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Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Who Can Buy OEM Parts?

If you’ve ever bought a new car, you’ve likely gotten fliers in the mail from the dealer. “Bring your car back to us, our dealers install Brand XYZ Genuine Parts” for example. These pamphlets heavily imply their parts – Original Equipment – is superior and exclusive. Is that true? Yes and no.

 

Dealers do have parts straight from the “OEM” – the Original Equipment Manufacturer. The parts on their shelves are the same ones used on the assembly lines. What dealers don’t mention, however, is that these parts can often be found at an auto parts store, and are available to independent repair shops.

 

Take for example Toyota and Denso. Most “Toyota Genuine Parts” aren’t actually built by Toyota themselves. Why is that? Because Toyota owns about 25% of Denso, an auto parts manufacturer. Denso, though influenced by their big brother Toyota, still want to make lots of money, and playing an exclusive game isn’t going to do that. So to remedy that they sell to others. They label parts under the Denso name so they can be resold without being attached to Toyota. Denso sells to companies like the Hyundai Motor Company, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, and even domestics like General Motors. Most importantly though, they sell to the general public. Despite Toyota owning so much of Denso, they actually make up less than half of their total revenue.

 

There’s plenty more examples of this – General Motors and ACDelco, Ford and Motorcraft, Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles and Mopar.

 

So what does this all mean? It means that independent auto shops have access to original equipment just like dealers – and usually for a better price.

 

This is huge for a few reasons. The first reason is ease of mind. When the OEM’s can sell directly to shops and consumers, there’s no need to worry if the part “fits” or is “built well.” It is the exact same part, albeit under the occasional different label. The second reason is that with the parts available to the public, you aren’t restricted to going to the dealer for the highest quality part – you can get it at your shop of choice, or at a parts store to do it yourself.

 

By selling to more than just manufacturers, independent and even chain stores benefit by being able to see high quality parts, and in turn parts companies get to make more money. It’s a win-win! So the next time you see an ad from your local dealer, don’t think they’re the only ones with access to the original brand of parts – everyone else does, too.

 

If you have any more questions about auto parts, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireofMintHill.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Beware of Florence’s Flooded Cars

Shortly after the storm, Texas World Speedway began to house about 10% of all flood damaged cars from Hurricane Harvey.

Hurricane Florence was one of the worst storms to hit the Carolinas in years. The coastal region experienced large amounts of flooding, and as a result many cars were terminally damaged in the process. Unfortunately, flood cars are the automobile version of Frankensteins Monster they commonly are refurbished and put back out on the street, despite being unsafe and needing to be in a car graveyard. You plan on being in the used car market in the upcoming weeks, be aware of the potential of buying a flooded car and know the signs and symptoms to look for.

1Salvage Titles.

Salvage Titles are a great way to find flood vehicles, but it is flawed system. Any car effected by a flood is considered a total loss, and any that go back out on the road wind up with a salvage titlethat is, if it was reported in the first place. While many auto owners will do what is right and report to their insurance companies, many will attempt to hide any damage on the vehicle and resell it as if the vehicle was never involved. Remember, a clean title does not necessarily mean a clean car.

2. Your Senses are Your Friends.

While some may go above and beyond to hide flood damage, shoddy jobs are easy to detect with your eyes and nose. Does the car smell moldy? Does the car smell like a airfreshenerbomb went off inside, like theyre trying to hide a smell? Does the carpet have stains that dont look like a drink spill? Are there stains on the roof? Have the rugs been recently replaced? Do electronics not work? If your answer to questions like these is “yesyou should probably run.

3. Deals so Good, Theyre Fishy.

Check and see what cars are going for in your area with national evaluators. For example, a baselevel 2013 Toyota Camry LE with 80,000 miles is currently worth $7,0008,000 in “Good” condition According to Kelly Blue Book. If you see one that hit the used car circuit after midSeptember and it only costs $4,000, youve probably got a flood car.

4. You Arent in the Clear because you live in Mint Hill

The easiest place to sell flooded vehicles is in a place that did not flood. While Mint Hill did receive an average of about 9.5 inches of rain during Florence, our weather was considerably less violent than that which hit the coast. Due to the fact that we had minimal to no flooding, used car sellers may attempt to pedal cars in our area after all, why would we expect to be buying flooded cars if we didnt get flooded?

5. Flood Damage isnt Just in the Cabin

If a car in a flooded area didnt have damage to the cabin, many sellers think theyre in the clear. However, flooding does just as much damage to frames and engines as it does to interiors, and thats where the real danger lies. Flooded engines commonly act like lemons (If you missed our article about those, head over to www.autorepairminthill.com to catch up!) and cars with frame rust are extremely deadly in crashes. Take a peek under the hood at the engine and look under the vehicle at the frame. If you see any rust, run.

Like with any list, we have not covered every possible sign of flood damage, so be sure to check the news for ways to find flood cars that may not have been covered in our article. Most importantly, stay safe! If you have any questions, feel free to call us at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or send us a message on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireOfMintHill.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How Warranties Work with Independent Shops

Have you ever been in the process of buying a new car, and during the process the salesperson says “be sure to get your car repaired here so it will be under a warranty!” This is a sales tactic dealerships have said for years, that they could do something no mom-and-pop shop could – offer a warranty that worked nationwide. While once upon a time this was the case, for years now that statement has been untrue. Independent auto shops can offer nationwide warranties just like large chains and dealers.

While dealers and chains offer warranties through their parent company, independent shops offer warranties via their parts suppliers. By having a membership in one of these programs, independent shops agree to use a specific supplier of parts for most of their repairs, and in return the auto parts suppliers will cover the cost of any warranty work should it be needed.

 

These warranties work kind of like like in-network doctors. All the shops that agree to be part of the warranty service agree to do warranty work because the parts supplier will cover the cost. So if you have a water pump installed at a shop in Mint Hill and it goes bad on your trip to Chicago, all you have to do is visit an “in-network” shop and they can do the warranty work at no charge to you just like if you had the job done at home. There are however some guidelines that have to be followed:

1. You need proof of purchase

Like with many things, you’ll need to show a receipt to prove you had the inital work done in the first place. Always keep receipts from repairs in the glove box when you’re going away from home.

2. You should go “in-network”

Much like with doctors or car dealerships, if you go outside the certified warranty providers, you’ll probably have to pay. Always call the 1-800 number given to you when you break down away from home to make sure you go to a shop that can provide you the proper warranty work. The number can usually be found at the bottom of your receipt. If you werent given a 1-800 number, call your local shop back home and have them give it to you. If you go outside of network, you may have to pay for work and there is no guarentee you’ll be covered. Don’t take that chance!

This also goes with any rental you may need – don’t assume any rental car company of your choice will be covered. You may have to go through a specific company like Hertz or Enterprise. Be sure to ask the serivce provider to see who is covered.

3. Check to See How Long Your Warranties Last.

Some warranties last 12 months/12,000 miles, some last 10 Years/100,000 miles, depending on what is being provided. Be sure to check and see how long yours lasts.

4. Remember a Indpendent Shop’s Warranty won’t Void a Dealer’s.

In the United States it is the law that car manufacturers honor warranties they offer. If you bought a car in June and it has major issues in July, don’t let them tell you “no” because you have had services done at local shops. It is not true. You’re covered.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How Auto Tarriffs Could Impact Your Current Car

Not too long ago the United States Government proposed a 25% tariff on imported auto parts. The general idea behind these tariffs is to encourage domestic automakers to manufactuer their parts in the United States, and encourage foreign automakers to build plants in the United States to create jobs. While we’re still unsure if this tariff will actually happen, both car and parts manufacturers believe tariffs could cause huge changes in pricing in the “short run” both for new cars and for general automotive repairs on the ones you already own – even for domestics.

 

“American Car” is a Loose Term

You may be thinking “I drive a Chevy/Buick/Ford/Dodge, etc., those are American, why would their parts cost more?” Simply put, because there is no such thing as a 100% American Car. According to Cars.com, 2017’s most American made vehicle was the 2017 Jeep Wrangler, and it was only 74% domestic – which means that more than quarter of the vehicle’s parts or labor involved in the build came from elsewhere. Another example is General Motors. GM is distincly American, but not everything they sell is. Ever since their aquisition of Daewoo and renaming it GM Korea, General Motors has built a slew of vehicles overseas and imported them to the States. The Chevrolet Spark EV, for example, is built in Changwon, South Korea and uses minimal American parts, dispite being a product of the Detroit automaker. Many sedans that Chevy sells are just rebadged Holden vehicles, an Austrailian automaker GM owns.

 

This also happens to work in reverse – many Japanese cars can qualify as “highly American.” Honda Ridgeline was the 4th most American vehicle according to the Cars.com list – It is built in Alabama with many American made parts. Honda has even exported things it’s built in the USA to Japan, like the K20C1 engine it uses in it’s Type-R Civics.

Almost every vehicle on the street, American or not, uses some American and some foreign parts.

 

When it comes time to replace those foreign parts, the cost will most likley be transferred to the consumer.

Everyone – Dealer, the auto parts store, Mom-and-Pop-Shop and the DIY dad who works on his car every Saturday could pay more. Dealers, who install parts built directly by the manufacturers will take a large blow in price since their foreign parts are imported from their own factories, but local independent shops and your local auto parts stores will too, as many aftermarket parts manufacturers outsource. According to the journalism site Automotive News, The companies behind the North American branches of Michelin, Sumitomo, and Cooper, sent joint letter to the Commerce Department warning that higher tire prices could cause consumers to wait too long and cause an uptick in tire-related accidents. Long story short – parts won’t be cheap for anyone.

Labor rates accross the board should remain the same, but don’t be suprised to pay more for car repairs, even if you do it yourself.

 

If you have any questions about auto repairs, pricing, and general automotive issues, feel free to call us at 704-545-4597.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – How to Improve Fuel Economy… Without Buying a New Car

Lets not play games, folks – we can pretend, we can say it’s not a big deal, but that does not shield us from the truth – gas is expensive! Saving at the pump is crucial now more than ever. Here’s some simple, easy-to-do tricks to increase those MPG’s.

Weight Reduction

Weight Reduction sounds complex, like something someone trying to shave a tenth of a second off their lap time at Charlotte Motor Speedway would do, but it’s actually easier than you think. Those of you who have a second home in their trunk or a nice heavy toolbox on their truckbed should consider removing anything in or on the vehicle that isn’t important. This can include things like gym bags, electronics, or tools you have not used in forever.

Throttle Control

Now, I am all for solid takeoff times – After all I used to have a Challenger I ran at the drag strips when I lived in Florida – but you don’t have to pull off of a red light guns blazing. A gentle approach to your desired speed is better for your wallet. This also applies to merging onto the highway. Remember, those on-ramps are designed to get you up to the speed limit before you actually hit the highway, there’s no need to floor it down one.

Spark Plugs

This one is a bit tricky, because doing spark plugs just for the sake of doing them is meaningless if you don’t need them. It’s worth considering if you are having severe fuel economy issues, but if the plugs are fairly new, there’s no sense in replacing them. As with many things, check with a professional first to avoid unnecessary spending.

No Unnecessary Idling

Sitting in a parking lot, waiting in a long drive thru line, stop-and-go traffic… If you find yourself in any of these situations on the regular, you’re burning gas at a horribly fast rate. So the next time you want to wait in line for your mocha frappuccino, consider parking and walking in.

Find Cheaper Gas

If you visit Costco, BJ’s, or even some Walmarts that sell gas, buy it. It can be 20¢ cheaper sometimes. We haven’t bought gas for our company van anywhere else since just because of that.

If you prefer traditional pumps, check out phone apps like GasBuddy. Apps like these show you the cheapest gas near where you are, whether you’re here at home or 1000 miles away.

 

As always, if you have questions about your car’s fuel economy, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at facebook.com/ManchesterAutoandTireOfMintHill.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Should I Trade in My Car?

 

Have you ever owned a car that seemed to spend more time in the garage getting fixed than in your garage at home? As you sit in the waiting room of the auto shop you find yourself asking “Is it time for a new car? I’m here it seems quite a bit.” The answer to that question, like many other things in the auto industry, isn’t as black-and-white as it may seem.

Consider Current Repair Costs.

It isn’t fun when you have to give up your car for a day to have it fixed. It can seem tedious when you go to your local shop almost monthly, but consider the average dollar amount of what you spend fixing your car – is it less than $509 a month? According to Cars.com, that was the average price of a new car payment in the first quarter of 2017. If you’re spending more than that on average, it’s time for a new car (or a new-to-you used car with low milage – cars just off their first-owner’s lease are great buys!)

 

Consider A New Car’s Future Repairs.

Buying a new car isn’t like buying a TV. You can’t just save up for it, buy it, and be done spending – even with a new car, you’ll have to visit the shop. Though maintaining a new car is inherently cheaper than maintaining an old one, oil changes, factory-required tune ups at specific mileage, and the like still have to be done. Bottom line – if you can afford a car payment, but can’t afford the car’s maintanence that goes with it, you can’t afford a new car.

Consider the Time Value of a New Car.

Let’s say you spend only $1,800 a year keeping your old car running. Averaging just $150 a month is great for a car 15-20 years old, but what if it is your only mode of transportation and you can’t make the time to go to the shop? It may be time to get a new car. Though you’ll likely be paying more monthly due to a car payment, you’ll be in the shop far less – probably just once every 3-5 months for those oil changes and factory-reqired jobs we talked about earlier. That may be worth more to you than the money you’re saving repairing the old car, depending on your job or health.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Ready for a Winter Road Trip?

Once again, the holidays have arrived. Colder weather, lots of food, and, for some, road trips. While a road trip may seem like a fun adventure, having one in cold weather is a whole new ballgame. Before you head over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, ask yourself, “Is my car ready for a winter road trip?” If you aren’t sure, here are a few things to check before you leave.

1. Tires.

Tires are important in any season – after all, they do keep you glued to the road – but in winter tires have all new obsticals to overcome. Things like black ice, snow, and even heavy rain are all things you may see on your trip, and old tires are dangerous in these situations. 2/32″ is the legal minimum for tire tread, but if you are traveling somewhere that definitley is getting snow (Buffalo, for example) you should replace long before that.

2. Wipers.

Much like tires, wipers are also an all-season divice, but becomes much more useful in the winter. In areas where snow has fallen and things like mush and salt cover the road, your wipers will be in almost constant use. If your wipers are old, they may not wipe off melted snow or physical debris as well as new ones would.

3. Defrosters.

Even in a fairly mild winter climate like the Carolinas, windshields and mirrors are bound to freeze over or fog up. While it may not be necessary to have defrosters, they will save you lots of time keeping your windshield visible. If your car comes equipped with them, check them!

4. Washer fluid.

If you live in or are visiting somewhere that has temperatures are below freezing, water won’t be a good substitute for washer fluid. Most washer fluid is designed to freeze at a much lower temperature than water, and also is better at breaking up snow and salt on your windshield. Of all the things on this list, washer fluid is both the fastest and cheapest fix, so be sure to change your fluid!

5. Be prepared for emergencies.

Though you never want to break down, it is always best to be prepared in case you do. A winter emergency car pack should have things like blankets, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, and warning markers. Portable phone charge-packs are also useful so your cellphone can stay on even when the car cannot.

6. Have your battery tested.

Cold weather is a dangerous time to have an old battery. Have your battery tested by a professional to see if the battery is healty enough to take on a long trip. If not, consider replacement.

7. Consider an oil change.

Consider how long the trip is, in miles, and compare to where you are in your oil’s life. If you think you’ll pass your vehicle’s “milage due” for an oil change, it may be best to do it before you leave.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is Winterizing My Car?

It’s getting colder out! Winter will soon be here, and you’re probably ready to bust out your favorite coat and make some nice hot coffee. But did you know your car needs some TLC to be ready for colder weather too? As colder weather approaches, it’s time to winterize your car.

 

Winterizing is the process of Inspecting and replacing parts and fluids to make sure your vehicle can handle the harsher weather. It is best to get this done in the fall, just before temperatures really start to fall, but it can be done at any point in the cold months. Listed below are some of the things that are done to winterize a car.

 

  1. Inspect the Battery.

Batteries don’t like cold, and things like low charge and corroded terminals only exacerbate the situation. Usually a quick clean of the battery is all that is necessary, but sometimes a battery needs to be recharged or replaced.

  1. Inspect the Oil.

Oil is the lifeblood of your car. While in extreme temperatures it may be necessary to switch to less-thick oil, it usually isn’t necessary in the fairly tame Carolina Piedmont winters. However, if your oil is old (around 5 months or older) it may warrant a change, and switching to synthetic isn’t a bad choice either.

  1. Inspect the Coolant.

Coolant is possibly the most important piece in this equation. Coolant (sometimes called antifreeze) should be inspected to assure that there is not water or grime in the system. While water can freeze at 32°F, coolant cannot. If your vehicle is using water instead of coolant, it is crucial it be replaced. Some coolants are designed for cold weather, but it may not be necessary to switch from regular coolant due to the fact that the Carolina Piedmont rarely goes below 20°F, but it may be useful for those who commute to the Appalachian Mountains.

  1. Inspect the Washer Fluid.

Washer Fluid is a great tool to help defrost a windshield. While most washer fluids are predesigned to not freeze at 32°F, some can and it is necessary to replace these fluids with cold-resistant ones. This is another example of a place where water won’t cut it as it freezes. It is worth noting that mixing coolant into the washer fluid is not recommended, as coolant can corrode paint and is dangerous to the natural wildlife as well as pets.

  1. Inspect tires.

Are your tires old? Is the tread at or below 2/32”? Is the wear uneven? If so, you should heavily consider replacing them. Tires with bad tread do poorly on black ice, which is common in this region of North Carolina. For the Carolina Piedmont snow tires and chains aren’t necessary, as the snowfall is usually less than an inch and only happens a few times a year. ALWAYS MAKE SURE TIRES ARE INFLATED PROPERLY FOR THE BEST POSSIBLE TRACTION IN COLD WEATHER!!!

  1. Pack an Emergency Kit.

Though this one is designed for cities with extreme cold and heavy snowfall, it’s still a great idea. Winter emergency kits usually have a flashlight, an ice scraper, a blanket, a warning/S.O.S light and non-perishable food.

  1. Inspect the Belts and Hoses.

Belts and hoses are notorious for snapping in cold weather. These should be inspected and replaced if they show signs of cracking or age.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What is “Preventive Maintenance?”

If you’ve ever had your car in a shop, you’ve most likely heard the term “preventative maintenance” at some point. However, just what is preventative maintenance? To put it simply, preventative maintenance are jobs done to your car to prevent problems, as compared to regular service, which you do while the problem is occurring. Changing spark plugs, filters, and belts are kinds of preventative maintenance done  during factory-preset intervals. Even something as common as an oil change is technically preventative maintenance, because you don’t change your oil after it has turned to muck in your engine, you change it beforehand to prevent it from doing so.

When Should I do Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is done either when the factory recommends it (this is usually listed in your owner’s manual) or when a technician spots something wearing a bit prematurely. For example, a timing belt is usually recommended to be changed at 90,000 miles, but it may be changed earlier if a professional notices cracks or other wear in the belt.

How Do I Know if I Actually Need What’s Recommended?

The best way to know is to ask your service provider to show you. Any reputable shop will gladly do this for you and take pride in making sure you understand fully what is needed.

Is Recommended Maintenance the Same for Every Car?

No. While there are many similar components in cars that may require maintenance, no two cars have the same preventative maintenance schedule. You should always check with your manual and automotive service provider to see what your car’s specific needs will be down the road.

 

To recap, preventative maintenance is a “catch-it-early” repair service. All cars have a preventative maintenance schedule, and it is always best to check to see what your car needs when. We hope this article helped!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – 3 Tips to Extend Tire Life

Tires are one of the most important pieces of your car – not just because they actually let your move, but because they are one of the most important safety tools your car has. As the increasing amount of research and development of tires sends prices up and up, many people are left wondering “How do I get my money’s worth out of my tires?” Believe it or not, there’s a lot of easy tips and tricks that can help you do just that.

 

  • Check your tire’s air pressure.

Over-inflated or under-inflated tires are one of the biggest reasons tires wear unevenly and prematurely. To prevent this from happening, check your tires at least once a month to see if the tire pressure is right. If you aren’t sure what the correct tire pressure is, check your car’s driver’s side door panel, there’s usually a sticker there indicating what the correct pressure your tires should be at. Tire gauges can be bought for as little as $2.00 both in stores and online.

Some forms of uneven tread wear.

  • Have your alignment checked.

A wheel alignment is an adjustment of your car’s basic suspension components. A bad alignment is usually most obvious when your steering wheel “pulls” to the left or right, but there are other things that an alignment can affect besides the direction your wheels what to go in. An alignment adjusts your car’s camber, or the angle at which your tire is pointing. If a wheel’s camber is off, a tire can wear unevenly on one specific side, causing the tires to need replacement. An alignment can be checked fairly easily by professionals and of you feel there may be an alignment problem, ask that it be checked the next time you head in for an oil change.

 

  • Rotate your tires.

Rotating the tires is the simple act of moving the rear wheels and tires to the front, and the front to the rear. This extends tread life because front tires wear quicker than rear ones due to the fact that front tires are the tires you steer with. By rotating at regular intervals, tire wear can be “evened out” among all four tires so the front two don’t have to be replaced before the rear two. Tire rotation is recommended every other oil change, or 6 months, whichever comes first.