What goes into a diagnostic cost?
We provide fair pricing to our customers when it comes to diagnosing problems. It takes time and expertise to figure out what is really plaguing it though. On occasion, there are some problems that take much more time to dig down to and run the needed tests to identify it. In those instances, we will contact you, letting you know how much it will cost to find the problem and get your approval before any more work is done.
Can I bring in my own car parts?
We tried this in the past, but what we learned is that it causes all kinds of problems. Mainly, we lose control of our shop. Quite often the wrong part is brought in, or the part didn't fix the problem. We then need to get a hold of the customer and they need to get the right part. In the mean time, we have a lift with a car on it that can not be worked on and the customer ends up racing around town to find the right part. It is much smoother if we diagnose it, quote you and install the part. If there is a problem, we warranty it. You don't worry and we get the car done faster.
Why do I need to get my tires rotated, and how often should it be done?
If you don't rotate your tires regularly, every other oil change or 5 to 6 thousand miles, you will get wear patterns in the tread. These are high and low edges usually on the inside or outside of your tire. These wear patterns will reduce the life of your tire and can cause vibrations while driving. You can also wear the edges of the tire out before the rest of the tire is worn out. If either of these situations happen- and they are common, the only effective way to solve the problem is to replace the affected tires.
Four wheel drive trucks are far more susceptible to damaging wear patterns than cars, and if the truck is using aggressive off road style tires, we would suggest rotating them every 3 thousand miles.
The solution for better tire life through unnecessary wear is prevention. Following a good rotation schedule will save you hundreds of dollars, and most reputable tire stores offer free rotation if you buy them from there.
What should I do if my car starts to overheat?
This is a very serious problem – if your car overheats for too long, it can damage your engine. The list of bad things that can result from an engine overheat is pretty long. Put simply, it can cause thousands of dollars in damage and is totally avoidable. As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and shut the engine off! Don't attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator! There is a great deal of pressure in your cooling system and the fluid is very, very hot- it will burn you. The best thing to do is have your vehicle towed to a repair shop.
What might cause my engine to overheat?
There are many reasons for an engine to overheat. One of most common causes is low coolant (antifreeze). Antifreeze levels can diminish from leaks or attrition from driving. The coolant in an engine is designed to keep it at the optimum operating temperature. If there is not enough antifreeze in the cooling system, the fluid will be overpowered and will not be able to keep up with the heat the engine is generating, causing damage to the engine.
Another cause of overheating is from blockage, not allowing the coolant to circulate. Things such as an an air pocket, closed thermostat, clogged radiator or heater core can cause this. What ever the cause, the result is the same, damaged engine components and most likely a blown head gasket.
The check engine light in my car is always on. Is this an actual problem?
There is a large misunderstanding about the newer diagnostics system of check engine lights and the codes generated by the car. First off, when there is a problem in a vehicle, most systems have sensors that will produce a code setting off the dreaded check engine light. These codes are very helpful in diagnosing the problem the car is experiencing, but they are just one of the steps in identifying what the problem is and finding where it is. The confusion lies in the codes retrieved by a scan tool. The general public has an idea that all that's required to find out what's wrong is to hook up the scanner to the car and it will spell out what's wrong with itself. This is far from reality. The codes tell us what system may be having a problem or that a sensor noticed an issue, but it could have been caused by another area in the car. Often times there are a number of tests that need to be performed to isolate the problem. This is where the skills and experience of the technician really comes into play. Some test results can be misleading. causing misdiagnoses or hours spent chasing ghosts.
For these reasons we recommend leaving your car as-is so that we can perform the needed tests to determine the real problem. We will then quote you the time it will take and expense to repair. Anything short of this is a guess. There are common codes that often times are repaired by replacing or repairing a certain component. That may be true 80% of the time, but there are other issues 20% of the time. The only real way to find the problem is to perform the tests and chase down the problem. That's proper diagnosing. Codes are a vital step used to identify the issues, but they do not provide the answer to your car's ailments.
Should I use synthetic or conventional motor oil?
Synthetic motor oils can be a good choice for your engine. Especially for high output, turbocharged or supercharged engines. Vehicles that are used for towing (especially during hot weather), or vehicles that are operated in extremely cold or hot climates also benefit from synthetics. In fact, most vehicles in general will see a benefit from synthetic motor oil.
Synthetic motor oils are more expensive than conventional motor oils, but can improve fuel economy and provide longer intervals between changes. They also provide instant lubrication on start-up (Trust us, that's a good thing). Conventional oil simply can't match the longevity and ability to handle extreme high temperatures without breaking down.
As stated before, all this advanced technology doesn't come cheap. A synthetic oil change can cost over twice as much as conventional oil...but is it worth it beyond its superior performance?
This is not exactly a straight yes or no answer to go along with this question as there are several variables to consider, but in general, most experts would agree that synthetic is (for now) the lesser of the two evils.
Their logic stems from the fact that conventional oil is derived from petroleum, Which means nasty things such as greenhouse gasses etc. result from production. Synthetics are formed by chemicals that are no less harmful to the environment, so both parties are responsible for ecosystem damage, but herein lies the difference. Synthetics can last as much as three times longer than conventional oil, which means that you could be consuming far less oil per year.
There is an economic benefit as well. Though synthetic is more expensive, you can go further between oil changes. Keep in mind the type of driving you do will determine how long you can go- even with synthetic. There is a debate about when you should change your oil, reason being the age old consensus has always suggested changing it every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
With today's technology, synthetics are cleaner and has been proven to have a lower volatility, meaning it doesn't vaporize out of the exhaust as quickly. Synthetics have also been shown to produce less resistance in the engine, offering more horsepower and overall efficiency. This added horsepower in return means that the engine will be able to perform at the same level as before, but using less gas.
Depending on where you drive (dusty, dirty climates), how often and how far you drive (shorter distances will not heat oil enough to boil off condensation in the engine), you can probably stave off an oil change until about 10,000 to 15,000 miles under the right conditions. The thing to remember about synthetic oil is that it will not break down like conventional oil but it will still get just as dirty. Dirty oil running through your engine will cause many problems in itself. Though it will last longer, it still needs to be changed due to how filthy it can get.
Conventional and synthetic aside, a third choice exists to make things even more confusing: the synthetic blend. This mixes the two together to give you a moderately better oil at a lower cost. These don't quite have the longevity of the full synthetics, so honestly, it really all comes out in the wash at the end.
If you want to be on the safe side, you can follow what your manufacturer recommends as far as oil goes. In general, more performance oriented vehicles require synthetic because of the high heat that builds in these engines, whereas conventional engines don't require anything special.
In the end I suggest synthetic blend oil for conventional engines. It boasts a better price, longer time between changes, many of the performance and protection benefits of synthetic, but you'll still need to change it periodically.