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For the DIY Car Owner

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Auto Repair Shop

Classic Mechanic Scams

Car Scams

Taking your car to an auto mechanic can be a little stressful even for someone that knows a lot about cars, but for those that have no idea what’s under the hood, it can be downright traumatic experience.

While the majority of auto-mechanics are trustworthy guys and gals, it can be incredibly easy for a mechanic to trick you into having unneeded repairs, after all, they’re supposed to be experts in their field, why wouldn’t you take their word as the honest truth? As the old adage goes, “Trust but Verify” – so goes our advice toward dealing with auto mechanics.

With newer technology, there’s new scam being created every day in the auto repair world, here we’re going to cover a number of the common scams that mechanics have run on unsuspecting customers over the years, knowing them might even save you from being tricked yourself someday.

Oil Change Scam

“Can I Check Your Oil?” The setup goes like this: When the gas station attendants check your oil they put their thumb on the dipstick so that it leaves a little space when they put the stick into the motor for the test. A thumbs width looks like your more than a quart low, you really need to change your oil now because the old oil is too thin and leaking out through your gaskets.

An experienced scammer can do this trick while you’re standing there watching him, he’s done it a million times before you got there. Even if you don’t decide to have him change your oil, he’ll have some high priced house brand oil that he gets a couple of dollars commission on ready to top up your oil before you go on your way. It’s a good idea that everyone learns how to check their own oil and do it often.

If the gas station attendant says you need some right away, tell him you’ll take it straight to your mechanic and thank him for his time.

“Your Engine Sounds Like It’s Missing, Let Me Take A Look”

Spark plug disconnects are easy to pull out part way, causing an instant problem upon startup. A bad-apple mechanic can then spend all day replacing the rotor, cap, spark plugs, wires and other parts, only to reconnect the part he disabled at the end to “fix” your problem. It’s easy to run up $200-$500 on tune-up parts and labor, especially if he’s jacking the prices up as he goes.

 

Squeaking Brakes Don’t Always Need Replacement

Many disc brakes will squeak even though they are working fine and have thousands of miles left before they wear out. Sometimes all they need is a quick shot of brake cleaner to remove built up dust. The only way you’ll really know is to watch the mechanic remove the wheel and actually look at the pads.

Disc brakes are usually quick and easy to replace, and high-quality pads can be purchased on sale for low prices at the parts store. When you get snagged at the local mechanic’s place he might be looking to make several hundred dollars in profit on just one job. Meanwhile, a high volume national chain may have brake jobs on sale for $59 per axle, saving you hundreds of dollars.

Stay Informed

Getting scammed at the auto mechanic isn’t fun. Our advice, always, is to do your research on a potential mechanic. However, if for some reason you’re in a bind and need help from the nearest auto repair shop, make sure you stay involved with the repair, ideally right there with the mechanic in order to keep an eye on any potential scam.

Scammers work best when their customers are in the dark – so stay informed and – when in doubt – go for a second opinion.

Car Maintenance Schedules

Let’s talk Car Maintenance Schedules

Maintenance Schedules

As a traveling mechanic in the Michigan for many years, I’ve seen my fair share of issues with cars and trucks that could have been easily prevented if the owner would have simply checked their oil on a regular basis.  Granted, for many, assessing an automobile’s innards is akin operating on a human patient with no medical training.  But take heart, even though computerized systems in cars are becoming increasingly complex, many of the parts in today’s cars have remained largely unchanged over the years.  Parts like Engine Air Filters are still used and still need to be replaced on a regular schedule – and no – there won’t be a day any time soon where a car’s engine oil doesn’t need to be changed periodically.

While every car is different (see disclaimer below), in this article we’ll take a generalized view on recommendations for Car Maintenance Schedules in today’s modern gas powered vehicles.

NOTE:  All recommended intervals are based on common intervals for gas powered cars and trucks.  Depending on the car or manufacturer, some maintenance items listed not required at all.  Always refer to your Car’s Owner’s Manual for specific manufacturer’s recommendations.

For the purpose of organization, let’s first divvy up maintenance intervals by Short-Term (under 10K Miles), Mid-Term (10K – 50K) and Long-Term (50K+) schedules.  The reason – other than being pedantic?  Cost.  Most longer term scheduled maintenance will cost more.  Many customers put these schedules off due to the pricetag, so with human-nature in mind – it’s always a good idea to plan for these well into the future, especially for folks (like me) that do a monthly budget.

Also, if you see a *Road Salt Use?* tag, this indicates you should reduce the inspection time if you live in a region where road salt is used regularly in the winter time.

Short Term Maintenance (0 – 10,000 Miles)

  • Tire Rotation (Every 7,500 Miles)
  • Oil (Every 5,000 – 10,000 Miles)

Mid Term Maintenance (10,000 – 50,000 Miles)

  • Coolant Flush (Every 24,000 to 36,000 Miles)
  • Cabin Air Filter (Change every 25,000 – 35,000 Miles)
  • Engine Air Filter (Change every 30,000 – 45,000 Miles)
  • Brakes – Pads (Change40,000 to 50,000 Miles)*Road Salt Use? Reduce by 20%*
  • Brake – Rotors (Resurface or Replace) (Every 40,000 to 50,000 Miles)*Road Salt Use? Reduce by 20%*
  • Fuel Filter (Change every 30,000 – 45,000 Miles)*Road Salt Use? Reduce by 20%*

Long Term Maintenance (50,000 – 100,000+ Miles)

  • Undercarriage Inspection (Check Every 50,000 Miles)*Only perform if road salt used in winter*
  • Wiring Check (Full Check Every 60,000 Miles)*Road Salt Use? Reduce by 30%*
  • Battery Contacts and Terminals (Every 60,0000 Miles) *Road Salt Use? Reduce by 30%*
  • Hose Check (Full Check Every 60,000 Miles)*Road Salt Use? Reduce by 30%*
  • Automatic Transmission Fluid (Change every 60,000 – 100,000 Miles)
  • Belts – V or Serpentine (Replace after 60,000 – 100,000 Miles)
  • Belts – Timing (Replace after 60,000 – 100,000 Miles)*Road Salt Use? Reduce by 30%*
  • Spark Plugs (Every 70,000 – 90,000 Miles)
  • Chain – Timing (NA)
    • Timing chains do not need to be replaced. Check manual to confirm if your vehicle uses a timing belt or chain
  • Power Steering Fluid (NA)
    • Power steering is not generally recommended for flush. Check manual to confirm any maintenance interval for power steering fluids

More to follow…

I’ll be following up this list with some more details on each individual line item, but hopefully this give you a baseline for setting a maintenance schedule for your own vehicle.

Thanks and drive safe!

Source: www.i.ytimg.com

It Got My Dad’s Datsun Z – Don’t Let It Get You!

long term maintenance

Back in his formidable years after college, my Dad managed to scrape together enough money to buy a Datsun Z. It was terrific looking. It was silver and fast – an absolutely beautiful car. Unfortunately for him, he happened to live in Michigan, where they salt the roads in the winter time – a lot.  Four years later the car’s undercarriage had rusted so much that I remember seeing asphalt through the floorboard in the back seat – YIKES!

Fast forward to today:  Car manufacturers are still using iron in the design of their vehicles and, yes –  car rust is still an issue.  We still to have to contend with our rusted out mufflers, struts, shocks and doors. This is especially true for those that live near the ocean, or those, like my Dad, who live in a municipalities that salt the roads.

Luckily for us, it’s possible with some preventative strategies to protect your car from the scourge of rust. In this post we’ll learn how rust spreads on cars and follow our tips on how to stop car rust in its tracks.

Where Does Rust Come From?

Before we get into how to prevent rust, we’ve got to understand the mechanics of it. For Iron, rust is an oxidation process that occurs when water, iron, and oxygen interact producing Iron Oxide. Unlike Iron, Iron Oxide is brittle compound that weakens the integrity of the iron bonds around it at the molecular level.

Regrettably, vehicles are always interacting with both water and oxygen, and most have plenty of iron parts to corrode. In addition, an already rusted piece of iron works a lot like cancer, producing chain reactions that corrodes the good iron that surrounds it. This is the reason why a small rust spot on your car can spread rather quickly.

How to Prevent Car Rust

Fortunately with today’s technology in touch-up kits, rust inhibitors, paint and waxes, ugly rust spots do not necessarily spell doom for your car’s longevity. You can be proactive to prevent the spread of rust to other parts of the vehicle by taking the following measures:

Treat Rust Spot Immediately

It’s important that you treat any surface of dings or scratches that break through the paint as soon as possible.Periodically look over the entire surface of your vehicle, not just obvious area like the hood or rear panel and have touch up paint handy in case you do find an issue. I prefer to spend a little more money to get a small bottle of manufactured-approved touch-up paint from a dealership of your car’s manufacturer. They may be more expensive, but they should be able to get you a color that matches that your car’s.

If you do find a small nick in need of attention, check to see if rust has begun to form. If not, first remove any wax by washing the area with dish soap, next go ahead and apply your paint to the affected area with a small brush. We recommend using micro brushes for these smaller dings. Apply enough so it covers the entire area and it should “bubble” above the surrounding paint surface – don’t worry, we will address buffing that out later.

If rust has set in, again clean the area with dish soap, but you’ll need to remove the rust from the ding before you apply any paint. We recommend buying a sanding pen to get to bare metal. If the scratch is small, you can trim the edges of the sanding pen to the desired radius. Apply the paint as described above.

After allowing the paint cure for at least ½ hour (longer for wetter days), we’ll need use the Paint Blob to even the newly applied paint to the car’s paint surface level. This is where we use a product called the “Blob Eliminator” from LANGKA. The compounds in the Blob Eliminator will soften the paint and the straight edge and cloth provided with level the newly applied paint without damaging the surrounding area.

Regular Washing and Waxing Of Your Car

The paint on your vehicle not only looks pretty, but also forms a barrier between the metal and the external environment. However, over time, small scratches do appear and gaps will develop in the protective paint layer. This is when rust becomes a problem and is the reason why you need to clean and wax your vehicle regularly.

Once you clean your car, ensure that you mop off any excess water using a chamois. It is also important to pay close attention to the wheel arches while cleaning and drying. This is the area where dirty water usually lurks and can cause serious damage in the long run. You must always ensure that you keep the water drainage point on your vehicle free from dirt.

For winter drivers where they salt the road for snow or if you live by the sea, make sure that you keep close watch on every inch of the body of your vehicle.

Cleaning Up Any Spills within Your Car

Contrary to popular belief, rust does not just occur on the outside – it can also originate from within the vehicle and work its way out. Common causes of rust inside the car are liquid spillages that seep into the carpets and remain unnoticed. Acidic soft drinks like Pepsi and Coca-Cola are especially corrosive to iron.

How about that slightly leaky sunroof or a soft-top rooftop? Get it fixed. While it may not seem like a water, small leaks into the cabin can cause serious damage over time.

Rust-Proofing Your Vehicle Especially the Underside

While rust can form from dent or dings anywhere on the car body, wheel wells and undercarriages are where rust can directly damage the structural integrity of your vehicle, With this in mind, you should seriously consider rust-proofing the underside of your vehicle. Fluids such as POR-15, Dinitrol, or Waxoyl are widely available and offer long-lasting protection to the car’s floor and chassis rails.

The best way rust-proof your undercarriage is with the help of an expert. Professional rust-proofers use superior rust inhibitors and lubricants that ensure that rust never spreads on your car for years to come. They will rust-proof engine parts, the underside of your car, electrical components, body panel undersides, as well as the frame.

Of course, if you are a die-hard DIYer, you can do this yourself; just make sure you prepare yourself mentally. Unless you have the equipment, getting every little part of the vehicle underside is time consuming since these tar-like, sticky fluids can be difficult to apply.

Conclusion

As a mechanic rust does help to keep me employed, but truthfully-speaking, nothing gets under my skin more than an ugly rust spot on an otherwise fine automobile. Do your part and be proactive in preventing and treating any signs of rust to help keep those highways and byways full of nice, shiny automobiles.

Small DIY Repairs For Your Car Or Truck

Car Diy Repairs

Many car owners or truck owners don’t have the single idea that some repairs could be done in their back yard, without having to go to a mechanic. The general idea is that if they break something, it might be better done by the mechanic, so that they could have someone to blame.

However, things are not quite like this. An hour at the mechanic can cost you a lot of money, and most of the times, the repairs are very small – the mechanic will still charge you for an hour, even if the actual repair took just 15 minutes.

Let’s see what you can do and what you can’t do for your car at home – small repairs and other projects for your car.


Changing a Light Bulb

All the cars have a headlight, so when the bulb burns, it’s time to have it replaced. It’s actually a very easy procedure, and if you go to a mechanic, you will be charged with an hour of work, no matter if it takes just 10 minutes. This is why you can do it at home, without worrying too much about the costs. Here’s what you need to do:

First of all, you need to know what kind of bulb works for your car. If you don’t know the type, you can take out the bulb from the headlight and take it to the shop to buy exactly what you need. Having the bulb in your hand will help you get exactly what your car needs, without worrying that you’ll get it wrong.

If you don’t know how to take the bulb out, there are plenty of video tutorials in the online environment that can help you with this, taking you through all the necessary steps – removing the cover and unscrewing the bulb and so on.

It’s a sure way to save more than enough money, especially if you need to save something extra.


Fixing a Tire

A flat tire can be the result of more situations – you could have taken a nail in the tire, or it has a pore somewhere and it becomes flat when the car is not rolling. For situations like this, it’s better to have an air compressor that is adequate for pumping up the tires – it’s cheap, it’s small and it’s very easy to use, especially if you’re a woman. This type of compressor will help you pump up the tire until you get with the car to a mechanic to change the tire or fixing the damage that it has.

For using it, all you have to do is connecting it to the car lighter and plug it in the valve of the wheel (tire) – you will soon see that the tire will start pumping up and you’ll be ready to go in no time. However, make sure you don’t pump too much air – the compressor has a scale for showing how many atmospheres are pumped, so don’t go over what your type of car can sustain.


What You Can’t Do

If your car has problems with the engine, it’s better to take it directly to the mechanic. This is because the engine is big and complex and even if you might suspect that something in particular is not working, the best course of action would be to let a professional take a look at it. Not only they are qualified for this type of work, but they will also offer you a warranty for the job done.

Something else that you need to remember is that if you have problems with the break system, it’s also good to take the car or the truck to the mechanic. This can be a DIY project only if you are a mechanic, otherwise it’s not something to play around with.

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