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Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Using the Right Fluids in the Winter

During the winter, all kinds of road conditions exist – black ice, frozen bridges, freezing rain, etc. While all these things are important, nothing can be more damaging to a car in the winter is water – and not the kind falling from the sky or freezing on the road – the kind that may be in your radiator.

 

Some people choose to top off their radiators with just water instead of coolant or antifreeze, which you can get away in the warmer months. It’s a little risky, as water boils at 212° and engines operate near that, but it’s doable in a pinch. In the winter, however, water is dangerous due to it’s high freezing point.

 

Water freezes at 32°F. Carolina winters may not be extremely brutal, but it isn’t uncommon to drop into the 20’s on a cold January night. This is where problems start. When water freezes, it expands, and it can do some serious damage if given the chance. Radiators that crack in the winter usually do so because water froze. On older engines, it’s even possible to crack the engine block itself. Engine blocks have small little caps, called freeze plugs or core plugs, that are designed to pop out when fluids begin to freeze. If they fail to do so, serious damage can occur.

 

While engine block cracks are rare, radiator cracks are very common in the winter for this reason. The problem is even bigger today as most modern radiators are now plastic, not metal. It’s important to switch to coolant, which has a much lower freezing point, to prevent this.

 

The same can be said for windshield washer fluid. While using water only is fine in the summer, in the winter it can freeze and crack your washer fluid reservoir. Not to mention if you need to clear your windshield you can’t! It’s important to at least switch to an all-season blend that has a freezing point below 32°F, but a de-icer blend is probably best.

Have any questions about fluids? Need a fluid exchange? Feel free to call Manchester Auto & Tire of Mint Hill, LLC at 704-545-4597, email us at kenmanchester1@gmail.com, or message us on Facebook at www.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 Read Tire Sizes

Have you ever tried reading your tire size? It looks like a jumbled mess, doesnt it? Even though theres a lot to take in, theres actually a pretty useful and interesting meaning behind each and every aspect. To better explain, lets take a look at an example:

P245/55R16

P stands forpassenger.” This is the Tire Type. Tires withPon them are designed to go on passenger vehicles usually sedans and some light unibody SUVs. Another thing you may see isLT” (Light Truck) this is usually put on big trucks like F350s and some bodyonframe SUVs.

245 is the Tire Width in millimeters from sidewalltosidewall. This area generally encompasses all of your tires tread. In our example, 245 means 245 millimeters.

55 is the Aspect Ratio. This measures the height of the sidewall from where it meets the rim to the tread. In our example, 55 means the sidewall height is 55% of the tire width (which we said earlier was 245 millimeters.)

R is the Construction. In our example we have aRtire a radial which means the tire layers run radially across the tire. Almost all tires on the road use this structure, but you may also see crossply style tires.

16 is the Wheel Diameter in inches. This is a simple measurement of the size of your wheel (sometimes called a rim) and in our example, the wheel size is 16 inches.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Why Rust is so Dangerous.

If you’ve ever owned a car that was once from a northern state or a beach, you probably know what rust is – its a recation caused by the iorn meeting air and water – iorn oxide – and since steel is an alloy that contsins iorn, it’s a prime suspect. Usually, you’ll see rust on the paint or on the exaust pipes.

This is called cosmetic rust. This kind of rust, though ugly, is not a safety issue. This usually happens because a rock made a tiny chip in the paint and air/water found their way onto the metal. Most exterior body parts are not structural, like quarterpanels, doors and hoods. However rust becomes more than just a cosmetic flaw and sign of age when it gets to the structural components.

 

Most vehicles on the road today, spare some trucks and SUV’s, are unibody. This means that the vehicle’s frame and the vehicle’s actual body (except for things like doors, hoods and trunks lids) are one connected piece. So if rust gets here, the entire car’s safety at risk. Rust at this level can spread like wildfire, and once the rust takes over the unibody frame, the repairs can be more than the car is worth, and more than most people probably have in their bank accounts. Accidents of any kind, even small ones, can become deadly because the vehicle has reduced structural integrity.

‘So what should I do about it?” you ask?

Generally speaking it’s best to have your vehicle checked out by a professional so they can really get into the deeper crevices of your vehicle. This is usually included in things like pre-purchase inspections. When buying cars, avoid those with frame rust, even if it is minor. If the car you own has frame rust, consider replacement. Your safety is the most important thing.

 

As always, 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 if you have any questions.

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 – How to Keep Up With Recalls and See if Your Car Has Been Recalled.

Recalls are a dime a dozen. Sometimes recalls are issued in small batches, like when Volkswagen recalled just 250 cars earlier this year, and sometimes they’re huge, like when Takata had 35-40 Million inflators recalled by more than a half-dozen different manufacturers including Honda, Ferrari and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles. While quality control on today’s cars are, for the most part, better than vehicles of the past, no company is perfect and recalls happen. This ultimately rases one big question; “How do I know if my car was recalled?” Fortunatley, theres many ways to check.

Mail

If the manufacturer of your vehicle has a current address for you, they can send you recall info right to your mailbox. This isn’t the most reliable source, however, as mail delivery can be inconsistent, and you even getting a recall letter is entirely dependent on the manufacturer having a valid address for you.

Primetime News

Major recalls, Such as the Takata Airbag recall, usually make national news, and recalls that effect certain geographical areas, like recalls for salt corrosion issues, usually make local news. Again, this isn’t the most reliable method since some recalls are small in nature, you may not see a recall for your vehicle in the news.

Automotive News Outlets

Unlike nightly news, magazines and websites based around the automotive industry rely on recall information to reel in readers. Some popular ones include Motor Trend, www.autonews.com, and Car and Driver. Again, these sites and mags may not run info on small batch recalls, but can be earlier in reporting than non-automotive focused sources.

www.nhtsa.gov/recalls

The National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration, or NHTSA, has an option on their site for checking if your vehicle has been recalled. You can check most accuratley by entering your vehicle’s 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) which can be found under the windshield, on the door or door jam, and on your registration card. There’s also some other cool tools there like a tire-brand safety checker. This is ususally the best source because it finds recalls based on your exact vehilce thanks to the VIN tool.

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 Summer Road Trip?

Finally, summer is here! The older kids are back from college and the younger ones will be done in June. It’s time to start planning that family road trip, and you’ve already picked a spot, booked the hotel, and packed your bags, but there’s one thing left to do – make sure the car is ready. But what exactly should you do though to get your car ready? Here’s a few key checkpoints to look over:

 

  • Tires

Tires are important all the time, but especially so on a road trip. After all, they are the one thing separating you from the road. Check tread wear and make sure the tire has not worn unevenly, and check tread depth to make sure it is above 2/32″. If a tire is not “ready” it should be replaced before a road trip, especially if its a long one.

  • Fluids

This one you should take your car to the shop for because a proper fluid check looks at more than just the fluid itself. An old hose carrying coolant, for example, may be able to take the workload of your 20 minute commute fine, but could bust on a 7 hour drive, so its best to replace before that happens. A proper fluid check for road trips doesn’t just top off fluids, but checks for leaks that may be hard to see and, if needed, replaces old, worn-out lines and cracked hoses

Don’t forget, you may need to have your A/C fixed, if you’re already in for a fluid checkover, that’s the best time to do so!

  • Fuel Economy

Gas is expensive, and it adds up quick on a road trip. Don’t take the biggest vehicle you own if you don’t have to. Bigger vehicles and bigger engines consume more fuel and have worse MPG’s.

  • Safety/First-Aid Kit.

A First-Aid Kit is a great thing to have in a car at any time, but especially so during a road trip. A summer-ready kit should contain the basics such as band aids, gause and snacks, but should also have sunscreen, a portable battery pack to charge phones (some of these packs double as jumper boxes for your car, that’s always a plus) as well as a warning sign (they are triangular and orange) and some over-the-counter style scrape cleaner.

  • Have Some Repair Money Ready.

It’s unfortunate, but things break. Sometimes they break away from home. Though hopefully this never happens to you, have some money set asside for incase you have to make emergency repairs.

PROTIP: Most independent shops have a nationwide warrenty program. Go to these shops. For example, if you have your vehicle serviced at a shop with a TechNet warrenty program in Texas, and that part needs to be warranteed out back here in NC, any shop that uses that program can do the job here at home, and vice-versa.

  • Consider Your Vehicle’s Mileage.

Some cars break more than others. For example, an Ol’ Reliable 2000 Chevy Tahoe with 240,000 miles is something to be proud of, and is a great daily driver, but it’s 18 years old and is more likley to break down on the road. If the miles are high on your vehicle, it is probably best to rent something else for the trip.