Who is working on your car?

mechanicThree very important things to consider when selecting a service/repair facility:

  1. Who is working on your? What is their level of expertise? Everybody has to start somewhere, but different levels of service and repair require different levels of skill. A lot of chain stores, tire shops, and oil change places only have entry-level employees. Which means entry level skills. Even the manufacturer dealerships only have a couple of “A” technicians. Their time is normally dedicated to drivability and diagnosis. All of our technicians are ASE Certified Master Technicians.
  2. Do they have specific knowledge of your vehicle? It’s important you chose a service and repair facility wisely. With today’s technology and advancements, a shop that knows a little bit about a lot is not going to be your best choice.All of our technicians have the specific knowledge, information, and tools to service and repair YOUR vehicle correctly the first time.
  3. What kind of parts are being used? (In other words, what is the level of quality?) Not every shop uses OEM (original equipment) parts or OEM-equivalent parts. Those generic parts may fit you car, but how well they work and how long they last is usually the problem. We use only OEM or OEM-equivalent parts.

A shop that “specializes” in everything most likely doesn’t. As mentioned above be careful of chain stores, tire stores, and quickie oil change places.

If you need something, have a question, JUST ASK US! Consultation is always FREE!

Vehicle service by Maintenance Minder or Mileage?

minder lightFor those of you who have a Maintenance Minder (Oil Life % indicator). Be advised, going strictly by the Oil Life % indicator may cause you to go further between oil changes and services than the manufacturer intended. Exceeding your service interval could affect your manufacture’s warranty. We’re finding customers coming in 2,500-3,000 miles past when they should be getting a service or oil change.

We recommend using your Oil Life % indicator in conjunction with mileage. You should be getting an oil change every 5,000 miles and a service every 10,000 miles (this applies to newer Honda, Acura, Toyota, and Lexus vehicles only. All other manufactures should be getting an oil change every 3,750 miles and a service every 7,500 miles). This will get you the best performance and life out of your vehicle.

The agenda of some manufactures seems to be a reduction of service under the guise of reduced service cost. Simply put, reduced service equals reduced service life. In other words, you having to buy a new car sooner. We’re here to prevent that by going above and beyond to get you the longest life, service, and performance out of your vehicle as possible.

Need something, have a question, JUST ASK US! Consultation is always FREE!

Three Warning Lights NOT To Ignore

Three Warning Lights NOT to ignore

Here are three lights you should never ignore:

oil lightThe Engine Oil Light If this comes on, you should pull over immediately. You can destroy an engine if the oil level or pressure is too low, so don’t keep driving!

The Temperature Gauge/Light If your car is overheating, temp lightthere’s a serious problem and you could blow an engine. If you’re a short distance from help, then one TEMPORARY handling is to turn the heater on full. However, watch the temp gauge like a hawk and make sure it drops out of the red. Remember this is only for a short ‘limp’ to help.

temp lightThe Brake Warning Light If the brake warning light comes on when you apply your brakes, it means your brake fluid is dangerously low. This can lead to real problems, like an accident. Pull over and get the problem fixed.

While all the warning lights exist to alert you to a problem, these three definitely should be heeded. As always, we’re here to answer any questions about warning lights and get those car problems fixed.

Need something, have a question, JUST ASK US! Consultation is always FREE!

Importance of Vehicle Maintenance

vehicle break downIf you’re like most people, your second biggest investment, after your home, is your automobile. With that in mind, it makes sense to protect such an important investment. What’s the best way to do that? Regular vehicle maintenance, of course!

The Car Care Council estimates more than $60 billion in vehicle maintenance and repair work IS NOT performed each year. That scary statistic means there’s considerably more drivers should be doing to protect their investment. Budgeting for and doing preventive automotive maintenance is a must if you want to keep your repair cost down and keep your car humming along. We can’t stress enough the importance of vehicle maintenance.

Regular vehicle maintenance is much less expensive than repair work when things break down. It’s a whole lot less than new car payments! You’ll find a properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable. It will also save you at the gas pumps since it will be more fuel efficient. Best of all your properly maintained vehicle is more valuable. Regular vehicle maintenance is the smartest way to get a good return on your automotive investment.

As mentioned earlier, we can’t stress enough the importance of vehicle maintenance. If a person decides to not get their oil changed, the eventual result is engine failure which could have been prevented for a measly $30 or so. And so it goes for most of your vehicle maintenance needs.

Don’t ever second guess the importance of vehicle maintenance, and if you have any questions or need any help regarding service, please feel free to contact us. Consultation is always FREE!

Do I need to return to the dealer where I purchased my vehicle for servicing?

No, you are not required to return to the new car dealer for service while your new vehicle is under warranty. The new car dealer will lead you to believe that if you do not return for service your warranty will be void. This is false! You may have your new vehicle serviced wherever you please.

This practice has become so widespread that Congress passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which makes it a violation of Federal Statutes for a car manufacturer to require the vehicle be returned to the dealer for servicing in order to maintain it’s warranty.

The only reason you would need to return to the new car dealer is for warranty repairs or a manufacturer recall. These repairs are to be performed at no cost to you for parts or labor.

Manufacturer warranties vary from system to system (ie. whole car warranty, drive train, emissions, etc.). Consult your owners manual for exact time and mileage details. Recalls are in affect for the life of the vehicle (there is no mileage limitations).

Service or “warranty service” as it is sometimes referred to (which is misleading), can be done by whomever you like. The most important thing to keep in mind when servicing your vehicle, whether your vehicle is new or not, or under warranty or not, is to always have your vehicle serviced by the manufacturer recommendations. If you are unsure of what this is, consult your owner’s manual or contact us. Not servicing by the manufacturer’s specifications will void your warranty.

Additionally, make sure you choose a shop that has specific knowledge of your make and model…like we do at Automotive Excellence.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us.

Proper Setting Of Your Parking Brake

parking brakeRegardless of where you park, you should always use your parking brake:

  1. Once you’ve parked, with your foot still on the foot brake, put your vehicle into Park. If your vehicle is a manual transmission, put it into first gear.
  2. Set the parking brake.
  3. Take your foot off the foot brake.

This procedure puts the weight of the vehicle on the parking brake instead of the transmission. All too often, we put our vehicles into Park or in gear, take our foot off the foot brake, and then set the parking brake. This can, over time, cause damage to the automatic transmission parking pawl (because you’re pulling it of of park with the weight of the vehicle on it).

Some added benefits are parking brake cables that don’t bind or stick due to lack of use. In addition, using yoru parking brake keeps your rear brakes in adjustment.

9 Things Dads (Or The Kids) Can Do To Give Mom a Break

Here are a few things Dads can do to give Mom a break. Being a mom is wonderful, but there are times when it’s nice to have a few moments of peace and quiet. So Dad if you’re not quite sure what to do, or where to mom and familybegin, read on.

1) Pick Up After Yourselves
Keeping a house in order is no small feat. Help Mom by putting away your clothes, dishes and other items on a daily basis.

2) Offer To Help With Chores & Errands
A helping hand with chores or errands can be a godsend. Go with Mom while she runs errands to give her a hand. You’d be surprised how much of a help this can be.

3) Watch The Kids While Mom Relaxes
After an especially taxing day, Mom may need to unwind. Maybe a cat nap or a bubble bath would help de-stress and relax her. Dad, entertain the little ones for an hour or two, so Mom can sneak off to relax uninterrupted.

4) Give Mom A “Free” Day
Moms work hard and give unselfishly of their time, so getting a day off all to herself would be a nice treat. Dads can offer to take the kids for the day so Mom can shopping, get her nails done, or lie in bed reading a book all day if she wants. Having that precious time all to herself will help her re-coup and de-stress in a big way.

5) Bring Home Dinner
One of the nicest things a Dad can do is come home with dinner. Restaurant take-out, pizza, or groceries so Dad can whip up something himself. It won’t matter to a worn-out Mom. Some days are busier than others. Mom will be especially grateful and appreciative!

6) Take Mom’s Car Into Be Serviced For Her
Why not take Mom’s car and have it serviced? For busy moms on the go this would be a great help. While you’re out why not get it washed too? What a much appreciated and nice surprise!

7) Arrange A Date Night
Here is something really sweet that Dad can do to give Mom a break. Arrange a date night, all by yourselves. Set up babysitting, make dinner reservations, and plan everything out. It will give Mom and Dad BOTH a break from the kids and give you some much needed time together.

8) Support Mom When It Comes To Enforcing/Re-Enforcing The Rules
For those occasions when siblings won’t stop disagreeing, or won’t heed Mom’s warnings, it can help when Dad steps in and/or backs Mom up. For a Mom who has been playing referee all day, it can be a welcome break.

9) Give Mom The Acknowledgement She Deserves
What Mom’s need most from Dad’s is just a loving shoulder to lean on. Someone to let them know they are greatly appreciated. Sometimes a hug, a bouquet of flowers, or a gentle touch can go a long way!

Whether they are stay-at-home Moms or working Moms, things can get overwhelming. This list has some great ideas of ways that Dads can step in and give Mom a moment to catch her breath and save some sanity!

Need something, have a question, JUST ASK US! Consultation is always FREE!

For additional service tips please visit our Facebook page. Also, please like our Facebook page while you’re there if you haven’t already done so. Thank you!

Wet Weather Driving Tips

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly one million accidents each year occur during wet weather. If you’re not prepared for the difference in driving in wet conditions versus dry, you could find yourself involved in a fender-bender. Here are some tips to help you safely drive on wet roads.

• Watch your speed. When roads are wet, slow down. As you reduce speed, you increase the tire’s footprint (the amount of tread contacting the road surface), providing better traction. Slowing down also reduces your risk of hydroplaning (riding on the surface of the water). With as little as 1/12 inch of water on the road, tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road.

• If you do find yourself hydroplaning, take your foot off of the accelerator, don’t hit your brakes. If you drive a stick shift step on the clutch and let your vehicle slow down until control is regained.

• Allow enough room between you and the car in front of you. Wet roads require a greater stopping distance. Keep your eyes ahead so you’re extra alert for stop signs and red lights.

• Prepare for braking. As you approach a curve, stop sign, or traffic light, slow down and break gently. Take it easy. When braking, accelerating, or turning the wheel, avoid jerky, abrupt movements. Avoid hard braking or turning sharply and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you.

• See and be seen. Remember to turn on your lights, it helps other drivers see you. Wiper blade should be regularly replaced to ensure they properly do their job.

• Make sure you have the right tires. For optimum performance on wet roads, look for a tire with a tread design and rubber compounds that provide enhanced wet weather driving capabilities. We can help you make your decision.

• Be sure your tires are properly maintained. Check tread depth with a quarter inserted upside down into the tire groove.  If you can see above Washington’s head, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.  If tires are too worn, it won’t provide the needed traction on wet pavement. Check your tires regularly and replace them as needed. Also monitor the air pressure in your tires. If you’re not sure what the correct pressure level is, check your vehicle’s manual or the door jamb label for the proper air pressure for your particular vehicle and tires.

If you have any questions or need any help please feel free to contact us. Consultation is always FREE!

If you’re like most people, your second biggest investment, after your home, is your automobile. With that in mind, it makes sense to protect such an important investment. What’s the best way to do that? Regular vehicle maintenance, of course! The Car Care Council estimates more than $60 billion in vehicle maintenance and repair work IS NOT performed each year. That scary statistic means there’s considerably more drivers should be doing to protect their investment. Budgeting for and doing preventive automotive maintenance is a must if you want to keep your repair cost down and keep your car humming along. We can’t stress enough the importance of vehicle maintenance. Regular vehicle maintenance is much less expensive than repair work when things break down. It’s a whole lot less than new car payments! You’ll find a properly maintained vehicle is safer and more dependable. It will also save you at the gas pumps since it will be more fuel efficient. Best of all your properly maintained vehicle is more valuable. Regular vehicle maintenance is the smartest way to get a good return on your automotive investment. As mentioned earlier, we can’t stress enough the importance of vehicle maintenance. If a person decides to not get their oil changed, the eventual result is engine failure which could have been prevented for a measly $30 or so. And so it goes for most of your vehicle maintenance needs. Don’t ever second guess the importance of vehicle maintenance, and if you have any questions or need any help regarding service, please feel free to contact us. Consultation is always FREE!

Automatic Transmissions

Honda-Automatic-TransmissionProper Honda/Acura Automatic Transmission use and service is sometimes overlooked. A new replacement automatic transmission is an expensive proposition and not at all uncommon. Honda’s most recent service guidelines call for ATF (automatic transmission fluid) to be changed “as needed.” What’s that? We recommend your ATF be changed every 15,000 miles (Honda does not use a serviceable filter). While it may seem excessive, our goal is preventing transmission failure (a new transmission can run upwards of $4,000–5,000). We also recommend using only Genuine Honda ATF in all 5-speed automatics. Four-speed automatics can still use conventional Dextron III.

Another way of preventing premature failure is proper transmission operation. Four-speed automatics should be driven in D3 around town and D4 on highway/freeway. Some 5-speed automatics have a D4 option and in that case D4 around town and D5 on the highway/freeway. If your vehicle is equipped with overdrive, you want the OD OFF around town and ON on the freeway/highway. This prevents unnecessary shifting, and unnecessary wear and tear. If you have any questions or concerns regarding transmission service or operation, please contact us.

Proper Winter Air Conditioning Operation

acHere we are smack dab in the middle of winter! Brrrr, it’s been cold! I bet your windshield has been plenty fogged up in the morning, if not frosted over. Tip: Place a beach or bath towel over your windshield at night if you expect frost. In the morning, remove the towel, throw it in the car and you’re good to go!

Yes, the title of this article is correct. We also want to use our A/C in the winter as well. Using your A/C in the winter has several benefits:

  • Running your A/C year round keeps moving parts, o-rings and seal lubricated.
  • Using your A/C benefits in defrosting windows (an A/C system evaporates moisture which is what is fogging up your windows). Blowing hot air against it will eventually work; evaporating works much more quickly.
  • It eliminates standing water (condensation) in the evaporator. That old standing water is what causes that musty smell when you turn your A/C on that first hot day of summer.

When I advise people on using their A/C during the winter their first reaction is always… “I’ll freeze!” Don’t worry. You won’t freeze. Just follow these easy directions:

  1. Put your air mix (hot/cold) lever on HOT.
  2. Press the defrost or heat/defrost button (whichever you prefer).
  3. As far as the recirculation button being On or Off, that’s your personal preference. (REC “ON” keeps the current air in the car while REC “OFF” allows fresh air to enter from the outside.) We always recommend allowing fresh air in the vehicle so it doesn’t get stuffy.
  4. Then, push the A/C button to the ON position.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be amazed how much faster your windows defrost.

We advise customers to just push their A/C Button to the ON position and leave it there. Then, just adjust your comfort level with the air mix lever. This works whether it is summer or winter. Today’s A/C systems are so efficient there should be very little gas mileage change noticed. Driving with your window down actually uses more gas (due to wind resistance).

One final tip… always set your recirculation button ON (light on) before turning off your vehicle. This closes the door to the “fresh” air and prevents critters from moving in.