaming of something to write about, I realized I was sweating profusely and happened to check the temperature which was steady at 105 degrees.  I realized all too quickly what that means for not only my vehicle but yours as well.

 

Summer in the Phoenix Valley is fast approaching with these 90+ degree days and we all know that the added heat can cause many more problems for the vehicles we drive on a daily basis.  It can be even worse if your car over heats or breaks down on the highway in 110 degrees.  If you know of a minor problem that you haven’t wanted to get fixed lately, now is a GREAT time to get your vehicle to Mile Auto Repair.  Maybe you don’t know of any problems but we will definitely do a thorough inspection for you.   Sometimes we put those things off because it’s not a safety issue, we don’t feel like paying the money (especially with tax season) or that “noise” just hasn’t been annoying enough to warrant a stop but the costs can grow pretty quickly.

*I would like to include a small checklist for you to be aware of while going into the summer*

Coolant Flush: The coolant should be flushed once a year to prevent any build up and to prevent corrosion on the inside of your radiator and cooling system.  If this is done once a year, you will keep a lot more money in your pocket and keep your system blowing cool for miles to come. (IF your car overheats – pull over IMMEDIATELY!)

 

Brakes/Pads:  You might not be aware of how much you have left on your brake pads but simply getting those inspected will save you from having to get all new brakes.  If you hear your brakes squeaking, it might be too late unfortunately but you should still get in and get those replaced.  It’s a major safety issue as well and if you’re traveling with others or kids, you may want to pay extra attention.  (We don’t turn rotors at Mile Auto Repair just because it’s “cheaper” – it’s NOT as safe especially with this heat and it can cause them to warp much easier.)

 

Tires:  The summer heat is just as bad on the tires as it is on the brakes and has potential to cause a lot of damage if blown out at higher speeds.  Make sure you check your tire pressure and keep that regulated.  Check the depth of your tread to make sure there is ample wear left with no balding spots.

 

Battery:  Last but not least is your battery.  Make sure your terminals are tightened and free from corrosion.  Get your battery replaced if you haven’t done so in a long time.  Most people don’t realize they’re in need of a battery until their car won’t start on their way to an important meeting.  Be Proactive!

Happy Customers make for Happy Businesses

Find out what your customers want and then give it to them.  Most times they will tell you exactly what they want, right?  Shouldn’t be too hard except when you’re dealing with a machine with over 3,000 moving parts.

 

We had a customer who asked us to do a pre-purchase vehicle inspection and upon a thorough inspection, we felt strongly that it would cause more harm to the pocket book than good.  They decided it was good enough for them because the dealer that it was coming from confirmed that everything was set and our analysis was incorrect…..yet again.  A short time later, they came back in for new tires and alignment.  We installed the same size tire that came off the car which was not the original size BUT in this case would not cause any problem.  There was nothing an alignment could do because there were front end issues which were pointed out already.  This is where it gets a little hectic but also a little fun because we happened to have another good customer with the same car and stock tire size still on!  We simply called them up and asked if we could change out the wheels to prove to the dealer that it was still going to pull to the right.  Unfortunately at this point, our customer who just bought a used car from a dealer is now in the cross fire and doesn’t know which party to believe.  It’s also hard to believe us when we’re getting bad mouthed every other minute and told that our techs don’t know what they’re talking about.

 

In FACT!  We knew so little of what we were talking about, we sent our customer back to the dealer so they could pay for his brand new tires and fix all the front end problems that we said he had.  We saved them over $1,000!  They were so wrong that the individual that “inspected” that vehicle and gave it a clean bill of health should be fired because of the liability and safety issues that it threatens the customer with.  Don’t ever confuse FACTS with OPINIONS.

 

If it’s your vehicle, your safety and/or your pocket book – you can rest assure that we have your best interests in mind.  We rather have you come back year after year and tell everyone else about us then steal $200 extra dollars from you and never see you again.

Work with the Experts

Mile Auto Repair was started because we got fed up with the standard auto repair industry practices and inexperienced, falsified sales methods.  Our industry is filled with companies trying to get you in the door by offering a free or highly discounted service (normally an oil change), only for them to hand you a grocery list of hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars of work that “needs” to be done “now” on your way out the door.    News Flash! This is how the majority of the industry is trained because they know you will most likely do at least one of those eight items they have just detailed for you.  Equally damaging is providing a lowball quote to get the vehicle in only to revamp the price afterwards when they “find” more problems wrong or they “misquoted” the parts.

 

The first question a potential customer asks is, “What is your labor rate?” and the second question usually is, “Can I have a quote on XYZ item?”  Those are both great questions when you’re buying a product that’s interchangeable between different companies, but when you’re buying a service with a long term relationship, you can’t always easily interchange the features and service provided.  When shopping for a service the question should become, “What’s your value?”  More often than not, customers will base their whole decision on the initial price quote which you can see from above, can be costly.

 

Mile Auto Repair employees have over 10 years of industry experience on average and over 40 years combined experience.  You should be confident that you are going to get honest and professional answers to your questions.  Not only will we give you our honest and professional opinions, we will also SHOW you exactly what’s wrong, how it may affect your safety and car down the road.  Without honest and professional advice, you’ll be surprised after every time you bring your car in for repairs.  You deserve reputable companies that are looking out for their customer’s best interests and ones that are ready to actively consult with you on the priorities of your vehicle and the best set of solutions.

Get What You Pay For? – YOU Decide

Many automotive repair companies LOVE to offer deals such as “$99 brake job with lifetime guarantee” or “Brakes for as low as $79!”  And many people are so concerned with price that they completely overlook the possibility that they’re getting inferior products and going to be right back in there in a couple months to repair “new parts.”

With that being said, I wanted to share an interaction I had with one of our customers that was in recently.  She had some noise coming from her brakes and was getting pretty annoyed with it.  Her significant other who happens to be a dealer tech had said we left out a part of the brakes when we put them back together.  This does two things: 1.  We did the brake job 3 years ago so blame would be on us even though I wasn’t the owner at the time and didn’t have control over the quality of work performed.  2.  He is a dealer tech so his comments would carry some weight which makes us look incompetent.

I told her that we’d take a look and see if there were any problems with the brakes and give them any attention they may need.  After removing the wheels, the brakes still looked new all the way around so I proceeded to pull up the repair history….and therein lies the issue!  There was a recommendation to replace pads and rotors with new.  “Customer declined repair, request pads replaced only.”  I don’t blame this customer because many people do it based purely on the price and/or lack of product knowledge.  In this case, the customer decided to go with a substantially cheaper option than originally quoted.  The “missing part” we forgot to install was actually the anti-rattle plate that premium brake pads come with…unlike the cheap pads that were requested.

The truth of the matter is: when it comes to automotive parts you truly do get what you pay for!  Let’s get back to these incredible deals being offered by many companies.  They know full well that they will send you out the door with a laundry list of other parts that need to be replaced.  They also know that you won’t read the fine print that states the noise coming from your brakes that’s going to drive you nuts won’t be covered and if you would like that fixed, they will gladly charge you labor once more and double the price for premium pads.

As a current customer or potentially new customer – you will NOT find any of that going on in my business.  Our labor rate is very competitive and our parts may cost a little more than normal if you’re running around price checking BUT…..we do it for a reason!  You’re going to get quality parts from us that we stand behind not only for cost effectiveness but your safety as well.  We will tell you what and why the particular part is recommended and we’ll also give you a cheaper option with the consequences that may appear.  We’re truthful and transparent which allows you as the customer to make an informed decision – that is ultimately what it’s about.

 

 

Electric Car

Check out these photos I took today of our customer’s car.  He’s invested $15k, built it himself and hasn’t paid for gas in 1 year.  So far he’s gotten 100 miles on a single charge but seeing as there aren’t many places to plug in your car these days, it’d be a tough call to see how far it will make it.

It Has to Start Somewhere

I started out at a young age, working in a small auto repair shop in Wisconsin where I began to pick up knowledge of the business I was working for, our competitors at the time, and the industry as a whole.  The preconceived notions of customers that are still stuck in my head to this day are that auto repair shops were around for two reasons:

  1. To scam customers
  2. To make money

I would like to add that I was most likely under the legal working age when I started and my ability to grasp what either of those concepts meant were minimal….but none the less those two concepts stuck.  They stuck with me because the owner believed those concepts were running throughout the industry and preached against them both vocally and by his actions.  He always taught us to focus on the job customers needed completed, doing it right the first time and making sure they were satisfied when they left.

 

I did fib a little bit – the city of Middleton was small – the shop itself was a good size and we were thriving! I’m also proud to say the owner was my uncle.  Needless to say, as I matured in my position at Bennett’s Middleton, I began to see what a true auto repair shop was supposed to be like.  I learned a lot in my 10 years there (I grasped these concepts as I was now legal and brilliant!)

 

If we look at a car as an investment (if you even call it that), it will be one of the worst investments you every make!  It depreciates faster than you can spell the word and it will be worth less the minute you drive off the lot.  Consumers already have to pay for insurance and gas on their amazing “investment” and then when something happens, they need to get it fixed??  That’s Correct!  With that being said, I tried to find a way that would help ease the pain of my customers when getting their car repaired.  I started to take the complexities of the vehicle and broke them all down to their simplest form and explained the benefits of it being serviced/repaired and the costs if it wasn’t fixed.  Once the veil of secrecy was taken off and customers started to understand, they became more trusting of the business and I.  That was it – Transparency!  There is no need or benefit to be pushy and misleading when we can be honest and create a customer for life.