Tag Archive

Tag Archives for " Tune-ups "

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 – 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 – Getting Your Car’s Power Back

Cars, much like people, tend to slow down as they get older. The more miles parts and systems accumulate, the more they underperform. While sometimes this loss of power is minimal, horsepower loss can be very noticeable when tune-ups and factory recommended maintenance haven’t been done. The one thing cars can do that people can’t, however, is get some of their energy back with a little TLC. Listed below are a few things your shop may recommend if your car needs some pep in it’s step. As with any list, remember this is not all inclusive and depending on your vehicle’s age and maintenance history, you may need more than what we’ve listed here, or none of it at all. Check with a professional technician before spending your hard earned money!

 

  1. Fuel Cleaner

 

While Fuel Additives can sometimes be a bit scammy, many fuel cleaners are actually worth it. Fuel additives that clean, such as products from Lucas Oil, help remove deposits from the fuel tank resulting in a better flow of gasoline to the engine. Generally, a fuel tank cleaning or replacement does this job better than an additive, but additives are considerably cheaper and still do an acceptable job.

 

  1. Throttle Body Service

 

A Throttle Body Service is a cleaning of a device called the Throttle Body – the device that you’re controlling when you press the gas pedal. The throttle body can get filled with carbon buildup and over time can result in loss of power and in severe cases, stalling. A cleaning of this device, especially if it has never been done before on a high mileage car, can be a huge help.

 

  1. Spark Plugs

 

Spark Plugs are what ignite the air/fuel mixture in order to power the motor. When spark plugs get old, they have telltale signs of underperformance including extra fuel consumption, poor idling, and lack of power. A fresh set of plugs can make a world of difference.

 

  1. Air Filter

 

As we discussed under Spark Plugs, the engine needs a mixture of both fuel and air to run. If the air the engine gets is not filtered properly, performance issues occur. A cleaning or replacing of an air filter is easy, relatively cheap, and very beneficial.

 

  1. Consistent Oil Changes

 

No matter what oil you use, a consistent replacement schedule is important. The older oil is, the dirtier it gets, and dirty oil is underperforming oil. Depending on what oil you use, you can go anywhere between 3,000-20,000 miles before it is time to replace, but going longer than that causes loss of performance. Check what your owner’s manual recommends and follow it religiously.

 

As with any list, we haven’t covered everything you can do for engine performance. If you’d like to know more, 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 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 – Is it Time for New Shocks & Struts?

Shocks and struts are an integral part of driving comfortably. The main purpose of shocks & struts is to absorb kinetic energy (objects have kinetic energy due to being in motion, in this specific case, it’s the vehicle’s suspension system) and dissipate it as heat energy so that the cabin of the vehicle has a smooth ride as possible. Shocks have a piston & hydraulic fluid inside of them, and control bounce & sway by only letting a small amount of fluid through the piston on bounces. This slows down the piston, and in turn, the suspension. Struts perform the same basic function, but also act as structural support, unlike the shock. Because of this this, wheels with struts don’t need an upper control arm or ball joint. This compact setup is popular on front-wheel drive cars. Though you may have shocks and struts on the same car, like one kind in front & the other in the rear, you’ll never have shocks and struts on the same wheel.

“So how do I know if I need new ones?”

The basic signs usually are one (or multiple) of these:

  • Poor steering & handling
  • Noise coming from the general area of the shocks and struts
  • Tire wear that an allignment cannot fix
  • The vehicle sways & bounces “like a boat”
  • The vehicle leaks fluids onto the ground that clearly aren’t coming from the engine or transmission.
  • visible damage to the shocks & struts such as dings or dents.

Please note that, while these symptoms can be signs of bad shocks and struts, every vehicle is different and more than one issue can cause some of the above listed symptoms. To avoid unnecessary spending, please have diagnostic work done by a professional.

 

For more information on shocks, struts, suspension and everything that goes with it, don’t hesitate 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 – 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.

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 – Conventional Oil or Synthetic Oil?

Every time you head in for an oil change, one question you’ll usually hear is “Do you want conventional or synthetic oil?” Though this seems like a simple decision, this actually brings up more questions like “What kind should I use in my car?” or “Is the difference really worth the extra money?” Below we’ve listed some of the main differences between the oils and some useful information to help determine what kind is right for you.

Conventional Oil

Conventional Oil is the “traditional” motor oil. Conventional is derived from crude oil and has additives that help with heat tolerance and viscosity. When purchasing a “regular” oil change, this is the oil usually being used. It usually comes in a black bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Oil changes for conventional are usually recommended at 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic Oil is derived from crude oil and has additives just like Conventional, however this version of the oil is synthesized” – in other words, the oil is modified at the molecular level. It is also distilled. It usually comes in a silver bottle, but depending on brand this may not be the case. Synthetic Oil Changes are usually recommended at 5,000 miles or 5 months, whichever comes first.

What Oil Should I Use?

There is no “wrong time” to use Synthetic over Conventional, because it is fact that Synthetic lasts longer and holds up better. However, this doesn’t mean Conventional is bad. Conventional is fine for cars that are daily drivers that have a “regular” commute (15 minutes or longer.) Synthetic is better for cars that drive in extreme temps (a New York winter or an Arizona Summer, for example) or make short trips commonly (conventional may not heat up enough in short trips.) Synthetic is also useful in dusty climates. Synthetic is sometimes recommended in the owner’s manual, in which case that oil should be used. Synthetic can also be useful in high milage cars, but is not necessary unless the manual requires it. In short, conventional is fine for the average daily driver, but synthetic will usually be the better option.