How to Maintain, Diagnose, and Replace Car Batteries

Batteries are designed with a specific life-span and their performance will decline after this time, requiring they be refurbished or replaced. Car batteries appear to be taking the brunt of the demands from all the impressive advances made in the car industry. Many auto accessories, aftermarket car parts, and high tech car stereos use large amounts of electricity which strains the battery.

There are steps you can take to extend the life of your battery so that it will not need to be replaced as frequently. Wash the terminals often to ensure they don’t corrode and cause problems with the electrical current. Try using pressurized water, like a hose, and a wire brush for the best results. Also, you may want to purchase a can of foam battery cleaner at your local parts store to help loosen any stuck on dirt.

Often there will be signs that the battery is beginning to wear out. Maybe the car doesn’t start right away as it once used to, or it needs a jump when sitting idle for just a few days. When you start noticing such signs, check first to make sure the cables are still secure and have not come loose from the battery. The needless shaking in car batteries may cause cells to deteriorate, which has the effect of diminishing the operating life of your battery.

If your battery is truly dead and can’t be revived, you will need to go to an auto parts store for a replacement battery. If you don’t know the battery type your car requires, there are several ways to find out. All batteries should have a “group size” number on printed on them to help with replacement. But if not, your auto parts store will have a manual where you can look up the correct battery type for your car by vehicle make and model.

If you need assistance with the installation of the battery, do not hesitate to ask an employee for help. The people that work in these stores are experts in car repairs and will be happy to assist you. However, some auto parts stores charge a fee for this service, so be sure to ask prior to the installation of your new car battery.

Car Stereo Repair

Have you ever experienced problems with getting your car speakers to work? Since I think many of us car owners have experienced this problem, I will provide this description of how to diagnose the problem of silent speakers and also give you some hints on how to fix it. Whether you are familiar with car stereo repair or not, this might help you. If it doesn’t, contact a dealer who can do an auto stereo repair or search for vehicle stereo repair help online. If your stereo speakers don’t work, then try

  • checking the speakers to see if they are disconnected
  • checking all fuses that are related to the auto speakers
  • tightening the butt connectors to the speakers
  • replacing all or some of the butt connectors

If your speakers are still not working, I recommend that you test the auto speakers that don’t work directly:

  • Disconnect each speaker that doesn’t work from the car’s wires and do the test below, doing one at a time.
  • Use a 9v battery and connect its leads to each auto speaker to be tested for a short moment.
    • Does the speaker have movement?
    • Do you hear the sound usually known as a ‘pop’ or thump?

    If your answers to the questions above are ‘yes’, your speaker will probably be able to make sound and it is likely to work.

  • Also note which way the speaker are moving, whether in or out of its frame during the test. Thus you can also determine your auto speakers polarity when connecting them up to the amplifier up in the front.
  • If the cone of your speaker moves out of the basket, the lead going to the positive of the battery is the positive lead of the speaker. If it goes in the opposite direction, the lead hooked to the negative of the battery is positive of your auto speaker.

This speaker direct test has two possible results: Either the speaker is not able to make sound or it is. If the first is the case, your speaker are dead and you must replace it. If the latter is the case, you should

  • run new speaker wires and rewire
  • perform the ‘popper’ tests to get the polarity correct as described above

Now, if this problem still persists you can at least rest assure that the reason is not your speaker. The reason is probably one of the following: Either it is caused by

  • problems in the deck itself or
  • the connections from the deck.

In this case I recommend that you contact a vehicle stereo repair shop or do a search online to get information about how to fix these problems.

Five Tips for Choosing the Right Auto Body Shop

Choosing an auto body shop doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. Estimates from different shops will likely fluctuate, sometimes to the point where you wonder if you are getting quotes for the same repair on the same vehicle. Consider these five tips to help guide you in making your decision:

1. Get Multiple Estimates

This one is obvious. Not only will multiple auto body shop quotes give you some idea of the “middle ground,” you’ll feel better knowing that you did your homework and you aren’t simply going with the cheapest… or worse yet, the most costly proposition.

2. Are They Certified and Insured

Do they seem reputable and carry all the appropriate certifications insurance?

Is the location a direct repair facility for your insurance company?

If you are completely new to the facility and going in with very little information on them, check for appropriate licensing hanging on the wall near the register.

Things can go wrong with any repair shop and your vehicle will be living there for a while, so you want to make sure that the repair facility you choose is protected in the event of fire, theft, or natural disaster.

3. Parts and Warranty

What is the warranty on repairs? Depending on whether they are a direct repair facility for your insurance company, you will likely get anywhere between 1 year and a lifetime warranty. Comparing warranties between locations can be a big indicator of the quality of parts and workmanship. You want to hire someone willing to stand by their craft.

Do they use aftermarket or used parts? Used parts don’t necessarily mean quality is bad, but when comparing quotes, you want to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. If one location is offering used parts and another new, and their estimates are the same, look closer. What is making up the extra cost in the estimate for the shop offering the used parts? The per-hour labor costs may be higher at that particular shop.

What kind of paint matching technology do they use? You want to be sure that they can make an exact match of the paint code for your vehicle, and that they are using a high-quality coating.

4. Reputation

Do they have a good local reputation? Are they part of a social network where you can check for reviews? Ask around to friends and family; almost everyone has used an auto body shop at some point, and you’ll be surprised how much information you can gather by listening to other people’s experiences.

5. Trust Your Gut… and Relax

If you are searching for an auto body shop, you and your car likely just went through a stressful experience. Trust your gut after visiting the location; you want to leave feeling that the customer service seems knowledgeable about their industry and genuine about service. If anything about the experience seems not above board, keep looking, and use the tips above to guide you until you find a professional you can feel good about.

Choosing A Local Auto Body Repair Company

Ah, you have been in accident! Not a favorite experience of many people. Whats even worse than the actual fallout of the automobile accident itself is getting your vehicle repaired.

If you go through a reputable and ethical auto body repair shop you will end up with an automobile that drives and looks just like its was never wrecked. If you go through a shady company you will have a substandard vehicle that will have a really low re-sell value in the future. Here is what you can do to prevent the latter from happening.

Make Sure The Estimate Includes Factory Parts

How can one body shop give you an estimate that is half the cost of another? The answer usually is that one will use aftermarket parts that cost half the price.

This is very important to know! Aftermarket parts are usually not high in quality and many times do not fit exactly like original ones made from the actual manufacturer. Shops usually have to play and bend aftermarket parts to work and they do not usually last a long time. They can also compromise a car’s tolerance to withstand another wreck. A bumper for instance made by the manufacturer is made to withstand a certain impact. Its made to bend and crumple a certain way so that the people in the car absorb as little shock as possible. An aftermarket part may look genuine but it is probably made out of inferior materials and its threshold is a lot lower.

Demand that original parts be used to rebuild your car.

Check the Better Business Bureau for Any Complaints

Look up a company in the BBB and see if any complaints have been filed in the last year. If so try to inquire why. If a certain business has high stars and a high satisfaction rate then you have a good idea of what company you are dealing with.

Ask For A Couple References

Ask them to supply you with the name of recent customers who they have serviced. Call them up. See if these individuals were happy with the work that was performed for them. If an auto body shop is hesitant to supply with at least three names then I would go somewhere else.

Warranty

Any service like this should stand behind their work and offer some type of guarantee. They should back all their parts and labor with a warranty that lasts at least a year. If something falls off or if the paint fades after only a month then you want to make sure that they are willing to fix their mistake.

Ask To See Pictures

Ask a body shop to see some before and after photos. Do they have experience in doing the work you need done? Have they ever worked on your type of car before? What is the worst wreck they have fixed? These things are good points to keep in mind.

It’s Spring, There Is a Hail Storm – Hail Damage Repair Information

Luckily for car owners without garages, most hail storms do not cause body damage to cars until the hail is larger than ½ inch in diameter. Even then, it takes bigger hail than that to cause significant damage. The first thing that happens after a hail storm is car dealers offer Hail Sales and hail repair outfits pop up like mushrooms after a rain.

  1. Hail Sales offer damaged cars at prices well below book value. However, the real result is that car dealers simply make bigger commissions and sell more cars. Any car sold with unrepaired damage means that the damage was either too severe or too expensive to be worth fixing. Every car that a dealer can fix before sale with Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) will have been fixed already.
  2. Repainting a car after PDR or other hail damage removal adds extra costs. PDR works well for small dents where the dent has no cracked paint within the dent.
  3. Dents to large for PDR to repair must be handled at a conventional auto shop and the repairs will need to be painted and finished.
  4. Large or deep dents or those where the metal is very stretched or even cracked require a body shop repair job. Deep dents that break the paint will result in rust to the metal body of the car if left unrepaired.
  5. Some insurance companies pay car owners the amount on its estimate, regardless of whether the owner gets the repairs done or not. Keeping the insurance money without fixing it is legal but choosing to leave damage unrepaired can impact your ability to get full-coverage insurance on the car. It can also affect the amount you get for future repairs or similar damage since future occurrences will be excluded from the coverage.
  6. Having a car’s hail damage repaired using insurance money does result in the repair being listed on the CarFax vehicle report from that point onward. This helps insurance companies avoid bogus damage claims and also is used by car buyers to know the damage and repair history of their potential vehicle.
  7. Owners who choose to leave it unrepaired may find the cost of the hail damage deducted from damage claims later in the life of the car. Document any repairs to hail damage to ensure future claims are paid in full.
  8. If you own your car outright, you need to decide how long you plan to own the car and how important the repair is to you. If you have a car that has little value and plan to drive it until it dies, there is not much point in repairing hail damage.
  9. If you have an active loan on your car, your lien holder will probably require verification that the damage was fixed. In some cases, they might allow you to apply the hail damage repair check to the balance of your car loan.
  10. Get damage estimates and compare that with the claim payout offer minus your deductible before making a decision about filing an insurance claim.
  11. The insurance company may “total out” an older car with only relatively minor hail damage simply because the vehicle has less useful life remaining. Motorcycles can handle very little hail damage before insurance companies consider them a total loss.

When checking for hail damage or getting an insurance estimate, make sure to check windshields for cracks and chips. If glass is involved, get that repaired and make sure the permanent seals along windshield and rear window edges are properly repaired and set, too.

Buy Aftermarket Auto Parts Online and Save!

The internet has proven itself over and over again to be a great source for comparative shoppers looking to save money. The newest internet opportunity to saving your valuable dollars is on costly truck and car repairs. Auto repair savings has historically been limited to the Do it Yourselfer or the backyard mechanic – ultimately the savings came in the form of labor. Thankfully, those days are over, as more individuals are utilizing the internet to source and purchase the auto parts they need online and then bringing them to a local garage or backyard mechanic have them installed. The internet provides bumper to bumper coverage of virtually any and all truck and car parts and can offer significant savings over the local auto parts store. I have heard of savings of over 70% on some aftermarket parts. If you take the old standard calculation of car repair costs into consideration (50% parts + 50% labor) the overall savings could be as high as 35%.

Let’s take a typical 4 wheel brake job as an example. The vehicle I used was a 2001 Chevy Cavalier – 2.4 litre engine with front disc brakes and rear drums. I made a few calls to local auto parts stores (I purposely avoided dealerships and OEM parts to generate a better price comparison). I did not include calipers.

I was able to source front semi-metallic brake pads, front rotors, rear brake drums, rear brake shoes and new brake hardware online for $101.40 which included shipping and any and all applicable taxes – delivered to my door! The same brake parts (I specifically did not select any parts they classified as “Premium” level parts) from a local auto parts store came in at $345.47. To be honest I was a little shocked by the fact that I could save over 70% on aftermarket brake parts. I thought a 70% savings would be specific to parts that were normally “dealer” specific.

Couple of other things to take into consideration, I have heard that garages are starting to charge a higher hourly rate if you bring in your own parts, a corking fee if you will. Not unusual as they typically mark up auto parts that they purchase for you by at least 20%. The overall extra cost to you however is minimal as they usually receive a garage discount from the auto part store.

Another important consideration is to make sure you purchase the right auto parts online – determining with 100% accuracy which auto part fits your vehicle can be very difficult. Most online stores offer toll free numbers and friendly knowledgeable staff that will cross reference your vehicle to ensure you get the right parts. You don’t want to end up with parts you can’t use and have to potentially ship back at your expense (some online stores also charge a re-stocking fee). Another option is to contact a dealer to confirm the part numbers you need before you go online to purchase. Dealerships can use your VIN # and provide another level of accuracy when it comes to identifying the right part for the right vehicle.

Bottom-line, there are significant savings available online for auto parts. The days when the only way to save money on auto repairs was to do it yourself or hire the local backyard mechanic are gone.

All You Need To Know About Quality Auto Body Repair

With always expanding vehicles on the streets, individuals are generally seen attempting to park bigger cars into apparently smaller parking spots and it is not surprising at all that while doing this the cars get little dents and scratches. So, what should you do, neglect those to decrease the resale value of the cars or should you make a move and locate a quality auto body repair shop? Finding a decent auto repair shop becomes a lot easier once you have a better idea of what you are searching for.

  • A Few Qualities Of A Good Auto Body Repair Shop

At the point when searching for auto body repair shop where do you begin your journey to discover quality? The primary thing you might want to see is an auto repair they have done recently, or permit you to, have a walk around their shop. By taking a look at autos getting repaired, you can tell the level of service provided at that garage.

First of all, when taking a look at a completed auto body repair, what would it be a good idea for us to pay consideration on? Take as much time as needed, given your eyes a chance to look over the work done, do you find anything that instantly hop out, is the color coordination acceptable? Everything needs to look normal and untouched.

After that take a look at how it was concealed. Are there any indications of paint on the rubber lines, fabric or around the trims etc? Look down and see the boards and panels, a great auto body repair ought to be level and have no indications of swells or ripples. In the event that it’s not level it’s not done appropriately.

An experienced auto repair professional ought to utilize a sanding block at all times. Investigate the paint work, to search for any fine scratches or small pin openings. These are known as mapping out, and if they’re present then the job hasn’t been done properly.

You should also take a look at the general composition of the paint work, does everything match? An expert auto body repair professional will try his/her best to coordinate the texture of the spray work as good as a new one. This should be made possible by altering the spray pressure or changing the blend of the paint, yes, it’s a bit difficult job to do, but keep in mind that low quality repairs will affect the resale cost of your auto.

The above mentioned tips will help you find renowned auto body repair shop. If you’re willing to keep your vehicle’s body in the top-notch condition, then visiting the best auto body repair shop is quite important.

How to Properly Repair Chips and Deep Scratches on Your Car

We all have received them on our cars – rock chips, door dings, bumper scrapes, etc… They can come from a rock thrown up from a truck on the highway, or its as easy as a parking lot ding from someone in a hurry or even an errant grocery cart. Most of these are unavoidable. They can happen even if you park far away from stores and regardless of the measures you take to protect your car. Not only do they detract from your cars beauty, but they can also make your car susceptible to rust and the environment. Here’s how to fix these paint chips, nicks and deep scratches and protect your car from rust.

Its not worth going to a auto paint and body store for chips and scratches. They will charge 10 times more for repairs you can easily do yourself. The first step is to locate the chips and scratches and see how deep they are. If they don’t go all the way through the paint you can buff them out. Using a cloth terry towel apply a small amount of scratch remover or cleaner wax. Rub in a circular motion over the chip or scratch and buff when dry. If this removes the chip or scratch after a couple of applications, great, then just follow with a good wax or polish. If you see white primer or metal in the nick or scratch scratch remover or cleaner wax will not work well.

Some cars have paint that is lacquer based and others have paint that is enamel based. The following tip works wonders on cars with lacquer based paint only. Get a clean rag and apply a small amount of lacquer thinner to it. Take this and rub lightly on and around the scratch, nick or chip. The lacquer thinner will actually start to move the paint around and cover the affected spot. This even works on larger scrapes. This treatment is not recommended on cars with custom paint jobs and may not work on all cars with lacquer based paints.

For those with enamel paint or scratches and chips where the above treatment didn’t work, then you have to touch up the blemish in your paint. First, you need to get the paint code so you can correctly match the paint for your car. This is located inside your door jam or on some Hondas inside the glove box. Take this paint code to your dealer and get a small bottle of touch up paint. The touch up paint will come in a small bottle with a brush applicator. Instead of using the brush, as it will apply too broadly and make your touch up of the chip or scratch really stand out, we recommend using a toothpick for better paint placement.

First clean the area of the chip or scratch. Then follow the directions on the touch up paint bottle. Usually it is mix thoroughly for 5 minutes (metallic paints may require more agitation). Then using the toothpick place the paint directly in the chip or scratch. When done allow to dry for several days before waxing or polishing (some cars have a clear cote which you would then apply in the same fashion to the affected area). By touching up the paint you have sealed the area from the environment and greatly reduced the chances of rust setting in and affecting your sheet metal. Rust is like cancer for your car and very difficult to stop once it starts, so it is better to be proactive and prevent it with proper car care and treatment and quickly identifying and repairing paint chips, nicks and scratches. For more great free info on automotive repair, treatments and headlight cleaning and restoration, please visit the link below.

What Can Your Auto Glass Shop Do For You?

It has happened to most of us. You’re driving along, usually behind a truck, and a rock hits your windshield. When something happens to your car, even a minor “ding” to the windshield, it becomes abundantly clear how important glass is for visibility and a safe operational environment. All auto glass items are literally your windows to the world. So, don’t let auto glass repair or replacement problems go. What may seem minor, like that small crack in your auto windshield, or if you notice side windows that don’t go up and down smoothly anymore, can quickly escalate into much bigger problems that can cost a lot more.

What can your glass repair shop do for you? Let us count the ways!

Auto Glass Today

Today’s shop can rightly be called a “glass center” because of the full range of services, including:

  • Cracked windshield replacement
  • Chipped windshield repair
  • Power window repair
  • Side view mirrors
  • Car trim repairs
  • Glass replacements to meet industry standards
  • And even assistance with insurance claims

If you have been in an accident, call your local auto glass shop. Ask questions and find out how that shop can help with damage control and work with you to determine whether you should file an insurance claim. Your auto policy’s comprehensive section will usually cover damage and some shops will actually file the claim for you and handle all the paperwork too.

What else can your local glass replacement center do for you?

Residential Glass – The Big Bonus

Did you know the auto glass shop can actually help you with creating phenomenal customized looks for enhancing your interior and exterior home décor? This is a real glass shop bonus that many folks never even think of. There are more and more glass related products that can add comfort and beauty to your living space:

  • House window replacement
  • Insulated glass replacement
  • Single pane window repair
  • Storm windows and screens
  • Mirrors
  • Furniture/Table tops

For example, when you start looking and asking questions, you will discover many glass shop items that can be special ordered and customized to reflect your own home decorating ideas. For instance, protecting your furniture with glass tops makes sense to add to and retain the beauty of fine wood. Look for a glass shop that can create the shape, size and thickness you need and can meet your requirements for beveled edges, and seamed or polished edges. When your glass desktop or tabletop is cut to size and ready, it will present a shining surface, can be cleaned with ease, and best of all, it will be protected for the long haul.

Custom mirrors can make a dramatic impact too. Having mirrors created to your own specifications by the local glass shop you thought was only good for auto repairs is the new way to go. Now, you can create mirrored walls, size little mirrors to fit small spaces, bevel the edges, and have everything custom installed to add style and glamour to your home.

The New Glass Centers

The moral of this story is that once small local auto glass repair shops have now evolved. Replacement, repair and installation of auto or home glass now requires special training and techniques to meet challenges that have become more and more complicated with time. The little shops of the past have been transformed and radically changed with technological advances. The result is they are not just shops anymore, but could be called advanced “Glass Centers” because they offer services only offered by larger companies less than 20 years ago. They are the little shops that could – and do!

Car Repair Prices: Fuel Injection Services, Are They Worth It?

Fuel injection services are growing in popularity for the following reasons in the order of motive.

  • Increases service center’s profit
  • It’s an easy sell with today’s gas prices
  • Offsets manufacturers’ maintenance reductions, and extended life systems
  • Poor gas quality
  • Poor adherence to vehicle maintenance

Notice that “It’s required” did not make the list. That’s because fuel injection services are not required the majority of the time. In short, if your fuel efficiency is fine don’t bother with a fuel injection service–Save Your Money!

However, injector services are at times beneficial, even necessary. See the following frequently asked question and answers…

What do they do?

Depending on the product, injection services clean naturally forming carbon deposits from the fuel injectors and fuel rails–some will even clean the fuel tank, and valve carbon deposits.

Do they work?

In short, yes. Provided it’s a premium product (such as BG), and the service is performed correctly. Fuel injection services can do amazing things. They can improve fuel efficiency, increase horse power, and repair some performance concerns, although this last benefit is rare.

Whether or not fuel injection services will do all the above “every time” is another story.

I have even seen fuel injection services quiet horrendous carbon knocks–a knocking noise from the engine due to excessive carbon build-up coming in contact with internal engine components.

Are they worth it?

Maybe. It really depends on the condition of the vehicle. If the service achieves any of the advertised claims, it may be worth it. In truth, most cars don’t need it. The consistent use of quality fuel, and proper vehicle maintenance should be all that is necessary to keep a car running properly.

However, consistent use of cheap gas and poor adherence to an auto maintenance schedule, as well as certain driving styles can significantly increase the accumulation of carbon deposits. Thus the possibility of poor fuel efficiency, decreased horsepower, and performance issues increases–all of which could be helped by injector maintenance.

The other factor to consider is the expense. How much fuel savings justifies the cost of the fuel injection service, and how long is the pay off. BG claims that their product will pay for itself in a year’s time. However, remember that the condition of the vehicle is a big variable!

How often should it be done?

It depends on the product, but generally between 15,000 to 30,000-miles is the average.

Are they necessary?

It depends: See the discussion under Are they worth it?

Can a fuel injection service do any damage to my engine or car?

Not if done correctly. Done incorrectly, anything goes. A technician could conceivably hydro-lock your engine, or blow a hole in the piston–although both scenarios are rare.

If anything does go wrong, there is usually an underlying problem, which gets exacerbated by the fuel injector auto maintenance.

Why doesn’t my manufacturer recommend fuel injector cleaning auto maintenance?

No manufacturer recommends fuel injector cleaning auto maintenance under normal operating conditions. From a manufacturer’s viewpoint: take care of your car right (i.e., as the manufacturer dictates) and you’ll be fine.

However, depending on the problem, some manufacturers will recommend fuel injector cleaning auto maintenance as the cure–especially carbon knock. With the variety of fuel qualities available, manufacturers may reconsider fuel injector cleaning auto maintenance.

How much does fuel injector cleaning auto maintenance cost?

Prices vary depending on the service center and the actual procedure performed, and product used. The procedure you want should clean the entire fuel system including the tank and should not cost more than $150.

Finally, make sure the service is actually performed as fuel injector maintenance is a common scam across the industry.

Fuel injection maintenance is also presented in such a way as if it is the magical cure for all your car’s quirks–it not!

When in doubt, don’t do it.