Listen…Is That Your Car Crying For Help?

23 08 2018

Dale BertramThe car is just a machine that provides freedom to get where we need to go at a moment’s notice. Many of us in Phoenix can still remember when our car “talked to us” when it was not feeling well. What’s that you say? I’m talking about the days before we had modern technology. If the car needed spark plugs, it would idle rough, hiccup or stall. With the modern car, the computer system can mask a concern until it’s too late, resulting in an expensive repair.

Fairway Auto Repair encourages preventive service to make sure our customers don’t wait until the car needs major work. We want to keep our customers safe and their cars from coming to us via the tow truck. This is accomplished when the consumer pays attention to their machine. The driver needs to be aware of their car and the clues it gives when some component is going bad.

  • Check the gauges!
  • Pay attention when the dashboard lights illuminate, even when the car seems to run fine!
  • When you back out of a driveway or parking space, always check for fluid on the ground.

We have a customer that noticed some very small drops of coolant on the ground. This was actually his car’s way of speaking to him. He chose to ignore the cry for help from the car and because the temperature gauge was reading normal, he was not concerned. As a result, the car slowly lost coolant and the computer kept the car going until he felt the second cry for help while driving on the freeway. The car was losing power but again it was ignored until finally the car just stopped running…while he was still on the freeway. Fortunately, the customer was able to coast to the shoulder. This customer’s engine locked and was ruined! Instead of fixing the coolant leak that would have cost a small amount of money, he had to get his entire engine replaced and at a considerable cost!

This scenario is common so when your car cries for help, please don’t ignore it. You will save money, time and aggravation if you have your car serviced regularly.  If you have questions about your vehicle, you can always call us or visit our website at www.fairwayautorepair.com.  Fairway Auto Repair has many helpful articles on our website as a way to help our customers and our neighbors in Phoenix!

 

 

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Is Your Automotive Service and Repair Shop Certified?

2 08 2018

Dale BertramIn a recent study of several hundred people, the question was asked, “Does the auto shop you use have certified technicians?” The vast majority said they assumed that they were.

The shop you use may have certified people, but the reality is there is no mandatory certification required to own or operate an auto repair shop. This is one part of our industry that I would like to see reviewed. A professional that cuts hair or fingernails is required to be state certified, but a mechanic who works on tires, engines or brakes doesn’t need a single day of training or any tools to do so.

Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers a series of tests that a technician can take to be certified in many different areas of the car. All tests are voluntary, not required. At my shop, I require all staff to be ASE certified and I know many other shops do as well. ASE tests are all written tests and it does not necessarily mean a person is competent to work on a car.

AAA Approved auto shops must have ASE certified technicians employed as well as have a minimum set of tools for the cars they work on. I recommend using an AAA approved shop due to their tough standards, and you have a voice through the arbitration system, should you have a concern with the service or repair.

In these uncertain times, saving a few dollars is always something to consider. But don’t get caught up with a low price that will cost you more later. Have a knowledgeable certified technician perform the service or repairs on your car; it will save you time and money in the long run. Before you agree to have any work performed, ask if the technician working on your car is certified. If you wonder sometimes why someone is lower in price than everyone else, there’s usually a reason.

 

 





The Role of the Check Engine Light

26 07 2018

Dale BertramYour car has many computers that monitor your engine for the best performance, your transmission for proper shifting, your braking system for safe stopping, and it monitors many other devices to make sure they are working properly. If a system detects a problem, it needs to alert you, so you can bring the car in for service. This is the role of the check engine light.

The check engine light looks different from car to car.  It is usually a yellow or orange color. It will rarely be red. Most of the time it illuminates in the shape of an engine. If the check engine light comes on solid (not blinking), you can continue to drive the car until you have a chance to bring it in. This does not mean you should ignore it.

When the check engine light is on, the car defaults to a backup system that controls all the important systems. Driving around for a short time until you can set up an appointment is no problem, but continuing to drive more than 20 miles is a bad idea.

If the check engine light is blinking rhythmically, this indicates a serious problem! A computer system has had a major malfunction that will damage the catalytic converter. If you notice a blinking check engine light, you do not need to stop in the middle of the bridge and call a tow truck, but you do need to stop driving as soon as it is practical. Whether the check engine light is solid or blinking, it’s a good idea to drive gently.

The modern car is more complex than ever, and many folks believe a small hand-held code reader will tell you what’s wrong with the car. This is incorrect information. It is called a code reader for a reason; it reads the trouble code for the major systems only. A code reader will not tell you the complete story of the car’s condition.

Please don’t diagnose or replace parts based on a code reader device. The only way to correctly find all the issues with your car is to use a scanner. The scanner does what it says; it scans all the modules and systems of the car, instead of a select few that a code reader does. Most cars have 20 to 100 modules; a code reader is not set to read even half of those.

No one wants to pay for expensive testing, but it beats changing parts and losing that hard-earned cash we all want to spend elsewhere. Please use a shop that is well equipped and don’t rely on the old code reader any more.

 

 





How’s The View?

12 07 2018

Dale BertramHow is the view from your windshield?  It is interesting that 80 percent of vehicle accidents are contributed to poor visibility and yet the average driver gets their wipers replaced every two and a half years.  They should be replaced every six months or at most every year.  Think of what your windshield encounters!

 

  • Rain
  • Insects coming to a messy end
  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Bird droppings

All these need to be cleared from your windshield when you are driving. If your wipers are worn and you turn them on to clear buildup you could end up with an even smearier blur instead of clear glass.

Most wiper blades are made with rubber that breakdown over time just like your belts and hoses.  The ozone oxidizes the rubber causing cracks to form on the surface.  Hot summer days are hard on wipers too because a windshield can get very hot.  This makes the rubber lose flexibility and crack.  All of this causes the chattering and smearing when you turn them on to clear the windshield.  What is this telling you? “This is a sign…please replace us!” They even make blades now that tell you when they need to be replaced!  If you are a procrastinator in this department they might be worth checking out! If you have a rear wiper blade don’t forget to replace that too!

Hopefully this has convinced you that good wiper blades are a must.  Keep in mind though those wiper blades don’t function by themselves.  If the nozzle isn’t squirting fluid properly onto the windshield (I’ve seen some squirt the car behind them or beside them!) the nozzle may need adjusting.  If it doesn’t squirt fluid out at all it either needs fluid added or the nozzle is clogged.  I’ve also seen weak washer pumps.

If your vision isn’t as clear as it should be, please make it a priority to get it taken care of sooner rather than later.

 

 





Independence From Summer’s Heat Starts Here!

28 06 2018

Dale BertramWhen I think about those wonderful Patriots who declared our independence back in 1776 I often think about the amazing sacrifices they made. They sacrificed their businesses, their family time, and could all have been hanged for treason.  They also dressed very elegantly but sitting in a building with no air conditioning and walking or riding horses or being driven around in horse drawn carriages wherever they went had to be incredibly hot! Philadelphia, Pennsylvania can be a very hot and humid place in the summer months. I don’t even like to think about how hot it would have been in Phoenix!

Today we enjoy air conditioning and have trouble getting by without it!  Summer temperatures can soar here in Phoenix!  It can test your vehicle’s air conditioning system. Here are some suggestions from Fairway Auto Repair to help you beat the heat this summer!

  1. Roll your car windows down slightly on hot days to keep the heat from building inside your car. Your car’s air-conditioning system works by removing heat, so the cooler the interior is to start with, the easier and faster it can cool down your vehicle.
  2. Before you get in your car, open all the windows and/or doors completely, for a moment to let the hot air leave the interior fast.
  3. When you first turn the air conditioning on, set the controls to “max” or “rec” and use the highest blower speed. This moves the air and re-circulates it for a quicker cool-down. When you feel comfortable, switch the system to “norm” and select a lower fan speed. The lower blower speed produces colder air from the system.
  4. If your cool air smells like “dirty socks” or a gym locker set the system to the “outside” air mode (not “rec”) frequently to help prevent or lessen this problem.
  5. If you have an Automatic Temperature Control system read your owner’s manual to find out exactly how your system works. Usually the quickest cool-down comes by setting the temperature as low as it will go at first, then adjusting it.

If your air-conditioning system isn’t helping you beat the heat, give Fairway Auto a call! We are certified to use Freon properly to keep our environment healthy and you cool and comfortable.  To find out more about your vehicle’s A/C system, visit our website at www.fairwayautorepair.com.  Fairway Auto Repair wants to make sure you keep your cool all year long!

 

 





Misconceptions

17 05 2018

Dale BertramHere are some of the most common misconceptions that I hear on a regular basis:

Misconception # 1: Your car manufacturer specifies regular maintenance schedules just to get you back into their shop and make more money off of you.

Although manufacturers are making cars that last longer and require less overall maintenance, they do require preventive maintenance. If maintained properly, you can expect your car to go well over 100,000 miles without major repairs. For instance, most engines have timing belts that must be replaced (as maintenance) before they break and cause expensive damage.

Misconception # 2: A shop can give you an accurate price quote over the phone without seeing your car.

You can waste your time calling 20 different shops and get 20 different prices and chances are every one of them will be wrong. Unless the shop has had a chance to examine or test drive the car in person, there is no way to accurately diagnose your problem and give you an accurate price quote. Beware of any shop that is willing to give you a quote over the phone without seeing the car. Most likely they will tell you a real low price just to get you to set up an appointment. Then they may hit you with a much higher price once you get there.

Misconception # 3: Most repair shops will recommend extra work just to get you to spend more money.

The fact is that any shop that does not look for potential problems is actually doing you a great disservice. Quality repair shops road test every car and want to uncover wear and tear before they cause expensive problems and breakdowns. Something as simple as discovering and changing a worn belt can save you the danger (and embarrassment) of breaking down on a busy highway and an expensive towing charge.

Misconception # 4: All repair shops are the same.

There can be a huge difference between repair shops. New car technology requires constant training to keep current with all the changes. It also requires having the latest diagnostic equipment available.

 

 

 





Never Assume

26 04 2018

Dale BertramIn a recent study of several hundred people, the question was asked, “Does the auto shop where you take your vehicle employ certified technicians?” The vast majority answered that they assumed that they were certified.

Sadly, this is not the case! Someone who cuts hair or does manicures is required to be state certified and take continuing education classes, but a mechanic, who works on tires, engines or brakes doesn’t need a single day of training nor are they required to have the proper tools.

The only certification system we have in the automotive repair industry is strictly voluntary and is administered by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) which offers a series of written tests that a technician can take to be certified in many different areas of the car. All tests are voluntary, not required. At Fairway Auto Repair, I require all the staff to be ASE certified and I know many other shops do as well.

I recommend using an AAA Approved auto shop because they require ASE certified technicians and those technicians must have a minimum set of tools for the cars they work on. AAA approved shops have tough standards and you, the consumer, have a voice through the arbitration system if you feel something went wrong with your car repair.

In these uncertain times, saving a few dollars is always something to consider, but don’t get so caught up with a low price that you get poor service/repair.  This will cost you more later. Have a knowledgeable certified technician perform the service or repairs on your car; it will save you time and money in the long run. Before you agree to have any work performed, ask if the technician working on your car is certified for that year, make & model.