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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 – The Most Common Ways Cars Fail State Inspections

State inspections are a staple of North Carolina Car Ownership, and you’ve most likley been through the process of getting one before. If you want to keep your visit short and sweet, try to avoid these common mistakes so you don’t have to spend extra time trying to pass.

Safety

All vehicles are required to go through a safety test. Vehicles model year 1995 and older, as well as vehicles less than three model years old and with less than 70,000 miles, require a Safety Only test. This test is $13.60 ($23.60 with window tint), and cannot have sales tax applied to it. This test covers all safety components such as brakes, headlights, wipers and tires.

Common Fail Methods: Bald Tires, Non-Functioning lights, Aftermarket Lights.

  • Tires cannot go below 2/32″ at their worst point. So even if the inside of the tire looks brand-new, if the tire has worn improperly and is below 2/32″ at any point, it fails.
  • Turn signals (with the exception of the rear turn signals which can be red and part of the brake light) must be amber in color. even if they function but are not amber, they fail.
  • All headlights, including high beams, must function, even if you only drive during the day. Sometimes high beams burn out, and you may not even know because you only use them on occasion. As always, check before you go to the test!
  • Aftermarket lights are cool, but unfortunately fail every time If it didn’t roll off the assembly line with them, the vehicle fails. That means no aftermarket LED headlights and no underglow. Many shops are petitioning this rule though, so don’t give up hope yet, tuners!

Emissions

Vehicles model year 1996 and above, with the exception of vehicles less than three model years old and with less than 70,000 miles, require a Safety & Emissions test, which is $30 ($40 with window tint) and cannot have sales tax applied to it. Safety & Emissions have all aspects of the Safety Only tests, as well as common emissions checks such as checking to make sure OBDII functions are not imapred, that vehicles have not had emission components tampered with, and that the vehicle does not have a the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (Check Engine Light or CEL for short) in the “on” position.

Common Fail Methods: CEL on, Non-functioning CEL, tampered emissions components.

  • Removing emissions components, like “Straightpiping” a car (removing the catalytic converter for a mean, deep rumble) are immediate fails.
  • When the car’s key is in the “on” or sometimes the “acc” position, most dash lights come on – they do this so you can check to see if the bulbs are still good. If the CEL does not illuminate here, the vehicle fails.
  • Check Engine Lights on vehicles that qualify for emissions tests cannot be on for any reason and still pass said emissions tests. Any vehicle with a CEL fails, even if just for a loose gas cap. Have it checked first!

Window Tint

In North Carolina, window tint can only be as dark as 35%, with exceptions being made for medical purposes. On cars, every window applies. On SUV’s, Trucks and everything else, only the front two have to be 35%, the rest can be as dark as desired. The windshield on any vehicle cannot have tint pass below the “AS1” line (check on the driver’s side of your windshield about 1/5 of the way down, you’ll see a small “AS1” printed.) Again, this can only be at most 35%. Any state inspection where tint was tested is required by law to have a $10 window tint fee.

Common fail methods: Too dark

  • On most vehicles, the back windows are already darker than the fronts off the assembly line. While 35% tint on the front may make those windows 35%, it may make the rear ones 30% or 25%. When  tinting rear windows on vehicles that have their rear windows tested like sedans, remember – use lighter tint on the rear!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – What do the Lights on my Dashboard Mean?

If you’ve ever owned a motor vehicle, you’ve most likely been driving around and had a light come on, only to find yourself saying “What does that mean?” This is an understandable feeling. After all, even the most common light, the check engine light, looks different from vehicle to vehicle. Due to this, we’ve made a list of common lights and what they mean so the next time a light comes on in your car, you’ll be informed and ready.

Check Engine Light

Check Engine Light

Officially known as the Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) the Check Engine Light is a light that tells you something is wrong inside your engine. It can have multiple forms, but the most common are shown above. In vehicles with OBD II built in (this is all vehicles made during or after 1996) Check Engine Lights also put out a code (you’ll need a code-reader for this) that give a broad diagnostic of the issue. Vehicles equipped with OBD I (these are in most vehicles made during the 70’s to 1995) blink a certain way to tell you what code you have.
Image result for maintenance required lightMaintenance Required Light

The Maintenance Required Light, which was created by Toyota, is commonly confused as a Check Engine Light. All this light actually does, though, is tell you its time for an oil change. It isn’t always accurate, however, so don’t rely on just it for when to know its time for an oil change.

Image result for tpms lightTire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Light

Commonplace on vehicles made in the 2010’s, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Light is a light that is synced with the TPMS monitors inside your wheels. This light comes on to tell you one of two things; either “your tires are low on air” or “your TPMS monitors are broken.” The light usually goes away once you air your tires back up, however, if your monitors are broken or replaced, some reprogramming of the TPMS monitors may need to be done to make the light go off.

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Oil Light

The Oil Light (sometimes called the Oil Pressure Light or Oil Temperature Light) is an oil-can shaped light designed to tell you that there is something wrong with your oil. It can mean that your oil’s pressure is too low, your oil levels themselves are low, or the oil temp is too high. Oil is the lifeblood of the car, and this light should be taken seriously if it comes on. This light sometimes has a squiggly line under it (pictured above) or a temperature gauge with squiggly lines by the oil can.

Image result for abs light

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Light

The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) Light is designed to tell you if there is a problem with your anti-lock braking system(ABS). The ABS system is why we no longer need to “pump the brakes” to prevent our wheels from locking up and skidding. ABS was created in the 1980’s and is equipped on most vehicles made during or after the 90’s. ABS became legally required on all new vehicles in the United States in 2013.  While the light usually means there is a problem with your ABS system, the sensors on these can go bad causing the light to come on when there actually isn’t a problem with the system at all. Either way, the ABS system is important and it is highly recommended that when this light comes on, you visit your local auto shop.

These lights are the most common indicator lights that come on in the modern vehicle. If you have a light on not mentioned in this article, feel free to call Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill for more information at 704-545-4597

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Do I Need Wiper Blades?

Auto Repair in Mint Hill

Have you ever caught yourself driving in a storm, and as you go to turn on your wiper blades, you realize, they just smear your windshield, and don’t really wipe anything? This is not an uncommon happening. For most people, you only think about windshield wipers when you need them, not on a sunny, 75 degree day.

In Mint Hill, 32.6% of the year is rainy days. That’s almost a third of the year! It is crucial to have a wiper blade system that works.

What a wiper blade?

A wiper blade is a simple construction of a rubber strip similar to a squeegee attached to a plastic or metal arm. All cars have at least one, almost all have two, and some cars with a hatchback have 3. Vary rarely do cars have 4 or more wipers, but it is possible. The wiper attaches to a clamp device called the arm (on most cars, it is a simple hook, others are more complex) which sets the path for the wiper to follow.

How do I know if I need new wiper blades?

The easiest way to know is simply turn them on doing rain. If they don’t wipe well, they need to be replaced. Other reasons for replacement can be pieces of the rubber missing, a broken arm, or the rubber is scratching the windshield. Depending on blade quality, blades can last 3 months to a year.

How many kinds of blade are there?

There are three main kinds of wiper blades – Standard, Premium (sometimes called Flex) and Exact-Fit. Standard blades usually use metal arms and are designed to be a semi-form-fitting blade. A Premium blade usually uses a plastic base, so it can flex and perfectly fit your windshield. An Exact-Fit is usually a small wiper for the rear windshield, and only designed to fit one specific type of vehicle. It usually does not matter what your car came with, Standard or Premium should fit, but an Exact-Fit is on a case-to-case basis.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill

An Exact-Fit blade for Toyota hatchbacks.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill

A standard blade.

Where can I get wiper blades?

Manchester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC has a wide variety of both standard and flex blades at our disposal. We’ll do everything from removal of the old blade to applying the new. You can always set up an appointment at 704-545-4597.