Friday, July 30, 2010

Check Your Wiper Blades Before it Rains!

We always forget about the wiper blades until it's pouring and we can't see. You should check them every six months and replace them once a year. Here's a video I did on how to change them yourself.

How to Change Your Wiper Blades

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What is Proper Tire Pressure for My Vehicle?

One of the most common mistakes in checking tire pressure is thinking that the correct pressure for your vehicle is posted on the tire. I get this answer a lot when I teach my classes. Many people assume that this is where it would be printed.

What you have to remember is that tires are made by the manufacturer for many different types of vehicles. Car manufacturers pay engineers a lot of money to figure out how the weight of a vehicle affects fuel economy and many other factors. Tire pressure plays into this factor. So, depending on the weight, size and other important information, tire pressure is determined by each different vehicle.

Therefore you will always find the tire pressure for your vehicle located on your vehicle or in your owner's manual. Usually there will be a label located on the inside of the driver's door giving you this information. I've also seen them inside the glove box, on the inside of the gas door or center console. Look around, it's there somewhere.

Proper tire inflation not only affects fuel economy, but also helps prevent uneven or early tire wear. There's also a safety concern if the tire pressure is too low. If you look at a tire you'll see that there are a lot of numbers and letters posted on the side wall. All of these numbers mean something. While you don't need to memorize them, it's a good idea to know what they mean. Here are a couple sites that will help explain more about all of those numbers. How Stuff Works is a great website with a lot of vehicle information. I caution you not to read this at work, it's hard to get off this site, it's so interesting.

Another great site is Tire Rack, not only can you get some great information about tires, but you can purchase them at pretty good prices. They even work with installers in your area so that if you need new tires they send them directly to the shop.

One of the things I teach in my class is how to use a tire pressure gauge. I think it's important for everyone to keep one of these in their vehicle. If you're not sure how to use it, ask someone to show you. It's not hard and will help you keep your tires in good shape for a long and healthy life.

As we say in the motorcycle world, keep the rubber side down and be pro-active in learning about the things you can do on your vehicle and do them yourself. It's a great way to understand your vehicle.

Radical Wrencher

Friday, July 16, 2010

How Much Did You Say?

The other day while I was driving I heard an ad on the radio for a brake job. It was a male salesman telling a woman that she could get a brake job done and only pay half for the brake pads. I actually started to laugh.

The woman in the ad was excited and couldn't wait to bring her vehicle in. The problem with this ad, in my opinion, is that the brake pads are not the expensive's the labor. This is the kind of thing that you have to be careful with when getting your vehicle serviced.

The ad makes it sound like such a good deal, but you should ask how much it will cost and how much of a discount that is off of the regular price. Later that night I was having dinner with a group of women friends. We meet monthly and the conversation is all over the map. Many of us have known each other for 10 years or more. I told them about the ad and asked what they thought. They said that one of their complaints is not knowing what it "should" cost to have work done.

Great point. So what do you do when you need work done and the shop quotes you a price? Here are a couple of sites you can check out. One that I like is called repair pal. You put in your vehicle, your zip code and pick the type of work you need to have done and they give you an estimate for parts and labor for your area. It's a great resource to at least get an idea of the amount you might be expected to pay. Now remember, shops can charge whatever they want. If you don't like their price, shop around.

If you just want to see what parts cost I would recommend looking at Rockauto. I buy a lot of parts from them. You put in your vehicle and then look up the parts. This will give you an idea of whether the shop is making too much money on the parts they're selling you.

I don't know about you, but for me money is tight. I want the work done on my vehicle to be the best deal I can get without compromising quality and workmanship. So the next time someone tries to sell you a good deal, check it out, it may not be such a bargain.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What to Check Before Taking That Summer Family Trip

Summer is here and that means family vacations. Here's a quick tip video on what to check before you pack the family vehicle and head out.

Summer Car Care Tips



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Back In the Driver's Seat!

Okay, it's been way too long since my last post...but putting your house on the market, selling it and moving can take up your time so easily! Now that I'm all settled in, it's time to get back to giving you what you want, some good advice.

I'll start with a story about yet another woman agreeing to work she probably didn't need. For those of you who live in states where you have to get your vehicle inspected yearly, you know that this can sometimes be a hassle. We take our vehicle in and then we feel like we're at the mercy of the technician to have it pass inspection.

Let me start by saying that if you feel that work they recommend to pass inspection seems unwarranted, you do have recourse. First, ask them to show you the items that are bad, preferably on the vehicle. If they come out with a part in their hand, you don't know where it came from. If what they are describing doesn't seem right to you then ask more questions or call someone you know to help you make your decision.

If you feel you're being taken, you can contact your state DMV and ask that a representative come and look at the failable item and tell you if it truly is bad. Most people don't know that they have this option. I've heard of shops backing down when the customer wants to call in a representative because they know they're wrong.

Any good shop should be willing to show and explain why the part has failed and help you understand this. Not all shops are just trying to rip you off, but it's good to know that there is someone you can call if you need to. Don't feel like you have to replace a part if you don't think it's bad.

So back to my story. This woman takes her vehicle in and gets a call later telling her that she passed both State inspection and emissions but while doing a 33 point inspection they found some items that need to be addressed.

The oil change, air filter, coolant being low are all things that are regular maintenance items. Depending on when you did them last, it may be time to have these serviced. Now she's fortunate to have a son who can do this work so she declined. Some other things she agreed to. Rotation of the tires, balancing 2 of the tires and clean and adjust the brakes.

Here's where I tend to question work. It said that they removed all the wheels to check the brakes for inspection, so to simply rotate them while they're off is often a courtesy, she was charged $10. Another $15 to balance. Then there's the brake clean and adjust. My thought is that if they didn't fail inspection, which being out of adjustment can make you fail....why are they charging for this service? Another $14 for this. I'd love to know what they really did.

I'm not saying that all shops are looking for ways to make you spend money, but beware of shops that you don't know very well that try to sell you what I call "busy work", because it may be slow. We have to get our vehicles inspected, but try to have an idea of what else may need to be done before you take it in so you don't agree to unnecessary repairs.

Remember, knowledge is power....use it!