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VIDEO BLOG

Honest Auto Repairs – Focus On Preventative Maintenance & Honesty

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How to Get Honest Auto Repairs

When you take your car in to the auto shop for servicing, you have every reason to expect to be treated with honesty and integrity. However, it’s pretty hard to know when you are lied to, over charged, or taken advantage of, when automotive care is not your expertise. So how do you know when you are getting honest auto repairs? It all boils down to the details.

What You Should Expect With Routine Maintenance

Taking your car into the auto shop for routine maintenance is always a good idea. It prolongs the car’s useful life, prevents larger repair bills, and it prevents you from having to deal with unexpected problems and expenses, or wondering whether or not you really need this repair. When you take your vehicle into the auto shop, the technician should tell you what services will be performed, how long it will take, and the cost. Honest auto shops want you to know these details and strive to perform the work as described.

What About Repairs?

Routine maintenance will extend the life of the vehicle, but like any other machine, eventually parts will fail and you will need repairs. An honest auto shop will provide a diagnosis of the problem, a description of the parts or services necessary to fix the problem, and an estimate of the time and cost. They shouldn’t start work without your authorization, and shouldn’t do anything outside of the scope of the agreement without your consent. Auto shops that deal with integrity will not have any problem being upfront and transparent in their dealings with you, and would be willing to show you broken and replaced parts, for example.

What About Additional Work?

When you bring your vehicle in for work, it’s not unusual to expect the technician to find additional problems. After all, the parts all work together to perform a task, so if one is broken or malfunctioning it will likely cause stress on another. Your repair technician should tell you  what needs to be done, and it’s urgency. Some repairs might need to be done as part of regular maintenance and could be delayed, others might need immediate attention.

Bringing up needed repairs isn’t necessarily a sign that a repair shop is somehow dishonest. In fact, it may be just the opposite! A technician may bring up a needed repair because they have the necessary area accessible and a repair now can save you on labor. Another reason they may bring up needed repairs is that not having some things fixed could lead to unsafe driving conditions and they may be required to tell you of the danger. Other times, they may suggest repairs that could be of benefit to you such as ones that would provide better gas mileage or a smoother and safer ride.

In most cases, a shop will demonstrate honesty and integrity through their willingness to communicate and provide documentation about the work. It also takes a certain amount of trust from the vehicle owner, understanding the process and why a technician would make a recommendation.

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Choosing the Right Brake Pads

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So you’ve found out that your brake pads are wearing out, and it’s time for a replacement. But did you know that there are multiple types of brake pads, made from different materials and suited to the different needs of cars and driving styles? Our team at NAPA AutoCare Of Birmingham in Greater Birmingham, AL can help get the brake pads that best fit your car. Here’s a quick guide to help you select the right brake pads for you.

Semi Metallic Brake Pads

Semi Metallic pads can be made from anywhere from 30% to 65% metal, from copper, wire, steel wool and other metal materials. Semi Metallic pads wear out the least quickly of all brake pads, but they also tend to wear out the brake rotors faster.

Low-Metallic

These pads are made from a special formula using about 10% to 30% copper or steel. Low-metallic brake pads are optimal for high heat and friction braking, and ideal for high speed braking. These types of pads are less clean than others, though. Low metallic pads produce a lot of dust and can be pretty noisy.

Non-Asbestos, Organic/NAO

Non-Asbestos, Organic brake pads are made from materials like fiber, glass and even rubber. They’re a lot softer than other types of pads, so they don’t make as much noise. However, NAO brake pads wear out faster and produce more dust than other types of pads.

Ceramic

Ceramic brake pads are some of the most expensive types of brake pads on the market today. Not without reason though. Ceramic pads are generally a superior product. Here are some of the pros of getting ceramic brake pads:

  • Produce a lot less noise than other types of pads

  • Less wear on brake rotors

  • Cleaner than other pads

  • Smooth, efficient braking

There you have it! These are the most common types of brake pads on the market today, and all are suitable for use in commercial passenger vehicles. For more advice on the brake pad requirements of your particular vehicle and driving style, visit NAPA AutoCare Of Birmingham in Greater Birmingham

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The Birmingham BDG Guide To Servicing Your Differential

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Differential? What’s that? And what’s it for? I’ve been told by my service advisor that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They’re not uncommon for Birmingham BDG car owners. A lot of us in Birmingham BDG don’t know what a differential is or what it’s for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it’s more vital to the operation of your sedan than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your sedan tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back, and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the sedan drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That’s why important preventive maintenance for your sedan needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner’s manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your courteous Birmingham BDG service specialist. Birmingham BDG can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold Birmingham BDG weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your car care routine, and your differential. Check your owner’s manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Clay, hot or cold AL weather conditions, and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle’s differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross AL streams or waterways, it is critical that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Birmingham BDG auto repair shops. A smooth ride for Clay car owners is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.

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Tire Rotation and Balancing at Birmingham BDG in Birmingham BDG

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Tires do a lot of essential work for Birmingham BDG motorists. They transfer engine power and braking forces to the road; they handle steering control; and they cushion all those bumps and jolts while driving around Birmingham BDG. They also support the entire weight of the vehicle, including you and your passengers. With such important work to do, you want your tires to do their job well. And since replacing tires is fairly pricey, you want them to last as long as possible.

There are three keys to long, even tire wear for Birmingham BDG car owners:

  • Proper tire inflation
  • Proper wheel alignment
  • Regular tire rotation and balancing

The front tires on a car take the brunt of the steering forces. As they push through turns, the shoulders of the front tires wear down more quickly than the rear tires. Rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate. That’s especially true of front wheel drive vehicles whose front tires steer, and put the power to the road.

SUVs and pick-ups, especially four wheel drives, also tend to wear their tires more unevenly than cars because of their suspension and drivetrain set-up. Your owner’s manual will likely contain a schedule for tire rotation. It’s usually every 5,000 miles or so.

Also, there are different rotation patterns for different vehicles. Birmingham BDG will know which is right for your vehicle. That brings us to wheel balancing. When wheels are balanced, they spin on the axle evenly. When they are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear unevenly and may transmit a vibration to the car. Your courteous Birmingham BDG technician puts weights on your wheels to balance them out so that they turn true and smooth.

Tires are a big investment for Birmingham BDG drivers. They’re important for keeping you safely on the road in Birmingham BDG. The cost for regular rotation and balancing is more than made up in extended tire life. And, can you really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers?

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Road Trip: Be Ready for Anything With a Trip Inspection at Birmingham BDG

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Road trip, anyone? Nothing spoils a great vacation for us Birmingham BDG motorists then ending up stranded on the side of the road or spending a week in a rundown motel while our vehicle sits in the shop. Long days on the road can bring out the worst in your vehicle, so before you leave, prepare it for the journey by getting a diagnostic examination at Birmingham BDG in Birmingham BDG. After all, you wouldn’t travel without clean socks, why ask your vehicle to travel with a load of dangerous dirty oil?

The first step in a trip inspection at Birmingham BDG is to look at your travel plans. What kinds of roads will you be driving on? Will you be in the AL backcountry or on the freeway? Will you be crossing mountains? Off-roading? What will the weather be like? How many miles away from Birmingham BDG will you be traveling? How much are you hauling? Will you be towing a trailer or lugging a rooftop carrier? Will you encounter dust, mud, snow or sea salt? All of these questions can help Birmingham BDG car owners know which Birmingham BDG services are the most needed. And don’t hesitate to meet with your Birmingham BDG service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on what trip conditions are hardest on what systems of your car and what kinds of services your vehicle realistically needs. Start with the tires and check them for tread wear and proper inflation. Replace or rotate them as needed. If you need to change them out for winter tires, then do so.

Then inspect your shocks or struts for wear. Replace them if needed. You’ll want that extra comfort on your trip. Be sure to survey your alignment. Steering a vehicle that is out of alignment is tiring, and dangerous. Don’t overlook your brakes. With extra passengers and baggage, your brakes are going to get a workout. You want them in top condition.

In addition, survey belts and hoses. If any of them are close to wearing out, have them replaced before your long trip does them in.

Change your engine air filter if it needs it or if it’s close to needing it. For every gallon of gas you burn, your air filter processes 12,000 gallons of air. A clean air filter will protect vital electronic sensors that effect how your engine runs.

Get an oil change at Birmingham BDG in Birmingham BDG if it’s coming due. Make it a full-service oil change while you’re at it. That way, all of your fluids will get checked and topped off. Change any dirty or old fluids. Birmingham BDG auto owners don’t want to overstress their cooling systems or transmissions with dangerous dirty fluid during a long trip.

Does your vehicle smell? Check the cabin air filter. The bad smell could also indicate an exhaust leak, which can be fatal on a long trip. So don’t ignore bad odors; check them out.

If your air conditioning hasn’t been up to snuff, then give it an overhaul. You want your vacation to be relaxed and pleasant, and that means keeping the passenger compartment comfortable.

And be sure to check your wiper blades and your headlamps. You may find yourself driving in unfamiliar territory at night after a long day. You’ll want to be able to see as much as possible.

Of course, almost everything listed here is just part of vital preventive maintenance for smart Birmingham BDG drivers. If you keep up with your car care on a regular basis, a trip inspection will be a breeze at Birmingham BDG.

Taking care of your vehicle before you leave for a road trip will pay you back in safety, peace of mind, improved comfort and better fuel efficiency. It will also help your vacation go as planned by keeping you on the road and headed for that next great adventure. Just don’t forget to pack your socks.

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