Should You Try Do‐It‐Yourself Auto Repair

With as many moving parts and as many systems as a car has, there are hundreds of different repairs that may be needed over the life of your car. Some are complicated or require specialized tools and equipment. For these repairs, a trained and certified professional is probably your best option. Other issues are a little easier, people who know what they are doing can fix them at home. Here are a few tips for do-it-yourself auto repair.

Do-it-yourself auto repair starts with keeping accurate service records. Oil changes are recommended every 3000-4000 miles. If you are going to do them yourself, make sure you are doing them when they are needed. Waiting too long between oil changes can put unnecessary stress on your engine and lead to severe problems.

Another part of maintaining your own auto service records is knowing when you’ve replaced certain parts. Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you how often to replace the oil filter and air filter. They don’t need to be replaced every time, so keep track of when you replace them. Replacing parts too often will needlessly increase your expenses and defeat the purpose of making your own auto repairs.

Another thing to keep in mind for DIY auto repair is using the right replacement parts for your vehicle. This includes getting the right oil. Most vehicles use 10W-30, but trucks may use a different oil weight. If you do a lot of stop-and-go driving in severe weather conditions, you may need a different oil weight.

Finally, a car repair manual is a must-have for DIY auto repair. A repair manual will be specific to your make, model and year. It will have instructions and diagrams to help you locate the parts you need and make the appropriate changes and replacements. If you choose to make your own auto repairs, be sure to have the right manual for your vehicle, because manufacturers can make radical changes to models in even a single year.

There is nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to a certified technician for auto repairs and maintenance, especially for major repairs. But you can also save money with do-it-yourself auto repair if you take care to do everything correctly and on time.

Auto Repair Advice for Saving Money

Seeking out quality auto repair advice is essential to maintaining the long-term health of your vehicle. Without routine servicing and repair, your car will run inefficiently and, eventually, unsafely. Of course, when that “check engine” light comes on, visions of dollar signs immediately begin to dance in your head. Learn how to save on auto repairs without skimping on the essentials with the following auto repair advice tips:

Be Aware of Hourly Labor Costs

The biggest difference in pricing at many auto repair shops is the hourly labor rate. As such, it is recommended that you inquire about hourly labor rates at several different shops prior to settling on a particular place to take your repair. Typically, labor rates should be listed along with parts costs in a written estimate. If the hourly rate is not specifically itemized, ask the shop to clarify their labor rates.

In general, dealerships pay higher labor rates, so more affordable repairs may be available at independent shops. Of course, more experienced mechanics typically earn higher wages, so be sure to verify the reliability of a particular shop by getting recommendations and checking previous customer complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.

Ask for Aftermarket Auto Parts

Many auto shops recommend the use of original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) products. These components are the same that were installed at the factory when the vehicle was new. However, many parts manufacturers offer comparable aftermarket components at a discount price. In general, these products provide adequate performance and may save you plenty of money in the long run. Keep in mind, however, that some of these products come with shorter warranties and may not last as long as OEM parts.

Do Routine Maintenance

While routine maintenance costs money in the short-term, it can also save thousands of dollars in the long-term. Skimping on such repairs as oil changes, air filter replacements and tire rotations can all lead to more serious car repairs in the future. Of course, auto repair advice experts know how to score deals on these routine repairs as well. For oil changes and brake servicing, look for discount coupons and advertised price cuts in newspapers or the mail. For tire rotations, the shop you bought your tires from may offer free tire rotations for the life of your tires.

Auto Body Repairs ‐ Things to Consider

Even the safest of drivers has had to deal with auto body repairs at one point or another. Unfortunately, fender benders and parking lot dings happen far too frequently. If a recent collision has left you dealing with auto body damage, then it’s time to contact your insurer and get those repairs taken care of. To minimize your risk for inferior repairs or an inflated price, keep these following things in mind:

Insurance-Approved Repair Shops

When filing your insurance claim, your provider will probably suggest that you have the auto body repairs completed at one of their pre-approved collision centers. The service and pricing at these body shops has met a certain standard, which will likely result in a quick and reliable repair. Additionally, thanks to partnership contracts with the insurance company, these shops often turn out to be the most affordable option. However, due to these discounts, it should be noted that insurance-approved repair shops may be tempted to do nothing more than the bare minimum necessary to complete your repair.

Receive Several Estimates

It is a common fear that auto mechanics take advantage of naive drivers by jacking up the price of car repairs. To eliminate this possibility, it is recommended you receive estimates from several different body shops. A thorough estimate will come in written form and outline the specific cost totals for both parts and labor. If your car is inoperable, and requires towing to the body shop, then you might consider contacting a couple collision centers after receiving an initial estimate. By reviewing the estimated fees listed by a particular shop, a competing shop may be willing to verify whether or not the total estimate sounds fair.

Keep Customer Service in Mind

A body shop should not be picked on price alone. Just as important, is the level of customer service and goodwill offered by a particular shop. Before completing auto body repairs, you might consider using the Better Business Bureau to review a body shop’s credibility. The Better Business Bureau is a trustworthy organization that documents customer complaints and shares a company’s history of complaints with the public. If excessive complaints have been reported for a particular collision center, then it may be best to choose a different location to have your repairs completed.

Auto Interior Repair

The right course of action for an auto interior repair depends largely on the type of damage and type of material affected. Scrapes, tears, stains and cracking all require different approaches to ensure adequate results. Depending on the type of damage, one of these common auto repair options may be available to you:

Auto Interior Repair Kits

Auto upholstery repair kits are often the least expensive option when it comes to fixing a rip or cigarette burn in car upholstery. Unfortunately, they are also the least effective option. In general, these kits include a plastic adhesive that is placed over the hole and allowed to dry. For effective results, the tear must be rather small. Additionally, great care must be taken when applying the liquid plastic to ensure seamless blending with the surround leather.

Even more difficult, is the fact that the plastic adhesive must be colored by the owner to perfectly match the original color of the seats. As such, unless you have some experience with upholstery repair, it is probably best to leave such repairs to the professionals.

Auto Upholstery Cleaners

For ink stains, foods stains and other types of discoloration, auto upholstery cleaners may be enough to remove the unsightly damage. The type of cleaner you should use depends on the type of fabric of your upholstery (for example, leather conditioning cleaner for leather seats). You might also try using a bit of household liquid detergent and warm water to wash out the stain.

For more stingy stains, it is best to leave the stain removal to a professional. More powerful cleaners may ultimately remove these stains, however the danger of discoloring surrounding and underlying upholstery is a possibility.

Replacing Auto Interior Seats

When auto interior repair is not possible, then it may be necessary to replace the existing component with a new one. In some cases, simply swapping out the upholstery encasement is a possible solution. Otherwise, the entire seat may need to be replaced. Both of these repair processes are fairly straightforward and not very difficult for the experienced auto technician. As a result, the majority of cost associated with such a repair stems from paying for the new parts.

Discount Car Insurance

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Almost every car owner is interested in discount auto insurance, but in reality, this common phrase doesn’t have any specific definition, and almost any insurance company can claim to be a discount car insurance company. Because the word “discount” is applied across the board without any oversight, buyers and drivers must be cautious as frequently a “discount policy” is no better than its pricier counterparts.

The fact that there is no clear “discount car insurance” company or provider doesn’t mean, however, that you should give up on your search for affordable coverage. Discount auto insurance is indeed available if you have a good record and know how to conduct some basic research.

How to Get Discount Car Insurance

The key to getting a great rate on auto insurance is knowing what the major companies want. Although the criteria they apply, such as credit rating, income and driving record, can at times seem arbitrary, using these factors to determine your rates is, for the most, part backed by sound data.

Insurance companies have done extensive risk-analysis studies to determine how to set rates. They have made a number of determinations about various behavior patterns, and use those determinations to set your premiums. For example, insurers have determined that people who drive red cards tend to get into more accidents, statistically, than those whose vehicles are black or silver. It isn’t productive to take such tactics personally, as the insurance carriers are merely trying to protect themselves from assuming undue risk, but it is important to know what these factors are so you can avoid engaging in behaviors that raise your costs.

Finding Discount Auto Insurance

Discount auto insurance can be found from any number of sources, but using the Internet to get quotes on policies is often the easiest and fastest method of shopping for insurance. However, with more companies creating an Internet presence than ever before, there are many factors to consider when comparing online quotes:

  • Start with liability insurance, which is required by all states, and check the various figures against the premiums and deductible you’ve been offered.
  • Compare coverage limits, monthly premiums, deductibles, types of coverage, and discounts offered across policies
  • Read the contracts fully for loopholes and check the financial health of the carrier itself with A&P Best or Moody’s.

Often with simple research such as this, you can secure true discount auto insurance as affordable as it is consistent. Discount auto insurance is most often offered to safe drivers who fit prime demographic criteria, but deals do exist for everyone else if you know where to look. The key is to stick with major providers and do everything you can to make your application as attractive as possible. When all else fails, try pitting competing claims against one another or call an agent willing to negotiate on your behalf. Often, you can find the best discount policy through careful research and comparison, rather than just by purchasing the first so-called discount auto insurance policy you find.

Benefits of Dealership Car Auto Repair

Aut o Repair dealership tips and tricks by San Jose Auto Repair
When it comes to car auto repair, many drivers steer clear of having their vehicles serviced at the dealership. For the most part, this is because dealerships have a reputation of charging higher fees for repairs. While this is true in some cases, there are some benefits to dealership car auto repair that may make it worth considering, we at San Jose Auto Repair make it a promise to our customers to serve with the best services in the class.

San Auto Repair Experience

One of the main benefits of choosing a dealership repair shop over a corner garage is the guaranteed level of service quality. Dealerships are held to exceptionally high service standards and benefit from a training regiment that comes directly from manufacturers. Additionally, technicians at a dealership tend to only work on vehicles of one particular make. This means that you are unlikely to find a mechanic that is more experienced in servicing your type of vehicle than the mechanics at your local dealership.

Availability of Car Repair Parts

Choosing to go to a dealership may result in a faster turnaround time for the repair. This is because dealership garages don’t need to stock components for a variety of different vehicle makes. This narrowed focus on your type of vehicle means that it is more likely for a dealership to have the necessary components for your specific repair on hand. This fact minimizes the possibility for having to wait for parts to be ordered and shipped to the garage.

Additionally, dealerships only work with original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) components. Independent garages, on the other hand, may use aftermarket components that are less expensive and potentially of lower quality. If you prefer that only the highest quality materials be used on your vehicle, then the dealership may be the best option for you.

Warranty Car Repairs

If your vehicle is still under warranty, then taking it to a dealership may be a good idea. This is because some or all of the car auto repair services performed on the vehicle may be covered by the automaker’s warranty package. As a result, choosing to go to the dealership might dramatically reduce your total bill. Dealerships also tend to be the preferred source of servicing for vehicle recalls and service bulletins. Typically, independent shops to not cover warranty repairs.

San Jose Auto Repair; Best Advice

San Jose Auto Repair prepares the best advice for it's customers.
One of the downsides to car ownership is the occasional need for vehicle repair. You have numerous repair options available, depending on the type of vehicle repair you need. Many high volume car dealers have their own service centers. There are also local service centers that can perform most common repair work and specialty service centers that service one particular system, such as brakes or transmissions.

Car dealer service centers

The mechanics and technicians at a car dealer service center are trained specifically to work on one particular make of car, Fords or Hondas, for example. They will know your car backwards and forwards, which is very handy for complex vehicle repair issues. In the event that you need a part replaced, car dealer service centers also have easy access to factory original parts, as opposed to the after market parts you would get from a local service center.

Local service centers

For convenience and price local service centers are great for most repairs and general maintenance. Labor is the largest vehicle repair cost, and the technicians at local service centers usually charge less than technicians at car dealer service centers. General maintenance from local service centers, such as regular oil changes, keeps your car running its best. The technicians also often identify and repair small problems that can lead to major car repair issues later if they aren’t addressed.

Specialty service centers

For complex problems with one particular part of your car, a specialty service center might be a good option. The technicians at specialty service centers are trained to deal exclusively on one are of a car, such as the transmission or muffler and exhaust system. A specialty service center might be your best option for an unusual or particularly difficult vehicle repair in one of these areas. Many of these kinds of car repairs will be covered under a factory warranty. If the car repair is covered any repair center will honor the warranty, not just a car dealer service center.

Auto body repair centers

If you are involved in an accident or suffer external damage to your car from hail or debris then an auto body repair center can restore your vehicle to its previous condition. These places handle dent removal and repainting and can replace an entire panel if necessary.

Knowing what type of vehicle repair you need will help you determine where to take it for repair.

What Makes a Good Auto Repair Business?

San Auto Auto Repair is the best stop shop for your car whenever you need any help.
Car shop owners have a lot to juggle when it comes to running an auto repair business. As a customer, an improperly run repair shop can lead to inflated pricing, extended turnaround times and faulty work. While the majority of auto shops these days have a good handle on balancing servicing and pricing, it’s always good to know what to look for when it comes to identifying a well-run auto repair business.

Customer-Friendly Auto Repair Policies

The best auto repair shops strive to exceed the service expectations of the average customer. As such, finding a shop that happily offers customer-friendly policies is a great way to minimize the chances for reduced customer service or unsavory business practices. For example, most reliable shops these days offer free vehicle inspections that result in a comprehensive price estimate. This estimate allows customers to review pricing structures and compare potential costs against rival companies. If an auto shop offers competitive pricing and is confident about their repair skills, then a free price estimate should only serve them favorably in the eyes of potential customers. San Jose Auto Repair always makes sure that the customers are totally satisfied and can count in us every time they need any service.

Other customer-friendly policies may include loyalty discounts, money-back guarantees and guaranteed turnaround times.

Auto Repair Business Recommendations

Good auto repair shops know that word of mouth is an important tool when it comes to operating a profitable business. Because of this, the best shops go above and beyond to make sure each and every one of their customers are happy. As such, asking friends, family or co-workers for recommendations on repair shops will likely yield several trustworthy and reliable car shops in your area. When talking with your friends, be sure to ask for details on why they liked or did not like a particular shop. This will help you make a more informed decision when faced with recommendations for several different shops.

Experience and Longevity of the Auto Repair Business

Has that auto repair business around the corner from your house been in the neighborhood for decades? If so, then this may be a good sign. An auto shop that has been in business for years indicates that they satisfy the needs of customers in such a way that they want to keep coming back. Of course, that’s not to say that new shops are not to be trusted. Within the shop itself, experience level of the mechanics themselves is just as important. Asking questions about ASE certification and training specializations can help identify the most qualified shops for your specific repair.

Is Cheap Gas Bad For Your Car?

Is Cheap Gas Bad For Your car?
Gasoline is expensive and you’re looking for every way possible to save money at the pump. You already shy away from premium fuel, knowing that your car doesn’t require it. You’d like to save a few pennies per gallon more by going to an off-brand gas station. But you can’t get rid of the nagging fear: Is the cheap gas going to damage your car’s engine? put this question to experts in several fields, including an automotive engineer at a major carmaker, gasoline manufacturers and two engineers with the American Automobile Association (AAA). It boils down to this: You can stop worrying about cheap gas. You’re unlikely to hurt your car by using it.

Because of the advances in engine technology, a car’s onboard computer is able to adjust for the inevitable variations in fuel, so most drivers won’t notice a drop off in performance between different brands of fuel, from the most additive-rich gas sold by the major brands to the bare-bones stuff at your corner quickie mart.

Still, spending a few extra pennies per gallon might provide peace of mind to someone who just purchased a new car and wants to keep it as long as possible. People with older cars might not be as concerned about their engine’s longevity. They can buy the less expensive gas and still be OK.

Steve Mazor, chief automotive engineer with the Automobile Club of Southern California, summed it up this way: “Buy the cheapest gas that is closest to you.”

Recipes for Performance — at a Price
But this doesn’t mean that all gas is the same, even though it starts out that way. The fuel from different filling stations comes from a common source: the “base gas” from a refinery. Workers there mix additives mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency into the base gas in order to clean a car’s engine and reduce emissions. Then, the different gas companies — both off-brand and major brands — put their own additive packages in the gas to further boost both cleaning and performance.

A key difference is that the major brands put more additives in their gas and claim to have some secret ingredients. This extra shot of additives provides an additional level of cleaning and protection for your engine.

But is this extra helping of additives, which jacks up the price, really necessary? And, if you don’t use more expensive, extra-additive gas, how soon will your engine’s performance suffer?

“It’s not like any of the fuels are totally junk,” says John Nielsen, director of engineering and repair for the AAA. “If you buy gas from Bob’s Bargain Basement gas station because that’s all that’s available, it won’t hurt your car,” he says.

The real difference is the amount of additives that are in the gas, Nielsen says. More additives essentially afford more protection — but they also cost more.

Some automakers and oil companies believe that the amount of government-required additives isn’t enough to protect engines. They have created a Top Tier gasoline designation. It means that those gasoline brands sell fuels that provide more and better additives.

Nielsen recommends that drivers look in their car’s owner’s manual to see what the carmaker recommends and, when possible, follow that guideline. People who are still concerned about gasoline quality can ask a specific oil company if it has performed independent testing to substantiate its claims.

Selling the Secret Sauce in Gasoline
The major oil companies spend millions of dollars convincing buyers that their gas is superior by creating ads that feature smiling cartoon cars, lab-coated nerds and sooty engine valves. Buy Shell’s nitrogen-enriched gas, for instance, and you won’t get a buildup of “gunk” in your engine, company advertising promises.

Is all this just a marketing gimmick?

“I am a Ph.D. chemist, a nerdy guy who wears a white coat,” says Jim Macias, Shell Oil Company’s fuels marketing manager. “We really believe there are differences in fuels. We can see it, feel it and measure it.”

Macias says the gunk caused by fuels with insufficient additives can foul fuel injectors and even trigger “Check Engine” lights in as few as 10,000 miles.

But not everyone is keen to talk about gasoline quality and whether additives really make the difference.

Edmunds sought comment from one well-known seller of low-price gas: Arco. Arco also often finds itself targeted as being a lower-quality product. BP, Arco’s parent company, did not respond to Edmunds’ interview request.

The American Petroleum Institute provided background comments about fuel additives and promised to provide an expert for an interview. The API spokesman never called back.

Finally, Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, an independent, nonprofit testing facility, also declined to comment on the question of gasoline quality.
Source: Edmunds

San Jose Auto Repair Springtime Tips

Springtime Auto Repair tips by San Jose Auto Repair
Springtime Auto Tips

Spring is one of the prime times for auto maintenance. That first wash-n-wax on a warm Saturday afternoon is liberating. Winter’s gloom (to say nothing of grit and road salt) is literally washed away. Take out the snow shovel, the gloves, and heavy boots and store them ’til next season. Surely summer can’t be far away.

Some preparation now will help ensure that your summer driving plans go as smoothly as you envision then now. ASE offer the following tips on getting your vehicle ready for summer. For any kind of auto repair or services, visit us at San Jose Auto repair in San Jose, Ca 95116.

  • Read the owner’s manual and follow the recommended service schedules.
  • Have hard starts, rough idling, stalling, etc. corrected before hot weather sets in.
  • Flush and refill the cooling system (radiator) according to the service manual’s recommendations. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically.
  • If you are not a do-it-yourselfer, look for repair facilities that employ ASE-certified automotive technicians.
  • The tightness and condition of belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a qualified auto technician.
  • Have a marginally operating air conditioner system serviced by a qualified technician to reduce the likelihood of more costly repairs.
  • Change the oil and oil filter as specified in owner’s manual. (Properly dispose of used oil.)
  • Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended.
  • Check the condition of tires, including the spare. Always check tire pressure when the tires are cold.
  • Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs.
  • Replace worn wiper blades and keep plenty of washer solvent on hand to combat summer’s dust and insects.