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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 – 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 – What is OBDII?

If you’ve had an emissions inspection done on your vehicle, or have ever had a check engine light come on, you’ve most likley heard the term “OBDII” before. But do you know what it means?

OBDII is an acronym for On-Board Diagnostics II. OBDII is a car’s self-diagnositc tool, it can perform basic diagnostics on itself and can give a broad idea on what is or isnt causing a problem. If you own a car that is model year 1996 or newer, you have OBDII. Though some vehicles from madel year 1995 have OBDII, it was not legally required.

What Can OBDII Do?

OBDII’s most common use is as a self-diagnostic tool. For example, whenever your check engine light comes on, OBDII also generates a code which shows why the light is on. For example, if you have a misfire, your check engine light would come on and OBDII would produce a code like P0300.

Are there Downsides to OBDII?

While in some areas OBDII can be very speific, in others it can be broad. For example, code P0300 means “Random or Multiple Misfires.” While this information is useful, it doesnt clarify why those random misfired happened, it only shows that misfires happened. OBDII is best used as a tool to “point you in the right direction” as compared to a definite diagnostic.

Why is OBDII Important?

While OBDII helps diagnose issues, like a misfire, OBDII also helps keep our air cleaner by monitoring emissions systems. OBDII is also what makes State Inspections possible. OBDII is also responsible for speeding up diagnostic times on engine related repairs.

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 – How Do I Make My Wipers Last Longer?

Wiper blades are a key piece to any car and, in North Carolina, required by law on vehicles equipped with windshields. Wipers are a kind of car part that you don’t really think about if they’re good or not until you’re using them. With this in mind, how does one make a wiper “last?” Here are a few tips and tricks on how

  1. Treat Your Windshield

Things like Rain-X or similar products intended to make water and other fluids on windshields bead up are great for making wipers last longer as it makes the work a wiper has to do with each wipe a bit easier.

2. Glass Cleaner on the Rubber

Things like glass cleaner are a great way to clean film and other residue off your wiper’s rubber. Doing this with a towel is best, but paper towels are also ok.

3. Lift Your Blades When it Snows or is Freezing

When it snows or is freezing cold, your blades could freeze to the windshield. Preventing this from happening is great for your wipers.

4. Keep the Windshield Crack and Chip Free

Cracks, chips, and dings are one of the biggest reasons a wiper blade tears. should your windshield crack or chip, consider replacement.

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Car

Warm weather is a sign of great times, cook outs, and road trips. For those if us who own pets, it just wouldn’t be summer if we didn’t bring them along for the ride! However, keeping our fuzzy friends safe should always be a priority. Below are some tips, tricks and other useful info.

 

  1. Protect the Eyes of Your Pet

Some pets like to stick their heads out the window when driving. That’s fun for the pet, but this can hurt your pet’s eyesight over time. Buying you pet goggles (sometimes called Doggles) are a great way to protect their eyes and let them have their fun.

2. Seatbelts, Good for You and Your Pet

Some pets are big enough for seatbelts. In events of a wreck, seatbelts can save a pet’s life just like a person. Modifications and adapters to make seatbelts work for your pet can be found online for as little as about $7.

3. Leaving Pets in Cars isn’t OK!

Leaving a pet in a vehicle that isn’t running with A/C (or heat in cold months) isn’t not only unsafe, but illegal.

In North Carolina specifically, law § 14-363.3 states:

“In order to protect the health and safety of an animal, any animal control officer,animal cruelty investigator appointed under G.S. 19A-45, law enforcement officer, firefighter, or rescue squad worker, who has probable cause to believe that an animal is confined in a motor vehicle under conditions that are likely to cause suffering, injury, or death to the animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, or under other endangering conditions, may enter the motor vehicle by any reasonable means under the circumstances after making a reasonable effort to locate the owner or other person responsible for the animal.”

 

So, in other words, if the pet is in dangerous temperatures or doesn’t have enough air, it is legal for officers of the law to enter the vehicle to save the pet. Don’t let this be your pet!

 

The next time you bring your pet into the vehicle, just remember these tips, and you and your fuzzy friend will have a great (and safe) time!

Auto Repair in Mint Hill – Is My Car Safe for a Rainy Day?

Did you know it rains about 70 days a year in Charlotte? That’s almost 20% of the year! With that much rain, you’re likely to have to drive around in the rain every now and again. Driving in rain, however, is not like driving on a sunny day. Is your car prepared to face a rainy day? Here are some important factors to think about before driving in the rain:

 

  • Tire Tread Depth

Tire Tread Depth is important on any day, but it plays an even more important role when the roads are wet. The gaps between your tire and the road that your tire tread creates is what prevents you from losing control and hydroplaning. This is why most states consider tires that are below 2/32″ in tread depth illegal.

  • Windshield Wipers

This one may seem a bit obvious, but Windshield Wipers are one of those things that you really don’t think about unless you try and use them. Wipers usually should be replaced every six months, but that can vary by quality and usage. If you’d like to read more about Windshield Wipers, we have an article about them here.

  • Headlights

In North Carolina, it is law to turn on your Headlights when your Windshield Wipers are in use. This law is in place not so much so you can see in the rain, but so others can see you. If you have headlight/taillight/daytime runner out, you may be harder to see and possibly more likely to be hit. If you’d like to read more about Headlights, we have an article about them here.

  • How You’re Driving

When driving in the rain, you should allow for more following distance  (this is the distance between you and the car in front of you) and slow down. This allows you more time to stop should something in front of you happen. A lot of your vehicles automation devices – cruise control for example – may not work as well during the rain.

No matter if it is rainy, sunny, sleeting or snowing, be sure to enjoy the ride and stay safe!

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.