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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 – 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 – How to Get Lost Horsepower Back on Older Cars

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 Additives

 

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.

 

We hope this list is of some help! If you feel like your car may need a look over, feel free to call Machester Auto and Tire of Mint Hill, LLC 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 – 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 – 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.

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